Patterico's Pontifications


Explosion In Austin Tonight

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:08 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This time at a Goodwill Store:

Another explosion occurred in Austin on Tuesday evening, hours after one package exploded and another containing an explosive device was intercepted by law enforcement at FedEx facilities near that city and near San Antonio, authorities said.

The Austin Fire Department said on Twitter shortly after 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET) that it was on the scene at a “reported package explosion” and that there was “one reported injury and crews evacuating building.”

Austin emergency management said medics transported a man in his 30s, and the injuries are not expected to be life-threatening.

Austin Police Dept. said that at this time they don’t believe this bomb is related to the string of bombs that have recently exploded in the city:

There was no package explosion in the 9800 block of Brodie Ln. Items inside package was not a bomb, rather an incendiary device. At this time, we have no reason to believe this incident is related to previous package bombs.

Note: If this is connected to the serial bomber, this will be the sixth bombing since March 2. Early Tuesday morning, a package moving through the FedEx ground sorting center in Schertz exploded.

As it stands now:

Four bombs have killed two people and injured others in Austin since March 2, with the most recent on Sunday believed to have been triggered by a tripwire that injured two people, authorities have said. In most of those bombings, packages left on doorsteps or in front yards exploded, officials said.

This notes a significant change in how authorities are looking at things:

“With this tripwire, this changes things,” Christopher Combs, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said at a news conference on Monday, referring to the previous day’s explosion. “It’s more sophisticated, it’s not targeted to individuals.

A child could be walking down a sidewalk and hit something.”

Law enforcement believe the serial bomber is sophisticated and organized:

Danny Defenbaugh, a former FBI bomb technician who helped supervise more than 150 bombing investigations including the 1995 Oklahoma City attack, said such serial campaigns are unusual and can take years to solve.

“In my experience, you are looking beyond a person who simply searched the Internet for how to build these things,” Defenbaugh said.

Defenbaugh said the devices involved in the explosions — and the range of apparent sophistication — probably has investigators trying to narrow a field of possible suspects who have some formal engineering experience in the military, law enforcement or from other sources.

“That fact that someone could build these devices, including the one with the tripwire mechanism, and not blow himself up, that means something,” Defenbaugh said. “That’s why they have hundreds of people working on this.”

Weldon Kennedy, a former FBI deputy director, called the Austin serial bombings “highly unusual’’ and a challenge for the army of federal and local authorities who have descended on central Texas.

There are currently 350 FBI agents in Austin, as well as additional bomb squads.

Additionally, Gov. Abbott has released emergency funds to purchase x-ray machines to be used to help inspect packages:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott today announced an additional release of $265,000 in emergency funding to help assist bombing investigations in Austin after four attacks this month in that city. The money will be used to purchase technology that will aid law enforcement in assessing package safety.

The Emergency funding will be made available “for the Austin Police Department (APD) and the Texas Ranger Bomb Response Team to purchase seven portable x-ray systems for use in bomb detection and responding to suspicious package investigations,” the governor’s office said in a news release Monday. “These x-ray systems are used by bomb technicians on-scene and provide clear visual evidence for rapid assessment of a package’s safety.”

According to the release, several of these units are already in use by “Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians.”

Prayers for the families who have lost their loved ones, and for anxious residents. Also, prayers that law enforcement locate and arrest the suspect before anyone else is killed.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


President Trump Congratulates Putin On His Unsurprising Election Win

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:21 pm

[guest post by Dana]

As we learned earlier this week, Incumbent President Vladimir Putin was re-elected by a wide margin. In his post, our host said: I’m looking forward to Trump issuing his congratulations. Well, here you go:

President Trump on Tuesday congratulated President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia on his recent re-election victory, but failed to ask him about either the fairness of the Russian vote, which Mr. Putin won with a lopsided margin, or about allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Trump also did not raise Russia’s apparent role in a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter on British soil — an act that prompted the United States to join with Britain, France and Germany in denouncing the Russian government for violating international law.

Instead, in his phone call with Mr. Putin, the president focused on what the White House called “shared interests,” including North Korea, Ukraine and the escalating arms race between the United States and Russia. He said he and Mr. Putin were likely to meet soon to discuss those issues.

Trump later said that he was pleased with the conversation he had with Putin:

[I]n his phone call with Mr. Putin, the president focused on what the White House called “shared interests,” including North Korea, Ukraine and the escalating arms race between the United States and Russia. He said he and Mr. Putin were likely to meet soon to discuss those issues.

“We had a very good call,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. “We will probably be meeting in the not-too distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.”

White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders defended the President’s call, and avoided making an assessment of whether the election was fair:

“We’re focused on our elections,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday when asked if Trump felt Russia’s election, which excluded several Putin critics and sparked accounts of potential vote tampering, was “free and fair.”

“We don’t get to dictate how other countries operate,” she said. “What we do know is that Putin has been elected in their country, and that’s not something that we can dictate to them, how they operate. We can only focus on the freeness and fairness of our elections.”

This is not how it has always been:

That attitude is a departure from decades of U.S. foreign policy, in which a succession of administrations have freely criticized anti-democratic events and elections in other nations.

As recently as March 2017, for example, the State Department issued a statement condemning Putin’s government for cracking down on peaceful anti-Putin protests, which the statement called “an affront to core democratic values.”

Gary Kasparov refused to play along:


Some Capitol Hill reactions were less than enthusiastic. From John McCain:

An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.

McCain also tweeted:

That #Putin had to work so hard to drive voter turnout shows the Russian people know his claim to power is a sham. The US stands with all Russians yearning for freedom. #RussiaElections2018

From Mitch McConnell, who although agreed that a president can call whoever he wants, felt this was not something he’d have chosen to do:

“When I look at a Russian election, what I see is a lack of credibility in tallying the results. … Calling [Putin] wouldn’t have been high on my list.”

Ironically, the President’s call was made on the same day that the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report with recommendations on how to safeguard future U.S. elections from hackers and others attempting to manipulate elections. Including Russia:

“The Russians were relentless in attempting to meddle in the 2016 elections, and they will continue their efforts to undermine public confidence in Western democracies and in the legitimacy of our elections,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said at a news conference Tuesday.

To consider:

Trump is not alone in congratulating Putin — leaders in France, Germany and elsewhere have done so this week, as Barack Obama did in 2012. But past administrations certainly have seen it as America’s role to call balls and strikes when it comes to elections abroad, and weigh in when democratic institutions are being undermined. A departure from that approach would be welcomed not only by Putin, but other leaders of pseudo democracies around the world.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


California City Says No To State’s Sanctuary City Law

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:30 am

[guest post by Dana]

A California city voted to opt out of the state’s sanctuary city law, SB-54, because they believe it puts them at odds with the Constitution:

Orange County’s second-smallest city voted Monday night to exempt itself from California’s so-called sanctuary law, which limits cooperation between local agencies and federal immigration authorities.

The Los Alamitos City Council voted 4-1 following more than two hours of heated testimony from residents on both sides of the issue.

Mayor Troy Edgar said he hoped mayors in other cities consider similar local legislation. And his message was clear: “As the mayor of Los Alamitos, we are not a sanctuary city.”

The council went one step further. The majority also voted to direct the city attorney to write an amicus brief to a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month against California, alleging that three of the state’s laws are unconstitutional. One of those laws was the same one the Los Alamitos council looks to opt-out of: the “California Values Act,” which limits cooperation between law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.

Councilman Warren Kusumoto accused state legislators of “bullying us into violating our oath of office.” He explained that the ordinance was “…our way of going on record saying we’re going to comply with the U.S. Constitution.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Melania Trump Holds Event on Cyberbullying

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 am

No, it’s not a “how to” you big silly. She’s opposing it.

Melania Trump today holds her first event on her signature issue: cyberbullying. Fox News reports:

Melania Trump is hosting executives from major online and social media companies to discuss cyberbullying and internet safety, more than a year after saying that would be her issue as first lady.

The meeting Tuesday marks her first public event on the topic, a choice some observers have questioned given that her husband often berates people on Twitter.

Amazon, Snap, Facebook, Google and Twitter are among the companies that are expected to attend the meeting.

The event is reportedly part of a symposium including numerous speakers on topics that touch our lives. O.J. Simpson will speak about anger management, Martin Shkreli will offer thoughts about public service, and (in something of a diplomatic coup) Kim Jong-un will address the conference about ways to best deliver food to the poor.

There is this one lunatic on Twitter with a huge following who tweets a lot of nasty personal insults. If only Melania Trump had some influence over that guy.

But I suspect she’s not spending a lot of personal time with that particular Twitter user these days, for whatever reason.

Anyway, good luck to Mrs. Trump in her noble crusade against cyberbullying. Maybe once she conquers that, she can take up the cause of reading, or promote the importance of wedding vows, or the need to be modest, or crusade on behalf of women who have been belittled because of their looks.

That would be a powerful message coming from a physically attractive First Lady, no?

There’s truly no limit to the causes she can take up once she finishes conquering cyberbullying today. Three cheers to you, Melania!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Trump Lawyer: Of *Course* He’s Not Considering Firing Mueller

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

So yesterday we had a Trump Twitter meltdown, with the Tweeter in Chief mentioning Robert Mueller by name on Twitter for what I’m told is the first time. At the same time, numerous GOP pols and ex-pols — Trump friends and foes alike — took to the Sunday shows to warn Trump that firing Mueller would be a bad, bad idea. Now Axios reports that Trump’s lawyer is atttempting to reassure one and all that no, no, of course he is not considering that! Don’t be silly! How many times do we have to say this?

After a weekend at war with the Mueller investigation, the White House is extending an olive branch. Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer handling the probe, plans to issue this statement:

“In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”

Hey, look. In order to keep this story dramatic, we have to ping pong back and forth between the “will he or won’t he?” speculation. It’s part of what keeps you coming back day after day. So after a fever-pitch Sunday replete with frenetic Trump tweets and Maggie Haberman pieces about a newly unleashed Trump, we need a breather until the next freakout.

An hour or two should do it.

P.S. One thing noted by Allahpundit in all those warnings by GOP politicians: they don’t seem to have a Plan B, do they?

Every Republican who turned up on the Sunday shows this morning was either dismissive of, or openly hostile to, the idea that Trump would try to fire Mueller. And I don’t just mean anti-Trumpers like Jeff Flake. Trump buddy Chris Christie and Trump ally Lindsey Graham both steered him away from it, although whether they would do anything about it if Trump ignored them and pulled the trapdoor on Mueller is a separate question. It’s often said that the GOP establishment is terrified of Trump but that’s not true. They’re terrified of Trump’s voters, their own ostensible base, and Trump’s voters will back him to the hilt in any standoff with Mueller.

I could run a poll here right now as to whether Trump should fire Mueller, and my guess is it would run within ten points of a coin flip. But if he actually did it, then by the time the idiotic #Resistance declared the End of the World, and the spinners went into overdrive to smear Mueller and his team, a similar poll asking “WAS he right to do it” would net an overwhelming majority in favor.

And that ties the politicians’ hands. They can tut-tut all they like, but if Trump fires the guy, the GOP won’t do a damned thing.

So tune in for the next episode of “Will He or Won’t He?” No need to wait until next week.

UPDATE: The GOP pols warned that firing Mueller (not Trump) would be a bad idea. I have fixed the typo.

Presumably they would say the same thing about firing Trump. Some of them, anyway.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Trump Twitter Accusation Against Comey Creates Non-Existent Quote Out of Thin Air

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:00 pm

Earlier today, Carl Arbogast noted President Trump’s frenetic morning Twitter tirade, including this accusation that James Comey lied under oath:

Note that Trump puts this inside quotes, thus claiming that Grassley asked precisely this question in these words: “have you ever been an anonymous source…or known someone else to be an anonymous source…?” The money quote is the second phrase, because Andy McCabe testified, as Jerry Dunleavy noted yesterday, that Comey was aware that McCabe had authorized leaks:

The problem is that when you examine the actual testimony, it does not match up to what Trump put inside quotation marks:

GRASSLEY: Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?

COMEY: Never.

GRASSLEY: Question two, relatively related, have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?


The question was not “have you … known someone else to be an anonymous source” but rather “have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source” about those matters.

In other words, Trump made up the money quote. “Authorized” is not the same as “known” — as I noted yesterday, and even Jerry Dunleavy conceded:

Indeed, McCabe’s position is that he had authority to authorize these leaks on his own.

This is not a total defense of Comey, of course. I agree with Dunleavy that there is an arguable contradiction there — indicating, if not an outright lie, then perhaps an, um, “lack of candor” on Comey’s part. It’s troubling and should be investigated further. You could argue that Comey’s knowledge constituted a sort of authorization (just as you could argue that it didn’t).

But that doesn’t give President Trump the right to make up quotes. Things inside quotation marks should be actual quotes. No matter how you feel about whether Comey lied, or whether his knowledge amounted to authorization — none of that changes the fact that Trump made up a quote that was not actually said in Comey’s testimony.

Neither President Trump nor anyone else should make up quotes. Period.

If he does so — and he unquestionably did here — he should be called out, just like we would call out someone on the left who did the same.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

The Exit Polls Are in From the Russian Election, and You’ll Never Guess Who Won

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:08 pm

I’m not a big fan of the clickbait headline, but it’s a good gag in this case because the results were never in doubt.

Vladimir Putin will lead Russia for another six years, after securing an expected victory in the presidential election.

A Russian state exit poll gave him 73.9% of the vote, easily defeating his closest competitor.

The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race.

The scale of victory – which had been widely predicted – was a marked increase in his share of the vote from 2012, when he won 64%.

In all seriousness, let’s not call this an election. It’s a charade. The only meaning o the 74% number is how blatant Putin wants to make it.

I’m looking forward to Trump issuing his congratulations. My guess is that he’ll use the chance to call the “election” a sham and issue his harshest condemnation yet of the recent assassination attempt on British soil. LOL. Make sure to tip your waitresses, try the veal, I’m here all week.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Sunday Music: Stabat Mater, BWV 1083

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the fifth Sunday in Lent. The title of today’s piece is “Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden” (Cancel, Highest, my sins). It’s an adaptation of a Stabat Mater by Pergolesi. This is a longer one, and you will be forgiven if you can’t make it through the whole thing. That said, if you listen to the beginning, you may be captivated enough to stick it out.

Today’s Gospel reading is John 12:20-33:

Jesus Predicts His Death

Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

The text is available here. Verse 10 is translated as follows:

Let me feel the joy and pleasure,
let me gladly sound the triumph,
when the cross me hard doth press.

The words that match triumph, joy, and pleasure with bearing the cross echo the Gospel reading, which speaks of the coming glorification of the Son of Man when he loses his life.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Wow: DOJ May Release (Redacted) Carter Page FISA Application

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:30 pm

All those Very Confident Statements about what was contained in the Carter Page FISA application may be put to the test sometime soon. USA Today reports that DOJ may release parts of the Carter Page FISA application that so far has been only described in the Devin Nunes #ReleaseTheMemo and the Adam Schiff response:

In dueling memos released last month, Republican members — led by California Rep. Devin Nunes — alleged that Justice and FBI officials abused their authority in targeting the former campaign adviser by improperly relying on an unsubstantiated dossier prepared by a former British spy. Democrats — led by California Rep. Adam Schiff —argued that the dossier was only part of the justification for the order, indicating that Page had been deemed an “agent of the Russian government” prior to the FBI receiving the dossier.

The release of both memos, Justice lawyers wrote Friday, requires “the government to carefully review FISA materials related to Carter Page to determine what information contained in them has been declassified and whether any such declassified information can be released to the plaintiff in response to its (freedom of information) request.

“That review is ongoing,” Justice lawyers said, asking the court to approve a July 20 deadline for Justice’s National Security Division and the FBI to complete the examination. “The government does not make this request lightly.”

The one thing we know is that everyone will claim they were Right All Along, even if they were wrong all along. Now would be a good time for people to review the two memos and all the punditry that claimed to “know” what is contained in the FISA application, to hold accountable those who told us lies or claimed to know things they couldn’t.

This is a welcome development for those of us who rejected #TheMemo and #TheCounterMemo as partisan exercises that shed only minimal light on what was contained in the FISA application. We called on Trump to #ReleaseTheDocumentation, and it looks like his DOJ is being forced to do exactly that. Let’s hope DOJ releases as much as they can, within the constraints of the need to protect sources.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Let’s Not Forget About McCabe’s Conflict Of Interest Based On His Wife

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

Should Andrew McCabe have been fired? I haven’t seen the Inspector General report, and so I don’t know if Andrew McCabe lied (or, I’m sorry, “lacked candor under oath” in speaking to) investigators for the Inspector General. I agree with David French, who says:

I note that it seems from McCabe’s statement alone that he was aware that he was, shall we say, not entirely accurate in his initial statements. He says things like:

I answered questions truthfully and as accurately as I could amidst the chaos that surrounded me. And when I thought my answers were misunderstood, I contacted investigators to correct them. . . . to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair.

Yeah, well, I’ll wryly note that blaming falsehoods on chaos is an excuse that doesn’t usually work so well when offered as a defense by people prosecuted for telling falsehoods to McCabe’s erstwhile employer.

So it seems that McCabe himself acknowledges that he got some things wrong, at a minimum. But to run around claiming he lied, based on evidence we haven’t seen . . . I’ll leave that to others who feel comfortable taking that position. I don’t. Yet.

But that doesn’t mean McCabe is beyond reproach, by a longshot.

You might remember that in October 2016, before the election, I was ranting about the fact that a Terry McAuliffe PAC had donated almost half a million to McCabe’s’s wife’s election campaign . . . and yet McCabe had not recused himself from the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Granted, it’s not crystal clear that McCabe acted as a purely partisan warrior there. If you believe the leaks that he authorized to be made to the Wall Street Journal, he pushed for an investigation of the Clinton Foundation. Then again, as the Washington Post notes today, that same story demonstrated that “some FBI officials thought [McCabe] was standing in the way of the Clinton Foundation investigation.”

The point is, if Hillary Clinton’s bag man Terry McAuliffe was delivering sacks of cash to his wife, McCabe had no business ever being anywhere in the chain of command over anything having to do with Hillary Clinton — not the email investigation, not the Clinton Foundation, not any of it. I don’t care that his wife had already lost by the time he became deputy director. The consideration had already been given, and he should have recused himself — yet he didn’t do so until November 1, 2016, which was far too late. I’m not sure whether that failure alone is grounds for termination, but it brought discredit on the FBI. And new evidence that McCabe may have been less than forthright about whether he attended his wife’s campaign events and so forth only contribute to the suspicion.

Whether that means it was appropriate to take hints from Trump and rush to release an investigation seemingly for the express purpose of stripping this guy of his pension, I’m not so sure. Again, I’m taking the unpopular position that we ought to know the facts before opining. (I know, right? Saying that on a blog is such a buzzkill.) But I’m no fan of Andrew McCabe. That I can tell you.

Speaking of recusals, Trump’s lawyer (first claiming to speak on behalf of Trump and then walking that back) this morning connected McCabe’s firing to Russiagate. If the real reason for McCabe’s firing was Russiagate, then why was Jeff Sessions (who recused from the Russia investigation) involved? At this point we have nothing beyond Trump’s idiot lawyer’s statement — although Trump did spike the ball over McCabe’s firing with a gusto that seems . . . over-the-top given the stated reasons for it.

John Sexton at Hot Air says that “the reactions to the [McCabe] firing are falling into two distinct camps” — one casting McCabe as victim (pro-Trump) and one casting him as hero (anti-Trump). Well, of course. Reactions to all issues in American life, from Senate races to whether Americans should watch football games, eventually fall into pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps. But I’m not much of a joiner and I never went to camp. So I’ll just note that all of these things can be true:

1. Donald Trump did not “collude” with Russia to hack emails.

2. Donald Trump is smearing Mueller and good people at the FBI to discredit the Russia investigation.

3. McCabe was a rotten apple who deserved to go.

I’m not saying any of these things is necessarily true. But they all could be.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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