March 1, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:35 PM


Warmbier parents blast 'evil' North Korea regime after Trump praises Kim (Reuters, 3/01/19)

Warmbier's parents said they had held off commenting during the second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, which was cut short on Thursday after the two sides failed to reach a deal for the reclusive communist nation to give up its nuclear weapons.

"Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto," Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement. "Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that."

Posted by orrinj at 6:31 PM


Scottish government wins Donald Trump wind power legal costs (BBC, 28 February 2019)

Donald Trump's Aberdeenshire golf resort must pay the Scottish government's legal costs following a court battle over a major North Sea wind power development.

Mr Trump battled unsuccessfully in the courts to halt the project before he became US president.

A total of 11 turbines make up the development off Aberdeen.

Judges have now ruled Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd should pay the legal bills incurred.

He was a loser in an impressive range of time zones this week.

Posted by orrinj at 6:27 PM


Posted by orrinj at 6:25 PM


Immigrant Miscarriages in ICE Detention Have Nearly Doubled Under Trump (Scott Bixby, 03.01.19, Daily Beast)

The number of undocumented women who have lost their pregnancies while in government detention nearly doubled in the first two years of President Donald Trump's administration, according to a government review of medical records.

Now, following the stillbirth of a baby boy by a woman who was held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody despite being six months pregnant, members of Congress are calling for an investigation into Trump administration policies that they fear are worsening the crisis.

Posted by orrinj at 6:19 PM


Could Your Mindset Affect How Well A Treatment Works? (ESTHER LANDHUIS, 3/01/19, NPR)

The study randomly assigned families into two groups. Both groups received instruction on symptoms and medication use. They learned to distinguish non-life-threatening symptoms from potentially serious ones and at what point to contact a doctor, call 911 or administer epinephrine, an injectable medication for severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions.

Each day families completed a short online survey to report how the dose went, what time it was taken, whether symptoms developed, and how anxious they were about the symptoms. Throughout the study parents had monthly calls with a support team and had a direct line to Stanford immunologist Dr. Kari Nadeau, director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy & Asthma Research, which has served as a trial site for companies developing peanut allergy treatments. In addition, families came to the clinic once a month for facilitated support sessions with other participants.

The two groups differed in just one regard. One group was told that symptoms can be an unfortunate side effect of treatment. But with the other group, session leaders reframed the message on symptoms, saying they could be a sign that the immune system is learning to desensitize -- a positive signal that the treatment is working.

At the monthly sessions, parents in the "positive signals" group were asked to come up with creative ways to reinforce this message with their children. Alissa Harris of Stockton, Calif., connected with her 7-year-old, Lucy, with a dance analogy: "When you were learning how to do the splits, it hurt your legs. But it just meant your muscles were getting stronger and getting used to doing the splits."

During the study when Lucy complained her mouth was itchy, "I would remind her, 'That's OK, that's your body getting stronger. We're fighting this peanut allergy. Just remember, your body is 'learning how to do the splits,' " Harris says.

Those reminders seemed to calm parents, too. Though both groups entered the study similarly anxious -- more than half indicated they were "kind of nervous" or "extremely nervous" -- parents who got the messaging that symptoms could be positive signals reported less nervousness as the study continued. They were also less likely to report symptoms, drop doses or contact staff about symptom concerns, compared with the other group of parents.

All participants reached the goal of tolerating one peanut by the end of the study period, and no patient needed to use epinephrine in response to symptoms.

It helps that the "allergies" are a function of parenting in the first place.

Posted by orrinj at 6:09 PM


Is Elizabeth Warren's Campaign Already Over? (MICHAEL GRAHAM  MARCH 1, 2019, tHE bULWARK)

"Sometimes she can come off as a little shrill. I think she's trying to appeal to a broader base than maybe she actually has," Roger Lessard, chairman of the Hillsborough County, NH Democratic Party, told US News and World Report.

"I don't know a single person who has her at the top of their list," a New Hampshire Democratic Party insider tells me. "It's not that people don't agree with her policies. She just doesn't get people that fired up here."

This early in the 2020 cycle, New Hampshire Democrats are reluctant to either publicly sign on with a candidates or publicly criticize them.  But even in this cautious political environment, the silence around Liz Warren is deafening.

And given that New Hampshire is her electoral backyard, it's potentially deadly.

Speaking of deadly . . .

There hasn't been a public poll of New Hampshire Democrats with Warren in the lead since May. In fact, Warren consistently finishes in fourth place--or worse--trailing candidates like Kamala Harris and potential candidates like Beto O'Rourke.

But that's just the beginning of Warren's bad news.

Last May, Liz Warren had 26 percent support among New Hampshire Democrats and was leading the field. That summer, New York magazine featured her on the cover with the headline "Front Runner?"  But by August, she was down to 17 percent.  Last week, both Emerson University and the University of New Hampshire polls had her at a mere 7 percent.

When UNH asked an open-ended version of the "who do you support today" question (no names listed for the respondent to choose from), Warren got just 2 percent support, fewer mentions than Amy "The Comb Master" Klobuchar.

All right in Warren's back yard.

No, New Hampshire isn't the whole ballgame--but for Warren, it's close.  It's hard to see her campaign surviving a fourth place, or even third-place, finish in a state where, as key Democratic consultant Jim Demers notes, national coverage of Warren is on the local news.

Posted by orrinj at 6:05 PM


The Trump Administration Wrongly Extends A New 'Temporary Protected Status' Amnesty (JOSH HAMMER, March 1, 2019, Daily Wire)

After signing into a law an amnesty omnibus boondoggle as a means of ending a shutdown standoff, it unfortunately appears that the Trump Administration is not yet done with its immigration-related capitulations.

On Thursday, Axios reported that the Administration is opting not to appeal a rogue decision last October from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California that halted the Administration's efforts to rescind "Temporary Protected Status" (TPS) for aliens presently in the United States from Sudan, El Salvador, Haiti, and Nicaragua. As the Department of Homeland Security announced, the Administration is instead planning to abort its plans to rescind TPS. Instead, Homeland Security will automatically extend the TPS amnesty for the affected beneficiaries through January 2, 2020.

Legally, there is no reason not to appeal this rogue judge's preliminary injunction that infringes on our national sovereignty. On the substantive policy merits, furthermore, the failure to appeal amounts to de facto amnesty for what Axios reports are 300,000 aliens. That is not a small number!

Posted by orrinj at 5:47 PM


New spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders won't be able to vote for him in 2020 -- she's an illegal immigrant (Lukas Mikelionis, 3/01/19,  Fox News)

Posted by orrinj at 5:39 PM


CPAC: This Is Definitely the Bad Place: A travel diary from day one at CPAC. (MOLLY JONG-FAST  MARCH 1, 2019, The Bulwark)

If you're of a certain age, you may remember Ollie North for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved the covering up of selling weapons to people America wasn't supposed to be selling them to. Well, Ollie is now the head of the National Rifle Association and, by total coincidence, the NRA now seems to have taken money from people they weren't supposed to, also. Life is funny that way in Conservatism Inc.

Ollie told the audience to "pray for the NRA." Which is a little strange. Apparently, his God cares about the well-being of non-profit organizations dedicated to political lobbying. But they need it! Donors showered the NRA with $163 million in 2015. That total dropped to $128 million in 2016 and then $98 million in 2017. If things keep going like this, then NRA TV might have to cut back from the 18 people it currently lists as programming "hosts" to 17, or maybe even 16. And then, how will the Second Amendment survive?

Because this is all about the Constitution, people! [...]

Kirk was followed by the dragon of Budapest, Sebastian Gorka, who lectured the crowd about how socialism is bad and how Democrats love to kill babies. But the best part of Gorka's rant against the evils of liberalism was when he said "They want to take your pickup truck, they want to rebuild your home, they want to take away your hamburgers. This is what Stalin dreamt about but never achieved." I know you should never argue with a doctor--even a fake doctor--but I'm pretty sure Stalin's dreams were a good deal bigger and that he achieved pretty much all of them.

Posted by orrinj at 5:21 AM


House Democrats explode in recriminations as liberals lash out at moderates (Mike DeBonis,  February 28, 2019, Washington Post)

House Democrats exploded in recriminations Thursday over moderates bucking the party, with liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threatening to put those voting with Republicans "on a list" for a primary challenge.

In a closed-door session, a frustrated Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at about two dozen moderates and pressured them to get on board. "We are either a team or we're not, and we have to make that decision," Pelosi said, according to two people present but not authorized to discuss the remarks publicly.

But Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the unquestioned media superstar of the freshman class, upped the ante, admonishing the moderates and indicating she would help liberal activists unseat them in the 2020 election.

Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, said she told her colleagues that Democrats who side with Republicans "are putting themselves on a list."

Ideologues find governing intolerable.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


The Cohen of Silence Breaks: What to Make of Wednesday's Testimony (Mikhaila Fogel, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Margaret Taylor, Benjamin Wittes  Wednesday, February 27, 2019, Lawfare)

The most damaging aspect of Cohen's testimony for Trump concerned the president's involvement in two offense patterns to which Cohen has pleaded guilty. The first of these was Trump's involvement in the payments Cohen coordinated to Stephanie Clifford (better known as Stormy Daniels) and Karen McDougal--the matter regarding which Cohen originally pleaded guilty in the Southern District of New York on charges of campaign finance violations. Prosecutors have already alleged that Cohen "acted in coordination with and at the direction of" Trump himself in making those payments. But Cohen's testimony provided unmistakable evidence of direct, personal involvement by Trump in the scheme--first as a presidential candidate and, perhaps most significantly, continuing months after he swore the oath of office.

Cohen testified in response to questions by Rep. Katie Hill that he received payments over the course of 2017, drawn either from Trump's personal account or from his trust account. He promised that he could provide copies of all checks to Congress. Along with his written testimony, he included a copy of a check Trump had written him from his personal bank account reimbursing Cohen for the Daniels and McDougal payments--from August 2017, well into Trump's presidency. He also included a check from the trust account dated to March 2017, which Cohen identified to Chairman Elijah Cummings as signed by Donald Trump, Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.

The timing of the checks is important for two reasons. The first is legal. Technically speaking, under federal election law, the balance Trump owed Cohen at any given time could constitute an ongoing illegal contribution by Cohen. Leaving aside the problem of indicting a president while he remains in office, any prosecutor seeking to bring a case against Trump would need to prove that he had "knowingly and willfully" violated the law, and that is far from clear. But it is noteworthy that the president's potential criminal exposure in the Daniels and McDougal matter now extends beyond his time as a private citizen into his tenure as a public official.

On this note, Cohen's opening testimony describes an exchange with Trump in the Oval Office in February 2017 in which Trump assures him that his reimbursement checks are on their way: "They were FedExed from New York," Cohen paraphrases him as saying, "and it takes a while for that to get through the White House system." In other words, the president of the United States was signing those checks--made out to his personal fixer in exchange for paying off two women for their silence regarding sexual relationships with him--in the White House itself.

This points to the second reason why the timing is important. Cohen's testimony makes clear that the president repeatedly lied to the American people and made efforts to ensure the public would not find out the truth. After signing some of those checks to Cohen in the White House, Trump told reporters on Air Force One that he knew nothing about the Daniels payment in April 2018. In an exchange with Hill, Cohen said that Trump had called him just two months earlier, in February 2018, to ensure that Cohen would tell reporters that Trump had had no knowledge of or involvement in the reimbursements or Cohen's original payments to Daniels. This systematic deception may not be a legal problem for the president, but it is a moral affront and a breach of his responsibility as the leader of the country.
The second area involves Cohen's allegation that Trump indirectly encouraged him to lie to Congress about the abortive Trump Tower Moscow project--the subject of Cohen's second guilty plea, this time to the special counsel's office. This was the subject of the BuzzFeed News story alleging that Trump personally directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the date the Moscow project was terminated in order to hide Trump's involvement. That story caused a fracas when Mueller's office broke its customary silence to issue a rare statement denying unspecified aspects of the story: "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate."

Cohen's testimony begins to square this particular circle, claiming that Trump made his desire clear without explicitly "directing" Cohen to lie, and that Cohen followed what he took to be an instruction. In his prepared statement, Cohen says that Trump had made clear to him over months what the party line was--saying to him that there was no business in Russia even as he supervised Cohen's efforts to build a tower there. Moreover, Cohen writes, "Mr. Trump's personal lawyers reviewed and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower negotiations before I gave it," referring to the August 2017 letter Cohen submitted to the House and Senate intelligence committees, which contained the false assertion that the negotiations ended in January 2016. Cohen continues, "Mr. Trump had made clear to me, through his personal statements to me that we both knew were false and through his lies to the country, that he wanted me to lie" about the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations. "And he made it clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I gave it to Congress."

Speaking at the hearing, Cohen told Rep. John Sarbanes that Trump's lawyers had access to Cohen's statement to Congress circulated because of Cohen's joint defense agreement with Trump, but said that he couldn't recall the nature of the edits. He identified both Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow and Jared Kushner's lawyer Abbe Lowell as having reviewed the statement, and told Rep. Jamie Raskin that review by the president's team led to changes in "how we were going to handle that message, ... the length of time that the Trump Tower Moscow project stayed and remained alive." He said he would try to provide the committee with an original draft of his statement from before the edits.

Notably, Sekulow contested Cohen's testimony, saying in a statement that "[t]oday's testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the President edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false."

But there's another element of Cohen's testimony: He also stated during questioning by Rep. Gerry Connolly that he and Sekulow met with President Trump and specifically discussed the statement and impending testimony before the House intelligence committee. What did the president say? "He wanted me to cooperate. He also wanted just to ensure by making this statement--and I said it in my testimony--there is no collusion. There is no deal. He goes, 'It's all a witch hunt.'"

"At the end of the day, I knew exactly what he wanted me to say," Cohen testified.

In other words, if Cohen is telling the truth, the president encouraged his false statements both in the general sense that he articulated the lies that became the party line Cohen was meant to represent and in the more specific sense that he met with Cohen in the run-up to the statement and testimony, reiterated the false party line, and then had his attorneys review and refine Cohen's statement to help reflect that line.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM