Patterico's Pontifications

7/23/2018

Tough Talk from Donald Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:15 am

Background here and here.

UPDATE: Alex Griswold beat me to it. GMTA and sometimes mine does too.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

7/22/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 13

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the ninth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Meine Seufzer, meine Tränen” (My sighs, my tears):

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 6:30-34, 53-56.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

. . . .

When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

The prescribed reading skips over the miracles of Jesus feeding the five thousand and walking on the water, as contained in Mark 6:35-52. In the Revised Common Lectionary, we will hear those stories next week from the Gospel according to John. I have included the Gospel of these miracles according to Mark on a separate page, here — so that if you wish, you can see what is omitted by the ellipsis in the quoted passage above.

The text of today’s piece is available here. The text reflects the misery and pain that people can feel, as did the masses who came to see Jesus … and the comfort that one can feel from trusting in God.

My sighs, my tears
can not be counted.
When one daily encounters despair
and the anguish does not fade,
Ah! Then this pain must already
be building the road to death for us.

. . . .

My turmoil seizes
and robs me of all rest,
my vessel of sorrow is completely
filled up with tears,
and this anguish will not be stilled,
and makes me numb and emotionless.

. . . .

Aching and pitiful weeping
does not help the sickness of care;
yet he who looks towards heaven
and concerns himself there for comfort,
for him a light of joy can easily
illuminate the sorrowful breast.

Therefore take hold of yourself, my soul,
and trust only in Him
who has created you;
Let it go how it goes;
your Father in the heights
knows the wisdom of all matters.

The final chorale (“Therefore take hold…), which can be heard at 18:55, uses a melody that reappears in the St. Matthew Passion, here:

and here:

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

7/21/2018

The Carter Page FISA Applications Have Been Released

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:32 pm

You can read them here. Don’t forget to thank the #FAKENEWSMEDIA for getting them for you.

A footnote at page 16 has this information:

Footnote re Hillary

A quick read suggests: 1) the much-ballyhooed “refusal to name Hillary Clinton” appears totally consistent with the phraseology of the rest of the document; and 2) the information from the Steele dossier does not appear to be the only information used against Page. Both are as I always suspected.

The New York Times also says:

The renewal applications from 2017 told the court in boldface print that the F.B.I. had severed its relationship with Mr. Steele because he had shared some of his claims with a news organization in October 2016, contrary to the F.B.I.’s “admonishment” to speak only to law enforcement officials about the matter. But they said the bureau continued to assess his prior reporting as “reliable.”

Let the partisan spinning begin. Me, I’m not surprised by any of it. Not one bit.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Today’s Episode of Progressive Politicians Ignorant of How Markets Actually Work

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:03 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s the odds-on favorite to be the Democrats’ nominee for President in 2020.

First of all, exactly what percentage of income should Americans be spending on rent? If 30% is, per Senator Harris, “absurd” then is 26% ridiculous and 22% nonsensical, but 19% acceptable? Watch for everyone’s favorite progressive buzzword, “fair,” to rear its ugly-head.

This is of course pandering to young college graduates who feel like they are entitled to live in high-rent cities such as San Francisco and New York. It has noting to do with legitimately poor families, who continue to qualify for subsidized housing and vouchers; it’s all about winning the allegiance of Barack Obama’s old friend Julia, who has a degree in sociology with a minor in feminist studies from Babson College and now wants to work for public television in Boston but is distressed that a studio apartment even in slummy Dorchester goes for $1700 a month.

Here in Senator Harris’s home state, we are considering removing restrictions on rent control. I’ll have more to write about that later. There just happens to be a huge run on bad ideas these days, I suppose.

– JVW

Have You Ever Heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:36 am

President Donald J. “Vizzini” Trump weighs in on the news, obviously leaked by his team, that the feds have a recording of him and Michael Cohen discussing a hush money payment to Karen McDougal:

He keeps using that word. Etc.

Always remember and never forget: “We have no knowledge of any of this.”

And Thomas Jefferson did lots of things wrong.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

7/20/2018

Well Knock Me Over with a Feather!

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:05 pm

[guest post by JVW]

In a surprise move, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to overturn an injunction by a San Diego district court which prevented the state of California from enforcing its ban on firearm magazines holding more than ten bullets. The law banning the “high capacity” magazines had been passed by the California Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016, and officially was to be enforced starting July 1 of last year, but had been blocked by the ruling from U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez shortly before it was to go into effect. Under the law, gun owners were supposed to voluntarily surrender their now-illegal magazines to law enforcement officers.

The decision by a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit was two to one in support of the injunction. Judge Benitez’s original ruling had sensibly declared that “a final decision will take too long to offer relief, and because the statute will soon visit irrevocable harm on Plaintiffs and all those similarly situated a state-wide preliminary injunction is necessary and justified to maintain the status quo.” In yesterday’s ruling, Judge N. Randy Smith (appointed by G.W. Bush) and Judge Deborah A. Batts, sitting by designation from the Southern District of New York (I didn’t know they used visiting judges to cover vacancies), determined that Judge Benitez was well within judicial discretion in suggesting that plaintiffs could suffer irrevocable harm from the ban as well as in his assertion that under the Heller decision a magazine which holds more than ten bullets could be considered protected by the Second Amendment.

In dissent, Judge John Clifford Wallace, a 90-year-old Nixon appointee who puts the “senior” in Senior Circuit Judge, suggested that “the district court clearly misapplied intermediate scrutiny by refusing to credit relevant evidence that fairly supports the state’s rationale for its [large-capacity magazine] ban,” pointing to a Michael Bloomberg-funded Mayors Against Illegal Guns study from 2013 purporting to demonstrate that guns with magazines holding more than ten bullets lead to more lethal mass shootings. Judge Wallace also accused Judge Benitez of failing to reach the same conclusions that another district court had reached in a similar case. But the two-judge majority would have none of that logic, dispensing with Wallace’s arguments in a pair of footnotes in the majority ruling and accusing Wallace of substituting his own discretion for that of the district judge.

While the magazine ban remains on hold, this case goes back to the district court for further ruling on the legality of the legislation. This case may very well end up back at the Ninth Circuit, and perhaps eventually at the Supreme Court.

Thoughts from David French at National Review Online here; thoughts from David Kopel of Reason here. I’ll leave it to you lawyers and gun nuts* to carry the conversation from here.

– JVW

* Kidding! Kidding!

7/19/2018

President Trump Weighs Out Putin’s Offer Involving the Questioning Of Americans

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

There was again some confusion yesterday about President Trump’s lack of clarity on the matter of Russia. During an interview, when asked whether he believes Russia is still targeting the U.S., the president allegedly answered, no. I say allegedly because to me there is some confusion in the video as to whether he was responding to that specific question. Even so, I’m not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt because this comes a day after backpedaling on his comments in which he agreed with Putin over his own intelligence community that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 elections. So it’s not unreasonable to conclude that President Trump really does believe that Russia isn’t targeting the U.S. That would certainly be consistent with his naive/ignorant view of Russia, the adoration of strongman Putin and a disturbing tendency to throw his own people under the bus. Further, we have the statement of the journalist who asked the question:

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With that, it is being reported that President Trump is considering a quid pro quo deal made by Putin, involving the questioning of American citizens by Russian authorities:

At this week’s summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed what President Trump described as an “incredible offer” — the Kremlin would give special counsel Robert S. Mueller III access to interviews with Russians who were indicted after they allegedly hacked Democrats in 2016. In return, Russia would be allowed to question certain U.S. officials it suspects of interfering in Russian affairs.

One of those U.S. officials is a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, a nemesis of the Kremlin because of his criticisms of Russia’s human rights record.

Apparently, this is an offer the White House is taking seriously and one that is currently under review. When questioned about it, Sarah Sanders did not dismiss it:

“There was some conversation about it” between Trump and Putin, Sanders said, “but there wasn’t a commitment made on behalf of the United States. And the president will work with his team, and we’ll let you know if there’s an announcement on that front.”

Yet more confirmation that President Trump and his administration have no idea with whom they are dealing, and unbelievably view former-KGB strongman Putin through gullible rose-colored glasses. After President Trump’s Helsinki comments, Dan Coates, the director of national intelligence, warned that, not only did Russia meddle in the 2016 election, but there is no reason why they won’t continue to do so:

“The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the president and policymakers,” said Coats, who took over as U.S. director of national intelligence in March 2017. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”

Suggested American citizens for questioning by Russian authorities include Michael McFaul, a former American ambassador to Russia, and Christopher Steel

That the President of the United States would remotely consider not protectingAmerican citizens from Russian authorities for questioning, boggles the mind. Clearly:

“The entire country should be aware of this,” tweeted Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School. “If Putin can single out” McFaul, Nichols said, “he can single out anyone. The President’s job is to protect us, not to even *consider* handing any of us over to an enemy government.”

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Also, President Trump’s own State Dept. was critical of the proposal and the possible allowance of it:

In a news conference this week, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the idea of allowing the Russian government to interview American officials “absolutely absurd,” adding that allowing such a precedent “would be a grave concern to our former colleagues here.”

Interestingly, I started this post early this morning, but because it takes me so long time to complete a post, I am just now reading about this coincidentally timed turn of events:

The White House says President Trump opposes a proposal floated by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin that would allow Russia to interview American officials in exchange for making Russian authorities indicted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe available for questioning.

The White House announced Trump’s opposition Thursday moments before the Senate voted 98 to 0 to approve a resolution telling the president not to honor Putin’s request, which would have exposed former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul, among others, to Russian questioning.

“It is a proposal that was *made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

*Are You Kidding Me??

–Dana

.

7/18/2018

The Latest with Brexit (Don’t Worry: Trump Will Be Mentioned)

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:18 am

[guest post by JVW]

There is a very interesting piece on National Review Online today by John O’Sullivan which recounts the trials and tribulations of Theresa May and her Tory Party as they attempt to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union, demanded by British voters two summers ago in a bold move that presaged the election of Donald Trump across the Atlantic later that fall. The piece is long, and chock full of details, but let me see if I can pull some of the more interesting tidbits here. The lede paragraph:

A massive political and constitutional crisis is gathering pace in Britain. It began earlier this year, perhaps as early as February, when Prime Minister Theresa May began to run her own private policy on Brexit through officials in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office — a policy that was different from, and arguably opposite to, the Brexit policy that had the approval of the cabinet and the public. But it emerged that something unorthodox might be happening only two weeks ago, when reports began to circulate in Whitehall and Westminster that the prime minister would advise a Chequers cabinet meeting on the next Friday to choose a hitherto unknown “third way” rather than two earlier options for leaving the European Union Customs Union.

According to O’Sullivan, PM May then assured the EU that there was no third way plan under development, all the while preparing to browbeat her Tory allies, gathered at a party retreat at Chequers (the British Prime Minister’s version of Camp David), into adopting the plan. At this nefarious task, she was apparently successful. O’Sullivan describes how the retreat went down:

Isolate them in a remote location, cut off their escape, take away their phones, give them complex bureaucratic papers to read, cut the time for reading short, examine them on their reading, confuse them, mock any mistakes they make, demand they sign the document, threaten them with non-personhood if they refuse, and if they do refuse, tell them the decision has already been made by the Party and that their refusal is meaningless. It was a brilliant technique — call it Applied Stockholm Syndrome — and it worked. Most of those present nodded smilingly and signed; some were reluctant but they signed too in order not to spoil the occasion, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson even proposed a toast to Big Sister. Happy to be still in power, they all got into their cars and returned to London.

Thus, this third way plan took shape. Britain would leave the EU Customs Union, but then immediately strike a common territory deal with it; Britain would leave the single market, but continue to adhere to its regulations; Britain would leave the European Court of Justice, but British courts would be instructed to follow the European Court’s precedents. When buyer’s remorse set in among her grumpy cabinet, May suddenly saw key members resign. O’Sullivan unpacks the deception practiced along the way:

Freed from collective responsibility and angered by May’s duplicitous treatment, both [Brexit Secretary Dave] Davis and [Junior Brexit Minister Steve] Baker charged that, in effect, she had set up Davis’s Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU) as a kind of Potemkin ministry to make it appear that Brexit was going ahead while a small cabal of officials — notably her chief civil-service adviser, Olly Robbins, in Downing Street — negotiated an entirely different outcome. Conducting such an exercise in deception meant such things as reaching agreements with Davis intended to be diluted or broken outright or even lying to Davis’s face. [. . .]

Yet there was a paradoxical result of this dishonesty: DexEU ministers and officials in fact produced a white paper on how to achieve a Brexit that meant Brexit. [. . . ] And of course, when the cabinet adopted [the Chequers] plan without open dissent that Friday, the general (and largely unconsidered) assumption was that the rival DexEU white paper would sink deep into the files and never emerge.

That’s why the chief Remainer talking point after Chequers was that the Leavers had had two years to come up with a Brexit plan and failed to do so. Since they couldn’t put up, they should shut up. This argument was everywhere on television, newspapers, and the Web, and some intelligent people claimed to find it powerful.

In other words, according to O’Sullivan, Prime Minister May treated Brexit as a boat race from the get go, with the desired outcome always one which was Brexit in name only and didn’t really untangle ties to Brussels. But once Steve Baker took the DexEU outline to the British website ConHome which published it in 24 parts, the government’s arguments that no other viable alternatives had been presented were exposed as bogus.

But I promised in the post’s title that President Trump would make an appearance, so here he is:

All this created an atmosphere at Westminster of instability, uncertainty, even chaos, and right on cue Donald Trump arrived. There followed three days of diplomatic pratfalls, insults, inappropriate political interventions, minor court discourtesies, apologies, and at last charm offensives until the Donald left a relieved Theresa May for Helsinki. [. . .] But it left an impact on two serious matters. Trump managed to get the Europeans to concede that this time they’d have to hike their defense spending. Second, he said — and despite all the blunders and apologies he didn’t retract the statement — that May’s version of Brexit was not compatible with the U.S.–U.K. free-trade deal he was offering. People took that on board: Obama may have threatened, but May was actually sending Britain to “the back of the queue.” It was yet one more sign that her version of Brexit was not meeting her red lines, what people had voted for, or what Brexiteers in her own party plainly wanted.

Mrs. May and her conservatives have now sunk to the point where Labour, led by the execrable Jeremy Corbyn, has a four-point lead in preference polls. Although the Prime Minister earnestly declares no compromises on Britain’s exit from the customs union, single market, and European court, very few Britons take her seriously. And according to O’Sullivan, she is getting quite close to being dragged into a party leadership challenge, so it’s possible that we might yet see a Churchillian return from Boris. One silver lining, according to O’Sullivan, is that Brexit now turns out to be more popular among Tory MPs than it previously had been, so a sensible and sincere plan for leaving the EU might still be attainable.

This is the part where I encourage you to read the entire piece.

– JVW

7/17/2018

President Trump: What I Said, What I Really Meant To Say

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In the wake of having been pilloried from all sides after his joint press conference with President Putin, President Trump felt the need was pressured by Republicans to backpedal clarify his statements regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This after he told Sean Hannity in an interview last night that, “I thought that President Putin was very, very strong.” In his clarification today, President Trump expressed his support of the U.S. intelligence community. But of course, he didn’t just leave it at that:

“I thought that I made myself very clear, but having just reviewed the transcript…I realized that there is a need for some clarification,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House. “The sentence should have been…’I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia’.”

“I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying…that I accept our American intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” the president said.

But, Trump added, “Could be other people also, there’s a lot of people out there.”

Further:

During his Tuesday remarks, Trump also said that his administration took the threat of continued Russian interference seriously and vowed to move aggressively to “repel” any efforts by Moscow to interfere in future U.S. elections. “We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018,” he said.

Responses to President Trump’s statements yesterday were sharp – and insightful – to say the least:

President Trump and Russian president-for-life Vladimir Putin’s news conference in Helsinki on Monday was the lowest point in the history of the American presidency. Standing next to a dictatorial leader accused by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement of attacking the foundations of American democracy, Trump often appeared confused and incoherent — and those were his best moments at the podium. The rest of the time he spent praising the KGB dictator to his left and attacking the institutions he swore an oath to defend. It was a Russia First performance, from beginning to end.

For Putin, the summit was a great success before it even started. Without the recurrent legitimacy of the ballot box — I assume no one still believes that Russia’s elections are real — dictators crave ways to demonstrate their credibility and to pass off their own interests and power as those of the nation. The tried and true methods are war, hosting sporting spectacles and appearing with important foreign leaders, especially democratically elected ones. Putin has managed a hat trick with his invasion of Ukraine still ongoing, the World Cup that ended in Moscow on Sunday and an imposing performance in Helsinki next to a feeble and cowed American president.

Other than Putin wanting it badly, there was no purpose behind this spectacle in Helsinki. Putin’s wish list is transparent: legitimacy as the ruler of Russia and stature on the global stage; Russia as power broker in Ukraine, Syria and Iran; weakening the United States’ commitment to its Group of Seven allies, NATO and the European Union; lowered Western defenses against his attacks; and Trump’s help in all these things. Putin also wants the United States to end sanctions and recognize his annexation of Crimea, but he senses that that would be too much to ask right now, and that they could be taken out of Trump’s hands if he pushes too far. In contrast, there is nothing the United States needs from Putin other than to stop the hostile acts that he uses to achieve his ends. He must be stopped, not negotiated with.

Despite the long list of Putin’s suspected atrocities, including the downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine and aiding Bashar al-Assad’s massacres in Syria, Trump eagerly applied the Kremlin’s patented technique of moral equivalence, saying, “I hold both countries responsible” and that “we’re all to blame” for poor Russian America relations. To this I can only cite Polish writer Stanisław Jerzy Lec: Just when you think you’ve reached the bottom, someone knocks from below.

–Dana

7/16/2018

Step It Up, America! President Trump Says We’re Also To Blame For Strained Relations With Russia

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:30 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Before a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump tweeted this:

Untitled

During the joint press conference held in Helsinki, President Trump was asked whether he holds Russia responsible for the strained relationship between the two countries. Evidencing a questionable commitment to America, the American people and his own government, President Trump claimed while standing next to President Putin, that “we’re all to blame” for the strained relationship with Russia. Unbelievable:

Here’s a transcript:

REPORTER: Do you hold Russia accountable for anything?

TRUMP: We’re all to blame. Yes I do [hold Russia responsible]. I hold both countries responsible.

I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should’ve had this dialogue a long time ago; a long time, frankly, before I got to office.

And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward along with Russia, and we’re getting together and we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation in terms of stopping — you have to do it, ultimately that’s probably the most important thing that we could be working on.

But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the — the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart, it’s kept us separated.

There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. And people are being brought out to the fore (ph). So far that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they’re going to have to try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign.

That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. And, frankly, we beat her — and I’m not even saying from the standpoint — we won that race. And it’s a shame that there could even be a little bit of a cloud over it. People know that, people understand it. But the main thing — and we discussed this also — zero collusion.

And so forth…

Apparently, what defines an “enemy” is up for grabs in this season of Trump. And that unfortunately makes the United States rather vulnerable to Putin and his thugs:

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Watch the entire press conference here, or read the transcript here. There were a number of interesting – and dismaying – exchanges. This for example:

Untitled

–Dana

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