Patterico's Pontifications


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 34

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

It is the Day of Pentecost. Today’s Bach cantata is “O ewiges Feuer, o Ursprung der Liebe” (O eternal fire, o source of love):

Today’s Gospel reading is John 20:19-23:

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, which depict the Holy Spirit as a flame:

O eternal fire, o source of love,
ignite our hearts and consecrate them.
Let heavenly flames penetrate and surge over us,
we wish, o Highest, to be Your temple,
Ah, may our souls be pleasing to you in faith!

. . . .

Peace upon Israel.
Thank the exalted wondrous hands,
give thanks, God has considered you.
Indeed, His blessing works with power,
to send peace upon Israel,
peace upon you.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.


Does the Voter Deserve Responsibility for Everything His Candidate Does?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:01 am

[Note: If you’re looking at this post’s length and saying “yeah, I’m not investing the time to read a book when I came here looking for a blog post” then here is the TL;DR version: assume for the sake of argument that I, a conservative Trump critic, vote for Biden in November — not because I support Biden’s leftist policies, but as a rejection of Trump and Trumpism. (In reality I’m more likely to cast a protest vote; this is a hypothetical.) If you’re a Trump voter, you don’t get to blame me for the bad policy things Biden does, like bad judges … unless I get to blame YOU, right here and right now, for every stupid tweet Donald Trump has ever written. If that’s not provocative enough to get you to read the post, then have a lovely Saturday — but do me a favor and don’t comment below unless you have read the whole thing. People who make arguments I have already addressed in the post are going to get the back of my hand and they will deserve it.]

Chances are, when I ask a question like that posed in the headline, you picture a concrete situation in your head and answer accordingly. “Of course a Biden voter will have to take responsibility for the judges he appoints” or “I voted for Trump but that doesn’t mean I’m responsible for his stupid tweets.” Having surveyed the apparent contradiction between the two statements I just made, the person who wants to say both things might say: “Well, a voter takes responsibility for his candidate’s policies but not his personal behavior. He’s voting for the former, not the latter.”

Put a pin in that while I go on what might seem like a digression (warning: a long one), but in reality isn’t.

I have been thinking a lot about the defense many Trump voters offer to justify their vote for Trump: “I think he’s a ridiculous person and needs to get off Twitter but I love what he has done.” I’m going to call these people the Pragmatic Trump Voters, and I have never criticized them for this stance, ever. Not once. You can check. I criticize the people who praise or minimize or dissemble about Trump’s moral failings, but you have never seen me criticize the people who frankly acknowledge Trump’s moral failings, but vote for him due to a greater concern about policy.

Their view doesn’t work for me personally because, for one thing, there’s too much of Trump’s policy I don’t like. I like a couple of things he has done (some immigration initiatives, some regulatory loosening, and most of his judges being the primary example) but I dislike a lot of what he has done (impose ruinous tariffs; alienate friends and embolden dictators; attack, undermine, and ultimately corrupt law enforcement and the Department of Justice; contribute to a culture of ugliness, dishonesty, and contempt for rules and norms; set a standard that personal corruption is no big deal and indeed to be defended) as well as what he has failed to do (such as make any effort to rein in federal spending; or make a genuine effort to repeal ObamaCare). Based on my numerous policy disagreements with the man, I cannot personally defend — at least in this instance — the notion of voting for a fundamentally bad man on the basis of policy, because there’s too much of his policy that I disagree with.

So there’s that phrase: “in this instance.” That caused me to ask myself: “How would I feel if I had a president who actually carried out each and every one of my policy goals but was as wretched as Trump is on a personal level?” In other words, what if I were as happy as the Pragmatic Trump Voters I speak with about a particular politician’s policies? Could I bring myself to vote for someone who carried out my favored policies, but was as big an ass as Trump is on a personal level?

And this is going to seem like a cop-out, but it’s my genuine attempt at an answer: I don’t think such a scenario is possible. Because the things I care about — which (as has become very clear to me) are not the things most Republican voters care about — are things that require a moral person in office to accomplish.

I care deeply about having someone in office who is not corrupt. Someone who puts country first and their own pocketbook and, in important situations, even their own political fortunes second. I still disagree with Gerald Ford’s decision to pardon Nixon, and I know that’s an unpopular view these days, but I respect Ford for making that decision. Because I believe he did it because he truly believed that it was the best move for the country, even though he knew it might cost him the election. Donald Trump is the complete opposite of this ethic in every way. He cares only about himself, period, and never puts anything or anyone ahead of his own interests.

This, fundamentally, is the problem. I could go on about other ways that someone of Trumpian morals cannot possibly accomplish the policy goals I desire in terms of issues such as building trust in federal law enforcement and DoJ; proper relations with foreign leaders; and a host of other issues. But at rock bottom, it all comes down to whether the president is going to put himself first or his country first. And someone who always and everywhere puts himself first is not someone who can realistically accomplish what I want accomplished by a president.

That’s a hell of a digression. Remember: my opening question was: does a voter bear responsibility for everything his candidate does? The point of the digression was to address the argument that one bears responsibility only for the policy choices of your candidate and not their personal shortcomings. For me, it has become apparent that one cannot separate the two. The presidency is a singular role: an entire branch of government embodied in a single person, with primary responsibility for foreign relations and a host of domestic responsibilities, including many that have been delegated by Congress — either formally, as in the tariff or immigration areas, or informally, through a systematic congressional failure to assert its own authority in countless areas of policy. You can’t validly make a personal/policy distinction — or even a words/action distinction of the sort Trump supporters often urge (“look at what he does and not what he says!”) because the personal matters, and the words matter.

In steadfastly refusing to criticize the Pragmatic Trump Voters, I have essentially taken the position that, no, a voter does not bear moral responsibility for the bad qualities or policies of his preferred candidate — as long as 1) he can articulate a sensible alternate criterion upon which he based his vote; and 2) he fully acknowledges the bad qualities of his preferred candidate and never minimizes, ignores, or justifies them. A voter confronted with two candidates, each of whom is a mixture of good and bad qualities, cannot be held morally responsible for everything bad that their preferred candidate does — unless those bad things are the reason for their vote, or unless they pretend those bad aspects of their preferred candidate don’t exist. Similarly, the voter cannot be held morally responsible for the inability of their non-preferred candidate to do the good things that candidate would have done if elected — as long as the same conditions hold true.

Why do I say “moral” responsibility? Because, sure, there’s some level of responsibility to the extent that you were aware of the bad qualities and chose to vote as you did regardless. You can’t claim to be shocked that, say, Trump acts like an asshole as president, or that Biden nominated bad judges. It’s all, as Trump minimizers love to say, baked into the cake. To me, the distinction is similar to that of the person who chooses to walk in a bad area of town by themselves late at night and is robbed. Can they claim to be shocked that they were victimized? No, but in my view they nevertheless bear no moral responsibility for having been victimized. Same goes for the voter who votes for an imperfect candidate (*whispered*: they are all imperfect). That voter cannot plausibly be assigned moral responsibility for all the bad stuff his candidate does, unless the voter a) voted for the candidate for that reason and/or b) pretended that the bad stuff doesn’t exist or isn’t that bad.

To get back to the italicized provocation that opened this post: the reason I am expounding on this at some length is because I have been thinking about what happens to the GOP if Trump loses in 2020. (If he wins, which he might, the analysis is simpler: more of the same but on steroids.) That will be a separate post, but for the first two years at least there is going to be a very nasty and very tiresome blame game. Trump fans will blame Never Trumpers for all the bad stuff Biden does — “look! we’re losing control of the Supreme Court! and look! he’s doing awful thing x, y, and z!” — and Never Trumpers will respond with some variant of “well maybe if you hadn’t spent so much time and energy rationalizing the actions of a narcissistic corrupt criminal dipshit, you wouldn’t have alienated the whole country.” It will be endless and repetitive and very very ugly. It will be followed by something else — but during that two years or so, it will seem like the same argument will repeat itself for all eternity.

In that argument, the pro-Trump faction will be composed (as it always is) of Trump superfans and Pragmatic Trump Voters. (It’s an oversimplification but a useful one.) I could not give less of a shit about the Trump superfans. I find those people repugnant and utterly untrustworthy. They can all go to hell. I’m addressing myself to the Pragmatic Trump Voters here. And again, I have never criticized y’all for being Pragmatic Trump Voters.

And what I’m saying here is: if you think it would have been unfair for me to blame y’all for Trump’s stupid tweets or his corruption — and I do — then it’s equally unfair for you to tell me, when Biden does something awful, “well, Patterico, you asked for this.” When he nominates an ideologue for the Supreme Court, don’t tell me it’s my fault. (Again: I’m assuming here for the sake of argument that I vote for Biden; in reality I will probably cast a protest vote. Even then, you’ll still blame me for not voting for Trump, and for having criticized him all the time, so it’s not really that hypothetical that I’ll be blamed.) If you do say it’s my fault, then I get to blame you for every damned fool idiot or corrupt thing Trump ever said or did. And I didn’t do that to you before. Again, you can check. So don’t do it to me.

This is a plea from the perspective of a Trump critic. (I have never called myself a “Never Trumper” because that seems like a cohesive group and I’m not much of a joiner and don’t want to be tarred with stupid opinions members of my “group” utter.) If Trump loses, a period of ugliness is coming. Frankly, I don’t think “Never Trump” conservatives are that large a faction, so it’s hard to see how the “human scum” could truly swing the election — but such will be the desire for blame that their influence will take on an outsized role in the minds of the pro-Trump faction. There will be recriminations, and they will be bitter.

Don’t contribute to it by blaming protest voters for Biden’s leftism. It’s not fair, unless you are taking ownership of Trump’s Twitter account — and what sane person would? If we are indeed headed for the period of ugliness I described, let’s please look for ways to minimize it.

Have a great Saturday!

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:21 am

[guest post by Dana]

Here are a few interesting news items to chew over. Feel free to share anything that you think readers might find interesting. Make sure to include links.

First news item

This x 100: In an email exchange with our host about George Floyd, our host keyed in on something that has troubled me as well:

I think the most interesting question is what a bystander should do. Normally when you see a crime you call the cops. Here, it was a cop slowly murdering a man in broad daylight in full view of multiple people. Whom can you call then? In retrospect the only thing that would have worked would have been to rush the cop, which would lead to bad bad bad consequences with arrest being the least of it and death being a not unrealistic possibility.

These days, cell phone videos are often what brings these situations to light. However, a cell phone video doesn’t necessarily show the whole picture, or as our host put it in our conversation:

I always always always think these videos that upset everyone (including the Central Park dog walker) omit the provocation that leads to the bad behavior — but here, you can imagine (and assume for the sake of argument) almost any provocation you like happening before the cameras started rolling. Nothing justifies failing to hobble the guy and toss him in the car. Nothing justifies this…

I know that cops like Chauvin are not representative of the majority of law enforcement officers,but I also know that cops like Chauvin (and those like the three who stood by and let this happen) weren’t just born yesterday either.

Second news item

Cop’s wife says she’s out of there:

Kellie Chauvin, the wife of the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, has announced she is “devastated” over the situation and is divorcing her husband, according to CBS Minnesota. In a statement, a representative told the news station that her “utmost sympathy lies with his [Floyd’s] family, with his loved ones and with everyone who is grieving tragedy.” She is said to have already filed for the dissolution of her marriage to the former police officer, and asks for “privacy during this difficult time.”

Third news item

Give me a break, man!

Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday said Charlamagne tha God was “baiting” him in an interview earlier this week when the presumptive Democratic nominee told the New York radio host that any consideration about voting for President Trump means “you ain’t black.” In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, the former vice president was asked about the contrast between his controversial remarks to Charlamagne tha God and the “empathy” he displayed towards African-Americans when commenting on the death of George Floyd in police custody. “Which leader are you going to be?” Lemon asked. Biden responded, “The leader I’ve always been. I apologized immediately for responding to Charlamagne, who was baiting me, and if you looked at that film you’ll see I was smiling at him. I was referring to him. I wasn’t referring to all African-Americans. I should have never said it. I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever taken the African-American community for granted.”

Fourth news item

By a 5-4 vote, with Justice Roberts joining the liberals, SCOTUS declines to lift church restrictions:

Last night the Supreme Court declined to intervene in challenges by churches in southern California and the Chicago area to stay-at-home orders issued as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The churches had asked the justices earlier this week to lift restrictions on crowds in time for them to hold services on Sunday, when Christians celebrate the holy day of Pentecost. But the justices turned them down. The court issued only a terse order in the Illinois case that referred to the new guidance issued by the state earlier this week. But the justices were closely divided in the California case, with Chief Justice John Roberts casting the deciding vote and writing a late-night opinion to explain his decision to deny relief.


California (along with San Diego County) and Illinois urged the justices to deny the churches’ requests. They began by explaining that indoor worship services are different from retail stores or businesses because people are more likely to gather in close proximity for longer periods of time. Moreover, they added, the singing and speaking at worship services “increases the danger” that people who are infected with the COVID-19 virus will “project respiratory droplets that contain the virus,” passing the infection on to others. Indeed, they noted, there have been several examples of significant COVID-19 outbreaks linked to worship services.

But in any event, California and Illinois continued, there was no need for the justices to intervene because the restrictions had been lifted. In California, the San Diego County Health Department issued an order (following new guidance from the state) on May 26 that allows churches in the county, including South Bay, to hold services, as long as they limit attendance to 25 percent of their building capacity or a maximum of 100 people and practice social distancing. Although the church argues that it is also harmed by the new guidance, because its building seats 600 and its attendance is normally somewhere between 200 and 300, the state emphasized that the church had not asked for an order blocking the enforcement of the new guidance in the lower courts. Moreover, the state observed, the church could add more services if it wants to ensure that everyone can attend.

You can read the dissenting opinion here (Written by Kavanaugh.)

Fifth news item

Mayor says out of state agitators arrested in St. Paul taking advantage of the very real pain of the community:

Sixth news item

Two views on protesting:



Breaking: Police Officer Arrested In Connection With George Floyd’s Death (Update Added)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:43 am

[guest post by Dana]

After a night of escalating violence and protest in Minneapolis and St. Paul, it was just announced that an arrest has been made in connection with George Floyd’s death:

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested in connection with the death of George Floyd while in police custody.

Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Mark Harrington reappeared at the podium Friday after a news conference ended, saying that the BCA has arrested Chauvin. He did not have any information about specific charges.

Multiple sources confirmed to KARE 11 that Chauvin was the officer seen on video with his knee on Floyd’s neck before he died.

P.S. NBC has released a video that appears to show that there were three officers on the ground with George Floyd (including Chauvin), with a fourth officer standing over the group.

UPDATE: Chavin arrested on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges:

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Friday that he expects charges will be filed against the three other officers who were involved in George Floyd’s death following the arrest Friday afternoon of former Officer Derek Chauvin…

He declined to discuss the evidence that led to Chauvin’s arrest one day after he said authorities needed more time to gather evidence. He said among the items authorities reviewed were the video shot by bystander Darnella Frazier which sparked widespread outrage on social media, Chauvin’s body camera footage and a preliminary report from the medical examiner.

Freeman announced Friday that Chauvin was arrested on third-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death. He was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: It is good that Chauvin has been arrested for murder. It is bad that it appears to be in response to widespread and violent rioting. By the way: the appearance is not necessarily accurate; law enforcement could have been waiting for the coroner’s opinion as to cause of death. But the appearance is awful.

UPDATE BY DANA: You can read the seven-page complaint here.

UPDATE BY DANA: I’ve copy/pasted a critical portion of the complaint filed against Chauvin. Notice the time increments, notice how Chauvin refused to repostion Floyd, notice how, after an officer said he was unable to locate a pulse that Chauvin kept his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck. And mostly, notice the lack of response or intervention by the other police officers as a man lay dying. They did absolutely nothing to help Floyd. To the contrary:


Ted Cruz Is So Far Gone

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am

I can’t believe I once gave this guy money and supported him for President.

(I’d still support him over Donald Trump, btw.)

So the Twitter insanity is continuing. In what looks to me like a deliberate provocation of Twitter, President Donald J. Trump called for looters to be shot this morning:

Twitter left the tweet up but hid it behind this message:

Trump Tweet Violent

This approach is dopey, for reasons I have gone into before. One of the reasons it’s dopey is that they possible can’t apply this standard to everyone evenhandedly, which was illustrated when FCC Chair Ajit Pai posed a question to Twitter:

This strikes me as a perfectly legitimate question, although I don’t like seeing it posed by a government official who asserts authority over Twitter. And then Ted Cruz … escalated things quickly:

A … a what now?

The letter can be read here. It says Twitter violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by giving Twitter accounts to Iranian officials.

Probably treason too. Lock up Jack Dorsey for 20 years! (Mob in background: “You’re [expletive deleted] right!) The letter complains:

Khamenei and Zarif used their Twitter accounts to post anti-American disinformation and conspiracy theories, not authoritative health information.

The only disinformation and conspiracy theories we like are pro-American disinformation and conspiracy theories. That’s why we love Trump!

You see, Teddy is All Aboard this Josh Hawley style MAGAgoguing of social media, and is busy this morning trying unsuccessfully to convince actual constitutionalist Charles C.W. Cooke that Section 230 of the CDA requires neutrality (which, as I have explained repeatedly, it does not):

This country has gone insane.


Trump Admits His First Amendment Violation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:00 pm

Donald Trump today admitted the First Amendment violation I accused him of yesterday. He explicitly tied his executive order (discussed here by Dana) to his displeasure with the speech of Twitter in fact-checking his tweets:

Government action in retaliation for upsetting political speech. That is core First Amendment activity and a blatant constitutional violation.

Meanwhile, Bill Barr is up there acting like an idiotic conservative Twitter troll.

I explained this in a comment yesterday but it’s worth repeating in a post. Can Twitter be accountable for any defamation that appears in their fact checks? Sure. Does the fact that they edit Trump’s tweets to include a link to a fact check mean that they are now a “publisher” for all purposes, subject to lawsuits by Trump or any Twitter user because their “status” as a “publisher” has gone poof? No. This appears to be the wet dream of “conservatives” eager to regulate speech they don’t like as long as it appears on a social media platform, but it’s no more legally accurate than any other wet dream they might have.

I know you see this everywhere — and now Bill Barr is saying it (which ought to be a clue that it’s dishonest) — but don’t take my word for it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a useful page with some guidelines that might help educate you on the topic:

Can my commenters sue me for editing or deleting their comments on my blog?

Generally no, if you are not the government. Section 230 protect a blog host from liability for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” This would include editing or deleting posts you consider objectionable, even if those posts would be protected by the First Amendment against government censorship.

Sweet, I can edit the comments on my blog to change the meaning and make commenters I don’t like seem like crazed defamers.

Not so fast. As noted above, Section 230 protects actions taken in good faith, and you may be liable for new information you create. The ability to edit comments is strongly protected, but you should not abuse that power.

Dana also linked this piece by Eugene Volokh, a First Amendment expert, saying the same thing:

Under current law, Twitter, Facebook, and the like are immune as platforms, regardless of whether they edit (including in a politicized way). Like it or not, but this was a deliberate decision by Congress. You might prefer an “if you restrict your users’ speech, you become liable for the speech you allow” model. Indeed, that was the model accepted by the court in Stratton Oakmont. But Congress rejected this model, and that rejection stands so long as § 230 remains in its current form.

If my blog were subject to the rules the social media haters envision in their wet dreams, nobody would be allowed to comment here. Fortunately, my blog is subject to the actual Section 230 rules and not the ones “conservatives” wish Section 230 to be. (By the way, Joe Biden has the same antipathy towards Section 230. Turns out politicians of all stripes dislike free speech that might criticize them.)

Section 230 trutherism is rampant on these here Interwebs. Don’t be a part of the problem spreading it. Be a part of the solution in combating the misinformation. If you’re going around saying “what Twitter is doing is making it a publisher which means it loses its immunity” you are spreading a falsehood and you need to stop.

Even — especially, actually — if you’re Bill Barr.

Trump Allies Riled Up: Why Are You Not Burying Biden?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:13 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Trump allies are getting nervous:

With only five months until the November general election, several Trump advisers, campaign veterans and prominent Republicans see the Trump campaign’s efforts to define and damage former vice president Joe Biden falling short.

These Trump supporters worry the campaign’s myriad lines of attack on Biden this spring — from his age to his work with China as vice president to the Obama economic record — are failing to dent the presumptive Democratic nominee. Recent polling shows Trump trailing Biden in key swing states such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, with the Republican control of the Senate increasingly up for grabs due to a depressed economy and nationwide angst about the coronavirus pandemic.

“Take the gloves off and put him away,” said one Republican close to the White House. “If you have the cash advantage and you have all of June, why are you not burying him?”

The report notes that the Trump campaign originally planned to promote the booming economy and low unemployment rates during the campaign, but then the coronavirus came along, and now that is not a winning message.

One adviser notes that “They have not coalesced around the best message to attack Biden, and the message that Biden is diminished doesn’t scare people enough.”

According to this Fox News poll, Trump allies and supporters are right to be concerned:


More polling data here.


Pompeo’s Former Staffers Asked To Sign Letter Supporting Him Against Alleged Smear Campaign

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:50 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week, Mike Pompeo laughingly dismissed any claims of violating House rules and standards by having his staff run personal errands for him:

“I’ve seen the various stories that — like, someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner,” the secretary said, laughing. “I mean, it’s all just crazy. It’s all crazy stuff.”

But one week later:

The senior adviser central to the investigation into allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used an employee to run personal errands is now leading the charge to find support among former staffers against what they describe as a “smear campaign,” NBC News has learned.

Shortly before he was fired, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was looking into allegations that Pompeo senior adviser Toni Porter was asked to walk the secretary’s dog, pick up his laundry and make dinner reservations for him and his wife, Susan, NBC News reported.

The State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual prohibits using the office for personal benefit. Pompeo has denied knowledge of the investigation.

But in an email sent Saturday and obtained by NBC News, Porter and Jim Richardson, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s director of foreign assistance, asked Pompeo’s former congressional staffers to sign a letter in solidarity against the “unfounded attacks,” claiming that a “smear campaign” had been launched against the secretary…

“In our time working with them, Mike and Susan never expressed that a task was so trivial or mundane as to be beneath them,” says the letter, which was obtained by NBC News. “In fact, any task worth doing in the Pompeo organization was worth doing with maximum effectiveness — because that’s what the constituents deserved.”

Obviously, just because one feels that a task is not trivial, or mundane, or beneath doing does not mean that the official isn’t violating the House rules by requesting staff members complete said tasks.

Reportedly, 23 former staffers have signed the letter in support of Pomepeo. However, a fear of retribution might have compelled some to sign:

[A] source familiar with the situation said one former employee of the secretary felt compelled to sign the letter for fear of retribution from his former boss. According to a source familiar with the staffer’s experience, the staffer said that in their experience, the claims that “Mike picked up his own dry cleaning” and “bought his own lunch,” as detailed in the letter, were inaccurate.

While in Congress, Pompeo often asked the staffer to perform personal tasks, a source familiar with the former employee’s experience told NBC News.

The tasks included driving him to congressional events, taking his car through the car wash and filling up his truck and car with gas, on top of fetching his lunch, the source said, adding that the retrieval of Pompeo’s shirts and suits was a task the aide carried out both during and after hours.


Twitter CEO To Trump: Eh, Whatever (Update Added)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:38 am

[guest post by Dana]

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has no intention of caving into President Trump’s demands to curtail speech on social media that he doesn’t like:

Dorsey’s company has become the target of President Trump’s fury after it added a disclaimer to one of his tweets earlier this week. First, Trump threatened to close down social-media companies who he thinks are “show bias” against conservatives, and it was reported late Wednesday that he will sign an executive order to remove important legal protections from sites like Twitter and Facebook. In a series of tweets, Dorsey wrote that Twitter will “continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make.” He added: “This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”

Meanwhile, Trump is expected to announce the signing of his “Preventing Online Censorship” executive order today. Or, as he refers to it, “fairness” in social media:

The draft order, which was reviewed by CNN, targets a law known as the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 of the legislation provides broad immunity to websites that curate and moderate their own platforms, and has been described by legal experts as “the 26 words that created the internet.”

It argues that the protections hinge mainly on tech platforms operating in “good faith,” and that social media companies have not.

“In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey online,” the draft order says. “This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power.”

The draft order also accuses social media platforms of “invoking inconsistent, irrational, and groundless justifications to censor or otherwise punish Americans’ speech here at home.” It also faults Google for helping the Chinese government surveil its citizens; Twitter for spreading Chinese propaganda; and Facebook for profiting from Chinese advertising.

Here’s how the order would work:

Under the order, the Commerce Department would ask the Federal Communications Commission for new regulations clarifying when a company’s conduct might violate the good faith provisions of Section 230 — potentially making it easier for tech companies to be sued.

The draft order instructs the Justice Department to consult with state attorneys general on allegations of anti-conservative bias. It bans federal agencies from advertising on platforms that have allegedly violated Section 230’s good-faith principles.

Finally, the draft order would direct the Federal Trade Commission to report on complaints about political bias collected by the White House and to consider bringing lawsuits against companies accused of violating the administration’s interpretation of Section 230.

The provisions regarding the FTC could raise additional legal questions, as the FTC is an independent agency that does not take orders from the President.

Eugene Volokh has an informative analysis of 47 U.S.C. § 230 here.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg weighs in on the issue:

In an upcoming interview on Fox News’ “The Daily Briefing,” Zuckerberg said that private companies probably shouldn’t be “the arbiter of truth,” and that social media platforms especially “shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

He added, however, that he doesn’t think regulations on social media would be the right approach. “I have to understand what they actually would intend to do,” Zuckerberg said. “But in general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they’re worried about censorship doesn’t exactly strike me as the right reflex there.”

Facebook uses independent checkers to catch the really bad stuff, according to Zuckerberg. “The point of that program isn’t to try to parse words on is something slightly true or false. In terms of political speech, again, I think you want to give broad deference to the political process and political speech,” he said.

Trump is a drama queen, and a professional victim. There are 100,000 people dead from coronavirus and the economy is a mess, so it’s perfectly natural in Trump World to go after his critics on social media. Everything else has changed, but Trump is as predictable as the day is long. Ginning up controversies, making threats, and playing the perpetual victim are his trademarks. As much as our daily lives have changed, it’s remarkable that nothing in his world has changed.

UPDATE:So far, the FCC Commissioners are divided on Trump’s draft order:

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, harshly criticized the order in a statement Thursday, framing it as a threat to free speech.

“This does not work. Social media can be frustrating. But an Executive Order that would turn the Federal Communications Commission into the President’s speech police is not the answer,” she said. “It’s time for those in Washington to speak up for the First Amendment. History won’t be kind to silence.”

Meanwhile, Republican FCC commissioner Brendan Carr voiced support for the executive order in an interview with Yahoo Finance, arguing that Section 230 should be reexamined if not overhauled.

“I think given what we’ve seen over the last few weeks, it makes sense to let the public weigh-in and say ‘is that really what Congress meant’ when they passed and provided those special protections,” Carr said.

Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, another Republican, said on Twitter that he sees both sides of the debate and urged his followers to “take [a] deep breath.”



Wednesday Evening Music: “Auf Flügeln des Gesanges” by Mendelssohn

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:27 pm

Mendelssohn setting a poem by Heine. The facility reminds one of Schubert.

A truly classic song.

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