Patterico's Pontifications

2/13/2017

FINALLY: Gateway Pundit Brings Pepe to the White House

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 pm

Jim Hoft brought his special combination of factual inaccuracy and overuse of exclamation points to the White House briefing room today. He and his White House correspondent went around taking selfies of themselves making the “OK” sign favored by Pepe the Frog, a symbol adopted by the alt-right. Here’s the Pepe the Frog thumbs up:

Pepe

And here is Gateway Pundit and his sidekick at the briefing room podium, with the White House placard behind them:

Gateway Pundit is Pepe

Just in case you were inclined to miss the point, and defend them by pointing out that everyone uses the OK sign, Hoft was kind enough to include a Pepe hashtag and green frog to represent Pepe. Here’s the icing on the cake:

Hoft Pepe Retweet

So, just because dishonest punks like Hoft will now post a bunch of images of people making an OK sign who have no intent to evoke Pepe with it . . . doesn’t mean that Hoft and his little sidekick there didn’t mean to evoke Pepe. Because they did.

If you somehow missed the fact that Pepe has been adopted by the alt-right and a lot of Neo-Nazis, browse through this Google image search a little and educate yourself. Here are some examples:

Pepe as Hitler

Pepe at Dachau

I, for one, am thrilled to see the symbols of the alt-right being brought openly into our White House, aren’t you?

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

Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:02 am

I got nothing. Trump not tweeting? Possible shakeups at the White House? Oroville looking safe? Typos in government tweets or posters? Foreign governments dumping treasuries? That mean obituary? Slow news day, man. Slow news day.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

2/12/2017

California Spillway Failure Feared in Oroville, Could Cause Massive Flooding

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:03 pm

The L.A. Times reports:

Residents of Oroville and nearby towns were ordered to immediately evacuate on Sunday afternoon after a hole was discovered at the emergency spillway for the Oroville Dam.

Officials said late Sunday they will attempt to plug the hole using sandbags and rocks but stressed the situation remains dangerous and urged thousands of residents downstream to evacuate to higher ground.

The National Weather Service said the auxiliary spillway at the Oroville Dam was expected to fail about 5:45 p.m., which could send an “uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.”

Just yesterday the public was told there was no danger. Now there are mandatory evacuations underway, traffic snarls, and a lot of confusion. Some reports state that the dam is danger of failing, while other reports (which appear to be more accurate) say that the emergency spillway is in danger, not the dam itself.

If the dam itself were to break, it would be catastrophic. The Sacramento Bee reports: Marysville, Yuba County evacuated as Oroville spillway collapse feared. Under a section titled Worst Case Scenario the paper says:

There is no map showing exactly what will happen if the emergency spillway collapses tonight. Officials only have a map showing a failure of the dam. That worst case scenario is useful in that it shows where water goes and how fast it gets there.

Water would get to the town of Oroville within an hour.

If Oroville Dam were to suffer a massive breach, water would get to the town of Oroville within an hour, according to GIS maps maintained by CalFire.

Within two hours, the small town of Briggs would be affected. In three hours, Gridley would be hit. Water would reach Live Oak in five hours..

It would take eight to 12 hours for the water to get to Marysville and Yuba City.

If the dam completely failed, flood depths could reach more than 100 feet in Oroville and up to 10 feet in Yuba City.

There’s some dramatic video here, but the statement in the tweet that the dam is expected to fail appears to be wrong:

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

Andrew Sullivan Would Like You To Take Him Seriously When Discussing Mental Health

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:32 pm

[guest post by Dana]

To my mind, any talk about the “objective truth” is particularly rich when coming from a man who obsessively pushed a conspiracy theory involving Sarah Palin’s uterus and made Trig Trutherism a thing.

As noted:

Sullivan’s disgusting, ends-justify-the-means obsession with the personal family life of Sarah Palin breached every ethical and journalistic boundary known to the cosmos. Between airing Palin’s hacked private emails and making a cottage industry out of challenging the maternity of her son, Trig, sometimes the word “irony” or “hypocrisy” is not descriptive enough.

Certainly, let’s take Dr. Sullivan’s discussions about mental health with the seriousness it deserves.

(Pre-emptive strike: This post is only a comment about Sullivan’s own mental health.)

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back)

–Dana

Yet Another Display Of Intolerance By The Usual Suspects: Gay Man Comes Out As A Conservative, Subsequently Rejected By His Community

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:34 am

[guest post by Dana]

Bigotry toward those who think differently has always been the designer label worn by those on the left side of the aisle. Whether in the gay community, academia, Hollywood or in some other bastion of liberalism, it remains the litmus-test of acceptance and acceptability.

Chadwicke Moore is almost a cliche: He is a 30-year old gay journalist living in hip Williamsburg, where the political stripe of the masses is unquestionably liberal.

Yet recently, Moore personally experienced just how ugly and intolerant the left can be when someone dares to break rank from the lockstep beliefs of the community. After his intentionally neutral story about Milo Yiannopoulos appeared in a gay magazine, Moore was the target of a backlash from that community, including being rejected by long-time close friends who felt betrayed and no longer wanted anything to do with him. Perhaps not unlike when they themselves came out to their own families about being gay… But the shunning of Moore, the complete rejection of him is, of course, perfectly acceptable, and frankly, expected. Because, as we’ve been instructed, ad nauseum, this particular brand of intolerance is righteous and a good thing. Sadly, Moore says that in the same way that coming out to his family when he was a 15-year old was the hardest thing he had ever done, so too is coming out as a conservative in New York:

After the story posted online in the early hours of October 21, I woke up to more than 100 Twitter notifications on my iPhone. Trolls were calling me a Nazi, death threats rolled in and a joke photo that I posed for in a burka served as “proof” that I am an Islamophobe.

I’m not.

Most disconcertingly, it wasn’t just strangers voicing radical discontent. Personal friends of mine — men in their 60s who had been my longtime mentors — were coming at me. They wrote on Facebook that the story was “irresponsible” and “dangerous.” A dozen or so people unfriended me. A petition was circulated online, condemning the magazine and my article. All I had done was write a balanced story on an outspoken Trump supporter for a liberal, gay magazine, and now I was being attacked. I felt alienated and frightened.

I hope New Yorkers can be as accepting of my new status as a conservative man as they’ve been about my sexual orientation.
I lay low for a week or so. Finally, I decided to go out to my local gay bar in Williamsburg, where I’ve been a regular for 11 years. I ordered a drink but nothing felt the same; half the place — people with whom I’d shared many laughs — seemed to be giving me the cold shoulder. Upon seeing me, a friend who normally greets me with a hug and kiss pivoted and turned away.

Frostiness spread far beyond the bar, too. My best friend, with whom I typically hung out multiple times per week, was suddenly perpetually unavailable. Finally, on Christmas Eve, he sent me a long text, calling me a monster, asking where my heart and soul went, and saying that all our other friends are laughing at me.

I realized that, for the first time in my adult life, I was outside of the liberal bubble and looking in. What I saw was ugly, lock step, incurious and mean-spirited.

God, if Moore becomes politically active, let’s hope for his sake that he doesn’t own a hotel…

Read the whole thing.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back)

–Dana

2/11/2017

Law Could Force Trump’s Tax Returns to Be Made Public

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:30 pm

In theory, that is. As long as the GOP remains in control of the House, it will remain a theory:

A New Jersey congressman says a rarely invoked 1924 law could be used to examine President Donald Trump’s tax returns for possible conflicts of interest and Constitutional violations.

Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat who serves on the Ways and Means Committee, has asked the committee’s chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, to order the Treasury Department to provide tax returns to the committee. Brady’s office did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

After privately examining returns — Pascrell is seeking 10 years’ worth — the committee could decide to share them with the full House, which would in effect make them public. The 1924 law gives congressional committees that set tax policy the power to examine tax returns. It was used in 1974 when Congress looked at President Richard Nixon’s returns, and in 2014 when the Ways and Means Committee released confidential tax information as part of its investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s handling of applications for nonprofit status.

What do you think the chances are that Republican Kevin Brady will be following up on Pascrell’s request? Given that the request is no doubt already in the trash can, I’m putting them between zero and zilch.

And so it will remain — as long as Republicans are in control.

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

2/10/2017

Michael McConnell’s Criticism of the Ninth Circuit Decision on Trump’s Immigration Order

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 pm

Stanford law professor and former federal appeals court judge Michael McConnell has a piece at Hoover.org that criticizes the Ninth Circuit decision on Trump’s executive order. The piece is titled A Flawed Restraining of a Flawed Order.

McConnell’s piece is notable not only for what it says, but also what it doesn’t say . . . and for what it concedes.

Before getting to the legal analysis, McConnell makes this observation:

Much of the interest, and hysteria, was predicated on a demonstrably false characterization of the Order as a “Muslim ban.” President Trump has only himself to blame for that misunderstanding, since he called for such a ban on the campaign trail and his Administration offered almost no explanation of the narrow scope or the justification for the Order. It was almost as if the Administration hoped to set off a hysterical and uninformed debate, or to throw the immigrant and refugee community into a state of fear and uncertainty. I cannot believe that to be true, but sometimes carelessness and haste have the same effect that malice would.

. . . .

The incompetent and overhasty implementation of the executive order, leading to chaos and distress, gave the Order an aura of illegitimacy. The President’s inappropriate personal criticism of the judges and the judicial process did not help his case.

It is not the goal of this post to detail McConnell’s legal arguments in their entirety, but I’ll give a quick synopsis, together with my own observations when appropriate.

McConnell argues that the court’s finding of standing is unprecedented, declaring: “It is like holding that a grocery store could challenge taxes imposed on its customers because they will have less money to spend at the store.” This dismissive pronouncement, in my opinion, fails to adequately address the cases cited by the Ninth Circuit, such as Craig v. Boren, which is not far removed from the grocery story hypothetical that McConnell flatly deems absurd. As the Ninth Circuit stated:

Vendors, for example, “have been uniformly permitted to resist efforts at restricting their operations by acting as advocates of the rights of third parties who seek access to their market or function.” Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190, 195 (1976).

In Craig v. Boren, a vendor of beer was allowed to challenge an Oklahoma statute that prevented her from selling 3.2% beer to young males while allowing sales of that beer to young females. The vendor had standing, said the Supreme Court, explaining:

The legal duties created by the statutory sections under challenge are addressed directly to vendors such as appellant. She is obliged either to heed the statutory discrimination, thereby incurring a direct economic injury through the constriction of her buyers’ market, or to disobey the statutory command and suffer, in the words of Oklahoma’s Assistant Attorney General, “sanctions and perhaps loss of license.” Tr. of Oral Arg. 41. This Court repeatedly has recognized that such injuries establish the threshold requirements of a “case or controversy” mandated by Art. III.

This sounds a lot like McConnell’s grocery store example, and I don’t think McConnell’s analysis sufficiently addresses cases like this.

McConnell tries to distinguish cases cited by the Ninth Circuit “where the plaintiff has a special relation with the alien” by declaiming: “The State has no special relationship with the affected aliens.” That too is not obvious to me. The opinion cites the harms to state universities unable to accommodate visiting scholars, interview prospective employees, or bring sponsored interns to their campuses. It is not obvious to me that these relationships are less close than the relationships of beer vendors to their customers.

A better standing argument, in my opinion, was made by Dan McLaughlin, who believes that the ruling on standing regarding “current or planned faculty or students from the seven countries” was a “reasonable enough ruling, as far as it goes” but such a ruling

would normally not give [the states] standing to challenge other aspects of the executive order in which they have no concrete interest, such as the 120-day suspension of the refugee program (Section 5(a)), the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees (Section 5(c)), or the provisions of the order requiring future consideration of religious-minority status for refugees claiming religious persecution (Sections 5(b) and 5(e)).

This complaint relates to McConnell’s next complaint, which relates to the merits. McConnell says that the Due Process claims brought by the states do not apply to all classes of aliens. Before I address that argument, which may well have some merit, let me first note an important concession by McConnell.

Importantly, McConnell concedes — by noting that the Government had conceded in court — that “the executive order never properly applied to green card holders” and also “could not apply to previously admitted aliens temporarily abroad.” It is a somewhat overlooked aspect of this litigation and this decision that this assertion is almost entirely noncontroversial, to those who are paying attention to the details. Both supporters and critics of the order admit, for the most part, that you can’t apply it to green card holders. Most also admit that previously admitted aliens who just happen to be out of the country for a short time could not legally be prevented from returning.

The real issue appears to be: what about other aliens, like those who have never been in the country? Surely it’s far from obvious that they have a due process right to entry. This is the weakest part of the Ninth Circuit decision. As McConnell says:

The court then said: “More generally, even if the TRO might be overbroad in some respects, it is not our role to try, in effect, to rewrite the Executive Order.” That is precisely backwards. If the State of Washington’s case is a facial challenge, the existence of a nontrivial number of constitutional applications is reason to reject the challenge. If the State of Washington’s case is an as-applied challenge, relief must be confined to those applications that are unconstitutional.

The Ninth Circuit tries to get out of this bind by arguing that the Government’s proposed remedy still might leave some Due Process issues unresolved. This strikes me as a bit of a copout — a by-product of the rushed nature of the litigation. Rather than taking the time to decide which parts of the order are truly probably unconstitutional, the Court in essence throws up its hands and blames the Trump administration for forcing this issue on them so suddenly. If the mystery judge who has called for en banc review of the decision has a problem with anything, it’s probably this aspect.

I want to conclude the post by knocking down a couple of pieces of Conventional Wisdom I see circulating among people on Twitter, including some smart people. One such article of faith is that the Court screwed the pooch by failing to cite 8 U.S.C. 1182(f). To people not analyzing the case too closely, the entire case begins and ends with that statute. Indeed, Trump had a political (if not a legal) masterstroke in reading the provision out loud to a group of sheriffs. People on Twitter are circulating a viral image of the text of 1182(f) with the important parts highlighted, and several people have tweeted that image to me triumphantly, as if to say: “AHA! You never heard of THAT now, didja?!”

Well, yeah. That statute has been central to several posts I have done about this issue. Here’s the thing, though. It’s a statute. If the Ninth Circuit thinks the executive order has due process problems — and remember, it plainly does as to green card holders and other visa holders — those are problems rooted in the Constitution. And the Constitution trumps any Congressional statute. The Ninth Circuit panel may not be right about the ways that the order allegedly restricts the status of aliens who have obtained no visa and hold no green card — but to the extent that they are right about any of the constitutional claims (and as I noted above, they are right about some of them, as even the administration and McConnell concede), those constitutional concerns supersede any statute passed by Congress, no matter how bright the highlighting on its text.

The second piece of Conventional Wisdom out there is that the Ninth Circuit based its decision on Trump’s campaign rhetoric, to find that this was a “Muslim ban.” I had no fewer than three Twitter users throw that assertion at me in the course of about ten minutes this evening. The problem is, that is flatly untrue. As I observed before, two of the judges seemed convinced by this argument at oral argument, but in order to get the third judge on board with a unanimous per curiam opinion, the court explicitly reserved its ruling on this issue. This was not the basis for the ruling, no matter how many times Conventional Wisdom says it is.

Again: as I have said before, while parts of this decision might be wrong (I am no immigration law expert, remember), it’s clearly not as outrageous as it is being portrayed by many. The best course of action is not to take it to the Supreme Court (an option that the administration has wavered on today) but to have Trump write a new order that doesn’t apply to green card holders or other visa holders, and that does not violate rules on immigration set by Congress — and then to work with Congress on any aspects that require Congressional involvement.

In other words, follow the law and act like an adult. Horrors! What will these damned judges ask him to do next?

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

Woman Is Harrassed By Protesters And Physically Blocked From Entering Public Building, But To Intolerant Left, She’s Just Getting Schooled

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:47 pm

[guest by Dana]

Just imagine if media outlets had reported that Sen. Elizabeth Warren “got a lesson” in Senate rules a few days ago on the Senate floor… Holy cow. It would have been the Women’s March all over again. On. Steroids.

So, Education secretary Betsy DeVos made her first visit to a public school in Washington D.C. today. That she was harassed by protesters who prevented her from entering the public school is unsurprising. And because those on the left have a well-earned reputation of intolerance toward those who think differently or view the world through a different lens, it was equally unsurprising to see such an extraordinary level of intolerance on display:

Interestingly, media outlets seemed to easily overlook the harassment of DeVos and justify it with a victorious She had it coming! tone. It’s especially amusing when you consider that all she did was attempt to enter a public building. Imagine had she actually violated a provision in the rules of the Department of Education!

Here are a few examples of media framing the incident.

From the Daily Kos:

kos

From The Washington Post:

wapo

From The New York Times:

nyt

Fortunately for DeVos, #ShePersisted, and entered the school elsewhere, allowing her to meet face-to-face with faculty and administrators.

But frankly, with ratings like these, I’m surprised all of the public schools in D.C. aren’t clamoring for the Education secretary to visit:

WASHINGTON — D.C. has the second to worst public school system in the United States, according to a new study from WalletHub, which analyzed dropout rates, math, reading and SAT scores, among other metrics.

The city has the lowest math, reading and SAT scores of any school system in the U.S. It has the highest dropout rate and ranks last in school safety, according to the study.

The city’s graduation rate is disturbingly low, committee members reported: In 2014, the rate was 59 percent for public schools and 69 percent for charter schools.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back)

–Dana

Trump Favorably Cites Blog Post That Called His Executive Order “Incompetent Malevolence”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

This morning Donald Trump tweeted:

The blog post he quotes, at Benjamin Wittes’s LAWFARE blog, is here. It does say what Trump says, it’s true:

Remarkably, in the entire opinion, the panel did not bother even to cite this statute, which forms the principal statutory basis for the executive order (see Sections 3(c), 5(c), and 5(d) of the order). That’s a pretty big omission over 29 pages, including several pages devoted to determining the government’s likelihood of success on the merits of the case.

But the post also says that “[t]he Ninth Circuit is correct to leave the TRO in place” — and also says the promulgation of Trump’s executive order was accomplished with “incompetent malevolence.”

Eventually, the court has to confront the clash between a broad delegation of power to the President—a delegation which gives him a lot of authority to do a lot of not-nice stuff to refugees and visa holders—in a context in which judges normally defer to the president, and the incompetent malevolence with which this order was promulgated.

To be fair to Trump, though, that’s the end of a 700-word blog post. So many words! The President is a busy man, and cannot be expected to read the entirety of something he quotes.

UPDATE: Hahahahaha. The tweet came from something our President saw on the teevee. This segment came 12 minutes before his tweet.

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

Trump Unfairly Attacks New York Times for “Fake News”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:15 am

Donald Trump tweeted this morning:

He is referencing this article in the New York Times, the lede of which stated, at the time Trump made his tweet:

President Trump told President Xi Jinping of China on Thursday evening that the United States would honor the “One China” policy, reversing his earlier expressions of doubt about the longtime diplomatic understanding and removing a major source of tension between the United States and China since shortly after he was elected.

Two paragraphs later, the article later states:

The concession was clearly designed to put an end to an extended chill in the relationship between China and the United States. Mr. Xi, stung by Mr. Trump’s unorthodox telephone call with the president of Taiwan in December and his subsequent assertion that the United States might no longer abide by the One China policy, had not spoken to Mr. Trump since Nov. 14, the week after he was elected.

So what happened here? Did Trump really miss the first line of the article? Did he really misread “had” as has? No; what he did is cite a version of the article that was true when it was published. Mediaite explains:

But Trump is citing a version of the article that was written before he spoke with Xi Thursday night. At the time the article was written, Trump actually hadn’t spoken to Xi since November and The Times story was completely factual.

The article was updated late Thursday night once the White House released its readout of their newest call. The article now reads that Xi “had not spoken to Mr. Trump since Nov. 14, the week after he was elected,” and the headline was updated from “China’s President, Stung by Taiwan Call, Is Said to Shun Trump,” to “After Silence From Xi, Trump Endorses the ‘One China’ Policy.”

As best as I can tell, Mediaite’s account is accurate. According to a useful site that does comparisons of revisions in news articles (a site linked by Mediaite), the language Trump quoted was contained in a version of the article published at 9:38 p.m. Eastern last night. I can’t find a definite time that the news of Trump’s phone call was released, but Fox News had a tweet calling it “breaking” news as of 11:21 p.m. Eastern.

By this morning, when Trump tweeted out his “fake news” complaint, the story had been updated to reflect the new phone call.

It looks like what happened was: the New York Times published its story, Trump released the news of the phone call, and the New York Times updated its story. “Fake news”? Not so much.

More important than the quibbles over Trump’s unfair attack on the Times is the change in policy. The thrust of the original version of the Times article was that Xi was snubbing Trump over his refusal to sign on to the “One China” policy. Then Trump made a great deal and acknowledged it. Now they’re the best of friends! Yay!

Now, I’m not saying that Trump’s team got wind that the New York Times was going to do a news article about Xi snubbing Trump, and made a change in policy so they could call the New York Times fake news. That would be crazy. What I am saying is that the timing of all this is interesting. There’s a story there somewhere.

But it doesn’t mean that Trump’s “fake news” complaint is fair.

This time.

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

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