Patterico's Pontifications


Thinking about the Dem Debate, Part 2: Thursday

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:22 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Tonight comes the second group of ten Democrats who will debate each other to win the love and admiration of party activists who will select one of them to face President Trump in just about sixteen months from now. Following the procedure established last night, I want to place each of these candidates in the context of someone whom many (if not most) of us might have encountered in high school. So without further ado, here we go (once again, listed alphabetically by last name):

Michael Bennett – His family moved into town just before his senior year, and he pretty much kept to himself and left no record of having accomplished anything. Sat next to you in Chemistry II, but you don’t recall having more than maybe six verbal exchanges with him the entire year.

Joe Biden – Quarterback of the varsity football team that finished with a 2-8 record. Threw for five touchdown passes with eighteen interceptions and lost seven fumbles. Carried a 2.1 GPA and scored a 16 composite on the ACT, but nevertheless claimed that he was being recruited to play at Dartmouth. Dressed like the cool kids all dressed ten years earlier and drove a slightly run-down muscle car that he worked on himself, even though he didn’t know the first thing about auto mechanics.

Pete Buttigieg – Friendly and earnest fellow whose best friends were all girls. You appointed him refreshments chairman for the homecoming dance, and he bought a really nice cake but forgot to buy any drinks, so you had to give him $30 out of your own pocket so he could go get a couple of cases of Hawaiian Punch which nobody drank. He still says it was the best dance he ever attended and now wants to chair the prom committee.

Kirsten Gillibrand – Her sophomore year she became the lackey/toady for a snobbishly tiresome but oddly popular senior girl, and somehow parlayed that to entry into the “in” crowd after she dropped her Future Farmers of America friends. She promoted herself for homecoming queen quietly behind the scenes, but legend has it she received exactly zero votes. Was frenemies with every other girl in your class.

Kamala Harris – Rumored to have been secretly dating an administrator at the high school, which purportedly landed her positions as the head cheerleader and homecoming queen. Noticeably lacked enthusiasm for a cheerleader, and left the homecoming dance immediately after pictures were taken for the newspaper. Was always assumed to have a bright future ahead of her, even though her grades and test scores were only average.

John Hickenlooper – President of DECA and manager of the school store. Worked hard to keep it profitable even though it was known that everyone stole from it, but was lucky enough to make a high margin on brownies and therefore always break even. Nice enough guy, but extremely awkward to speak to, and had an annoying habit of agreeing with everyone with whom he spoke.

Bernard Sanders – Believed to have been held back two years because he seemed so much older than the rest of his peers. Kept circulating petitions to make school lunches “free” by doubling the price on the Coke machine. Furthermore, wants to provide “free” pencils and notebook paper by doubling the price on the Coke machine, and to have yearbooks distributed for “free,” subsidized by doubling the price on the Coke machine. Also wants the Coke machine replaced with water fountains which are healthier and better for the environment, as well as being free. Wrote an outraged op-ed in the school newspaper declaring the concept of a valedictorian was imperialist and should be abolished. A group of disaffected freshmen worships him.

Eric Swalwell – You had honestly never heard of this guy until the day he called the principal an asshole to his face and became a legend in his own mind just because a few popular kids chuckled. You quickly realized he was of extremely limited intelligence, and to this day you don’t know or care what happened to him.

Marianne Williamson – Cute chick who read Jonathan Livingston Seagull and listened to Dan Fogelberg, whose music she thought had really, really deep meaning. Believed strongly in using crystals for health and healing. You wanted to like her, but her thoughts were so banal and silly that you limited yourself to smiling and waving at her when you saw her in the hall. Spent most of her time in the art studio making stained glass doodads and painting rainbows and peace signs.

Andrew Yang – Fun guy who was excessively nerdy but usually made you laugh. Always had some off-the-wall scheme that he insisted would work if people would just “break out of their paradigms” and give it a try. Ignored by the jocks, the partiers, the pretty people, and the go-getters, but managed to become a success in business, even if many of his ideas continued to be risible.

So that’s it. I don’t think that I will watch this one either, so I’ll be interested in hearing what you all have to say.


More SCOTUS: Mitchell v Wisconsin

Filed under: Court Decisions,Law — DRJ @ 3:38 pm

[Headlines from DRJ]

Supreme Court Affirms Police Can Order Blood Drawn From Unconscious DUI Suspects:

The Supreme Court has ruled that police may, without a warrant, order blood drawn from an unconscious person suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Fourth Amendment generally requires police to obtain a warrant for a blood draw. But in a 5-4 vote on Thursday, the court upheld a Wisconsin law that says people driving on a public road have impliedly consented to having their blood drawn if police suspect them of driving under the influence. It also said that “exigent circumstances” permit police to obtain a blood sample without a warrant.

Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh joined Chief Justice John Roberts in the majority vote.

From oral argument:

Under Wisconsin law, anyone who drives on the state’s roads is assumed to have consented to have his blood tested for alcohol and drugs. The state’s laws also assume that a driver who is unconscious has not withdrawn that consent. Today – in a rare afternoon session – the Supreme Court heard oral argument in a challenge to the constitutionality of the provision allowing a blood test of an unconscious driver without a warrant. After an hour of debate, it wasn’t entirely clear how the justices might rule. But unlike the morning’s argument in the dispute over the decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, it seemed possible that the court might not divide completely along ideological lines, with Justice Stephen Breyer at times appearing to side with the state.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Gerald Mitchell, whom police found wet and shirtless on a beach in Wisconsin six years ago. When Mitchell – who was slurring his words – told police that he had parked his car because he “felt that he was too drunk to drive,” police did a preliminary breath test, the results of which are not admissible in court: Mitchell’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit of .08 percent.

Mitchell was placed under arrest, but he was so drunk that police decided to take him to the hospital for a blood test instead of doing another breath test. By the time Mitchell arrived at the hospital, he was unconscious. Hospital staff took a blood sample, which registered a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.222 percent, and Mitchell was charged with driving while intoxicated.

From he Wisconsin Bar summary:

Under Wisconsin’s implied consent law, Wis. Stat. section 343.305(2), anyone who operates a motor vehicle on Wisconsin’s roads “is deemed to have given consent to his or her breath, blood or urine” to determine the presence of drugs or alcohol. Under Wis. Stat. section 343.305(3)(b), “[a] person who is unconscious or otherwise not capable of withdrawing consent is presumed not to have withdrawn consent under this subsection.”

The U.S. Supreme Court did not decide whether police officers can rely on Wisconsin’s informed consent law alone, which is a question the Wisconsin Supreme Court has grappled with in several unconscious driver cases in the last several terms. (In Mitchell, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the conviction, but was divided on rationale).

Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the question under the Fourth Amendment’s exigent circumstances exception, which allows police to obtain a warrantless blood draw in emergency-type situations, which leave no time to apply for a warrant.

Mitchell was not involved in an accident so they case was remanded, presumably to determine if this is one of the rare exceptions.

The dissents are interesting. Notably, the majority here included Breyer but not Gorsuch, who thinks cert was improvidently granted since the Court based its ruling on exigent circumstsnces, a legal theory not addressed below.



Filed under: Court Decisions,Law — DRJ @ 9:53 am

[Headlines from DRJ Beldar]

Beldar 1:

Breaking cosmically big news, so far just a headline at the WSJ: Supreme Court Declines to Set Limits on Political Gerrymandering: High court says such cases present political questions that courts can’t decide.

But here’s the full opinion in Rucho v. Common Cause. I’ll wait until DRJ or someone puts up a new post to comment in detail, but at a glance, from the official syllabus:

Partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts….

Any standard for resolving partisan gerrymandering claims must be grounded in a “limited and precise rationale” and be “clear, manageable, and politically neutral.” [citing Vieth v. Jubelirer‘s plurality opinion.]
None of the proposed “tests” for evaluating partisan gerrymandering claims meets the need for a limited and precise standard that is judicially discernible and manageable….

This — very significantly — is a majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts, joined fully by Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch & Kavanaugh. The liberal justices joined in Kagan’s dissent.

Biggest case of this term, by far. This is the new SCOTUS we’ve been waiting for, friends and neighbors.

Beldar 2:

And in the Census race question case, it looks like (finally) a win for the Trump Administration, albeit in a splintered opinion that will take some sorting through to figure out: Dep’t of Commerce v. New York (again from the syllabus):

The Enumeration Clause permits Congress, and by extension the Secretary, to inquire about citizenship on the census questionnaire. That conclusion follows from Congress’s broad authority over the census, as informed by long and consistent historical practice that “has been open, widespread, and unchallenged since the early days of the Republic.”

As for the Commerce Secretary’s decision, it’s being remanded for reconsideration to see whether it was properly made, and that result was unanimous, but the instructions on what to do on remand appear to be rather fractured. There will be more litigation about this, in a hurry, before the 2020 Census is taken, but clearly there’s a path whereby the Trump Administration can get the question on the Census.


The Women in Whom E. Jean Carroll Confided Go Public

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:54 am

E. Jean Carroll is the woman saying Donald Trump had a sexual encounter with her 23 years ago, which many people describe as rape. (She doesn’t call it rape, as we will see.) Yesterday, the women in whom Carroll confided went public with their stories, kind of. It was done in a podcast called “The Daily” with a New York Times reporter. The podcast was released today, and I just finished listening to it.

Now that I have heard the story, it doesn’t sound like it was clear to Trump that Carroll was not consenting.

The interview is done very badly. I don’t know if the women made it a condition that they get together with one another and with E. Jean Carroll all at the same time, but that’s how the interview was done. If your goal was to find out what the women independently remember about what Carroll told them, forget it. You barely hear from them in the podcast. It’s certainly an unusual way to conduct an interview that is supposed to be corroboration of Carroll. It begins with Carroll recounting the whole incident, in the presence of the other two women. Minimal details are elicited from the two women about what Carroll actually said at the time. Most of the story comes from Carroll.

And even coming from Carroll, it doesn’t sound like it was necessarily clear to Trump that Carroll was not consenting. She herself refuses to call it rape. She describes a lot of flirtatious banter between her and Trump, which she thought was fantastic. The encounter began with Trump soliciting her advice about lingerie, and quickly turned to a teasing conversation about who was going to try on the lingerie: her, or Trump. (Trump said she should. She said Trump should.) They get to the dressing room and then he moves on her. She never says a word throughout the encounter — no “what are you doing?” or “no!” But she does describe it as a fight.

When she called the first woman, Lisa Birnbach, Carroll says she thought it was great material and was still laughing about it. Birnbach says that what Carroll was describing sounded like rape. According to Birnbach, she asked Carroll: “He raped you?” and Carroll made a noise like “ehhh.” Then the woman said that Carroll should go to the police, and Carroll flatly refused.

When Carroll called the second woman, Carol Martin, Martin told her to tell nobody. That’s about all you hear from Martin.

Almost nothing about what Carroll actually said to the women comes out of the women’s mouths in the podcast. It’s mostly Carroll describing the incident, and New York Times reporters flapping their meatholes.

But the overall impression one gets is that Donald Trump maybe just thought he had a quick sexual encounter with this woman. That she was interested in him because he was famous, and that she found the whole thing funny — before and after the encounter, certainly, if perhaps not during the encounter.

It’s not what I expected going in.

Terrible job by the New York Times. And I say that as someone who despises Donald Trump.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Thinking about the Dem Debate, Part 1: Wednesday

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:00 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Since the silly season more-or-less officially launches tonight (forget all of those town halls and such; it’s the debates that kick off the election), it’s time to look back on a comment that the great humorist P.J. O’Rourke made over 20 years ago, back in the horrid days when Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich bestrode the narrow earth like colossi. Mr. O’Rourke (the funny one, not the one pretending to be Mexican) advised that when evaluating politicians, it makes a lot of sense to try to place them in the context of the people with whom you attended high school. With that in mind, let me make the following comparisons with respect to the candidates we will see on stage tonight (well, some of us that is; I’m going to watch the Vanderbilt-Michigan College World Series final). Going alphabetically, we have:

Cory Booker – The guy who was thought to be popular but secretly nobody really liked all that much. All-conference football player, delegate at-large in the school senate, and member of the National Honor Society, but never once in his four years attended any social event. Claimed to volunteer for the local soup kitchen, but no one who worked there seemed to know who he was.

Juan Julian Castro – The twin who was slightly better looking, slightly smarter, slightly more charismatic than his identical brother, but still kind of a dweeb. It was rumored his community activist mom would browbeat the school’s teachers and administrators and accuse them of racism if her sons got anything less than an “A” on their report cards. [Edit: Such a nonentity that I put down the wrong Castro brother initially.]

Bill de Blasio – One of those blowhards who would tell you how smart he was while avoiding taking any difficult courses because they supposedly didn’t fit into his schedule, even though he found time to register for study hall and work as an office aide every semester. A tall, strapping guy who worked out daily but for some reason didn’t bother to try out for any varsity teams, mumbling some nonsense about how the competitive nature takes all the fun out of sports.

John Delaney – You knew he was a lineman on the football team and spent a lot of time in the weight room, but you never had a class with him and don’t recall ever seeing him outside of the football field. Honestly, when you were assigned a seat next to his at graduation it was the first time you had ever given him any real thought.

Tulsi Gabbard – That cute chick whom you had a slight crush on but didn’t pursue because you thought she was a New Age dippy surfer girl, then were really surprised to discover she was in JROTC. When you see her at the ten-year (and twenty-year, thirty-year, etc.) reunion, you are filled with immense regret.

Jay Inslee – Secretary of the Key Club his sophomore year, then after that the first person in school history to serve as Key Club president for two consecutive years. But that was literally the only extracurricular activity he participated in. Still, his friends will swear to you he was the best president Key Club ever had.

Amy Klobuchar – Volunteer hall monitor who wanted you to think that she would let you sneak a smoke on the patio in between classes, but would in fact secretly report you to the vice-principal. She’s the mean girl who quietly told all of the senior boys which ones of her female friends were sexually active. Signed up to be a candy-striper at the hospital, but never showed up to work.

Robert O’Rourke – Punk rock fan who got away with periodically being a stoner because his dad was on the school board so he knew he wouldn’t face any real disciplinary issues. Secretly did all his homework while maintaining an aura of detached cool. The freshmen and sophomore girls were madly in love with him, but he ended up aggravating the ones he dated and they would break up with him within a couple of weeks.

Tim Ryan – The guy who had a mad crush on the head cheerleader but couldn’t get anywhere past the friend zone with her. Not a great student, not a great athlete, not a social animal, just a normal everyday unexceptional guy. Inscribed in your yearbook, “Let’s hang out over the summer,” but you had zero interest.

Elizabeth Warren – The teachers loved her because she always had her homework done on time (it was rumored that she paid college students to do it) and neatly written on fresh notebook sheets, and she would turn in her English papers (which were later found to be largely plagiarized from The New Republic) double-space typed on heavy-stock paper and tucked in a clear plastic folder. Won a scholarship from the Elks Club after telling them during her interview about the ongoing anguish she carried owing to her father having been killed in Vietnam, which became a small scandal when it was discovered years later that he had simply run off with his secretary.

So, that’s how I see them. I frankly had to look up John Delaney and Tim Ryan, but I hopefully pegged them at least somewhat correctly. Please feel free to add your own analyses of the candidates in the comments, and enjoy watching the debate if you are so inclined. Check back tomorrow for part 2 of the debate participants.



President Trump’s Chief Of Protocol Out

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:03 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Per NBC News:

The Trump administration’s chief of protocol in the State Department has been pulled off the job just ahead of the G-20 summit amid an investigation into allegations of discrimination and harassment, U.S. officials said. He is not expected to return to his job.

Two U.S. officials said that employees in the chief of protocol’s office had been informed that Ambassador Sean Lawler had been suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of the investigation. A third official said that Lawler had told the State Department’s leadership he planned to submit his resignation to President Donald Trump after the G-20 summit, which starts Friday in Osaka, Japan.

Lawler, a political appointee, was nominated by Trump to the position in September 2017 and given the rank of ambassador. He was confirmed by the Senate in November 2017.


The U.S. officials who told NBC News about Lawler’s situation declined to elaborate on the specifics of the allegations, other than to say that numerous employees in his office had resigned in protest of his management and behavior.

Among the behaviors that had caused concern, according to two U.S. officials, is that Lawler was known to carry a whip at work in what was perceived as an attempt to intimidate colleagues.

The way it’s been going, perhaps instead of taking on “only the best people,” President Trump should’ve aimed lower and shot for simple mediocrity.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


A Thoughtful Initial Response To Migrant Children Being Held At Border Patrol Station

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:22 pm

[guest post by Dana]

There is nothing about the border crisis that is not overwhelming. The Border Patrol is overwhelmed by sheer numbers of migrants crossing the border. A facility designed to house 100 detainees is now having to hold more than 300 individuals. And the number of unaccompanied children is overwhelming. As elected officials on both sides of the aisle attempt to advantageously use the crisis of children being detained in unacceptable conditions and push their party’s agenda, I was pleasantly surprised to read a response that mirrored my own. Because whatever the reason for these children landing here, it is through no fault of their own. Anyway, the intent of my post isn’t to argue the politics of illegal immigration, but rather write a small post about me nodding my head in agreement.

The Associated Press tweeted a link to their report about the 300+ children that were moved out of an overwhelmed Texas border station due to unsanitary and unhygienic conditions:


The U.S. government has removed most children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas near the border with Mexico following reports that more than 300 children were detained there and caring for each other with inadequate food, water and sanitation.

Only about 30 children remained at the station outside El Paso on Monday, Rep. Veronica Escobar said after her office was briefed on the situation by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official.

Most of the infants, toddlers and teens who were held at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, were scheduled to be transferred by Tuesday to shelters and other facilities run by a separate federal agency, the Office of Refugee Resettlement said.

Attorneys involved in monitoring care for migrant children who visited Clint last week said older children were trying to take care of toddlers, The Associated Press reported Thursday. They described a 4-year-old with matted hair who had gone without a shower for days, and hungry, inconsolable children struggling to soothe one another. Some had been locked for three weeks inside the facility, where 15 children were sick with the flu and another 10 were in medical quarantine.

(Other reports note that area residents have left donations of diapers, baby wipes, soap and toothbrushes at the station office but the items were rejected by Border Patrol. No reason for the rejection was given.)

Theologian, pastor, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Dr. Russell Moore tweeted in response to the report:


The reports of the conditions for migrant children at the border should shock all of our consciences. Those created in the image of God should be treated with dignity and compassion, especially those seeking refuge from violence back home. We can do better than this.

No matter where one falls on the immigration spectrum, it would seem at the very least, that this is the correct initial reaction. It is a response rooted in compassion, not politics. It is a response rooted in the basic idea that everyone has intrinsic value. It is a response rooted in the Christian exhortation to love our neighbors as ourselves. And lastly, it is a response rooted in the belief that, through the grace of God and because of the grace of God, we can indeed do better. What this response isn’t, is a call for open borders or a call to ignore our immigration laws. And it isn’t a call to close the border either.

Anyway, what a stark contrast between Dr. Moore’s encouragement toward a reaction reflecting something of God, and that of Jerry Falwell, Jr.:


Who are you @drmoore ? Have you ever made a payroll? Have you ever built an organization of any type from scratch? What gives you authority to speak on any issue? I’m being serious. You’re nothing but an employee- a bureaucrat.

Oh hell, I’ve never made a payroll either. And I’ve never built an organization from scratch (just like you, Jerry!). And you know what, I’m not even an employee any longer but here I am schooling you, you arrogant weenie. And last I read, Jerry, there were a couple of noted yahoos in the Book who also weren’t technically “qualified” to speak on certain issues – and between you and me, they lied, lusted, cheated and deceived their way through life – yet crazily enough, God still anointed them as qualified to speak with the greatest of authority on His behalf. Go figure.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Classical Music Fans: What Is This Piece?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

On the heels of writing down the piece my dad wrote when he was 12, my sister asked me to write down another piece he used to play. This one is not his, but I can’t figure out who actually wrote it. I have a memory of having once owned the sheet music but I lost it years ago and have spent the last several years asking friends if they know what it is.

I knew how to play it once and wrote it down last night (incorrectly) from memory. I know I have some of it wrong — surely the actual piece lacks all these parallel octaves and fifths — but it’s close enough to recognize if you know the piece. It sounds like something from Schumann’s Album from the Young or the like, but that’s not it. I always thought it was Beethoven but I’ve looked through all his piano works online and I don’t think it’s his.

Can you solve my dilemma and tell me what this is?

Here’s my imperfect rendition of the sheet music:

Mystery Song

(Hit the arrows at the bottom left of this embedded image to scroll back and forth between the two pages. You have to hover the cursor over the image to see the arrows.)

And here’s a MIDI file that robotically renders the sheet music.

P.S. I wrote it down in F but it may actually be in C. I just can’t remember. I think it’s F though. It also might be in 3/4 instead of 3/8, but I put it in 3/8 because it goes along at a fast enough clip that 3/4 seemed odd.

There should be rubato throughout and a ritardando at measure 24, but I could not figure out how to make the program slow down and then go back to a tempo.

UPDATE: Solved. Beethoven’s Farewell to the Piano, Anh. 15. I could not find it before because the authorship is disputed and it has no opus or even WoO number.

Leader Faces Questions About Personal Life

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 5:37 am

[Headline from DRJ]

But not in America, in Britain:

Boris Johnson again dodges questions over police visit:

LONDON (AP) — Boris Johnson failed Tuesday to shift the subject away from his private life and back to Britain’s pending departure from the European Union as a round of media appearances served only to bog him down further in questions about character and trust.

Johnson, who is running to be the next leader for both the Conservative Party and the nation, has refused to address personal questions despite an ongoing clamor to face public scrutiny amid the fallout from a reported quarrel with his girlfriend last week that prompted a police visit. In break from his previous strategy, the front-runner took part in three interviews in less than 24 hours, responding to challenger Jeremy Hunt’s criticism that he was a “coward” and needed to face greater public scrutiny if he is to become prime minister.



Follow-up: President Trump Responds To Writer’s Rape Allegation

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:35 pm

[guest post by Dana]

President Trump, during an interview with The Hill, was asked about the recent rape allegation made by writer E. Jean Carroll:

“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” the president said while seated behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

When asked if Carroll was lying, Trump on Monday repeated his assertion that he had never met her.

“Totally lying. I don’t know anything about her,” he said. “I know nothing about this woman. I know nothing about her. She is — it’s just a terrible thing that people can make statements like that.”

If it were any other president facing an accusation of rape, I would think it bizarre of him to use his accuser’s looks to bolster his claims of innocence. How could I possibly be guilty? I mean, have you seen her?? But given that it’s Trump we’re talking about, and given that we’ve been down this rabbit hole for two years now, it’s actually the exact sort of thing I would expect him to say.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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