Patterico's Pontifications


Evening Open Thread: Trump Edition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:08 pm

I have been slammed at work but several Trump developments have happened that I know y’all want to talk about. Nothing says “half-assed post” like a post with the title “Open Thread.” So here we go.

* So Trump wants to have a big amnesty, in return for Congress funding a wall that we were told Mexico would pay for. A path to citizenship is the cherry on top! Ted Cruz says no.

* So Trump wants to talk to Mueller — and do it “under oath.” Allahpundit says it well:

Unless you think Trump’s prepared to handle hours of questioning from the Mueller dream team without telling a single lie — and we’re talking here about a guy who sometimes seems like he’d have trouble ordering a sandwich without telling a fib or two — he’s practically begging for a perjury charge.

We’ll spend months arguing about whether an obvious lie is really a lie, and whether lying to federal agents and/or perjury should really justify impeachment. (Hint: the right answer is yes for Hillary, no for Trump, because reasons. Hot takes a plenty will explain those reasons. I can’t wait.)

* Stormy Daniels just smiles when asked if she and Trump had sex.

Have at it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Judge’s Intemperate Comments in Sentencing Gymnastics Doctor Probably Not a Ground to Reverse the Sentence

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 am

You have no doubt heard about the case of Larry Nassar, the gymnastics doctor who pled guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct with girls under the age of 16. After several days of victim impact statements from over 160 girls (!), the judge sentenced him to 40 to 175 years in prison.

As the TV cameras rolled, the judge pulled no punches in her comments from the bench. She made the comment “I just signed your death warrant” and told Nassar he should never walk a free man again. In probably the most eye-opening statement, she apparently said: “Our Constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment. If it did, I have to say, I might allow what he did to all of these beautiful souls—these young women in their childhood—I would allow someone or many people to do to him what he did to others.”

Now some people are claiming that the judge’s grandstanding during the sentencing might endanger the sentence:

Maybe he can appeal, but I doubt the sentence would be reversed as a result of these comments.

There was definitely some media showboating going on here. During sentencing, a judge is entitled to serve as the conscience of the community, and send a message to the defendant that his conduct is criminal and unacceptable and deserves to be punished. That said, fantasizing about the defendant being raped is intemperate and inappropriate. However, I doubt that an appellate court is going to reverse the sentence for that.

In my career I have heard, or heard about, judges delivering zingers from the bench at sentencing. They can indeed pose problems on appeal. For example, at the sentencing for a particularly nasty gang member whom I prosecuted for murder, the defendant’s lawyer told the judge that the defendant should be praised for taking the stand and giving testimony that exonerated his co-defendant. The judge replied: “I think he should be put up against a wall and shot.” Then the judge sentenced the defendant to the maximum, which was over 100 years to life. The judge’s comment became an issue on appeal, and the appellate court said that the comment was intemperate and inappropriate. However, they declined to reverse the sentence, saying that the judge had very little discretion in any event, and that any anger the judge was expressing was based, not on some unrelated prejudice, but rather on the defendant’s conduct as revealed at the trial.

Here’s a story of a zinger that poses no grounds for appeal. Legend has it that a defendant in Los Angeles County received a long and richly deserved prison sentence for crimes of violence. As the defendant was being taken out of the courtroom, he yelled at the judge: “Judge, I can’t do that much time!” The judge looked calmly at the defendant and said: “Do as much as you can.”

It’s unfortunate that TV cameras so often turn courtrooms into circuses. From Judge Lance Ito’s embarrassing performance in the O.J. Simpson case to this judge’s fantasies about prison rape, the cameras turn everyone into carnival performers. But I don’t see the sentence here getting reversed because of a little showboating.

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


Why Government Debt Is Bad: Refuting the Argument That “We Pay It to Ourselves”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

It’s time for another installment of Things That Nobody Talks About Anymore. This is the Government Debt Edition, where I pour my heart out discussing a topic that five people still care about. Today I want to refute the argument that you may have heard from time to time from New Keynesians like Paul Krugman: government debt is not really a problem because We Pay It to Ourselves. Krugman has ridden this hobby horse many a time, making arguments like this:

I want to expand a bit on something Dean Baker said yesterday:

As a country we cannot impose huge debt burdens on our children. It is impossible, at least if we are referring to government debt. The reason is simple: at one point we will all be dead. That means that the ownership of our debt will be passed on to our children. If we have some huge thousand trillion dollar debt that is owed to our children, then how have we imposed a burden on them? There is a distributional issue — Bill Gates’ children may own all the debt — but that is within generations, not between generations. As a group, our children’s well-being will be determined by the productivity of the economy (which Brooks complained about earlier), the state of the physical and social infrastructure and the environment.

. . . .

People think of debt’s role in the economy as if it were the same as what debt means for an individual: there’s a lot of money you have to pay to someone else. But that’s all wrong; the debt we create is basically money we owe to ourselves, and the burden it imposes does not involve a real transfer of resources.

That’s not to say that high debt can’t cause problems — it certainly can. But these are problems of distribution and incentives, not the burden of debt as is commonly understood. And as Dean says, talking about leaving a burden to our children is especially nonsensical; what we are leaving behind is promises that some of our children will pay money to other children, which is a very different kettle of fish.

This argument might sound plausible on its face — if you have never heard the counterarguments.

I recently finished Bob Murphy’s course on the History of Economic Thought at Liberty Classroom, and he armed listeners with four arguments to refute the “We Pay It To Ourselves” trope. I’ll do my best to summarize them here. The fourth argument is the one that takes on Krugman’s points most directly.

First, it’s not really true that we pay the debt entirely to ourselves. Foreign governments like China own over $6 trillion of the $20 trillion debt. It’s not a majority of it, but it’s a sizable chunk.

Second, government debt funds government spending, which consumes resources that would otherwise be available to the private sector. This is bad because government spending is less efficient than the private sector. It’s easy to see why. The private sector runs on voluntary transactions. If A gives a dollar to B for a widget, it’s because A thinks he’s better off with the widget than the dollar. B thinks he’s better off with the dollar than the widget. The very fact that the voluntary transaction occurred means that, at the time of the transaction, both parties believed they were coming out ahead.

The same cannot be said for government transactions, which are funded by taxes — which are collected, not voluntarily, but by the threat that men will come to your front door with guns to throw you into a cage if you don’t pay them. The fact that a government transaction happened is not, by itself, proof that society is better off.

By crowding out the private sector, and consuming resources that would otherwise be used by the private sector, the government insures that the private sector must compete more for remaining resources. This drives up prices and hurts everyone. We may need government for certain public goods like the common defense, but paying for it comes at a real cost.

Third, ultimately debt must be paid by taxation, and taxation itself distorts the system and makes us poorer. If people want to discourage the use of gasoline, they pass a gas tax. Don’t like sugary sodas? We pass a soda tax. Same with cigarettes, alcohol, etc. Well, passing a tax on income derived from work means less work is done. Taxing investment gains means less investment. These activities still happen, just like people still smoke and drink and use gasoline, but there is less of it on the margins. Less investment and work hurts the economy.

But it’s Murphy’s fourth point that I find most interesting, and that punches Krugman’s arguments directly in the face. Murphy makes use of a chart that I believe is proprietary and that I should not reproduce here. If you want to see it, try out Liberty Classroom! But I’m taking it as a challenge to describe it in words.

Essentially, to make things simple, Murphy pretends for the sake of argument that the first three points I just made are all wrong. Foreign countries own no debt; the private sector is not deprived of resources; taxes create no distortionary effects on incentives.

Murphy asks you to imagine a very simple society that always has two people, one young and one old. In Murphy’s simplified society, the currency is apples. Everyone grows 100 apples per generation, and absent government intervention they would consume them. But then government intervenes and has young people consume fewer apples when they are young, in exchange for a promise to get even more apples when they are old.

In generation 1, you have Al (old) and Bob (young). (The names begin with letters from the alphabet in sequence.) The government borrows 3 apples from young Bob to give to Old Al. It promises to pay young Bob 6 apples when he is old.

In generation 2, Al is dead. Bob is now old and Christy is young. The government borrows 6 apples from young Christy to repay Bob, who is now old. Note that, at the same interest rate, the government must borrow more apples from young Christy than it borrowed from Bob when he was young — because the government has to pay back old Bob with interest. Christy gives up 6 apples when young, but will get 12 when she is old.

Then, in generation 3, Bob is dead, and we have young Dave and old Christy. The government borrows 12 apples from young Dave to repay (now old) Christy. It must borrow more apples from young Dave from than it borrowed from young Christy. As time goes on, the number of apples demanded and paid grows each generation.

And then it all blows up. Finally, the amount of interest becomes so large that it is impossible to pay the current old generation by simply borrowing apples from the young generation.

That’s when the taxation starts.

If you keep running the scenario, you’ll see that young Frank lends the government 48 apples to repay old Eddy. But when Frank gets old, you can’t borrow enough from young George to repay Frank. So the government pays old Frank the 96 apples he is owed by a) borrowing 10 from young George and also b) taxing old Frank 86 apples. The government taxes old Frank to pay old Frank.

It’s more convincing to see it visually, but the point is that, over time, future generations are indeed worse off because they end up being taxed to pay the bondholders. We are literally “paying it to ourselves” — by being taxed, so the government can repay our investment. This makes future generations poorer, by reducing the value of their investments. They will still make the investments — Frank still comes out ahead 10 apples — but their investments will pay less because they are being taxed to pay for the spendthrift ways of past generations.

So, even in a society where “we pay it to ourselves,” we tax ourselves to pay it. Ultimately, the earlier generations are still robbing from later generations.

Government debt is intergenerational theft. It’s wrong. Don’t let the Paul Krugmans of the world tell you otherwise.

[Note from JVW – I fixed an earlier typo for clarity: “$6 trillion” instead of “$6 billion.”]

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


Open Thread: The Texts Edition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 am

What I really want to write about is government debt — specifically, refuting the arguments that it is not a problem. But that’s an in-depth post that I don’t have time for this morning.

Meanwhile, I don’t care about the Big Stories of the Moment. Something something texts something something deep state.

Tony Perkins says Trump gets a mulligan on Stormy Daniels.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


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…


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.


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:


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:


[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.


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.


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.]


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.]


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.]

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