Patterico's Pontifications

9/6/2018

Playing Politics At Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings: Kamala Harris And Brett Kavanagh

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:16 am

[guest post by Dana]

Much is being made of an exchange that took place yesterday between presidential-hopeful and “one of the Democratic Party’s newest leading lights,” Sen. Kamala Harris and Judge Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing. An exchange that illustrates why elected officials on both sides of the aisle are regarded with suspicion and an unrelenting cynicism, as well as confirming that none are above manipulative grandstanding to score cheap political points whenever possible. Even Especially during the cross-examination of a nominee for the Supreme Court. All of it making the case that these hearings should not be held in front of cameras because politicians just can’t resist promoting themselves.

In the exchange, Harris asked Kavanaugh about whether he had ever had a conversation about Robert Mueller and his investigation with anyone at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres (founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney). She warned Kavanaugh to be sure about his answer. And Kavanaugh was very sure about his answer: he did not not answer the question directly but instead asked Harris if she had a specific individual in mind, or if she could provide him with a roster of names of those employed at the firm. A reasonable request given that the law firm employs more than 250 attorneys at any given time.

Here is the exchange:

In part:

During one tense exchange, Harris asked Kavanaugh if he had ever discussed the special counsel Robert Mueller or the Russia probe with anyone at the Kasowitz, Benson and Torres law firm. Marc Kasowitz, a partner at the firm, is one of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers.

Mueller is leading the inquiry into Russia’s influence in the 2016 US presidential election and the investigation of whether Trump obstructed justice in the matter.

Harris asked Kavanaugh: “Have you had any conversation about Robert Mueller or his investigation with anyone at that firm? Yes or no?”

“Is there a person you’re talking about?” Kavanaugh asked.

“I’m asking you a very direct question — yes or no?” Harris said.

“I’m not sure I know everyone who works at that law firm,” Kavanaugh replied.

Harris’ question appeared to puzzle the Supreme Court nominee, who paused for long periods before asking the California senator if she wanted to know whether he spoke with a specific person at the firm about Mueller.

“I think you’re thinking of someone and you don’t want to tell us,” Harris said, before rephrasing her question: “Did you speak with anyone at that law firm about Bob Mueller’s investigation?”

“I’m not remembering anything like that, but I want to know a roster of people, and I want to know more,” Kavanaugh said.

Harris ended up dropping the line of inquiry without providing any documents supporting the insinuation that Kavanaugh had indeed had said conversations.

Politico notes:

The only explanation for the back-and-forth came from a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity, who said Wednesday night that some in the party “have reason to believe that a conversation happened and are continuing to pursue it.”

If tangible evidence of that conversation doesn’t emerge, Harris and fellow Democrats are likely to face serious questions of their own from the GOP about whether their attempt to pin down Kavanaugh was little more than a game of gotcha.

Then again:

Untitled

And this just now:

Kavanaugh said Thursday that he has not discussed or given any hints about his views of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“I haven’t had any inappropriate conversations about that investigation with anyone. I’ve never given anyone any hints, forecasts, previews, winks, nothing about my view as a judge or how I would rule as a judge or anything related to that,” he said.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Geniuses Destroy Their Own Property to Own Nike and the Libs

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:21 am

A typical reaction to Nike featuring Colin Kaepernick in an ad:

The guy is setting the grass on fire in addition to his own property. Other tweets have shown people cutting up their own socks, or cutting up their own shorts while wearing them, to remove the swooshes. But still use those articles of clothing that, um, they already paid for.

I saw this image on JD’s Facebook page:

Nike Doesn't Care

This all prompted what may be my most viral tweet to date:

I composed this post while sipping a delicious cup of coffee made by my Keurig coffeemaker.

9/5/2018

NONE DARE CALL IT “TREASON?”: NYT Publishes Op-Ed from Anonymous “Senior Administration Official” Slamming Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:33 pm

This op-ed is one of the more entertaining episodes of this season of the Trump presidency:

[M]any of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

I would know. I am one of them.

To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.

That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

But an official trying to undermine the President isn’t the real fun here. The real fun lies in the open contempt with which the author treats Trump in the piece:

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

. . . .

[Trump’s] successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

“There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

The Times makes this claim about the author:

The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.

Trump is mighty upset about it:

LOL.

Assuming the author is being truthful and accurate, and the NYT is telling the truth, at least three people know the author’s identity:

1. The author
2. Someone at the NYT
3. The “top official” who said to the author: “There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next.”

I don’t think this stays secret long but I have been wrong before.

I tend to think this is an overblown story, and agree with Allahpundit:

And anyway, while the flap over this op-ed is entertaining and everything, the author is saying nothing about Trump that isn’t already on public display every day. What’s that you say? Donald Trump is ill-informed? He veers off topic and says dumb things that he has to walk back??

NO &*^(*&^*& WAY!

Thank goodness we have a “senior administration official” to tell us that!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Ben Sasse Provides A Much Needed Palate Cleanser

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:21 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This seemed to aptly sum up the political circus that was the first day of Judge Brett Kavanagh’s confirmation hearing:

Untitled

America.

Anyway, a truly good thing to come out of the hearing was Ben Sasse’s wonderful civics lesson as he covered the role of the judiciary, the correct allocation of authority in the three branches of the federal government, the need for limited government, the place of Congress and the “alphabet soup bureaucracies”. Watch the whole thing:

Best line from Sasse, who points to where the ultimate failure rests as he dissects a system that is “wildly out of whack”:

“At the end of the day, a lot of the pow­er del­e­ga­tion that hap­pens from this branch is be­cause Congress has de­cid­ed to self-neu­ter”

Points:

Congress is set up to be the most po­lit­i­cal branch. “This is sup­posed to be the in­sti­tu­tion dedi­cat­ed to po­lit­i­cal fights,” Sasse said.
But in the name of politics, lawmakers have de­cid­ed to keep their jobs rath­er than take tough votes. “Most people here want their jobs more than they re­al­ly want to do legis­la­tive work, and so they punt their legis­la­tive work to the next branch,” Sasse said.

Be­cause Congress of­ten lets the ex­ec­u­tive branch write rules, and Americans aren’t sure who in the gov­ern­ment bureauc­ra­cy to talk to, that leaves Americans with no oth­er place than the courts to turn to ex­press their frus­tra­tion with poli­cies. And the Su­preme Court, with its nine vis­i­ble mem­bers, is a con­veni­ent out­let. Sasse: “This trans­fer of pow­er means people yearn for a place where politics can be done, and when we don’t do a lot of big po­lit­i­cal debate here, people trans­fer it to the Su­preme Court. And that’s why the Su­preme Court is in­creas­ing­ly a sub­sti­tute po­lit­i­cal battle­ground for America.”

Sasse’s final point is one you can prob­a­bly guess is com­ing by now: That this proc­ess needs to change. If Congress did more legis­lat­ing, these Su­preme Court nom­i­na­tion bat­tles would get less po­lit­i­cal, he ar­gues: “If we see lots and lots of pro­tests in front of the Su­preme Court, that’s a pret­ty good ba­rom­e­ter of the fact that our re­pub­lic isn’t heal­thy. They shouldn’t be pro­test­ing in front of the Su­preme Court, they should be pro­test­ing in front of this body.”

After the hearing, Sasse made these observations:

Tuesday’s hearing shows that both Republicans and Democrats seem to view the Supreme Court as completely partisan.

I do think that the left started this fight, but I think both of these parties are really, really, lame in teaching basic civics to our kids right now.

Also, I’m posting this video as a second palate cleanser because at the end of the day, in spite of the political freakshow parading itself before us, love – true love – really does win. And it is simply the best:

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Resistance: Kavanaugh Snubbed a Parkland Dad!!!!1!!11!!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

Yesterday’s stupid story (one of them, anyway) was the claim by the Resistance that Brett Kavanaugh knowingly refused to shake the hand of the father of a Parkland victim, on account of how Kavanaugh loves the guns and hates the shooting victims.

Here’s HuffyPost:

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court, on Tuesday declined to shake hands with Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter died in a mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year.

. . . .

Guttenberg’s daughter Jaime was 14 when she was killed by a gunman who opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February. Seventeen people were killed in the shooting, and more than a dozen others were injured. Since Jaime’s death, Guttenberg has been a vocal proponent of gun control.

Here’s the tweet from the dad:

And here’s the video:

This is a hearing where 70 protestors were arrested, including 61 from the very Senate office building where the hearings are taking place. Some guy walks quickly towards Kavanaugh, who may or may not have heard what the guy says, and security is quickly coming up from behind. Kavanaugh, by all accounts a very nice family man, declines to engage with this random person in this volatile situation. And here’s how Kamala Harris reacted:

The only shaking going on here is my damn head.

Here’s your fun gag for the day. As I just made clear, there were many shrieking protestors in the room, and apparently one went on for a long time. Neal Boortz asked: “Why [has] that screeching woman in the hearing room not been removed?” and a wag responded:

LOL.

Today: Outrage Kabuki Theater, Day Two. Anything could happen!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

9/4/2018

Mob Boss Decries Prosecutions

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:20 am

Da boss don’ like wut dey doin’ dere at DOJ:

On today’s episode of Talk to the President Fox and Friends, Andrew Napolitano had bad news for Trump.

More grist for Mueller’s mill.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

9/3/2018

President Trump Attacks AG Sessions For Indicting GOP Congressmen Before Midterms

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:51 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Back in 2016, then-candidate Trump told voters he was the “law and order candidate”:

“We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country, 100 percent,” he said during a speech in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in which he heaped praise upon America’s law enforcement officers. “We will cease to have a country. I am the law and order candidate.”

Pretty funny, considering his decision to publicly drag Attorney General Sessions today for following the law and indicting two GOP congressman before the midterms instead of waiting until their “easy wins” were secured to do so:

Untitled

Details:

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, and Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, were indicted within two weeks of each other last month on unrelated charges.

Collins was charged with 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud and making false statements related to an alleged insider trading scheme.
Hunter was indicted for using campaign funds for personal use and were charged with counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy.

Both lawmakers have pleaded not guilty.

Under long-standing Justice Department custom, prosecutors generally avoid public disclosure of overt investigative steps involving a candidate for office or election matters within 60 days of an election.

But the so-called, 60-day rule is not an official regulation or found in any federal statute. Instead, it’s up to prosecutors to use their best judgment and, above all else, make sure that political considerations play no role in investigative decisions.

Republican congressional leadership considered the charges serious enough to move to strip both men of their committee assignments. Collins suspended his campaign days after he was indicted, while Hunter is continuing to campaign for re-election.

As a reminder, Hunter and Collins were the first two Republican lawmakers to back then-candidate Trump.

Back in 2016, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch issued this memorandum:

“Politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party,”

Now some people are going to cry foul and go on to point out the obvious political considerations of President Obama’s DOJ. And they would be right in doing so. *But*, no matter the failings and corruption of a previous administration, it does not justify or excuse in any way, shape or form, a current president from undermining his own appointed AG because there was no favoritism given to ensure a win for his preferred candidates in an election. Too bad the president didn’t take Sessions at his word when he said last week:

“While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Clearly Sessions meant it. And clearly Sessions is refusing to kiss the ring.

It’s telling that instead of being angry at the corruption of two GOP congressmen, the President of the United States is angry that his AG followed the law and gave no political consideration in making his decision. It’s further telling that the President of the United States would have preferred Sessions to look the other way for the sake of an election win. This should be troubling to everyone, no matter where one falls on the Trump-as-President spectrum.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

9/2/2018

The Great War One Hundred Years Ago Today, Part 2

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:40 pm

[guest post by JVW]

By the beginning of September 1918 the Second Battle of the Marne had been won by Allied forces, the German lines had been pushed back across the Aisne River towards the borders with Belgium and Luxembourg, and only a small portion French territory remained in the hands of the Hun. British Expeditionary Forces under General Alexander Haig combined with Belgian forces commanded by King Albert were preparing for a push to Brussels as a key component of the Hundred Days Offensive, which would cause the Germans to abandon the city shortly before the armistice was signed. Though the end was at hand, the fighting remained fierce and harrowing.

Since the very beginnings of the war the belligerents had come to realize that they needed to swell the ranks of their armed forces, first through encouraging volunteerism and ultimately by imposing conscription. The officer class would no longer be mostly comprised of men who had studied at various European military academies such as Sandhurst, Woolwich, Saint-Cyr, the Prussian War College, and the Theresianum; now it included men drawn from Cambridge, Oxford, the Sorbonne, Heidelberg, and Eötvös Loránd. Instead of backgrounds in engineering and soldiering, many of these new gentlemen officers were trained in the arts and humanities.

This led to a number of literary figures seeing combat action on the Western Front. In my previous post I mentioned that the American poet Joyce Kilmer was killed at the Second Battle of the Marne. Similarly, a number of British poets fought for His Majesty during the war, including such notables as Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, and Wilfred Owen, the latter of whom was killed one week before Armistice Day. The writers A.A. Milne and J.R.R. Tolkien survived the war to go on and create, respectively, Winnie the Pooh and Bilbo Baggins. And everyone who has read the first thing about Ernest Hemingway knows that he served as an ambulance driver on the Italian front.

One unheralded poet was a young man from Chelteham, Gloucestershire attached to the 4th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. Alec de Candole, son of an Anglican priest, was an outstanding young scholar whose work had won him a place at Trinity College, Cambridge for the fall of 1916. His plan had been to follow in his father’s footsteps and prepare for a life in the ministry, but in April 1916 he postponed his studies to set off for cadet school at Oxford. By the start of the following spring, Lieutenant de Candole found himself on the battlefields of France.

One hundred years ago today, September 2, 1918, Alec de Candole jotted down a poem reflecting on his hopes for the end of the war. By then he had been with the army for sixteen months, and though the stalemated war seemed to be drawing to a conclusion there was no real way for the men in the trenches to know for certain when it would all end. In a somber yet hopeful mood, the 21-year-old officer dreamt of pastoral England and published perhaps the best poem of the entire war:

When the last long trek is over,
  And the last long trench filled in,
I’ll take a boat to Dover,
  Away from all the din;
I’ll take a trip to Mendip,
  I’ll see the Wilshire downs,
And all my soul I’ll then dip
  In peace no trouble drowns.

Away from noise of battle,
  Away from bombs and shells,
I’ll lie where browse the cattle,
  Or pluck the purple bells.
I’ll lie among the heather,
  And watch the distant plain,
Through all the summer weather,
  Nor go to fight again.

Two days later, Lt. Alec Corry Vully de Candole was killed in a raid on German trenches.

Alec deC

– JVW

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 131

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir” (Out of the depths I call, Lord, to You).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23:

That Which Defiles

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.’

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

. . . .

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

. . . .

For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. The cantata, one of Bach’s earliest, was based on Psalm 130. It contains these words, the humility of which stand in stark contrast to the haughty challenges of the Pharisees:

I am also a troubled sinner,
whose conscience gnaws him,
and would gladly, in Your blood
be washed clean of sin,
like David and Manassah.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

9/1/2018

The “Off the Record” Trump Comments About Canada to Bloomberg: A Twitter Play in Three Acts

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:11 pm

Act 1:

Act 2:

Act 3:

You can’t go wrong counting on the dishonesty of Donald Trump.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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