Patterico's Pontifications


Trump Blocks Interview of Ambassador Sondland

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:04 am

The Failing New York Times (which is actually doing quite well):

The Trump administration directed a top American diplomat involved in its pressure campaign on Ukraine not to appear Tuesday morning for a scheduled interview in the House’s impeachment inquiry.

The decision to block Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, from speaking with investigators for three House committees is certain to provoke an immediate conflict with potentially profound consequences for the White House and President Trump. House Democrats have repeatedly warned that if the administration tries to interfere with their investigation, it will be construed as obstruction, a charge they see as potentially worthy of impeachment.

As a Twitter friend points out, in his tweets explaining the decision, Trump is not even bothering to claim privilege. He’s just saying Sondland doesn’t have to testify because the impeachment is being run by Democrats:

T̶h̶e̶ ̶w̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶j̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶g̶o̶t̶ ̶1̶0̶ ̶f̶e̶e̶t̶ ̶h̶i̶g̶h̶e̶r̶ The articles of impeachment just got 10 sentences longer.

Why is Sondland important? He talked to Trump before sending the “to be clear we are totally not committing any crimes here” text:

Apparently inquiry into how that text got written is not to be allowed.

Okay then.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Trump Announces US Troop Pullout In Northern Syria Ahead Of Turkish Military Offensive

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:01 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This happened last night:

The White House said that United States forces in northern Syria would move aside in advance of a planned Turkish military offensive.

The move marks a major shift in US foreign policy and effectively gives Turkey the green light to attack US-backed Kurdish forces. The group, long considered as among Washington’s most reliable partners in Syria, has played a key strategic role in the campaign against ISIS in the region.

Following a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said that Turkey would soon begin a military offensive and US forces would not be involved in the operation.

“Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria,” a statement said. “The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

The White House added Turkey would now be responsible for all captured ISIS fighters who are currently being held by US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

It is unclear whether this decision will impact all of the nearly 1,000 troops currently operating in the area.

Republican reaction to the news has not been positive:

Republican lawmakers on Monday panned President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria ahead of a planned Turkish invasion, marking the latest break within the party over foreign policy.

…Republicans are warning that the decision will bolster U.S. adversaries, including ISIS, and put the lives of Kurdish allies in the region at risk.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)…”I urge the President to exercise American leadership to keep together our multinational coalition to defeat ISIS and prevent significant conflict between our NATO ally Turkey and our local Syrian counterterrorism partners…”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)…”It would confirm #Iran’s view of this administration & embolden then to escalate hostile attacks which in turn could trigger much broader & more dangerous regional war,” Rubio added.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah)…”The President’s decision to abandon our Kurd allies in the face of an assault by Turkey is a betrayal. It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster,” Romney tweeted.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)…added…that it was a “terribly unwise decision by the President to abandon our Kurdish allies.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.)…“He needs to know that this bad decision will likely result in the slaughter of allies who fought with us, including women and children. I hope the President will listen to his generals and reconsider. And before Turkey butchers innocent Kurds, Erdogan should carefully consider his privileged status as a NATO member. The American people don’t partner with genocidal regimes”.

Unexpected pushback to the decision came from Trump-supporter Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.):

I don’t believe it is a good idea to outsource the fight against ISIS to Russia, Iran, and Turkey. They don’t have America’s best interests at heart.

The most probable outcome of this impulsive decision is to ensure Iran’s domination of Syria.

The U.S. now has no leverage and Syria will eventually become a nightmare for Israel.

I feel very bad for the Americans and allies who have sacrificed to destroy the ISIS Caliphate because this decision virtually reassures the reemergence of ISIS. So sad. So dangerous.

President Trump may be tired of fighting radical Islam. They are NOT tired of fighting us.

Finally, this decision makes it difficult for the U.S. to recruit allies against radical Islam.By abandoning the Kurds we have sent the most dangerous signal possible – America is an unreliable ally and it’s just a matter of time before China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea act out in dangerous ways.

Graham said he will take additional steps when, and if necessary:

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday he and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen will introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if it crosses the Syrian border and attacks Kurdish forces, after President Donald Trump said late Sunday that he was withdrawing U.S. troops from the border region.

“I hope and expect sanctions against Turkey — if necessary — would be veto-proof,” Graham said.

“This decision to abandon our Kurdish allies and turn Syria over to Russia, Iran, & Turkey will put every radical Islamist on steroids. Shot in the arm to the bad guys. Devastating for the good guys,” Graham tweeted.

Also breaking with the President is ardent Trump-supporter, Mike Huckabee:

I generally support @POTUS on foreign policy & don’t want our troops fighting other nations’ wars, but a HUGE mistake to abandon Kurds. They’ve never asked us to do THEIR fighting-just give them tools to defend themselves. They have been faithful allies. We CANNOT abandon them.

House members voicing disapproval include Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and Pete King (R-N.Y.). Nikki Haley also condemned the decision, saying that leaving the Kurds to die would be a big mistake.

However, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) came out in support of Trump’s decision: “I stand with@realDonaldTrump today as he once again fulfills his promises to stop our endless wars and have a true America First foreign policy”.

This morning President Trump defended his decision on Twitter:

“The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for … almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home,” Trump tweeted.


He also addressed concerns about the captured ISIS fighters:

Moreover, he claims that he is not taking sides in the matter:

Meanwhile, Charles C.W. Cooke slaps us with the most shameful reality of all with regard to U.S. foreign policy:

This morning’s revelation that President Trump intends to permit a Turkish military operation that would destroy the American-backed Kurds near the border in Syria has prompted a parade of arguments over the merits and demerits of the decision, yielded a good amount of enfeebled pleading, and allowed for hours and hours of cable news discussion, but, notably, has generated absolutely nothing of actual consequence from those in positions of power. As has become customary, we are watching explosions from the peanut gallery.

Donald Trump may be an unusually ignorant and capricious president, but he is by no means alone in enjoying an almost completely free hand in the realm of foreign policy. For decades now — under both Democrats and Republicans — we have been moving toward a settlement that permits the executive branch to decide, on a whim, where, when, and how we are at war — and even what constitutes “war” per se. Today, we can see why that is a bad idea. Today, by the same token, we can see why that settlement persists. What, exactly, are the parameters by which President Trump is supposed to make his decisions? Congress has not declared war in, or with, Syria, and it has not voted to end a declaration of war in, or with, Syria. It has not made it clear whether it considers that the situation in Syria falls neatly under its previous authorizations of force, or whether it believes that the president is in violation of them. Those who favor a more aggressive foreign policy have not made their case in debate, nor have those who disagree sought in any arena to rebut them. There has been no push for a clarifying statute, no attempt to increase or withdraw funding, and no talk of commendation or impeachment. Instead, those who were elected to make exactly these decisions have, as a class, happily consented to their own impotence. Congress, to borrow a phrase, has become a seraglio of eunuchs, which, terrified of weighing in on matters of life and death, prefers to gripe on TV, to complain on Twitter, and to beseech the executive from the safety of the stump, while doing nothing of any consequence in either direction.

Why is our policy a mess? Our policy is a mess because we do not have one. Instead, we have an oft-changing emperor who makes it up as he goes along while everyone else gripes. Eight years ago, President Obama involved the United States in removing the government of Libya, without ever going to Congress. He faced no consequences for this in either direction. Why would President Trump expect to rely on the advice or direction of the legislature? Why would anyone?

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


NBA General Manager’s Support For Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Sets Off Firestorm

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:37 am

[guest post by Dana]

To its shame, the NBA has chosen profit over moral rightness by kowtowing to the Chinese government with expressed regret for the Houston Rocket’s GM’s public support for Hong Kong protesters. Daryl Morey’s now-deleted tweet read, simply: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

One expects this reaction from China when publicly – and rightfully – shamed:

The Houston Rockets suddenly find themselves in the middle of a geopolitical controversy that could put their chief front-office executive’s job in jeopardy. After general manager Daryl Morey expressed support in a since-deleted tweet for pro-democracy efforts in Hong Kong, the Chinese government, the Chinese Basketball Association, and various Chinese businesses quickly denounced Morey and moved to sever ties with the Rockets. As a consequence, league sources told The Ringer that Rockets ownership has debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him.

On Sunday, the Chinese Basketball Association issued a statement on Weibo—a Chinese social media platform akin to Twitter—and expressed its “strong opposition” to what it called Morey’s “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong.” As a result, the CBA said it was suspending “exchanges and cooperation” with the Rockets. The Chinese Consulate in Houston also issued a statement saying it was “deeply shocked” by Morey’s “erroneous comments” and expressed “strong dissatisfaction.” The consulate also urged the Rockets to “correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact.”

As Morey and the Rockets are currently in Tokyo to take part in the NBA’s preseason games in Asia, Morey clarified his original post:

I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives. I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them wasn’t my intention.

Because mitigating the impact of a huge financial backlash and maintaining the lucrative business relationship with China remains the priority, one would be foolish to believe that the NBA would react in any way other than to assume a submissive position before China :

We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.

By focusing on the financial bottom line, it’s easy for the NBA to reduce the laundry list of humanitarian abuses by the Chinese government to little more than a “cultural divide”. But in what world is the amoral detention of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighers and the harvesting of human organs simply a “cultural divide,” and one that can be “bridged” by playing basketball and making money? Financial wealth does not beget a functioning moral compass. Sadly, with profits being the deciding factor, financial interests and interactions with China will remain business as usual :

One of the most inflammatory developments in America’s ongoing cultural conflict has been the decision of so-called “woke capital” to use its considerable commercial power to threaten or impose economic sanctions on American states that implement public policies it doesn’t like. We’ve seen this play out many, many times — from boycotts against Indiana when it had the audacity to expand religious-liberty protections in the state, to punitive measures against North Carolina after it passed its so-called “bathroom bill,” and to threats against Georgia in opposition to its own religious-liberty bill and then its abortion restrictions. Progressive corporate America has made its position clear. It will take a moral stand, even if that stand potentially hurts the bottom line.

It’s always been hard to take that position seriously, however, when many of the same companies happily do immense amounts of business in the People’s Republic of China, a regime that systematically and ruthlessly crushes dissent. In China, the boycotts and bold stands are few and far between. Instead, there are glittering movie premieres, gleaming new factories, and intense marketing campaigns — all aimed at opening up one of the world’s most lucrative markets.

But are there limits? As we watch Hong Kong police beat pro-democracy protesters and as Twitter fills with images of police and military force massing near the border, will corporate America remember its morals? Will it use its commercial and cultural power to punish China if the government intervenes? Or will it be business as usual for America’s woke corporate giants?

While Morey waits to hear whether he will be replaced, the owner of the Houston Rockets, Tilman Fertitta, wants you to know that the team is not a political organization:

Finally, in what shouldn’t be a surprise but is, the actions of NBA are being rightfully condemned by both side of the political aisle.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Federal Judge: Trump Will Have to Disclose His Tax Returns to Manhattan D.A.

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:54 am

The New York Times reports:

A federal judge on Monday rejected a bold argument from President Trump that sitting presidents are immune from criminal investigations, a ruling that allowed the Manhattan district attorney’s office to move forward with a subpoena seeking eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump quickly told the court they would appeal the ruling from Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan federal court. An appeal is likely to mean further delays.

In a 75-page ruling, Judge Marrero called the president’s argument “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.” Presidents, their families and businesses are not above the law, the judge wrote.

The office is investigating the Stormy Daniels payoff. According to the court, if Trump’s assertion of privilege were accepted, it would mean that as President, he and all his business affiliates, associates, and relatives would be immune from the application of any kind of criminal investigative tool looking into private as well as personal matters, before and during his tenure in office. Oddly, the Southern District of New York had weighed in to request that the judge delay his decision to allow them to give their view, saying that the stay would “prevent irreparable harm to the President’s asserted constitutional interest in not having his records subjected to state criminal compulsory process in these circumstances, while the District Attorney has identified no prejudice from a short delay to this discrete portion of the grand jury investigation at issue.”

Oh, Bill Barr. You have taken the SDNY’s collective testicles and placed them in a drawer in your desk. Well done, sir, well done.

“Irreparable harm” how, by the way? Releasing the tax records while they are (supposedly) under the audit that will apparently last the rest of Trump’s natural life? Have we forgotten that he promised to release them to the public (not a secret grand jury as here) once the phantom audits were done?

Anyway. The judge’s ruling is here. I found this part eye-opening:

Trump Lengthy Incarceration

The judge’s hypothetical reference to the President’s potential “lengthy incarceration” amused me. I couldn’t help but picture Marco Rubio standing in the well of the U.S. Senate deliberating whether to remove Trump from office as Trump serves a “lengthy incarceration” for New York State criminal offenses. After quoting Josh Hawley’s and Ted Cruz’s fiery speeches supporting Trump, Liddle’ Marco then meekly quotes the Constitution, grimaces, and turns to an aide. The hot mic captures his whispered question: “Does Trump still have his smartphone in prison? The one with the Twitter app?”

After being told guards can be bribed to allow such devices, Marco is a nay on removal.

There will still be litigation to come, but the judge’s ruling is pretty convincing. This is not the kind of thing federal courts get involved with. It will be fascinating to see what position Bill Barr’s SDNY takes on appeal.

UPDATE: The order has been stayed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which has set a very expedited briefing schedule. A stay is perfectly normal, by the way, and does not mean the Second Circuit plans to reverse.

I should add, to make Popehat happy on Twitter, that technically it’s not “Trump” who has to turn over the tax returns. It’s the accounting firm to which the subpoena was directed. I don’t think the headline is really that far off, though, as a practical matter.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Oh No He Didn’t: “Pompous Ass” Mitt Romney Spends Quality Time With His Little Pumpkins

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:14 am

[guest post by Dana]

Who does he think he is? A devoted husband? A loving father? An affectionate grandfather? A man enjoying the gift of time with people he loves? Wow, the very definition of a pompous ass, am I right??!!

President Trump continued his attacks on Romney earlier this morning:

The Democrats are lucky that they don’t have any Mitt Romney types. They may be lousy politicians, with really bad policies (Open Borders, Sanctuary Cities etc.), but they stick together!


Just so we’re clear: Trump expects Party loyalty and loyalty to himself, before all else. Don’t waste your time on pesky things like ideals, principles, values, and matters involving the conscience. Just stick together, no matter what. No independent thought, no making moral decisions that go against the President, and certainly, no contradicting him, even if you are demonstrably right. This is Trump’s Party, as confirmed by the pompous ass himself.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 75, Part 2

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is the second part of the cantata we heard the first part of last week: “Die Elenden sollen essen” (The miserable shall eat):

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 17:5-10:

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

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

Who rests in Jesus alone,
and is driven by self-denial,
which in God’s love
he practices in faith,
has, when earthly things have disappeared,
found himself and God.

. . . .

O poverty, like no other kingdom!
When out of the heart
the entire world departs
and Jesus alone governs.
Then a Christian will be led to God!
Grant, God, that we do not scorn it!

What God does, is well done,
I will cling to this.
Along the harsh path
trouble, death and misery may drive me.
Yet God will,
just like a father,
hold me in His arms:
therefore I let Him alone rule.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


How the Woke Manage Scandals

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:38 pm

[guest post by JVW]

U.S. News and World Report has an interesting article on how the Trudeau campaign team and the candidate managed the revelations from a couple of weeks ago that the Prime Minister of Canada has had quite an affinity for appearing in blackface throughout early adulthood. The author, David Ljunggren (I believe the first “g” is silent, but the second “g” is pronounced twice, once hard and once soft, or perhaps vice-versa), takes us to the scene as P.M. Trudeau and his brain trust were preparing to fly from Halifax to Winnipeg when they learned that Time magazine was about to drop a bombshell:

While some aides prepared a contrite message for Trudeau to deliver to the media, the 47-year-old prime minister began calling as many Liberal legislators and cabinet ministers from ethnic minorities as he could, hoping to beat the news on Twitter. One was Omar Alghabra, a Liberal parliamentarian of Syrian descent, who said that Trudeau’s heads-up came with profuse apologies.

Still on the plane, Trudeau called a nationally televised media conference at which he not only apologized repeatedly but also admitted to another incident of donning dark make-up.

As admirable as it might be to own up to one’s faults and get out ahead of the story, I can’t help but feel more than a bit of contempt for the idea that the Prime Minstrel’s first order of business was to dial up his political allies of significant pigmentation and — I’m going to take a wild guess here — remind them that any default overreactions they might have would do long-lasting damage to their political party. Had it been the Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer who was pictured in archaic racist garb, it’s hard to believe the Liberal Party’s minority commissars quickly offering absolution. The article mentions with bare-suppressed irony that the Liberals were about to launch a campaign theme accusing the Conservatives of — what else? — racism:

But the crisis meant the Liberals had to temporarily toss their general-election play book to the side. It had called for an aggressive campaign that painted the Conservative Party of Canada as a haven for racist, anti-gay and anti-abortion candidates while stressing measures to make life more affordable for Canadians.

That approach, the aides who spoke to Reuters said, had been intended to help the Liberals get around another obstacle: voter distrust after Canada’s ethics watchdog formally reprimanded Trudeau and his top officials in August for inappropriately interfering in a corporate corruption case.

A winning strategy in these stupid days no doubt, right up until pictures of Jolson Trudeau singing “Mammy” emerged.

The October 21 election in Canada is shaping up to be a nail-biter. Even the Liberal Party’s staunchest supporters, including of course the dominant media, seem to believe that the best case scenario for the Liberals is to maintain a small majority, perhaps even requiring a coalition government to maintain power. But it’s equally likely that Mr. Scheer could usher in a new Conservative government in Ottawa, especially if woke young progressives disillusioned with the P.M.’s entitled white privilege stay home on election day.

I don’t think Canada, North America, the Commonwealth, the Western Hemisphere, NATO, or the Anglosphere will suffer grievous harm if Justin Trudeau is sent packing. Over at the Washington Post, Canadian writer J. J. McCullough marvels how the political scion managed to make it so far without any sort of thorough vetting of his background, a concept that brings back painful memories to those of us in the U.S. who were around eleven years ago and experienced the exact same phenomenon.

Here’s hoping our friends in the Great White North are treated to a fresh start.


Weekend Open Thread (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:46 am

[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item: Mitt Romney criticized President Trump and the issues surrounding China and Ukraine:

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney has revived his feud with President Trump — slamming his calls for Ukraine and China to investigate presidential rival Joe Biden and his family as “wrong and appalling” — in an apparent bid to raise his profile as the leading GOP Never-Trumper in the Senate.

“When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” Romney tweeted Friday. “By all appearances, the President’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”

Romney is ramping up his criticism of the president as the House of Representatives pursues an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

The former Massachusetts governor previously said “it would be troubling in the extreme” if Trump or his personal attorney “asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival.”

President Trump took to Twitter in response:

[Ed. While Trump did endorse Romney’s Senate run, and Romney accepted his endorsement, I was unable to find confirmation that Romney actually sought out the President’s endorsement.]

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Probably because it’s not true.

Just minutes ago, Trump tweeted another attack on Romney, this time calling for his impeachment because that is what this thin-skinned, tantrum-throwing man-child does when he is publicly criticized by a politician on the right side of the aisle who is viewed more favorably than himself:

Q: Exactly *who* are these “Great People of Utah” that Trump is hearing from??

Second news item: Bernie Sanders had a heart attack:

Senator Bernie Sanders was discharged from a Las Vegas hospital on Friday, three days after having stents inserted to relieve chest pains. The doctors who treated the 78-year-old presidential candidate said in a statement that Sanders was diagnosed with myocardial infarction, another term for a heart attack.

Bernie is the oldest of the Democratic candidates running in the 2020 presidential race. On the other end of the spectrum is Pete Buttigieg, who is 37 years old.

Third news item: Bloomberg Law has finally retracted their report which smeared Leif Olson as anti-Semitic, and temporarily cost him his job:

Bloomberg Law has retracted its report about a Labor Department official’s social media posts, more than one month after the outlet was criticized for the piece.

The outlet, while retracting the story on Friday, also issued an apology for the post failing to meet its “editorial standards.”

“Bloomberg Law has retracted this article, published on Sept. 3. In reporting on a series of social media posts from Department of Labor official Leif Olson, we failed to meet our editorial standards for fairness and accuracy,” the retraction said. “We regret that lapse and apologize to our readers and to Mr. Olson.”

A.G. Hamilton says a retraction just isn’t enough to make amends:

I can’t help thinking this isn’t quite the happy ending it appears to be, though. Even amid the outcry and Olson’s reinstatement, Bloomberg Law chose to stand behind Penn’s “reporting” until it retracted the story on Friday, more than month after it was published. Internal emails showed that the outlet tried to stop employees from commenting on the story. Penn publicly defended his actions by claiming that all he did was present the Department of Labor with a screenshot of the post and ask for comment, but an email recently obtained through a FOIA request by Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute’s Ted Frank shows that claim was also false. In asking the Labor Department for comment, Penn actually framed Olson’s post as “disparaging to Jews” and questioned whether Olson was “fit for government service.” Yet, Bloomberg Law refused to acknowledge that Penn or its editorial staff had done anything wrong for more than a month.

In an ideal world, major news organizations wouldn’t hire reporters who abuse their platforms to try to punish political opponents, and would have protections in place to ensure that type of abuse wasn’t possible. In this case, Bloomberg Law failed on both counts. It owes its readers and the public an explanation of why, and of how it plans to ensure that such mistakes aren’t made in the future. If it hopes to be treated as a credible outlet moving forward, it must do better.

Have a great weekend.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Dem Candidates Cower in Anticipation of Carnage That Warrior Princess Plans to Wreak

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:48 pm

[guest post by JVW]

If it’s in Politico (still no links for bullies), it must be true:

Democrats are bracing for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to blow up the next Democratic presidential debate.

Gabbard missed the September debate and will be relegated to the side of the stage on Oct. 15 because she is polling lower than most of her rivals. But Gabbard, whose worldview on key issues diverges from other Democrats, has sharply criticized other candidates in each of her debates so far, including telling Kamala Harris that people “suffered under her reign” when Harris was California’s attorney general.

And with Gabbard and others looking to break open a campaign that has been largely static behind the front-runners, Democrats in other campaigns are buzzing over who the iconoclastic Hawaii congresswoman could target next. Gabbard’s non-interventionist foreign policy platform could mean trouble for Joe Biden. She recently questioned Elizabeth Warren’s national security experience.

She could even decide to put the whole Democratic presidential field on blast for politicizing the impeachment process, after tweeting recently that candidates fundraising off the inquiry were “undermining credibility” of House Democrats’ probes of President Donald Trump.

Recently My Little Aloha Sweetie has been turning her attention to the emerging front-runner, Chief I Have a Plan for That. According to Politico, she dismissed Sen. Warren’s qualifications to serve as Commander-in-Chief in an interview given to a podcast for The Hill: “I haven’t seen much come from her in the way of what kind of leadership and decision making that she would bring to that most important responsibility that the president has.” Foreign and military policies are two areas in which Warren has not demonstrated any particular aptitude, but I suppose at the end of the day she can just promise to bring back the band of mediocrities from the second Obama Administration for an encore. One can never get enough of the banalities of Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power, can one? Or maybe there is some other failed novelist working as a candidate’s driver who is connected to a network TV news producer and would like to dabble in national security issues.

In any case, the ihe ‘ō ‘ia nalohia pua is being sharpened and is seeking its next deserving target.


New York Times: President Trump Suggested Shooting Migrants In The Legs to Slow Them Down

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:53 pm

[guest post by Dana]

We all know that President Trump ran on immigration reform, and that central to his campaign was his promise of securing the border and building The Wall. Now, according to a report adapted from an upcoming book by two New York Times reporters, so focused on immigration was the President, and so frustrated by what he perceived as a lack of progress on the issue, his suggestions for solutions became more extreme. The report focuses primarily on a single week in March, 2019:

The Oval Office meeting this past March began, as so many had, with President Trump fuming about migrants. But this time he had a solution. As White House advisers listened astonished, he ordered them to shut down the entire 2,000-mile border with Mexico — by noon the next day.

The advisers feared the president’s edict would trap American tourists in Mexico, strand children at schools on both sides of the border and create an economic meltdown in two countries. Yet they also knew how much the president’s zeal to stop immigration had sent him lurching for solutions, one more extreme than the next.

Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldiers shoot migrants if they threw rocks, the president backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That’s not allowed either, they told him.

“The president was frustrated and I think he took that moment to hit the reset button,” said Thomas D. Homan, who had served as Mr. Trump’s acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, recalling that week in March. “The president wanted it to be fixed quickly.”

Let’s just ponder this a moment: a sitting President of the United States allegedly suggested that the U.S. shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down while crossing the border…

According to the report, because of his inability to get co-signers on his outlandish, and in certain instances, illegal plans to secure the border, Trump did what he typically does whenever he’s told no: he turned on those who stood up to him, and replaced them with “yes men” and individuals whose views on the issue lined up more closely with his own:

Mr. Trump’s order to close the border was a decision point that touched off a frenzied week of presidential rages, around-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time. By the end of the week, the seat-of-the-pants president had backed off his threat but had retaliated with the beginning of a purge of the aides who had tried to contain him.

Today, as Mr. Trump is surrounded by advisers less willing to stand up to him, his threat to seal off the country from a flood of immigrants remains active. “I have absolute power to shut down the border,” he said in an interview this summer with The New York Times.

A couple of things to note: The President mocked the report, calling it fake news:

Now the press is trying to sell the fact that I wanted a Moat stuffed with alligators and snakes, with an electrified fence and sharp spikes on top, at our Southern Border,” Trump wrote…I may be tough on Border Security, but not that tough. The press has gone Crazy. Fake News!

The White House responded to the report, in part:

“President Trump has clearly and publicly stated many times that he wants to make American communities safer by building a wall, closing dangerous loopholes that incentive child smugglers and drug cartels, and implement a merit based immigration system.”

Also, The Times has been compelled to defend their decision to hold back on reporting the information when it happened because it was being included in their reporters’ upcoming book, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration,” which is being released next week. It’s a wee bit troubling when you consider that, if Trump’s suggestion to shoot migrants had been carried out and the public was clueless about his proposal – made seven prior:

The New York Times is under fire again for its handling of revelations in a book by its reporters.

The paper is defending its reporters Michael Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, who faced criticism on Twitter from fellow journalists and readers for appearing to wait months to report on President Donald Trump’s suggestion in a March meeting that migrants might be shot in the legs to slow them down at the southern border. The Times revealed the news this week in an excerpt to promote Shear and Davis’ book, “Border Wars,” which comes out next week.

The dispute highlighted the problem of reporters developing information for book projects that dovetail with their beats, and then saving those revelations to help promote the book.

Social media critics insisted the importance of the news should have prompted Shear and Davis to immediately reveal the outlandish nature of some of Trump’s private ideas, such as digging an alligator-filled moat alongside a border wall that would feature flesh-piercing spikes.


“Julie Davis and Mike Shear took a leave from The Times to report ‘Border Wars,’” the Times spokesperson wrote. “Their reporting for the book, like all reporting, was subject to conditions agreed to with their sources. When they could, they shared newsworthy and imminent information with The Times for its continuing coverage of immigration. This news was best suited for the book excerpt.”

[Ed. In spite of the spokesperson’s explanation, how something so obviously newsworthy is determined to be more suitable for a book excerpt, yet ends up appearing in the Politics section of the NYT daily publication seven months after the fact anyway, is still a bit of a mystery...]

Interestingly, “the authors brought detailed accounts of what they were reporting to the White House in advance of publication… pushback… from the deputy press secretary was “not a denial” of the facts.”

Two days ago, Fox News reported that they had received confirmation about the “shooting migrants in the legs” conversation:

A source who was in the room at the time confirmed the conversation about shooting migrants in the legs to Fox News late Tuesday.

The White House did not respond to Fox News for comment.

Also two days ago, ABC News reported that they had received confirmation about the President’s “shooting migrants in the legs” conversation:

The account, first reported in a book excerpt released by the The New York Times on Tuesday, was confirmed to ABC News by a senior administration official who was in the room at the time…

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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