Patterico's Pontifications


Joe Walsh Believes He Is The Reasonable Alternative To Trump In 2020

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:17 pm

[guest post by Dana]

He wants you to believe it too!

Joe Walsh says he is seriously considering a run against Trump because someone has to do it:

Former Illinois GOP Rep. Joe Walsh, who has been publicly mulling a 2020 primary challenge to President Donald Trump, said Thursday he is “strongly, strongly considering” entering the race.

“I’m strongly, strongly considering it. That’s — again, I’m not trying to be cute or coy. I’ve told you before — if somebody’s going to get in there and go after him … it’s got to be done soon,” Walsh told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “You’re running out of time. But more importantly, these are not conventional times. Look at the guy in the White House. These are urgent times.”

Now a conservative radio host, Walsh apologized last week for his role in helping elect an “unfit con man” to the presidency. During an interview on CNN, he said he voted for Trump in 2016 only because Trump wasn’t Hillary Clinton. His support for the President changed, he said, after Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, last year in which he sided with the Russian strongman over his own intelligence community’s assessments of interference in the 2016 election.

But is he a candidate worthy of your vote? Well, let’s just say that you might want to think long and hard about that:

It would be beneficial to the country and conservatism as a whole if a viable conservative candidate challenged President Trump for the 2020 nomination.

One-term congressman, conspiracist, right-wing provocateur, radio host, and supposed Tea Party stalwart Joe Walsh is not that person. Not even close.


Though the radio host tries now to present himself as some sort of compassionate and reasonable conservative alternative to Trump, not all of us have such short memories. Did Walsh really think people would forget that he made his name with the same sort of demagoguery, conspiracy-mongering, and right-wing bomb-throwing for which he now condemns Trump?

In 2014, for example, he tweeted: “It makes Dems seethe and my fellow Repubs uncomfortable when I say it out loud, but so what? It explains everything. Barack Obama is Muslim.” He was also very annoyed that year over the fact that he would most likely get into trouble for using racial slurs.

Later, in 2015, after a gunman murdered five servicemen at two separate military installations in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Walsh said, “Obama won’t call Chattanooga what it was – Islamic terror. Not confusing at all. Obama is a Muslim.” He also said that year, “Barack Obama doesn’t love America & is Muslim,” adding elsewhere that the then-president is a “pussy” and a “traitor.”

“I’m sick of [Sean Hannity] not understanding why Obama wont’ criticize Islam. Sean just said Obama is clueless. He’s not clueless. He’s Muslim,” Walsh tweeted.

And then there was the time in 2016, when: “Walsh called the president of the United States an “enemy” and a “traitor” for skipping Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral.”

Walsh also said in 2016 that “Obama is not on our side. He’s our enemy.”

We shouldn’t forget that in 2017, Walsh encouraged the Russia-sponsored Seth Rich murder conspiracy.

This is the person who believes he is the more reasonable and stable alternative to Trump in 2020.

Good luck, Republicans.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

Trump struggles with Biofuel Policy

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 5:07 pm

[Headline from DRJ]

Facing farmer anger, Trump scrambles Cabinet to brainstorm on biofuel policy: sources:

U.S. President Donald Trump, faced with mounting anger in the farm belt over policies that allow oil refineries to use less corn-based ethanol, summoned Cabinet members on Thursday to discuss ways to boost biofuel demand, four sources familiar with the matter said.

Throughout his 2016 campaign that brought him to power, Trump championed ethanol but also courted the oil industry. However, his latest decision to grant dozens of waivers to oil refineries infuriated farmers, a key constituency he is counting on for re-election in 2020.

Trump met with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler at the White House, the sources said. They presented options to boost ethanol demand, which farmers say has slumped since the EPA exempted dozens of refineries from ethanol requirements.

It is hard to please Iowa and Texas if you have New York values.


What does Greenland have that Trump wants?

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 4:57 pm

[Headlines from DRJ]

Climate change turns Arctic into strategic, economic hotspot:

TASIILAQ, Greenland (AP) — From a helicopter, Greenland’s brilliant white ice and dark mountains make the desolation seem to go on forever. And the few people who live here — its whole population wouldn’t fill a football stadium — are poor, with a high rate of substance abuse and suicide.

One scientist called it the “end of the planet.”

When U.S. President Donald Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland, it was met with derision, seen as an awkward and inappropriate approach of an erstwhile ally.

But it might also be an Aladdin’s Cave of oil, natural gas and rare earth minerals just waiting to be tapped as the ice recedes.

It’s not about climate change, it’s about China and rare earth minerals:

US President Donald Trump’s interest in buying Greenland, the autonomous territory of Denmark, has been making headlines.

For the general public, the president’s bizarre idea of buying an ice-covered island seems like a joke. Many are wondering why Trump suddenly proposed buying a sovereign nation’s territory. One guess is that Greenland is abundant in natural resources, including some of the largest deposits of rare earths. A Chinese company has already been engaged in a rare-earth mining project in Greenland by acquiring a stake in an Australian company called Greenland Minerals.

So even if Trump is joking, the fantasy has exposed his anxiety about China’s dominance over production of rare-earth metals, which are broadly used in high-technology products from smartphones to electric vehicles. 


It is a Zoo Animal, not a Tree

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 3:48 pm

[Headline and link from DRJ]

French zoo blasts ‘stupidity and disrespect’ of visitors who scratched names into rhino’s back:

Officials at a French zoo on Wednesday condemned the “stupidity and disrespect” of visitors who scratched their names onto the back of a 35-year-old rhinoceros.

The Zoo de la Palmyre in Royan, located roughly 300 miles southeast of Paris, said in a statement on Facebook that they were “outraged” after the discovery of the names “Camille” and “Julien” on the back of a female rhino named Noëlle.

Zoo director Pierre Caille said the visitors used their fingernails to make the etching into a layer of dust, sand and dead skin on the animal’s back, AFP reported.

According to the San Diego Zoo, rhinos have thick skin that acts like protective plating but “is sensitive, as the blood vessels are close to the skin’s surface, and can be easily scarred.”


Trump Mocks Allies Using Fake Asian Accents While Praising Kim Jong Un

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:35 pm

[guest post by Dana]

At a big dollar fundraiser held at a private home in the Hamptons, President Trump made news for reportedly mimicking the accents of the leaders of South Korea and Japan to mock them:

Trump also made fun of US allies South Korea, Japan and the European Union — mimicking Japanese and Korean accents — and talked about his love of dictators Kim Jong Un and the current ruler of Saudi Arabia.


Talking about South Korea, Trump said it makes great TVs and has a thriving economy, “So why are we paying for their defense. They’ve got to pay.” He then mimicked the accent of the leader Moon Jae-in while describing how he caved in to Trump’s tough negotiations.

On his remarkable friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, “I just got a beautiful letter from him this week. We are friends. People say he only smiles when he sees me.

“If I hadn’t been elected president, we would be in a big, fat, juicy war with North Korea.“

Turning to Japan, Trump then put on a fake Japanese accent to recount his conversations with Shinzo Abe over their conversations over trade tariffs.

Trump’s mockery of various groups is nothing new, but this time it has rankled Asian-American voters:

When Amanda Berg heard that President Donald Trump mocked the accents of the leaders of South Korea and Japan at a recent fundraiser, it brought back painful memories from her childhood.

Berg, a Korean-American who grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado, recalled kids doing the “stereotypical pulling at the eyes and the mocking accent.” It made her feel like she was a foreigner in her own community.

Berg, a registered Democrat, is among a growing and crucial bloc of Asian-American voters leaning further to the left in the age of Trump, and his stunt angered her and many others.

“It empowers people who would be predisposed to doing that kind of thing anyway,” said Berg, a high school English teacher in Denver. “And it makes it acceptable to be openly, increasingly discriminating.”

Here is quick look at American-Asian voters and their current party preferences. Bear in mind that not long ago George H. W. Bush received 55% of the Asian-American vote while Bill Clinton received 31%. Fast forward to 2016, where Hillary Clinton won approximately two-thirds of the Asian-American vote and Trump pulled in just 27%:

The Asian-American voting-age population has more than doubled in the past two decades, leaping from 4.3 million in 1998 to 11.1 million in 2018 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A majority of those new voters lean Democratic.

By 2016, some Asian ethnic groups that had leaned Republican shifted into the Democratic camp, said Natalie Masuoka, an associate professor of political science and Asian-American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. A Pew Research Center survey said 53 percent of Asian-American registered voters in 1998 identified with the Democratic Party. That figure rose to 65 percent in 2017.

“They are adding more and more new voters to the electorate,” Masuoka said. “Alongside Latino immigrants, they’re important for candidates to mobilize.”

This especially as Asians are the fastest growing racial group in the U.S.

However, with the presidential election around the corner and Trump’s aggregate polling hovering around 41%, incidents like like this, while amusing his base, may come with a risk. Especially in swing states:

Asian-American voters also could become a key factor in swing states. In Nevada, Asians make up 5 percent of registered voters and 9 percent of the eligible voting population. They comprise 5 percent of registered voters in Virginia and are 6 percent of the eligible voting population.

Coupled with the current refusal to just “look the other way” when one is racially offended, especially when the offender is the President of the United States, Trump’s lack of decorum comes with yet another risk:

The GOP, meanwhile, remains appealing to Asian-Americans who are strongly anti-communist, as many are in Vietnamese communities. Some data also suggests that a large proportion of Filipinos and wealthy, higher-educated Chinese-Americans are more likely to go Republican, Masuoka said.

But it may be hard for some to look past Trump’s words.

“He’s willing to use Asian stereotypes, Asian accents in his public speeches,” Masuoka said. “In that way … the way Americans are talking about race is now shifting possibly back to what historically was effective before the civil rights revolution” — explicit and sometimes offensive talk about race.

I would think that the Asian-Americans offended by this would be all the more offended given that he pulled this stunt while raising money for his reelection campaign.

At the end of the day, however, while I understand Asian-Americans being offended by Trump’s behavior, what is far more disturbing is that the President of the United States publicly mimicked and mocked our close allies while he lavishly praised a vile enemy of the United States. In what delusional world does this murderous madman, who does not hesitate for one second to imprison, torture and kill his people at will, deserve the adoration of the President? Were any of the deep-pocketed Trump supporters in the audience shocked when they heard this? Did they walk out of the event, so great was their offense? Likely not, because they weren’t at all shocked or offended because this is just business as usual with Trump. Likely they reacted like as Trump supporters do when the President makes outrageous comments and elevates evil over good: they listen with admiration believing that Trump is just telling it like it is.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Politicians decide: Let’s Spend Taxpayer Money

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 12:46 pm

[Headlines from DRJ]

White House won’t move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts

The White House will no longer move forward with a proposal to cut billions of dollars in foreign aid that was allocated in the latest congressional budget deal, according to a senior administration official.

The Office of Management and Budget was expected to release a package this week calling for cuts in $4.3 billion in foreign aid through a process known as rescission. But the plan was taken off the table amid pushback from some top administration officials and lawmakers in Congress, the official said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were among those encouraging President Trump to at least scale back the cuts, and Democrats and Republicans alike had expressed concerns that any potential rescissions package could threaten a budget deal reached last month.

Bernie Sanders unveils his own $16.3 TRILLION climate plan named after AOC’s ‘Green New Deal’ – boldly claiming it will pay for itself AND end unemployment.

Go ahead. Tell me how Republicans are so much better than Democ4ats.


David French Declares Woman Innocent Who May or May Not Be Innocent

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

David French states this on Twitter:

Below his tweet, you can read the outraged cries from people angry about the supposedly clear injustice here, based on the language of his tweet. Imprisoned, baby ripped away, after acting in self-defense? That’s racism! One person after another states that obviously she was convicted because she was black; the system is evil; nobody in the system cares about justice, etc. etc. etc. Here’s one example among many:

Here’s the thing: French has loaded the dice in his tweet by declaring, as a matter of established fact, that the woman acted in self-defense. But if you read his actual article (which is interesting and mostly well done, until the end), you’ll see that this “fact” is not clearly the case at all, but instead is very much in dispute:

What do I mean? Hang with me for a moment, because this case is a bit complicated. At its heart is a dispute between Siwatu-Salama Ra, an African-American concealed-carry permit holder from Detroit, and a woman named Channel Harvey. Ra was put on trial for assault with a dangerous weapon and possessing a firearm while committing a felony after she brandished her unloaded pistol at Harvey during a heated confrontation outside Ra’s mother’s house.

The facts are hotly disputed, but Ra claimed that during the course of an argument, Harvey backed her car into into Ra’s vehicle — while Ra’s two-year-old daughter was inside, playing. Ra claims she grabbed her daughter out of the car, then grabbed her unloaded gun, “pointed the gun at Harvey’s car” and then again demanded that Harvey leave. Harvey testified that Ra was the aggressor, and that she hit Ra’s car on accident only after Ra pointed the gun at her. The jury apparently believed Harvey’s version of events, and Ra received a two-year prison sentence.

The case was immediately controversial, with critics of the verdict claiming that the case represented “yet another instance of a black gun owner, with the permits to legally carry, defending themselves against violence — and getting punished for it.”

(My emphasis.)

The case may represent that — and French clearly thinks it does — or it may represent someone brandishing a gun in anger with no justification.

What the case is really about is the legal standard to apply. The trial court told the jury that Ra, the defendant, could not succeed with a claim of self-defense unless she reasonably believed she had the right to use deadly force to prevent death or great bodily harm. The appellate court held that this was the wrong standard. The appellate court said that brandishing a gun is not deadly force, and thus can be an appropriate response to non-deadly force. This is certainly a very rational rule, and Ra was convicted under an improper standard under the laws of the state of Michigan. It’s an interesting topic and worthy of a post and a tweet. Because the jury was instructed on the wrong standard, it could have decided that Ra was not the aggressor, but still convicted her. (This means French may be wrong that the jury accepted Harvey’s view of the facts, by the way.)

Here’s the problem: if another jury applied the correct standard, Ra still might properly be found guilty. Based only on French’s post (I’ve not had time to read the court opinion or any other coverage) it appears to me that there remain two versions: Ra was the aggressor and pointed a gun with no justification, or she acted in self-defense by using non-lethal force to deter further unlawful force by witness Harvey. In other words, Ra may not have acted in self-defense after all. We just don’t know.

French goes overboard in his tweet when he says Ra was convicted “after brandishing a gun in self-defense.” That may be true — but based on French’s article, it also may well be false. French is putting his thumb on the scale, and irresponsibly overdramatizing a potential injustice by labeling the defendant innocent when she still might be guilty.

I tried bringing this to French’s attention in tweets yesterday, but he ignored me, so I am writing this post.

This is also why I say French’s article is mostly well done until the end — because at the end, he pronounces:

Prosecutors have a right to appeal the decision to their state supreme court. They should not. Ra has suffered immensely. She gave birth while imprisoned, and her child was taken from her two days later. She spent months separated from her newborn – after a conviction under the wrong legal standard. The court of appeals reached the just result. Ra’s legal ordeal needs to end.

One can conclude that prosecutors should not appeal the case and that the appellate court reached the right decision without concluding that “Ra’s legal ordeal needs to end.” If the evidence justifies a retrial (and it might), then she needs to be retried under the proper standard. If innocent, she should be acquitted. If guilty, she should be convicted.

Too many stories about the criminal justice system these days tweak the facts to make things seem more outrageous than they really are. This is what French has done here. I respect him as a general rule, but unless he is operating off of facts that he did not disclose in his column, he has overreached here and needs to rein in his outrage a bit. He is ginning up a storm of discontent (again, read the replies to his tweet) that may or may not be appropriate. I hope he finally sees my complaints, which I will bring to his attention by tweeting this post at him, and takes some corrective action.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Epstein News

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 7:13 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

At least 8 jail workers knew Jeffrey Epstein shouldn’t have been left alone in cell:

At least eight jail staffers were aware that strict instructions had been given not to leave Jeffrey Epstein alone in his cell — but the order apparently was ignored in the 24 hours before he hanged himself, according to a report.

Investigators looking into the apparent failure to follow instructions were shocked that so many Federal Bureau of Prisons staffers — including supervisors and managers — were aware of the directive, people familiar with the matter told the Washington Post.

Epstein managed to settle his financial affairs, which people often do before committing suicide:

The will that disgraced financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein signed just two days before his jailhouse suicide puts more than $577m in assets into a trust fund that could make it more difficult for his dozens of accusers to collect damages.

Estate lawyers and other experts say prying open the trust and dividing up the financier’s riches is not going to be easy and could take years.


By putting his fortune in a trust, he shrouded from public view the identities of the beneficiaries, whether they be individuals, organizations or other entities. For the women trying to collect from his estate, the first order of business will be persuading a judge to pierce that veil and release the details.

From there, the women will have to follow the course they would have had to pursue even if Epstein had not created a trust: convince the judge that they are entitled to compensation as victims of sex crimes. The judge would have to decide how much they should get and whether to reduce the amounts given to Epstein’s named beneficiaries, who would also be given their say in court.

The Will is also being probated in the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein owned two islands, which adds another layer of complexity and difficulty for claimants. I wonder if Epstein left bequests to friends or faithful employees living there. If so, challenging the Will might require asking a local judge to set aside or limit those bequests.


British PM Johnson seeks Renewed Brexit Talks

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 6:54 am

[Headline from DRJ]

UK’s Johnson presses for fresh Brexit talks in Paris:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson exuded confidence Thursday as he pressed French President Emmanuel Macron to accept his request to reopen Brexit negotiations, meeting in Paris on the second stop of his first European tour as U.K. leader.

After ticking off examples of close ties between the two countries, Johnson turned on a charm offensive, stressing that the U.K. wants a Brexit deal with EU. But even as he chummily called the French leader by his first name, Johnson added it was his duty to carry out the wishes of the British people, who by a narrow margin voted to leave the EU.

“As you yourself have just pointed out, Emmanuel, it is vital for trust in politics, that if you have a referendum, then you should act on the instructions of the voters. And that is why we must come out of the EU October 31, deal or no-deal,” Johnson said. “Then of course we can take our relationship forward. I agree with you wholeheartedly Emmanuel that it is a quite extraordinary relationship.”

But even as he smiled for the cameras, Macron dampened expectations, stressing “we have to respect what was negotiated.” He also reiterated what the EU has been saying for months — that it won’t re-open the Brexit withdrawal deal negotiated with Britain’s previous prime minister, Theresa May.

There may have been some movement, although not in France:

That Brexit deal includes an insurance policy known as the Irish backstop, which would keep the U.K. closely aligned in trade with the EU if the two sides can’t find another way to prevent the return of checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Macron said that the backstop is indispensable. Johnson repeatedly countered that Britain would not place checks at the border, raising the possibility that the EU would be forced to decide how to deal with that land border between the U.K. and the EU.

Johnson was buoyed Wednesday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who raised the possibility in talks Wednesday that a negotiated departure from the EU may still be possible if Britain comes up with alternative plans for the Irish border within 30 days.

But The Guardian does not see much daylight between Merkel and Macron:

Throughout the Brexit negotiations, Merkel has often sought a politer, more positive tone towards Britain than those carried by the soundbites coming out of Paris. Once stripped of their rhetoric, however, the two countries’ positions have so far been closely aligned.

And behind her optimistic phrasing on Wednesday lay the same cold reality that Germany and the rest of the EU are unwilling to countenance Britain’s desire to reopen the withdrawal agreement.

Merkel’s intervention appeared intended to nudge Johnson towards exploring potential for compromise in the political declaration, the second component of the Brexit deal negotiated by Theresa May. Currently only in draft form, it outlines the future trade and security relationship between the UK and the EU.

While the political declaration is not legally binding, Merkel seemed to suggest that a reformulation of the text could render the controversial backstop unnecessary, possibly by positing a closer relationship.

Sounds like a carrot and stick negotiation with Merkel as the carrot and Macron as the stick. That makes Johnson the horse.


Trump Administration’s New Rules to deal with Families claiming Asylum

Filed under: Immigration,Politics — DRJ @ 6:31 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Child migrants to be held in detention longer under new Trump administration rule:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Wednesday unveiled new rules that would allow officials to detain migrant families indefinitely while judges consider whether to grant them asylum in the United States.

The rules, which are certain to draw a legal challenge, would replace a 1997 legal agreement that limits the amount of time U.S. immigration authorities can detain migrant children. That agreement is generally interpreted as meaning families must be released within 20 days.

Administration officials blame the so-called Flores Settlement Agreement for a spike in immigration, especially of Central American families, saying it encourages migrants to bring children with them so they can be released into the United States while their court cases are pending.

The Administration initially tried to deal with Flores by separating children from adults but the public relations and legal fallout presented serious problems.

In related news, DC Mayor blocks planned shelter:

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has moved to block the Trump administration’s construction of a shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in the district.

The Washington Post reported that Bowser blocked the shelter’s construction by using emergency regulations that bar the city’s child welfare agency from issuing licenses to facilities that house more than 15 people.

There was opposition to the Mayor’s decision:

According to the Post, six residents in the district who once held senior positions in the Department of Health and Human Services under former President Obama had written to Bowser last week, urging the mayor to reconsider opposition to the planned shelter.

“While the District’s intent in opposing an unaccompanied children’s shelter is noble, such action is unlikely to benefit children and may make it more likely that children are harmed, forcing longer stays in crowded Customs and Border Protection facilities or in massive temporary shelters that are not licensed by a state or local child welfare agency,” they wrote, according to the outlet.

The Mayor presented her decision as based on concern for the welfare of children in large facilities that might not be properly staffed or supervised. That is a legitimate concern but the existing detention centers are already overwhelmed.


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