Patterico's Pontifications


Well Knock Me Over with a Feather!

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:05 pm

[guest post by JVW]

In a surprise move, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to overturn an injunction by a San Diego district court which prevented the state of California from enforcing its ban on firearm magazines holding more than ten bullets. The law banning the “high capacity” magazines had been passed by the California Legislature and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016, and officially was to be enforced starting July 1 of last year, but had been blocked by the ruling from U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez shortly before it was to go into effect. Under the law, gun owners were supposed to voluntarily surrender their now-illegal magazines to law enforcement officers.

The decision by a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit was two to one in support of the injunction. Judge Benitez’s original ruling had sensibly declared that “a final decision will take too long to offer relief, and because the statute will soon visit irrevocable harm on Plaintiffs and all those similarly situated a state-wide preliminary injunction is necessary and justified to maintain the status quo.” In yesterday’s ruling, Judge N. Randy Smith (appointed by G.W. Bush) and Judge Deborah A. Batts, sitting by designation from the Southern District of New York (I didn’t know they used visiting judges to cover vacancies), determined that Judge Benitez was well within judicial discretion in suggesting that plaintiffs could suffer irrevocable harm from the ban as well as in his assertion that under the Heller decision a magazine which holds more than ten bullets could be considered protected by the Second Amendment.

In dissent, Judge John Clifford Wallace, a 90-year-old Nixon appointee who puts the “senior” in Senior Circuit Judge, suggested that “the district court clearly misapplied intermediate scrutiny by refusing to credit relevant evidence that fairly supports the state’s rationale for its [large-capacity magazine] ban,” pointing to a Michael Bloomberg-funded Mayors Against Illegal Guns study from 2013 purporting to demonstrate that guns with magazines holding more than ten bullets lead to more lethal mass shootings. Judge Wallace also accused Judge Benitez of failing to reach the same conclusions that another district court had reached in a similar case. But the two-judge majority would have none of that logic, dispensing with Wallace’s arguments in a pair of footnotes in the majority ruling and accusing Wallace of substituting his own discretion for that of the district judge.

While the magazine ban remains on hold, this case goes back to the district court for further ruling on the legality of the legislation. This case may very well end up back at the Ninth Circuit, and perhaps eventually at the Supreme Court.

Thoughts from David French at National Review Online here; thoughts from David Kopel of Reason here. I’ll leave it to you lawyers and gun nuts* to carry the conversation from here.


* Kidding! Kidding!


President Trump Weighs Out Putin’s Offer Involving the Questioning Of Americans

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:44 pm

[guest post by Dana]

There was again some confusion yesterday about President Trump’s lack of clarity on the matter of Russia. During an interview, when asked whether he believes Russia is still targeting the U.S., the president allegedly answered, no. I say allegedly because to me there is some confusion in the video as to whether he was responding to that specific question. Even so, I’m not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt because this comes a day after backpedaling on his comments in which he agreed with Putin over his own intelligence community that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 elections. So it’s not unreasonable to conclude that President Trump really does believe that Russia isn’t targeting the U.S. That would certainly be consistent with his naive/ignorant view of Russia, the adoration of strongman Putin and a disturbing tendency to throw his own people under the bus. Further, we have the statement of the journalist who asked the question:


With that, it is being reported that President Trump is considering a quid pro quo deal made by Putin, involving the questioning of American citizens by Russian authorities:

At this week’s summit in Helsinki, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed what President Trump described as an “incredible offer” — the Kremlin would give special counsel Robert S. Mueller III access to interviews with Russians who were indicted after they allegedly hacked Democrats in 2016. In return, Russia would be allowed to question certain U.S. officials it suspects of interfering in Russian affairs.

One of those U.S. officials is a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Michael McFaul, a nemesis of the Kremlin because of his criticisms of Russia’s human rights record.

Apparently, this is an offer the White House is taking seriously and one that is currently under review. When questioned about it, Sarah Sanders did not dismiss it:

“There was some conversation about it” between Trump and Putin, Sanders said, “but there wasn’t a commitment made on behalf of the United States. And the president will work with his team, and we’ll let you know if there’s an announcement on that front.”

Yet more confirmation that President Trump and his administration have no idea with whom they are dealing, and unbelievably view former-KGB strongman Putin through gullible rose-colored glasses. After President Trump’s Helsinki comments, Dan Coates, the director of national intelligence, warned that, not only did Russia meddle in the 2016 election, but there is no reason why they won’t continue to do so:

“The role of the Intelligence Community is to provide the best information and fact-based assessments possible for the president and policymakers,” said Coats, who took over as U.S. director of national intelligence in March 2017. “We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security.”

Suggested American citizens for questioning by Russian authorities include Michael McFaul, a former American ambassador to Russia, and Christopher Steel

That the President of the United States would remotely consider not protectingAmerican citizens from Russian authorities for questioning, boggles the mind. Clearly:

“The entire country should be aware of this,” tweeted Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School. “If Putin can single out” McFaul, Nichols said, “he can single out anyone. The President’s job is to protect us, not to even *consider* handing any of us over to an enemy government.”


Also, President Trump’s own State Dept. was critical of the proposal and the possible allowance of it:

In a news conference this week, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the idea of allowing the Russian government to interview American officials “absolutely absurd,” adding that allowing such a precedent “would be a grave concern to our former colleagues here.”

Interestingly, I started this post early this morning, but because it takes me so long time to complete a post, I am just now reading about this coincidentally timed turn of events:

The White House says President Trump opposes a proposal floated by Russian President Vladi­mir Putin that would allow Russia to interview American officials in exchange for making Russian authorities indicted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe available for questioning.

The White House announced Trump’s opposition Thursday moments before the Senate voted 98 to 0 to approve a resolution telling the president not to honor Putin’s request, which would have exposed former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul, among others, to Russian questioning.

“It is a proposal that was *made in sincerity by President Putin, but President Trump disagrees with it,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Hopefully President Putin will have the 12 identified Russians come to the United States to prove their innocence or guilt.”

*Are You Kidding Me??




The Latest with Brexit (Don’t Worry: Trump Will Be Mentioned)

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:18 am

[guest post by JVW]

There is a very interesting piece on National Review Online today by John O’Sullivan which recounts the trials and tribulations of Theresa May and her Tory Party as they attempt to negotiate Britain’s exit from the European Union, demanded by British voters two summers ago in a bold move that presaged the election of Donald Trump across the Atlantic later that fall. The piece is long, and chock full of details, but let me see if I can pull some of the more interesting tidbits here. The lede paragraph:

A massive political and constitutional crisis is gathering pace in Britain. It began earlier this year, perhaps as early as February, when Prime Minister Theresa May began to run her own private policy on Brexit through officials in Downing Street and the Cabinet Office — a policy that was different from, and arguably opposite to, the Brexit policy that had the approval of the cabinet and the public. But it emerged that something unorthodox might be happening only two weeks ago, when reports began to circulate in Whitehall and Westminster that the prime minister would advise a Chequers cabinet meeting on the next Friday to choose a hitherto unknown “third way” rather than two earlier options for leaving the European Union Customs Union.

According to O’Sullivan, PM May then assured the EU that there was no third way plan under development, all the while preparing to browbeat her Tory allies, gathered at a party retreat at Chequers (the British Prime Minister’s version of Camp David), into adopting the plan. At this nefarious task, she was apparently successful. O’Sullivan describes how the retreat went down:

Isolate them in a remote location, cut off their escape, take away their phones, give them complex bureaucratic papers to read, cut the time for reading short, examine them on their reading, confuse them, mock any mistakes they make, demand they sign the document, threaten them with non-personhood if they refuse, and if they do refuse, tell them the decision has already been made by the Party and that their refusal is meaningless. It was a brilliant technique — call it Applied Stockholm Syndrome — and it worked. Most of those present nodded smilingly and signed; some were reluctant but they signed too in order not to spoil the occasion, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson even proposed a toast to Big Sister. Happy to be still in power, they all got into their cars and returned to London.

Thus, this third way plan took shape. Britain would leave the EU Customs Union, but then immediately strike a common territory deal with it; Britain would leave the single market, but continue to adhere to its regulations; Britain would leave the European Court of Justice, but British courts would be instructed to follow the European Court’s precedents. When buyer’s remorse set in among her grumpy cabinet, May suddenly saw key members resign. O’Sullivan unpacks the deception practiced along the way:

Freed from collective responsibility and angered by May’s duplicitous treatment, both [Brexit Secretary Dave] Davis and [Junior Brexit Minister Steve] Baker charged that, in effect, she had set up Davis’s Department for Exiting the EU (DexEU) as a kind of Potemkin ministry to make it appear that Brexit was going ahead while a small cabal of officials — notably her chief civil-service adviser, Olly Robbins, in Downing Street — negotiated an entirely different outcome. Conducting such an exercise in deception meant such things as reaching agreements with Davis intended to be diluted or broken outright or even lying to Davis’s face. [. . .]

Yet there was a paradoxical result of this dishonesty: DexEU ministers and officials in fact produced a white paper on how to achieve a Brexit that meant Brexit. [. . . ] And of course, when the cabinet adopted [the Chequers] plan without open dissent that Friday, the general (and largely unconsidered) assumption was that the rival DexEU white paper would sink deep into the files and never emerge.

That’s why the chief Remainer talking point after Chequers was that the Leavers had had two years to come up with a Brexit plan and failed to do so. Since they couldn’t put up, they should shut up. This argument was everywhere on television, newspapers, and the Web, and some intelligent people claimed to find it powerful.

In other words, according to O’Sullivan, Prime Minister May treated Brexit as a boat race from the get go, with the desired outcome always one which was Brexit in name only and didn’t really untangle ties to Brussels. But once Steve Baker took the DexEU outline to the British website ConHome which published it in 24 parts, the government’s arguments that no other viable alternatives had been presented were exposed as bogus.

But I promised in the post’s title that President Trump would make an appearance, so here he is:

All this created an atmosphere at Westminster of instability, uncertainty, even chaos, and right on cue Donald Trump arrived. There followed three days of diplomatic pratfalls, insults, inappropriate political interventions, minor court discourtesies, apologies, and at last charm offensives until the Donald left a relieved Theresa May for Helsinki. [. . .] But it left an impact on two serious matters. Trump managed to get the Europeans to concede that this time they’d have to hike their defense spending. Second, he said — and despite all the blunders and apologies he didn’t retract the statement — that May’s version of Brexit was not compatible with the U.S.–U.K. free-trade deal he was offering. People took that on board: Obama may have threatened, but May was actually sending Britain to “the back of the queue.” It was yet one more sign that her version of Brexit was not meeting her red lines, what people had voted for, or what Brexiteers in her own party plainly wanted.

Mrs. May and her conservatives have now sunk to the point where Labour, led by the execrable Jeremy Corbyn, has a four-point lead in preference polls. Although the Prime Minister earnestly declares no compromises on Britain’s exit from the customs union, single market, and European court, very few Britons take her seriously. And according to O’Sullivan, she is getting quite close to being dragged into a party leadership challenge, so it’s possible that we might yet see a Churchillian return from Boris. One silver lining, according to O’Sullivan, is that Brexit now turns out to be more popular among Tory MPs than it previously had been, so a sensible and sincere plan for leaving the EU might still be attainable.

This is the part where I encourage you to read the entire piece.



President Trump: What I Said, What I Really Meant To Say

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In the wake of having been pilloried from all sides after his joint press conference with President Putin, President Trump felt the need was pressured by Republicans to backpedal clarify his statements regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This after he told Sean Hannity in an interview last night that, “I thought that President Putin was very, very strong.” In his clarification today, President Trump expressed his support of the U.S. intelligence community. But of course, he didn’t just leave it at that:

“I thought that I made myself very clear, but having just reviewed the transcript…I realized that there is a need for some clarification,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House. “The sentence should have been…’I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia’.”

“I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying…that I accept our American intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” the president said.

But, Trump added, “Could be other people also, there’s a lot of people out there.”


During his Tuesday remarks, Trump also said that his administration took the threat of continued Russian interference seriously and vowed to move aggressively to “repel” any efforts by Moscow to interfere in future U.S. elections. “We’re doing everything in our power to prevent Russian interference in 2018,” he said.

Responses to President Trump’s statements yesterday were sharp – and insightful – to say the least:

President Trump and Russian president-for-life Vladimir Putin’s news conference in Helsinki on Monday was the lowest point in the history of the American presidency. Standing next to a dictatorial leader accused by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement of attacking the foundations of American democracy, Trump often appeared confused and incoherent — and those were his best moments at the podium. The rest of the time he spent praising the KGB dictator to his left and attacking the institutions he swore an oath to defend. It was a Russia First performance, from beginning to end.

For Putin, the summit was a great success before it even started. Without the recurrent legitimacy of the ballot box — I assume no one still believes that Russia’s elections are real — dictators crave ways to demonstrate their credibility and to pass off their own interests and power as those of the nation. The tried and true methods are war, hosting sporting spectacles and appearing with important foreign leaders, especially democratically elected ones. Putin has managed a hat trick with his invasion of Ukraine still ongoing, the World Cup that ended in Moscow on Sunday and an imposing performance in Helsinki next to a feeble and cowed American president.

Other than Putin wanting it badly, there was no purpose behind this spectacle in Helsinki. Putin’s wish list is transparent: legitimacy as the ruler of Russia and stature on the global stage; Russia as power broker in Ukraine, Syria and Iran; weakening the United States’ commitment to its Group of Seven allies, NATO and the European Union; lowered Western defenses against his attacks; and Trump’s help in all these things. Putin also wants the United States to end sanctions and recognize his annexation of Crimea, but he senses that that would be too much to ask right now, and that they could be taken out of Trump’s hands if he pushes too far. In contrast, there is nothing the United States needs from Putin other than to stop the hostile acts that he uses to achieve his ends. He must be stopped, not negotiated with.

Despite the long list of Putin’s suspected atrocities, including the downing of Flight MH17 over Ukraine and aiding Bashar al-Assad’s massacres in Syria, Trump eagerly applied the Kremlin’s patented technique of moral equivalence, saying, “I hold both countries responsible” and that “we’re all to blame” for poor Russian America relations. To this I can only cite Polish writer Stanisław Jerzy Lec: Just when you think you’ve reached the bottom, someone knocks from below.



Step It Up, America! President Trump Says We’re Also To Blame For Strained Relations With Russia

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:30 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Before a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Trump tweeted this:


During the joint press conference held in Helsinki, President Trump was asked whether he holds Russia responsible for the strained relationship between the two countries. Evidencing a questionable commitment to America, the American people and his own government, President Trump claimed while standing next to President Putin, that “we’re all to blame” for the strained relationship with Russia. Unbelievable:

Here’s a transcript:

REPORTER: Do you hold Russia accountable for anything?

TRUMP: We’re all to blame. Yes I do [hold Russia responsible]. I hold both countries responsible.

I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish. We should’ve had this dialogue a long time ago; a long time, frankly, before I got to office.

And I think we’re all to blame. I think that the United States now has stepped forward along with Russia, and we’re getting together and we have a chance to do some great things, whether it’s nuclear proliferation in terms of stopping — you have to do it, ultimately that’s probably the most important thing that we could be working on.

But I do feel that we have both made some mistakes. I think that the — the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart, it’s kept us separated.

There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it. And people are being brought out to the fore (ph). So far that I know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. And they’re going to have to try really hard to find somebody that did relate to the campaign.

That was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. And, frankly, we beat her — and I’m not even saying from the standpoint — we won that race. And it’s a shame that there could even be a little bit of a cloud over it. People know that, people understand it. But the main thing — and we discussed this also — zero collusion.

And so forth…

Apparently, what defines an “enemy” is up for grabs in this season of Trump. And that unfortunately makes the United States rather vulnerable to Putin and his thugs:


Watch the entire press conference here, or read the transcript here. There were a number of interesting – and dismaying – exchanges. This for example:



When Your Party Passes You By

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:59 am

[guest post by JVW]

How old is Senator Dianne Feinstein? She was appointed to the California Woman’s Parole Board by Governor Brown — um, Governor Pat Brown, Moonbeam Jerry’s dad. She’s held elective office for nearly a half-century, ever since being elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors back in 1969, and she’s held elective office longer than at least ten of her Senate colleagues have been alive.

This past Saturday, as she is in the midst of preparing to run for fifth full term which would take her into her ninety-second year, Senator Feinstein suffered the indignity of having her party fully endorse her opponent, State Senator Kevin de León, who is running on a platform of making California’s Congressional delegation even further left-wing than it has been. Feinstein secured the endorsements of the key labor unions and business interests that are friendly to Democrats, and even received outside endorsements from the likes of Barack Obama. But it wasn’t enough to overcome de León’s popularity among young leftists, who are increasingly taking over the state party. In the end, 65% of the voting delegates favored the Los Angeles man, surpassing the 60% threshold needed to secure the party endorsement. Sensing that she was headed towards defeat, Feinstein made a last-ditch effort to encourage party delegates to withhold an endorsement by abstaining from the vote, but she could not muster the numbers to stop de León’s momentum.

Well, she had a good run anyway. Once upon a time Dianne Feinstein was allegedly the most popular politician in all of California, with worshipful scribes like the annoying Tom Elias continually singing her praises as the moderate Democrat perfectly in tune with the mores of the state. Here is what I wrote last year, when the first stirrings of dissent were percolating among activists Dems:

Feinstein, a super-wealthy San Franciscan whose husband made a financial killing on defense and other government contracts while she served in the Senate, is what passes for a moderate in California these days. She has in the past voted for tax cuts and tax increases both, depending upon which way the political winds are blowing, and she is happy to support defense spending when it benefits the Golden State. Yet at the same time, Senator Feinstein has parked herself safely on the Barbara Boxer/Nancy Pelosi left on every social issue under the sun, with her particular fondness being a unstinting cheerleader for abortion. This has made her a favorite of the wealthy progressive set in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and a particular favorite of the dopey columnist Tom Elias, who regularly sings praises to her as the ideal politician for the Golden State.

But California Democrats are now moving at warp speed to the Social Democrat model. De León favors single-payer health care; Feinstein is leery of it. De León wants to abolish ICE; Feinstein isn’t sure that’s such a great idea. De León believes that impeachment hearings should begin in the House immediately; Feinstein doesn’t yet believe that an adequate case has been made. De León’s supporters view this endorsement as the changing of the guard, when a new generation of party activists seize the reins of power long held by older white Democrats like Feinstein, Jerry Brown, Nancy Pelosi, and Barbara Boxer. Feinstein’s supporters see this endorsement as party insiders attempting to dictate the party’s direction irrespective of what the voters desire (Feinstein beat de León in the open primary last month, 44% to 12%), and ironically compare this to Hillary Clinton using superdelegates to lock Bernard Sanders out of the nomination (both Feinstein and de León endorsed Clinton over Sanders in 2016; for his part, Sanders has not yet endorsed either candidate in this election).

Feinstein is still the odds-on favorite, having bested de León in every single county during the primary, even beating him in his own district. But the party endorsement has the potential to be a game changer, as Democrat money will now be directly used in support of de León (Feinstein has a huge fund-raising advantage) and the party’s organizational apparatus will be at his disposal. The June primary typically brings out an older, whiter, and wealthier electorate which clearly favored Feinstein. Who knows: perhaps if California Democrats channel their Trump anger and turn-out the diverse young budding socialists, Feinstein might find herself back in San Francisco permanently.



The Great War One Hundred Years Ago Today

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:58 pm

[guest post by JVW]

On July 15, 1918, the German First and Third Armies attacked the French Fourth Army just east of Reimes, beginning what came to be known as the Second Battle of the Marne. By this point the German forces had been ravaged by influenza, and despite having successfully advanced in Northern France from March until June of that year, the Kaiser’s troops were overworked, undernourished, and dispirited. The German commander, General Erich Ludendorff, had led the spring offensive hoping to penetrate the Allied lines on the Western Front, thus rallying his troops while simultaneously providing Germany with one last opportunity for an end-run to Paris.

File found at

File found at

The fighting commenced the day before with Germany firing 17,500 gas shells at the American 42nd Rainbow Division whose Chief of Staff was a 38-year-old newly-promoted brigadier general named Douglas MacArthur. The 42nd was about 20 miles west of Reims at Château-Thierry, so the attack appears to be intended to prevent the Americans from reinforcing the Fourth Army to the east. The gas would incapacitate over 1,000 American troops and blind dozens, though only six were killed. On that same day, Bastille Day, Second Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt, son of the former President, was shot down and killed piloting his Nieuport 28 ten miles east of the 42nd in Chamery (now known as Coulonges-Cohan).

The Germans also bombed the French lines at Souain-Perthes-lès-Hurlus, 10 miles east of Reims. The French, however, had advance warning of the assault thanks to intelligence from some prisoners of war, and left a skeleton crew in their front trenches as they fell back to the rear. Thus, the Germans basically wasted their heavy artillery to kill a very few troops left behind in the ruse. At the same time, the advance intelligence on the German movements gave the Americans and French the opportunity to shell the German lines as they assembled to attack, further disorienting the Hun. As the German First and Third passed through the abandoned trenches, they were quickly cut down by French troops who had dug new trenches a quarter-mile back from the German bombardment.

The next day, July 16, the Germans fired a half million shells against the French and American forces, dropping over 9000 tons of mustard gas, phosgene, and diphenylchlorarsine as the Kaiser himself watched from the First Army observation point 14 miles to the northeast. Despite the onslaught, the French heavy guns managed to destroy 20 German tanks (the tank being new to the war, appearing on the battlefield for the first time a year earlier) and French bombardiers along with American artillery successfully destroyed every bridge that the Germans had managed to build to cross the Marne River. German troops attempting to ford the river at its most shallow points were easily mowed down by waiting Yank machine gunners. Even the Italian troops (insert your favorite Italian war joke here) got in on the act, repelling a German offensive at Nanteuil-Pourcy. On July 18, the Allied armies under Marshal Ferdinand Foch launched their counter-attack, driving the Germans back four-and-one-half miles and capturing 20,000 prisoners in one day’s worth of fighting.

The events of July 15, 1918 would be recognized as the last significant German offensive of the Great War. The Second Battle of the Marne would officially last until August 6, at which point the Kaiser’s lines had been driven back 28 miles, several beyond the point where they had launched the spring offensive five months earlier. The American poet Joyce Kilmer would be killed in action on July 30 while accompanying Major William J. “Wild Bill” Donovan (who founded the Office of Strategic Services in the next war) to scout the position of German machine guns prior to an impending Allied attack. A little over three months later, the war mercifully concluded.

Note: Most of the above is taken from the late Sir Martin Gilbert’s excellent account, The First World War. I regret that I loaned my copy of the late John Keegan’s The First World War to my father, as I would have liked to consult it as well in writing this post. Both books are indispensable for an understanding of that momentous conflict.


Trump’s Advice to Theresa May on Brexit

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:21 am

If only she had listened! New York Times:

Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday revealed the advice President Trump had given her on how to negotiate Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union: Go straight to court.

Mrs. May was asked by the BBC about comments Mr. Trump made both in an interview in the British tabloid The Sun and later at a news conference on Friday at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence, northwest of London.

“He told me I should sue the E.U.,” Mrs. May said.


[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 60 and More

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

It is the eighth Sunday after Pentecost, and I have a lot of music for you today — not just Bach. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort” (O eternity, you word of thunder):

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 6:14-29.

John the Baptist Beheaded

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Others said, “He is Elijah.”

And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”

But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”

For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.

Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”

“The head of John the Baptist,” she answered.

At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”

The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John’s head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. On hearing of this, John’s disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Bach never directly addressed the beheading of John the Baptist in his cantatas. But his cantata is a dialogue between allegorical figures representing the fear of death (sung by the alto) and the hope of salvation (sung by the tenor). Hope wins out.

The text of today’s piece is available here. Here are the words of the final chorale, “Es ist genug” (It is enough), heard at 14:50:

It is enough:
Lord, if it pleases You,
then release me!
My Jesus comes;
good night now, o world!
I journey to heaven’s house,
I go there securely in peace,
my great suffering remains behind.
It is enough.

The setting of the chorale was an inspiration for part of Alban Berg’s violin concerto:

Listen around 19:40 and you’ll clearly hear the rising whole tones in the orchestra and then the violin.

The cantata also quotes the Book of Revelation in a meaningful reflection on death and hope:

Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben, von nun an.
Soll ich von nun an selig sein:
So stelle dich, o Hoffnung, wieder ein!
Mein Leib mag ohne Furcht im Schlafe ruhn,
Der Geist kann einen Blick in jene Freude tun.

This means:

Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord, from henceforth.
All right!
If I shall be blessed from now on:
o hope, reappear to me!
My body may rest without fear in sleep,
while the spirit can cast a glance upon that joy.

It is impossible for me to read the words “Selig sind die Toten” without sharing with you portions of Brahms’s Requiem. Let’s start with the passage that quotes those same words:

The words sung here are from Revelation 14:13:

Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herrn sterben, von nun an. Ja, der Geist spricht, daß sie ruhen von ihrer Arbeit; denn ihre Werke folgen ihnen nach.

This means:

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

And here is the gorgeous opening movement, opening with the same words: “Selig sind” (Blessed are…). If this opening movement does not hook you on the piece, nothing can.

The words sung here are from Matthew 5:4:

Selig sind, die da Leid tragen, denn sie sollen getröstet werden.

Which means:

Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.

Reflections on hope, for a day when the Gospel passage is filled with death. In Christ, there is always hope.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Rosenstein Presser and Indictments

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:37 pm

There should probably be a separate thread for this. It seemed like what Mueller should be doing, and I thought Rosenstein’s statement about putting partisanship aside was compelling.

Your thoughts below.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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