Patterico's Pontifications


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 5

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the fourth Sunday in Lent. It is also the 334th anniversary of the date of Bach’s birth. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Herr Bach! Today’s Bach cantata is “Wo soll ich fliehen hin” (Where shall I flee).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32:

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable:

The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, which emphasize the importance of forgiveness of sins in the Gospel:

Where shall I flee,
since I am burdened
with many great sins?
Where shall I find rescue?

. . . .

My loving Savior comforts me,
buried in His grave
are the sins I committed;
however great my transgression is,
He makes me free and clear.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Smollett “Deal”: Not Normal

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:30 pm

I have a piece on the Smollett deal at Arc Digital:

[I]t doesn’t seem normal to me. Granted, in my job as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, I don’t run across fake hate crimes that often. Most of my career has been spent prosecuting gang members for murder. (I speak here as a private citizen and not on behalf of my office.) But I have also spent my career in courthouses alongside Deputy D.A.s prosecuting a spectrum of crimes, from driving on a suspended license on the low end, all the way up to child molestation, sex trafficking, and serial murder — and everything in between. And I can tell you that it is not typical in my experience for 16 felonies to be dismissed for essentially nothing.

Smollett’s disposition is especially unusual given the resources put into this case. Keep in mind: “24 detectives were removed from regular cases, expending up to 1,000 hours” of police time, not including overtime. This was a major effort, and simply dismissing all charges contributes to the increasing suspicion on the part of regular citizens that there are two tiers of justice: one for the rich and famous, and another for the rest of us.

I save the trolling for the end.

Former Lawmaker Accuses Joe Biden Of Kissing Her Without Consent (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:46 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Hoo-boy. For years I’ve railed about Joe Biden’s creepy handsiness when it comes to women other than his wife. While I’m not the least bit surprised that a former politician has accused Biden of kissing her on the campaign trail in 2014, I am surprised that she is publicly speaking out about it and not giving him cover for his bad behavior like powerful Democrats have done for years. And if everyday Americans have noticed the former vice-president’s incessant handsiness with women, then you know that everyone from President Obama to Nancy Pelosi to Hillary Clinton to Loretta Lynch and everyone else who has worked with Biden, also knew. But to my knowledge, no one has come forward to make a direct and public complaint. Until now.

From Lucy Flores writing in The Cut:

…when my campaign heard from Vice-President Joe Biden’s office that he was looking to help me and other Democrats in the state, I was grateful and flattered. His team offered to bring him to a campaign rally in an effort to help boost voter turnout. We set the date for November 1, just three days before election day.I found my way to the holding room for the speakers, where everyone was chatting, taking photos, and getting ready to speak to the hundreds of voters in the audience. Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?”

I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. [Ed. Seriously? Your concern was that you hadn’t washed your hair and it didn’t smell pretty for the veep? Oh. Come. On.] And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.

By then, as a young Latina in politics, I had gotten used to feeling like an outsider in rooms dominated by white men. But I had never experienced anything so blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before. Biden was the second-most powerful man in the country and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world. He was there to promote me as the right person for the lieutenant governor job. Instead, he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused. The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners — and I felt powerless to do anything about it.

Our strange interaction happened during a pivotal moment in my political career. I’d spent months raising money, talking to voters, and securing endorsements. Biden came to Nevada to speak to my leadership and my potential to be second-in-command — an important role he knew firsthand. But he stopped treating me like a peer the moment he touched me. Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful. I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.

Flores offers these parting thoughts:

I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point — and the whole problem.

The timing of Flores’s revealing story is interesting given that its publication comes in the midst of Biden teasing-out and test-running a possible announcement for his candidacy in 2020. Not only is he being coy about running, but he also appears to be gauging every possible reaction to an announcement and making preemptive strikes accordingly (possibly asking Stacy Abrams a place on his ticket and promising to only serve for one term).

Flores explains why she is coming forward with her accusations now:

For years I feared my experience would be dismissed. Biden will be Biden. Boys will be boys. I worried about the doubts, the threats, the insults, and the minimization. “It’s not that big of a deal. He touched her, so what?” The immediate passing of judgement and the questioning of motives. “Why now? Why so long after? She just wants attention.” Or: “It’s politically motivated.” I would be lying if I said I didn’t carefully consider all of this before deciding to speak. But hearing Biden’s potential candidacy for president discussed without much talk about his troubling past as it relates to women became too much to keep bottled up any longer.

It would be completely logical to assume that any forthcoming public accusation would indeed be dismissed, given that this has been the standard response by Democrats for years when it came to Biden and his inappropriate behavior with women. Ironically, Flores’s own party!

Bill Russo, a spokesman for Biden, responded to the accusation made by Flores:

“Vice President Biden was pleased to support Lucy Flores’s candidacy for lieutenant governor of Nevada in 2014 and to speak on her behalf at a well-attended public event.

Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes,

But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best.

As of yesterday, before this story broke, Biden held a comfortable lead over the other leading Dem candidates. Mind you, this is without even making an official announcement:

Former Vice President Joe Biden is out front in a poll by Quinnipiac University out Thursday, with 29% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters saying they’ll vote for him in the 2020 primary if he runs.

He is followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (19%), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (12%), and Sen. Kamala Harris (8%), according to the Quinnipiac poll.

Oh, and I wanted to post this photo (via The Cut) of Biden standing between Lucy Flores and actress Eva Longoria at the event where the alleged kiss took place because it’s a perfect example of a question answering itself: Why would Biden have his hand up at the top of Longoria’s waist where he might accidentally feel the side of her breast?


UPDATE:Joe Biden released a statement in response to the accusations made against him by Flores:

“In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort,” Biden said in a statement. “And not once – never – did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”

Also, as of today, several 2020 Democrat candidates have given public statements concerning Biden and Flores. None of them suggested that the accusation disqualifies Biden from running:

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Saturday she believes Flores, “and Joe Biden needs to give an answer.”

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro said at the same Iowa event as Warren that he believed Flores. “We need to live in a nation where people can hear her truth,” Castro said.

…Sen. Bernie Sanders… said he too “had no reason not to believe” Flores’ account…

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton, who said he is considering a presidential run, said… that Biden “does need to answer this.”

“I also just saw his statement,” Moulton said. “He said we need to listen to women, and he is right. We need to listen to women. The bottom line here is that women deserve the respect and the opportunity to share these stories, and it takes tremendous courage to do so, and that’s not easy, what she just did on TV. ”

Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said on ABC’s “This Week” that she had “no reason not to believe her” and that Biden would have to continue to address the allegation if he joins the race.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Video: Trumpers Cheering for QAnon Conspiracy

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:08 am

Here’s a guy walking around with a sign saying “Make Noise for Q” at a Trump rally. Many do. Some of them show off their own Q symbols.

I know I speak for many when I express the hope that Trump gives the green light to the QAnon conspiracy. Then we’ll get to have Very Serious Discussions about whether there is something to it. Maybe we can get some readers here to say it’s real.

Anticipating your objections, I know: it’s crazy for me to suggest that Trump would actually express support for a bizarre conspiracy theory.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Trump Would Be Impeached If …

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 am

1) He had said only privately many of the things he has said publicly;

2) He were otherwise normal and not famously erratic; and

3) He didn’t already lie so constantly that everyone is numb to the lies.

Let’s look at a short and incomplete list of his relevant transgressions.

  • He admitted that he fired the FBI director in part, at least, out of anger over an investigation into his contacts with a hostile power (“And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story…'”).
  • He constantly berated (and ultimately fired) his loyalist Attorney General for appropriately recusing himself from that Russia investigation.
  • He tried to fire the Special Counsel investigating that Russia connection, and relented only when his lawyers threatened to quit.
  • He ordered a felonious payoff of a porn star to keep silent about her affair with him, for the purpose of benefiting his campaign.
  • He threatened the father in law of the man who made that payoff, who was at that point a major witness against him, just before that witness testified to Congress.
  • He had his lawyer dangle pardons in front of potential witnesses against him.
  • He asked the FBI director to “let go” an investigation into his national security advisor, who discussed lifting sanctions with a Russian ambassador (probably at his behest) before lying about it to the FBI (“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go…”).
  • He personally drafted a false statement about the nature of a meeting between a woman with ties to the Kremlin and his Kremlin-connected campaign manager, son, and son in law.

These are the types of things that are going to show up in the Mueller report, once we finally get it. Together, they paint a damning picture of someone manifestly unfit for office. But we already know about most of them, because hell, he said much of it in public. And the fact that he has obviously lied about a lot of it (the Veselnitskaya meeting, the porn star payoffs, etc.) doesn’t land because, hey, the guy lies constantly. And saying any of the things that he has said that would be shocking for most people … they just aren’t that shocking for him, because he is a giant obese walking bag of inappropriateness and impropriety.

These are the reasons he likely won’t be impeached. Because of (not in spite of) the fact that he is bizarre, ridiculous, and chronically dishonest — and he is these things openly and without shame.

Be proud, America. Pop open some beers, because it’s Vindication Time.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Ranking Roger, 1963 – 2019

Filed under: General — JVW @ 10:30 pm

[guest post by JVW]

It might only register with my generation, but I am saddened today by the death of Ranking Roger, late of the 1980s bands The Beat (known in North America as The English Beat) and General Public. If any of you have been watching the multi-part Epix documentary Punk, you probably saw the episode on how Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls, and the Ramones brought American do-it-yourself hard rock to England, where it was fused with styles from the New World colonies — ska, rocksteady, and reggae — to create a New Wave sound that would dominate the early Reagan/Thatcher years and would give us diverse sounds running the gamut from The Cure to U2.

The Beat, formed in hardscrabble Birmingham in 1978 (the same year the Sex Pistols flamed out), featured three Caribbean band members, among them a Birmingham-born teenage son of West Indian immigrants. Roger Charlery was a punk rock drummer who had adopted the dub practice of “toasting,” a spoken style of freestyle vocalizing over music similar to what was happening among MCs in the burgeoning New York rap music scene. Charlery went by the professional name of Ranking Roger, with “ranking” signifying his status as a top practitioner of toasting. The band honed their craft in Birmingham, playing mostly house parties since the very few pubs and clubs who would pay a band for gigs in the economically-depressed Callaghan years preferred to host a more traditional rock-and-roll sound. With another ska-punk fusion band called The Specials gaining notice a mere twenty miles away in Coventry and fellow Birmingham band UB40 promoting a more traditional reggae sound infused with British pop, the midlands became the center for the new musical fusion.

“Tears of a Clown,” a remake of the old Smokey Robinson song, became The Beat’s first record when it was a released as a single in late 1979. (Quick digression: the first single was supposed to be the band’s own composition and ultimately one of their best-known songs, “Mirror in the Bathroom,” but the band got cold feet and decided to play it safe with a Motown chestnut that had been well-received at their live shows.) The single eventually reached #6 on the UK charts, but I have a suspicion that the B-side, “Ranking Full Stop,” was far better received on the dance floor. This song is a pretty fair representation of the toasting style that Ranking Roger and other practitioners of dub were demonstrating to working-class English kids. Here’s the song performed by the band shortly after their first LP, I Just Can’t Stop It, was released:

If you have the time, it’s worth watching all 25 minutes of this set in full. Try to imagine how unique this sound must have been to kids had been weaned on Elton John, the Bee Gees, and Rod Stewart.

The Beat would release two more albums, reach an American audience via their solid sets at the first two US Festivals, then, all too predictably, succumb to the pressures of constantly recording and touring. By 1983 the band had splintered, with Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling forming General Public, who hit it big with “Tenderness,” a peppy song about unfulfilled love with an instantly recognizable hook that even the young kids these days will groove to:

The Beat got together again in various iterations throughout the past 30 years, sometimes with Ranking Roger and sometimes without him. It probably goes without saying that their shows were considerably better when both Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger were at the microphone; now that won’t be possible. Hearing his voice brings back fond memories of my youth, and it’s one of those unavoidable signs of getting old to know that it is henceforth silenced. Rest in peace.


Witch Hunt

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 pm

For the longest time, all you heard from the media was: he’s guilty. He’s going down.

Sure, it took a while to build to that point. But in the end, it seemed universal: every time you turned the channel, everyone was saying: this guy’s done. It’s a turning point. This looks like the beginning of the end.

It sure looked bad for a while. Payoffs for illegal activity. Lying. Stuff that like doesn’t play well.

But in the end, it was up to the prosecutor. And the prosecutor has said there will be no prosecution. And even though we don’t seem to know all the details yet, that’s the end of it.

Sure, the people who have been wrong about this all along are livid. They will not let it go. They complain that the prosecutor who announced the decision is playing politics. That he’s getting away with it because of who he is. Look at the criminals around him!

But his supporters held fast. Show me the man, they noted, and I’ll show you the crime. And in the end, the witch hunt ended in total and complete vindication


Well, Whaddaya Know: Charges Against Jussie Smollett Dropped

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:46 am

[guest post by JVW]

They were never going to prosecute someone with so much intersectionality street cred. National Review Online has the details:

Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all the charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who stood accused of staging a hate crime to advance his career.

Smollett was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct last month when police determined that he filed a false report after staging a racially motivated attack on himself with the help of two friends. He had pled not guilty to the charges before prosecutors decided to drop them.

[. . .]

Prosecutors took Smollett’s history of community service into account when deciding to drop the charges, according to a statement released by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office Tuesday afternoon.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the statement said.

It’s Chicago, so naturally corrupt local politicians are part of the story, as is a former Obama Administration official:

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police last week requested an investigation into State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx’s handling of the case on the grounds that she improperly asked [Chicago Police Chief Eddie] Johnson to turn the investigation over to the FBI after Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, requested that she do so at the behest of one of Smollett’s relatives.

“Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation,” Foxx wrote in an email sent two days after the alleged attack.

“OMG this would be a huge victory,” Tchen wrote in response to a text message from Foxx containing the same information as was included in the email.

“I make no guarantees,” Foxx responded, “but I’m trying.”

The FBI did not end up taking control of the probe, but I find it interesting that Ms. Tchen believed that the outcome would be more beneficial to Mr. Smollett if the feds were involved. It makes you wonder if Obama officials have more chits to call in with the feds than they do in the Windy City.

In any case, Jussie Smollett will probably resume his career as if nothing had happened, and he will to his dying day insist upon his version of events which will also gradually come to be accepted among the grievance-mongering left. Thank you, Chicago Police Department, for getting to the bottom of the story. Sorry that the political types are going to undercut all of your work.



Michael Avenatti Charged — In Two Districts

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:58 am

Washington Post:

Michael Avenatti, the high profile critic of President Trump, was charged Monday by federal prosecutors with trying to extort Nike by threatening to issue damaging allegations against the company unless it paid his client millions.

But that’s not all! That’s the New York federal case. And then there’s the California federal case:

Federal law enforcement officials will provide details concerning today’s arrest of lawyer Michael Avenatti, who faces federal charges of wire fraud and bank fraud in the Central District of California.

Remarkable. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

UPDATE: Christmas in March.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 124

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 8:53 am

It is the third Sunday in Lent. Today’s Bach cantata is “Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht” (I will not let go of my Jesus).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 13:1-9:

Repent or Perish

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

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

I will not let go of my Jesus,
I will walk beside Him forever;
Christ shall for ever and ever have me
guided to the springs of life.
Blessed, whoever says with me:
I will not let go of my Jesus.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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