2018-04-10

Jonah Goldberg: Mueller had better be right.

Jonah Goldberg at NRO: Mueller had better be right about the Cohen raid.
The fact that Mueller referred this to the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York rather than fold it into his own investigation suggests that whatever he found may not be central to his probe. If Mueller had reason to believe that he had Cohen dead to rights on the “collusion” stuff, he probably wouldn’t have farmed this out to a different prosecutor.

On the other hand, the fact that U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman agreed with Mueller’s interpretation and sought a warrant from a judge and that the judge agreed to grant one suggests that Cohen is in trouble. ...
Via Instapundit.

2018-04-09

FBI raids New York office of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

Breitbart: FBI raids office of Michael Cohen.
The F.B.I. raided President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen’s office on Monday, seizing records related to “several topics including payments to” porn-star Stormy Daniels, the New York Times reported.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan had obtained the search warrant, after receiving a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller. Cohen’s lawyer called the search “completely inappropriate and unnecessary,” according to the Times.

The search does not appear to be related to the special counsel investigating Russian meddling and potential collusion by the Trump campaign, but a separate investigation that might have resulted from information he uncovered and handed over to prosecutors in New York.

Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, said the F.B.I. seized “privileged communications” between Cohen and his clients. ...

PJ Media: Trump furious over raids.
The FBI raided the office and residence of President Trump's longtime personal attorney, confidant and "fixer" today, prompting an angry reaction from the president and caution from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who advocated that special counsel Robert Mueller be able to stay the course in his investigation.

About a dozen agents were reportedly involved in serving multiple warrants on Michael Cohen's office, his home and the Loew's Regency hotel where he has been staying, seizing his computer, phone, emails, tax documents, business records and related materials.

Cohen has publicly admitted to making a $130,000 payment, from his home equity line of credit, to adult-film star Stormy Daniels in October 2016 in return for her silence about an alleged 2006 affair between Trump and Daniels, and to setting up a limited-liability company in Delaware to make the payment 10 days before the money transfer. The payment was flagged by Cohen's bank in a suspicious activity report at the time.

An outstanding question is whether investigators determine the payment was an undisclosed "in kind" campaign contribution intended to influence the outcome of the election, which would violate the $2,700 contribution limit as well as disclosure rules. ...


Fox: Trump attacks Mueller "witch hunt".

"It's a disgraceful situation. It's a total witch hunt," said Trump, who claimed that he had "given over a million pages in documents to the special counsel. They continue to just go forward ... and I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now. Actually it's much more than that. You could say right after I won the [2016 Republican] nomination it started."

Trump also accused Mueller's investigators of being "the most biased group of people [with] the biggest conflicts of interest" and said Attorney General Jeff Sessions "made a terrible mistake for the country" when he recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation last year. ...

Popehat: What we can infer immediately.
1. According to Cohen's own lawyer, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (widely regarded within itself as being the most important and prestigious U.S. Attorney's Office in the country) secured the search warrants for the FBI. Assuming this report is correct, that means that a very mainstream U.S. Attorney's Office — not just Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office — thought that there was enough for a search warrant here.

2. Moreover, it's not just that the office thought that there was enough for a search warrant. They thought there was enough for a search warrant of an attorney's office for that attorney's client communications. That's a very fraught and extraordinary move that requires multiple levels of authorization within the Department of Justice. ...

Fake news master Christopher Blair tells all.

Boston Globe: Fake news creator did it for our own good.
Blair says he was raised a Massachusetts Democrat. When the economy crashed in 2008, he lost work and struggled to support his family. He blamed it on President George W. Bush. Social media and online forums became welcome places to vent his anger. Busta Troll was born after the election of Barack Obama, and was triggered, Blair says, by the rise of the Tea Party movement that arose in opposition. Online, he found himself aligning with a small offshoot of people who live to goad and prank and maybe silence extreme conservatives.

In 2014, Blair, as Busta Troll, pulled off a prank that won him wide admiration in that community. The United States had just traded five Taliban prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl, an Army soldier captured in Afghanistan after deserting his post. The prisoner swap ignited anger in far-right groups, and a Facebook page dedicated to the issue quickly became a “dumping ground for bilious accusations against Bergdahl and anti-Obama chatter,” according to the Los Angeles Times, which wrote about it at the time. ...

Related: Fake news creator John Jansen (NPR, November 2016).

Check the facts - and we will tell you how!


That's one way to approach fact-checking.  My approach is a little different.

Why did this ostensibly neutral, public-spirited presentation use specifically the example of Muslims and Christmas trees?  Why is Google presented as the single solution to the fact-checking problem?

To be sure, questionable stories about Islam, as with any other topic, should be fact-checked, and false information about Islam (as with any other topic) can do great damage.  Google is one of many tools available for this purpose.

We can all agree on the importance of getting your facts straight, but there is a lot more to it than this video would suggest - and I suspect that the presentation has an agenda of its own.

Israel strikes Syria; Russia responds.

Arutz Sheva: Russia condemns Israel.
The Russian government condemned Israel for the bombing of a Syrian government base on Monday, denying the apparent chemical weapons attack which prompted the bombing.

In a pre-dawn strike, a pair of Israeli F-15 fighter jets flew over Lebanon before crossing over into Syrian airspace, Russia claimed Monday.

The two Israeli Air Force jets struck targets at Syria’s T-4 airbase, killing 14 people according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Initial reports indicated that at least some of the dead were Iranians.

While Israel has not confirmed its involvement in the attack, the Kremlin blamed the Israeli Air Force for the bombings, after the Syrian government accused the US of launching the attack. ...
Debka: Lavrov calls strike "dangerous development".
The Russian defense and foreign ministries have asked their Israeli counterparts to provide “explanations” for air strikes on a “Syrian military facility,” former FSB general Senator Vladimir Jabarov reported Sunday. He was speaking with Iranian media....

2018-04-08

Pat Condell is wrong about trans people ...

... but he's right about almost everything else. And he's right about the things that matter most. And right or wrong, he doesn't deserve to get censored from Twitter.

Beautiful forever.

In the end, she killed only herself. But Nasim Aghdam finally got the star status she craved. Mark Steyn has some thoughts on the grand convergence:
...What happened yesterday is a remarkable convergence of the spirits of the age: mass shootings, immigration, the Big Tech thought-police, the long reach of the Iranian Revolution, the refugee racket, animal rights, vegan music videos... It was the latest mismatched meeting between east and west in the age of the Great Migrations: Nasim Aghdam died two days before her 39th birthday, still living (according to news reports) with either her parents or her grandmother. She came to America at the age of seventeen, and spent two decades in what appears to be a sad and confused search to find something to give her life meaning. But in a cruder sense the horror in San Bruno was also a sudden meeting of two worlds hitherto assumed to be hermetically sealed from each other: the cool, dispassionate, dehumanized, algorithmic hum of High Tech - and the raw, primal, murderous rage breaking through from those on the receiving end.

Another blogger back in the fray.

Instapinch 2.0 (pinned post):
Welcome to Instapinch Version 2.0! I wish I could say this iteration will be funnier and faster and slicker and neater with neon lights and lasers and sound effects and dancing girls and explosions and everything else. Unfortunately it’ll be more of what you saw in Version 1.0…a smattering of photographs, Navy jets (especially the F-14, even though its been a museum piece now for over 10 years) and the occasional opinion tossed in there for good measure.
You can add Instapinch 2.0 to your blogroll.

2018-03-24

Parkland victim's family unwelcome at rally.

Gateway Pundit:
The family of slain Parkland student Meadow Pollack was disinvited from speaking at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, DC. The family is not pushing gun control, but rather securing our schools and protecting our children. ...
Go to the link for Hunter Pollack's speech.

Cobb: Bring blogs back.

Cobb:
You don't own your own words. When you live on Facebook's property, you don't own your own words. They can be deleted by someone other than you. They can be banned by someone other than you. You can hardly even know what you said a year ago by searching for it. I don't mean to suggest that Facebook alone is capable of this, but it is the 900 pound gorilla. The same things are true of Twitter and the comments sections of hundreds of new media outlets.

When it comes to participating in the debates that a free and open society require, these social media spaces do not facilitate. That is not why they exist. That is not their business model. They were not created to sustain collaborative thought, but to let everybody connect in social ways. They are not town halls so much as they are gas station bathrooms on the information superhighway. They serve everybody without much discrimination, but their facilities often stink. Sometimes you wonder who came in here to write what you see on the walls, and you cringe. No matter how many bots or attendants you apply to a roadside rest stop, it will never become a town hall. That's something you design from the ground up. Social media needs a redesign.

However, there was a moment of glory in the past in which the level of discourse broadly available to the internet public was better than it is now. That was the age of the blogosphere. ...

2018-03-23

Back to the future: Robert Tracinski on blogging.

Robert Tracinski at The Federalist:
The era of blogging offered the promise of a decentralized media. Anybody could publish and comment on the news and find an audience. Guys writing in their pajamas could take down Dan Rather. We were bypassing the old media gatekeepers. And we had control over it! We posted on our own sites. We had good discussions in our own comment fields, which we moderated. I had and still have an extensive e-mail list of readers who are interested in my work, most of which I built up in that period, before everybody moved onto social media.

But then Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube came along and killed the blogs. There were three main reasons they took over.

The first was that maintaining your own website is kind of a bother. ...

Read the whole thing.

For me, circumstances in my personal life conspired to encourage me to follow the larger trends, both toward and away from traditional blogging. In the early 2000s I was newly single and had some inherited assets, and consequently had ample leisure time to read and write about the events of the day at a leisurely pace. Around 2007 - 2008, I got involved in a high-drama relationship and soon found my schedule full with the demands of work and parenting. This of course coincided with the rise of Facebook and Twitter, and although I initially resisted, I eventually joined the social-media bandwagon.

One thing in particular about the Facebook format is that while it makes it very easy to offer your comments on *one* news item, there's no real provision for writing a post linking two or more sources. This is a very big drawback in my opinion, because one of the potential strengths of the internet as a news forum is the ability to correlate and compare different sources in a single place.

I agree with Robert's conclusion and I'm on board with his four-point program. I'm looking forward to getting more involved with long-form blogging, and I am adding The Trancinski Letter to my blogroll.

(Blogroll: that's "a roster of websites and blogs with good information" for you youngsters.)

2018-03-19

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is first to visit Rwanda.

Avigdor Liberman became the first Israeli Defense Minister to visit Rwanda.


Arutz Sheva:

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman today held an historic first visit of an Israeli Defense Minister in Kigali, capital of Rwanda.

Liberman met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Defense Minister James Kabarebe, and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo. ...

Related: Rwanda ready to take African migrants from Israel and Libya - AllAfrica.
Rwanda has reiterated its readiness to receive African migrants from Israel and Libya.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, affirmed that Kigali would accept the refugees and asylum seekers as long as the process of relocating them was in line with international laws. ...