Patterico's Pontifications


Presidential Elections Bring Us the Usual Silly Ideas

Filed under: General — JVW @ 5:37 pm

[guest post by JVW]

It wouldn’t be a Presidential election year without at least some candidate or other coming up with rather stupid ideas. No, I’m not referring to “Medicaid for All” or “free” college, I am thinking here of the truly trivial and small-potatoes initiatives, such as Bill Clinton’s school uniform fixation (though, to be fair, I suppose in retrospect we can view this as a possible sexual fetish). So let’s take a look at brand-new Democrat candidate Michael Bloomberg, who is either closing out 2019 or kicking off 2020 by bringing the dumb:

Because making the White House function more like a WeWork office will no doubt fix a whole number of our problems.

This promises to be a truly insipid year ahead of us.



Sunday Music: Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Part VI

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:49 am

It is the first Sunday after Christmas. Today’s Bach piece is Part VI of his Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248:

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 2:13-23:

The Escape to Egypt

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

The Return to Nazareth

After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

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

Then Herod summoned the sages secretly and cleverly discovered from them when the star had appeared. And he directed them towards Bethlehem and said:
— Go there and seek diligently for the infant, and when you find it, report to me, so that I can also come and pay my devotions to it. —

. . . .

Liar, you seek only to destroy the Lord;
You employ all false trickery
to supplant the Savior;
yet He, whose power no man can measure,
remains in secure hands.
Your heart, your false heart is already,
with all its deceit, very well known
to the Son of the Highest whom you seek to crush.

. . . .

And God commanded them in a dream that they should not journey back to Herod, and they travelled by another way back to their own land.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:38 am

[guest post by Dana]

I’m 7 days into a cold/flu, so the weekend open thread is bare bones.

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

I’ll start.

First news item: Joe says no:

Former Vice President Joe Biden (D) said Friday that he would not comply with a Senate subpoena to testify in President Trump’s impeachment trial.

“What are you going to cover?” Biden said when asked about a subpoena in an interview with the Des Moines Register’s executive editor Carol Hunter. “You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And (Trump’s) going to get away. You guys buy into it all the time. Not a joke.”

He went on to say it would be part of Trump’s tactic to “take the focus off” himself.

Second news item:Eddie Gallagher’s fellow SEALs had harsh words for platoon leader:

The Navy SEALs who served beside Special Operations Chief Eddie Gallagher described their platoon leader as “toxic,” “freaking evil” and a “psychopath,” in new video recordings…

The recordings are part of the Navy’s investigation into Gallagher, who was accused of war crimes stemming from a 2017 deployment to Iraq. Gallagher in July was found not guilty of murder and premeditated murder but was convicted of a lesser charge of posing for a photo with an Islamic State (ISIS) fighter’s corpse.

In one of the recordings, Special Operator 1st Class Craig Miller, one of the most experienced SEALs in the group, can be seen weeping.

“The guy is freaking evil,” Miller told investigators.

In a separate interview, Special Operator 1st Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, called Gallagher “toxic.”

The platoon’s medic, Special Operator 1st Class Corey Scott, described Gallagher as the type of person who was “perfectly OK with killing anybody that was moving.”

Third news item: Radio legend dies:

Don Imus, the radio personality whose insult humor and savage comedy catapulted him to a long-lasting and controversial career, has died at 79. His three-hour radio program, Imus in the Morning, was widely popular, especially with the over 25-male demographic.

Imus died Friday morning at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, after being hospitalized on Christmas Eve, a representative said.

Imus was loved or hated for his caustic loudmouth. Outspoken in an age of political correctness, his often coarse satire offended sensibilities. Yet his listeners included those whom he often ridiculed. His call-in guests included President Clinton, Dan Rather, Tim Russert, Bill Bradley, David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani and political analyst Jeff Greenfield, who once remarked, “He’s out there talking the way most of us talk when we’re not in public.”

He sparked national outcry in 2007 when he made derogatory, racist remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. CBS Radio and MSNBC then dropped his show.

He rebounded by signing a multiyear contract with the Fox Business Network in 2009 to simulcast Imus in the Morning from 6-9 a.m., with Fox anchors appearing during the program.

Fourth news item: Federal judge says no:

A federal judge on Friday denied an effort to restore 98,000 Georgia voters who were removed from the state’s voter rolls this month because they haven’t participated in elections for more than eight years.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones’ ruling upholds the cancellation of these inactive voters under Georgia’s “use it or lose it” law, which allows election officials to remove people who didn’t vote or respond to mailed notification letters.

Jones wrote in a 32-page order that the plaintiffs, led by the voting rights group Fair Fight Action, failed to show that the cancellations violated the U.S. Constitution. Jones wrote that the plaintiffs could still ask the Georgia Supreme Court to interpret the state law about inactive voters.

In all, nearly 287,000 registrations were canceled this month because those registered either moved away or stopped participating in elections. An additional 22,000 inactive voters were initially removed but reinstated by the secretary of state’s office because those voters had contacted election officials in early 2012, before the cancellation cut-off date.

Have a great weekend.



Merry Christmas!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:17 am

Hope you all have a great Christmas. Thanks to Dana and JVW for everything they do, and thanks to longtime readers and any newer ones.


Christmas Open Thread

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:57 am

[guest post by JVW]

Merry Christmas to all Patterico’s Pontifications readers.

I have lots of fond memories of Christmas through the years. When I was a teenager we had amazing 70-degree weather one sunny Christmas Day, so my dad and I went out and played a round of golf that afternoon. I also remember the year that I conned my entire family, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandmother, into spending Christmas in Las Vegas, because that is where Jesus was born.

Feel free to share Christmas memories here. Peace on Earth and goodwill towards men.

America Xmas





Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 147

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

It is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Today’s Bach cantata is “Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben” (Heart and mouth and deed and life):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 1:18-25:

Joseph Accepts Jesus as His Son

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

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

Heart and mouth and deed and life
must give testimony of Christ
without fear or hypocrisy,
that He is God and Savior.

Blessed mouth!
Mary makes the inmost part of her soul
known through thanks and praise;
she begins to narrate to herself
the miracle of the Savior,
which He has worked in her as His handmaiden.
O human race,
slave to Satan and to sin,
you are freed
through Christ’s reassuring appearance
from this burden and servitude!
However your mouth and your stubborn spirit
supresses, denies such goodness;
yet know, that according to the scripture,
an all-too-harsh judgment will be yours!

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:22 am

[guest post by Dana]

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

I’ll start.

First news item: Voters expect elected officials to enact viable solutions. Unfortunately, more often than not, government can only demonstrate its inability to fix anything:

Homelessness in Seattle has reached a crisis point. Despite some $1 billion in public and private spending, more people live on the streets than ever before. But rather than focus on the causes — addiction, mental illness and social breakdown — progressives in local government have waged war against abstract forces of oppression.

Last week, Seattle homeless ­advocates hosted their annual conference under the theme of “Decolonizing Our Collective Work.” ­According to the organizers, to reduce homelessness, government should prioritize “unpacking the current structures of power” and “examine the legacies of structural racism in our systems” to “co-design a path towards liberation with black, ­indigenous, brown and other marginalized communities.”

What does all that mean?

The director of King County’s homelessness program, Kira Zylstra, used taxpayer funds to hire a transgender stripper to perform during the conference. According to The Seattle Times, the stripper, Beyoncé Black St. James, “danced topless in a sheer bodysuit, gave lap dances and kissed attendees.” The audience — representatives from the region’s taxpayer-funded nonprofits and government agencies — clapped, cheered and handed St. James dollar bills.

Second news item: Elizabeth Warren’s purity test backfires, revealing her own stunning hypocrisy:

On a Saturday evening in June 2018, with temperatures in the 70s and the Red Sox playing at Fenway Park, supporters of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren gathered at the City Winery Boston for a fundraiser.

They were treated to songs by the Grammy-winning artist Melissa Etheridge and heard remarks from Warren, who was months away from announcing her campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. For the top donors, those who could contribute or raise $5,400 per couple or $2,700 a person, there was a VIP photo reception and premium seating.

For them and others who gave at least $1,000, there was also a gift: a souvenir wine bottle…

In Thursday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles, Warren lit into rival Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, for attending a fundraiser at a “wine cave” in California’s Napa Valley where he dined and sipped under a chandelier with Swarovski crystals and where a novelty large bottle of wine can cost $900.

Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States,” Warren said. Later, she added, “I do not sell access to my time.”

…Even after her pledge not to hold private fundraisers, Warren has continued to attend the very kind of events for which she has criticized others. She has headlined fundraisers for the Democratic National Committee in settings that raise handsome sums, and she said she would continue to do that if she were the nominee, so that Democrats would not be at a financial disadvantage against President Donald Trump.

Third news item: Franklin Graham spills the beans about his father, and glosses over Trump’s behavior because the end justifies the means:

… Yes, my father Billy Graham founded Christianity Today; but no, he would not agree with their opinion piece. In fact, he would be very disappointed. I have not previously shared who my father voted for in the past election, but because of this article, I feel it is necessary to share it now. My father knew Donald Trump, he believed in Donald Trump, and he voted for Donald Trump. He believed that Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in history for our nation.

Look at all the President has accomplished in a very short time. The economy of our nation is the strongest it has been in 50 years, ISIS & the caliphate have been defeated, and the President has renegotiated trade deals to benefit all Americans. The list of accomplishments is long, but for me as a Christian, the fact that he is the most pro-life president in modern history is extremely important—and Christianity Today wants us to ignore that, to say it doesn’t count? The President has been a staunch defender of religious freedom at home and around the world—and Christianity Today wants us to ignore that? Also the President has appointed conservative judges in record number—and Christianity today wants us to ignore that? Christianity Today feels he should be removed from office because of false accusations that the President emphatically denies.

Is President Trump guilty of sin? Of course he is, as were all past presidents and as each one of us are, including myself.

Fourth news item: President Trump responds to Christianity Today’s editorial calling for his removal from office:

Fifth news item: Evangelicals to continue looking the other way with regard to Trump’s “moral deficiencies”:

President Trump’s re-election campaign announced the creation of an ‘Evangelicals for Trump’ coalition hours after the president feuded publicly with a Christian publisher Friday.

Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign said in an email Friday evening that the president will launch the “Evangelicals for Trump” group at an event in Miami on January 3, 2020.

“The event will bring together Evangelicals from across the nation who support President Trump’s re-election,” said the announcement.

Sixth news item: Making bank off the impeachment:

An official for President Trump’s 2020 campaign said Friday that it has raised $10 million over the course of two days following the historic impeachment vote in the House this week.

“That’s just in 48 hours, so two days, $5 million dollars a day,” Tim Murtaugh, the communications director of Trump’s reelection team, told Hill.TV. “The president’s reelection campaign gets bigger and stronger.”

“Every time the Democrats in the media into a frenzy like they did on Wednesday with the vote, we collect more data — we have greater interaction with the voters and we raise more money,” he added.

Have a great weekend.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Republicans Once Again Win the Wrong Battle

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:14 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Earlier today the President tweeted this:

For the life of me, I never understood why the GOP made repealing the “Cadillac Tax” on lavish health plans a high priority. I get how after failing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) they have been attempting to systematically dismantling it by, for example, killing the penalty for those who fail to purchase health care. And thanks to collusion between Congressional Democrats and Republicans the tax on expensive high-end health plans was never implemented to begin with, so it’s not as if formally killing it has any budget effect. But we now find ourselves at the point where ObamaCare is still officially on the books yet with fewer and fewer options for paying for it. One interesting aspect of the tax was that it would have hit hardest among union members and other groups who generally negotiate for too-generous health benefits, so even though the Obama Administration needed to include the tax in the ACA legislation in order to balance the books they were more than happy to cynically abandon the concept once the bill had safely passed. And I have always thought it was a strategic mistake for Republicans to have acceded to this chicanery, but I guess the general anti-tax fervor of the party overwhelms any notions of fiscal sanity.

ObamaCare was and is a lousy piece of legislation, but when feckless Republicans were unable to undo it (a big part of your legacy, John McCain) they should not have agreed to a system where millions of people receive government subsidies but nobody is taxed in order to fund them. It’s likely that a supposed anti-single-payer chief executive like a President Biden or President Buttigieg won’t see the point in re-fighting this battle, so the idea of taxing high-end health care plans, many of which are already taxpayer paid, is now dead for the foreseeable future.

And we’re looking at a future of trillion dollar deficits if we don’t change course, so goodbye to fiscal sanity once and for all.

Ramesh Ponnuru Dismantles the Arguments Against Impeachment and Removal

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:51 am

To the extent that facts and logic matter, which is very little, Ramesh Ponnuru breaks down the arguments for and against impeachment. It’s a great piece and you should read the whole thing.

Ponnuru begins with the concept that impeachment is appropriate only when facts show an impeachable “abuse of power or dereliction of duty” by the president, such that removing him is prudent.

Diehard Trump defenders advance the argument that Trump was truly concerned with corruption in Ukraine as a matter of a U.S. national interest. Ponnuru takes this argument head-on, and demonstrates convincingly that Trump’s concerns were purely petty and self-serving:

The argument requires a willful suspension of disbelief. Gordon Sondland, the Trump-appointed ambassador to the European Union, has testified that Trump “didn’t want to hear about” Ukrainian efforts against corruption and that concerns over corruption had not led to the withholding of aid from any other country within his portfolio. The Department of Defense had certified that Ukraine was taking steps against corruption before the administration withheld aid to it.

Fighting corruption would not have required Trump to encourage Zelensky to work with Rudolph Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, who has said that he was working in Ukraine to advance his client’s personal interests; it would have counseled against Trump’s doing that. Nor would the effort have required the secrecy with which it was conducted, or have required dropping around the same time it was starting to attract publicity. Kurt Volker, Trump’s envoy to Ukraine, has testified that Giuliani said that official Ukrainian statements against corruption were insufficient unless they specifically mentioned the investigations touching on the Bidens and on the 2016 campaign.

There is essentially no evidence that either investigation is worth conducting. The theory that Joe Biden acted corruptly holds that he leaned on the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor who was looking into a company that had his son on the board. That prosecutor’s former deputy has said that there was no active investigation, and the Obama administration was on record urging the prosecutor to assist a British legal action against the company’s owner.

Ponnuru’s piece is also valuable for debunking the notion that we must be presented with evidence of a statutory crime to impeach a president. Not so. Yes, James Madison argued against the notion of “maladministration” being impeachable.

Madison also said, though, that impeachment is the constitutional protection against a president who would abuse his power to pardon criminals, and that it was an appropriate remedy for “wanton removal of meritorious officers” by the president. . . . Congress has impeached many officials for misconduct not involving statutory crimes, and included non-crimes in its efforts to impeach Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Clinton.

Ponnuru acknowledges that Trump can’t be removed over the objections of half the country. But:

There are better questions. Would it be good for the country if a large majority of Americans were to be persuaded that it is unacceptable for a president to use his office to encourage foreign governments to investigate his political opponents? Assuming that the necessary level of support to remove a president from office for that offense will not be reached, should we prefer that more elected officials go on record that it is unacceptable — or that fewer do?

FRUSTRATED POSTSCRIPT: This is a post that uses reason and evidence and logic to make an argument about something that 1) people have already made up their mind about, and 2) often can’t discuss rationally as a general rule. So why bother?

Why bother indeed. Arguing politics carries with it the immense frustration of having otherwise sensible and smart people look you straight in the eye and say laughable things that they would recognize as laughable in any other context. I opened this blog post with the words “[t]o the extent that facts and logic matter” while implicitly recognizing that to many, they matter not at all. I’m already pre-irritated by the fact that there are commenters, whom I won’t name (but we all know who they are, and they will identify themselves shortly by behaving in the way I am about to describe) who will read/half read a post like this and treat the arguments therein a nothing more than a springboard for some flippant remark, generally in the form of a whatabout, that they believe is clever. These people continually show that they could not care less about the facts, arguments, and logic offered. Such things are mere foils to make dopey and tired partisan points.

And yet, we have nothing but facts, reason, logic, and argument to fall back on. The alternatives are violence, or rabble-rousing displays of emotion — which the Smart Crowd will patiently explain to you is the only real persuasive tool, and they will attempt to justify that position with … facts, reason, logic, and argument.

I can’t endorse violence, even when people seem to like it, as in Nazi-punching. I leave persuasion through emotive gestures to others. It’s not my strong suit. I am left with reason. I’ll continue to apply it. I’ll continue to mostly ignore and occasionally snap back at people who demonstrate they won’t listen to reason, and I’ll continue to make the reasoned case for my positions to the tiny handful of you for whom such tools are effective.


Open Thread: Crazytown Revisited — The Nth Democrat Debate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:47 pm

Your choices: impeached President Donald Trump, or one of these clowns.

God help us all.

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