Patterico's Pontifications


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Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:57 pm

Your periodic reminder that the search box is on the sidebar.

Thanks for remembering.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Fever Swampers of the Right Smear Office of Special Counsel Head Henry Kerner

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:15 pm

President Trump’s Special Counsel Henry Kerner is a friend of mine. I have known him for over 20 years. He is a former colleague at the District Attorney’s Office who helped get me my job there.

I attended a farewell party for Henry when he left Los Angeles and the D.A.’s office to go to Washington. Henry is a lifelong staunch conservative who went to Washington as part of the Tea Party revolution. Now he has been confirmed as the head of Trump’s Office of Special Counsel — an office that protects federal whistleblowers and addresses Hatch Act violations, among other things.

In the reports concerning the scandal in which the IRS targeted Tea Party organization, Henry was deeply involved in the dissent to the majority report that laid out the reasons that the IRS’s targeting was so repulsive and wrong. As the Washington Post noted at the time:

Republicans offered dissenting conclusions in the Senate report, determining that the TIGTA audit was “accurate and proper” and saying that 83 percent of the targeted groups were right-leaning. “Simply stated, the IRS treated these conservative and Tea Party groups differently from other non-conservative groups,” the GOP members said.

Henry is the last person in the world who would ever be a part of targeting Tea Party groups. He was instrumental in calling out the IRS for what it did.

Imagine my surprise, then, to see my friend labeled by the nutcase far-right Conservative Treehouse fever swamp blog as a “deep state fixer.” I won’t repeat their nonsense, but it is standard far-right conspiracy theorizing about the “deep state” — only this time I know the guy involved, and I know it’s not true.

Conservative BananaHouse doesn’t bother to tell you that the report from the minority, in which Henry was involved, was on the side of the Tea Party groups. They make it sound like Henry was investigating himself or something, which is laughable.

Fever swamper Jim Hoft printed a similarly irresponsible post but has issued a semi-retraction. Hoft originally reported this story with a breathless headline labeling Henry a “D.C. Hatchet Man” — as you can see in their original URL:

But if you follow the link, you’ll see that Hoft now reports Henry’s side, after Henry spoke to Hoft:

Henry told us the report is inaccurate. The Tea Party targeting occurred before the 2012 election and the report in question by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations was published in September 2014. Henry’s name and Senator McCain’s name were on the report but the Republican minority at the time refused to sign Carl Levin’s report and released a report of their own.

Henry worked for Rep. Darrell Issa and was a member of the Harvard Republican club. Henry currently serves as head of the Office of Special Counsel.

Henry disputes this week’s reports. He says the IRS targeting scandal was strictly a Democrat endeavor.

Henry Kerner agreed with The Gateway Pundit that Judicial Watch is an excellent organization.

The allegations originated with Judicial Watch, who released notes from an IRS staffer purporting to quote Henry as saying that “maybe the solution [for groups abusing their 501(c)(4) status] is to audit so many that it is financially ruinous”:

Henry Kerner asked how to get to the abuse of organizations claiming section 501(c)(4) but designed to be primarily political. Lois Lerner said the system works, but not in real time. Henry Kerner noted that these organizations don’t disclose donors. Lois Lerner said that if they don’t meet the requirements, we can come in and revoke, but it doesn’t happen timely. Nan Marks said if the concern is that organizations engaging in this activity don’t disclose donors, then the system doesn’t work. Henry Kerner said that maybe the solution is to audit so many that it is financially ruinous. Nikole noted that we have budget constraints. Elise Bean suggested using the list of organizations that made independent expenditures. Lois Lerner said that it is her job to oversee it all, not just political campaign activity.

Judicial Watch takes the comments out of context to suggest — perhaps as payback for OSC’s finding that Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act? Who knows? — that Henry was somehow complicit in the targeting of Tea Party groups. Unfortunately, probably because of Judicial Watch’s unfair portrayal, even Larry O’Connor at the Washington Times — not a fever swamper — mistakenly alleged that Henry was talking about Tea Party groups.

A new report from Judicial Watch reveals a concerted effort from Sen. John McCain’s office to urge the IRS under Lois Lerner to strike out against political advocacy groups, including tea party organizations.

This is badly wrong, and Larry presents zero evidence in support of that allegation — and the timing doesn’t support it at all, which Larry would realize if he stopped to think about it for a moment.

Nothing in the quoted passage from the IRS staffer’s notes suggests that Henry was talking about Tea Party groups — and Lois Lerner’s admission that the IRS had previously targeted these groups came just ten days later, meaning that the IRS targeting had long since happened before Henry asked the question (assuming the notes are accurate, which I do not). Obviously, the years-long targeting did not take place in ten days. So what was Henry talking about? Even though the IRS/Tea Party scandal was an outrage, there are definitely non-profits that abuse their status as supposedly apolitical outfits (can you say ACORN?) and a new staffer asking questions about what to do about such abusive groups is hardly evidence of targeting groups for improper reasons.

This is truly Bizarro World. Best of all, even though Senator McCain was infuriated by the Tea Party scandal, this total nothingburger has been used to make McCain sound like he was part of the Lerner brigade. Here are the top comments at a post on the controversy at PJMedia:

McCain Comments at PJM

Nothing makes a made-up controversy better than sprinkling a nice dose of evil on top.

Jane, stop this crazy thing.

UPDATE: A few more points that just cement how ridiculous this all is. First, pull up the notes from the IRS staffer and look for the words “Tea Party” or “conservative.” Do you see them? I can’t find them. Second of all, look how many people are there, and look at all the questions Henry is asking. He is clearly learning about this process for the first time. Even if you didn’t know Henry and his conservatism the way I do, the notion that he is walking into a large group of strangers and making an improper suggestion to target Tea Party groups, when he is obviously meeting these people for the first time, is ludicrous.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Should Other Countries Target Trump’s Businesses?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:02 am

Business Insider has an article that claims that countries upset about Trump’s tariffs are thinking about targeting Trump’s businesses in retaliation:

President Donald Trump’s headlong push toward a trade war is prompting unprecedented responses from countries around the world and blowback from top US allies.

In the past three months, Trump has hit countries around the world with a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum exports to the US. The decision prompted a swift response from US allies, including retaliatory tariffs and a radical departure in treatment from other formerly friendly foreign leaders — from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to French President Emmanuel Macron.

But so far these responses have done little to deter Trump from moving forward with his trade agenda, prompting the the consideration of an out-of-the-box response for an out-of-the-box president.

Op-eds in The Houston Chronicle and the Canadian news magazine Maclean’s suggested the only way to quell the rising trade tensions is to strike at Trump’s businesses. While some countries, such as China, have appeared to try and sway the president through treating his family’s businesses more favorably, countries have not made moves to curtail the businesses’ activity within their borders.

This appears to be a case of fantasy; it’s a couple of op-eds and some politicos replying politely when asked about it. To me, it’s not worth a post based on the notion that it’s going to happen, because it’s not. It’s worth a post as a thought experiment about how people would discuss this option if it did occur — and as a warning about the danger of double standards.

Because if any country actually got up the nerve to do this (none will), it would be hard to mount a principled argument against it — that is, if you have been claiming so far that the favorable treatment his businesses have received from other countries is defensible.

And this is the problem with defending the indefensible. Eventually the argument gets turned around on you. As Popehat pointed out:

Similarly, if you promote the notion that Trump’s businesses are unrelated to his decisionmaking, and try to portray other countries’ using Trump businesses as a matter of no concern, then if it comes time for you to point out that countries are now targeting his businesses, you may find nobody cares.

The larger problem here is when a Democrat with very flawed character seeks the presidency. Remember how bad you said Hillary was? In four years, you’ll be telling me that whoever they picked this time was worse. But if you’ve spent four years defending Trump’s poor character, your complaints about the Democrats’ character are going to be less convincing.

And so it goes with applying a different standard to Trump than you would apply to anyone else. People will remember.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 81

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

It is the fifth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Jesus schläft, was soll ich hoffen?” (Jesus sleeps, what shall I hope for?)

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 4:35-41.

Jesus Calms the Storm

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

The text of today’s piece is available here. The cantata is a perfect musical companion to the Gospel reading, in which the sleeping Jesus awakens to calm the storm and protect those who believe in Him.

Jesus sleeps, what can I hope for?

. . . .

Quiet, heaving sea!
Be silent, storm and wind!
Your bounds are set for you,
so that my chosen child
will never suffer mishap.

O joy to me, my Jesus speaks a word,
my helper is awake,
so must the storm’s waves, the night of misfortune
and all trouble disappear.

Under your protection
I am safe from the storms
of all enemies.
Let Satan rage,
let the enemy fume,
Jesus stands with me.
Whether now it thunders and flashes,
whether sin and Hell terrify,
Jesus will protect me.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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