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Ocasio-Cortez: “We need answers” over Epstein’s suicide — “lots of them”; Update: FBI opens investigation

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 15:31

For perhaps the first time this year, I find myself in full agreement with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The circumstances of Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide seem very strange indeed, so much so that it raises all sorts of questions as to what happened, how, and especially why:

We need answers. Lots of them.https://t.co/4DMckiZnVB

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 10, 2019

Ocasio-Cortez is hardly the only person demanding answers either, as Epstein’s victims have been robbed of their opportunity for justice. Epstein wasn’t just some minor figure sitting in a local lockup who had never sent out any signals of potential self- (or other-directed-) harm. “He was probably the most high-profile inmate” in federal custody in that facility, CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz reminded viewers, one who had apparently attempted suicide once before. Why wasn’t Epstein under 24-hour watch? Paul Callan wonders the same thing:

“He should’ve been under 24-hour guard, and I expect that heads will roll in the federal prison system for this lax in proper security,” legal analyst @PaulCallan says after Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide, according to sources. https://t.co/YfUuYB6WtF pic.twitter.com/sjZFIPXYYs

— CNN (@CNN) August 10, 2019

Even if he did commit suicide — as opposed to having someone impose suicide on him — that still leaves serious questions as to how he could have pulled it off. CBS News reports that Epstein was indeed on suicide watch since last month:

Epstein, 66, had been put on suicide watch after he was found injured on the floor of his cell in late July. At the time, law enforcement sources told CBS News Epstein was found lying on the floor of his cell, semi-conscious with slight bruising around his neck.

Or was he? NBC now reports that Epstein wasn’t on suicide watch despite his previous reported attempt to harm himself:

BREAKING: Jeffrey Epstein was in his own cell at the time of his death, and was not on suicide watch, multiple people familiar with the investigation tell @NBCNews. https://t.co/7yCHf9cCJS

— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 10, 2019

“It raises a lot of questions in a lot of people’s minds,” CNN’s anchor comments at the end. Indeed it does. This is precisely what “suicide watch” is intended to prevent. Epstein’s victims deserved their day in court against the predator who exploited him, and also their day in court against anyone else who joined in that exploitation. If NBC’s correct, then someone needs to explain why the suicide watch was cancelled on Epstein — including who ordered it and why.

Either this was the most unfortunate moment of incompetence for federal incarceration in memory, or it was something other than entirely self-willed. The question of cui bono has already begun to bubble up among media figures, noting the convenience that Epstein’s now-perpetual silence might have for some very important figures. That question ranges across the political spectrum, too, from Trump 2020 board member Harlan Hill to MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough:

Dead men tell no tales. Just as Jeffrey Epstein starts to name names, he decides to kill himself? Mkay. Totally believable. https://t.co/PJFUgFBpao

— Harlan Z. Hill (@Harlan) August 10, 2019

Authorities couldn’t keep Epstein alive by putting him under 24 hour surveillance? How convenient for a lot of rich and powerful men.

— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) August 10, 2019

Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) sounds unconvinced that this is only an unfortunate accident. Sasse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had been pushing the Department of Justice to explain Epstein’s original plea deal, and now he also wants answers to explain how this could have happened (via e-mail statement):

“As a private matter, our house is praying for both Epstein’s family and the many women who were denied justice in this life. But as a matter of public policy, the government has failed these girls yet again. It is inexcusable that this rapist was not under constant suicide watch. These victims deserved to face their serial abuser in court.”

It’s still possible that Epstein really did commit suicide today. After all, he’d attempted it once before, and it appeared that the power of his money and connections had finally failed him. This time around, there would be no sweetheart deal that allowed him six-days-a-week “work release” from a local jail and the ability to keep his vast fortune. Any deal prosecutors might cut would involve several years of hard time, perhaps for the rest of his life. His money could help him cope in federal prison, but only to a small extent. That huge fall in lifestyle certainly would lead to some despair.

On the other hand, that despair seems at least a little premature. Epstein had at least a valid argument that this new prosecution amounted to double jeopardy, an argument that his attorneys hadn’t even begun in court yet. He still had the funds to hire a fleet of the country’s best attorneys to extricate him from his troubles and options still left on the table.

And among those options would be to start naming names of the men who accompanied Epstein on his sexual exploitation of underaged girls. Prosecutors might have been interested enough in that information to trade it off for a little window of freedom for Epstein at the end of his eventual incarceration. That’s why Epstein’s suicide seems so very suspicious at this point — because of that very powerful card Epstein still had left to play against some very powerful men.

Maybe Epstein just couldn’t face another day of his humiliation, but maybe something else was in play here, too. In this instance, Ocasio-Cortez is right — we need answers from the Department of Justice, and lots of them.

Update: The FBI has opened an investigation into Epstein’s suicide and the circumstances of his incarceration. Maybe this should go to the Inspector General’s office instead, although Michael Horowitz is rather busy these days.

Update: Former US Attorney Preet Bharara raises an eyebrow:

So it seems that Epstein was in the Special Housing Unit (SHU) but not recently on suicide watch, which according to BOP’s Suicide Prevention Program, requires removal from the SHU. https://t.co/1fQc18NVbt pic.twitter.com/L2DrAr7xqm

— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) August 10, 2019

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Mississippi employers “willfully” hired illegals and should be prosecuted

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 14:01

That big set of raids on seven Mississippi businesses employing hundreds of illegal aliens is turning up some interesting data. The fact that nearly seven hundred of their workers were in the country illegally and ineligible to hold jobs is bad enough, but it’s increasingly clear that the employers knew about it and were actively engaged in breaking the law.

Six of seven Mississippi chicken processing plants raided Wednesday were “willfully and unlawfully” employing people who lacked authorization to work in the United States, including workers wearing electronic monitoring bracelets at work for previous immigration violations, according to unsealed court documents.

Federal investigators behind the biggest immigration raid in a decade relied on confidential informants inside the plants in addition to data from the monitoring bracelets to help make their case, according to the documents.

The sworn statements supported the search warrants that led a judge to authorize Wednesday’s raids, and aren’t official charges, but give the first detailed look at the evidence involved in what Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have described as a yearlong investigation.

These employers are facing a lot of trouble, as well they should. One spokesperson for Koch Foods (one of the chicken processing plants that was raided) said they have, “a strict and thorough employment verification policy.” Seriously? Some of the employees were literally wearing ankle monitors from previous illegal immigration arrests. ICE reports that many of the workers were using their real names, but made-up social security numbers.

Mississippi has a law on the books making the use of E-Verify mandatory when hiring. (It’s optional at the federal level.) If they ran any of those names and SSNs through the system they would have immediately seen that they weren’t legitimate. The investigation also suggests that some of the plant managers were submitting fraudulent timecards for imaginary workers and then keeping the paychecks for themselves. There was a lot more going on here than just illegal immigrant employment violations.

The real problem is that so few executives at companies engaged in this activity are ever convicted and sentenced. You can deport all 700 of those illegal aliens and another 700 will show up to take their place in short order. ICE has been getting better about prosecuting the employers (the owner of a Tennessee meatpacking plant was sentenced to prison last year for similar charges) but it’s an uphill battle. Too often, the owners claim that they simply didn’t know it was going on and some low-level drone takes the fall. Others employ contracting firms to supply them with workers, shifting the blame to those third parties.

As I mentioned above, deporting the workers, while necessary, isn’t going to fix things in the long run. If you eliminate the source of jobs for illegal aliens, the motivation to cross our border illegally drops significantly. Some of us were discussing this on Twitter last night and it seems to be an area where both sides can support such a solution. As of this writing, this tweet I put up yesterday evening has already garnered more than 4,000 likes, roughly a thousand retweets and hundreds of replies.

This should be a point both parties can agree upon. If you want to cut illegal immigration, the first time a guy like this is frog marched to jail in an orange jumpsuit, illegal immigration will plummet. I've said this for years. https://t.co/fFv3ctJgLd

— Jazz Shaw (@JazzShaw) August 9, 2019

Meanwhile, all the media is focusing on today is the crying children whose parents were detained. That’s not going to solve anything. The children of legal workers – immigrant or native-born – don’t need to worry about their parents being taken away. We can do better at shutting down illegal alien employment. We must do better.

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Breaking: Epstein allegedly committed suicide last night. Updates: Suicide confirmed

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 13:31

Stand by tor the conspiracy theories to erupt around the net. According to multiple reports, convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein took his own life last night in a Manhattan jail. Or at least “someone who looked like Epstein” was seen being wheeled out of the facility on a gurney. (New York Post)

Convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein is dead, law enforcement sources said Saturday.

A gurney carrying a man who looked like Epstein was wheeled out of the Manhattan Correctional Center around 7:30 a.m. The ambulance went to New York Downtown Hospital.

The incident comes two weeks after Epstein, 66, was placed on suicide watch after he was found nearly unconscious in his cell with injuries to his neck.

The obvious questions about this will likely be circulating for a while. First of all, was this an actual suicide or an “assisted suicide? The last time he was found unconscious with wounds to his neck, some reports claimed that another prisoner had tried to take him out. But since they put him on suicide watch after that, it appears the authorities were convinced he’d done it himself.

And what about that suicide watch? Unless someone at the Manhattan jail mistakenly thought that meant “watching people commit suicide” this shouldn’t have been possible. Surely they removed anything he could have hung himself with. And unless someone smuggled in some lethal drugs (which also seems highly unlikely) his guards should have been able to prevent this from happening. One early report coming out of CNN is suggesting that it was hanging, though that doesn’t seem to be confirmed yet.

Either way, this requires a full investigation and the guards, along with the people in charge at the jail will have to be held accountable. All of the women that Epstein victimized over the years will never fully receive justice now and Epstein won’t face them in court.

Assuming it really was suicide, is anyone really surprised that he would try this? The mountains of evidence coming to light made it highly unlikely he would slip through the fingers of law enforcement again. His life was basically ruined and he was destined to likely spend the rest of his life in a cell, either in solitary or dodging the types of prisoners who enjoy taking down child abusers. In any event, it appears the monster has left the world stage and he can now reap whatever “reward” awaits him. We’ll update this post later if more details are confirmed.

UPDATE: The NY Post has a photo of Epstein being wheeled into the hospital and confirms he was hung. They were apparently still trying to revive him on the way to the hospital but to no avail. CNN further confirms that he was found alone in his jail cell in cardiac arrest.

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Missouri Walmart gun guy will probably walk

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 12:31

When Ed Morrissey wrote about the good guy with a gun stopping another potential mass shooter at a Missouri Walmart yesterday, he raised the question of whether or not the suspect had actually broken any laws. Authorities have begun releasing more information about what 20-year-old Dmitriy Andreychenko was up to when he donned body armor and walked into the Springfield Walmart, where he was confronted by an armed, off duty firefighter. And from what we’re learning thus far, it’s unclear if they can pin anything on him. (Associated Press)

“I wanted to know if Walmart honored the Second Amendment,” a probable cause statement released Friday with the charges quoted Andreychenko as saying.

Andreychenko started to record himself with his phone while he was still in the car parked at Walmart. He got the body armor from the trunk of his car and put it on before grabbing a shopping cart and walking into the store, according to the statement.

Andreychenko said his intention was to buy grocery bags. The rifle had a loaded magazine inserted, but a round was not chambered. A handgun on his right hip was loaded with one round in the chamber.

So far, authorities have charged Andreychenko with one count of first-degree making of a terrorist threat, but they’ve yet to describe any evidence of that beyond perhaps interpreting his motions and body language. As Ed mentioned yesterday, there is video available that Andreychenko recorded himself, and that may turn out to be the escape hatch his attorneys will be looking for. In advance of the trip to Walmart, he allegedly asked both his wife and his sister to come along and record the video. They both declined, basically telling him that he was an idiot who could get himself killed.

After arriving at the store, he donned the body armor, slung his rifle, holstered his handgun and grabbed a shopping cart. There is no indication that he ever lifted the muzzle of the rifle to point it at anyone, nor did he draw the sidearm. There was only one round in the handgun, further suggesting that he wasn’t actually preparing to do “maximum damage.” The rifle had a loaded magazine, but there wasn’t a round in the chamber.

Andreychenko says he was there to find out if the store would “honor” his Second Amendment rights. And unless authorities can show some proof that he even hinted at opening fire, they’re going to have a hard time bringing additional charges or getting a conviction on the terrorist threat count. In reality, what he did was walk into Walmart with a cart and some loaded weapons. In that regard, how was what he did any different than what the off-duty firefighter did? They both walked into the store with loaded weapons. And if those videos bear out what Andreychenko is claiming, he might have a very solid defense indeed.

Wearing body armor is legal in Missouri unless you have been previously convicted of a felony or are in the act of committing a crime. So it sounds like they can’t even hang a charge on him for that.

In the end, what Andreychenko is guilty of is first-degree stupidity, but sadly there are still no laws on the books about that. He clearly knew that the entire country was on edge after the previous mass shootings, particularly when one took place at a Walmart. The fact that the firefighter didn’t blow his head off is almost miraculous, so Andreychenko should feel very lucky to be alive. But did he actually break any laws? The more we learn, the more it sounds like the answer will be no. And that video might just get him off on the terrorist threat charge as well.

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The Complete Evergreen Story parts 1 and 2

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 00:41

We’ve posted quite a few videos about what took place at Evergreen State College over the years, some of which are excellent. The two I’m posting today were put together by the person who probably has delved into this story more than anyone else, with the possible exception of Bret Weinstein himself.

Benjamin Boyce is an Evergreen grad who has been making videos about what happened at the school and the aftermath for the past two years. He’s received numerous leaks from people who are still at the school during that time and often has inside information no one else is talking about. Boyce has been promising to put together a film that would distill all that he’s learned and offer a more comprehensive understanding of what happened at the school and this week he released the first two parts of that effort. I think it was worth the wait.

What I really like about what Boyce has done here is that he’s not just rehashing the scenes of students shouting and misbehaving. He’s put together the context to help explain, “what caused what happened to happen.” Simply put, he’s trying to show where was all of this coming from. After watching just the first two installments of Boyce’s film, you’ll have a pretty clear idea.

The first few minutes of part 1 offers an overview of the whole story for anyone who somehow missed it, but after that Boyce dives into the story as told through his exclusive interviews with the people involved. Part 1 ends with the protest at Brett’s classroom.

Part 2 picks up exactly where part 1 left off with the police responding to Weinstein’s classroom (or trying to) and from there we move on to the first attempts by the student protest group to make demands of college president George Bridges (which involved disarming the police chief). In the second half of part 2, Boyce includes a series of videos of Evergreen faculty genuflecting at the altar of intersectionality. By the time Boyce jumps back to the agitated students, it’s pretty clear where all of this is coming from.

I’m very much looking forward to however many more episodes there are to this, but for now, here’s the first 30 or so minutes:

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Walmart reacts to El Paso and Dayton shootings by ending … violent promotional displays

Sat, 08/10/2019 - 00:01

A strange ploy since it’s obvious what they’re trying to do and also obvious that it won’t work.

There is a certain item to be found in Walmart stores which lefties are perennially agitating against, particularly after mass shootings. But it’s not “violent displays.”

If Walmart didn’t want to end gun sales, they’d have been better off doing nothing at all. A token gesture like this aimed at deflecting attention from its gun policies will end up pissing gun-grabbers off even more than silence would have, since it has the effect of highlighting the fact that the company won’t indulge them on their pet issue. Imagine believing devoutly that the only way to end mass murders is to stop guns and having Walmart tell you, “We won’t do that but we’ll keep the posters for the next Grand Theft Auto game out of the store, mkay?”

The retailer instructed employees in an internal memo to remove any marketing material, turn off or unplug video game consoles that show violent games — specifically Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and to monitor and turn off any violence depicted on screens in its electronics departments…

Under the heading: “Immediate Action,” employees were instructed to “Review your store for any signing or displays that contain violent images or aggressive behavior. Remove from the salesfloor or turn off these items immediately.”…

Patrick Markey, a psychology professor at Villanova University who focuses on video games, found in his research that men who commit severe acts of violence actually play violent video games less than the average male. About 20% were interested in violent video games, compared with 70% of the general population, he explained in his 2017 book “Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong.”

Here’s a typical headline (in this case from NBC) about the move. Does this read like good press or bad press for the company’s show of “sensitivity”?

Not only do guns remain on sale, notes Scott Shackford, but so do … violent video games. It’s just promotional materials for the games that are verboten. The point here, it seems, isn’t to blame video games for causing mass murder by somehow warping people’s brains, it’s merely to spare customers from being reminded of the recent shootings by keeping images of violence out of the stores. Although even then, says Shackford, why make that a national policy instead of one exclusive to Walmart stores in El Paso and Dayton?

Their attempt to change the subject isn’t working on gun-control fans. To the contrary:

I’m standing with @gunsdownamerica, @AMarch4OurLives, and @AFTunion as they rally this weekend to urge @Walmart to stop selling guns. I hope you’ll join them. https://t.co/lmuPztbfwN

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 9, 2019

Walmart stopped selling semiautomatic rifles, including AR-15s, in 2015 and began focusing on sportsman firearms instead. It also previously raised the age limit for purchasing weapons in its stores to 21. A question for the readership, then: Does anyone know of an analysis positing how many mass shootings have been committed with weapons purchased at Walmart? I’ve been googling but can’t find anything definitive. There have been some — NBC notes that “the 2011 shooting in Arizona, in which 18 were shot, and the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, in which 49 people were killed” involved guns or ammo from Walmart. But my guess is that the number is very small, particularly since the time when the company phased out semiautomatics. This Time piece from last year succinctly explains why. Rifles aren’t used in many homicides, period, let alone sporting rifles being used in mass murders. Also, I would guess that a degenerate who’s preparing to indulge a super-soldier fantasy by gunning down a bunch of “enemies” wouldn’t want to shop for his weapon of “war” at a pedestrian supermarket where moms are busy buying groceries. He’d feed the fantasy by going to a gun store to show seriousness of purpose.

If it’s mass shootings you’re primarily worried about, then, Walmart circa 2019 is a weird place to target. If it’s guns generally that you’re eager to ban, then targeting a mega-corporation that sells them all over the country makes more sense. Hence Warren’s protest.

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John McWhorter: ‘We were lied to’ about what happened in Ferguson (Update)

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 23:21

I made this point yesterday afternoon, but it’s good to have company. John McWhorter is an academic and author who describes himself as a Democrat but who occasionally veers from ideological orthodoxy on issues involving race. He also once worked for the conservative Manhattan Institute which means some people on the left view him as a Republican. So I’ll say upfront that while I don’t always agree with McWhorter, he’s often interesting to read and frequently says something a lot more reasonable than many other writers of similar think-pieces on these topics. And that’s the case again today on the 5th anniversary of the death of Michael Brown. From Slate:

John Crawford, killed for holding up a toy. Eric Garner was basically pleading for his life. And these sorts of things are not happening once every five years. What was interesting about it was that finally white America could see what ails a lot of black America. I think a lot of very well-intentioned whites look at the race debate and think, “Why are black people still so upset? What’s the issue?” And a great deal of the issue has been the cops.

But so much of what people remember about the August day Brown was killed is simply a myth. We can go on and on with various black men who were killed under conditions quite different from Ferguson. It’s inconvenient to me that the case that forever people will think about is the one where essentially we were lied to…

When you saw the Department of Justice report, did that change how you thought about what you’ve been writing about for a year at that point?

Yes. What happened in Ferguson was quite different from what we were told. No one can doubt now that Brown did not die with his hands up—he had been quite aggressive with Darren Wilson, and Darren Wilson shot him because he was afraid. Now, we can talk about Why did Darren Wilson have to shoot him to kill? That’s a whole conversation, as opposed to shooting him in the leg, but the idea that the “gentle giant” got shot with his hands up is a myth, and we’ve heard this even from the people who were watching.

I have been quite disturbed that a major element in our intelligence and punditocracy pretends that the truth about Ferguson is somehow beside the point. You can assume that there is going to be a movie about Ferguson, and I’m sure they are probably shooting it now, and in the part where Michael Brown was killed you can be sure that they’re going to go in slow motion, they’re going to start with strobe lighting, the camera angles are going to get weird. The director and the writer are going to give interviews where they say that they wanted to make it clear that the truth is unsure, that there are varying perspectives. But no, the truth is quite simple.

McWhorter makes it clear that he’s not saying there isn’t a problem between black Americans and the police. In fact, he thinks the other Justice Department report, the one that found all sorts of misbehavior by the mostly white police force, may help explain why Mike Brown reacted the way he did that day five years ago. I think he has a point there but you can’t really make that point (in my view) unless you’re also willing to tell the truth about Mike Brown (as McWhorter does).

What bothers me about it is that it being untrue leaves black people who are concerned with where we are on race open to a charge of lying. There are so many cases where the facts are quite clear. And then there is a case that people will bring all the time, that there will be movies and plays about, which is based on a lie. And the lie is easy to find today with the internet.

The most prominent case of a cop murdering a black man is one where we happen not to have been told the truth. Where you can always say, “Actually, that didn’t happen.” It’s not healthy because it’s going to stand in the way of constructive debate. It’ll leave many people wondering whether we were lied to about a lot of the other cases.

McWhorter would prefer activists focus on the cases where the facts clearly support the argument they want to make, rather than one where it really does not. He specifically mentions Eric Garner. I would add Walter Scott. There are, unfortunately, enough cases to make the underlying point without relying on the false story about Mike Brown. And I would add, though McWhorter does not, that you could say much the same about Trayvon Martin, another case where many of the claims initially made turned out not be true.

Slate’s interviewer believes that ultimately the nation’s fixation on Mike Brown’s case was beneficial to the nation even if you grant that the initial story wasn’t accurate. McWhorter agrees saying, “If all of America is more aware of the problem of black men and the cops, the problem with the militarization of the police, then we’re further on than we were 10 years ago.”

This is where I would disagree (respectfully) with McWhorter. Ultimately it has to matter that the story which generated much of that energy was a lie. Because you really can’t have a conversation about the problem when the most fundamental thing many people believe about the issue is a lie. I understand the appeal of that lie. And I understand that similar things have really happened. But at some point, a real conversation about this has to be based on the truth. And five years later, that’s still not where we are.

Update: Case in point of the lie that persists to this day (and why it matters).

5 years ago Michael Brown was murdered by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael was unarmed yet he was shot 6 times. I stand with activists and organizers who continue the fight for justice for Michael. We must confront systemic racism and police violence head on.

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 9, 2019

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Joe Biden: There are at least three genders

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 22:41

I confess that I can’t hear the question being asked amid the din of the crowd, although Biden’s answer is clear enough. But in any event, it’s a question that *should* be asked at one of the upcoming debates.

Put the candidates on record: How many genders are there?

My team just forwarded this video to me

Watch former Vice President Biden forcefully grab one of our young field staffers at yesterday’s Iowa State Fair after she asked him how many genders there are pic.twitter.com/1qmpJxJlzO

— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 9, 2019

“How many genders are there?” is more salient to Democratic politics in 2019 than bans on contraception were to Republicans in 2012, when Mitt Romney was (in)famously asked by George Stephanopoulos at a primary debate whether he believed states should have the power to impose such bans. That was a reference to the fact that Rick Santorum had criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, arguing that there’s no express right of privacy in the Constitution that should bar states from banning condoms. But even Santorum didn’t support bans on the merits and in any case it wasn’t Santorum who was being asked. It was Romney, seemingly out of the blue. “Contraception, it’s working just fine, just leave it alone,” Romney ended up saying, understandably baffled that Stephanopoulos would raise the issue on a big stage given that no one within the GOP of any prominence was pushing for a ban. Righties suspected that the question was a plant, concocted by the former Democratic operative Stephanopoulos to make Republicans seems suspicious on the issue to viewers watching at home. “Wait, do Republicans want to ban contraception now? They must, or else George wouldn’t be asking about it!”

That’s a long way of saying that the media is perfectly equipped and willing to ask questions of a presidential field on sex and health even when it might make them uncomfortable. And unlike contraception bans within the 2012 GOP, the question of how many genders there are actually is a matter of dispute within the Democratic Party circa 2019. Older, more traditional, working-class Dems — Biden voters, essentially — would likely seem puzzled by the question and say, “Two, of course.” Progressive answers would be more nuanced, aimed at reassuring trans activists that they believe gender is more fluid. So why not get everyone on record? Let the centrists in the field try to convince the left that gender is a binary thing. (Would any Democratic candidate, even the ostentatiously moderate Michael Bennet, dare try?) And let each of the candidates, starting with blue-collar Grandpa Joe, try to explain to Biden’s base of black voters and white geriatrics why they’re wrong to think of gender in terms of “men” and “women.” Let’s see how moderate Democrats and swing voters do digesting progressive cant that there are actually six genders or whatever.

I mean, do you think a guy prone to stumbles like this, never mind the “poor kid/white kid” flub last night, would handle that subject smoothly if called on to discuss it?

Biden referred to Theresa May as “Margaret Thatcher” tonight, the second time he’s done that since May.

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 9, 2019

Precisely because we all have a decent idea of how the gender debate will be received by casual voters, it’s unlikely that our fair and balanced press will push Democrats on it. Which is why college students mingling with the candidates at events in Iowa will have to do it.

By the way, Biden’s comment at the end about being first on marriage — which seemed to confuse his questioner — is a reference to his support for gay marriage. He actually did endorse that policy as VP before Obama did, which helped nudge Obama into finally taking the plunge.

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Trump: The movie coming out is designed to inflame and cause chaos!

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 22:01

What is he talking about now? He’s not talking about “The Hunt,” is he?

….to inflame and cause chaos. They create their own violence, and then try to blame others. They are the true Racists, and are very bad for our Country!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 9, 2019

The consensus on social media is that he’s talking about “The Hunt.”

If you missed this post last night about the movie and the disingenuous attempts to spin it as biased against “deplorables,” dive in. Or watch the trailer below and see for yourself. As Seth Mandel put it, it’s basically an NRA recruiting ad. Calling this movie anti-populist or anti-deplorable is like calling “Red Dawn” anti-American/pro-Soviet because the Russians kill a bunch of Americans in the first half of the movie. It’s so wrong that it can’t be explained as a function of idiocy. No one’s that stupid. Only dishonesty explains it.

So here’s how this probably went down. Fox News heard there was a movie coming out in which the “deplorables” are hunted for sport. Then they watched the trailer and thought, “Oh, wait, the deplorables are the good guys and they rise up against the murderous rich.” But it’d be a shame to let a sweet-ass cultural grievance topic like “Elite Hollywood celebrates murder of salt-of-the-earth Americans” go by the boards, so they decided to just go ahead and pretend that that’s the takeaway from this movie. That’s how we ended up with the Laura Ingraham segment that I wrote about yesterday. Either Trump saw that segment or he saw some other Fox segment about “The Hunt” that repeated the lie that the movie is anti-deplorable, and since Trump receives the information he sees on Fox the way Christians receive Scripture, he went ahead and echoed their take on the presidential Twitter account — without even bothering to learn the name of the movie, apparently. That’s how little he cares about the culture-war fires he sets. Some movie or other whose name he can’t remember is inflammatory and racist because Steve Doocy or whoever told him so.

Where did he get the “racist” part, by the way? I count two nonwhite people in the trailer, neither one of whom speaks and both of whom look to be minor characters. The villain is a rich white woman. The hero is a blue-collar white woman. This is a movie about class, not race, and obviously so. Weird that a populist-nationalist who’s allegedly fighting for working-class Americans of all stripes would see a racial angle in a story about average people being hunted. Maybe he’s just recycling old grievances about Hollywood being anti-white…

Django Unchained is the most racist movie I have ever seen, it sucked!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2013

How is ABC Television allowed to have a show entitled "Blackish"? Can you imagine the furor of a show, "Whiteish"! Racism at highest level?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 1, 2014

…or maybe he’s using this as an opportunity to polish up his “us versus them” 2020 campaign message to his white base even if it makes no sense in the context of “The Hunt.” If we can pretend that Hollywood’s glorifying the hunting of average Americans here to serve a political agenda, we might as well pretend there’s a racial element to it too.

Anyway, now that He Hath Spoken, there’s no going back. Trump doesn’t apologize so he’ll have to double, triple, and quadruple down on this take no matter how wrong it turns out to be. And of course it’ll be a matter of ideological duty on the right to defend his take lest a point be scored on the president. Exit question: Who is this movie going to “inflame”? Since it’s the elite who are being demonized as monstrous psychos, should we be worried about some mom from Beverly Hills getting angry and going on a rampage?

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Unsealed court documents reveal more about Jeffrey Epstein’s sex ring

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 21:21

The backstory here requires a bit of explanation. A woman named Virginia Roberts has claimed for years that she was recruited by Jeffrey Epstein’s associate Ghislaine Maxwell (who spotter her working at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago) to give Epstein massages when she was just 16 years old. Roberts said that she became Epstein’s sex slave, having sex with him and with other men he was friendly with at Epstein’s request.

After Roberts (who married and took her husbands name, Giuffre) made these claims, Gislaine Maxwell denied them and Roberts responded by suing Maxwell for defamation. That lawsuit was settled in 2017 but the documents that were part of it have remained sealed. But last month an appeals court ordered some of the documents be released and that happened today. What the documents reveal is more detail about how Epstein’s private world operated. From the Daily Beast:

Virginia Giuffre, who says that Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her to powerful people for erotic massages and sex, claimed in a 2016 deposition that Maxwell directed her to have sex with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Britain’s Prince Andrew (whom she has accused before), wealthy financier Glenn Dubin, former senator George Mitchell, now-deceased MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, and modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, as well as “another prince” and the owner of a “large hotel chain” in France.

None of the men named in the deposition have been charged with a crime or even sued in civil court in connection with the Epstein case. The deposition represents accuser Giuffre’s allegations, and the court documents unsealed on Friday did not contain any corroboration or further details, though many documents remain sealed…

In a videotaped deposition—excerpts of which were included in the documents unsealed Friday—Giuffre said that Maxwell would send her to have erotic “massages” and sexual encounters with various powerful men—from a hotel owner in France (an incident she places “around the same time that Naomi Campbell had a birthday party”) to politician Richardson to Dubin, a financier who is married to Epstein’s former girlfriend Eva Andersson-Dubin.

Dubin and Andersson-Dubin were two of Epstein’s closest friends. Eva, a former Miss Sweden who married Glenn in 1994, was a critical factor in Epstein’s reintroduction to New York high society after the financier’s Florida conviction. The Dubins are fantastically wealthy—Forbes puts their fortune around $2 billion—and Glenn Dubin is a founder of Highbridge Capital, as well as the charitable Robin Hood Foundation (JFK Jr. had a seat on its board). They live in a 5th Avenue apartment once owned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and are regulars on the Palm Beach circuit that Epstein once dominated.

The Miami Herald also published a story today about the new documents, highlighting some of the testimony that was part of the case:

Some of the testimony is difficult to read, as when one 15-year-old Swedish girl, shaking and crying in despair, tells a butler who worked for one of Epstein’s closest friends that she had been taken to Epstein’s island in the Caribbean and forced to have sex with him and others. The butler relates the story under oath. The girl, visibly traumatized, told the houseman who worked for Eva Dubin, a former Miss Sweden and founder of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai, and her husband, prominent hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, that Epstein and Maxwell had physically threatened to harm her and seized her passport to keep her on the island, according to the butler’s statement. She was so distraught she couldn’t recall how she got back to the U.S. mainland, but the butler testified that Maxwell brought her to the Dubin residence.

In short, if this is true then these people were monsters. The documents also raise questions about why Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly worked as Epstein’s madam, was given a pass:

The cache of court documents, part of the case’s motion for summary judgment, also show that as early as 2006, when the Palm Beach police were first investigating Epstein, he was being assisted by Maxwell as part of a pyramid-like scheme the pair operated to lure young girls from around Palm Beach, focusing on schools, colleges and spas.

Palm Beach Detective Joe Recarey testified in the case that he was never able to question Maxwell, but the fact that the police had evidence of Maxwell’s involvement raises new questions about why the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida failed to pursue sex trafficking charges against Epstein, Maxwell and others.

Maxwell was given immunity as part of Epstein’s sweetheart deal with the US attorney. Also, there’s this:

Giuffre, as part of her sworn testimony, also states that she met both former President Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and President Donald Trump, and that Epstein once held a dinner for Clinton on his island, Little St. James, off the coast of St. Thomas.

Clinton has admitted knowing Epstein but denies having ever visited his island. It’s worth noting that Roberts says she was not aware of either Trump or Clinton engaging in sex with any of the young women around Epstein.

Of course, everyone involved in this has denied everything but there are pictures of a young Virginia Roberts standing next to Prince Andrew (who has his hand around her waist) while Gislaine Maxwell looks on from the background. Given what we know Epstein was doing with young girls at the time, it’s really not that hard to believe her accusations.

Here’s the Miami Herald’s video report on Virginia Roberts:

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RNC chair: You’re darned right we’re calling a Code Red on Twitter

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 20:41

Just how seriously should Twitter take the RNC and NRSC decision to pull advertising from the platform?  RNC chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo that the Code Red is just the beginning. McDaniel hinted that Twitter might lose its most celebrated generator of content and views if they don’t stop discriminating against Republicans:

BARTIROMO: Republicans taking on social media now after Twitter froze Mitch McConnell’s reelection account for posting a live stream of threats directed at the Senate majority leader, there were protests outside his home. The National Republican Senatorial Committee says it will not spend any money on Twitter unless the situation is adequately addressed. Ronna, do you think Twitter really cares that the Republicans will not spend any money, is this enough to actually make a difference?

CHAIRWOMAN MCDANIEL: I think Twitter does care because there’s one person that has revived Twitter, that has made Twitter a household name and that’s President Donald J. Trump. For them to arbitrarily apply a different standard to conservatives than they are doing to Democrats, to allow the #MassacreMitch to continue and to not allow Mitch McConnell to put a video out of people protesting outside of his house, is a total double standard. We are going to hold them accountable. The RNC has also pulled ad funding which is a significant amount. They need to come forward with how they are going to the apply the standards and are they going the apply them equally to the Democrats and Republicans.

Is McDaniel threatening that Donald Trump will boycott Twitter over its treatment of Republicans? Heaven forfend! That might actually be The Big One, at least in terms of media interest. Nothing else that gets transmitted on the platform is as impactful or meaningful — not necessarily because of its content but because of the import of the office attached to it.

It seems unlikely that Trump would give up Twitter under any circumstances, however. The longest he’s gone between tweets might be a few days, although it’s tough to recall any such gap. Long gone are the chin-stroking debates over the wisdom of having the leader of the free world doing stream-of-consciousness commentary on any social media platform; @RealDonaldTrump is as much part of the political landscape as talking-head cable shows. It’s as much a part of Trump’s political strategy as his rallies, and likely just as personally satisfying, too. He’s not going to leave Twitter, not even with a team of horses pulling him away from his smartphone.

That doesn’t mean Trump will sit on the sidelines, of course. As Amber Phillips notes at the Washington Post, the controversy plays right into Trump’s hands:

McConnell’s Twitter problem was already a national story, but Trump jumping in made it even bigger. It makes political sense that Trump would seek out a fight with social media companies. These companies, largely located in liberal Silicon Valley, are increasingly moderating the political debate. Campaigns advertise on them. Advocates coordinate on them. Russia tries to interfere in elections on them.

Accusing these powerful corporations of having it out for conservatives fits neatly with Trump’s overarching, populist narrative that the upper echelons of American society have it out for him and his supporters. He’s not just trying to drain the government swamp; he’s trying to take on big corporations, as well.

Trump has gone so far as to suggest that the U.S. government sue Google and Facebook. He even recently accused Google of trying to rig its search results to cause him to lose in the 2020 presidential election. “A lot of bad things are happening,” he said at a social media summit at the White House in July with some of the Internet’s most controversial and conservative actors. …

Now, to the extent he wants to, Trump can point to Twitter freezing a prominent account for the most prominent senator — for an admittedly perplexing reason — to make his case that social media companies apply the rules unfairly to conservatives.

This headache will extend well beyond Twitter’s advertising revenue. Bartiromo might be correct about that impact, but Twitter’s execs and its investors will be paying very close attention to what comes next.

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Julian Castro: My brother did nothing wrong by posting that list of Trump donors

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 20:01

Not that anyone expected him to throw his twin brother and national campaign chairman under the bus here, but as you watch him intone below about how harassment is wrong, note that at least one person on Castro’s Trump donor list is practicing “situational awareness” with his children now as a result.

“We convened together as a family and talked about situational awareness, exit strategy, avoiding and exiting conflict, talked about staying low and close to home and just being at our very highest senses,” said [Harper] Huddleston…

Huddleston argued that when Castro, as a sitting congressman, tweets such a list, it reaches a “very large audience” and he attempted to connect “fine members of this community” to racism and white supremacy.

“Moms, dads, retirees and to associate these people with those types of claims is just wrong,” he said, arguing that he believes Castro’s actions will actually motivate the president’s supporters.

Oh, footnote: Huddleston isn’t actually a max donor to Trump. His father is. The younger Huddleston ended up on Castro’s list erroneously because he and his dad have the same name and Team Castro didn’t care enough about the people on their target list to double-check that they had identified everyone correctly before putting it out.

What my brother did is not doxxing, Castro notes in the clip, resorting again to the defense that donor information is publicly available in FEC reports. But curating and amplifying the information in the report has the same purpose as doxxing, which is to intimidate the targets. A Twitter pal reminded me today of how much media heat Marco Rubio took last year when he got pissed off at a Maduro apologist who had tweeted at him and responded by posting the address and phone number of the guy’s restaurant on Twitter. That was public information too, but that was no defense given that Rubio’s intent was obviously to see the guy harassed by Maduro activists. Why is Rubio’s tweet Bad but Castro’s target list Good?

Karol Markowicz understands why Rubio and Castro received disparate treatment:

Liberals view the election of President Trump as a monstrous anomaly, something that should never have happened. They view all Trump supporters, be they Acela Corridor denizens or car-dealership owners in suburban Texas, as complicit in this great evil and therefore fair game.

The media is only too happy to help. Everyone remembers what The Washington Post and The New York Times did to the Covington Catholic boys. Or recall the way CNN went after an anonymous tweeter after Trump retweeted an image he had created mocking the network.

The message to anyone who dares not march in lockstep with liberalism: You don’t matter, and we will target you for ruination whenever we feel like it.

Have the Castros explained yet what, precisely, they hoped would happen as a result of publishing the list? Remember, it’s not a boycott list; some of those on it are retirees and were identified as such. If the point isn’t (or isn’t merely) to steer customers away from businesses owned by people on there then what was the point? The most charitable read is that it’s a list of people to be shunned: If you’re friends with someone who’s named then you have a moral duty to avoid that person until he or she has renounced Orange Satan and his wicked ways. The less charitable read is that — well, that it’s exactly what it looks like. The point is to force everyone involved to familiarize themselves with the concept of “situational awareness,” however disingenuously the Castros may deny it.

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Black GOP candidate told to “stop eating the ‘coon flakes'” in KY AG race

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 19:21

In case you haven’t fully gotten the message, African-American Democrats are really angry with any African-American Republican that embraces President Trump. Then, if an African-American Republican runs for an elected office, well, the racial slurs fly… from the Democrats. The race for Kentucky’s Attorney General is no different – just ask Daniel Cameron.

Daniel Cameron is an African-American Republican candidate for attorney general in Kentucky. He came under attack by Dawn Elliott, a liberal female African-American lawyer and co-host of a political talk radio show, this week. Cameron is running against Democrat Greg Stumbo, a 67-year-old white Democrat who is a former Attorney General of Kentucky and long-time state lawmaker.

Cameron, a former general counsel for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, proudly announced his endorsement by President Trump — and that didn’t sit well with Ms. Elliott. She told Cameron to “stop eating the coon flakes”. Yikes! In the mind of Elliott, Trump is “trying to destroy” black people. Hyperbole, much?

But Dawn Elliott, who said Cameron needs to “stop eating the ‘coon flakes’ the White House is serving,” isn’t backing down. The outspoken radio show host said the association with Trump is a slap in the face to African Americans and that Cameron needs to explain his position to black voters.

“To sit there and be so proud of someone who is an open racist is shameful,” said Elliott, an attorney who co-hosts a political talk show on WLOU 1350 AM. “Why would anyone of color want to side with someone who is trying to destroy us?”

Daniel Cameron explained he is a life-long Republican and doesn’t need to be told what to think by Democrats, thank you very much.

Yesterday, a liberal attorney said I should stop eating "coon flakes" in a @CourierJournal interview. I am a proud lifelong Republican, part of a diverse @KYGOP ticket, and yes I support @realDonaldTrump. It's time to stop telling black Americans what we're allowed to believe

— Daniel Cameron (@djaycameron) August 7, 2019

Republicans in Kentucky haven’t held the Office of Attorney General since World War II. If elected, the former University of Louisville football player would be the first African-American to hold the seat. It sounds like maybe Ms. Elliott is a bit nervous that in Trump-friendly Kentucky, Cameron may have a shot at victory with Trump’s endorsement. Her ugly talk speaks more about herself than it does about Mr. Cameron.

The Republican Party of Kentucky is publicizing the fact that they have three non-white candidates running for state-wide offices while the Democrats have none. Ms. Elliott’s concern may be justified in her concern if more African-American Democrats look to electing a candidate based on his race rather than his political party affiliation.

Louisville sports radio host Raashaan Myers, a Democrat, said he is keeping an open mind about Cameron’s historic bid.

“Anytime you can have a first and have an African American have an opportunity to do something new, it’s motivating and I love it,” said Myers, who is black. “You can still be excited for Daniel whether Donald Trump likes him or doesn’t like him. I’m not going to allow Trump to tell me who I should or shouldn’t support.”

During an interview with guest host Brian Kilmeade on “Tucker Carlson Tonight”, Cameron addressed a political flyer distributed by his opponents with an Old West-style theme. The “Most Wanted” poster is of McConnell and Cameron with a reference to Big Pharma. He said he’s seen worse.

“This is not about me,” he said. “Enough is enough. The black community is told day in and day out they have to speak with one voice and that is the voice of the Democratic Party.”

Continuing to respond to the criticisms, Cameron said Democrats preach “tolerance” but appear intolerant when it comes to political viewpoints that run counter to theirs.

We’ll see what happens on Tuesday, November 5 when Kentucky voters go to vote.

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Nadler: These are “formal impeachment proceedings,” you know

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 18:41

Did we miss a House vote? Judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler told CNN’s Erin Burnett that the committee’s investigation has turned into “formal impeachment proceedings,” which might be news to the overwhelming majority that voted against such a step last month:

"This is formal impeachment proceedings."

Speaking with @ErinBurnett, House Judiciary Chairman @RepJerryNadler clarifies the debate of impeachment inquiry versus actual impeachment.https://t.co/dsiXkstqvp pic.twitter.com/UN1SunqjNV

— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) August 8, 2019

“This is formal impeachment proceedings,” Nadler said in an interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett. “We are investigating all the evidence, we’re gathering the evidence. And we will at the conclusion of this — hopefully by the end of the year — vote to vote articles of impeachment to the House floor. Or we won’t. That’s a decision that we’ll have to make. But that’s exactly the process we’re in right now.” …

The House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Trump should be impeached, Nadler noted.

“The fact is, we are doing an investigation. We are investigating the facts, investigating the evidence,” Nadler said. “We are going into court to get witnesses all with a view toward deciding and recommending to the House whether to impeach the president.”

The main “fact” is that Nadler has not been authorized to open “formal impeachment proceedings” against Trump. A vote to proceed on impeachment, which could have produced such a referral from the House, failed on a 95-322 vote in mid-July. That vote took place before Nadler’s stunt testimony from Robert Mueller blew up in his face, as well as in Adam Schiff’s at the House Intelligence Committee. More Democrats have publicly backed the idea of an impeachment probe since, but the number is still around 120 by CNN’s count — far too few to authorize a “formal” impeachment process.

Ranking member Doug Collins ripped Nadler shortly after the interview aired last night:

Chairman Nadler is either uniformed about what a formal impeachment inquiry is or he is deliberately misleading the American public to score cheap political points. Which is it, Chairman? #moveon https://t.co/OYa3euFPEz

— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) August 9, 2019

This is mostly a matter of semantics anyway. Nadler has been operating an informal impeachment proceeding since the day he took over the House Judiciary Committee, and everyone knows it. No one has any doubt as to Nadler’s motives, even if the lack of formal designation allows Nancy Pelosi some plausible deniability for electoral purposes. Nadler doesn’t require a formal grant to produce articles of impeachment anyway; Judiciary has enough authority on its own to refer impeachment to the full House.

So why hasn’t Nadler done so? He’s been talking big for months on this issue, and does so again in this interview, claiming that Mueller never vindicated Trump on collusion. That’s true — as far as it goes, but it also puts cart before the horse. Mueller also concluded that there was no evidence to support Nadler’s theory that Trump campaign officials knowingly worked with Russian intelligence, which means there’s no case for it. Prosecutors aren’t in the business of exoneration, but of finding evidence. There wasn’t any evidence that Trump and his team did anything to steal the 2016 election, which was the only basis on which an impeachment could possibly generate enough popular support to succeed in removal.

Nadler’s hoping to stoke outrage by spinning the Mueller report as hard as possible. He’d be better off taking Hillary Clinton’s advice to shut the hell up if he wants to have any credibility at all.

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Donny Deutsch: The blood is on your hands, Trump supporters

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 18:01

Via the MRC, I’m afraid to leave the computer for five minutes lest I miss the next viral clip of anti-Trump one-upsmanship on MSNBC. Rick Stengel wants to compare supporting Trump to supporting apartheid? Well, Donny Deutsch will see that claim and raise him by calling all of Trump’s supporters accessories to mass murder.

How is today’s extended Two Minutes Hate on Nicolle Wallace’s show going to top this?

This is the same guy, by the way, who said this just a few weeks ago:

“It is time for the Democrats to wake up. We are playing against cheaters and liars or stealers.”

He went on to offer a different rendition of former first lady Michelle Obama’s slogan, “When they go low, we go high.” Deutsch said, “When they go low, we got to do whatever we have to do.”

“We may not have won the battle of impeachment, but we’re going to win the war of putting him in jail whatever we have to do and we’re not going to necessarily play fair,” Deutsch said. “For all the intellectuals out there whose hair is going to go on fire, ‘But we’re becoming like them. We’re becoming like them,’ we cannot lose the next election. We will go back 50 years.”

That’s emblematic of where MSNBC is going, assuming they’re not already there. After two and a half years of complaining about Trump violating norms of liberal democracy, they’re now shifting towards Deutsch’s position that norms are for suckers when you’re facing a threat as dire as Donald J. Trump. That’s the Joaquin Castro doxx-list episode in a nutshell, really: Normally it’d be unthinkable for a congressman to nudge his supporters to harass little-known people for the crime of donating to an opponent, but these are no longer normal times, it’s said. Anything goes, and must go in the name of saving the republic. Should that idea spread and blood end up being spilled, rest assured that MSNBC will deny that there’s any on its own hands.

Although Scarborough’s 2015-16 ass-kissing of Trump is common knowledge, it’s less well known that Trump and Deutsch used to be buddies. I’m embedding a second clip below, from April 2016, as a reminder. It’s Deutsch presciently predicting that Trump would not only go on to clinch the nomination but that he’d beat Hillary Clinton, and to all appearances he’s quite pleased at the prospect. Joe and Mika don’t seem dour about it either even though by that point all of the hallmarks of what kind of presidency Trump would have were already well known. Trump warning of immigrant rapists bringing drugs across the border; Trump calling for a ban on Muslims globally from entering the U.S. until we can “figure out what’s going on”; Trump hinting darkly that riots would ensue if he lost a floor fight for the nomination at a brokered convention; Trump gloating that the military would obey his orders even if they were illegal. It was all common knowledge in April 2016 and yet “Morning Joe” was still captivated by the outsider who had upended the system. Don’t ever forget.


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Rosanna Arquette is sorry she’s white: “It disgusts me”

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 17:21

Rosanna Arquette, actress, and #MeToo activist is a member of a Hollywood family that frequently gets political. This week she announced her disgust with her own skin color. She literally took old-school liberal white guilt to a whole new level.

Wednesday Arquette tweeted: “I’m sorry I was born white and privileged. It disgusts me. And I feel so much shame.” I would include her tweet here but alas, the actress has “protected” her account, which means only approved followers can see her tweets. She was advised to do so by the FBI, according to her representative. She has more than 89,000 followers.

The overwhelming criticism prompted Arquette to lock her account. Her rep, Danny Deraney, confirmed to USA TODAY that the “FBI did tell her to make her profile private.”

“Yes I’m locked to protect myself I was told by FBI to lock it up,” Arquette told The Wrap Thursday. “There are toxic and very vicious people on social media. Threatening and cruel.”

She continued: “I said yesterday that I am ashamed of the color of my skin. I am privileged just because I’m white. I feel shame. Because of all the violence that is happening in America and other racist countries.”

Deraney added that Arquette “stands by” her remarks.

Her apology for her skin color came after she posted three hours earlier that President Trump incites racial violence. “The president of the United States of America incites racist violence. The end.” Maybe her “disgust” with her whiteness comes from being the same race as the president.

Rosanna’s Twitter profile states that she is a “mother, activist, actor director ..producer. resisting fascism on a daily basis. silence is complicity.” I had no idea that her world is so fascist that she has to fight it every single day. It is some rarified air that she is breathing on the West Coast to think she advances any discussion on race relations or “white privilege” by tweeting out something so non-productive as her shame of being a white person. All she does is sound ungrateful for her life. She had nothing to do with being born and can do nothing about the color of her skin. The 59-year-old woman’s parents are both deceased, so they are spared this nonsense, though they might have found her words normal. Her father Lewis Arquette was a film actor, writer, and producer.

As I mentioned earlier, political activism runs in her family. Rosanna describes her upbringing as “artistic, musical and left-wing.” Her parents were left-wing activists and her mother was big into protesting the Vietnam war back in the day. Rosanna embraces her reputation as a “troublemaker” and is quick to describe her industry as misogynistic. She has been a leader in the #MeToo movement and cited her own abuse at the hands of Harvey Weinstein.

Rosanna’s younger sister, Patricia made headlines earlier this year as she accepted a SAG award in the Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series category for her performance in the movie Escape at Dannemora. Patricia turned an otherwise politics-free awards show into one that included her random mention of Robert Mueller. A politics-free awards show is rare these days. I know this because I cover most of them for Newsbusters and I covered this one, too. The younger Arquette almost forgot to include her selfish political thought and then she said, “Oh, thank you, Robert Mueller and everyone working to make sure that we have sovereignty for the United States of America.” This is how the sisters talk. They aren’t real deep thinkers but they don’t hesitate to deliver a hot take or two.

Wednesday must have been a busy day for Rosanna’s triggered feelings. She also tweeted that “Antifa is not a hate group.” I don’t think the victims of the violent leftists in Antifa have the same opinion. Perhaps she should watch an interview with Andy Ngo, for example.

Rosanna Arquette is an accomplished actress. Her movie credits include Pulp Fiction, The Big Blue, The Whole Nine Yards, and Desperately Seeking Susan. It seems petty and a waste of time to sound off about her disgust with being white when there is nothing she can do about that and the trope that white people are at the root of all evil is just lame, frankly. That’s the best she’s got?

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Trump gets his acting DNI as Gordon resigns under pressure

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 16:41

He made a list and checked it twice, and Sue Gordon turned out to be neither naughty nor nice enough to make the cut. Donald Trump selected retired Admiral Joseph Maguire, now chief of National Counterterrorism Center, to temporarily replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats when he departs on August 15th — along with Gordon. Gordon’s departure, however, was the key:

A federal statute says that if the intelligence directorship becomes vacant, the deputy director — Ms. Gordon — shall serve as acting director. But the law appears to give the president much more flexibility in choosing whom to appoint as the acting deputy if the No. 2 position is vacant.

That legal structure creates a loophole for a president who wants to evade the apparently strict limitations on who can become acting director: If both positions are vacant at the same time, the president can temporarily install someone to his liking in the No. 2 position who then will rise to serve as the acting director by virtue of the vacancy at the top.

Under the law that created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, if the position of deputy director is vacant, Mr. Trump can temporarily install as the acting deputy director any sufficiently senior official in the intelligence community, or anyone else currently serving in a Senate-confirmed position in the broader executive branch.

Mr. Maguire, whom the Senate confirmed to lead the National Counterterrorism Center in December, would qualify by either method.

The writing was on the wall for Gordon a week ago. The Daily Beast reported at that time that the White House requested an org chart of senior executives in the intelligence community, which looked then like an attempt to work around Gordon as John Ratcliffe’s nomination got processed. With Ratcliffe’s departure, the issue became even more acute as the acting ODNI might be around for months.

Gordon saw the writing on the wall as well. Her resignation letter acknowledged Trump’s desire to put “a new leadership team” in place for US intelligence and that her resignation would allow Trump to do so. It pointedly does not include any other reason for resigning her position after “more than 30 years” in the intel community, making it clear that her departure is entirely political. Gordon was polite and respectful, but also uninterested in giving Trump any cover on her departure.

In return, Trump gave Gordon a polite but unenthusiastic see ya later:

….coincides with the retirement of Dan Coats. A new Acting Director of National Intelligence will be named shortly.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2019

Not that it will matter in the long run. Maguire is perhaps a fortunate find for Trump in the midst of this reshuffle, and practically designed to offset any blowback from pushing Gordon out. The Washington Post reports that the intel community is “relieved” by his ascent to acting ODNI, perhaps in comparison to Trump’s first choice to replace Coats:

Maguire, who was a Seal Team 6 commander, has extensive experience in counterterrorism operations and national security, said Mike McConnell, a former director of national intelligence who worked with Maguire during the George W. Bush administration.

“He listens, he’s deliberate and he makes good decisions. He’s the kind of guy that all the troops want to have as boss and would follow him anywhere,” McConnell said.

“Joe is a terrific leader who cares deeply about the men and women of the intelligence community,” said Nick Rasmussen, who held Maguire’s job at the counterterrorism center under Bush and President Barack Obama. “He’s someone who has always accepted the call to serve his country in whatever way is required. This is no different.”

Will Maguire get the nod for the top job? This could be a kind of audition, but it’s more likely that Trump will want more of an ally at the ODNI. This took an awful lot of work just to have a member of the intel-community establishment rise to the top. It will allow Trump to take his time in finding the next candidate, who will have to be a little more prepared for the task — and have a resumé that better fits the job’s statutory requirements.

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Ohr interviews: Steele agenda was to stop Trump presidency

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 16:01

Just how much trouble will Bruce Ohr’s interview notes cause the FBI? As described by the Washington Post and Politico, it might create no small amount of embarrassment in the short term — and maybe worse down the road. According to Ohr, the FBI knew full well that Steele had an anti-Trump agenda months before the bureau relied on his dossier to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page, but never disclosed it to the FISA judge. Ohr expressed skepticism about the veracity of Steele’s claims well before that too:

Heavily redacted FBI memos released Thursday show that while the FBI formally cut ties with a former British intelligence officer who supplied some early information in the investigation of Russian election interference, agents quietly sought to reestablish contact as the case heated up.

The released documents are formal FBI interview memos of agents’ conversations with Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official who has drawn the ire of President Trump for his connections to Christopher Steele, a former British spy with an expertise in Russia who wrote a dossier of allegations against Trump in 2016. The general thrust of Steele’s allegations was that then-candidate Trump was secretly aligned with Russian officials and could be manipulated by them.

That was the “general thrust,” but was it the truth? As Ohr’s 302s indicate, not even Ohr was convinced despite his wife Nellie’s connections to Steele. It became clear that Steele had an agenda, and it might have been connected to who was paying for his work. And if that was clear, why were FBI agents so keen on getting Steele back in the fold after he leaked information to Mother Jones? Especially when they didn’t really believe his information?

One of the FBI documents released Thursday night suggested Ohr told agents he didn’t assume what Steele was telling him was true. “There are always Russian conspiracy theories that come from the Kremlin,” the memo said Ohr told agents. “Ohr honestly believes (redacted) reported what he heard from (redacted) but that doesn’t make the story true,” the memo said, in apparent reference to Steele.

Josh Gerstein notes that Trump supporters “are seizing” on the newly released material, for that reason and others:

Supporters of President Donald Trump are seizing on newly released FBI reportsto argue that the law enforcement agency had clear warnings within weeks after the election that the former British intelligence officer who authored a disputed dossier about Trump’s alleged ties to Russia was intent on preventing the real estate mogul from becoming president. …

A codename for Steele appears to have been redacted from the earliest reports on Bruce Ohr’s meetings with FBI agents, but one from a November 22, 2016 interview says the unnamed source whose information Ohr was passing on “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not becoming the U.S. president.”

Ohr said in the same interview that the source of the dossier was hired by “a lawyer who does opposition research” and that the information about Trump and Russia was being relayed to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, a close aide to Secretary of State John Kerry and the FBI.

While many of Trump’s backers have expressed deep suspicion of Ohr and suggested he acted improperly by relaying his wife’s research to the FBI, after the 21 pages of new reports emerged Thursday, the president’s supporters said they show that Ohr’s candor about Steele’s motivations wasn’t adequately considered by the FBI or disclosed to judges who approved secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for communications of a former Trump foreign policy adviser, Carter Page.

This lack of disclosure is especially curious, given Ohr’s clear understanding of Steele’s provenance and agenda. Ohr’s meeting took place in “late July 2016,” by which time both Ohr and his wife Nellie knew very well who was paying Steele and why. “OHR knew [redacted, Steele’s] reporting on Trump’s ties to Russia were going to the Clinton Campaign” at that time, the FBI’s interview notes show. And yet when the FBI applied for a FISA surveillance warrant in October, the FBI managed to avoid telling the judges about Steele’s agenda in assembling the dossier.

The warrant was approved by James Comey, then FBI director. According to Ohr, that made Steele nervous about what Comey might later tell Congress:

“Steele had been worried about Director Comey’s upcoming testimony to Congress, especially his response to questions that would be raised by (Sen.) Grassley,” according to the FBI’s notes from a May 10, 2017 interview with Ohr, who had spoken to Steele the day of the hearing.

Just what Steele was concerned about is redacted, but the notes said ultimately Steele was “happy with Director Comey’s response.”

Steele’s relief was likely only temporary. The real test will be how Inspector General Michael Horowitz views his dossier and the Ohr interviews in his investigations into Operation Crossfire Hurricane. The 302s indicate that the FBI had recognized several red flags about Steele’s work and his motives, and yet treated him like a reliable source in order to spy on Page and the Trump campaign.

That certainly suggests bias as the motive for the FBI’s actions, Lindsey Graham told Sean Hannity last night, and warned that this was “just the tip of the iceberg” on the question of bias:

“Here’s what we’re looking at: Systematic corruption at the highest level of the Department of Justice and the FBI against President Trump and in favor of Hillary Clinton,” Graham said.

Host Sean Hannity then asked Graham whether officials “lied purposefully” on a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant application to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

“The best you could say is that they were incompetent,” Graham responded. “The most likely outcome is that they wanted a result.”

“I think the insurance policy is what we’re seeing here, getting into the Trump campaign,” Graham continued. “The FISA warrant against Carter Page was a fraud, I believe. The counter-intelligence investigation is something we have to look at very closely.”

Graham has discussed this many times in television interviews, but he has yet to hold any hearings on the subject at the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Horowitz report will give him a clear entrée for such an investigation, which might well derail any momentum left in Jerrold Nadler’s impeachment efforts in the House counterpart.

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MSNBC contributor: Why aren’t people boycotting pro-Trump businesses like they boycotted pro-apartheid businesses?

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 15:21

Via the Free Beacon, what is this network going to be like a year from now, in the thick of the general election campaign, if they’re already at this level of hysteria? In the past five days we’ve had Joe and Mika defend Joaquin Castro’s doxx list of Trump donors in San Antonio, Nicolle Wallace assert (and then apologizing for asserting) that Trump wants to exterminate Latinos, former FBI honcho Frank Figliuzzi claim that Trump ordering flags to be raised from half-mast on August 8 will egg on white nationalists, and now Rick Stengel tossing an apartheid analogy onto the table.

I call upon Bob Mueller to reopen the Russia investigation so that these people have something to preoccupy their febrile minds.

Where we’re headed, I think, is the left trying to replicate the SoulCycle saga of the past few days by encouraging widespread boycotts of businesses owned by major — and maybe not so major? — Trump donors. As of 11 a.m. ET, it looks like SoulCycle chairman Stephen Ross is going ahead with the fundraiser for Trump that he scheduled for today. But he was wavering, Axios reports, and the White House had to intervene to steel his spine:

Billionaire New York real estate developer Stephen Ross privately expressed qualms about going ahead with his Hamptons fundraiser for President Trump today.

The state of play: Liberal customers had threatened to boycott Equinox and SoulCycle, the high-end fitness brands owned by a parent company that Ross chairs. Ross, who also owns the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, “freaked out” at the backlash, a source said, adding that Trump associates persuaded him to go ahead with the event at his Southampton mansion.

“Stay strong, it’s not going to be that bad. Not that many people are going to boycott the gym,” was another source’s paraphrasing of what Trump’s associates conveyed to Ross.

That’s true, but Ross was sufficiently spooked by the media’s attention to the fundraiser and pieces like this about SoulCycle customers weighing whether to boycott that he issued this statement yesterday:

“While some prefer to sit outside of the process and criticize, I prefer to engage directly and support the things I deeply care about,” the statement read. “I have known Donald Trump for 40 years, and while we agree on some issues, we strongly disagree on many others and I have never been bashful about expressing my opinions. I started my business with nothing and a reason for my engagement with our leaders is my deep concern for creating jobs and growing our country’s economy. I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability, and I have and will continue to support leaders on both sides of the aisle to address these challenges.”

I suspect this is the last fundraiser he’ll hold for Trump, especially if boycott fever on the left proves durable over the next few months. Some of the people on Castro’s list are already seeing their own business boycotted, although thankfully that’s the worst they appear to have suffered so far:

“I’ve had people say, ‘Hey, we were going to use you for business, but we found out you’re a racist,’” Mr. Herricks, the owner of Precision Pipe Rentals, an oil and gas services company in San Antonio, said in an interview. “‘We hope that you burn in hell and your business will go with you.’”…

“The more they do this stuff, the more it’s going to backfire,” said Bill White, a former president of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York. “More people are putting out their chests, standing up straight, saying: ‘I’m in. To hell with you publicizing my name.’”…

Fielding calls on Thursday, Mr. Herricks, the San Antonio-based donor, said that he would “absolutely” give to the president again. He also said he had squeezed in a workout that morning at Equinox.

Right, that’s the other question — not just “How extensive will the boycotting be?” but “How much will it backfire, not only by deepening the siege mentality on the right but by alienating centrists who may find all the boycott calls too draconian?” Stay tuned.

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Good guys with a gun — and a fire alarm: Armed citizen *might have* stopped a potential mass shooting in Missouri Walmart

Fri, 08/09/2019 - 14:41

Thankfully, more than one hero stepped up to the plate in this Springfield, Missouri Walmart. When a man armed with a rifle and wearing body armor began filming himself stalking around the store, a quick-thinking employee hit the fire alarm to evacuate the building. When the suspect tried to leave out a side exit, an armed citizen held him at gunpoint until police could make the arrest.

Whoever this idiot is, he’s “lucky he’s alive still,” as police commented afterward:

The armed man who walked into a Missouri Walmart store dressed in body armor and fatigues and was detained at gunpoint by an off-duty firefighter is “lucky he’s alive still” considering the situation he created, a police official said. …

The man who is said to be white and in his 20s was detained by the armed firefighter until police arrived at the Walmart Neighborhood Market, police said in a statement. The man in body armor had been seen pushing a shopping cart and recording video of himself on a cellphone, police told NBC affiliate KYTV.

Police were called about a possible active shooter, and the store manager pulled a fire alarm and told people to evacuate, Springfield police Lt. Mike Lucas said.

“He walked in here, heavily armed with body armor on, in military fatigues, and caused a great amount of panic inside the store,” Lucas said about the incident that came days after mass shootings at an El Paso Walmart and an Ohio entertainment district that left more than 30 people dead. “… Obviously, what’s happened in Texas and Dayton and all that kind of stuff in the last seven days — that’s on everybody’s minds.”

Had it not been for the armed man who held the suspect for police, the suspect might have slipped away to find another target for whatever he had planned. What was that, anyway? So far, police say that they’re not sure, but they’re working on it:

At approximately 4:10 p.m. Springfield Police Officers were dispatched to 3150 W. Republic Rd. to a Walmart Neighborhood Market. An armed white male in his twenties was detained by an armed off-duty fireman until officers arrived on scene and took the suspect into custody. No injuries were reported and no shots were fired. At this time, the investigation is on-going and we are working to determine his motives.

CNN’s coverage takes note that an armed citizen detained the suspect, but raises another point. Missouri is an open-carry state; did this man actually commit a crime? Hmmmm:

An armed man in his twenties was arrested after causing a panic at a Missouri Walmart, Springfield police said. But no shots were fired and no one was injured.https://t.co/xp2vdEtZ61 pic.twitter.com/OQx6iCy8rT

— New Day (@NewDay) August 9, 2019

The cell phone might be a very important piece of evidence one way or the other. If he was just Skyping home to get a grocery list, police might not have any reason to detain him. As long as the rifle was slung and the suspect had all of the legal requisites for ownership and open carry, they may not be able to hold him, even if his choices of carry and apparel make the man even more of an idiot. If, on the other hand, he was dictating a manifesto and/or making threatening remarks while being recorded, he’s going to spend a very long time in prison. The remarks by the officer on scene tend to indicate witnesses for threatening behavior, but that’s only one side of the story, at least so far.

This might have a surprising ending, so stay tuned — and still be thankful everyone’s still alive at the end of this incident.

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