Patterico's Pontifications


Fox Says No To Airing Pro-Life Super Bowl Ad

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:38 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The ad is undeniably profound in its eloquent testimony to life, as told by abortion survivors:


Lyric Gillett, founder of Faces of Choice, accused Fox, which is broadcasting the game, of stringing her along after she began negotiating in July to air a powerful black-and-white ad featuring adults and children of different genders and ethnicities with one thing in common: they survived abortions.

“In an era where we’re trying to give survivors a voice, whether that is through the #MeToo movement or on any number of issues, for some reason we deem survivors of abortion worthy of being ignored into oblivion,” Ms. Gillett said. “That, to me, is both ironic but also just appalling.”


A Fox spokesperson said in an email that the network sold out its ad space early on for this year’s championship game in Miami between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.

“Super Bowl LIV sold out at a record pace this year, and unfortunately we were unable to accommodate Faces of Choice and other advertisers,” the spokesperson said.

Gillet pushed back against it being a simple matter of ad space being sold out:

Ms. Gillett said there is more to the story. After providing storyboards and fielding questions about her organization, she said, she was told by the sales division that she would have a response from the legal department by a date in late November.

“Some individuals had apparently expressed that the sales division was not happy with the way the legal division was going in terms of not providing answers,” Ms. Gillett said. “So an executive flew up from New York and we were told Friday to expect an answer by Monday. Monday came along, we got no answer, and then found out that night that they were sold out.”

After that, she said, she asked Fox again to clear the ad in case other slots opened from cancellations for financial or content reasons. She said she was told in mid-December to expect an answer “very, very soon,” but the response never came.

“It feels like the reason for that is they don’t want to, I guess in their minds, give a story that we were rejected,” Ms. Gillett said. “I guess that’s the reason behind it. Nothing else makes sense. But again, that’s unprofessional, and I don’t think that’s how they operate with other clients.”


Her biggest frustration lies in what she described as Fox’s lack of responsiveness. She said she also reached out to the Academy Awards about running an ad, and an ABC executive got back to her the same day to tell her that the show has a policy against advocacy spots.


“Every time we would meet a stipulation or request, it would morph into something different. I would send an email saying, ‘What else do you need to get some type of answer?’ Even if it’s a ‘no,’ we don’t want a ‘no,’ but at least we can have an answer. We never got that answer,” Ms. Gillett said.

Note that there will be both advocacy and political ads aired during the Super Bowl, including an ad focusing on police shootings of black people, an Audi ad focusing on environmentalism, an ad featuring drag queens Kim Chi and Miz Cracker from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” about which LGBTQ marketing strategist Bob Witeck said:

“For queer audiences, it is an art form and an ‘outsiders’ language,” Witek said of drag. “Reaching the Super Bowl means taking our language into every home in the nation and millions around the world.”

There will also be ads airing from Michael Bloomberg about gun violence, and President Trump promoting the achievements of his first term in office.

Ad Age confirmed that Fox Super Bowl ad units were sold out in November:

After network honcho Seth Winter spent the better part of the last few weeks warning would-be clients that the last of the Big Game inventory was about to run out, the executive VP of sales for Fox Sports sold the last available spot on Friday.

Not a single commercial unit is being held back for the stragglers who may have been iffy on their creative or were simply hoping to hold out for a better price. The early bird has a belly full of worm meat. Better luck next year.


“Because we didn’t want anyone to get caught out, we over-communicated to the marketplace that this was going at a pace we’d never seen before,” he says. “We’d spent weeks imploring them: ‘We are serious! We are going to sell out!’”


Winter says the fact that the in-game ad units in the 2020 Super Bowl have been picked clean before Thanksgiving is largely a testament to the strength of the national economy.

As a reminder, Gillett began negotiating with Fox about airing her group’s ad in July.

Oh. Now we are learning that Fox Super Bowl ad units were sold out until they weren’t:

Fox declared in November that it had sold all the advertising time available in its looming February 2 broadcast of Super Bowl LIV. But just this week, it found a little more.

After holding nearly two months’ worth of discussions, Fox and the National Football League have devised a way to add commercial inventory to an event that in most years limits the amount of advertising that can be shown. While Fox and the NFL had long planned this year to trim one ad break from each quarter of the 2020 game, the pair discovered demand from some key sponsors was so robust that it was hard to ignore…Fox has decided to create what executives call a “floating” commercial break that will allow for two 60-second ads from sponsors…Since the network announced its sell out… sales team has been deluged with requests not only from advertisers still hoping to get in on the game, but from sponsors who were able to buy time but want to grab more so they can run longer commercials…

To be clear: not all advocacy is created equal. Surviving an abortion is the very real definition of #ShePersisted (and #HePersisted), but as Gillett observed, “we deem survivors of abortion worthy of being ignored into oblivion.” The trend continues.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Open Thread: The Coronation of Donald Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:41 am

All indications are that the vote to hear no relevant evidence will pass today, quickly followed by the acquittal for lack of relevant evidence. The crowning of King Trump will follow later tonight and will be carried live by all networks.

All hail King Trump.

All those who say aye: say aye! I shall wait for the unanimous decision of the Republicans in the Senate.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


More Proof Evangelical Church Has Lost Its Way In The Season Of Trump

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:31 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Note: Consider this a little impeachment reprieve for those who are exhausted from talking about it.

I have written a number of posts concerning the seeming-rise of charlatans and grifters in Evangelical church pulpits since the ascendancy of Trump. The Church has always had wolves in its midst, this is nothing new. The pulpit provides a uniquely tempting opportunity for the corrupt to wield power and influence over vulnerable, lost souls. The corrupt shepherds dressed in sheep’s clothing, who deign to instruct others on how they should live, are practiced in the art of deception and can smoothly recite longed-for words of persuasion as they successfully manipulate the naive and the willing. It’s a dangerous game, this wolf playing good shepherd. Eventually their con will come to an end, and they will have to answer for their perversion of God and Scripture, and for preying on the saints. Until that time though, the “mission” remains: If the money is good, let the good times keep roll. All in the name of Christ, of course.

With that, this is Paula White, President Trump’s spiritual advisor and Special Adviser to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative . She is also known as the God Whisperer. I’ll just say that if she is actually advising Trump on spiritual matters, it could explain a whole lot.

We interrupt that which has been deployed to hurt the church in this season, that which has been deployed to hurt this nation. In the name of Jesus, forgive us for our sins. Come on, I need you guys to pray. We cancel every surprise from the witchcraft [sic] and the marine kingdom — any hex, any spell, any witchcraft, any spirit of control, any Jezebel, anything that the enemy desires through spells, through witchcraft, through any way that is manipulation, demonic manipulation. We curse that. We break it, according to the word of God.

In the name of Jesus, we come against the marine kingdom, we come against the animal kingdom, the woman who rides upon the waters. We break the power, in the name of Jesus, and we declare that any strange winds, any strange winds that have been sent to hurt the church, sent against this nation, sent against our president, sent against myself, sent against others — we break it by the superior blood of Jesus right now. In the name of Jesus, we arrest every infirmity, affliction, fatigue, weariness, weakness, fear, sickness, any self-righteousness, any self-serving action, God.

Let pride fall, let pride fall, let pride fall, let pride fall, in the name of Jesus. We command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now. We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs, that it will miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm

White, who leads a congregation of 10,000 worshipers at the New Destiny Christian Center megachurch, attempted to clarify what she meant when she prayed for women to miscarry babies in their um, [double-checks notes]…”satanic wombs”:

So calling out White’s crazy “satanic womb” mumbo-jumbo is nothing but a disingenuous attempt to use words out of context for political gain

For reference, here is Ephesians 6:12 NASB:

For our struggle is not against [a]flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Yet more evidence of disturbed Trump-supporting pastors who have deified the President as if he were a co-equal with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is Evangelical pastor Rodney Howard-Browne. Howard-Browne was so upset over John Bolton’s claims about Trump and the Ukraine in his yet-to-be-released memoir, “The Room Where it Happens,” that he launched an attack on the former national security advisor:

“You are a slime ball of the highest order …. I should have knocked your sorry butt through the door of the Oval Office into the rose garden when I saw you. I would have gladly been arrested …. what a Benedict Arnold ….. I am glad you were fired !!!!!” Howard-Browne tweeted Monday.

“I have no respect for someone who is disloyal to the President and loyal to deep state !!! No respect! No respect at all …… what a globalist sellout!” he added.

As if that weren’t enough, Howard-Browne also tweeted:

“WWJD: he would have made a whip and beat the crap out of him!!!!”

Apparently this was a tweet too far for Howard-Browne, as it seems that he has since deleted the tweet.

I am reminded of this gem from David French, as he discussed the Evangelical response to *any* political leader:

The proper Evangelical position toward any president is not hard to articulate, though it is exceedingly difficult to hold to, especially in polarized times when one party seems set on limiting religious liberty and zealously defending abortion: We should pray for presidents, critique them when they’re wrong, praise them when they’re right, and never, ever impose partisan double standards. We can’t ever forget the importance of character, the necessity of our own integrity, and the power of the prophetic witness.

In other words, Evangelicals can never take a purely transactional approach to politics. We are never divorced from our transcendent purpose, which always trumps political expediency. In scripture, prophets confronted leaders about their sin. They understood a core truth, one clearly articulated in the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1998 Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials: “Tolerance of serious wrong by leaders sears the conscience of the culture, spawns unrestrained immorality and lawlessness in the society, and surely results in God’s judgment.”

All too many of our nation’s Evangelical leaders haven’t just “tolerated” serious wrongdoing by Trump, they’ve rationalized and minimized it.

WWJD, you ask?? He’d tell White, Howard-Browne, and other false prophets, grifters, and liars misrepresenting him in the Evangelical church to knock this shit off right now. (See 2 Peter.) He would also remind believers that He has already made it very clear that they are to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Time for those sitting in the pews to
wise up.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



The GOP Position: We Have a King

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:44 pm

Radley Balko (yes, that Radley Balko) makes a great point:

In short, the GOP truly is that the President is above the law. That he is a king.

Reports tonight are that the GOP believes it has the votes to prevent any witnesses from testifying and to acquit Trump posthaste.

I tuned in to this impeachment for five minutes tonight — five!— and I was instantly enraged. The contempt that the GOP senators have for a very well reasoned and indeed devastating impeachment case makes me wild with anger.

I am seriously considering voting for whoever the Democrat is in the general election. Even if it’s Elizabeth Warren. Even if it’s Bernie Sanders. (But I hope it’s Joe Biden, and I will vote for him in the California primary.)

I am deeply frightened and repelled by the extent of the powers that the GOP wants to grant to a U.S. president. And I am beyond frightened and repelled by the nature of the person to whom they want to grant those powers. In 2016, I had the impression that, as bad as he is, the structure of our government and Constitution might serve to rein him in, if he tried to do anything truly awful.

I no longer have any such faith. The only option is to throw him out of office. Him and every single person in elected office in Washington D.C. who supports him.

I want the GOP (electorally) burned to the ground. And I’m spitting mad — mad enough that I am seriously considering casting my first (albeit totally meaningless and ineffective!) vote for a Democrat for president.

What other choice do I have?

UPDATE: In the clear light of the morning, my immediate anger has … not passed, exactly, but its hard edges have softened a bit. For now. The sickening thought of an entire federal government run by one party, the way my state is, is unbearable. I am politically more at a loss than ever.

I still might vote for a Democrat but as much as I despise what these Senators are doing, I want Republicans to stay in control of at least the Senate, to minimize the damage. I still can’t bear the thought of four more years of Trump. It’s just too dangerous.

Trump Reelection Campaign Drawing New, Big Dollar Donors

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:50 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The Washington Post published a report informing readers that during the impeachment season, Trump is attracting both new donors and donors who have never given money to a campaign, as well as voters who sat out the last election:

Dan Costa, who runs four apparel companies in Northern California, was never a major political donor. But last year, he made a large contribution to the GOP for the first time: $37,500 in hopes of four more years of President Trump.

“That’s a big investment for anybody,” said Costa, whose only other contribution to a presidential candidate was $1,000 to Mitt Romney in 2012. “It’s like insurance that is going to help save the country. . . . It’s for me and my grandkids and the next generations.”


Their ranks include investors in a South Florida hot yoga studio, a Ni­ger­ian American real estate developer in Dallas and the head of a trucking business in Los Angeles. They have been joined by veteran GOP donors who have returned to the fold after sitting out Trump’s 2016 campaign.


Trump is now also supported by a more traditional source of party money: longtime GOP donors who shunned him during his 2016 campaign. By and large, those wealthy establishment donors have fallen in line behind Trump’s reelection, said Lisa Spies, a longtime Republican fundraiser.

The report goes on to note that the new wave of contributors are giving anything but chump change:

Trump’s vaunted political money machine is helping drive record sums to the Republican National Committee, and not just from the same donors who supported him in 2016. Enticed by exclusive gatherings and ecstatic about the president’s tax cuts, an eclectic new crop of donors is going all in, giving five and six figures to support his reelection.

The Washington Post identified at least 220 big donors to Trump’s reelection who are either new to major political giving or sat out the last presidential general election. Together, they have deluged pro-Trump fundraising committees with more than $21 million — a cash infusion that suggests a newfound enthusiasm for the president among supporters capable of writing large checks.

Motivating donors is the healthy economy, Trump’s tax cuts and efforts at deregulation.

Note: Since Trump’s election, more than 1.6 million new donors have contributed to the Republican Party, in both large and small amounts, party officials said.

Though doubtful that it was intentional, the report reveals the diversity of Trump’s big donors, including Nigerian-Americans, Hispanics, and Chinese-Americans.

While there are those opining that Trump’s reelection looks like a long-shot, one has to wonder if a Trump loss really will be a slam-dunk, given his considerable war chest of more than $100 million headed into the 2020 election year:

And if you think this election will favor Trump, ask yourself this question: When was the last time his approval rating was above 45 percent and his disapproval was below 45 percent? Answer: not since his inauguration. Simply put, this fact does not bode well for this incumbent — no matter how strong the economy or his campaign’s success in turning out his voters. Trump is not a majority president. It’s unlikely he can be a majority candidate.

Interestngly, the NRSC reported today that the impeachment hearing has “fired up Trump’s base” and become and is a “net negative for Democrats in key states”:

NRSC surveys conducted in January in battleground states, including Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina, show that 62% of voters agree that Congress should be focusing on top issues like health care costs, trade deals, and keeping the economy on track instead of trying to remove Donald Trump from office. This includes 63% of independents and 61% of women.

Furthermore, 58% agree that Democrats should let voters decide for themselves in next November’s elections instead of trying to impeach Trump and remove him from office, including 59% of independents and 55% of women.

In Maine, which has given the collective media a nosebleed as they attempt to put Susan Collins in a box, 59% of voters agree Congress should focus on top issues instead of impeachment and 55% agree that we should let voters decide in November.

Perhaps most telling, a whopping 62% of independents in Maine say that we should focus on other issues instead of impeachment, and 58% of independents think we should let the voters decide at the ballot box in November.

And these numbers aren’t unique to Maine. We’ve seen similar numbers in Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona, and other battleground states. Across the board, voters recognize this for what it is: a partisan sideshow. 68% say that impeachment “is all about politics” and that “Democrats should be more concerned about addressing issues of the day like the cost of health care, fair trade deals and keeping the economy on track.”

However, here’s what recent Fox News polling found:

A Fox News poll released Sunday found that voters think the Senate already has enough evidence to render its verdict — 48 percent to 44 percent who say senators should subpoena witnesses. But by a margin of 6 percentage points, they think the evidence points to guilt and removal from office…Two polls last week found that 51 percent of Americans want the Senate to convict and oust Trump, whose approval rating in the Fox News poll is 45 percent, 54 percent disapproval…the party with a Senate majority is taking his side — 84 percent of Republicans told the Fox News pollsters that Trump shouldn’t be convicted and removed, versus 81 percent of Democrats who said he should be; independents wanted Trump removed by a 19-point margin, 53 percent to 34 percent.

Meanwhile, Trump seems to be feeling pretty confident today:

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


Impeachment: What Comes Next

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:50 am

As Republicans squirm and look desperately for a way around John Bolton testifying, some are grabbing hold of the notion that Trump would just be able to block his testimony.

That is a joke. If the Senate votes to hear from John Bolton, there is not a federal judge in the country who will act or vote to stop him from testifying.

I predict we’ll soon see something more realistic. As Bolton’s testimony looks more inevitable, look for GOP hacks to favor a closed-door deposition, citing the Clinton impeachment as precedent. Then there will be a nationwide debate about whether Bolton should testify in public or behind closed doors. The same people who decried the closed doors in the House depositions (never mind that the witnesses later testified publicly) will advocate permanent closed doors for Bolton.

So watch for that.

Meanwhile, there are also discussions about a Bolton-for-Hunter-Biden trade.

I’m not so sure that’s a bad trade for Dems.

The reported contents of John Bolton’s book actually torpedo several arguments raised by many of the President’s defenders, like: there is no firsthand knowledge of Trump’s ordering the quid pro quo; or Trump was really concerned about cost-sharing and/or corruption generally, and not focused on the Bidens personally. Bolton will blow up those arguments with the same relish that he formerly ordered other countries to be blown up.

Meanwhile, what does Hunter Biden bring to the table?

Possibly a real focus on the validity of the arguments citing him. The assumption is that such a focus would be good for Trump. I’m not so sure.

Let’s start with the actual facts. This is Biden’s rapid response guy, but when I watched the video I noted that it largely if not entirely comported with my understanding of the relevant facts:

In short, the Hunter Biden argument is bullshit. Now, how do the Republicans expect to use the Hunter Biden argument to show Trump’s demands to Zelensky were legit? Well, as a technical matter Hunter Biden can’t show that, because the relevant question is what Trump thought, not what Hunter Biden says now. And we all know that Trump thought whatever he was told on Fox News. But those are technical arguments. What would we really learn from Hunter Biden? I think the GOP dream is like the plan of the South Park Underpants Gnomes (UPDATE: Paul Montagu had this idea first):

Phase 1: Collect underpants
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit!

But the GOP version is:

Phase 1: Call Hunter Biden
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Not guilty!

So what does the question mark represent? In the GOP fantasy, it’s hours of these questions on repeat:





But the reality is that, after the 12th invocation of the thousands, or millions, or quintillions of dollars Biden took, there will be further analysis of just what the hell this has to do with anything. And the more the facts are explored, the more the public will begin to realize certain facts:

  • Shokin, the Ukranian prosecutor whom Biden sought to have ousted, was actually dirty
  • Some Republican Senators supported Biden’s actions in ousting Shokin
  • Any Burisma investigation related to events that happened years before Hunter Biden joined the board
  • Biden’s actions were official U.S. policy and supported by most of the world
  • Biden’s actions likely would have made Burisma more likely to be investigated
  • The GOP argument is bullshit

The GOP Underpants Gnomes plan can still work, but the question mark in Phase 2 does not stand for “damning testimony emerges of the rightness of Donald Trump’s actions” but rather for “Republican Senators vote not guilty no matter what the evidence is.” Which means Trump will be fine — for now. But how will this end up looking come November?

Anyway, that’s what I say to expect. As usual, hound me in a few days when I turn out to have been wrong about everything.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Checking-in on Iowa and New Hampshire

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:10 pm

[guest post by JVW]

We are now inside of one week away from the Iowa Caucuses, which take place next Monday, February 3, to be followed eight days later by the first primary in New Hampshire. Because we obsess way more than we ought to over the votes of the thirty-first and forty-first most populous states in the Union, also the sixth and fourth whitest states respectively, pollsters are busy trying to determine how each race is shaping up.

According to rules as laid out by the party, Democrat candidates need to win at least a 15 percent share of a primary or caucus vote in order to receive pledged delegates. This becomes a fairly high threshold in a field that will feature at least ten candidates from which to choose. But the campaign of Elizabeth Warren has to be concerned that Lyin’ Liz, Fauxcahontas, Lieawatha, etc., now registers under that magic 15% level in an average of polls taken over the past two weeks. As recently as the beginning of November, she was leading the Iowa polls with over 20% of support; now she is ranked fourth among the candidates, and her numbers are falling while those of Senator Amy Klobuchar are on the rise. A fifth place finish in Iowa would be dreadful for the Warren campaign, a rebuke from which she might not be able to recover.

And the news is no better coming from New Hampshire, a neighboring state to Sen. Warren’s adopted state of Massachusetts where it is clear that she needs a strong showing (top three, at the very least) to convince us that she has a viable path to the nomination. The latest polls there also show her below the 15% threshold and falling, while her latest self-chosen nemesis Bernard Sanders is surging. She led in that state as recently as the week before Thanksgiving, but saw a rapid drop in her numbers, corresponding to the moment that her ridiculously fanciful health care plans started undergoing close scrutiny.

Iowa only accounts for 41 pledged delegates to the Democrat’s national convention and New Hampshire sends a mere 24, so considering that the Democrats will have 3,979 total pledged delegates, getting shut out in those two states doesn’t automatically end her candidacy. Still, given the fact that the Democrat Party in both Iowa and New Hampshire are dominated by white progressives, generally college-educated and solidly middle class, and given the fact that Elizabeth Warren is very well-known in New Hampshire since Boston media dominates the Granite State, emerging from the first two contests with zero pledged delegates would be a humiliation that would no doubt have party regulars questioning whether she had any real shot at the nomination. Her ability to raise funds and win endorsements would almost certainly be affected. Nor does the short-term outlook appear particularly promising for America’s “gifted storyteller,” as she lags in Nevada and South Carolina, the next two primaries on the calendar and two states where minority voters have a huge say in Democrat politics.

Of course polls are often unreliable and they do tend to flux pretty widely from month to month, even week to week. If Sen. Warren finishes strong in Iowa, say with 20% of the vote and within spitting distance of Joe Biden and Bernard Sanders, she could ride the momentum to a top two finish in New Hampshire. This might give her breathing room to downplay Nevada’s 36 pledged delegates and South Carolina’s 54, and instead concentrate on an impressive performance in California (415) and Texas (228), both of which have early primaries this year. Should the Sanders campaign have another set back such as a new health concern or an off-the-cuff salute to the Venezuelan economy, she might benefit from disillusioned Bernie Babes and even some Bros who look for the next-best alternative for socialist utopia. If the Klobuchar campaign stalls, or if the bourgeois urban progressives who support Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg abandon those mega-wealthy boutique candidates and flock to the Honest Injun, perhaps she will still be able to make a run of it.

But as for me, I hope that on Lincoln’s Birthday I am drafting a post on the well-deserved end to her insipid campaign.


TV Elites Unforgivably Laugh at Stupid People

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:56 am

This clip is making the rounds among conservatives. Like Hillary’s “deplorables” comment or Obama’s “cling to guns or religion” gaffe, it’s a perfect flashpoint for regler fokes across the nation to decry how they’re mocked by the elites:

One non-elite person who is highly offended and not in a fake outrage way either but a totally serious way is … Ivanka Trump:

I totally agree. After all, what kind of total asshole mocks Southern people for their accents?

I’m of two minds about this.

First of all, mocking people as stupid because they have a Southern accent is an ignorant thing to do. There are plenty of very, very intelligent people who speak with a Southern, or Texas (I think they’re a little different) accent. There are people in this comment section who have Southern or Texas accents who are smarter than Rick Wilson or Don Lemon or Wajahat Ali — or Mike Pompeo or Donald or Ivanka Trump. Count on it. My father in law, who was born in South Texas and has spent most of his life in Louisville (properly pronounced LEWuhvill, and the “uh” is barely pronounced) is one of the smartest and most well read people I have ever met. Personally, I think I have a slight Texas accent myself (some of you have heard me speak and can tell me whether I’m imagining it or not) and I don’t think I’m stupid.

But second of all, Wilson is (while painting with way too broad a brush) right in the clip about a lot of things. First: he is right that Donald Trump could not find Ukraine on a map if his life depended on it (and I would watch a movie in which his life did depend on it). Wilson is correct that “this is an administration defined by ignorance of the world.” What the panel is discussing in the above clip is Pompeo’s insistence that the regler fokes out there don’t care about Ukraine. Pompeo was quoted by an NPR reporter as asking: “You think Americans care about Ukraine?” (Pompeo has contested aspects of the NPR reporter’s claim, but to my knowledge, he has not contested this quote — and to the extent that objective evidence exists to determine who is telling the truth as to the aspect he does contest, that evidence supports the reporter and not him.) Pompeo thinks nobody cares. And maybe a lot of people don’t. But the President should. And the Secretary of State should. And they should care about Ukraine as more than simply a crowbar they can use to bludgeon Joe Biden into submission.

Wilson goes on to say “That’s partly him playing to their base and playing to their audience, you know, the credulous boomer rube demo that backs Donald Trump, that wants to think that [adopts Southern accent] ‘Donald Trump’s the smart one and y’all elitists are dumb.'” It’s a bad look because of the accent mocking. But here again, he has a point — although it is ridiculously overbroad and ensnares far too many sensible people in its net.

I have never said, and likely never will say, that people are dumb or ignorant or immoral simply because they have said they support Donald Trump. There are plenty of reasons to vote for him that are arguably sensible: judges, immigration, taxes, and regulation come to mind. Anyone who recognizes that he is dishonest, ignorant, impulsive, narcissistic, and so forth, but supports him anyway as a better alternative to the Dems … that’s not someone I am going to mock or condemn.

But someone who thinks that Donald Trump is “the smart one” is either seriously deluded, monumentally ignorant, or some combination of the two. I’m most of the way through “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America” by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig. It’s one of several books I have read about Trump’s administration. The man constantly makes sudden decisions that contradict his administration’s policy and make no sense, based on a false narrative fed to him by someone on Fox News. He is laughably incurious and unserious and self-obsessed. He is most certainly not “the smart one” — and anyone who thinks he is, is mockable.

So sure, get all Outraged at Rick Wilson if you like. He painted all Trump supporters with too broad a brush and mocked Southern accents in a way that only Donald Trump is allowed to do. But let’s not pretend he didn’t have a point in there somewhere. If we’re being honest.


Supreme Court Lifts Lower Court’s Injunction Against Restricting Indigent Immigrants

Filed under: General — JVW @ 1:45 pm

[guest post by JVW]

From Fox News:

The Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration to enforce, for now, its “public charge” immigration restriction, lifting a pair of preliminary injunctions issued by federal judges.

The Monday order followed a 5-4 split vote that divided the court’s conservatives and liberals.

At issue is the administration’s rule issued in August that would restrict immigrants entering the United States if the government believes they will rely on public assistance, such as housing or health care benefits. Lower federal courts had blocked the policy from being implemented while the issue is being litigated.

What is interesting there is that along with a brief order written on behalf of the majority came a concurrence written by Justice Neil Gorsuch which expressed frustration with district and circuit courts attempting to issue nationwide injunctions on behalf of aggrieved parties. Apologies for the long quote, but it’s worth reading in its entirety to understand the barely-concealed contempt Justice Gorsuch has for this sort of advocacy lawfare:

On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security began a rulemaking process to define the term “public charge,” as it is used in the Nation’s immigration laws. Approximately 10 months and 266,000 comments later, the agency issued a final rule. Litigation swiftly followed, with a number of States, organizations, and individual plaintiffs variously alleging that the new definition violates the Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the immigration laws themselves. These plaintiffs have urged courts to enjoin the rule’s enforcement not only as it applies to them, or even to some definable group having something to do with their claimed injury, but as it applies to anyone.

These efforts have met with mixed results. The Northern District of California ordered the government not to enforce the new rule within a hodge-podge of jurisdictions—California, Oregon, Maine, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. The Eastern District of Washington entered a similar order, but went much farther geographically, enjoining the government from enforcing its rule globally. But both of those orders were soon stayed by the Ninth Circuit which, in a 59-page opinion, determined the government was likely to succeed on the merits. Meanwhile, across the country, the District of Maryland entered its own universal injunction, only to have that one stayed by the Fourth Circuit. And while all these developments were unfolding on the coasts, the Northern District of Illinois was busy fashioning its own injunction, this one limited to enforcement within the State of Illinois.

If all of this is confusing, don’t worry, because none of it matters much at this point. Despite the fluid state of things—some interim wins for the government over here, some preliminary relief for plaintiffs over there—we now have an injunction to rule them all: the one before us, in which a single judge in New York enjoined the government from applying the new definition to anyone, without regard to geography or participation in this or any other lawsuit. The Second Circuit declined to stay this particular universal injunction, and so now, after so many trips up and down and around the judicial map, the government brings its well-rehearsed arguments here.

Today the Court (rightly) grants a stay, allowing the government to pursue (for now) its policy everywhere save Illinois. But, in light of all that’s come before, it would be delusional to think that one stay today suffices to remedy the problem. The real problem here is the increasingly common practice of trial courts ordering relief that transcends the cases before them. Whether framed as injunctions of “nationwide,” “universal,” or “cosmic” scope, these orders share the same basic flaw — they direct how the defendant must act toward persons who are not parties to the case.

If you can bear with me for a little while longer, Justice Gorsuch continues with an excellent separation-of-powers lecture to his colleagues in the judicial branch [I have removed the citations from the text to make it read a little bit more easily]:

Equitable remedies, like remedies in general, are meant to redress the injuries sustained by a particular plaintiff in a particular lawsuit. When a district court orders the government not to enforce a rule against the plaintiffs in the case before it, the court redresses the injury that gives rise to its jurisdiction in the first place. But when a court goes further than that, ordering the government to take (or not take) some action with respect to those who are strangers to the suit, it is hard to see how the court could still be acting in the judicial role of resolving cases and controversies. Injunctions like these thus raise serious questions about the scope of courts’ equitable powers under Article III.

It has become increasingly apparent that this Court must, at some point, confront these important objections to this increasingly widespread practice. As the brief and furious history of the regulation before us illustrates, the routine issuance of universal injunctions is patently unworkable, sowing chaos for litigants, the government, courts, and all those affected by these conflicting decisions. Rather than spending their time methodically developing arguments and evidence in cases limited to the parties at hand, both sides have been forced to rush from one preliminary injunction hearing to another, leaping from one emergency stay application to the next, each with potentially nationwide stakes, and all based on expedited briefing and little opportunity for the adversarial testing of evidence.

This is not normal. Universal injunctions have little basis in traditional equitable practice. Their use has proliferated only in very recent years. And they hardly seem an innovation we should rush to embrace. By their nature, universal injunctions tend to force judges into making rushed, high-stakes, low-information decisions. The traditional system of lower courts issuing interlocutory relief limited to the parties at hand may require litigants and courts to tolerate interim uncertainty about a rule’s final fate and proceed more slowly until this Court speaks in a case of its own. But that system encourages multiple judges and multiple circuits to weigh in only after careful deliberation, a process that permits the airing of competing views that aids this Court’s own decision making process. The rise of nationwide injunctions may just be a sign of our impatient times. But good judicial decisions are usually tempered by older virtues.

Nor do the costs of nationwide injunctions end there. There are currently more than 1,000 active and senior district court judges, sitting across 94 judicial districts, and subject to review in 12 regional courts of appeal. Because plaintiffs generally are not bound by adverse decisions in cases to which they were not a party, there is a nearly boundless opportunity to shop for a friendly forum to secure a win nationwide. The risk of winning conflicting nationwide injunctions is real too. And the stakes are asymmetric. If a single successful challenge is enough to stay the challenged rule across the country, the government’s hope of implementing any new policy could face the long odds of a straight sweep, parlaying a 94-to-0 win in the district courts into a 12-to-0 victory in the courts of appeal. A single loss and the policy goes on ice — possibly for good, or just as possibly for some indeterminate period of time until another court jumps in to grant a stay. And all that can repeat, ad infinitum, until either one side gives up or this Court grants certiorari. What in this gamesmanship and chaos can we be proud of?

I concur in the Court’s decision to issue a stay. But I hope, too, that we might at an appropriate juncture take up some of the underlying equitable and constitutional questions raised by the rise of nationwide injunctions.

This is the Neil Gorsuch we were promised when his nomination was first sent to the Senate: the judge who had little tolerance for the games-playing of the administrative state and its various advocacy allies. We’ll never know what Merrick Garland might have done in a similar situation, but I am grateful that the GOP Senate held out for this nomination.


Trump Should Testify

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 am

As I noted last night, the New York Times has summarized key passages of John Bolton’s book in this way:

President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The partisan playbook is to yell “Fake News” and attack the reporter, but that move is already outdated, and the AP has already confirmed it (thanks to Paul Montagu for the link). So that’s Bolton’s story.

Trump denies it:

What we have here is a classic dispute of fact. A trial is a great way to resolve such disputes. Let’s get John Bolton and Donald Trump on the stand in the Senate, under oath and subject to cross-examination. It’s the only way to learn the truth.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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