Patterico's Pontifications


Trump Won’t Say What He Is Doing with Tens of Millions in Leftover Inaugural Fund Money

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

Donald Trump has a long history of making promises to donate money and not following through — at least until repeated public pressure is put on him to do so. At the Daily Beast, Lachlan Markay is continuing to pressure Trump about one of these many promises:

Representatives for President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee still won’t say what the committee did—or plans to do—with the tens of millions of dollars it pledged to charity last year. And it may be many more months until the public finally knows.

The committee smashed the record for inauguration fundraising, bringing in about $107 million, double the sum raised for Barack Obama’s first inauguration, which held the previous record. But Trump’s inaugural committee only spent about half of that money. The rest, it said, would go to philanthropic ends.

More than a year later, no one knows what those ends will be.

A spokesperson for Tom Barrack, Trump’s personal friend and the chairman of the committee, told The Daily Beast on Dec. 8 that it would be filing an annual report detailing its charitable giving with the Internal Revenue Service “in the next several weeks.” It is now Feb. 12, and it still hasn’t done so and there is no indication of when it will.

This is not an isolated incident. It is part of a longstanding pattern. In March 2017, the Washington Post‘s David Fahrenthold published a long article about this pattern. One of the other major promises Trump made was to donate proceeds of foreign money going to the Trump Organization:

The Trump Organization — the president’s global real estate and branding business — pledged not to keep any profits that it made by renting hotel rooms and banquet halls to foreign governments. Those proceeds, Trump’s attorney said, would be given to the U.S. treasury.

. . . .

On Friday, for instance, the Trump Organization said it would not make its donations until the end of each calendar year. A spokeswoman provided few specifics about how the amount would be calculated.

Well, the 2017 calendar year is long since over, and as I told you on February 8, there are still no specifics — and there are unlikely to be anything like accurate specifics, ever:

Trump promised from the beginning that he would return foreign government payments to his hotel and other entities, but a year later there is no proof that he has — and it’s very unlikely he will provide said proof, since the Trump Organization is not even keeping track of that money.

Partisans got very upset at me for mentioning this fact in a post about Hillary and Uranium One. But it was central to the post’s theme about the potential for corruption when foreigners put cash in a politician’s pocket. And frankly, I no longer care what partisans say.

Trump’s pattern of promising donations is hardly new with his occupancy of the Oval Office. As detailed in the March 2017 WaPo piece linked above and previous pieces, Trump did this a lot in the past:

Washington Post reports last year highlighted past Trump promises of charity that months later had not come to fruition. In January 2016, for instance, Trump said he had donated $1 million of his own money — and raised an additional $5 million from others — for veterans’ charities. But Trump did not make good on his $1 million promise until four months later, under pressure from the media. Before he actually paid, Trump’s campaign manager made a false claim that the money had already been spent.

During last year’s presidential campaign, The Post also showed that Trump had spent years promising large donations to charity — building a public reputation as a man whose generosity was as impressive as his wealth.

But The Post found little evidence to show Trump’s actual generosity matched his boasting.

The Post called 450 charities that seemed close to the candidate — nonprofit groups that he had praised on Twitter or that had paid him to rent banquet space. It asked whether each had received a gift from Trump’s own pocket. That search turned up one donation from Trump himself between 2008 and 2015 — a gift of less than $10,000 to the Police Athletic League in New York City.

Remember how he promised to donate his “The Apprentice” salary to charity, and then took back the promise when it was revealed he wasn’t living up to it? That’s the guy we’re dealing with here.

Trump’s image as a guy who likes to donate money is as fraudulent as his pretense that he has a full head of hair. Yes, the guy who used to call up reporters and pretend to be his own spokesman, and who lied about it during the campaign, is a fraud and a pathological habitual liar.

But if we shrug our shoulders at his fraud and allow him to pocket tens of millions of dollars because nobody pushes him on it, then we normalize the fraud. So good for Lachlan Markay, for holding Trump’s feet to the fire.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


That Time BuzzFeed Stood as the Voice of Reason

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:58 pm

[guest post by JVW]

As a follow-up to Patterico’s earlier post, imagine a world in which BuzzFeed provides much-needed perspective on Big Lazy Media’s latest swoon:

narciso pointed this out in the comments to Patterico’s post, but I wanted to surface it so that we can all collectively marvel that this is happening. Here’s the link to the BuzzFeed article; I wonder if I will ever have occasion to direct us all to that site again.


Bad News: If You Use Uber Then You Are a Sexist Pig

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:00 pm

That’s the only rational conclusion that could possibly be drawn from a study showing that Uber users pay less to female drivers than to male drivers. Well, isn’t it? MIT Technology Review:

Uber’s formula for paying drivers is causing a gender gap

Uber uses a master algorithm to determine how much money its drivers make—and women are ending up with less.

The gap: In a study released today of over 1.8 million drivers on the platform, women were found to earn $1.24 per hour less than men. Women also earned $130 less per week on average…

You’ll never believe this: it turns out there are reasons for this besides sexism!

The story offers several explanations for the pay gap that have nothing to do with gender. For example, here is the entire sentence that I ended with an ellipse at the end of that quote: “Women also earned $130 less per week on average, in part because they tend to drive fewer hours.” And here are the other possible causes noted in the piece:

The cause: The study, which was carried out by researchers at Stanford and Uber and has not undergone peer review, attributed the difference in pay to fact that male Uber drivers:

—Are more likely to drive in higher-paying locations

—Drive faster

—Take on trips with shorter distances to the rider

—Chose to drive longer trips

All of these are variables in the formula Uber uses to calculate driver wages, and the study showed they all tilted in men’s favor (the study claims men earn $21.28 an hour, on average). Women also have higher turnover on the platform, and more experienced drivers tend to get higher pay.

The article doesn’t actually try to claim that Uber’s users are sexist — that was just my sardonic headline. But the article does try to portray this as Uber’s algorithm somehow being sexist, saying the formula is somehow “tilted in men’s favor.” But it’s not as though Uber monkeyed with their algorithm to create sexist variables that are unrelated to user satisfaction. People who use Uber will pay more for drivers in higher paying locations. They will pay more for longer trips. More customers are served when drivers drive faster. And so forth. It’s not a function of sexist algorithms. It’s a function of the way the world works. I can’t tell you why males drive longer trips or drive faster and so forth. But apparently they do.

And so the Uber algorithm turns out to be a microcosm of the world. Yes, there is a pay gap. No, it is not explained primarily by sexism. When factors unrelated to bias against women are controlled for, it virtually disappears. Not totally — but pretty damned close.

This is widely known, but people keep forgetting it. The Obama White House decried the gender pay gap and yet had one of its own. If you decry it, but you are an Uber user, then you too are part of the problem!!!

Men and women are different. Stop saying that the pay gap is because people hate women — unless you’re prepared to turn your ire on yourself.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Media Loves Them Some North Korean Dictators

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:52 am

I guess they’re excited because Kim’s monster of a sister frowned at True Devil Mike Pence or something. Anyway, the signs of the fawning suggested by the headline are everywhere, but the attitude is nicely summed up by this now-deleted tweet by Certified Idiot (I once made the mistake of having a Twitter exchange with him so I know) Jeet Heer:

Heer Jeet Idiot

CNN is joining in with a vengeance. Here is just one ridiculous headline among many:

CNN Idiots

Allahpundit says it so I don’t have to curse:

Tough but fair.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Bach Motet BWV 225

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 7:00 am

It is Transfiguration Sunday. Today’s Bach piece is a motet: is “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” (Sing unto the Lord a new song). This is a fun performance of a piece that was reportedly a favorite of Mozart’s. In the video, you can watch the choirs sing:

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 9:2-9:

The Transfiguration

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Here is Jesus’s Transfiguration as visualized by Peter Paul Rubens:

Rubens Transfiguration Small

The text of today’s motet is available here. The second movement, an aria for chorus, contains the words: “Therefore be our protection and light” — reminiscent of the passage in Mark that Jesus’s clothes “became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them” during the transfiguration.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


The Republican #TheMemo Did Not Jeopardize National Security…

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:16 am

…but apparently the Democrat one does:

President Trump on Friday blocked the release of a classified Democratic memo rebutting Republican claims that top federal law enforcement officials had abused their powers in spying on a former Trump campaign aide, a move that Democrats denounced as politically motivated hypocrisy.

Odd, since the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release it.

It’s tough to know what’s going on. Did Schiff lard up the memo with stuff he knew was sensitive so it would be blocked? That’s what Trump partisans will say, but then it’s hard to see why all the Republicans on the committee voted to release it. Is there a legitimate concern expressed by FBI and DoJ that further redactions could address? Possibly.

Me, I’ll sit back and watch it play out, without drawing any firm conclusions yet.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


I Stand with Rand: The Time to Rein in Spending Was Last Night

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 am

Rand Paul made a heck of a speech last night about the debt. In the end, he failed, and President Trump has signed a budget-busting spending bill that is projected to add $1.5 trillion to the debt over ten years. But for a brief moment, Sen. Paul channeled the rage of many of us who believe that both parties are to blame for the fiasco that is our out-of-control budget. I think it’s worth watching.

Some people — like the anonymous source in this piece by Sarah Rumpf — are complaining about Sen. Paul’s efforts. They say that Sen. Paul was being a showboat and making television appearances. I call that raising awareness. They say that Sen. Paul wasn’t working on actual spending reduction. How was he supposed to? The bill was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition — and that’s what he was fighting against. He was trying to get a vote on an amendment to reduce spending — and the leadership was having none of it.

Perhaps most galling, the anonymous carpers say that last night was not the time to do this. What could this possibly mean? Republicans are in power now. If we were ever going to do anything about the debt, the time to do it was last night. Not some unspecified point in the future that will never come. Last night.

Paul’s speech is worth watching. It’s over an hour long, but it addresses an important issue. Put in on in the background, and listen when you can. I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the first three minutes or so below. While many news articles have quoted from the speech, I think this is the only transcript online of the beginning of the speech — and it’s the fullest transcript of the speech that I have seen anywhere.

I surrender the balance of my time to the junior Senator from Kentucky.

Today the Senate will vote on a bill that will add $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next ten years. This is a large amount of money and something that we should be very wary of. This is in addition to what we were already running debt of, of nearly a trillion dollars. So we’re adding a couple extra hundred billion dollars a year to a budget and a country and a Congress that had already recklessly let spending get out of control.

The bill is nearly 700 pages. It was given to us at midnight last night, and I would venture to say no one has read the bill. No one can thoroughly digest a 700-page bill overnight, and I do think that it does things that we really, really ought to talk about, and how we should pay for them.

One of the things this bill does is, it’s going to add $500 billion in spending over a two-year period. This bill increases spending 21 percent. Does that sound like a large amount? Anybody at home getting a bonus or an increase in your paycheck of 21 percent? And yet your government is going to spend 21 percent more without really having a full debate. Without having amendments. The exchange you just watched was me asking to have a 15-minute vote. I’ve been asking all day. I’ve been asking all week for it.

We could have literally had dozens of votes today but we squabble because people don’t want to be put on the spot. So the reason I’m here tonight is to put people on the spot. I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, “How come you were against President Obama’s deficits and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?” Isn’t that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty? If you were against President Obama’s deficits, and now you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?

People need to be made aware. Your senators need to answer people from home and they need to answer this debate. We should have a full-throated debate. My amendment says this simply — we should obey the budget caps. What are budget caps? These are limits we placed on spending, both military and non-military. We placed them in 2011, and guess what? For a year or two, government actually shrunk. But now government’s taking off, and this new stimulus of deficit spending will be as big as President Obama’s stimulus.

Don’t you remember when Republicans howled to high heaven that President Obama was spending us into the gutter? Spending us into oblivion? And now Republicans are doing the same thing.

And so I ask the question: whose fault is it? Republicans? Yes. Whose fault is it? Democrats? Yes. It’s both parties’ fault!

You realize that this is the secret of Washington. The dirty little secret is, the Republicans are loudly clamoring for more military spending. But they can’t get it unless they give the Democrats welfare spending. So they raise all the spending. It’s a compromise in the wrong direction. We should be compromising in the direction of going towards spending only what comes in. And yet this goes on and on and on.

Amen. Thanks to Sen. Paul for being that lonely voice in the wilderness, who speaks for so many of us out here.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


And Now #MeToo Starts to Eat Its Own

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:35 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Who would have expected this? Yeah, pretty much all of us:

[California] Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus who has been at the forefront of the movement against sexual harassment in the state Capitol, has herself become the subject of allegations of sexual misconduct. The Bell Gardens Democrat said she would “participate fully” in an investigation.

Politico reported Thursday that two men said Garcia made improper advances toward them. One, a former legislative staffer, said Garcia groped his back and buttocks and attempted to grab his crotch during a legislative softball game in 2014.

I mean, in this day and age no one could have thought that sexual harassment was confined to only one sex, let alone only one political party. So now all the feminist groups that have been pushing the #MeeToo narrative and the idea that every victim must be believed have to walk the tightrope:

Garcia, one of the most outspoken legislators in the #MeToo movement, now finds herself facing criticism from colleagues. State Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) called the allegations “very troubling.”

“I have consistently voiced my strong opinion that any legislator under investigation by either the Assembly or Senate should take an immediate leave of absence until the review is completed,” Leyva said in a statement. “As Vice Chair of the Women’s Caucus, I will be asking that the membership of the Caucus meet in the very near future to discuss the fate of Assemblymember Cristina Garcia as Women’s Caucus Chair.”

We Said Enough, the advocacy group that grew out of an open letter signed by more than 140 women—including Garcia—decrying the culture of harassment in California politics, said in a statement the organization was “concerned about these reports and they need to be investigated thoroughly, without delay.”

Of course, absent in the reactions of Senator Leyva and We Said Enough are the instant demands for Senator Garcia to resign her seat, but I guess her self-professed gender and her political affiliation provide her that minimal level of professional courtesy where she gets to try and ride out the storm. But my guess is that this isn’t the last female — or even progressive female — legislator to discover that you sometimes have to live under the same rules that you would establish for others.


Collusion? FBI Informant Testifies That Russians Bragged Hillary’s Influence Would Seal Uranium One Deal

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

There is new information that Russian cash funneled to the Clintons helped secure a key deal for a corrupt Russian-owned nuclear company. Sara Carter:

An informant who spent years gathering information on the Russian energy and uranium market industry for the FBI, met staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Oversight, and House Intelligence Committees on Wednesday. He gave explosive testimony on his years as an undercover informant providing information to the FBI on Russian criminal networks operating in the United States. He also contends in his testimony, and written briefs, to the FBI that Russia attempted to hide its ongoing aid to help sustain Iran’s nuclear industry, at the time the Obama administration approved the sale of 20 percent of U.S. uranium mining rights to Russia.

The informant, William D. Campbell, is represented by that perennial TV talking head Victoria Toensing, who had this to say about his appearance yesterday:

Mr. Campbell testified for over four hours until he answered every question from three Congressional committees; the Senate Judiciary, House Oversight and House Intelligence committees.

He recounted numerous times that the Russians bragged that the Clintons’ influence in the Obama administration would ensure CIFIUS approval for Uranium One. And he was right.

A quick refresher is in order on the amounts of money we’re talking about here. Recall that the New York Times, piggybacking off Peter Schweizer’s then-upcoming book, reported in 2015 on the Russian cash money that went to Billary — not just their foundation, either, but directly into Billy Boy’s pocket:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

This is rank corruption. Hillary fans have defended the Uranium One deal by arguing that Hillary had little to nothing to do with the decision. It was made by a committee, they remind us — and the State Department was only one member. What’s more, there’s no proof of Hillary’s direct involvement, we are told. Well, Campbell’s testimony (as related by Toensing) shows that, from the Russians’ point of view, Hillary was anything but irrelevant to the process.

And guess who else felt that politics played a role? FBI agents. Remember that the deal was approved despite the fact that the major Russian players were under FBI investigation, and the fact that there existed (as the Hill put it in October) “substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering.” Campbell was furious about this, given what he had uncovered, and confronted his FBI handlers about it. Guess what they said? Forget it, Jake. It’s Swamptown:

“I was speechless and angry in October 2010 when CFIUS approved the Uranium One sale to Rosatom. I was deeply worried that TLI continued to transport sensitive uranium despite the fact that it had been compromised by the bribery scheme,” stated Campbell in his testimony to lawmakers. “I expressed these concerns repeatedly to my FBI handlers. The response I got was that “politics” was somehow involved. I remember one response I got from an agent when I asked how it was possible CFIUS would approve the Uranium One sale when the FBI could prove Rosatom was engaged in criminal conduct. His answer: “Ask your politics.”

The icing on the cake, as noted in Carter’s opening paragraph: during this whole time, Russia was helping Iran with its nucelar program.

Carter’s whole post makes for fascinating reading. I recommend reading it all. To be honest, I’d like to see more than the word of Victoria Toensing before I make any final pronouncements. But Carter’s post sends the signal that the last shoe has not yet dropped.

All of this is another reminder that one of the more corrupt individuals in American political history had a real shot at occupying the Oval Office. Unfortunately, the person who defeated her has built up his own track record of allowing foreign interests to put money into his pocket. Trump promised from the beginning that he would return foreign government payments to his hotel and other entities, but a year later there is no proof that he has — and it’s very unlikely he will provide said proof, since the Trump Organization is not even keeping track of that money. And rank partisanship has Hillary haters accepting this as inevitable and not remotely problematic. This means that no matter who won in 2016, a precedent was going to be set that foreign interests can bribe the President . . . and ultimately, there will be no accountability for it.

We had no good choice in 2016. Even with some policy upsides — and there have been plenty –we are reminded almost daily of the downsides of electing a cretin like Trump. Every so often, then, it’s helpful to be reminded as well that the alternative was a lifelong corruptocrat.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

Baby With Down Syndrome Honored As “2018 Gerber Spokesbaby”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:42 am

[guest post by Dana]

Last year I wrote a post about Iceland’s heartbreaking efforts to successfully abort all babies identified as having Down syndrome. It is now a country that when three babies are born with Down syndrome in one year, it is considered “quite more than usual,” and counselors easily rationalize the disappearance of these children from the landscape of their society, saying:

“We don’t look at abortion as a murder. We look at it as a thing that we ended. We ended a possible life that may have had a huge complication… preventing suffering for the child and for the family. And I think that is more right than seeing it as a murder — that’s so black and white. Life isn’t black and white. Life is grey.”

Yesterday, a happy announcement was made about the celebration of a little fellow with Down syndrome here in the U.S. It was an announcement that would not be made in Iceland. Much to their shame:

Lucas Warren, the first child with Down syndrome to receive the honor of, essentially, America’s cutest baby. The 1-year-old from Dalton, Ga., was selected as “2018 Gerber Spokesbaby” from more than 140,000 photos submitted by parents.

His mother, Cortney Warren, entered Lucas in the contest when a relative mentioned that Gerber put out its annual call for adorable babies, she told “Today.” Warren posted a photo of Lucas sporting a polka dot bow tie and an open-mouthed grin on Instagram and tagged Gerber.

It was Lucas’s smile that won him the iconic contest, said Bill Partyka, chief executive and president of Gerber.

“Every year, we choose the baby who best exemplifies Gerber’s long-standing heritage of recognizing that every baby is a Gerber baby,” Partyka said. “This year, Lucas is the perfect fit.”


Parents of children with Down syndrome were elated by the selection of Lucas:

“In a puddle of tears over here…my mama heart is so so thankful…when Bodie was born I believed a lie, that others would not value him as much as I do. But, today is a new day. It is such a beautiful, good day,” wrote samanthajob on Instagram.

Instagram user nicki_bloms wrote: “As a mama currently carrying a cutie with an extra chromosome this made my day!!! Thank you Gerber!! ”

What a wonderful moment this is for a special group of parents and their little ones who have been specifically targeted for death in other parts of the world. What a wonderful moment for life! Because, right here and right now any number of babies with Down syndrome are still welcomed into the open arms of their loving parents.

In my post about Iceland, I shared the story of a serendipitous encounter I had with a young man with Down syndrome:

A long while back, I was strolling through a Disney Store during my lunch hour, and a young man turned and hugged me. Out of the blue. This perfect stranger with a big smile on his face then told me he loved me. I was so startled that I just stood there confused. In a moment, an older couple rushed over and gently pulled the young man away. They apologized to me for their son’s burst of affection, and explained that their son was an “exceptional hugger”. Why, yes, I could see that! He loved everyone. Including lucky me. I had a pleasant conversation with the couple, and then said good-bye. I felt happy. It certainly wasn’t one of those Big Deal moments in life, but rather a small quiet one. It was the kind of moment that sneaks up on you, and you know something pure and sweet just shot through the universe, momentarily cutting through the misery, and you happen to be in the right place at the right time to catch that shot of love and tuck it away in your heart.

Every now and then, I pull out that memory just to recall the radiating happiness of that young man. I can still “feel” it. With the news of little Lucas Warren being honored by Gerber, I have the same sort of happiness flooding my heart. Because, as McNeil Cronin, father of a daughter with Down syndrome, said:

“Gerber made a loud statement, a powerful statement. It walks the walk of acceptance and inclusion in a really big and meaningful way.”

Hear, hear!

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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