Patterico's Pontifications


Programming Note

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 pm

Several commenters have made incorrect assumptions about my recent post asking for an email if you really want me to see something. I read people saying, for example, that I was giving up the blog, that I was going to RedState exclusively, that I would no longer read comments on my blog, etc.

None of this is true.

Here’s the thing. This past Monday, when I put up that post, there were criticisms coming in at me from all sides. I won’t bore you with the details. I had responses to each and every criticism, but there were so many criticisms that it would have eaten up a good chunk of my day to type up all the responses.

I chose to spend my day (and my weekend) in other pursuits.

I’ve been through periods of intense criticism from commenters before. The time Obama first took office comes to mind. Back then, I had this idea that I had to respond to every criticism, no matter how silly or off-base, or it would look like I have no response, and therefore I would appear to be in the wrong.

It was very unpleasant. I’m not going to repeat that process.

I may take up criticisms from time to time, but it will be my decision, made on my own terms. If I don’t reply to your point, it does not mean that I had no reply. It could be that I did not have the time or energy for it.


I won’t lie, if I see a lot of negativity aimed at me — especially of the “your blog sucks now!” variety — it can get me down. In the old days, at least a lot of like-minded people would rise to my defense. Many of my favorite people have been driven away by the general tenor of the comment section lately.

I’m determined not to let my own blog become a negative in my life. If reading my own commenters gets me down, the best thing to do in that situation is to walk away from the keyboard. So, while I have always tried to read most of the comments, the more comments I see that are variants of “this blog is going downhill!” and “I used to email your posts to friends but no more!!!” . . . well, the more comments I see like that, the more likely I am to take a little break from responding to, and possibly even reading, the comments.

And this is why I say, if it’s really important for you to place something in front of me, send me an email.

And if it’s absolutely critical that you get a response from me, PayPal me $100 and I will respond. Absent such a payment, I’ll have to choose whether responding is worth my time or not.

The unpleasantness in 2009 passed, and this too shall pass. It’s not a big thing, when you take the longer view. Just wanted to clear up some of the many, many misconceptions I had seen in the comments (because I do read them, for the most part!).

I’m closing comments to this post because, frankly, I’m a little concerned that a lot of people would want to respond with something like: “You’re not understanding my point about why your blog sucks these days” . . . and guess what? Oddly enough, I’m really, truly, supremely uninterested in reading more comments like that.

The Likely Reason Bob Corker Says He’ll Pass on Tillerson’s Nomination to the Floor . . . No Matter What

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 pm

Committee chair assures in advance that the vote of his committee will be meaningless. Wait, what?

In an unusual move, Republicans plan on bringing Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state before the full Senate for a vote even if he does not earn the support of the foreign relations panel.

Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN’s Manu Raju Tuesday that he would “absolutely” offer former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for a floor vote even if he is not given the blessing of his committee, which oversees the nomination.

“I plan on moving Tillerson to the floor,” Corker said. “Without getting into all the machinations, I would expect there to be a vote of Rex Tillerson on the floor and I expect him to be confirmed.”

Why is Corker doing this? I have an educated guess.

In recent days, I have gone way out on a limb and predicted that Marco Rubio will be voting “no” on Tillerson.

I haven’t found any talking head, columnist, or blogger who agrees with me. And I could be wrong. But after watching Rubio’s grilling of Tillerson, that’s my prediction and I’m sticking with it.

Wouldn’t that explain Corker’s announcement?

I think this means Rubio has decided he’s going to vote “no” on Tillerson, and Rubio got the word to Corker. (CNN says “Corker said he had not spoken to Rubio recently about his thinking” — but hey. Someone else could have conveyed the message.)

Unless a committee Democrat votes “yes” on Tillerson, Rubio’s “no” vote would put the vote at 11-10 against reporting the nomination to the floor. Absent an announcement like this, the story of the day would be a grand discussion about whether Tillerson would even get a floor vote. After this announcement, Rubio’s “no” vote will engender no such speculation.

I think that’s what’s happening. And I’m sticking with that story until it proves to be wrong.

Then I’m taking it back . . .

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Will Assange Keep His Promise To Turn Himself In If Manning’s Sentence Is Commuted?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

In an interesting side note to the commutation of Bradley Manning’s sentence, Julian Assange recently promised through his Wikileaks account that he would surrender himself to the United States if Manning were granted clemency:

Now that Obama has indeed commuted Manning’s sentence, the question is: will Assange keep his promise? This tweet would appear to confirm that he will:

Just one question, though: has Assange actually been indicted? Glenn Greenwald argues that it is “bizarre” to talk about Assange surrendering, given that there is no evidence that he has been indicted. Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, points out that indictments are typically kept under seal until an arrest is made. That being said, White also opines that, given the Obama administration’s leaky nature and penchant for grabbing headlines, the existence of an indictment is “possible but unlikely.” As of 2013, “senior law enforcement sources” told the Washington Post that no sealed indictment had been filed.

It’s as good a time as any for Assange to make his offer. He can find out whether the U.S. has indicted him. And if there is an indictment . . . well, if anyone is ever going to pardon Julian Assange, it would be Donald Trump, wouldn’t it?

And Hannity could give him the first triumphant post-pardon interview!

UPDATE: This post, drafted early this morning and scheduled to publish in the late morning, was…overtaken by events, to a large extent — events that occurred after it was written but before it was scheduled to publish. Assange now appears to be weaseling. (Hard to believe he might be dishonest!!!) More later, but I wanted to bookmark the weaseling over my lunch hour.

A Major First Amendment Case Will Be Argued Today at the Supreme Court

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:45 am

Can the United States government refuse to give you a governmental benefit because it thinks your speech disparages a group of people, or even a belief? That is the issue that will be argued this morning in the Supreme Court.

The Court will hear argument today in Lee v. Tam, a major First Amendment case. Michelle K. Lee, the Petitioner (who is appealing) is the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (I’ll call them the USPTO in this post). Simon Shiao Tam, the respondent (defending the judgment below) is a member of The Slants, a rock group whose members are Asian. The group sought trademark protection for the name “The Slants” as an effort to “take back” the term, much as many black Americans have done with another racially ugly word. The USPTO denied the trademark, citing the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act.

The case has significance, not just for speech generally, but also for the Redskins trademark, which has also been rejected by the USPTO pursuant to the disparagement clause.

You can read the brief filed by the Respondent (the Slants) here. It presents the issue in this way:

The disparagement clause in section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), prohibits the registration of a trademark that “may disparage . . . persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”

The question presented is whether the disparagement clause is contrary to the First Amendment.

The names on the brief include Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy, and my own pro bono lawyer Ron Coleman, about whom more below.

The answer to the question presented to the Court should seem obvious. The central purpose of the First Amendment is to prevent the government from engaging in viewpoint discrimination — and viewpoint discrimination is precisely what the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act is all about. Sure, this may seem benign to some — who wants to see Asians or Native Americans disparaged? But it’s not benign, at all. First of all, this provision would allow the term “Scientology” to be approved as a trademark, while anti-Scientology trademarks could be rejected. When the government puts its imprimatur on the trademark of a cult, but refuses one to people who seek to expose the cult, that is not benign. But in addition, it’s simply not the business of government to be doling out privileges, or refusing them, based on the viewpoint of the people seeking the privilege.

We should get a sense today of how the justices feel. I’m cautiously optimistic.

A side note: today’s oral argument will be heard by eight justices, not nine. Donald Trump is two days from his inauguration, and while he has been meeting with potential replacements for Supreme Court nominees, he has not yet chosen one. This raises the issue whether Trump’s new justice, who is likely to be confirmed before this case is decided, could participate in the decision, even though he or she will not have participated in the arguments. A January 12 piece in the American Bar Association Journal notes that, in the past, cases have been decided only by justices who participated in oral argument. This is a matter of tradition, not law, and it could be broken:

The new justice could rule after reading briefs and listening to the oral arguments. But, in the past, new justices have ruled in argued cases only when they are reargued.

One of the experts who spoke with Supreme Court Brief is William Suter, the former clerk of the Supreme Court. “I know of no statute or rule that would prohibit a new justice from participating in such a case,” he said.

Suter nonetheless had misgivings about a new justice deciding cases already argued. “I think the ‘common sense rule’ would be that a new justice would not participate,” he told Supreme Court Brief. “It would look fishy, especially if the newbie voted with the majority in a 5-4 decision.”

The article notes that the Supreme Court has not scheduled arguments in some cases that usually would have been argued at this point. The court appears to be waiting for a new justice who might prevent a 4-4 split.

This tends to suggest that the Slants case is considered by the existing justices to be one of the less controversial cases on the docket. I hope so, and cautiously expect that to be the case. While I do not want to jinx Ron Coleman (one of the lawyers for the Slants), it would not surprise me to see a lopsided vote striking down the disparagement provision, such as 8-0, or 7-1. But we should know much, much more after today’s oral argument. Many of the justices tend to signal strongly in oral argument how they will vote. Time permitting, I’ll provide an analysis of the oral argument as soon as I can get to it.

Finally, three cheers for Ron Coleman. In 2015, he became a partner this year at Archer & Greiner, a firm which has definitely had its profile elevated by virtue of Ron’s involvement in the Slants case — and I know they appreciate him for that. In addition to his work for The Slants and in running the Likelihood of Confusion blog, Ron, along with the excellent and reliable Bruce Godfrey of Jezic & Moyse LLC, is still defending me in a censorious lawsuit brought by convicted bomber and perjurer Brett Kimberlin. Not to mention that Ron — along with Kenneth P. White of Brown White & Osborn LLP and the essential Popehat blog — achieved an excellent result from me in another silly case in which I was sued, in which the plaintiff dismissed the claims without getting a cent or any other concession from me.

All three of these gentlemen are excellent lawyers, and they work for pay in addition to their copious and admirable pro bono work. Please keep them in mind.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Liberty Classroom Contest Winner

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

We have a winner in the Liberty Classroom contest I ran last Black Friday weekend: Jim B.

Jim wins a year of Amazon Prime, on me.

I have sent him an email but have not heard back yet. Hopefully this post helps bring his good fortune to his attention!


President Obama And Today’s Commutations

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:41 pm

[guest post by Dana]

So, this happened:

President Obama commuted the vast majority of former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified documents, the White House announced Tuesday.

Manning is more than six years into a 35-year sentence at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for leaking classified government and military documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Her sentence is now set to expire May 17.

Manning was known as Bradley Manning at the time of her 2010 arrest, but revealed after being convicted of espionage that she identifies as a woman.

Manning accepted responsibility for leaking the material to WikiLeaks to raise public awareness about the effects of war on civilians, and has said she was confronting gender dysphoria at the time of the leaks while deployed in Iraq.

How do Democrats, who have vociferously argued that election interference by the Russians and Wikileaks handed Trump the election (and his illegitimacy presidency), square that with President Obama’s decision today?

David French points out the truth of the matter and the immensity of Manning’s actions:

He disclosed details of American military operations, the identities of American military allies, and placed sensitive American diplomatic relationships at risk. We may never know exactly how much damage he did. No matter how troubled Manning is (and he’s certainly troubled), he breached faith with his brothers in arms. Armies depend on bonds of trust, and he knowingly and intentionally placed lives in danger by indiscriminately placing our nation’s secrets in the public domain. He risked American lives. He risked allied lives. It’s not that long ago that actions like Manning’s would merit execution, and he should be grateful that he merely received a 35 year sentence. Instead, however, both the Times and the Obama administration treat him more like a messed-up kid than a soldier who betrayed his nation.

Amusingly, according to The New York Times, President Obama rescued both Manning and the Department of Defense from a complicated situation:

The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of her incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

No word on whether taxpayers will still be on the hook for Manning’s surgery…

According to CNN, here is the president’s rationale for the commutation: Manning accepted responsibility. Manning expressed remorse. Manning had already served six years and received a long sentence.

Also announced today, yet overshadowed by the Manning news, is this:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who was serving 70 years in prison for his role in an organization that plotted bombings, prison escapes and armed robberies in an effort to secure independence for Puerto Rico.

With Obama’s commutation, Lopez Rivera will leave prison May 17.

You can read more about the heinous actions of Lopez Rivera and FALN here:

Now 74-years old, López Rivera has served 35 years of a 55-year sentence for seditious conspiracy and weapons-related charges. “I am an enemy of the United States government,” he told federal judge Thomas McMillen in 1983. There is no evidence that he’s changed his mind.

During the 1970s and 80s, López Rivera’s FALN placed more than 130 bombs in American cities. Their goal was to destabilize what they called the “Yanki capitalist monopoly” and achieve Puerto Rican independence. Their method was terrorism.

In 1974, the FALN began planting booby-trap bombs around New York. While most of these early explosions caused only property damage, the group’s clear intention was to kill and maim. In December 1974, an NYPD officer responding to a report of a dead body in an abandoned building on 110th St. was seriously injured by an FALN incendiary device.

In January 1975, a 10-pound dynamite bomb killed four people and injured dozens at Fraunces Tavern. The powerful blast was felt blocks away. In an eerie foreshadowing of 9/11, dust-covered victims staggered through downtown streets. The FALN quickly took responsibility for the deadly deed.

When a Chicago apartment serving as the FALN’s bomb-making factory was raided in November 1976, authorities learned the names of the group’s leadership. López Rivera and several associates became fugitives.

On Aug. 3, 1977, the FALN struck again in a coordinated attack in Midtown. An alert office worker at 342 Madison Ave., near 43rd St., noticed a suspicious package and evacuated the building. No one was hurt in the subsequent blast.

Oddly, there was no word from the White House about Lopez Rivera being remorseful and accepting responsibility for his actions.


Pigs Prepare for Flight: McCain Leaning Towards Confirming Tillerson

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

Earlier this month, John McCain suggested in colorful language that he was unlikely to support Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State:

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state will reportedly not have the support of one of the Senate’s top Republicans.

As Rex Tillerson, formerly the CEO of Exxon Mobil, made the rounds on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Sen. John McCain made it clear he would not be supporting Tillerson’s nomination to become the nation’s top diplomat.

Reporters asked the Arizona Republican if there was a “realistic scenario” in which he could support Tillerson’s nomination.

“Sure,” McCain replied. “There’s also a realistic scenario that pigs fly.”

After the story appeared, McCain issued a statement “clarifying” his position to explain that he had been joking with reporters.

Today we learn that McCain is leaning towards voting for Tillerson:

Sen. John McCain told Fox New’s Martha MacCallum that he’s leaning toward voting to confirm Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the State Department .

“Some of my concerns have been satisfied, [but] I haven’t made up my mind completely,” McCain said.

I wonder what about the confirmation hearings changed McCain’s mind. Was it the way Tillerson refused to call Putin a war criminal? His unwillingness to say that Putin has murdered journalists and opposition leaders? His professed need to study the actions of Phillipines President Rodrigo Duterte before condemning his extrajudicial killings of alleged drug dealers?

All I know is this: I see a passel of hogs on the tarmac, readying for takeoff.

Another data point in the hypothesis that the GOP Congress will rein in Donald Trump.

P.S. No word yet on how “Little Marco” is going to vote. I have gone on record as predicting that he will vote against Tillerson. I appear to be the only pundit I know saying so.

If I turn out to be right, I’ll stop calling him “Little Marco.” We’ll see.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Is Climate Change a Hoax?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:00 am

As part of my Liberty Classroom contest over Black Friday weekend, I told people that they could commission or write a post if they bought a membership. So far one reader wrote a post. This is the first commissioned post, from reader Gil G., and here is the topic:

I would like you to write a blog post on your thoughts about global warming. Is it a “hoax” as president elect Trump has said? Should we accept that it is real?

Within the scope of that, please discuss the parallels between climate skeptic science and the type of science we saw come from gas companies when they fought to stop lead from being banned (Robert Kehoe), and similarly the way tobacco companies fought the conclusion and link from cigarettes to cancer and other diseases.

I have long described my views on climate change in this manner: I am a climate change skeptic skeptic. That’s not a typo. I am saying that I am skeptical of the climate change skeptics. It doesn’t mean I’m a climate change hysteric. But it also doesn’t mean that I reject the notion that the planet is warming, or that humans may be contributing to that.

I think a little humility is in order. Let me tell an analogous story. I think you’ll get the point.

Not that long ago, Emily Bazelon wrote a hit piece on the late Justice Scalia, portraying him as a “skeptic about science” (as the deck headline declared). Bazelon said: “He relished argument and debate, but when he had to grapple with scientific evidence, he was often wary.” In response, Ed Whelan wrote an excellent pair of posts titled Smearing Justice Scalia on Science—Part 1 and Part 2. Ian Samuel wrote a post of his own which was devastating to Bazelon’s thesis. A summary of his points can be found in this Tweetstorm of his, and the capper to that Tweetstorm was this killer tweet:

Ouch! Bazelon, who is a lawyer, mocked Scalia for not uncritically accepting the “obvious” science . . . except it was wrong, and she didn’t realize it.

What lesson does that have for debates about climate change? For me, the lesson is: I’m not a scientist, and getting into the finer points of the debate is not really something I’m suited for.

I get irritated by some of the phony statistics the hysterics toss around. There is a fellow named James Powell (who my reader Gil. G. seems to have some regard for) who throws around an oft-cited statistic which was stated by an L.A. Times writer in this way: “Out of 10,855 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals last year that dealt with some aspect of global warming, all but two accepted human behavior as the primary cause.” Wrong! I spent some time debunking this statistic as wholly bogus in this post. The short answer is that the statistic is based on a study that conflated “not rejecting” AGW with “accepting” it — and the study relies on many articles, such as studies of the life cycle of lead acid batteries, that had almost nothing to do with whether global warming is primarily caused by humans.

I also know that, by the global warming alarmists’ own studies, if the U.S. reduced emissions to zero by 2050 (i.e., if everyone in the U.S. died), “the average global temperature in the year 2100 would be 0.1°C — that’s one‐tenth of a degree -— lower than would otherwise be the case.” Quite apparently, the U.S. is not the big problem here . . . China and India are.

That said, it’s my belief that the planet is warming, and my best guess is that man contributes to that. I don’t know to what extent man’s contribution affects the rate of warming.

I think the idea that climate scientists are engaged in some kind of active “hoax” or “conspiracy” seems, um, conspiratorial. It does not strike me as likely. But, just as folks in Big Media tend to lean mostly one way politically, I can believe that climate scientists, by and large, have a herd-like mindset.

It doesn’t strike me like a hard science the way physics is. The models never seem to predict anything accurately. Predictions are commonly and provably exaggerated.

But, in the end, I am a lawyer by trade and a writer (and musician, and other things) by hobby. What I am not, is a scientist. And I recognize my limitations.

That’s about as much as I can say about that. I hope Gil G. does not consider it a cop-out.

And I hope he is enjoying Liberty Classroom at least half as much as I do.


Participants In Planned Women’s March On Capitol Predictably Eating Their Own Before The March Even Starts

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:04 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Various reports have assured us that there will be any number of organized and unorganized protests in the capitol before, during and after Trump’s inauguration. As such, the city is taking the necessary precautions, deploying 5,000 National Guard troops throughout the city, as well as 3,000 officers from various jurisdictions.

The anarchist group, #DisruptJ20, working with Black Lives Matter among other protest groups, claim that while they recognize they will be unable to stop PEOTUS from being sworn in, they intend to at least “ruin the notion that this is a peaceful transition of power.” Another planned protest, the Women’s March on Washington D.C., will hold their march the day after Trump’s swearing in. This group plans to band together to protest Trump and his degrading behavior toward women, as well as publicly echo Hillary Clinton that “women’s rights are human rights.”

Except there’s a hitch with this effort at solidarity: Women in the march are turning on their sisters with a big Just shut-up already! exhortation in an effort to claim the upper berth of victimhood. Consider this from Ms. Willis, a 50-year-old wedding minister from South Carolina who had been looking forward to attending the march with her daughter but has since cancelled her plans:

Ms. Willis read a post by ShiShi Rose, a 27-year-old blogger from Brooklyn.

“Now is the time for you to be listening more, talking less,” Ms. Rose wrote. “You should be reading our books and understanding the roots of racism and white supremacy. Listening to our speeches. You should be drowning yourselves in our poetry.”

It rubbed Ms. Willis the wrong way.

“How do you know that I’m not reading black poetry?” she asked in an interview. Ms. Willis says that she understands being born white gives her advantages, and that she is always open to learning more about the struggles of others.

But, she said, “The last thing that is going to make me endeared to you, to know you and love you more, is if you are sitting there wagging your finger at me.”

Ms. Rose said in an interview that the intention of the post was not to weed people out but rather to make them understand that they had a lot of learning to do.

“I needed them to understand that they don’t just get to join the march and not check their privilege constantly,” she said.

That phrase — check your privilege — exasperates Ms. Willis. She asked a reporter: “Can you please tell me what that means?”

Blech. Count. Me. Out. I can’t think of any place I’d rather not be than lost at sea with thousands of self-righteous women clamoring for the upper berth on the ship of victimhood.

As these women turn on each other, there is yet another group being turned on by organizers. This feminist group because they have the audacity to support unborn women and their right to live. From their Facebook page:

New Wave Feminists are here to take feminism back from those who have corrupted it.

Sometime before we were born our womanhood was traded for a handful of birth control pills, the “privilege” to pose for playboy, and the “right” to abort our children.

We embrace the early American feminism of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Also, we’re way funny and have super rad hair.

Anyway, the group had been named as a partner of the march:

On Sunday, pro-life group New Wave Feminists announced that the women’s march officially accepted them as partners. “Super pumped to rep prolife feminism at theWomen’s March on Washington,” [sic], the group’s Facebook post read:


But not long after this was posted, the New Wave Feminists were dropped from the list of partners, thanks to feminists like Jessica Valenti and others who jumped on the You-can’t-be-a-real-feminist-if-you-don’t-agree-that-unborn-women-should-be-able-to-be-barbarically-put-to-death protest wagon:

“Plse reconsider – inclusivity is not about bolstering those who harm us.”

Of course the GIGANTIC irony of her plea was lost on her and her fellow supporters of the butcher brigades…

Eventually the Women’s March apologized for their error on the partners list:

March 2

What else would you expect from a group that eats their own for lunch and spits them out at dinner?


Public Service Announcement

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:30 pm

My email address is on the right sidebar.

For the foreseeable future, if you have something you want me to see, email me. Don’t leave it in comments.

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