Patterico's Pontifications

11/25/2018

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 117

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the twenty-seventh Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Sei Lob und Ehr dem höchsten Gut” (Praise and honour be to the highest good).

Today’s Gospel reading is John 18:33-37:

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”

“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

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

The host of heaven gives You thanks,
o Sovereign of all kingdoms,
and those in earth, air, and sea
who live in Your shadow
praise Your creative power,
which has held them all in its consideration.
Give honor to our God!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

11/24/2018

Bejing: Government To Judge Individual Behavior In New Reward and Punishment System

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:45 pm



[guest post by Dana]

During this Thanksgiving season, most of us take a moment to give thanks for the gracious plenty that is ours. Whether in our personal lives or our country at large, there remain innumerable blessings that enrich our existence here. I would guess that for most readers here, at the top of the list is the freedom to express ourselves with very few limitations. Also treasured, and perhaps overlooked, is our freedom of movement. Traveling by automobile throughout our nation does not require a presentation of identification, nor does it require us to notify any governmental agency of our comings and goings. The freedom to worship how we choose, where we choose, and to whom we choose is right up there as well. And, to varying degrees, we still have opportunities in life to choose the path we want to walk, the profession we hope to become a part of, and the person we will commit our lives to. There are exceptions, of course. This broad-brush painting is not intended to ignore the consequences of having been found guilty of a crime, nor does it ignore the twists and turns, and trial and tribulation that befall us all, in one shape or another. Nor does it ignore the limitations, or even re-mapping of our path that might later become necessary because of circumstances beyond our control. Our lives, even at their finest moments, are messy. But it’s our mess, for better or worse. And if it’s a mess from our making, we can clean it up, or remain stuck in it as we please. And while there are consequences to our every decisions, for the most part, they remain free of governmental interference, whether the choices made were moral or immoral, just or unjust, fair or unfair. In other words, we remain free to make a complete and utter mess of our lives, without retaliation from the government. Of course, family, friends, and employers are a different story… (Please note the exceptions already mentioned. Also included in these exceptions would be the historical governmental mistreatment of American Indians, the internment and detainment of Japanese-Americans and other groups of Americans during WWI and WWII, as well as the mistreatment of groups considered less than equal. And I do not ignore the fact that virtually all levels of government are inclined to infringe upon our rights and interfere in our lives.)

But, in stark contrast, it appears that the authoritarian regime in China continues apace with grossly oppressive and dystopian-like plans for their people:

China’s plan to judge each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior is moving a step closer to reality, with Beijing set to adopt a lifelong points program by 2021 that assigns personalized ratings for each resident.

According to the report, this will be a punishment and reward system based on an individual’s actions and reputation:

The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Those with better so-called social credit will get “green channel” benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult.

The Beijing project will improve blacklist systems so that those deemed untrustworthy will be “unable to move even a single step,” according to the government’s plan. Xinhua reported on the proposal Tuesday, while the report posted on the municipal government’s website is dated July 18.

China has long experimented with systems that grade its citizens, rewarding good behavior with streamlined services while punishing bad actions with restrictions and penalties. Critics say such moves are fraught with risks and could lead to systems that reduce humans to little more than a report card.

Chillingly:

The final version of China’s national social credit system remains uncertain. But as rules forcing social networks and internet providers to remove anonymity get increasingly enforced and facial recognition systems become more popular with policing bodies, authorities are likely to find everyone from internet dissenters to train-fare skippers easier to catch — and punish — than ever before.

Not even Winnie the Pooh is safe from China’s crackdown.

Coincidentally, in reading about the subject, I saw that Bill Kristol is advocating that the U.S. should be in the business of changing the government in China:

“Shouldn’t an important U.S. foreign policy goal of the next couple of decades be regime change in China?” The question implies that I think the right answer is Yes.

I’ll put my position simply. The case for regime change shouldn’t really be controversial. The U.S. at its best has always stood for the proposition that all people everywhere deserve to be free.

Now it goes without saying there are practical limits to what we can and should do to make this happen. Much of what we do is simply to serve as an example. We use diplomacy, public and private, to persuade other nations to move toward freedom. We help civil society abroad.

We sometimes use political or economic pressure. We rarely use and should rarely use military force. And of course we realize that in the real world prudence requires that we be allied with oppressive regimes, sometimes terrible regimes (the Soviet Union), and sometimes for a long time (Saudi Arabia). But surely our ultimate goal, after preserving and securing our and freedom, is to be a force for freedom in the world. And this means changing un-free regimes to free ones, or freer ones. This means regime change, sometimes gradual, sometimes, in the way the world works, sudden. I do think a relatively open embrace of freedom as our goal, and a relatively candid debate over means, would serve the nation well. Such a debate will resolve very few of the particular choices facing us.

Those choices will always depend on the weighing of particular circumstances. This will often be difficult and controversial. But having the goal in mind would, I think, clarify and elevate our view. It would be a north star to help guide our reactions to diverse circumstances. We can always recall “the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God,” or by the dictates of History or Science.

The people of China deserve to be free. The people of Saudi Arabia deserve to be free. This means, ultimately, regime change. How to help different peoples achieve freedom is a complicated question. The conditions of freedom and the paths to freedom are challenging.

Freedom isn’t our only goal. But it is our key political goal. And it is the goal of freedom not just for us but for all people everywhere, the goal of freedom with its noble simplicity and even quiet grandeur, that gives meaning and elevation to the American experiment.

Request: Let’s try to elevate the level of discourse to something more than than “Bill Kristol is a neocon!”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

11/22/2018

Happy Thanksgiving

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:36 am



[guest post by Dana]

Today is a particularly good day to focus on Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw’s wise words:

Good rule in life: I try hard not to offend; I try harder not to be offended.

Above all else, be thankful.

Wishing you all a lovely day with family and friends.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

11/20/2018

If You Strike the Queen You Had Better Kill the Queen (in the Emersonian Sense, People)

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:28 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Marcia Fudge failed to kill the Queen. For one brief nanosecond it appeared that Fudge, a five-term Democrat Congresswoman representing Cleveland, would pose a strong challenge to Nancy Pelosi’s ambitions of ascending back into the House Speaker’s seat. Yesterday media outlets reported that 16 renegade Democrats would refuse to vote for Pelosi as speaker, a number which could prevent her from receiving more votes than a unified Republican nominee in an open vote. Rep. Fudge had previously expressed a willingness to mount a campaign for the speakership, and the dictates of intersectionality suggested that if the Democrats were to dump an elderly white woman as party leader it would have to be for a minority woman (Rep. Fudge is black).

But earlier this evening, Rep. Fudge announced that she would not challenge Rep. Pelosi and instead threw her support behind San Fran Nan. What happened in the last 24 hours to change her mind? Perhaps it was the release of a three-year-old letter vouching for the character of a local Cleveland judge, Lance Mason, who at the time was being prosecuted for having savagely beaten his wife in front of their two small children. The Congresswoman characterized her friend as “a good man who made a very bad mistake,” and that his actions were “out of character and totally contrary to everything I know about him.” Mason would serve eight months in prison for his crime, and after he was released he would be hired by the Cleveland mayor to be the city’s minority business development director.

On Saturday, Frank Mason stabbed his estranged wife to death in her Shaker Heights, Ohio home.

– JVW

Chipotle Offers to Reinstate Manager Unfairly Fired Due to Food Thief’s Viral Video

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:41 am



Chipotle Manager

For once, the mob may not have won. Entirely.

Karen Zamora at the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune reports:

Chipotle on Monday offered a manager her job back after she was fired for not serving five black men last week, an incident captured in a video thread that went viral.

Dominique Moran, the manager at the Grand Avenue Chipotle in St. Paul, said she had her team’s best interest in mind when she repeatedly refused service to the group of men Thursday night. She was surprised that Chipotle initially fired her and hasn’t decided if she will return to her job with the store.

“I was obviously trying to do the right thing,” Moran said Monday. “I told Chipotle to tell the boys I say sorry. … I didn’t think I would lose my job, I thought I did something good by standing up for my people.”

Chipotle fired her Friday, saying she did not follow company policy, which says employees should not ask customers to pay for their food before they order it.

On Monday, the day it reversed course, Chipotle said it spent several days reviewing the available evidence.

“While our normal protocol was not followed serving these customers, we publicly apologize to our manager for being put in this position,” the statement said. “We will work to continue to ensure that we support a respectful workplace for our employees and our customers alike.”

Whether Ms. Moran wants to continue to work for such a company is another question entirely. But at least, now, it’s up to her.

I do not attribute this outcome to myself, but I did contribute to the pushback that achieved this result. I’ll describe what I did as a blueprint for how to deal with these situations.

First, on Sunday morning, I sent an email to Karen Zamora, the reporter at the Star Tribune who wrote the original story about the kerfuffle as well as the story linked above, and brought to her attention the evidence suggesting that the “customers” were in fact repeat food thieves.

Second, I tweeted at Chipotle’s corporate Twitter account:

This is one of the few ways to actually get results these days, because the poor schlubs running these corporate accounts have the idea that any criticism is a crisis that has to be headed off. To be sure, that attitude contributed to Ms. Moran’s immediate firing — but good-hearted people can take advantage of that mindset to use Twitter to effectively push back against the mob. In this case, Chipotle’s response to me was their first indication on Twitter that they were having second thoughts about the decision:

I kept pushing back:

Third, I wrote a post about the issue. And some people put it on the Twitters and the Facebooks. Which, God love ’em.

Which reminds me: at the urging of a former blogging colleague, I have added some shiny new social media buttons for each post, thus bringing the blog current with 2011 blogging standards. People have been asking for them for a while but I got motivated last night. I think they work quite nicely. You’ll find them at the top of this post. Give them a spin!

And always, always push back against the mob. It can work.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

11/19/2018

James Kirchick on George Soros

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:52 pm



[guest post by JVW]

As the Koch brothers are to the left, so George Soros inhabits the bogeyman role for the right, the crown prince of dark money funneled into nefarious organizations seeking to advance the causes of global socialism and one-world government. But what if, despite our hysteria, it turns out that the Soros of myth is somehow less than meets the eye? What if there is a complex side to him that at heart is in favor of open markets, democracy, and transparent governments faithfully serving the citizens, yet somehow his own hubris and neediness has drowned his good intentions under the tsunami of trendy social justice concerns? What if he is just another sad story of the philanthropist who aspired to good deeds, but his own insecurities and ego led him to make himself central to the story?

This is the portrait that James Kirchick, writing in Tablet magazine, paints of the Hungarian-born financier and policy dilettante. In an article that is fairly long but well worth reading in full, Kirchick seeks to delineate between Soros’ worthy endeavors to help post-Iron Curtain societies embrace liberal democracy and the billionaire’s need to be taken seriously by the intellectual elite of the West, which has increasingly drawn him into trendy left-wing politics. Kirchick begins by tracing Soros’ history of promoting the causes of society’s outcasts in the ex-Soviet bloc countries:

By the time I finished my European tour of duty, it had become axiomatic that, were I to encounter a democracy activist in Baku, a lesbian-rights campaigner in Bishkek, or a press freedom advocate in Belgrade, more likely than not they would have been beneficiaries of a Soros grant, scholarship, or in his employ. To take but one example of his generosity and foresight usually overlooked both by his detractors and fans, he is by far the largest private benefactor to the cause of the Roma—those long-persecuted, socially excluded, forgotten people of Europe.

Kirchick also gets uncomfortably close to attributing animosity towards Soros in Central European countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary as being laced by elements of antisemitism in those traditionally Catholic countries, suggesting that “[t]here are few better indicators of a European politician’s commitment to basic liberal democratic principles than the degree to which he blames Soros for his country’s woes.” I’ve been reflexively defensive of nationalist/populist leaders in Europe who refuse to knuckle-under to the dictates of Berlin and Brussels, and I am sympathetic to the idea that Soros’ massive wealth can do far much more harm propagandizing in those countries than it can do here. That said, Kirchick makes a solid case that Hungary’s Viktor Orban in particular is using loose language — “they are not national, but international; they do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel that the whole world is theirs” — that has often been used by demagogues to stir up resentments of the Jews, yet I believe that Kirchick gives short shrift to the justifiable paranoia of a people who spent a half-century being dominated first by the Nazis and then by the Soviets, all of which occurred within the lifetime of a present-day octogenarian.

Paradoxically, the man whose followers believe that he is often the victim of far-right antisemitism tends to fund lots of political organizations that engage in their own use of innuendo and bigotry to criticize other Jews. Kirchick reminds us that protests by the Soros-funded group Freedom from Facebook used posters depicting Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg as a two-headed octopus, a image not unfamiliar to the Nazis, and that the Soros Equality Fellowship has passed out six-figure grants to apologists for Islamism and hatred of Israel. Kirchick also documents Soros’ antipathy towards donating to Jewish causes and a general distaste for supporting Jewish identity groups, even as he lavishly funds other racial and ethnic solidarity organizations. Worth noting too, is that Soros funds plenty of the MeToo activity including the anti-Kavanaugh activists who stormed Washington this past fall to confront the judge at his hearing, yet Soros himself has been the subject of shocking allegations of abuse which he has categorically denied.

And much of this gets to the heart of the contradictions of George Soros. The guy who pushes Europe to embrace capitalism, government transparency, pluralism, and freedom is investing his formidable fortune to undermine those very concepts here in the United States. For a guy who last summer told the New York Times Magazine that he yearns for a return to bipartisanship to devote pretty much all of his largesse exclusively to left-wing causes allied with Democrats isn’t just hypocritical, it indicates either a fundamental dishonesty or, at the very least, a willingness to delude himself. As Kirchick notes, groups like FIRE and Heterodox Academy which seek to broaden the narrow-minded groupthink so prevalent today at U.S. universities should be natural outlets for Soros’ philanthropy based upon his espoused principles as applied within Europe, yet instead he ignores those organizations in favor of ridiculously partisan Democrat outfits like the SPLC, the ACLU, and organizations which fund activities conducted under the Black Lives Matters banner.

So why does George Soros play the left-wing mega-donor here in his adopted country? Kirchick argues that it is simply because — like movie stars, athletes, journalists, titans of the tech industry, and others — Soros desires the approbation of the progressive intelligentsia which dominates academia, entertainment, media, government bureaucracies, and most non-governmental organizations. This obsession to be thought of as an intellectual began for him in the mid-90s after he had amassed much of his tremendous wealth, and it’s led him to write fourteen books which are neither widely read nor well reviewed. Yet due to his vast wealth and his willingness to spread it around, venal members of what Mencken liked to call the Smart Set have decided to take him seriously, at least as long as the checks continue to clear. And as he became a darling of the cultural gatekeepers, Soros has expanded his left-wing advocacy, becoming a shrill and even unhinged critic of President George W. Bush which solidified him an enemy of the right every bit as much as it endeared him to the left. Kirchick is absolutely withering in his description of Washington and New York media elites who run interference for Soros, gleefully impugning the protestations of his critics while deftly ignoring some of the more unsavory company that he billionaire keeps and some of the more inflammatory rhetoric he subsidizes.

This write-up is in danger of going on as long as Kirchick’s essay (but I don’t mean that to criticize Kirchick’s piece — I urge everyone to go there and read it for yourself), so I’ll wrap up. The story that James Kirchick tells is that once upon a time George Soros wanted to use his vast wealth to make his native Europe a more open and welcoming place, but ironically he’s spent the last quarter century fanning the flames of division in his adopted country, all to be loved by the sort of people whom he should have recognized cannot hold a candle to his formidable achievements.

– JVW

11/18/2018

Chipotle Fires Manager for Refusing to Serve a Food Thief Whose Phony Racism Claim Went Viral

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:09 pm



This tweet has gone viral. Chipotle wants the black guys to pay before their food is made. The white guy gets to have his food made before paying. Clear and convincing racism, right? Mob them, right?

The company has done what companies do in this situation: cave to the viral mob and fire the offending employee:

A manager at a St. Paul Chipotle was fired this week after a video went viral of employees refusing to serve five black men and asking them to prove they could pay before taking their order.

Masud Ali, 21, said he and friends were told they couldn’t be served Thursday night at the eatery on Grand Avenue and were accused of being customers from an earlier night who weren’t able to pay for their meal.

“It sounded really racist — the way she said it was racist,” Ali said Friday. “She asked for proof of income as if I’m getting a loan.”

In a statement, Chipotle said it conducted a “thorough investigation,” and talked with police officers who were called to the restaurant, as well as employees.

“Regarding what happened at the St. Paul restaurant, the manager thought these gentlemen were the same customers from Tuesday night who weren’t able to pay for their meal. Regardless, this is not how we treat our customers and as a result, the manager has been terminated and the restaurant [staff] has been retrained to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again,” the statement said.

The video, which includes language some may find objectionable, was posted to Twitter, and has been retweeted more than 20,000 times.

On Saturday, Chipotle clarified its policy and explained why it fired the manager: “We don’t ask customers to pay for their meals prior to making them in our restaurants. The manager should have made their food and withheld giving it to them until they paid for it.”

Just one problem: the manager was almost certainly right. The fella is a convicted thief with a history of boasting on Twitter about “dining and dashing”:

Hours after the video went viral, Twitter users began to scour Masud’s Twitter page, and posted photos of some of his previous tweets.

“Dine and dash is forever interesting,” Masud posted in 2015. He has since deleted the posts.

Masud Ali 1

Masud Ali 2

Another post read: “Guys we’re borrowing food… that’s it. And if the lady tries to stop you at the door don’t hesitate to truck the sh– out of that bi—.”

Masud, who records show is on probation for theft, declined to comment to the Miami Herald on Sunday.

Masud Ali 3

I don’t know enough about employment law to know if the fired manager has a case, but if so, I hope the manager sues Chipotle and recovers big. I hope Ali is prosecuted. And I hope people reading this story consider other establishments besides Chipotle, and let Chipotle know why.

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 26

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am



It is the twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig” (Ah, how fleeting, ah how insignificant).

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 13:1-8:

The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, echoing Jesus’s words about how the temples with all be thrown down:

To hang one’s heart on earthly treasures
is a deception of the foolish world.
How easily searing lusts appear,
how the towering floods rush and rend,
until everything crashes into heaps destroyed.

. . . .

The highest glory and magnificence
is enveloped at last by the night of death.
Who enthrones himself just like a god
eludes neither dust or ashes;
and when his last hour strikes,
when he is borne to earth
and the foundation of his loftiness crumbles,
he will be completely forgotten.

Ah, how fleeting, ah how insignificant
are the doings of mankind!
Everything, everything that we see
must fall and pass away.
Whoever fears God will stand forever.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

11/16/2018

CIA: Yeah, the Crown Price Sho ‘Nuf Did Order Khashoggi’s Murder

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:14 pm



As any good American knows, this is the Deep State trying to embarrass Donald Trump (eyeroll):

The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The CIA’s assessment, in which officials have said they have high confidence, is the most definitive to date linking Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration’s efforts to preserve its relationship with a close ally. A team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on government aircraft in October and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate, where he had come to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.

In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.

It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother’s direction, according to the people familiar with the call, which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.

Shocka.

Those who doubted this, keep digging your hole. Here’s another shovel for ya.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

ABC Begins Early Campaigning For Trump 2020

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:08 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Really? This is the best they can do? would be my normal response for such a poor choice of words, but then I stop and remind myself that they really, really don’t see a problem here:

ABC has put into development a half-hour comedy from Nashville-based comedian Dusty Slay, Santa Clarita Diet writer/executive producer Chadd Gindin, Levity Live! and ABC Studios.

Written by Gindin, the untitled comedy is inspired by Slay’s childhood, growing up the youngest of three in an Alabama trailer park. The story centers on a middle-aged single mother, who despite her blue collar lifestyle strives to give her loved ones all the joys of a normal life.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

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