Posts Tagged ‘Guns’

LinkSwarm for July 12, 2019

Friday, July 12th, 2019

The Jeffrey Epstein child sex trafficking scandal dominates today’s LinkSwarm, as does other people getting arrested for the same offense. Some kind of crackdown going on? We can only hope so.

Also, if you live in Austin, traffic on I-35 is going to be screwed up again this weekend.

  • The Jeffery Epstein scandal may be even worse than we thought:

    Even by the standards of stomach-turning celebrity criminal scandals, the bits of information about multi-millionare Jeffrey Epstein and allegations of an underage sex-trafficking ring are utterly bizarre, pointing to something perhaps even bigger and worse going on. Just the reports out this morning prompt at least ten big questions.

    One: How did Jeffrey Epstein make his fortune in the first place? One claim is a massive Ponzi scheme.

    Two: Could Epstein really have been connected to some sort of intelligence service? In yesterday’s press conference, labor secretary Alex Acosta offered a weird, vague, contradictory, meandering answer when asked about this. If Epstein was working for some sort of spy agency, which one? What was the aim, to collect blackmail on prominent figures? Who was being blackmailed, and what did they do?

    Three: Why did the office Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance try to keep Epstein from being registered as a top-level sex offender? “A seasoned sex-crimes prosecutor from Mr. Vance’s office argued forcefully in court that Mr. Epstein, who had been convicted in Florida of soliciting an underage prostitute, should not be registered as a top-level sex offender in New York.” The judge denied the request and declared, “I have to tell you, I’m a little overwhelmed because I have never seen a prosecutor’s office do anything like this.”

    Four: After Epstein was labeled a “Level 3 sex offender” — meaning the worst — Epstein was required by law to check in with the NYPD every 90 days. He never checked in at all over an eight-year span. How did that not generate any consequences?

  • And speaking of Epstein, why is nobody talking about former Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer.

    The former Palm Beach County State Attorney had made national news three times during his career. Once when he went after Rush Limbaugh, then after Ann Coulter, two Republicans, and when, after being handed the case of Epstein, a co-founder of the Clinton Global Initiative, he gave him a pass.

    Barry Krischer is a Democrat. Jeffrey Epstein is a billionaire donor to Democrats.

    As Chief Prosecutor, Krischer had made his reputation with a zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting juveniles as adults. But after Epstein had abused underage girls, Krischer, according to the detective on the case, ignored police efforts to charge him with four counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor and instead the billionaire abuser was indicted only on a minor charge of solicitation of prostitution.

    Interviews with over a dozen girls and witnesses were ignored.

    The victims were not notified of when they needed to appear before Krischer’s Grand Jury. Calls by the police to issue warrants for the arrest of Epstein and his associates were ignored by Kirscher’s subordinates. Eventually, Kirscher’s people stopped taking phone calls from the police.

    The Palm Beach police chief claimed that information was being leaked to Epstein’s lawyers and wrote a public letter attacking Krischer and urging him to disqualify himself from the case. Instead the travesty went on. State prosecutors allowed Epstein to skip sex offender counselling, and hire a private shrink.

    When the judge asked assistant state prosecutor Lanna Belohlavek if all the victims had signed off on the deal, she claimed that they had. The lawyer for the victims has said that was not the truth.

  • “Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta on Friday resigned from his post amid scrutiny over a plea agreement he cut with wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein for sex abuse charges over a decade ago.”
  • Over on Althouse’s blog, many commenters are suggesting that Scott Walker replace him. To which I say: Bring it!
  • Even after pleading guilty and registering as a Level 3 sex-offender, Jeffrey Epstein is still mingled with the Hollywood elite.
  • Speaking of child sex offenders, singer R. Kelly has been arrested on 13 federal sex trafficking charges, including “child pornography, enticement of a minor to engage to engage in criminal sexual activity and obstruction of justice.” The only question is, after all the similar crap Kelly has pulled over the years, how is he not already in jail for the rest of his life?
  • “Epstein, Bean & Buck: The Democratic Donors’ Sex-Creep Club.”

    While serving as the highest-ranking elected woman in America for decades, San Fran Nan has chronically downplayed, whitewashed or excused the sleazy habits and alleged sexual improprieties of a long parade of Dem pervs — from former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to former New York Reps. Eric Massa and Anthony Wiener to former Oregon Rep. David Wu to former Michigan Rep. John Conyers and current presidential candidate Joe Biden.

    Since the woke-ty woke Democrats are now gung-ho on undoing special treatment of wealthy liberal sex creeps, perhaps they will soon be revisiting the matter of two of their other “faves,” Oregon real estate mogul and deep-pocketed left-wing White House donor Terry Bean and West Hollywood Clinton pal Ed Buck.

    Here, let me help.

    Terry Bean is the prominent gay rights activist who co-founded the influential Human Rights Campaign organization. He is also a veteran member of the board of the HRC Foundation, which disseminates Common Core-aligned “anti-bullying” material to children’s schools nationwide.

    Like Epstein, Bean had a penchant for rubbing elbows and riding on planes with the powerful. Upon doling out more than $500,000 for President Barack Obama and the Democrats in 2012, he was rewarded with a much-publicized exclusive Air Force One ride with Obama. His Flickr account boasted glitzy pics with Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton.

    Buck, of course, is the Democratic donor who had two dead overdosed black men in his apartment on different occasions. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Speaking of our supposed betters raping children, “Ex-U.N. Worker Jailed for 9 Years in Nepal for Raping Two Boys in ‘Alarm Bell for the Humanitarian Community.'” Oh, now there are alarm bells over Canadian Peter John Dalglish raping children? But not so much when various UN peacekeepers did the same thing in Africa in past decades.
  • Dow-Jones Industrial Average hits record high of 27,000.
  • Meet the anti-woke left. The usual quotient of socialist claptrap, but also a fierce critique of victimhood identity politics and the dysfunction of the Democratic Party.

    Just as significant as Trump’s victory was Hillary Clinton’s loss, they tell me, in that it represented a rejection of an era of neoliberalism. ‘I’m from Indiana’, Frost tells me. ‘Bill signs NAFTA. That obliterated the towns where I’m from. People are extremely bitter about Bill Clinton for very good reasons. And she is married to that, literally and figuratively – she defends that legacy. How did we not see Trump coming?’

    What’s more, Trump represented a repudiation of the entire establishment – Democrats and Republicans. ‘There is a severe crisis of legitimacy in our institutions’, says Frost: ‘The Republicans did not want Trump to win either… He was nobody’s first choice, except the American people’s, apparently.’

    Snip.

    Three years on from the 2016 presidential election, Democrats are still largely in denial or in despair about Trump’s victory. The now-discredited Russia-collusion narrative provided an excuse to avoid any soul-searching. ‘The whole Rachel Maddow and the NBC crowd have infected the minds of boomers with this dystopian narrative’, Khachiyan tells me. ‘Even my mom, who’s from Russia, buys the collusion narrative.’

    ‘The narrative isn’t itself so interesting’, she argues, but it shows ‘the willful failure of the Democratic Party. Again and again, they fall on their face. There’s some kind of Freudian, masochistic thing they have where they get off on publicly humiliating themselves.’

  • E-Verify will do more to deter illegal aliens than the wall.
  • “Democratic lawmaker unloads on Ocasio-Cortez, chief of staff for ‘using the race card.'” The AOC-Pelosi tiff reminds us, yet again, that the primary purpose of “social justice” is to force in-group ideological conformity on the left. But when it comes to actually threatening a politician’s ability to get their beak into the trough, Rep. Clay and others still know which side their bread is buttered on. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Democrats have tapped former fighter pilot Amy McGrath to lose to Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky senate race. In one day, she raised $2.5 million…and flip-flopped on whether she would have confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. She lost her last race by 10,000 votes, and expect her to do much, much worse against Cocaine Mitch.
  • “The Data Shows Socialists — Not Sanctions — Destroyed Venezuela’s Economy.”
  • John O’Sullivan wonders if anyone can beat Boris Johnson for Tory leadership and the PM spot. Probably not, but it provides a light romp through Borismania…
  • David Scheller of Ammo To Go wrote to point out his deep, detailed look at suppressors. I was happy to see that Texas has more silencers owned than the next three states combined.
  • How bad is the cartel violence in Mexico? Would you believe a 30 minute shootout at Kindergarten graduation?
  • Greek conservatives win in a landslide over leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza’s party. Kyriakos Mitsotakis took over as Prime Minister on July 8.
  • Did the Russians who died aboard the A-12 Losharik submarine prevent a “planetary catastrophe?” Color me skeptical. Short of a Red Tide nuke launch scenario, it’s hard to conceive of any sort of accident, up to complete meltdown or even nuclear warhead detonation, that would result in “planetary catastrophe” on the Russian arctic seafloor. Assuming they were actually in the Barents Sea when the fire broke out, I don’t see how they’d be tapping undersea cables (as widely speculated), as the only one there is the Norway-to-Svarbald cable, which is hardly of crushing information importance. But the Russians have been known to lie before, and the fact that no less than seven first rank captains died aboard the ship (all but unheard of on a submarine) only fuels the speculation. And the arctic is way too far north for discovering either Cthulhu or Godzilla…
  • Seattle City Council candidate Brendan Kolding wants to clean up the homeless drug user problem.

    “It’s gotten worse under this entire current council,” he said. “Because we’ve practiced the policy — and I give Chris Rufo credit for this — the policy of false compassion where we’re not holding people accountable, where we’re not investing in adequate services, where we’re not allowing our law enforcement professionals to do their job.”

    “We just need a sea change at City Hall. We need to reverse the culture because it’s only getting worse … We can offer them treatment and shelter and then insist that if they don’t accept services, we will enforce the law unless they choose to move along. We need both carrot and stick.”

  • “I-95 proves that the government cannot provide services that don’t suck.”

    For those readers who blessedly have not had to drive I-95, it is a national disgrace. It has been congested for as long as I can recall (over 30 years of personal experience with the stretch shown, and what we drove yesterday). It has been congested in exactly the same locations for those 30 years.

    The same exact locations. 30 years. Offered for your consideration, the 20 miles on each side of Fredericksburg, VA. It was a parking lot in the 1980s; it was a parking lot yesterday. The reason then was that the highway lost a lane (more lanes in Richmond to the south and Washington to the north). The reason now is the same.

    So riddle me this, Big Government Man: how in 30 years is it not possible to widen 40 miles of Interstate to remove what everybody in the Northeast Corridor knows is a notorious choke point? And please don’t be so dim and predictable as to say “there isn’t enough funding” – we spent a cool trillion dollars on a “stimulus” that the President swore would be “shovel ready” projects. You don’t get more shovel-ready than widening I-95.

    So we see that it’s not possible for the government to provide services that don’t suck.

  • Prenda Law copyright troll John Steele sentenced to five years in prison.
  • “A traffic stop turns up whiskey, a gun and a rattlesnake, police say — and that was before they found the uranium.” The big surprise here is that it’s from Oklahoma rather than Florida… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Tankfest 2019. I visited the Bovington Tank Museum in 2014, and if you’re interested in tanks and in the UK for an extended period of time, I highly recommend it.

  • Tales from the Lunar Module Simulator.
  • Aviation Week and Space technology profile of the SR-71 from 1981.
  • Dwight celebrates the fortieth anniversary of Disco Demolition Night.
  • And speaking of unlikely events of mass hysteria: 300,000 people on Facebook swear to storm Area 51. Great, they’re going to kill off Alex Jones’ entire audience…
  • “Fun New Teen Vogue Quiz Helps Girls Find Out What Kind Of Hooker They Should Be.”
  • Still More On NRA Troubles

    Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

    This anonymous piece from a longtime lawyer and NRA watcher covers some of the same ground as my previous NRA pieces, but with a lot more background.

    It’s been an open secret for more than 20 years (since at least the 1990s) that an outside public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen Inc. (around NRA headquarters, commonly called “Ack-Mac”) enjoyed a favored and protected, if not inviolate, relationship with NRA. The owners of Ack-Mac were close friends and associates of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. He handed them major roles formulating, directing and performing many NRA operations for which Ack-Mac and its associated companies bill NRA millions of dollars annually — in 2017 alone, over $40 million. To ensure their position by enhancing his, Ack-Mac created a persona for LaPierre as NRA’s public face; his strident, increasingly right-wing rhetoric espoused in NRA’s name was shaped and scripted by Ack-Mac. In turn he fended off sporadic calls to reduce Ack-Mac’s penetration of NRA. LaPierre and Ack-Mac became practically indistinguishable.

    This special relationship and its financial intertwining were largely opaque, fully appreciated only within inner circles of the 76-member Board of Directors. Though payments to Ack-Mac accounted for a large chunk of NRA’s budget until recently Ack-Mac was unmentioned in annual reports or minutes of the Board’s meetings, it was as if Ack-Mac didn’t exist. The full extent of Ack-Mac’s influence, participation, and responsibility for NRA’s high-level management decisions remains, to this day, obscure.

    I knew Ack-Mac had been working for the NRA for quite a while, but I didn’t realize for how long, and how mention of Ack-Mac had been kept out of annual reports.

    As Executive VP, LaPierre’s annual salary is $1.4 million. It’s hard to identify the value a non-profit association receives for that kind of money. The President of the United States is paid less than one-third of that; the Secretary of Defense gets only $210,700, and the base salary of a U.S. Senator is $172,000.

    Also still on the NRA’s payroll is Joshua Powell, recently removed as director of General Operations (drawing nearly $800K) after being exposed in national media as a serial deadbeat. The most cursory vetting before he was hired would have disclosed his trail of failed businesses and bad debts. The architect of the crashed Carry Guard program and the spark that lit the legal fuse with New York sate, Powell is now a “senior strategist” and still LaPierre’s “chief of staff.”

    More information gleaned from the NRA’s IRS Form 990:

    This 100-page document, released by NRA only last November, was unusual; it contains unprecedented disclosures of where the money categorized as expenditures for “fund-raising” and “public relations” actually went. For example, it was revealed for the first time the Mercury Group, an Ack-Mac subsidiary run by LaPierre’s closest confidant, Tony Makris, received $5.8 million from NRA in that year; another Makris-run company, Under Wild Skies, got $2.6 million. Meanwhile, NRA has nearly exhausted its $25 million credit line (secured by a mortgage on its headquarters building), liquidated $2 million from an investment fund, borrowed close to $4 million from its officers’ life insurance policy and extracted about $5 million in office rent and overhead from the NRA Foundation.

    This, in the same year that NRA’s 10 highest-paid executives received compensation aggregating over $8 million.

    Snip.

    If indeed, as [current NRA President a LaPierre backer Carolyn Meadows] claims, “the entire board is fully aware of these issues,” the issue of managerial dereliction takes on a new dimension. To claim that these controversial contracts, transactions, and expenses were “reviewed, vetted and approved” by the board is to ratify and accept liability for them.

    It begs the next question: Is the Board doing anything to stop the financial hemorrhage? Does it even have a coherent plan? So far the membership has heard nothing but bland reassurances suggesting that “everything is on track”, coupled with whining about leaks to the press.

    Can directors with a fiduciary duty to a non-profit membership association justify sports-star salaries, uncontrolled and unaccountable vendors and $100,000-a-day lawyers? The membership deserves credible explanations and plain answers. If these are not forthcoming, who could blame it for throwing out the entire board and starting over?

    The author is particularly critical of William Brewer III’s legal briefs. “In over 50 years as a practicing attorney, I have never encountered a lawyer, or even an entire firm, whose services were worth $1.8 million in a single month — much less for ten consecutive months.”

    Finally, there’s the revelation that Woody Phillips, the NRA’s just-retired Treasurer for 26 years, broadened the now-all-too-familiar profile of NRA’s salaried executives. The prior norm seemed to be enrichment through extraordinary salaries, conflicts of interest, double-dipping, sweetheart deals, and extravagant retirement schemes. Woody has added the word “embezzlement.” According to a June 19 article on The New Yorker website, his former employer asserts that before Woody came to NRA, he was caught stealing more than a million dollars by generating and paying fake invoices. Unless this story is a complete fabrication, the evidence seems incontrovertible: when he was confronted, the story discloses, Woody immediately returned $500,000 of it and started paying interest on the balance. This comes on the heels of separate reports of questionable payments made by NRA to Woody’s “significant other.” Was his earlier modus operandi revived with a slight twist?

    The author ends, as I did, with a call for a forensic audit.

    The more we find out about how the NRA has been run, the worse it seems. The crisis started out looking like a case of lax management, but the deeper you dig the more it looks like a case of systematic looting. The more I read about the NRA, the more convinced I am that the current leadership has to go.

    (Hat tip: No lawyers – only guns and money. )

    LinkSwarm for June 28, 2019

    Friday, June 28th, 2019

    Man, it’s been a week. The clown car and NRA pieces have been blowing up my stats, and I’ve got a bunch of other things happening. I tried to watch the Group of Death debate last night, but the stream kept cutting out, so I’ll probably save the reactions for Monday’s Clown Car Update. This LinkSwarm features Dan Crenshaw, Google, and Dan Crenshaw grilling Google.

  • Pelosi caves, gets the House to pass the Republican Senate bill to address the crisis on the Southern border 305-102. The Senate bill isn’t perfect, but it’s a vast improvement on the House’s laughable effort. But the fact that 90% of the 2020 Democratic presidential contenders are demonstrably to the left of Nancy Pelosi on the issue might give a more reflective party pause…
  • Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw says Democrats live in another world when it comes to the crisis on the border.
  • “In Emergency Bill, House Dems Vote To Send More Fake Tears To Address Border Crisis.”
  • Cuba runs out of other people’s money.
  • Trump’s latest accuser is loony toons.
  • But “David French Believes Her Implicitly, Because of Course He Does.”
  • It’s not all bad news on the gun rights front front: Gov. Abbott signed 10 pro-Second Amendment bills.
  • Kevin Williamson dissects Facebook’s attempts to float their own cryptocurrency.

    Professor Posner is correct in pointing to the rivalrous nature of political power and market power. What is less well understood is that markets won that fight in a knockout a decade or more ago. The new reality is that markets — not corporations, but markets — are more powerful than states, and much of the angry, angsty, mob-inciting politics of the Left and the Right in the past decade is simply the emotional noise and churn generated as societies and governments readjust their affairs to accommodate themselves to that new reality. Bill Clinton spent much of his presidency bitching about the bond market, which was his shorthand for the ways in which global markets (especially financial markets) limited politicians’ effective scope of action. He was, uncharacteristically for a man of such modest imagination, ahead of his time.

    The power of capital flows is a reality that has made itself known bit by bit to states both liberal and autocratic, from the members of the European Union to the caudillos in Beijing. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy with no regard for life or property, brutal and vicious — and constantly getting slapped around by volatility in the energy market. Mohammed bin Salman can command almost anything — except the commodity markets that rule his world.

    Much of the hysteria on display in the Democratic presidential primary is American progressivism’s shrieking protest of the new facts of life. Progressives such as Elizabeth Warren are intelligent enough to understand what’s happened: That just at the moment they were primed to take power, power was taken away from them.

  • Project Veritas reported on Google executives working behind the scenes to censor conservatives and prevent President Trump from being reelected. “People need to know what’s going on with Google, and that they are not an objective piece – they’re not an objective source of information. They are a highly biased political machine that is bent on never letting somebody like Donald Trump come to power again.” Result: Project Veritas was banned from Google-owned YouTube, then from ostensible YouTube competitor Vimeo. But you can watch it on BitChute.
  • Speaking of Google: “Rep. Dan Crenshaw grilled Google executives after an employee reportedly labeled Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Dennis Prager as ‘Nazis.’ ‘Two of three of these people are Jewish, very religious Jews. And yet you think they are Nazis,’ the Texas congressman said in reference to Shapiro and Prager. ‘It begs the question, “What kind of education do people at Google have?”‘” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Speaking of Big Tech censorship of conservatives, Reddit has “quarantined” The_Donald subreddit for Trump fans, one of the largest and most heavily trafficked groups on Reddit. You can still reach The_Donald by following that link, but you get a warning and you can’t search for the content anymore.
  • People continue to flee high tax states and move to low-tax states, something that has only been accelerated by the limitation of state and local taxes in the 2017 tax reform. (Hat tip: TPPF.)
  • What people actually die of versus what types of deaths the media cover. (Hat tip: Say Uncle.)
  • “Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne Used To Hate Donald Trump. Now, He’s Kind of a Fan.” Also worries (if you listen to the podcast) about China’s rise as a techno-authoritarian hegemon.
  • Democratic congressmen Donald Norcross of New Jersey and Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut hit with ethics violation charges for all-expense-paid trips to Qatar. You know, the same country that loves bribing people and bankrolling terrorists.
  • “Leaders Of Brooklyn And Manhattan Chapters Of The United Brotherhood Of Carpenters Charged In Rampant Admissions-Bribery Scheme.”
  • Colorado sees 4 to 10 inches of snow on Summer Solstice.
  • Huawei loses lawsuit against semiconductor designer CNEX (a fabless solid state storage firm), though it’s something of a pyrhic victory, as the judge awarded CNEX no damages. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Herbert Meyer, RIP. You may not have heard of him, but he penned a famous memo in late 1983 that outlined how the U.S. was winning the cold war.
  • Rosanne Barr and Andrew “Dice” Clay to do a comedy tour together.
  • Speaking of comedy: “Louis CK’s audience must be punished.”

    Stop laughing. This isn’t funny. Louis CK is now an unperson. You can no longer applaud him or enjoy his comedy hate speech. If you insist on supporting an enemy of the people, there will be consequences. You will be punished. Your life will be upended. If you care about your future, you will keep your excitement and happiness to yourself when presented with the verboten.

    “Well, if you don’t like Louis CK, don’t listen to him. You can’t tell other people what they should and shouldn’t laugh at.” We hear that a lot from fascists, don’t we? They think hate speech is free speech, and they don’t think they need to do what they’re told. But they’ll learn. They will be corrected.

    Today you’re cheering for an unapproved comedian. Tomorrow you’re marching with tiki torches and tweeting dank memes. The day after that, you’re annexing the Sudetenland. These people must be controlled before the fascism spreads.

  • Famed designer Jony Ive has has left Apple to form his own design group (but Apple will be a client). CNet looks at some of his most iconic designs, including the original iMac and the iPhone.
  • How many flatmates were there in the classic BBC sitcom The Young Ones? Five. If you count the creepy ghost.
  • “Major Cave-In As Democratic Candidates Rush To Far Left Side Of Debate Stage.”
  • A nice little compilation of train stunts in silent movies:

  • More NRA Troubles: Wayne LaPierre And The Iron Law of Bureaucracy

    Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

    Lots more NRA turmoil has bubbled up since my previous piece, including the NRA filing two lawsuits against PR firm Ackerman McQueen and leaks of internal NRA letters expressing alarm over profligate spending. In addition to spending by Ackerman McQueen, a great deal of concern has been expressed over NRA’s outside attorney record Brewer Attorneys & Counselors, headed by William Brewer III. Then this week, NRA-ILA head Chris Cox was suspended and put on administrative leave and NRA-TV shut down production on new content.

    Lets tackle these in chronological order.

    As he was being shoved out the door, now-Ex NRA President Oliver North and NRA First Vice President Richard Childress penned a letter expressing deep concern about how much of NRA’s money was going to Mr. Brewer:

    As indicated in previous correspondence, we and others continue to be deeply concerned about the extraordinary legal fees the NRA has incurred with Brewer Attorneys & Counselors. The amount appears to be approximately $24 million over a 13-month period, $5 million of which apparently has been reimbursed in connection with the Lockton settlement.

    The Lockton settlement was the Lockton insurance company reaching an out-of-court settlement to the NRA over breaching a contract to underwrite the ill-fated Carry Guard program discussed last post.

    North and Childress complained about “lax management” of Brewer invoices in the past, and pushed for “an independent, outside expert to review the Brewer invoices immediately.”

    From April 2018 through February 2019, Brewer was billing the NRA $1 million to $2 million a month. North and Childress stated that “Invoices of this size for 12 months of work appear to be excessive and pose an existential threat to the financial stability of the NRA.”

    John Richardson of No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money suggests that Brewer was attempting to become a one-stop shop featuring legal services, public relations and communications, all in one big, expensive, billable bundle. One wonders whether the NRA authorized him to do anything beyond the legal work and, if so, why were they paying him to do some of the tasks they were already paying Ackerman McQueen so handsomely to perform. Richardson also wonders what the attorney of record for the NRA is doing sending political donations to such notable “pro-gun” luminaries as Beto O’Rourke, Patrick Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.

    North and Childress aren’t the only ones dissatisfied with NRA leadership. Boards member Lt. Col. Allen West has called on LaPierre to resign. Says West:

    I do not support Wayne LaPierre continuing as the EVP/CEO of the NRA. The vote in Indianapolis was by acclamation, not roll call vote. There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists within the Board of Directors. It must cease, and I do not care if I draw their angst. My duty and responsibility is to the Members of the National Rifle Association, and my oath, since July 31, 1982, has been to the Constitution of the United States, not to any political party, person, or cabal.

    The NRA Board of 76 is too large and needs to be reduced to 30 or less. We need term limits of four (4) terms on the Board. We need to focus the NRA, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization on its original charter, mission, training and education in marksmanship, shooting sports, and the defense of the Second Amendment.

    I will dedicate all my efforts to the reformation of the National Rifle Association and its members, of whom I am proud to serve.

    Rangemaster and attorney Tiffany Johnson’s letter to the board.

    I attended the NRA Annual Meeting of Members on Saturday morning, and I am writing about a contentious resolution that came to the floor. The resolution decried recent reports of fiscal mismanagement centered around one of the NRA’s primary vendors, Ackerman McQueen. Among other things, the resolution called for the resignation of members of the Audit Committee as well as the NRA’s Executive Vice President, Mr. Wayne LaPierre. In light of the pending litigation between Ackerman McQueen and the NRA, Secretary Frazer successfully moved that the resolution be referred to the Board of Directors for consideration in consultation with legal counsel.

    As a practicing attorney, I fully understand the NRA’s interest in limiting public discussion of sensitive matters that are currently being litigated. I agree that the Association is best served by addressing the resolution internally rather than in the public sphere. However, I also understand the arguments raised against referring the motion to the Board. The resolution cited allegations of financial misconduct, self-dealing, and conflicts of interest within the Board of Directors, the Audit Committee, and other parts of the NRA’s leadership team, based on their alleged mishandling of vendor contracts and other business relationships with Ackerman McQueen. In other words, referring the resolution to the Board would be, in effect, asking the Board to adjudicate allegations against itself.

    I want the National Rifle Association to succeed. At Saturday morning’s meeting, Mr. LaPierre himself warned of the mounting existential threats we now face, both in the courtroom and in the court of public opinion. Given the intensified scrutiny facing the Association right now, I fear that yet another maneuver of impropriety (whether real or perceived) could be a proverbial death knell. It would serve as perfect fodder for the media to publish yet another scathing exposé that paints the NRA as roiled in unsavory scandal. It would also incite even more resentment from within the organization and sow more division among our ranks. Although Mr. Frazer’s motion to refer the resolution did ultimately succeed, the fierce opposition voiced by many in attendance shows that members want this issue to be addressed in a more transparent fashion.

    I have a humble suggestion to help avoid public airing of private business while also quelling further cries of impropriety. When the Board addresses this resolution, I request that any Board member, officer, or staff member who has a personal, financial, or fiduciary interest in, or fidelity to, Ackerman McQueen (or its subsidiary and affiliate companies) — as an employee, contractor, paid consultant, vendor, client, etc. — be required to recuse himself/herself from discussing and voting on this resolution. That way, regardless of how the Board ultimately disposes of the resolution, at least the result will be less vulnerable to accusations of ethically dubious entanglements.

    Fast forwarding to the present, the removal of Chris Cox from NRA-ILA was quite unexpected, at least by me. ILA is generally considered not only among the most effective of NRA’s programs, but one of the most effective (if not the most effective) lobbying groups on Capitol Hill.

    The news yesterday regarding the National Rifle Association was headlined by a story in the New York Times that said Chris Cox, head of the NRA-ILA, was suspended and put on administrative leave. This followed a late Wednesday filing in New York Supreme Court (the trial level courts in that state) in which the NRA sought a declaratory judgment that Ollie North was not entitled to his legal expenses as a director of the NRA. Also suspended was Scott Christman who served as Cox’s deputy chief of staff at the NRA-ILA.

    Both Cox and Christman are accused along with NRA Board member and former Congressman Dan Boren of participating in a failed “coup” attempt orchestrated by Ackerman McQueen and Ollie North. Cox vehemently denies this.

    “The allegations against me are offensive and patently false,” Cox said. “For over 24 years I have been a loyal and effective leader in this organization. My efforts have always been focused on serving the members of the National Rifle Association, and I will continue to focus all of my energy on carrying out our core mission of defending the Second Amendment.”

    PA Gun blog wonders just just who can suspend Cox, since he reports directly to thee NRA board of directors. Say Uncle wonders if LaPierre even has a plan. “Is this some sort of scorched-earth move?”

    Stopping production on NRA-TV is much less of a surprise, given that was yet another thing run out of Ackerman McQueen. I asked NRA-TV personalities Dana Loesch and Colion Noir on Twitter if they had been informed of the moves and have not received a reply. According to LaPierre the issue was one of “focus”:

    “Many members expressed concern about the messaging on NRATV becoming too far removed from our core mission: defending the Second Amendment,” Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s longtime chief executive, wrote in a message to members that was expected to be sent out by Wednesday. “So, after careful consideration, I am announcing that starting today, we are undergoing a significant change in our communications strategy. We are no longer airing ‘live TV’ programming.”

    Unlike some of LaPierre’s other flailing moves, this one can largely be written off as a straight-forward cost-saving measure and an inevitably byproduct of the Ackerman McQueen lawsuit. There’s also probably some truth to the “focus” angle as well, though from a self-interested “free blogging content good” perspective, I liked a good deal of what they were doing, such as Noir’s look at the astounding rate of homeless crime in Seattle.

    Ammoland is not impressed with the moves:

    Enough is enough. The National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors needs to act to get things under control and to focus the organization’s energy and activities against major threats to our right to keep and bear arms instead of internal squabbles. The current legal fight and internal chaos have to be resolved immediately.

    Virginia-specific paragraphs snipped.

    I have already been on record as suggesting that Wayne LaPierre leaves as Executive Vice President after the 2020 election. But recent developments, including the suspension of NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox, now make some changes more necessary than ever. While LaPierre and Cox have past successes, the current drama, and the failure to see the new threats from corporations and social stigmatization that were part of the other side’s long game, including Andrew Cuomo’s abuses of power rank as significant failures on their part, and in combination with the internal drama, and Wayne’s lack of proper basic business management all warrant their replacement.

    Who should replace Cox, who obviously no longer has the complete confidence of his superiors at NRA? Whoever it is should not be a lobbyist, but instead should probably have close ties to grassroots activists. With Cuomo’s attacks tying up financial resources, having the activists on the ground will be more important than ever.

    LaPierre’s replacement will also need to come sooner, rather than later.

    At this point, this replacement should come from outside the NRA so as to have no connection with the current drama.

    Richardson agrees: “Wayne LaPierre’s scorched earth approach to maintaining power may be good for Wayne but is horrible for the NRA as an organization. I acknowledge there are many good people on the Board of Directors. Some want Wayne gone and some still support him.”

    I have to concur. The Ackerman McQueen separation and lawsuit was a necessary corrective given a large vendor whose financial drain endangered the organization. The NRA-TV move is quite defensible as a necessary cost-cutting measure. But the Cox suspension, absent any additional information about why the move had to be made, reeks of circling the wagons and sheer vindictiveness on LaPierre’s part. Ironically, it is his out-sized overreaction to an alleged “coup” that proves why a move against LaPierre is both justified and, at this point, probably sadly necessary.

    Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there are two kinds of people: Those devoted to the goals of the organization, and those dedicated to the organization itself. “The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.” LaPierre’s NRA is clearly been captured by the second group. Or to put it another way: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” LaPierre’s NRA has become a racket. The NRA exists to serve its members and protect the Second Amendment, not to serve and protect Wayne LaPierre.

    As I said about the NRA previously:

    There are some that claim cleaning up the NRA would offer too much succor to the gun-grabbers. But the organizational dysfunction and self-dealing is already out in the open, and is already hurting the NRA’s effectiveness (and has been for several years). If not now, when? Better to do it now, the year before a Presidential election, with Republicans holding the White House and the Senate able to block gun-grabbing initiatives, than during it.

    Other than being a member, I am very far indeed from the center of NRA power. For all the grumbling over the NRA caving over bump-stocks, there’s no other organization with the size, scope and political power of the NRA to protect Second Amendment rights in America. But to do that, the NRA has to be on solid organizational and financial footing, and right now it does not appear to be on either. The NRA has to get its own house in order, this year, or expect forces hostile to it and its goals to do it for them.

    At this point, getting the NRA’s house in order necessitates Wayne LaPierre’s exit as Executive Vice President. This is not going to be easy, as (to quote Archer) “He’s dug in there like a tick!”

    But enough is enough.

    Update: Chris Cox has resigned. There’s also mention of NRA-ILA making a “substaintial” loan to the NRA, and refusing to do it again, followed immediately by Cox and Christman’s suspension. This is probably a good time to reiterate my call for a forensic audit of NRA finances…

    LinkSwarm for June 21, 2019

    Friday, June 21st, 2019

    Welcome to summer! It hit 100°F in Austin this week. Try to keep cool and enjoy this complimentary LinkSwarm:

  • “New Clinton Email Review Reveals ‘Multiple Security Incidents‘”:

    The State Department revealed in a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that it had identified “multiple security incidents” committed by current or former employees who handled Hillary Clinton’s emails, according to Fox News.

    So far 23 “violations” and seven “infractions” have been issued as a part of the department’s ongoing investigation – a number that will likely rise according to State Department Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, Mary Elizabeth Taylor.

    “To this point, the Department has assessed culpability to 15 individuals, some of whom were culpable in multiple security incidents,” said Taylor in the letter to Grassley, adding “DS has issued 23 violations and 7 infractions incidents. … This number will likely change as the review progresses.”

  • “State Dept. Suspends $200 Million Enhanced Aid for El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras Pending Illegal Migration Enforcement.”
  • Human Rights watch accuses Daniel Ortega’s Nicaraguan government of torture. Once a commie scumbnag, always a commie scumbag…
  • “The DNC has spent more money than it has raised this year.”

    The Democratic National Committee has a money problem. And that could hurt its nominee’s chances of beating President Donald Trump in 2020.

    In the first four months of 2019, the party spent more than it raised and added $3 million in new debt. In the same period, its Republican counterpart was stockpiling cash.

    Snip.

    Whoever wins the party’s nomination will rely heavily on the DNC in the general election for organizing, identifying voters and getting them to the polls. That will ultimately cost hundreds of millions of dollars by Election Day, but the party needs to spend early to prepare, which is why it’s been borrowing money. It’s also sending out fundraising appeals under the presidential candidates’ names, something it’s never done before.

    “It’s trouble, it’s going to affect us,” said Allan Berliant, a Cincinnati-based Democratic bundler, who says the party needs to open offices and get boots on the ground around the country. “All of that starts with fundraising,” he said.

    Party officials and fundraisers blamed the deficiency on several factors, and chief among them is competition from the 23 Democrats who are running for president and vacuuming up contributors’ cash. Giving to the party isn’t as compelling as supporting the presidential hopefuls, said John Morgan, an Orlando-based trial attorney and Democratic fundraiser.

    “Do you want to fix up the barn or do you want to bet on the horses?” he said.

    But major donors also pointed to the perception of some contributors that the national party is disorganized – a hangover from the 2016 election. The growing schism between the old-guard establishment and the younger, activist wing could be discouraging donors, too, they said.

    By the end of April, the DNC had collected contributions of more than $24.4 million, but had spent $28.4 million, according to the latest disclosures. It had $7.6 million cash on hand, $1 million less than in January. It posted $6.2 million in debt, including bank loans and unpaid invoices to vendors, Federal Election Commission records show.

    It seems like I link some variation of this story every year.

  • Democratic doxxer sentenced:

    The Democratic ex-staffer who doxxed several Republican senators after disapproving of their handling of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be going to jail for four years.

    Jackson Cosko, a 27-year-old former staffer for Sen. Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.), was arrested last October for leaking the phone numbers and home addresses of Republican senators Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), and Mike Lee (Utah). The information was briefly posted on the senators’ Wikipedia pages before being taken down.

    Cosko was working for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) at the time of his arrest, and was immediately fired.

  • The case is actually much worse than you’ve heard:

    Jackson Cosko was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison. Prosecutors called his offense an “extraordinary” and “vicious” crime where the ex-Democratic aide stole a senator’s data, mined it for blackmail material and then published the home addresses and phone numbers of Republican senators during the 2018 hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

    Even after the computer administrator was caught in the act and arrested for spying on a senator’s office using his advanced technical skills, Capitol Police didn’t check the USB ports of nearby computers. Six different computers within steps of where he was arrested in the Senate had keylogger devices in them that continued to capture and beam private information over WiFi. They were only exposed through a confession.

    Police then got a search warrant on his home, but missed critical evidence because they didn’t check the oven.

  • A black man testifies against reparations:

    I worry that our desire to fix the past compromises our ability to fix the present. Think about what we’re doing today. We’re spending our time debating a bill that mentions slavery 25 times but incarceration only once, in an era with zero black slaves but nearly a million black prisoners—a bill that doesn’t mention homicide once, at a time when the Center for Disease Control reports homicide as the number one cause of death for young black men. I’m not saying that acknowledging history doesn’t matter. It does. I’m saying there’s a difference between acknowledging history and allowing history to distract us from the problems we face today.

    In 2008, the House of Representatives formally apologized for slavery and Jim Crow. In 2009, the Senate did the same. Black people don’t need another apology. We need safer neighborhoods and better schools. We need a less punitive criminal justice system. We need affordable health care. And none of these things can be achieved through reparations for slavery.

  • Kurt Schlichter on the hypocrisy of the left:

    “This is his worst treason since his last worst treason!” they thundered. “This is even more treasonous than when The Bad Orange Man called us ‘traitors’ for our treachery after we called him ‘traitor’ for two years!”

    They got really, really upset. Fake upset, of course, but they committed to the bit and kept straight faces. And you know that Trump pulled the pin on that hand grenade of truth on purpose in order to make the dummies explode just like they did.

    You have to wonder if the garbage elite really thinks their brand of blatant hypocrisy disguised as moral outrage works, or if this is just a reflexive response to a president who not only sees them for the useless slugs they are, but says so.

    My apologies to slugs. I am not slugist.

    Still, do any of them truly think that we Normals will listen to them sounding off about the perfidy of perhaps considering the possibility of maybe accepting dirt on their freak show candidates from outsiders and not recall that Felonia Milhous von Pantsuit famously did just that with the pee-pee dossier, or that Adam Schiff got punked by a couple of Russian Howard Stern wannabeskis offering him pics of the POTUS au natural?

    When Staggers O’Cankles does it, it’s cool? When Congressman Leaky does it, it’s fine? Yet when Trump says he might do exactly what they did, it’s the greatest betrayal of our Values, our Constitution and our Democracy since his last greatest betrayal of our Values, our Constitution and our Democracy, which happened last week?

    Snip.

    To the extent our modern elite had retained any residual credibility from back in the distant past when our elite wasn’t totally corrupt and incompetent, that goodwill has been squandered in the wake of its war to crush Trump, which is actually a war to crush us and restore the elite’s unchallenged power.

    We watch them do X as they tell us to do Y, and they expect us to accept it. Maybe that’s not a completely unreasonable expectation. A lot of goofy, submissive alleged conservatives from Conservative, Inc., have accepted that 2 + 2 =5. The whole cruise-shilling set loves Big Gender-Neutral Sibling and eagerly joins in the phony festivals of fake fury. Last week, social media was packed with these bitter pills fulminating about TRUMP TRAITOR TREASON. And, probably, the geebos at The Bulwark ran with it too, not that anyone would know except the donors Bill Kristol somehow suckered into funding that cesspool floater of a blog.

    Everything they tell us reeks of hypocrisy, like the ever-changing rules about our Glorious Public Servants. When some bureaucrat parrots the party line, we’re supposed to defer. When one fails to parrot correctly, we’re supposed to scream that he’s in contempt of Congress.

  • How Republicans can retake the House in 2020. “The Republicans need to flip only 18 seats in 2020 to regain control of that body — and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has already identified nearly twice that number of vulnerable Democrats in districts won by President Trump during the last presidential election.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Will Oberlin Learn Its Lesson? Short answer: No, they won’t.”
  • In fact, they’re already lying about the verdict.
  • David French brings the requisite amount of wood in stating how the Oberlin College judgment provides a blueprint to fight back. Maybe because Trump isn’t involved. But one wonders why neither the phrase “Social Justice Warriors” nor the word “woke” appears in the piece.
  • Iran shoots down U.S. drone over international waters.
  • President Donald Trump says no strike for now:

  • Both Iran and Trump are playing the long game.” “Iran’s recent attacks signal weakness and desperation, not strength and assurance…Most of the oil passing through Hormuz (about 11/17ths) is bound for the Straits of Malacca en route to China, Japan and Korea. If Tehran actually closed the Straits, by mining it for example, they would essentially be blockading China.”
  • The U.S. holds all the cards in the confrontation with Iran:

    The United States then ramped up sanctions on the Iranian theocracy to try to ensure that it stopped nuclear enrichment. The Trump administration also hoped a strapped Iran would become less capable of funding terrorist operations in the Middle East and beyond, proxy wars in the Persian Gulf, and the opportune harassment of ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

    The sanctions are clearly destroying an already weak Iranian economy. Iran is now suffering from negative economic growth, massive unemployment and record inflation.

    A desperate Iranian government is using surrogates to send missiles into Saudi Arabia while its forces attack ships in the Gulf of Oman.

    Snip.

    Time, then, is on the Americans’ side. But it is certainly not on the side of a bankrupt and impoverished Iran that either must escalate or face ruin.

    If Iran starts sinking ships or attacking U.S. assets, Trump can simply replay the ISIS strategy of selective off-and-on bombing. The United States did not lose a single pilot to enemy action.

    Translated, that would mean disproportionately replying to each Iranian attack on a U.S. asset with a far more punishing air response against an Iranian base or port. The key would be to avoid the use of ground troops and yet not unleash a full-fledged air war. Rather, the United States would demonstrate to the world that Iranian aggression determines the degree to which Iran suffers blows from us.

    (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)

  • Instapundit on why social media sucks:

    It’s unfortunate that social media not only makes informed debate more difficult on their platforms, but also, it seems, rewires people’s brains in such a fashion as to make such debate more difficult everywhere else. This is made worse by the fact that Twitter in particular seems to be most heavily used by the very people – pundits, political journalists, the intelligentsia – most vital to the sort of debate that Emerson saw as essential.

    In fact, the corruption of the political/intellectual class by social media is particularly serious, since their descent into thoughtless polarization can then spread to the rest of the population, even that large part that doesn’t use social media itself, through traditional channels. Writing on why Twitter is worse than it seems, David French observes that even though its user base is smaller than most other social media, those users are particularly influential:

    But in public influence Twitter punches far above its weight. Why? Because it’s where cultural kingmakers congregate, and thus where conventional wisdom is formed and shaped — often instantly and thoughtlessly.

    In other words, Twitter is where the people who care the most spend their time. The disproportionate influence of microbursts of instant public comments from a curated set of people these influencers follow shapes their writing and thinking and conduct way beyond the platform.

    (That’s from his new book The Social Media Upheaval.)

  • Hong Kong stages huge demonstration against new communist Chinese extradition laws:

  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott didn’t use a single line-item veto on any item in the Texas budget. There’s been a lot of grumbling that the recently completed legislative session didn’t hold the line on spending and failed to enact several conservative priorities.
  • Banning plastic bags won’t save the planet. “Research from 2015 shows that less than 5 per cent of land-based plastic waste going into the ocean comes from OECD countries, with half coming from just four countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.” Also: “You must reuse an organic cotton shopping bag 20,000 times before it will have less environmental damage than a plastic bag.” (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Brian Cates asserts that social media didn’t elect Trump.
  • More on voting fraud in Edinberg:

    “Down here, voter fraud is not all that unusual,” says Monte, a city planning consultant in a brown suit jacket, sitting with other activists at a table in Coffee Zone on McColl Road. “It’s unusual when they get prosecuted.”

    Now, for this south Texas town, that unusual moment has arrived. A November 2017 mayoral election has been under scrutiny from local and state officials, and 19 arrests have been made over alleged voter fraud. The mayor—and winner of the 2017 election—was indicted earlier this month, along with his wife.

    Only 8,400 votes were cast in the mayoral election, and Mayor Richard Molina’s final vote count was more than 1,200 votes ahead of the No. 2 candidate, 14-year incumbent Richard Garcia. From what’s known now, the election result couldn’t have been changed by the number of suspicious votes identified.

    But Molina reportedly is the first elected official in Texas to face a felony charge under a 2017 statute against vote harvesting, casting the midsize city into the national debate over election integrity.

  • “A New Jersey man is facing up to five years behind bars for running a nearly $3 million food stamp fraud operation at a Connecticut store.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Longtime ATF guard admits to stealing thousands of guns destined for destruction. (Hat tip: Say Uncle.)
  • Chattanooga VW plant rejects the UAW yet again. (Hat tip: Mark Tapscott at Instapundit.)
  • Prenda Law troll sentenced to 14 years in prison.
  • Extensive technical analysis indicates that Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 was probably intentionally depressurized and then flown a long ways before being ditched in the ocean by someone controlling the cockpit. (Hat tip: @davidjacksmith.)
  • Wallace Hall thinks that admissions cheating still goes on at The University of Texas. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Get woke, go broke, Hollywood edition. (Although I liked Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It wasn’t a good movie but it was a good Godzilla movie.)
  • Just as all the media Trump bashing has backfired, so will Hollywood’s condescension. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Not news: Breaking and entering. News: Gets ass handed to him by an 11-year old. Cherry on top: With a machete.
  • Schlitterbahn sells its its New Braunfels and Galveston water parks. That leaves them with parks still in Kansas City, South Padre and Corpus Christi.
  • In case you were worried that Democrats had a monopoly on all the bad ideas, the Tampa Bay Rays are considering spending half their time in Montreal. Because nothing says “well thought-out idea” like 1,500 miles between home games…
  • “Florida man says he had sex with stolen pool toys instead of raping women.” Uh…you can buy pool toys, dude…
  • The Edge wanted to live where the streets have no name, but thanks to the California Supreme Court’s ruling, he still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.
  • Google busted stealing lyrics. Bonus: Morse code.
  • Attack squirrels on meth.
  • Happy ending story, with dog. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • LinkSwarm for May 31, 2019

    Friday, May 31st, 2019

    Important traffic notice for Austin residents: Half of I-35 is going to be closed between 290 and Rundberg starting at 9 PM tonight and lasting through 5 AM Monday, June 3, while they take down the St. John’s bridge and route southbound traffic down two northbound lanes, squeezing traffic in both directions. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s going to screw up traffic everywhere between Georgetown and Slaughter Lane. Avoid if at all possible…

  • Robert Mueller closes up shop.
  • Alan Dershowitz thinks that Mueller acted shamefully in going beyond his prosecutor’s mandate:

    Virtually everybody agrees that, in the normal case, a prosecutor should never go beyond publicly disclosing that there is insufficient evidence to indict. No responsible prosecutor should ever suggest that the subject of his investigation might indeed be guilty even if there was insufficient evidence or other reasons not to indict. Supporters of Mueller will argue that this is not an ordinary case, that he is not an ordinary prosecutor and that President Trump is not an ordinary subject of an investigation. They are wrong. The rules should not be any different.

    Remember that federal investigations by prosecutors, including special counsels, are by their very nature one-sided. They hear only evidence of guilt and not exculpatory evidence. Their witnesses are not subject to the adversarial process. There is no cross examination. The evidence is taken in secret behind the closed doors of a grand jury. For that very reason, prosecutors can only conclude whether there is sufficient evidence to commence a prosecution. They are not in a position to decide whether the subject of the investigation is guilty or is innocent of any crimes.

    That determination of guilt or innocence requires a full adversarial trial with a zealous defense attorney, vigorous cross examination, exclusionary rules of evidence and other due process safeguards. Such safeguards were not present in this investigation, and so the suggestion by Mueller that Trump might well be guilty deserves no credence. His statement, so inconsistent with his long history, will be used to partisan advantage by Democrats, especially all those radicals who are seeking impeachment.

  • Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw on the issue:

  • President Donald Trump has given Attorney General William Barr authority to declassify to declassify Scandularity documents (like FISA warrents aimed at the Trump campaign), and Democrats are freaking out.
  • Study shows that America is less racist under Donald Trump’s presidency.
  • Mexico’s senate should pass the USMCA free trade treaty soon. Now it just needs to get past Canada and Nancy Pelosi.
  • Trump also threatens to slap a 5% tariff on Mexican goods until they do more to control the border.
  • Continuing plunge of CNN, MSNBC ratings reveals that fake news is a bad business strategy.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • More on the same subject from Vodkapundit.
  • Related: “It’s Not Your Imagination: The Journalists Writing About Antifa Are Often Their Cheerleaders.”

    Of all 15 verified national-level journalists in our subset, we couldn’t find a single article, by any of them, that was markedly critical of Antifa in any way. In all cases, their work in this area consisted primarily of downplaying Antifa violence while advancing Antifa talking points, and in some cases quoting Antifa extremists as if they were impartial experts.

    Update: For revealing those links, Twitter has banned author Eoin Lenihan.

  • Democrats yet again sue Little Sisters of the Poor for contraception coverage.” Every knee must bend…
  • “Scientists discover China has been secretly emitting banned ozone-depleting gas.” I’m shocked, shocked that China is evading agreed-upon environmental regulations…
  • “Why Are Top Obama Officials Working Cushy Jobs for Chinese Company We Now Consider a Threat?” (I think we all know the an$wer to that que$tion.) “Samir Jain — a former senior director for cybersecurity policy under Obama’s National Security Council and now a partner with the international law firm Jones Day — was recently hired by the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei as a lobbyist. Jain works alongside James Cole, who was Obama’s deputy attorney general from 2011 to 2015. Huawei hired Cole for legal representation in 2017, the Examiner reported.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Gulf Cartel Kidnapping Crew Caught Operating in Texas.” It operated in various locales in Hidalgo County.
  • This is interesting: Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and New York Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez are talking about teaming up to impose a lifetime ban on former members of congress becoming paid lobbyists. It’s a good idea that I expect to go nowhere, as it takes potential graft money out of too many congressional pockets. But this is not the only idea the hard left and the hard right could propose to fight the swampy center.
  • Mizrahi Jews are not “Palestinian Jews“:

    When my grandparents arrived in Israel, together with 850,000 other Jews who lived in the Middle East and North Africa, they understood three things.

    First, they understood that they were being forced to leave their Arab homelands. My Iraqi grandparents, for example, had very clear memories of the Farhud, the 1941 pogrom that left more than 180 Jews dead at the hands of their neighbors. They finally fled their native country in 1951, pushed out by an Iraqi government determined to rid itself of all of its Jews.

    When they arrived in Israel, my grandparents did not see themselves as Palestinian Jews—they had never before lived in Mandatory Palestine. They saw themselves as Jews of Iraqi descent returning to the ancient homeland they and their ancestors had dreamed of and prayed of for thousands of years, the land from which they were once expelled and to which they were overjoyed to return. And they also understood themselves to be distinct from their Ashkenazi brothers and sisters: They were all Jews, but my grandparents were proud of their Mizrahi heritage just as the 200,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent are proud of theirs.

  • Five dead as explosions rock Kirkuk, Iraq.
  • Instagram removes pro-life cartoon as “hate speech.”
  • Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw puts up a Twitter thread for his fallen comrades in arms for Memorial Day.
  • What it’s like to fight with Americans. “They are coming for you and very little will save you.”

  • And now a rather pungently expressed conflicting view:

    They’re hordes of freaks and geeks, socially promoted like the retards in Common Core to grease the retirement skids of a pack of careerist Courtney Massengales not fit nor capable to pour piss out of their own boots even with the instructions stamped on the heel.

    Else we wouldn’t have Rangerettes who can’t climb a short wall, Navy officers who can’t conn a ship without hitting everything afloat, as they dredge up parts from museum pieces to keep their current aircraft flying, Air Force generals pimping for a white elephant plane that cannot fly, missile officers cheating on their proficiency tests, Marine recruits in combat arms who can’t throw a grenade without killing themselves, or “combat leaders” who couldn’t pass a ruck march, West Point “leaders” who condone open communism from faculty and students, and promote a pack of Affirmative Action cadets who couldn’t pass a PRT or meet basic weight and appearance standards, while flashing Black Power signs in uniform. We wouldn’t be doing gender reassignment surgeries instead of physical therapy for combat wounded, we wouldn’t be spending more money on gender sensitivity counseling than on marksmanship training, and we wouldn’t be wavering the insane and drug-addicted into the military in record numbers, just to appease a pack of blue- and pink-haired SJWs.

    The US military is broken.

    Hugely so. Nearly hopelessly so.

    Nostalgia for a time long past when it was otherwise won’t paper over the reality that right now we’re as weak as kittens, with a military that’s going to have its own ass handed to it on a platter, and body bags filled by the gross, because it’s so hamstrung with PC that it cannot accomplish the most fundamental missions assigned to it, eight days out of seven.

    Overstated? Probably. Almost certainly. And don’t underestimate “freaks and geeks.” Or both viewpoints are true: Our armed forces aren’t what they’re shaped up to be, but are still miles beyond other country’s armed forces. Or it could be a case of inter-service differences: The army, honed by two decades at the point of the knife in the global war on terror, is the best in the world but the Navy and Air Force have problems. Or anywhere in-between those extremes. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)

  • African Swine Fever and stagflation in China.
  • Ackerman McQueen moves to terminate their contract with the NRA. (Previously. I still have an incomplete follow-up to that piece I need to finish.)
  • CrossFit leaves Facebook over suspensions of popular groups promoting a Keto lifestyle. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Spreadsheeting your marriage. It actually makes a surprising amount of sense… (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Former Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran has died at the age of 81. Cochran was Mississippi’s first Republican senator since Reconstruction, was a stalwart advocate of the Reagan revolution, and then slowly drifted into a more moderate direction as he stayed in the senate 45 years.
  • Leon Redbone, RIP.
  • John Cleese tells critics to piss off:

    (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

  • Texas repeals ban on tomahawks and brass knuckles.
  • Texas Scorecard approves of the work of Austin police chief Slab Bulkhead* Brian Manley.
  • Last Mohawk code-talker dies.
  • Jeopardy host Alex Trebek almost in remission from his cancer.
  • Important safety tip: Trying to imitate The Dukes of Hazzard in real life will not bring the desired results. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Austin-area SH 45 SW Toll road to open June 1st.
  • What Rice University looked like a hundred years ago, when it was surrounded by a whole lot of nothing.
  • Follow-up: You know that story about a researcher cracking the Voynich Manuscript? Yeah, maybe not. (Hat tip: Reader Dave Rainwater.)
  • “Sociologists Believe Shrieking Left-Winger Who Is Throwing Things May Be Expressing Disagreement.”
  • “Punk Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Novel Somehow Always Ends in 9-to-5 Office Job.”
  • *Running joke. Source here.

    Democratic Presidential Clown Car Update for May 20, 2019

    Monday, May 20th, 2019

    De Blasio and Bullock are In, which means I’m now tracking 24 declared Democratic Presidential candidates. That’s enough to field both side of a football team, plus Mike Gravel as the coach and Beto O’Rourke as the towel boy. It’s the latest Democratic Presidential Clown Car Update!

    Polls

  • Reuters finds Biden up five points since their last poll: Biden 29, Sanders 13, O’Rourke 6, Warren 6, Harris 6, Buttigieg 4, Booker 2, Klobucher 1, Gillibrand 1, Hickenlooper 1, Castro 1, Yang 1, Inslee 1, Ryan 1, Bennet 1, de Blasio 1. That’s one more than I ever expected for de Blasio…
  • Fox: Biden 35 (up 4), Sanders 17, Warren 9, Buttigieg 6, Harris 5, O’Rourke 4, Booker 3, Castro 2, Klobucher 2, Delaney 1, Gabbard 1, Inslee 1, Ryan 1, Williamson 1, Yang 1. I think two percent is a record for Castro.
  • Quinnipiac Pennsylvania: Biden 39, Sanders 13, Warren 8, Harris 8, Buttigieg 6, Booker 5, O’Rourke 2, Klobucher 1. Relatively good showing for Booker, but state polls tend to be more volatile.
  • Real Clear Politics
  • 538 polls
  • Election betting markets
  • Pundits, etc.

  • Rich Lowry wonders if President Donald Trump has, paradoxically, driven Democrats sane.

    What if Donald Trump hasn’t driven Democrats insane, sending them into a spiral of self-defeating radicalism, but instead made them shockingly pragmatic?

    Biden’s early strength suggests it may be the latter, that the reaction to Trump is so intense that it has crossed some sort of event horizon from fevered fantasy of his leaving office early via resignation or impeachment to a cold-eyed, win-at-any-cost practicality.

    If this is true, one of the exogenous factors that could appreciably increase Trump’s odds of reelection — a zany Democratic nomination contest leading to a nominee much too far left for the American electorate — may not materialize.

    Snip.

    If hardly dispositive, Biden’s robust numbers at least suggest that this play is more likely than it seemed in the very early going, when candidates were stumbling over one another apologizing for sundry alleged offenses in the Woke Olympics.

    If that’s not going to be the true dynamic of the race, I’m as surprised as anyone. What’s extraordinary, though, is that almost every Democratic candidate might have been misreading it as well, and chasing the wrong rabbit down the track.

    Certainly, Bernie Sanders dominated the intellectual and policy debate in the wake of his 2016 run, driving other presidential candidates to embrace his signature proposals. And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a genuine political star.

    It’s only because the center of gravity of the party has clearly moved left that Biden, always a standard liberal, now sounds like a centrist when he calls himself an Obama-Biden Democrat.

    But, as Harry Enten of CNN, among others, has been insisting for some time, the average Democrat is older, more moderate or conservative, and less likely to have a college degree than you’d guess from following Twitter or cable TV.

    These voters were underserved by the rest of the field, and Biden is taking dead aim at them with the simple message that he can beat Trump.

  • Your latest “There are two many Democrats running” thumbsucker:

    Others suggest that the size of the field highlights vulnerabilities of the two candidates now topping the polls, former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Biden has started strong, but it’s too early to judge his candidacy. Front-runners never coast to victory, and he will face adversity, whether self-inflicted or delivered by a rival who rises to the moment.

    One risk for Democrats is that, with so many candidates and so many voices, side debates distract from core issues and unifying messages. The debate over reparations sparks passions within the Democratic base but is not an issue high on the list of most voters who will determine who is the next president. The same is even more true of the issue of whether violent felons, terrorists or sexual predators should be allowed to vote while in prison, a topic recently injected into the Democratic conversation by Sanders.

  • Some states are moving from primaries to caucuses:

    At least 10 states are planning to switch from a caucus to a primary in 2020. As things stand, just two states — Iowa and Nevada — have firm plans to caucus again. Two other 2016 caucus states — Maine and Wyoming — are still up in the air. Maine lawmakers may establish a government-run primary, in which case the Maine Democratic Party plans to move to a primary. And Wyoming Democrats are still ironing out some details.

  • Ghost of Hillary Clinton haunts 2020 Democratic hopefuls.”

    “I think it’s also critical to understand, as I’ve been telling candidates who have come to see me,” she said last week, “you can run the best campaign, you can even become the nominee, and you can have the election stolen from you.”

    One third of that statement is true — she was the nominee; two thirds are not. Hillary Clinton did not run the best campaign. Her campaign was a disaster. She was a disaster. She insulted half of the electorate by calling them “deplorables” even before the first vote was cast.

    “So, part of our challenge is to understand what it will take to put together not only the popular vote, but the Electoral College,” she added.

    That is good advice. It is also advice she should have given herself in 2016 when, capturing the popular vote, she lost the Electoral College to Trump.

  • 538 on what the candidates are saying and doing.
  • And via Reuters, here’s a handy visual guide to the clown car:

  • Now on to the clown car itself:

  • Losing Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams: Maybe? Blah blah blah abortion blah blah blah. But she did finally pay off the $54,000 she owed the IRS, as well as student and credit card debt. Which shows that attention=money, so why wouldn’t she run for President?
  • Creepy Porn Lawyer Michael Avenatti: Out. Somehow I missed the fact that Avenatti endorsed Biden after he entered the race. I’m sure Biden is just thrilled at that endorsement.
  • Actor Alec Baldwin: Probably not.
  • Colorado Senator Michael Bennet: In. Twitter. Facebook. Far-left group Demand Justice is already running attack ads against him for voting for too many of Trump’s judicial nominees. Demand Justice is being run by Brian Fallon, who was press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run. Makes you go “Hmmmmm.”
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden: In. Twitter. Facebook. Little did I know when I posted about the John Durham appointment that I would be mentioning late Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger twice in one week, since Joe Biden’s son Hunter is doing business with his nephew, also named James Bulger, along with John Kerry’s stepson Chris Heinz, in a deal with the Bank of China. Biden’s rhetoric suggests he’s already looking toward the general election. Biden’s popularity suggests that maybe voters don’t want change after all:

    A January poll by the Pew Research Center found that 58 percent of Republicans wanted their party to become more conservative. In contrast, 53 percent of Democrats wanted their party to become more moderate.

    That raises the question of whether the party’s center of gravity lies less with vocal activists than with a quieter group of voters that is less likely to join Twitter or show up at campaign events. “His candidacy may be different,” says Biden’s campaign pollster John Anzalone, “But it is the one that is working.”

    Feminist Jill Filipovic asks “Does Anyone Actually Want Joe Biden to Be President?” It’s yet another “Electability Sucks, Because White Male!” screed:

    The Democratic Party of 2019 does not look much like Joe Biden. Women, African-American, Latino and Asian voters are all much more likely to say they support Democratic candidates than Republican ones. White voters, male voters and especially white male voters generally support Republicans.

    Statistics on who votes Democratic also suggest that the Democratic Party is more diverse than the experts deciding who is electable.

    Those assumptions about electability reflect entrenched biases more than political science, and have a dash of arrogance to boot. An electable candidate, the thinking goes, has to be authentic and broadly appealing. But authenticity itself is coded as white and male when it’s defined by white men.

    “Shut up and eat your intersectionality, white patriarchal oppressor!”

  • Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Probably not.
  • New Jersey Senator Cory Booker: In. Twitter. Facebook. Gets a PBS profile; expect to read the Hassan Washington anecdote in every Booker profile. Plus an NPR interview. I’m just assuming the Booker campaign has friends at NPR.
  • Former California Governor Jerry Brown: Doesn’t sound like it.
  • Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown: Out.
  • Update: Montana Governor Steve Bullock: In. Twitter. Facebook. He announced last week.

    According to Morning Consult data from the first quarter of 2019, Bullock is among the 15 most popular governors in the country, and one of the top Democrats to make the list (13 out of the top 15 most popular governors are Republicans; the other Democrat is Delaware governor John Carney). But that fact makes Bullock’s decision to run for president a bit more puzzling.

    In a field of 23 candidates, where Biden continues to lead the pack by double digits in many polls, it’s hard to imagine the Montana governor will have an easy time making an impression on primary voters. But it’s much easier to imagine Bullock putting up a decent fight against Republican senator Steve Daines, who is up for re-election in 2020.

    He launched his presidential campaign by coming out against free speech. 538 says that Bullock is talking about his plan to reach out to rural voters:

    In a May 8 tweet, he said, “As the only Democrat to win statewide re-election in a Trump state in 2016, I know firsthand: we must reach out to rural voters.”

    And this message might resonate. As we know from polls, many Democratic voters think it’s a very important consideration to nominate a candidate who can beat President Trump, and as a white man, Bullock may benefit from perceptions that he is “electable.” But he has empirical evidence for it, too: He has won three statewide elections in red, heavily rural Montana — one for attorney general and two for governor. In 2016, he won his second gubernatorial term with 50 percent of the vote, 15 points more than Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

    He’s all in on Iowa, and has an endorsement from Iowa’s attorney general Tom Miller.

  • South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg: In. Twitter. Facebook. He had a town hall on Fox. “Mayor Pete and the Order of the Kong: How Buttigieg’s Harvard pals helped spur his rise in politics.” One of those friends was “Joe Green, who was Facebook cofounder Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate.” Yep, just good old ordinary, salt-of-the-earth Mayor Pete…
  • Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr.: Out.
  • Former San Antonio Mayor and Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro: In. Twitter. Facebook. He jumped on the impeachment bandwagon. Because I’m sure trying to impeach Trump and year and a half before a Presidential election couldn’t possibly backfire on Democrats. He visited Tennessee, whose primary is on March 3. He also visited Santa Clarita University in California.
  • Former First Lady, New York Senator, Secretary of State and losing 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: Out. But Howard Stern thinks her refusal to go on his show may have cost her the election.
  • Update: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio: In. Twitter. Facebook. See my previous post on how he sucks and everyone hates him. (And honestly, actually running on the slogan “De Blasio 2020: He Sucks And Everyone Hates Him” would actually probably earn him more votes than he would get otherwise.) I note that his official Presidential website has exactly zero links to the actual policies he’s running on. Jonah Goldberg calls him “the Sponge of Woke Platitudes“:

    The reason it is very unlikely that de Blasio will replicate the success of Donald Trump in the Democratic primaries is that he cannot offer any contrasts that matter. He isn’t entertaining, he’s tiresome. He isn’t charismatic, he’s unctuous. He talks like the president of a small liberal-arts college, spouting clichés plucked from a flier on an assistant professor of Peace Studies’ door. He seems convinced that the glassy expression on the faces of the students and faculty in the audience is awe, not a soul-numbing tedium that is a few desperate heartbeats away from resorting to self-harm just to feel something again.

    De Blasio holds press conference at Trump Tower — and gets heckled. Come for the pro-Trump posters, stay for the “You suck!” chants. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)

  • Maryland Representative John Delaney: In. Twitter. Facebook. His name came up on The Viewand the hosts didn’t know who he was. That’s sort of Delaney’s campaign in a nutshell…
  • Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard: In. Twitter. Facebook. She decried a possible war with China. Said gossip that her campaign is being supported by Vladimir Putin is “fake news.” You know, I think there’s something familiar about that claim…
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: Out.
  • New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: In. Twitter. Facebook. She appeared on Face the Nation. Another day, another Democrat lying about supporting the Second Amendment.
  • Former Tallahassee Mayor and failed Florida Senate candidate Andrew Gillum: Probably not. But the plea deal he cut on four of five charges with the Florida Ethics Commission is starting to look pretty smart now that new indictments are raining down on his associates.
  • Addition: Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel: In. Twitter. Facebook. The 18-year old running Gravel’s campaign.

    At first, they just wanted Gravel to run so he could perform the same function he did in his longshot 2008 campaign – yell at the other candidates on stage and push them as far left as possible, especially on an anti-war foreign policy.

    But at this point, nobody can rule anything out when it comes to election outcomes.

    “We’re running to win, of course, but we don’t expect to win,” Oks told the Forward. “I don’t think Mike expects to become president – it would probably be a hitch in some of his plans.”

    But earning enough donations and poll support to get him on the debate stage, he explained, would allow Gravel to “put forth criticism of war and the military industrial complex, and even domestic policy, that hasn’t been seen in many decades, even more radical than Bernie.”

    Pushing the Democrats even further left? There’s no way that could possibly backfire…

  • California Senator Kamala Harris: In. Twitter. Facebook. Hugh Hewett thinks it’s Harris’ race to lose. She wants to ban foreign-built AR-pattern rifles. And that ban would affect who, again? Heckler & Koch? AR manufacturers are overwhelmingly American firms. She also wants to fine companies that don’t pay women “equally” with men. That’s just the thing for helping American companies compete globally, inserting a member of the federal GenderStasi into every HR department…
  • Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper: In. Twitter. Facebook. He attacked fellow Democrats for daring to challenge the globalist status quo: “Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) on Sunday took swipes at unidentified Democrats he said ‘would have the U.S. withdraw from global engagement.'”
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder: Out.
  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee: In. Twitter. Facebook. Inslee wants to destroy the coal industry. Because that goal worked out so well for the Australian Labor Party.
  • Virginia Senator and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Vice Presidential running mate Tim Kaine: Out.
  • Former Obama Secretary of State and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry: Not seeing any sign.
  • Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar: In. Twitter. Facebook. She wants to increase regulation on business, because that’s a surefire ticket for economic growth. “Klobuchar’s plan also calls for updating the tax code to support ‘gig workers’ by establishing a national paid leave program, mandatory sick leave and portable retirement savings accounts, funded by employers.” Thus ignoring the fact that the reason a “gig economy” exists at all is that government regulations have made regular full-time employees too expensive so expensive to hire.
  • New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu: Out.
  • Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe: Out.
  • Oregon senator Jeff Merkley: Out. Filing for reelection to the senate instead.
  • Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam: In. Twitter. Facebook. The Onion: “Mike Gravel Can’t Believe His Polling Numbers Neck-And-Neck With Fucking Nobody Like Wayne Messam.”
  • Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton: In. Twitter. Facebook. He unveiled a national service proposal, which would not be mandatory. So another AmeriCorps to suck up tax dollars.
  • Former First Lady Michelle Obama: Out.
  • Former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda: Out.
  • Former Texas Representative and failed Senatorial candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke: In. Twitter. Facebook. “O’Rourke stocks campaign with Obama and Clinton alums.” No names I’m familiar with. “O’Rourke’s recent hires come after the departure of Becky Bond and Zack Malitz, two senior strategists who worked on O’Rourke’s Senate campaign and Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential effort — both evangelists for the distributed organizing model.” Snip. “[Jen] O’Malley Dillon, a former executive director of the Democratic National Committee and deputy campaign manager to Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, is bringing on a roster of staffers with long experience in the Democratic Party.” Pledges to “decriminalize truancy, address fines on parents.” That would be an interesting policy proposal…if he were running for the El Paso school board.
  • New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Constitutionally ineligible to run in 2020.
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick: Out.
  • Ohio Representative Tim Ryan: In. Twitter. Facebook. Gets a PBS NewsHour interview. He campaigned in Iowa. He’ll appear on a CNN town hall on June 2.
  • Vermont Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders: In. Twitter. Facebook. “An Our Revolution Staffer Fired For ‘Anti-Immigrant’ Remarks Is Suing The Pro-Bernie Group For Racial Discrimination.” As usual, “anti-immigration” is code for suggesting illegal aliens shouldn’t get government benefits. The staffer in question was part of the black outreach team. Also checkout this bedwetting overreaction from Our Revolution’s former political director Erika Andiola: “I became sick to my stomach and could not stop crying all night.” If hearing contrary opinions makes you ill and depressed, maybe you shouldn’t be working in politics. “Bernie Sanders is challenging two cherished theories of electability.”

    One of those theories is beloved by self-styled centrists, and has served as a way to gate-keep against more liberal candidates. It argues that Americans are ideological moderates who punish political parties for nominating candidates too far to the left or right.

    The other is beloved by leftists, and has served as a cudgel against more centrist candidates. It holds that there’s a vast working-class majority out there for any candidate willing to slough off the Democratic Party’s turn to corporatism, free trade, and identity politics and recapture the economic populism that made the New Deal Democrats dominant for a generation.

  • Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer: Out.
  • California Representative Eric Swalwell: In. Twitter. Facebook. “In the six years since Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) began earning the big salary that comes with being a member of Congress he has failed to pay down his student loans, cashed out his pension, and accumulated credit card debt.” Maybe a guy who can’t manage his own finances shouldn’t be managing America’s…
  • Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren: In. Twitter. Facebook. R.S. McCain thinks Warren is over: “My guess would be that, after the first round of debates, Warren will fade and Harris will rise, because Harris is black and is obviously better qualified than the other black candidate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Such is the logic of identity politics, in which Democrats are heavily invested.” I expect that this is premature, especially with Warren also making a play for the hard left Sanders voters. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren Has A Plan For Everything — Including Your Love Life.”

    For all the praise The New Republic is heaping on her opioid crisis plan, it just sounds like more federal government money airdrops.

  • Author and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson: In. Twitter. Facebook. Heh: “‘Tom Perez Is Such a Goddamned Weenie’: What Marianne Williamson’s Candidacy Reveals About the Democrats.” After noting Oprah’s not running:

    Yet one of Oprah’s star guests, Marianne Williamson, is running—and has beat out several conventional politicians, including Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton and Colorado senator Michael Bennet, to qualify for the first D.N.C.-sponsored debate. That Williamson has qualified is irritating to some of her opponents—not because of who she is, but because of the rules that could make her one of the 20 contenders appearing on the prime-time stage: candidates need to score at least one percent in three certified polls or collect donations from 65,000 different people.

    She gets a profile in New York:

    Marianne Williamson deserves some serious attention, and not just because she’s written four books that hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list. At a time when the leftward drift of the Democratic Party is regularly in the news, she is by any measure the most rigorously progressive candidate in the field of 23. That she wraps her progressivism in a syncretic spirituality instead of socialist materialism may even be an advantage for a politician in this God-haunted country of ours.

    Pick an issue, and odds are Williamson is going to out-Bernie Bernie and out-Warren Warren. She’s for Medicare For All, unsurprisingly, but she’s also for heavy investments in preventive medicine and nutritional education, and a pretty heavy regulatory arm on those she feels are poisoning our bodies, including those who produce “high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats.” So far as I can tell, she’s the only candidate committed to reducing national stress levels, too.

    And one at The Hill: “Those who say who can and cannot win now are the same people who were telling us that Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in three years ago.”

  • Talk show host Oprah Winfrey: Out.
  • Venture capitalist Andrew Yang: In. Twitter. Facebook. “Andrew Yang’s TED Talk version of politics.”

    Over and over again when I ask people who identify as members of “the Yang Gang” what attracted them to Yang, they cite Silicon Valley’s preferred solution to our economic woes: universal basic income (UBI) or, as he calls it, “the Freedom Dividend.” Yang argues that technology is going to eat up millions of jobs over the coming decade, wiping out everything from retail workers to truckers. “How many of you have seen the self-service kiosk at McDonald’s or another fast food restaurant?” Yang asks. “You kind of like them. I kind of like them too.” The only solution to this inevitability, Yang argues, is giving every American, beginning at age 18, $1,000 a month. He’d fund it by upping taxes on technology companies.

    Yang has translated his unlikely background and platform into something of a cult following, centered around men under the age of 40. The idea that anyone except the occasional oddball would thrill to carrying signs with the word “MATH” emblazoned on them — which stands for Make America Think Harder — may feel like a stretch in the United States, where an anti-intellectual streak is writ large, and our current president is prone to saying such things as, “I love the poorly educated.” But when people attending the rally talk about UBI, it feels more personal. “It makes a lot of sense, because a lot of Americans are struggling,” said Keegan Steinke, 24, a canvasser for a solar company. “It provides a safety net for everyone, and it doesn’t provide these perverse incentives like, ‘Okay, I made this much, I might lose these benefits,’ ” said Elliott Ribner, 32, a software engineer.

    Politico asks: “Is Andrew Yang for Real?”

    Viewed from a great distance, Yang’s candidacy has a lot in common with the two political comets that streaked across the 2016 presidential campaign: Donald Trump on the right and Bernie Sanders on the left. Yang runs essentially the same playbook: embracing economic grievance, hammering the tech giants and other darlings of the “new economy,” selling his case directly to the working American. Since he launched his campaign in November 2017, he has been retailing a vision of America in which educated, entitled elites have rigged the system and hoovered money away from middle America and toward the coasts, giving little in return. With no prior political experience or prominent backers, Yang is nonetheless gaining a peculiar traction, including some true believers who want him to be president and others who are mostly just intrigued.

    Unlike Trump and Sanders, however, Yang, 44, comes precisely from the same corporate, tech-soaked world he is trying to attack. Educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, he made his money prepping students to get into MBA programs and, in recent years, has spent months at a time living in Silicon Valley. He was once a successful startup CEO and head of a group that trains budding entrepreneurs, but in the wake of 2016 presidential election Yang soured on an industry that wreaths itself in promises of prosperity and transformation; he rejects the conventional policy wisdom—popular on the left and the right—that out-of-work Americans should retrain for jobs in tech. And in a Democratic Party reveling in its diversity, the Taiwanese-American candidate says he worries most about how displaced white men will react to their declining fortunes—a stance that has, strangely, won him some fans from the “alt-right.“

  • Blogroll Updates

    Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

    I’ve gotten behind in cultivating my blogroll, so here’s some much-needed planting and pruning:

    Additions

  • No Lawyers, Only Guns And Money: Gun blog. Karl Rehn recommended them, and they’ve had a lot of good information on the NRA issues I’ve been covering.
  • Quillette: Meaty pieces of interest from academics opposed to the Social Justice Warrior agenda.
  • Tablet: News from a Jewish perspective. In Foreign Policy because it offers a lot of good information on Arab-Israeli topics.
  • Subtractions

  • Creeping Sahria: Gone.
  • Michael Totten: World Affairs Journal shut down after their sponsor died.
  • PushJunction: Gone.
  • Sipsy Street Irregulars: Stopped updating in 2016.
  • Turmoil In The NRA

    Thursday, May 9th, 2019

    A great deal of institutional turmoil has been roiling the National Rifle Association as of late:

    A long-simmering dispute between NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and now-departing NRA president Oliver North exploded into the open Friday night, as the NRA’s Board of Directors suddenly forced to confront public accusations and counter-accusations of financial mismanagement, attempts at extortion, and unjustifiable expenditures by their primary public relations firm. By Saturday morning, it was clear who won.

    This morning, at the NRA’s public meeting of members, member Richard Childress read a letter from North announcing he would not seek another term as the NRA’s president. His term ends Monday.

    The NRA is currently suing their public relations firm, Ackerman McQueen, over access to documents detailing how the firm spent the NRA’s money. In recent years, NRA board members grew increasingly concerned about whether they were getting their money’s worth from their long time advertising and PR firm; according to financial documents cited in The New Yorker, the NRA paid Ackerman McQueen just under $41 million in 2017.

    Further complicating the matter is that North has a contract with Ackerman McQueen to produce a television series “Oliver North’s American Heroes.” LaPierre accuses North of attempting to oust him in order to protect Ackerman McQueen.

    The New Yorker piece displays an obvious disdain for gun owners and the NRA, but that doesn’t mean their central details about the nature of the relationship between the NRA and Ackerman McQueen are wrong. After noting that it is actually Ackerman McQueen that pays the salaries of high profile spokesmen Dana Loesch and Colion Noir, it goes on:

    The N.R.A. and Ackerman have become so intertwined that it is difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Top officials and staff move freely between the two organizations; Oliver North, the former Iran-Contra operative, who now serves as the N.R.A.’s president, is paid roughly a million dollars a year through Ackerman, according to two N.R.A. sources. But this relationship, which in many ways has built the contemporary N.R.A., seems also to be largely responsible for the N.R.A.’s dire financial state. According to interviews and to documents that I obtained—federal tax forms, charity records, contracts, corporate filings, and internal communications—a small group of N.R.A. executives, contractors, and venders has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, through gratuitous payments, sweetheart deals, and opaque financial arrangements. Memos created by a senior N.R.A. employee describe a workplace distinguished by secrecy, self-dealing, and greed, whose leaders have encouraged disastrous business ventures and questionable partnerships, and have marginalized those who object. “Management has subordinated its judgment to the vendors,” the documents allege. “Trust in the top has eroded.”

    One prominent longtime NRA member told me “If keeping Wayne on for another few years is the price we have to pay to get rid of Ack-Mac, it’s worth it. Wayne can be a problem, but Ack-Mac is unsurvivable. They’ve very nearly killed their host organism. Go to their homepage and look at their client list and ask yourself where this podunk ad agency gets off billing the NRA $40M/yr.”

    Similar thoughts from Shall Not Be Questioned:

    Wayne’s extravagance is the new story in the media after the Board members who had dealings with the PR firm were ousted. I don’t feel sorry for Wayne. He invited this on himself by doing stuff like this in the first place. Why were expenses being funneled through Ack-Mac? I can’t see any legit reason for that other than keeping them off NRA’s books. Lie with dogs and don’t be surprised when you get fleas.

    But my overriding goal is getting through New York State’s assault on the NRA and excising the parasite PR firm. Everything else is small potatoes. If Wayne wants to say ten Hail Marys and agree to sin no more that’s fine.

    The New Yorker piece also mentions the controversy over Carry Guard:

    In 2017, visitors to the N.R.A.’s annual meeting, at a convention center in Atlanta, noted a huge banner that ran nearly the full length of the building. It was there to promote a newly launched program called Carry Guard, for members who wanted to protect themselves with firearms. The program offered military-style training, overseen by former Special Forces members, and liability insurance to cover policyholders who had shot people in self-defense. The banner featured an image of Dana Loesch, holding an insurance card and announcing, “I will never carry a gun without carrying this.” On the showroom floor was a Carry Guard virtual-reality exhibit, where participants, equipped with electronic handguns and V.R. goggles, were encouraged to fire away at an armed robber.

    Ackerman had been deeply involved in developing Carry Guard, and it marketed the insurance aggressively, through e-mail campaigns and an NRATV program called “Carry Guard Daily.” The promotional literature included a guide called “Surviving the Aftermath of a Self-Defense Shooting,” which advised prospective buyers that it was important to “establish for police that you were in fear for your life and did what you felt was necessary.”

    According to sources familiar with the N.R.A.’s business decisions, Carry Guard was intended to secure the organization’s long-term prosperity. The N.R.A. had spent more than fifty million dollars on the 2016 elections, mostly in support of Donald Trump, and it badly needed revenue. Brian Mittendorf, the chair of the accounting department at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, has analyzed eleven years’ worth of the organization’s public financial statements, starting in 2007. In seven of those years, he told me, “the N.R.A. owed more money to others than it had at its discretion to spend.” A financial audit from 2017 revealed that it had nearly reached the limit of a twenty-five-million-dollar line of credit. Additionally, it had been forced to liquidate more than two million dollars from an investment fund, borrow almost four million from its officers’ life-insurance policies, and tap another five million from its affiliated charitable foundation.

    Carry Guard pissed off a lot of longtime NRA trainers, who had gone through all the NRA teaching and certification courses, only to have Carry Guard instituted from outside as a high profile alternate program they had no input into, and which cut them out in favor of newcomers without their experience training civilians in proper gun use techniques. Ordinary members were also miffed that 1911s and revolvers were not allowed in the new Carry Guard classes. In addition, the consensus seems to be that USCCA insurance is better than Carry Guard’s insurance (plus many people were pissed off that, after Carry Guard was introduced, USCCA was disinvited from the annual NRA meeting). (There are also other programs out there; John Daub had insurance through Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network when he had his home invasion.)

    Carry Guard was supposed to be a source of revenue for the NRA, but it’s turned into a black hole, and no one if sure if it’s even continuing at this point.

    The New Yorker published a new piece on the NRA yesterday:

    The N.R.A.’s relationship with Ackerman seems to be the most prominent example of an organizational culture that is marked by secrecy, self-dealing, and greed, and has cost the N.R.A. hundreds of millions of dollars through bloated payments, lavish deals, and opaque financial arrangements. The memo to the audit committee appears to show that the N.R.A.’s troubles stretch beyond its dealings with Ackerman. It suggests new examples of unexplained spending, weak oversight, mismanagement, and conflicts of interest among members of the N.R.A.’s senior management.

    Snip.

    One of the senior N.R.A. executives mentioned in the audit-committee memo is Woody Phillips, who served as the organization’s treasurer and chief financial officer for twenty-six years before retiring, in 2018. The document states, without explanation, that the N.R.A. had made “payments” to Phillips’s “significant other.” Brewer challenged the accuracy of the assertion. “Payments were not made to any ‘significant other’ of the N.R.A.’s former C.F.O.,” Brewer wrote. “The N.R.A. hired an I.T. consulting firm with links to a social friend of Mr. Phillips. That firm was interviewed and vetted by the N.R. A.’s I.T. department, and its engagement was reviewed and approved by the audit committee.”

    The accountants described invoices submitted by several venders [sic] and paid by the N.R.A. as “vague and deceptive.” One questionable arrangement involved Associated Television International, a television-production company. From 1998 to 2014, A.T.I. produced a crime-reënactment [sic] show called “Crime Strike,” which featured the N.R.A.’s executive vice-president and C.E.O., Wayne LaPierre. According to the accountants, the N.R.A. paid A.T.I. “$1.8M for rental of a house” belonging to David McKenzie, A.T.I.’s president. The accountants do not say who rented the home, why the N.R.A. covered the rental at such an enormous cost, nor what, if anything, was “deceptive” about the bill.

    Michael Donaldson, A.T.I.’s outside counsel, confirmed that the company sent the N.R.A. “seven invoices” concerning the house, which added up to “almost $1.8 million.” He went on, “The invoices in question were all for refurbishing episodes after completion of the original episodes of ‘Crime Strike,’ ” adding, “the invoiced amounts include not only the house but also various production-related items such as lights, props, and some crew.” Donaldson told me that A.T.I. has “stopped rendering services for the N.R.A. for some time.”

    There’s more in that vein, including the people at the center of the controversies:

    In addition, the memo drew attention to “senior management override of internal controls,” which led to violations of “accounts payable procedures” and “HR policy,” including “hiring of staff without HR knowledge.” It names four executives who, at the time, were receiving “reimbursement of expenses relating to apartments and living expenses beyond HR Policy Manual stipulations and on a permanent basis.” The N.R.A.’s accountants added that there was “no contract to support the reimbursement request,” which the four individuals continued to claim as a “relocation expense.” The executives named include Doug Hamlin, the N.R.A.’s executive director of publications; Eric Frohardt, the director of education and training; Joe DeBergalis, the executive director of general operations; and Josh Powell, LaPierre’s chief of staff.

    Says John Richardson at No Lawyers – Only Guns and Money:

    Powell is the person responsible for bringing in CarryGuard while Eric Frohardt is the former Navy SEAL whom Powell installed as director of education and training and director of training for CarryGuard. Frohardt still lives in Colorado where he owns a range and other businesses according to his LinkedIn page. It is my understanding from those who would know that Frohardt is flown in at the NRA’s expense to work 3-7 days a month. While I have the utmost respect for Frohardt’s service to the nation, 12 years as a Navy SEAL does not make one an expert in training civilians in the legal use of a firearm.

    As to Josh Powell, the memo to the Audit Committee mentions his multiple conflicts of interest including the hiring of his dad to do photography for the NRA and his wife, Colleen Gallagher, was hired by a top NRA fund-raising vendor McKenna and Associates. It gets worse.

    The N.R.A.’s accountants completed their memo in mid-July. Around this period, the N.R.A.’s new C.F.O., Craig Spray, had to temporarily step away from his role at the organization to deal with a health matter. Someone would need to take his place as the organization’s chief manager of financial activities. According to an internal N.R.A. communication, in July, 2018, Powell was appointed acting C.F.O. for about three weeks, placing him in charge of the accountants who documented his conflicts of interest.

    I won’t get into the other issues with regard to Powell other than to say his departure from the NRA would help the organization. Placing him as the senior strategist to work with outside counsel William Brewer on New York litigation is a disaster in the making.

    The fact that the New Yorker is hostile to gun rights and the NRA shouldn’t blind us to the fact that there are very real financial oversight issues that need to be addressed, and the NRA audit committee isn’t far enough away from those problems to address them. The NRA board should bring an outside audit team from one of the big five accounting forms with expertise in nonprofits to do a full, forensic audit of NRA finances going back at least five years.

    There are some that claim cleaning up the NRA would offer too much succor to the gun-grabbers. But the organizational dysfunction and self-dealing is already out in the open, and is already hurting the NRA’s effectiveness (and has been for several years). If not now, when? Better to do it now, the year before a Presidential election, with Republicans holding the White House and the Senate able to block gun-grabbing initiatives, than during it.

    Other than being a member, I am very far indeed from the center of NRA power. For all the grumbling over the NRA caving over bump-stocks, there’s no other organization with the size, scope and political power of the NRA to protect Second Amendment rights in America. But to do that, the NRA has to be on solid organizational and financial footing, and right now it does not appear to be on either. The NRA has to get its own house in order, this year, or expect forces hostile to it and its goals to do it for them.

    Similar thoughts from Richardson:

    One way or another the NRA will get its house in order. It can be done either by the Board of Directors or it will be done for them by the State of New York, the Internal Revenue Service, and other outside agencies. Far better that the changes come from within than from without. It can be controlled and managed to make the organization stronger, bigger, and more diverse.

    My fear is that new officers of the NRA – Carolyn Meadows, Charles Cotton, and Willes Lee – and much of the Board are such stalwart Wayne LaPierre supporters that they will go along with the status quo (ante bellum) to the NRA’s detriment. Ignoring it is not going to make it go away and will only make matters worse. That, however, is the most probable outcome as things stand now.

    Democratic Presidential Clown Car Update for May 6, 2019

    Monday, May 6th, 2019

    Biden is up big, Bennet is In, Beto is down and de Blasio is about to unite all of America together in ridicule against him. Plus the raw sex appeal of Walter Mondale. It’s your Democratic Presidential Clown Car Update!

    Polls

  • In a Harvard-Harris poll, Biden leads his Democratic opponents by a whopping 30 points. Biden 44, Sanders 14, Harris 9, Warren 5, Buttigieg 4, O’Rourke 3, Booker 3. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • CNN–SRSS: Biden 39, Sanders 24, Warren 8, Buttigieg 7.
  • Morning Consult: Biden 36, Sanders 22, Warren 9, Buttigieg 8, Harris 7, O’Rourke 5, Booker 4, Klobucher 2, Yang 2.
  • Quinnipiac: Biden 38, Warren 12, Sanders 11, Buttigieg 10, Harris 8, O’Rourke 5. First poll I’ve seen Warren edge Sanders. Maybe all that “free everything for everybody” pandering is paying off for her…
  • Real Clear Politics
  • 538 polls.
  • Election betting markets. Warren (5.7%) is now up over Yang (5.3%) who is now up over O’Rourke (5.1%).
  • The Eight Tiers In This Race

    People usually sort candidates into “First Tier, Second Tier, Third Tier,” but that’s not applicable to a race this crowded:

    1. Right now Biden is alone in the first tier, and…
    2. Sanders is alone in the second.
    3. The third tier is Warren, Buttigieg and Harris all bunched up together (Warren is enjoying a little bounce, Buttigieg’s bounce faded as soon as Biden joined, and Harris is just barely hanging on as the media-boosted SJW darling).
    4. O’Rouke has probably free-fallen alone into the fourth tier, his telegenic hype long over and people scratching their heads as to why people ever thought he was exciting when not running against Ted Cruz.
    5. The fifth tier consists of Booker and Klobucher, who seem to be running competent, unexciting campaigns awaiting their turn to catch fire in a hype cycle.
    6. The sixth tier is Interesting Weirdos, lead by a rising Yang and a hasn’t-showed-us-anything-yet Williamson. Let’s also stick Gabbard here, since she generates tons of buzz only because the Democratic base seems to actively hate her, and she seems to have more followers than the lower tiers.
    7. The seventh tier is Dead in the Water, people who have resumes that suggest they should be credible Presidential candidates (mostly senators and governors), but somehow aren’t: Castro, Gillibrand, Hickenlooper, Inslee, and probably the newly-joined Bennet.
    8. The eighth and lowest tier (sorry Dante) is Wasting Our Time, including all the representatives other than Gabbard: Moulton, Ryan, Swalwell, Delany, Messam. Maybe one could break out, but I rather doubt it.

    Pundits, etc.

  • How much a candidate’s announcement coverage boosts them in polls. Caveat: They relied on cable news coverage, which leaves out a lot of things, like legacy MSM outlets slathering fawning coverage on Harris like ketchup on french fries.
  • “If you have an appetite for schadenfreude, one of the pleasures of the ongoing 2020 Democratic primary will be watching once-highly-touted politicians realize just how limited their appeal is, as they struggle to reach 5 percent in a crowded field.” Special mention of Castro, Gabbard and Gillibrand.
  • Stephen Green on electability. “If the economy is still booming in November 2020, maybe none of this year’s massive crop of Dems is electable. Maybe they’re all Mondales, albeit with far less of Walt’s raw sexual magnetism.”
  • Democrats desperately need their dark money sugar daddies.
  • 538 on what the candidates are saying and doing.
  • Now on to the clown car itself:

  • Losing Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams: Maybe? She’s not running for the senate. Maybe she’s regretting turning down that Biden VP trial balloon. She also got a voter suppression pander from O’Rourke.
  • Creepy Porn Lawyer Michael Avenatti: Out.
  • Actor Alec Baldwin: Probably not. Still nothing since that now four-week old tweet. But his estimated net worth is $85 million, and he was “a political science major at George Washington University (where he ran for student body president and lost).” Baldwin could probably talk himself into a run if he really wanted to…
  • Update: Colorado Senator Michael Bennet: In. “Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., announced he will run in the Democratic primary to seek his party’s nomination to go up against President Trump in the 2020 election.” More: “Bennet has built a reputation as a bipartisan, policy-focused senator on Capitol Hill, trending toward the center of the Democratic spectrum. He opposes a single-payer health care system, instead hoping to expand Obamacare.” Oh yeah, that’s just what the Democratic base in crying out for: bipartisanship. Data point: The guy’s a U.S. senator, and I have exactly one entry for him before I started doing the Clown Car update, and that was just a mention in the 2016 election. If you stuck guns to the heads of Democratic voters and said “Pick Michael Bennet out of these photos of all 21 declared Democratic Presidential candidates or die,” then you just killed a greater percentage of Democratic voters than Thanos.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden: In. Twitter. Facebook. “A $1.5 billion sweetheart deal Hunter Biden’s private equity firm secured from the state-owned Bank of China is ‘looming on the horizon’ as a potential line of attack against his father’s 2020 presidential campaign, according to Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen.” It’s going to be fun hearing Democrats claim that random contacts by low-level staffers constituted collusion with Russia for Trump, but that $1.5 billion from China to the Vice President’s son was just no big deal. Why Biden is not Jeb Bush. Four of these points I agree with, but the fifth (“unlike Jeb, who was weakened by the presence of his one-time protege Marco Rubio in the field, Biden has no immediate competitor in his primary ‘lane'”) is probably untrue, as Buttigieg, Moulton, Hickenlooper, Ryan and Bennet could all plausibly fill the “white moderate” lane. He appeared on ABC’s The View, where he promised to be less creepy. Biden picked up a very early endorsement from the International Association of Fire Fighters, another example of his strong play for union support. He appeals to forgotten blue collar Democrats. Flashback: In 1998, Joe Biden said Anita Hill was lying. (Right the first time.) Biden the liar. Speaking of which, the Washington Post gave him four Pinocchios for stating that the Trump tax cuts applied only to the rich. Biden’s campaign may be a well-oiled machine. Biden himself? Not so much:

    How far will the left wing of the Democratic Party go to drag Biden? Here’s a Newsweek piece dinging him for opposing forced busing in 1974. Here’s a hint: everyone hated forced busing. “We’re going to take your daughter and ship her across town to a school in the ghetto because that’s a whole hell of a lot easier than spending more money to improve ghetto schools or take on teachers unions.” Democrats gave up on forced busing because it was a horrible idea that didn’t actually address the problem and they didn’t want be wiped out in elections.

  • Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Maybe? I didn’t think he was going to run if Biden got in, but what the hell is this? It came up as an ad when I Googled “Michael Bloomberg President.” That sure as hell looks like the website of someone who is thinking of running for President. Upgraded from “Probably not” after I stumbled across it.
  • New Jersey Senator Cory Booker: In. Twitter. Facebook. He’s trying to split the difference on the full socialized “Medicare for all” pipe dream. Talks to Jake Tapper. He also refused to say whether he would jail American gun owners who refused to comply with his unconstitutional gun confiscation plan.
  • Former California Governor Jerry Brown: Doesn’t sound like it.
  • Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown: Out.
  • Update: Montana Governor Steve Bullock: All But In. “Montana Gov. Steve Bullock will announce his bid for the presidency in two weeks, MTN News has learned — adding to the 20 Democrats already running for the 2020 nomination to challenge President Trump.” Upgrade over Leaning Toward In.
  • South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg: In. Twitter. Facebook. NBC profile brings “fawning” to entirely new levels. Speaking of “fawning,” he also gets a Time profile, sure to boost him among the coveted “stuck alone at a dentist’s office without a smart phone” demographic. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.) He attends sunday school with Jimmy Carter (AKA history’s greatest monster).
  • Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Jr.: Out.
  • Former San Antonio Mayor and Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro: In. Twitter. Facebook. “Julian Castro hits 65,000-donor threshold to secure spot in first presidential debate.” That’s probably a great relief to him. He’s making a play for Nevada, which falls right after New Hampshire and has a large Hispanic population. That’s a strategically sound decision, and even if it fails, it can’t fail worse than anything else he’s tried…
  • Former First Lady, New York Senator, Secretary of State and losing 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: Out. But she says the 2016 election was “stolen” from her.

  • Update: New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio: All But In. “It’s Now A Clown Bus: NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Expected To Announce 2020 Run Next Week.” De Blasio unites all of America in contempt against him. “76 percent of New Yorkers say he shouldn’t run. Politico New York surveyed 30-odd members of Team de Blasio, and all but two said it was a bad idea, with one calling it ‘fucking insane.'” Also this: “He may have a shot if every Democratic candidate is caught sending racy selfies to minors.” Upgrade from Leaning Toward In.
  • Maryland Representative John Delaney: In. Twitter. Facebook. Interviewed on WBUR radio. He says Democrats need to talk more about mental health. Obviously true, but who is going to tell most of his fellow presidential candidates they’re crazy to keep running?
  • Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard: In. Twitter. Facebook. She got an interview on Fox News, where she got a case of the vapors over Venezuela. A Counterpunch writer suggests that Gabbard will be arbitrarily excluded from the Democratic debates:

    According to the DNC, the max number of candidates participating will be a total of twenty even if all 21 announced candidates qualify as it threatens to eliminate candidates who had already made the cut – so much for “transparent, fair and inclusive.” Ten will appear on June 26 with the next ten on June 27th and selection will be determined by drawing lots. Conceivably, the Main Show of Bernie and Biden may occur on June 26th, or they may be split, appearing on two different nights. In any case, it may be difficult for the public to determine a clear ‘winner’ by virtue of candidate separation from the total field.

    Snip.

    Given her almost totally hostile reception by every MSM outlet who deigned to interview her, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has experienced, as an opponent of regime change wars, more bad manners and outright personal antagonism than any other candidate. While Gabbard easily qualified for the debates via the $65,000 requirement and continues to attract SRO audiences in NH, Iowa, California and elsewhere, yet until the newest CNN poll, she failed to register any % of public support. Something here does not compute given the ‘favored’ polls past history of favoritism. If the Dems continue to put a brick wall around her, Jill Stein has already opened the Green Party door as a more welcoming venue for a Tulsi candidacy. The Dems, who tend to be unprincipled and vindictive, better be careful what they wish for.

    Caveat: Counterpunch, so grains of salt time. On the other hand, the author can smell the stench of the Russiagate corpse, so maybe actual clues are involved here…

  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti: Out.
  • New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: In. Twitter. Facebook. She’s getting a Fox town hall June 2. She wants the government to give people money so they can give it to politicians. Hmm, sounds just like the sort of lame-brained scheme someone lagging badly in the donation race would dream up…
  • Former Tallahassee Mayor and failed Florida Senate candidate Andrew Gillum: Probably not. Don’t think he’s running, but it’s interesting that he’s disagreeing with Biden about China. “I don’t think it’s smart to underestimate the role China plays on the global stage.”
  • California Senator Kamala Harris: In. Twitter. Facebook. Biden is eating Harris’ lunch, and probably her dinner:

    Senator Kamala Harris was supposed to be a frontrunner. According to the rules of “the invisible primary,” in which donors and party activists coalesce around their chosen nominees, sending signals about candidate quality that primary voters, more often that not, eventually validate, Harris seemed to check all the boxes of a frontrunner. Her campaign team is full of veterans of the campaign of the last Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. She led the large donor fundraising race, with most of her big donors also being former donors to Clinton. Seth Masket, a political scientist and expert on the party system, conducted an informal poll last December of precisely the sort of party activists who are said to decide these things, and a healthy majority leaned toward supporting Harris. And in FiveThirtyEight’s weighted listing of endorsements, Harris ranked second among the declared candidates, losing out only to Senator Cory Booker (before Joe Biden formally entered the race last week).

    Judging by all available polling, though, Harris is not even close to the frontrunner. (And Cory Booker’s campaign seems to be utterly foundering, suggesting that counting up endorsements may not be the best way to measure the viability of a candidate from a state, like New Jersey, with a powerful, old-fashioned party machine.) Most national polls put her in a distant third or fourth place, frequently trailing South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a relative neophyte who was polling at basically zero a month ago.

    This doesn’t render “the invisible primary” obsolete as an explanatory factor. The seemingly overnight rise of Buttigieg is in fact evidence of the concept’s durability: People have heard of him, and tell pollsters they support him, because his press is managed by Lis Smith, a well-connected Democratic operative who formerly worked for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, and Politico’s big donor analysis shows he is extremely popular among former Obama and Clinton bundlers. The energy around Mayor Pete is partly a reflection of the political press translating its knowledge of his advisers’ records and his popularity with the donor class into stories about his candidacy that create a sort of aura of “viability.” The new frontrunner, the former vice president, has, as you’d expect, even more institutional support behind him, especially among Democratic mega-donors and longtime elected officials.

    So, what has, thus far (there is a lot of election left to go), prevented Harris’s campaign from breaking out? And for that matter, how is Elizabeth Warren receiving so much glowing press for her transformative policy agenda, but still polling just as poorly as Harris?

    As the horserace quants at FiveThirtyEight explained, both are victims of the Democratic electorate’s fixation on “electability.” Polling broadly shows Democratic voters thinking Joe Biden has the best chance at winning the general election. That is exactly what Biden would like everyone to think, and that belief practically constitutes the sole argument for his candidacy.

    Wait, primary voters focus on electability? Do tell. The New Republic writer is pouting because he wanted Harris. That’s why he says “‘Electability’ is a crock of shit,” because he wants hard-left candidates and the majority of Democratic primary voters aren’t having any. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.) There’s a ton of “Oh yeah, she went after AG Barr! She’s my hero!” schoolgirl crush media pieces I’m omitting here, since the default setting on Harris coverage is “Fawning.”

  • Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper: In. Twitter. Facebook. Gets a “can he make another underdog comeback” WaPo thumbsucker that makes him sound about as appealing as lukewarm water. Also unveiled a trade plan that includes adding (wait for it) “climate change goals into trade agreements.” Because there’s no trade problem that can’t be made worse by adding more job-killing government regulation…
  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder: Out.
  • Washington Governor Jay Inslee: In. Twitter. Climate Change Guy offers a pie-in-the-sky “carbon neutral by 2030” that also promises to destroy the coal industry. I guess he figures “Hey, everyone else is offering impossible bullshit! Why not me?”
  • Virginia Senator and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Vice Presidential running mate Tim Kaine: Out.
  • Former Obama Secretary of State and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry: Not seeing any sign.
  • Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar: In. Facebook. Twitter. She too unveiled a mental health plan. Funny how people who hang out with Democrats all the time naturally assume that large numbers of Americans are crazy…
  • New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu: Probably Out.
  • Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe: Out.
  • Oregon senator Jeff Merkley: Out. Filing for reelection to the senate instead.
  • Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam: In. Twitter. Facebook. Made his first appearance in Iowa…in front of 20 people.
  • Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton: In. Twitter. Facebook. He visited all four early primary states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina) and got a WGBH profile. “Moulton is a centrist among more aggressively liberal candidates. The progressive base fawns over Bernie Sanders’s calls for economic revolution, and Elizabeth Warren’s lengthening list of plans, but it’s unclear that the majority of primary voters, let alone general-election voters, will opt for radically upending an economy that seems to be humming along pretty well.”
  • Former First Lady Michelle Obama: Out.
  • Former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda: Out.
  • Former Texas Representative and failed Senatorial candidate Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke: In. Twitter. Facebook. O’Roruke’s staff is still in flux. (Hat tip: Jonathon McClellan.) The media notices that (surprise, surprise) O’Rourke has huge flaws as a candidate. “Where Was All of This Skepticism about Beto Last Year?” He’s paying for Facebook ads…in Mexico. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.) He visited flood-struck communities in Iowa, which of course required him to natter on about climate change.
  • New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Constitutionally ineligible to run in 2020.
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick: Out.
  • Ohio Representative Tim Ryan: In. Twitter. Facebook. Ryan also criticized Biden’s comments on China as “stunningly out of touch.” “They’re putting billions of dollars behind these projects, and they have a 100-year plan. We’re in a 24-hour news cycle.”
  • Vermont Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders: In. Twitter. Facebook. Team Sanders is throwing a lot more sharp elbows at his Democratic rivals this time around. “Donations to Sanders cut in half after Biden entry.” He sat down ABC’s This Week for an interview, where he said he approved of President Trump’s approach on North Korea. “Inside Bernie Sanders’s 1988 10-day ‘honeymoon’ in the Soviet Union.” (“Throughout the trip, local officials took aside members of Sanders’s entourage, telling them that the Soviet system was near collapse…’Yes, they may have had low-cost apartments, but things were very out of whack, there were food shortages, no political freedom.'”)(Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Democratic billionaire Tom Steyer: Out.
  • California Representative Eric Swalwell: In. Twitter. Facebook. He appeared on Face the Nation, and spent his time nattering about the Russian Collusion Fantasy, which is far too precious for liberals to give up on despite being complete bunk.
  • Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren: In. Twitter. Facebook. She seems to have a plan for everything. “Warren nerds out and the crowds go crazy.” She blasted Biden over the 2005 bankruptcy bill.

    The bill made it harder for individuals to file for bankruptcy and get out of debt, a legal change that credit card companies and many major retailers had championed for years. The bill passed Congress with large majorities, but most Democratic senators, including Barack Obama, voted no. Biden voted yes and was widely seen at the time as one of the bill’s major Democratic champions.

    As Hillary Clinton did in 2016, Warren greatly benefits from having an actor much younger than her play her on Saturday Night Live. At 35, Kate McKinnon is half Warren’s age of 70.

  • Author and spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson: In. Twitter. Facebook. 538’s “How Marianne Williamson Could Win The 2020 Democratic Primary” is one of those pieces where the headline is at war with the conclusion:

    So far, her efforts haven’t yet translated into much success. Despite her Hollywood connections, she managed to raise just $1.5 million as of the end of the first quarter — not chump change, but it does put her toward the bottom of the list of serious contenders. Nor has she yet managed to clear the 65,000-donor threshold that would qualify her to participate in the first two Democratic primary debates, although according to her campaign website, she’s about 90 percent of the way there.

    And although her books have sold 3 million copies, her name recognition is among the lowest in the field. In a national poll conducted by Change Research in mid-April, 66 percent of likely Democratic voters had never heard of her; the same was true of 53 percent of likely Democratic caucusgoers in an early-April Monmouth poll of Iowa. Candidates with low name recognition can still have a shot at the nomination if they’re backed by a decent percentage of the people who have heard of them, but Williamson gets almost no support in horse-race surveys: She has gotten 0 percent support in 27 of the 35 polls in our database that have asked about her. And she is unlikely to become better known as long as cable news networks and newspapers continue to cover her far less often than the candidates with more traditional credentials.

    She visited Iowa, where she spoke to about 60 people, and Nevada, where she got interviewed by Politics Now, where it looks like they’re using cameras and a set from 1979.

  • Talk show host Oprah Winfrey: Out.
  • Venture capitalist Andrew Yang: In. Twitter. Facebook. He visited Michigan to flog his $1,000 a month basic income pipe dream some more.