Patterico's Pontifications

1/22/2018

Senate Democrats Cave On Government Shut Down, Party Members Attack Their Own

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:41 pm

[guest post by Dana]

[I pulled this post out of the trash where I had sent it after seeing JVW had already posted about this. With his approval, am re-posting it.]

After the Senate voted to re-open and fund the government for three more weeks, Chuck Schumer gave a bitter, childish blame-game concession speech. It’s quite a piece of work. You can read it in full here.

With that, Democrats were not happy with Schumer for folding like he did:

House Democrats opened fire on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), among others. Rep. Luis Guttierez (D-IL) grumbled, “They caved. They blinked. That’s what they do.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) even jumped into the fray: “I don’t see that there’s any reason — I’m speaking personally and hearing from my members — to support what was put forth.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) fumed, “The Majority Leader’s comments last night fell far short of the ironclad guarantee I needed to support a stopgap spending bill. … I will do everything in my power to continue to protect DREAMers from deportation.”

Also reacting harshly to the news were various groups representing the progressive wing of the party:

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a political action committee that focuses on electing “bold progressives” from the “Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party” to office, blasted Schumer and Senate Democrats for striking a deal with the GOP.

“.@TheDemocrats caved led by weak-kneed, right-of-center Democrats–is why people don’t believe the Democratic Party stands for anything. #TrumpShutdown #DreamActNow” the organization tweeted.

From Democracy for America:

Today’s cave by most Senate Democrats was not only a stunning display of moral and political cowardice, it was a strategically incoherent move that demonstrates precisely why so many believe the Democratic Party doesn’t stand for anything…

Ouch!

From Justice Democrats:

Dear Democrats, We don’t want your empty platitudes, we want you to stand up to the GOP and protect DREAMers from deportation.

From MoveOn.org:

This is a bad, outrageous deal. Trump and Republicans in Congress stood with their anti-immigrant, nativist base and too many Democrats backed down, abandoned dreamers, and failed to fight for their values…

And then there was this brutal slap in the face:

Credo political director Murshed Zaheed blasts the vote: “It’s official: Chuck Schumer is the worst negotiator in Washington – even worse than Trump.”

More reactions by Democrats at the link.

A look at what both parties gained:

Republicans:

They’ve gained the perception that they can govern; combined with the tax cut bill, Republicans in Congress have done their job and forced Democrats into a position of irrelevance. Furthermore, the White House now says that it will not sign the Graham-Durbin proposal, a Senate bill to legalize illegal immigrant children and their parents, and hand citizenship to the kids.

Unfortunately, Democrats didn’t come out ahead in this:

Democrats:

[T]he perception that Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had outlasted them at the negotiating table; the understanding that Democrats will be unable to fight Republicans using a government shutdown as leverage, at least on the issue of illegal immigration; the impression that Democrats care more about illegal immigrants than military members; a Democratic base that now believes the Democrats are on the run; the impression that Democrats were responsible for the shutdown.

–Dana

Three-Week Funding Agreement Reached; Women & Minorities Hardest Hit

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:09 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Note from JVW

At this point I encourage everyone to immigrate (ha ha, just having some fun here) over to Dana’s excellent post which provides reaction to how the hard-left Dems perceive the developments from earlier today.

It’s kind of hard to close comments in a post once they are underway, but if I can figure out how to do so I will.

——————-

You know it’s bad when even CNN agrees that Schumer and the progressive wing of the party got worked over in the three-week extension. Apparently there is a plurality, if not a majority, of Americans who don’t think granting amnesty to DACA recipients is important enough to shut down federal government operations. The network of Jim Acosta sees Senate Democrats up for election this year as benefitting from the compromise, while Senate Democrats up for election in 2020 and 2022 end up being (far-)left in the lurch (pardon the pun). Indeed, it notes that the most strident progressives in the Senate such as Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, and Bernie Sanders — all of whom have higher ambitions — were among the 18 who voted against the compromise (along with Republicans Mike Lee and Rand Paul).

As usual, in the matter of reconciliation the House is at the mercy of what the Senate does. Pelosi and Hoyer have vowed to vote against this bill, but Politico reports that the Democrat whips are not seeking unanimous opposition. In return for being frozen out of the compromise, the House leadership will likely push for new restrictions on chain-migration and national visa lotteries, so the battle lingers on. But it has to be very troubling for Democrats that their attempt to have the GOP take the heat for the government shutdown — which prior to now has always been how these things go — backfired so badly.

UPDATE: Here is the roll-call vote on breaking the filibuster. Much of it is expected: joining Paul and Lee in voting no were both Senators from lefty states like Oregon, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Jersey. Jon Tester of Montana was a surprising “No” vote, seeing as how he is up for reelection this year in a red state and had been considered to be a foe of illegal immigration in the past. I would be interested in knowing what Tester’s motivation is here — is he worried about a challenge from his left flank, even knowing that he faces a tough fight in the general election?

Also worth noting is that both of Minnesota’s Democrat Senators voted to end the shutdown, as did both Democrat Senators in New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, New Mexico, Virginia, and Washington.

Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.

– JVW

Campus Insanity: Princeton Tells Men to Repeatedly Ask for Consent…On the Dance Floor

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

You thought campuses were going crazy when California enacted its “affirmative consent bill” that requires couples to give one another explicit affirmative ongoing consent for sexual activity? (“Yes, it’s still OK; yes, it’s still OK; yes, it’s still OK…”) You hadn’t seen anything yet! Now Princeton is telling students that ongoing affirmative consent is also necessary … to dance:

Campus Reform has the backstory:

Princeton University wants to ensure that students know how to ask each other to dance, and so recently issued instructions for obtaining “consent on the dance floor.”

The guidelines came in the form of a Facebook post shared by Princeton’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources, & Education (SHARE) office and created by the school’s UMatter initiative in anticipation of the annual Orange and Black Ball (OBB) that took place last Friday.

“Hey, are you still into this? We can stop if you aren’t.”

“Going to OBB this Friday? Planning to have a great time tearing up the dance floor with your friends?” the post asks. “Great! Check out some tips about what consent on the dance floor looks like!! #OBB #RespectMatters #ConsentIsCool #DoYouWannaDance?”

The post indicates that “Do you wanna dance?” is an appropriate opening, and that responses such as “Absolutely!,” “Yeah! Let’s do it!,” and “I’d love to!” are all ways of consenting to the question.

Beyond simply “asking & waiting for an answer,” the post also asserts that “frequently checking in with your dance partner” is required in order to maintain consent until the music stops, suggesting that the person who extended the invite periodically ask “Hey, are you still into this?” and volunteer that “We can stop if you aren’t.”

Although the story is from November, we haven’t talked about it here, and there are parallels between this story and the recent Aziz Ansari controversy. Both illustrate the lack of common sense that is increasingly absent in the debate over the nature of ongoing consent.

You have the right to begin dancing with a guy and then to change your mind. However, signaling that you have changed your mind typically requires you to either say something clear, or to stop dancing and walk off the floor. Continuing to dance, while sending overly subtle nonverbal cues that you’re just not into it, may not send a clear enough message that you have withdrawn consent. If you can later complain of assault because the guy continued to dance with you, despite your indirect and understated signals that you weren’t enjoying it that much, normal people will not take your complaint seriously.

By the same token, if you accompany a man back to his place after a date, you have the right to begin to get physical with him and then change your mind. However, if you get undressed with him, accept oral sex from him and perform oral sex on him, you have already sent several nonverbal cues that you are interested in sex. Therefore, any nonverbal signals to the contrary have to be stronger than they otherwise would be, in order to overcome the clear cues that you have already sent.

Put more simply, you can always say no — but if you say it with his d[vowel deleted]ck voluntarily inside your mouth, he’s going to have a harder time understanding you.

All of this used to fall under the category of what we called “common sense.” But we’ve now reached a point where we have to pretend that long-held societal norms don’t apply any more. We have to act as if every woman is presumptively appalled at this precise moment by what she seemed to be enjoying five seconds ago, whether she tells us or not.

I take very seriously the notion that women have an absolute right to consent or not consent to anything at all. I take very seriously the notion that they can change their minds at any point. But if they want society to continue to take this right seriously, we all have to recognize that the need for clarity in cues changes with the situation and with past behavior.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

1/21/2018

Musings on the Criminal Justice System: A Post Written By Request

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:19 pm

Recently, commenter BfC commissioned a post from me. The way this happened was actually a little confrontational at first. He complained that I wasn’t writing about something or other. I retorted that I would write about what he wanted me to write about (instead of what I wanted to write about) for the low low price of $100.

Frankly, it was mostly a way for me to say “screw you, I’ll write about what I want.”

But, to my surprise, he took me up on it.

BfC ended up being very generous; he didn’t specify a topic. When I pressed him to articulate a particular topic, he said he wanted an “interesting and in depth discussion here on the court system.”

For me, that is timely in a way. I’m a longtime gang prosecutor. I’ve been in the gang division for nearly nine years, which is decidedly on the long end for an office that tends to rotate people out of assignments after 5-7 years. Even before that, as a line D.A. in Compton, gang murders were a part of my assignment for three years, and I tried several cases that normally would have been tried by the gang unit. I’ve tried over 35 murder cases, which I say not as a boast, but by way of saying that I’ve been doing this a long time.

And I’m about to stop. At least mostly. At least for now.

Yes: my tenure in the gang division, where we regularly prosecute murders committed by gang members, is about to come to an end this month. Starting January 29th, I’ll be fighting habeas corpus petitions filed by people convicted of murder and given the death penalty. I’ll be keeping one of my gang murder cases, but my next gig is largely a writing assignment, with the occasional evidentiary hearing.

I could have easily stayed in gangs forever. The only thing I’d rather do is prosecute crimes committed against peace officers. But I had a pretty good run.

So now is actually a nice time to reflect on the system a bit, and I thank BfC for the chance to do so. (Of course, everything I say is as a private citizen, and is not intended to reflect the views of my office.)

BfC said in a comment:

As a “civilian”, I see the system as both being biased against “us” and at the same time, many times, unable to give any real form of justice (tossing evidence that was “illegally” collected and freeing somebody “guilty”, but at the same time no charging of the person(s) that apparently violated state and federal laws about gathering evidence.

It saddens me that, increasingly, members of the public express the opinion that they think the system is failing them or biased against them. Rather than address the exclusionary rule or other specific complaints BfC made about the system, I want to talk a little bit about the way the system treats the people I care about the most: the families of the murder victims.

I can’t begin to imagine what it is like to go through what the families of murder victims go through. The closest I have ever come is listening to victim impact statements at sentencings in murder cases. Most readers have never heard one of these. They are among the most emotionally gut-wrenching things anyone can sit through. The family of the victim stands up and addresses the court and the defendant and tells them how this murder has ripped their family apart. They are very, very hard to listen to. I can only imagine how hard they are to compose and to deliver.

Many people cry. Some are composed throughout. Some people forgive their son’s or brother’s murderer. Others tell the defendant in detail how they want to see the defendant raped in prison. (Judges often shut this sort of commentary down.) The most common sentiment I hear is a combination of sorrow for the defendant’s family (who are usually gathered there in the courtroom as well), together with some variant of this statement: “But you get to see your son. You can go visit him in prison. I’ll never get to see my son again. All I can do is go visit a stone in a graveyard.”

Generally, family members are happy with me by the end of the case. I always tell them to stay in touch, even after the case is over, and some do. I recently got a call from a victm’s relative wishing me a Happy New Year and telling me about her life these days, and it made my day.

But getting to that day of justice and closure is a long road.

Ultimately, what you see in your criminal justice system is a genuine attempt to balance the rights of the accused against the need for justice. The main complaint I hear from the families of murder victims is that the process takes too long. It’s fairly common for a murder case to take two years to get to trial. If issues come up, that can be longer. Meanwhile, various important anniversaries come and go, and come again. The decedent’s birthday. The day he died. Christmas, which is always hard for a family that has recently lost a loved one. These come up on the calendar every year, and they are some of the hardest times people have to face.

What kind of issues can come up that delay these cases? I’ll tell you about two that have caused me fits in trying to get cases to trial within a reasonable period of time.

One is when a defendant goes “pro per” (short for “in propria persona,” or “in his own person” — i.e. the defendant is representing himself). In a gang case, defendants often do this because they want to get their hands on “paperwork” (police reports, transcripts of interviews or court testimony and the like) that shows a witness has cooperated with police. Gangs often use this paperwork as justification to threaten, attack, or (rarely) even kill a witness. The witnesses most at risk tend to be gang members who are testifying, against their own gang or even a rival gang . . . but anyone can be at potential risk.

We have developed ways of dealing with this situation, which prevent defendants from getting their hands on this “paperwork.” I won’t bore you with all of the details; it involves watermarking documents, protective orders, and ensuring that only their investigators are allowed to possess the paperwork. But this tends to drag out a case, because defendants have fewer hours in the day during which they can access some of the key documents in their case.

Again, it’s a balancing act.

Another form of delay that has come up is Proposition 57, a measure passed by the voters that limits the ability of prosecutors to “direct file” on juveniles in adult court. Most of my career, if a 17-year-old gang member (for example) committed a murder, a prosecutor would have discretion to file on that juvenile in adult court. Now, a juvenile judge must make the determination whether to send the juvenile to adult court.

Some courts interpreted this measure as requiring juveniles that had already been filed on in adult court to be returned to juvenile court, for a determination as to whether they should be returned to adult court. In several cases of mine, I had one or more adult defendants in the same murder case as someone who was a juvenile when the murder was committed. Due to these court rulings, the cases get split up. The adult defendant has his case in adult court, and the “juvenile” has his case in juvenile court. Often, these “juveniles” are now 20+ years old. Maybe the case took a year or two to solve. Maybe the case had already been pending for a significant period of time in adult court. Sometimes both are true.

The law applies to anyone who was under 18 when they committed the crime, no matter how long ago that was. I have heard of 35-year-olds arrested on cold cases being sent to juvenile court to see if they should be treated as an adult!

The process for getting cases to adult court takes several months. It can take over a year, as defense attorneys order dependency court records, school records, disciplinary records, and the like, and hire psychologists and other mitigation experts to paint a picture of the defendant as a victim of circumstance who deserves to stay in juvenile court. Meanwhile, the adult co-defendant usually awaits the return of the juvenile for strategic reasons.

And the case ages. And the family members often come, month after month, to every court appearance. They come to the pretrials on the adult co-defendants. They come to the court dates on the juvenile case. And they wait. And those same anniversaries — of joyous events like births, and tragic events like deaths — come and go.

And still they come.

Again, this is a balancing act. The courts, or some of them, think this is what the People of the State of California voted for, when they voted Yes on 57. I think most of the public would be surprised to learn this is going on. But I don’t wear the black robes of the judges who make these decisions.

I don’t know if this answers any of BfC’s questions about the system, or whether it’s really there to protect the citizens. I still believe, despite all its flaws, that we have the greatest justice system ever conceived by man. Yes, the delays are often unconscionable. Yes, some of the rules of evidence, or about the conduct of a trial, might seem arcane or even counter to common sense. But many of those rules are an attempt, however imperfect, to balance those two critical concepts: the concept that we must protect society from dangerous criminals, and the concept that everyone is entitled to a fair trial under the principles of our Constitution.

It’s not perfect.

But like so many other people in society, we do our best.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 168

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 7:00 am

It is the third Sunday after the Epiphany. The title of today’s cantata is “Tue Rechnung! Donnerwort” (Settle account! Word of thunder).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 1:14-20. I prefer the King James Version for this passage:

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets.

And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.

The text of today’s cantata is available here. The opening aria contains these words:

Settle account! Word of thunder,
that by itself splits the rocks,
word, which freezes my blood!
Settle account! Soul, go forth!
Ah, you must repay to God
His gifts, body and life.
Settle account! Word of thunder!

The disciples that Jesus called repaid God’s gifts to them by following Christ. Bach repaid God’s gifts to him by dedicating each work to the greater glory of God. This is an intimate work in which the full choir does not sing until the last movement.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

1/20/2018

Chuck Schumer’s Words Come Back to Haunt Him

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:55 pm

These are possibly the most fun videos since the Lindsey Graham “how dare the press call Trump a kook” “I think he’s a kook” videos. It’s Chuck Schumer in 2013, repeatedly talking about how idiotic and absurd it would be to do precisely what he is now doing in 2018. The hypocrisy is staggeringly funny.

First, here’s Chuckles talking about the “politics of idiocy” that would be involved in shutting down the government for immigration reform:

And here he is, calling shutting down the government for immigration reform “governmental chaos”:

When he’s right, he’s right.

I’ve even seen some media outlets questioning the Democrat line that this is the GOP’s fault. Honestly, it’s almost unthinkable to me that the GOP could win a government shutdown messaging battle . . . yet it may be happening, because of how utterly hypocritical and clumsy Schumer & Co. are.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Nuke the Filibuster to End the Schumer Shutdown?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:30 pm

The awful terrible no-good #SchumerShutdown is in full swing, and I think it might be time to nuke that filibuster. Let me explain.

I apparently have the masochist gene, because I sometimes listen to National Public Radio. As I drove home yesterday, I was literally yelling at the radio because this happened:

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And we’re going to stay right here, right on this same topic for our Friday politics discussion. Here in the studio with me – columnist David Brooks of The New York Times and Matthew Yglesias, co-founder of Vox. [I almost turned off the radio at this point. — Ed.] Welcome to you both to – I guess we’ll call it the special shutdown edition of the week in politics.

Start with this. And David, I’m going to throw this one to you first. If the government shuts down at midnight – if – it will mark the first time ever that that has happened when one party controls the Senate, the House and the White House. So David Brooks, persuade me. If we see a shutdown, how is this not all Republicans’ fault?

DAVID BROOKS: Yeah. First, what I’m about to say I don’t actually agree with. They don’t pay me enough to be a Republican shill.

KELLY: (Laughter) Yeah, a useful preface, OK.

BROOKS: But I think that the strongest argument they’ll make to voters is that listen; we tried to prevent you – present you with a government that was functioning for American citizens, that had defense spending for American citizens, that had a new – this health care program for American citizens, and Democrats want to block it on behalf of illegal immigrants. And so who’s really in favor of Americans, us or them?

I have bolded the parts that made me want to stop the car, yank my radio out of the dashboard, throw it on the ground, and beat it with a Louisville Slugger, Office-Space style. (Damn it feels good to be a gangster!)

Because of course that’s not the strongest argument Republicans can make to voters. In fact, the strongest argument they can make to voters is that they don’t control the government! When it takes 60 votes in the Senate to get a funding bill passed, Republicans can’t fairly be said to “control” the Senate at all! And — get ready for a shock — this Best Argument Possible was actually made from the podium at the White House yesterday! Here’s Mick Mulvaney confronting showboat Little Jimmy Acosta, who tried to make the same stupid argument:

ACOSTA: You made a comment at the beginning of this. You said that this was the Schumer Shutdown. How can it be the Schumer Shutdown when Republicans control the White House, the House and the Senate?

MULVANEY: Come on, you know the answer to that as well as anybody. I laugh, I have to laugh when people say that, “Oh, we control the House, the Senate, the White House, why can’t you get this done?” You know as well as anybody that it takes 60 votes in the Senate to pass an appropriations bill. Right? You know that.

ACOSTA: I know that.

MULVANEY: OK, so, so, when you only have 51 votes in the Senate then you have to have Democrat support in order to keep the government, to fund the government. So that’s the answer to your question.

Boom! Mulvaney is right on target.

Or is he?

See, then I got to thinking further — and here’s the thought that probably saved my radio: Mulvaney is wrong. He’s right under current rules, of course — but those rules can be changed. Republicans do control the Senate. They can do anything they want to with 51 votes — as long as they have those 51 votes. In fact, if they want, they can change the rules so they can pass an appropriations bill with 51 votes.

It’s a little thing called The Nuclear Option.

There are reasons to be wary about this. Specifically, there are very good reasons to be concerned about losing a way to obstruct Democrats in the future. Just to take one reason that may not be that far off in the future: we’re likely looking at a wave election this year. Democrats could retake control of both houses of Congress. Republicans may well want to have the filibuster in their toolbox.

And it’s by no means certain that there would be 51 votes to put the final nail in the filibuster’s coffin. John McCain is a question mark, for example, both for health reasons and because if he participated in such a vote he might oppose the elimination of the filibuster.

But the more Democrats try to advance the bogus argument that Republicans, under current rules, control the Senate — and the longer the Democrats drag out this shutdown fight — the more Republicans will be motivated to say: you want to say we control the Senate? You know what? You’re right. We do. And we’re about to show that to you.

Whether this is wise is open to question. But the Democrats are pushing the GOP in that direction. And the longer this goes on, the stronger that push will be.

UPDATE: It’s worth noting that commenter Beldar had this idea before I expressed it today, and indeed scripted it out in detail. Take a look.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

1/19/2018

L.A. County Coroner Releases Findings on Cause of Tom Petty’s Death

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 pm

The Los Angeles County Coroner has released its findings as to the cause of Tom Petty’s death. Their conclusion: a massive and accidental overdose of different medications, including opioids.

Tom Petty, the chart-topping singer and songwriter, died in October from an accidental drug overdose as a result of mixing medications that included opioids, the medical examiner-coroner for the county of Los Angeles announced on Friday, ending the mystery surrounding his sudden death last year.

The coroner, Jonathan Lucas, said that Mr. Petty’s system showed traces of the drugs fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetyl fentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl.

Barely a week after Mr. Petty, 66, had concluded a tour with his band, the Heartbreakers, with two shows at the Hollywood Bowl, representatives said the singer had suffered cardiac arrest at his home in Malibu, Calif. on Oct. 2. But Mr. Petty’s official death certificate, released about a week later, listed his cause of death as “deferred” pending an autopsy.

In a statement posted to Mr. Petty’s Facebook page on Friday, his wife, Dana, and daughter, Adria, wrote that Mr. Petty suffered from “many serious ailments including emphysema, knee problems and most significantly a fractured hip,” but that he continued to tour, worsening his conditions. “On the day he died he was informed his hip had graduated to a full on break and it is our feeling that the pain was simply unbearable and was the cause for his over use of medication,” the statement said.

Reports of the hip fracture emerged in October, after Petty’s death.

Late rock icon Tom Petty completed his final tour with a hairline fracture in his left hip.

The I Won’t Back Down hitmaker’s longtime manager, Tony Dimitriades, reveals he advised the singer against embarking on his massive 40th anniversary tour of North America with his band Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers until he had the injury fixed, but the star refused to listen.

“I don’t know how it happened – I don’t think he even knew when it happened,” Dimitriades tells Rolling Stone magazine, recalling Petty’s response to his word of warning as, “Why not? I’ll do it (tour) in a chair if I have to.”

He had apparently decided to retire from the road after his last tour, but wanted to finish it for his fans.

What a shame.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

In (Partial) Defense of Mark Steyn

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

I have not kept up with Mark Steyn much lately. In the past, he had always struck me as a talented wordsmith with strong opinions. Lately, when I do check in with him, he has sometimes seemed to have absorbed one of the less attractive characteristics of Trumpism: provocateurism for the sake of attention. Steyn is now getting a lot of abuse for comments he made on Tucker Carlson’s show last night (see for example Joe Cunningham here), and indeed some criticism is deserved. But I thought Steyn had a point or two in there. So consider this, not as me signing on to Steyn’s rants, but as a partial, Devil’s advocate sort of defense of some of the underlying truths in Steyn’s presentation.

There seem to be two things Steyn said that are upsetting people. Here’s the first:

He said, Chris Cuomo went on to say that the real problem is white supremacists in America. They’re the real monsters. Not these nice hardworking illegal immigrants. That may be well and true. I mean, for the purposes of argument let’s just say he is right, it’s irrelevant. The white supremacists are American citizens. The illegal immigrants are people who shouldn’t be here. And the organizing principle of nation-states is that they organize on behalf of their citizens, whether their citizens are cheerleaders or white supremacists or whatever. You’re stuck with them. And this preference that Nancy Pelosi and Chris Cuomo and increasing people have for actually importing a class of citizen that they prefer to the ones they’re stuck with is actually very revealing.

Many react to this as though Steyn is cheerleading for white supremacists over illegal aliens. I don’t think that’s a fair characterization of his remarks. To me, it sounds like Steyn is responding to the argument: “how can you worry about these illegals when white nationalists are worse”? Steyn says that the answer to that is: “what does that have to do with immigration law? We can’t deport white nationalists for being jerks. They’re citizens.”

That said, I think Steyn is wrong to say that the quality of illegal immigrants is entirely irrelevant. Many try to argue that our country is in fact being degraded by the low quality of immigrant we’re taking in. This particular argument is indeed refuted to some degree by an argument that there are some people here in America who are worse.

But to the extent that Steyn is saying that we’re stuck with our own citizens, good and bad — and that does seem to be a great deal of what he is saying, in context — he’s exactly right.

Here’s the next comment that is upsetting people:

Nancy Pelosi has explicitly said that we should thank the parents of these so-called “Dreamers,” these DACA people for, bringing them here illegally.

And in fact, to go back to what your Swedish guest was saying, you know, whatever the economic benefits, which are minimal and are not evenly distributed, the cultural transformation, which is what’s happening in Sweden, other parts of Europe, and it’s what’s happening in Arizona too — that’s forever.

In Arizona, a majority of the grade school children now are Hispanic. That means Arizona’s future is as an Hispanic society. That means, in effect, the border has moved north, and the cultural transformation outweighs any economic benefits that that lady was talking about.

I’m not going to sign onto Steyn’s language here. He’s more worried about getting Trumpy “damn right!” responses from bigots than in making a serious argument.

That said, I’d argue, again as Devil’s advocate, that cultural transformations do take place when rather sudden and rather massive influxes of immigrants from a different culture come in to the country. While I do not like Trump’s “sh*thole countries” remark, neither am I keen on having tens of thousands of Syrian refugees enter all at once, or millions of illegals from Mexico enter over the course of a very few years. While there is something of a shared culture between Mexico and the U.S. in the Southwest, there are parts of Los Angeles that feel indistinguishable from Mexico, and I think that has changed in the last 20 years or so.

To the extent that illegals do not learn the language, integrate, and so forth, they are not really living out the American ideal. Many do, or at least their children do, so this is not necessarily as dire a concern as the nationalists make it out to be. But it’s an issue, to me.

Some reject my argument about the size and suddenness of the recent Mexican immigration, comparing the current influx of Mexicans to the influx of Irish and Italians in the 1800s and 1900s. There are some parallels, but some important differences too. First and most obviously, the Irish and Italians came here legally. There’s a difference between the ideal of someone coming to this country through the normal process into a country that can still absorb new immigrants in great numbers, and what we have now: millions of people coming in illegally across the southern border when many of our areas are already overcrowded. I’m guessing Irish and Italians did disrupt things for a while but it settled down, just like the disruptions caused by this influx will eventually settle down — if the influx stops. There will be more integration if there does not continue to be a giant infusion of new illegals every year.

Overall, Steyn’s comments will be portrayed as “hooray for white supremacists” and as total racist garbage. He’s left himself open to that characterization with the way he expressed his thoughts. How you say something does matter.

But I agree with Steyn that 1) we are stuck with our citizens, good and bad; 2) our citizens’ interests (good and bad!) come first; and 3) sudden influxes of illegal immigrants from a different culture are not the ideal way to build the tapestry that is our nation. The parts of the tapestry, ultimately, should fit together. The way to do that is gradually, with people who are screened to make sure they add to (and do not subtract from) our society, so they can become part of an integrated and (with their presence) more diverse, interesting, and beneficial whole.

That is the American ideal.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

1/18/2018

Porn Star: I Spanked Trump with a Forbes Magazine

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:30 pm

The best part about the dead trees version of Forbes, besides the fact that you can go straight to the article without having to read an inspirational quote on the way, is that you can whack a narcissistic sexagenarian on the rump with it. Susan Wright mentioned this earlier in passing, but come on. This deserves its own post. I’ll turn over the megaphone to Allahpundit, who says it better than I ever could:

The more salacious detail in this Mother Jones story, the one that will land on the cover of New York tabloids, is Daniels allegedly telling the same operative that she spanked Trump — with a copy of Forbes magazine. The thought of the populist alpha-male-in-chief being paddled submissively with the ruling class’s favorite publication by a buxom porn star is so irresistible, it almost doesn’t matter if it’s true or false. The image now exists, perfect in itself. There’s nothing to say about it that will improve upon it.

Oh, except this: Supposedly he was on the cover of the issue of Forbes that she used. *Kisses fingers*

If you’d told me in 2014 that the Wall Street Journal would credibly report that the next President of the United States had paid a porn star $130,000 not to tell the media about her affair with him, and the nation would collectively shrug and yawn . . . well, I’d be surprised, but a lot of things would have surprised me then. If you told me that there would be a story about that porn star spanking that married President on his rear with a magazine bearing his likeness on the cover — I just don’t know what to say. But this is where we are with this guy: it’s one outrageous thing after another, and nothing has changed anyone’s mind about him in almost two years and nothing’s going to.

But is that also true of Melania? How do you figure she is reacting to all this? Probably she’s fine. Kevin D. Williamson points out:

Melania Trump, asked whether she would have attached herself to Donald if he weren’t wealthy, scoffed at the question and frankly acknowledged the transactional nature of their relationship: “If I weren’t beautiful, do you think he’d be with me?” Trump, for his part, has been equally frank at times about the instrumental role Melania plays in his life: She’s a good advertisement for his brand. “When we walk into a restaurant, I watch grown men weep,” he said. It is worth keeping in mind that the Third Lady was an employee of Trump’s modeling agency before their marriage. Business is business.

If a woman is essentially paid to have sex with a man, however occasionally, I don’t think the woman is going to get too upset if someone else shoulders some of the burden for free. Or even for a payout of 130 grand, as long as plenty of spending money remains.

I know: people get very offended if I suggest that Melania is a gold digger. Well, I ain’t sayin’ she’s a gold digger! But she ain’t messin’ with no broke Donald.

If some blond porn star with enormous fake boobs wants to grab the reins, I don’t think Melania’s going to object much, unless he makes her look like too much of a fool. And she’s taken the ride this far.

I think Trump himself is kind of digging the whole story, too. Except, that is, for the part where Stormy said he was bad at sex:

In our conversations, Daniels said she was holding back on the juiciest details, such as her ability to describe things about Trump that only someone who had seen him naked would know. She intimated that her view of his sexual skill was at odds with the remark attributed to Marla Maples.

That kind of remark might interfere with his ability to get more tail. And it might wound his delicate pride.

The whole thing is a circus. But hasn’t everything always been a circus with this man?

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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