Patterico's Pontifications


September 29 Will Be a Very Interesting Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

If you follow politics closely, you may know that September 29, 2020 will be the date of the first Presidential debate between President Donald J. Trump and doddering old fool Joe Biden. Trump and his incompetent crew have succeeded in tamping down expectations for Biden so much that if Biden manages to string a sentence or two together in a coherent fashion, he will be judged the winner by acclamation. Nice job playing the expectations game, Trump campaign!

Anyway, Chris Wallace, the moderator of the first debate, has reportedly picked his topics for that debate. Those topics, supposedly, according to The Commission on Presidential Debates, are:

The Trump and Biden Records
The Supreme Court
The Economy
Race and Violence in our Cities
The Integrity of the Election

But here’s the thing. The Commission on Presidential Debates admits that the topics are “[s]ubject to possible changes because of news developments” — and I know a news development that is likely to happen that day … and as a reader of this blog, you’re about to know it too. Namely: that morning, Judge Emmet Sullivan will be holding a hearing on the Government’s motion to dismiss the case against Michael Flynn.

One of three things is likely to happen: Judge Sullivan will deny the motion, he will grant it, or he could take it under submission. But any way you slice it, the hearing is likely to make news. Big news. Judge Sullivan is, in my view quite appropriately, palpably skeptical of the Government’s position, which strikes me as patently corrupt and plainly pretextual — an obvious attempt to paper over a cynical and baseless change of position for the purely political reason of running interference for a political crony who likely has dirt against Trump.

I have a feeling Judge Sullivan is going to voice his opinion loudly — probably loudly enough for Chris Wallace to hear, even over the noise of his pre-planned series of questions.

If Chris Wallace is as smart as I think he is, he will see this coming as clearly as I do. After all, he gets paid to do this stuff. I don’t.

But even if he doesn’t see it coming, I predict the news cycle is going to cause some re-jiggering of the topics to accommodate this critical issue, which goes straight to the heart of this president’s abuse of the rule of law.

You heard it here first: the Flynn case is making news on September 29, and it’s going to come up in the debate.

Always trust content from Patterico.


Trump Expands His Ban

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:21 pm

[guest post by Dana]


Mitt Romney: ‘If Nominee Reaches The Senate Floor, I Intend To Vote’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:57 am

[guest post by Dana]

He’s in:

My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of “fairness,” which like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent. The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own.

The Constitution gives the President the power to nominate and the Senate the authority to provide advice and consent on Supreme Court nominees. Accordingly, I intend to follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee. If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.

Last night, Colorado’s Cory Gardner, who is in danger of losing reelection, broke his silence and announced that he would vote to confirm:

When a President exercises constitutional authority to nominate a judge for the Supreme Court vacancy, the Senate must decide how to best fulfill its constitutional duty of advice and consent. I have and will continue to support judicial nominees who will protect our Constitution, not legislate from the bench, and uphold the law. Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm.

Susan Collins, who is in a toss-up race for reelection, and Lisa Murkowski have publicly said they do not support the Senate taking up a nomination before the presidential election.

This was FiveThirtyEight’s prediction before Romney and Gardner’s announcement:

Based on what we know right now, here’s the most likely way that the dominoes will fall: Trump chooses a nominee this week. The Senate holds hearings in October, but there is not a vote on the nominee before the election. Biden beats Trump. In the postelection, lame-duck Senate session, 50 Republican senators and Vice President Mike Pence combine for 51 votes to confirm Trump’s nominee, with the 47 Democrats, Collins, Murkowski and Romney in opposition.

As it now stands, there are 51 votes.



Survey of Professors Summed Up: ‘Scared To Death To Teach’

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:49 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Following the story of USC Professor Greg Patton, who was suspended for accurately quoting a Mandarin filler word during his class, an anonymous survey was sent out to professors at the Marshall School of Business and produced the exact kind of responses one would expect:

An anonymous survey of 105 professors at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business suggests that many of them have lost confidence in the dean, and that they feel “livid,” “betrayed,” and “scared of students” after a fellow faculty member was “thrown under the bus,” as several of them described it, following a controversy over his use of a Chinese word.

While the summary revealed strong reactions to the school’s treatment of Prof. Patton, the general reactions fell short when compared to the more detailed “scathing” comments:

…noted the “anger, disappointment, betrayal, and outrage” felt by professors.

[The comments] provide a portrait of a business school in which professors are now convinced that a single student complaint, even a questionable one, could upend their careers, and that the school’s leadership, as one professor put it, “doesn’t have our back”:

“I’m scared to death to teach in this environment. Any innocent phrase can be turned around on you.”

“Faculty will have to walk on egg shells all the time – anyone can be accused of being a racist, bigoted, insensitive, biased, etc.”

“[I] fear that if things are left as they stand now, this will have a very chilling effect on the faculty.”

“Makes me not want to teach.”

And who can blame them, given how Prof. Patton was immediately removed from the classroom by Dean Garrett and replaced with another instructor. The surveyed professors, feeling betrayed by the administration, also took Dean Garrett to task for his support of “offended” students and lack of support for Prof. Patton:

A number of professors condemned Garrett’s email to students, in which he said that it was “simply unacceptable for faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students.”

“The Dean did such a disservice to faculty, but especially to Greg Patton, by sending a memo that was highly judgmental and injurious.”

“Shocked, saddened, pissed off and betrayed by Dean Garrett and the Marshall Administration.”

“It makes me feel like the dean’s office is willing to throw faculty under the bus in order [to] preserve the appearance of diversity and inclusion instead of opening up dialogues on both sides.”

“For the Dean to put his signature to a letter with such obviously untrue implication … is chicken shit.”

Anyway, the unintended consequence of Dean Garrett’s actions will be manifested in the classroom as professors, now walking on eggshells, are planning to adjust their teaching to minimize any possibility of being accused of causing offense:

“It will make me even more conservative and guarded than I already am.”

“I will avoid any diversity and inclusion topics and will strictly stick to safe topics, devoid of any potential land mines.”

“I may cut sessions on culture.”

“I plan to be aware and on the lookout for situations that might be misinterpreted, but am concerned that if I start looking over my shoulder and second guessing myself that I might be more inclined to actually make a mistake.”

What else can they do but this?


A Reason Not to Worry That Amy Coney Barrett Will Recuse Herself in Abortion Cases

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 am

With Judge Amy Coney Barrett looking like a “top contender” to replace Justice Ginsburg, it may be worth revisiting what would likely be the main controversy with a Barrett nomination: whether her Catholic religion would interfere with her judging.

It is fashionable for those on the right who have not looked into the issue to dismiss this as “bigotry” but there is more to it than that. Over two years ago I wrote a post titled Would a Justice Amy Barrett Recuse Herself in Abortion Cases? Plenty of judges and politicians (including Joe Biden) are Catholic, including Justice Scalia, for whom Judge Barrett was a clerk. But not every judge has written something like this:

[W]e believe that Catholic judges (if they are faithful to the teachings of their church) are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty. This means that they can neither themselves sentence criminals to death nor enforce jury recommendations of death. Whether they may affirm lower court orders of either kind is a question we have the most difficulty in resolving.

(My emphasis.)

But Barrett has. In my 2018 post, I noted that the issue of abortion is also fraught with baggage for the sincere Catholic, and that a judge who had expressed misgivings about ruling on death penalty cases as an appellate judge might have similar misgivings about abortion cases. I concluded: “It would be ironic indeed if conservatives supported Barrett because they thought her Catholic faith would make her a certain vote to overturn Roe v. Wade — only to see her recuse herself from any such case because of that same faith.”

Fortunately, we now have two more years of Barrett’s track record as a judge to consult, and I updated the post yesterday after a Twitter interchange with Ed Whelan in which he pointed out that Judge Barrett joined a panel decision in July vacating an injunction against an execution. Here is that update, which I thought should be highlighted in a new post given its relevance to current events:

UPDATE 9-20-20: Ed Whelan points me to the fact that Barrett has since ruled on a death penalty case, which certainly lessens the concerns raised in this post:

I’m no longer concerned about Barrett recusing herself from death cases or abortion cases.

A track record is a nice thing to have. Trump was correct to forego nominating Judge Barrett before she built one. Two years is not a particularly long track record, but it’s better than virtually nothing. Keep this one in your back pocket if she should become the nominee.

P.S. Ed Whelan was kind enough to inquire on my behalf what Justice Scalia’s favorite opera was, so I could listen to it, as RBG’s death and their friendship was making me nostalgic. He told me he had learned indirectly from Mrs. Scalia that it was Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni — also an RBG favorite. Press play and remember a day when people who disagreed could get along:


Thanks to All Who Donated to Dustin’s Baby Boy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:02 am

Thanks to everyone who donated on behalf of our friend Dustin’s baby boy. Today I am settling up. In the interest of being transparent, here is what has been collected:

DRJ $100
Simon Jester $100
Colonel Klink $100
Leviticus $100
Patterico $100
Dave $50
whembly $50
Dana $25
JVW $25
felipe $25
Time123 $20
Paul Montagu $20
Kevin M $20

Total: $735

I have sent that amount to Dustin. Please let me know if I missed anyone or got anything wrong.

Thanks again. It’s great to feel like a community that can come together and help give a nice start for the life of someone close to us.

UPDATE: We have an anonymous donor who has pitched in an extra $20, bringing the total to $755. Thanks! Your message will be passed along, together with the moolah.

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 144

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is “Nimm, was dein ist, und gehe hin” (Take what is yours and go away):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 20:1-16:

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

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

Take what is yours and go away.

Do not grumble,
dear Christian,
when something you didn’t wish for happens;
rather be at peace with it,
with what your God has determined for you;
He knows what is good for you.

. . . .

Where contentment rules
and holds the tiller everywhere,
there a person is satisfied
with that which God brings about.
On the other hand, where discontent speaks its mind,
there grief and trouble appear,
one’s heart will not
content itself,
and this is not kept in mind:
what God does is well done.

. . . .

What my God wills always occurs,
His will is the best,
He is ready to help those
who believe firmly in Him.
He gives aid in need, this righteous God,
and punishes with measure.
Who trusts in God, relies upon Him firmly,
God will never abandon.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:40 am

[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few news items to talk about. Feel free to share anything that you think might interest readers. Please make sure to include links.

First news item

“PresidentTrump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor…”.


Second news item


“There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices. I would note, just recently, that Justice Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

“I think for those of us who care passionately about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, who care about free speech and religious liberty and the Second Amendment, the best way to protect those rights is to win on Election Day so that we see strong conservatives nominated to the court, and maintain a Republican majority in the Senate to confirm those strong conservatives.

and now:

[Ted Cruz told Sean Hannity] that Trump should nominate a successor to the Supreme Court next week and the Senate should confirm it before election day, citing concerns about Democrats contesting presidential election results if Trump wins.

“A 4 – 4 court that is equally divided cannot decide anything and I think we risk a constitutional crisis if we do not have a nine justice Supreme Court, particularly when there is such a risk of contested litigation and a contested election.”

Third news item

(Before knowing RBG had passed) At rally last night, Trump campaigned for Ted Cruz for SCJ:

“I’m putting Ted Cruz as one of the people for the Supreme Court. And you know why I did it? Because I wanted to make sure that I had somebody on the list … We had about 45 unbelievable people… the smartest, the best, the absolute creme de la creme. The best minds in the country, conservative; they believe in the Constitution.”

“I have to have somebody that we’re going to make sure we get approved, and the only one I could think of was Ted because he’s going to get 50 Republican votes and he’ll get 50 Democrat votes,” Trump said. He went on to say: “We will defend the dignity of work and the sanctity of life. That’s why the Supreme Court is so important. The next President will get one, two, three, or four Supreme Court Justices…If you don’t get it right we will not have a country anymore.”

Fourth news item

More non-black goobers admit to passing themselves off as black:

An Indianapolis racial justice activist admitted to lying about being Black in a social media post Friday. Satchuel Cole wrote on Facebook, “I have taken up space as a Black person while knowing I am white. I have used Blackness when it was not mine to use. I have asked for support and energy as a Black person… I am sorry for the harm I have caused. I am sorry for the hurt and betrayal.” Cole worked with Indy10 Black Lives Matter and Indy SURJ and served as a Grand Marshal for the Indianapolis pride parade in 2020, according to the Indianapolis Star.


What I know is that I am Southern Italian/Sicilian. In trying to make sense of my experiences with race, I grossly misstepped. I went along with however people saw me. I over-identified with unreliable and unproven family history and latched onto anything I remembered growing up. All of those actions were deeply misguided and have caused an incredible amount of hurt for the Madison community, those I organize with, and everyone who has been exposed to this public reckoning. It was my choice and error to identify any differently.

What I know now is that perception is not reality. Race is not flat, it is a social construct rife with contradictions. Fighting racism never required dissociating myself from whiteness. In fact, it derailed the cause by centering my experience.

I would like to identify, apologize for, and correct each misstep and overeager identification, and begin providing redress

Fourth news item

Good news from the Middle East, good on Trump:

The Emiratis and Bahrainis became only the third and fourth Arab states ever to recognize the Jewish state. And more good news may be on the way: Oman issued a statement of support for the accords; there is talk of Sudan following suit and Morocco opening direct flights. And though Saudi Arabia may be the last Sunni-majority state to formally recognize Israel, it is now permitting Israeli aircraft to cross its airspace.

No less remarkably, when the Palestinian Authority petitioned the Arab League for a denunciation of the deal, the league voted it down.

Smug elitist hardest hit:

Or as JVW, with his classic witty precision, described Kerry:

The smug certainty which turns out to be 100% wrong, the peering down his nose past his reading glasses, the insouciant posture reclining back with this legs crossed, the location being – what else — a Brookings Institution event sponsored by Haim Saban’s Foundation with Jeffrey Goldberg as event moderator: it’s the complete vileness of the Democrat establishment in one short video. The only wrong note is that it took place in Washington DC, not in Aspen or, better yet, Davos. But still.

Fifth news item

U.S. Covid-19 deaths surpass 200,000:

In the predawn hours of March 30, Dr. Deborah Birx stepped in front of the camera on the White House lawn and made an alarming prediction about the coronavirus, which had, by then, killed fewer than 3,000 people in the United States.

“If we do things together, well, almost perfectly, we can get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities,” Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, told Savannah Guthrie of NBC News’ “Today” show.

“We don’t even want to see that,” she added, before Guthrie cut her off.

Yet here we are.

Sixth news item

Inspirational innovation:

A family in North Carolina created a pop-up store that sells children’s books featuring main characters who are Black to counter the lack of diversity in literature.

The idea was born in 2019 when 8-year-old Langston Miller…told his parents about his dream of becoming a writer. Already an avid storyteller who spends his days filling up journal after journal with short stories, Langston said his books would be about young Black boys just like himself.
“I want books to show us Black children the way we are — beautiful, handsome, intelligent, and smart,” he told CNN.

Inspired by Langston’s dream, his parents set off on a mission to see how many books they could find that feature characters who look like him and his 4-year-old brother…

“We spent more than two hours and ended up finding just five books that had the style and quality of the stories he wanted to write,” his father, Duane Miller, told CNN. “When we noticed there wasn’t space for him, we decided to make that space for him ourselves.”

Months later, Liberation Station was born in mid-2019. The independent bookstore sells books written for, by and about the African Diaspora and specializes in the pop-up market.

Have a good weekend.


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Susan Collins joins Murkowski in saying no vote for a Trump nominee unless he is re-elected.

That’s two of four.

UPDATE BY JVW: A tale of two WaPo headlines, or why so many of us think that the major newspapers genuinely do not care for conservatives. (h/t Powerline)
Supreme Court


A Twitter Smear of the Sheriff’s Department Races Around the World While the Truth Is Still Tying Its Shoes

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:41 pm

Earlier today, I saw a tweet that claimed that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department had justified the shooting of Dijon Kizze in South Los Angeles “bc [because] Kizzee … listened to rap music.” The tweet had been retweeted by 144 Twitter accounts, including a very popular and respected Twitter account with nearly a quarter million followers. Lord knows how many people saw the tweet. But the tweet was a lie. I watched the press conference and the description in question is not just unfair. It is not just opinionated. It is appallingly dishonest. It is a smear. The tweeter, and frankly everyone who amplified this tweet, owe it to the public to correct the record.

All I can do is write this post, put it on my little-trafficked blog, and publicize it on my little-trafficked Twitter account. I’m confident the truth won’t be spread as widely as the lie has been spread, by a longshot.

Here’s the dishonest tweet in question:

I have watched the sheriff’s press conference, and you can watch it too, here. The relevant portion begins at 14:43 and ends at 15:56. It’s barely over a minute of video you have to watch to learn that John Pfaff is completely, utterly, 100% full of shit. The person presenting the video is Kent Wegener, the Captain of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.

CAPT. WEGENER: This photo shows the pistol recovered at the scene. It was a Ruger 9mm semi-automatic pistol loaded with fifteen live rounds.

CAPT. WEGENER: The final two videos were discovered on Kizzee’s cell phone and shows Dijon Kizzee armed with that same pistol a few days prior to the incident.

[Video plays of Kizzee displaying the firearm in his pocket, with a close-up of the back part of the gun including the grip and serial number.]

CAPT. WEGENER: We are able to read that serial number.

REPORTER: Is there any audio on that?

CAPT. WEGENER: There is.

REPORTER: Can you tell us what he’s saying?

CAPT. WEGENER: It’s a rap song, with a lot of F-bombs, and, uh, N-word being thrown around, so we decided not to play the audio.

That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. That is the entirety of the supposed attempt by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department “justifying a shooting bc [because] Kizzee… listened to rap music.” A Sheriff’s Captain played a video that proved that the firearm recovered at the scene had been shown in Kizzee’s possession days earlier, on a video found on Kizzee’s phone that showed the serial number. The Sheriff’s Department played the video without sound. A reporter asked if there was sound. The Captain replied there was. The reporter asked what the sound was. The Captain answered the question, indicating that they had made a decision not to play the sound on the video because it had a rap song with F-bombs and the N-word.

My question for John Pfaff and for everyone who retweeted this garbage or believed it is this: what was the Sheriff’s Department supposed to do??? Not play a video that proved that the suspect had previously possessed the exact firearm found at the scene, thus proving it was not planted? Play the video with the inflammatory rap song blaring? Refuse to answer the reporter’s question? I know you guys hate law enforcement, but do me a favor and put yourselves in the shoes of the most unfairly reviled profession in America, and tell me how you would have handled this better. Please, tell me!

It could be that John Pfaff didn’t watch the press conference and was misled by the fellow he was retweeting in this giant game of Twitter telephone: Scott Frazier, whose Twitter thread shows he did watch the press conference and live-tweeted it. Frazier’s thread is full of garbage, and I encourage the interested reader to watch the press conference and then compare what you saw with your own eyes to Frazier’s dishonest rendering of it. I will cite just one example, although I could cite many. Frazier says:

Capt. Wegener (whom Frazier calls “Wagner” for much of the thread) actually says he is not going to go through Kizzee’s rap sheet, and gives these details in response to questions. Begin at 18:06:

REPORTER: Where did he live? What was his residence?

CAPT. WEGENER: So, to say specifically where he was laying his head, I don’t have that information. I know —

REPORTER: Do you know where that video was shot?

CAPT. WEGENER: Uh, I have my suspicions but it’s not confirmed. I know that he frequented the Antelope Valley area. He had a criminal case pending out of Antelope Valley that involved an assault on deputies and bringing narcotics into the jail. That was scheduled for preliminary hearing I believe just two weeks ago. So, he was — he did have a domain up there in the Antelope Valley that he stayed at but I believe he also stayed in this neighborhood.

REPORTER: And I apologize, Captain: you spoke earlier about it, [unintelligible] — what was the felony for? What was his previous felony?

CAPT. WEGENER: Um, he’s had several. At this point I’m not going to go through his rap sheet.

REPORTER: But were they all in L.A. County or were they in other areas?

CAPT. WEGENER: They were all — all of the ones that we were concerned with were in L.A. County, and include firearms violations, narcotics violations …

Earlier in the press conference they mentioned that Kizzee was a felon and was the subject of a restraining order, and for both of those reasons he was not allowed to possess a handgun. That was the reason they mentioned those things: to establish that he was not a rightful possessor of a handgun under the Second Amendment. Scott Frazier would have you believe that they were just tossing out these facts randomly to smear Kizzee, but they established an important fact about his lack of a legal right to possess the handgun that he pulled on the deputies.

I’ll mention one more thing and then I’m done. Frazier — who keep in mind, is not John Pfaff, the original tweeter about whom I complained, but who was retweeted by Pfaff — does mention, further down his thread and in response to a question, the reason the Sheriff’s Department showed the video of him with a gun. Of course, he does so in the most tendentious manner possible:

Unlike Pfaff’s original tweet mentioned at the head of this post, this is not a blatant lie. It is unfair and it is opinionated to the point of distortion, but it’s not a flat-out lie like Pfaff’s. So why do I mention it? Just to show that if Pfaff read the entire tweet thread (which he recommended, keep in mind), then he knew the real purpose of the videos even if he didn’t watch the press conference.

This was an incredible smear job. If you have read until the end, and especially if you have watched the press conference (or at least the snippets I recommended) you can see how badly the Sheriff’s Department was maligned here.

In a world where people walk up to a Sheriff’s patrol car and try to execute two deputies, in an environment where police are routinely not only smeared but dehumanized, this kind of dishonesty is not just reprehensible. It is dangerous. I hope the people who perpetrated and spread this smear will see my post and tweet and work to correct the record.

BREAKING: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Died

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:42 pm


Things are now going to get very nasty very quick.




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