Patterico's Pontifications

6/4/2018

Pity Us: One of These People Is Going to Be California’s Next Governor

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:08 pm

[guest post by JVW]

We Californians go to the polls tomorrow for our primaries. You out-of-staters may recall that a few years back we voted to go to a “jungle primary” (officially known as the “top-two system”) in the Golden State, where all candidates appear on a single ballot irrespective of party affiliation and where the top two finishers advance to the November election. This is the system that gave us the 2016 Senate election of Democrat Kamala Harris versus Democrat Loretta Sanchez. This year will likely see another November choice between two Democrats, with incumbent Dianne Feinstein squared off against hard-left challenger Kevin de Leon. But the real action this year is in the race for governor: a spate of Democrat leftists of various flavors, with an open question as to whether a Republican can sneak into the top two in a divided electorate. Here are the key players:

Gavin Newsom – D, current Lieutenant Governor
Newsom has been leading the polls most of the way and is generally considered to be a shoo-in to make the top two runoff. As such, I am going to keep my powder dry for the time being. Rest assured I will have a great deal to say about this particular candidate as the November election draws closer. In the meantime, just take a look at this pretty boy and ask yourself: If you are casting Gavin Newsom in a movie would you cast him as the crusading hero out to save the day, or the sneaky, slimy villain who hides his evil beneath a layer of smarmy charm? I know which one I would pick.

Would you buy a used agenda from this man?

Would you buy a used agenda from this man?

Antonio Villaraigosa – D, former Assembly Speaker, former Mayor of Los Angeles
Most of us can remember the early days of his first term as mayor back in 2005 when Villaraigosa was considered a rising star among Democrats, a party depressed and leaderless nationally after having lost to George W. Bush in the 2004 election. The thought at one time was that the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles in modern times would easily win re-election as mayor in 2009, then parlay that success into winning the governorship in 2010. Come 2016, the thinking of the time went, he would be a successful second-term governor and a serious candidate for President to succeed Barack Obama — the first African-American President being followed by the first Mexican-American President. But oh my how reality had an ugly way of intervening. By the time he ran for reelection four years later, the good progressives at Los Angeles Magazine were describing his first term as a failure. It turns out that Villaraigosa’s charm and energy served to mask the fact that he was almost congenitally incapable of focusing on a task long enough to see it all the way through (he was often mocked as the ADHD mayor); he liked cutting ceremonial ribbons and making grandiloquent cheerleading speeches a whole hell of a lot more than he cared for the nuts and bolts of running a city government. Although he won reelection, his political momentum came to a dead halt and he was shoved to the sidelines as Jerry Brown took control of the state party.

Once derided for being an insatiable ladder-climber who prioritized positioning himself to grasp the next rung rather than focusing on the job at hand, Villaraigosa used his five years in the wilderness since leaving City Hall in 2013 to reposition himself as the sensible Democrat, much in the mold of Jerry Brown. While California Democrats fall all over themselves to endorse the idea of single payer healthcare (which they deceptively like to call “Medicare for All”), Villaraigosa is the one reminding progressives that it is an unbelievably expensive proposition, and that spending on healthcare may crowd out other progressive priorities such as education, green energy, and shoring up pensions. He may end up being the man who has been left behind by his party, though if he survives the primary tomorrow he is frankly the best option for keeping Newsom out of the governor’s office.

John Chiang – D, current California State Treasurer, former California State Comptroller
Chiang is the most puzzling of the candidates in the race. Once a green-eyeshade numbers-please frankly boring type of political accountant, he has suddenly made a hard-left turn and is trying to compete on Newsom’s turf for the adulation of the progressive crowd. The man who as comptroller once warned the state about the exploding costs of state employee’s health care obligations is now a proponent of single-payer, though he acknowledges that he has yet to see a rational idea for how to fund it. A guy who spent the Schwarzenegger and Brown years earnestly trying to keep the income equal to the outflow now seems to think we can jack up spending on education, health, all while protecting the golden handshake of public pensions. This will be accomplished by enacting “sensible reforms,” as if there has always been an easy and painless common-sense solution that we are overlooking. Honestly, I don’t believe I have ever seen a politician — what’s the voguish word to use? oh yes — “evolve” so much on a fundamental issue since Arnie decided that bond money was a gift to ourselves from the future” or whatever nonsensical phrase he used. Chiang deserves to finish well in the back of the pack.

Delaine Eastin – D, former California Superintendent of Public Education
She left this office in 2003, and Lord knows what she has done for the last 15 years. Her campaign is a hodgepodge of ideas from the Bernie Sanders playbook for how California can tax and spend itself into oblivion even faster under her than under Newson or Chiang. The less said about this obvious lunatic the better. She’s currently polling about as well as Samantha Bee is in the Kushner residence.

John Cox – R, businessman and broadcaster
A failed candidate for office in Illinois who relocated to Rancho Santa Fe and is now trying his luck in the Golden State. Endorsed by President Trump, Cox is fighting with Villaraigosa for the second spot in the November election. He has an agenda that seems almost certain to me to be a loser in the general election — imagine Bill Simon or Meg Whitman running as a America First populist in deep blue California. Heaven knows that California is overdue for a populist revolt against the Hollywood-Silicon Valley-San Francisco-Public Employee-Green five-headed hydra that is running the state, but I’m just not sure that Cox is the most credible of candidates for the task.

Travis Allen – R, State Assemblyman
Probably has the most principled conservative campaign of any candidate, but of course these days in California that will get you absolutely nowhere, kind of like being the most progressive politician in Wyoming. If Trump were to appoint a Californian to serve in his administration, he could do a lot worse than Allen, though I suppose Cox is probably more to his liking, being a fellow ex-Democrat and all.

—-

As I mentioned earlier, the race appears to be between Villaraigosa and Cox to see who will go up against Newsom in the fall. As has been discussed on this blog many times before, the [William F.] Buckley Rule states that one should vote for the most conservative candidate who stands a legitimate chance of winning. There might be a clever argument to be made that Cox could pull off an amazing shocker against Newsom and win on a forgotten man populist surge, but I think the more likely scenario in a state where Hillary Clinton beat Trump by over three million votes is that Newsom beats Cox by about the same 60% to 40% margin that Brown bested Neel Kashkari by four years ago. Villaraigosa on the other hand could unite the final few remaining relatively-sane Democrats with some Republicans scared to death of what Newsom has in store, and make a race of it. In addition, a Newsom-Villaraigosa race might end up exposing and deepening some of the fissures that exist in the state’s Democrat party: Northern California vs. Southern California, entitled white males vs. scrappy minorities, progressives vs. pragmatists, and other interesting possibilities. I still haven’t yet figured out how I am going to mark my ballot.

– JVW

A short explanation for my absence from Patterico’s [Guest Post by Dana]

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:17 pm

[Guest post by Dana]

This is just an update for those who have asked where I’ve disappeared to. I’m currently facing some physical limitations that make posting a no-go at this time. I am hopeful that I will be able to return to posting sooner rather than later. (Of course with the high-quality, insightful posts from our host, me talking about posting is rather silly.) For now, though, I am focusing my energies on getting better. It is a non-life threatening matter, and pales in comparison to what some commenters are enduring. But it is what’s on my plate now, and something that must be addressed. Recently a friend sent me a beautiful handcrafted card with a reminder that I am living by these days: “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

So, onward and upward I go.

— Dana

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Could Trump Be Prosecuted for Shooting James Comey While Still in Office?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:00 am

Rudy Giuliani says no:

Candidate Donald Trump bragged that he could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, and now President Donald Trump’s lawyer says Trump could shoot the FBI director in the Oval Office and still not be prosecuted for it.

“In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost Sunday, claiming a president’s constitutional powers are that broad. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.”

Giuliani said impeachment was the initial remedy for a president’s illegal behavior ― even in the extreme hypothetical case of Trump having shot former FBI Director James Comey to end the Russia investigation rather than just firing him.

“If he shot James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day,” Giuliani said. “Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”

First of all, the assumption that Trump would automatically be impeached if he were guilty of an act is not immediately obvious. The tendency of Trump’s supporters when he does something wrong is to rally around him, rather than impose consequences on him. Every criminal defendant has a defense, and sufficiently motivated people can be convinced to accept any defense. If O.J. Simpson taught us anything, it is that no amount of evidence and logic can overcome the mixture of identity politics and fame. Inject politics into the mix and the brew is even more potent.

Are we to assume that the right half of the party would suddenly abandon its habit of defending Trump on literally any point, no matter how flimsy, simply because he committed a murder? Keep in mind: Democrats and Big Media would almost certainly be saying that he committed the crime, and that he should be removed from office. That alone would be enough to trigger reflexive disagreement in the lizard brains of many partisans — disagreement that literally no amount or quality of evidence could overcome. I can hear, in my mind, the rationalizations of the partisans even now: “Didn’t Obama drone U.S. citizens? What president hasn’t murdered people? This is just the left’s way of undoing an election!” These partisans vote, and if the polls showed lawmakers that removal was not a solid plus, getting the necessary numbers in the Senate for removal might not be certain.

But let’s put all that aside for a moment and look at the most relevant precedent we have: Clinton v. Jones. Several passages in that decision suggest that the Supreme Court would not hold Trump above the law for a personal act (and possibly even for an official act, if one can imagine such a thing) of shooting James Comey. Here are two passages that suggest that prosecution for a personal act would almost certainly be permitted:

With respect to acts taken in his “public character”– that is official acts–the President may be disciplined principally by impeachment, not by private lawsuits for damages. But he is otherwise subject to the laws for his purely private acts.

. . . .

Whatever the outcome of this case, there is no possibility that the decision will curtail the scope of the official powers of the Executive Branch. The litigation of questions that relate entirely to the unofficial conduct of the individual who happens to be the President poses no perceptible risk of misallocation of either judicial power or executive power.

It would be incorrect to read this language, however, as clearly stating that Trump is beyond the reach of the courts in all cases where he takes official action. In other words, could Trump order the federal government to drone James Comey, and take refuge in the notion that this was an official act that removes him from the judgment of the courts? I doubt it. As Justice Stevens explained — speaking for a unanimous court, the courts have often made determinations regarding the president’s official actions as well:

First, we have long held that when the President takes official action, the Court has the authority to determine whether he has acted within the law….Second, it is also settled that the President is subject to judicial process in appropriate circumstances….Sitting Presidents have responded to court orders to provide testimony and other information with sufficient frequency that such interactions between the Judicial and Executive Branches can scarcely be thought a novelty….If the Judiciary may severely burden the Executive Branch by reviewing the legality of the President’s official conduct, and if it may direct appropriate process to the President himself, it must follow that the federal courts have power to determine the legality of his unofficial conduct. The burden on the President’s time and energy that is a mere by product of such review surely cannot be considered as onerous as the direct burden imposed by judicial review and the occasional invalidation of his official actions.

In the context of Clinton v. Jones, which was a private matter, Justice Stevens was making the point that if the judiciary can decide official questions in many cases, it can certainly decide unofficial ones.

Keep in mind: governors have been indicted by state prosecutors (Rick Perry being a glaring and absurd example) and I am not familiar with any decision that says this cannot happen on state constitutional grounds of separation of powers.

This is not to say that Giuliani’s argument is insane. Some agree that a president cannot be criminally prosecuted. For a law student’s detailed argument to that effect, see here. The arguments include the notion that the President is different, since he, as one person, embodies an entire article in the Constitution. Vincent Bugliosi made a similar argument in his book No Island of Sanity.

But the Supreme Court had a different view, and the Supreme Court is the final arbiter in our system. And based on its decision in Clinton v. Jones, I suspect they would allow a prosecution even before an impeachment.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

6/3/2018

Witness a Real Comédienne at Work

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:44 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Lost in the whole Roseanne Barr/Samantha Bee Axis of Stupid and Obnoxious is that there are some comédiennes who handle political satire quite brilliantly. Here is England and America’s magnificent Tracey Ullman (she’s a dual citizen) taking the measure of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn on her BBC show Tracey Breaks the News this past Friday:

Yep, that’s her in impressively-done makeup and beard playing Mr. Corbyn. The rabid leftists of his party naturally chalked up this sketch as the work of a Jewish writer (the writer said that he did not contribute to the sketch, and Ms. Ullman herself was raised Catholic). I don’t know what Ms. Ullman’s politics are — I sort of doubt that she is a conservative (she describes herself as anti-monarchy and her daughter worked for a Labour party leader and later stood as Labour’s candidate for a seat) — but I very much doubt if any current American comic with a TV show could show such a deft touch in political commentary.

– JVW

Only in California: the Case of the $312k Executive Assistant to the Mayor

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:43 pm

[guest post by JVW]

One thing about smaller regional newspapers is that they tend to be shrewd enough to focus on covering local stories and local governments. Large metropolitan newspapers oftentimes aspire to be national publications, and thus spill an inordinate amount of ink covering the various ins and outs in Washington. When I lived in Boston, The Boston Globe was the pretentious, elitist lefty broadsheet who had a DC bureau and pompous columnists who wanted to pontificate upon the national scene. The Boston Herald, by contrast, styled itself as the working class tabloid who zeroed in on local stories and gossip and delighted in poking the bubble of the stuffy and pedantic Globe. As an analogy, the Globe was Beantown’s New York Times (indeed, the Times eventually bought the Globe) whereas the Herald was the Hub’s version of The New York Post. In my years there, while the Globe was busy inveighing against New Gingrich’s obstructionism to the Clinton agenda, the Herald could be counted on to investigate stories about crooked local politicians and public employees who were scamming the system. As much as the Boston Brahmins sneered at the provincialism of the local tabloid, it served a valuable purpose in the body politic.

Out here among the palm trees and traffic snarls, the Southern California News Group serves a similar purpose. While the Los Angeles Times (derisively known here as the Dog Trainer; this is Patterico’s first recorded use of the term for blog historians) styles itself as a major regional newspaper, covering Sacramento and the Pacific Rim (the Dog Trainer had to abandon its hopes of being a national newspaper once the industry began to crumble ten years ago), the SCNG has managed to stay in business largely by focusing on issues important to the communities that they serve. The local SCNG paper in my neck of the woods, The Daily Breeze, won a Pulitzer Prize three years ago for uncovering the story about the school superintendent in the small, poor school district who was making $633,000 per year thanks to machinations on his end. And earlier this week a reporter from the Pasadena Star News, another SCGN paper, reported on another taxpayer-funded employee who has won big in the system:

A former campaign worker for Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts lifted her fortunes after following him to City Hall as his assistant in 2011, rebounding from a personal bankruptcy to a position that earned her $312,000 in total compensation last year.

Melanie McDade-Dickens, who served as Butts’ office manager during his first campaign for mayor, is now one of the highest paid employees in his administration. Her total pay skyrocketed from from $73,850 in 2013 to $245,436 last year, according to data obtained from Transparent California, a database of public salaries.

If you go to the Inglewood page on the Transparent California site, you will see that Ms. McDade-Dickens is only the nineteenth highest-paid city employee in terms of combined salary and benefits, but that’s mostly because she ranks behind twelve members of the police department on whose behalf the city is apparently providing some pretty hefty health and retirement benefits. When only pay is considered, Ms. McDade-Dickens leaps up to eleventh on the list. Her official title is “Executive Assistant to the Mayor and City Manager,” and here are the job titles of the people who rank ahead of her in pay: City Manager; Assistant City Manager; Police Chief; Police Lieutenant; Police Sergeant; City Attorney; and Director of Parks, Recreation, and Library Services. Her total compensation for 2017 includes a base salary of $170,569, no overtime pay, $74,867 in “other pay” which reportedly includes a $14,706 bonus she received in January 2017, and $66,627 in health and retirement benefits.

So what are the good people of Inglewood, population approximately 110,000 and median income roughly $45,000, getting for that $312,000 investment? Let’s get back to the article (all emphasis here is added by me):

McDade-Dickens’ title changed from senior assistant to executive assistant in 2016, but city officials argue her responsibilities have dramatically increased beyond her title. Butts said her duties were previously handled by an assistant city manager, deputy city manager and executive assistant.

“This position was created to perform duties formerly done by the three vacant positions as well as serve as Director of Parking and Management Services Division (also vacant) and the Director of the Office of Emergency Management,” Butts said in an email.

“The position also supervises the Administrative Clerical staff. She coordinates major city events, prepares and presents staff reports to the City Council. She serves as needed in the absence of an Assistant City Manager.”

None of those duties was reflected in a job description for the position of executive assistant to the mayor and city manager that, until recently. was last updated in January on Inglewood’s website.

On May 24, the online job description listed qualifications and experience for a secretarial position — five years of experience supporting elected officials, a proficiency with Microsoft Office and a valid driver’s license. The duties included managing calendars, screening communications and greeting visitors.

Hours later, after city officials were contacted by a Southern California News Group reporter asking about McDade-Dickens, a new job description was uploaded to the website, according to the document’s metadata, the forensic information embedded within a file.

The revised job description, allegedly from October 2017, includes many of the same duties but also contains new ones, such as overseeing the parking program and coordinating the annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, among others. The job now requires a bachelor’s degree, five years of experience supporting elected officials and a driver’s license. It does not require any experience in leading departments at a public agency.

What was Ms. McDade-Dickens doing before she assumed this very lucrative and prestigious position? Well, in 2010 she served as the office manager for then-candidate James T. Butts’s mayoral campaign. Once he was sworn-in in January of 2011, she followed him to city hall as his assistant. The Transparent California website only has data dating back to 2013 so we don’t know what her starting salary was, but her pay for 2013 was $73,850 and her benefits were worth $61,219. In other words, over a five-year period Ms. McDade-Dickens saw her benefits grow by a modest 8.8% while her pay grew by an unbelievable 332%. Did she get her alleged promotions by emerging as the most qualified candidate among a regional search? Don’t count on it:

Both Butts and [City Manager Artie] Fields said McDade-Dickens was selected for her new role through a competitive recruitment process. Fields later clarified that the process was for internal candidates only. The city manager declined to provide the applications for the position, claiming they are personnel records.

Fields made the final decision to promote McDade-Dickens from senior assistant to executive assistant, he said. He subsequently chose to assign her responsibility for the parking and emergency management programs, a move that resulted in a significant pay bump.

“There was no selection process in 2017 nor was one necessary. There was no need for a subsequent selection process,” Fields said in an email. “The position had an incumbent.”

This gets more and more unbelievable, doesn’t it? So with her executive assistant responsibilities and the parking and emergency management duties, she must be really busy, right? Maybe not:

Though McDade-Dickens got a pay increase to serve as the city’s parking chief, Inglewood’s website directs visitors to contact Mario Inga, the parking and enterprise services manager, or Tanya Perry, the parking services superintendent, for any questions related to the management of the parking department. McDade-Dickens is not mentioned on the page.

Inga, who touts 27 years of experience in the parking and transportation industry on his LinkedIn, lists duties that include managing all of the city’s parking programs, the department’s budget, staff reports and any human resource-related issues. Inga earned about $105,000 total in 2017.

If you search for Ms. McDade-Dickens on the Inglewood city website, you won’t find her with her own page and you won’t find her listed among the assistant city managers on the management page. Nor does she appear to have a LinkedIn page, and it doesn’t seem that the reporter was able to ascertain any clues in Ms. McDade-Dickens’ background (beyond her political alliance with Mayor Butts) that suggest she is uniquely qualified for this job.

Inglewood, the article goes on to remind us, faces a $17 million budget deficit that they plan to cover this year by using $11 million in reserves and restructuring some pension obligations. The city is counting on a huge financial windfall once the new NFL stadium opens up on the old Hollywood Park site, so maybe in the future every political operative will be able to score a $300k sinecure from city hall. But I think if I were a city taxpayer, I would have an awful lot of questions about this arrangement.

– JVW

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 76, Part 1

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the second Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes” (The heavens are telling the glory of God). This half-hour cantata will provide the music for this Sunday and the next, with Part 1 heard today, and Part 2 heard next week. Here is Part 1:

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 2:23-3:6.

Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Jesus Heals on the Sabbath

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

The text of today’s piece is available here. It includes these words, which describe how God looks after the welfare of humans:

Thus God does not leave Himself unwitnessed!
Nature and grace speak to all mankind:
God has indeed done all this,
so that the heavens move
and spirits and bodies stir themselves.
God Himself has leaned down to you
and calls to you through countless messengers:
rise up, come to My feast of love!

. . . .

Indeed with You Yourself fed and quenched
and given Your spirit,
which continually hovers in our souls.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

6/2/2018

Trump: That Letter from Kim That I Never Saw Was Very Nice and Interesting

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:22 pm

While yammering aimlessly about the upcoming North Korea summit, President Trump claimed that a letter from Kim Jong-un was “very nice” and “very interesting” — and then admitted less than ten minutes later that he hadn’t opened it.

At 2:41, Trump says the letter was “very nice” and “very interesting”:

TRUMP: Well, this was a very good meeting. Don’t forget: this was a meeting where a letter was given to me by Kim Jong-un. And that letter was, a very nice letter. Oh, would you like to see what was in that letter. Wouldn’t you like? How much? How much? How much?

JOURNALIST: Could you just give us the flavor of what the letter said?

TRUMP: It was a very interesting letter. At some point, it may be appropriate and maybe I’ll be able to give it to you, maybe. You’ll be able to see it. And maybe fairly soon.

At 10:54, Trump says he hasn’t seen the letter:

JOURNALIST: Mr. President, what was your response to the letter. Did you send anything back?

TRUMP: No, I didn’t. I haven’t seen the letter yet. I purposely didn’t open the letter. I haven’t opened it. I didn’t open it in front of the director. I said, “Would you want me to open it?” He said, “You can read it later.” I may be in for a big surprise, folks!

This is 47-dimensional chess like nothing you’ve ever seen. The genius of it will be revealed in the future.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Annoying White Gentry Liberals Attempt to Rehabilitate Bill Clinton

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:33 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Is there anyone on Earth who has seen their star fall more drastically in the past three years than Bill Clinton? After bestriding the world like a colossus, becoming fabulously wealthy and redeeming himself in the eyes of the left by not being George W. Bush, Bubba’s reputation has been tarnished as his party has largely deserted him on the issues. Where once he was seen as an altruistic elder statesman valiantly attempting to address global issues of poverty and want, the Bernie Sanders left now carps at him for amassing such a huge fortune giving speeches and trading favors. His legacy of using federal resources to aid in fighting crime on a local level has been tarnished by claims that he supported the mass incarceration of minority males. His promotion of women in his cabinet and fealty to abortion is forgotten in the #metoo moment as we recall his disgraceful personal behavior with women. And his governing style of whatever 55% of the voters believe in is exactly what he believes in has been swamped by the Barack Obama governing belief that leftism is on the right side of history and should forever remain on the march. The confluence of all these trends has now driven his popularity rating below 50% for the first time in his post-Presidency since he was suffering through the revelation of his controversial last-minute pardons over seventeen years ago.

So it’s up to the white gentry liberals at the New York Times to provide Bubba with an outlet to rehabilitate his shredded reputation. Not brave enough to try to defend him in the opinion (or even news) section and risk the wrath of the social justice left who now runs the party, they instead gave him some safer space in the books section where he can bloviate on writers and tomes that he allegedly enjoys. If there are two things we all know about William Jefferson Clinton, they are that he habitually lies about matters large and small, and that he jealously guards his reputation as a towering intellect, lest the city slickers whose approval he so craves come to view him as just a barefooted rube from the Ozarks. The format is a Q&A, where the forty-second President treats us to his usual bunkum and hokum to come up with answers that are guaranteed to appeal to the tastes of the pseudo-intellects who read that pretentious rag. Witness the grandiosity:

Q: What books are on your nightstand?
Clinton: The Future Is History by Masha Gessen. It’s great and written in a direct, blunt style appropriate for the subject. I’ll soon be finished. The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku; Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker; and Capture: A Theory of the Mind by David Kessler. Next up is the latest book in Jason Matthews’s Red Sparrow trilogy.

A wag in the comments section opined that Clinton must have an industrial-strength nightstand to hold so many books. Note how Bubba ticks off two tomes with “Future” in the title, desperate for us to know that he’s still a guy who can’t stop thinking about tomorrow.

Q: What was the last truly great book you read?
Clinton: I loved Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright, and Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert.

The first book is about the Osage Indian murders in Oklahoma during the 1920s, so it’s perfect for the modern white-folks-have-long-terrorized-minority-communities obsession of the modern left. The Albright book is, of course, a warning about Trump and anyone else not convinced that the credentialed elite make the smartest decisions in policy. The Beckert book apparently explains how the rise of cotton created our modern capitalist system and today’s economic inequality.

Q: What was the best book you read as a student?
Clinton: In college: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron. In law school: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. (This was also the best over all.) At Oxford: The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas and To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson.

Hey, we get that Clinton was morally obligated to include the work of a Latino on his list, but did he have to choose one who was a fan of Castro and Chavez? Imagine how progressive heads would have exploded if he had chosen a book from Mario Vargas Llosa instead. Note that all four authors chosen here were committed men of the left, so Bubba wants to remind us that he was a liberal’s liberal during his student years.

Q: Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t?
Clinton: I’m embarrassed to admit it but in two tries I have never been able to get all the way through Don Quixote. I like long books, raced through War and Peace at 22, but could not finish Quixote. I will try at least once more.

Don Quixote is the finest novel ever written (this may be slight hyperbole on my part), so Clinton ought to hang his head in shame. But I suppose I can see how a novel about a lone man fighting to retain heroic notions of chivalry, duty, honor, and chastity would horrify someone as morally sleazy as The Big Creep.

Q: What books made you want to become a writer? And what books made you want to become a politician?
Clinton: [. . . ] North Toward Home by Willie Morris, The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

If you are keeping score at home, in these answers Clinton has mentioned eighteen books, and included one each by an Asian-American man, an African-American woman, an African-American man, a Hispanic man, a Lesbian, and four Southern white males. Elsewhere he mentions reading Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright, in case you were thinking that he was a bit light on black writers. Why, it’s almost as if he were trying to stitch together an electoral coalition! He must figure that Hillary will still be good to drag along the white woman vote.

Anyway, there are more softball questions followed by more fatuous answers, so feel free to read the whole thing if you are a glutton for boredom. Bubba is always going to have a fanbase among a certain set of aging gentry liberals who like the fact that he doesn’t make you feel guilty about being wealthy as long as you are in favor of a 39.6% upper bracket and hold the Hollywood-approved social views, but that group will get smaller and smaller as the years go by.

– JVW

Patterico in Quillette: The RedState Firings and Viewpoint Diversity on the Right

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:39 am

The firings are old news — but they are part of a pattern, I argue in a new piece in Quillette:

Donald Trump has fractured the conservative movement, and with the entrenchment of the fault line between Trump supporters and Trump critics, the Right now suffers from its own political correctness. But the protected class that is officially Free From Criticism is not gays, or women, or blacks. It is Donald Trump.

It might sound crazy to say that Donald Trump is beyond the reach of criticism. After all, isn’t he regularly pilloried on all the major networks, most of the cable news channels, and on the front pages of most national newspapers? Quite so: and this fact, if anything, causes his supporters to huddle closer, and reject or attack anyone who dares utter a critical word. This, in turn, creates an environment in which pundits and politicians on the Right are terrified to say what they really think.

The Trump presidency is reminiscent of the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” in which terrified adults tiptoe around a mercurial child with superpowers, responding to his every cruel and crazed act by nervously saying: “It’s good that you did that, Anthony!” . . .

Trump routinely exaggerates and lies, and the people who surround him applaud and say: “It’s good that you did that, Donald!”

The piece was commissioned a month ago, just after the firings, but I’ve been writing it and updating during that time, so there’s plenty of recent material as well as historical examples to infuriate Trump fans.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

On Being at Peace with All Men in an Era of Hypocrisy and Bullshit

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:38 am

A commenter recently left me this comment:

You used to have content that I enjoyed: actual political commentary from a principled Constitutional position. And while you still do that from time to time, the constant sniping at the people who disagree with you has gone past the point where I want to visit your site. You’re turning into exactly the thing you say you hate: the person who just wants to rub the other guy’s nose in being wrong, instead of arguing the issues.

Bye. I may check back in a year or so to see if you’ve gotten over this phase of unproductive arguing, but for now I’m taking your site off my daily rotation of blogs I read. Shame; you used to be good before you started getting bitter.

Usually, when someone flounces, I am (if anything) pleased. Flounces usually express displeasure at my attitude towards Donald Trump — and generally, I find very little persuasive about most of the bitching about me and the things I write about Trump. But that’s not this commenter’s argument. And I think this commenter has a point. Historically, the commenter is not a hypocrite or crackpot, like so many other flouncers are. And much of what he says rings true to me.

I am disgusted by the bullshit arguments, hypocrisy, total lack of logic, and blatant double standards I see on a daily basis from some people who defend Trump. But dwelling on it — at least in the way I have for a while now — angers me, which is counterproductive. And I’m trying to remove anger from my life.

After reading this comment, and realizing that there was some justice in it, I was not quite sure what to do about it. Exposing hypocrisy and double standards is a habit by now. But it raises my blood pressure. Is there a way to channel that feeling into something constructive?

I asked a couple of good friends that question, and one of them, a very wise soul (who can choose to identify himself or herself, or not), replied in a way that I will paraphrase here. My friend said that there is nothing wrong with exposing double standards, especially if our goal is honest dialogue. But recognize that some people simply won’t engage in honest dialogue. Given that, I should see my efforts at pointing out the hypocrisy and bullshit, not as an effort to change minds, but rather as a public stance that I am going to be consistent in the application of my principles. If the occasional person, whose is not so invested in Trump that their pride is somehow at stake, sees something of value in my commentary, so much the better. But I need to stop letting hypocrites influence how I feel and how I react. My friend closes with the quote: “As much as you can, live in peace with all men.”

I think this is fantastic advice. I don’t want to give up calling out the B.S., but I do want to give up the negative emotions that come with yelling at people over it.

I thank this commenter for his comment, and I thank my friend deeply for the advice. I plan to email the commenter a link to this post — but this isn’t really about regaining one lost reader (although regaining this particular lost reader would be nice). It’s about improving my own life and my own outlook. I’ve successfully done that in many other areas of my life, but this one is a glaring exception. It’s time for me to at least try to do something about it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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