Patterico's Pontifications

6/28/2016

Select Committee On Benghazi Report Released

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:46 am

[guest post by Dana]

The Benghazi Select Committee released its report this morning. While the New York Times is in full Hillary-defense mode on the front page: “2-Year Panel On Benghazi Ends, Finding No New Fault By Clinton,” Chairman Trey Gowdy gives Americans far more credit for their intelligence:

Now, I simply ask the American people to read this report for themselves, look at the evidence we have collected, and reach their own conclusions. You can read this report in less time than our fellow citizens were taking fire and fighting for their lives on the rooftops and in the streets of Benghazi.

The Weekly Standard provides a look at the supplemental “additional views” report, which lays out the devastating timeline confirming that the “Obama administration knowingly provided the American people a false story about the Benghazi attack, its causes and its consequences”. Who’s surprised? Lies, lies, and more lies:

9/11—Public Statements

Secretary Clinton’s 10:08 p.m. Statement on the Attack in Benghazi:

“I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. * * * Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”

Secretary Clinton’s E-mail to daughter at 11:23 p.m.:

“Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Quedalike [sic] group[.]”

9/12—Public Statements

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya morning of September 12, 2012:

“We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.”

9/12—Private Statements

Summary of Discussion between Acting Assistant Secretary Beth Jones and Libyan Ambassador Aujali at 9:45 a.m.:

“I told him that the group that conducted the attacks—Ansar Al Sharia—is affiliated with Islamic extremists.”

Jacob Sullivan in e-mail to embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan:

“There was not really violence in Egypt [and] “we are not saying that the violence in Libya erupted ‘over inflammatory videos.'”

Secretary Clinton’s Statements to Egyptian Prime Minister Kandil at 3:04 p.m.:

“We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack – not a protest. . . . Based on the information we saw today we believe the group that claimed responsibility for this was affiliated with al Qaeda.”

Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy to congressional staff briefing:

When asked whether “this [was] an attack under the cover of a protest” Kennedy said, “No the attack was a direct breaching attack.” More to the point, he was then asked whether “we believe [this was] coordinated with [the] Cairo [protests] to which Kennedy responded, “Attack in Cairo was a demonstration. There were no weapons shown or used. A few cans of spray paint.”

9/13—Public Statements

Secretary Clinton’s Morocco Remarks:

“I also want to take a moment to address the video circulating on the Internet that has led to these protests in a number of countries. * * *

To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage. But as I said yesterday, there is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence. * * *

Violence, we believe, has no place in religion and is no way to honor religion. Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace. It is especially wrong for violence to be directed against diplomatic missions. . . .

Stephen Hayes makes two solid points in light of the report:

What makes #Benghazi report so damaging to WH/Clinton, it’s not Gowdy/GOP opinions, it’s WH/State/CIA own documents/emails/testimony.

and,

Key unanswered question in #Benghazi report: Why were assets not deployed even after Obama/Panetta gave orders to send them?

Could it have been the result of yet another moment of fretful indecision?

The report also found that a State official brought up a question about whether Marines should wear civilian clothing instead of their uniforms. Under secretary of State for management Patrick Kennedy told investigators he wanted to ensure that security was enhanced, not hurt by flags on the uniforms of any U.S. military presence.

But, one commander told the committee that as they were readying themselves to deploy they kept having to change in and out of their uniforms four times.

No rescue. Four dead Americans. No big deal.

–Dana

Judge Cornelius “Forget Brandenburg” Vaughey Formally Reprimanded

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:59 am

Remember Judge Cornelius Vaughey? He’s the judge who unconstitutionally found Aaron Walker had incited violence simply by blogging about convicted bomber and perjurer Brett Kimberlin. (The silly decision was later reversed.) Mark Steyn, in typically colorful language, said at the time: “Judge Vaughey comes across as a near parodic combination of bluster, ignorance and narcissism.” Steyn cited a transcript which revealed that Vaughey had casually brushed aside over 40 years’ worth of Supreme Court precedent, and suggested that personal squabbles should be handled by a fistfight:

THE COURT: –You’ve decided to battle, and he comes back. And see, you’re — you — you’re the kind of guy, you don’t want to get into this to settle this, mano y mano. You want to get all these friends who got nothing else to do with their time, in this judge’s opinion, because — my God, I’m a little bit older than you are, and I haven’t got enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do. And I thought by retirement, I would have less to do. I got more! Because everybody knows I’m free! So they all come to me. But you, you are starting a — a conflagration, for lack of a better word, and you’re just letting the thing go recklessly no matter where it goes. I mean, you get some — and I’m going to use word I (ph) — freak somewhere up Oklahoma, got nothing better to do with his time, so he does the nastiest things in the world he can do to this poor gentleman. What right has that guy got to do it?

WALKER: He has no right to do that, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Well, he’s — you incited him.

WALKER: But, your honor, I did not incite him within the Brandenburg standard though.

THE COURT: Forget Bradenburg [sic]. Let’s go by Vaughey right now, and common sense out in the world. But you know, where I grew up in Brooklyn, when that stuff was pulled, it was settled real quickly.

WALKER: I’m not sure what that means, your honor.

THE COURT: –Very quickly. And I’m not going to talk about those ways, but boy, it ended fast. I even can tell you, when I grew up in my community, you wanted to date an Italian girl, you had to get the Italian boy’s permission. But that was the old neighborhoods back in the city. And it was really fair. When someone did something up there to you, your sister, your girlfriend, you got some friends to take them for a ride in the back of the truck.

He sounds like a Trump voter, doesn’t he?

I always see the ideal judge as a guy who pines for the good old days when insults were avenged by kidnapping the offending party for the purpose of delivering a group beating.

Anyway, this charming old codger has now been formally reprimanded by the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities, and you can read the reprimand here. It appears to center around Vaughey’s “impatient and disrespectful” attitude to Walker. Apparently, dismissing Supreme Court precedent with an airy wave of the hand, or suggesting that the proper way to handle matters was through a group assault, were less worthy of mention than Vaughey’s addressing Aaron Walker as “sport.” Still, the public reprimand is heartening to see.

If you’re looking to do (a lot) more reading on the background of this, Walker has the full backstory here.

6/27/2016

Supreme Court Overturns Texas Abortion Regulations

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:29 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Fox News has a wrap-up. The full court ruling is here. Sort of predictable, I suppose. Anthony Kennedy sided with the liberals to provide the fifth vote.

Samuel Alito calls out the majority, pointing out that they have failed to apply the laws evenly and consistently where the contentious topic of abortion is concerned: “[D]etermined to strike down two provisions of a new Texas abortion statute in all of their applications, the Court simply disregards basic rules that apply in all other cases.”

Clarence Thomas also accuses the majority of inconsistency: “Ultimately, this case shows why the Court never should have bent the rules for favored rights in the first place. Our law is now so riddled with special exceptions for special rights that our decisions deliver neither predictability nor the promise of a judiciary bound by the rule of law.”

Feel free to discuss.

– JVW

6/26/2016

Steven Hayward: Brexit to be the Euro-Left’s Citizens United

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:00 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Writing today in Powerline, Steven Hayward makes an interesting and apt comparison between the whinging of the left establishment in Britain over the divisive Brexit vote and the ongoing whining of the establishment left in America over the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision by a divided Supreme Court. Hayward actually immediately pivots his post to a discussion of the Brexit vote in relation to the vote on Proposition 13 to limit property tax increases in California in 1978, a vote which the left establishment of the Golden State still blames for the alleged inability to “properly” fund “necessary” government programs nearly 40 years later.

But I want to tease out a bit more on Hayward’s initial comparison of Brexit to Citizens United. From the moment that the Court held that the government may not restrict individuals, corporations (both for-profit and non-profit), labor unions, or other affiliated groups from independently (i.e., not coordinated with campaigns or parties) spending their money on political advocacy, the establishment left (along with certain members of the establishment right) have complained that this decision is a Pandora’s Box that has unleashed all of today’s evils. We certainly remember President Obama’s petulant remonstration of the Court majority at his State of the Union Address one week after the decision was announced, but six-plus years later the kvetching remains unabated. From insinuations that the ruling opened the door to foreign meddling in our election to claims that the ruling was the cause of Republican down-ballot success in subsequent years, it seems that there is little the left won’t attribute to the baneful aftermath of the ruling.

As if all this gross overreaction wasn’t embarrassing enough, the California State Senator who represent both Patterico and me (a man for whom we both reluctantly voted) has collaborated with a insufferable leftwing San Francisco colleague to demand a public advisory vote on a measure to instruct California’s Congressional delegation to overturn Citizens United, a ballot measure which will add yet more fluff to a November ballot already chock full of candidates, judges, propositions, and referenda. And of course, this outcome is staunchly supported by my preening, ambitious Congressman who never misses an opportunity to pander to the progressive elite to enhance his career. Frankly, clearing out the corruption and sleaze of the state’s Democrat elected officials ought to be a higher priority than these fatuous antics, but that’s actual meaningful work rather than the kind of grandstanding so popular with the elected class.

But allow me here to get out of the weeds and back to the main point that Hayward proposed: the Brexit vote is soon to become the Euro-elite’s (especially the left Euro-elite, since much of the right Euro-elite seems resigned to their fate) version of Citizens United, the catch-all for any ill that befalls Britain. England manages to lose to Iceland tomorrow in the European Soccer Championships? The fault of Brexit. Emma Watson’s next movie is a dud at the box office? Backlash against Brexit among American movie-goers. Flea beetles attack the sugar beet crop? Wouldn’t have happened before Brexit. To read the overwrought melodramatic opinion-writers in publications of the British left like the Guardian, the New Statesman, and Tribune is to understand the sheer terror felt by the credentialed and opinionated class that an albeit-slight majority of their countrymen no longer want to be part of the Grand European Project. Expect this shrill and alarmist tone to carry on now that the complicated task of extracating the U.K. from the EU is set to begin.

– JVW

6/25/2016

Keeping Up with Hillary’s Lies

Filed under: General — JVW @ 8:38 pm

[guest post by JVW]

With the news cycle of the last 48 hours being largely devoted to all things Brexit, two fresh improprieties from the Once and Future Inevitable Next President of the United States, Hillary! Rodham Clinton, have largely flown under the radar. Here’s a recap:

The Wall Street Journal reported late yesterday morning (Pacific Time) that Mrs./Senator/Secretary Clinton failed to hand over a key email message she sent to top aide Huma Abedin in 2010 regarding Abedin’s suggestion that they get government email accounts. Clinton’s reply to the suggestion: “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” This message was discovered in the collection of emails that Abedin provided the State Department last year, but again, was not included among the 55,000 submitted by Her Clintonic Majesty, which calls into question her sworn statement from last August that she had submitted all correspondence from her home server to the State Department. The article also reminds us that we are still missing all email messages from her first two months at the State Department. Naturally, her mealy-mouthed vassals are in full spin mode: “This email shows that, contrary to the allegations of some, Secretary Clinton was not seeking to avoid any use of government email. As indicated in this email, she was open to using a state.gov account but she simply wanted her personal emails to remain private, as anyone would want.”

The second interesting development was also reported yesterday afternoon as the rest of us were digesting the U.K. referendum. It turns out that Secretary Clinton’s State Department calendar managed to omit “at least 75″ private appointments she had with campaign contributors and Clinton Foundation donors during her tenure at Foggy Bottom. Stephen Braun of the Associated Press investigated the Secretary’s calendar and cross-checked it against calendars maintained by her aides and other State Department to uncover the discrepancy. The AP had been forced to go to court to obtain these records from the State Department. Though Braun points out that no known laws were broken by the calendar omissions, he adroitly ties it in with the email exchange between Clinton and Abedin to paint a picture of a Secretary of State who prized secrecy and rebuffed efforts at transparency. Again, the Clinton flacks brazenly lie in service of the Queen Bee, insisting that she has made heroic efforts to be super transparent, and that expectations that her calendar might actually list the names of people with whom she has met are unreasonable and unfair.

Never has any party nominated a more dishonest and unethical candidate for President.

– JVW

6/24/2016

President Obama’s Busy Day After Democrats End Fundraiser Sit-In and U.K. Voters Say No

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:42 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This announcement couldn’t have come at a better time given it was made the day after the Democrats ended their embarrassing “No bill, no break” fundraising sit-in and on the heels of a little vote that didn’t go the way President Obama hoped-and warned- that it should. He could certainly use some good P.R. right about now.

President Barack Obama created the first national monument to gay rights on Friday, designating the site of the Stonewall riots in Manhattan where the modern gay rights movement took root nearly five decades ago.

The Stonewall National Monument will be anchored by Christopher Park, a small park just across from the iconic Stonewall Inn tavern, and covers a 7.7 acre swath of Greenwhich Village where the uprising took place after police raided the gay bar in 1969. Obama said the monument would “tell the story of our struggle for LGBT rights” and of a civil rights movement that became a part of America.

“I believe our national parks should reflect the full story of our country: the richness and diversity and uniquely American spirit that has always defined us,” Obama said. “That we are stronger together, that out of many, we are one.”

Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage.

You can read the official White House statement here.

P.S. I am currently travelling and have very limited internet connection. As such, if someone already posted about this, please just disregard this post.

–Dana

Partial Round-Up of Brexit’s Immediate Aftermath: Revenge of the Establishment

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:53 pm

[guest post by JVW]

In the wake of last night’s historic referendum on leaving the European Union, the people of Great Britain woke up this morning to find that they are the scourge of of all “responsible thinking” people in the faculty lounges, boardrooms, and grand salons of the cultured world. Here’s a round-up of obnoxious opinion:

The Boston Globe editorial board spewed out a typically pretentious and predictably dull-witted editorial, beginning with a reference to Shakespeare and then discussing the geography of the Calais-to-Dover channel crossing before finally getting around to their main argument for why the EU is so indispensable, because in their minds it has kept the peace: “The entire project was designed to use economics to prevent armed conflict. That worked.” I’m sure the people of Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia would find that to be an interesting assertion. But let’s set that aside for a moment. It is true that since the founding of the European Union that Germany has not invaded France or Belgium, but that might be more aptly attributed to the 60,000 U.S. troops stationed in Europe than all the striped-pants set in Brussels. The heart of the editorial is a boring recitation of the opportunities and challenges facing the EU and was clearly written when the outcome was in doubt. I read it so that you don’t have to, and I would never recommend that anyone waste their time with it.

The Economist also has their callow young writers all hot and bothered over what they characterize as a “senseless, self-inflicted blow.” They forecast nothing but gloom and doom: “As confidence plunges, Britain may well dip into recession. A permanently less vibrant economy means fewer jobs, lower tax receipts and, eventually, extra austerity. The result will also shake a fragile world economy.” Oh my: the cheeky lads and lasses located outside of the major urban centers have managed to steer the ship of state straight into the shoals! The fabulously wealthy Europhiles like author J.K. Rowling are just besides themselves at the insolence. Why, from now on they may have to stand in the non-EU passport control line on the way to their chalets in the Mediterranean.

The Nation tries heroically to reconcile their populist pretentions (close to half of Labour voters may have cast their ballot for Brexit) with proper deference to the opinion of progressive elites, so they attribute the result to a combination of backlash against so-called economic austerity and those twin leftist warhorses racism and nativism. That’s certainly a lot more comforting that having to question the efficacy of trans-national government by a largely unelected and unaccountable elite.

Prime Minister David Cameron has manfully announced his resignation, despite some desire among his supporters for him to stay on. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbin, whose commitment to the Remain cause has been called into question, is resisting calls from restless members of his coalition to resign. President Barack Obama, after raising eyebrows by wading into the debate with a veiled threat demanding Britain to stay in the EU, now insists that he’s totally cool with the decision and that the vote shows how globalization has left some behind. File this in the “No shit, Sherlock” category, where so many of Obama’s pronouncements tend to land these days.

Markets are taking a beating, the pound is falling, and Britain might now be a really good summer travel location. This promises to get more and more interesting as events continue to unfold.

– JVW

Brexit Passes; Cameron Resigns. Next Up: Texit!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:34 am

The punditry is shocked, and acting like this is a giant earthquake. Me, I’m for decentralization . . . and I think all the handwringing is overwrought. The world will not end if the UK leaves the EU. And the world would not end if Texas left the U.S. So: congratulations to Britain on regaining its autonomy, and (with my thanks to Kevin Gutzman for the term) I say: on to Texit!

6/23/2016

Led Zeppelin Exonerated in Stairway to Heaven Case

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:32 pm

It’s no surprise. Americans are celebrity hounds. They are star-struck in the presence of any celebrity — and celebrities win most court cases as a result.

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant (and John Paul Jones, a lesser light) testified at the trial, and by all accounts were charming and deflected the plaintiff’s case in amusing ways. Jimmy Page admitted that he owned the album containing “Taurus,” which clearly inspired the opening of “Stairway” — but claimed that he first heard the song on the Internet two years ago.

Which is funny, because I highlighted Taurus on this blog more than three years ago — on June 8, 2013 — stating:

Taurus, by Spirit.

Led Zeppelin opened for Spirit early in their careers, and heard this song live. You will not have to listen closely to hear the inspiration for Stairway to Heaven.

A year later, when the case was filed, I summed up my feelings in this post — and I see no reason to change my erudite and well-stated opinion today:

I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, if you listen to the piece, it’s pretty clear they ripped off part of California’s piece — and the fact that they were touring with Spirit at the time just solidifies the conclusion that you would have come to anyway regarding the similarities. It would have been nice for them to credit California and give him a piece of the royalties. And, as I say, I pointed out the similarities last year, long before the lawsuit — so it’s clearly not a made-up claim. (Do any of the lawyers read this blog?)

That being said, California himself never filed suit. And in “Stairway to Heaven,” while Zeppelin took some of California’s music, the more famous band also transformed the germ of that idea into something quite different, taken as a whole. Patterico reluctantly hereby enters judgment for defendant in the court of public opinion, but awards no costs — and encourages Led Zeppelin to give California his writing credit anyway.

I admit to being a Spirit partisan: I saw them live, from the front row, in Dallas’s West End Marketplace in the late 1980s. Randy California was charismatic, talented, and unforgettable. To the jury that rendered the verdict, though, he was almost surely some no-name shmoe. Maybe I was wowed by my perception of California’s celebrity, while Zeppelin — a band I have always enjoyed and respected — is a band I never saw live. The closest I came was seeing a solo Robert Plant show from middling seats, 15 rows back. Nothing very memorable. When I started writing this post, I forgot I had even seen that concert. But the Spirit show is burned deeply into my brain. To think: California was only in his late 30s when I saw them live. Damn. I’m old.

Anyway, Randy California is long dead and gone, having drowned off the coast of Molokai in 1997 while heroically rescuing his 12-year-old son from a rip current. But he definitely thought the song was ripped off, and as noted above, so do I. Here’s California:

Here’s a transcript of the relevant part of California’s statement:

Questioner: Speaking of Led Zeppelin, another sort of legendary story is the, which is true, I guess, is regarding the song “Taurus” that you also wrote. In the introduction. Um, did Led Zeppelin ever acknowledge their debt to you for that introduction? Was there ever anything said about that, or is it just sort of a story that’s floating around?

California: It’s not a story. It’s absolutely true. If you listen to the two things, you can make your own judgment.

Questioner: Mm-hmm.

California: It’s an exact, I’ll just say it, it’s a rip-off.

Questioner: Yeah.

California: And the guys made millions of bucks on it and they never said, “Thank you” and they never said, “Can we pay you some money for it?” or this or that. So I just think it’s —

Questioner: Yeah.

California: It’s kind of a sore point with me. And they, maybe some day they’ll — their conscience will make them change and they’ll do something about it. I don’t know. It’s not right. You know?

Questioner: Yeah, yeah. I agree. I mean, I think they did that in a few other cases too. [You bet they did! — Ed.] With a couple other —

California: It’s funny business, dealing between record companies, and managers, and publishers, and artists. But when artists do it to other artists, to me, there’s no excuse for that. You can quote me on that. I’m mad.

I am too. Even if I probably have ruled the same way the jury did.

Polls Closed in UK; Awaiting Brexit Results

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:16 pm

[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE: You can follow the results here. Thanks to narciso and kishnevi for the link.

UPDATE II: Rick Ballard provides a link to The Telegraph’s tabulation of the results. Another good site to check.

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: The BBC has called it for “leave.”

It’s well after midnight in the United Kingdom where voters yesterday went to the polls to decide whether subjects of Her Royal Majesty will remain a part of the European Union. Polls, which in recent weeks had shown the pro-Brexit side slightly leading have as of late tightened and now seem to be favoring the Remain side.

To follow the results, you can check out Lindsay Lohan’s Twitter feed. Seriously: Linsday Lohan’s Twitter feed. Here’s a taste:

This is a good excuse to show this outstanding brief for leaving the EU by that masterful speaker, Daniel Hannan. It’s their language — we’re just borrowing it — but why are they such better public speakers than any of our politicians over on this side of the Atlantic Ocean?

– JVW

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