Patterico's Pontifications

7/9/2019

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise: The Seth Rich Conspiracy Theory Was a Russian Disinformation Operation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:20 pm



So be proud if you spread it. (See below for plenty of comments on this very Web site from people who did.) You were doing the bidding of Russian trolls:

In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.

Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.

. . . .

The Russian-inspired conspiracy theories also have had a devastating effect on the Rich family, especially after the theories migrated to alt-right websites and, ultimately, primetime Fox News shows. As they did so, there were repeated suggestions by alt-right commentators that the DNC staffer’s parents and brother were concealing information about his conduct.

We have had some commenters in recent times who fell for this crap. I won’t outright name anyone, but here are a few comments that appeared on this here Web site, just so you know I’m not making this up. For example, here:

damn that was unreadable stuff. Couldn’t get through the first paragraph. You Brennanites just seem so doomed.

And not a word about Seth Rich. Well, okay. Good luck with your little confused narrative. I can’t imagine who you find to latch onto that.

And here:

the sluts and tarts at the corrupt FBI aren’t even a wee tiny bit curious about Seth Rich’s murder

but spearphishing holy god america that gets their hot and horny blood pumping

Here:

I guess they will next be hired by bezos, the hill is also the ones there is nothing strange with the Seth rich matter.

And here:

Kim Dotcom says he was involved beginning, middle, and end, with the DNC email leak.
Can’t call it a hack because Seth Rich was an insider, supposed to use the DNC computer the exact way he did, as part of his job.

Here (copypasta of Roger L. Simon):

Further to this portion of the narrative is the overall question of putative Russian government hacking into the Clinton campaign. So far we have seen no public evidence that this is true. We have actually seen circumstantial evidence (the Seth Rich murder) to the contrary.

And here:

Seth Rich, the guy your evil hag had murdered, was the source of THE DAMAGING TRUTH reported by Wikileaks. How do we know this with not even a shadow of doubt? Because Rich forwarded the Hildabeast’s dirty laundry direct to Julian Assange’s director of films, Gavin MacFadyen. His computer was in London, outside of the Clinton’s sphere of control.

Here:

I know Patterico doesn’t hold Gateway Pundit in high regard, but this particular piece is well sourced, including with youtube videos of Assange denying that the Russians were his source. I would also remind everyone that Wikileaks offered a reward for info about the murder of Seth Rich, a DNC staffer. Alegedly, the motive was robbery, though nothing was taken. And if he was a Wikileaks source, that would explain why Wikileaks is offering a reward for his killer.

Yeah, or if Wikileaks were an arm of the GRU, that would explain why they made the offer, to drum up publicity about trolling bullshit from the Russian government.

Many of these people have been banned. I haven’t checked to see if they all have been. But all of them, banned or not, should be ashamed that they were doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin and repeating total horseshit tossed out there by the Russians to stir up the stupidest and most conspiracy-minded people in our midst.

I don’t know if anyone wonders why I don’t post much any more, but among a combination of non-political factors (a very busy work life, some time out of town, desire to get more sleep and spend more time with family), this kind of thing is part of it. The feeling that I have spent a large part of my life trying to push rationality, only to see this kind of conspiratorial nonsense gain a greater foothold in the minds of crazed partisans … it can make you wonder why you bother. It honestly can.

I haven’t given up entirely. I mean, I wrote this, didn’t I? And I’m heartened by the absolutely fantastic people writing on this Web site with me, and many of the excellent and common-sense commenters who remain.

But you can see how a guy can get dispirited. Can’t you?

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

On Equal Pay for U.S. Women Soccer Players

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:21 pm



[guest post by JVW]

As we celebrate the victory of our United States Soccer Women’s National Team (USWNT), and their curb-stomping of every single Eurotrash nation who once thought they could colonize our lands (Did anyone else notice that we beat, in order: Spain, France, England, and the Netherlands? Ok, ok, we’re missing Russia.), talk has turned to the women’s demand for what in unhelpful shorthand is being referred to as “equal pay.” Because much of this debate seems to be arguing from premises that are not shared by each combatant, I thought it might be helpful to outline the two athlete compensation streams that are being discussed.

World Cup Revenue
Those who seek to dismiss the USWNT’s complaints out of hand are quick to point out the obvious fact that the revenue for the men’s World Cup dwarfs the revenue for the women’s event. Total revenues for the 2018 World Cup (for men) in Russia were estimated at $6 billion dollars, which includes event sponsorships, ticket sales, television rights, merchandising, and whatever else is sold under the auspices of FIFA, a corrupt international body of sleazy bankers, corrupt lawyers, and assorted louche princes and counts from defunct royal courts. The women’s event held the past several weeks in France, by contrast, is believed to have brought in $131 million, or about 2.2% of the haul of the men’s event. As such, the members of the French team which won the men’s title split $38 million in prize money, while the American women must make do with a pot of only $4 million, though it should be noted that the women share a much higher percentage of the total revenue than the men do. Short of socializing the funding for both events in order to even out the payoffs, I don’t see that there is a lot which can be done here.

National Team Pay
This is where the women’s team has their strongest argument that they are being treated unfairly. The USWNT is currently in mediation with U.S. Soccer, seeking to be paid stipends commensurate with the men’s team. They have also filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and filed suit against U.S. Soccer in U.S. District Court in Central California. Additionally, former USWNT goalie Hope Solo has separately filed suit against U.S. Soccer, also alleging pay discrimination.

The women’s logic is understandable, and it is laid out in an informative article by Michael McCann, a lawyer who writes about legal issues for Sports Illustrated. First and foremost, they have clearly been more successful than the men in international competitions. Documents filed in support of their position show that between 2016 and 2018, the USWNT ticket sales exceeded the men’s team sales, albeit slightly, and with the women’s World Cup victory coupled with the failure of the men’s team to qualify for last summer’s tournament, this could be a year where women’s team merchandise outsells men’s team merchandise. Given the wokedy-woke attitude of corporate America these days, one would assume that sponsorships would at the very worst be even, with the marketability of the women’s team perhaps surpassing that of the men’s team.

So, the thinking goes, why not pay women’s team members a stipend equivalent to that of the men’s team? The last real piece of revenue that hasn’t yet been mentioned is television revenue, and because U.S. Soccer packages both teams together in network deals it is hard to determine which is the more valuable piece of the pie. Traditionally the men have had higher television ratings than the women, but again, the recent success of the USWNT coupled with the on-field egg-laying by the fellas might change the numbers there and bolster the argument for a more equitable division. Olympic sports such as swimming and track & field provide a uniform stipend system irrespective of sex, and in some sports it would seem that it is the men’s team members who are getting shafted while the more popular women’s team members get by. The easy thing to do here is to simply draw up a new deal that dictates the U.S. Soccer Women’s National Team members receive the same organizational pay that U.S. Soccer Men’s National Team members do, right? At least one Presidential candidate believes so:

But hold on; not so fast.

It turns out that the USWNT’s compensation was the product of a a collective bargaining agreement negotiated by their own player’s association with U.S. Soccer. The men’s and the women’s teams have separate player’s associations, and thus each squad reached a different sort of deal. The men’s team pay is highly dependent upon the number of games in which a player appears for the national team; a player who makes ten appearances in a year makes 25% more than a player who makes eight appearances, and a player who is injured and does not appear for the men’s national team gets nothing for a stipend. By contrast, all women’s players in the national team pool are guaranteed a flat sum, and in return they get a smaller per-game appearance fee. This way a player who appears in ten games makes only slightly more than the player who appears in eight games, but the player who sits out the year with an injury (or, perhaps, maternity leave) still makes something. If the women choose a model so that everyone gets at least a little something while the men choose a model where you are paid to play, I don’t see how that violates any equal pay principles.

(To be completely fair, though, I do think the USWNT has a legitimate point when they complain that the men’s team has better training facilities and more luxurious travel. This is something that U.S. Soccer ought to rectify and make equal.)

One would think that a good pro-labor Democrat like Kamala Harris might be a little bit skittish about demanding that a collective bargaining agreement which is in effect for another 30 months be tossed aside just because one side now has a stronger hand to play. Imagine if the USWNT had lost in the round of 16 to Spain, and had thus ignominiously bowed out of the tournament much earlier than expected. Would U.S. Soccer be justified in demanding that the collective bargaining agreement be reopened and the player’s compensation adjusted downward? It’s impossible to see Senator Harris supporting that kind of move, so why should she be in favor of abrogating the agreement now?

It would be a classy move — and justifiable too — if U.S. Soccer would address the disparities in training and travel between the two teams, and provide a better experience for the women players. If they want to reopen the collective bargaining agreement and revisit compensation then I have no problem with that, but I am against the idea that they should somehow be compelled to do so by outside activists. The men’s and women’s player associations could also explore the idea of merging into one organization which would ensure that both sides are treated equally, though the USWNT may find itself having to compromise here and there to keep the men aboard. Who knows, with the success of the women’s team perhaps it would be a smart move for the men to latch on for the ride. But simplistic chants of “equal pay” and turning this into yet another tiresome grudge in the grossly misleading “pay gap” argument will only serve the purposes of the professional activist crew.

– JVW

US Appeals Court To Trump: Blocking Critics On Twitter Violates Constitution (ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:03 pm



[guest post by Dana]

We’ve argued ad nauseam about President Trump and his compulsive tweeting. Debates have included whether the dangers of someone in his position (and with his disposition) publicly opining with little restraint is outweighed by the claimed benefit of having the President of the United States communicate directly to the American people. While his advisors and members of the GOP have urged him to refrain from using the platform, he persists. And after two and a half years of this president tweeting about, well, everything that pops into his head, we all know he’s not just tweeting about innocuous things like the swampy weather in D.C. Far from it. He regularly tweets about global events, his agenda, policies, issues warnings to foreign leaders, engages in dangerous games of one-upmanship with thug dictators, attacks the media and members of the media, attacks Democrats, Republicans, and everything and everyone else in between. And the voluminous amount of tweeting about so many issues, opened him up to condemnation, ridicule and all manner of foul comments. As a result, President Trump blocked his critics.

Today the U.S. appeals court said Trump had violated the Constitution, calling it “unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination”:

U.S. President Donald Trump violated the Constitution by blocking people whose views he disliked from his Twitter account, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

In a 3-0 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the First Amendment forbids Trump from using Twitter’s “blocking” function to limit access to his account, which has 61.8 million followers.

“The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote, citing several Supreme Court decisions.

Tuesday’s decision upheld a May 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan, which prompted Trump to unblock some accounts.

The Justice Department has called her ruling “fundamentally misconceived,” saying Trump used Twitter to express his views, not to offer a public forum for discussion.

Parker, however, said Trump’s account bears “all the trappings of an official, state-run account” and is “one of the White House’s main vehicles for conducting official business.”

Last year, the Justice Department argued that the ruling was “fundamentally misconceived,” and that since becoming the president, Trump was simply continuing to use his Twitter account in the same way as he always had: sharing his thoughts and views about any number of topics. The Justice Department also asserted that President Trump’s account belonged to him “in his personal” capacity” and “not the control of the government,” thus:

… when he exercises the power enjoyed by all Twitter users to block other users from their own accounts, he is not using any authority belonging to or conferred on him by the federal government,” the Justice Department’s legal brief said.

The appeals court also took into consideration that it was the President’s own spokesman, who confirmed that President Trump’s tweets are “official statements”:

“The President is the President of the United States, so they’re considered official statements by the President of the United States.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco said in a statement to NPR, “We are disappointed with the court’s decision and are exploring possible next steps.” President Trump, however, has not tweeted about the ruling. Yet.

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University et al v Trump et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 18-1691 case is here. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is here.

ADDED: I’m adding this piece by David French, wherein he explains how the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals got it wrong in their ruling. I’m copying heavily from it as it’s insightful:

Boiled down to its essence, the court’s reasoning contained two key elements. First, it ruled that Trump’s Twitter account represents an outlet for official communications and interactions that is controlled by President Trump. Second, it found that under these circumstances, Trump’s decision to block users represents impermissible state action undertaken to suppress dissent.

The first element is fundamentally mistaken. By no traditional legal measure of “control” does Trump control his Twitter account. Twitter owns and controls his account, and he has no legal right to wrest control of it from Twitter. The court’s misunderstanding of the platform is made evident by this deeply flawed analysis:

The fact that government control over property is temporary, or that the government does not “own” the property in the sense that it holds title to the property, is not determinative of whether the property is, in fact, sufficiently controlled by the government to make it a forum for First Amendment purposes. See Se. Promotions, Ltd. v. Conrad, 420 U.S. 546, 547‐52 (1975) (holding privately‐owned theater leased to and operated by city was public forum). Temporary control by the government can still be control for First Amendment purposes.

There is no “control” at all, temporary or otherwise. When a politician rents a theater or other private venue, there is typically an exchange of money and a rental agreement that explicitly grants enforceable legal rights to access the property and control others’ access to the property, and — critically — limits the landlord’s power during the course of the rental.

Compare that level of control to the absolute lack of rights the user has under Twitter’s terms of service:

We may suspend or terminate your account or cease providing you with all or part of the Services at any time for any or no reason, including, but not limited to, if we reasonably believe: (i) you have violated these Terms or the Twitter Rules or Periscope Community Guidelines, (ii) you create risk or possible legal exposure for us; (iii) your account should be removed due to prolonged inactivity; or (iv) our provision of the Services to you is no longer commercially viable.

There is no exchange of money, the user has no right to the platform, and Twitter can not only eliminate your access entirely but censor any single tweet. If it chooses, it can even remove Trump’s ability to block, mute, or take any other action. And that’s not all — when you use Twitter, your speech isn’t even purely “your” speech any longer. Twitter grants itself the right to your communications, too…

Writing in response to the trial court’s ruling against Trump last year, law professor Greg Dolin compared Twitter to a radio call-in show that is hosting a government official as a guest. The politician has no right to be on the show, the host can send the politician packing at any time, and the host has ultimate control over not only the politician’s presence but also any callers’ speech. In other words, Trump remains on Twitter entirely at Twitter’s discretion.

In that circumstance, there is no “public forum.” There is instead a public official using a private platform to attempt to amplify his specific message, with the permission of the entity that controls the platform. The court’s ruling, in this circumstance, represents government intervention in Twitter’s control of its own service. The court is overriding the permissions Twitter gave its own user.

Moreover, the court gives short shrift to Trump’s own free-speech rights under the government-speech doctrine. Again, to borrow one of Professor Dolin’s analogies, “If a politician is holding a rally in a park (a traditional public forum), it doesn’t follow that he must permit critics to share the stage with him.” The Twitter thread beneath any tweet can undermine or amplify the president’s chosen message. So long as Twitter grants the user the ability to regulate his or her Twitter replies, then that regulation is an integral part of the user’s expression…

Read the whole thing.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Coincidental Timing: Mitch McConnell’s Ancestors Slave Owners; McConnell Challenger Announces

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:29 am



[guest post by Dana]

Last night, NBC News published their version of a “big” story.

Like former President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ancestors were slave owners, and like the former president, McConnell is opposed to reparations:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said recently he opposes paying government reparations to the descendants of American slaves, has a family history deeply entwined in the issue: Two of his great-great-grandfathers were slave owners, U.S. census records show.

The two great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned a total of at least 14 slaves in Limestone County, Alabama — all but two of them female, according to the county “Slave Schedules” in the 1850 and 1860 censuses.

The details about McConnell’s ancestors, discovered by NBC News through a search of ancestry and census records, came in the wake of recent hearings on reparations before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Asked about the reparations issue, McConnell, R-Ky., said he was opposed to the idea, arguing it would be hard to figure out whom to compensate.

“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, when none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea,” he said June 18, a day before the House reparations hearing. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We’ve elected an African American president.”

Coinciding with this “big” story, is news that Kentucky DemocratAmy McGrath is challenging McConnell for his Senate seat in 2020:

Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot who rose to national prominence last year in her failed campaign for Congress against Republican Andy Barr, is turning her sights on a new target: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In a three-minute video released Tuesday, McGrath said McConnell has “bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.”

“I’m running for Senate because it shouldn’t be like this,” McGrath added.

McGrath’s candidacy marks a significant recruiting coup for Democrats. She emerged as an unlikely fundraising juggernaut in her congressional race, bringing in millions of dollars after her campaign released a biographical video that went viral, and becoming a Democratic celebrity in the process.

Three things to consider: Not since 1992 has Kentucky had a Democratic senator, President Trump won Kentucky by nearly 30 points in 2016, and Rep. Andy Barr beat McGrath in the Kentucky House race by 3 points.

Also, McGrath has a history of saying some pretty eye-popping things :

The one quote that McGrath…will likely have the hardest time explaining on the campaign stump in deep, deep red Kentucky is her comparison of the election of Donald Trump to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of an estimated 3,000 Americans.

“And then, of course, the results of the election, we have a new commander-in-chief,” the failed congressional candidate said at a Meet the Candidates Series event on Nov. 20, 2017. “And that morning I woke up like somebody had sucker punched me. I mean, I felt like, ‘what has just happened to my country?’”

She added, “The only feeling I can describe that’s any close to it was the feeling I had after 9/11. ‘What just happened, where are we going from here?’ and it was that just sinking feeling of sadness, and I didn’t know what to do.”

Here is McGrath’s video announcement:

Team McConnell wasted no time in “welcoming” McGrath to the race:

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

US Women’s Soccer Team

Filed under: Politics,Sports — DRJ @ 7:05 am



[Headlines from DRJ]

They won the World Cup and two members are on the cover of SI (with bikini photos inside).

And apparently one or two hates Trump.

EDIT 7/10/2019: Megan, please read this.

— DRJ

The End of the VW Beetle

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 6:55 am



[Headline from DRJ]

AP NewsFrom Nazis to hippies: End of the road for Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagen is halting production of the last version of its Beetle model this week at its plant in Puebla, Mexico. It’s the end of the road for a vehicle that has symbolized many things over a history spanning the eight decades since 1938.

It has been: a part of Germany’s darkest hours as a never-realized Nazi prestige project. A symbol of Germany’s postwar economic renaissance and rising middle-class prosperity. An example of globalization, sold and recognized all over the world. An emblem of the 1960s counterculture in the United States. Above all, the car remains a landmark in design, as recognizable as the Coca-Cola bottle.

— DRJ


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