Patterico's Pontifications


More Evidence of Collusion!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:22 pm

The Hill:

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom – which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.

The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

Everything about the Clintons stinks.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Gen. Kelly’s Presser Today

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:53 pm

I’m a little tired of this topic, but John Kelly having made his appearance today, I feel honor-bound to do a post about it and hopefully put the matter to bed. Here’s the video:

Kelly says his first recommendation was not to call families. It is good that he told the country this. That provides some crucial context for Trump’s actions, his inaction, and his timing.

I have to say: the bit in which Kelly professes to be “stunned” that a Congresswoman “listened in” on the call left me cold. Allahpundit has already explained why, saving me the effort:

When he accuses Wilson of listening in on the call, he makes it sound like she was surreptitiously eavesdropping on another receiver. Wilson was in a limo with Johnson’s family when the call came. The call was put on speakerphone, presumably at Mrs. Johnson’s request so that everyone else there could hear it too. The family wanted Wilson to hear it, apparently. She wasn’t just Johnson’s congresswoman either. He had graduated from her “Role Models of Excellence” program so she knew him and his family. She wasn’t with them in the limo in hopes that Trump might happen to call at that moment and she might score a political point.

So all this “I was stunned and brokenhearted…it stuns me, absolutely stuns me” stuff just leaves me utterly unmoved. This is who the family had with them at the time. Gen. Kelly has moral authority regarding his own son’s death, but he has no real moral authority to dictate whom the family happens to have present when a call like that is made. That’s their choice, not his — and anyway, there is zero indication that they knew the call was coming and arranged for the Congresswoman to be there for that purpose. She was there because she has a relationship with the family. So all this “stunned stunned stunned” stuff strikes me as political BS. The stuff about women and religion being sacred, but not sacred any more, also struck me coming from the Chief of Staff for Donald “I don’t ask for forgiveness” “grab them by the pussy” Trump. A little less sanctimony from a guy in that particular position would be more convincing.

Kelly was smart to focus on the unlikable Congresswoman with the funny hats. I thought Kelly made a pretty good case that she has a history of acting the fool. His story about the evil James Comey making a nice speech followed by cowboy hat woman boasting about political stuff makes her sound like the clown that she indeed appears to be. In that sense, she is the mirror image of Trump: a fool from a different political perspective.

Anyway, focusing on the Congresswoman was politically deft, as it helped obscure the fact that Kelly was implicitly taking a slap at the family for having the Congresswoman there, as well as at the Congresswoman for being there. He is also disagreeing with the family, not just the Congresswoman, about Trump’s tone, as Allahpundit notes:

Most significantly, it wasn’t just Wilson who objected to Trump’s tone during the phone call. It was Johnson’s own mother, who told WaPo that Wilson’s account of the call was accurate and that “President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband.” Kelly’s account of the call doesn’t even square with Trump’s. Trump, remember, claimed Wilson “totally fabricated” what he supposedly said to Mrs. Johnson. Kelly, on the other hand, essentially says that Wilson’s account was accurate. She’s not guilty of fabrication but of putting an unfairly negative spin on a comment Trump made about the risks of military service.

Indeed. Let’s talk a little about the substance of the call, as related by Kelly. Here is my transcript of what he said:

That’s he’s a brave man. A fallen hero. He knew what he was getting himself into, because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist. He enlisted. And he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be, with exactly the people he wanted to be with, when his life was taken.

The Congresswoman’s claim was that Trump said “he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.” The controversial part of that was “he knew what he signed up for.” Trump said “I didn’t say what that congresswoman said. Didn’t say it at all.” And Kelly said that Trump had said: “He knew what he was getting himself into.” The words sounded nice and reasonable coming out of Kelly’s mouth — question whether they sounded as nice coming out the oaf Trump’s mouth — but those were the words. It wasn’t a fabrication. It was a difference of perspective.

“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Sgt. Johnson’s mom said. As someone reminded me recently, President Bush would sometimes get an earful from distraught moms or other relatives. It happens. It could be that Trump was trying his best and ran into people who didn’t want to hear it. It could be that he garbled the message or got defensive. Or it could be a little of both. I will note this aspect of the Congresswoman’s account was not addressed by Gen. Kelly:

“When she got off the phone, she said, ‘He didn’t even know his name. He kept calling him, ‘Your guy,’” Ms. Wilson said of Ms. Johnson. “He was calling the fallen soldier, ‘Your guy.’ And he never said his name because he did not know his name. So he kept saying, ‘Your guy. Your guy. Your guy.’ And that was devastating to her.”

My, but that does sound . . . Trumpy. It sounds, in fact, similar to Trump’s inability to speak the widow’s name (Myeshia Johnson) when he falsely accused the Congresswoman of fabricating her accusations out of whole cloth.

I note that there were no questions about whether the general was offended at Trump’s citing the death of Gen. Kelly’s son to make a cheap political point. When I heard that, I was stunned. Stunned. Stunned. Stunned. I wonder if Gen. Kelly was stunned stunned stunned, but nobody asked him.

Anyway, as a political observer I’d say Kelly did Trump a favor today. Kelly showed a seriousness and gravity of which Trump is incapable. It’s nice to know that Trump has surrounded himself with a fella who seems mostly smart and capable and who demonstrates real leadership. That was the first time I have seen Kelly speak, and I was mostly impressed.

And stunned.

Now let us hopefully never speak of this again.

UPDATE: Interesting. Funny Hat CongessCritter Wilson credibly alleges that Kelly screwed up the story about the dedication of the federal building:

Kelly criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami.

Thursday night, Wilson said Kelly got the story flat-out wrong. In fact, she said Washington approved the money before she was even in Congress. The legislation she sponsored named the building after Grogan and Dove, a law enacted just days before the ceremony.

“He shouldn’t be able to just say that, that is terrible,” Wilson said of Kelly’s remarks in the White House briefing room, the latest volley in the controversy over Trump’s condolence call to a military widow from Miami Gardens, an area Wilson represents. “This has become totally personal.”

At the dedication ceremony, James Comey, then director of the FBI, lauded Wilson’s legislation, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama three days before the April 2015 ceremony.

“Rep. Wilson truly did the impossible, and we are eternally grateful,” Comey said in his remarks.

Huh. If she remembers that incident better than he — and it seems like perhaps she does, given the timing and comments made by Comey and others (read the whole piece) — then maybe she remembers this call better too. After all, it was one call of four for Kelly.

I’m stunned.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Another World Leader Seeks to Solidify His Cult of Personality

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

The major countries of the world increasingly seem to gravitate towards cults of personality. Some leaders’ cults are more successful than others, of course. Vladimir Putin enjoys an approval rating of greater than 80% — aided by the fact that if you vociferously disapprove of him in public, you may go to jail or worse. Donald Trump, hampered by the annoying free-speech features of our republic, must slog on through with a decidedly less impressive 38% approval rating, forcing him to depend on a hardcore set of rabid partisans to carry the torch.

China’s Xi Jinping is more authoritarian and more successful. Judging from the results of the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress so far, Xi is well on his way to becoming the next Chairman Mao. The Guardian reports:

China’s communist leader, Xi Jinping, looks to have further strengthened his rule over the world’s second largest economy with the apparent confirmation that a new body of political theory bearing his name will be written into the party’s constitution.

On day two of a week-long political summit in Beijing marking the end of Xi’s first term, state media announced the creation of what it called Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

“The Thought is … a historic contribution to the party’s development,” Zhang Dejiang, one of the seven members of China’s top ruling council, the politburo standing committee, told delegates at the 19th party congress, according to Beijing’s official news agency, Xinhua.

Liu Yunshan, another standing committee member, said the elevation of Xi’s Thought into the party’s list of “guiding principles” was of “great political, theoretical and practical significance”. “All members of the party should study hard Xi’s ‘new era’ thought,” he was quoted as saying.

Xi has made it quite clear that, despite the expansion of free market activity in China, there will be no concomitant expansion of political freedom. Xi has consolidated power by jailing his political opponents under the guise of an anti-corruption campaign. Now, with this Maoist establishment of a school of thought in his name, Xi will effectively be an emperor.

In unrelated news, Xi and Trump are reported to get along well.

I recently read Red Scarf Girl, a book recommended to me by Mark Hemingway. The book is Ji-li Jiang’s memoir of experiencing Mao’s Cultural Revolution as a young girl of 12. The book is incredible for its description of the wave of utter insanity that washed over China in those years. The country had already experienced the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s Orwellian name for the economic program that killed over 50 million people. But of course nobody talked about that — and while the threat of going to jail and being tortured loomed over everyone’s heads, one should not minimize the genuine love that many people seemed to feel for Mao. You either loved him or pretended to love him, and Mao didn’t much care which. Even if you loved him, a neighbor who didn’t like you might make up a story about you — and if that happened, you were done. You would be made to confess thoughtcrimes you had not committed. You would be tortured until you fabricated stories about the guilt of friends and neighbors who had never helped you do anything.

I highly recommend the book. After I read it, my daughter chose it as a book to read and report on for school. Children need to learn about such cults as they begin to form their opinions about the world.

Cults of personality are real things, and you don’t just read about them in history books. They are going on in the world right now, as we speak. If I seem to worry about even a hint that one could be developing here, it is only because I have read Red Scarf Girl, or Bukovsky, or Solzhenitsyn.

Xi rules over a population of 1.4 billion people. That’s over four times the population of the United States. Information is tightly controlled. By contrast, some of the things we rail about here in the U.S. — a biased news media, leftist protests, and the like — are imperfect signs of the strength of our republic. As bad as our #FAKENEWS!! media often can be, Chinese dissidents can only dream of having a media as free and independent as ours. As annoying as it can be to see people “take a knee” to convey disrespect for our country, in China conveying that same disrespect will get you tossed in jail.

Public opinion polls show that a plurality of Republicans would give the federal government the power to shut down news organizations that the government determines are fabricating stories. One of our states is poised to elect a man to the U.S. Senate who believes it is illegal for football players to kneel during the national anthem.

This is insanity. It is not Cultural Revolution level insanity. But it’s inching along that path.

If you love liberty, now is the time to let your voice be heard. Don’t be a cultist. Join the group that believes in freedom.

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

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