Patterico's Pontifications

4/12/2024

Patterico on Mona Charen’s “Beg to Differ” Podcast

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:51 pm



On Thursday I appeared on the “Beg to Differ” podcast hosted by Mona Charen, politics editor for The Bulwark. I had a great time talking about the Bragg prosecution of Trump, as well as issues about abortion and the failed attempt to impeach Joe Biden.

Having survived the Brett Kimberlin episode and prosecuted Mexican Mafia figures and such, I was not eager to be on camera, so Mona gave me a pass and let me keep my camera off. But you can listen to the audio at the home page for the podcast, here. You should be able to listen without a subscription. The episode can also be viewed on YouTube with a sort of hilarious looking silhouette of a fella in a suit in the shadows to represent me.

My goal was to avoid just blathering without purpose. I wanted any listener to come away knowing some facts or set of facts that they did not know going in. Let me know how you think I did on that score.

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:51 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First new item

Arizona’s new but old abortion law:

The Arizona Supreme Court gave the go-ahead Tuesday to prepare to enforce a long-dormant law that bans nearly all abortions, drastically altering the legal landscape for terminating pregnancies in a state likely to have a key role in the presidential election.

The law predating Arizona’s statehood provides no exceptions for rape or incest and allows abortions only if the mother’s life is in jeopardy. Arizona’s highest court suggested doctors can be prosecuted under the 1864 law, though the opinion written by the court’s majority didn’t explicitly say that.

The Tuesday decision threw out an earlier lower-court decision that concluded doctors couldn’t be charged for performing abortions in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The attorney general said she will not enforce the law. The abortion ban won’t go into effect immediately.

The middle ground view on abortion in the U.S. continues to be allowing a reasonable period of time in which an abortion is legal, exceptions for rape and/or incest, and if the mother’s life is endangered.

Even MAGA candidates running for office are flip-flopping and pushing back on Arizona’s new law:

Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake is actively lobbying state lawmakers to overturn a 160-year-old law she once supported that bans abortion in almost all cases, a source with knowledge of her efforts told CNN.

Lake is pushing for GOP lawmakers in her home state to repeal the law while leaving in place legislation signed in 2022 by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey that would restrict abortion to within the first 15 weeks of a pregnancy.

Second news item

The level of childish self-centeredness is a sad commentary on today’s pro-Palestinian protesters:

A graduation dinner at the home of the University of California Berkeley Law School’s Dean Erwin Chemerinsky devolved into an ugly incident after a Palestinian American Berkeley Law student who was invited to the dinner picked up a microphone and stood before the gathering…The purpose of this cartoon was to encourage students to protest a student dinner that Chemerinsky was scheduled to hold at his home.

About that dinner, as described by Chemerinsky:

On April 9, about 60 students came to our home for the dinner. All had registered in advance. All came into our backyard and were seated at tables for dinner. While guests were eating, a woman stood up with a microphone, stood on the top step in the yard, and began a speech, including about the plight of the Palestinians. My wife and I immediately approached her and asked her to stop and leave. The woman continued. When she continued, there was an attempt to take away her microphone. Repeatedly, we said to her that you are a guest in our home, please stop and leave. About 10 students were clearly with her and ultimately left as a group.

The dinner, which was meant to celebrate graduating students, was obviously disrupted and disturbed. I am enormously sad that we have students who are so rude as to come into my home, in my backyard, and use this social occasion for their political agenda.

Note:

Remarkably, the student said she had a First Amendment right to protest in Erwin’s home. Erwin, ever the teacher, actually said “the First Amendment does not apply.”

SMDH.

Third news item

Ukraine in a vicious quandary:

Forced back, Ukraine is now digging in to stop a collapse across the war’s front lines as Russian attacks and American delays leave Kyiv and its allies to confront the possibility of a painful defeat.

A $61 billion aid package has been stuck in Congress for months, leaving Ukraine exposed on the front lines — running out of ammunition and men — while its energy system now faces an onslaught that is exposing its depleted air defenses.

The shortages forced Kyiv’s military to withdraw from a key eastern city in February, and with no progress in Washington, Ukrainian soldiers are now desperately trying to hold on to their positions along some 600 miles of the front line.

“Nothing has changed: We did not have any shells then, we don’t have any shells now,” said artillery sergeant Andriy, who was part of Kyiv’s retreat from Avdiivka in February after months of intense fighting. “The Russians continue to push in packs, without stopping,” Andriy, who did not want his last name revealed as he was not authorized to speak publicly, told NBC News last week.

Reportedly, Speaker Mike Johnson is in talks with the White House about advancing an aid package. However, it doesn’t look too hopeful:

House Republican Leader Steve Scalise told reporters that Johnson had been talking with White House officials about a package that would deviate from the Senate’s $95 billion foreign security package and include several Republican demands. It comes after Johnson has delayed for months on advancing aid that would provide desperately needed ammunition and weaponry for Kyiv, trying to find the right time to advance a package that will be a painful political lift.

“There’s been no agreement reached,” Scalise said. “Obviously there would have to an agreement reached not just with the White House, but with our own members.”

Two things: Johnson faces pressure from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has threatened to oust him as speaker if he pushes ahead with Ukraine funding, and per the report:

The Republican speaker is set to travel to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Friday to meet with Trump and has been consulting him in recent weeks on the Ukraine funding to gain his support — or at least prevent him from openly opposing the package.

This:

Congressional Republicans intend to travel to Normandy to honor the D-Day dead. But that gesture will be hollow—and worse than hollow—if they have failed to act to help the people of Ukraine in their life-and-death struggle.

Fourth news item

O.J. Simpson passed away yesterday after battling cancer. Fred Goldman, father of Ron Goldman, whom Simpson was accused of killing, responded to the news of Simpson’s death:

Simpson was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, capping off what legal analysts described at the time as the “trial of the century.”

“The only thing I have to say is, it’s just further reminder of Ron being gone all these years,” Fred Goldman said in a phone interview. “It’s no great loss to the world. It’s a further reminder of Ron’s being gone.”

It’s funny how those of us of a certain age remember exactly where we were when the infamous chase on the 405 freeway happened.

Fifth news item

U.S. officials warn Israel:

Israel is bracing for a worst-case scenario that U.S. officials believe could materialize within just hours — the possibility of a direct attack on Israeli soil by Iran in retaliation for a strike almost two weeks ago that killed seven Iranian military officers. Iran has vowed to take revenge for Israel killing its commanders, who were hit by an April 1 strike on the Iranian embassy in Syria’s capital.

Two U.S. officials told CBS News that a major Iranian attack against Israel was expected as soon as Friday, possibly to include more than 100 drones and dozens of missiles aimed at military targets inside the country.

The officials said it would be challenging for the Israelis to defend against an attack of such a magnitude, and while they held out the possibility that the Iranians could opt for a smaller-scale attack to avoid a dramatic escalation, their retaliation was believed to be imminent.

—Dana

More Bunk from Comrade Bernard

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:06 am



[guest post by JVW]

I first encountered this last month in The Spectator but didn’t bother to write about it, but now that National Review has fleshed it out in greater detail I think this is a good opportunity to discuss Senator Bernard Sanders’ (Democrat Socialist – Vermont) truly batty idea to use federal legislation to lower the workweek from 40 to 32 hours while requiring that companies keep workers’ wages at the current levels. In other words, Lunchpail Larry and Hairnet Heidi would receive their current paycheck for working only 80% of their current workload. Overtime pay would begin on the worker’s thirty-third weekly hour, not the forty-first weekly hour spelled out in current law.

I don’t have to tell readers of this blog (with perhaps a few exceptions) what an ignorant and truly fanciful idea this is. We’ve known for a long time that the Granite State Gramsci was an economic dunderhead, a freeloader who has spent most of his adult life on the public payroll, an ideologue who has zero clue as to how private enterprise works and who labors (but not really) under a Marxist assumption that economic nirvana comes about when workers are paid more to accomplish less. To be fair, if I had drawn a legislator’s paycheck for most of my life I might be inclined to believe the same, but that’s a discussion for another time.

It doesn’t really faze me much to know that we have a United States Senator so woefully ignorant in the working of markets, so easily swayed by garbage academic studies conducted by disingenuous hacks intent upon muddying the waters with half-baked nonsense, so smugly certain of government’s ability to discover and implement the perfect solution to all that ails us. But let’s not discuss Elizabeth Warren just now, and please allow me keep the attention upon the elderly Maple Syrup Maoist. Bernard Sanders is a particular kind of useless, a shallow thinker recycling ideas that have failed elsewhere for the past 150 years as well as a rank phony and utter hypocrite living the high life while pretending to be a man of the people, even as the fruits of his ideology ensure that the people suffer from oppressive government. Writing at The Spectator, Charles Lipson sees no end to unintended consequences of Comrade Sanders’ meddling:

What do you think would actually happen if such Bernie’s law were passed, enforced and found constitutional? (None of those would actually happen, of course.) The immediate effects would be another 25 percent price increase for labor-intensive products, a huge burden on low-income consumers and an additional incentive to replace more expensive workers with machines and computers.

The substitution of capital for labor is an on-going process, but Bernie would supercharge the effort and create incentives for innovators to come up with products, machines and computer programs that performed those tasks at lower costs. The more expensive the tasks, the greater incentive to figure out ways to save money on them.

Bernie’s Magic Pay Raise would create a major incentive to hire people off-the-books (for the true market price) or to have them work extra hours that way. It would create new incentives for employers to hire workers as individual subcontractors, rather than wage workers. And, of course, it would lead to tens of thousands of court cases where employees were sued for violating the new wage rules. Since the wages would be above market rates (otherwise there would be no need for a mandate), the yearly increases would lag inflation so that real wages would gradually return to market rates.

Just so, and the ability of progressives to ignore the pretty obvious unintended consequences of their nutso legislative daydreams speaks to either cluelessness or dishonesty, or perhaps even both. For his part, Kevin Hassett at National Review eviscerates the “academic” studies used to bolster the insipid case for less work at the same wage:

As for the workweek, the 2023 study that has been cited extensively in the media was performed by researchers from Boston College, the University of Cambridge, and a self-described “progressive” think tank based in the U.K. called Autonomy. The study’s key finding is that 92 percent of the 61 surveyed companies (which were all in Britain) reported that they were continuing the four-day workweek after a six-month trial in 2022, and 18 companies said that this change would be permanent. For the 24 companies that supplied sufficient data, revenues on average went up 35 percent over a comparable period in a previous year.

How could the results be so positive? One sign is that the participating companies (11 percent of which were charities or non-profits) do not appear to have been randomly selected for the trial, but rather were “recruited.” In other words, the study examines the impact of the four-day workweek on companies that wanted to try it. A sign of possible sample-selection bias can be seen in a footnote disclosing that, “Initially, 70 companies had signed up to take part in the pilot — however, 9 of these did not begin the trial.” The most common reason for this was “a sense that the organization was not sufficiently prepared. . . . Other reasons include[d] difficulties measuring performance in some departments, struggles with the ‘great resignation,’ and two companies who decided shorter working hours were not right for them.” Of course, companies that really need workers to show up for the full five days would not have signed up in the first place.

Imagine you are considering a new weight-loss pill which claims to yield the most productive results yet observed. Would you be interested in knowing if the 100 people who had tested the regimen were volunteers who had eagerly signed up for the study and perhaps — just perhaps — had also at the same time instituted of regimen of healthier eating and moderate exercise, versus 100 people who were forced into the study and might resent having to participate? Doesn’t this seem similar to hand-selecting 61 eager companies willing to try out a 32 hour week versus foisting it upon the entire business world irrespective of participant buy-in?

And when you dig into the study, plenty more red flags emerge. In addition to the self-described “progressive” think tank, the study was conducted with the help of a New Zealand-based company called 4 Day Global and a UK outfit known as 4 Day Week Campaign. I don’t know about you, but those names make me suspect that both groups had incentive to ensure that the 32-hour workweek was successful. They recruited 70 companies for the pilot, but nine of them apparently couldn’t get their shit together and had to bow out, suggesting that the transition isn’t particularly easy to implement in all cases. Furthermore, the survey admits that “between 44-51 [participating organizations] provided survey data for the performance analysis of this report.” Excuse me? What the hell happened to the other 9-16 companies? And what does it tell us that they can’t even zero in on a precise number between 44 and 51? “Well, it might have been 44 organizations, but it could have been 46 or 48, perhaps 49 or 51.” What sort of data collection nonsense did these clowns employ? Presumably they mean that there were three separate phases of data collection, and not all organizations participated in each phase. Is this study starting to sound more and more like utter junk?

Finally, what if a mere three of the 61 participants had a really bad experience and ended up closing shop or laying off employees. After all, there are apparently at least ten participants who gave no data at all, and five participants confirmed that they no longer organize around a 32-hour workweek. And remember that these are companies who wanted to be a part of this study. If just three of them closed or had significant layoffs, you’re looking at anywhere up to five percent of employees in the study losing their jobs because of the shift to a 32-hour workweek (assuming that the size of the organizations is averaged across all participants). If that failure rate was the norm and if moving to a 32-hour workweek jumped the U.S. unemployment rate from the current 3.8% up to 8.8% in just one year’s time, would that really be considered an acceptable consequence of giving people one more day off per week? Given the smallish size of this study, the fact that the researchers don’t have a full picture of what happened to every single participant again speaks to the shoddiness of the methodology and the unreliability of this whole endeavor.

Thanks to some apparent skittishness among Senate Democrats at considering this bill in an election year and the fact that the House is at least nominally still under the control of the GOP, we can be reasonably sure that the 32-hour workweek isn’t coming any time soon. But today’s socialist flights of fancy have a crazy tendency to end up being tomorrow’s standard Democrat orthodoxy, so look for this crackpot Vermonter’s idea to be around long after the old codger has shuffled off to the one place where socialism actually works.

– JVW


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