Patterico's Pontifications

2/18/2020

Kevin Williamson on Everyone’s Two Favorite American Socialist Politicians

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:16 pm



[guest post by JVW]

I guess I’m supposed to have the adjective “Democratic” somewhere in the headline, but I can never remember exactly where it goes.

As usual, Kevin Williamson neatly encapsulates the relationship between our adorable but clueless niece and Su Grande Abuelo Blanco. Writing about recent campaign appearances, Mr. Williamson notes the inherent paradox:

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is precisely the sort of campaign surrogate you want, especially if you are Bernie Sanders: She is young, energetic, charismatic, popular (with the people she needs to be popular with, anyway), and, happily, currently ineligible to run for the presidency herself.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is precisely the sort of campaign surrogate you don’t want, especially if you are Bernie Sanders: She is callow, flippant, vain, shallow, and prone to making policy pronouncements that are even battier than your own, and she forgets to mention you at all in the course of making appearances that are in theory on your behalf.

As an example of those “policy pronouncements that are even battier,” he offers the following:

Senator Sanders is a politically and intellectually unserious man — which is nothing new to American presidential politics, of course. But he has been a radical left-wing Froot Loop long enough to know that there are practical limits to public Froot-Loopery. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has not been around long enough to appreciate that fact. Which is why, among Democrats who believe that American law-enforcement agencies are Enemies of the People and that our immigration and border-patrol authorities should be liquidated in order to facilitate the uncontrolled flow of people across open borders, she actually says that American law-enforcement agencies are Enemies of the People and that our immigration and border-patrol authorities should be liquidated in order to facilitate the uncontrolled flow of people across open borders.

Senator Sanders knows better than to say that. He also knows better than to believe it. In the long-ago days of . . . 2016, Senator Sanders riled up the gentlemen in Iowa’s union halls giving frankly nationalist anti-immigration speeches that could have been delivered by Donald Trump. “Open borders,” he insisted, were a billionaires’ scheme, a “Koch brothers proposal” to flood the United States with cheap Latin American labor and thereby undermine the power of the workers and their efforts to “take power.” Somebody has given him the intersectionality talk since then, and he no longer sounds quite so much like Pat Buchanan when he talks about immigration.

There’s more, including the usual Williamsonisms that will get under the skin of the most stalwart fans of President Trump, so do be sure to read it all. She’s going to make an awesome Secretary of the Treasury (or will it be State?) in President Sanders’ second term.

– JVW

If You Think Trump Is a Danger…

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:40 am



…what do you do?

I have no time for a long think piece about it.

I can tell you that life under Democrat rule in California is no picnic.

On the other hand, this seems to me to be a Flight 93 election in reverse. Re-elect Trump and you ratify all the corruption, abuse of the rule of law, nastiness, dumbing down of everything, policy-by-TV, neglect of reading, and above all the placement of the President above the law.

I’m honestly not sure what to do. I’m primarily interested in the thoughts of those who find Trump worrisome.

2/17/2020

Blogiversary

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:48 pm



I started this blog 17 years ago today.

It still exists, largely due to the efforts of JVW and Dana. Other great folks have contributed to it in the past, including DRJ, Karl, JD, and others.

Thanks to them, and to you for reading.

Bloomberg Is (Partially) Right: Federal Housing Policy Did Contribute to the Housing Crisis

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:37 am



A video recently surfaced in which Mike Bloomberg blamed the federal government, and specifically a law called the Community Reinvestment Act, for the housing crisis. He’s (partially) right. It was (partially) responsible for the housing crisis.

You should know that the guy who wrote the law, Robert Kuttner, thinks his own law is not responsible. He has written a piece titled I wrote the law Bloomberg blames for the financial crisis. He’s wrong. Kuttner begins by setting out Bloomberg’s criticism:

Ever since the collapse of subprime mortgages took down the entire economy, the right wing has repeated a simple story: The government compelled banks to lend money to borrowers who were not qualified. When they defaulted on their loans, banks took big losses and the foreclosures cascaded into a general financial crisis.

That story has the cause and effect backward, yet former New York mayor turned presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has embraced it. In a 2008 speech at Georgetown that recently surfaced, he attributed the collapse to “pressure on banks to make loans to everyone.” He defended redlining entire neighborhoods as sound banking practice. As Bloomberg explained it, “Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said, ‘People in these neighborhoods are poor, they’re not going to be able to pay off their mortgages, tell your salesmen, “Don’t go into those areas.” ’ ”

“And then Congress got involved — local elected officials as well — and said, ‘Oh, that’s not fair, these people should be able to get credit.’ . . . Banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn’t as good as you would like,” Bloomberg said.

Everything about that claim is wrong. I should know, because I wrote the law.

“I am biased towards a belief that the law I wrote did not contribute to the financial crisis. Turns out I do not believe it.”

Kuttner rests his defense on the fact that the CRA, which “created an affirmative obligation not to redline and to provide credit without regard to location,” had language that clarified that this obligation was to be met “consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions.” He explains: “We made sure to add that phrase so the legislation would neither pressure banks to make bad loans nor be faulted for doing so.”

What Kuttner ignores is that the language he cites fell by the wayside in practice. There is simply no disputing that the government used the law and similar policies to pressure and in some cases force banks to make loans that Democrat housing officials and the left-leaning media acknowledged carried a higher risk of default. For example, in 2008 Ed Morrissey posted a video in which Clinton’s HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo proudly explained that a lawsuit settlement with a Texas bank would create “affirmative action” by the bank (compelled by the settlement) that would result in the bank taking a “higher risk” on mortgages that would result in a “higher default rate.” I can no longer find the video but here is Morrissey’s transcript of an excerpt:

CUOMO: To take a greater risk on these mortgages, yes. To give families mortgages that they would not have given otherwise, yes.

Q: [unintelligible] … that they would not have given the loans at all?

CUOMO: They would not have qualified but for this affirmative action on the part of the bank, yes.

Q: Are minorities represented in that low and moderate income group?

CUOMO: It is by income, and is it also by minorities? Yes.

CUOMO: With the 2.1 billion, lending that amount in mortgages — which will be a higher risk, and I’m sure there will be a higher default rate on those mortgages than on the rest of the portfolio

This was hardly the only such settlement, and the settlements were of lawsuits brought under the CRA regarding lending practices in CRA Assessment Areas.

Thomas Sowell explains the mentality behind these lawsuits and cites some facts you may not have heard:

A major factor in the housing boom and bust that created the present economic predicament was massive government intervention in the housing market, supposedly to correct discrimination in mortgage lending. How did they know that there was discrimination? Because blacks were turned down for mortgage loans at a higher rate than whites.

It so happens that whites were turned down for mortgage loans at a higher rate than Asian Americans, but that fact seldom made it into the newspaper headlines or the political rhetoric. Nor did either the mainstream media or political leaders mention the fact that black-owned banks turned down black mortgage loan applicants at least as often as white-owned banks did.

There was never the slightest reason to expect the different racial or ethnic groups in the United States to have the same credit ratings or the same behavior or performance in any other way, when both racial and non-racial groups of various sorts have for centuries had radically different patterns of behavior and performance in countries around the world.

The difference between per capita income in Eastern Europe and Western Europe has long been greater than the difference in per capita income between blacks and whites in America.

Sowell explains in another column that the notion that lenders were leaving money on the table that they could make from totally qualified black buyers strains credulity:

[L]enders are in the business of making money, and they don’t much care whose money it is, so long as they get paid.

Politicians, on the other hand, are in the business of getting votes, and they don’t much care whose votes it is — or what they have to say or do in order to get those votes.

It was government intervention in the financial markets, which is now supposed to save the situation, that created the problem in the first place.

Laws and regulations pressured lending institutions to lend to people that they were not lending to, given the economic realities. The Community Reinvestment Act forced them to lend in places where they did not want to send their money, and where neither they nor the politicians wanted to walk.

Now that this whole situation has blown up in everybody’s face, the government intervention that brought on this disaster in the first place is supposed to save the day.

That fact was recognized by none other than top Clinton housing official Henry Cisneros and the well-known right-leaning publication The New York Times, which once wrote: “As the Clinton administration’s top housing official in the mid-1990s, Mr. Cisneros loosened mortgage restrictions so first-time buyers could qualify for loans they could never get before.” The Times goes on to say that as a private developer (but also obviously as a housing official) Cisneros “encouraged the unprepared to buy homes” as “part of a broad national trend with dire economic consequences.” It says Cisneros “reflects often on his role in the debacle” and says I’ve been waiting for someone to put all the blame at my doorstep”:

Mr. Cisneros, 61, had a foot in a number of those worlds. Despite his qualms, he encouraged the unprepared to buy homes — part of a broad national trend with dire economic consequences.

He reflects often on his role in the debacle, he says, which has changed homeownership from something that secured a place in the middle class to something that is ejecting people from it. “I’ve been waiting for someone to put all the blame at my doorstep,” he says lightly, but with a bit of worry, too.

The Times tries to spin some of this by suggesting that Cisneros’s willingness to take blame is related to his private activities. But his reference to “all the blame” seems to make it clear that he is talking about his actions as a housing official rather than as one of a gazillion developers. And the debacle of which he speaks was one clearly set in motion by the federal government’s actions in loosening standards for first-time buyers in an effort to increase home ownership for low-incoming and minority homeowners:

Indeed, Mr. Cisneros says his mistake was not the greed that afflicted many of his counterparts in banking and housing; it was unwavering belief.

It was, he argues, impossible to know in the beginning that the federal push to increase homeownership would end so badly. Once the housing boom got going, he suggests, laws and regulations barely had a chance.

“You think you have a finely tuned instrument that you can use to say: ‘Stop! We’re at 69 percent homeownership. We should not go further. There are people who should remain renters,’ ” he says. “But you really are just given a sledgehammer and an ax. They are blunt tools.

From people dizzily drawing home equity loans out of increasingly valuable houses to banks racking up huge fees, few wanted the party to end.

“I’m not sure you can regulate when we’re talking about an entire nation of 300 million people and this behavior becomes viral,” Mr. Cisneros says.

. . . .

Under Mr. Cisneros, there were small and big changes at HUD, an agency that greased the mortgage wheel for first-time buyers by insuring billions of dollars in loans. Families no longer had to prove they had five years of stable income; three years sufficed.

And in another change championed by the mortgage industry, lenders were allowed to hire their own appraisers rather than rely on a government-selected panel. This saved borrowers money but opened the door for inflated appraisals. (A later HUD inquiry uncovered appraisal fraud that imperiled the federal mortgage insurance fund.)

Now people like Robert Kuttner are trying to whitewash this history, and suggest that greed by banks (which was certainly a factor) was the entire story, and that the federal government’s loosening of standards for minority ownership had no effect.

Was the CRA the whole problem? No. Did it contribute to the housing crisis? Yes.

2/16/2020

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 33

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany. Today’s Bach cantata is “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” (Only upon You, Lord Jesus Christ):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 5:21-37:

Murder

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

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

My God, do not toss me away,
although yet daily I overstep Your commandments
before Your face!
Even to keep the littlest of them is much too difficult for
me;
yet, when I pray for nothing more
than Jesus’ aid,
then no struggle of conscience
robs me of confidence;
grant me only out of mercy
true Christian faith!
Then it will establish itself with good fruit
and become active through love.

Grant, that I, out of pure impulses,
love my neighbor as myself;

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

2/15/2020

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:04 am



[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item:

Unfortunately for Democrats, Michael Avenatti will be unavailable to save them from Trump in 2020. The Holy Spirit, who was puffed and fluffed by Big Media, was found guilty yesterday:

Disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti, who rose to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, was found guilty Friday of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike.

The jury’s decision in U.S. District Court in Manhattan came after a three-week trial for the California lawyer, who faces a statutory maximum of 42 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

Cherry on top of the humble pie:

CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Friday night that he felt “snookered” after learning that lawyer Michael Avenatti was convicted on charges of trying to extort athletic clothing company Nike for millions of dollars.

“I feel kind of snookered, because I took him seriously,” Toobin told CNN anchor Anderson Cooper during a segment about the conviction.

Toobin described the conviction as “total collapse” of Avenatti’s image, and recounted an instance where he was walking with the lawyer in Midtown, Manhattan and “it was like walking with a major, major celebrity.”

“People came up to him,” he said. “It’s like, you know, ‘Go for it! Go get Trump!’ You know, he had this hashtag #Basta. People remember that… I mean, the craziness of this.”

Second news item:

DOJ: We’re dropping McCabe investigation:

The Department of Justice is dropping its criminal investigation of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe without bringing charges, it announced on Friday.

McCabe’s attorneys received a phone call and a letter from the US Attorney’s Office in DC on Friday announcing the declination.

“We write to inform you that, after careful consideration, the Government has decided not to pursue criminal charges against your client, Andrew G. McCabe, arising from the referral” made by the Inspector General’s office to investigate his behavior, the DC US Attorney’s Office wrote. McCabe’s attorneys released the letter on Friday. “Based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the information known to the Government at this time, we consider the matter closed.”

…A White House official said President Donald Trump was angered federal prosecutors’ decision not to pursue charges against McCabe.

Third news item:

More unintended consequences of going green:

A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. First, you need to saw through the lissome fiberglass using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer.

The municipal landfill in Casper, Wyoming, is the final resting place of 870 blades whose days making renewable energy have come to end. The severed fragments look like bleached whale bones nestled against one another.

Tens of thousands of aging blades are coming down from steel towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills. In the U.S. alone, about 8,000 will be removed in each of the next four years. Europe, which has been dealing with the problem longer, has about 3,800 coming down annually through at least 2022, according to BloombergNEF. It’s going to get worse: Most were built more than a decade ago, when installations were less than a fifth of what they are now.

Built to withstand hurricane-force winds, the blades can’t easily be crushed, recycled or repurposed. That’s created an urgent search for alternatives in places that lack wide-open prairies. In the U.S., they go to the handful of landfills that accept them, in Lake Mills, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Casper, where they will be interred in stacks that reach 30 feet under.

Fourth news item:

Will we never be free of her?

Untitled

Fifth news item:

Embracing black patriotism:

Our project, “1776,” puts less of an emphasis on history and more on the question prophetically raised by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the height of his civil rights revolution: “Where do we go from here?” Mindful of the inevitable criticism that his movement was subversive, King made a special effort to ground his historic 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in “a dream as old as the American dream” by repeated references to the nation’s founding documents, including Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” He assured friends and foes alike that his civil rights movement had come not to deny the gospel of the American dream, but to fulfill it.

We must disrupt the long-held stereotypes of black people as helpless bystanders in their own history. We have had entrepreneurs, skilled tradesmen, military officers, inventors, organizers, and many others who responded to adversity by marshaling resources, building local enterprises, and creating jobs. We organized and acted to defeat slavery, segregation, and deprivation, and then we persevered to build businesses that included banks, hotels, small factories, and a black-owned railroad.

In addition to the consequences of slavery, these contributions of black Americans should be at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Even in bondage, slaves had agency in various amounts, or to varying degrees, and they acted on it in a variety of ways. Those who prefer to focus on our victimization don’t always want to recognize it, but the ways our ancestors exercised agency in bondage formed the foundation of their successes (or failures) after they were freed.

Sixth news item:

They really need to stop eating their own:

As a bisexual young woman who only came out to her family after the Pulse shooting in case I didn’t survive my own Pride festival, I wanted to break down why the recent surge of articles on Pete’s sexuality are detrimental to the mental health + stability of young LGBTQ+ people…When I came out to my friends sophomore year of high school, I had simultaneously never felt more loved and more alone in my life. Loved because I had been “accepted” by people who loved me but alone because of the lack of queer equality in the US…I cannot imagine being a young, impressionable, LGBTQ+ person right now. Coming to terms with your sexuality as a young person is completely terrifying, and that is without the LITERAL constant barrage of news dissecting someone’s presentation as gay…NEWS FLASH: your “hot takes” on how Pete doesn’t fit your type of gay man are not only homophobic, they reinforce to the closeted youth that it may be THAT much harder for them to find acceptance, to find a support system…Imagine being ready to come out and reading an article saying “because Pete didn’t come out until he was 30 he isn’t the “right gay” or “”Pete doesn’t kiss his husband in public he isn’t really gay””…Imagine what that would do to a young person…They won’t have to imagine it, because it’s happening. It’s happening all around us and our community, and even from inside it…To queer people gatekeeping Pete’s sexuality: I hope you feel ashamed of the message you are sending to your most vulnerable members.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

2/14/2020

Comrade Sanders Gently Sets Down the Gauntlet

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:18 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont is now the betting favorite to win the nomination as the Democrat candidate for President of the United States, though former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has attracted a great deal of attention from the oddsmakers and is a strong second. (Fun fact: a bookmaking site called betfair Exchange will at this moment give you 24:1 odds if you want to put money down on Hillary Clinton, but you can get astounding 68:1 odds if you want to throw away your money betting on Elizabeth Warren.) In the past few days since New Hampshire we have been following the probabilities posted at FiveThirtyEight.com as to whether or not a Dem candidate will have mustered enough delegates by the time the party convention opens to win the nomination on a first ballot. Right now the site’s green eyeshade guys calculate that there is a 38% chance that no candidate will arrive in Milwaukee with a delegate majority, which exceeds the 35% probability that Comrade Bernard will accomplish the feat (rest of the field so you don’t have to click on the link: Biden 14%, Bloomberg 7%, Buttigieg 4%, Warren 2%, rest of field 0.2% ).

So a really interesting question becomes whether it’s possible that Senator Stalin arrives at the convention with a plurality — but not a majority — of delegates, and the party manages to block his candidacy by ensuring that a candidate who actually registers as a Democrat in non-Presidential election years unifies the rest of the delegates in his or her favor. Appearing on MSNBC (naturally) the other night, the elderly Marxist was asked about this scenario. Rather than declaring blood in the streets, however, he laid down a pretty mild preemptory protestation to the party’s potential for punking his people:

I sort of get where he is coming from, but I can’t help but find it funny that the same people who think that Hillary Clinton is the rightful President because she won the popular vote apparently also believe that a plurality of delegates is just as valid as a majority. If Bernard Sanders is the leading delegate holder at the convention but lacks a majority then it’s really up to him to win over some delegates from his rivals, even if that means having to trim back his allegiance to the magnificent benevolence of socialism, even if that hurts the feelings of our adorably clueless Sandersista niece. If the professional Democrats burn the Bern feelers by conspiring to throw the nomination to one of the other remaining candidates or to a compromise candidate, then maybe Bernard Sanders can reflect upon the folly of expecting to build his sandcastles in someone else’s sandbox.

– JVW

Trump Claims It’s His Right To Intervene In DOJ Criminal Cases

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:01 am



[guest post by Dana]

No doubt Trump seriously believes that he has the right to intervene in any way that he chooses:

President Trump on Friday asserted he has “the legal right” to insert himself into the Justice Department’s handling of criminal cases one day after Attorney General William Barr said the president’s tweets were making his job more difficult.

Trump cited Barr’s comments from an ABC News interview in which the attorney general said Trump had not asked him to take certain action in a criminal case.

“This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” Trump tweeted.

Barr pushed back:

“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas.

When asked if he was prepared for the consequences of criticizing the president – his boss – Barr said “of course” because his job is to run the Justice Department and make decisions on “what I think is the right thing to do.”

“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr said. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Additionally:

“Starting a legitimate investigation…that’s the work of the attorney general and the Department of Justice,” Barr said Thursday. “That’s not like, you know, like running commentary from someone on the outside about what we’re doing.”

This interaction comes on the heels of Trump criticizing the sentencing recommendation by proscutors of longtime pal Roger Stone. He referred to it as a “miscarriage of justice”. Interestingly, the Justice Department ended up overruling the recommendation of its own prosecutors.

–Dana

2/13/2020

Keeping You Updated on the Bullet Train to Nowhere

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:16 pm



[guest post by JVW]

It’s my curse in life to wander the state as a crusty old man, inveighing against the disastrous California High-Speed Rail Authority’s plans to build “bullet trains” up and down the state. You can read my past lamentations here, here, and here, and the boss has chimed in a couple of times to register his displeasure with the project here and here.

So naturally you have figured out that I am setting you up for yet more aggravating news about this boondoggle of boondoggles, and you, dear reader, have surmised correctly. News came yesterday that the costs of the project have risen by an additional $1 billion while we dither on whether or not we want to fund the damn thing or finally put it out of its misery. If you want to find the silver lining in things, the $1 billion increase for this past year is only half of the increase estimate from last year, so perhaps we’re making progress!

In any case, the total price tag of this fiasco is now estimated at $80.3 billion, up from $77 billion back in 2018 which was up from $64 billion two years earlier. Just as a fun reminder, when my foolish fellow Californians (all you guys excluded, of course) voted for this cockamamie idea back in 2008, the project cost was set at under $34 billion, and the San Francisco-Anaheim portion of the line was scheduled to open up for service this year. Now the rail authority is reckoning we’ll be riding from the Golden Gate Bridge to Disneyland by 2033, even as they admit the Silicon Valley to Central Valley portion — which is supposed to be the proof of concept testing — won’t be fully operational until 2031, an 18-month delay from the last estimate.

I would guess that if there were a secret ballot vote taken that the California Legislature would probably vote to ditch this monstrosity, but it is beloved by the twee progressive urbanites (or at least the ones who don’t live near the rail lines), the government employee unions, the railroad construction industry and its unionized workers, and central planners everywhere. Accordingly, though legislative leaders on the Democrat side go through the pro forma motions of expressing “disappointment” and “concern” about the missed deadlines and soaring budget, they refuse to pull the plug on the project and put us all out of our misery. Republican legislators, to their credit, appear to be united in their desire to kill the project, even the Central Valley legislators whose districts are supposedly benefiting from the work on the rail line.

Today’s California, with that “we can do it if you give us lots and lots of time and tons and tons of money” spirit.

– JVW

John Kelly Unloads on Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am



John Kelly is speaking out about Donald Trump. I can’t know Kelly’s motivations, but anyone who cares about the military can contrast Trump’s threats to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Trump in the impeachment proceedings, to Trump’s pardon of scumbag war criminals, and conclude something is very wrong.

Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, said that Vindman is blameless and was simply following the training he’d received as a soldier; migrants are “overwhelmingly good people” and “not all rapists”; and Trump’s decision to condition military aid to Ukraine on an investigation into his political rival Joe Biden upended long-standing U.S. policy.

Vindman was rightly disturbed by Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July, Kelly suggested: Having seen something “questionable,” Vindman properly notified his superiors, Kelly said. Vindman, who specialized in Ukraine policy at the National Security Council at the time, was among multiple U.S. officials who listened in on the call. When subpoenaed by Congress in the House impeachment hearings, Vindman complied and told the truth, Kelly said.

“He did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave,” Kelly told the audience at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. “He went and told his boss what he just heard.”

. . . .

When Vindman heard the president tell Zelensky he wanted to see the Biden family investigated, that was tantamount to hearing “an illegal order,” Kelly said. “We teach them, ‘Don’t follow an illegal order. And if you’re ever given one, you’ll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss.’”

(Kelly doesn’t say this, but there’s a very good argument that Trump’s threats to discipline Vindman further violate the Military Whistleblower Protection Act of 1988, which protects military members from retaliation or threatened retaliation (as Trump has clearly done) for various contacts with members of Congress, explicitly including testimony.)

Contrast the treatment of Vindman with that of lowlife cretin Eddie Gallagher:

Responding to questions from the audience, Kelly faulted Trump for intervening in the case of Eddie Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was convicted last year of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter. Trump reversed a Navy decision to oust Gallagher, in a chain of events that led to the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.

“The idea that the commander in chief intervened there, in my opinion, was exactly the wrong thing to do,” Kelly said. “Had I been there, I think I could have prevented it.”

The audience applauded.

When a woman in the crowd said that Trump had “elevated” Gallagher, Kelly looked out at the crowd.

“Yep,” he said.

Trump is inevitably going to tell us today, or soon, how awful Kelly always was. In preparation, here is a stroll down Twitter memory lane for some more contemporaneous (but pre-criticism of Trump) opinions from Trump about Kelly:

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