Patterico's Pontifications

3/26/2019

Well, Whaddaya Know: Charges Against Jussie Smollett Dropped

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:46 am



[guest post by JVW]

They were never going to prosecute someone with so much intersectionality street cred. National Review Online has the details:

Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all the charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who stood accused of staging a hate crime to advance his career.

Smollett was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct last month when police determined that he filed a false report after staging a racially motivated attack on himself with the help of two friends. He had pled not guilty to the charges before prosecutors decided to drop them.

[. . .]

Prosecutors took Smollett’s history of community service into account when deciding to drop the charges, according to a statement released by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office Tuesday afternoon.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the statement said.

It’s Chicago, so naturally corrupt local politicians are part of the story, as is a former Obama Administration official:

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police last week requested an investigation into State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx’s handling of the case on the grounds that she improperly asked [Chicago Police Chief Eddie] Johnson to turn the investigation over to the FBI after Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, requested that she do so at the behest of one of Smollett’s relatives.

“Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation,” Foxx wrote in an email sent two days after the alleged attack.

“OMG this would be a huge victory,” Tchen wrote in response to a text message from Foxx containing the same information as was included in the email.

“I make no guarantees,” Foxx responded, “but I’m trying.”

The FBI did not end up taking control of the probe, but I find it interesting that Ms. Tchen believed that the outcome would be more beneficial to Mr. Smollett if the feds were involved. It makes you wonder if Obama officials have more chits to call in with the feds than they do in the Windy City.

In any case, Jussie Smollett will probably resume his career as if nothing had happened, and he will to his dying day insist upon his version of events which will also gradually come to be accepted among the grievance-mongering left. Thank you, Chicago Police Department, for getting to the bottom of the story. Sorry that the political types are going to undercut all of your work.

– JVW

3/25/2019

Michael Avenatti Charged — In Two Districts

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:58 am



Washington Post:

Michael Avenatti, the high profile critic of President Trump, was charged Monday by federal prosecutors with trying to extort Nike by threatening to issue damaging allegations against the company unless it paid his client millions.

But that’s not all! That’s the New York federal case. And then there’s the California federal case:

Federal law enforcement officials will provide details concerning today’s arrest of lawyer Michael Avenatti, who faces federal charges of wire fraud and bank fraud in the Central District of California.

Remarkable. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

UPDATE: Christmas in March.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/24/2019

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 124

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:53 am



It is the third Sunday in Lent. Today’s Bach cantata is “Meinen Jesum laß ich nicht” (I will not let go of my Jesus).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 13:1-9:

Repent or Perish

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:

I will not let go of my Jesus,
I will walk beside Him forever;
Christ shall for ever and ever have me
guided to the springs of life.
Blessed, whoever says with me:
I will not let go of my Jesus.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

The Triumphalism Over the Mueller Report Is a Bit Overblown

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:46 am



This is a good point:

We don’t know what’s in the Mueller report. Here are a few things we do know.

We know that Joseph Mifsud, a professor with connections to high-ranking Russian officials, told George Papadopolous about “dirt” Russia had on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails when Papadopoulos was an adviser to the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos later lied about the timing to federal investigators to make it sound as if he learned this information before becoming an adviser to the campaign. In fact, Papadopoulos was told this only because he was a Trump campaign adviser. Papadopoulos repeatedly tried to set up a meeting between Russian officials and the Trump campaign.

We know that Roger Stone communicated with Wikileaks, which operated as a cutout for the Kremlin. Stone was contacted by Trump campaign officials about future releases from Wikileaks, which falsely denied its communications with Stone. Stone said to someone involved with the Trump campaign: “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.” After the Podesta emails were first released, an associate of the Trump campaign official sent Stone a text message saying “Well done.”

We know that Paul Manafort was a lobbyist for Putin-connected former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. We know Manafort was later convicted of filing false tax returns, bank fraud, failing to disclose a foreign bank account, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and witness tampering. He was also the chairman of Trump’s campaign, and in that capacity, with Trump’s son and son-in-law, met with a woman with connections to high-ranking Kremlin officials hoping to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

We know that Michael Cohen wrote letters to senior Kremlin officials pursuing Trump Tower Moscow well into the presidential campaign, and lied about this to Congress to foster a false narrative that the Trump organization was not involved in any attempts to conduct business in Moscow.

We know that Michael Flynn asked a member of Trump’s presidential transition team about what to tell the Soviet ambassador regarding an issue of recent sanctions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration. The transition official discussed the fact that the transition team did not want the situation to escalate, which Flynn told the Russian ambassador. Putin decided not to retaliate. Flynn then lied about all of this to the FBI.

Smells like vindication to you? OK. It probably is vindication on direct collusion in the sense of conspiring to hack emails — something nobody but insane Resistance types ever believed. To many of us, it’s something short of vindication on the issue of queasy connections between a presidential campaign and one of our enemies.

Maybe tamp down the triumphalism a bit there, sport.

UPDATE: Trump organization, not campaign. Fixed. Thanks to Kevin M.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/23/2019

Barbra Streisand Victim Blaming: Hey Kids, You Were Thrilled To Be At Neverland With Michael Jackson When He Allegedly Molested You. I Mean, C’mon, It Didn’t Kill You! (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:39 pm



[guest post by Dana]

I guess the lessons here are that if you’re a child and you are really excited to be at a mega-star’s wonderland of an estate where you can do any fun thing you want, and an adult does something to you that is too terrible for words while you’re there, it’s your fault because you were happy to be there in the first place. Too bad, so sad. And if you’re a child who physically survives that something too terrible for words, yet your mind and heart and soul are deeply damaged, shake it off, it didn’t kill you:

Speaking to the Times in advance of performances in Britain this summer, Streisand said she “absolutely” believed Wade Robson and James Safechuck.

But she said: “You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard say, they were thrilled to be [at Jackson’s Neverland ranch]. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

In the documentary, the two men allege Jackson began grooming them when they were as young as seven and subjected them to sexual abuse. Both men say that as adults they have suffered from depression, self-loathing and anxiety and have struggled with familial relations.

Streisand, 76, said she had “a combination of feelings. I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him. I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him.”

It is widely believed Jackson was verbally and physically abused as a child.

“His sexual needs were his sexual needs,” said Streisand, “coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has.” When she met him, she said, she found him “very sweet, very childlike”. [Ed. I suspect that victims of child sexual abuse might strenuously object to Streisand’s trivialization of the crime committed against them.]

Responding to her outrageous comment was the director of Leaving Neverland, Dan Reed:

“Did you really say that?” On Saturday morning, he added: “‘His sexual needs were his sexual needs’ – is pedophilia tolerated in parts of the entertainment industry?”

Well, it’s pretty much an open secret, so the answer is, disgustingly, yes. (Also see: Hollywood’s shameful history of supporting and defending child rapist Roman Polanski.)

Streisand responded to the backlash without naming Jackson:

…”to be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is OK for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone.”

“The stories these two young men shared were painful to hear, and I feel nothing but sympathy for them. The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children. It’s clear that the parent of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy.”

My God, who has to clarify that child molestation is never, ever justified and is always wrong?? The individual who has just blamed the victim(s) of molestation and justified the gross and unlawful behavior of an adult toward a child, that’s who.

UPDATE: Streisand apologized for her comments this afternoon:

Untitled

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

3/22/2019

DEVELOPING: Mueller Delivers Report to DOJ; Breathless Nation, uh, Watches Basketball [UPDATED]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:25 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Attorney General Barr now has the report from Special Counsel Mueller. Let the grandstanding begin.

This can be an open thread. Feel free to post developments as they emerge.

UPDATE: Fox News reports that Mueller does not recommend any new indictments. That tidbit has been added to the original link in the post.

– JVW

Abuse of Interpol’s Red Notices: It’s Not Just Putin and It’s Not Just Bill Browder

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:13 am



The New York Times has a good piece, the title of which speaks for itself: How Strongmen Turned Interpol Into Their Personal Weapon:

Hakeem al-Araibi thought he had escaped the reach of the Bahraini government when he fled to Australia years ago as a political refugee. But immediately after landing in Thailand for a belated honeymoon last year, Mr. al-Araibi was arrested and scheduled to be sent back to his native country.

Bahrain, which has been accused of torture and other abuses, had used what is known as an Interpol red notice to reach across the world and grab him, despite rules meant to protect refugees.

Abuse of Interpol is not restricted to Russia going after Bill Browder. It is used by countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Venezuela to go after journalists and dissidents.

I guess we still accept that countries can run their internal affairs the way they like. Are we going to invade every country that persecutes free speech? But we don’t have to let those countries use our rule of law institutions to do their dirty work.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/21/2019

Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 am



Biden considering Stacey Abrams? Boring.

Any story with the names Trump or Conway? Nope.

I could write about deeper issues but it takes more time than I have this morning and nobody would read it anyway. Pick one of the topics above or something equally frivolous and go nuts.

3/20/2019

Nick Bostrom on Existential Risk

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am



The latest Sam Harris podcast is a conversation with Nick Bostrom about existential risk:

These are the big issues confronting the human race. I’m reading a great book about the Chernobyl disaster: Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higganbotham. Not limited to an incredibly detailed discussion about Chernobyl, the book also discusses previous Russian nuclear accidents (turns out their reputation for safety was a Soviet myth; go figure.) It’s similar in size, scope, and detail to Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser — a book I’m pretty sure I have mentioned before. The latter book, although ostensibly about a single nuclear weapons accident in Arkansas in the 1980s, contained an encyclopedic categorization of America’s history of nuclear accidents. Among the more salient existential risks to the planet and to our species is the existence of nuclear weapons and the potential damage from accidents involving them. The safety of nuclear reactors, touted by many as bulleproof, is only as reliable as the flawed humans that operate them. Chernobyl easily could have rendered large portions of Europe uninhabitable for a thousand years, if things had gone just a litle differently.

Oh, and then there’s this:

Of the two things I just mentioned — the existential risk of nuclear technology and a super-dopey Donald Trump tweet — which do you think people care about more?

That’s a big part of the problem.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

3/19/2019

Devin Nunes Sues Everyone, Including His Mom*

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:09 am



Devin Nunes has taken the very wise and not at all boneheaded step of filing a whiny lawsuit against Twitter and a bunch of troll accounts:

Stung by obscene and pointed criticism, Representative Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, said he was suing Twitter and three users for defamation, claiming the users smeared him and the platform allowed it to happen because of a political agenda.

The complaint, which Fox News reported was filed in Virginia on Monday, seeks $250 million in damages. In making his case, Mr. Nunes, a loyal ally of President Trump and the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, repeated several common Republican complaints that Twitter has repeatedly denied: that it censors Republicans, “shadow bans” their accounts and actively helps their opponents.

Though absorbing criticism comes with the territory for politicians, the complaint described the objectionable tweets from the three users as something “that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life.”

One of the defendants is Liz Mair, who stands accused of runnning certain troll accounts including one named “Devin Nunes Mom.”

Devin Nunes has always been a national joke. It’s just that, thanks to his own stupid actions, a lot more people are getting it now:

What surprises me about this — although it probably shouldn’t — is that the guy is still on Twitter. Fair warning: if any of you mooks ever sues me for oppressing your precious free speech rights here, guess what the first thing I’m doing is? That’s right: banning you.

But I’m sure the lawyers advised against it: it will just play into his narrative and so forth.

Ah well. This is a perfect example of why I blog less lately. The stories, and the people the stories are about, are self-parodizing. Even as we speak, the President of the United States has taken to social media to call the husband of one of his top communications aides a “total loser” — and all I can think is: ha, won’t it be fun to watch her answer questions about that! Meanwhile the national debt stands at over $22 trillion, we live in a world where nothing is being done about the spread of weapons that could end the human race, and we have apparently lost all popular understanding of the importance of free markets that have lifted millions upon millions out of poverty. But at least we have our bread and circuses, hur hur, and so in the end — well, I’d have a snappy final line, but sorry, I gotta go check Kellyanne’s Twitter feed see ya

*No, Devin Nunes, you litigious dullard, I am not actually saying that you are suing your actual mom.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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