Patterico's Pontifications

12/31/2016

Donald Trump Ushers in the New Year At Mar-A-Lago, And Wishes His Enemies A Happy New Year

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:21 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Happy New Year’s Eve! I hope everyone has a great, and safe time welcoming in the New Year.

Just think, if you had come across some loose change hidden under your couch cushions, you could have joined 800 privileged guests at Donald Trump’s swanky Mar-a-ago New Year’s Eve party. Your mere $500 ticket price would have opened the door to a luxurious evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing in the grand ballroom at the exclusive club. Leading the moneyed movers and shakers, will be designated “very special guests,” President-elect Trump, incoming first lady Melania Trump, and their son Barron Trump. While the party is considered a tradition at the club, this is the first year that Trump will be both owner of the club and the President-elect.

If you’re concerned that one of President-elect Trump’s businesses charged money for an event at which he will be in attendance, and one presumes, mingling with the many guests, don’t be silly. This from White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks:

“The transition is not concerned about the appearance of a conflict,” she said. “This is an annual celebratory event at the private club, like others that have continued to occur since the election. Additionally, the president cannot and does not have a conflict.”

Further, the President-elect also took a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year:

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(Given the events of this past week, it would be reasonable to assume that Trump is specifically referring to Putin and Russia with his enemies reference, but based on Trump’s open admiration of Putin, shockingly, that doesn’t seem likely. There are those positing that his enemy reference points to Obama and the Democrats. A gloating over his stunning election victory, if you will. No matter what your guess is, a good rule of thumb when it comes to cryptic Trump tweets, is to keep the whole character of Donald Trump in mind. Specifically, his inability to let go of any who challenge him or criticize him. Coupled with the inability to let things roll off his back, is his record keeping of those who have offended him. And given that Trump has consistently used Twitter to joust and jab, and prod and provoke those whom he has felt slighted by, this opens the door to any number of possible enemies . Sadly, this could even include his primary opponents. Or perhaps, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Big Media, etc., etc.)

–Dana

Attack in Turkey Leads Off 2017 [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:12 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Fox News is reporting that “an assailant” has opened fire on a nightclub in Istanbul, wounding several people. Michelle Malkin retweeted a Turkish journalist who reports witnesses claim that it was actually three assailants dressed as Santas who killed the security guards at the door and then began shooting up the club.

Stay tuned as we learn more about this horrible development.

Update: Fox has expanded their story (link above) to include some interesting details: they now acknowledge more than one Santa gunman, and they provide the interesting tidbit that Turkey had increased police presence over the holidays, including having undercover policemen dressed as Santas throughout Istanbul. This appears to have been a carefully laid-out plan by the gunmen.

Update II: Oh boy, this is bad: Fox now reports that there are at least 35 dead and 40 wounded in this attack. Just horrible.

Update III: It looks like we’re back to believing there was only one assailant who wrought all of this carnage.

Update IV: shipwreckedcrew alerts us to the news that twin bombs went off near Istanbul Stadium killing 38 and wounding 155. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this isn’t Russians.

– JVW

12/30/2016

The Russian “Hacking Scandal” Explained in Twelve Tweets

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:06 pm

[guest post by JVW]

I thought this might be a good companion piece to Dana’s post from earlier today regarding the Obama Administration’s retaliation for alleged Russian hacking.

The estimable David Burge, who blogs (though, sadly, no longer) and tweets as Iowahawk, and who deserves the designation Public Intellectual far more than, say, Paul Krugman or Ta-Nehisi Coates do, sent out a series of twelve tweets earlier today which nicely explain why all of this kvetching over the supposed Russian interference in our recent election is way overblown. That is to say, in fewer than 1680 characters Iowahawk has provided way more clarity than the most ponderous think pieces at The Atlantic or Vox (though I’m admittedly setting the bar pretty low there). Behold the patient logic and careful explication:

iowa-hawk-1
iowa-hawk-2
iowa-hawk-3

For a guy who watched his campaign workers and major donors all get behind an effort to oust Benjamin Netanyahu two short years ago to now whine about “meddling” in another nation’s election just because somebody in Russia who may or may not have been working on behalf of Vladimir Putin managed to execute a crude and simpleminded phishing scheme on the most technologically-savvy campaign of all time is so laughably stupid that it could only come from this President and this Administration.

– JVW

President Obama Takes Action Against Russia, Putin Responds

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:12 am

[guest post by Dana]

President Obama has responded to Russia’s interference in our political process:

Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election. These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.

I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners. Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations. In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information. The State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives…

These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized.

Russia quickly took to Twitter in response:

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This morning, John Bolton opined that President Obama’s actions fall short, and are an insufficient response to Russia’s “attack on our constitutional system.”:

“I don’t think they will have much impact at all,” Bolton told “Fox & Friends” on Friday of Obama’s sanctions, calling for actions that will “make the Russians feel pain.”

“The Russians have walked all over the Obama administration for eight years. It’s really been a pathetic performance.”

“The fact that Russia’s efforts were incompetent or insufficient shouldn’t make us feel better. No — it’s the effort that they made, if this is accurate, that should trouble us, not the fact that it failed.”

President Obama’s actions confirmed a bigger picture of concern:

Obama’s mass spy expulsion removes any doubt about the existence of Cold War 2.0. Thirty-five intelligence officers represent about one-third of the Russian spies which U.S. counterintelligence knows to be operating in our country. Both sides in this spy-game have a good idea of who the real diplomats are and who’s really an undercover spook. That is a setback for Moscow, since it will take time to rebuild damaged espionage networks, but its real-world impact will not be especially severe, since the Kremlin surely knew something like this was coming, thus giving Russian intelligence agencies time to develop back-up plans for this contingency.

This morning, it is being reported that Putin has opted to play the bigger man in response:

In a head-spinning turn of events on Friday, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced that he would not retaliate against the United States’ decision to expel Russian diplomats and impose new sanctions — hours after his foreign minister recommended doing just that.

Mr. Putin, betting on improved relations with the next American president, said he would not eject 35 diplomats or close any diplomatic facilities, rejecting a response to actions taken by the Obama administration on Thursday.

The switch was remarkable, given that the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, had just recommended the retaliation in remarks broadcast live on national television, and given the long history of reciprocal expulsions between the two countries. Russian officials have traditionally been sticklers for diplomatic protocol.

“While we reserve the right to take reciprocal measures, we’re not going to downgrade ourselves to the level of irresponsible ‘kitchen’ diplomacy,” Mr. Putin said, using a common Russian idiom for quarrelsome and unseemly acts. “In our future steps on the way toward the restoration of Russia-United States relations, we will proceed from the policy pursued by the administration” of Donald J. Trump.

Putin then invited American diplomats and their families to celebrate the New Year with him at the Kremlin…

Of course, this is nothing but posturing, yet it is not hard to see that Putin is also biding his time until a friendlier Trump presidency is in place:

It’s clear that Moscow expects that the new Trump administration will take a far more lenient line with the Kremlin than President Obama is, suddenly, in his last days in the Oval Office. Just this week, President-elect Donald Trump yet again brushed off any notion that the Russians interfered in the election that won him the White House, adding that the country needs to “move on” from what he considers to be a stale issue. This led Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of Trump’s own party, to note that 99 Senators agree with Obama and the Intelligence Community on the issue of Russian spy-games in 2016.

There’s the rub for Trump. While he and his surrogates continue to portray Russian espionage and covert action as non-issues, even as “fake news” conjured up by an alleged left-wing cabal of American spies, the espionage reality is well known in Washington, and a great many Republicans in Congress agree, at least in outline.

I’ve read a number of theories about why the president has been so slow to take action, in spite of being fully aware of the tampering into American politics by unfriendly states (See: OPM hack). Cynically, there is the suggestion that, ultimately, this is but an act of legacy protection by the president, as he works to seal in the public’s mind that Russia alone is to blame for Hillary Clinton’s devastating election loss…

This seems a good reminder:

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–Dana

12/29/2016

Elites In DC Demonstrate More Of That ‘Diversity’ Lip Service

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:19 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In yet another example of how we got Trump, and further confirmation that the Left’s claims of valuing diversity runs only skin deep, consider the difficulties that newly hired Counselor to the President and mom of four, Kellyanne Conway, is having as she tries to find a private school for her children in Washington, DC. According to a parent at her children’s current school, Conway is “asking everyone with connections to DC schools for help” in locating a school that will welcome her children:

“I would not characterize myself as ‘worried’ so much as amused by the silence and sighs on the other end of the phone when friends and allies have made preliminary inquiries on my behalf,” Conway told the Post while visiting schools in D.C. She also pointed to the double standard of the schools that tout diversity while at the same time not wanting to be associated with different points-of-view.

While the posh private schools’ handbooks and websites all preach “diversity” and “open-mindedness,” Conway said, “For some, there is a comfort in sameness.”

Unfortunately, Conway is not moving to a city which celebrates diversity. Because when more than 90% of residents voted for President Obama, there clearly exists a demonstrable lack of diverse political thought.

I don’t know which schools have hesitated at the possibility of the Conway family becoming a part of their community, but given that the Sidwell Friends School has been the go-to school for the Obamas for the past 8 years, what a fabulous opportunity for the renowned institution to reach out and welcome the Conway family, and demonstrate that their Quaker values and philosophy mean something more than just paying mere lip service. What a great opportunity for them to reach across the aisle, if you will. After all, when an organization espouses an open-minded embrace of diversity, should it not also include those whose political philosophies and worldviews differ from their own? Wouldn’t welcoming the Conway family give even more merit to the foundations upon which the school was built?

The Quaker belief that there is “that of God” in each of us shapes everything we do at Sidwell Friends School. It inspires us to show kindness and respect toward one another. It motivates us to recognize and nurture each person’s unique gifts. It teaches us to apply our talents in service to others and to work courageously for peace.

…Differences among us enhance intellectual inquiry, expand understanding, and deepen empathy.

What an opportune moment for any number of left-leaning individuals running D.C.’s private schools to eat their words remember that which their side has repeatedly scolded us with, It’s for the children.

–Dana

Trump Considers Privatizing VA

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:19 am

[guest post by Dana]

Reportedly, Donald Trump is looking at ways to possibly privatize the Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs:

Mr. Trump is considering changing the department to allow some veterans to bypass the VA heath-care system completely and get care exclusively from private-sector hospitals and clinics, the official said. It is an option that could give veterans full choice over their health care, but which many veterans groups argue is the first step toward privatization and one that will reduce the quality of health care over the long term.

“It’s one of the options on the table,” the transition official said Wednesday. ”Definitely an option on the table to have a system where potentially vets can choose either or, or all private.”

VA bureaucrats see this as problematic. Apparently, the specialized care and guidance that the VA currently provides is so unique that private hospitals would not be able to match it, and the issue of a former member of the military navigating a system on their own might be more than they can handle:

Veterans groups, and the department itself, say a private-sector care program without adequate VA oversight or coordination leaves former members of the military navigating a private system that isn’t necessarily equipped to handle the unique problems veterans face, including post-traumatic stress and injuries sustained on the battlefield.

“Veterans suffer very specific illnesses and injuries that come from the battlefield and that come from service and they tend to be multiple in nature,” VA Secretary Bob McDonald said in an interview on Dec. 13, when asked why the VA needs to remain the coordinating hub of care for veterans. “Veterans want a doctor, or want a provider, who understands these illnesses and these injuries and knows how to deal with them and deals with them every day.”

I suspect that there are any number of families of wounded veterans that might like to weigh in on this issue.

Consider this from Tiffany Smiley:

On an April day in Iraq in 2005, my husband’s world went black.

It came by way of a suicide car bomb. In one second, all the plans we had—for a military career, children and a happy life—seemed to go out the window. Quickly we learned that the federal bureaucracy, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, that would determine so much of our future was not up to the job.

Smiley goes on to lay out the struggles and frustration she and her husband experienced in their efforts to get her husband the help he needed:

My first encounter with the military bureaucracy came days after I arrived at Walter Reed to see Scotty, a West Point graduate, after he’d been flown in from Iraq. This was the other side of the country for me, away from everything and everyone I knew. I was supposed to be on “orders” and receiving a stipend for food, but somewhere along the way someone filled out the form incorrectly. The man I spoke to said that it would be a huge hassle to try to fix it, which seemed ridiculous in light of all that had happened, but I just accepted what he told me.

We got by on Scotty’s first lieutenant pay and the generosity of friends and family. But there has to be a better way for our federal government to make it easier for the spouses, parents and siblings who have to quit their jobs and forfeit their livelihoods to care for an injured veteran.

My next challenge came when we entered the world of rehabilitation for the blind. Scotty was 24-years-old and had his whole life ahead of him. I knew he needed a center that would teach him new things, challenge him and give him the confidence that he would once again be a contributing member of society. We were promised customized care at a blind rehab center. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was clear that no one was ready to rehabilitate post 9-11 warriors.

Here’s an example. We kept asking for computer training because we knew that technology and computers were going to be key to a future of dignity and productivity for Scotty. So imagine how appalled I was when I was informed that computer training came last—behind belt braiding and woodshop. Also, he was given books on cassette. Cassettes!

Smiley and her husband, with the support of friends and family, made it through the many obstacles and frustrations they faced. Smiley also makes several solid points that surely echo untold numbers of military families who have found themselves in the same frustrating boat of difficulties:

In a world where technology is making almost all aspects of life easier, why isn’t there a website, a liaison, or an advocate to fill out government paperwork and get deserving veterans the benefits they were promised and deserved? When I asked for help, someone suggested we hire a lawyer.

Our men and women who have sacrificed on the battlefield deserve better when they come home. So unlike others who worry that our new president is a businessman, this background gives me hope. Because unlike most federal agencies, the VA is primarily about dealing with people—customers. If Donald Trump hopes to make America great again, a good start would be making the VA run more like a business, and giving the customer what the customer needs.

–Dana

12/28/2016

Debbie Reynolds Passes Away

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:30 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Reynolds, overcome with grief at having just lost her daughter, Carrie, said her last words to son Todd Fisher before suffering a stroke:

“I miss her so much, I want to be with Carrie.”

Variety has posted a wonderful overview of her professional life on the stage and in movies.

May she and Carrie rest in peace together.

–Dana

Witless Gigolo Hectors Tiny Nation Surrounded by Putative Enemies

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:32 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Giving a farewell (and not a moment too soon!) speech at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry backed up the Obama Administration’s ugly betrayal of Israel at last week’s U.N. Security Council session, and in a way that only a smug, pompous, crass, rich dilettante who travels with a full security detail could, he essentially demanded that Israel open themselves to Islamofascist violence:

Kerry, though, on Wednesday rejected criticism “that [the U.N vote in which the U.S. abstained] abandons Israel” and described the resolution as a call for both sides to save the two-state solution “while there is still time.”

“We did not take this decision lightly,” Kerry said.

He said Israel’s “permanent settlement construction,” not the resolution, is risking peace.

“Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect,” Kerry said. He said the U.S. “did in fact vote in accordance with our values.”

In an at-times scathing address, Kerry went on to blast the “settler agenda” for allegedly pushing Israel toward seeking one state – which he asserted could not be both Jewish and democratic. He called the current government the “most right-wing” in Israel’s history and claimed its agenda is “driven by the most extreme elements.”

One can make a honest argument that Israeli settlements on the West Bank are hindering any sort of peace process. I might not agree with that particular assessment, seeing as how it is hard to take the Palestinians seriously as a legitimate peace partner, but I grant that it is a legitimate argument. But to advance this proposition now, after the Administration’s cluelessness towards events in Egypt, wrong choices in Libya, and ugly dithering in Syria has made things in that region far worse than they should be — to pivot and blame Israel for ruining the peace process under those circumstances is a level of delusional make-believe that I wouldn’t have thought even these vacuous narcissists would stoop to. The foreign policy of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry has been relentlessly awful for eight years, and good riddance to that horrid crew.

– JVW

12/27/2016

A National Treasure Says Farewell

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:17 am

[guest post by Dana]

At 86-years old, Dr. Thomas Sowell has decided to spend less time on politics and more time on his photography, at which he eloquently excels. It goes without saying that it is to our collective loss that we will no longer have a regular dose of his wise observations about the issues of the day. Like many of you, Dr. Sowell’s treasure trove of thought has challenged and shaped my own views on matters of education, politics, basic economics and more. To my mind, the brilliant and insightful Dr. Sowell has also consistently demonstrated a mastery in the art of gentle persuasion. His columns remain small gems of rational thought which sparkle in a sea of increasingly tedious emotionalism and propaganda. Dr. Sowell brought it all, and through it all, remained a gentleman and a scholar.

A timely exhortation from his farewell:

It was very fulfilling to be able to share my thoughts on the events unfolding around us, and to receive feedback from readers across the country — even if it was impossible to answer them all.

Being old-fashioned, I liked to know what the facts were before writing. That required not only a lot of research, it also required keeping up with what was being said in the media.

In parting, he reminds us of why it is so vital that we remain vigilant:

We cannot return to the past, even if we wanted to, but let us hope that we can learn something from the past to make for a better present and future.

–Dana

12/26/2016

It’s Just Not Christmas without Social Media Eruptions

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:20 am

[guest post by JVW]

ITEM ONE:

Current RNC Chairman and White House Chief of Staff-designate Reince Priebus rattled the social media world yesterday by releasing a Christmas statement on behalf of the RNC “to celebrate the good news of a new King.” Naturally, lots of folks on the outraged left (and more than a few on the anxious right) saw this statement as heralding the coming of the President-elect of the United States — notwithstanding the capitalization of the “k” in “King” — and not the recognition of the event central to the Christmas season. Priebus’s use of the adjective “new” was probably what set eyebrows at full-mast and tongues a-waggin’, and may have been intentional. None other than the boss thinks that it was an epic trolling job:

ITEM TWO:

Another self-hating white college professor — one who has a history of deranged racial statements — celebrated Christmas Eve by tweeting out the following (Tweet is an image rather than an embed because naturally this clown has made his Twitter account private):

drexel

HIs bosses at Drexel are apparently none too happy with Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher and are calling him on the carpet:

Drexel became aware today of Associate Professor George Ciccariello-Maher’s inflammatory tweet, which was posted on his personal Twitter account on Dec. 24, 2016. While the University recognizes the right of its faculty to freely express their thoughts and opinions in public debate, Professor Ciccariello-Maher’s comments are utterly reprehensible, deeply disturbing, and do not in any way reflect the values of the University.

The University is taking this situation very seriously. We contacted Ciccariello-Maher today to arrange a meeting to discuss this matter in detail.

ITEM THREE:

So long, George Michael. A number of people are naturally using his death to sound off about gay rights, immigrant rights (his father was a Cypriot immigrant to England), public bathroom ordinances, the carefully-groomed stubble-beard community, and whatever other agendas can be exploited by his death. He deserves better. Rest in peace.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah everyone.

– JVW

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