Patterico's Pontifications


Democrat Politician Rallies Around Democrat Nominee: What’s the Big Deal?

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:26 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Hey, I’m as sick and tired as the next guy of the onslaught of news regarding COVID-19 and the likely economic fallout. As I acknowledged in my previous post, it’s part of the reason that I haven’t been posting much in the last month. But desperate as I am for interesting stories outside of the dreary news of the day, I am a bit flabbergasted that Barack Obama’s endorsement of Joe Biden in this fall’s election turned into such a big story. Witness:

Janet Hook reporting in the Dog Trainer:

Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday formally endorsed Joe Biden for president, a big step in helping to unite their party and marking his own entry into the fight against President Trump.

Evoking the nation’s current health and economic crisis, Obama said in a video release, “Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times, and heal us through a long recovery.”

There had been little doubt that Obama would back his former vice president once Biden had a lock on the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, but Obama — one of the most popular Democrats in the country — had steadfastly withheld any endorsement during the long party contest that featured numerous contenders.

You follow that, folks? It’s simultaneously “a big step” yet one that was utterly expected.

Trevor Hunnicutt and James Oliphant reporting for Reuters:

The swell of support around Biden gives him a dose of energy and attention at a time when the American public is largely focused on the government response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has pushed the presidential race out of the spotlight.

“Because he is so popular and the comparison between President Trump and Barack Obama is so stark, it will be such a unifying, motivating factor,” said Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor and longtime party official.

Is the “dose of energy” being supplied by the voters or by a fawning and sycophantic media? And since when has Barack Obama proven that he can deliver votes to any Democrat candidate when he is not actually the one at the top of the ticket? Does Mr. McAuliffe recall the 2010 and 2014 midterm elections?

Ex-Clinton flack Joe Lockhart spinning for CNN:

Sometimes in politics the least surprising development can be the most important.

This is a true thing that has often been lost amid the reality show-style administration of our current President. While it was expected, Barack Obama’s endorsement Tuesday of Joe Biden is still critically important to the Democrat’s chances of winning back the White House.

Let’s start with the raw politics. Former President Obama’s nod reinforces Biden’s existing strengths among the Democratic constituencies he needs to win the election, particularly black Americans. More importantly, Obama’s help on the campaign trail will motivate young people, many of whom have only recent memories of two presidents in their lives.

Uh, Slow Joe won the nomination because of his strength with black voters. Does he really need Obama’s help in that regard? Was Obama able to deliver black voters for Hillary Clinton four years ago?

Jeanine Pirro and Dana Perino on Fox News:

“When was the last time you remember an ex-president actively campaigning against a sitting president?” the “Justice with Judge Jeanine” host asked on “The Five.” “This is contrary to anything that we have seen in this country before.

“But Barack Obama hates Donald Trump so much that he is going to continue to go after him,” she added. “And it does not matter to him whether it is an empty suit like Joe Biden or a guy who does not know where he is or what he is thinking.”

Co-host Dana Perino, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration, said she could not recall her former boss campaigning on behalf of Mitt Romney against Obama in 2012 and added that she also recalled that former President Bill Clinton “laid pretty low” in the 2004 race between Bush and then-Senator John Kerry.

I’m a big fan of Dana Perino, a Colorado girl who went to college in my hometown, but the reason GW Bush wasn’t active in the 2012 election was because he knew he couldn’t help Romney among swing voters, and she forgets that Bill Clinton had major heart surgery two months before the 2004 election which prevented him from seeking the adulation on the campaign trail that he so desperately craves.

One person who agrees with my unenthusiastic reaction to the news is Nathaniel Rakich at FiveThirtyEight. In a roundtable discussion, he acknowledges the utter ordinariness of the endorsement:

How best to put this … Obama’s endorsement is simultaneously completely unsurprising/pro forma and also an important part of political pageantry.

Like, obviously no one doubted that Obama would endorse the eventual Democratic nominee. And I don’t think it will really matter in terms of winning Biden votes in the general election (although I expect we’ll debate that below).

But it is still a nice little bit of free media for Biden and has come to be an expected part of the modern presidential campaign — the old party leader draping his arm around the new one. Certainly without that moment, Biden would have had a problem, as the question of “Why hasn’t Obama endorsed?” would hang over his campaign. So it’s important in that respect.

I think that Mr. Rakich has it right. To the degree that yesterday’s endorsement qualifies as important news it is because people want to discuss something other than COVID-19 or because the media wing of the Democrat Party wants news about Joe Biden that doesn’t cause one to think immediately of his recent disjointed and inarticulate public addresses from his home library. I suppose if I were a Democrat I would be pointing out that Donald Trump is unlikely to receive the endorsement of two of the three living previous GOP nominees (Bob Dole, good soldier that he is, will probably endorse President Trump again this time around). Yet I wonder how many centrist and left-leaning independents — not loyal Democrats who presumably were bound and determined to vote this year no matter who the nominee — are going to respond favorably to a party establishment candidate being backed by the party establishment.

Fortunately for Mr. Obama this is something of a no-lose scenario. Should his former Vice-President win in November he can take a victory lap and steal credit for the result. Should Mr. Biden lose, the 44th President can shrug his shoulders and grumble privately at what a horrible candidate the party was left with. But I contend that the endorsement and those of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Kerry, Al Gore, and whomever else might rear his or her ugly head is virtually meaningless.


Fined For Defying Ban on Drive-In Services, Justice Dept. Gets Involved, Supports Church

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:33 pm

[guest post by Dana]

More on the conflict between church assemblies and coronavirus restrictions:

The Justice Department jumped into a federal lawsuit in Mississippi on Tuesday to support parishioners who had been fined $500 for attending a drive-in church service, demonstrating the Trump administration’s willingness to challenge what it sees as onerous local lockdown rules during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Baptist Temple Church in Greenville, Mississippi, had alleged in a complaint last week that local police overstepped their bounds by enforcing a ban on drive-in church services and trying to “bust up” the parking lot congregation. Worshippers were inside vehicles with their windows rolled up while listening to a broadcast of the sermon inside when eight police officers began issuing tickets, including to the pastor.

The Trump administration filed what’s called a statement of interest in the case, showing the government’s views about the general legal principles at play, contending parishioners retain certain constitutional rights to assemble and exercise free speech despite the pandemic.

The administration contends the ban on drive-in church gatherings does not appear to be applied neutrally to secular and religious activities alike, and thus, the filing said, “The facts alleged in the complaint strongly suggest that the city’s actions target religious conduct.”

“The city has the burden to demonstrate that prohibiting the small church here from holding the drive-in services at issue here — services where attendees are required to remain in their cars in the church parking lot at all times with their windows rolled up and spaced consistent with CDC guidelines — is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest,” the government continued.

“As of now, it seems unlikely that the city will be able to carry that burden,” the statement said.

The governor of Mississippi had “specifically exempted religious gatherings” from his stay-at-home orders because they were considered “essential services”.

But on April 7, Greenville Mayor Errick D. Simmons opted to impose a ban that specifically prohibited “drive in” church gatherings: “[A]ll church buildings will be closed for in person and drive in church services.” Church assemblies were identified as nonessential services.


Unsurprising: President Trump Has His Name Added To The Stimulus Checks

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:56 am

[guest post by Dana]

Of course he did:

When Americans receive their anxiously awaited checks from the federal government, which are being sent out to help mitigate the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus outbreak, they may notice the words “President Donald J. Trump” have been added at the bottom.

Trump suggested to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin the idea of adding his signature to the $1,200 paper checks, and the department agreed Monday to add his printed name (but not his actual autograph).

The Treasury Department confirmed to USA TODAY on Wednesday that Trump’s name would be on the checks, but claimed that affixing it would not delay delivery of the payments.

“Economic Impact Payment checks are scheduled to go out on time and exactly as planned – there is absolutely no delay whatsoever,” a Treasury spokeswoman said in a statement. “In fact, we expect the first checks to be in the mail early next week which is well in advance of when the first checks went out in 2008 and well in advance of initial estimates.”

It is perfectly consistent with Trump’s personality and need to be admired, that he would want his name on the checks, as it suggests to recipients that he is giving them money out of his own beneficence, and thus they should be grateful for his magnanimity.

P.S. Information on how to get your payment can be found here.


Trump Toadies Believe (On Scant Evidence) They Have Found “Anonymous”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:14 am

An awful lot of taxpayer dollars are being spent in a creepy hunt for a most likely low-level Trump Administration official who penned an anti-Trump op-ed and has a book coming out. The Trumpists believe they have their man — or, actually, their woman. Victoria Coates.

I’m not so sure. I think they are making some assumptions here that can’t be justified. For example:

Anonymous is a woman, the investigators deduced, noting the author’s disapproving remarks alleging a Trump habit of addressing accomplished female professionals as “sweetie” and “honey.”

Yup, they got her! No male could object to that! And with that, these geniuses eliminated at least half (probably more) of the possibilities. I was also amused by this:

NSC investigators put stock in the fact that Coates has a history of concealing her identity in her writings. For years she blogged anonymously for The site eventually revealed that Coates was the blogger writing under the pseudonym “Academic Elephant.” In February 2018, several months before the anonymous Times opinion piece appeared, a Reddit user posted an unusual question using the same “Academic Elephant” pseudonym Coates employed. “Could I be sued by the company I work for if I write an anonymous opinion piece for the local newspaper, if everything I say is true?” the poster asked, adding that “I’m reasonably certain that I’ll have support from my coworkers.” Anonymous expressed a similar concern in the opening pages of “A Warning,” noting that Trump has a habit of suing critics “to intimidate and silence them.” Fear of such a lawsuit is one of the reasons offered by the author for choosing to remain anonymous.

Here’s the Reddit post. Here’s a section from it:

Most of the things I would write about are more petty grievances, but nothing illegal. For one, they have a policy that they never give out raises. All employees make bare minimum wage, with the store manager making $15/hr. We have a mentally disabled employee who has been working here full time for 20 years, and the only ‘raise’ he got was when minimum wage increased. No paid vacation time, no sick time. You are technically allowed to take one week off a year, but because it’s not paid for most people don’t. You are not allowed to shop at the store you work at, and no employee discount (it’s supposed to discourage theft). Speaking of, recently another location in the area had it’s [sic] entire staff fired due to mere suspicion of theft, so everyone is terrified right now.

But then there are things that I am inclined to believe are OSHA violations: we haven’t had hot water in my building for two months now, and we regularly handle biological waste – both human and animal – with our bare hands (we are welcomed to use gloves, but we have to provide our own). We also have to lift and move heavy items, some weighing much more than 50lbs, without the aid of a forklift, or with lifting belts.

Why would Victoria Coates go to Reddit (for crying out loud) for legal advice, and then misrepresent the nature of her actual situation? I am rolling my eyes hard here.

There are several on-the-record denials and no on-the-record accusers. Among the denials is this one from Anonymous’s publisher:

“To be very clear, so there is no chance of any misunderstanding: Dr. Coates is not Anonymous,” Javelin said. “She did not write it, edit it, see it in advance, know anything about it, or as far [as] we know ever read it.”

The whole thing strikes me as a Keystone Kops type situation which would be amusing if it were not so unsettling. The piece notes that the Justice Department has gotten involved, sending a letter to the publisher asking if the author ever signed a nondisclosure agreement that would require them to submit the book for evaluation for possible classified information. Read the letter and tell me if you think it was motivated by a genuine concern about classified information or whether it was part of a hunt for a Trump critic.

This person will be revealed at some point, I assume. At that point, I predict we will learn it was not Victoria Coates.

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