The Jury Talks Back


Guest Post by Leviticus: My Thanks to All of You, and My Hope for All of Us

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 3:14 pm

[Guest post by Leviticus]

To everyone who donated his or her hard-earned money to our daughter Shirley – Patterico, Simon Jester, nk, aphrael, Colonel Haiku, felipe, kishnevi, Jeff Lebowski, and a number of anonymous donors – my wife and I would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Your donations are the beginnings of her 529 college fund. I find it a surreal and profound honor that so many of you have invested your money in the education of my daughter, after investing nearly twelve years of your time in educating me.

To thank Patterico for organizing this collection for my daughter, I asked that he give me the opportunity to write a post describing what this site has meant to me over the years. He was gracious enough to oblige.

I am twenty-eight years old, now. When I first stumbled across Patterico’s Pontifications, in September of 2006, I was seventeen – surfing the web from a computer lab at the University of New Mexico. In December of 2005, I had dropped out of high school. I then spent a semester at a local community college while I studied for my SATs, and began at the University in August of 2006.

In his post, Patterico recalled me being “precocious” and “feisty.” This is a nice way of saying that I was a brat. I was self-conscious in the extreme, a crystalized percolation of moral anxiety and self-doubt, masked with a sheen of bravado and liberal politics. I knew little about the world, and less about myself, and as a result I was desperately invested in the idea of being the smartest guy in the world. This was obviously a wobbly peg on which to hang something so heavy as an identity. But I will say one thing in defense of my insecure, smarmy seventeen-year-old self: I had the instinct to engage, and an intuitive belief in the notion that “iron sharpens iron.”

I waded into the comments of this blog, with my untested boilerplate political beliefs, and I got schooled a lot. I still remember exchanges with a commenter named Pablo, who schooled me harshly and repeatedly. I also remember many exchanges with DRJ, who schooled me more graciously – frequently reminding me that I would “catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

Those sorts of exchanges, with Pablo and DRJ and Patterico and nk and Eric Blair and many others, quickly and effectively stripped me of the last vestiges of the idea that I was the smartest guy in the world – or even the room, for that matter. At that stage of my life, that was absolutely the most valuable lesson that I could learn. I have come to believe that humility – what James Baldwin called “the Descent” or “paying one’s dues” – is the necessary precursor to the development of mature identity, and I learned my first lessons in humility here. I also saw a sort of operational humility exemplified in the commenting styles of people like aphrael and DRJ and Machinist.

With the help of Patterico and this group, I began to deconstruct and reconstruct many of my political beliefs. I struggled deeply with questions that deserved deep struggle – justice and war, the rule of law, moral absolutism and moral relativism, checks and balances, the separation of powers, taxation, the police power, the death penalty, textual interpretation, the value of human life, and (perhaps most concretely) the value of human discourse. I did not discover many answers, but I discovered the inestimable value of asking genuine questions. I carried my newfound uncertainties into my classrooms, and profited immensely from them.

I got a little older. I was exposed to Discourse Ethics and communitarianism, which made more sense to me than any other ethical systems I had previously contemplated, and cast my appreciation for this community and its moderators in a new and theoretically grounded light. I graduated and went to law school, where I was encouraged to question everything but the legal system itself. I developed bad habits that led to good friendships. I expanded my understanding of myself by beginning to learn about relationships. I made my first serious life choices, and many mistakes as a result of accepting that challenge. I witnessed and analyzed so much government misconduct and hypocrisy that I began to see the State as the great enemy of human freedom. Throughout all of it, I continued to participate in the discourses of this community – less frequently, perhaps, but no less intently.

One of the things I always appreciated most about Patterico’s blog was its emphasis on process over outcome. In all of my years here – even in the beginning, where I was most intent on being a liberal amongst conservatives – I never viewed it as a place where discussions were driven by any particular substantive agenda, so much as a devotion to principles of consistency, patience, and reciprocal good-faith amongst participants. I always appreciated that my dissenting views were actively engaged, rather than arbitrarily silenced. I witnessed the development of customs that were indicative of that collective mindset: the notion of restating another’s position to his or her satisfaction, for instance, before proceeding to address it. I have come to recognize that as a rarity. There are not many forums remaining, online or offline, for good-faith disagreements or devotion to process over outcome. Most communities pursue an end, by any process; frequently, I witnessed this community defend a process, to any end.

It has been disheartening, if not downright terrifying, to witness the speed and enthusiasm with which America has cast aside the values of discourse and reciprocal good-faith in the past two years. Those values must, in my estimation, be the cornerstone values of any self-governing group of human beings – who must self-govern by some form of legitimate consensus if they are to self-govern at all. Perhaps it was always inevitable, given my relatively short life and my relatively long history here, that I would come to see this place (of all places) as a microcosm of political America, and a small but important arena in which one little skirmish in the battle for America’s soul could be fought. And perhaps it is fitting, then, that I should be writing this letter to all of you at this moment, where that battle has reached the doorstep of our community and singed some of its inhabitants.

I have a wife and a daughter, now, and my personal stake in the outcome of that battle for America’s soul is exponentially magnified. I can no longer afford to take a hands-off approach to the wellbeing of America’s soul. As such, the arenas in which that battle will be fought – like this one – take on a new and intense importance for me, and I will endeavor to honor them as forums in which the high ideals of discourse must be mindfully applied. I have not always adhered to the ethics of discourse these past months, due to frustration and confusion, but I hereby recommit myself to them.

It has been a true privilege to participate in discourses with so many of you over the past twelve years, and it is important for me to acknowledge that engagement in political discourse is not a privilege that all Americans are lucky enough to have. I want to ensure that my daughter has this privilege, when she is old enough to exercise it and appreciate. If we want to expand the circle of American discourse as widely as possible, to extend this privilege to as many of our fellow citizens as possible, then we should renew our vows here, in this forum, and then carry them outward.

A few years ago, I stumbled across a quote from Emerson that has articulated and informed my ends and means ever since: “I grasp the hands of those next to me, and take my place in the ring to suffer and to work, taught by an instinct, that so shall the dumb abyss be vocal with speech.” This community taught me many of my earliest lessons in that ethos, and I hope to pass those same lessons along to my daughter.

Again, I extend my sincerest thanks, and the sincerest thanks of my wife, to all of you who have invested in our child’s future. It takes a village, and I’m glad we have one, here and beyond.

— Levi

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I thank Leviticus for this wonderful post and for his years of readership and commentary. It’s very touching on a personal level to read about the effect that the site has had on the development of a younger person. I’d like to thank once again the people who contributed to the future of young Shirley. And in the spirit of the post, I’d like to admit my own sins in failing at times to adhere to the ideals Leviticus here describes, and join hands with him in recommitting to my very best effort to adhere to them going forward.

Leviticus also sent pictures of Shirley (including one with Leviticus himself). Here they are:

Shirley 1

Shirley 2

Shirley 3

She is adorable!


The Story of the Deputy Who Stood Outside the School Shooting Keeps Getting Worse

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

streiff told you last night about the Broward County sheriff’s deputy who stood outside and did nothing as children were being slaughtered inside. Here’s how the Washington Post reports it:

The armed school resource officer assigned to protect students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took a defensive position outside the school and did not enter the building while the shooter was killing students and teachers inside with an AR-15 assault-style rifle, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday.

But buried deeeep in the Washington Post article — 24 paragraphs in, in fact (I counted) — is this little nugget:

Peterson is mentioned as part of a 2016 social services agency investigation into Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old identified by police as the gunman. According to a Florida Department of Children and Families report detailing that investigation, Peterson was approached by investigators and “refused to share any information … regarding [an] incident that took place with” the teenager.


I’m trying to think of a legitimate reason that a sheriff’s deputy would refuse to share information about a potentially threatening teenager with social services. The only thing that comes to mind is some kind of misguided concern about the privacy of reports relating to juveniles. I’m not an expert on the confidentiality of juvenile records in Florida, but it beggars belief that there was no legitimate route for this deputy to share information in such an investigation. The whole thing reminds me of the FBI, which took tips about the kid and refused to lift a finger to even find out who the kid was. The attitude is: not my problem.

It’s still not 100% clear what authorities could have done about this kid if they had done their jobs — but it is clear they didn’t do their jobs. The FBI might not have been able to stop anything — but they didn’t even bother to learn the kid’s identity. The Sheriff’s Department refused to share information with investigators, took dozens of reports, and did nothing. And then this deputy failed to act at the critical moment when he could have saved children’s lives.

Part of me says we should not stand in judgment of this deputy. But then I think back to that story of the coach, Aaron Feis, who threw himself in front of students at the cost of his own life. Imagine if, instead, Feis had held kids in front of himself, using them as human shields.

That is, in essence, what Deputy Scot Peterson did. He allowed kids to die so that he might live.

But sure, blame the NRA.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


The Republican Governor, the Nude Photo, and the Indictment

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:30 pm

The Republican governor of Missouri has been indicted on felony “invasion of privacy” charges alleging that he threatened to release a nude photo of a woman if she revealed her affair with him:

Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted Thursday afternoon by a St. Louis grand jury on a felony charge of invasion of privacy.

The charge stems from a 2015 affair and allegations that he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman, taken while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound, if she ever spoke publicly about the affair.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched a criminal investigation of the allegations last month shortly after they become public. The indictment accuses Greitens of not only knowingly photographing the woman with whom he had an affair, but also transmitting the image “in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”

After news of the indictment broke, Greitens was seen being led down a hallway in the local courthouse by several St. Louis city deputies, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

RedState’s smoosieq wrote about the allegations when they surfaced last month, noting that Greitens had admitted the affair but denied the blackmail. smoosieq said then:

My own takeaway at present is, “What a bleepin’ mess.” It’s probably too much to hope that this sordid tale won’t distract from some of the positive strides Missourians were hoping to take with a legislature and Governor who were seemingly on the same page.

Well, it’s an even bigger bleepin’ mess now. The Governor is not taking this lying down, blasting St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner as “a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points.”

As always, the proof will be in the pudding, which is to say, the evidence. Until that is revealed, it’s all political chest-beating, illuminating nothing.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

George Washington Agrees to Serve Another Term

Filed under: Uncategorized — JVW @ 7:48 pm

[guest post by JVW]

This serves as my annual reflection on George Washington’s birthday. You can click on the links to read my entries from last year, from 2016, and from 2015.

By 1792, President George Washington had grown tired of public life. He had stood as what passed in those days as a celebrity for 35 years, having achieved fame for his diplomacy, bravery, leadership, and navigational skills (honed from his years as a surveyor) in the Ohio River Valley during the French & Indian War. He had become a prosperous farmer, shrewdly abandoning tobacco as a crop when he realized that it was being over-cultivated throughout Virginia and the Carolinas (Thomas Jefferson tragically lacked this foresight and spent most of his life in debt to creditors). After Lexington & Concord, Washington had been the logical choice as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, and his perseverance, tenacity, and determination to keep an army in the field year after year had worn down Great Britain — the world’s foremost military power — and convinced them to accept American independence. Finally, Washington had put down his plow and headed to New York to serve as the unanimously elected First President of the United States.

So by his sixtieth birthday, the Cincinnatus of America felt that he had given all that he possibly could. Washington had labored hard over the past three years to establish the office of the Presidency, famously disdaining flowery titles for his position and insisting that he be addressed in a simple and republican manner as “Mr. President” instead of the more ostentatious “Your Excellency.” He had done his best to nip in the bud the emerging spirit of party, as the nation’s leaders began to divide itself into rival Federalist and Republican camps. His loyal Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, had strengthened the national government by federalizing the individual states’ debts, establishing the Bank of the United States, and making plans to mint the first national currency. Determining that he had accomplished as much as could be hoped, and fearing that a second term would be plagued by rancor and recrimination of partisanship, the President made it known to his family that spring that he desired to return to Mount Vernon. Later that May, Washington turned to Congressman James Madison, a fellow Virginian, and asked him to draft an address to the people which would announce the news. Madison, who did not want to see Washington step down, prepared a three-page valediction which Washington intended to run in newspapers across the country.

The news of the potential retirement of the Great Man was not well received among his cabinet or his political allies. Hamilton and his arch-rival Jefferson united to implore Washington to stand for a second term, which he was assured of winning. Perhaps the two antagonists both felt a mutual paranoia that the other was conspiring to be Washington’s heir as chief executive, but on the indispensability of the man the rivals were in agreement. Jefferson, who believed that Virginia would work to undermine all of Hamilton’s financial reforms, famously told Washington that “North & South will hang together if they have you to hang on.” Washington asked his personal secretary, Tobias Lear, to make discreet inquiries as to whether there was any candidate that would be suitable to both emerging factions, only to be told that “No other person is contemplated.” Lear also reported that Senator Robert Morris of Pennsylvania believed that “the reasons for your continuing were, if possible, more strong than those which first induced your acceptance of the office,” a belief that Attorney General Edmund Randolph also apparently communicated. Washington, who had initially determined to make a definitive decision by the time that the Congressional session opened on November 4, was still on the fence when that date arrived, and made no mention of his plans when he addressed Congress, a fact that did not go unnoticed by observers.

History records that it was a rather unlikely protagonist who finally convinced the Father of His Country to stay at the helm for another four years. Elizabeth Willing Powel, the wife of a prosperous Philadelphia merchant and one-time mayor of that city, had known Washington since the revolutionary year of 1776. Described by a writer as “a saucy, interesting, attractive, intelligent, flirtatious woman . . . the epitome of confidence, determination, and class,” Mrs. Powel was exactly the sort of woman to whom the charming and debonair General would be socially attracted. When Washington mentioned socially to his old friend that he and Mrs. Washington desired to return to Mount Vernon, Mrs. Powel immediately remonstrated against the idea, using an argument that echoed Jefferson’s warning about a North/South split and declaring that Washington’s departure would lead to the dissolving of the union. Understanding Washington’s careful cultivation of his image, she bluntly informed him “Be assured that a great Deal of the well earned Popularity you are now in Possession of will be torn from you by the Envious and Malignant should you follow the bent of your Inclinations. You know human Nature too well not to believe that you have Enemies. Merit & Virtue, when placed on an Eminence, will as certainly attract Envy as the Magnet does the Needle.” Leaving office now, Mrs. Powel warned, would convince small-minded people “that ambition hand been the moving spring of all your actions. . . that as nature had not closed the scene while your career was glorious, you had with profound address withdrawn yourself from a station that promised nothing to your ambition and that might eventually involve your popularity.” Turning it up full bore, she concluded that her friend “was the only man in America that dared to do right on all public occasions. . . You have shown that you are not to be intoxicated by power or misled by flattery. . . and you have frequently demonstrated that you possess an empire over yourself. For God’s sake, do not yield that empire to a love of ease.”

Despite that, interestingly enough, the Old Man never publicly announced that he would consent to a second term. Nor for that matter did he announce that he planned to return to Mount Vernon. Instead, he simply remained silent and throughout the month of November the various state electors met and unanimously reelected George Washington to a second term as President of the United States. In a sign that harmony extended no further than the Great Man, the electors split their second vote among four candidates, with John Adams holding off a challenge from Governor George Clinton of New York, to remain as Vice-President. Washington never wrote or spoke of his feelings at being conscripted into another term as President, but as noted by historian Joseph Ellis, his Second Inaugural Address, “the briefest in Presidential history, only two short paragraphs long, wholly devoid of content, respectful but regretful in tone,” can be considered an accurate expression of his mood.

(Much of this information is sourced from His Excellency George Washington by Joseph Ellis, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation by Richard Norton Smith, and Washington by Douglas Southall Freeman.)


My Exchange with Jake Tapper Regarding the Shooting Survivors Whose Voices Weren’t Heard Last Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

I’m going to put my cards on the table: First, I like and respect Jake Tapper. He’s one of very few people on CNN who bends over backwards to be fair, most of the time — and he’s willing to interact on Twitter with people who are polite to him. Second, I was not able to watch his town hall on the Florida school shooting last night. Like Allahpundit at Hot Air, however, I was dubious about the notion of this town hall, given the title they chose for it:

The actual network-approved title of tonight’s event is “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.” This is an advocacy event, not a “news program,” and they’re making no bones about it.

Not having seen the program, I can’t claim to opine on its fairness. Any judgments I make without having watched it would be unreliable second-hand judgments based on clips I have seen and the general reaction of the commentariat. But Allahpundit made a point in his post last night about who was invited, and who wasn’t, and I think it’s a fair issue to raise: “It’s a showcase for very sympathetic victims on one side but not, a la Steve Scalise, on the other.”

So I decided to ask Jake Tapper on Twitter about two shooting victims who don’t toe the gun control line, and why they weren’t on the program. Here is our public exchange. I asked:

Tapper replied:

I asked another question:

I did not get a public response to that question. (I don’t mean to make Tapper sound unresponsive. He talked with me about it a little bit in direct messages, but I’m not going to repeat the contents of private conversations.)

In case you haven’t heard of him, Brandon Minoff is a survivor of the school shooting who has publicly expressed disdain for what he perceives as the media using the shooting to promote gun control:

A survivor of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who was previously interviewed by CNN and MSNBC following the mass shooting, told Fox News he believes certain media outlets are politicizing the tragedy to push gun control.

Brandon Minoff, an 18-year-old senior, said the media chose to target gun control advocates instead of focusing on the 17 lives lost in Wednesday’s slaughter.

“I wholeheartedly believe that the media is politicizing this tragedy,” Minoff said. “It seems that gun control laws is the major topic of conversation rather than focusing on the bigger issue of 17 innocent lives being taken at the hands of another human.”

Now, I’m not aware that Minoff tried to submit a question. Nor am I accusing Tapper of bias in the selection of students, since I have no reason to believe he was the person selecting who spoke. Again — and I’ll take flak from Trump lovers for this, but that’s fine — I like and respect Tapper, and see him as a newsman who tries to be fair. I’m not saying he wasn’t trying to be fair last night.

Here’s what I am saying: Minoff had a valuable perspective to offer CNN’s town hall. He would have been a good person to seek out. If CNN didn’t want to invite on Scalise because a) he’s not a survivor of this shooting and b) he doesn’t represent these Florida students, I think those are fair points. But a student who suffered through this shooting but nevertheless rejects the pro-gun control arguments is a voice that should have been heard. I knew about Minoff yesterday morning, and mentioned him in this post. I wish CNN had known about him too, and had sought him out to offer his point of view.

Please note: I’m not complaining about Dana Loesch being invited on to represent the NRA position. Dana is their spokesperson, and she’s very articulate, and clips like this show that she can hold her own. But the impression I am getting from critics — which, again, I can’t confirm because I didn’t watch the program — is that the town hall was short on skeptics of gun control among students who survived the shooting. And yet, they exist — and shooting survivors carry that “moral authority” that spokespeople like Loesch or politicians like Rubio (but not Scalise!) lack.

I’m going to take CNN at their word that they didn’t censor student Colton Haab or try to script his answer. This is not an accusation that CNN is trying to squash a particular position, so much as a lament that the perspective of Brandon Minoff was not heard.

That said, I thank Jake Tapper for his answers.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


CNN Chyron Writers Think They’re Clever (They’re Not)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

The guys who write the snarky little parentheticals in the CNN chyrons are at it again — and they have been unleashed with a vengeance:

I’ll save you the click. Here are both of the images in the tweet:

This Is CNN 1

This Is CNN 2

And they keep doing it:

The people at CNN would tell you that they’re just standing up for facts. (They’re not.) But the last tweet makes the point that the “facts” asserted in these snarky chyrons are not as clear as they would have you believe.

And the folks at CNN have their own problems with facts and bias. You want evidence of factual sloppiness at CNN? Their own Van Jones claims that mass shooters are all Republicans. (They’re not.) You want evidence of bias at CNN? They’re hosting a town hall with students called: “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.” With a title like that, one wonders how many victims who oppose gun control will be invited. They’re out there, you know.

Pushback on facts, especially with a perpetually dishonest President, is to be applauded. But there’s a way to do it, and a way not to do it. If you choose snark, and you don’t clean your own house first, you’re begging for the same snarky treatment in return.

I guess CNN thinks that these snarky chyrons are a good idea. (They’re not.) Apparently they think that running these sarcastic little parentheticals will cause viewers to take CNN seriously.

(They won’t.)

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Unbelievable: 12-Year Old Boy Is Latest SWATting Victim

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 7:40 am

[guest post by Dana]

When a 12-year old finds himself being SWATted, it’s got to be particularly terrifying:

A 12-year-old YouTube gamer and his mother became “swatting” victims and were terrified when their home was suddenly surrounded by police.

Peter Varady was frightened and tearful as the paramedics and police showed up at his home.

“It was probably the scariest moment of my life,” he said.

His mother, Carol Varady, said they opened the door and authorities rushed into the home believing it was a disturbance call.

It happened Sunday night as Peter, known online as Rolly, was livestreaming.

Authorities rushed through the home after getting a 911 call that a mother and son were going to hang themselves.

The report goes onto say, given that Peter has more than 100,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel, the chances of him getting SWATted again are increased. That, as well as the fact that the police haven’t yet located the individual who made the 911 call and threatened to do it again.


Billy Graham Passes Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 6:44 am

[guest post by Dana]

Billy Graham has passed away at 99 years old. Once, when asked if he feared death, Graham said, “No! I look forward to death, with great anticipation. I’m looking forward to seeing God face to face.” And now he is face to face with God for eternity. He is also reunited with his wife Ruth, to whom he was married for 64 years. Over many decades, Graham reached untold millions through his evangelistic work as he shared the Gospel throughout the world. His confidence and assurance in the redemptive power of Christ was unwavering.

Graham also understood that as a believer, he was a pilgrim passing through in this life on his way to eternal life with the Lord:

Some day you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! I shall be alive more than I am now! I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15




Fake News on Trump and McMaster (Guest Post by Olapmurt Dibareno)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

[Patterico is not feeling well today, and in his place will be a guest post by Olapmurt Dibareno.]

Hi, I’m Olapmurt Dibareno, and you’re gonna like me because I’m not one of those Never Trumpers. I’m here today to talk about the fake news in Politico saying that President Trump isn’t getting along with H.R. McMaster:

For a few weeks in late November, as speculation over whether President Donald Trump would fire his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, reached a fever pitch, Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly, also considered pushing out another top national security official: H.R. McMaster.

McMaster, the national security adviser who succeeded Michael Flynn — Trump’s first choice for the job, who resigned amid controversy within a month of taking office — has never quite clicked with the president, according to six senior White House officials. He is disciplined and focused, and has frequently clashed with Trump, who loves small talk and meanders from one subject to another.

Their strained relationship was on rare public display over the weekend when the president chastised his national security adviser for telling a crowd at the Munich Security Conference that evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election was “incontrovertible.”

“General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems,” Trump tweeted. “Remember the Dirty Dossier, Uranium, Speeches, Emails and the Podesta Company!”

Fake News! Do these look like people who “don’t get along”?

Trump McMaster

Boom! Anyway, exactly how is it supposed to show a “strained” relationship when Trump just said McMaster “forgot” to say those things? My guess is that they were part of a prepared speech McMaster had, but he started daydreaming or whatever, and just forgot that part. So Trump just points out that McMaster had a memory lapse, and the Lamestream Media acts like they’re having World War III up there. (Although it is pretty hard to see how McMaster could forget the most important part. He should probably pay more attention to his TelePrompTer. Not everybody can just stand up and talk and be as focused and hit all the important points as Donald Trump.)

This whole fake news thing goes back to that book by that scumbag Michael Wolff, who said that President Trump often gets annoyed and bored with McMaster’s PowerPoint presentations. If Michael Wolff said it, you can pretty much bet that the opposite is true. For cripes’ sake, the guy even said that Trump is bald and had scalp reduction surgery, but there’s no evidence of that at all!)

Anyway, this Politico article seems like it was cribbed directly from Wolff’s fake news book:

Trump has continuously chafed at McMaster’s “rat-a-tat” briefing style, according to a senior White House aide, who likened it to machine-gun fire. The president at one point gestured toward the general in the midst of a lengthy briefing and said to others in the room, “Look at this guy, he’s so serious!”

“McMaster is very much, ‘OK sir, here’s the point, here’s the takeaway, here’s my point of view, and here are the things you need to decide by the end of today,’ ” said Tom Ricks, a columnist for the veterans’ news site Task & Purpose and the author of six books on military affairs. . . . At least one official urged [McMaster] to simplify and condense his briefings and to present the president with fewer options when it comes to decision-making.

Again: saying McMaster is serious is hardly a giant slam. President Trump just likes to lighten it up from time to time. And oh yeah, like a guy who turned a small loan into a successful multi-billion dollar real estate empire really needs “fewer options when it comes to decision-making.” That’s a laugh. Have you read any of his books? President Trump is the master of multiple options. You don’t get to be an alpha male who bangs beautiful porn stars (which he doesn’t do anyway, but who cares if he did?) and have a beautiful Eastern European woman at your side at all times without knowing all the options.

What is really so stupid about this Politico article is the way they make President Trump seem like a guy who isn’t reflective and doesn’t like to read. Well then how do you explain these tweets?

How’s he going to know if a book was good if he didn’t, um, read it? I’ll be buying the book myself. People try to say that President Trump doesn’t have faith because he never asked God for forgiveness. As a deeply committed Christian, I think it’s great that we finally have a President who doesn’t do all these things he has to ask to be forgiven for. Don’t you? It would have been nice if Obummer hadn’t done so many bad things that he always had to ask for forgiveness, wouldn’t it?

Sorry, I know I’m rambling here, but when it comes to President Trump and how great he is, it’s hard to stop me once I get going. Anyway, the message is: McMaster is great, Trump loves him, and anyone who says different is Fake News.

Thanks, guys. This has been fun.

— Olapmurt Dibareno

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


Repeal the Logan Act

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 4:00 pm

As most people following politics know, there’s an obscure law called the Logan Act which makes it a crime for unauthorized people to conduct foreign policy with certain governments under specified circumstances. If someone like Michael Flynn negotiates foreign policy with a Russian ambassador, or Ted Kennedy asks the Rooskies to intervene in a U.S. presidential election, or John Kerry sends a message to Mahmoud Abbas not to yield to Trump’s foreign policy demands . . . well, then in theory, those people should be prosecuted if they were not a) government officials when they took those actions, or b) otherwise authorized to take those actions.

But nobody has ever been successfully prosecuted pursuant to the law, which was passed in 1799. Nobody has even been charged with a violation of the act in over 160 years. As a result, it’s become something of a running joke.

As an example of the way the law is usually discussed, take the piece in Politico titled Confessions of a Russiagate Skeptic, in which a panicky Trump-hater reveals his concern that there might be nothing to the Russia investigation. It’s worth reading for the entertainment value alone (Oh my! what if Trump didn’t do anything!), but for now I am focusing on this passage:

And there are aspects of the Russia scandal, too, that don’t quite add up for me. Take Flynn’s plea bargain. As Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, noted after the deal became public, prosecutors usually prefer to charge participants in a conspiracy with charges related to the underlying crime. But Flynn pleaded guilty only to lying to the FBI, which Bharara surmised suggests might mean Mueller didn’t have much on him. It certainly seems unlikely that any prosecutor would charge Flynn for violating the 219-year-old Logan Act, a constitutionally questionable law that has never been tested in court, for his chats with the Russian ambassador. It’s not even clear if the (stupid) idea of using secure Russian communications gear, as Flynn and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner reportedly considered doing, would have been a crime.

This is typical of the way the law is discussed online. Any mention of it is generally accompanied by a snicker and a dismissive attitude.

That is not good. If we’re not going to enforce a law, we should repeal it. And given how Ted Kennedy and John Kerry and Michael Flynn all skated, it’s obvious we’re not going to enforce it.

So get rid of it already.

And if you think the law makes sense, but needs to be tweaked to meet constitutional standards, then do that. There are those who want the courts to limit its reach — but that’s a job for Congress, not the courts. What Congress should not do is simply leave a law on the books that nobody going to enforce. Because that makes a joke of the rule of law.

The problem is that Congress has no real incentive to repeal bad laws. Glenn Reynolds once proposed a House of Congress devoted to nothing but repealing laws:

If the problem with Congress is that nobody sees repealing laws as job No. 1, why not create a legislative body that can only repeal laws?

The growth of laws and regulation in America has reached the point that pretty much everyone is a felon, whether they know it or not. But nobody in Congress gets much in the way of votes by repealing laws. All the institutional pressures point the other way.

So in a third house of Congress — let’s call it the House of Repeal — the only thing that the elected legislators would have the power to do would be to repeal laws, meaning that for them, all the votes, campaign contributions, media exposure and opportunities for hearings would revolve around paring back the federal behemoth.

It’s a good idea. I bet you could think of some laws to submit for possible repeal.

They could start with the Logan Act. Because it’s a danger to the Rule of Law to have a law on the books that everybody laughs at.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 80: “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:00 am

It is the first Sunday in Lent. The title of today’s cantata is “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God). The cantata was written for Reformation Day, but that won’t fall on a Sunday until 2021, and I can’t wait that long to give you one of Bach’s best-loved cantatas. And as we will see, the text relates nicely to today’s Gospel reading — and many congregations will be singing the Martin Luther hymn today that is the basis of the cantata. Listen to Bach’s cantata and rejoice:

The most recognizable iteration of the melody, from Luther’s hymn, is contained in the final chorale at 23:20 of the recording.

Luther is said to have uttered these words: “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” These words ring true to me, especially because musical works — Bach’s cantatas in particular — have played a primary role in bringing me back to the church.

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 1:9-15, and describes Jesus’s 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan:

The Baptism and Testing of Jesus

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Jesus Announces the Good News

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Last week’s Gospel reading concerned the Transfiguration of our Lord — another milestone of Jesus’s life, and another one where a voice came from the heavens, proclaiming that Jesus is God’s son. We have already heard verses 9-11 this church year, on the first Sunday after the Epiphany, but now we carry on the story to Jesus’s temptation and the proclamation of good news.

The text of today’s cantata is available here. The theme of fighting Satan is also apparent in this cantata, making this an appropriate cantata for the occasion. The opening chorus speaks of God being a fortress against “the old, evil enemy … and his horrid armaments”:

Our God is a secure fortress,
a good shield and weapon;
He helps us willingly out of all troubles,
that now have encountered us.
The old, evil enemy
is earnestly bent on it,
great strength and much deceit
are his horrid armaments,
there is nothing like him on earth.

A recitative proclaims God’s victory in “the war against Satan’s host”:

Only consider, child of God, that such great love,
which Jesus Himself
with His blood signed over to you,
through which He,
in the war against Satan’s host and against the world and sin,
has won you!
Do not make a place in your soul
for Satan and depravity!

I have given up both alcohol and chips for Lent — a double sacrifice that I’m sure we can all agree is very close to spending 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan! OK, maybe not quite — but close, right?

I’ve been criticized for bringing you only Bach in these Sunday posts. I’m going to continue to present Bach cantatas, but I’ll give you some other music when it relates — and today is a perfect example, because one of my favorite composers, Felix Mendelssohn, used the same Martin Luther hymn as the basis of the fourth movement of his “Reformation Symphony”:

The entire symphony is available there for you to listen to, but I have set it up to begin at the fourth movement, so you can hear the stirring melody used in Bach’s cantata. It begins in the flute, spreads to other woodwinds, and is gradually taken up by the full orchestra. At 27:42, there is a stirring rendition of the theme to close the symphony. The symphony was labeled Mendelssohn’s Fifth, but was actually his second, and is not performed nearly often enough.

If you’re interested in hearing a beautiful performance of Luther’s hymn sung in English, there’s this performance by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge.

UPDATE: A commmenter explains the meaning of the Arabic letter in the video, as to which I was previously ignorant:

The Arabic letter is a “nun,” for “Nazarene.” ISIS militants spray-painted it on the homes of Christians to mark them for terror and then seizure of their property. Some Westerners have adopted it as a symbol of solidarity.


Happy listening!

UPDATE x2: If you don’t have time to listen to anything else, make sure to listen to the duet at 19:12. It is one of the more beautiful passages Bach wrote — and that’s saying something.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


Happy Blogiversary to Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 6:00 am

Today is a milestone of sorts. This blog (well, the main site, anyway) began 15 years ago today, on February 17, 2003. I was 34 years old. I turn 50 later this year. My daughter had recently had her third birthday, and my son was four months old. Now my daughter is an adult. She can vote. My son is 15 and almost old enough to drive.

A lot of you have been around an awfully long time. I appreciate every reader and commenter (OK, most of them) — especially the longtime readers.

Thanks for reading, and spread the word!

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