Patterico's Pontifications


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 134

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the third Sunday of Easter. The title of today’s cantata is “Ein Herz, das seinen Jesum lebend weiß” (A heart that knows its Jesus is living).

Today’s Gospel reading is another record of the appearance of Jesus among the living. Luke 24:36b-48:

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

The text of today’s cantata is available here. Number 4, a duet aria, contains these words:

the Savior appears and comforts us again
and through Himself strengthens the struggling Church

Number 5, a recitative, has these words:

May your Hand enclose us,
so that we behold your powerful potency,
which your death and victory has earned us,
and that now, through your Resurrection,
a person does not die, even when he dies in the world,
and that through this we enter into Your glory.
Whatever is in us exalts You, great God,
and praises Your mercy and love;
your Resurrection makes them new again,
your great victory makes us free from the enemy
and brings us to life;
Therefore let thanks and praise be given to You.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]


Like Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, I Dissent on Syrian Air Strikes

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

Ted Cruz, September 9, 2013 on proposed air strikes by President Obama: Why I’ll vote no on Syria strike.

First, Assad’s actions, however deplorable, are not a direct threat to U.S. national security. Many bad actors on the world stage have, tragically, oppressed and killed their citizens, even using chemical weapons to do so. Unilaterally avenging humanitarian disaster, however, is well outside the traditional scope of U.S. military action.

Second, just because Assad is a murderous thug does not mean that the rebels opposing him are necessarily better. As of May, seven of the nine major rebel groups appeared to have significant ties to Islamists, some of whom may have links to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Their presence and power have only increased, according to media reports. We should never give weapons to people who hate us, and the United States should not support or arm al-Qaeda terrorists.

Third, the potential for escalation is immense. Syria is in the midst of a sectarian civil war, born of centuries-old animosities. We have no clear ally in this ­Sunni-Shiite conflict, and any “limited” and “proportional” strike could quickly get out of control, imperiling our allies and forcing us into the civil war.

The president and his secretary of state have repeatedly said that Assad’s use of chemical weapons violates an “international norm.” They insist it is critical that we send a “message” to Assad that his behavior is unacceptable. But it is not the job of U.S. troops to police international norms or to send messages. Our men and women in uniform have signed up to defend America.

That was Ted Cruz from 2013. I agreed with his reasoning then and I still agree with it now.

Donald Trump, September 7, 2013:

And August 30, 2013:

Trump was right then, and his reasoning is still true.

The first time Trump did this, Andrew C. McCarthy said:

I was with McCarthy then and I am with them now:

Because nothing is different now.

The Constitution says Congress must declare war. The President may conduct the war that Congress has declared, and can also act in response to sudden attacks.

Syria has not attacked us. Congress has not declared war. Strikes like these are an act of war. If someone did it to us, we would see it that way.

There is no constitutional basis for these attacks. Trump should not be doing this.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


President Trump Pardons Scooter Libby

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:34 am

[guest post by Dana]

Here is the statement from the White House:

Today, President Donald J. Trump issued an Executive Grant of Clemency (Full Pardon) to I. “Scooter” Lewis Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Richard Cheney, for convictions stemming from a 2007 trial. President George W. Bush commuted Mr. Libby’s sentence shortly after his conviction. Mr. Libby, nevertheless, paid a $250,000 fine, performed 400 hours of community service, and served two years of probation.

In 2015, one of the key witnesses against Mr. Libby recanted her testimony, stating publicly that she believes the prosecutor withheld relevant information from her during interviews that would have altered significantly what she said. The next year, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals unanimously reinstated Mr. Libby to the bar, reauthorizing him to practice law. The Court agreed with the District of Columbia Disciplinary Counsel, who stated that Mr. Libby had presented “credible evidence” in support of his innocence, including evidence that a key prosecution witness had “changed her recollection of the events in question.”

Before his conviction, Mr. Libby had rendered more than a decade of honorable service to the Nation as a public servant at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the White House. His record since his conviction is similarly unblemished, and he continues to be held in high regard by his colleagues and peers.

In light of these facts, the President believes Mr. Libby is fully worthy of this pardon. “I don’t know Mr. Libby,” said President Trump, “but for years I have heard that he has been treated unfairly. Hopefully, this full pardon will help rectify a very sad portion of his life.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Friday Round-Up Concerning President Trump

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:27 am

[guest post by Dana]

Limited time here, so a quick round-up of items in the news today concerning President Trump:

1) Predictably, President Trump lashed out at former FBI Director James Comey, in advance of his memoir’s release. Excerpts from Comey’s book are already online:



2) President Trump is considering (at this time) a pardon for Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff. It would follow his pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And it should be noted that, at this point in time there are reportedly no plans by the White House to pardon anyone snared in the Russia investigation.

Ed Morrissey considers the “why now” question:

…Trump no doubt sees a Libby pardon as a cost-free warning shot across Robert Mueller’s bow, a reminder that the president can start issuing pardons to anyone caught in a perjury trap, especially on tangential issues. It’s certainly going to give Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos some food for thought. Rick Gates would face a raft of state charges even if pardoned by Trump on the federal charges relating to his business dealings with Paul Manafort, so it probably won’t upset the incentives in place there. However, that case so far has nothing to do with Trump anyway.

Why now, though? The Washington Post suggests that it might have something to do with the influx of some new faces in the White House:

“Other Bush loyalists also expressed their frustration — including a number who are now in Trump’s orbit.

“Somebody’s going to have to ask President Bush why he went out of his way to say he respected the jury’s verdict,” John R. Bolton, Bush’s UN ambassador and Trump’s new national security adviser, said at the time. “If you think it was a miscarriage of justice, then you think it shouldn’t have gone to a jury to begin with.”

Alan Dershowitz, a vocal Trump defender on cable television, also pushed Libby’s appellate cause, calling his appeals “serious and substantial” and filing a brief in 2007 asking for Libby to be granted bail pending his appeal.

Victoria Toensing and Joe DiGenova, the husband and wife attorney team Trump considered hiring earlier this year, are also vocal Libby backers.

When Libby got his law license back in 2016, DiGenova told the Daily Caller: “Comey and Fitzgerald tried to frame Scooter Libby, and they did, but then they didn’t get it done. And then of course that idiot George W. Bush didn’t give him a pardon he only commuted his sentence.”

It’s all… so interesting:


3) Republican Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) opines in the Washington Post that everyone benefits from protecting Mueller – even Trump:

I believe in the rule of law, regardless of who occupies the White House or which party leads the Justice Department. That is why in August I introduced a bill to create a judicial-review process to prevent the removal of a special counsel without good cause.

Over the past several months, Sen. Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.) and I have been working with Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who introduced a similar bill, to reconcile the differences between the two proposals. This week, we introduced the compromise, the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act .

Letting his investigation run its course is in the best interest of the country, and it is the only option to ensure that the American people have trust in the process. This is critically important because it means when the investigation concludes, our country can move forward together. Our bill will help ensure that happens.

Tillis explains how special-counsel legislation would actually protect the President:

First, if the president actually removes the special counsel without good cause, it would likely result in swift, bipartisan backlash and shake the country’s faith in the integrity of our legal system. Talking heads and pundits on television encouraging the president to make such a drastic and counterproductive move most certainly do not have his best interests at heart. The result would not be good for the American people, the Republican Party or the president.

Second, the constant headlines and rumors that Trump is considering or has considered removing Mueller — “fake news” or not — are a distraction from the president’s agenda and successful policy initiatives. While the president is understandably frustrated with the investigation, I don’t believe he would ultimately remove Mueller, and the White House and the president’s legal team have indicated that he does not intend to do so. This bill becoming law would remove that narrative from the conversation.

4) Finally, there is a newly launched non-profit group, Republicans for the Rule of Law, headed by Bill Kristol and involving other noted Republicans who want to make sure the investigation continues, and that Mueller not be fired:

Republicans for the Rule of Law is a coalition of Republicans who believe the Special Counsel’s investigation should be completed without political interference. We represent the majority of Republicans who believe Robert Mueller should not be fired.

Kristol himself said:

Republicans should not hesitate to defend the rule of law, nor should they equivocate in doing so. We hope to encourage more of them to get out of a defensive crouch, step up to the plate and swing the bat on behalf of the principles of our constitutional democracy.

Amusingly, the group bought a 30 second spot on Fox and Friends (reputed to be Trump’s favorite show) and ran an ad in the Washington D.C. area supporting the special counsel.

Have a great weekend.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



GOP Launches “Lyin’ Comey” Website With White House Approval

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:09 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last month, President Trump said “As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump Campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State”. He followed that up with this tweet: “Comey knew it all, and much more!” The former FBI director tweeted in response, or warning:


Next week, Comey will be embarking on a publicity tour as his memoir “A Higher Truth” is set to be released. In an effort to blunt any negative fallout impacting the President, there is a new website being paid for by the Republican National Committee which aggressively lays out this administration’s case against Comey. It will also be fact-checking the book for contradictions and lies. According to reports, the White House approved all the talking points posted on the website. Amusingly, the site itself can literally be found at


Republican chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement:

James Comey’s publicity tour is a self-serving attempt to make money and rehabilitate his own image. Comey is a liar and a leaker, and his misconduct led both Republicans and Democrats to call for his firing. If Comey wants the spotlight back on him, we’ll make sure the American people understand why he has no one but himself to blame for his complete lack of credibility.

Question: How effective will this be, and does anyone really care about James Comey (other than Trump)? And, at this point in time, would a tell-all from an embattled figure like James Comey really impact voters in any meaningful way?

While it’s an open question how successful Republicans will be in making their case against Comey, given that Trump unceremoniously dismissed him last May 9, there is no doubt that many Democrats remain furious at how the former FBI director treated Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Republicans hope to remind Democrats why they disliked Comey by assailing his credibility, shining a new light on his conduct and pointing out his contradictions — or the three Cs.

Comey recently compared Trump to a “mob boss” during an interview which will air next Tuesday. No doubt when it airs, Trump will fire off his own searing series of tweets in response. This in spite of other very real and perilous situations demanding his attention.



Trump’s Twitter Foreign Policy

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:24 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Confession: I don’t own a Trump decoder ring. I’m sure some will emphatically say that this is a brilliant display of foreign policy chess being played out before the world and before several critical world leaders that are of great concern to the US. OK then.



One would assume as one’s position in the world increases in stature and weight, it might make a difference in one’s approach to critical conflicts. One might assume wrongly:


As far as new national security advisor John Bolton is concerned, having been on the job just a few short days, here are a few comments from February that provide a glimpse into his views on the matter of Syria:

I believe since the Syrian civil war broke out nearly seven years ago that the subject of Syria is, sadly, tragic though it might be, is a sideshow in terms of the bigger strategic picture in the Middle East,” Bolton said on Fox in February, using his preferred epithet for the conflict.

While many of his ideological fellow travelers have argued that Assad is the primary problem causing Syria’s many conflicts, Bolton instead posited that the dictator of Damascus was at best a tertiary concern, ranking him “a distant third” behind Iran and ISIS in terms threats to the region. “If you want to know where to go to at least resolve the bulk of the problems we face,” he told Fox’s Martha MacCallum, “it’s not getting rid of Assad in Syria. It’s getting rid of the ayatollahs in Tehran.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Paul Ryan Will Not Seek Re-Election

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:19 am

He didn’t do anything meaningful that others could not have done, and he failed at a lot. But others probably would have failed under the same circumstances. I don’t see anything uniquely bad about this one man that explains failure to reform entitlements or rein in spending. And if you think ObamaCare will finally be repealed now that the evil Ryan is out, you have learned nothing.

At least the way for Paul Nehlen is now clear! (He said, hoping he was joking.)

UPDATE: I wish I had more time to blog, but other chewy news items include Trump threatening Russia by tweet, and Russia responding by threatening American troops if we send missiles to Syria. So long, mom, I’m off to drop the bomb, so don’t wait up for me. Also, Andrew C. McCarthy’s piece on the Cohen searches is excellent. Read it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Elizabeth Holmes and the Politics of Feminist Entrepreneurialism [Update & Edit]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:30 pm

[guest post by JVW]

UPDATE: Ugh, I started this post last month and let it fester, then finished it up today. In my haste to post it before I had to head out, I failed to notice that I repeated myself at one point. I’m going to make a post-publication edit, but I’m appending this note for transparency’s sake. The sentence that begins “The goal of the company. . .” originally mentioned the origin of the name “Theranos,” which was then repeated two sentences later. Damn, I’m senile. – JVW

News came down last month that Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the too-good-to-be-true company Theranos, had been charged by the SEC with massive fraud, raising money for their innovative startup by falsifying lab results and overstating patent claims in order to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in investment money. Ms. Holmes has agreed to step down as CEO of the company she founded 15 years ago, forfeit 18.9 million shares of stock that she holds (the company was valued at $9 billion in 2013, but the scandal has dropped it by a factor of eleven down to $800 million today), pay a $500,000 fine, and be ineligible to hold a leadership in a public company for the next ten years. As part of the deal, Ms. Holmes is pretty certain to avoid jail time, and she does not have to admit culpability for the scandal that set Silicon Valley tongues wagging for the past few years. Today, word came down that Theranos has laid off virtually all of its employees, save for a skeleton crew that will likely either quickly revamp and salvage the company’s work, or turn out the lights and lock the doors for good.

Elizabeth Holmes’s road to being a Silicon Valley superstar started when she left Stanford as a 19-year-old junior to start Theranos in April 2004. The goal of the company was to “democratize medicine,” whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. Her credentials were strong: a whiz-kid Stanford student who talked her professors in to allowing her to do graduate-level research as a freshman, who filed and received her first patent before closing her teen years, who — like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and Michael Dell — left college early in order to pursue her dream. Theranos, a combination of the words “therapy” and “diagnosis,” promised to perform a series of valuable medical tests from a mere drop of blood drawn by the tiniest of pin-pricks which could be conducted at your local pharmacy instead of at a medical office. The concept would have brought a fast and cheap method of diagnosing patients and would have indeed revolutionized the medical industry. The company used an avalanche of positive media coverage and the Silicon Valley gossip network to raise over $750 million in capital, leading to the $9 billion valuation at its peak.

And then, sadly, it all came crashing down. The testing procedure never worked as it should have, and the hundreds of diagnoses promised never materialized. Worse still, it became apparent that Ms. Holmes and other Theranos were actively misstating trial results to potential investors, leading the government to intervene and begin the investigation that brought the entire house of cards tumbling down.

Once upon a time, Elizabeth Holmes was the most celebrated businesswoman in America. Young, intelligent, and attractive, she served as a sharp rejoinder to the largely testosterone-driven world of Silicon Valley and proved that women could be entrepreneurs — and successful ones at that — just the same as the boys could. Moreover, she was running a company that had a bona fide altruistic mission that would save lives, not like those knuckleheads who were figuring out more inventive ways to stalk your ex-girlfriends or argue politics with strangers. Many feminists understandably rejoiced when she replaced Mark Zuckerberg as the youngest self-made billionaire in the world. Maybe her natural competitiveness and hubris would have led her astray regardless, but as we look back on the wreckage it’s only natural to wonder if this sort of status as a trailblazer and icon didn’t push Ms. Holmes towards recklessness out of a sense of duty to the sisterhood, and ultimately cause her to fly too close to the sun.

We can all admire the spirit of exploration and discovery that helped build our nation, and there is nothing wrong with wanting Americans from all walks of life to participate. But we do a real disservice when we add trendy social politics to an already intense and stressful business undertaking.



Calm Down About the Cohen Raid

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 pm

I have a very firm stance on the propriety of the raid on the office, home, and hotel room of Donald Trump’s lawyer.

You ready? Here it is: I have no idea whether it was a proper action. But you’ll have to take it on faith that I didn’t consult the Magic 8 Ball before I concluded: all signs point to yes.

Commenters at my personal blog are no doubt representative of a large group of grassroots Republicans. They’re hopping mad. They’re calling this a fascist move.

Let’s take the dumbest possible Trumpist argument as a foil with which to clear away some of the underbrush. This may come across like a constructed strawman, but I’m seeing this point of view in my comments, so let me dismantle it before I take speak in a more measured fashion to the people who have not yet lost their minds.

The dumbest possible Trumpist argument is: This is Robert Mueller acting like a fascist. We are in Nazi America and the Gestapo has been released. Any prosecutor who thinks there is the slightest chance that this is on the level is necessarily corrupt. Seizing attorney-client communications shreds several amendments to the Constitution. Surely there is something wrong when Robert Mueller takes the word of a porn star and nothing else to raid the office of the President’s lawyer. This goes beyond TDS. It’s treason. Why, it’s no different from a SWATting!!!!1!

This is a pretty fair paraphrase of some comments I have seen on my blog. The crazy stuff — the stuff that sensible people would assume I am making up, because rational people don’t talk like this — it’s all there in my comments.

More and more, I feel that I have nothing in common with these people. I realize I’m telling off a lot of people who read what I write. I say this with the highest possible respect: you people have lost your freaking minds.

Let’s tick off some of the facts we know:

  • These warrants weren’t executed under the direction of Robert Mueller. They were executed under the direction of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a Trump appointee. Remember what I said here on March 29:

    There’s really no scenario in which this plays out well for Cohen. We know that Robert Mueller is looking at some of Cohen’s involvement in Russia-related activities like Trump Tower Moscow. Mueller seems like a thorough guy, and if he runs across illegal activity by Cohen of any kind in the course of his investigation, he can at a minimum refer those matters to the Justice Department, and conceivably take them on himself.

    Disbarment might be the least of Cohen’s worries at this point.

    New York Times last night:

    Federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer

    It didn’t take a genius to see this coming, but let’s not pretend Robert Mueller was behind this raid. Even Cohen’s lawyer admits this was based on a referral.

  • It is not unprecedented, at all, to serve a warrant on a lawyer’s office. It usually requires higher levels of scrutiny, to be sure — and like many prosecutorial agencies, DoJ requires several levels of approval for such a warrant. They got it here.
  • It is not unprecedented, at all, to seize attorney-client privileged materials. In no way does that constitute a shredding off the right to counsel or any other constitutional provision. Such materials require strict procedures — a “dirty” team or a special master, with rigid separation from the “clean” team — to ensure that the prosecution team does not get their hands on privileged material. But again: this sort of thing happens all the time. If you were unaware of that fact, it’s time you learned it.
  • A federal magistrate approved this. Yes, magistrates sometimes approve bad warrants. But this was a very high-profile warrant, and a magistrate would have a high incentive to look at it verrrry carefully, so as to avoid looking like a fool later.
  • This warrant is almost certainly not based exclusively, or even in any significant part, on the word of Stormy Daniels. Stormy Daniels is, to put it mildly, not a credible person. She has admitted telling lies about this episode in the past. But you know who else has been flapping their gums about this? Michael Cohen and Donald Trump. Between the two of them, they’ve put enough material in the public record out of their own lie-holes for us to know that Cohen put up the hush money for Daniels, days before a presidential election, and went to tremendous and almost certainly unethical (if not illegal) lengths to distance Trump from that payment.
  • Nazis killed millions of Jews. These people were executing a search warrant. Calm the [expletive deleted] down, people!

Do we know that there is a solid foundation of probable cause for this warrant? No. We haven’t read it. Without reading it, we can’t know.

But, taking the above bullet points into account, all signs point to yes.

And if you’re hellbent on assuming, without knowing any facts, that this is a Nazi move — the Gestapo in action; treason before our very eyes — then you’ve gone waaaaay off the rails. You’ve fallen for the propaganda. You’re willing to tar dozens of professionals as Deep State “traitors” based on the propaganda offered by an orange-haired clown and his soulless dunce confederates.

Now: let’s take a giant step backwards and raise a leg to pee on the left for a second.

Nothing here means Donald Trump necessarily committed a crime. It’s far likelier to conclude that a provable crime might be proved against Michael Cohen than Donald Trump.

None of this means there is evidence of collusion between Trump and the Russian government.

What is means is that numerous people in the executive and judicial branches of government thought there was probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime would be found in the office or residence of the President’s lawyer. And that they followed the path laid out in the United States Constitution to learn whether they were right.

Period. End of discussion.

Now calm down, and stop going full retard on the partisanship. Stop, wait, think, listen, and learn. Above all, stop. Stop yammering. Stop screaming that we live in Nazi Germany. You sound like idiots.

Just stop.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

More TDS: Michael Cohen Edition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:25 pm

This is the blog that did all those posts about Stormy Daniels. It was really about TDS, but we justified it using the fig leaf that Michael Cohen, who paid her off, might be facing some legal trouble as a result. What a bunch of TDS garbage that was, showing my TDS.

Oh, by the way, his office was just raided by the feds. (Note the link to the Big Media New York Times as if it were true. Where’s the critical thinking? Off to Conservative Treehouse.)

QUICK UPDATE: Me, March 29:

There’s really no scenario in which this plays out well for Cohen. We know that Robert Mueller is looking at some of Cohen’s involvement in Russia-related activities like Trump Tower Moscow. Mueller seems like a thorough guy, and if he runs across illegal activity by Cohen of any kind in the course of his investigation, he can at a minimum refer those matters to the Justice Department, and conceivably take them on himself.

Disbarment might be the least of Cohen’s worries at this point.

New York Times today:

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan obtained the search warrant after receiving a referral from the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to Mr. Cohen’s lawyer


[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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