Patterico's Pontifications


Sarah Sanders To Leave White House At End Of The Month

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:27 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Comments from President Trump about Sarah Sanders’ upcoming departure from the White House:

“After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” Mr. Trump wrote Thursday afternoon. “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”

Sanders tweeted:

“I am blessed and forever grateful to @realDonaldTrump for the opportunity to serve and proud of everything he’s accomplished,” Sanders followed up in a tweet. “I love the President and my job. The most important job I’ll ever have is being a mom to my kids and it’s time for us to go home. Thank you Mr. President!”

Apparently she is leaving the door open to a possible run for governor of Arkansas…hiya Dad! However, since Asa Hutchinson was just re-elected as governor, Sanders won’t be able to run until 2022.

After bringing Sanders on stage at an event this afternoon, she spoke fondly of her boss and her job:

“I’ll try not to get emotional because I know that crying can make us look weak sometimes right?” Sanders said, looking at the president and smiling. “This has been the honor of a lifetime, the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t be prouder to have had the opportunity to serve my country and particularly to work for this president. He has accomplished so much in these two and a half years and it’s truly been something I will treasure forever.

“It’s one of the greatest jobs I could ever have, I’ve loved every minute. Even the hard minutes, I have loved it,” she added.

Interestingly, the last White House press briefing was more than 90 days ago. There is no word about who might replace Sanders. So, given that 90 days is the longest time any administration has gone without holding a press briefing, does Trump really even need to fill the position? After all, he’s got his own virtual megaphone and can tweet directly with the people, right?? Let’s not forget, too, that it was Trump himself who inspired Sanders to kill the daily press briefing:


I really don’t have much to say about Sanders and her unwavering, blind loyalty to President Trump, so I’ll just say this: she really does do a great smokey eye.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Just Another Day in Los Angeles: Dog Trainer Publishes Weird Column with Sad Click-Bait Headline

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:34 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Today brings yet another head-scratcher from the mushminds downtown on Spring Street — uh, scratch that — Imperial Highway in El Segundo that should read. Columnist George Skelton, who I believe has been with the paper since about 1934, pens a rather odd column, which the paper figured should be salvaged by a click-bait headline: Don’t like Newsom’s state budget? Blame California Republicans:

Anyone with a beef about Sacramento politics should blame Republicans. That’s because they’ve allowed themselves to become so weak they’re irrelevant on any issue not requiring a two-thirds supermajority vote, such as a tax increase. They only become players when a bill — perhaps a tax hike — is so liberal Assembly moderates can’t stomach it and lean Republican.

From here one would expect the familiar catechism of California progressives: Republicans destroyed themselves by supporting Proposition 187 which attempted to deny public services to illegal aliens (uh, “undocumented immigrants” I guess we’re all supposed to say now), they haven’t been serious about the environmental degradation which is going to cause all of us to die 20 years before our time, and they have permanently driven away minority voters with Proposition 209 which outlawed affirmative action in the state (though this doesn’t explain why Asian-Americans, the primary victims of affirmative action, have become staunch Democrat voters since Prop. 209’s passage 22 years ago). If another hack such as Tom Elias or Pattt Morrison were writing this column, we would expect a stern admonishment that Republicans need to ditch primitive ideas such as equality under the law, the efficacy of the two-parent home, the primacy of parents over government functionaries, individual initiative and accomplishment contributing to the commonweal rather than authoritarian collectivism directed by state bureaucrats, and so on, and embrace all of the trendy new progressive ideas such as hierarchies of privilege based upon historic grievances while empowering the government elite and their public employee union bosses to determine how the rest of us will be permitted to live our lives.

But no, Mr. Skelton doesn’t go there. Instead, we get several paragraphs on the Democrats’ plan to expand health insurance to young illegal immigrants up to age 26, and to provide more subsidies to middle-class families who have been harmed by the inability of the Affordable Care Act to keep premiums under control, despite that being one of the major aims of the legislation according to President Obama. Mr. Skelton then sketches an outline of efforts to raise income taxes on the top earners, uncritically adopting the Newsom Administration’s claim that this is merely an effort to align California tax policy with the federal tax policy changes passed in 2017. He concludes with a very brief recounting of Gov. Newsom’s attempt to impose a 95-cent monthly fee on water bills in order to help bring potable water to areas in the Central Valley that are currently in need, but tells us that since even leftist Democrats balked at raising taxes on everyone in a year where a $20 billion budget surplus is expected, the funds will be stolen from cap-and-trade fees instead (hey, not like we have a high-speed train to nowhere to suck up that money any longer).

And that’s it. After baiting the reader with yet another Dog Trainer anti-GOP jeremiad, Mr. Skelton settles in for an utterly banal column that may have taken him all of 20 minutes to write. I can’t imagine there is anybody who bothers to read George Skelton’s column who wasn’t already following the progress of Gov. Newsom’s latest budget and knew what was in the works. There are a couple of quotes from various operatives in the column, but neither one strikes me as being anything other than the general talking points handed out to all inquiring journalists, and Heaven forbid that Mr. Skelton clutter up his column with a quote from anyone who might object to any of the provisions of the budget as proposed.

This lazy and weak effort is a great metaphor for what has gone on both at the Los Angeles Times in particular and with print journalism in general. I confess that I got suckered in by the click-bait headline, and that I originally had planned to write a blog post about the audacity of progressives to blame the last handful of California Republicans for the mess that the Democrats are creating. Then I read the actual column, in complete astonishment that something so useless and uninformative would be published. If the Dog Trainer is wondering why they are considered such a joke these days, look no further than this column.


Yes, a pre-publication update. Since I began drafting this post, the paper has changed its click-bait headline. Here’s what was up this morning:


And here is how they replaced it this afternoon:

LAT Liberals

What a wretched excuse for journalism. I don’t wish anyone loses their job, but when the Dog Trainer at last closes its doors, the world won’t be missing anything of real value.


Office of Special Counsel: Kellyanne Conway Should Be Removed From Federal Service For Hatch Act Violations

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:26 pm

[guest post by Dana]

From Politico:

The independent federal agency that oversees compliance with the Hatch Act has recommended that President Donald Trump’s top aide Kellyanne Conway be removed from her job after she repeatedly used her office for political purposes.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel sent a report to Trump on Thursday that said Conway violated the law numerous times by criticizing Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media. It is the first time the office, which is not affiliated with former special counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigation, has made such a recommendation for a White House official.

The letter from the OSC described Conway as a “repeat offender,” and cautioned:

“Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system—the rule of law.”

Back in May, when asked about the Hatch Act, Conway told reporters:

Blah, blah, blah. If you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work. Let me know when the jail sentence starts.

President Trump is reportedly supportive of Conway and has no plans to either discipline her or remove her from her position.

In an official response, the White House suggested that the OSC recommendation was politically influenced:

“The Office of Special Counsel’s (OSC) unprecedented actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process. Others, of all political views, have objected to the OSC’s unclear and unevenly applied rules which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees,” deputy press secretary Steven Groves said in a statement Thursday.

“Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations – and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act.”

Some background on the Hatch Act:

The law, enacted in 1939 and named for New Mexico Sen. Carl Hatch, takes aim at federal employees using their perch to push political candidates. At the time, Democrats were facing allegations of deploying Works Progress Administration employees to influence the 1938 elections. Today, the behavior that could come under scrutiny might include tweeting political messages, speaking about candidates, diverting official travel to attend political events and fundraising. The president and vice president are exempt from the law.

When the government receives a complaint, it investigates and often resolves them with a simple warning letter. In some cases, the oversight office will discipline the employee — perhaps with a fine or suspension — or allow them to fight the case in front of a board. Of the 286 cases closed in fiscal year 2018, 49 employees were issued letters, 10 took some corrective action for their behavior and six faced discipline.

Only in rare instances does the president determine if a staffer should be punished, according to the person at OSC. Trump has only been asked to determine the punishment for one staffer, Conway.

George Conway, a frequent critic of President Trump and husband of Kellyanne Conway, has not made a public comment about the recommendation concerning his wife. The two have not been shy about jousting publicly when the issue concerns this White House and the President. Just two days ago, George Conway wrote an op-ed (with law professor Neal Katyal) in the Washington Post responding to President Trump’s argument that Congress cannot investigate a president except possibly in impeachment proceedings:

It’s a spectacularly anti-constitutional brief, and anyone who harbors such attitudes toward our Constitution’s architecture is not fit for office. Trump’s brief is nothing if not an invitation to commencing impeachment proceedings that, for reasons set out in the Mueller report, should have already commenced.

Every principle behind the rule of law requires the commencement of a process now to make this president a former one.

Note: The House Oversight Committee announced that it would hold a hearing with the OSC on June 26 to review the allegations. Conway will be invited to attend.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


LI: Punitive Damages Verdict in Bakery v Oberlin College

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 1:15 pm

[Headline from DRJ]


Oberlin College hit with maximum PUNITIVE DAMAGES (capped at $22 million by law) in Gibson’s Bakery case


Headlines: Iran – UPDATED

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 11:53 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Japan Times — Two tankers targeted by unidentified attackers in Gulf of Oman:

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Two tankers were targeted by unidentified attackers near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz on Thursday, one operated by a Japanese company, industry minister Hiroshige Seko said.
The 19,349-ton tanker was carrying methanol from Saudi Arabia to Singapore when it was attacked in the Gulf of Oman, near the UAE emirate of Fujairah, according to Kokuka Sangyo.

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet said it received distress signals from the Kokuka Courageous and another tanker chartered by a Taiwanese firm at 6:12 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

A report in Fortune said both ships had Japan-bound cargo, suggesting the occurrence “as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was wrapping up a high-stakes visit in Tehran that sought to ease tensions between Iran and the United States” was not a coincidence.

American Military News posted video of the aftermath, and reported torpedoes are suspected in both incidents. It noted speculation of Iran involvement, and that the “attacks also took place near the location where Iran was accused of sabotaging four tankers last month.”

Finally, this Daily Mail headline:

Lawmakers from both sides reveal in late-night session that Mike Pompeo told them Trump CAN attack Iran – because Congress never withdrew their post-9/11 military go-ahead allowed Bush to bomb Iraq.

UPDATE 6/14/19: Daily Beast has a conflicting report in which “the owner of one of the stricken oil tankers crippled in explosions in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, says the U.S. is wrong about the way the attack was carried out.” He claims the attack was by a flying object above the water line, not a torpedo.


President Trump On Taking Information Offered By Foreign Sources

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:58 am

[guest post by Dana]

This is a portion of an interview that President Trump did with George Stephanopolous of ABC News:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Your son, Don Jr., is up before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. And again, he was not charged with anything. In retrospect though-

PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: By the way, not only wasn’t he charged, if you read it, with all of the horrible fake news- I mean, I was reading that my son was going to go too jail — this is a good young man — that he was going to go to jail. And then the report comes out, and they didn’t even say, they hardly even talked about him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that email?

TRUMP: OK. Let’s put yourself in a position. You’re a congressman, somebody comes up and says, “Hey, I have information on your opponent. Do you call the FBI? I don’t think-

STEPHANOPOULOS: If it’s coming from Russia, you do.

TRUMP: I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do-

STEPHANOPOULOS: Al Gore got a stolen briefing book. He called the FBI.

TRUMP: Well, that’s different, a stolen briefing book. This isn’t a stolen- This is somebody that said, “We have information on your opponent.” Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn’t work that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that’s what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don’t- There’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country — Norway — “We have information on your opponent.” Oh. I think I’d want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It’s not interference. They have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research. “Oh, let’s call the FBI.” The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. When you go and talk, honestly, to congressmen, they all do it. They always have, and that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.

Remember the Ukraine and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign??? Stephanopoulos, who obviously has long and deep ties with both Bill and Hillary Clinton, apparently forgot all about it as he didn’t mention it during the interview. President Trump also didn’t bring it up with Stephanopoulos.

Even on Trump-friendly turf, there was pushback as Brian Kilmeade at Fox & Friends took co-hosts Steve Doocy and Ainsley Earnhardt to task for their defense of Trump’s comments:

…Kilmeade threw cold water on Earnhardt’s mockery of Trump criticism saying, “Put it this way, nothing is free in this world.”

He continued, “You don’t want a foreign government or foreign entity giving you information because they will want something back. If anybody knows that it is the president. There is no free lunch. If someone wants information, they want influence. I think the president has to clarify that I’m glad he is coming on tomorrow. He opened himself wide up to attacks.”

On a side note, Kevin Drum scolds the Washington Post, Vox, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times for being misleading in their writeup of the interview (thus giving Trump red meat to cry Witch Hunt!) by claiming that Trump said he would be “willing to accept information on his political opponents from a foreign government.” Except neither the President, nor Stephanopolous used that term.

President Trump defended his comments this morning:


(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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