Patterico's Pontifications


President Trump: Situation on Syrian Border “Strategically Brilliant” For US

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:55 pm

[guest post by Dana]

[Ed. Just highlighting a few comments the President made earlier today with regard to Syria, the Kurds, ISIS, and the future involvement of the US military therein. Because what is happening on the ground seems to be in as much of a state of flux as what is coming out of President Trump’s mouth, I’ll leave these tidbits here for you to unpack. ]

At the White House today, and with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at his side, President Trump discussed the Syrian situation with reporters:

So I view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria to be, for the United States, strategically brilliant. Our soldiers are out of there. Our soldiers are totally safe. They’ve got to work it out. Maybe they can do it without fighting. Syria is protecting the Kurds. That’s good.

Totally safe?

And just ten days after the White House announced we would withdraw from Northern Syria and essentially abandon our Kurd allies ahead of a Turkish military offensive, President Trump felt compelled to say this:

Syria and Turkey may fight. Syria is friendly with the Kurds. The Kurds are very well protected; plus, they know how to fight. And, by the way, they’re no angels, but they were with us. They are no angels. But they are fighting.

Also, going a step further than last week’s tweet suggesting that ISIS prisoners had been released as a tactic to reconstitute US involvement, the President today made an actual claim, without providing evidence, that this had indeed, been done:

But you have a lot of countries over there that hate ISIS as much as we do; in some cases, probably more. So they can take care of ISIS. We have them captured. The United States captured them. Some were released just for effect — to make us look a little bit like, “Oh, gee, we’ve got to get right back in there.”

Interestingly, 7,000 miles came up several times today. First, during the Q&A at the White House, and later at a volatile meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders about Syria:

Q: You don’t think the country’s worried about ISIS? You mentioned earlier you think some of the countries might hate ISIS more than the United States.

TRUMP: Absolutely. Russia hates ISIS as much as the United States does. Iran hates ISIS. I mean, we’re fighting a war for Russia, we’re fighting a war for Iran? You look at Syria. Syria hates ISIS. We’re over there killing ISIS. Don’t forget, we’re 7,000 miles — so we’re killing ISIS, we’re 7,000 miles away. Russia is much closer. Iran is right there, Turkey is right there. They all hate ISIS. Turkey a little bit less so, but the others very much. Russia had a plane blown up by ISIS. Russia wants nothing to do with ISIS. Russia’s tough. They can kill ISIS just as well and they happen to be in their neighborhood.

All I’m saying is this, I’m not going to lose potentially thousands and tens of thousands of American soldiers fighting a war between Turkey and Syria. Syria’s not our friend. Assad is not our friend. That’s the way it goes.

About that 7,000 miles and fighting terrorists:

President Trump also attempted to clarify what his plan is with regard to the deployment of US military forces throughout the world. Note that he made these two separate statements minutes apart:

But, really, the plan is to get out of endless wars, to bring our soldiers back home, to not be policing agents all over the world.

You read where we’re sending some troops to Saudi Arabia. That’s true. Because we want to help Saudi Arabia. They have been a very good ally. They’ve agreed to pay for the cost of those troops. They’ve agreed to pay fully for the cost of everything we’re doing over there.

Clearly, not all allies are equal.

You can read the entirety of the President’s remarks made today here.


California Democrats Micromanage School Start Times

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:06 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Barely more than one year ago today I put up a post congratulating lame-duck California Governor Jerry Brown for sensibly vetoing a bill which limited the ability of California schools to start classes prior to 8:30 am. Here was my comment back then:

Heaven forbid that local school districts make decisions based upon the needs of their own families, rather than the legislature imposing a one-size-fits-all solution. This is what it’s like living in California in 2018. Now that the problems of homelessness, pensions, unaffordable housing, poverty, and crumbling infrastructure have been solved, the legislature can start micromanaging morning start times for sleepy teenagers.

You might want to sit down before reading this, but the legislature came back with the same bill this year and new governor Gavin Newsom, who never met a problem that he didn’t think a government program or regulation could solve, has signed it:

Many middle and high schools will have to push back their morning bells after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Sunday that makes California the first state in the country to require later class start times.

SB328 sets the earliest start times at 8 a.m. for middle schools and 8:30 a.m. for high schools, beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

The change does not apply to rural school districts and excludes optional “zero periods,” when students show up before the regular school day for additional courses or activities.

The one interesting aspect of this bill, which was supported by pediatricians and law enforcement, is that legislative Democrats and the governor have apparently gone against the wishes of the teachers’ unions, one of their staunchest allies, in enacting this measure:

But it was vigorously opposed by associations for school boards, teachers and administrators, which objected to the state intervening in an area that has traditionally been left to local control. They argued that the change would make it more difficult to fit in extracurricular activities, to renegotiate employee contracts and give parents time to get their children to school on the way to work. An analysis by the state Department of Finance found it could cost school districts millions of dollars a year to hire additional bus drivers.

According to a 2015 report from the CDC, almost 80% of high schools in California begin the school day before 8:30 am, so the impact of this new law is going to be significant, even though it doesn’t take effect for another three years. Though I don’t usually ally myself with the dreaded education blob, I’m hoping they sponsor a ballot initiative to overturn this exercise in unwanted meddling. If they do, they will have a supporter in me.


Evidence of Trump Organization Tax Fraud Emerges — What About that IRS Whistleblower Again?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 am

Pro Publica:

Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

. . . .

A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”

. . . .

There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.”

This is, of course, what Trump provably did in the 1990s, as the New York Times revealed in detail about a year ago. He got away with it for years, as rich people often do.

I’m suspicious of the language in the Pro Publica piece in the second paragraph of the quoted passage above: “Trump told the lender.” I see no other evidence in the article that Trump had direct involvement in the apparent shenanigans. He is President, after all, and in that capacity has his hands pretty full, what with the constant tweeting and promulgating policies that lead to the release of terrorists. One wonders where he would find the time to mislead tax authorities. He probably outsources that to his family now.

One thing Trump might exercise personal control over, however, is interfering with any audits of his tax returns. Recall the letter Richard Neal sent Mnuchin about allegations of efforts to influence the mandatory IRS audit of Trump’s tax returns. In the letter, Neal described “credible allegations” from a whistleblower of “evidence of possible misconduct” regarding “inappropriate efforts to influence” the mandatory IRS audit of the President and Vice President.

Neal to Mnuchin

This was part of the predicate for the House Ways and Means Committee to demand Trump’s tax returns — which Congress may do under a 1924 law that I discussed here in April.

The Pro Publica piece lends weight to the notion that the Trump Organization has something to fear from sunlight, and as prosecutors get closer to getting their mitts on Trump’s financials in New York, more may be coming to light. Indeed, if I were a betting man, I’d bet on it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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