Patterico's Pontifications

5/31/2018

Trey Gowdy: Spygate, Schmygate; Also Trump Asked Sessions to Unrecuse [UPDATE: D’Souza Pardon]

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 am

People who retire are finally allowed to say what they actually think. So liberating! Outgoing Rep. Trey Gowdy says the FBI not only did nothing wrong in using an informant, but that they did what the public would want them to do:

Outgoing Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the House Oversight Committee chairman and a Trump supporter, said in an interview on Fox that the FBI was justified in using a secret informant to assist in the Russia investigation. Gowdy, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, attended a classified Justice Department briefing last week on the FBI’s use of the confidential source, identified as Stefan A. Halper.

President Trump himself in the Comey memos said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it, and it sounds to me like that is exactly what the FBI did,” Gowdy told host Martha MacCallum. “I think when the president finds out what happened, he is going to be not just fine, he is going to be glad that we have an FBI that took seriously what they heard.

“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said. Asked about the president’s tweets on the subject, Gowdy added that such statements could be subject to questioning by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

“If I were his lawyer, and I never will be, I would tell him to rely on his lawyers and his [communications] folks,” he said.

Let’s repeat the language I have bolded: “President Trump himself in the Comey memos said if anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it.” The thing is, Trump doesn’t act like it. The New York Times recently revealed that Trump attempted in March 2017 to get Sessions to undo his recusal:

By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.

When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.

Mr. Sessions refused.

The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, as are the president’s public and private attacks on Mr. Sessions and efforts to get him to resign.

It’s a story based on anonymous sources, but it’s consistent with Trump’s public behavior in berating Sessions on Twitter and saying that he never would have picked Sessions if he had known that he would recuse himself. Implicit in Trump’s stance appears to be the curious notion that if Sessions had not recused himself, he would have shut the Russia investigation down. That strikes me as an unwarranted assumption. In any event, Sessions did the right thing, and took a lot of heat from Trump over it. Good for him.

If Trump did what the New York Times claims, it’s another brick in the impeachment wall that Democrats are trying to build in the hopes that they retake the House. Trump’s act of firing Comey to shut down the investigation would be a muddy basis for impeachment standing alone, given that Trump mixed his true motivations with other justifications (even though he unwittingly revealed that those justifications were ultimately irrelevant). The motive behind this act is much clearer. Add it to all the others, and you are approaching something Democrats might act on. Especially when, for many, Trump being Trump is all the justification they think they need.

Removal of Trump is a pipe dream for Democrats — but if shoes like this keep dropping, and if Trump keeps behaving impulsively and foolishly (and it’s a given that he will), impeachment is not.

UPDATE: And right on cue, another foolish act: Trump announces he will give a full pardon to Dinesh D’Souza.

President Trump announced Thursday he will pardon conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution in 2014.

“Will be giving a Full Pardon to Dinesh D’Souza today. He was treated very unfairly by our government!” the president tweeted Thursday morning.

The pattern here is unmistakable. Thinking of rolling on Trump but you’re looking at a conviction for lying to the feds? Here’s a pardon for Scooter Libby! Wink wink! Thinking of rolling on Trump and you’re looking at a prosecution for campaign finance violations? Here’s a pardon for Dinesh D’Souza!

This is not subtle. And it feeds the perception, among those of us paying attention, that he is very worried for some reason.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

5/30/2018

Russian Journalist Killed on Orders from the Kremlin Actually Wasn’t

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:02 am

[guest post by JVW]

Well, this is a story that is shaping up like some Hollywood thriller. Yesterday brought news that Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin who had been forced to leave Russia for his family’s safety, had been shot and killed on the street in Kiev, Ukraine. This comes only six weeks after the mysterious five-story fall that killed Russian journalist Maxim Borodin, who had first reported the story of the Russian “mercenary troops” killed by U.S. forces in Syria, and it fits a pattern where Russians harshly critical of the Kremlin have a curious habit of dying.

But today, a major plot twist:

The fierce anti-Kremlin Russian journalist who was reported dead in Ukraine’s capital showed up to a news conference on Wednesday very much alive, as authorities revealed it was all part of a foiled murder plot against him.

Vasily Gritsak, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service, said at a news conference that the agency faked Arkady Babchenko’s death to catch those who were trying to kill him.

[. . . ]

Before ushering Babchenko into the room, Gritsak said investigators had identified a Ukrainian citizen who had been recruited and paid $40,000 by the Russian security service to organize and carry out the killing. The unidentified Ukrainian man in turn hired an acquaintance who had fought in the separatist war in eastern Ukraine as the gunman.

The Associated Press has reported that Ukrainian authorities have detained a suspect who is believed to be the local man who organized the plot. Naturally, the Kremlin is denying that they have anything to do with this.

No doubt that scriptwriters are at this moment working on an outline to shop around to the studios.

– JVW

Three Examples to Show How Trump’s Statement about the Official Was False

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

If I’m going to spend my morning writing examples to demonstrate that Donald Trump denied the existence of the senior U.S. official quoted by the New York Times, I’m making a post out of it.

Let’s recall what Trump said:

The Failing ‪@nytimes‬ quotes “a senior White House official,” who doesn’t exist, as saying “even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.” WRONG AGAIN! Use real people, not phony sources.

This reduces to

#1: X quotes “a senior White House official,” who doesn’t exist, as saying Y. Wrong! Use real people as your sources.

And many are rewriting Trump’s statement to mean:

#2: X quotes a senior White House official as saying Y, but no “senior White House official who said Y” exists.

But those statements are not equivalent. So the rewriting changes the meaning.

In #2, the rewriting preferred by Trump defenders, the existence of the official-who-said-Y depends on his having said Y. But in #1, AS IT IS PHRASED, there is no such interdependence expressed by the speaker between the existence of the official and the nature of what he said. He is simply saying the official does not exist, independent of what he goes on to say about Y.

If you don’t like symbols, here are some hypotheticals and illustrations to make the point clearer.

1. If I said: “A witness described the Abominable Snowman, who does not exist, as being seven feet tall,” you would not read that as an assertion that my denial of the Snowman’s existence depends on his height.

2. Hypo: Trump says Obama wiretapped him. James Comey says: “Trump claims that a wiretap on his phone, which never existed, was placed on his phone by Obama. Wrong!” If it emerged (in the hypo) that there was a wiretap placed on Trump’s phone by someone in the Obama administration — but not by Obama himself — Comey still lied, by saying no wiretap existed.

No sensible person would write a piece saying Comey told the truth, because the wiretap on Trump’s phone that was placed by someone other than Obama means “a wiretap placed by Obama” did not exist.

3. If Obama had said: “National Review says the gender pay gap in my administration, which does not exist, has women making 90 cents for every dollar men make. That is wrong! Stop making up phony concepts!” you would read that as a denial of a pay gap in his administration. If it turned out that women actually made 91 cents in his administration for every dollar men made, instead of 90 cents, you would not say that he was correct to assert that the pay gap “does not exist” simply because the actual pay gap is different than as represented by National Review.

And if Obama said: “All I was saying was that no gender pay gap of 90 cents exists” you would say he is rewriting his statement to mean something different than what he actually had said.

People are rewriting Trump’s tweet to make it say something different. Look: I get that the New York Times inaccurately paraphrased the official. We can acknowledge that and criticize it. But he still exists, and Trump said he didn’t. Any argument to the contrary consists of rewriting #1 as #2, but they don’t mean the same thing.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

5/29/2018

Roseanne Cancelled Due to Racist Tweet

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:02 pm

Because I like quoting the New York Times to troll the trolls, here is…the New York Times:

Two months ago, Roseanne Barr was a star again.

Her sitcom “Roseanne” returned in March after a two-decade absence to enormous ratings on ABC. Network executives were celebrating their strategy of appealing to wider swaths of the country after Donald J. Trump’s surprising election win and the president himself called Ms. Barr to congratulate her on the show’s large audience.

But on Tuesday, that all came crashing down. ABC abruptly canceled “Roseanne” hours after Ms. Barr, the show’s star and co-creator, posted a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who was a senior adviser to Barack Obama throughout his presidency and considered one of his most influential aides. Ms. Barr wrote if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

My guess is that some people will try to argue that this tweet is not racist, and that I am a New York Times tool for accepting their characterization of the tweet as racist. With any luck, we can have a 1000-comment thread where people recharacterize Barr’s tweet as, I don’t know, a comment about gun control because of Charlton Heston? You’re limited only by your own creativity.

Here’s the game. I declare the tweet racist because, well, it is. Because Barr likes Trump, you find some disingenuous way to defend it.

You might prefer a different game, since that one is kind of a loser for you. The truth is: whether a hit show should be cancelled over a tweet is another discussion. If defending the tweet doesn’t work, I recommend backtracking to that more solid ground. Find examples of racist Obama supporters making racist comments and keeping their positions, and all of a sudden you have something to be outraged about. The story is five hours old at least. I’m sure the fuel for your outrage is out there. All you have to do is go find it.

I, however, will not be doing that for you.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Portland Bar Holds “Reparations Happy Hour”; Whites Not Welcome

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:56 am

This is as woke as woke can get:

A bar in Portland, Oregon in the U.S, handed out $10 (£7.50) bills to all the black, brown and minority ethnicities that walked into their establishment.

The money was scrambled from white people’s donations, who were asked not to attend the ‘reparations happy hour’.

That meant their drinks were paid for by their white counterparts as a small and symbolic way to compensate for the hardships and suffering faced by such communities.

Cameron Whitten, the 27-year-old activist who organised the event, said while it in no way made up for the horrors of slavery and contemporary injustices, it was about solidarity.

Did I say in the headline that whites weren’t welcome? OK, that wasn’t entirely accurate. Whites were welcome: to give reparations to pay for minorities’ drinks. They just weren’t welcome to attend:

As for the decision not to include white people during the evening, Brown Hope said in the event description: ‘White people can show up and support by GIVING reparations.

Instead of physically attending, your presence will be felt through your active financial support for healing, leadership, and community building within Portland’s black, brown, and indigenous community.’

I know what you’re thinking, and your sentiments have been echoed on the Internet: it doesn’t go far enough. As one person wrote on social media: “How about addressing inequalities in pay, housing and education? You know, something that’ll make a meaningful difference.” Kind of a tall order for a bar, but dream big, Mr. Person on Social Media!

The next reparationsfest will be held at the Back to Eden bakery in Portland. I’m glad that business is taking part, because they have a lot to make up for after refusing to serve a black woman earlier this month, just because the bakery had already closed. As the company explained on May 11 on their Facebook page, it all began when a local black activist entered the bakery six minutes after closing time, and started making videos when she wasn’t served (h/t: Andy Ngo):

At a base level, Lillian, a proud Black woman who has roots in the Alberta neighborhood and has seen it systematically gentrified over the years by property owners and businesses like ours, chose to patron our bakery for the first time trusting that our company is who it portends to be and was denied service while the room is filled with white people getting served their vegan treats without incident. The two videos Lillian then posted on Facebook about her experience will better explain how she felt in that moment than we ever could and we encourage anyone who isn’t familiar with the situation to fully watch them before offering up blanket expressions of support for our business.

Since people are seeking the precise details of what occurred here is what we were able to view in Thursday night’s security camera footage:

-At 9:02 pm we were unusually busy for closing time which is stated as 9pm everywhere that our hours appear. Most of the seats were filled and there were four people in line waiting to be served.

-At 9:03 pm our employee turns the “Open” sign light off.

-At 9:04 pm two more white women walk in and line up to be served. At this point the customers present are informed that we are officially closed.

-At 9:06 pm Lillian enters and stands in line to be served assuming given how many people are still inside and the doors unlocked that we are still open. Lillian is told we are closed and the last two women in line are the last to be served. After that she exits the building and begins taking her first video.

With this breathless minute-by-minute accounting from security cam footage, you’re left waiting for the moment when they say the shooter produced his weapon and started mowing people down — but no, it’s still just a story about a black woman who wasn’t served after the bakery was closed.

The business is just devastated, because it’s Portland and they are committed to intersectionality — why, they might even know what that means! Nah — and yet they are being called racist:

Rather than touting all the ways in which are truly committed to fighting for social justice I should have centered on Lillian’s experience. There is nothing fun about being called a racist especially when it is truly antithetical to everything you stand for but often what happens when well meaning white folk get called out on something race related we are very quick to jump to defense. . . . The sad fact of the matter is that what Lillian experienced in our shop Thursday night is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the discrimination that Black women encounter on a daily basis across this city, state and country. Walking into an establishment that visibly prides itself on its intersectional progressive politics only to be denied service while all the white people inside are being served has to feel horrible just in itself.

Yes, it’s a wake-up call for this business, which prided itself on following all the latest lefty trends, to learn that all their earnest clamoring for Social Justice has been disregarded, and they’re just being treated like another pack of white-robed KKK thugs.

Rest easy, though: according to the business’s Facebook page, the offending employees who attempted to enforce the business hours were fired.

In this situation it doesn’t really matter that the two staff members working are not themselves racist because the call they made to deny Lillian service caused her to feel like she had been discriminated against. Sometimes impact outweighs intent and when that happens people do need to be held accountable. Since both Lillian and the clamoring public were demanding that these staff members be fired that it is what we did putting these two young women out of work. It was an incredibly difficult thing for us to do especially when they felt that they were just upholding our closing time of 9pm but the way in which they went about it lacked sensitivity and understanding of the racial implications at work.

All will be well on June 20, when whites will be invited to pay for Proud Lillian’s apple platz.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

5/28/2018

Memorial Day 2018

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:38 am

From my 2014 post on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, these are shots I took at the Normandy American Cemetery in 2013:

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 7.34.21 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 7.16.11 AM

Remember the fallen, and thanks to those who serve and have served.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

5/27/2018

Rumors Swirl About the Death of Abbas

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:08 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Twitter is abuzz with rumors coming allegedly from Middle Eastern sources that Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has died. Abbas checked into a hospital in Ramallah nearly a week ago with what was thought to be pneumonia, and he has spent some time on a respirator. He had been expected to be released by this weekend, but was held over. Hebron Radio reported his death a few hours ago, but then has apparently since walked back the report. Fatah is said to have released a statement denying that Abbas is now consulting directly with Arafat.

More if and when this story develops.

– JVW

California Could Save the House for Republicans

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am

Thanks to the state’s goofed-up primarily system:

After months of optimism that the state’s June 5 primary would position them to pick off seven Republican-held districts in November — a substantial down payment on reclaiming the House — Democrats are now trying to ensure that they do not hurt themselves because of their unusually crowded slates of candidates.

With so many Democrats running, the party’s fear is that the vote will be splintered, allowing Republicans — who have fewer candidates — to dominate some primaries. The party and allied groups are spending more than $4 million on just three campaigns, intervening in one contest to prop up a favored candidate; attacking a Republican from the right in another; and even reminding people not to waste their votes on “ghost candidates” who have dropped out yet remain on the ballot.

As any progressive activist will explain through gnashed teeth, the head-snapping scramble is because of the state’s “top two” open primary system, which allows the two leading vote-getters — regardless of political parties — to advance to the general election.

My sober political analysis:

Lolololololol

This Open Thread Does Not Exist

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:50 am

Like the senior administration official who was quoted by numerous news organizations, this open thread does not exist. Sure, it appears to. You think you’re looking at it right now. But you are Fake News. President Trump says this thread does not exist, and President Trump does not lie.

Show your support for President Trump by leaving a comment below. Any negative comments about President Trump do not exist.

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 174

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

It is Trinity Sunday. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Ich liebe den Höchsten von ganzem Gemüte” (I love the Highest with my entire being).

Today’s Gospel reading is John 3:1-17.

Jesus Teaches Nicodemus

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

We remember Nicodemus from John’s passion, from the reading on Good Friday.

We already had the last four verses of this reading, including the famous “for God so loved the world” passage, two months ago, on the fourth Sunday in Lent. If a guy in a rainbow wig (now serving life in prison, per JVW) thought this was important enough passage to take to all the sporting events, so it can’t hurt us to see it twice. Now we have what leads up to it in the Gospel reading, along with a musical offering to give deeper meaning to the words.

The text of today’s piece is available here. Here the words for the opening aria, and the beginning of the recitative, including the famous line: “God so loved the world!”

2. Aria A

I love the Highest with my entire being,
He also has the greatest love for me.
God alone
shall be my soul’s treasure,
in which my eternal source of goodness lies.

3. Recitative T

O love, which none other resembles!
O priceless ransom!
The Father has given his child’s life
over to death on behalf of sinners
and all of these, who heaven’s kingdom
had taken lightly and lost,
are elected to blessedness.
God so loved the world!

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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