Patterico's Pontifications


LeBron James: My Friends And I Had A Difficult Week Because Of Daryl Morey’s Misinformed Tweet For Freedom

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:17 am

[guest post by Dana]

In yet another craven display of self-interest, where financial gain takes priority over principles, LeBron James has weighed in on Daryl Morey and his since-deleted tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters that ignited a firestorm last week:

“I think that’s another situation that should stay behind closed doors. I think when we all sit back and learn from the situation that happened, understand that what you could tweet or could say… We all talk about this freedom of speech. Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, and you’re only thinking about yourself. I don’t want to get into a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say, and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”

Oh, what bullshit! Do these clowns ever listen to the word vomit that comes out of their mouths?!! Exactly what about Morey’s tweet, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” makes James believe he was misinformed or uneducated about Hong Kong protesters and China? Because, by making that accusation, James presumes to know something that Morey doesn’t know about the situation, and I would sure like to know what that is. But of course James doesn’t know anything that Morey doesn’t, rather he’s just another yes man in the NBA parroting the company line of defense. Instead of being able to provide a persuasive argument to convince us why Morey is uninformed, James instead makes empty accusations. It’s all he’s got. And it’s utterly rich for him to say, without an ounce of self-awareness, that when you say things or do things, others might be directly impacted and things might actually change as a result. That’s exactly what the Hong Kong protesters are fighting for! Just spitballing here, but I don’t think it’s the Hong Kong protesters that James is concerned about… Anyway, I do wonder what it would take for James and his NBA pals to make a loud stand for freedom and democracy and say the hell with More Money. Frankly, I’m beginning to think that not much of anything would compel these money-grabbing whores to shout for freedom if it meant taking a hit in their wallets. The question now is, which oppressed people won’t they sell out to make sure their empires remain intact? This is what privilege looks like.

James, seeing that his tweet hadn’t been well-received, attempted later to clarify his comments:

Let me clear up the confusion. I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. I’m not discussing the substance. Others can talk About that.

My team and this league just went through a difficult week. I think people need to understand what a tweet or statement can do to others. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen. Could have waited a week to send it.

Oh boo-hoo, you and your multi-millionaire teammates had a difficult week facing potential salary-cap ramifications if this issue doesn’t get resolved. You faced some real criticism and financial consequences from the Chinese government? The relationship is now…strained? And because you face the loss of a few million dollars here and there, you are going to lecture us and act like your difficult week is right up there with the difficult week that imprisoned Muslim Uighers and Hong Kong protesters have had?? By chastising Morey for not waiting a week to tweet out his support for Hong Kong protesters, James tells us all we need to know about him and his non-functioning moral compass.

And I’m going to suggest, King James, that Daryl Morey absolutely thought about what a tweet of support from a popular American figure would do for the protesters in Hong Kong, and that’s why he sent it in the first place. Clearly he was moved by a more noble cause than the lucrative financial dealings of the NBA. Likely he, along with Americans in every walk of life who have voiced their support for the protesters, knew that words of encouragement – especially from a public figure – might bolster morale and let the freedom fighters know that Americans stand with them because we stand for liberty. However, I doubt that the protesters are giving much thought to arrogant American basketball players worried about the flow of money from China, or how this might impact LeBron’s bottom line. No, I’m guessing they’re just a little bit preoccupied with overcoming fear and exhaustion as they courageously pushing back against the iron fist of totalitarianism:

Chinese president, Xi Jinping has said any attempt to divide China will be crushed. “Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones,” he said in a meeting with leaders during a visit to Nepal on Sunday, according to China’s state broadcaster, CCTV.

At a pro-democracy rally yesterday, thousands of these young protesters continue to look to the US:

“Fight for freedom, fight for Hong Kong”… [and] called for international support in their fight for democracy. One speaker called on US senators to vote for the proposed Hong Kong human rights and democracy act of 2019, saying it would be their “most powerful weapon”. Some protesters waved US flags.

And this, Lebron James, is what these protesters, with steel in their spines and courage in their hearts believe with every fiber of their being, that to “say things or do things, if you are doing it and you know the people that can be affected by it and the families and individuals and everyone that can be affected by it, sometimes things can be changed as well“. This is their sacred prayer.

“We are exhausted and scared, many of us have been detained and tortured … We believe international help will come one day,” said the main speaker, who gave his name as Isaac.

Just don’t look to the NBA for that help, Isaac. They’re too busy counting their money.

Oh, funny this:


(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Russia Takes Over Abandoned U.S. Army Base as Russian Trolls America

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:54 am

Business Insider:

A video shows the inside of a US military camp overtaken by Russian mercenaries working with Syrian forces, shortly after American troops abandoned it.

US forces left the Manbij camp in northern Syria early Tuesday following an October 6 directive from President Donald Trump to leave a coalition with the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting ISIS. A spokesman for the US operation confirmed the departure on Tuesday.

The US’ decision to pull out gave Turkish forces the green light to invade Syria and drive out the SDF, which contains Kurdish fighters. Turkey considers the Kurds terrorists and has long vowed to destroy them. Over the weekend the SDF joined a pact with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s government to fight the Turkish offensive.

Here is video of a Russian speaker supposedly entering the camp:

The Yankee ballcap is a nice touch.

I have not independently verified the translation or where this guy is, so take it with that grain of salt. The fact that Russians are taking over one of our bases, however, seems solid.

It’s good that you did that, Anthony Donald. It’s a Very Good Thing that you did.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Simone Biles, Gymnast Extraordinaire

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:35 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Take a moment and consider the amazing Simone Biles :

[Simone] Biles delivered a history-making share on the final day of the World Gymnastics Championships on Sunday, breaking the record for the most world medals earned by a gymnast, male or female, in winning the 24th of her career — a gold on the balance beam.

Then, after the equivalent of a lunch break, she returned to the arena and won another gold — this one, on floor exercise, with a routine that included the stunning, triple-twisting, double somersault that she alone has successfully landed in competition and extended her record-setting world medal tally to 25.

Upon concluding her final routine in what is likely her final world championship, the 22-year-old Biles seemed to take a dramatic pause on the tumbling floor as cheers rained down from the capacity crowd.

But she was simply too exhausted to stand up and walk off, she explained afterward, utterly sapped from 10 days of competition in which she left no doubt that she is history’s greatest gymnast.

“I just couldn’t breathe, honestly,” Biles said after collecting her breath and regaining her smile. “I just couldn’t move, I was so tired. [I felt like], ‘I’m going to stay here because if I come back up, I’m literally going to be breathing like a dog!’ ”

Here is Biles in the Floor Exercise All-around final:

(Note: Despite stepping out of bounds on an over-exuberant tumbling sequence, Biles scored 15.133 points — well ahead of her nearest competitors, who included fellow American Sunisa Lee, 16, who took silver (14.133) in her world championships debut. Russia’s Angelina Melnikova (14.066) took bronze.)

Congratulations to an incredible young woman!

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


President Trump Suggests Kurds Deliberately Releasing ISIS Militants To Draw U.S. Back Into Syria

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:01 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Given U.S. troop withdrawal last week, it seems inevitable that Islamic State affiliates and supporters would begin to escape their confines during the ensuing chaos:

More than 800 suspected IS detainees escaped the Ayn Issa camp in northern Syria on Sunday, Kurdish forces said in a statement, five days into Turkey’s military incursion into the region.

Jelal Ayaf, co-chair of Ayn Issa camp, told local media that 859 people “successfully escaped” the section of the camp holding foreign nationals. He also said that attacks were already being carried out by “sleeper cells” that had emerged from inside the camp, which holds IS prisoners, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and families or affiliates of IS fighters. While some of the escaped could be recaptured, he described the situation in the camp as “very volatile.”


[F]ive ISIS militants successfully fled from Jirkin prison in Qamishli. Turkish shelling was blamed for their escape.

After Fox News anchor and a co-host of Fox & Friends, Brian Kilmeade continued to criticize Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, Trump suggested that Kurdish forces may be deliberately releasing ISIS militants as a way to regain U.S. support and presence in northern Syria:

Meanwhile, the Kurds have turned to Damascus and Russia for help in pushing back Turkish forces:

Kurdish troops turned to the Syrian government and Russia for help Sunday, according to a Kurdish military official, in a move that could increase Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence in Syria, deal a substantial blow to the Kurds’ ambitions of independence in the region, and be seen as a win for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The announcement represents a major shift in alliances for Syria’s Kurds, who were longtime partners with the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. The decision also sets up a potential clash between Turkey and the Syrian government and raises the possibility of a resurgent Islamic State group.

“Nobody supports us. This is why we made an agreement with the Russians and the Syrian government,” said Ismat Sheik Hassan, a Kurdish official who leads the Kobani Military Council.

Mazloum Abdi, the commander in chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, wrote in an article for Foreign Policy on Sunday that “we know that we would have to make painful compromises with Moscow and Bashar al-Assad if we go down the road of working with them.”

“But if we have to choose between compromises and the genocide of our people, we will surely choose life for our people,” he said.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


ABC News Broadcasts Footage of Gun Show Demonstration and Tells Viewers It Is Turks Attacking Kurds

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:55 am


Are you distrustful of coverage of what is happening now in northern Syria between the Kurds and the Turkish army? You have good reason to be.

ABC aired supposedly shocking footage Monday morning purporting to be from the front-line battle between the Syrian Kurds and the invading Turks. The only problem is that the footage appears to come from a nighttime demonstration at the Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Kentucky.

After seeing a comment from Wojciech Pawelczyk, I began making some calls. As of this writing, it appears that this video is a hoax, and ABC has pulled it down.

“We are still investigating,” a representative for the gun range told the Washington Examiner Monday, adding the images aired by ABC “looks to be” from the Kentucky property.

“As of right now,” the spokesperson added, “it seems to be our footage.”

A spokesperson for ABC conceded it made a big mistake.

Here is the tweet that prompted the story:

The best part is how this will be used to “prove” that any story about the carnage in Syria is Fake News. Going forward, literally any story that documents what the Kurds suffer, as a result of Trump’s going off script on a phone call, will be dismissed by intellectually lazy and partisan Trump superfans.

Which may be exactly what was intended by whoever passed the video on to ABC News. It makes me wonder whether Trump superfans — or more ominously, people working for Erdogan — were involved. It’s a tactic that folks attempted to use on me during Weinergate: target the principal source reporting unfavorable information, and feed them fake similar information that you can later reveal to be fake. (It didn’t work on me during Weinergate, but they tried.)

So let’s keep our eye on the ball. Who passed ABC News the video? And who stands to benefit from stories about Turks slaughtering Kurds being treated as a hoax?

Yes, laugh it up, but be wary about being manipulated. The fact that ABC News fell for the Knob Creek hoax is funny — but there could be dark forces behind this. Forces even darker — if you Trump fans can imagine this — than ABC News.

Which does not let ABC News off the hook. If anything, the fact that they might have been manipulated by people seeking to take attention off the Turkish massacre should make them more careful, and makes this lapse even more shameful.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


More of What Ails the Golden State

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:47 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Since I’m on a roll here, let me continue ranting about my adopted state. Regular readers might recall my utter contempt for the disastrous California High-Speed Rail project, an attitude which is even shared by the more sensible bloggers here. Though the project is slowly — far too slowly if you ask me — circling the bowl on it’s way down the drain, like a maniac killer in a cheesy horror movie we can’t yet be sure it’s really dead.

So I was completely unsurprised when I saw an interesting editorial a few weeks back in the local paper explaining yet another problem with high-speed rail that turns out to be far more significant than its proponents realized:

According to the Los Angeles Times, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is now the owner of everything from rental units to toxic waste dumps on purchased land, yet lacks enough contiguous parcels to proceed with the most basic construction.

[. . .]

Hundreds of acres have been gobbled up uselessly by the overseers of the bullet train, whose construction path sometimes intersects just a fraction of a lot that must be wholly acquired to move on. And now, hundreds more parcels must be purchased just for the train track to be laid.

The staggering overage also has to do with the massive network of utility functions the train would disrupt and force to relocate.

While entirely foreseeable, only now, a decade into the process, are organizers realizing the staggering scope of the electric and water resources, such as pipelines and cables, that would somehow have to be rerouted or replaced to leave residents whole as the train, or at least its track, came to town.

Well, OK then. Interesting that this news first appeared in the Dog Trainer (obviously I’m no longer regularly reading that rag or else I might have noticed it) considering that their editorial board was naturally a big booster of the original project. At this point we need to treat high-speed rail like an undead movie monster and drag it into sunlight, put a stake through it’s heart, cut off its head and stuff its mouth with wolfsbane, then shoot a silver bullet into it, and do whatever else needs to be done to defang it once and for all. Then let’s forever refer to the ill-fated venture as the Schwarzenegger-Brown Fast Choo-Choo Boondoggle, and use it as a warning against badly-conceived and fanciful government projects that win votes for politicians but have zero chance of coming to fruition.

Speaking of which, anyone remember the California stem cell bond issue of 2004? Some quick background: you might remember that President George W. Bush early in his first term decided that the federal government would not support the creation of any new embryonic stem cell lines for research purposes, objecting that harvesting them from discarded frozen embryos was an affront to the sanctity of life. This decision was derided by those who don’t hold the view that frozen embryos embody meaningful human life as well as by the “let’s unleash science” crowd, who generally objects to the notion that religiously-based issues of morality should be allowed to interfere with scientific discovery. California being California, the pro-embryo stem cell research crowd was ascendant, and so a wealthy real estate developer who had family members suffering from diseases such as Alzheimers and diabetes helped fund a ballot proposition which sold public bonds to create the $3 billion California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM).

Like high-speed rail, the pro-bond campaign was marked by lavish promises: California would become a pioneer in genetic research; the money would create jobs for thousands of Californians; and the stem-cell therapies that would result from all this CIRM research would pay for the “investment” dozens of times over. Once again, a well-meaning patsy of a governor (Schwarzenegger naturally) swallowed the marketing pitch completely and endorsed the measure. (I think a big problem with Arnie was that he was sensitive to the whispers that he wasn’t particularly bright, being a bodybuilder and Hollywood actor, so he was constantly falling for whatever scheme the so-called “experts” would place in front of him.) The proposition overwhelmingly passed in a Presidential election year, with Democrats gleefully promoting it as both a can’t-miss opportunity as well as a poke in the eye to the hated President Bush.

So what’s become of the CIRM nearly fifteen years later? Not a whole hell of a lot, according to Marc Joffe of the Reason Foundation:

Unfortunately, reality has not lived up to the hype. Last year, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that CIRM funding had failed to produce a single federally-approved therapy. And a 2015 State Controller’s Office audit found the institute failed to take adequate steps to ensure that scientists reviewing grant applications did not have conflicts of interest. Given these results, State Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, called Proposition 71 “the most egregious ballot measure abuse in recent state history.”

Other issues which have beset the CIRM include charges of administrative bloat coupled with a lack of transparency among board members and a rather opaque process for awarding grants that raises questions of ethics, along with the aforementioned question regarding conflicts of interest among key personnel. Naturally, there are friendly academics who reach conclusions that the CIRM has been a raging success, but even the alleged financial benefits cited in the positive reports fall short of the overall impact promoted by proponents one-and-a-half decades ago.

I’m sure this will come as a major surprise, but despite the supposed success of this program the CIRM plans to come back to the voters next year with a request for an additional $5 billion dollars in funding. This of course leads to the question of why, if this initiative is such a raging success, it is necessary for the taxpayers to continue to pour in money. Surely this could be the perfect model for a public-private partnership, and scores of venture capitalists would line up to invest in these emerging and innovative technologies which will make everyone so phenomenally rich. Maybe the salient fact that as of the beginning of last year the CIRM has funded zero — exactly zero — stem cell cures approved by the FDA (though there are some that are currently in trial) will cause voters to be more skeptical of the promises that are bound to come from the CIRM’s fanbase. But given that the pro-bond campaign will largely be centered around cute kids with life-threatening diseases and happy talk about all of the jobs created with the original $3 billion (which was not the point of the original measure, by the way), and given that this is a Presidential election year when California progressives will be robotically drawn to the polls, I can’t imagine that this won’t pass yet again.

Because in California we are fools for government-funded fanciful schemes.


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 17

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 8:49 am

It is the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is “Wer Dank opfert, der preiset mich” (He who offers thanks praises Me):

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 17:11-19:

Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him — and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

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

One, however, among them, when he saw that he was cured, turned back and praised God with a loud voiceand fell upon his face at His feet and thanked Him; and this was a Samaritan.

What an abundance of goodness
You give me!
Yet what shall my conscience
give You in return?
Lord, I know nothing else to bring,
except to sing thanks and praise to You.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Shep Smith Out, WSJ Editorial Page Turns on Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:44 pm

Reading the news is, as the common saying goes, like drinking from a firehose.

I want to note that Shep Smith is out at Fox News — by his own choice to be sure, but mainly because the network didn’t support him and truth, against the Trumpist degenerates who garner the Trumpy praise at the rallies:

But I think the piece worth highlighting today is from the Wall Street Journal editorial board, who, like Matt Drudge (have you seen the Drudge Report lately?), appears to have had it with the dunce cap model in the Oval:

Jennifer Griffin of Fox News reports that Mr. Trump was supposed to tell Mr. Erdogan to stay north of the border. When the Turkish bully made his threats, Mr. Trump could have said that the U.S. military controls the air above the region and would respond to protect the Kurds and U.S. soldiers. Ms. Griffin reports that Mr. Trump instead “went off script” during the call and agreed to stay out of Turkey’s way.

One of the most tragic and dangerous deviations from script in memory.

How this will play out isn’t clear, but the early signs are troubling. Mr. Trump claimed Mr. Erdogan would take control of the more than 10,000 Islamic State prisoners under Kurdish control, but a senior adviser to Mr. Erdogan told CNN this week that Turkey “never said” it would “shoulder the burden” of holding the prisoners.

Watch out if the Kurds stop holding the prisoners as they flee the invading Turks. The ISIS fighters could break free to rejoin the estimated 15,000 jihadists who haven’t been killed or captured. They could hoist their flag again over territory in Syria or Iraq.

The rather eye-opening conclusion of the editors?

As Commander in Chief, Mr. Trump has been mostly tactical and rarely strategic. He shifts positions from week to week, even day to day, for the sake of a summit or short-term appearances. Allies are informed about his reversals after the fact and left to wonder if they can still rely on the United States of America.

As Mr. Trump runs for re-election, this habit of impulsive judgment will be front-and-center. As an incumbent he should be the safer presidential choice. But Mr. Trump’s judgment can be so reckless that many voters who took a risk on him the first time will ask if he’s worth a second gamble when he would no longer be disciplined by having to face the voters again. Impeachment won’t defeat Donald Trump in 2020, but Donald Trump might.

The real fear is that Trump’s legacy won’t be merely the installment of angry and scary Elizabeth Warren, but the flipping of the Senate. If Dems don’t manage to flip three or four seats, Fauxcahontas has zero chance of implementing her frightening war on success. But that’s not guaranteed.

Republicans made a very, very big mistake picking Donald Trump in 2016. A historic mistake. Anyone could have beaten Hillary Clinton. No other Republican would have been this reckless. Our electorate is terrible, and the choices voters face in 2020 are untenable, barring a miracle by Biden — who is barely tenable (for four years max; thank goodness he’s old) only by comparison to the monument to idiocracy currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Saturday College Football Open Thread

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:40 am

[guest post by JVW]

I don’t think we’ve done one of these yet this year, so let’s have one of our traditional Saturday college football threads. Here are some of the major games for today (the lines are from Thursday, when this post was drafted).

USC (+10.5) at Notre Dame
A renewal of one of college football’s most storied rivalries, certainly among the top five non-conference rivalries (along with Florida-Florida State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, and Army-Navy). Notre Dame, with its earlier loss to Georgia, almost certainly needs to win the rest of its games to have a shot at the BCS Playoff.

Oklahoma (-11) vs. Texas at the Cotton Bowl
Another great rivalry game, played in the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium during Texas State Fair weekend instead of at the Jerry Jones Stadium in Arlington. The over/under on this game is a whopping 76 points, so look for a shootout.

Nebraska (+7.5) at Minnesota
A new-fangled conference rivalry based upon realignment. Both teams are fighting to keep pace with Wisconsin and Iowa for the Big 10 West championship, for the honor of getting stomped by Ohio State in the Big 10 title game.

Florida (+13) at LSU
Battle of two undefeated teams as the number 7 Gators are somehow a nearly two-touchdown underdog to the number 5 Tigers.

Alabama (-16.5) at Texas A&M
Since Johnny Manziel’s amazing performance for the Aggies against the Tide 83 months ago, Alabama has lost only four conference games: twice to Auburn and twice to Ole Miss.

Florida State (+27) at Clemson
Did anyone ever think they would see FSU be a four-touchdown underdog to a conference foe? My, how the mighty have fallen.

Slippery Rock at Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Because it’s a tradition.

Feel free to talk about other games here.



Giuliani Clients Indicted and Arrested for Ukraine-Related Campaign Finance Violations

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am

New York Times:

Federal prosecutors unsealed charges on Thursday against two men who have aided President Trump’s efforts to gather damaging information in Ukraine about his political opponents, a criminal case that signaled growing legal exposure for the president’s allies as Mr. Trump tries to blunt an impeachment inquiry in Congress.

The indictment of the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, sketched a complex scheme to violate campaign finance laws and did not accuse Mr. Trump of wrongdoing. But it revealed new details about the push to pressure Ukraine: a campaign encouraged by Mr. Trump, led by his private lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and assisted by obscure figures like Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman.

The accusation is that the two used shell companies to launder Russian money into the campaign coffers of a U.S. Congressman. That congressman wrote a letter to Mike Pompeo complaining about the U.S. ambassador who had criticized the prosecutor who had once looked into Burisma, the company on whose board Hunter Biden had sat.

Parnas and Fruman had lunch the day before their arrest with — ta da! — Rudy Giuliani. Another interesting tidbit about these folks and Giuliani concerns their parallel and totally unrelated impending trips to Vienna. The feds had not planned to arrest Parnas and Fruman this early, but they had one-way tickets to Frankfurt, Germany, and were in the airport when taken into custody. The Wall Street Journal has reported that their ultimate destination was Vienna. Giuliani was also headed there the next day, but supposedly had no plans to meet with them there. As the Atlantic wryly observes: “By this logic, Giuliani was also planning to fly to Vienna within roughly 24 hours of his business associates, but do no business with them while all three were there.” Totally believable!

Trump denies knowing these guys. Naturally there is a photo of him with both of them and Giuliani. But, as Trump says, he is photographed with a lot of people. He also had dinner with Parnas at least once at the White House, but I guess he also has dinner with a lot of people at the White House. After all: who among us hasn’t eaten dinner with Trump at the White House?

Lost in the stories about the indictment is a significant fact: Parnas and Fruman were pursuing a liquefied gas venture in Ukraine, and thus could have benefited financially from an investigation of Burisma, Ukraine’s largest natural gas company. In this connection, I think it’s worth quoting at length from a post I wrote on October 2, nine days ago:

It’s good to see that Trump superfans are totally concerned about people with ties to the U.S. government using those ties to further their personal interests, or the interests of people they represent. That’s how I know Trump superfans will totally be Very Concerned about this:

The hunt by President Trump’s attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani for material in Ukraine damaging to Democrats has put a spotlight on business ties he has had in the former Soviet republic for at least a decade, work that has introduced him to high-level Ukrainian financial and political circles.

Giuliani has said he has been working for free solely to benefit his client, Trump, as he has sought information from Ukrainian officials — an effort that has spurred a House impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power.

However, House investigators are now seeking records about Giuliani’s past clientele in Ukraine, including Pavel Fuks, a wealthy developer who financed consulting work Giuliani did in 2017 for the city of Kharkiv. That same year, according to court filings, Fuks said he was banned from entering the United States for five years. The documents do not specify why.

House committees have also requested documents and depositions from two of Giuliani’s current clients, Florida-based businessmen who have been pursuing opportunities in Ukraine for a new liquefied natural gas venture.

The men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been assisting Giuliani’s push to get Ukrainian officials to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son and Giuliani’s claim that Democrats conspired with Ukrainians in the 2016 campaign.

A new liquefied natural gas venture. Hmmmmmmm. Does that sound familiar, Trump superfans?

Oooh! I know. Burisma is a natural gas company. In fact, the largest one in Ukraine.

And Rudy represents their competitors. Competitors who would stand to gain a lot if Burisma were criminally investigated in Ukraine.


In this quotation I added extra emphasis to the name “Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman” — the folks whose indictment was unsealed yesterday.

The only mention I see of Parnas and Fruman’s natural gas ambitions in the New York Times story appears in the 21st paragraph, which states:

The work the two men did in Ukraine for Mr. Giuliani seems to have been a mixture of business and politics. Mr. Parnas advised Mr. Giuliani on energy deals in the region and pursued his own in Ukraine even as he portrayed himself as a representative of Mr. Giuliani on the Trump-related matters.

That seems to leave out a lot of context.

I have to believe that someone will notice this connection, and that we will be hearing a lot more about it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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