Patterico's Pontifications


Bill O’Reilly Paid $32 Million To Settle Harassment Claim, Fox Offered Him Lucrative Contract Anyway

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:46 am

[guest post by Dana]

What on earth could have compelled former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly to cough up a whopping $32 million dollars to settle a complaint of sexual harassment against him? Oh, gosh, let’s go out on a limb here and make a wild guess: He’s guilty.

Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network’s top-rated host at the time, Bill O’Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, according to two people briefed on the matter — an extraordinarily large amount for such cases.

Although the deal has not been previously made public, the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, acknowledges that it was aware of the woman’s complaints about Mr. O’Reilly. They included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, according to the people briefed on the matter.

Despite knowing about the claim, the company still gave him a lucrative contract. After all, he brought in the ratings and kept the gravy training running. Be it the Weinstein Company or 21st Century Fox, powerful executives and leaders are too willing to look the other way as long as their predatory powerhouses keep bringing in the big money:

It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either Mr. O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him. Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year.

In January, the reporting shows, Rupert Murdoch and his sons, Lachlan and James, the top executives at 21st Century Fox, made a business calculation to stand by Mr. O’Reilly despite his most recent, and potentially most explosive, harassment dispute.

Their decision came as the company was trying to convince its employees, its board and the public that it had cleaned up the network’s workplace culture. At the same time, they were determined to hold on to Mr. O’Reilly, whose value to the network increased after the departure of another prominent host, Megyn Kelly.

One might wonder why O’Reilly was let go by the company. Was it because of his moral corruption, or because 21st Century Fox wanted to protect their talent and other employees from falling victim to the cable news star, or because the company had their own moral and ethical standards to uphold, thus felt compelled to clean house? As if:

But by April, the Murdochs decided to jettison Mr. O’Reilly as some of the settlements became public and posed a significant threat to their business empire.

They let the biggest cable network star go because their dirty laundry was being aired and their bottom line might be impacted. Already the company had lost 50 advertisers and there were calls for O’Reilly to be fired. It became to risky to keep him:

In addition, federal prosecutors who had been investigating the network’s handling of sexual harassment complaints against Mr. Ailes had asked for material related to allegations involving Mr. O’Reilly, according to an internal Fox email obtained by The Times.

“Their legal theory has been that we hid the fact that we had a problem with Roger,” Gerson Zweifach, Fox’s general counsel, wrote in the email, referring to the prosecutors and Mr. Ailes, “and now it will be applied to O’Reilly, and they will insist on full knowledge of all complaints about O’Reilly’s behavior in the workplace, regardless of who settled them.”

He warned the Murdochs that they should expect details from the January settlement to become public. Six days later, Mr. O’Reilly was fired.

Despite numerous claims of sexual harassment and multiple payouts, the ousted O’Reilly was nonetheless allowed back on Fox News just last month to plug his new book on Sean Hannity’s show.

In an interview this past Wednesday, O’Reilly defended himself against the accusations:

“I never mistreated anyone,” he said, adding that he had resolved matters privately because he wanted to protect his children from the publicity.

“It’s politically and financially motivated,” he said of the public outcry over the allegations against him, “and we can prove it with shocking information, but I’m not going to sit here in a courtroom for a year and a half and let my kids get beaten up every single day of their lives by a tabloid press that would sit there, and you know it.”

Journalists are pointing their fingers at the right for having been vocal in their condemnation of Harvey Weinstein but remaining silent about Bill O’Reilly. The political persuasion of such offensive individuals matters not one bit to me. For years, both powerhouses worked, to varying degree, to cultivate a public image of standing on the high ground of their respective sides of the political aisle – at least on the surface. And the public bought the illusion. Whether it was Weinstein and his sizable donations to Democrats and visible support for liberal causes and politicians, or O’Reilly and his patronizing We’re looking out for you in the no-spin zone sloganeering as he theatrically railed against the left. Yet all the while, both were masters of deception, surrounded by people who knew (or suspected) what they were really up to, yet chose to look the other way because they needed these two powerful men for financial gain and industry success. Weinstein and O’Reilly are contemptible beings. Any who would defend either of them out of of partisan loyalty reveal themselves as little more than hypocritical fools.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Saturday Sports Open Thread

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:12 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Who would ever have thought that Alabama would be a 35-point favorite over Tennessee, even in Tuscaloosa? General Neyland must be rolling over in his grave.

I’m looking forward to USC-Notre Dame later today. One of those teams is likely going to be eliminated from the BCS Playoff picture.

Michigan-Penn State should be interesting too. I pointed out earlier this month that this begins a hellacious three-game swing for the Nittany Lions, with road games against Ohio State and Michigan State coming up next.

Game 7 of the American League Championship Series is this evening. Winner goes on to play the Dodgers in the World Series. I unabashedly hate the yankees, so go Astros!

Leave all sports-related observations in the comments.



Kevin Williamson on the Perils of Celebrating the White Underclass

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:19 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Up until now I have adhered to a policy of not blogging about President Donald J. Trump. In fact, I believe this is only the second time I have typed out his name (I have been willing to use it when pasting in a blockquote), with the other time being somewhat by accident. We know that he is a lightning rod for fierce argument here, as he is throughout our entire country and, indeed, planet. I did not vote for him (I voted for Evan McMullin which I have frankly come to regret), though I have family and friends who either gladly voted for him or who held their noses and pulled the lever for Trump, and I have family and friends who absolutely loathe the man and want him out of the White House post haste. So, with all that out of the way, I am going to cautiously dip my toe into the pool.

Kevin Williamson at National Review Online is one of the conservative media’s best known and most emphatic Never Trumpers. As such, I realize that many on the right have disdain for him. I confess that I greatly admire his writing, which I think stylistically is always engaging, mordantly witty, and consistently forceful and direct. As an opinion columnist he has, well, opinions and he is not shy about sharing and vigorously defending them. Even when I don’t agree with him or I think he is trying to stretch a single into a triple, I respect him as a virtuoso in his craft.

So I was thus struck by Mr. Williamson’s column today in which he locks all torpedos upon the dysfunction and self-defeating behavior of the white underclass, from which he himself escaped. To begin with, he is careful to differentiate the white underclass from the white working class:

White people acting white have embraced the ethic of the white underclass, which is distinct from the white working class, which has the distinguishing feature of regular gainful employment. The manners of the white underclass are Trump’s — vulgar, aggressive, boastful, selfish, promiscuous, consumerist. The white working class has a very different ethic. Its members are, in the main, churchgoing, financially prudent, and married, and their manners are formal to the point of icy politeness. You’ll recognize the style if you’ve ever been around it: It’s “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” but it is the formality of soldiers and police officers — correct and polite, but not in the least bit deferential. It is a formality adopted not to acknowledge the superiority of social betters but to assert the equality of the speaker — equal to any person or situation, perfectly republican manners. It is the general social respect rooted in genuine self-respect. [emphasis in original]

That’s a pretty nice encapsulation of the difference between the two. I grew up in a town where there was a large working class, both white and Latino, and the habits that Williamson describes provide a clear dividing point between those who remained in the working class and those who slipped into the underclass. My own background is middle class, but I recall that my father always treated men and women of the working class with respect and dignity, believing that anyone who provides food and shelter for their family is worthy of it. Mr. Williamson then contrasts the mores of the white working class with the anti-elite populism seen in the modern right:

Its opposite is the sneering, leveling, drag-’em-all-down-into-the-mud anti-“elitism” of contemporary right-wing populism. Self-respect says: “I’m an American citizen, and I can walk into any room, talk to any president, prince, or potentate, because I can rise to any occasion.” Populist anti-elitism says the opposite: “I can be rude enough and denigrating enough to drag anybody down to my level.” Trump’s rhetoric — ridiculous and demeaning schoolyard nicknames, boasting about money, etc. — has always been about reducing. Trump doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to duke it out with even the modest wits at the New York Times, hence it’s “the failing New York Times.” Never mind that the New York Times isn’t actually failing and that any number of Trump-related businesses have failed so thoroughly that they’ve gone into bankruptcy; the truth doesn’t matter to the argument any more than it matters whether the fifth-grade bully actually has an actionable claim on some poor kid’s lunch money. It would never even occur to the low-minded to identify with anybody other than the bully. That’s what all that ridiculous stuff about “winning” was all about in the campaign. It is might-makes-right, i.e., the politics of chimpanzee troupes, prison yards, kindergartens, and other primitive environments. That is where the underclass ethic thrives — and how “smart people” came to be a term of abuse.

I confess that I am often guilty of this anti-elitism myself, but here I think Mr. Williamson gives short shrift the damage that our largely self-appointed elite — the kind of people who view themselves as the modern heirs to Ward McAllister’s “The Four Hundred” — has done to our society, especially over the last quarter century. From convoluted and ineffective social programs to misadventures overseas to a relentless undermining of the bourgeois middle-class values upon which this country was built, the academic/media/bureaucratic/political/entertainment elite of this country has had a considerably negative impact over that period. But putting that aside, I think there is a great deal of truth to the analogy of President Trump to the fifth-grade bully. The white underclass, of course, usually sees itself as the victim of the bully — the bully being all of those intellectuals and bureaucrats who fail to appreciate the needs and (more accurately) wants of that community. President Trump’s supporters of all social classes understandably think of their guy as being the one to finally stand up to the bully and punch back, and they expect that the bully will now slink away and stop bothering us, just like our dads promised us they would. But of course what we seem to have instead is just an old-fashioned donnybrook in which both sides are punching away at each other, and it would appear that the brawl won’t end until one side is knocked out.

There’s a reason beyond grandstanding politicians and petty score-settling for why we can’t get an Obamacare repeal or serious entitlement reform: it’s because so much of the white underclass (and, let’s be honest, a significant portion of the white working and middle classes) loves government programs whose benefits vastly exceed whatever little they pay in federal taxes. GOP politicians understand this and realize that reforming these costly programs will prove to be unpopular, and they are aided by an incurious and unserious (at least policy-wise) President who inexplicably promises an even more lavish entitlement. Something for nothing has always been a popular political platform and it is not limited to progressives. It’s why, as our host reminded us this morning, the ostensibly conservative party is incapable of coming up with a reasonable budget. There has always been an element of annoying hucksterism within the Republican Party, but this seems to be the moment where it has completely taken over the party. More from Mr. Williamson:

The populist Right’s abandonment of principle has been accompanied by a repudiation of good taste, achievement, education, refinement, and manners — all of which are abominated as signs of effete “elitism.” During the Clinton years, Virtue Inc. was the top-performing share in the Republican political stock exchange. Fortunes were made, books were sold by the ton, and homilies were delivered. The same people today are celebrating Donald Trump — not in spite of his being a dishonest, crude serial adulterer but because of it. His dishonesty, the quondam cardinals of Virtue Inc. assure us, is simply the mark of a savvy businessman, his vulgarity the badge of his genuineness and lack of “political correctness,” and his pitiless abuse of his several wives and children the mark of a genuine “alpha male.” No less a virtue entrepreneur than Bill Bennett dismissed those who pointed out Trump’s endless lies and habitual betrayals as suffering from “moral superiority,” from people on “high horses,” and said that Trump simply is “a guy who says some things awkwardly, indecorously, infelicitously.”

Thus did the author of The Book of Virtues embrace the author of “Grab ’Em By the P***y.”

I know many of you are tired of our harping on the crass vulgarity of the President. It’s like continually pointing out the zit on the homecoming queen’s forehead: yes it’s ugly, but you would much rather focus on the more attractive parts of her. He’s not the first, nor will he be the last, loutish buffoon to occupy the Oval Office. But for as much as we rightfully blame Bill Clinton for inuring us to the tawdriness of the President being orally serviced by a college-aged intern, we owe it to ourselves not to get comfortable with Donald Trump’s crude insults and boorish behavior. Nor should we celebrate or defend the destructive behavior of some of his most dysfunctional supporters. The glamorization and mainstreaming of ghetto culture hasn’t worked out too well for the black community; let’s not repeat that mistake by celebrating the white underclass.

Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.


Senate Passes Budget-Busting Budget

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

Details at RedState.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


More Evidence of Collusion!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:22 pm

The Hill:

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom – which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.

The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

Everything about the Clintons stinks.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Gen. Kelly’s Presser Today

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 pm

I’m a little tired of this topic, but John Kelly having made his appearance today, I feel honor-bound to do a post about it and hopefully put the matter to bed. Here’s the video:

Kelly says his first recommendation was not to call families. It is good that he told the country this. That provides some crucial context for Trump’s actions, his inaction, and his timing.

I have to say: the bit in which Kelly professes to be “stunned” that a Congresswoman “listened in” on the call left me cold. Allahpundit has already explained why, saving me the effort:

When he accuses Wilson of listening in on the call, he makes it sound like she was surreptitiously eavesdropping on another receiver. Wilson was in a limo with Johnson’s family when the call came. The call was put on speakerphone, presumably at Mrs. Johnson’s request so that everyone else there could hear it too. The family wanted Wilson to hear it, apparently. She wasn’t just Johnson’s congresswoman either. He had graduated from her “Role Models of Excellence” program so she knew him and his family. She wasn’t with them in the limo in hopes that Trump might happen to call at that moment and she might score a political point.

So all this “I was stunned and brokenhearted…it stuns me, absolutely stuns me” stuff just leaves me utterly unmoved. This is who the family had with them at the time. Gen. Kelly has moral authority regarding his own son’s death, but he has no real moral authority to dictate whom the family happens to have present when a call like that is made. That’s their choice, not his — and anyway, there is zero indication that they knew the call was coming and arranged for the Congresswoman to be there for that purpose. She was there because she has a relationship with the family. So all this “stunned stunned stunned” stuff strikes me as political BS. The stuff about women and religion being sacred, but not sacred any more, also struck me coming from the Chief of Staff for Donald “I don’t ask for forgiveness” “grab them by the pussy” Trump. A little less sanctimony from a guy in that particular position would be more convincing.

Kelly was smart to focus on the unlikable Congresswoman with the funny hats. I thought Kelly made a pretty good case that she has a history of acting the fool. His story about the evil James Comey making a nice speech followed by cowboy hat woman boasting about political stuff makes her sound like the clown that she indeed appears to be. In that sense, she is the mirror image of Trump: a fool from a different political perspective.

Anyway, focusing on the Congresswoman was politically deft, as it helped obscure the fact that Kelly was implicitly taking a slap at the family for having the Congresswoman there, as well as at the Congresswoman for being there. He is also disagreeing with the family, not just the Congresswoman, about Trump’s tone, as Allahpundit notes:

Most significantly, it wasn’t just Wilson who objected to Trump’s tone during the phone call. It was Johnson’s own mother, who told WaPo that Wilson’s account of the call was accurate and that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.” Kelly’s account of the call doesn’t even square with Trump’s. Trump, remember, claimed Wilson “totally fabricated” what he supposedly said to Mrs. Johnson. Kelly, on the other hand, essentially says that Wilson’s account was accurate. She’s not guilty of fabrication but of putting an unfairly negative spin on a comment Trump made about the risks of military service.

Indeed. Let’s talk a little about the substance of the call, as related by Kelly. Here is my transcript of what he said:

That’s he’s a brave man. A fallen hero. He knew what he was getting himself into, because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist. He enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with, when his life was taken.

The Congresswoman’s claim was that Trump said “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.” The controversial part of that was “he knew what he signed up for.” Trump said “I didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all.” And Kelly said that Trump had said: “He knew what he was getting himself into.” The words sounded nice and reasonable coming out of Kelly’s mouth — question whether they sounded as nice coming out the oaf Trump’s mouth — but those were the words. It wasn’t a fabrication. It was a difference of perspective.

“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Sgt. Johnson’s mom said. As someone reminded me recently, President Bush would sometimes get an earful from distraught moms or other relatives. It happens. It could be that Trump was trying his best and ran into people who didn’t want to hear it. It could be that he garbled the message or got defensive. Or it could be a little of both. I will note this aspect of the Congresswoman’s account was not addressed by Gen. Kelly:

“When she got off the phone, she said, ‘He didn’t even know his name. He kept calling him, ‘Your guy,’” Ms. Wilson said of Ms. Johnson. “He was calling the fallen soldier, ‘Your guy.’ And he never said his name because he did not know his name. So he kept saying, ‘Your guy. Your guy. Your guy.’ And that was devastating to her.”

My, but that does sound . . . Trumpy. It sounds, in fact, similar to Trump’s inability to speak the widow’s name (Myeshia Johnson) when he falsely accused the Congresswoman of fabricating her accusations out of whole cloth.

I note that there were no questions about whether the general was offended at Trump’s citing the death of Gen. Kelly’s son to make a cheap political point. When I heard that, I was stunned. Stunned. Stunned. Stunned. I wonder if Gen. Kelly was stunned stunned stunned, but nobody asked him.

Anyway, as a political observer I’d say Kelly did Trump a favor today. Kelly showed a seriousness and gravity of which Trump is incapable. It’s nice to know that Trump has surrounded himself with a fella who seems mostly smart and capable and who demonstrates real leadership. That was the first time I have seen Kelly speak, and I was mostly impressed.

And stunned.

Now let us hopefully never speak of this again.

UPDATE: Interesting. Funny Hat CongessCritter Wilson credibly alleges that Kelly screwed up the story about the dedication of the federal building:

Kelly criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami.

Thursday night, Wilson said Kelly got the story flat-out wrong. In fact, she said Washington approved the money before she was even in Congress. The legislation she sponsored named the building after Grogan and Dove, a law enacted just days before the ceremony.

“He shouldn’t be able to just say that, that is terrible,” Wilson said of Kelly’s remarks in the White House briefing room, the latest volley in the controversy over Trump’s condolence call to a military widow from Miami Gardens, an area Wilson represents. “This has become totally personal.”

At the dedication ceremony, James Comey, then director of the FBI, lauded Wilson’s legislation, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama three days before the April 2015 ceremony.

“Rep. Wilson truly did the impossible, and we are eternally grateful,” Comey said in his remarks.

Huh. If she remembers that incident better than he — and it seems like perhaps she does, given the timing and comments made by Comey and others (read the whole piece) — then maybe she remembers this call better too. After all, it was one call of four for Kelly.

I’m stunned.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Another World Leader Seeks to Solidify His Cult of Personality

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

The major countries of the world increasingly seem to gravitate towards cults of personality. Some leaders’ cults are more successful than others, of course. Vladimir Putin enjoys an approval rating of greater than 80% — aided by the fact that if you vociferously disapprove of him in public, you may go to jail or worse. Donald Trump, hampered by the annoying free-speech features of our republic, must slog on through with a decidedly less impressive 38% approval rating, forcing him to depend on a hardcore set of rabid partisans to carry the torch.

China’s Xi Jinping is more authoritarian and more successful. Judging from the results of the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress so far, Xi is well on his way to becoming the next Chairman Mao. The Guardian reports:

China’s communist leader, Xi Jinping, looks to have further strengthened his rule over the world’s second largest economy with the apparent confirmation that a new body of political theory bearing his name will be written into the party’s constitution.

On day two of a week-long political summit in Beijing marking the end of Xi’s first term, state media announced the creation of what it called Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

“The Thought is … a historic contribution to the party’s development,” Zhang Dejiang, one of the seven members of China’s top ruling council, the politburo standing committee, told delegates at the 19th party congress, according to Beijing’s official news agency, Xinhua.

Liu Yunshan, another standing committee member, said the elevation of Xi’s Thought into the party’s list of “guiding principles” was of “great political, theoretical and practical significance”. “All members of the party should study hard Xi’s ‘new era’ thought,” he was quoted as saying.

Xi has made it quite clear that, despite the expansion of free market activity in China, there will be no concomitant expansion of political freedom. Xi has consolidated power by jailing his political opponents under the guise of an anti-corruption campaign. Now, with this Maoist establishment of a school of thought in his name, Xi will effectively be an emperor.

In unrelated news, Xi and Trump are reported to get along well.

I recently read Red Scarf Girl, a book recommended to me by Mark Hemingway. The book is Ji-li Jiang’s memoir of experiencing Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a young girl of 12. The book is incredible for its description of the wave of utter insanity that washed over China in those years. The country had already experienced the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s Orwellian name for the economic program that killed over 50 million people. But of course nobody talked about that — and while the threat of going to jail and being tortured loomed over everyone’s heads, one should not minimize the genuine love that many people seemed to feel for Mao. You either loved him or pretended to love him, and Mao didn’t much care which. Even if you loved him, a neighbor who didn’t like you might make up a story about you — and if that happened, you were done. You would be made to confess thoughtcrimes you had not committed. You would be tortured until you fabricated stories about the guilt of friends and neighbors who had never helped you do anything.

I highly recommend the book. After I read it, my daughter chose it as a book to read and report on for school. Children need to learn about such cults as they begin to form their opinions about the world.

Cults of personality are real things, and you don’t just read about them in history books. They are going on in the world right now, as we speak. If I seem to worry about even a hint that one could be developing here, it is only because I have read Red Scarf Girl, or Bukovsky, or Solzhenitsyn.

Xi rules over a population of 1.4 billion people. That’s over four times the population of the United States. Information is tightly controlled. By contrast, some of the things we rail about here in the U.S. — a biased news media, leftist protests, and the like — are imperfect signs of the strength of our republic. As bad as our #FAKENEWS!! media often can be, Chinese dissidents can only dream of having a media as free and independent as ours. As annoying as it can be to see people “take a knee” to convey disrespect for our country, in China conveying that same disrespect will get you tossed in jail.

Public opinion polls show that a plurality of Republicans would give the federal government the power to shut down news organizations that the government determines are fabricating stories. One of our states is poised to elect a man to the U.S. Senate who believes it is illegal for football players to kneel during the national anthem.

This is insanity. It is not Cultural Revolution level insanity. But it’s inching along that path.

If you love liberty, now is the time to let your voice be heard. Don’t be a cultist. Join the group that believes in freedom.

We have cookies.

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


Confirmed: Trump Didn’t Send that $25,000 Check Until the Story Broke

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:14 pm

The necessary background for this is in Andrea Ruth’s post from yesterday evening. Trump had phoned the dad of fallen soldier Sgt. Dillon Baldbridge, and the dad said that his ex was getting the Pentagon’s $100k death benefit, while dad was nearly broke. In a seemingly magnanimous gesture, Trump promised to pay the dad $25,000 of his own personal funds. Dad later opened the mail and saw a card of condolence from Trump — but no check. Trump’s spokeshole was asked about this and she said the check was, um, in the mail. Also: HOW DARE THE MEDIA POLITICIZE THIS DAMMIT?!?!?!

So when was it actually sent? You guessed it: yesterday. The same day it hit the news:

President Donald Trump sent a $25,000 personal check to the family of a fallen soldier the same day that The Washington Post reported that he had promised the soldier’s father a personal donation during a June condolence call but never followed through.

A White House official confirms to CNN that the President sent a personal check Wednesday to the family of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge Wednesday. Baldridge, 22, was killed in June by an Afghan police officer.

Had the Washington Post not reported it, he was never going to send that man a dime. Not one thin dime.

This would be shockingly tawdry behavior, if we hadn’t seen it before. Remember when Trump ran like a baby from confronting Megyn Kelly in the debate just before Iowa? He used a fundraiser for vets as his fig leaf, and promised a cool million to veterans’ charities. Trouble was, he never had any intention of actually paying. The checks were sent only after David Farenthold of the #FAKENEWSBEZOSPOST shamed Trump into it.

Donald Trump has the morals of an out-of-control three-year-old. I’d say he should be ashamed, but he lacks the capacity for it. The people who should really be ashamed are the people who defend him when stories like this break. But they obviously lack the capacity for shame too.

If you’re unwilling to condemn this as bad behavior, don’t ever talk to me about the behavior of any other politician from any party ever again. Criticize their policies all you like. But you have forfeited any right to be taken seriously on the issue of character, if you can’t stand up and say: “Wow. What a s**tbag this guy Trump is, with this particular move.”

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

Trump Denies Democrat Congresswoman’s Account of Call to Widow

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:45 am

I updated my previous post on this, but it probably deserves its own post. The background, from the #FAKENEWSJEFFBEZOSPOST, is here:

In his call with Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, Trump told her, “He knew what was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway,” according to the account of Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), who was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called and heard the conversation on speakerphone.

Wilson recalled in an interview with The Washington Post that Johnson broke down in tears. “He made her cry,” Wilson said. The congresswoman said she wanted to take the phone and “curse him out,” but that the Army sergeant holding the phone would not let her speak to the president.

The White House neither confirmed nor denied Wilson’s account. “The President’s conversations with the families of American heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice are private,” a White House official said in a statement.

Or are they? This morning, Trump has tweeted that the Democrat Congresswoman lied and that he has proof:

We’ll see. Somehow, I doubt we’re going to get the proof. Trump also implied he had a tape that would prove James Comey lied about what was said in a private meeting. I have yet to hear that tape.

In any event, I don’t think anybody wants to hear a tape of a conversation between Trump and the widow. I certainly don’t. It’s one of the darker moments of this lady’s life under any circumstances, no matter what was said, and no recording of it should be splashed across the news. If the Congresswoman, an apparent friend of the family, lied about the conversation, Trump could quietly provide the tape to journalists, who could get the accurate quote on the record. Tweeting that he has proof is not necessary — just like invoking the death of John Kelly’s son was not necessary.

I worry that this all ends up putting the widow in the crosshairs. Trump’s army of deplorables would not hesitate to send her death threats if she said something uncomplimentary about Dear Leader, you know.

There’s really no way this ends well. Which is usually the case when President Donald J. Trump is involved.

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


David Harsanyi on Checks and Balances and Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:49 pm

David Harsanyi has a nice post at The Federalist about the way that Donald Trump has tended to limit executive power:

Say what you will about Donald Trump — and there’s plenty to say — he may be the first president in memory to actively limit his own branch’s power. Though far from perfect, on immigration, on funding issues, on international agreements, and on the regulatory state, the Trump administration has relinquished executive power.

So while civility, competence, and rhetoric matter, and none of those issues should be ignored, neither should the administration’s numerous actions that have helped reestablish some appropriate checks and balances.

Harsanyi cites the announced phase-out of the illegal DACA executive order, the announced intent to withdraw from the Paris Accord (a treaty-like document never ratified by the Senate), and the abolition of illegal cost-sharing reduction payments (read: subsidies) to health care insurers. In each case, Trump rolled back an illegal action by Obama.

It’s not all champagne and roses. Harsanyi does not mention the Syria missile strike — widely praised by many hawks, but in my view still an act of war without Congressional authorization. Trump’s initial executive order on immigration was a clear overreach born of sloppiness, targeting legal immigrants already in the U.S. as well as others. And I have no illusions that Trump is philosophically interested in limiting the power of the executive branch, as opposed to simply undoing whatever Barack Obama did. Harsanyi’s link to “and there’s plenty to say” slams Trump for threatening NBC in a way no President has a legitimate power to do. I’m sure there are other examples of overreach.

Still, there are positive signs cited by Harsanyi. I’m not going to get too carried away, but they are worth noting. Credit where credit is due. Hey, even a repulsive jackass can guard the sheep.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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