Patterico's Pontifications


President Obama And Today’s Commutations

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:41 pm

[guest post by Dana]

So, this happened:

President Obama commuted the vast majority of former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified documents, the White House announced Tuesday.

Manning is more than six years into a 35-year sentence at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for leaking classified government and military documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Her sentence is now set to expire May 17.

Manning was known as Bradley Manning at the time of her 2010 arrest, but revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identifies as a woman.

Manning accepted responsibility for leaking the material to WikiLeaks to raise public awareness about the effects of war on civilians, and has said she was confronting gender dysphoria at the time of the leaks while deployed in Iraq.

How do Democrats, who have vociferously argued that election interference by the Russians and Wikileaks handed Trump the election (and his illegitimacy presidency), square that with President Obama’s decision today?

David French points out the truth of the matter and the immensity of Manning’s actions:

He disclosed details of American military operations, the identities of American military allies, and placed sensitive American diplomatic relationships at risk. We may never know exactly how much damage he did. No matter how troubled Manning is (and he’s certainly troubled), he breached faith with his brothers in arms. Armies depend on bonds of trust, and he knowingly and intentionally placed lives in danger by indiscriminately placing our nation’s secrets in the public domain. He risked American lives. He risked allied lives. It’s not that long ago that actions like Manning’s would merit execution, and he should be grateful that he merely received a 35 year sentence. Instead, however, both the Times and the Obama administration treat him more like a messed-up kid than a soldier who betrayed his nation.

Amusingly, according to The New York Times, President Obama rescued both Manning and the Department of Defense from a complicated situation:

The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

No word on whether taxpayers will still be on the hook for Manning’s surgery…

According to CNN, here is the president’s rationale for the commutation: Manning accepted responsibility. Manning expressed remorse. Manning had already served six years and received a long sentence.

Also announced today, yet overshadowed by the Manning news, is this:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was serving 70 years in prison for his role in an organization that plotted bombings, prison escapes and armed robberies in an effort to secure independence for Puerto Rico.

With Obama’s commutation, Lopez Rivera will leave prison May 17.

You can read more about the heinous actions of Lopez Rivera and FALN here:

Now 74-years old, López Rivera has served 35 years of a 55-year sentence for seditious conspiracy and weapons-related charges. “I am an enemy of the United States government,” he told federal judge Thomas McMillen in 1983. There is no evidence that he’s changed his mind.

During the 1970s and 80s, López Rivera’s FALN placed more than 130 bombs in American cities. Their goal was to destabilize what they called the “Yanki capitalist monopoly” and achieve Puerto Rican independence. Their method was terrorism.

In 1974, the FALN began planting booby-trap bombs around New York. While most of these early explosions caused only property damage, the group’s clear intention was to kill and maim. In December 1974, an NYPD officer responding to a report of a dead body in an abandoned building on 110th St. was seriously injured by an FALN incendiary device.

In January 1975, a 10-pound dynamite bomb killed four people and injured dozens at Fraunces Tavern. The powerful blast was felt blocks away. In an eerie foreshadowing of 9/11, dust-covered victims staggered through downtown streets. The FALN quickly took responsibility for the deadly deed.

When a Chicago apartment serving as the FALN’s bomb-making factory was raided in November 1976, authorities learned the names of the group’s leadership. López Rivera and several associates became fugitives.

On Aug. 3, 1977, the FALN struck again in a coordinated attack in Midtown. An alert office worker at 342 Madison Ave., near 43rd St., noticed a suspicious package and evacuated the building. No one was hurt in the subsequent blast.

Oddly, there was no word from the White House about Lopez Rivera being remorseful and accepting responsibility for his actions.


Pigs Prepare for Flight: McCain Leaning Towards Confirming Tillerson

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

Earlier this month, John McCain suggested in colorful language that he was unlikely to support Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State:

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state will reportedly not have the support of one of the Senate’s top Republicans.

As Rex Tillerson, formerly the CEO of Exxon Mobil, made the rounds on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sen. John McCain made it clear he would not be supporting Tillerson’s nomination to become the nation’s top diplomat.

Reporters asked the Arizona Republican if there was a “realistic scenario” in which he could support Tillerson’s nomination.

“Sure,” McCain replied. “There’s also a realistic scenario that pigs fly.”

After the story appeared, McCain issued a statement “clarifying” his position to explain that he had been joking with reporters.

Today we learn that McCain is leaning towards voting for Tillerson:

Sen. John McCain told Fox New’s Martha MacCallum that he’s leaning toward voting to confirm Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the State Department .

“Some of my concerns have been satisfied, [but] I haven’t made up my mind completely,” McCain said.

I wonder what about the confirmation hearings changed McCain’s mind. Was it the way Tillerson refused to call Putin a war criminal? His unwillingness to say that Putin has murdered journalists and opposition leaders? His professed need to study the actions of Phillipines President Rodrigo Duterte before condemning his extrajudicial killings of alleged drug dealers?

All I know is this: I see a passel of hogs on the tarmac, readying for takeoff.

Another data point in the hypothesis that the GOP Congress will rein in Donald Trump.

P.S. No word yet on how “Little Marco” is going to vote. I have gone on record as predicting that he will vote against Tillerson. I appear to be the only pundit I know saying so.

If I turn out to be right, I’ll stop calling him “Little Marco.” We’ll see.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Is Climate Change a Hoax?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:00 am

As part of my Liberty Classroom contest over Black Friday weekend, I told people that they could commission or write a post if they bought a membership. So far one reader wrote a post. This is the first commissioned post, from reader Gil G., and here is the topic:

I would like you to write a blog post on your thoughts about global warming. Is it a “hoax” as president elect Trump has said? Should we accept that it is real?

Within the scope of that, please discuss the parallels between climate skeptic science and the type of science we saw come from gas companies when they fought to stop lead from being banned (Robert Kehoe), and similarly the way tobacco companies fought the conclusion and link from cigarettes to cancer and other diseases.

I have long described my views on climate change in this manner: I am a climate change skeptic skeptic. That’s not a typo. I am saying that I am skeptical of the climate change skeptics. It doesn’t mean I’m a climate change hysteric. But it also doesn’t mean that I reject the notion that the planet is warming, or that humans may be contributing to that.

I think a little humility is in order. Let me tell an analogous story. I think you’ll get the point.

Not that long ago, Emily Bazelon wrote a hit piece on the late Justice Scalia, portraying him as a “skeptic about science” (as the deck headline declared). Bazelon said: “He relished argument and debate, but when he had to grapple with scientific evidence, he was often wary.” In response, Ed Whelan wrote an excellent pair of posts titled Smearing Justice Scalia on Science—Part 1 and Part 2. Ian Samuel wrote a post of his own which was devastating to Bazelon’s thesis. A summary of his points can be found in this Tweetstorm of his, and the capper to that Tweetstorm was this killer tweet:

Ouch! Bazelon, who is a lawyer, mocked Scalia for not uncritically accepting the “obvious” science . . . except it was wrong, and she didn’t realize it.

What lesson does that have for debates about climate change? For me, the lesson is: I’m not a scientist, and getting into the finer points of the debate is not really something I’m suited for.

I get irritated by some of the phony statistics the hysterics toss around. There is a fellow named James Powell (who my reader Gil. G. seems to have some regard for) who throws around an oft-cited statistic which was stated by an L.A. Times writer in this way: “Out of 10,855 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals last year that dealt with some aspect of global warming, all but two accepted human behavior as the primary cause.” Wrong! I spent some time debunking this statistic as wholly bogus in this post. The short answer is that the statistic is based on a study that conflated “not rejecting” AGW with “accepting” it — and the study relies on many articles, such as studies of the life cycle of lead acid batteries, that had almost nothing to do with whether global warming is primarily caused by humans.

I also know that, by the global warming alarmists’ own studies, if the U.S. reduced emissions to zero by 2050 (i.e., if everyone in the U.S. died), “the average global temperature in the year 2100 would be 0.1°C — that’s one‐tenth of a degree -— lower than would otherwise be the case.” Quite apparently, the U.S. is not the big problem here . . . China and India are.

That said, it’s my belief that the planet is warming, and my best guess is that man contributes to that. I don’t know to what extent man’s contribution affects the rate of warming.

I think the idea that climate scientists are engaged in some kind of active “hoax” or “conspiracy” seems, um, conspiratorial. It does not strike me as likely. But, just as folks in Big Media tend to lean mostly one way politically, I can believe that climate scientists, by and large, have a herd-like mindset.

It doesn’t strike me like a hard science the way physics is. The models never seem to predict anything accurately. Predictions are commonly and provably exaggerated.

But, in the end, I am a lawyer by trade and a writer (and musician, and other things) by hobby. What I am not, is a scientist. And I recognize my limitations.

That’s about as much as I can say about that. I hope Gil G. does not consider it a cop-out.

And I hope he is enjoying Liberty Classroom at least half as much as I do.

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