Monday, July 31, 2017


From the archives:

Not Hal Roach studios
That is my dad's family, circa 1935. My dad is the pouty little dude in the middle. The guy on the left is my grandfather; in the back row is my great-grandfather, along with my grandmother. No one in this picture walks the earth any more; the baby in my grandmother's arms is my aunt Judy, who passed away a few years ago. The older girl on the left is my Aunt Margaret, who died in 1943. I love old family pictures, because it gives you a sense of the world at that time. It was during the Depression, but my grandparents had just bought the house in the background, which was brand new. While everyone is dressed modestly, this is not a picture of poverty.

Awan You to Want Me

We aren't likely to get a lot of help from the MSM on understanding the case of the Awan brothers and their connections to congressional Democrats, but Andrew McCarthy gives it a shot:
In Washington, it’s never about what they tell you it’s about. So take this to the bank: The case of Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s mysterious Pakistani IT guy, is not about bank fraud.

Yet bank fraud was the stated charge on which Awan was arrested at Dulles Airport this week, just as he was trying to flee the United States for Pakistan, via Qatar. That is the same route taken by Awan’s wife, Hina Alvi, in March, when she suddenly fled the country, with three young daughters she yanked out of school, mega-luggage, and $12,400 in cash.

By then, the proceeds of the fraudulent $165,000 loan they’d gotten from the Congressional Federal Credit Union had been sent ahead. It was part of a $283,000 transfer that Awan managed to wire from Capitol Hill. He pulled it off — hilariously, if infuriatingly — by pretending to be his wife in a phone call with the credit union. Told that his proffered reason for the transfer (“funeral arrangements”) wouldn’t fly, “Mrs.” Awan promptly repurposed: Now “she” was “buying property.” Asking no more questions, the credit union wired the money . . . to Pakistan.
There's more:

At the time of his arrest, the 37-year-old Imran Awan had been working for Democrats as an information technologist for 13 years. He started out with Representative Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) in 2004. The next year, he landed on the staff of Wasserman Schultz, who had just been elected to the House.  
Congressional-staff salaries are modest, in the $40,000 range. For some reason, Awan was paid about four times as much. He also managed to get his wife, Alvi, on the House payroll . . . then his brother, Abid Awan . . . then Abid’s wife, Natalia Sova. The youngest of the clan, Awan’s brother Jamal, came on board in 2014 — the then-20-year-old commanding an annual salary of $160,000. 
A few of these arrangements appear to have been sinecures: While some Awans were rarely seen around the office, we now know they were engaged in extensive financial shenanigans away from the Capitol. Nevertheless, the Daily Caller’s Luke Rosiak, who has been all over this story, reports that, for their IT “work,” the Pakistani family has reeled in $4 million from U.S. taxpayers since 2009.

That’s just the “legit” dough. The family business evidently dabbles in procurement fraud, too. The Capitol Police and FBI are exploring widespread double-billing for computers, other communication devices, and related equipment.
We're not talking about any of this in the MSM. Nor are we likely to. There's plenty more at the link, and it's a good place to start.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dumpster Fire Week

Things we learned yesterday:
  1. If you're angry with your coworkers, don't call Ryan Lizza to vent.
  2. If you'd like to repeal Obamacare, don't count on the Republican Party to do it.
The Trump administration likes to give weeks a theme. We're in the middle of dumpster fire week. Let's begin with the Leader of the Free World's new communications supremo, Anthony Scaramucci, who shares the following wisdom (apologies in advance for the multiple F-bombs, but a quote is a quote):
“They’ll all be fired by me,” [Scaramucci] said. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channelled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ” (Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.)
Try the decaf, Mr. Scaramucci. Of course, he was just getting warmed up:
Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” (Bannon declined to comment.)
Let's not mince words here -- Scaramucci thinks he's a genius, but he's really playing the Kevin Kline character in "A Fish Called Wanda." Again, there's some working blue here, but it makes the point:

Rather than worrying about whether someone takes a meeting with Bill Shine, I'd suggest Scaramucci get his shine box.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have decided Obamacare is nifty and swell, so we'll have no repeal:

A months-long effort by Senate Republicans to pass health legislation collapsed early Friday after GOP Senator John McCain joined two of his colleagues to block a stripped-down Obamacare repeal bill.

“I regret that our efforts were simply not enough, this time,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor after the vote. “This is clearly a disappointing moment.”

“It’s time to move on,” he added after pulling the bill from the floor.

The decision by McCain to vote no came after weeks of brinkmanship and after his dramatic return from cancer treatment to cast the 50th vote to start debate on the bill earlier this week. The GOP’s ‘skinny’ repeal bill was defeated 49-51, falling just short of the 50 votes needed to advance it. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski also voted against it.
I've been trying to keep track of this -- based on who you talk to, and when you talk to them, John McCain is either a hero or a monster, and the answer changes by the hour. For his part, Le Grand Orange is probably right:

Especially, watch your wallet
The Democrats want the Republicans to start negotiating with them now. I wouldn't bother. Let the death spiral keep spiraling for another year. Let it burn. At this point, it would be better to work on tax reform and see what happens there.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Just askin'

More pressure on Sessions via Tweet (as usual, read from the bottom up):

Still wanting to know
You might recall Trump's reference to McCabe the other day. Asking a second time suggests something is up. Watch carefully.

I don't know

Should transgender people be able to serve in the military? I don't know. I've not worn the uniform, so I can only speculate how the interactions would play out. And uninformed speculation isn't worth much.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Public relations

Readers of this feature know that our valued contributor Benster is an Eagle Scout. His experience in Scouting was outstanding and, as a family, we are eternally grateful to the Boy Scouts of America for their program.

You may have heard about the Leader of the Free World stopping by the Boy Scout Jamboree earlier this week. He gave a long speech and it included, not surprisingly, more political stuff than one might expect at such a gathering. The scouts attending the Jamboree seemed to like the speech quite a lot, but plenty of people who weren't there didn't, and so we are now being told things like this:

Getting all Godwin up in here
These bien pensant musings are from Newsweek, which apparently is still in business. We know plenty about Le Grand Orange, but what remains most revealing about his presidency so far is how his critics have responded to his presidency. I can tell you this much -- there is far more hate in the hearts of these critics than you will find in the hearts of the Boy Scouts assembled in West Virginia.

il miglior fabbro

Walter Russell Mead, saying what needs to be said about the Charlie Gard case:
But it was a wicked abuse of the state’s coercive power to prevent the parents from trying their best for their child, and it should strengthen the determination of everyone who cares about human liberty to fight the inexorable, gratuitous growth of states that fail at the most basic jobs (like educating children in public schools) but who endlessly seek to expand their ‘competencies’ into new and more challenging fields.
Remember, if the single payer will not pay for your health care, and only the single payer can make the decision, you are also Charlie Gard.

Update: the inimitable Brad Carlson makes an excellent, related point:
And when people point to systems such as this as being the gold standard in saving money on care, they're at best being woefully misleading and at worst bald face lying. Of course less money is spent on those who are considered to have a terminal illness. Let them "die with dignity" or something.
It's a great system, especially if you get to define what dignity means.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dropping dimes in real time

I get up early in the morning so I have time to look at what's happening and write a blog post about it, if possible. As it happens, Donald Trump is simultaneously engaging in a Twitter storm in real time. As always, read 'em from the bottom up:

Naming names
So if you are reading this correctly, you see the Leader of the Free World dropping a dime on two of the most important officials in the Justice Department. So if you want a hot take, here ya go:

  • It's blindingly obvious Trump has had enough of Sessions and wants him out. It's a horrible idea to turn the Attorney General into an attack dog, but it's also been done in the past. Eric Holder, who was Barack Obama's AG, was always on the attack. Based on the available evidence, Sessions is either unable or unwilling to serve in this role.
  • It's not been widely reported, but it is a matter of public record that Andrew McCabe, who is still at the helm of the FBI, has a problem with his own financial disclosures. McCabe's wife, who ran for office in Virginia in 2015, received a total of $760,000 for her campaign from political action committees controlled by the Democrats, which Andrew McCabe did not initially disclose. To the extent that Hillary Clinton controlled the Democratic Party, Trump is correct.
  • Some executives send out memoranda. Trump seems to Tweet. Not how I would do things, but I'm not the Leader of the Free World.
And while I've been writing this, three more Trump Tweets appear:

Carrots, sticks, and a pen
Dang. I thought Trump told us McCain wasn't so good last year. That was then, this is now. Oops, one more!

Are you not entertained?
It may not be the way to run a government, but it's a hell of a show.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Signs, signs, everywhere signs

Someone put up signs worth heeding over the weekend:
Joe Morino brought an incredulous friend to see the orange street sign he just spotted in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis.

The official-looking metal sign read: “WARNING: TWIN CITIES POLICE EASILY STARTLED.” It featured a graphic silhouette of a police officer, a gun in each raised hand, shooting in both directions.

“There’s a side of truth to the sign,” Morino said after snapping a picture of it. “That tells you there is something wrong with the system.”
I saw multiple pictures of the second sign, which was at Snelling and University in St. Paul:

I love a man in a uniform
Apparently this one has been taken down, but it's spot-on. And it speaks to a real problem we have in the Twin Cities. If you look at what happened to Justine Damond, will you now think twice before you call 911? The motto of police departments everywhere is to serve and protect? That notion has taken a big hit lately, especially here. And ashcanning Janeé Harteau doesn't change the larger problems we're seeing throughout the metro. I have no reason to believe ashcanning Betsy Hodges will make a difference, either, at least in the short term.

OPEC may not matter any more

Some of my friends first got their drivers licenses in 1979, although I didn't get mine until later on. If you're old enough to remember 1979, you might remember seeing this:

Get it while you could
OPEC per se didn't cause this line -- it was mostly unrest in Iran -- but it did cause gas lines in 1973:

Good luck with that
These days, the chances you'll see a gas line are just about nil. And if the events chronicled in the Wall Street Journal are any indication, you aren't likely to see one again any time soon:
OPEC is worried that its plan to drain a global oil glut—and thereby raise crude prices—isn’t working.

A long-planned meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Monday to discuss the oil market with big producers outside the cartel has turned into a critical gathering. Over the weekend, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said, its ministers have held a series of “intensive consultations” about the challenges for an output-cutting deal the 14-nation cartel struck last year with Russia and other big producers.

The agreement was supposed to take almost 1.8 million barrels of crude oil off the global market and drain an oversupply that has weighed prices down for three years and sent a shock through the economies of oil-producing economies. But prices have remained stubbornly low as the glut persists. Brent, the international benchmark, fell 2.5%, to $48.06 on Friday because of doubts about OPEC’s ability to turn around the market.
If you want to know why, ask the frackers:
Another reason to expect little action on Monday is that OPEC is still weighing how to deal with U.S. producers, which remain largely outside of the cartel’s control.

Shale drillers—which work on shorter-term projects than traditional oil producers—took advantage quickly when oil prices briefly rose last year after the OPEC deal, sending more crude into global supply. They also have learned to drill at lower prices, and U.S. production has maintained its upward swing even as prices have been depressed this year.
As recently as last year, we were told fracking couldn't be profitable if oil was less than $65 a gallon. Oil production in the U.S. continues to grow, even at $48.06. Much of that production is fracking, as the domestic oil industry demonstrates its ability to adapt.

The implications are enormous. The geopolitical implications of the Middle East have been a huge part of life for all of us for nearly half a century. And $48/gallon oil cramps Vladimir Putin's style. Not ten years ago we were told we were reaching Peak Oil. I haven't heard much of that theory lately.

OPEC soldiers on, confident its machinations will make a difference later in the year. OPEC honcho Mohammad Barkindo says so:
Mr. Barkindo said Monday’s meeting could result in recommendations for OPEC and its allies to consider in the future. He said overall compliance with the deal since January had been “excellent.”

“The rebalancing process may be going at a slower pace than we earlier projected but it’s on course. It’s bound to accelerate in the second half,” he said.
Or the frackers will gobble up the market share. Place your bets.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Just a thought

If I were Trump, and I hasten to add I am glad I'm not, I'd do the following:

  • Pardon everyone potentially connected to the Russian thing
  • Pardon everyone potentially connected to Hillary Clinton's serial malfeasance
  • Tell Robert Mueller he can write his report any time he'd like, but the show is over
  • Tell everyone else to get back to work
The historians can sort it out.

Under the bus

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau came back to town yesterday. We're not sure how she arrived, but I suspect it might have been by bus, because she threw Mohamed Noor under it:
Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau on Thursday called the shooting death of Justine Damond “unnecessary” and bluntly said it contradicted the mission and training given to her officers.

“Justine didn’t have to die,” Harteau said.

In her first public appearance since the Saturday shooting, Harteau said that based on what is publicly known about the case, there is no justification for officer Mohamed Noor’s decision to shoot Damond.
Nope. Don't look at us fine folks at the MPD. Harteau was just getting warmed up:
“Based on the publicly released information from the BCA, this should not have happened,” Harteau said, referring to a preliminary investigative report released earlier in the week. “On our squad cars, you will find the words ‘To protect with courage and serve with compassion.’ This did not happen.

“I believe the actions in question go against who we are as a department, how we train and the expectations we have for our officers. These were the actions and judgments of one individual,” she said.
So I guess Noor is on his own. Watch carefully, though:
Harteau’s news conference, attended by several members of the Australian media, ranged over topics from Noor’s training to Harteau’s absence from Minneapolis since the shooting. Harteau said she did not know Noor well, and had spoken to him only in passing, but that he “absolutely” performed well during training. She dismissed claims from critics such as former U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who on Wednesday called Noor, who is Somali-American, “an affirmative-action hire.”

“This is about an individual officer’s actions. It is not about race or ethnicity,” Harteau said. “We have a very robust training and hiring process. This officer completed that training very well, just like every officer. He was very suited to be on the street.”
Hmmm. The message, none too subtle, is Noor screwed up. Yet "he was very suited to be on the street?" How does that work?

Sometimes the body cameras are operating. In those cases, we see the MPD shooting dogs:
Body camera video from a Minneapolis police officer who shot and seriously wounded two dogs in a residential backyard not only shows the best view yet of the animals’ temperament and movements during the encounter, but the officer is heard moments later apologizing to a sobbing resident while declaring his love for dogs.

The shootings on the night of July 8 behind the home in the 3800 block of Queen Avenue N. also were captured nearly in their entirety on residential surveillance video, which Jennifer LeMay, the dogs’ owner, posted on Facebook, quickly leading to hundreds of thousands of views.
You can watch the video at the link if you're so inclined.

Do we have any conclusions? Not yet, although it's possible to surmise MPD officers have their fingers on the triggers quite a lot. Around here, we shoot first. The asking questions later bit drags on for a while.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

No answers

The transcript of the 911 call that Justine Damond made provides no insight into why she would be killed only moments later:

Operator: 911, what's the address of the emergency?

Caller: Hi, I'm, I can hear someone out the back and I, I'm not sure if she's having sex or being raped.

Operator: Give me the address.

Caller: 5024 Washburn Avenue South.

Operator: Washburn Avenue South. You said it's behind (inaudible)?

Caller: And there's a (inaudible) out the back, yup, yup. And I think she just yelled out "help," but it's difficult, the sound has been going on for a while, but I think, I don't think she's enjoying it. I think it's, I don't know.

Operator: OK, well I already got a call started and help on the way. Uh, you can't see anything, you're just hearing a female screaming then, is that what you're saying?

Caller: Yeah. It sounds like sex noises, but it's been going on for a while and I think she tried to say help and it sounds distressed.

Operator: OK, I've already got an officer on the way. What is your name?

Caller: Justine.

Operator: Justine, what's your last name?

Caller: Justine.

Operator: Justine.

Caller: Yeah.

Operator: And a phone number?

Caller: (This information has been redacted for privacy reasons)

Operator: Okay, we've already got help on the way. If anything changes before we get there just give us a call right back, but officers should be there soon.

Caller: Thanks.

Operator: OK, not a problem.

Damond called again a few minutes later, to confirm the police were on the way:

Operator: 911, what is the address of the emergency?

Caller: Hi, I just reported one, but no one's here and was wondering if they got the address wrong.

Operator: What's the address?

Caller: 5024 Washburn Avenue South. It supposed to be Washburn Avenue South.

Operator: Are you Justine?

Caller: Yeah, (inaudible).

Operator: You're hearing a female screaming?

Caller: Yes, along behind the house.

Operator: Yup, officers are on the way there.

Caller: Thank you.

Operator: You're welcome, bye.

And only a few minutes later, Justine Damond would be dead.

We're not getting many answers from anyone. And I would guess we won't, at least none that explain what happened. Officer Mohamed Noor is taking full advantage of the right to remain silent. The Minneapolis Police Department doesn't have much to say, either, nor does the police union. That's interesting, because in the past the police union has given full-throated support to any officer who shoots someone. The Star Tribune noticed that, too:
In the days since the shooting on the city’s southwest side, Minneapolis Police Federation President Lt. Bob Kroll has repeatedly declined requests for comment on the shooting of the 40-year-old woman by officer Mohamed Noor.

The normally outspoken Kroll said he would wait until the completion of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation into the incident.
Kroll has a reason to keep quiet, too -- he had plenty to say in the aftermath of the shooting of Jamar Clark, and he got plenty of blowback. But it's still interesting, because he could still have provided a general statement of support for the difficult work police officers do, what you usually get in such cases. But there's been nothing. I'm expecting that trend to continue.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What and why

It's one thing to know what happened. It's quite another to know why. As we learn more about the circumstances of the death of Justine Damond at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the why will matter greatly:
Police officers Matthew Harrity and Mohamed Noor eased their patrol vehicle into the alley of the quiet south Minneapolis neighborhood late Saturday, the squad’s lights off as they responded to a report of a possible assault.

Near the end of the alley, a “loud sound” startled Harrity. A moment later, Justine Damond, the woman who had called 911, approached the driver’s side of the squad car. Suddenly a surprise burst of gunfire blasted past Harrity as Noor fired through the squad’s open window, striking Damond in the abdomen.

The two officers began lifesaving efforts, but within 20 minutes Damond was dead.
For his part, Noor isn't talking, at least yet:
That rudimentary account of her death, released Tuesday by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is based on an interview that Harrity, 25, a one-year veteran of the force, gave to BCA investigators about a case that has become a focus of national and international attention. Noor so far has refused to talk to investigators and there is no indication when or if he might tell his side of the story.
Cops understand Miranda rights, at least for themselves. And a right is a right, so Noor's decision to stay silent and not answer questions is understandable, although it's likely to frustrate people looking for an explanation.

So what was Noor thinking? Well, maybe about this incident, as reported in the New York Times:
On a corner in the Bronx strained by steady rancor over unsolved crimes, and distrust of the police, Officer Miosotis Familia was a balm.

She had earned a reputation as “a good policewoman” in the short time she was assigned to an R.V.-style police command post at East 183rd Street and Morris Avenue, two miles north of Yankee Stadium, a longtime resident, Roma Martinez, said. She waved hello; she spoke Spanish.

But long before she arrived, a hostility toward law enforcement personnel was building in Alexander Bonds, who had been in and out of prisons and jails for 15 years and was slipping into severe mental illness. Last year he warned in a Facebook video that he would not back down if he encountered police officers on the streets: “I got broken ribs for a reason, son. We gonna shake.”

His girlfriend called 911 on Tuesday night and told the police that Mr. Bonds “was acting in a manic, depressed state — paranoid,” a law enforcement official said. When officers arrived, he had gone.

About three hours later, with Fourth of July fireworks still going off, Mr. Bonds strode up to Officer Familia’s command post and fired a .38-caliber revolver through a window, killing her with a bullet to the head. She was the first female New York Police Department officer killed in the line of duty since the Sept. 11 attacks, and only the third female officer killed in a combat-type encounter in the department’s history.
Let's be clear. The genteel Fulton neighborhood is hardly the south Bronx. And an unarmed 40-year-old woman in her pajamas was no threat to Mohamed Noor that night. I assume Damond would have had no reason to think about something that happened two weeks earlier, about 1000 miles away from the alley where she was killed. Almost certainly she approached the squad car to tell the officers what she had heard, not to kill the officers in an ambush. Back to the Star Tribune report:
The responding officers had not been on the force long. Harrity was hired a year ago; Noor two years ago. Asked by the media about partnering two relatively inexperienced officers, Arradondo said: “These were two fully trained police officers.”

They drove south through the alley between Washburn and Xerxes avenues S., toward 51st Street West, with the squad lights turned off. As they reached the street, “Harrity indicated that he was startled by a loud sound near the squad,” according to the preliminary BCA investigation. Damon approached the driver’s side window of the squad car “immediately afterward,” according to the statement.

After Noor shot Damond, the officers quickly exited the car and started performing CPR until medical responders arrived. Damond was pronounced dead at the scene.
Was Mohamed Noor thinking about Miosotis Familia? We don't know, because he isn't talking. We can speculate, but we cannot know unless Noor decides to tell his story. Would a more veteran team of police officers have responded differently? Perhaps, but we don't know. I have not been through training for police officers. I don't know what Noor was taught. Perhaps his instructors could tell us.

We have an idea of what happened. We're not going to get to why for a while. We'll continue to watch the story.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Standing in the Shadows

There really aren't many mean streets in Fulton, but when the authorities arrive, things can happen, as we are learning:
The death of Justine Damond, who called 911 to report a possible crime only to be killed by a responding Minneapolis police officer, has left her grieving family, neighborhood and nation demanding answers in the latest police-involved shooting to thrust Minnesota into the international spotlight.

While many of the details about what happened Saturday night in the city's southwest corner have not been disclosed, this much was: She called to report a possible assault in the alley behind her house in one of the city's safest neighborhoods and was unarmed when officer Mohamed Noor shot her.
From what we're able to gather thus far, Noor shot Damond through the open window of the vehicle he was riding in with another officer, Matthew Harrity. If the details widely reported are true, Damond was talking with Harrity, who would have been driving the vehicle, when Noor shot Damond. Noor was apparently sitting in the passenger seat.

I don't know what happened, really. Three people know and one of them is dead. What I do know is incentives matter. This case played out quite differently than the shooting of Philando Castile, but because it happened not long after the verdict in that case, there's a tendency to look for parallels. The only parallel I can see is this: we give our police the power to use deadly force and officers are, not surprisingly, inclined to use that power.

Our founders were concerned about standing armies. A police force should not be a standing army, but on an operational level it's become increasingly difficult to discern the difference between a standing army and most police forces in this country. Police forces are, in the main, agents of the government and depending on the government in question, they can be a force of oppression. That's the sense many people in minority communities have about the police. While I'd like to say that sense is misguided, it's difficult to make that argument in the face of the evidence before us. Too often, the incentives are not directed at keeping the peace, but rather in getting a piece of the action. Incentives matter.

We have not yet heard the 911 call Justine Damond apparently made, but I imagine we will eventually. It may shed light on the assumptions Officers Noor and Harrity might have made as they arrived on the scene. We also don't know why anyone would consider a woman wearing pajamas to be a threat, but in a dark alley it's difficult to see what you think you see. We'll keep watching.

Monday, July 17, 2017

St. Anthony and Fulton

Alternatively, Philando and Justine:
A 40-year-old woman who family members said called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley behind her home Saturday night was fatally shot by a Minneapolis police officer.

The shooting happened at the end of the alley on W. 51st Street between Washburn and Xerxes avenues S. in the city’s Fulton neighborhood.

The woman, Justine Damond, from Sydney, Australia, and her fiancé lived in the 5000 block of Washburn.

Three sources with knowledge of the incident said Sunday that two officers in one squad car, responding to the 911 call, pulled into the alley. Damond, in her pajamas, went to the driver’s side door and was talking to the driver. The officer in the passenger seat pulled his gun and shot Damond through the driver’s side door, sources said. No weapon was found at the scene.
Well, it's bizarre. A few thoughts:

  • I've written about St. Anthony, the community that employed the police officer who killed Philando Castile, and I will be writing more about it in the coming days. St. Anthony is a sleepy enclave, largely well-to-do, and my property borders on it. Fulton, the south Minneapolis neighborhood where the latest incident took place, is livelier than St. Anthony, but also largely well-to-do. 50th Street, one block to the north of where the shooting took place, is a busy but largely genteel thoroughfare with plenty of gentry retail to be found, with the commercial mecca of 50th and France about a half-mile to the west. It's a place where the violence of the city just doesn't happen much.
  • My sister-in-law and her family lived in the area for years. Their house was in Linden Hills, about a half-mile to the north, in between Lake Harriet and Southwest High School. It's a high-demand area and houses that go on the market there are often sold before the sign goes up in the front yard. It's not a place where you would expect much violence.
  • Fulton is the neighborhood that Betsy Hodges, the embattled mayor of Minneapolis, represented in the city council. Fulton, Linden Hills, Lynnhurst and the other neighborhoods in the area are among the nicest places in Minneapolis. They are illusions, places where wealth and privilege insulate people from the realities that obtain elsewhere. Much of what we'll see in the coming days will represent an effort to maintain the illusion. I'll be watching this case, too.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

As seen elsewhere


Fredo shoulda worn pearls, I guess

Friday, July 14, 2017


The best reporting on the latest Trump scandalette has been coming from John Solomon and Jonathan Easley of The Hill. They bring the story forward here:
Two months before Donald Trump Jr.’s encounter with a Russian figure, a key House subcommittee chairman received a similar overture in Moscow offering derogatory information about a U.S. policy that was upsetting Vladimir Putin.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican with a reputation as a Moscow ally in Congress, told The Hill the information he received in April 2016 came from the chief prosecutor in Moscow and painted an alternative picture of the Russian fraud case that led to the passage of anti-Russia legislation in Congress known as the Magnitsky Act.

“I had a meeting with some people, government officials, and they were saying, ‘Would you be willing to accept material on the Magnitsky case from the prosecutors in Moscow? ‘And I said, ‘Sure, I’d be willing to look at it,’” Rohrabacher recalled in an interview.

The congressman’s account provides the latest evidence that the overture to President Trump’s eldest son in June 2016 by a Russian lawyer named Natalia Veselnitskaya was part of a larger campaign by Moscow that predated the Trump Tower encounter and continued afterwards.
I don't think anyone is calling for Rohrabacher to be prosecuted for meeting with Russian operatives, at least not yet. There's more:
The focus was to sow distrust among American leaders about the Magnitsky Act, and influence far more than Trump’s inner circle. It included lobbying overtures to journalists, State Department officials and lawmakers and congressional staff from both parties, according to interviews with participants and recipients of the campaign.

Congress passed the law and President Barack Obama signed it in 2012, punishing Russia with sanctions for alleged human rights violations in connection with the prison death of a lawyer named Sergei Magnitsky who claimed to have uncovered a massive money laundering scheme based in Moscow.

U.S. officials argued the fraud was perpetrated by Russian government leaders and hurt American companies. But Russians have countered the fraud was actually committed by Magnitsky and his clients. Prosecutors in Russia eventually won a posthumous conviction against the dead lawyer, and retaliated against the U.S. for passing the law by suspending Americans’ ability to adopt Russian children.
So let's think about this. Knowing your audience is key to getting your message across. If you are a Russian and you want to get Team Trump's attention about an issue, how best to get the attention of Fredo Trump, who is thinking about how he can help his father beat Hillary Clinton? Pull a bait and switch, of course. Would Hillary's campaign take similar meetings or get help from a foreign nation? Of course:
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.
You may have heard this, but in case you were unaware, Russia and Ukraine tend to have an, ahem, problematic relationship. Also, Manafort was in the room with Fredo when they met the Russians, by the way.

So What Does It All Mean? Less than we think, as usual. Remember this?
As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.
That's from the New York Times, back in 2015. The bleating about corruption in the Trump campaign is coming from the same people who didn't say a word about what Team Clinton was doing.

One of my favorite songs from the 80s is "Welcome to the Boomtown" by David & David. The chorus sticks in my head:

So I say 
I say welcome, welcome to the boomtown
Pick a habit 
We got plenty to go around
Welcome, welcome to the boomtown
All that money makes such a succulent sound
Welcome to the boomtown

In the 80s, the boomtown in question was Los Angeles. It's been D.C. for a lot longer, though. People are going to fight for their prerogatives and there are a lot of people in D.C. who enjoy their prerogatives. At bottom, that's what this scandal is really about -- protecting the ol' rice bowl. And the ugliness and hypocrisy we're seeing at the moment are just the surface.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Cherchez la femme

The Hill has an extraordinary piece up about the woman at the center of the Fredo Trump crisis. So help me understand how this works:
The Russian lawyer who penetrated Donald Trump’s inner circle was initially cleared into the United States by the Justice Department under “extraordinary circumstances” before she embarked on a lobbying campaign last year that ensnared the president’s eldest son, members of Congress, journalists and State Department officials, according to court and Justice Department documents and interviews.

This revelation means it was the Obama Justice Department that enabled the newest and most intriguing figure in the Russia-Trump investigation to enter the country without a visa.

Later, a series of events between an intermediary for the attorney and the Trump campaign ultimately led to the controversy surrounding the president's eldest son.
So what were the extraordinary circumstances?
[I]in an interview with NBC News earlier this week, Veselnitskaya acknowledged her contacts with Donald Trump Jr. and in Washington were part of a lobbying campaign to get members of Congress and American political figures to see "the real circumstances behind the Magnitsky Act.”

That work was a far cry from the narrow reason the U.S. government initially gave for allowing Veselnitskaya into the U.S. in late 2015, according to federal court records.

The Moscow lawyer had been turned down for a visa to enter the U.S. lawfully but then was granted special immigration parole by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch for the limited purpose of helping a company owned by Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, her client, defend itself against a Justice Department asset forfeiture case in federal court in New York City.

During a court hearing in early January 2016 as Veselnitskaya’s permission to stay in the country was about to expire, federal prosecutors described how rare the grant of parole immigration was as Veselnitskaya pleaded for more time to remain in the United States.
That was January. We go back to the picture of Veselnitskaya, sitting front and center behind the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, in a congressional hearing in June, 2016.

Image result for Natalia Veselnitskaya michael mcfaul
Why is she there?
There's more:
Sources close to the lobbying effort to rename the Magnisky Act, conducted over the summer of 2016, said it fizzled after only a month or two. They described Veselnitskaya, who does not speak English, as a mysterious and shadowy figure. They said they were confused as to whether she had an official role in the lobbying campaign, although she was present for several meetings.

The sources also described their interactions with Veselnitskaya in the same way that Trump Jr. did. They claimed not to know who she worked for or what her motives were.

“Natalia didn’t speak a word of English,” said one source. “Don’t let anyone tell you this was a sophisticated lobbying effort. It was the least professional campaign I’ve ever seen. If she’s the cream of the Moscow intelligence community then we have nothing to worry about.”
Now think back -- the reason Veselnitskaya was in the country in the first place was to help someone at trial. Does a lawyer who doesn't speak English seem like an individual who would be useful in a judicial proceeding?

To sum up -- Natalia Veselnitskaya was lobbying Fredo Trump six months after she should have been back to Moscow. Days later, she's sitting in on a congressional hearing. Someone wanted this woman here. Much, much more at the link, including the role of a former Congressman from California named Ron Dellums.

The proper thought experiment

Writing for WaPo, Eugene Volokh comes up with the right hypothetical regarding this week's scandal to end all scandals:
Say that, in Summer 2016, a top Hillary Clinton staffer gets a message: “A Miss Universe contestant — Miss Slovakia — says that Donald Trump had sexually harassed her. Would you like to get her story?” The staffer says, “I’d love to,” and indeed gets the information, which he then uses in the campaign.

Did the staffer and the Miss Universe contestant just commit a crime? Yes, under the analysis set forth in the past couple of days by some analysts, such as my University of California colleague and leading election law scholar Rick Hasen (UC Irvine School of Law) and by Common Cause; Hasen was cited by the Wall Street Journal and CNN; similar arguments were quoted by Dahlia Lithwick (Slate).
If this theory is true, why have a First Amendment? Volokh makes the salient point:
If a Slovakian college student who is studying in the United States called the Clinton campaign with such information, that would be a crime. If the Clinton campaign heard that Mar-a-Lago was employing illegal immigrants in Florida and staffers went down to interview the workers, that would be a crime.

And it would make opposition research on much possible foreign misconduct virtually impossible. Say that Clinton’s campaign heard rumors that the construction of a Trump resort in Turkey might have involved some shenanigans. It’s likely impossible to effectively follow up on that without soliciting some valuable information from foreign nationals, such as foreign government officials who were (hypothetically and allegedly) bribed, or rivals who may have a motive to provide information (recognizing, of course, that any such information may be untrustworthy unless it’s otherwise corroborated). Or say that Bernie Sanders’s campaign heard rumors of some misconduct by Clinton on her trips abroad — it wouldn’t be allowed to ask any foreigners about that.
Volokh has the answer:
 First, noncitizens, and likely even non-permanent-residents, in the United States have broad First Amendment rights. See Bridges v. Wixon, 326 U.S. 135 (1945) (“freedom of speech and of press is accorded aliens residing in this country”); Underwager v. Channel 9 Australia, 69 F.3d 361 (9th Cir. 1995) (“We conclude that the speech protections of the First Amendment at a minimum apply to all persons legally within our borders,” including ones who are not permanent residents).

Second, Americans have the right to receive information even from speakers who are entirely abroad. See Lamont v. Postmaster General, 381 U.S. 301 (1965). Can Americans — whether political candidates or anyone else — really be barred from asking questions of foreigners, just because the answers might be especially important to voters?

The Supreme Court did affirm (without opinion) a federal court decision in Bluman v. FEC, 800 F. Supp. 2d 281 (D.D.C. 2011), that upheld a ban on contributions and independent expenditures by non-citizen non-permanent-residents, on the theory that the government can use such a ban to limit foreign influence on American elections. But the panel decision expressly stressed that it was limited to the restriction on spending money. And it seems to me that restrictions on providing information to the campaigns — or on campaigns seeking such information — can’t be constitutional. Can it really be that the Clinton campaign could be legally required to just ignore credible allegations of misconduct by Trump, just because those allegations were levied by foreigners?
More to the point; if Fredo Trump cannot talk to Russian lawyers, then how could anyone at all have talked to anyone about the infamous Steele dossier, which also included (purportedly) foreign sources? It's nonsense.

Much, much more at the link, including the dissembling response from Hasen as he defends his nonsensical interpretation of the law.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


I don't know what was going through Donald Trump Jr.'s mind when he took the meeting with Russian operatives. I also wonder why one of the Russian operatives, Natalia Veselnitskaya,was sitting in on a Congressional hearing, right in the front row, last year, listening to the testimony of the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. But there she was:

Image result for Natalia Veselnitskaya michael mcfaul
Moose and Squirrel
This hearing took place on June 14, 2016. At this point in the proceedings, the Trumps controlled precisely zero levers of power in the American government. At this point, Trump wasn't even officially the Republican nominee for president. It's not difficult to imagine that Russian operatives would be interested in trying to scope out people who might one day control the levers of power. But it's curious, to say the least, that Veselnitskaya had a catbird seat at a Congressional hearing only days after meeting with Trump Jr. and company.

From what I can tell, this isn't Watergate and is likely not to be Watergate, for one important reason -- unlike 1973, there are a lot of people who support Le Grand Orange who will be digging for dirt on the other side, and they now have the means of disseminating that information. It's going to be a hell of a show.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

I have only come here seeking knowledge

Things they would not teach me of in college:
Colleges have been perceived as liberal bastions for decades, but the latest round of campus culture warring—beginning around 2014 and continuing through the present day—has had a sudden and dramatic impact on conservatives’ perceptions of the Ivory Tower. According to a new Pew survey, Republicans saw colleges and universities as having a “positive effect on the way things are going in the country” by about a 20 point margin until 2015. In the last two years, however, GOP esteem of America’s higher education institutions started to collapse. Today, Republican [sic] 58 percent of Republican voters say colleges have a negative effect on American society, compared to just 36 percent who say they have a positive effect.
Writing for the American Interest, Jason Willick explains the current dynamic well:
Most campus lefties will probably look at these numbers as evidence that Republicans are even more anti-intellectual than they thought, and that the #resistance against them needs to be taken up a few notches. This would be a big mistake. The homogenization of leftwing views on college campuses, and the obvious hostility to conservative ones was bound to produce a backlash from conservative voters. That backlash has been wrapped up in class conflict between a highly-credentialed professional class and a working class that finds higher education and the well-paying jobs it provides to the elite increasingly out of reach.
And, more importantly, the conservatives hold the purse strings:
Meanwhile, Republicans control an overwhelming share of America’s statehouses, and so have unprecedented power to defund and restructure public higher education. And Congressional Republicans could restrict the flow of student loans that academia depends on or subject massive university endowments to ordinary tax rates (most are currently exempt). In other words, America’s higher education system, as currently structured, depends on consensus support from both parties. If universities continue to torch their reputation with the right, they may find that some of the privileges and resources and social prestige they have become accustomed to will go up in flames as well.
This is why Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is feuding with the UW system; he'd prefer more money go into undergraduate instruction and less into the scholarly research that fills the obscure journals of academe. He's not wrong in wanting that, and he doesn't particularly care whether the denizens of the UW system excoriate him about his preferences, since they would find another thing to complain about if he weren't digging in their sandbox.

I'm not sure if the Pew survey is correct, but there's little question academe is full of leftists. And as a parent with one child a year away from graduating from a liberal arts college, and also about to send a second child off to college, it's a bit of a conundrum. There are only a couple of explicitly conservative colleges in the country, but my kids never seriously looked at those schools. We haven't been trying to steer the decisions our kids make; as it happens, one school which has had significant issues with protests and outright fakery in the reasons for the protests, was on my daughter's list, but she has already eliminated that school on other grounds. All of the schools on her list are to the left, but at least two are ranked highly for ensuring free speech and avoiding the shouting down of opposing views. My son's school is liberal, but the college president, on my son's orientation day, explicitly said "we must listen to conservative voices" and asserted that conservative views had a place on campus. And her promise has held true. It's a start.

Monday, July 10, 2017

il miglior fabbro

Rod Dreher, in the midst of a much longer piece about Trump's speech in Poland and the bizarre reactions to it:
But it’s also important to know that many on the left offend and repudiate people who dislike Trump by reacting to him like rabid rats got loose in their shorts. Seriously, when I read the transcript of Trump’s speech yesterday, I thought it was pretty ordinary stuff. The American president saying Western civilization is good and worth defending? This is controversial? And as I’ve said a couple of times in this space, it’s eye-rolling to hear Donald Trump talk about the importance of strong families and strong values. Still, if you’re going to go to pieces every time a politician says something hypocritical, you’ll never be able to get out of bed in the morning.
Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, in other words. A lot more at the link.

Puttin' the last three letters in bass

Gov. Dayton takes his bass boat and goes home:
Gov. Mark Dayton canceled a meeting with business owners around Lake Mille Lacs Saturday after about 75 protesters in boats encircled him on the lake to protest a temporary ban on walleye fishing.

Dayton was with a small group of people fishing for bass to promote the fishing that is still allowed at the lake after restrictions — including a ban on fishing walleye until July 28 — went into place Thursday. Dayton’s boat spent about 90 minutes on the water before heading back to land.

Passengers on roughly 25 boats displayed balloons and signs reading “REGULATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION = TYRANNY” and “GOV. DAYTON STOP LAKE MILLE LACS POLITICS!”
Don't question the governor, people. There's more:
Dayton said he respects the protesters’ frustration, but he defended the ban as a way of preserving the struggling walleye population. He said he canceled Saturday’s meeting — which was going to include several Lake Mille Lacs-area business owners — because he didn’t want to “reinforce that kind of destructive behavior.” He said he would meet with them later.
Perhaps after they go out of business. I'm not a fisherman but I know this much -- fishing for bass is quite different than fishing for walleye. The larger issues surrounding walleye populations on Mille Lacs aren't going away any time soon, either. But taking his ball, or his bass boat, and going home is par for the course for Our Governor.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Meanwhile, in Illinois

Michael Madigan gets his way, as he always does:
Democratic lawmakers voted 71-42 to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a $5 billion tax hike on Thursday.

Illinois has been in a budgetary showdown to address a $6.2 billion deficit, as well as nearly $15 billion in unpaid bills and hundreds of billions of dollars in unfunded retirement benefits for state workers.

Rauner had pushed lawmakers to close the deficit by reforming workers compensation and consolidating local governments, while also capping local property taxes. Democrats, who control the state Senate and House of Representatives, along with 16 Republican state representatives, rejected those measures and instead approved hiking income taxes from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent and corporate taxes from 5.25 percent to 7 percent on Sunday night. Rauner vetoed the bill on Tuesday.
For comparison, the top income tax rate in Minnesota is nearly double that of Illinois. For purposes of illustration:

Lock the front door, oh boy

I'll be watching how this one plays out.

News You Can Use

Walter Russell Mead and company over at The American Enterprise are amused with the latest from the New York Times:
As part of its weekly essay series on the legacy of the Russian Revolution, the New York Times has earnestly broken the news to its readers that the American Communist Party wasn’t a principled and well-meaning organization but an anti-American espionage operation:
So did you know what the Times is reporting? See if you did:
The C.P.U.S.A. dutifully spread the lies put out by Moscow. The party thus insisted that the show trials during Stalin’s purges had uncovered a vast capitalist plot against the Soviet leader. Party members dutifully repeated Soviet fabrications that Trotsky had been in the pay of the Nazis. Worst of all, many Communists applauded the execution of tens of thousands of Soviet comrades, denouncing those who were executed as bourgeois spies and provocateurs.
Dang. Who knew? Well, anyone who was paying attention, or wasn't publishing Walter Duranty's lies. Mead wonders what the Times might tell us about in 25-50 years:
The Muslim Brotherhood hated Western ideas of freedom.
Iran was a committed enemy of the United States.
Cuban communists were anti-democratic thugs.
Abortion was an unspeakable tragedy that led to millions of unnecessary deaths.
Press bias and lack of self-awareness plus elite policy failures made the Trump presidency possible.
That's just half the list. The rest is at the link.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Open thread

Sat down to write this morning, but found nothing that was particularly compelling, so we'll just post an open thread. Trump is in Europe and there was apparently a fairly strong earthquake in Montana overnight, for what it's worth. Have at it!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Don't tug on CNN's cape

So that silly GIF that Trump retweeted? The one that showed Trump body-slamming a guy with a CNN logo superimposed over his head? CNN didn't like it, so they went after the guy who produced it:
The Reddit user who initially claimed credit for President Donald Trump's tweet that showed Trump tackling CNN issued an apology Tuesday for the video and other offensive content he posted -- one day after CNN identified the man behind the account and attempted to make contact with him.

Reddit user "HanA**holeSolo" first shared the GIF last Wednesday of Trump pummeling a wrestler with CNN's logo imposed on his face. CNN could find no earlier instance of the GIF. The GIF was later edited into a video with sound and tweeted by the President on Sunday.
The First Amendment doesn't belong to dudes on Reddit. It belongs only to CNN and its pals in the mainstream media. The apology from the Reddit guy is Nikolai Bukharin-quality stuff:
"First of all, I would like to apologize to the members of the reddit community for getting this site and this sub embroiled in a controversy that should never have happened," he wrote. "I would also like to apologize for the posts made that were racist, bigoted, and anti-semitic. I am in no way this kind of person, I love and accept people of all walks of life and have done so for my entire life. I am not the person that the media portrays me to be in real life, I was trolling and posting things to get a reaction from the subs on reddit and never meant any of the hateful things I said in those posts. I would never support any kind of violence or actions against others simply for what they believe in, their religion, or the lifestyle they choose to have. Nor would I carry out any violence against anyone based upon that or support anyone who did."
CNN then added the following:
The user further apologized for calls for violence against the press in his statement on Reddit.

"The meme was created purely as satire, it was not meant to be a call to violence against CNN or any other news affiliation," he wrote. "I had no idea anyone would take it and put sound to it and then have it put up on the President's Twitter feed. It was a prank, nothing more. What the President's feed showed was not the original post that was posted here, but loaded up somewhere else and sound added to it then sent out on Twitter. I thought it was the original post that was made and that is why I took credit for it. I have the highest respect for the journalist community and they put their lives on the line every day with the jobs that they do in reporting the news."
This last part is crap, of course. Most journalism jobs consist of rewriting other people's press releases and reporting on meetings of the Danville Sewer Board. The dashing foreign correspondents are mostly sitting in windowless rooms, banging out the company line on laptops. The most dangerous place the average CNN on-air personality goes is the tailor, and that's only because tailors have sharp objects.

But this incident isn't about exposing malfeasance. It's strictly pour encourager les autres. CNN notes as much in its self-congratulatory dispatch:
CNN is not publishing "HanA**holeSolo's" name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same.
And just so this Reddit guy keeps his yap shut, they add the following:
CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.
They won't destroy the Reddit guy so long as he doesn't squirm too much under the boot on his throat.

How do we put this politely? CNN can screw itself. And I do hope they enjoy the blowback, because if the Reddit dudes feel constrained, there are plenty of other wiseguys on the web who will ensure that the mockery increases exponentially.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Silent Cal says it well

Calvin Coolidge was president on July 4, 1926, the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. On the occasion he gave a speech in Philadelphia. It's well worth revisiting in its entirety, but I do want to call one particular passage to your attention, because it's a reminder of the challenges ahead:
Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. This was their theory of democracy. In those days such doctrines would scarcely have been permitted to flourish and spread in any other country. This was the purpose which the fathers cherished. In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, whole congregations with their pastors had migrated to the Colonies. These great truths were in the air that our people breathed. Whatever else we may say of it, the Declaration of Independence was profoundly American.

If this apprehension of the facts be correct, and the documentary evidence would appear to verify it, then certain conclusions are bound to follow. A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man — these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.
We are not nearly as religious people in 2016 as we were in 1926. One ought not conclude that those who are not religious do not have a faith, however. They do. Such faith may not rest upon the principles Coolidge discusses, however. We'd best be checking the roots.

il miglior fabbro

You want a stem-winder? Try Kurt Schlicter on for size:
Liberals don’t annoy me when they whine about Trump’s tweeting because I know it's all a lie and a scam, just like everything else liberals say. They don't care that Trump is mean to girls. These cretins brought us Bill Clinton. They don't care that Trump is vulgar. You should see what liberals, including proggy blue checks, say to me on Twitter. Let me put it this way: after the nonstop parade of death wishes, perversion accusations, and general mouth-foaming hostility the liberals traffic in every day, I'm distinctly unimpressed by Trump calling out Mika’s chin lift.

So I refuse to care. And I don't care. Not even a little. At most, I'm entirely indifferent to these playground spats, though I do enjoy seeing these leftist schmucks getting a taste of their own medicine. And do I love seeing the frustration of the hapless establishment when Trump just ignores its tantrums and keeps firing off tweets long after they've been decreed unacceptable. Trump galls them because he refuses to submit to the moral authority of the immoral. It's beautiful.
Just so. And there's more:
Yeah, I get it. Trump's aesthetically displeasing to your delicate sensibilities. Do you think this is news to us? Do you presume you're the only ones who have detected that Donald Trump is not a proper gentleman? Get over it, and yourselves.

And cut out the freaking clichés. What am I going to tell my children about Donald Trump? Whatever it is, it’ll be hell of a lot easier than explaining Bill Clinton's humidor habits.
More, a lot more, at the link.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Lightning Round -- 070317

Weekend reaction:

  • CNN doesn't really believe Trump is prescribing violence against journalists in general, or CNN journalists in particular. What it does believe is that they can regain the upper hand in their continuing struggle with Le Grand Orange, which has been going badly for them. And if that doesn't work, and it won't, at least they get to enjoy some high dudgeon, which is better than the high colonic they've been receiving lately. 
  • The minimum wage in Minneapolis will be going up to $15/hour. It won't work unless they can force similar wage floors in the rest of the metropolitan area. St. Paul might go along, but I think the smarter suburbs understand it's a horrible idea and will stay put. I'm not convinced the local city governments in Roseville and New Brighton are terribly smart, however. If they hold fast, we might start seeing some new restaurants in the area.
  • We now have Sunday liquor sales in Minnesota. Having spent my formative years in Wisconsin, and my young adult years in the Chicago area, I speak from experience in these matters. Having Sunday sales is just a convenience and what people will find is that it's not a big deal -- it just means if you run out of hooch at your Sunday party, you can load up again. We're a long ways away from how things operate in Wisconsin, where you can buy a bottle of Jack Daniel's at Walgreens.
  • The current tweet at the top of Trump's feed is one worth noting:  
    Culture of death
This case, if you haven't been following it, concerns an infant with a rare disease who does not have good long term prospects. The British National Health Service has decided his life isn't worth saving and is planning to pull the plug on him. Gard's parents have raised sufficient funds to bring their son to America to see if anything can be done for him, but the NHS is barring them from bringing him here. They have spoken, you see. This is where the "death panel" discussion meets the road, and where the single payer version of healthcare comes into stark relief. What happens if the single payer won't pay? You die. And in the case of the NHS, you don't even get to take matters into your own hands. Your life only has as much value as the grandees say it does. I'm going to bet the NHS gets its way, but I'm grateful that Trump is putting the pressure on them.