Patterico's Pontifications


Trump Threatens to Claw Back Bullet Train Funding: Newsom Objects

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:39 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The saga of California’s ill-fated High Speed Rail (HSR) project to at long last link citizens of Lerdo and Chowchilla via a 70-minute bullet train has unsurprisingly taken another interesting, if totally predictable, turn. No sooner did Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledge that the initial plans were a product of fantasyland and had to be brought back to reality (while still trying to assure his Big Government supporters that he hasn’t totally abandoned HSR once and for all) than his arch-nemesis President Donald Trump announced that California ought to return nearly one billion dollars in federal grant money that had been doled out to the state for the project.

As we have chronicled here in the past, the HSR project is a colossal mess of misplaced idealism, cynical opportunism, and egocentric legacy-making that should never have been given the greenlight to begin with. But with the vote to authorize the issuance of bonds coming in 2008, an election year dominated by Democrats, coupled with the new Obama Administration’s obsession with spending “stimulus” money on infrastructure no matter how questionable the project, the Golden State was able to finagle $3.5 billion in initial grant money to begin work on the Bakersfield to Madera portion of the line (estimated cost at the time for that segment was $6 billion, and it quickly ballooned to over $10 billion), with the promise of additional federal matching funds once that part of the project had been completed.

Now the wishful thinking and duplicity of the HSR advocates is obvious, and we’re faced with a huge white elephant project that has almost no feasible path to completion. After serving as the foil to Governor Newsom’s progressive white knight in the state of the state address last week, President Trump is striking back:

The demand for the entire $3.5 billion probably stems from Gov. Newsom’s careless and offhanded quip in the address, “With all due respect, I have no interest in sending back $3.5 billion of federal funding that was allocated to this project to President Donald Trump.” The reality of the situation is that the $3.5 billion was advanced specifically for the Bakersfield-Madera segment, so provided that is eventually completed the state will have met its obligation, as long the feds are willing to overlook the California HSR Authority blowing by the initial timetable and cost estimates. Unfortunately for fast choo-choo enthusiasts, however, not all of that sum has been distributed yet, so President Trump’s Department of Transportation has seen fit to fire a shot across the Governor’s bow:

Naturally, the Newsom Administration is up in arms about the federal spigot being shut off, understanding that would imperil the completion of the Central Valley segment. So this whole mess is the perfect encapsulation of California vs. Trump in 2019: philosophical differences and petty grievances, adjudicated by incessant lawsuits. I think all of you can guess whose side I am taking in this scuffle, though it is painfully fascinating to watch Gov. Newsom and his allies go through their “we can’t build HSR right now but we’ll be able to do it eventually if given enough time” gyrations. What a colossal mess, and those of us in the Golden State would do well to remember this fiasco next time some film-flam artists suggest a massive project with wishful timetables and uncertain financing.

Cross-posted in The Jury Talks Back because we’re discussing you-know-who.



Correction: Our Story Was Garbage from Beginning to End

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 pm

Man. How did the New York Times botch this so badly?

NYT Correction

Correction: Jussie Smollett is not a beloved Doonesbury character, as this story originally reported, but rather an actor on “Empire.” Also, he told police he had been confronted by homophobic racist Trumpers — not, as the article said in the initial version, by a herd of tutu-wearing sheep bleating racist chants.

H/t Beldar.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Did AOC’s Chief of Staff Use a PAC to Funnel Illegal Contributions to Her?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

Not sure if y’all followed the kerfuffle when conservative Luke Thompson questioned AOC about her boyfriend having a House email address. AOC herself snapped that it was a way for the boyfriend to monitor her calendar; all the spouses do it (though he’s not a spouse); and Thompson was briefly suspended from Twitter for “doxxing” AOC’s boyfriend with, um, publicly available information.

Anyway, that was a stupid controversy but it led to Thompson firing back with this Medium piece, which is worth your time.

The piece is complicated but (if I understand it correctly) the upshot is that AOC’s wealthy Chief of Staff Saikat Chakrabarti co-founded a PAC that provides campaign services to newbie politicians. The PAC also serves to fuzz up the source of campaign contributions. AOC used the services of the PAC, which subsequently hired AOC’s boyfriend as a “marketing consultant” despite his apparent relative lack of marketing experience, and paid him thousands. Thompson wonders if this was a way for Chakrabarti (using the PAC) to funnel money directly to AOC in excess of campaign finance contribution limits — especially given that she hired the PAC’s co-founder as her chief of staff once the campaign was over.


Might be worth further investigation. Of course, campaign finance laws don’t matter when Donald Trump violates them, but I bet we can care about them if AOC broke them!

AOC: Making America Care About Character Again!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Revenge of the Smirk: Nicholas Sandmann Sues the Washington Post

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:44 pm

[guest post by JVW]

To the surprise of no one, Nicholas Sandmann (along with his parents) filed suit in U.S. District Court, Eastern Division of Kentucky, Northern District, located in Covington, against the Washington Post Company, regarding what they determined was biased and skewed coverage. The suit requests compensatory damages of at least $50 million, and punitive damages of at least $200 million. The filing is viewable and/or downloadable here on Dropbox. It’s super long, and I have only read about 1/3 of it, so I won’t try to summarize the points here.

And since I am merely a layperson with reactionary opinions, I will leave it up to the experts here to weigh in on the plausibility of this suit.

H/T Jerry Dunleavy on Twitter.


My Thought Process for the Morning

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:21 am

Here’s a peek into my head this morning as I open the computer:

Oh look at this. BuzzFeed News says Roger Stone posted a picture of his judge next to a crosshairs symbol! Click.

Amy Berman Jackson Resized

Um yeah that’s not what he did. It’s just a picture of her in front of an organization’s logo. This is about as valid a complaint as that Sarah Palin stuff. That said it’s a stupid move by Stone to criticize his judge. And he has threatened people before. Is it worth doing a post about? Hey I know I’ll just do a post about how I thought about doing a post about it because the media bias is so extraordinary, but found I didn’t really care because the guy involved is so sordid, and I’ll post it as a stream of consciousness and wow that’s lame OK gotta go to work sigh publish


Patterico at PJ Media: Trump and the “Team of Vipers” Lawsuit

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:43 am

I have a piece posted at PJ Media titled Trump Courts Streisand Effect in Legal Action Against ‘Team of Vipers’ Author Cliff Sims. Excerpt:

Trump had his lawyers go after Sims, filing an arbitration claim seeking to enforce a non-disclosure agreement. Again with the NDAs? What is it with Trump and stupidly enforcing NDAs? The last time he tried that, it started a chain of events that led to his lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen admitting that Trump had directed him to commit a felonious campaign finance violation. Trump’s like the guy in the joke who has bandages on both his ears, and explains to his co-worker that his wife was ironing when his sister-in-law called, and he accidentally picked up the iron and held it to his ear. When the co-worker asks why the bandage over the other ear, he explains: “She called back.”

Yes, Trump learns lessons slowly when he learns them at all. And he has not realized that enforcing this NDA is likely to go nowhere. While Trump might have the ability to muzzle Sims about events on the campaign trail, legal experts tend to be very skeptical about a government official trying to silence public officials about their experiences in government. For his part, Sims is now suing Trump in federal court, seeking a declaratory judgment stating that Trump cannot enforce the NDA to the extent that Sims has written about his White House experience.

I’ll probably be posting pieces there every week or so. When I do, I’ll link and excerpt them here.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Can A “Top Cop” Effectively Lead The Country If She Hollers ‘Hate Crime’ Before An Investigation Has Been Completed? (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:32 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Here we go. I haven’t posted about this subject for obvious reasons. The main one being that the Jussie Smollett case is still being investigated and we don’t know for sure what happened. So while I’ve stayed on the sidelines keeping my mouth shut and not jumping to conclusions, the leading Democratic candidates didn’t realize that they too should show some restraint and patience and wait for an investigation before spouting off. Obviously the reason we wait is because investigations into high-voltage incidents like the alleged Smollett attack can reveal that what the situation appeared to be, was in fact something very different. No caution for this group though. Heck no. They happily jumped into the sordid mess with both feet in an effort to advance themselves like the grifters they are. As they self-righteously beat their chests in angry indignation at the horrible stench of assumed racist hate wafting through the air, they made their assumptions based on seemingly little more than an initial report of the incident. Certainly they reacted before there was even an opportunity for an investigation to take place. (Date of alleged incident: Jan. 29. Date of the three candidates’ tweets: Jan. 29.) But sadly, the assumptions they made were necessary if they were going to out-woke the competition. And yet, while grifters are gonna grift, when a candidate for the highest office in the land, who spent six years as “California’s top cop,” still cannot resist the urge to make hasty, premature accusations about an alleged hate crime, as well as effectively announcing that she *knew* what happened – even before any investigation – then the seriousness of that individual who hopes to become the next Commander in Chief should be in question. I’m looking at you, Kamala Harris. It’s almost as if investigations, facts, and evidence are pesky mundane issues to be swatted away because girl wants to become the president, and pushing one’s cause, no matter how premature or inaccurate, is the path to a needed win. As caution and prudence go out the window, a foolish mentality of “strike while the iron is hot or forever lose that woke opportunity” becomes the guiding light for the self-proclaimed “top cop”. Maybe it’s just me, but shouldn’t we expect more of a presidential candidate who has been a state’s chief law enforcement officer and top lawyer for six years in one of the nation’s most populous states?




Anyway, the police want to interview Smollett again after two brothers who were interviewed by investigators claimed that they were paid [by Smollett] to take part in a staged attack.

P.S. No response from Kamala Harris or Kirsten Gillibrand on the changing tide of the story. Cory Booker, while not acknowledging his earlier rush to judgment, said today that he is now going to withhold from commenting further “until all the information actually comes out from on the record sources.”

Gosh, what a novel idea.

UPDATE: This is Kamala Harris responding to a reporter’s inquiry today about whether she had been too quick to condemn the “attack” before knowing all the facts:

“I think that once the investigation is concluded, then we should all comment, but I’m not going to comment until I know the outcome of that investigation.”

Uh, too late. You already did. Remember??? Unfortunately, the reporter did not hold her feet to the fire and point out that, of all people, the former San Francisco District Attorney and Attorney General should have known to use a prudent restraint before claiming that a “modern day lynching” had taken place prior to any investigation having been completed.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 20

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the sixth Sunday after Epiphany. Today’s Bach cantata is “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort” (O eternity, you word of thunder).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 6:17-26:

Blessings and Woes

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Looking at his disciples, he said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

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

O eternity, you word of thunder,
o sword, that bores through the soul,
o beginning without end!
O eternity, timeless time,
I know not, before such great sorrow,
where to turn.

. . . .

Perhaps this is your last day,
no one knows when he might die.
How easily, how soon
many are dead and cold!
Even this night can
the coffin be brought to your door.
Therefore before anything else
be considerate of the health of your soul!

. . . .

O humanity,
stop immediately
loving sin and the world,
so that this torment,
where howling and teeth-gnashing are,
might not eternally plague you!
Ah, mirror yourself in that rich man,
who in his suffering
not even once
could have a drop of water!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Is the Mere Existence of a Law a Sufficient Reason to Use It? Ask the Resistance!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 pm

After Alan Dershowitz said that Andrew McCabe’s musing about using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution would be “unconstitutional,” all the Smart People derided Dershowitz:

Ha, ha, get it? Invoking the 25th Amendment can’t be unconstitutional because it’s in the Constitution! It doesn’t matter that McCabe’s proposed invocation of that provision would be bogus! The provision is there! And that’s all you need to know!

But these same Smart People are saying that Trump can’t just declare an emergency! It’s unlawful!

But Congress gave the President the power to declare an emergency. The provision is right there in the law! All of a sudden it matters whether someone is invoking the provision in a way not intended by the drafters?

If I didn’t know better, I might think that the Smart People aren’t being entirely consistent…


Video of George Washington Carver at Tuskegee University

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:03 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I love this video of George Washington Carver that is making the rounds:

It’ unsurprising that these wise words are attributed to Carver, given the life he lived and the history he made:

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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