Patterico's Pontifications

1/20/2019

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 155

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:56 am



It is the second Sunday after Epiphany. Today’s Bach cantata is “Mein Gott, wie lang, ach lange?” (My God, how long, ah, how long), composed for the second Sunday after Epiphany in 1716:

Today’s Gospel reading is John 2:1-11:

Jesus Changes Water Into Wine

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

Jesus knows the right time
to cheer you with help.
When the troubled times disappear,
His whole heart will be open to you.

. . . .

Then be, o soul, be at peace!
If it appears to your eyes
as if your dearest Friend
has departed completely from you;
if He has left you for a brief time,
heart! believe firmly,
it will be only a little time,
before instead of bitter tears
He will grant you the wine of comfort and joy
and flowing honey in place of wormwood!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/19/2019

Brian Stelter and His “Reliable Sources”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:48 pm



Offered without further comment.

OK, I lied; I’ll offer further comment.

There’s nothing wrong with having Ben Smith and Anthony Cormier on a show about media. Stelter should have Jason Leopold on as well. The issue is not simply their presence on the show. The issue is whether they, and the sources upon which they based their recent blockbuster story, are going to be treated as “Reliable Sources.”

And based on Stelter’s track record — including having Dan Rather on his show and treating him as some sort of journalism laureate — Stelter is not going to raise the real questions that need to be raised. Such as: how do you hire a guy who maintained for months that Karl Rove had been indicted — and who doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on that story when the world could see how dubious it was? And how could you publish a story this momentous based on anonymous sources, co-authored by a guy with that track record?

And: if you claim that there are documents supporting your story, where are they? Did you bring them with you today? You didn’t? Why not?

So yeah, Brian Stelter, I want “to pursue and promote reliable info” and “to advocate for a better media ecosystem.” But I don’t think your laughably named show is the way to do that.

Prove me wrong. Do your job on Sunday. Don’t tepidly raise Mueller’s denial, give these guys a platform to pretend that their story is still solid, and act like it’s a he said/she said situation. Even if Trump did what they are accusing him of — and believe me, I think that’s quite possible — there is a Big Problem here. If you want to advocate for a better media ecosystem, you should damned well treat it like the problem it is.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/18/2019

Beware of Jason Leopold, One of the Reporters Who Broke the Blockbuster BuzzFeed Story (UPDATE: Special Counsel Says Story Inaccurate)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:01 am



Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last twelve hours, you’ve heard about the BuzzFeed story alleging that there is documentary evidence that Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal:

President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.

Trump also supported a plan, set up by Cohen, to visit Russia during the presidential campaign, in order to personally meet President Vladimir Putin and jump-start the tower negotiations. “Make it happen,” the sources said Trump told Cohen.

. . . .

The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.

This is a genuine “whoa if true” moment. If the President of the United States instructed his personal lawyer to lie to Congress about the extent of a proposed business deal with Russia, that is impeachable.

But hold up. Let’s look at the names on that BuzzFeed story again. Why does the name Jason Leopold sound familiar? Oh, right: because he told us confidently in 2006, again and again, based on anonymous law enforcement sources, that Karl Rove would be indicted.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 business hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

I mean, he had a case number for the case (06 cr 128) and everything. It was solid, man! Solid!

NARRATOR: Rove was never actually indicted. Leopold, and his sources, were dead wrong. Laughably so. And he was a laughingstock at the time. I remember it well and wrote about it right here, again and again.

Leopold already had credibility issues when the Rove series of articles broke. The idea that you’d take his word on anything … well, let’s just say I don’t recommend it.

That said, the pair that broke the current BuzzFeed story has been out front on the Cohen story for a while. As I noted in November:

Oddly enough, and I feel weird saying this, but a BuzzFeed story from May 17, 2018 co-authored by (shudder) Jason Leopold appears to have gotten a lot of this right before anyone else did — in particular the extent to which Cohen had continued to push the Trump Tower Moscow deal months after January 2018, when (according to what Cohen had told Congress) the deal had supposedly been dead

The reporter who is not Jason Leopold sounds very confident:

But he has not seen the evidence himself.

Leopold was 100% confident about Rove. I mean 100%. I’m glad it’s the other reporter who dealt with the sources. Still…

This, I’ll believe when I see it in Mueller’s report.

If I do, and if the evidence is solid, I will be foursquare behind impeaching and removing this guy. Heck, I’m already threesquare behind it.

Meanwhile, the drama in D.C. continues, with Pelosi (maybe) delaying the SoTU, and Trump retaliating by canceling her trip to visit the troops in Afghanistan. What a show! Sure would be a shame if it came to an end, wouldn’t it?

UPDATE: Ouch.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back, where discussion is unfailingly civil.]

1/17/2019

NYT Writer Calls For Open Borders To Everyone Who Wants To Move Here

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:22 pm



[guest post by Dana]

The New York Times, demonstrating once again that diversity does not include political thought, published an op-ed by recently hired columnist Farhad Manjoo, who attempts to convince us that open borders would be a good thing for the U.S.:

[T]here’s one political shore that remains stubbornly beyond the horizon. It’s an idea almost nobody in mainstream politics will address, other than to hurl the label as a bloody cudgel.

I’m talking about opening up America’s borders to everyone who wants to move here.

Imagine not just opposing President Trump’s wall but also opposing the nation’s cruel and expensive immigration and border-security apparatus in its entirety. Imagine radically shifting our stance toward outsiders from one of suspicion to one of warm embrace. Imagine that if you passed a minimal background check, you’d be free to live, work, pay taxes and die in the United States. Imagine moving from Nigeria to Nebraska as freely as one might move from Massachusetts to Maine.

There’s a witheringly obvious moral, economic, strategic and cultural case for open borders, and we have a political opportunity to push it. As Democrats jockey for the presidency, there’s room for a brave politician to oppose President Trump’s racist immigration rhetoric not just by fighting his wall and calling for the abolishment of I.C.E. but also by making a proactive and affirmative case for the vast expansion of immigration.

It would be a change from the stale politics of the modern era, in which both parties agreed on the supposed wisdom of “border security” and assumed that immigrants were to be feared.

As an immigrant, this idea confounds me. My family came to the United States from our native South Africa in the late 1980s. After jumping through lots of expensive and confusing legal hoops, we became citizens in 2000. Obviously, it was a blessing: In rescuing me from a society in which people of my color were systematically oppressed, America has given me a chance at liberty.

But why had I deserved that chance, while so many others back home — because their parents lacked certain skills, money or luck — were denied it?

When you see the immigration system up close, you’re confronted with its bottomless unfairness. The system assumes that people born outside our borders are less deserving of basic rights than those inside. My native-born American friends did not seem to me to warrant any more dignity than my South African ones; according to this nation’s founding documents, we were all created equal. Yet by mere accident of geography, some were given freedom, and others were denied it.

This is so stunningly naive, convoluted, and simplistic, it boggles the mind. To Manjoo, any border security by default, is bad, immoral, xenophobic, and flat-out un-American. To which I say, tell that to Americans who have lost loved ones at the hands of immigrants who should not have been in the U.S. in the first place. While Manjoo wants to put out the welcome mat to anyone and everyone, those walking through the devastating aftermath of the unnecessary loss of their loved ones might see it a bit differently. Their loved ones are dead, but they would not be dead if that immigrant had not unlawfully crossed the border into the U.S. They would not be dead if that immigrant had been prevented from crossing the border through stricter security measures. Period. In the minutiae of border discussions, this pivotal point is conveniently ignored by individuals like Manjoo and the open-borders crowd. It has to be. To confront it would be to accept that the argument to open the border is severely flawed.

I’m uninterested in taking time to debate Manjoo’s claims, one by one, because the inherent dangers and risks that come with open borders speak for themselves. This is some childish pie-in-the-sky thinking that, when we apply basic common sense, becomes self-refuting. With that, it will be interesting to see if and when the new progressives in Congress make their move toward an open border. They will not only have to successfully convince the hoi polloi that this is a viable policy position in the best interest of the U.S., but also convince their own leadership, including Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, both of whom supported legislature to provide border fencing in 2006. (See Secure Fence Act of 2006.)

Untitled

Officer Singh was a legal immigrant from Fiji, who like Farhad Manjoo’s family, jumped through the necessary hoops to become a U. S. citizen. This unlike Gustavo Perez Arriaga, who illegally crossed into the U.S. via the Arizona border and has been charged with the murder of Officer Singh. Because Arriaga should not have been the U.S. in the first place, Officer Singh’s death was preventable.

–Dana

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Trump: Maybe Someone Should Investigate Michael Cohen’s Father-in-Law

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:09 am



Dat’s a nice fahder in law ya got dere. Be a shame if someone was to investigate him:

In an interview with FOX News on Saturday, Trump called Cohen “weak,” accused him of lying to prosecutors in order to get a reduced sentence, and hinted — unprompted and without evidence — that he possessed damaging information about Cohen’s family.

“[Cohen] should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at,” Trump told FOX News host Jeanine Pirro. “That’s the money in the family.”

There has been no public indication during the investigation of Cohen that his father-in-law is or was the subject of any criminal inquiry.

“It’s an absolutely shocking violation of norms for the chief executive to suggest a retaliatory investigation against the relative of a witness against him,” said Kenneth White, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney with Brown, White & Osborn LLP. “This is Nixonian ‘enemy list’ stuff, but instead of the public finding out about it through secret tapes and insiders, the president is saying it openly on TV.”

. . . .

One day after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, Trump tweeted that Cohen agreed to plead guilty only “to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did – including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook.”

I know that many readers here will not find Trump’s threats a “shocking violation of norms” but as business as usual from the Lunatic in Chief. However, the fact that Trump engages in regular surprising violations of norms should not dull our senses to the point where we allow this sort of behavior not to shock us.

If Democrats get around to mounting a genuine effort to impeach Trump, this should be among the articles of impeachment.

Meanwhile, Rudy “Bug Eyes” Giuliani seems to be leaving open the possibility that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, saying his past denials of collusion have related only to Trump personally:

President Trump’s legal spokesman Rudolph W. Giuliani on Wednesday night appeared to grant the possibility that members of Trump’s campaign did, in fact, collude with the Russians during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

And in the process, he contradicted dozens of previous denials that both the Trump team (and Trump himself) have offered.

“I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign,” Giuliani told CNN’s Chris Cuomo, before getting cut off.

“Yes, you have,” Cuomo said.

Giuliani shot back: “I have not. I said ‘the president of the United States.’”

Here’s the clip:

Kinda hard to deny collusion by the campaign when Trump’s campaign manager gave internal polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Mueller has described as someone who has “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”

I suspect the next shoe to drop will relate to additional evidence of Trump’s knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya. If I’m right, that evidence will be waved off impatiently by Trump superfans as well.

And the drama continues…

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/16/2019

Mandatory Post: CNN Contributor Checks White Privilege of Black Guy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:16 am



If you haven’t seen this yet, buckle in and enjoy. It’s a CNN contributor telling David Webb to check his white privilege. Problem is: Webb is black.

Life should come with a soundtrack. And the sound effect for this moment is:

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/15/2019

Freedom Caucus Chairman: Let’s Tap Asset Forfeiture Funds To Get That Wall Going

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:02 am



[guest post by Dana]

All states and the federal government allow law enforcement to seize/forfeit cash, property…they believe are associated with illegal activity… Criminal asset forfeiture proceedings occur against a person after being convicted of an underlying criminal offense. Civil asset forfeiture, once property has been seized, prosecutors can file civil actions in order to forfeit, or keep, the property of someone suspected of being involved in an illegal activity. The action is against the property—not the person—and can be seized even if the person is not charged or convicted of a crime.)

Untitled

He’s not alone:

Freedom Caucus member Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) urged Trump to make the emergency declaration in an op-ed in the Daily Caller, while Rep. Mark Green, a freshman and newly minted Freedom Caucus member, is also girding for action on securing the border.

“I support whatever means it takes to get it done,” the Tennessee Republican told Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs. “We have a crisis at the southern border. It’s time to act.”

Robby Soave reminds us of what the Freedom Caucus claims to be about:

According to its bio, the House Freedom Caucus purportedly supports “open, accountable & limited government, the Constitution & the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety & prosperity of all Americans.” One might expect more of its members to recongize that Trump’s proposed course of action violates many of these principles and weakens them in the long term.

Interestingly, on Friday, Meadows expressed concerns about the obvious resulting slippery slope if an agreement couldn’t be reached and the president declared a national emergency, but apparently he was able to overcome any concerns:

“I do see the potential for national emergencies being used for every single thing that we face in the future where we can’t reach an agreement. That’s the slippery slope that I’m concerned about,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a top Trump ally, told POLITICO on Thursday. “The administration is well aware of the ability to use national emergency [powers] and the reluctance to do so from House members.”

“And yet, I think the president would find broad support if it’s determined that ultimately he has to do it,” Meadows added.

Summing up the problem:

“Whatever it takes to get it done” and “time to act” are not phrases associated with constrained government and the protection of individual liberty. But with the noted exception of the uncommonly principled Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.)—who is also a member of the much more libertarian (and much smaller) Liberty Caucus—this group of legislators ostensibly dedicated to preserving freedom seem perfectly willing to jettison their priorities if they stand in the way of Donald Trump and his wall.

It’s all pretty funny when one considers that just a few short years ago, Republicans saw the need to reform civil asset forfeiture and came together to push back against Jeff Sessions and “limit the Justice Department from using funds towards facilitating asset forfeiture”.

Limited government, individual liberty, natural rights, and fiscal accountability were once the backbone of the right. But when a wall is at stake, President Trump’s wall, some Republicans are willing to make that slippery-slope exception. It’s become a troubling reality, this increasing lack of daylight between Democrats and Republicans when faced with something they want done now.

Note: As to whether federal forfeiture money can be put toward the wall, the Washington Post says no:

Under federal law, money from the DOJ’s forfeiture fund can only be put toward certain specified uses, including maintaining the fund itself, paying overtime and salaries of law enforcement officers, paying informants and upgrading law enforcement vehicles. Similar rules govern the money in the Treasury Department’s forfeiture fund. Absent congressional action, authorities wishing to appropriate money for a wall from either fund would have to justify that use under existing statutes, and it’s unclear whether they’d be able to. ABC News’s Tara Palmieri has reported that Justice Department officials are “fiercely against” using DOJ forfeiture money in this fashion.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

1/14/2019

Trump: You Know, That Hitler Lover Had a Pretty Good Point About the Border

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 am



Ah, the famous Welsh poet Patrick Buchanan. I’m with Michael McKean:

Unlike Trump’s usual bizarre early-morning tweets, this pair of tweets came yesterday evening. After all, old age should burn and rave at close of day.

One thing about Patrick Buchanan: in addition to being “one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century” he is also a “Hitler lover.” Wait, who called him that nasty thing? Haven’t you already guessed?

In 1999, Trump called Buchanan a “Hitler lover” and said it was “incredible that anybody could embrace this guy.” Buchanan, who has often been accused of expressing racist and anti-Semitic views, at the time was seeking the Reform Party’s nomination for president.

“Look, he’s a Hitler lover,” Trump said on “Meet the Press” in October 1999. “I guess he’s an anti-Semite. He doesn’t like the blacks. He doesn’t like the gays. It’s just incredible that anybody could embrace this guy.”

Anyway, should we be taking a hint from Trump when he quotes a poem about impotently raging against the inevitable?

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/13/2019

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 123

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:06 pm



It is the Baptism of Our Lord. Today’s Bach cantata is “Liebster Immanuel, Herzog der Frommen” (Dearest Emmanuel, duke of the pious).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 3:15-17, 21-22:

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

. . . .

The Baptism and Genealogy of Jesus

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

If storms rage,
Jesus sends me from above
rescue and light.

. . . .

You, Jesus, You are mine, and I am Yours;
I will prepare myself for You away from the world;
You shall be in my heart and my mouth.
My entire life
shall be dedicated to You,
until one day I am laid in the grave.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/12/2019

New York Times: FBI Investigated Whether Trump Worked for Russia

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:57 pm



I guess it makes sense now that Rosenstein appointed a special counsel, huh?

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller’s broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them. It is unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter, and some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped in opening it.

Of course, it’s absurd to think that Trump was in contact with the Kremlin, and no evidence has emerged of that. In fact, not a scrap of evidence has come out that anyone even connected to Trump was in secret contact with Kremlin officials, with the following small exceptions I typed from off the top of my head:

  • Trump’s campaign manager gave internal polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik, whom Mueller has described as someone who has “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”
  • Trump’s campaign manager, son-in-law, and so met with a Russian operative to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. That operative has since been indicted for obstruction of justice, for her secret collaboration with the Russian prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika, on behalf of a ompany run by a Putin-connected Russian oligarch.
  • Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer contacted “Russian Official 1″ (Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s Press Secretary) regarding a Trump Tower Moscow proposal.

With the exception of these contacts, and probably a few dozen others that are not occurring to me off the top of my head, there is no reason to think that Trump’s people had anything to do with Russia. And anyway, Trump himself says so:

And Donald Trump is a fearless truth-teller.

The Deep State strikes again. They are the true enemy of the American people.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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