Patterico's Pontifications

2/19/2020

Democratic Debate #212 – Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:31 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Two things: I really don’t have anything great to say about the Democratic yahoos who will be on stage tonight, and I really don’t know how many Democratic debates there have thus far, but it sure seems like there have been 3 too many. Tonight’s debate is coming from Las Vegas, and will air on NBC and MSNBC.

The candidates on stage:

1 – Joe Biden, who came out uh, swinging against Michael Bloomberg’s latest ad:

Meanwhile, Biden’s firewall is reportedly crumbling:

The former vice president has long touted his support among black voters. Earlier this month, the one-time unrivaled front-runner told reporters that “not a single person has won [the Democratic nomination] without overwhelming support from the black community, overwhelming, overwhelming. So here’s the deal… right now I am far and ahead of everybody in the African-American community. It’s the base of the Democratic Party.”

And after two lackluster fourth- and fifth-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively — the two overwhelmingly white states that hold the first contests in the presidential nominating calendar — senior campaign adviser Symone Sanders stressed that “it would be a mistake for anyone to write Biden and our campaign off before people of color have had their say in this election. You know people of color — black folks, Latino voters — are the base of this party.”

But according to an ABC News/Washington Post national poll released Wednesday morning, Biden’s support among black voters plummeted from 51 percent in January to 32 percent this month.

2- Mike Bloomberg, who shares a malfunctioning moral compass with Donald Trump, apologized for his “stop and frisk” policy (conveniently) before he announced his candidacy, and then this week, apologized for it for the first time on the campaign trail. This at the launch for “Mike for Black America” in Houston:

There is one aspect of approach that I deeply regret, the abuse of police practice called stop and frisk. “I defended it, looking back, for too long because I didn’t understand then the unintended pain it was causing to young black and brown families and their kids. I should have acted sooner and faster to stop it. I didn’t, and for that I apologize.

Bloomberg’s camp also warned that if the other candidates didn’t drop out, Bernie Sanders might be unstoppable. They should drop out of the race before Super Tuesday, not him.

3- Pete Buttigieg, who, when recently was presented with the opportunity to publicly condemn infanticide, was unable to make such a judgment, somehow found it within himself to make a judgment about Christians who vote for Trump:

During a Tuesday night CNN town hall, moderator Erin Burnett asked Buttigieg if he thinks it remains impossible for a true Christian to support the president. Before quoting Buttigieg’s previous remarks on the president’s evangelical support, Burnett prefaced her question, “To the point you talk about God not belonging to any kind of a political party … Do you think it is impossible to be a Christian and support President Trump?”

“Well, I’m not going to tell other Christians how to be Christians, but I will say [that] I cannot find any compatibility between the way this president conducts himself and anything that I find in Scripture,” Buttigieg said, to which the audience applauded.

“Now, I guess that’s my interpretation, but I think that’s a lot of people’s interpretation, and that interpretation deserves a voice.”

4- Amy Klobuchar, who you also might know by her Spanish name, Elena, was twice unable to correctly name the President of Mexico this week. Surely that is right up there with not knowing what Aleppo is, right? Further, Klobuchar’s former staff members are still waiting for her mea culpa over the poor treatment they received from her:

You ate lunch with a comb, the story goes, to humiliate a staffer who failed to deliver a fork with your salad. You have not denied throwing things at employees, which raises question about your temperament and self-control, issues that have no place in any executive suite, much less the White House.

Those on either side of her tonight on the debate stage should be prepared…

5- Bernie Sanders, who suffered a heart attack last year and promised full disclosure regarding his medical status, announced that he would not be releasing any more records related to his health. Also, his national press secretary, Briahna Joy Gray, made an on-air false claim that Bloomberg “suffered a heart attack in the past.” She later claimed that she misspoke.

[Ed. There is a report about Bloomberg, Sanders and their health at The Forward, and the title of it made me laugh: Two Old Jews Argue Over Whose Arteries Are Worse”.]

6- Elizabeth Warren, the only faux-Native American in the group, remains a walking-talking hypocrite. The candidate, who has condemned her competitors for “sucking up to billionaires,” is now willing to accept money from billionaire Michael Bloomberg if she is the nominee:

Then:

“I didn’t fund my campaign by sucking up to billionaires and spending 70% of my time on fund raising,” said Warren, repeating a common campaign theme of hers. “I’ve already been to 31 states and Puerto Rico. We now have offices in 30 states and are bringing in volunteers. This is a campaign that’s built for the long haul because it’s a campaign from the heart.”

Now:

Burnett followed up about the issue of billionaires involved in the 2020 election, noting Warren’s comments earlier tonight criticizing the self-funders and PACs. “And you know Mayor Bloomberg is obviously out there now, spending a lot of money and he has said if he’s not the nominee he’s willing to support whoever is.”

“Good!” said Warren.

“If that’s you, would you take his money?” asked Burnett.

“Sure,” replied Warren.

Moreover, Warren, who has nothing but disdain for big money in politics in politics, including super-PACs, now finds herself with a super-PAC supporting her campaign. Does she refuse the money? What, is this your first day in politics?:

Persist PAC, formed on Friday, will begin airing its first ad on Warren’s behalf on Thursday. The super-PAC has booked $796,000 in television and cable time in Nevada, more than twice the $323,000 that Warren’s campaign is spending, according to Advertising Analytics.

Finally, here are the findings of a few top national polls this week, via Axios:

Washington Post-ABC News:

Sanders: 32% (up 9% since January)
Biden: 16% (-16%)
Bloomberg: 14% (+6%)
Warren: 12% (even)
Buttigieg: 8% (+8%)
Klobuchar: 7% (+4%)

NBC News-Wall Street Journal:

Sanders: 27% (even since January)
Biden: 15% (-11%)
Bloomberg: 14% (+5%)
Warren: 14% (-1%)
Buttigieg: 13% (+6%)
Klobuchar: 7% (+2%)

NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist:

Sanders: 31% (up 9% since December)
Bloomberg: 19% (+15%)
Biden: 15% (-9%)
Elizabeth Warren: 12% (-5%)
Amy Klobuchar: 9% (+5%)
Pete Buttigieg: 8% (-5%)

–Dana

Trump Sells Pardon to Father of Donor

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:44 am



Donald J. Trump issued a slew of pardons yesterday, mostly to people whose cases had been showcased on Fox News. There is at least one case, though, in which Trump’s attention may have been focused on something else: the eternal buck.

Paul Pogue, a construction company owner who pleaded guilty to underpaying his taxes by $473,000 and received three years probation, was issued a full pardon and clemency by the president.

According to FEC filings, Pogue’s family has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct contributions and in-kind air travel to the Trump Victory Committee. Beginning in August 2019, Ben Pogue—CEO of Pogue Construction and son of Paul Pogue—and his wife Ashleigh made over $200,000 in contributions to the campaign.

In August alone, Ben Pogue donated $85,000 to Trump Victory while Ashleigh Pogue contributed $50,000 that month. The following month, Ben Pogue made an in-kind air travel contribution of $75,404.40. The couple also made several large donations to the Republican National Committee and each donated $5,600 to Donald Trump for President Inc.

On the day of their first donation to the Trump campaign, Ashleigh posted an Instagram photo of her and her husband posing with Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, at the Hamptons.

Prior to the Pogues’ sudden significant donating spree to Trump and the Republicans, the couple was not seen as big campaign spenders, having donated a few thousand dollars for Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign in 2017 and $5,400 for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s 2016 Republican presidential run.

I bolded the language about the donation to Santorum because oddly enough, Santorum was a big advocate of the pardon, as was a Texas politician to whom Pogue himself had donated:

Among those who advocated for Pogue’s clemency, according to a White House statement, were former Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. When Santorum ran for president in 2016, Pogue was a member of his national finance committee.

In Texas, Pogue gave $10,000 to help Paxton fight felony charges of securities fraud that have shadowed him since taking office in 2015. Paxton has pleaded not guilty and the case has been at a standstill for years. Campaign finance records also show that Pogue has donated to other GOP officeholders in Texas, including former Gov. Rick Perry and state Sen. Angela Paxton, the attorney general’s wife.

Ah well. That’s how politics works: you scratch my back, I scratch yours let you commit crimes and get off scot-free. A similar thing happened recently in Kentucky, when outgoing Trumpist governor Matt Bevin issued a raft of pardons, including a pardon for a murderer whose family had been big donors:

In one case, Bevin pardoned a man convicted of homicide. That man’s family raised more than $20,000 at a political fundraiser to help Bevin pay off a debt owed from his 2015 gubernatorial campaign.

. . . .

Another of Bevin’s pardons was of Patrick Brian Baker, who was convicted in 2017 of murdering Donald Mills and tampering with physical evidence, among other charges.

As the Courier-Journal also reports, Baker’s family “raised $21,500 at a political fundraiser last year to retire debt from Bevin’s 2015 gubernatorial campaign.” Baker’s brother and sister-in-law also donated $4,000 to Bevin campaign, according to a state election finance database, the paper reports.

. . . .

Baker was sentenced to 19 years, but served just two. His sentence was commuted to time served and a pardon only for the charges connected to the conviction.

Baker’s confederates, whose involvement in the crime was far less serious, are still rotting in prison.

[Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie] Steele noted Baker served two years of a 19-year sentence on his conviction for reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a peace officer and tampering with evidence.

Steele, who, like Bevin, is a Republican, also cited the fact that two of Baker’s co-defendants are still in prison.

“What makes Mr. Baker any different than the other two?” he asked.

Well, the families of the other two donated nothing. That’s different, isn’t it?

In Kentucky, top lawmakers called for a special prosecutor to investigate potential corruption by Bevin. The Senate minority leader in Kentucky, a former prosecutor, explained that cash appears to have been the sole reason for Bevin’s pardon of Baker:

McGarvey highlighted the difference in treatment of Baker and the other co-defendants still in jail, adding that “the balance in your bank account cannot determine your access to justice in the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

“The fact that we have someone who was convicted of killing someone in front of his wife at his home who pulled the trigger, but the people who drove him away from that crime are still in jail… it defies any rational explanation how that happens,” McGarvey said.

Oh, there’s a rational explanation, all right. It’s just a corrupt rational explanation.

Meanwhile, Trump’s selling of pardons is a one-day story; a blip on the screen for the most harassed president in American history, if not the most oppressed creature in the entire universe for all time.

2/18/2020

Kevin Williamson on Everyone’s Two Favorite American Socialist Politicians

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:16 pm



[guest post by JVW]

I guess I’m supposed to have the adjective “Democratic” somewhere in the headline, but I can never remember exactly where it goes.

As usual, Kevin Williamson neatly encapsulates the relationship between our adorable but clueless niece and Su Grande Abuelo Blanco. Writing about recent campaign appearances, Mr. Williamson notes the inherent paradox:

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is precisely the sort of campaign surrogate you want, especially if you are Bernie Sanders: She is young, energetic, charismatic, popular (with the people she needs to be popular with, anyway), and, happily, currently ineligible to run for the presidency herself.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is precisely the sort of campaign surrogate you don’t want, especially if you are Bernie Sanders: She is callow, flippant, vain, shallow, and prone to making policy pronouncements that are even battier than your own, and she forgets to mention you at all in the course of making appearances that are in theory on your behalf.

As an example of those “policy pronouncements that are even battier,” he offers the following:

Senator Sanders is a politically and intellectually unserious man — which is nothing new to American presidential politics, of course. But he has been a radical left-wing Froot Loop long enough to know that there are practical limits to public Froot-Loopery. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has not been around long enough to appreciate that fact. Which is why, among Democrats who believe that American law-enforcement agencies are Enemies of the People and that our immigration and border-patrol authorities should be liquidated in order to facilitate the uncontrolled flow of people across open borders, she actually says that American law-enforcement agencies are Enemies of the People and that our immigration and border-patrol authorities should be liquidated in order to facilitate the uncontrolled flow of people across open borders.

Senator Sanders knows better than to say that. He also knows better than to believe it. In the long-ago days of . . . 2016, Senator Sanders riled up the gentlemen in Iowa’s union halls giving frankly nationalist anti-immigration speeches that could have been delivered by Donald Trump. “Open borders,” he insisted, were a billionaires’ scheme, a “Koch brothers proposal” to flood the United States with cheap Latin American labor and thereby undermine the power of the workers and their efforts to “take power.” Somebody has given him the intersectionality talk since then, and he no longer sounds quite so much like Pat Buchanan when he talks about immigration.

There’s more, including the usual Williamsonisms that will get under the skin of the most stalwart fans of President Trump, so do be sure to read it all. She’s going to make an awesome Secretary of the Treasury (or will it be State?) in President Sanders’ second term.

– JVW

If You Think Trump Is a Danger…

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:40 am



…what do you do?

I have no time for a long think piece about it.

I can tell you that life under Democrat rule in California is no picnic.

On the other hand, this seems to me to be a Flight 93 election in reverse. Re-elect Trump and you ratify all the corruption, abuse of the rule of law, nastiness, dumbing down of everything, policy-by-TV, neglect of reading, and above all the placement of the President above the law.

I’m honestly not sure what to do. I’m primarily interested in the thoughts of those who find Trump worrisome.

2/17/2020

Blogiversary

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:48 pm



I started this blog 17 years ago today.

It still exists, largely due to the efforts of JVW and Dana. Other great folks have contributed to it in the past, including DRJ, Karl, JD, and others.

Thanks to them, and to you for reading.

Bloomberg Is (Partially) Right: Federal Housing Policy Did Contribute to the Housing Crisis

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:37 am



A video recently surfaced in which Mike Bloomberg blamed the federal government, and specifically a law called the Community Reinvestment Act, for the housing crisis. He’s (partially) right. It was (partially) responsible for the housing crisis.

You should know that the guy who wrote the law, Robert Kuttner, thinks his own law is not responsible. He has written a piece titled I wrote the law Bloomberg blames for the financial crisis. He’s wrong. Kuttner begins by setting out Bloomberg’s criticism:

Ever since the collapse of subprime mortgages took down the entire economy, the right wing has repeated a simple story: The government compelled banks to lend money to borrowers who were not qualified. When they defaulted on their loans, banks took big losses and the foreclosures cascaded into a general financial crisis.

That story has the cause and effect backward, yet former New York mayor turned presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has embraced it. In a 2008 speech at Georgetown that recently surfaced, he attributed the collapse to “pressure on banks to make loans to everyone.” He defended redlining entire neighborhoods as sound banking practice. As Bloomberg explained it, “Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said, ‘People in these neighborhoods are poor, they’re not going to be able to pay off their mortgages, tell your salesmen, “Don’t go into those areas.” ’ ”

“And then Congress got involved — local elected officials as well — and said, ‘Oh, that’s not fair, these people should be able to get credit.’ . . . Banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn’t as good as you would like,” Bloomberg said.

Everything about that claim is wrong. I should know, because I wrote the law.

“I am biased towards a belief that the law I wrote did not contribute to the financial crisis. Turns out I do not believe it.”

Kuttner rests his defense on the fact that the CRA, which “created an affirmative obligation not to redline and to provide credit without regard to location,” had language that clarified that this obligation was to be met “consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions.” He explains: “We made sure to add that phrase so the legislation would neither pressure banks to make bad loans nor be faulted for doing so.”

What Kuttner ignores is that the language he cites fell by the wayside in practice. There is simply no disputing that the government used the law and similar policies to pressure and in some cases force banks to make loans that Democrat housing officials and the left-leaning media acknowledged carried a higher risk of default. For example, in 2008 Ed Morrissey posted a video in which Clinton’s HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo proudly explained that a lawsuit settlement with a Texas bank would create “affirmative action” by the bank (compelled by the settlement) that would result in the bank taking a “higher risk” on mortgages that would result in a “higher default rate.” I can no longer find the video but here is Morrissey’s transcript of an excerpt:

CUOMO: To take a greater risk on these mortgages, yes. To give families mortgages that they would not have given otherwise, yes.

Q: [unintelligible] … that they would not have given the loans at all?

CUOMO: They would not have qualified but for this affirmative action on the part of the bank, yes.

Q: Are minorities represented in that low and moderate income group?

CUOMO: It is by income, and is it also by minorities? Yes.

CUOMO: With the 2.1 billion, lending that amount in mortgages — which will be a higher risk, and I’m sure there will be a higher default rate on those mortgages than on the rest of the portfolio

This was hardly the only such settlement, and the settlements were of lawsuits brought under the CRA regarding lending practices in CRA Assessment Areas.

Thomas Sowell explains the mentality behind these lawsuits and cites some facts you may not have heard:

A major factor in the housing boom and bust that created the present economic predicament was massive government intervention in the housing market, supposedly to correct discrimination in mortgage lending. How did they know that there was discrimination? Because blacks were turned down for mortgage loans at a higher rate than whites.

It so happens that whites were turned down for mortgage loans at a higher rate than Asian Americans, but that fact seldom made it into the newspaper headlines or the political rhetoric. Nor did either the mainstream media or political leaders mention the fact that black-owned banks turned down black mortgage loan applicants at least as often as white-owned banks did.

There was never the slightest reason to expect the different racial or ethnic groups in the United States to have the same credit ratings or the same behavior or performance in any other way, when both racial and non-racial groups of various sorts have for centuries had radically different patterns of behavior and performance in countries around the world.

The difference between per capita income in Eastern Europe and Western Europe has long been greater than the difference in per capita income between blacks and whites in America.

Sowell explains in another column that the notion that lenders were leaving money on the table that they could make from totally qualified black buyers strains credulity:

[L]enders are in the business of making money, and they don’t much care whose money it is, so long as they get paid.

Politicians, on the other hand, are in the business of getting votes, and they don’t much care whose votes it is — or what they have to say or do in order to get those votes.

It was government intervention in the financial markets, which is now supposed to save the situation, that created the problem in the first place.

Laws and regulations pressured lending institutions to lend to people that they were not lending to, given the economic realities. The Community Reinvestment Act forced them to lend in places where they did not want to send their money, and where neither they nor the politicians wanted to walk.

Now that this whole situation has blown up in everybody’s face, the government intervention that brought on this disaster in the first place is supposed to save the day.

That fact was recognized by none other than top Clinton housing official Henry Cisneros and the well-known right-leaning publication The New York Times, which once wrote: “As the Clinton administration’s top housing official in the mid-1990s, Mr. Cisneros loosened mortgage restrictions so first-time buyers could qualify for loans they could never get before.” The Times goes on to say that as a private developer (but also obviously as a housing official) Cisneros “encouraged the unprepared to buy homes” as “part of a broad national trend with dire economic consequences.” It says Cisneros “reflects often on his role in the debacle” and says I’ve been waiting for someone to put all the blame at my doorstep”:

Mr. Cisneros, 61, had a foot in a number of those worlds. Despite his qualms, he encouraged the unprepared to buy homes — part of a broad national trend with dire economic consequences.

He reflects often on his role in the debacle, he says, which has changed homeownership from something that secured a place in the middle class to something that is ejecting people from it. “I’ve been waiting for someone to put all the blame at my doorstep,” he says lightly, but with a bit of worry, too.

The Times tries to spin some of this by suggesting that Cisneros’s willingness to take blame is related to his private activities. But his reference to “all the blame” seems to make it clear that he is talking about his actions as a housing official rather than as one of a gazillion developers. And the debacle of which he speaks was one clearly set in motion by the federal government’s actions in loosening standards for first-time buyers in an effort to increase home ownership for low-incoming and minority homeowners:

Indeed, Mr. Cisneros says his mistake was not the greed that afflicted many of his counterparts in banking and housing; it was unwavering belief.

It was, he argues, impossible to know in the beginning that the federal push to increase homeownership would end so badly. Once the housing boom got going, he suggests, laws and regulations barely had a chance.

“You think you have a finely tuned instrument that you can use to say: ‘Stop! We’re at 69 percent homeownership. We should not go further. There are people who should remain renters,’ ” he says. “But you really are just given a sledgehammer and an ax. They are blunt tools.

From people dizzily drawing home equity loans out of increasingly valuable houses to banks racking up huge fees, few wanted the party to end.

“I’m not sure you can regulate when we’re talking about an entire nation of 300 million people and this behavior becomes viral,” Mr. Cisneros says.

. . . .

Under Mr. Cisneros, there were small and big changes at HUD, an agency that greased the mortgage wheel for first-time buyers by insuring billions of dollars in loans. Families no longer had to prove they had five years of stable income; three years sufficed.

And in another change championed by the mortgage industry, lenders were allowed to hire their own appraisers rather than rely on a government-selected panel. This saved borrowers money but opened the door for inflated appraisals. (A later HUD inquiry uncovered appraisal fraud that imperiled the federal mortgage insurance fund.)

Now people like Robert Kuttner are trying to whitewash this history, and suggest that greed by banks (which was certainly a factor) was the entire story, and that the federal government’s loosening of standards for minority ownership had no effect.

Was the CRA the whole problem? No. Did it contribute to the housing crisis? Yes.

2/16/2020

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 33

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



It is the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany. Today’s Bach cantata is “Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” (Only upon You, Lord Jesus Christ):

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 5:21-37:

Murder

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

Adultery

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Divorce

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Oaths

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

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

My God, do not toss me away,
although yet daily I overstep Your commandments
before Your face!
Even to keep the littlest of them is much too difficult for
me;
yet, when I pray for nothing more
than Jesus’ aid,
then no struggle of conscience
robs me of confidence;
grant me only out of mercy
true Christian faith!
Then it will establish itself with good fruit
and become active through love.

Grant, that I, out of pure impulses,
love my neighbor as myself;

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

2/15/2020

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:04 am



[guest post by Dana]

Feel free to talk about anything you think is newsworthy or might interest readers.

I’ll start.

First news item:

Unfortunately for Democrats, Michael Avenatti will be unavailable to save them from Trump in 2020. The Holy Spirit, who was puffed and fluffed by Big Media, was found guilty yesterday:

Disgraced lawyer Michael Avenatti, who rose to fame representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump, was found guilty Friday of trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike.

The jury’s decision in U.S. District Court in Manhattan came after a three-week trial for the California lawyer, who faces a statutory maximum of 42 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

Cherry on top of the humble pie:

CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Friday night that he felt “snookered” after learning that lawyer Michael Avenatti was convicted on charges of trying to extort athletic clothing company Nike for millions of dollars.

“I feel kind of snookered, because I took him seriously,” Toobin told CNN anchor Anderson Cooper during a segment about the conviction.

Toobin described the conviction as “total collapse” of Avenatti’s image, and recounted an instance where he was walking with the lawyer in Midtown, Manhattan and “it was like walking with a major, major celebrity.”

“People came up to him,” he said. “It’s like, you know, ‘Go for it! Go get Trump!’ You know, he had this hashtag #Basta. People remember that… I mean, the craziness of this.”

Second news item:

DOJ: We’re dropping McCabe investigation:

The Department of Justice is dropping its criminal investigation of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe without bringing charges, it announced on Friday.

McCabe’s attorneys received a phone call and a letter from the US Attorney’s Office in DC on Friday announcing the declination.

“We write to inform you that, after careful consideration, the Government has decided not to pursue criminal charges against your client, Andrew G. McCabe, arising from the referral” made by the Inspector General’s office to investigate his behavior, the DC US Attorney’s Office wrote. McCabe’s attorneys released the letter on Friday. “Based on the totality of the circumstances and all of the information known to the Government at this time, we consider the matter closed.”

…A White House official said President Donald Trump was angered federal prosecutors’ decision not to pursue charges against McCabe.

Third news item:

More unintended consequences of going green:

A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. First, you need to saw through the lissome fiberglass using a diamond-encrusted industrial saw to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer.

The municipal landfill in Casper, Wyoming, is the final resting place of 870 blades whose days making renewable energy have come to end. The severed fragments look like bleached whale bones nestled against one another.

Tens of thousands of aging blades are coming down from steel towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills. In the U.S. alone, about 8,000 will be removed in each of the next four years. Europe, which has been dealing with the problem longer, has about 3,800 coming down annually through at least 2022, according to BloombergNEF. It’s going to get worse: Most were built more than a decade ago, when installations were less than a fifth of what they are now.

Built to withstand hurricane-force winds, the blades can’t easily be crushed, recycled or repurposed. That’s created an urgent search for alternatives in places that lack wide-open prairies. In the U.S., they go to the handful of landfills that accept them, in Lake Mills, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Casper, where they will be interred in stacks that reach 30 feet under.

Fourth news item:

Will we never be free of her?

Untitled

Fifth news item:

Embracing black patriotism:

Our project, “1776,” puts less of an emphasis on history and more on the question prophetically raised by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the height of his civil rights revolution: “Where do we go from here?” Mindful of the inevitable criticism that his movement was subversive, King made a special effort to ground his historic 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in “a dream as old as the American dream” by repeated references to the nation’s founding documents, including Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” He assured friends and foes alike that his civil rights movement had come not to deny the gospel of the American dream, but to fulfill it.

We must disrupt the long-held stereotypes of black people as helpless bystanders in their own history. We have had entrepreneurs, skilled tradesmen, military officers, inventors, organizers, and many others who responded to adversity by marshaling resources, building local enterprises, and creating jobs. We organized and acted to defeat slavery, segregation, and deprivation, and then we persevered to build businesses that included banks, hotels, small factories, and a black-owned railroad.

In addition to the consequences of slavery, these contributions of black Americans should be at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are. Even in bondage, slaves had agency in various amounts, or to varying degrees, and they acted on it in a variety of ways. Those who prefer to focus on our victimization don’t always want to recognize it, but the ways our ancestors exercised agency in bondage formed the foundation of their successes (or failures) after they were freed.

Sixth news item:

They really need to stop eating their own:

As a bisexual young woman who only came out to her family after the Pulse shooting in case I didn’t survive my own Pride festival, I wanted to break down why the recent surge of articles on Pete’s sexuality are detrimental to the mental health + stability of young LGBTQ+ people…When I came out to my friends sophomore year of high school, I had simultaneously never felt more loved and more alone in my life. Loved because I had been “accepted” by people who loved me but alone because of the lack of queer equality in the US…I cannot imagine being a young, impressionable, LGBTQ+ person right now. Coming to terms with your sexuality as a young person is completely terrifying, and that is without the LITERAL constant barrage of news dissecting someone’s presentation as gay…NEWS FLASH: your “hot takes” on how Pete doesn’t fit your type of gay man are not only homophobic, they reinforce to the closeted youth that it may be THAT much harder for them to find acceptance, to find a support system…Imagine being ready to come out and reading an article saying “because Pete didn’t come out until he was 30 he isn’t the “right gay” or “”Pete doesn’t kiss his husband in public he isn’t really gay””…Imagine what that would do to a young person…They won’t have to imagine it, because it’s happening. It’s happening all around us and our community, and even from inside it…To queer people gatekeeping Pete’s sexuality: I hope you feel ashamed of the message you are sending to your most vulnerable members.

Have a great weekend.

–Dana

2/14/2020

Comrade Sanders Gently Sets Down the Gauntlet

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:18 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont is now the betting favorite to win the nomination as the Democrat candidate for President of the United States, though former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has attracted a great deal of attention from the oddsmakers and is a strong second. (Fun fact: a bookmaking site called betfair Exchange will at this moment give you 24:1 odds if you want to put money down on Hillary Clinton, but you can get astounding 68:1 odds if you want to throw away your money betting on Elizabeth Warren.) In the past few days since New Hampshire we have been following the probabilities posted at FiveThirtyEight.com as to whether or not a Dem candidate will have mustered enough delegates by the time the party convention opens to win the nomination on a first ballot. Right now the site’s green eyeshade guys calculate that there is a 38% chance that no candidate will arrive in Milwaukee with a delegate majority, which exceeds the 35% probability that Comrade Bernard will accomplish the feat (rest of the field so you don’t have to click on the link: Biden 14%, Bloomberg 7%, Buttigieg 4%, Warren 2%, rest of field 0.2% ).

So a really interesting question becomes whether it’s possible that Senator Stalin arrives at the convention with a plurality — but not a majority — of delegates, and the party manages to block his candidacy by ensuring that a candidate who actually registers as a Democrat in non-Presidential election years unifies the rest of the delegates in his or her favor. Appearing on MSNBC (naturally) the other night, the elderly Marxist was asked about this scenario. Rather than declaring blood in the streets, however, he laid down a pretty mild preemptory protestation to the party’s potential for punking his people:

I sort of get where he is coming from, but I can’t help but find it funny that the same people who think that Hillary Clinton is the rightful President because she won the popular vote apparently also believe that a plurality of delegates is just as valid as a majority. If Bernard Sanders is the leading delegate holder at the convention but lacks a majority then it’s really up to him to win over some delegates from his rivals, even if that means having to trim back his allegiance to the magnificent benevolence of socialism, even if that hurts the feelings of our adorably clueless Sandersista niece. If the professional Democrats burn the Bern feelers by conspiring to throw the nomination to one of the other remaining candidates or to a compromise candidate, then maybe Bernard Sanders can reflect upon the folly of expecting to build his sandcastles in someone else’s sandbox.

– JVW

Trump Claims It’s His Right To Intervene In DOJ Criminal Cases

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:01 am



[guest post by Dana]

No doubt Trump seriously believes that he has the right to intervene in any way that he chooses:

President Trump on Friday asserted he has “the legal right” to insert himself into the Justice Department’s handling of criminal cases one day after Attorney General William Barr said the president’s tweets were making his job more difficult.

Trump cited Barr’s comments from an ABC News interview in which the attorney general said Trump had not asked him to take certain action in a criminal case.

“This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!” Trump tweeted.

Barr pushed back:

“I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC News Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas.

When asked if he was prepared for the consequences of criticizing the president – his boss – Barr said “of course” because his job is to run the Justice Department and make decisions on “what I think is the right thing to do.”

“I’m not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody … whether it’s Congress, a newspaper editorial board, or the president,” Barr said. “I’m gonna do what I think is right. And you know … I cannot do my job here at the department with a constant background commentary that undercuts me.”

Additionally:

“Starting a legitimate investigation…that’s the work of the attorney general and the Department of Justice,” Barr said Thursday. “That’s not like, you know, like running commentary from someone on the outside about what we’re doing.”

This interaction comes on the heels of Trump criticizing the sentencing recommendation by proscutors of longtime pal Roger Stone. He referred to it as a “miscarriage of justice”. Interestingly, the Justice Department ended up overruling the recommendation of its own prosecutors.

–Dana

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