Patterico's Pontifications


About Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Absurd Assertion About Justice Don Willett: In A Pig’s Eye!

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:24 am

[guest post by Dana]

As you are aware, one of the better things that President Trump has done since taking office is to nominate Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Of course, not everyone is pleased with the nominee, nor charmed by his popular Twitter feed. For example, at his confirmation hearing today, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) took Justice Willett to task for a tweet the Tweeter Laureate of the 84th Texas Legislature made back in 2015 right after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case:


Demonstrating that he is not above using an innocuous bacon tweet in an effort to serve his political purposes, the manipulatively humorless senator proceeded to use the tweet in an effort to show Willett’s lack of respect for the Court and, ostensibly, judicial precedents.:

…Leahy suggested that the bacon tweet showed Willett’s disdain for the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriages.

“I don’t think one would see that as praising the Supreme Court decisions,” Leahy said of the tweet.

Willett explained that he meant the tweet as a mild joke to lighten the tension in a tense political climate.

” Senator, as for the bacon tweet, that was the day after the Obergfell decision was issued and it was my attempt to inject a bit of levity,” he said. “The country was filled with rancor and polarization. It was a divisive time in the nation.”

Leahy followed up, asking Willett, “And you think that cut back the divisiveness with a comment like that?”

“Senator, I believe every American is entitled to equal worth and dignity,” Willett said. “I’ve never intended to disparage anyone and would never do so. That’s not where my heart is.”

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Repealing the Individual Mandate Without Repealing ObamaCare Is Dumb

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

You have already heard me rant and rave about how the GOP tax bill is a tax hike on the middle class (primarily the professional middle class in large urban areas) to pay for tax breaks for the super-rich. The Senate version of the bill is no different in that respect — in fact, it’s worse, eliminating deductions for all property taxes without even the $10,000 cap included in the House bill. But the Senate version released yesterday comes with yet another stupid idea: repealing the ObamaCare individual mandate . . . without repealing ObamaCare.

You’ll find no more fierce opponent of ObamaCare than myself. It’s exactly the sort of Frankenstein monster you’d expect when central planners assume control over a huge of the economy. But you can’t fix the monster by giving him a new right arm, three new toes on his left foot, and tightening the bolts on his neck. The monster has to be destroyed.

The problem is not, as some might try to tell you, that ObamaCare “won’t work” if the individual mandate is repealed. ObamaCare won’t work and can’t work, period, no matter what — because central planning can’t work. What ObamaCare does is monkey with supply and demand for a product: health insurance. The law mandates it be supplied at prices that would be unavailable in a truly free market (guaranteed issue). This is effectively a form of price control, which generally creates a shortage. The law then tries to compensate for the effects of the price control by mandating purchase of the product by legal fiat.

The unpopular mandated purchase provisions do compensate somewhat for the popular price controls, but in the absence of a free market any such central attempt to balance prices is always doomed to fail. It’s hubris on the part of the central planners to think they can succeed. The key lessons of the failed experiments in socialism in the 20th century have not been learned — and probably never will be.

The market is a wondrous mechanism that ensures, almost as if by magic, that demand for goods is balanced by a supply of the desired goods. But thanks to various forms of government intervention, including federal tax policy and federal and state regulations, we had not had an actual free market in health care or health insurance for a long time, even before ObamaCare.

ObamaCare’s dog’s breakfast of mandates will never be a sustainable, functioning mechanism, and removing one mandate does not solve the problem of skyrocketing health care costs and rising premiums. It will almost certainly make it worse. This is why previous efforts to repeal only the individual mandate while leaving the rest of ObamaCare in place have gone down to ignominious defeat. It’s horrendous policy, and no honest person can really dispute this.

But when it comes to doling out tax breaks to the rich, horrendous policy is just the ticket. Anything to provide a paper credit to balance the goodies handed out to big donors.

And the public will like it. Nobody will analyze this from first principles, the way I just did. They’ll just say: “hur hur, they’re gutting ObamaCare, hur hur, ah like it!”

Hooray for the GOP!

P.S. Increasingly, I don’t feel that bad about the prospect of the Democrats picking up another Senate seat in Alabama for three years. After all: genuine ObamaCare repeal has not happened and never will no matter who is in charge. Yes, Dems love to hike taxes, but Trump would probably veto their tax hikes while he would sign the GOP tax hike — so one more vote against the GOP version of a tax hike is fine by me. And the GOP will still have its majority to confirm good judges. Win-win! I’m not getting tired of all the winning yet! How about you?

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


Justice Dept Considering A Second Special Counsel

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:05 am

[guest post by Dana]

All things Clinton:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns — including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia — and has directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy, according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.

The revelation came in a response by the Justice Department to an inquiry from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who in July and again in September called for Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate concerns he had related to the 2016 election and its aftermath

The list of matters he wanted probed was wide ranging but included the FBI’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, various dealings of the Clinton Foundation and several matters connected to the purchase of the Canadian mining company Uranium One by Russia’s nuclear energy agency. Goodlatte took particular aim at former FBI director James B. Comey, asking for the second special counsel to evaluate the leaks he directed about his conversations with President Trump, among other things.

In response, Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote that Sessions had “directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate certain issues raised in your letters,” and that those prosecutors would “report directly to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, as appropriate, and will make recommendations as to whether any matters not currently under investigation should be opened, whether any matters currently under investigation require further resources, or whether any matters merit the appointment of a Special Counsel.”

While the Justice Department is part of the executive branch — and the attorney general is appointed by and answers to the president — the White House generally provides input on broad policy goals and does not weigh in on criminal probes.

In that context, the letter is likely to be seen by some, especially on the left, as Sessions inappropriately bending to political pressure, perhaps to save his job. The possible reigniting of a probe of Clinton is likely to draw especially fierce criticism, even as it is welcomed by Trump’s supporters.

As a reminder, this is what President Trump said recently about the Justice Dept.:

I’m really not involved with the Justice Department — it should be able to run itself — but they should be looking at the Democrats. They should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty. They should be looking at a lot of things, and a lot of people are disappointed in the Justice Dept. — including me.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Yeah, About That Twitter Account That Alleged Bribery in the Roy Moore Scandal…

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

Last night, I criticized a story in the New Yorker attacking Roy Moore based on nothing but rumor and innuendo. But some Moore defenders also need to be reminded that rumor is not news. There is a sick irony here: some of the same people who whine about Big Media and “hearsay” love to breathlessly repeat literally any damned stupid thing they see on the Internet. And one of the damned stupid charges thrown around by the more partisan and careless Internet Moore Defenders was the charge that Washington Post reporters bribed witnesses.

These rumors had a traceable source: an anonymous Twitter account called @umpire43 aka “Doug Lewis #MAGA,” which tweeted last week: “A family friend in Alabama just told my wife that a WAPO reporter named Beth offered her 1000$ to accuse Roy Moore???” Because it was a stupid and unverified rumor, it was only natural that it would be touted by the fact-challenged Gateway Pundit with the classic statement: “Of course this is HUGE news if true.”

When you read a story that confirms your pre-existing biases but is based on unverified rumor and innuendo, the low-IQ thing to do is to spread that puppy as far and wide as your little typing fingers can work, and that’s what some shameless Moore defenders did. In comments at my own site, the Doug Lewis #MAGA narrative was spread by avowed Trumpers who didn’t bother to link their sources. (You know who you are and you should be ashamed.)

Thing is, the Twitter guy who first leveled the “bribery!” accusation had a . . . questionable personal back story, to put it mildly. When you added up the various assertions in his narrative, he would have had to join the Navy at age 5 for it all to be true:

And he couldn’t remember whether he had two Purple Hearts, or three, or four:

The editor of a news site for vets started asking Doug Lewis #MAGA some pointed questions, and next thing you know . . . Doug Lewis #MAGA’s tweets were gone. Gizmodo:

[A]fter Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel and Task and Purpose editor Adam Weinstein challenged inconsistencies in the account’s military backstory—like whether he had earned 2, 3, or 4 Purple Hearts—@umpire43 registered for a tweet deletion service and cleared out their account on Monday.

We’re talking tweets going back years:

What is Doug Lewis #MAGA trying to hide? Obviously, more clues that he is a fake.

Especially if you’re going to set yourself up as some kind of arbiter over what is good journalism or not, if you’re denouncing first-person corroborated accounts as “hearsay” while repeating crap like this, you are the problem. If you get your “news” from sites like Gateway Pundit or Conservative Treehouse or other fever swamps, you are the problem. If you’re screaming #FAKENEWS while retweeting Doug Lewis #MAGA, you are the problem.

This concludes today’s public service announcement.

UPDATE: Wow. The Daily Beast just rakes Doug Lewis #MAGA and Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit over the coals. Read it all. It’s a thing of beauty.

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


Another Company Boycotts Hannity — What Will Trumpers Smash This Time?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 pm

Another company has pulled its advertising from Sean Hannity’s show, in reaction to his coverage of the Roy Moore underage girl scandal. First it was Keurig — now it’s Volvo. The Hill:

Volvo has pulled its advertisements from Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News after his coverage of sexual misconduct allegations made against Roy Moore.

Volvo is the latest advertiser to pull its ads from “Hannity” in the wake of the prime-time host’s coverage of Moore, the Alabama Senate special election candidate accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Keurig and both said they were pulling their ads in recent days.

None of the advertisers said they were pulling their ads because of Hannity’s coverage of the allegations, including from a woman who says she was 14 at the time. However, the decisions come amid an online campaign targeting advertisers for Hannity’s show.

Over weekend, the Internet was treated to the spectacle of conservatives gleefully smashing their Keurig coffee makers in response to Keurig’s decision.

This resulted in the head of the company apologizing to Hannity. See? Publicly destroying your own personal property over a political disagreement works!

I have to admit, I can’t wait to see the videos of Trumpers smashing their $40,000 motor vehicles.

Something good finally came out of this Roy Moore catastrophe after all!

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

New Yorker Story on Moore Is Rank Hearsay

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:48 pm

My post is at RedState.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

New Allegations Against Roy Moore

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:07 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Beverly Young Nelson claims that when she was a teenager, Roy Moore sexually assaulted her. In a news conference with Gloria Allred, who stated that Nelson reached out to her, Moore’s latest accuser described her encounter with Moore:

Nelson describes her first encounters when she was 15 years old working as a waitress at a local restaurant after school.

She said Moore, DA of Etowah County, was a regular customer where he would often pull the ends of her hair as she passed by and complimented the young girl’s looks.

“I did nothing to encourage this behavior,” said Nelson, adding “I did not respond to any of Mr. Moore’s flirtatious behavior.”

She said that at the time of the encounters she had a boyfriend and was “not intersted in having a dating or sexual relationship with a man twice my age.”

Nelson went on, describing another incident in which Moore signed a school yearbook of hers when she was 16.

“He wrote in my yearbook as follows: ‘To a sweeter more beautiful girl, I could not say merry christmas, Christmas, 1977, Love Roy Moore, old hickory house. Roy Moore, DA.'”

She said after the incident, Moore had offered to drive Nelson home after work, during which she alleges he forced himself on Nelson and groped her in a locked car.

“I trusted Mr. Moore because he was district attorney, I thought he was doing something nice to offer to drive me home,” said Nelson.

She detailed her fighting off Moore in the car as he squeezed her neck, forcing her head onto his crotch.

She said that Moore eventually gave up, and told her, “You’re just a child and he said I’m the district attorney if you tell anyone about this no one will ever believe you.”

Nelson further claimed:

Moore was an adult, much older than I was, I knew he was the DA. I didn’t know what that meant, but I knew he was an important person and I would treat him with respect.

According to Allred, Nelson has not been in touch with the other four women who have made allegations against Moore, nor have they been in touch with her. Also, Nelson and her husband are Republicans who supported Donald Trump in the election, and Nelson claims that this has nothing to do with Republicans or a Democrats. Nelson said that she told her sister, her mother (4 years ago), and then soon-to-be husband of the alleged incident.

About why she waited so long to come forward:

I thought I was his only victim. I would’ve taken this to my grave if not for the courage of 4 other brave women. I want Mr. Moore to know he no longer has any power over me, and I no longer live in fear of him.

Allred said that Nelson would like the Senate Judiciary Committee to call a public hearing about Moore’s accusations, saying that Nelson is willing to appear and testify under oath if such a hearing takes place.

Moore’s senate campaign released this statement in response to the latest allegations:

Gloria Allred is a sensationalist leading a witch hunt, and she is only around to create a spectacle. Allred was the attorney who claims credit for giving us Roe v. Wade which has resulted in the murder of tens of millions of unborn babies.

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: Judge Moore is an innocent man and has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone. This is a witch hunt against a man who has had an impeccable career for over 30 years and has always been known as a man of high character.

Let it be understood: the truth will come forward, we will pursue all legal options against these false claims and Judge Moore will be vindicated.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


New Groping Allegation Against George H.W. Bush Is Different from the Others in a Disturbing Way

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

Yet another woman has come forward to accuse George H.W. Bush of groping her buttocks in a photo op. But this one is different: the girl was sixteen years old at the time. Fake News Time Magazine reports:

Roslyn Corrigan was sixteen years old when she got a chance to meet George H.W. Bush, excited to be introduced to a former president having grown up dreaming of going into politics.

But Corrigan was crushed by her encounter: Bush, then 79 years old, groped her buttocks at a November 2003 event in The Woodlands, Texas, office of the Central Intelligence Agency where Corrigan’s father gathered with fellow intelligence officers and family members to meet Bush, Corrigan said. Corrigan is the sixth woman since Oct. 24 to accuse Bush publicly of grabbing her buttocks without consent.

“My initial reaction was absolute horror. I was really, really confused,” Corrigan told TIME, speaking publicly for the first time about the encounter. “The first thing I did was look at my mom and, while he was still standing there, I didn’t say anything. What does a teenager say to the ex-president of the United States? Like, ‘Hey dude, you shouldn’t have touched me like that?’”

This is the sixth such allegation against Bush. But the girl’s young age makes this one more shocking than the others. Sixteen years old is one year younger than my daughter. What’s more, the previous “wheelchair excuse” Bush has used to defend against most of the other groping allegations doesn’t fly this time:

Previously, McGrath said Bush “has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner,” additionally attributing the act to his diminished height after being confined to a wheelchair since 2012. Bush was standing upright in 2003 when he met Corrigan.

One other alleged victim says she was groped by a standing H.W., in 2006.

Let’s be clear: this is not on the level of getting a hummer in the Oval Office, or using an intern as a humidor. If Democrats are going to fly into a rage about this, let them finally disavow Bill Clinton once and for all. His misdeeds were far worse, and were carried out while he was President, and he lied under oath and tried to intimidate witnesses over it. Yet he has been a welcome and favored speaker at Democrat events for ages, and was wildly cheered at the 2012 Democrat convention.

That said, just don’t touch women on the buttocks without their consent. This is not hard. What’s more, this was more than a grandfatherly pat on the rear. Corrigan describes it as a “nice, ripe squeeze.” That is disgusting.

While less serious than the Roy Moore allegations, the story bears some similarities to the Moore story. It’s an old allegation (here 14 years old instead of 38, but still old). There is no video proof and no admission. It’s one person’s word against that of another (or would be if Bush were denying it, which he doesn’t really seem to be doing). The word of the accuser is supported by several witnesses who say she told the story in the past, and by several other accusers whose stories describe similar (if arguably slightly less indefensible) behavior, establishing a pattern into which this story fits.

There are dissimilarities as well, of course — the most glaring of which is that George H.W. Bush is not currently running for any office. So his accuser here will face far less scrutiny (and scrutiny is appropriate) and smearing (inappropriate) than Moore’s accusers have faced. But many of the same arguments apply: why in the world would someone wait to come forward? and also let’s pick apart her life and repeat badly sourced rumors about her!

I’ve always liked H.W., but this is gross. The story is totally believable. In the post-Weinstein era, old accusations are more likely than ever to pop up. Some might be phony. Most probably aren’t. You have to look at each one on its merits, evaluate the accuser for bias, look for corroboration in the form of contemporaneous statements, other behavior, and the reaction of the accused, among other things. Looking at those factors, I believe the stories about H.W., and I tend to believe the ones about Moore as well.

Ultimately, for 98% of people, their reaction to this story (and the Roy Moore stories) revolves entirely around the letter that appears (or used to appear) after the person’s name: R or D? Nothing else really matters.

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


Breitbart Confirms Key Detail of WaPo Story on Roy Moore, Refutes Another

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:30 pm set out to re-report the Washington Post‘s Roy Moore story. In one aspect, they have uncovered an apparent contradiction between the versions of Leigh Corfman and that of her mother. In another aspect, they made the Washington Post‘s story seem stronger. Overall, their reporting seems to have done the Washington Post a favor — though that was clearly not their intent.

Let’s start with the contradiction they claim to have exposed. Their article reports:

Speaking by phone to Breitbart News on Saturday, Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71, says that her daughter did not have a phone in her bedroom during the period that Moore is reported to have allegedly called Corfman – purportedly on Corfman’s bedroom phone – to arrange at least one encounter.

If accurate, this does appear to contradict an aspect of Corfman’s claim. (Unless she plugged the house phone into a phone jack in her bedroom, which is not impossible.) But . . .

I know that people who are dying to put this matter to rest for partisan reasons are about to get upset at me, but I have to tell you: if you think this one contradiction destroys Leigh Corfman’s account, you have revealed that you have little experience dealing with eyewitnesses. I have some experience in that area myself, and I agree with Paul Mirengoff regarding his dismissal of the significance of this contradiction:

Does Corfman’s faulty recollection about the phone undercut the thrust of that story? I spent decades working with and examining witnesses. In my view, Corfman’s mistake about the bedroom phone is the kind of error people often make when trying to remember details from the distant past. I don’t think her mistake regarding this detail bears much, if at all, on her overall credibility.

Corfman’s claim of sexual misconduct by Moore is not a detail. If she is erring about this matter, she’s not failing to remember something incidental. Her “error,” if she’s making one, is of a different nature — a lie, a delusion, or a substantial embellishment.

I think there are substantial reasons to disbelieve Corfman’s claim of improper sexual touching. I discussed them here. I don’t think her mistake about the location of the phone provides additional reason to dispute her claim.

I endorse wholeheartedly Mirengoff’s emphasis of the distinction between recollection of minor details and recollection of important events. This is Witness 101, and while partisans will no doubt cite the Breitbart story as The Death Blow to Corfman’s account, it is nothing of the sort.

That said, it is an apparent contradiction, and my hat is off to Aaron Klein at Breitbart for going to the effort and probing the details.

Indeed, Klein has done the Washington Post a big favor — though he seems not to realize it — by confirming that Corfman did not seek out the Post; rather, they sought her out:

The mother of Leigh Corfman, who says that Alabama Senatorial Candidate Roy Moore tried to engage in a sexual encounter with her when she was 14, told Breitbart News that the Washington Post worked to convince her daughter to give an interview about the allegations against Moore.

Speaking by phone to Breitbart News on Saturday, Corfman’s mother, Nancy Wells, 71, further stated that her daughter would not have come forward if it weren’t for The Post reporter’s alleged actions.

. . . .

Corfman’s mother, Wells, told Breitbart News that reporters for the Washington Post convinced her daughter to give them an interview.

“She did not go to them,” said Wells. “They called her.”

“They tried to convince her to do it?” this reporter asked.

“Yes,” replied Wells, matter-of-factly.

Wells was asked about Corfman’s motivations for going public. “It wasn’t done for politics, you know,” Wells replied. “It was done for personal reasons. And it wouldn’t have been done if the reporters hadn’t contacted my daughter.”

Klein thinks that The Big Story here is that “Wells[’s] comments seem to indicate activist behavior on the part of the Washington Post reporters.” With all due respect, that’s horse droppings. (I did say “due.”) Her comments indicate reporting on the part of Washington Post reporters. Persuading reluctant witnesses to tell their story is a key skill of any great reporter.

But more importantly, the mom’s comments indicate that the key accuser, her daughter Leigh Corfman, is someone without a political vendetta. Think about it. In the war of words over the validity of the Washington Post‘s story about Roy Moore, the two sides have bitterly debated the motives of Moore’s accusers. Why did Leigh Corfman, the key accuser, come forward now, after 38 years? Surely it must be politically motivated on her part!

Nope. Just as the Post explained, this decision was made reluctantly — a fact that any lawyer will tell you increases her credibility, because it indicates lack of bias. Until now, you might have thought she was eager, and that the Washington Post was just spinning the facts to make her sound reluctant. Thanks to Aaron Klein, we now have confirmation of that key fact by a publication that has every ideological reason to help Moore and hurt Corfman.

So I’ll say something I don’t say often anymore: cheers to Their spin is silly, but hey — so is the spin of Big Media. At least they went and gathered some facts. Even if those facts, by and large, hurt Roy Moore rather than helping him.

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

UH-OH: This Poll Is Not Looking Good For Roy Moore

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:12 pm

If you had told me that the Democrat would be up four points in Alabama in a Senate election, I would have told you politely that drugs are bad for you. But that is the case, at least according to this poll by JMC Analytics showing Doug Jones leading Roy Moore, 46% to 42%.

The poll even shows 29% of voters more likely to back Moore after the publication of the Washington Post story alleging that he molested a 14-year-old girl in 1979. (38% are less likely to back him.) If you’re looking for evidence that Republicans deeply distrust Big Media, buddy, you just found it.

I’ll leave it to poll experts to pull this apart. For the record, I still think Moore will win. And I think he will help Trump drag the party down with him. In any event, it’s a pretty stunning result — except for the fact that, in Trump World, nothing is stunning anymore.

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

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