PowerLine -> CNN Is Crazy, Bacon Edition + Trump wins a war, media pretends not to notice

Powerline John Hinderaker at HoaxAndChange

PowerLine -> CNN Is Crazy, Bacon Edition + Trump wins a war, media pretends not to notice

Daily Digest

  • CNN Is Crazy, Bacon Edition
  • Trump wins a war, media pretends not to notice
  • Mueller’s little surprise (2)
  • Children Are Starving Under Socialism
  • Mueller’s little surprise
CNN Is Crazy, Bacon Edition

Posted: 17 Dec 2017 03:43 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)Lord knows we don’t undertake to point out and rebut every instance of left-wing media insanity. There are only four of us and only 24 hours in a day. And it is pointless to chase every rabbit that crosses our path. But at least once or twice a day, it is appropriate to note that the Left has gone stark, raving mad.

Today’s exhibit is Hilary Rosen, Democratic Party insider, and CNN political commentator. Rosen is best remembered as the DNC shill who, during the 2012 presidential campaign, told us that Ann Romney had never worked a day in her life–an Obama theme that blew up in her face like an exploding cigar.

Yesterday, Rosen went to a basketball game between Georgetown and Syracuse and noticed a kid wearing a coat with a bacon pattern. For some inexplicable reason, she jumped to the conclusion that the bacon outfit was an anti-Semitic slur. I have no idea why she thought this, as most people like bacon for obvious reasons. And if she wanted to go down that road for some reason, why wouldn’t it be an anti-Muslim slur?

She tweeted this:

I take it the bacon suit guy is in the middle near the bottom of the photo. Syracuse won the game, and Rosen added this tweet:

“Bigots lose”? So, are the Georgetown players and coaches bigots now? Was Rosen drunk? That is the most charitable explanation I can come up with.

It turns out that the Georgetown student with the bacon suit is named Michael Bakan:

The student in the suit, junior Michael Bakan, told The Daily Caller he was shocked when friends started sending him screenshots of the tweet. He explained that the suit was a joke about his last name, which is pronounced “bacon.”

“At first I thought it was a joke,” Bakan said of Rosen’s accusation. “The real way [my last name] is pronounced is bacon, and that was the impetus behind the costume. I’ve worn it to three games now.”

For American liberals, the wheels are coming off. Over and over, the Left has been exposed as the home of lunatics. What is remarkable is that media organizations like CNN, the Washington Post, and MSNBC continue to employ crazies like Hilary Rosen.


Trump wins a war, media pretends not to notice

Posted: 17 Dec 2017 03:05 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)ISIS has proved to be doubly inconvenient for the left and its media backers like the New York Times. Its rapid rise after President Obama called it “the jayvee” was enormously embarrassing (not to mention devastating for the Iraq and parts of Syria, and deleterious to the West). Now, its crushing defeat adds to the left’s embarrassment because it comes, in part, at the hands of America under President Trump.

The mainstream media has tried to mitigate the embarrassment of ISIS’ defeat by ignoring it. Ross Douthat is among those who have noticed.

Writing in the New York Times, Douthat explores this “press failure.” He calls it “a case where the media is not adequately reporting an important success because it does not fit into the narrative of Trumpian disaster in which our journalistic entities are all invested.”


Douthat notes that it’s in the realm of foreign policy where many, including Douthat himself, anticipated a “Trumpian disaster.” He concedes it hasn’t happened:

[F]or now, the Trump administration’s approach to the Middle East has been moderately successful, and indeed close to what I would have hoped for from a normal Republican president following a realist-internationalist course.


[T]he Trump strategy on Israel and the Palestinians, the butt of many Jared Kushner jokes, seems … not crazy? The relatively mild reaction to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital may be a case study in expert consensus falling behind the facts; the Arab world has different concerns than it did in 1995, and Trump’s move has helped clarify that change. . . .

The truth is that the specific two-state vision of the late 1990s was overtaken by events a while ago, and demonstrating that some Arab states are more amenable to accommodating Israel is a useful step toward diplomatic clarity.

The biggest success so far, though, is the defeat of ISIS. As Douthat says, it was accomplished “without massive infusions of ground troops, without accidentally getting into a war with Russia, and without inspiring a huge wave of terrorism in the West.”

In a future column, perhaps Douthat will tell us whether he thinks President Trump’s domestic policy is close to what he would have hoped for from a normal conservative Republican president. And if not, how it differs.


Mueller’s little surprise (2)

Posted: 17 Dec 2017 09:15 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)As I note below, Axios has posted the letter from Trump transition lawyer Korey Langhoffer to Senator Ron Johnson and other members of Congress responsible for oversight here. Interested readers really have to read for themselves the facts recounted in section II. of the letter at pages 3-5:

After Inauguration Day on January 20, 2017, [Trump for America] wound down the bulk of its activities, vacated the premises provided by the [General Services Administration], and returned to the GSA the computer and telephone equipment that TFA had used during the transition period. Shortly thereafter, the GSA asked TFA for direction on the disposition of [Presidential Transition Team] data. TFA directed the GSA to handle PTT data in a manner consistent with the [Memorandum of Understanding] and the reported disposition of data from President Obama’s presidential transition in 2008; computing devices were to be restored to original settings and reissued to federal personnel and, to the extent that PTT records were not required for the winding down of TFA’s affairs, the PTT email archives were no longer to be preserved.

Approximately two months later, TFA became aware of certain requests concerning PTT records. TFA promptly instructed the GSA, as the custodian of certain TFA records including PTT emails hosted on GSA servers, and others to preserve PTT records. Because of TFA’s prompt reaction, all PTT emails have been preserved.

In order to comply with congressional document production requests, TFA ordered from the GSA electronic copies of all PTT emails and other data. Career GSA staff initially expressed concern that providing copies of PTT emails to TFA might violate a document preservation request that the GSA had received from the Special Counsel’s Office. This issue was resolved decisively on June 15, 2017 after a series of emails and telephone calls between TFA’s legal counsel and Richard Beckler and Lenny Loewentritt, the newly appointed General Counsel for the GSA and the career Deputy General Counsel for the GSA, respectively. After discussion and consideration of the issue, Mr. Beckler acknowledged unequivocally to TFA’s legal counsel, in the presence of Mr. Loewentritt, that TFA owned and controlled the PTT emails and data pursuant to the Presidential Transition Act, and that the GSA had no right to access or control the records but was simply serving as TFA’s records custodian. Mr. Beckler assured legal counsel for TFA, again in the presence of Mr. Loewentritt, that any requests for the production of PTT records would therefore be routed to legal counsel for TFA. In the meantime, Mr. Beckler agreed to maintain all computer equipment in a secure, locked space within GSA facilities. There are multiple surviving witnesses to this conversation, including me. Additionally, we understand that the following day, June 16, 2017, Mr. Beckler personally informed the Special Counsel’s Office that PTT records are not owned or controlled by the GSA, and that the Special Counsel’s Office should communicate with TFA if it desired to obtain PTT records.

It is our understanding that Mr. Beckler was hospitalized and incapacitated in August 2017. Notwithstanding Mr. Beckler’s June 16, 2017 instruction to the Special Counsel’s Office concerning the ownership and control of PTT records, the Special Counsel’s Office, through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), sent to the GSA two requests for the production of PTT materials while Mr. Beckler was hospitalized and unable to supervise legal matters for the GSA. Specifically, on August 23, 2017, the FBI sent a letter (i.e., not a subpoena) to career GSA staff requesting copies of the emails, laptops, cell phones, and other materials associated with nine PTT members responsible for national security and policy matters. On August 30, 2017, the FBI sent a letter (again, not a subpoena) to career GSA staff requesting such materials for four additional senior PTT members.

Career GSA staff, working with Mr. Loewentritt and at the direction of the FBI, immediately produced all the materials requested by the Special Counsel’s Office – without notifying TFA or filtering or redacting privileged material. The materials produced by the GSA to the Special Counsel’s Office therefore included materials protected by the attorney-client privilege, the deliberative process privilege, and the presidential communications privilege. It is our understanding that Mr. Beckler passed away without returning to the GSA, and that career GSA staff (including Mr. Loewentritt) never consulted with or informed Mr. Beckler or his successor of the unauthorized production of PTT materials.

The unauthorized production of PTT materials by career GSA staff violates (a) the GSA’s duties to TFA pursuant to the GSA’s previous acknowledgement concerning TFA’s rightful ownership and control of PTT materials; (b) the statute requiring the GSA to “ensure that any computers or communications services provided to an eligible candidate . . . are secure,” 3 U.S.C. § 102 note 3(h)(2)(B)(ii); and (c) the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on a government actor (e.g., Mr. Loewentritt), or a private actor working at the request of a government official, failing to obtain a warrant for the search of seizure of private property in which the owner has a reasonable expectation of privacy, see Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 489 (1971).

We understand that the Special Counsel’s Office has subsequently made extensive use of the materials it obtained from the GSA, including materials that are susceptible to privilege claims. Additionally, certain portions of the PTT materials the Special Counsel’s Office obtained from the GSA, including materials that are susceptible to privilege claims, have been leaked to the press by unknown persons. Moreover, the leaked records have been provided to the press without important context and in a manner that appears calculated to inflict maximum reputational damage on the PTT and its personnel, without the inclusion of records showing that PTT personnel acted properly – which in turn forces TFA to make an impossible choice between (a) protecting its legal privileges by keeping its records confidential and (b) waiving its privileges by publicly releasing records that counteract the selective leaks and misguided news reports. In short, since the GSA improperly provided them to the Special Counsel’s Office, the PTT’s privileged materials have not only been reviewed privately by the Special Counsel’s Office without notification to TFA – they have also been misused publicly.

We discovered the unauthorized disclosures by the GSA on December 12 and 13, 2017. When we learned that the Special Counsel’s Office had received certain laptops and cell phones containing privileged materials, we initially raised our concerns with Brandon Van Grack in the Special Counsel’s Office on December 12, 2017. Mr. Van Grack confirmed that the Special Counsel’s Office had obtained certain laptops, cell phones, and at least one iPad from the GSA – but he assured us that the Special Counsel’s investigation did not recover any emails or other relevant data from that hardware. During this exchange, Mr. Van Grack failed to disclose the critical fact that undercut the importance of his representations, namely, that the Special Counsel’s Office had simultaneously received from the GSA tens of thousands of emails, including a very significant volume of privileged material, and that the Special Counsel’s Office was actively using those materials without any notice to TFA. Mr. Van Grack also declined to inform us of the identities of the 13 individuals whose materials were at issue. We followed up with Mr. Van Grack the next day after learning of the unauthorized disclosure of PTT emails to ask what procedures, if any, had been implemented to protect privileged PTT communications from unauthorized and improper review. Mr. Van Grack declined to respond at the time, but contacted us on December 15, 2017 to inform us that the Special Counsel’s Office had, in fact, failed to use an “ethical wall” or “taint team” and instead simply reviewed the privileged communications contained in the PTT materials. Mr. Van Grack also acknowledged on the December 12, 2017 telephone call that, even before we contacted him, the Special Counsel’s Office had been aware of the importance and sensitivity of the privilege issues that we raised.

To all this Mueller’s spokesman has responded: “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.” The response won’t be the end of the story.

UPDATE: The Washington Post collects the comments of an expert who reject Langhoffer’s legal argument. I don’t think his comments address the facts stated above, which may or may not be irrelevant. The Post article suggests that GSA staff may have voluntarily turned over the documents and material requested by Mueller, though that is not clear, under circumstances that appear questionable to me.


Children Are Starving Under Socialism

Posted: 17 Dec 2017 08:59 AM PST

(John Hinderaker)Today’s New York Times has a long article, replete with photographs, on starving children in Venezuela. The situation is grim:

Hunger has stalked Venezuela for years. Now, it is killing the nation’s children at an alarming rate, doctors in the country’s public hospitals say.

Venezuela has been shuddering since its economy began to collapse in 2014. Riots and protests over the lack of affordable food, excruciating long lines for basic provisions, soldiers posted outside bakeries and angry crowds ransacking grocery stores have rattled cities, providing a telling, public display of the depths of the crisis.

But deaths from malnutrition have remained a closely guarded secret by the Venezuelan government. In a five-month investigation by The New York Times, doctors at 21 public hospitals in 17 states across the country said that their emergency rooms were being overwhelmed by children with severe malnutrition — a condition they had rarely encountered before the economic crisis began.

The article goes on to describe how infants are dying of starvation, young children are leaving their homes to forage for food in dumpsters, adults are shriveling to the size of children, and so on. All of this despite Venezuela supposedly having the “largest proven oil reserves in the world.” The Times says Venezuela’s “economy has collapsed.” It refers to the country’s “economic crisis” at least seven times by my count, but the origin of that crisis remains a mystery. This is as close as the Times wants to come:

President Nicolás Maduro has acknowledged that people are hungry in Venezuela, but he has refused to accept international aid, often saying that Venezuela’s economic problems are caused by foreign adversaries like the United States, which he says is waging an economic war against his country.

The article moves on without comment.

Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But many economists contend that years of economic mismanagement set the stage for the current disaster.

Socialism by definition is economic mismanagement. But the Times never does finger the real culprit, although it does briefly mention the fact that Venezuela’s government is Socialist:

The Venezuelan government has used food to keep the Socialists in power, critics say. Before recent elections, people living in government housing projects said they were visited by representatives of their local Socialist community councils — the government-aligned groups that organize the delivery of boxes of cheap food — and threatened with being cut off if they did not vote for the government.

The Democrats should try that if they aren’t doing it already.

The Times’s coverage of Socialist Bernie Sanders has been almost entirely positive, and it reports gleefully on the growing number of millennials who describe themselves as Socialists. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the paper’s editorial board endorse Elizabeth Warren in 2020. I suppose it would be too much cognitive dissonance for the Times to acknowledge that the end point of Socialism, always and everywhere, is empty zoos and vanishing pets; dumpsters scoured for food scraps; rats hunted as a protein source; police violence against the hungry; a disappearing health care system; populations fleeing to neighboring countries; and, as in Venezuela, starving children, while the Socialists in charge of the scam make off with billions of dollars.


Mueller’s little surprise

Posted: 17 Dec 2017 08:18 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)Yesterday John Roberts and Alex Pappas reported for FOX News that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has obtained transition documents including confidential attorney-client communications, privileged communications and thousands of emails without their knowledge. The transition team lawyer alleges that Mueller has obtained the documents illegally.

Mike Allen follows up on the story at Axios this morning. Allen notes that “Trump officials discovered Mueller had the emails when his prosecutors used them as the basis for questions to witnesses[.]”

Allen provides this statement from Special Counsel spokesman Peter Carr early this morning: “When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”

Allen has posted a PDF of the seven-page letter dated December 16 from transition team lawyer Kory Langhoffer to Senator Johnson et al. here. The letter makes legal arguments to support the proposition that the General Services Administration — the custodian of the items at issue — could not properly have turned the items over to Mueller voluntarily. It should be noted that Carr’s statement fails in a number of respects to respond to points made and facts recited in Langhoffer’s letter. See in particular the troubling facts recited in section II. of the letter at pages 3-5.

It seems highly unlikely that the Mueller probe will be wrapping up anytime soon or that the controversy over its conduct will diminish in the meantime.


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