Patterico's Pontifications

1/22/2020

The Comically Unaware New York Times Opinion Page

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:20 am



[guest post by JVW]

I’ll keep it brief because you sophisticated consumers of political news already know that the conservative blogosphere is having a hearty laugh at the New York Times editorial board’s dual endorsement of Amy “Lend Me Your Comb” Klobuchar and Elizabeth “Lieawatha” or “Fauxcahontas” Warren. The laugh we are all having at their expense is in their fulsome description of the virtues of Senator Warren, who they knowingly and quite unironically inform us is “a gifted storyteller.”

This unintentionally apt description was of course immediately — what’s the phrase? oh yes — pounced upon by conservative websites because it is such a perfect example of that trite description that has dual meanings. National Review’s Charles Cooke tweeted a link to the NYT editorial board’s endorsement, with the soon-to-be-infamous quote pulled out and placed at the forefront. And though I didn’t ask him, I’m willing to bet it was not to congratulate the editorial board on their excellent choice. Unfortunately for them, the sarcasm was lost on whomever runs their Twitter account:

NYT Cooke retweet

I’m using a screenshot here because I imagine once the NYT Opinion Twitter account manager realizes that Cooke wasn’t complimenting their choice, they will delete the retweet. Of course retweets don’t equal endorsement or whatever.

– JVW

Impeachment Trial: An Utter Disgrace

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:00 am



The great thing about this headline is that anyone reading this blog can agree with it, albeit from different perspectives.

Perhaps you think it’s an utter disgrace that the Do Nothing Democrats are putting our patriotic president through this ridiculous process over a perfect phone call.

Or, some of you may see it the way I do: as a group of Senators who have bitched and moaned that the impeachment lacks evidence, repeatedly voting 53-47 not to hear more evidence.

I have heard all of the arguments in favor of Trump, and there’s not a single one that doesn’t sound like partisan pablum.

They brought the case without anyone with firsthand knowledge!!1! (Because Trump blocked the testimony of anyone with firsthand knowledge.)

If they thought this stuff was so important they could have gone to the courts!!1! (The same courts where Trump’s lawyers have been arguing that the courts have no business deciding these issues. How many months did they want Democrats to spend in the courts as the election drew closer, and what blame do they put on Trump for issuing a blanket statement that he would cooperate with nothing whatsoever? None.)

Trump had no chance to present witnesses in the House!!1! (Trump sent a letter to the House saying he wouldn’t participate, and if he thought presenting his side through witnesses was important he could do it now.)

They had secret hearings in the House!!1! (Attended by about 100 CongressCritters — and open to, and attended by, puh-lenty of Republicans.)

It’s not the Senate’s job to hear new evidence!!1! (The Senate has always heard new evidence in impeachments. Keep in mind that the precedents for impeachments go beyond those of presidents. And the precedents are clear: the Senate has always heard new evidence. If you don’t believe that, you’re in a bubble.)

You can’t impeach a president for abuse of power!!1! (Whoever is saying that, ask them what they said 20 years ago. In any event, this argument is both horse droppings, and frightening in its implications. Think about it.)

And on and on.

Susan Collins and other people pretending to be “reasonable” are saying, “hey, we’re not shutting down any further evidence! We just want to hear opening statements and answers to questions first!” OK, but they are also voting against issuing subpoenas for documents, which take time to deliver and to get results. Maybe they’ll vote to hear John Bolton in the end — I suspect they will — but they’re not actually interested in the truth.

Actually, if we all wanted the most direct evidence possible, Trump could testify. There’s nothing stopping him — and in my view, nothing stopping House managers from calling him. Just a thought!

The way Republicans have handled this so far, lining up one and all behind the corrupt actions of a corrupt man, solidifies my utter disenchantment with the Republican party. There is not a single one of them left I respect. Not Mike Lee or Mitt Romney, not Ted Cruz or Rand Paul — none of them. (Sure as hell not Donald Trump, who said the other day he doesn’t even care about the debt and nobody does, and it didn’t even seem to merit a post that the President of the United States made such a statement, both because it was obvious he and everybody else feels this way, and also because it is one of 10,000 atrocities he says or does daily.) Then there are the Democrats, who want to run my life like authoritiarians and take all my money.

To hell with all of Washington, D.C.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/21/2020

Was Trump’s Misconduct Enough To Merit Removal?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:55 pm



[guest post by Dana]

David French tackles the question here:

If I had to sum up the case against Donald Trump in one sentence, it would be this: The available evidence demonstrates that the president of the United States attempted to coerce an allied nation to investigate a self-serving, debunked conspiracy theory and a prominent domestic political rival as a precondition to receiving vital American military aid. If I have another sentence to expand on the claim, I’d add that he attempted to accomplish this scheme by using his private attorney to supplement and circumvent normal diplomatic channels for the purely personal benefit of the president.

[…]

But President Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine was different [than other presidents]. Here was a president, operating at the absolute apex of his constitutional powers, steering international diplomacy for personal benefit, and not only were there no clear means of constitutional restraint, there was obvious intent to accomplish the scheme well outside the public eye. The scheme was blocked by the unlikely combination of whistleblowing and informal political pressure. Even worse, a defiant administration refuses to admit to any wrongdoing at all—even calling the key piece of evidence against the president a “perfect” call. It was essentially our good fortune (through the courage of the whistleblower) that the American people have access to partial information about the scandal so they can factor it into their electoral calculus.

What’s the constitutional check for misconduct of that kind? Citizens can’t run to court to block this particular abuse of presidential power. We can’t even count on public knowledge for public accountability. The administration is still actively holding back material evidence.

Please read the piece in its entirety before commenting.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

1/20/2020

Request for Advice: Bar-Height Barstools

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:26 pm



Do any of you have bar height barstools?

We recently completed a (forced) remodel of sorts and now have a need for barstools for a bar height counter. I’ll spend a lot of time sitting in them so comfort, and a back, are a requirement. I’m looking for stools that are very firm and stable — no tipping over! I’m agnostic about swiveling but if it swivels the footrest should be round.

Any of you have stools that you like?

Poll: 51% of Americans Believe Trump Should be Removed from Office

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:49 pm



Tough to see how someone wins re-election with polls like this:

About half of Americans say the Senate should vote to convict President Donald Trump and remove him from office in the upcoming impeachment trial (51%), according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, while 45% say the Senate should vote against conviction and removal.

Nearly seven in 10 (69%) say that upcoming trial should feature testimony from new witnesses who did not testify in the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats in the Senate seek to persuade at least four Republican senators to join them on votes over allowing witnesses in the trial, the Republican rank and file are divided on the question: 48% say they want new witnesses, while 44% say they do not.

I’m out of the prediction business, but that just doesn’t seem good for Corruption Inc.

1/19/2020

RIP Bradley J. Fikes

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:44 pm



Via Simon Jester comes awful news of the passing (in November) of a friend of the blog, Bradley J. Fikes:

San Diego Union-Tribune biotech writer and The Daily Aztec alumnus Bradley J. Fikes passed away on Nov. 20.

He passed away due to natural causes while at his home in Grantville, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the newspaper where Fikes worked for over two decades.

He was 61 years old.

Read the story and you’ll get a sense of the type of guy Bradley was:

“I think the first thing people would say about him is his tireless pursuit of the story,” [Union-Tribune feature writer Pam] Kragen said. “He was in the office seven days a week, he just loved what he did. Brad never lost his fire. From the day I met him until the day he died, he was so enthusiastic about reporting on stories. I think he felt like he was delivering a public service, that he was helping educate the public.”

Kragen said Fikes will be best remembered for his kind personality and eccentric way of dressing. He was a favorite in the newsroom, both well loved and well respected by those who knew him.

“He was just a very happy, sweet, outgoing guy,” Kragen said. “I’d say he was the most popular reporter at the paper, everyone knew him and everyone loved him. I would say (he will be remembered for) his personality and his colorful way of dressing.”

. . . .

“Sweetness” was the lesson [Union-Tribune science and technology writer Gary] Robbins felt he learned from Fikes. His even temper and poise were things that stood out to Robbins, at times in contrast to himself.

“When people were mean to him and whatnot he was very even-tempered and I’m not so much like that,” Robbins said. “As I watched the way he treated people if it was a difficult situation and people weren’t being as nice as they should’ve been he would still keep that stiff upper lip, he would smile, he wouldn’t lose his temper. He had poise, he had professionalism, he was a gentleman.”

A lot of people who used to frequent this blog would gather together online in the comments section of a blog run by Cathy Seipp called “Cathy’s World.” I believe my valued guest blogger Dana was originally a denizen of the comment section at Cathy’s World, as were Simon Jester (under another name), Mike K, Gary McVey, Dmac, LYT, and a host of others. And Bradley J. Fikes, who gave me countless stories over the years, such that literally dozens of my posts ended with the word “Thanks to Bradley J. Fikes.”

I met Bradley and Mike K (and a few other folks) at Cathy’s funeral. He seemed like a very nice man, just as he came across on the Internet.

I think you can tell a lot about Bradley J. Fikes (or at least what I thought about him) from a passage I wrote from a 2010 post in which I was seeking evidence about AGW. I decided to demand perfect politeness — a nearly impossible standard — because of the hot-button nature of the topic. And in my demand, you can see that one of the only people I trusted to meet it was Bradley J. Fikes:

This thread will employ the rule of excessive politeness. Nothing even remotely disparaging will be permitted. And I’m not keeping any part of a comment that violates the rule. Your comment that opens: “I’m surprised you would fall for AGW” followed by 10 paragraphs of polite and well researched material gets nuked, entirely. I could end up deleting 90-99 percent of all the comments, leaving only comments by Bradley J. Fikes. I don’t care. This is such a hot-button issue that I’m not putting up with even a milligram of B.S. or invective.

Now that’s unfair to some other long-time commenters who also are and always have been unfailingly polite, but you get the idea. When I thought of politeness online, I thought of a small group of people and he was one of them.

Bradley had a heart attack in 2010 and wrote a PSA to me via email that he allowed me to share with readers. I don’t know if the “natural causes” mentioned in the news story about included heart issues, but either way his advice is good, and worth looking up.

RIP.

UPDATE: Simon Jester links to a scholarship that has been established in Bradley’s name. I have donated. It’s a nice idea.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Sunday Music: Agnus Dei and Dona Nobis Pacem from Bach’s B Minor Mass

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:58 am



It is the second Sunday after the Epiphany. Today’s Bach piece is the Agnus Dei and Dona Nobis Pacem from Bach’s Mass in b minor:

Today’s Gospel reading is John 1:29-42:

John Testifies About Jesus

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

John’s Disciples Follow Jesus

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

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

Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi,
miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi,
dona nobis pacem.

Which translates as:

Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,
grant us peace.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

1/18/2020

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:29 am



[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item: The staggering freedom of forgiveness:

Second news item: This isn’t hard to believe:

What exactly went down during a July 2017 meeting at the Pentagon between President Donald Trump and his military leaders has long been the subject of speculation. One of the tantalizing details that’s been previously reported is that, whatever took place, it provoked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call his commander in chief “a fucking moron.”

Now an excerpt of a new book published in The Washington Post demonstrates exactly what tipped Tillerson over the edge. An account of the meeting in the upcoming book A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America depicts Trump becoming increasingly angry as his generals tried to teach him the fundamental basics of American post-war history.

[…]

The book states that the meeting took place six months into Trump’s presidency after his generals became concerned about “gaping holes” in Trump’s knowledge of America’s key alliances…However, the meeting seems to have descended into chaos almost immediately….

The president reportedly called Afghanistan a “loser war,” and told his military leaders: “You’re all losers… You don’t know how to win anymore… I want to win… We don’t win any wars anymore… We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we’re not winning anymore.” It’s reported that Trump was so angry at this point that he wasn’t breathing properly.

…Trump—a man who, remember, managed to get out of military duty in Vietnam due to a supposed bone-spur problem—is said to have told the assembled forces, “I wouldn’t go to war with you people… You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”

The comment reportedly left the room dumbfounded. Tillerson was “visibly seething,” and decided to speak up. The secretary of state said, “No, that’s just wrong… Mr. President, you’re totally wrong. None of that is true.” When the meeting ended soon afterward, Tillerson reportedly stood with a small group of confidants and said, “He’s a fucking moron.”

Third news item: Radio Sputnik…in Kansas City:

A Kansas City area radio station can broadcast Russian state-owned media programming, the type that U.S. intelligence called a “propaganda machine,” for six hours a day through a lease agreement struck by a local radio operator.

RM Broadcasting LLC, a Florida-based company that has agreements to broadcast the Russian state media program Radio Sputnik, reached a deal on Jan. 1 to lease air time through Alpine Broadcasting Corp. in Liberty. Alpine Broadcasting Corp. broadcasts on three frequencies in the Kansas City area: KCXL 1140 AM, 102.9 FM and 104.7 FM.

… KCXL’s website… says that it’s the radio station that will “tell you the things that the liberal media wont (sic) tell you,” lists Radio Sputnik in its morning programming.

Fourth news item: Losing the championship to cheating Houston Astros isn’t sitting well with L.A. Dodgers fans:

The Dodgers are not scheduled to play the Houston Astros next season. That would seem to spare the Astros the in-person wrath of Dodgers fans.

Unless, of course, Dodgers fans bring their wrath to the Astros. And the baseball gods have teed this one up for Dodgers fans: The Astros play their first weekend road series this year at Angel Stadium.

So we checked with Pantone 294, the Dodgers fan group that has delivered as many as 2,200 diehards to a Dodgers road game. And, yeah, Pantone 294 is thinking about chartering a fleet of buses, packing them with a thousand or more Dodgers fans, and forming a caravan down Interstate 5 to greet the Astros in Anaheim.

And a class action lawsuit is being considered:

One of the many Los Angeles Dodgers fans outraged by the Houston Astros’ actions in the 2017 season, which ended in a World Series loss for the L.A. team, said he and his friends were considering filing a class-action lawsuit.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Astros manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow on Monday before the team fired them over violation of rules against the use of video equipment to steal signs during matches.

“We’re looking for an attorney,” said Jose “Bluebeard” Lara of Montebello on Tuesday, citing losses that include money paid for parking, Dodger dogs and beer.

“It’s not cheap to go to a Dodger game anymore,” he added.

Lara said he’s received numerous inquiries from fellow fans who want to join the lawsuit.

Fifth news item: It’s quite possible to hold two correct thoughts in your head at the same time: a) CNN unquestionably, and loyally favors Democrats b) Elected officials on both sides of the aisle are grifters, and grifters are gonna grift:

As Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) walked through the hallways of the Senate Thursday, CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju asked her if the Senate should consider “new evidence as part of the impeachment trial.” McSally shot back: “Manu, you’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you.”

“You’re not going to comment about this?” a dazed Raju asked. “You’re a liberal hack, buddy,” McSally replied as she walked away. Predictably, conservatives cheered, while mainstream media decried McSally’s move as unbecoming.

[…]

The problem isn’t that Raju asked the question — that’s his job, after all. It’s that virtually all questions posed by political reporters these days are framed to support the narratives and assumptions of one political party, the Democrats.

Fundraising follows, of course:

She’s selling tee shirts, asking for donations and making the rounds of Fox News shows touting the name calling. Some shirts bear the phrase “You’re a liberal hack, buddy.”

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

1/17/2020

Christopher Tolkien, 1924 – 2020

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:17 pm



Christopher John Ruel Tolkien, youngest son of the legendary British phiologist and writer John Ronald Ruel Tolkien and guardian of his father’s literary legacy, died Wednesday in his adopted country of France at the age of 95.

Though not a renowned academic or famous author achieving the stature of his father, Christopher Tolkien spent the latter half of his life keeping J.R.R. Tolkien’s work alive in the public imagination after his father’s death in 1973. He helped finish and prepare for publication the manuscript to The Silmarillion, which sought to provide a comprehensive history of Middle Earth, the magical forgotten realm in which The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were both set. To complete the task, Christopher Tolkien scoured thorough decades and decades of his fathers notes, drafts, and annotations, as explained in the obituary:

Much of it was handwritten; often an earlier draft would be discernible, half-erased, under a later one, and names of characters frequently changed between the beginning and end of the same draft. Christopher Tolkien, with the help of Guy Gavriel Kay (later a respected fantasy author in his own right), took on the task of editing this disparate mass of legends with an appropriate degree of trepidation.

Tolkien’s task was far from straightforward; as he described it, his father had “tended to work on a story by starting again at the beginning, so one might find a complete version of a very early date, and then another version in which part of that was re-written, and then another, layer upon layer. Some parts were so worked over that the styles didn’t match.”

Later, Christopher Tolkien would add to the lore of Middle Earth by compiling his father’s unpublished short stories into a collection titled Unfinished Tales, and he would publish the twelve-volume set The History of Middle Earth which would include his own notes on his father’s work as well as some encyclopedic information about the amazing fantasy world Tolkien père had constructed.

This ability to compile material from notes and then add helpful background analysis served Tolkien fils well when he turned to his father’s academic writing. Though the elder Tolkien had published a lengthy academic article on Beowulf in 1936, at the time of his death he was sitting on several unpublished translations of famous Old English, Norse, and Germanic tales. In 1975 came the posthumous publication of his translation of “Sir Gawain and the Green Night” along with its contemporary poems “Pearl” and “Sir Orfeo,” followed eventually by The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (2009), The Fall of Arthur (2013), and, at long last, Beowulf (2014), some 88 years after Tolkien had first started the translation. Each one of these volumes, like The Silmarillion before it, was lovingly and meticulously compiled by his faithful son. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work should indeed be grateful that Christopher Tolkien did so much to introduce us to the scholarly side of his father, whose lectures at Pembroke College and Exeter College in Oxford had been the stuff of legend.

Like his father, Christopher Tolkien served The Crown during a world war, spending 1943-45 as an RAF pilot. He too taught at Oxford, but only for a relatively brief spell from 1964 to 1975. He created the first map of Middle Earth which was published in a 1970 edition of The Lord of the Rings, so all of us who have read the book since then have Christopher Tolkien to thank for helping us understand the general layout of the Shire relative to Isengard, Minas Tirth, Mount Doom, and all of the other exotic locations therein. He was skeptical of Peter Jackson’s ability to make movies of his father’s magnum opus (J.R.R. Tolkien had sold the movie rights in 1969, so the decision was out of the hands of his estate), and reportedly later dismissed them as action films devoid of the deep meaning which his father had imbued in the books. By all accounts he was a friendly and convivial neighbor. As with so many children of the brilliant and renown he never matched the public greatness of his father, but at his own death Christopher Tolkien deserves an appreciative salute for keeping the flame alight.

– JVW

1/16/2020

All Is Well: 11 U.S. Service Members Were Injured by the Iranian Missile Strike

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:41 pm



I told you. Trump and his administration officials lie like they breathe:

Nearly one dozen American troops were wounded in Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on Iraq’s al-Asad air base. This week, they were medically evacuated to U.S. military hospitals in Kuwait and Landstuhl, Germany, to be treated for traumatic brain injury and to undergo further evaluation, several U.S. defense and military officials have confirmed to Defense One.

Senior military and Trump administration officials had said on Jan. 8 that 11 Iranian missiles had caused “no casualties, no friendly casualties, whether they are U.S., coalition, contractor, et cetera.”

In the past week, news organizations that were granted access to the base to film the damage and interview military personnel have reported that no Americans were killed, wounded, or “seriously injured.” But the New York Times reported on Monday that some personnel had been treated for concussions.

In a Jan. 16 statement, a spokesman for the U.S. military command in Baghdad said, “As previously stated, while no U.S. service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on Al Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed.”

All is well!

UPDATE: Enjoy the coming redefinition of the word “casualties” (and the word “harmed”):

Good morning. I’m pleased to inform you: The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.

Liars. One and all.

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