Patterico's Pontifications

12/24/2018

Music for Christmas Eve: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248 (Plus Bonus Music!)

Filed under: General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 pm



It is Christmas Eve. Today’s Bach piece is his Christmas Oratorio:

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 2:1-14, (15-20). I usually use the New International Version for Gospel readings, but I’ll be relying on the King James Version for this passage, for reasons I will explain:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

When I sang in the Sage Chapel Choir (an institution that has unfortunately since been disbanded) at Cornell University, the choir was led by the late Donald Patterson. He would read this passage at the Christmas Eve service, and in his gravelly bass voice he would put a particular aggrieved sort of emphasis on the word “taxed.” As if it was an outrage that all the world should be taxed. I’ll never forget his voice reading those words, and so I cannot sanction the New International Version’s interpretation of the passage as “Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” Where’s the fun in that??

Similarly, Professor Patterson’s voice would shake with drama on the words “sore afraid” in this line: “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” I will not be replacing that language with “and they were terrified.” Sorry not sorry.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains (among many passages) these words:

Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit,
dass ein Gebot von dem Kaiser Augusto ausging,
dass alle Welt geschätzet würde.

Which translates as:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

My italics. I raise a glass to you, Professor Patterson!

I’m going to give you a couple of bonus pieces of music this evening. The first goes with Luke’s words quoting the angel of the Lord: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Here is Handel’s aria “For unto us a child is born” from Messiah:

And as a final bonus, here’s Jay Semko singing his quirky version of his song “It’s Christmas Eve”:

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Where We Stand

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:02 am



[guest post by Dana]

Here’s where we stand regarding the wall and the shutdown, according to those with vested interests. Vested interests does not necessarily mean in the best interest of the country.

From President Trump:

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From Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer (via Seung Min Kim)

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(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

12/23/2018

Sunday Music: Bach’s Magnificat, BWV 243

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



It is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Today’s Bach piece is a concert performance of one of Bach’s most popular choral works: his setting of the Latin “Magnificat.”

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 1:39-45, (46-55):

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Mary’s Song

And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It is the Latin setting of Mary’s song quoted above: the “Magnificat.” It opens with the Latin sentence: “Magnificat anima mea Dominum.” This translates as the first sentence of Mary’s song: “My soul magnifies the Lord.” After the end of Mary’s song, Bach’s setting closes with these words:

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto,
sicut erat in principio
et nunc et in saecula saeculorum,
Amen.

Which translates as:

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and for ever and ever,
Amen.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

12/22/2018

President Trump’s ‘Big, Beautiful Wall’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:58 am



[guest post by Dana]

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President Trump:

The Democrats, are saying loud and clear that they do not want to build a Concrete Wall — but we are not building a Concrete Wall, we are building artistically designed steel slats, so that you can easily see through it.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

12/21/2018

President Trump And The Looming Shutdown

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:30 pm



[guest post by Dana]

It looks like lawmakers are at an impasse with regard to funding the Wall and preventing a shutdown of the government:

President Trump and Congress were locked in an impasse Friday over Trump’s border wall, hours away from a partial government shutdown and with no apparent path to prevent one.

Trump’s preferred solution — a stop-gap spending bill containing $5.7 billion for a Mexico border wall — faced near-certain defeat in the Senate, even after the president pressured Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to change Senate rules to allow it to pass.

McConnell refused.

“We’re going to be working very hard to get something passed in the Senate,” Trump said Friday in the Oval Office before a bill-signing. “Now it’s up to the Democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown tonight. I hope we don’t but we’ve very much prepared for a long shutdown.”

And in spite of the the president’s call for McConnell to use the nuclear option, there just aren’t the necessary votes:

“The Leader has said for years that the votes are not there in the Conference to use the nuclear option,” said McConnell spokesman David Popp. “Just this morning, several Senators put out statements confirming that there is not a majority in the conference to go down that road.”

For more than a year, Trump has tried to pressure McConnell to change Senate rules in a way that would allow the chamber to pass legislation with a simple majority.

During the Obama administration, when Democrats controlled the Senate, Democrats changed the rules to allow most presidential nominees to advance with a simple majority of votes. During the beginning of the Trump administration, McConnell extended this practice to the nomination of Supreme Court justices, which proved crucial because both of Trump’s nominees to the nation’s highest court won approval by a narrow margin.

But McConnell has resisted such a change for legislation, as have a number of other Republicans, worried about the precedent it would set.

Last week, I posted about President Trump’s meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office, wherein the president claimed that he would assume responsibility for any shutdown that might happen. Moreover, he said he would be proud to shut the government down and that he would assume blame for it.

“If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, or the military, or through anything you want to call it, I will shut down the government… I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. …So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”

It was a bold statement, and one he made without hesitation.

But as with most things said by this president, his brave claim should have been taken with a grain of salt. Because history has demonstrated that he will eventually contradict himself. Whether shooting from the hip, or talking to hear himself talk, or playing a game of one-upmanship, he will eventually contradict himself. Obviously this makes it hard to know what to believe. And that’s a big problem. While some of us might call these inconsistencies “flip-flopping” or being dishonest, his base defends these contradictions as clever political strategeries too complex for the hoi polloi to grasp. (Note: when Obama did the same thing, people on the right were quick to accuse him of being a dishonest flip-flopper and talking out of both sides of his mouth. And people were right in their accusations. That it’s Trump doing it makes no different. Or at least is shouldn’t, anyway.)

Predictably, Trump said the opposite of what he said two weeks ago. If the shutdown happens at midnight, instead of assuming the mantle of responsibility and not blaming the Democrats, he will totally blame them:

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Interesting note concerning the signature plank of Trump’s campaign platform and what his requested $5 billion would cover: “Department of Homeland Security officials told reporters Friday that the $5 billion in funds would cover roughly 215 miles of new wall construction in California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico. In some cases, they would need private land owners to sell property to the federal government for the wall’s construction. If the property owner refuses, the government would consider seizing the property under eminent domain, a controversial tactic that would likely tie the project up in court for years.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

NYT: Planned Parenthood Accused Of Routine Discrimination Against Pregnant Employees

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:40 am



[guest post by Dana]

According to a report in the New York Times, Planned Parenthood facilities across the nation routinely discriminate against pregnant employees, and do not provide paid maternity leave. Sharing their personal stories of discrimination and unfair employment practices, current and former employees make clear that at Planned Parenthood offices, a pregnant employee is often treated as a liability. Which makes sense if you’re in the business of killing babies:

As a medical assistant at Planned Parenthood, Ta’Lisa Hairston urged pregnant women to take rest breaks at work, stay hydrated and, please, eat regular meals.

Then she got pregnant and couldn’t follow her own advice.

Last winter, Ms. Hairston told the human-resources department for Planned Parenthood’s clinic in White Plains, N.Y., that her high blood pressure was threatening her pregnancy. She sent the department multiple notes from her nurse recommending that she take frequent breaks.

Managers ignored the notes. They rarely gave her time to rest or to take a lunch break, Ms. Hairston said.

“I had to hold back tears talking to pregnant women, telling them to take care of their pregnancies when I couldn’t take care of mine,” she said. “It made me jealous.”

Pregnant employees appear to be an inconvenience to the organization, and as such they can find themselves targeted by management:

Discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers remains widespread in the American workplace. It is so pervasive that even organizations that define themselves as champions of women are struggling with the problem.

That includes Planned Parenthood, which has been accused of sidelining, ousting or otherwise handicapping pregnant employees, according to interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees.

In interviews and legal documents, women at Planned Parenthood and other organizations with a feminist bent described discrimination that violated federal or state laws — managers considering pregnancy in hiring decisions, for example, or denying rest breaks recommended by a doctor.

In other cases, the bias was more subtle. Many women said they were afraid to announce a pregnancy at work, sensing they would be seen as abandoning their colleagues.

Some of those employers saw accommodating expecting mothers as expensive and inconvenient. Others were unsympathetic to workers seeking special treatment. (emphasis added.)

Employees who did inform their supervisors that they were pregnant could find themselves demoted. Women also felt it was a safeguard to lie to their managers about any plans for pregnancy because they knew they risked being stigmatized or mistreated.

Here is a broader look at the consequences of being pregnant as a prospective or current employee at Planned Parenthood:

[At] Planned Parenthood, the country’s leading provider of reproductive services, managers in some locations declined to hire pregnant job candidates, refused requests by expecting mothers to take breaks and in some cases pushed them out of their jobs after they gave birth, according to current and former employees in California, Texas, North Carolina and New York.

Most Planned Parenthood offices do not provide paid maternity leave, though many let new mothers take partially paid disability leave.

A former hiring manager at a Planned Parenthood in California said that when internal promotions came up, supervisors openly debated whether candidates were likely to get pregnant in the near future and preferred those who were not. They declined to hire one pregnant woman and to promote one new mother, the employee said. (Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is illegal to consider whether a job candidate is or will become pregnant.)

The discrimination makes sense when you consider that the business of abortion at Planned Parenthoods is based on a quota system. Money talks. And after all, those Lamborghinis aren’t going to buy themselves:

[P]revious investigations of Planned Parenthood have revealed that the national umbrella organization routinely imposes abortion quotas on its clinics across the country, incentivizing workers to convince women to obtain abortions. In one interview, a former Planned Parenthood manager and a former clinic nurse explained that executives rewarded clinics that met abortion targets with pizza parties or extra paid time off. Clinics that didn’t offer abortions were given quotas for abortion referrals made to other Planned Parenthood facilities.
Comments

“I felt like I was more of a salesman sometimes, to sell abortions,” former Planned Parenthood nurse Marianne Anderson said. “We were constantly told we have quotas to meet to stay open.”

Is it any wonder that a group that profits from “terminating pregnancies” and offers little to no pregnancy care would neglect to have policies in place preventing managers from overworking or discriminating against pregnant mothers on their own staffs?

I would also ask if it’s really any surprise that a business whose primary source of revenue comes from “terminating” as many “pregnancies” as possible would want big, ripe bellies proudly announcing “Life!” walking through their hallways and exam rooms? That couldn’t possibly be good for the bottom line.

As a reminder, Planned Parenthood has always been a vocal do-what-I-say-not-what-I-do champion of paid maternity leave for women:

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In response to the report, Dr. Leana Wen, the new president of Planned Parenthood Foundation For American (PPFA), tweeted:

Reproductive health equity must include the right to become a parent and raise a family free from fear and discrimination. At @PPFA, we’re committed to doing better to support our pregnant and parenting staff.

At @PPFA, we do not tolerate discrimination or harassment. When we learn about accusations that violate our policies and high standards, we move immediately to investigate and address them, as we are doing in this instance.

No response from Cecile Richards, who was the president of PPFA from 2006 to 2018, and under whose watch the routine discrimination occurred.

–Dana

Trump Syrian Withdrawal Decision Made During Phone Call with Erdogan

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:52 am



You know how people were speculating that Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw troops from Syria was made due to his phone call with Erdogan? Looks like the speculation was right:

President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria was made hastily, without consulting his national security team or allies, and over strong objections from virtually everyone involved in the fight against the Islamic State group, according to U.S. and Turkish officials.

Trump stunned his Cabinet, lawmakers and much of the world with the move by rejecting the advice of his top aides and agreeing to a withdrawal in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week, two officials briefed on the matter told The Associated Press.

The Dec. 14 call, described by officials who were not authorized to discuss the decision-making process publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, provides insight into a consequential Trump decision that prompted the resignation of widely respected Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It also set off a frantic, four-day scramble to convince the president either to reverse or delay the decision.

Even Erdogan was surprised:

Trump was not dissuaded, according to the officials, who said the president quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.

Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal, according to one official. While Turkey has made incursions into Syria in the past, it does not have the necessary forces mobilized on the border to move in and hold the large swaths of northeastern Syria where U.S. troops are positioned, the official said.

My view is that if we’re going to be fighting a war, Congress needs to authorize that war.

But suddenly making a decision like this, without consulting anyone in advance, is reckless. Of course, recklessness is a hallmark of the man occupying the Oval Office.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

12/20/2018

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis To Step Down

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:02 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Coming on the heels of his announcement that the U.S. will be pulling out of Syria, President Trump tweeted today that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will be stepping down:

General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years. During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting….

…equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!

In his letter of resignation, Mattis made clear that he no longer shared the same views with the president on certain matters. In part:

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions—to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.

The timing of his resignation would suggest that his departure is in response to the announcement concerning Syria. A decision which Mattis is not in agreement with, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham spoke to CNN’s Kate Bolduan about the issue today:

“Secretary Mattis is firmly in the camp of the job in Syria is not yet done. That abandoning the Kurds now will hurt us down the road,” Graham told Bolduan, adding, “That ISIS could and probably will come back. And I think that’s the universal view of both [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and Mattis.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

Trump: We’re Going to Build a Big Beautiful Wall Some Steel Slats

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:14 am



What the Fake News Media won’t tell you, though, is that we don’t even need the Wall (Steel Slats) because the border is *chef’s kiss* tight:

If you voted for Trump thinking he was going to give you a wall, how do you feel now? Confident? Betrayed? Like a chump sucker?

Also, we’ve defeated ISIS:

And also Russia and Iran and Syria are actually pissed we are leaving Syria on account of how now they have to fight ISIS without us:

So that’s coherent.

12/19/2018

Open Thread: Too Much News

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:05 pm



Deripaska sanctions lifted.

Syrian troops out.

No wall.

AG nominee slammed obstruction probe.

On and on and on and on

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