Patterico's Pontifications

12/14/2019

Open Thread: What Are You Listening To?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:36 pm



[guest post by Dana]

It’s a rainy day here, and the music is on. After reading a few comments on the Weekend Open Thread about The Who’s new release, I thought an open thread about what everyone is listening to these days would be fun. Whether it’s new or old stuff, share it with us – and include a link so readers can give a listen.

Here’s what I’m listening to:

Van Morrison’s 1974 Veedon Fleece (favorite song “You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push the River” at the 16:10 mark). Incredible songwriting.

The National “About Today”. Gorgeous.

Rolling Stones 1971 Let It Bleed (favorite song “Gimme Shelter”)

Nina Simone, any song, anytime, anywhere.

And since I’m going to the ballet tomorrow to watch a performance of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky.

What are you listening to??

–Dana

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:40 am



[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item: The Supreme Court to decide:

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear President Donald Trump’s appeal of lower court orders, now on hold, that require his banks and accountants to turn over financial records to the House and local prosecutors in New York.

The cases could yield major rulings on the power of the House to demand records for its investigations and the authority of a president to resist such demands. By granting review now, the justices made it possible for these cases to be heard during the current court term, in March, with a decision by the end of June, just as the general election campaign heats up.

Second news item: Joe Biden jumps on Boris Johnson win to promote himself:

[A]s the scale of Johnson’s victory became clear, former Vice President Joe Biden suggested it was a warning for his party, which is considering centrist and liberal candidates for president.

“Boris Johnson is winning in a walk,” said Biden, the leading moderate in the Democratic race. He predicted headlines that say: “Look what happens when the Labour Party moves so, so far to the left. It comes up with ideas that are not able to be contained within a rational basis quickly.”

“You’re also going to see people saying, my god, Boris Johnson, who is kind of a physical and emotional clone of the president, is able to win,” he added.

Third news item: Tightening the circle:

President Donald Trump’s senior aides have further restricted the number of administration officials allowed to listen to the President’s phone calls with foreign leaders since his July 25 call with Ukraine’s President was revealed and became the centerpiece of the impeachment inquiry,according to multiple White House sources [.]

“Nobody is allowed on the calls,” a White House official said, describing the new effort to limit those with access to the President’s senior-most aides. “The barn door officially closed after the horse escaped.”

Fourth news item: Brainstorming a Trump victory in 2020:

Crushing the Never-Trumpers: They’ve “remade” the state parties in “the president’s image,” per one official — with 42 state party chair elections since the 2018 midterms. The Trump campaign isn’t tolerating anti-Trump officials in state party leadership positions in 2020.

“New math”: Tiny counties traditionally overlooked by candidates helped deliver Trump his 2016 victories in states like Wisconsin (where the smallest 48 counties = 22% of the statewide vote) and Pennsylvania (where the 45 smallest counties = 20% of the statewide vote), senior officials said.

“The DJT Disengager”: This is another focus for the campaign. These are voters who remain enthusiastic about Trump but didn’t vote in the 2018 midterms when Trump wasn’t on the ballot.

Making the best of his unpopularity: Impeachment has been good for business…

Fifth news item: That time the President let a 16-year old get under his skin:

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

12/13/2019

Flip-Flop: Bernie Sanders Endorses Misogynistic Pig, Then Retracts Endorsement

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:10 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Whenever I write about politicians with gross attitudes toward women and their happy willingness to objectify them in the most demeaning of ways, Trump always comes to mind because he is the biggest reminder that a disturbingly huge swath of Americans don’t really care about the character or moral clarity of those elected to lead. And now we have Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders demonstrating a similar who cares attitude as he endorses a well-known misogynistic sleazebag:

Bernie Sanders endorsed a California congressional candidate Thursday with a long history of making crude and degrading comments about women and provocative statements about Jews, Muslims and other groups.

The Democratic presidential candidate said Cenk Uygur, founder and co-host of “The Young Turks” online talk show, is “a voice that we desperately need in Congress” to fill the seat of former Rep. Katie Hill of Santa Clarita.

In one episode in 2013, Uygur ranked women on a scale of 1 to 10 on how likely men would be to let them perform oral sex on them.

Uygur also defended the Harvard University men’s soccer team in 2016 for ranking the sexual appeal of female students on a scale of 1 to 10 on a widely shared “scouting report,” including explicit descriptions of potential sex acts with the women.

“We’ve been doing it for as long as humanity has existed, so they put it in a Google doc — not guilty,” said Uygur, who has promoted Sanders on his program.

In 2007, Uygur used the n-word multiple times in a show about Duane “Dog” Chapman after the celebrity bounty hunter used the racial slur.

Charming guy. So, if Sanders thinks this is the “voice that [Democrats] desperately need in Congress,” then that is quite an insight into Bernie Sanders and his willingness to overlook disgusting behavior because the end justifies the means, or perhaps because sexism and the harassment of women is just a continuing part of his campaign. I don’t know. Clearly any candidate running for the presidency is not going to give his his imprimatur to just anyone. The candidate will have obviously been fully vetted and researched before an endorsement is given. Also, Uygur is not some unknown, new kid on the block. His misogynistic sleaze has been very thoroughly documented.

Reminiscent of another middle-aged Democrat trying to avoid taking full responsibility for his actions, Uygur blames conservatism for his foul behavior:

“The stuff I wrote back then was really insensitive and ignorant,” Uygur said. “If you read that today, what I wrote 18 years ago, and you’re offended by it, you’re 100 percent right. And anyone who is subjected to that material, I apologize to. And I deeply regret having written that stuff when I was a different guy.”

Uygur also noted that at the time, he “was still a conservative who thought that stuff was politically incorrect and edgy.

OK, got it: a part of conservative orthodoxy is that right-leaning men not only want to be edgy, but think that being “edgy” means making disgusting comments like those that Uygur has made:

An entry from 2000 complaining about his lack of sex declared that “the genes of women are flawed” because they “do not want to have sex nearly as often as needed for the human race to get along peaceably and fruitfully.”

Another entry titled, “Rules of Dating,” said he would break up with a woman if he hadn’t felt her “tits” by the fourth date, and that “there must be orgasm by the fifth date.”

Anyway, not all Democrats are on board with Bernie endorsing Uygur:

Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, president of California Young Democrats, a group that backs Sanders, had called on the Vermont senator to withdraw his endorsement of Uygur.

“We think that he doesn’t necessarily reflect the movement that Sen. Sanders has built,” he said.

Mark Gonzalez, chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, had also called on Sanders to “disavow” Uygur and pull his endorsement. Uygur’s “vulgarity, his hate speech and divisive rhetoric have no place in our party,” Gonzalez said…

UPDATE:

What a load of bullshit. What a weaselly way for two weaselly men to wiggle out of a tangled web of their own making. As if Sanders or anyone on his team didn’t already know about Uygur’s misogyny. Just google “Cenk Uygur” and all his nastiness is there for anyone to see. Note, too, that Sanders doesn’t even mention Uygur’s misogyny in his tweet. As if the very thing that the complaints were focused on doesn’t exist.

Elizabeth Warren, opportunity is knocking loudly at your door…

–Dana

Two Articles of Impeachment Approved by House Judiciary Committee

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:10 am



I gather the Republicans are really upset that the vote didn’t happen last night at midnight, so that they could scream about a “midnight vote!”

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to adopt two articles of impeachment against President Trump – capping a contentious three-day session that Republicans panned as a “kangaroo court.”

The committee adopted both articles, alleging abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, on a party-line vote of 23-17. A final vote in the full House is expected next week, which could tee up a Senate trial in the new year just before presidential primaries are set to get underway.

The Senate trial promises to be a serious and sober look at the evidence against the President, conducted by a party that is … coordinating with the President about every aspect of the trial and boasting about it:

Paraphrase: “Trump fans, I wish we could refuse to do this at all, but trust me when I say that the process will be such a pro-Trump sham that it will be pretty much the same as if we refused to do it.”

The Republicans are a disgrace and the Democrats are a policy trainwreck.

A sane person has nowhere left to go.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

12/12/2019

Pornography and the Right

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:03 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Over the past week a giant debate has arisen on the right regarding whether or not the government should do more to regulate the spread of pornography here in the U.S. The debate in the most general sense seems to pit the traditionalist wing, at this point largely driven by Catholic polemicists, against the regulation-skeptical libertarian wing. This is not the first time that the right’s disposition towards erotic and explicit content has been debated — many of us remember the Meese Commission during the Reagan Administration — but given the easy access to raunchy materials in the online age and given a President who campaigned on tighter regulation of adult content yet himself has a history of consorting with, as the euphemism goes, “adult stars,” it is probably logical that this debate would rear its head (bad pun, I know) yet again.

Once upon a time, kids had to access adult content by swiping their dad or brother’s girlie magazines or by sneaking into the back room at the newsstand or video store to furtively leer at the X-rated content. Nowadays, of course, children are but a couple of clicks away from, quite literally, tens of millions of images and probably hundreds of thousands of hours of video content that just over a half-century ago would have been considered illegal even for adults to view. No matter what your disposition on what consenting adults ought to be allowed to do, this easy access for minors has to strike one as problematic for a healthy society. On the other hand, this matters really are most properly regulated by parents, not by bureaucrats and courts. It is a conundrum for all of us where supposedly “easy” answers often have potential unintended consequences that need to be considered.

Vox, for as much as we tend to ridicule it here, has a pretty good piece on how and why the right has taken up this debate. Last Friday, four Republican members of Congress sent a letter (embedded at the Vox piece) to Attorney General William Barr asserting that current law allows the Justice Department to prosecute the creators and distributors of pornographic content and calling upon the department to be more active in that regard. The Vox piece also mentions that some anti-pornography groups are arguing for laws that would require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to offer customers Internet access in which pornographic content is filtered out, require all pornographic websites to use a .xxx domain and have age-verification logins, and to use the legal if malleable definition of “obscenity” to crack-down on sites which produce content that is violent or degrading.

And so what this all boils down to in the end is the question of whether or not pornography is fully protected by the First Amendment. Catholic convert Sohrab Ahmari of The New York Post takes the position that it is not, writing:

Online porn isn’t that bad, the Twitter libertarians insist. Plus, there is no way to restrict access to online porn, and even if there were, such regulation would sound the death knell for our ancient liberties.

All nonsense.

[. . .]

Happily, there are perfectly constitutional ways to at least limit access. Reno v. ACLU, the 1997 Supreme Court decision that deregulated Internet smut, was decided on narrow, outdated grounds. Justice John Paul Stevens held that Internet porn doesn’t fall under existing law allowing government regulation, because “the Internet is not as ‘invasive’ as radio and television.”

LOL, as the kids say.

Mr. Ahmari is joined by fellow Catholic Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire in defining the easy accessibility of pornography as a public health problem and calling for more regulation. Also weighing in at the traditionalist Catholic magazine First Things is Josh Hammer who accuses conservatives of going soft:

Once upon a time, opposition to the spread of pornography was a unifying political principle for self-described conservatives. Alas, it seems that in our increasingly liberalized conservative movement, such opposition is no longer unifying.

That the attacks on pornography are coming largely from Catholic intellectuals and journalists is notable. Pope Francis, hardly ever a favorite of traditionalist Catholics, has recently been sounding the alarm about porn’s corruption of the human spirit, and joins in the concern that easy access is harmful to the young. While other conservative religious sects have always taken a negative view of the obvious availability of hyper-sexual materials, Evangelical Christians, to cite but one example, appear to be taking a more front-line and involved approach to fighting its spread into their communities rather than lobbying government for action.

And it is the personal effort to curb one’s own addiction to online porn and prevent one’s children from developing bad habits where the libertarian wing of the right believes that the emphasis ought to be. In a podcast entitled “Are We Really Gonna Have Another War on Porn,” the editors of Reason reject the calls for the government to be more active in combatting porn access. They stipulate that children today do have easy access to adult materials, but reject the claims that violence against women and sex trafficking — which they say is separate from human trafficking — is on the rise. They also note that advocates for a crack-down are using language which criticizes porn as a social evil, suggesting that inevitably there will be attempts to restrict its access to adults. While agreeing that the government should continue to combat sex trafficking, especially where minors are concerned, they accuse the anti-porn strand of conservatism of harboring pro-regulation sympathies similar to those of the Sanders/Warren wing of the Democrat Party.

As for me, while I am generally skeptical of compromise simply for the sake of compromise, I could see a few avenues where we could improve upon the current situation. I like the idea of requiring websites which feature sexual content (and yes, I fully recognize that we are venturing into “eye of the beholder” territory here) to carry a .xxx domain name so that parents, and more helpfully ISPs, can take steps to block them, though I am against the idea of requiring registration to access those sites or requiring ISPs to offer filtered web access options. Obviously we should do everything that is Constitutionally permissible to stop underage kids from being exploited by the adult industry, and there might be some steps that government can take to help prevent young adults, especially in that difficult 18- and 19-year-olds range, from being conned into participating in filming sex acts for money. Beyond those steps, however, I’m not sure that I trust government to determine what constitutes “obscenity,” let alone granting them the power to regulate it.

– JVW

Oh Dear, the Niece Now Wants to be a Kingmaker in the U.K. [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:06 pm



[guest post by JVW]

[UPDATE II, 7:47 pm Pacific time] – Jeremy Corbyn is out as Labour Party Leader, he announced moments ago. Good riddance.

[UPDATE, 3:30 pm Pacific time]The BBC reports that exit polls look good for a Conservative majority.

—- original post —-

As voters across the United Kingdom head to the polling places today to vote for a new government — a vote which will have important consequences for Brexit, relations with the U.S., and the rise of both nationalist and socialist parties worldwide — our delightfully batty niece decided to interject her callow self into another nation’s domestic matters:

Though she only encourages UK voters to “vote” without expressing any preference for candidates, the video she attaches, which is a retweet from the official account of the rancid Jeremy Corbyn, leaves no doubt as to how she hopes the vote will go. And to the degree that she has any followers in the U.K., I sincerely doubt that they hold much affection for the Tories.

Hopefully by tonight we will be receiving word of a strong Conservative showing and a majority government led by Boris Johnson, and then the important work of freeing Britain from the tyranny of the EU can continue.

– JVW

How Trump Acts Like a Guilty Criminal Defendant

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:28 am



I have a piece at ArcDigital today titled They Sure Do Look Guilty. Here is an excerpt:

[D]efendants often have no real defense based on the facts and merits. So they and their lawyers try to make a simple, straightforward question seem very, very complicated. They attack the process. They scream that the prosecution is engaged in a witch hunt. They try to vilify law enforcement, whether it be the police or the prosecutors. The more unscrupulous defendants may intimidate witnesses, fabricate evidence, or tell falsehoods under oath.

But all guilty defendants who go to trial try to deny the reality in front of everyone’s face. They scream and yell and try to get the fact-finder upset, annoyed, distracted … anything but focused on the facts and evidence. And if they find jurors who are emotionally inclined to lean towards the defense, these tactics can work.

If you have followed impeachment, this should all sound familiar.

There is a clip in the piece that I ask people to watch, which contrasts the weaselly way that the Republican staff lawyer addresses the central part of the transcript of Trump’s “perfect” call with the straightforward manner in which the Democrat staff lawyer does. For whatever reason, Medium is unable to embed a YouTube video with timestamps, but below is the 80-second video:

Weasel vs. non-weasel. Simple.

12/11/2019

Trump Loyalist: The Next Democratic President Must Be Impeached

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:54 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Mark Levin, who called the impeachment inquiry an “outrageous violation of the Constitution,” wants to set his own precedent in light of the “precedent” being set by Democrats in impeaching Trump:

What the Democrats have done here will only be stopped and the precedent that is so damning to this country will only be stopped if it is unleashed on them. The next president who’s a Democrat must be impeached. They must be investigated over and over again, follow exactly the Schiff-Nadler procedures, the Nancy Pelosi process. It must be done. I know it sounds painful. I had a caller say to me the other day when I said that it was disingenuous, that it shows that we’re no better than them. No, that’s wrong. It shows we must defeat this internal Fifth Column enemy. And they must understand that we have the willingness to do it so they don’t pull this again because otherwise, this is the precedent set in place now. Republicans will be rollovers for the rest of their time and Democrats will be bulldogs. We can’t allow that.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

12/10/2019

Trump Pays $2 Million In Damages For Misusing His Charity

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:22 pm



[guest post by Dana]

In other Trump news today, the president has paid $2 million in a court-ordered settlement for using funds from the Trump Foundation charity for his own personal gain and to benefit his 2016 presidential campaign:

The payment was ordered last month by a New York state judge in an extraordinary rebuke to a sitting president. Trump had been sued in 2018 by the New York attorney general, who alleged that the president had illegally used funds from the Donald J. Trump Foundation to buy portraits of himself, pay off his businesses’ legal obligations and help his 2016 campaign.

[…]

In addition, Trump agreed to distribute the remaining $1.8 million left in the Donald J. Trump Foundation to the same eight charities. In all, each charity received $476,140.41.

“Charities are not a means to an end, which is why these damages speak to the president’s abuse of power and represent a victory for not-for-profits that follow the law,” James, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Funds have finally gone where they deserve — to eight credible charities.”

Moreover, if the president wants to create another New York state charity, it will face certain restrictions and supervision.

Reports also say that, along with using the charity’s money for his presidential campaign and Pam Bondi’s Florida attorney general campaign, Trump paid $258,000 in legal settlements for his (for-profit) clubs, purchased sports memorabilia, champagne for a charity gala, and arranged for the charity to pay $10,000 for a 6-foot portrait of himself. Yep, that sounds about right.

Back when the lawsuit was filed in 2018, Trump was determined to not settle the case:

The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!

Still to be ruled on is whether Trump can write off the fine payment as a “charitable donation” on his taxes.

The President of the United States got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and as a result there is no longer a charity to use as his own personal piggy-bank. Good!

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

The Democrats Are Blowing the Impeachment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:46 am



How? By not introducing (at least so far) an article of impeachment based on Trump’s obstruction of justice as described in the Mueller report. In particular, telling Don McGahn to fire Mueller, and to prepare a false document denying that Trump gave that order.

The following are arguments that Republicans have made, and will make again in the Senate, against impeachment based on the Ukraine matter:

  • The investigation was begun by partisans, and not by an outside counsel.
  • The acts complained of do not amount to statutory crimes.
  • There is no first-hand witness to the events whose account has been made public.
  • There is an arguable national purpose to the actions that does not relate to President Trump personally.

I’m not saying they are good arguments. The first is irrelevant. The second is irrelevant and indeed laughable, given the Founders’ concerns about abuse of presidential power. The third is a joke because we have the transcript, I mean the summary, of the call. And the fourth depends on the notion that Trump deeply cared about corruption in Ukraine — but only corruption related to two individuals, a father and a son, and only after the father became his chief political opponent.

But these arguments would be even harder to make about the obstruction of justice outlined in the Mueller report. The investigation was done by a special counsel, investigating and finding substantial evidence of statutory violations. McGahn is a firsthand witness and we know what he told Mueller. And telling McGahn to lie has no plausible public justification.

Nothing would change if this article of impeachment were introduced, of course. The Republican hacks in the Senate would vote to acquit on this charge too. But they’d look like even bigger fools doing so than they already will. And there is no reason to give Trump a pass on the egregious behavior outlined in the Mueller report.

Well. They didn’t ask me.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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