Patterico's Pontifications


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 20

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the sixth Sunday after Epiphany. Today’s Bach cantata is “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort” (O eternity, you word of thunder).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 6:17-26:

Blessings and Woes

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Looking at his disciples, he said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich,
for you have already received your comfort.
Woe to you who are well fed now,
for you will go hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will mourn and weep.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you,
for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

O eternity, you word of thunder,
o sword, that bores through the soul,
o beginning without end!
O eternity, timeless time,
I know not, before such great sorrow,
where to turn.

. . . .

Perhaps this is your last day,
no one knows when he might die.
How easily, how soon
many are dead and cold!
Even this night can
the coffin be brought to your door.
Therefore before anything else
be considerate of the health of your soul!

. . . .

O humanity,
stop immediately
loving sin and the world,
so that this torment,
where howling and teeth-gnashing are,
might not eternally plague you!
Ah, mirror yourself in that rich man,
who in his suffering
not even once
could have a drop of water!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Is the Mere Existence of a Law a Sufficient Reason to Use It? Ask the Resistance!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 pm

After Alan Dershowitz said that Andrew McCabe’s musing about using the 25th Amendment to the Constitution would be “unconstitutional,” all the Smart People derided Dershowitz:

Ha, ha, get it? Invoking the 25th Amendment can’t be unconstitutional because it’s in the Constitution! It doesn’t matter that McCabe’s proposed invocation of that provision would be bogus! The provision is there! And that’s all you need to know!

But these same Smart People are saying that Trump can’t just declare an emergency! It’s unlawful!

But Congress gave the President the power to declare an emergency. The provision is right there in the law! All of a sudden it matters whether someone is invoking the provision in a way not intended by the drafters?

If I didn’t know better, I might think that the Smart People aren’t being entirely consistent…


Video of George Washington Carver at Tuskegee University

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:03 pm

[guest post by Dana]

I love this video of George Washington Carver that is making the rounds:

It’ unsurprising that these wise words are attributed to Carver, given the life he lived and the history he made:

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



President Trump Declares National Emergency On Southern Border (Update Added)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:03 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This morning, President Trump announced that he was declaring a national emergency on the Southern border. By doing this, it would allow him to access more funding money for his wall than what was in the compromise bill. Also, signing the bill would prevent another government shutdown:

President Trump declared a national emergency at the border on Friday to access billions of dollars to build a border wall that Congress refused to give him, transforming a highly charged policy dispute into a fundamental confrontation over separation of powers.

In a televised announcement in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said he would sign the declaration to protect the country from the flow of drugs, criminals and illegal immigrants coming across the border from Mexico, which he characterized as a profound threat to national security.

“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border and we’re going to do it one way or the other,” he said. “It’s an invasion,” he added. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”

But as he sought to deny that he was taking action because he could not persuade Congress to give him the money, he may have undercut his own argument that the border situation required urgent unilateral action. “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it faster,” he said. “I want to get it done faster, that’s all.”

The border emergency declaration, which Mr. Trump signed later in the day, enables Mr. Trump to divert $3.6 billion budgeted for military construction projects to the border wall, White House officials said. Mr. Trump will also use more traditional presidential budgetary discretion to tap $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.

Combined with the $1.375 billion authorized for fencing in a spending package passed by Congress on Thursday night, Mr. Trump would then have about $8 billion in all to advance construction of new barriers and repairs or replacement of existing barriers along the border this year, significantly more than the $5.7 billion that Congress refused to give him.

When the news came out yesterday that President Trump was planning on signing the compromise border security measure as well as declaring a national emergency in order to get more funding than the bill allotted, Republican senators voiced concerns about Constitutional violations and bypassing Congress:

“I wish he wouldn’t have done it,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who McConnell interrupted on the Senate floor to make his announcement. “If [Trump] figures that Congress didn’t do enough and he’s got to do it, then I imagine we’ll find out whether he’s got the authority to do it by the courts.”

“In general, I’m not for running the government by emergency, nor spending money. The Constitution’s pretty clear: spending originates and is directed by Congress,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who like almost everyone else on Capitol Hill wants more information. “So I’m not really for it.”

“I’m not enthusiastic about it, but I don’t know whether that’s actually going to happen, and if so, what follows from there. I don’t know what authority he may or may not invoke,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

“I have some concerns,” added Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “There are ways you could transfer funds that I could be fully supportive of, and there are other ways that I’d have a lot of problems with.”

“I always kind of take pause to the assertion of executive power,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “The main reason is it could detract attention away from the long-term solution that can only occur through an act of Congress.”

Sen. Marco Rubio also pushed back and warned about thwarting the Constitution:

We have a crisis at our southern border, but no crisis justifies violating the Constitution.

And here’s Susan Collins on the issue:

“I think it’s a mistake,” said Sen. Susan Collins, Republican of Maine. “The National Emergencies Act was contemplated to apply to natural disasters or catastrophic events such as the attacks on our country on 9/11. For the President to use it to re-purpose billions of dollars, that Congress has appropriated for other purposes that has previously signed into law, strikes me as undermining the appropriations process, the will of Congress and being of dubious constitutionality.”

The bill itself contains limitations that run counter to President Trump’s overall immigration wants.

Given Nancy Pelosi’s warning that the national emergency tables could eventually be turned against Republicans if the president went this route, we can be fairly certain now that this will happen:

“If the president can declare an emergency on something he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think about what a president with different values can present to the American people,” Pelosi said.

“You want to talk about a national emergency? Let’s talk about today,” Pelosi said, referring to the first anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead on Feb. 14, 2018.

She said the shooting was “another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America.”

“That’s a national emergency. Why don’t you declare that an emergency, Mr. President? I wish you would,” she said. “But a Democratic president can do that. A Democratic president can declare emergencies as well.”

The “national emergencies” that would seem to fit the bill for the Democrats might include climate change, income inequality, gun violence, and/or the opioid crisis.

Pelosi and Chuck Schumer together said:

“Declaring a national emergency would be a lawless act, a gross abuse of power of the presidency and a desperate attempt to distract from the fact that President Trump broke his core promise to have Mexico pay for his wall. It is yet another demonstration of President Trump’s naked contempt for the rule of law.

Oh, yeah, and this:


Sarah Sanders told reporters that the president has already signed the bill.

UPDATE: David French has written a great “lawsplainer” regarding President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. It is well worth reading in its entirety. Insightful and clarifying.

One thing that is abundantly clear from reading the full text of President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border — he’s barely even deigning to explain why there is a particular crisis today, or why that crisis is so grave that it requires the military to combat it. At its heart it’s a contemptuous document. It’s the proclamation of a monarch, not an argument by a president. And it should fail in court.

Before today, legal writers were guessing at the statutes the president would use to justify defying the will of Congress and using the military to build his border wall. Now we know. In his declaration, he’s exclusively using 10 U.S.C. 2808 to reallocate up to $3.6 billion from Department of Defense construction projects — more than double the amount that Congress allocated for wall construction in its border compromise. (He intends to use other funds as well for wall construction, but those aren’t applicable to the emergency declaration.)

This statute bears virtually no resemblance to the sweeping congressional grants of presidential discretion that allowed Trump to lawfully implement his travel ban or that allow presidents to declare national emergencies. Instead, it’s a much more carefully drafted law, with carefully defined terms. A court that does its job — applying the plain meaning of the words on the page — should have little patience for the Trump administration’s arguments.

I do not dispute that Trump likely can declare a national emergency, in large part because Congress has placed few meaningful restraints on that power, but such declarations don’t allow him to do anything he wants; they mainly serve to unlock other statutes which grant him other powers.

Read the whole thing.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Andrew McCabe: Darn Right We Talked About Removing The President From Office

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:17 am

[guest post by Dana]

During an interview with Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes, former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe opened up about his order for an investigation into President Trump after the 2016 election:

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that he ordered obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations into President Donald Trump after a conversation with him immediately after he fired James Comey as FBI director.

"I was speaking to the man who had just run for the presidency and won the election for the presidency, and who might have done so with the aid of the government of Russia, our most formidable adversary on the world stage," McCabe said. "And that was something that troubled me greatly. "

One day after that conversation, McCabe said he "met with the team investigating the Russia cases."

"And I asked the team to go back and conduct an assessment to determine where are we with these efforts and what steps do we need to take going forward," he said. "I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion, that were I removed quickly and reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace."

"I wanted to make sure that our case was on solid ground," he continued. "And if somebody came in behind me and closed it and tried to walk away from it, they would not be able to do that without creating a record of why they'd made that decision."

Also, according to Pelley, McCabe also admitted that law enforcement and senior intelligence officials discussed whether Trump could be ousted under the 25th amendment:

…Pelley provided more details about the interview, including McCabe’s description of the aftermath of Comey’s firing, saying there were “meetings at the Justice Department at which it was discussed whether the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet could be brought together to remove the president of the United States under the 25th Amendment.”

“These were the eight days from Comey’s firing to the point that Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel,” he continued. “And the highest levels of American law enforcement were trying to figure out what do with the president.”

Interesting that they believed Mike Pence might be willing to sign on to removing Trump from office. Apparently, that Pence signed on to the Trump-Pence ticket in spite of the troubling revelations about Trump’s character wasn’t enough for McCabe to recognize Pence’s unwavering loyalty to Trump. Pence told Andrea Mitchell that he had no knowledge of any 25th amendment discussions, and said any such thing was “absurd”. He also said that he “”couldn’t be more proud” of Trump’s accomplishments in office, “and the words of a disgraced FBI agent won’t change that fact for the American people.””

Of course the president took to Twitter in response:



The full interview on 60 Minutes is scheduled to air Feb. 17.

P.S. Andrew McCabe is currently promoting his new book “The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump,” which is set to be released Feb. 19.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Gavin Newsom Makes It Official: No to Statewide High-Speed Rail

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:50 pm

[guest post by JVW]

In his State of the State address earlier today, California Governor Gavin Newsom sounded the death knell for the woefully planned and horribly administered high-speed rail system that had been favored by his two immediate predecessors.

“Let’s be real,” Newsom said in his first State of the State address. “The current project, as planned [from Anaheim to San Francisco], would cost too much and respectfully take too long. There’s been too little oversight and not enough transparency.”

The idea championed by Newsom’s predecessor, Jerry Brown, is years behind schedule. The latest estimate for completion is 2033.

Newsom, though, said he wants to finish construction that’s already under way on a segment of the high-speed train from Bakersfield to Merced, through California’s Central Valley, arguing it will revitalize the economically depressed region.

He’s also replacing Brown’s head of the state board that oversees the project and pledged more accountability for contractors that run over on costs.

The Bakersfield to Merced line will be of almost no practical use, unless you want easy travel to see the UC Merced Bobcats play the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners in men’s basketball. But perhaps now Gov. Newsom and his administration can prevail upon the zillionaires of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area to pony up and bring the line into San Jose. I hope the good people of the city of Anaheim don’t have buyer’s remorse over shelling out $185 million to reconfigure the tracks and build a beautiful new terminal only to now find out that they will just have the same old Amtrak and Metrolink trains chugging through, with daily ridership only about one-quarter of what had been expected.

Gov. Newsom made other news during his address today. In a further break from his predecessor, he announced that he does not support the “Twin Tunnels” idea for delivering water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern part of the state, opting instead for a single tunnel which would be more cost-effective but also less reliable than the two-tunnel system that the Brown Administration had reluctantly supported. He also announced that he would be replacing Gov. Brown’s appointments for both the High Speed Rail Authority and the State Water Resources Control Board, indicating a desire for a clean break from the previous Sacramento regime. (By the way, Brown is notoriously thin-skinned about having his policies countermanded, so expect to hear some sniping from him and his allies in coming days.)

I’ll give credit where credit is due. Gavin Newsom had the guts to pull the plug on a ridiculous vanity project beloved by environmentalists, statists, unions, and everyone who generally benefits from big government. There is certainly a lot to dislike about his administration — his address earlier today also called for new taxes and a host of other stupid spending initiatives alongside a paean to the stringent and unforgiving diktats of social justice — but on high speed rail the new governor has made the right call.


Answers to Acrostic Number 1

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

I posted my first acrostic puzzle yesterday. Answers are here.


Acrostic Number 1

Filed under: Acrostics,General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

I made a puzzle! Scroll down to solve it.

My father in law is a genius, and one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Over the years he has created different computer games and puzzles as a hobby. He has started sharing acrostic puzzles with the family. When he visited this past weekend, I asked him to show me how he does them. He has invented his own spreadsheet, which formats your puzzle, lets you know what letters you have and have not used, and has all kinds of formulas that provide you with useful information on how you are doing (like the consonant/vowel ratio). I got a copy of his spreadsheet and created my first one yesterday. Here it is (link to printable version below):

Acrostic Number 1

It’s two pages, so use the arrows at the bottom left to turn the page back and forth. (They appear when you put your cursor over the puzzle.)

If you’re unfamiliar with these puzzles, here are the rules.

The bottom part consists of clues, designated A through I. You read the hint for each clue and solve it. There are blanks with numbers under them, and each number corresponds to a number under the corresponding blank in the top part of the puzzle. Solve a clue in the bottom part of the puzzle, and you can start filling in the corresponding blanks in the top part of the puzzle.

For example, the first space in clue A has the number 132 under it. If the answer for clue A were “bedazzlement” (it’s not) then you would write in “bedazzlement” in clue A on the bottom, meaning you would write a B in the blank with the number 132 under it, an E in the blank with 101 under it, and so forth. Now you can find the blank with the number 132 in the top part, and fill in a B. You can find the blank with the number 101 in the top part, and fill in an E. And so forth.

The top portion of the puzzle is a quotation or saying, using the same letters as are used in the clues at the bottom. The top part is what you’re trying to solve. As with the bottom part, there are blanks with numbers under them. In the top part, each number is preceded by a letter, corresponding to the clues on the bottom part. This way, when you complete a word in the top part, it is easier to find the corresponding blank below.

For example, we established that 132 is the first letter of the answer to clue A. That means the number 132 in the top part is preceded by an “A” — just to tell you which clue has blank number 132.

For the top part, if there is no break in the numbering, the spaces connected by consecutive numbers are all one word even if they scroll to a new line. For example, 26G-33F here is an eight-letter word even though it scrolls to a new line. For the bottom part, each clue may consist of multiple words even though there are no blanks. (Clue A could be “bedazzlement” or it could be “ibetyoudowin” — or any combination of 12 letters, no matter how many words it is.)

Here’s a fun extra hint: the first letters of each correct clue in the bottom part, read in order starting with clue A on down, spell out the name of the person who said the quote in the top part.

Have fun!

P.S. I have displayed the puzzle above to intrigue you and get you to do it, but the best way to actually solve it is with pencil and paper. You can print it out by clicking on this link and printing the .pdf: Acrostic Number 1.

First to tell me the full exact quotes in the comments wins. Assume the comments section is filled with spoilers.

NeverTrump Conservative: Trump Has Earned My Vote In 2020 Election

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:36 am

[guest post by Dana]

This is rather surprising coming from Erick Erickson, who adopted the hashtag #NeverTrump in 2016 and subsequently voted third party in the presidential election. While admitting he still has concerns about Trump’s character (which hasn’t changed), he explains why he will be voting for him in the next election. He now says “there is much to like” about Trump and his policies.

President Trump delivered on tax reform. He delivered on regulatory rollbacks. He delivered on undermining Obamacare. He delivered on moving the embassy in Israel. He delivered on withdrawal from the Paris Accord. He delivered on withdrawal from the Iranian agreement. He delivered on shifting American foreign policy focus to the Western Hemisphere to deal with Venezuela, Cuba, and other hotspots. He delivered on solid executive appointments, including to the judiciary.

I have ongoing concerns on tariffs, the national direction on North Korea, and other issues, but even with George W. Bush I had issues. No President is perfect. Some are badly flawed. In 2020, we’ll be asked to choose between a set of sinners and must decide which direction we want to go as a nation.

I chose a third path in 2016 and the nation decided otherwise. Now, as we head into 2020, it is clear the paths forward are still between the Republicans and Democrats. The path of opting out or protesting now to me seems irrelevant as we have a President who is no longer a hypothetical against any of a host of Democrats who too extreme for the nation.

The contrast that he sees between the current administration’s direction for the country and that of the Democrats was significant in making his decision:

We have three years on which to judge President Trump’s administration and vision for the country. We also have lots of real world examples of where the Democrats want to head.

We have a party that is increasingly hostile to religion and now applies religious tests to blocking judicial nominees. We have a party that believes children can be murdered at birth. We have a party that would set back the economic progress of this nation by generations through their environmental policies. We have a party that uses the issue of Russia opportunistically. We have a party that has weaponized race, gender, and other issues to divide us all while calling the President “divisive.” We have a party that is deeply, deeply hostile to large families, small businesses, strong work ethics, gun ownership, and traditional values. We have a party that is more and more openly anti-Semitic.

The Democrats have increasingly determined to let that hostility shape their public policy. They are adamant, with a religious fervor, that one must abandon one’s deeply held convictions and values as a form of penance to their secular gods.

This seems to go to the heart of the matter for Erickson:

My friends in the center-right coalition who are flirting with Democrats are, more often than not, not really socially conservative. But I am. That party offers me no home and is deeply hostile to people of faith. The President has shown himself to not share my faith convictions any more than the other side, but the President has shown he is willing to defend my faith convictions and is supportive of them.

I could stay home or vote third party as I did in 2016. But what will that get me? The ability to say “not my problem” or the self-assurance that I didn’t get dirty in having to choose? I have many Christian friends who, when I have discussed this, tell me I should just stay home and turn my back. Both parties, they tell me, are profoundly corrupt. And they’re right. But I am not looking for a messiah in politics and don’t have some religious sentiment tied to my vote. While I understand and accept the sincere conviction of some of my friends who have decided they will just sit out the process, I have decided otherwise. In 2016, we knew who the Democrats were and were not sure of who Donald Trump was. Now we know both and I prefer this President to the alternative.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Gov. Northam: I Am The Moral Compass Virginia Needs. Um, Those “Indentured Servants” Might Think Otherwise…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:58 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Gov. Northam continues to make the case against himself even worse than it already is. Today he was interviewed by Gayle King, of all people, on CBS This Morning. During the interview, and demonstrating an utter lack of self-awareness, the governor reminded Americans that 400 years ago the state’s first indentured servants from Africa seeking better job opportunities, arrived on Virginia’s shores. He also reiterated that he would not be resigning because he is the self-ordained Moral Compass that the state of Virginia needs to heal from the gaping wound…inflicted by him and the state’s other two top executives. Dear God. If the same advisers that advised the governor to read “Roots” as part of his rehabilitation, also advised him to go on CBS This Morning, then not only should Northam moonwalk his way out of the governorship asap, but his advisers should be sacked as well. It is, at the very least, a cringe-worthy watch.


Northam, a pediatric neurologist and third-term abortion enthusiast, enraged Americans after he announced support for delegate Kathy Tran’s proposed legislation which sought to remove the last remaining protections for unborn babies in the third trimester. Northam not only supported her legislation, but also talked about post-abortion births during an interview and described how babies who dared to survive a third trimester abortion would be made um, comfortable while their fate was decided by the birth-mother and doctor. After the ensuing outrage over his comments, Northam indignantly tweeted: “I have devoted my life to caring for children and any insinuation otherwise is shameful and disgusting.” And now, he claims that because he is a doctor, he is the moral compass Virginia needs…

Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do that than a doctor. Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass. And that’s why I’m not going anywhere.

Best of luck, Virginia.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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