Patterico's Pontifications


Slow News Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:18 pm

Poking around there is hardly anything to talk about.

Tomorrow, Donald Trump will probably become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached. I guess there’s that. He wrote a whiny substance-free screed to Nancy Pelosi. A sample:

You are the ones interfering in America’s elections. You are the ones subverting America’s democracy. You are the ones Obstructing Justice. You are the ones bringing pain and suffering to our Republic for your own selfish personal, political, and partisan gain.

Enjoy, big fella. Impeachment is a bad thing to have on your resume. Tomorrow, it will be on yours.

Meanwhile, the FBI’s reputation continues to take body blows in the wake of the IG report, with the head of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Rosemary M. Collyer, issuing an eye-opening order to the FBI to propose changes to their process by January 10. Judge Collyer wrote:

The frequency with which representations made by F.B.I. personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other F.B.I. applications is reliable.

Of course, the infant in the Oval Office takes this deplorable state of affairs and uses it to pretend he is innocent:

If anyone knows about SCAMS it’s Donald Trump.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Rick Gates to 45 days today, and had some choice comments, including pointed remarks that seemed directed at the SCAM artist in the White House and his surrogates, including the broomstick driver working for Trump with the last name of Conway:

In total, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts. Manafort laundered more than $18 million, which was used by him to buy property goods and services in the United States, income that he concealed from the United States Treasury, the Department of Justice and others. Gates transferred more than $3 million from the offshore accounts to other accounts that he controlled.

Those are facts. Those are not alleged facts, those are not alternative facts, or a narrative created by the media.

. . . .

One of the letter writers said that he got caught up in D.C. political drama. But I reject that. It’s perfectly possible to conduct yourself with ethics, integrity, and no hint of scandal, even in politics, even in D.C., even in Ukraine. Politics don’t corrupt people, people corrupt politics.

Berman noted that Gates’s information

included firsthand information about confidential campaign polling data being transmitted at the direction of the head of the campaign to one of those individuals to be shared with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs.

It included firsthand information about a meeting within the campaign concerning attending a meeting with Russians for the sole stated purpose of providing information that could be used against Hillary Clinton. And it included firsthand information about claims made by an individual close to the campaign to be in contact with WikiLeaks concerning the release of emails obtained when the DNC computers were hacked.

Yup. Can’t really find a genuine news story to comment on. It’s a snoozefest out there.

Gear up for tomorrow. I’ll likely be popping open a bottle of bourbon to celebrate.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

California Progressives Once Again Butt Up Against the Law of Unintended Consequences

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:05 pm

[guest post by JVW]

This past fall the California Assembly, at the behest of their union overlords, threw a haymaker punch at Uber and Lyft but instead have knocked down Vox Media:

Hundreds of freelance writers at Vox Media, primarily those covering sports for the SB Nation site, will lose their jobs in the coming months as the company prepares for a California law to go into effect that will force companies to reclassify contractors in the state as employees.

“This is a bittersweet note of thanks to our California independent contractors,” John Ness, executive director of SB Nation, wrote in a post on Monday. “In 2020, we will move California’s team blogs from our established system with hundreds of contractors to a new one run by a team of new SB Nation employees.”

In a separate memo seen by CNBC, Ness said that California contractors can apply for a full-time or part-time position in California. Contractors who wish to continue contributing can do so but “need to understand they will not be paid for future contributions,” he said. [. . .]

Imagine that. Perhaps you as a Californian were quite happy serving as an editor and regular contributor of posts to a SB Nation blog such as Bruins Nation or California Golden Blogs. Virtually all of the people who contribute to and maintain those blogs are alumni/ae of that university, and though they did receive some renumeration from SB Nation for their efforts, from what I am told it is certainly not enough to provide a livable income and pretty much everyone involved in the various fan blogs has some other full-time job or a series of other part-time gigs (disclaimer: I know an editor at one of the SB Nation blogs, but I haven’t discussed the ramifications of this legislation with him yet). Because SB Nation does not want to be in the position of figuring out whether drafting and posting content, moderating and engaging with comments, and general site maintenance pushes the contributor over the threshold where they are now required to be treated as full-time employees, they have decided to put the blogs under the management of SB Nation inside staff. Though they do apparently intend to hire some full-time content providers and site administrators, the blogs are also beginning to ask for unpaid volunteers to provide content going forward.

None of this should be surprising to anyone who has the faintest clue as to how the economy works, which of course rules out virtually all legislative Democrats in this state. Assembly Bill 5, shepherded through that body by former labor organizer Lorena Gonzales of San Diego, was controversial from the very beginning. Supporters, namely organized labor and other left-wing groups, insisted that it would prevent workers from being exploited by wealthy tech companies like Uber and Lyft who use independent contractors in order to avoid having to pay benefits such as health and retirement. The companies for their part insisted that it would force them to either limit the hours contractors are allowed to work or else turn them into full employees thus eliminating the ability of workers to schedule their own hours and determine their own flexible workday, which is one of the major benefits of the gig economy.

It will probably not come as a surprise to anyone that Vox, who went through their own downsizing woes a couple of years ago, generally supported AB 5 and the attempt to rein-in this example of unfettered capitalism, and that some wags are already rubbing it in their faces:

Mackowiak Tweet

This battle next moves to the ballot box where the tech companies have pledged to spend as much as $90 million to qualify and promote a ballot initiative to undo the legislation. This also pits social justice-obsessed Silicon Valley against California Democrats, which just may cause some of the loudest and dumbest voices from the tech world to reevaluate their alliances. And though there is scuttlebutt that the movers-and-shakers of the tech sector will freeze out Elizabeth Warren and Bernard Sanders should either one be the Democrats’ nominee in next fall’s election, it would seem that the rank-and-file workers of these digital behemoths are quite fine with the trust-busting and wealth-confiscation that both Lieawatha and the warmed-over Marxist espouse. Maybe someday soon we will look back and say that 2019 was the last gap of the Age of the Triumphant Nerd Mogul.


Ambitious Democrats Eye High-Profile Impeachment Assignment

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:02 pm

[guest post by Dana]

It’s a given that any House member selected by Nancy Pelosi to be an impeachment manager will see his or her political career boosted as a result. And while there is some demurring about even thinking about being selected, we all know that politicians love the spotlight and any opportunity to be in it (for a perceived noble cause, that is) and raise their profiles is goal-worthy. And it doesn’t get any more high profile than an impeachment:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi will decide who and how many impeachment managers will travel to the other side of the Capitol to make arguments, present evidence, question witnesses and more in just the third time in U.S. history that a sitting president has been on trial before the Senate.

Her picks can be political as well as legal, some Democratic lawmakers say. The California Democrat would want members with trial experience who understand the Constitution and the case well — particularly because they must fight in a Republican-controlled Senate.

But Pelosi also holds an opportunity to showcase diversity among the Democratic caucus and spotlight rising members who could use the historic Senate trial as a way to boost their national profile or fundraising power…

While some Democrats claim that they “haven’t given it any thought,” others are jockeying for position:

Behind the scenes, some Democratic members have jostled to be included. Others have taken themselves out of the running over campaign conflicts or because they don’t have as much legal or trial experience.

Some potential impeachment managers are largely keeping quiet about any ambitions in public.

Pelosi is not bound to follow any tradition, and if she taps an individual, they have no choice in the matter. And while there are definite benefits to being selected, there is also a possibility of bombing in the spotlight:

The role of impeachment manager could help with the base and make a member an instant figure in the media and speaking circuit, said Virginia Democrat Rep. Gerald E. Connolly. “They’re going to be in the history books,” Connolly said.

But there are downsides too. “It’s a lot of work for a brief moment in the sun, although a brief shiny moment in the sun,” Connolly said. “You could also really flop. All this expectation and you’re not quite what we thought. You bored the hell out of people, or you weren’t very compelling.”

[Ed. My guess is that a whole lot of members are secretly hoping they will be selected, and are artfully draping their subtle signaling in a protest of faux-humility (“Oh surely there are more deserving and qualified…”).]


Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that a group of 30 House freshmen led by Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips sought to have Rep. Justin Amash as an impeachment manager.

Amash was the first Republican lawmaker to say that Trump committed impeachable offenses, and then left the Republican party and became an independent in July. He tweeted over the weekend that Republicans are “making a concerted effort to mislead” about impeachable wrongdoing.

With Republicans apparently in lockstep in opposition to the articles of impeachment, Pelosi could see an advantage in adding Amash to the managers, Phillips told the Post.

“To the extent that this can be bipartisan, it should, and I think including Representative Amash amongst the impeachment managers is a smart move both for the country, for the substance and for the optics,” Phillips said.

Here is the tweet referenced:

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Why Should I Think Brian Stelter Is Reliable About, Well, Anything?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:15 am

[guest post by Dana]

I’m wondering which Supreme Court Justices *haven’t* gone on talk shows to promote their new books:

Of course, to Stelter, the problem isn’t Gorsuch goosing book sales, it’s that he’s a conservative Justice appearing on Fox and Friends, which everyone knows is the most Trump-friendly news/talk show around.

Anyway, I tried to locate a similar protest from Stelter when Justice Sonia Sotoymayor promoted her book Just Ask! on the not-Trump friendly Daily Show with Trevor Noah, or when she appeared on the not Trump-friendly Colbert Report to promote her autobiography, My Beloved World, and was unable to locate any similar concerns. And funny, I also couldn’t find any objection by Stelter about Justice Stephen Breyer promoting his third book, The Court and The World on the Colbert Report. Note: both Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert have made it very clear that they have no love nor respect for Trump. Neither do I, but at least I am an equal-opportunity critic of hack politicians and media outlets – no matter what side of the aisle they represent. Clearly Stelter cannot say the same about himself.

Given that Selter makes it clear that only one side of the aisle matters, while he promotes himself as a serious journalist who anchors Reliable Sources and is CNN’s chief media correspondent, why anyone would find him reliable in his reporting is beyond me. If he can’t be consistent in the small and inconsequential matters, why on earth would I think he would be any different with the weightier issues that actually matter?



(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


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