The Jury Talks Back

10/31/2018

Has Mueller Subpoenaed Trump to the Grand Jury?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:59 am

Betteridge’s law of headlines says no, and so do I. But that’s the case made by former federal prosecutor Nelson Cunningham at POLITICO. Ed Morrissey at Hot Air will walk you through the evidence and save you the angst of clicking on a POLITICO link. First, Cunningham says, we know this:

[A] sealed grand jury case was initiated in the D.C. federal district court before Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell. We know that on September 19, Chief Judge Howell issued a ruling and 5 days later one of the parties appealed to the D.C. Circuit. And thanks to Politico’s reporting, we know that the special counsel’s office is involved (because the reporter overheard a conversation in the clerk’s office). We can further deduce that the special counsel prevailed in the district court below, and that the presumptive grand jury witness has frantically appealed that order and sought special treatment from the judges of the D.C. Circuit – often referred to as the “second-most important court in the land.”

Cunningham then says that the appeal was particularly fast-tracked for an appeal by a normal witness. Then, at the en banc stage, there was a curious recusal:

And at that point, a very curious thing happened — Judge Gregory Katsas recused himself before the en banc petition was denied. And who is Gregory Katsas? He’s the only current Trump appointee to the DC Circuit, Cunningham notes, as well as a former deputy counsel to Trump.

I think that “as well as” formulation, suggesting that the identity of Katsas as a Trump appointee as the key fact, gets it exactly backwards. Katsas being a Trump appointee should have absolutely nothing to do with this. Presidential appointees rule on important questions involving the president who appointed them, all the time. All. The. Time. The key point here, I think, is that Katsas was deputy counsel to Trump. Keep that in mind as you read this totally misguided passage from Cunningham:

But if the witness were the president himself – if the matter involved an appeal from a secret order requiring the president to testify before the grand jury – then Judge Katsas would certainly feel obliged to recuse himself from any official role. Not only was the president his former client (he was deputy counsel to the president, remember) but he owes his judicial position to the president’s nomination. History provides a useful parallel: In 1974, in the unanimous Supreme Court decision US v Nixon requiring another witness-president to comply with a subpoena, Justice William Rehnquist recused himself for essentially the same reasons.

The United States v. Nixon case certainly does provide a useful parallel, but not in the way Cunningham thinks. Cunningham’s notion that Rehnquist recused himself from the Nixon tapes case in part because he was a Nixon appointee is wrong. How do we know this? Because of a fact that Cunningham does not tell his readers: three other Nixon appointees were in the unanimous majority against Nixon: Warren Burger, Lewis Powell, and Harry Blackmun. The real reason Rehnquist recused himself was because he had been an Assistant Attorney General, close to Richard Kleindienst and John Mitchell.

Similarly, if the litigation in the D.C. Circuit is over Trump, any recusal by Katsas would be because of his past work for Trump, not because Trump appointed him.

But the reason I don’t believe this is simple:

If Robert Mueller subpoenaed Donald Trump to the grand jury, there is no way Donald Trump could keep his mouth shut about it for several weeks.

No way.

So: nice theory, but no sale.

10/30/2018

President Trump Set To Sign Executive Order He Believes Will End Birthright Citizenship

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 9:39 am

[guest post by Dana]

Seeking to further rally his base around a key campaign issue just one week before the midterms, President Trump said in an interview that he is prepared to sign an executive order ending the 14th amendment protections for babies born to non-citizens and illegal immigrants:

Trump told “Axios on HBO” that he has run the idea of ending birthright citizenship by his counsel and plans to proceed with the highly controversial move, which certainly will face legal challenges.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said, declaring he can do it by executive order.

When told that’s very much in dispute, Trump replied: “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States … with all of those benefits,” Trump continued. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.” (More than 30 countries, most in the Western Hemisphere, provide birthright citizenship.)

“It’s in the process. It’ll happen … with an executive order.”

The 14th amendment says:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Axios notes the disagreement between legal experts:

Few immigration and constitutional scholars believe it is within the president’s power to change birthright citizenship, former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief counsel Lynden Melmed tells Axios.

But some conservatives have argued that the 14th Amendment was only intended to provide citizenship to children born in the U.S. to lawful permanent residents — not to unauthorized immigrants or those on temporary visas.

John Eastman, a constitutional scholar and director of Chapman University’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, told “Axios on HBO” that the Constitution has been misapplied over the past 40 or so years. He says the line “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” originally referred to people with full, political allegiance to the U.S. — green card holders and citizens.

Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump administration, recently took up this argument in the Washington Post.

Anton said that Trump could, via executive order, “specify to federal agencies that the children of noncitizens are not citizens” simply because they were born on U.S. soil. (It’s not yet clear whether Trump will take this maximalist argument, though his previous rhetoric suggests there’s a good chance.)

But others — such as Judge James C. Ho, who was appointed by Trump to Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in New Orleans — say the line in the amendment refers to the legal obligation to follow U.S. laws, which applies to all foreign visitors (except diplomats) and immigrants. He has written that changing how the 14th Amendment is applied would be “unconstitutional.”

Here is Ilya Shapiro discussing the birthright citizenship amendment from a few years ago:

[W]hat about illegal immigrants? Illegal aliens and their children are subject to our laws and can be prosecuted and convicted of violations – unlike diplomats, who enjoy certain immunities, and unlike foreign invaders, who are generally subject to the laws of war rather than domestic civil law. The illegal immigrants’ countries of origin can hardly make a “jurisidictional” claim on kids born in America (at least while they’re here). Thus, a natural reading of “subject to the jurisdiction” suggests that the children of illegals are citizens if born here.

On the other hand, the Fourteenth Amendment’s enactors probably didn’t intend birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants. At ratification in 1868, there were no illegal immigrants and no law had ever restricted immigration. “Subject to the jurisdiction” probably meant primary allegiance to the United States as a sovereign.

My sense of the constitutional question – again setting aside my policy view that more liberal immigration laws (accompanied by vigorous border control to prevent crime, terrorism, and public-health issues) would resolve much of the illegal-alien problem – is as follows.

When the original public meaning of a legal text is unambiguous, you have to adopt that meaning unless it leads to absurd consequences. Here, the consequences may well be irrational and self-defeating: We prohibit unauthorized entry while offering an inducement, giving citizenship to the children of those who violate the law. So if Congress were to deny citizenship to children of illegal aliens, the Supreme Court might not declare that law unconstitutional. It’s a close call (read the strong arguments pro and con constitutional birthright citizenship by my friends Jim Ho and John Eastman, respectively).

Would the Court consider the consequences of a textual meaning that gives birthright citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants to be absurd? If so, the intent or purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment’s enactors might trump the text. On the other hand, and being realistic, if Chief Justice John Roberts can find that a mandate is a tax and that a federal exchange was established by a state, there’s no way that the current Supreme Court would eliminate birthright citizenship for anyone.

Also, make sure to read Ed Morrisey’s analysis of the 14th amendment and a decision called U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark.

[I guess thinking this should be done by an Act of Congress and the President’s signature is out of the question…]

–Dana

10/29/2018

Hillary Clinton: “They All Look Alike”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 6:09 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I guess because her husband was the first black president, she’s allowed to say this. And be rewarded with laughter. (Surely, that has got to be shock masquerading as laughter…)

Well done? Seriously?? I clearly don’t know the rules anymore. But I read through comments and learned that Hillary was just making a cute funny. What a relief. At least she didn’t say that Booker was articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy, am I right???

On a serious note: if you condemn racist commentary, quips, digs, snark coming from the right, then feel free to condemn this with equal gusto. But if you are on the right, and have rationalized and excused racist commentary, quips, digs, and snark coming from your own tribe, then maybe sit this one out.

–Dana

10/28/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 23

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Du wahrer Gott und Davids Sohn” (You true God and Son of David)

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 10:46-52:

Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

The text of today’s piece is available here. Today’s cantata directly tells the story of Jesus restoring the sight of Bartimaeus, as related in today’s Gospel reading, beginning with his cry to the Lord for the “Son of David” to “have mercy on me”:

You true God and Son of David,
who already from distant eternity
have looked upon my heartache
and the pain of my body, have mercy on me!
And grant through Your wondrous hand,
that has turned aside so much evil,
that aid and comfort occur for me as well.

In the penultimate chorus, the cantata directly references Bartimaeus’s request that his sight be restored:

All eyes wait, Lord,
O all-powerful God, for You,
especially my own.
Give them strength and light,
do not leave them
for ever in the darkness!

It is a wonderful musical accompaniment to today’s message.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

10/26/2018

Suspect Identified And Arrested In Package Bomb Scare

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:19 am

[guest post by Dana]

Good news:

An arrest has been made in the investigation of bombs sent to prominent Democrats and critics of President Trump. The Department of Justice confirmed that one person was in custody.

Several law enforcement sources told CBS News the suspect’s name is Cesar Sayoc, who was born in 1962. He appears to have a criminal history in Broward County, Florida.

A law enforcement source said that DNA evidence on one of the devices played a part in leading investigators to the suspect, CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports.

Earlier today, authorities intercepted similar packages addressed to Sen. Cory Booker and former director of Intelligence James Clapper:

The package sent to Booker was found in Florida, the FBI said on Twitter on Friday morning. Sources told CBS News that the package sent to Clapper was found at a postal facility in New York City.

The New York package was addressed to “James Robert Clapper Time Warner (CNN),” according to a photo of the package obtained by CBS New York station WCBS-TV. On Wednesday, a bomb sent to CNN’s offices in New York’s Time Warner Center prompted an evacuation of the building.

Further, law enforcement secured a white van covered in stickers as evidence:

Law enforcement officials towed away a van found in Plantation, Florida, where a suspect was arrested in connection to the explosive devices.

The van is heading to Miramar, Florida, where a FBI field office is located, a law enforcement official told CNN.

Untitled

Here are some details rearding Sayoc:

*According to online records, Sayoc is a registered Republican, registering with the GOP in Florida in March 2016.

*Sayoc calls himself a promoter, booking agent and choreographer of a male stripping show as well as burlesque shows in the Miami-area. Sayoc says that he graduated from Brevard College, N.C./Univ of N.C. at Charlotte.” Sayoc says he attained a Bachelor of Arts in numerous subjects as well as studying veterinary medicine. Sayoc writes on that profile that it was his dream to become a “horse doctor.”

*Sayoc was arrested on drug charges in 2004. He was accused of possession and sale of steroids, along with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, tampering with evidence, filing fraudulent tax returns, criminal use of personal ID info and possession or unlawful issue of a driver’s license. He pleaded guilty that same year and was sentenced to 18 months of probation.

*In 2013, Sayoc was charged with battery and third-degree grand theft, a felony. He pleaded guilty in 2014 and was sentenced to probation. In 2009, Sayoc was charged with operating without a valid license, not having insurance and not having a tag light and was fined after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charges. In 2014, Sayoc was arrested on a petit theft charge and violation of probation. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Hm. Was Sayoc working alone? Did he have an accomplice in New York, or were the events not related?:

The arrest took place in Florida and at least some of the action took place there too. Four of the bombs were delivered in New York, at least, so it makes sense that the SDNY would be involved. It could also mean that they’re checking to see if Sayoc had an accomplice for the hand deliveries in the state, or maybe just tracking his cell-phone location data to tie him to the specific deliveries.

Here is President Trump discussing the arrest of Sayoc at the Young Black Leadership Summit minutes ago:

–Dana

Enjoy My Latest Column Bashing the [Insert Pejorative Group Name Here]

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:15 am

It’s Mad Libs Enraged Libs! Or: how to write that column when the deadline is in five minutes and you can’t think of anything new to say:

But what gets me is how these ____________(pejorative group name) are always trying to act like they’re better than us _______________(positive group name), the way they constantly _____________(disfavored activity). You know who I mean: people like ____________(disfavored person) and ______________(disfavored person). But in the end, all they are is _____________(pejorative group name) who do nothing but sit around and ____________(disfavored activity) and wouldn’t know how to ___________(favored activity) if _________________(favored person) took them by the hand and showed them. And no matter how much these ______________(pejorative group name) go to their cocktail parties in the Hamptons and ________________(disfavored activity), these ______________(pejorative group name) will never be as good as us __________(positve group name). The truth is that these ____________(pejorative group name) are jealous of ______________(favored person) because he is one of the ______________(positive group name) who really know how to _____________(favored activity). So buy my book and totally own these _______________(pejorative group name), make ____________(disfavored person) cry, and show all those ___________(pejorative group name) how we _____________(positive group name) act.

Select from the following:

Pejorative group names: pussies, twits, weenies, NeverTrumpers, dorks, Fredocons, sissies, weasels, posers, scolds
Positive group names: real conservatives, Normals, real men, good Republicans, unruly ruffians
Disfavored activities: sip Zima, sell cruise cabins, trash Donald Trump, lecture about morals
Favored activities: bang hot porn stars, fight dirty, destroy the left, own the libs and the pinkos
Disfavored persons: Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake, Bob Corker
Favored persons: Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump

10/25/2018

New York Times Publishes Story Imagining Assassination of Trump

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 8:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

As we watch the flamethrowers of blame being lobbed from both sides of the aisle about whose incendiary rhetoric led to the ongoing bomb scares this week, and hear the rank hypocrisy coming from the Democrats and their leaders, I wanted to bring to your attention the immense double standard of our media. Quelle surprise, I know.

Several days ago, the New York Times asked 5 writers to submit stories that imagined what Trump’s next chapter might be:

Our focus here at the Book Review is on books and stories, but also on how the books being written and read reflect the world outside of books. And one of the biggest stories out there, of course, is the Mueller investigation and the relationship between Trump and Putin. It’s hard not to speculate about what might happen next. To that end, we thought: Who better than some of today’s most talented spy and crime novelists — Joseph Finder, Laura Lippman, Jason Matthews, Zoë Sharp and Scott Turow — to conjure possible outcomes?

The stories were published in the print edition of the New York Times the day after the pipe bomb was found in George Soros’ mailbox.

One story stands out as it angered a lot of readers.

In Zoe Sharp’s assassination fantasy, How It Ends, readers discover that she imagines a drunk Russian with a glitchy pistol assassinates the President of the United States. Of course readers know that the president in question is Trump, given the specified criteria outlined:

When it was time, he went downstairs, took his place in the lobby before the entourage appeared. The hotel staff had been lined up to see their boss, the president, go by. A few of them applauded. Most did not.

The president didn’t seem to notice. He waved, in his desultory fashion. The Secret Service agents clustered around him, ushered him toward the armored limo idling outside at the curb.

The Russian waited until they were a few steps past before he drew the gun. He sighted on the center of the president’s back, and squeezed the trigger.

The Makarov misfired.

The Secret Service agent at the president’s shoulder heard the click, spun into a crouch. He registered the scene instantly, drawing his own weapon with razor-edge reflexes.

Then comes the shock ending:

The Russian tasted failure. He closed his eyes and waited to pay the cost.

It did not come.

He opened his eyes. The Secret Service agent stood before him, presenting his Glock, butt first.

“Here,” the agent said politely. “Use mine. …”

Sigh. I hate cheap, button-pushing shock endings like this. But what I hate even more is playing the “What if this was Obama” game, but let’s do it anyway. First, we all know that the New York Times Book Review would never, ever solicit any story involving Barack Obama. Second, they would never in a million years publish How It Ends if it was about Obama’s assassination. The New York Times would take to their editorial pages in droves to condemn any story that remotely considered such an horrific event. They would also condemn both the writer and the outlet for their utter lack of discretion, their glorification of political violence, their incitement of violence, their tacit approval of the assassin being a sympathetic martyr, etc. That the New York Times Book Review never remotely considered soliciting anything similar about President Obama, tells us all we need to know. Not every president is fair game. Never have been, never will be. (But get your unbiased reporting from us anyway!)

It’s hard to ignore that Ms. Sharp not only sees the killing of this particular enemy as not only justified because it’s necessary, but also portrays it as something almost noble that will bring honor to the killer, and render him a martyr for the cause:

The Russian drank on alone. Throughout his career, he would have spent these hours going over the plan, the escape route. This time, there was no escape route — only honor. And death.

On top of everything else, if Ms. Sharp imagines that Secret Service agents are that unhinged and malleable, then I guess we really can assume that this is a humorous piece, meant to cause a gasp and a chuckle. Which is what she seems to want us to believe:

Back in August I received an email, out of the blue, from an editor at The New York Times, asking me if I would like to write a short story for the Book Review. The publication’s focus, the editor explained, was on how fiction reflected and related to the real world. And what better way to discover some of the more imaginative ways the current political situation might develop than to ask ‘some of today’s most talented spy and crime novelists—Joseph Finder, Laura Lippman, Jason Matthews, Zoë Sharp, and Scott Turow—to conjure possible outcomes?’

I think it was fortunate that I didn’t know until the stories were published this week who my fellow contributors were. I fear I might have been somewhat intimidated to realise I was going to be alongside such literary luminaries. Particularly as the idea I came up with required me to write with tongue wedged very firmly in cheek.

You be the judge.

My beef isn’t with Ms. Sharp as much as it with the paper of record. Ms Sharp wrote a disturbing, tight story with an economy of words and a little gotcha-twist at the end. I don’t know her from Adam. But I do know the New York Times and their hypocritical underpants are showing with their publication of Ms. Sharp’s story.

My beef is with the paper of record for their solicitation of such stories in general, and for choosing to make the editorial decision to publish this specific selection. If we had not been Lectured. To. Death. by society’s eternal nagging mother, the Gray Lady about civility, incendiary rhetoric, the evils of the GOP, and the dangers of Crosshairs and Targets, Oh My!, it would be a different story. But here we are.

Case(s) in point: the Editorial Board has brazenly and sneakily blamed Republicans for any number of acts of political violence in the past, and been forced to issue corrections for false claims. A few oldies but goodies:

“Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.

Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. Conservatives and right-wing media were quick on Wednesday to demand forceful condemnation of hate speech and crimes by anti-Trump liberals. They’re right. Though there’s no sign of incitement as direct as in the Giffords attack, liberals should of course hold themselves to the same standard of decency that they ask of the right.

It is facile and mistaken to attribute this particular madman’s act directly to Republicans or Tea Party members. But it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.”>it is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.

Can we just stop with the moral preening, New York Times? Can you stop trying to make us believe you are something than you really are? While you may think us too stupid to know better, we do. We see right through you. But hey, if you want Trump in 2020 that badly, just keep on being you.

–Dana

10/24/2018

Trump’s Disdain for Security Has Our Enemies Listening to His Phone Calls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:51 pm

Lock him up.

When President Trump calls old friends on one of his iPhones to gossip, gripe or solicit their latest take on how he is doing, American intelligence reports indicate that Chinese spies are often listening — and putting to use invaluable insights into how to best work the president and affect administration policy, current and former American officials said.

Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls, as well. But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them.

American spy agencies, the officials said, had learned that China and Russia were eavesdropping on the president’s cellphone calls from human sources inside foreign governments and intercepting communications between foreign officials.

The officials said they have also determined that China is seeking to use what it is learning from the calls — how Mr. Trump thinks, what arguments tend to sway him and to whom he is inclined to listen — to keep a trade war with the United States from escalating further. In what amounts to a marriage of lobbying and espionage, the Chinese have pieced together a list of the people with whom Mr. Trump regularly speaks in hopes of using them to influence the president, the officials said.

Fortunately, he’s probably not spilling any classified information because he barely pays attention to that stuff.

Administration officials said Mr. Trump’s longtime paranoia about surveillance — well before coming to the White House he believed that his phone conversations were often being recorded — gave them some comfort that he was not disclosing classified information on the calls. They said they had further confidence he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities.

None of this is shocking. There is a dolt in the Oval Office, everyone knows he’s a dolt, and Americans are apparently fine with it. All you can do is shrug your shoulders.

Quintessential Trump Gaslighting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:35 pm

Who says Trump can’t be entertaining reading prepared remarks? I’ll start the clip in the right place, but you’ll have to stop it yourself.

As part of a larger national effort to bridge our divides and bring people together the media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories. Have to do it. Have to do it. They have got to stop. Bring people together.

It’s the funniest thing I’ve heard since I heard about Melania Trump making a crusade of opposing bullying.

More Explosive Devices: Clintons, Obamas, and Maybe CNN

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:42 am

Dana already blogged about the explosive device at George Soros’s home. Now there are reports of explosive devices having been sent to Bill and Hillary Clinton and to Barack Obama.

The Secret Service said Wednesday that it had intercepted packages containing “potential explosive devices” addressed to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in New York and former president Barack Obama in Washington.

The devices were recovered not long after an explosive device was found in a mailbox at the Bedford, N.Y., home of George Soros, the liberal philanthropist who is a frequent target of criticism from far-right groups.

“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such,” the Secret Service said in a statement Wednesday. “The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them.”

The Secret Service said the package addressed to the Chappaqua, N.Y., home of Clinton and former president Bill Clinton was recovered late Tuesday. The package sent to Obama’s Washington home was intercepted early Wednesday, authorities said.

Meanwhile, as I type this post, CNN’s offices in New York are being evacuated:

The evacuation is taking place because of reports of a suspicious device.

What does it all mean? Nobody knows, of course — but that won’t stop lefties from blaming Trump’s rhetoric, or Trumpists from crying “false flag!”

It does raise a question in my mind, though. If you applauded the body-slamming of a Guardian reporter by a Republican congressional candidate, and if you laughed when Donald Trump celebrated that, do you approve of all this too? No? Then where do you draw the line? Body-slamming is OK but explosive devices are not?

Related issue: is the central question here the behavior of Bill or Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, or CNN? Or is the central question the behavior of the person behind the sending or planting of these explosive devices?

I mean these questions to be rhetorical, but treat them as regular questions if you like.

10/23/2018

Condemn Them All: Nothing Justifies Political Acts Of Violence On Either Side Of The Aisle

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:05 am

[guest post by Dana]

Two ugly acts of violence are in the news.

The first story involves billionaire philanthropist George Soros (or, as the WaPo unsurprisingly frames it: Explosive device found at residence of George Soros, liberal philanthropist and target of far right):

A pipe-bomb-like device loaded with black powder was found at the suburban New York City home of billionaire financier George Soros, prompting the FBI to launch an investigation into who would want to harm the philanthropist and political activist, a law enforcement source told ABC News on Tuesday.

The FBI detonated the device near Soros’ home in Katonah, New York, and were analyzing the parts to determine whether the bomb was built to go off, the source said.

The source emphasized that the device was no hoax.

The bomb was found about 3:45 p.m. Monday in the mailbox of Soros’ home by a property caretaker for the billionaire, the source said.

“An employee of the residence opened the package, revealing what appeared to be an explosive device,” said Bedford police, which sent officers to the residence, in a statement.

The caretaker placed the suspicious package in a wooded area and called the police, officials said.

No determination has been made whether the device arrived by mail or was planted in the mailbox, and there is no suspect yet.

The second report concerns Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.):

Two men apparently attacked the Bakersfield office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Monday night, throwing a massive rock through one of its windows and burglarizing office equipment inside.

McCarthy posted four photographs documenting the alleged episode on Instagram — three showing the individuals he identified as possible suspects, and one providing a clear view of a massive slab of rock lying on the floor amid shattered glass.

“Does anyone know these two guys?” McCarthy wrote on the social media site, next to images of two people spotted near his office.

The Bakersfield Police Department did not comment on the alleged incident when reached by Fox News and said it would have more information on Tuesday.

McCarthy, like several other congressional Republicans, has faced threats and harassment in the past several weeks. In August, protesters in Sacramento chanting “No justice, no peace” disrupted McCarthy’s event at the Public Policy Institute of California.

This x 1000:

“There’s no way somebody on my ideological side would plant a bomb in Soros mailbox/break a window and steal things from McCarthy’s office! It must be an elaborate hoax!” Do you realize how crazy you sound?

Angry individuals and mobs willing to do harm to political opponents exist on both sides of the aisle. We’ve all seen the results of their havoc. Sadly, if you read the comments at the links above, it’s obvious that assigning blame takes a front-seat to simple, full-throated condemnation of anyone from any side of the aisle committing any sort of violence. This “whataboutism” and “but they…” is becoming little more than a twisted game of one-upmanship. Bad enough coming from private citizens, but far more foul coming from sleazy politicians exploiting such events for their own sordid political gain.

It is both equally possible to loathe an individual and criticize their politics as destructive, yet condemn anyone who would seek to do them harm.

–Dana

10/22/2018

President Trump: This Will Be An Election Of The Caravan (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 1:19 pm

[guest post by Dana]

As the caravan of undocumented immigrants from Guatamala, Honduras and El Salvador makes its way through Mexico to the U.S. border, the numbers have reportedly increased to a staggering 5,000 individuals. President Trump responded to the northward migration with a series of tweets this morning:

President Trump vowed Monday to cut off or “substantially” reduce aid to three Latin American nations, voicing fresh frustration as a growing caravan of migrants that originated in Honduras continued to make its way toward the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were not able to do the job of stopping people from leaving their country and coming illegally to the U.S.,” Trump said in one of a string of morning tweets on the subject. “We will now begin cutting off, or substantially reducing, the massive foreign aid routinely given to them.”

It was not immediately clear what payments Trump was alluding to or the extent to which he could act without congressional approval.

Trump also expressed frustration with Mexico’s military and police, saying they appear “unable to stop the Caravan” and that he has alerted the U.S. Border Patrol and military to what he termed a national emergency.

Ahead of the Nov. 6 midterms, Trump has sought to turn the caravan into a symbol of the larger issue of immigration, which the White House believes can be used to drive up turnout among the Republican base.

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I was unable to find any support for President Trump’s claims that “Middle Easterners” were a part of the caravan. Instead, I found this caution about assuming any such thing:

You’re going to be hearing a lot about Guatemala catching 100 ISIS members. @JudicialWatch and its dupes and cronies are spinning this as if they’re being arrested out of the ranks of the “caravan,” in support of Trump’s “Middle Easterner emergy” meme.

But, as others have pointed out, Judicial Watch appears to be using an unsourced boast from Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and >associating it with the caravan.

On October 11, Prensa Libre reported that Morales claimed his admin deported “close to” 100 ISIS members. Morales assumed office in 2016.

Judicial Watch misleadingly reported this as “ISIS Terrorists Caught in Guatemala as Central American Caravan Heads to U.S.”

But even Morales didn’t connect it to the caravan. Morales made the boast at a conference back on October 11th and 12th. The only specific incident his administration cited was an arrest of some Syrians with fake documents in 2016.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Moraless shared the news on Thursday as 4,000 migrants were making their way to the Guatemala and Mexican border in an effort to cross over.

Yet, under the dishonest urging of @JudicialWatch, this is being spun as “Guatemala catches 100 ISIS members in caravan heading for U.S.” Just look.

As far as there being criminals in the caravan, there is confirmation that previously deported individuals are indeed a part of the caravan. While there are not specific numbers available, some were willing to go on record:

And then there were the deportees. Many of the migrants here had previously lived in the United States, for years or even decades, joining the caravan to reunite with their children, or to resume old jobs. They were undeterred by the American authorities who had apprehended them or the U.S. president who promised to keep them out again.

Some of them had returned voluntarily to their home countries long ago, but eventually determined that there was nothing there for them. Now, they were traversing Mexico while President Trump tweeted about their journey[.]

“It’s time for me to go back to the United States. It’s a country where I can live my life, unlike Guatemala,” said Job Reyes, 36, who had spent most of his childhood and teenage years in Los Angeles, attending kindergarten through high school there.

He said he had returned to Guatemala when his visa expired 14 years ago…“When I heard about the caravan, I knew it was my chance,” he said.

Imner Anthony Fuentes, 29, had the same reaction. He had been deported five months ago from Birmingham, Ala. His son was still living there, with his U.S. citizen girlfriend, not far from the framing store where Fuentes had worked for six years. He was used to the back-and-forth: He said he had been deported six times.

“That’s just how it is,” Fuentes said. “They catch you, and you try to get back.”

According to reports, between the three countries, the U.S. is projected to provide a total of $260 million in aid for the 2019 fiscal year.

And as far as this becoming a rallying cry for the GOP before the midterms, when one remembers that taking on illegal immigration and building a wall at the southern border was one of the main planks of his campaign, it makes sense that Trump would use the crisis to rev up his base before an election. This from a rally in Mesa, AZ:

Under two enormous banners—PROMISES MADE and PROMISES KEPT—Trump told an audience of roughly 4,000 people that a Honduran migrant caravan, also roughly 4,000 people, would “break our laws, violate our borders, and overwhelm our nation” if it were to enter the United States.

“They’re fighting some bad people in that group,” Trump said, of the Mexican military. “You see the people come up and you listen to the fake news back there, and you’d think they’re all wonderful people! You got some bad people in those groups, you got some tough people in those group, and I’ll tell you what: This country does not want them.”

And at a campaign stop in Montana, he told an enthusiastic crowd of supporters:

“This will be an election of Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order and common sense. … Remember it’s gonna be an election of the caravan.”

It’s not clear what any sort of military intervention at the U.S. border would look like, nor whether the President plans to go through Congress.

UPDATE: There is a report that Bangladeshis are part of the carvavan. The Daily Caller has the story:

Univision correspondent Francisco Santa Anna reported from the bridge separating Guatemala and Mexico. The bridge has been packed with thousands of migrants demanding access to Mexico, with the ultimate goal of crossing the border of the United States illegally. The caravan has now swelled to many thousands.

The Bangladeshis, he said, were detained in an immigration facility, though it’s not clear what happened to them after their detention.

“The borders in Central American are not as strong as the U.S., which makes it possible for people from Panama and Ecuador to cross easily,” Santa Anna said on Univision. “They cross from Costa Rica, then later go through Guatemala and eventually make it into our country.”

“Yesterday when we were traveling through Guatemala, we noticed people from El Salvador and even people from Bangladesh,” he continued. “Can you imagine what they had to do to get here? They infiltrated themselves in this caravan and tried to cross with the crowd. That would have benefited them greatly.”

(h/t commenter xmas.)

–Dana

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