Patterico's Pontifications

12/10/2016

Media Very Concerned About Whether Sadistic Killer Might Have Coughed During His Execution

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:30 pm

Big Media is in a tizzy today about the possibility that an inhuman killer might have coughed once or twice as he faced justice for his callous crime. Articles about the execution of Ronald Bert Smith, Jr. in Alabama for the murder of convenience store clerk Casey Wilson tend to focus on whether Smith, the murderer, suffered during his execution. Here is a typical headline: Alabama Death Row inmate Ronald Bert Smith heaved, coughed for 13 minutes during execution.

At an execution, the focus should not be on the murderer. Instead, media should remind the public what the killer did to the victim, and the impact on the victim’s life and family. I wrote about this extensively in a post in 2004. So today, as so many articles prattle on about the killer’s possible minor suffering at his execution, I’d like to talk about the victim, and what he suffered at the hands of this monster.

[Casey] Wilson, 26, was the lone clerk during a robbery at the Circle C Store at Memorial Parkway and Byrd Spring Road when he was shot to death on Nov. 8, 1994.

A native of Muleshoe, Texas, Wilson was an honors graduate from the University of Eastern New Mexico. Wilson, his wife, Sharon, and their then-5-week-old son, Jackie, were preparing to leave Huntsville for good on Dec. 15, 1994 because he hadn’t been able to find a job in his field, according to a story in The Huntsville Times.

Wilson’s degree was in computer information systems, but he worked at the a convenience store because he could not find a job in his field in Huntsville, Wilson’s wife told The Times.

Wilson’s wife, who holds a master’s degree in computer science from Eastern New Mexico University, said she and Wilson came to Huntsville in December 1993 so she could work on an internship at Redstone Arsenal.

The internship was almost finished and they were preparing to move, she told The Times.

And then Casey Wilson encountered Ronald Bert Smith, Jr.

Many of the following events were caught on videotape by cameras in the store and that videotape was recovered and used as an exhibit at trial. Once inside, Smith pulled a gun on Casey Wilson, the lone clerk, and asked Wilson to open the register. When the register would not open, Smith forced Wilson into the restroom, pistol-whipped him, and shot him in the left arm. Leaving Wilson in the restroom, Smith then returned to the cash register where he tried to gain access. Unsuccessful, he then looked under the counter where the safe was located and appeared to manipulate the safe’s combination lock. Smith then returned to the restroom where Wilson was located and apparently fired the killing shot into Wilson’s head.

The thug, who used to work in the store and knew where the videocassette recorder was kept, took the videotape with him afterwards. It was recovered and played as evidence at the trial. The judge who issued the death sentence made the following findings:

This was an execution-style slaying. Casey Wilson was pistol-whipped and beaten into helpless submission, but Smith nevertheless killed him to avoid later identification.

. . . .

Casey Wilson, on his knees, bruised, bleeding from the beating Smith inflicted, begged for his life, for his newborn son. “Ron hit the clerk and knocked him to his knees. And then he said the guy was holding up his hand telling him to ‘stop, I got a baby. Stop, I got a baby, six-month-old baby.’”

. . . .

The evidence also establishes that Smith inflicted death “with utter indifference to, or even enjoyment of, the suffering of” Casey Wilson. Johnson v. State, 399 So. 2d 859, 869 (Ala. Crim. App.) (cite omitted); aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 399 So. 2d 873 (Ala.1981). Chad Roundtree testified that when the three returned to his apartment following the incident, Smith bragged that “you should hear the sound a body makes when the last breath goes out of it.” Smith, smiling, asked Roundtree if he wanted to watch the tape of the killing. (Roundtree ordered Smith to “get the hell out of my apartment!” and then vomited.)

Smith did not destroy the tape. In contrast, he threw the surveillance recorder into a trash dumpster and switched barrels in his gun to thwart ballistic identification. Thus, there is merit to the State’s assertion he kept it as a “trophy.”

Nick Mullins, who altered the pistol, confirmed Smith bragged about the slaying: he “smiled, and kind of laughed” when describing how Wilson had “pleaded for his life” before he killed him.

You’ll read little to none of this in any of the stories about how Smith coughed a little during his execution.

But you should. It would help put in perspective for the public why this execution was carried out, and why it was just.

And that’s why Big Media won’t tell you about it.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Report: Trump’s Secretary of State Is Rex Tillerson

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:45 am

Multiple outlets are reporting this, although it all traces back to NBC News at this point. Here is the Wall Street Journal from a couple of days ago talking about Tillerson’s ties to Putin:

Friends and associates said few U.S. citizens are closer to Mr. Putin than Mr. Tillerson, who has known Mr. Putin since he represented Exxon’s interests in Russia during the regime of Boris Yeltsin.

“He has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger,” said John Hamre, a former deputy defense secretary during the Clinton administration and president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank where Mr. Tillerson is a board member.

In 2011, Mr. Tillerson struck a deal giving Exxon access to prized Arctic resources in Russia as well as allowing Russia’s state oil company, OAO Rosneft, to invest in Exxon concessions all over the world. The following year, the Kremlin bestowed the country’s Order of Friendship decoration on Mr. Tillerson.

The deal would have been transformative for Exxon. Mr. Putin at the time called it one of the most important involving Russia and the U.S., forecasting that the partnership could eventually spend $500 billion. But it was subsequently blocked by sanctions on Russia that the U.S. and its allies imposed two years ago after the country’s invasion of Crimea and conflicts with Ukraine.

Mr. Tillerson spoke against the sanctions at the company’s annual meeting in 2014. “We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions,” he said.

I’m all for better relations with Russia. I’m less thrilled with Trump’s seeming personal admiration for Vladimir Putin, which seems to stem from a combination of Trump’s magnetic attraction to authoritarianism and his ridiculous susceptibility to obvious flattery.

Will reserve judgment on this.

UPDATE: It’s probably worth noting that the NBC News story has John Bolton as Tillerson’s deputy:

Tillerson will be paired with former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as his deputy secretary of state, one of the sources added, with Bolton handling day-to-day management of the department.

I guess it will excite a lot of people to have The Mustache at Foggy Bottom.

UPDATE x2: Now that U.S. intelligence has concluded that Russia engaged in hacking for the purpose of electing Trump over Clinton, I guess Don owes Vlad a solid.

UPDATE x3: Wikileaks has released stuff on Bolton. A report emerges that Trump is going to pick the pro-Putin guy and the Russia hawk, and lo and behold there’s a leak on the Russian hawk.

Huh.

So very timely!

12/9/2016

This Is The Greatest Thing I Have Seen on The Internet in Ages

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:44 pm

The wonderful band House of Freaks had this great song about the development of the atomic bomb, and the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

I was surfing the Web and saw this description of the song by singer Bryan Harvey, may he rest in peace (and may his and his family’s murderers rot in hell):

Dark and Light in New Mexico

Another one by me before I met Johnny. Title came from some folk record I have about music in New Mexico … I turned it into a song about the development of the a-bomb. I have a video tape of George Wendt, aka Norm from Cheers, singing this song on a British Karaoke show in about 1988. He was a Freaks fan, we used to see him at shows. The video is great. He’s huffing and sweating and trying to hit those notes. This was the pinnacle of my career up to that point. We were baffled that a famous guy would like us.

You can’t read that and not want to see the video. Behold the miracle of YouTube:

The whole “why this song?” interchange is awkward, but this is still a keeper.

Trump And His 2 Simple Rules: Buy American And Hire American

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:17 pm

[guest post by Dana]

During a victory rally in Iowa yesterday:

“My administration will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American,” Trump said. “Remember years ago, we used to proudly display ‘Made in the USA.’ You’d go get a car, right? And you’d have it say, Made in the USA. We don’t see it. Have you seen it? I don’t see it anymore. We ought to start doing that.”

Haven’t we been here before?

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Selling his name to the highest bidder to have his brand produced somewhere other than America, and by workers not American.

–Dana

Giuliani Is Officially Out

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:32 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The short list is now even shorter:

President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced that during a meeting with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani held on November 29, 2016, Mayor Giuliani removed his name from consideration for a position in the new administration.

President-elect Trump said, “Rudy Giuliani is an extraordinarily talented and patriotic American. I will always be appreciative of his 24/7 dedication to our campaign after I won the primaries and for his extremely wise counsel. He is and continues to be a close personal friend, and as appropriate, I will call upon him for advice and can see an important place for him in the administration at a later date.”

Mayor Giuliani will remain a Vice Chairman of the Presidential Transition Team led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, which is making historic progress in bringing highly qualified people into the administration.

“Rudy would have been an outstanding member of the Cabinet in several roles, but I fully respect and understand his reasons for remaining in the private sector,” said President-elect Trump.

In explaining his withdrawal Mayor Giuliani said:

“I joined the campaign because I love my country and because having known Donald Trump as a friend for 28 years and observing what he has been able to accomplish, I had no doubt he would be a great President. This is not about me; it is about what is best for the country and the new administration. Before I joined the campaign I was very involved and fulfilled by my work with my law firm and consulting firm, and I will continue that work with even more enthusiasm. From the vantage point of the private sector, I look forward to helping the President-elect in any way he deems necessary and appropriate.”

Reince Priebus, incoming White House Chief of Staff to the President-elect, said that the former Mayor “was vetted by our team for any possible conflicts and passed with flying colors.” He also said “the team appreciates Rudy’s contributions to the victory and considers him a close friend and advisor.”

It is being suggested that his work for foreign governments may have been problematic.

So, will it be Romney? Or perhaps Exxon C.E.O. Rex W. Tillerson, who is reportedly a favorite of executives, and who made a pilgrimage to Trump Towers this week…

If Romney does become Trump’s choice, he would bring with him a healthy skepticism of Putin and a resistance to being walked all over by world leaders and players in the way that we’ve seen happen with our current administration. And aside from being thoroughly vetted, respected and well known, there is also this unique benefit to a Romney selection:

[The] main beneficiary of a Romney appointment would be Trump himself. Ironically, the insults that Trump and Romney shared earlier this year are a source for opportunity. After all, if Trump picks Romney to be his secretary of state, Romney would be grateful.

At the same time, Romney would take his nomination as a sign that Trump values his honest advice. The President would thus have not only a loyal official, but one who is implicitly (albeit privately) expected to challenge him. As Trump moves to avoid new conflicts and mitigate existing chaos, that loyalty would be crucial.

Managing US foreign policy, Trump needs good assistants. In Mattis, he has an arrow against US adversaries. In Romney, he would have an olive branch.

–Dana

Ted Cruz Calls for Term Limits for Members of Congress

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:00 am

Senator Ted Cruz and Rep. Ron DeSantis have an op-ed in this morning’s Washington Post titled If Republicans really want to drain the swamp, here’s how to do it. The piece advocates for a constitutional amendment providing for term limits for Congress:

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump called for enacting term limits, and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has endorsed the idea. As soon as the 115th Congress convenes, both of us will move to restore accountability among the entrenched Washington establishment by introducing a constitutional amendment to limit the number of terms that a member of Congress can serve to three in the House and two in the Senate.

Passing term limits will demonstrate that Congress has actually heard the voice of the people.

Cruz and DeSantis argue that term limits will change how politicians behave:

Term limits will change the calculus of those who serve in Congress.

Without term limits, the incentive for a typical member is to stay as long as possible to accumulate seniority on the way to a leadership post or committee chair. Going along to get along is a much surer path for career advancement than is challenging the way Washington does business.

I used to be foursquare in favor of term limits after reading George Will’s book Restoration: Congress, Term Limits and the Recovery of Deliberative Democracy back in the 1990s. But since that time, I have watched how term limits have played out in California, and the results have not impressed me. Career politicians are still career politicians; they just bounce from job to job. A feeling of civic duty does not pervade the halls of our state senate or assembly. If anything, they seem more beholden to our governor and his quirky schemes for overregulating business and freeing as many criminals as possible. I can’t say California’s silly policies these days are a result of term limits, but term limits seem to have done little to prevent them.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe politicians not facing term limits do lose some courage. Take Ted Cruz, for example. The man who had the guts to take on his own party back in the day — a man who believes in the free market enough to oppose ethanol subsidies in Iowa during a presidential race! — has been remarkably praiseworthy of the Carrier deal that picks a winner (Carrier) over a loser (its competitors). The Carrier deal flies in the face of Cruz’s longstanding opposition to such government intervention — which, interestingly, he subtly alludes to in this op-ed, saying: “The Washington Cartel is hard at work picking winners and losers, with hard-working Americans typically winding up as the losers.”

But he knows the politics of criticizing this deal openly, at this time, with Trump’s popularity high, would be costly. And so, for now, he refrains from open criticism, and even praises the deal. Is that because he faces re-election in 2018? Because he hopes to run for President again? Because he hopes to have a long Senate career? Who knows for sure?

Ultimately, Cruz may have calculated that his support of term limits today is a cost-free position to take, because there is no chance Congress will propose an amendment that reins in the ambitions of its own members. (Note that Cruz does not propose an Article V convention for the purpose of passing this amendment.)

Cruz’s support for term limits may be prove to be a miscalculation, though. Having proposed a Constitutional amendment to limit Senators to two terms, Cruz is likely to be reminded of his position . . . if and when he runs for a third term.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Reminder: Trump Is Still a Liar

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:42 am

In October, I quoted a news story that noted Trump’s routine pledge to put $100 million into his campaign by election day. At that point he had put in only $56 million. My comment was this:

OK, everybody raise your hand who believes that Donald Trump will put another $44 million into his campaign before election day.

I have bad news for you. If your hand is in the air right now, you are an idiot.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Trump steered $2.9 million to his family businesses in the waning days of his campaign . . . oh, and also this:

Mr. Trump also gave $10 million to his campaign in the final weeks of the election, bringing his total donations to his campaign to $66 million. While a substantial investment, that figure fell about $34 million shy of the $100 million he had routinely pledged to give.

He knows he can lie about stuff like that because he knows people will shrug off his lie, as almost everyone reading this post assuredly will. And that’s fine. It doesn’t upset me much either. He won. That’s what matters.

It was still a lie, though, and he is still a liar. Forget that at your peril.

12/8/2016

I Think I Like Trump’s Secretary of Labor Nominee

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:16 pm

Opposes the minimum wage and praises the virtues of automation?

Stellar. This is someone I can get behind.

UPDATE: OK, he’s an amnesty shill, so there’s that problem. But don’t worry, Trump will be too.

John Glenn, 1921-2016

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:17 pm

[guest post by JVW]

John Glenn, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts who ushered in the era of American space exploration, died earlier today at the age of 95. Glenn’s remarkable life included military service as a fighter pilot during both World War II and the Korean War, his exploits as the first American to orbit the Earth from space, and four terms as a United States Senator serving his home state of Ohio. Glenn’s final impressive act on the world stage was to fly aboard the space shuttle Discovery at the age of 77, shortly before retiring from the Senate.

While I probably didn’t agree with him very often politically, here’s saluting a notable life of significant accomplishment and a final farewell to an authentic American hero.

– JVW

Fake News Complaints by Big Media Are Fake

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

Your must-read for the day, if you have not read it already, is a piece by Nathan J. Robinson in Current Affairs titled The Necessity of Credibility. It thoroughly exposes many examples of “fake news” by Big Media — including their claims that conservatives are routinely engaged in spreading “fake news.”

The piece opens with a discussion of a topic that irritated me quite a bit recently: the pack of bleating media sheep who claimed that Trump was blatantly lying when he said that millions of people voted illegally. (The claim has not been proved, but is far from outlandish.) As Robinson explains, the Washington Post “fact-checkers” pounced, with Glenn Kessler calling Trump’s claim “bogus” and decrying Trump’s “wild allegations.”

But when people wondered where Trump got the idea that a significant percentage of people had voted illegally, the Trump transition team cited . . . a piece from the Washington Post. Whoops!

Then it got even more farcical. Now the “fact-checkers” gave four Pinocchios to the Trump camps’s claim that the piece had been in the Washington Post. How could that be, when it actually had been in the Washington Post? Because, the fact-checkers claimed, it had been in a blog hosted by the Washington Post. Never mind that the URL begins: “www.washingtonpost.com.” Never mind that, as Robinson points out, the blog’s name appears “in tiny letters beneath the ordinary full-sized Washington Post logo.”

Who are you going to believe, the fact-checkers or your lying eyes?

The Washington Post itself was the source for the Trump claim that the Washington Post claimed was bogus and alarming. Fake! And then the Washington Post tried to deny they were the source, when they had been!

Fake fake fakety fake!

The voter fraud story is indicative of a much wider problem with U.S. political media: its attempts to point out Trump’s falsehoods are consistently undermined by the media’s own lack of credibility on matters of fact. Especially with the rise of “fact-checking” websites, whose analysis is frequently shoddy and dubious, the political media contribute to the exact kind of “post-truth” atmosphere that journalists criticize Trump for furthering.

An interesting and illuminating example of this can be found in the controversy over so-called “fake news.” A few weeks after the election, a series of critics lamented the role of “fake” stories during the election cycle. A study by BuzzFeed reported that “the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets.” A number of commentators saw this as a bad sign for the future democratic governance. Andrew Smith of The Guardian suggested that the proliferation of false stories on social media was eroding the very foundations of reality. In the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof solemnly concluded that “fake news is gaining ground, empowering nuts and undermining our democracy.”

But, as Robinson notes, many of the examples of “fake news” offered up by Big Media are themselves fake.

Particularly pernicious is the rise of “fact-checking” websites, which are ostensibly dedicated to promoting objective truth over eye-of-the-beholder lies, but which often simply serve as mouthpieces for centrist orthodoxies, thereby further delegitimizing the entire notion of “fact” itself. As Current Affairs has previously argued at length, websites like PolitiFact frequently disguise opinion and/or bullshit as neutral, data-based inquiry.

This happens in a couple of ways. First, such websites frequently produce meaningless statistics, such as trying to measure the percentage of a candidate’s statements that are false. PolitiFact constantly spreads its statistics about how X percent of Trump or Clinton’s statements are rated false, declining to mention the fact that this statistic is empty of any content, since the statements that are evaluated haven’t been randomly selected. The centrist biases of fact-checkers also affect their decisionmaking. Fact-checkers have, for example, insisted that it was wrong to say Hillary Clinton wanted to get rid of the 2nd Amendment. But this isn’t a “factual” dispute at all. It depends on one’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment’s essential meaning, something that varies based on one’s personal political values.

Robinson gives several specific examples of instances in which fact-checkers called something “false” that was literally true because of a political argument about the interpretation of the true fact. This is something I have railed about many times before. As one example among many, take Carly Fiorina’s claim that she went from secretary to CEO: admitted by the fact-checkers to be true, but deemed false by the fact-checkers because of its implications. There are an appalling number of similar “fact-checks” by these propagandists masquerading as neutral arbiters of truth.

The piece is long and chock-full of interesting anecdotes, facts, and quotes. It’s worth your time and gets the coveted read the whole thing recommendation. I’ll end the post with this quote:

Those who say Donald Trump dwells in a “post-truth” realm are not wrong. He lies a hell of a lot, and misrepresents a hell of a lot more. But in order for the “post-truth” charge to be taken seriously, one must be careful and reliable in calling out “lies.”

Amen.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

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