Patterico's Pontifications

4/15/2019

Developing Story: Fire Ravages Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; Spire Collapses [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:55 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Sad news to begin Holy Week in Western Christendom.

The famed Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France was engulfed in flames on Monday leading to the collapse of the structure’s main spire. The intense flames leaped out from two of its bell towers minutes before the spire collapsed, and later spread to one of the cathedral’s iconic rectangular towers.

A church spokesman told French media that all of Notre Dame cathedral’s frame is burning after the spire collapsed.

“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told local outlets.

[. . .]

The deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, told BFMTV that the cathedral has suffered “colossal damages.”

Paris emergency services said they were trying to salvage the artwork stored in the cathedral.

At least there does not yet appear to be any deaths attributed to the blaze. It’s very sad to see an elegant and historic church damaged so horribly. Not to push the point too far, but the burning building unfortunately stands as a metaphor for the Church in modern Europe.

Here’s the cathedral seen in better days, taken from a visit I made nearly six years ago. The spire has now collapsed, and apparently the roof is in danger.

Notre Dame

I sincerely hope the French people have the will to rebuild this beautiful structure.

UPDATE: The parish priest from my boyhood passes along this poignant Tweet.

UPDATE II: Heartbreaking. It’s confirmed that the three iconic stained glass windows, the West Rose (dating from AD 1225), the North Rose, and the South Rose (both dating from AD 1250), have exploded in the fire.

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: This CNN story says that the rose windows have all survived contrary to previous reports. The organ supposed survived as well. What a relief.

– JVW

4/14/2019

Trump Does Not Actually Care About the Dangers Posed by Illegal Immigrants

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:59 pm



Donald Trump has finally revealed that he does not actually care about the dangers posed to Americans by illegal immigrants. He has revealed that his talk about sanctuary cities — one of the few points on which I agreed with him — was insincere.

How do I know this? I’ll tell you. Watch this.

Mexico is now apprehending and bringing back to the various countries that we’re talking about — Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador — they’re bringing people back to those countries; Colombia, to a certain extent — and they’re going back to those countries.

But we could fix that and so fast if the Democrats would agree. But if they don’t agree, we might as well do what they always say they want: We’ll bring the illegal — really, you call them the “illegals.” I call them the “illegals.” They came across the border illegally. We’ll bring them to sanctuary city areas and let that particular area take care of it, whether it’s a state or whatever it might be. California certainly is always saying, “Oh, we want more people.” And they want more people in their sanctuary cities.

Well, we’ll give them more people. We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply. And let’s see if they’re so happy. They say, “We have open arms.” They’re always saying they have open arms. Let’s see if they have open arms.

The reflex reaction on the right to this is: ha ha! You stupid people in sanctuary cities! We’re gonna stick you with these problem illegals! Let’s see how you like it!

I understand that reaction. If you don’t think about it, it’s sort of an automatic reaction for people frustated with the illegal immigration issue to have. You guys think illegals are so great? Here, have some more!

And plenty of those places — not all, but some — are saying: sure, we’ll do that. And the knee-jerk partisan claptrap takes up all the oxygen.

And nobody stops to think.

But here’s the thing.

Do that. Stop, for just one moment, to think. Take one moment to step back and ask yourself: what is the problem with sanctuary cities? I’m serious. Pause, stop reading this, and answer that question. Say the answer to yourself. Whatever you think the answer to that question is, say it out loud. I’ll help in a moment by stating what I think the problem is.

Once you say it out loud, and then realize that the President is suggesting that we send more illegal immigrants to these places, you’ll see why I am so contemptuous of this plan.

For my take on what the problem is with sanctuary cities, I’ll give you the short version and the long version. Here’s the short version:

For the long version, I’m going to quote at length from a post I wrote in the summer of 2015 about the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, California:

The murder of 31-year-old Kate Steinle at Pier 14 in San Francisco could have been prevented. Before the murder, authorities had the confessed killer in custody, and knew he was an illegal alien. ICE had told them. But, thanks to San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy, police knowingly let him go.

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 9.43.32 AM
Above: Kate Steinle, whose murder resulted from San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy

Police were required to let the illegal alien go — under San Francisco’s glorious and progressive “sanctuary city” policy:

The man accused of gunning down a 32-year-old Pleasanton woman while she was out strolling San Francisco’s Embarcadero with her father was in a Bay Area jail less than four months ago and should have been turned over to federal immigration officials upon his release, instead of being set free, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

But that’s not the way the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Legal Counsel Freya Horne sees it. In an interview Friday with NBC Bay Area, she said the city and county of San Francisco are sanctuaries for immigrants, and they do not turn over undocumented people – if they don’t have active warrants out for them – simply because immigration officials want them to.

. . . .

San Francisco Police Officer Grace Gatpandan Gatpandan added that San Francisco is a “sanctuary city, so we do not hand over people to ICE.” She also said that the police are “not responsible” for Sanchez once he is booked into county jail, “meaning we do not have control over his release.”

The suspect, Francisco Sanchez, has confessed to the murder.

The policy that caused Sanchez to be released, Ordinance 130764, was passed by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors and signed by San Francisco’s mayor in the fall of 2013. Its sponsors were San Francisco Supervisors John Avalos; London Breed, David Campos, David Chiu (now a former supervisor), Malia Cohen, Jane Kim, Eric Mar, and Norman Yee. It was signed by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

Everybody in this story is pointing the finger at someone else, but everyone is complicit. The police complain that they were required to release Sanchez. But ICE notes that, actually, police could simply have notified ICE that they were going to release him: “The federal law enforcement source told CNN the sheriff’s department ‘didn’t even need to hold him. They simply could have notified that they were going to release him and we would have gotten him.'”

Obama and the feds (ICE) are not off the hook here, either.

ICE is pointing its finger at the San Francisco policy and the police, but consider: ICE had this guy first, and released him to a sanctuary city, knowing they would probably let him go. According to CNN, “ICE said it turned Lopez-Sanchez over to San Francisco authorities on March 26 for an outstanding drug warrant.” NBC tells us that this case was “a marijuana case that was about 20 years old.”

So: ICE officials knew Sanchez had been deported 5 times before. They knew that, after his last deportation, he was convicted of illegal re-entry and served several years in federal prison. But, upon his release from federal prison, rather than deport him, they turned him over to San Francisco officials for a 20-year-old marijuana case, knowing that San Francisco has this sanctuary policy. Shockingly, the D.A. declined to pursue the case, leading to his release (rather than being returned to ICE custody).

Federal officials should refuse to turn over illegal aliens to sanctuary cities for state prosecutions, unless the state prosecutions are for crimes of violence, or crimes in which the alien is facing several years in prison. Turning over aliens to sanctuary cities, for potential prosecution for low-level non-violent crimes for which they face little time in custody, is tantamount to releasing them outright. Federal officials have the right to say: “if you want to prosecute this guy, you sign a document saying you will return him to us. Otherwise you don’t get him at all. We will deport him.”

The failure to implement this policy is squarely on Obama. And the refusal to secure the border, allowing this guy to come back again and again and again, is also on Obama and the Democrats.

The problem with sanctuary cities is that criminal illegal aliens in sanctuary cities are more likely to successfully evade the reach of the federal immigration authorities, because the local police refuse to cooperate with ICE. That puts society at risk. The more illegals are sent to sanctuary cities, the more danger is created.

If you think that’s hilarious, because everyone walking around a sanctuary city has it coming, then tell that to the family of the beautiful young girl shown above — and then go take a long walk off a short pier. She was a resident of a sanctuary city, so I guess it was her fault, huh?

If Trump actually carries through with this policy, he will be endangering people, to make a cheap political point. Like a chump sucker, I thought that Donald J. Trump actually cared about this issue — as much of a cretin as he is otherwise. But he doesn’t, really. Donald Trump is willing and indeed very happy to put American citizens at greater risk — as long as they live (or vacation) in cities whose policies he doesn’t like.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Anticipating the Mueller Report

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:40 am



The Mueller report should come out soon. What should we expect? I figured I’d put some of my thoughts on the site, just off the top of my head.

I don’t think the report will put it quite this way, but here’s what I think some of the more salient facts are, that will likely be borne out by the report.

The Russians had a campaign to disrupt the 2016 elections and to help Donald Trump win the election. The Trump campaign was aware of parts of this campaign, for example through Roger Stone. The campaign was approached by Russian operatives and in at least one case took them up on a meeting, with relatives of the President and his Krelim-connected campaign chairman meeting with someone representing the Kremlin. Afterwards, Donald Trump helped draft a statement lying about the nature of the meeting. Kremlin officials greenlighted a possible Trump-related real estate project in Moscow. The president’s lawyer later lied about the extent of these contacts to Congress, almost certainly with Trump’s knowledge and after consulting with lawyers connected to Trump. Meanwhile, the Trump campaign did a major favor for Russia by tipping them off that Trump was willing to go softer on sanctions that are very damaging to the corrupt and kleptocratic Putin regime.

However, no prosecutable case can found of the Trump campaign conspiring with Russia on any of these fronts. There is no indication that they helped to hack any computers. The lightening up on sanctions is a policy that Trump likely favored regardless of whether he got help from the Russian government, given that Trump is a huge personal fan of the murderous autocrat Putin, as evidenced by his sycophantic statements at Helsinki and elsewhere. As repellent as those statements are, and as counterproductive to human rights as the lifting of sanctions might be, all of this is more the product of Trump’s admiration for murderers and strongmen than the product of blackmail or (as the Steele dossier alleged) a quid pro quo for the help Russia gave Trump in electing him.

As often happens, allegations that would sink another person will roll off Trump’s back because what would be inexplicable for a normal human being can be explained as the result of the President being highly erratic and morally compromised in general, as well as being a giant asshole.

I doubt Mueller has made any express “referral” of any of this to Congress, but there will likely be some subtle reference to the notion that the fact that no prosecutions were brought should not preclude Congress from evaluating the material in its oversight capacity. It’s hard for me to imagine the absence of any statement like that, given that Mueller so pointedly refused to exonerate Trump on obstruction. Why make a point of that lack of exoneration if the matter is not to be taken up by Congress in some way?

I figured anything I said would be more meaningful if I put my cards on the table before the report comes out. Put your own cards on the table in comments below.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 106

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is Palm Sunday. Today’s Bach cantata is “Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit” (God’s time is the very best time).

The video is worth watching as you listen.

Today’s Gospel reading is the passion story, as recounted in Luke 22:14-23:56:

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Jesus Arrested

While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

Peter Disowns Jesus

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

The Guards Mock Jesus

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him.

Jesus Before Pilate and Herod

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You say that I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”

But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then

“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The Death of Jesus

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

The Burial of Jesus

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

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

Into Your hands I commit my spirit, You have redeemed me, Lord, faithful God.

Today you will be with Me in Paradise.

With peace and joy I depart
in God’s will,
My heart and mind are comforted,
calm, and quiet.
As God had promised me:
death has become my sleep.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

4/13/2019

Rep. Omar Takes President Trump’s Words Out Of Context, Fans Cheer

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:32 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Piggybacking on Patterico’s post, I want to point out how quickly the goalposts move and the rules of the game change in partisan politics.

Last week, an 11-month old video hit the internet after President Trump’s visit to the U.S. Mexico border. According to critics, the President referred to immigrants and asylum seekers as “animals” in the video. While the clip confirms that he did use the word “animals” as a descriptor, the full video provides the necessary context which proves his critics wrong.

Here is a clip of the video (provided by C-SPAN):

Here is the full video (provided by CNN):

Here is the text of the exchange:

Sheriff Margaret Mims: “There could be an MS-13 member I know about — if they don’t reach a certain threshold, I cannot tell ICE about it.”

President Donald Trump: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — and we’re stopping a lot of them — but we’re taking people out of the country. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people. These are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before. And because of the weak laws, they come in fast, we get them, we release them, we get them again, we bring them out. It’s crazy.”

Interestingly, here is how Rep. Ilhan Omar reacted 5 days ago to the re-released video:

Untitled

To the cheers of her supporters, Omar intentionally took Trump’s words out of context to bolster her continued criticism of his handling of border enforcement. Clearly it was a specific group of individuals coming across the border to whom Trump was referring. And they were not asylum seekers, in the way that Omar was referencing.

This makes it all the more rich to see Omar and her supporters now crying foul because they believe her 9/11 comments were taken out of context and twisted because of racism.

Two points: I watched the full video Omar’s comments, and she seems pretty clear in what she is saying. She is a grown woman and an elected official, therefore I am happy to give her credit for saying what she means and meaning what she says. With that, I am getting really tired of media types coming to the defense of Omar (along with Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) as if they were small children not responsible for their own words and deeds:

But there’s something distinctly racial (and gendered) about the aggression directed at Omar, who is black and one of the first Muslim women in Congress. She has been surrounded by controversy and personal attacks since she took office in January — attacks that are explicitly about silencing outspoken women of color.

And she is not the only one.

Oh bullshit. Claiming that mean old controversy keeps surrounding them conveys the belief that controversy just spontaneously happens completely apart from what these elected officials say and do, as if they have no agency, political will or presence. In my book, if you’re in public office, you better be ready to be criticized and raked over the coals for every damn word you say, and every action you take (on behalf of the American people) because that is part of the job. Blaming controversy as a whole on racism, or religion, or on an “effort to silence women of color” is just too convenient and easy. This thinking removes self-responsibility and agency, and replaces it with a poor me attitude. Knock it off. It’s like people believe Omar (and Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez) are innocents “surrounded by controversy” because it simply follows them home like some unwanted, uninvited intruder over whom they have absolutely no control. They are grown women who have been elected by Americans to represent them fairly and without reservation. If they want to court controversy by using provocative language directed at select groups of people, denigrate various pockets of Americans, or be dismissive of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, let them. And let them own it as well. They’re adults, and they’re elected officials. Let’s let them be just that.

[Ed. There is no doubt that there are hateful individuals out there that are indeed racist and bigoted toward these women, and are offended by their presence in Congress. I don’t know any personally nor have I read any of their writings, but given human nature, there is clearly no doubt that they do exist. However, to believe that everyone who disagrees with, or is critical of Omar, Tlaib and Ocasio-Cortez are by default, racist and bigoted, is simply being intellectually dishonest and lazy. Knock it off.]

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

4/12/2019

Trump Blamed for “Incitement” for Criticism of Idiotic Comment By Ilhan Omar

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:21 pm



So Rep. Ilhan Omar described the events of 9/11 as follows: “some people did something.” This is one of those things where people say it’s taken out of context, so you go look up the context and learn that the context is exactly what it appeared to be. Our President let loose with some Twitter criticism:

To hear the Democrat commentariat, you’d think he had just shot Rep. Omar on Fifth Avenue.

Oh, please. Criticizing someone for saying something stupid is not incitement to violence. Dan Crenshaw speaks the truth here:

Indeed. Claiming that Trump’s criticism is “incitement” is just trying to protect Rep. Omar from criticism. To heck with that. And by the way, as John Sexton asks:

But it just goes to show you: radical leftists gonna radical leftist. Oh, hey, speaking of which:

The roughly 1,200-word op-ed that appeared on the Boston Globe’s website Wednesday began with the author looking back on one of his “biggest regrets” in life — “not pissing in Bill Kristol’s salmon.”

“I was waiting on the disgraced neoconservative pundit and chief Iraq War cheerleader about 10 years ago at a restaurant in Cambridge and to my eternal dismay, some combination of professionalism and pusillanimity prevented me from appropriately seasoning his entree,” wrote Luke O’Neil, a Boston-based freelance journalist and regular contributor to the Globe’s opinions section. (O’Neil has also contributed to The Washington Post.)

. . . .

“As for the waiters out there, I’m not saying you should tamper with anyone’s food, as that could get you into trouble,” O’Neil wrote. “You might lose your serving job. But you’d be serving America. And you won’t have any regrets years later.”

It was so bad, the Boston Globe actually took it down. That’s how bad it was.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Avenatti Indicted for Tax Evasion — But I Thought the IRS Caught Everybody Right Away?!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am



Michael Avenatti has been indicted for numerous crimes, including several years’ worth of tax evasion. That’s so weird, because I thought the IRS catches all tax fraud and evasion immediately.

To celebrate the unveiling of this document, let’s consider that Avenatti was considering running for President in 2020, and consider what would have happened if he had run in 2016 instead. Had he refused to release his tax returns, what kind of arguments might his superfans have made? Below, I imagine the debate.

ME: Michael Avenatti seems very shady. I think he is hiding something because he won’t release his tax returns — that is, if they even exist.

AVENATTI SUPERFAN: Candidates didn’t start revealing their returns until Nixon. It’s hardly a precedent. And he says he’s under audit. You can’t expect people to release tax returns under audit.

ME: The press is reporting that their sources are saying he hasn’t even filed a tax return for the last six years.

AVENATTI SUPERFAN: Fake news! You really think the IRS is going to sit still for someone not filing a return? Look, Avenatti is a high profile lawyer. He doesn’t use TurboTax. He obviously employs professional accountants. You think his accountants are going to lie? You think they’re going to tell him not even to file a return?

ME: I don’t know. The guy lies all the time. His law firm has been placed into receivership, for crying out loud. I mean, he was evicted for not paying his rent. And now he won’t reveal his returns and claims it’s because he’s being audited? Something doesn’t smell right. He hasn’t even provided a single letter from the IRS showing they had begun an audit. We are taking his word for it, together with some vaguely worded statements from his tax lawyers about some audits somewhere, that don’t attach the IRS letters. I don’t find that convincing. And, for the umpteenth time, he’s a liar.

AVENATTI SUPERFAN: If his returns are good enough for the IRS, they should be good enough for the American people. We don’t need to see them. You’re just playing politics.

I know the reflexive response that Trump superfans will give to this: “Obama’s IRS” gave Avenatti a pass due to politics and gave Trump a pass because he’s squeaky clean. Congratulations; that argument just gave the Avenatti superfan an argument that the Avenatti indictment is pure politics from the Trump administration.

Never mind the overwhelming nature of the allegations in the indictment. It’s all about who’s president when it’s handed down, right? If there’s anything we have learned from the Trump era, it’s that the rule of law doesn’t matter any more. Only politics does.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

4/11/2019

Assange Arrested After Ecuador Withdraws Asylum — How Will the Two Parties of the Old GOP React?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am



BBC:

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Mr Assange took refuge in the embassy seven years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.

The Met Police said he was arrested for failing to surrender to the court and following a US extradition request.

Ecuador’s president said it withdrew his asylum after repeated violations of international conventions.

But Wikileaks tweeted that Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Mr Assange’s political asylum “in violation of international law”.

Mr Assange was initially taken to a central London police station before appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday afternoon.

The reaction to this will be interesting. Conservatives used to despise lawbreakers like Assange. But the old GOP has now broken into two parties: one pro-Trump and one anti-Trump. I’m not sure which party has more core, committed members. But these days, the pro-Trump party claims the vast majority of members, given that (to paraphrase the words of the great Tom Lehrer about Wehrner von Braun) their allegiance is ruled by expedience. And the two parties will react quite differently, as they do to many things.

I’m generalizing here quite a bit, but the anti-Trump party (my party) consists of the few people who believe in positive principles like limited government, the free market and the rule of law. We will applaud Assange’s arrest and cheer on his prosecution.

The core of the pro-Trump party — cretins like Sean Hannity and the biggest Trump superfans — are the folks obsessed with Muslims and defeating the left and “winning.” They don’t have many principles other than crushing the left — and if the left came out in favor of free markets (for example) they would be against free markets. (You may think I’m joking or exaggerating, but their support for Trump’s tariff’s proves I’m dead serious and exactly right.) These folks will decry Assange’s arrest and portray him as a political prisoner for revealing the truth about Hillary.

My belief is that the vast majority of current members of the pro-Trump party, and most readers here, are “Wehrner von Braun” members, whose membership is predicated on the fact that Trump is president. These folks assess him to be doing a mostly good job, while reviews of his personality are mixed. Some like his combativeness but most are put off by his tweeting and self-obsession. They’ll generally sign on to most of the core Trumpers’ hypocritical arguments defending Trump as a person, excusing his rampant lying and fraud as typical of politicians and nowhere near as bad as those evil and awful leftists like Hillary. They care far more about policy, and positively support some of Trump’s policies, like his defense of the country’s sovereignty.

These folks care a lot (I think far too much) about his main contributions to policy, which are mainly inconsequential nods to the base — things that matter very little to the big picture, but make a guy drinking a beer say “hell yeah!” Here I’m talking about the multitude of Trumpian gestures to the cultural aspects of the right. Stuff like yelling at football players for taking a knee and that kind of nonsense. But these folks also still remember, distantly, what it’s like to care about things like the free market and the debt, and that’s why their defense of tariffs tends to be halfhearted, and they show some embarrassment if the issue of federal spending comes up. And they’re sometimes in favor of the rule of law, as long as it doesn’t affect Trump, and especially if the rule of law hurts a leftist.

These are the people whose reactions will be most interesting, and the comments here ought to be reflective of their views. My guess is that their take will be that Assange did a lot of good stuff in revealing the “truth” about Hillary, but maybe they’ll be OK with his arrest and prosecution too. Who knows? It will be interesting to see.

Although this post is nominally about Assange and his arrest, the bigger question here is the schism caused by Trump. Because if I’m right about the vast majority of pro-Trumpers, the question is: what happens when he’s no longer president? I think the singular figure of Trump matters to these people far more than his dopey policies like tariffs, or kissing the ass of every murderous dictator in sight, or his desire to literally close the entire border in places, even to legal commerce that American car companies depend on. Once he’s gone, there will be no more allegiance to such idiotic policies.

But what will happen? I’ve given up prognostication, for the most part, but it will be interesting. I think a lot depends on who comes along next, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because I see practically nobody who could bring the two parties back together.

There is so much bad blood these days. I feel no kinship whatsoever with Trump or the core pro-Trumpers, and I react with excessive distress at the way that the expedient crowd has also gone along with Trumpism. I’m writing a blog mostly for people who aren’t part of my party, and who don’t like me. Think about that. Many readers have left as a result and the readership is down, and I mainly write for the small number of the core anti-Trump party that remains, as I respect them more than anyone. Otherwise, it’s as if I’m suddenly writing for Democrats — not that pro-Trumpers are Democrats, but they are a different party. Imagine what it would be like to write a blog and suddenly have 85% of your readers become Democrats. You’d feel alienated and dispirited — but especially happy about the 15% who remain ideologically in tune with you.

I don’t feel I have changed. I used to hang out with people like Ace of Spades and Charles C. Johnson. The latter had posting privileges here. They both now make my skin crawl. Did I change or did they? I submit that we all changed, but that they changed far more.

Anyway, when you start to ramble and you need to get to work, that’s when it’s time to end the post.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

4/10/2019

Federal Judge Retires to End Inquiry Into Her Tax Fraud with the President of the United States

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:12 pm



Just another day in the ol’ U.S. of A.:

President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.

The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.

Judge Barry, now 82, has not heard cases in more than two years but was still listed as an inactive senior judge, one step short of full retirement. In a letter dated Feb. 1, a court official notified the four individuals who had filed the complaints that the investigation was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council. Ten days later, Judge Barry filed her retirement papers.

The status change rendered the investigation moot, since retired judges are not subject to the conduct rules.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

And I’m sure that people who would normally see such a “coincidence” as odd will now argue that it’s a coincidence with a straight face.

So what did she do?

Judge Barry had been a co-owner of a shell company — All County Building Supply & Maintenance — created by the family to siphon cash from their father’s empire by marking up purchases already made by his employees, The Times investigation found. Judge Barry, her siblings and a cousin split the markup, free of gift and estate taxes, which at the time were levied at a much higher rate than income taxes.

Just your standard tax fraud that Trump apologists will claim, without any knowledge or research, was probably legal at the time. And then there’s the Trump card (SWIDT?): she’s rich and the IRS didn’t prosecute her for years, so, you know, that totally means she’s probably innocent.

The family also used the padded invoices to justify higher rent increases in rent-regulated buildings, artificially inflating the rents of thousands of tenants. Former prosecutors told The Times that if the authorities had discovered at the time how the Trumps were using All County, their actions would have warranted a criminal investigation for defrauding tenants, tax fraud and filing false documents.

B-b-but the IRS always catches everyone right away!!!!1!

Similarly, Judge Barry benefited from the gross undervaluation of her father’s properties when she and her siblings took ownership of them through a trust, sparing them from paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes, The Times found. For years, she attended regular briefings at her brother’s offices in Trump Tower to hear updates on the real estate portfolio and to collect her share of the profits. When the siblings sold off their father’s empire, between 2004 and 2006, her share of the windfall was $182.5 million, The Times found.

I truly believe that if Obama or Hillary Clinton were accused of the same thing, the people who defend Trump on charges of tax fraud would make the same arguments to defend Obama or Hillary.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

I Love Wednesdays

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:56 pm



I love them so much, I found all the clips. Play them in order. If you know what I’m talking about, you love Wednesdays too.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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