The President’s Speech At CPAC 2018: Video And Full Transcript

In case you’d just rather watch it, here’s the video:

The transcript of the President’s speech at CPAC, or as Rick Wilson calls it Hillsdale Rumspringa, is from VOX:

Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you, Matt, for that great introduction. And thank you for this big crowd. This is incredible. Really incredible. We have all come a long way together. We have come a long way together.

I’m thrilled to be back at CPAC, with so many of my wonderful friends and amazing supporters and proud conservatives. Remember when I first started running? Because I wasn’t a politician, fortunately, but do you remember I started running and people said, are you sure he’s a conservative? I think I proved I’m a conservative.

For more than four decades, this event has served as a forum for our nation’s top leaders, activists, writers, and thinkers.

Year after year, leaders have stood on this stage to discuss what we can do together to protect our heritage, to promote our culture, and to defend our freedom. CPAC has always been about big ideas, and it has also been about putting those ideas into action — and CPAC really has put a lot of ideas into action. We’ll talk about some of them this morning.

For the last year with your help, we have put more great conservative ideas into use than perhaps ever before in American history. What a nice picture that is. Look at that. I would love to watch that guy speak. Oh, boy. Oh, I try like hell to hide that bald spot, folks. I work hard at it. Doesn’t look bad. Hey, we’re hanging in. We’re hanging in. We’re hanging in there, right? Together we’re hanging in. We have confirmed a record number, so important, of circuit court judges and we’re going to be putting in a lot more.

And they will interpret the law as written and we have confirmed an incredible new Supreme Court justice, a great man, Neil Gorsuch. Right. We have passed massive, biggest in history, tax cuts and reforms. I don’t use the word reform, there was a lot of reform too, very positive — I don’t use it. And when we were first doing it I told everybody, everybody gathered, I said, just talk about tax cuts. People don’t know what reform means. They think reform might means it is going up. And I said, do tax cuts.

Thank you. How did he get in here, Matt? Boy. Okay. Just for the media, the fake news back there, they took very good care of him. They were very gentle. He was very obnoxious. It was only one person. So we have thousands of people here. So, listen, tomorrow the headline will be protesters disturb the Trump — one person, folks. Doesn’t deserve a mention. Doesn’t deserve a headline. The headline tomorrow, disrupters of CPAC. One person. And he was very nice. We looked at him, he immediately left. Okay. Now, I’ve heard it too often.

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Cry Havoc And Let Slip The Loesch Of War!

NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch spoke this morning at CPAC. She was the warm up for NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. I’m not sure I know exactly how to describe her remarks, so you’ll just have to watch for herself. I’ve spent a 1/2 hour looking for a transcript to no avail for those who would rather not watch. Sorry. To be honest, this has to be seen to be believed.

Update at 12:50 PM EST

Here’s the video of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s speech at CPAC.

David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo succinctly and accurately sums up LaPierre’s speech:

Watching the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre hold forth at CPAC–carried live on the news nets–is a good reminder that while it carefully crafts an image as a membership association of gun owners, the NRA is really a house organ of the Republican Party. What I’m saying isn’t new. The reporting documenting the NRA’s shift under LaPierre has been out there for years. But listen to his rhetoric. This isn’t about guns or gun rights.The Second Amendment argument, as anathema as it is to many people, is window dressing. It’s about using “guns” as a political cudgel, using “guns” to catalyze the resentments and grievances of conservatives, using “guns” as a bulwark against political threats to the Republican Party. Plain and simple.

Open thread!



The Right To Teach And Bear Arms

Earlier today the President, while meeting with the survivors and surviving family members of school shootings, suggested that the solution was to arm the teachers.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that having more people armed at schools could prevent future mass shootings.

“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.

After hearing the devastating stories from parents and young people affected by gun massacres at schools, Trump pointed to the example of Stoneman Douglas football coach Aaron Feis, who was reportedly killed by the alleged gunman last week after Feis threw himself in front of students to protect them from the gunfire.

“If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy — that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect — but if he had a firearm, he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it,” Trump said.

“Gun-free zone, to a maniac — because they’re all cowards — a gun-free zone is ‘Let’s go in and let’s attack, because bullets aren’t coming back at us,” Trump said, wondering aloud about arming “20 percent of your teaching force.”

“You can’t have 100 security guards in Stoneman Douglas, that’s a big school,” he said. “It’s a massive school with a lot of acreage to cover, a lot of floor area, so that would be certainly a situation that is being discussed a lot by a lot of people.”

“You’d have a lot of people that’d be armed, that’d be ready, they are professionals, they may be Marines that left the Marines, left the Army, left the Air Force, and they are very adept at doing that. You’d have a lot of them and they would be spread evenly through the school.”

The President said he believed “that if these cowards knew that the school was well-guarded from the standpoint of having pretty much professionals with great training, I think they wouldn’t go into the school to start off with.”

“I think it could very well solve your problem,” he said.

“So we’ll be doing the background checks, we’ll be doing a lot of different things, but we’ll certainly be looking at ideas like that.”

Given how the President positioned himself during his campaign regarding guns and the 2nd Amendment, that he received the earliest endorsement and largest amount of monetary support from the NRA, and his previous statements about armed self defense, this is not particularly surprising. Especially because it is an article of faith amongst the 2nd Amendment absolutist community that arming teachers in specific, and doing away with gun free zones, such as schools, in general, would significantly decrease violence and crime in the US.

Someone even took this picture from Israel and turned it into a factually inaccurate meme to support this argument.

The “RIP Children of Newtown” on the bottom is a nice touch. You can’t find bespoke smarm like that just anywhere.

There’s one problem with holding Israel out as an example of how to protect American students and schools: school teachers ARE NOT armed in Israeli schools! Except, perhaps, in some of the West Bank* settlements. And the picture in this meme isn’t of an Israeli school or an Israeli school teacher. Rather it is of a group of Israelis students on a field trip in Acre (aka Akko), Israel. And the woman fiddling with her purse strap with the rifle slung over her back is a paid security guard, not a teacher. They are required for all field trips and school outings in Israel.

Here are the details about the picture:

There is a picture going around the Internet that I have seen about a dozen times today that claims that Israeli teachers are packing heat. Well, are they? The answer is “NO.” There may be some exceptions in dangerous areas like the West Bank (where five percent of Israelis live), but in general, Israeli teachers are not walking around like it’s the Wild Wild West, strapped with a six shooter. No, our teachers are not focused on shooting, but educating. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t protect young students.

In the picture, the students are on an outing. While it appears that the teacher is holding a rifle, I have never seen such a thing in ten years of living here. Rest assured however, they are under armed protection. In most cases it is an armed guard or a soldier that will accompany a class, not the teacher. And my guess is that the woman with the gun is a security guard, not a teacher.

Secondly, they are not armed in the classroom. Is that really the image you want to imprint on the minds of six-year-olds? (That would be Hamas) On the other hand. I have never seen a school in Israel that was not fenced in. You must go through a locked gate that is guarded by an armed shomer, a security guard. He or she, on the other hand, is not concerned with educating, but protecting. He or she will ask you why you are there? “What is your child’s name?” “Show me your I.D. card.” And he or she would not let you bring a weapon inside.

These types of massacres don’t seem to happen here for other reasons as well. Despite the stereotype of Israel being a violent nation, it is a million times (slight exaggeration) easier to get a weapon in the US than it is in Israel. Gun Control laws are very strict here.

Israel’s approach to school security is not what the armed intelligentsia thinks it is (emphasis mine).

As we travelled the streets of Tel-Aviv, my mind turned to stories I’d heard of how there are soldiers securing every school and school bus in Israel. I quickly learned after observing a school from the street and making inquiries of our police escort that this was not the case. It is correct that they do indeed have armed security in every school and that an officer is very visible. All the security officers working in the schools are under the guidance of the Israel police, and the standards are high. Unannounced drills are frequent to test operational readiness.

Regarding school buses, there is no such thing in Israel. Any child not walking or being taken to school rides on public transportation. Now, very often there is an armed IDF soldier on the bus, yet this is happenstance and not by design. When there is a heavily attended school field trip, contracted IDF soldiers, police or armed security officers provide the escort for the group.

The Israel schools have assessed the threats and acted accordingly to address them. They have heavy fencing around them to prevent suicide bombers from entering their grounds and buildings, and fences are erected high enough so that anyone trying to lob some explosive device over the top would have a hard time accomplishing the act.

The Israeli “SRO” does not handle law enforcement functions as do many of us within our country. Their function is solely a preventive counter-terror measure to deter, engage if necessary and neutralize a threat.

By all accounts that I received, issues with Israeli school children committing acts that are considered crimes are very rare. Even when this does occur, these events are handled by the school’s headmaster. This is a considerable difference between our style and theirs because as much as we don’t enjoy saying it, American kids can and do commit criminal acts on campus that are sometimes horrendous. This is an unfortunate fact that we face daily as campus police or armed security in our schools. This is life in the United States.

Israel’s example has very little to tell anyone in the US about the 2nd Amendment or how we should understand the enumerated rights within it in a 21st Century context, much less the original late 18th Century one. In order to own a firearm in Israel one must be licensed and there is a strict limit on the amount of ammunition one can own. Quite simply, there is no enumerated right to a firearm, let alone to keep and bear arms in the Israeli Basic Laws (the Israeli constitution). This isn’t a knock on Israel, they just have a different approach so comparisons aren’t going to be particularly helpful.

In fact the Israeli firearm ownership reality is very different from that in the US.

Two types of people have guns in Israel: Soldiers and those with licensesMentally unstable people don’t have guns—and thus, don’t shoot people. And it is not as easy to steal a gun as it is in the US. When you are drafted you go through mental tests to see if there are any red flags. If so, you will be discharged or placed in an area where you would never see a rifle.

Only those with the rank of Captain or Lieutenant Colonel for at least two years can qualify to own a gun after the army. And those who do have guns are taught to guard them carefully. For soldiers who take their weapons home, it must be on their persons at all times or under lock and key.

Losing a weapon will get you a jail sentence, as my wife’s childhood friend, Moti, found out two decades ago. He left his gun in his car because he was just running into a mini-mart. He came back and the gun was gone. He spent six months in jail and God only knows where that gun ended up.

Hunting is not popular in Israel, so it would be rare to see someone with five or six hunting rifles and therefore, neither would their son, who spends ten hours a day playing mortal combat, have access to them.

Assault rifles are banned in Israel, except in areas where there is a security risk such as the West Bank.

Glynn County School District Chief of Police Rod Ellis provides support for this recounting of the facts about Israel and firearms.

There are a lot of ideas in the United States of what Israel is like. For example, I’d always heard that Israel is an armed society, and virtually everyone routinely carries a weapon. I learned quickly from one of our guides that although the private ownership of firearms in Israel is not forbidden, those not employed in public safety, security or in the military must show a legitimate need to possess a firearm and must have a permit. Examples include being a civilian, yet being a target of a specific credible threat, such as a retired member of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) or police officer, or a person serving as a reservist. With 20% of Israel’s budget going to defense and security, and 80% of the nation’s defense force being reservists, one can comfortably calculate that a significant portion of the public owns a firearm but don’t routinely carry one.

As I wrote way back in 2015, there is almost nothing any other society can teach the US about the 2nd Amendment, what it means, or how we should do about it. Not 1930s and 1940s Germany, not Israel in 2018. And not any other state and society in between. While Mexico and Guatemala also include a right to keep and bear arms in their constitutions, both of these states interpret and apply this enumerated right very differently than in the US. As a result the US is really the only state with an enumerated right pertaining to keeping and bearing arms in the national foundational law that also officially interprets that right broadly. In this the US is quite unique, exceptional if you will, in that it is the exception, and as such it is very, very difficult to draw effective comparisons from how any other state and society approaches these issues. There are, however, plenty of contrasts that could be made.

Finally, the President’s instructions to the DOJ to develop a regulation that bans bump stocks is most likely dead on arrival. The reason for this is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) has repeatedly stated that they do not believe they have the authority under existing laws pertaining to firearms to impose such a restriction.

The head of the federal agency tasked with regulating firearms said Wednesday it does not have direct authority to regulate or ban bump stocks ― devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to function like machine guns ― but is looking into whether can reclassify them as firearms to regulate them under existing law.

The review is likely to take months, however, and it’s unclear whether the agency can impose restrictions on firearm accessories without aid from Congress.

“If that wasn’t a possibility, in the end, we wouldn’t initiate the process,” ATF Acting Director Thomas Brandon told lawmakers at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

But Brandon conceded it was equally possible for the agency to complete its monthslong review, which includes a 30-day public comment period, and come to the conclusion that it cannot regulate the devices without an update in federal law. The admission prompted one Republican senator to suggest a legislative solution instead.

Stay frosty!

Open thread!

* Tour groups that go to the West Bank are required to have an armed security guard with them, as well as a properly trained and certified medic. Often they are the same person.

Upadated at 8:35 PM EST:

There is a President Trump tweet for everything!



Exactly What Is Special Counselor Mueller Investigating?

This morning Cheryl did a post laying out what James Rosen thinks are the four tracks of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation:

THERE ARE FOUR important tracks to follow in the Trump-Russia story. First, we must determine whether there is credible evidence for the underlying premise that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win. Second, we must figure out whether Trump or people around him worked with the Russians to try to win the election. Next, we must scrutinize the evidence to understand whether Trump and his associates have sought to obstruct justice by impeding a federal investigation into whether Trump and Russia colluded. A fourth track concerns whether Republican leaders are now engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice through their intense and ongoing efforts to discredit Mueller’s probe.

Cheryl provided appropriate caveats regarding Risen, his past reporting, and the editorial bias of The Intercept where he is now employed. Quite simply Risen is wrong. He is wrong because he fundamentally misunderstands what is actually going on with the Special Counsel’s oversight of a dual track counterintelligence and criminal investigation. There are actually five parts to what Special Counsel Mueller and his team are investigating. They are:

1) Russian interference in the election. This includes the hacking and phishing, the troll farms and the bots.  The Russian deployed human and signals and electronic intelligence. Basically the active measures and cyberwarfare campaign to influence the American electorate in order to prevent Hillary Clinton from being elected president and to ensure that Donald Trump was elected president. And, perhaps, suppressing enough of the vote by various means to ensure that the Democrats couldn’t flip the Senate and/or the House.

2) What, if any, connections exist between the Trump campaign, including surrogates, as well as other campaigns such as Jill Stein’s, and any other Americans and/or American organizations with the Russians to influence the American electorate in order to prevent Hillary Clinton from being elected president and to ensure that Donald Trump was elected president. And, perhaps, suppressing enough of the vote by various means to ensure that the Democrats couldn’t flip the Senate and/or the House.

3) Whether the President and/or others conspired to and/or actually tried to cover up the second item above in order to frustrate both the counterintelligence and criminal investigations.

4) The financial crimes investigation into the President’s, his children’s, his son in law’s, his son in law’s family’s, and many of the President’s associate’s (Felix Sater and Michael Cohen for instance) businesses that have been uncovered as a result of the counterintelligence and criminal investigations.

5) Any other criminality that is subsequently discovered as a result of the investigation.

These five investigatory parts are divided between the counterintelligence and criminal tracks to the investigation. And in the case of much of the counterintelligence portions, the fine line that Special Counsel Mueller and his team are walking is how to build criminal cases out of the counterintelligence investigation. Basically, they have to come up with appropriate evidence that can be used for a criminal prosecution that does not compromise American, allied, and partner nation sources and methods. What Special Counsel Mueller knows as a result of having full access to and oversight of the counterintelligence investigation versus what he thinks he can prove in a court of law are things we all have to wait to find out.

Finally, it is amazing just how well this has held up.

Open thread!



Laying The Groundwork

The indictment just released from the Mueller investigation, against 13 Russian individuals and 3 Russian organizations, lays out what we have been hearing bits and pieces of for some time, but it’s in a legally rigorous form, presumably with what Mueller’s team thinks is enough to convict. Those named conspired to interfere in the presidential election of 2016.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were particularly used. The Twitter account “Tennessee GOP,” @Ten_GOP, long suspected by Twitterati of being a Russian front, is specifically called out. Topics focused on were immigration, Black Lives Matter, and religion. The organizations used stolen US identities. And OMG so much more!

 

I have stuff happening IRL this afternoon and so can’t do a detailed rundown. I’ll be around a little while for the discussion. I’m sure Adam will have more to say later, as will I. Read the indictment. It’s easy to read, and amazing.

In the overall scheme of things, this is a first step for Mueller. His remit is to “investigate any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald J. Trump.” He has now established that the Russian government interfered in the election. The indictment also says that individuals associated with the campaign were involved with the Russians. The indictment, and Deputy AG Ron Rosenstein, are very careful to say that those individuals were not knowingly involved with Russians. But there clearly will be more to come.

This helps to inoculate Mueller and Rosenstein against firing.

Trump was briefed on the indictment before it was released. Perhaps they also confiscated his iPhone. If not, there should be some interesting tweets.








Is Donald Trump A Traitor?

James Risen published the first of four articles in a series bearing that headline in the Intercept. Yes, I know it’s the Intercept.

It’s a question that I think has arisen for many of us, but I haven’t said it out loud because it designates such an extreme situation. Notice that the headline is framed as a question, the way to put a controversial idea if you don’t have the evidence to fully support it.

That’s another reason I haven’t gone there. An enormous number of credible reports exist of Russian involvement in the election and involvement of Trump associates with Russians. But the connections of hacking and social media campaigns to Trump associates to Trump himself don’t exist in the public record. The case, so far, is circumstantial.

Risen has reported for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times on national security and intelligence matters. But he also was part of the crew that got the Wen Ho Lee story wrong. He won a Pulitzer Prize with Eric Lichtblau, who was one of the authors of the October 2016 Surprise article that said that the FBI was (no way!) investigating Donald Trump’s connections with Russia.

Risen is credible, but he’s also made some big mistakes.

The Intercept article is long. I’ve skimmed it. I didn’t see anything new, but organizing the information that’s out there is a service in itself. Risen says there will be four columns. The fact he calls them columns suggests that he is not contributing new reporting. Bolding is mine.

THERE ARE FOUR important tracks to follow in the Trump-Russia story. First, we must determine whether there is credible evidence for the underlying premise that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Trump win. Second, we must figure out whether Trump or people around him worked with the Russians to try to win the election. Next, we must scrutinize the evidence to understand whether Trump and his associates have sought to obstruct justice by impeding a federal investigation into whether Trump and Russia colluded. A fourth track concerns whether Republican leaders are now engaged in a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice through their intense and ongoing efforts to discredit Mueller’s probe.

I’ll read it in more detail later. Have at it!



Fox News Confirmation Bias Cycle: Exhibit A

We’ve discussed at length the destructive effects of Fox News. We’ve marveled at the network’s ability to sell “up” as “down” and “black” as “white” to a significant portion of U.S. citizens, thus undermining a pillar of democracy — an informed citizenry — and compromising the concept of “truth” itself.

The Fox News effect a deliberate and decades-long project that culminated in the installation of a pathological liar in the White House. Predictably, the pressure to reconcile said liar’s continuous string of falsehoods with reality has caused the Republican Party and its media arm to become even more unmoored from the truth.

This is bad news for the republic, obviously. But I wonder if the party’s wholesale estrangement from reality might cause it to make dumb mistakes that fatally dent its credibility with anyone outside the Trump base?

Exhibit A is the current furor in wingnut circles over a partially declassified memo filed by National Security Adviser Susan Rice on her last day on the job. Here it is (image via TPM):

Now, a sane person would read that and think, “Holy shit! The outgoing president was wary of sharing information with the incoming president’s staff even before the incoming administration’s National Security Adviser and foreign policy adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their nefarious contacts with foreign nationals and before the former campaign chairman and his deputy were charged with conspiring against the United States!”

I mean, that highlighted paragraph is pretty stark, right? It straight-up says the Obama people were concerned about sharing information about Russia with the Trump people because they didn’t trust Team Trump to safeguard national security. Subsequent events, including Trump blurting out top secret information to the visiting Russian foreign minister and ambassador a few months after taking office, sorta validates the Obama team’s suspicions. Not to mention the aforementioned guilty pleas and charges of conspiracy!

But that’s not how the memo is being received on the right. Republicans have always had a weird antipathy to the no-nonsense Ms. Rice. (Can’t imagine why! Not.) They spent millions of dollars and countless hours pretending that a set of bland talking points from Ms. Rice’s shop after the Benghazi incident was evidence of a treasonous conspiracy.

Their takeaway from this Rice memo is that it is evidence that the Obama team was out to frame Trump for collusion with Russia and to cover their tracks by asserting on the record that the investigation had been handled “by the book.” Here’s a representative sample of how the memo is being treated from a Fox & Friends segment this morning — one of four so far today on this topic:

Forget the Fox News audience for a moment. (Actually, forget them forever; they’re unreachable, so fuck ’em.) The danger here — for Trump and his enablers — is that the feedback loop hasn’t just ensnared rage-grandpas lolling on recliners nationwide. Chuck Grassley caused the memo to be released, complete with the damning contemporaneous account of the Obama team’s suspicions about Trump’s inner circle, because Grassley thinks it’s such a red-hot gotcha.

Lindsey Graham appeared on a later Fox & Friends segment to reinforce that message. And if he’s not live-tweeting Fox & Friends already, Trump will eventually get around to advancing the same narrative, probably in gloating tweets in which he refers to himself in the third person and in scare quotes.

Grassley, Nunes, Graham — and Trump — have become so caught up in preaching to the choir that they’ve forgotten it’s not just the congregation who hears them. This was evident in their attempt to make Carter Page a national security overreach martyr, and it’s even more evident with the Rice memo.

Not content to crow about it on Fox News, Grassley indignantly issued a letter to Ms. Rice demanding answers to a string of questions about the memo. Grassley may get more of an answer than he expects.