Patterico's Pontifications

7/31/2020

Burn Down The GOP In Order To Move Forward?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:28 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Let me point you to Peggy Noonan answering the vexing question of whether burning down the Republican Party is the way for Party to move forward. She doesn’t think so…

The past six months Mr. Trump came up against his own perfect storm, one he could neither exploit nor talk his way past: a pandemic, an economic contraction that will likely produce a lengthy recession, and prolonged, sometimes violent national street protests. If the polls can be trusted, he is on the verge of losing the presidency.

Now various of his foes, in or formerly of his party, want to burn the whole thing down—level the party, salt the earth where it stood, remove Republican senators, replace them with Democrats.

This strikes me as another form of nihilism. It’s bloody-minded and not fully responsible for three reasons.

Noonan then proceeds to lay out her three reasons for not annihilating the Party. In part:

1. The Democratic Party needs the Republican Party, needs it to restrain its excesses and repair what it does that proves injurious. The Republicans need the Democrats, too, for the same reasons.

2. [I]f the Republicans lose the presidency, the House and the Senate in November, the rising progressives of the Democratic Party will be emboldened and present a bill for collection. They’ll push hard for what they want. This will create a runaway train that will encourage bad policy that will damage the nation. Republicans and conservatives used to worry about that kind of thing.

3. Donald Trump is burning himself down. Has no one noticed?

She elaborates:

When the Trump experience is over, the Republican Party will have to be rebuilt. It will have to begin with tens of millions of voters who previously supported Mr. Trump. It will have to decide where it stands, its reason for being. It won’t be enough to repeat old mantras or formulations from 1970 to 2000. It’s 2020. We’re a different country.

A lot is going to have to be rethought. Simple human persuasion will be key.

Rebuilding doesn’t start with fires, purges and lists of those you want ejected from the party.

And she calls out what she sees as the NeverTrump-burn-it-down culprits:

Many if not most of those calling for burning the whole thing down are labeled “Never Trump,” and a lot of them are characterologically quick to point the finger of blame. They’re aiming at Trump supporters in Congress. Some of those lawmakers have abandoned long-held principles to show obeisance to the president and his supporters. Some, as you know if you watched the supposed grilling of tech titans this week, are just idiots.

But Never Trumpers never seem to judge themselves. Many of them, when they were profiting through past identities as Republicans or conservatives, supported or gave strategic cover to the wars that were such a calamity, and attacked those who dissented. Many showed no respect to those anxious about illegal immigration and privately, sometimes publicly, denounced them as bigots. Never Trumpers eloquently decry the vulgarization of politics and say the presidency is lowered by a man like Mr. Trump, and it is. But they invented Sarah Palin and unrelentingly attacked her critics. They often did it in the name of party loyalty.

Some Never Trumpers helped create the conditions that created President Trump. What would be helpful from them now is not pyromaniac fantasies but constructive modesty, even humility.

I honestly don’t have a clue what would be the most effective way for the Republican Party to remake itself after Trump. I don’t know what they stand for anymore and frankly, and I don’t think I would believe anyone in Party leadership claiming that the Party stands for X, Y, and Z. Not after what we’ve seen in the past 3.5 years. Not after the wide embrace of Trump and the subsequent cost to one’s character. Not after leadership has repeatedly provided cover for the President, refused to hold him accountable, and even whitewashed his corruption (when it benefited them). While Trump faces a possible loss in November, do the Republican lawmakers who supported him, compromised their own values and integrity to stay in his good graces, really believe that everything should, or will just go back to “normal” after it’s no longer the party of Trump? Do they think there should be no reckoning?

–Dana

Prosecuting Attorney Will Not Bring Charges Against Former Ferguson Cop

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:29 pm



[guest post by Dana]

After a five month review of the case, it was announced by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell that no charges will be filed against former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson:

The prosecutor for St. Louis County on Thursday said his office will not bring charges against Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson, Mo., police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in an incident that helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement, citing a lack of concrete evidence to charge Wilson criminally in Brown’s 2014 death.

“Although this case represents one of the most significant moments in St. Louis’s history, the question to this office is a simple one: Could we prove beyond a reasonable doubt that when Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, he committed murder or manslaughter under Missouri law? After an independent and in-depth review of the evidence, we cannot prove that he did,” Wesley Bell said in a Thursday news conference, adding that his heart “breaks” for Brown’s parents, who he said had asked him to revisit the case.

“I also want to be clear that our investigation does not exonerate Darren Wilson. The question of whether we can prove a case at trial is different than clearing him of any and all wrongdoing,” said Bell, the county’s first Black prosecutor, who won his 2018 election largely based on voters’ rejection of his predecessor’s handling of the Brown shooting.

Wesley Bell was elected, in great part, because of how his predecessor had handled the Brown case. He campaigned on criminal justice reforms, and fulfilled his campaign promise to reopen the investigation into Brown’s death. In spite of Bell’s decision, he nonetheless believes that Wilson could have avoided killing Brown altogether:

Still, despite his and the DOJ’s findings of no clear evidence of criminal wrongdoing, Bell said that Wilson could have handled the situation differently and avoided killing Brown.

“There are so many points at which Darren Wilson could have handled the situation differently. And if he had, Michael Brown might still be alive. But that is not the question before us. The only question is whether we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred. The answer to that question is no,” Bell said.

Upon hearing the announcement, activist groups in Ferguson went after Bell while offering support to Brown’s parents:

…activist Tory Russell, 36, wearing a T-shirt that said “Wesley Bell doesn’t care about Black people” berated Bell for the decision, calling his office corrupt for hiring “dirty cops” and telling him he wouldn’t get reelected.

“We got Bob McCulloch out only to replace him with the Black Bob McCulloch,” Russell, who is Black, said in an interview after the announcement. “He just dresses nicer. He’s Black. That’s it. That’s what we got. That’s all it is, is injustice. All it is is injustice dressed up in Blackface.”

In a joint statement late Thursday, more than a dozen area social justice and civil rights groups — including Forward Through Ferguson, ArchCity Defenders and Metropolitan Congregations United — said Bell’s decision “unearthed painful memories and reopened still-unhealed wounds.”

”Today, our hearts go out to the family of Michael Brown Jr.,” the statement reads. “We stand in solidarity with Lezley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., who are just days away from six years without their beloved child. We hope that they will be enveloped by a community of love and support to face yet another moment of heartbreak and disappointment.“

Although privately informed by Bell of his decision, Brown’s parents have not made a public statement.

–Dana

Woke Culture Loses One at Trader Joe’s, But It’s Not Dead Everywhere

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Encouraging news from Trader Joe’s:

Trader Joe’s now says it’s not rebranding certain items despite a petition driven by a California teenager calling some products racist.

The grocer dismissed reports it had planned to change the names of international food items like “Trader Jose” and ” Trader Ming’s.”

Trader Joe’s said it disagrees with accusations of racism and said it does not make decisions based on petitions.

In a statement last week, Trader Joe’s said “We make decisions based on what customers purchase, as well as the feedback we receive from our customers and crew members. If we feel there is need for change, we do not hesitate to take action.”

The grocer also said the names of its international foods “show appreciation for other cultures.”

Hooray for normalcy!

But just when I thought society was coming to its senses, I discovered — er, found (“discovered” is problematic, as you’re about to discover) — that woke culture, while reeling from the Trader’s Joe blow, is still here. From Remodelista.com, a site devoted to remodeling, we learn that racist terms in describing homes aren’t limited to the obviously racist and sexist term “master bedroom.” Oh, no. It goes much further:

CNN also compiled a list of words and expressions with racist roots. Among them: cakewalk, peanut gallery, blacklist, and grandfathered in. We’re adding these to our banned words list. And a reader pointed out that using the phrase “we discovered the work of so-and-so” is problematic. You won’t hear that sort of colonialist phrasing from us anymore either.

These are small but important changes. As we learn and reflect, we’ll continue to rethink our word choices. In the meantime, drop us a note in the comments if there are other examples of language with racist, sexist, or otherwise problematic overtones that we should be reconsidering.

“Discovered” is “problematic,” folks. Write it down and add it to the list.

This all reminds me of a Twitter thread I saw recently where someone warned advertisers to reconsider their campaigns, because in this woke era, what sounded fine last week might seem tone deaf this week. Scary enough, how standards change from week to week … but then, someone responded to the guy by saying “tone deaf” was “ableist” and she was offended because she is deaf. The woke scold thanked her, and the replies were filled with people adding a new term to the ban list.

The blind spot in this thinking — sorry, “defect” in this thinking (I know that’s problematic too but cut me some slack, man, I’m trying!) is that when you remove all flair and color from the English language because terms that sounded fine yesterday have suddenly been deemed “problematic” from the point of view of some fanatical scolds, you end up unable to say anything. I believe basic politeness is important, but I don’t feel the need to walk on eggshells to appease unreasonable people.

Well, at least Trader Joe’s understands. Let’s hope their decision signals some resurgence of common sense.

Just … don’t count on it.

7/30/2020

D.C. Circuit Decides to Hear Michael Flynn Case En Banc

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:46 pm



This likely means a reversal. WaPo:

A federal appeals court in Washington will take a second look at a judge’s effort to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed Thursday to revisit U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s plan to examine the politically charged matter, reviving the unusual case testing the limits of the judiciary’s power to check the executive branch.

The court’s brief order set oral arguments for Aug. 11. The decision to rehear the case before a full complement of judges wipes out the June ruling from a three-judge panel that ordered Sullivan to immediately dismiss the case and said Sullivan was wrong to appoint a retired federal judge to argue against the government’s move to undo Flynn’s guilty plea.

Here is the court’s order:

Always trust content from Patterico!

Well, er … maybe not always. After all, I did blow the original call on the panel decision after hearing the oral arguments. Judge Henderson, whom I initially had pegged as a partisan hack, did a bait and switch at oral argument making her sound like a vote to deny Flynn’s petition. The day the decision came out, I acknowledged my poor prediction, and showed that I had learned nothing by turning right around and issuing another one in the very same post:

I should have stayed out of the prediction business with this panel decision, and I should not be making further predictions on the case, but here is my prediction on the case. The full court will stay this order, rehear the case en banc, and reverse the decision.

So far I am two for three, and today’s order (especially the wording of the order) seems like a pretty strong indication that I will go three for three (making my total average three for four, since I blew the panel decision prediction, but a .750 batting average will get you millions in the major leagues. OK, OK, I’ll stop making it about me. No, wait, I need to quote myself just one more time).

On June 24, I wrote a post titled Court Decision Favoring Flynn Is Dishonesty of the Sort We Have Not Seen Since Impeachment, in which took apart Judge Rao’s majority opinion, saying this:

Judge Rao’s opinion is an absolute travesty — a collection of dishonest rhetorical moves that are unworthy of an Article III judge sitting on one of the most prestigious federal appellate courts in the nation. Judge Rao and Judge Henderson should be ashamed of themselves, and I hope they get slapped down by the en banc court as they so richly deserve to be.

I stand by that analysis.

So what about the wording of today’s order suggests a likely reversal?

As I said in a post addressing the crowd who thought Rao’s order was the bee’s knees because SePeRaShuN uV pOwERz, mandamus relief “is obviously not available for technical reasons having to do with who is injured and alternative means of addressing any injury.” And what does the court’s order above ask the parties to focus on? Why, it says this: “The parties should be prepared to address whether there are ‘no other adequate means to attain the relief’ desired.” That is the issue on which the full court will reverse the panel, and it is the same point I identified in June (and it’s not like I’m a legal genius for identifying it; it’s obvious if you have followed this at all).

People need to keep in mind that in the current posture, the court is still addressing a narrow and very clear issue: should the D.C. Circuit have intervened before Judge Sullivan even had a chance to rule? This is an easy question to answer if you’re not blinded by partisanship: of course not! But the resolution to that question does not mean that Judge Sullivan could get away with denying the Government’s motion to dismiss … or even, necessarily, that he is going to try.

All an en banc reversal would mean at this stage is that Judge Sullivan would get a chance to do the job assigned to him under Rule 48(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and determine whether there is an adequate basis to grant leave of court to dismiss the case.

Me, I don’t think there is. I think he should deny the motion. But my view is distinctly in the minority, and I really have no idea what Judge Sullivan will do.

But at this point it seems increasingly clear that it’s going to be up to him in the first instance. And that is a Very Good Thing for the usual application of the rule of law.

Shocker: NBA’s Commitment to Social Justice Not Operative in China [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:21 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Update, 7:30 pm: Somebody is apparently feeling the heat and has gone to CYA mode. Earlier today some intrepid fans discovered that you cannot order a custom NBA jersey from the online Fanatics NBA store with “Free Hong Kong” printed on the back in the name area. After several people began tweeting about this, including Florida Governor Rick Scott and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, the ban was quickly (and quietly) lifted. According to this Fox News report, the NBA is blaming the problem on Fanatics, but given the NBA’s craven nature it’s not hard to imagine that they were behind the original ban.

—- Original Post —-

Today begins the resumption of the NBA regular season after a four-plus month coronavirus shutdown. Last night ESPN let loose with a bombshell report about the mistreatment of basketball prospects in NBA-sponsored youth basketball academies in China. The report does not paint a flattering picture [all bolded emphasis is added by me]:

Long before an October tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters spotlighted the NBA’s complicated relationship with China, the league faced complaints from its own employees over human rights concerns inside an NBA youth-development program in that country, an ESPN investigation has found.

American coaches at three NBA training academies in China told league officials their Chinese partners were physically abusing young players and failing to provide schooling, even though commissioner Adam Silver had said that education would be central to the program, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the complaints.

The NBA ran into myriad problems by opening one of the academies in Xinjiang, a police state in western China where more than a million Uighur Muslims are now held in barbed-wire camps. American coaches were frequently harassed and surveilled in Xinjiang, the sources said. One American coach was detained three times without cause; he and others were unable to obtain housing because of their status as foreigners.

That’s right: the league which believes that pampered millionaires are appropriate figures to instruct us in the intricacies of daily interactions taking place in high-crime areas between law enforcement and members of underserved communities is standing by while business partners from a totalitarian police state physically abuse minors, some of who are from ethnic minorities within China’s borders. Flash back to this past fall when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted out support for dissidents in Hong Kong fighting the repressive policies of Beijing, which caused the communist government to pull NBA games off of state television and ban the sale of Houston Rockets gear within the country. This in turn led to star players such as LeBron James and James Harden criticizing Morey for taking the side of a beleaguered people fighting for freedom, partly because it hurt their ability to sell signature overpriced athletic wear made by low-paid Indonesians working for a grandiose shoe company who also styles themselves as painfully woke.

Now of course those same NBA players and coaches have adopted in toto the agenda of Black Lives Matter, treating fans to pre-approved social justice messages in place of the player’s name on the backs of uniforms, but “Free Hong Kong” and “Uyghurs Have Rights Too” are not among them. Nor is “Hands Off of Young Athletes.”

One American coach who worked for the NBA in China described the project as “a sweat camp for athletes.”

At least two coaches left their positions in response to what they believed was mistreatment of young players.

One requested and received a transfer after watching Chinese coaches strike teenage players, three sources told ESPN. Another American coach left before the end of his contract because he found the lack of education in the academies unconscionable: “I couldn’t continue to show up every day, looking at these kids and knowing they would end up being taxi drivers,” he said.

Not long after the academies opened, multiple coaches complained about the physical abuse and lack of schooling to Greg Stolt, the league’s vice president for international operations for NBA China, and to other league officials in China, the sources said. It was unclear whether the information was passed on to NBA officials in New York, they said. The NBA declined to make Stolt available for comment.

The NBA salivates over the 1.4 billion residents of China, where 150 million of them watch an NBA game at some point over the course of the year. ESPN, who is an NBA broadcast partner and thus has a seat on the league’s board of directors, estimates that the Chinese market provides $5 billion in revenue to the league each season. In addition to the marketing opportunities, NBA teams dream of finding the next Yao Ming, who averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds over a seven-year NBA career and cemented the relationship between the league and the communist dictatorship for good. Indeed, the coaches whom the NBA sent overseas to work these academies report that they were given instructions to be on the lookout for “the next Yao.”

But the NBA would learn the lesson that Apple, Google, and so many other U.S. companies have learned about engaging in commerce in a semi-closed society: business is done on their terms, not yours.

The NBA employees who spoke with ESPN said many of the league’s problems stemmed from the decision to embed the academies in government-run sports facilities. The facilities gave the NBA access to existing infrastructure and elite players, [NBA Chief Operating Officer Mark] Tatum said. But the arrangement put NBA activities under the direction of Chinese officials who selected the players and helped define the training.

“We were basically working for the Chinese government,” one former coach said.

And forget the idea of finding and developing the new Yao. The Chinese government is keeping their most elite young players in government-sponsored basketball academies far away from the American coaches, leaving the NBA to deal primarily with second-tier youth players. Hearing stories of player abuse, heavy surveillance and occasional harassment of U.S. coaches, abandonment of the promise to provide an education for the young athletes, and lack of access to the cream of Chinese youth basketball, and facing bipartisan criticism from Congress about their cozy and subservient relationship with a repressive dictatorship, the NBA has apparently quietly pulled the plug in Xinjiang:

Sometime shortly after Morey’s October tweet, the [Xinjiang] academy webpage was taken down.

Pressed by ESPN, Tatum repeatedly avoided questions on whether the widespread human rights abuses in Xinjiang played a role in closing the academy, instead citing “many factors.”

“My job, our job is not to take a position on every single human rights violation, and I’m not an expert in every human rights situation or violation,” Tatum said. “I’ll tell you what the NBA stands for: The values of the NBA are about respect, are about inclusion, are about diversity. That is what we stand for.”

Nury Turkel, a Uighur American activist who has been heavily involved in lobbying the U.S. government on Uighur rights, told ESPN before the NBA said it had left Xinjiang that he believed the league had been indirectly legitimizing “crimes against humanity.”

One former league employee who worked in China wondered how the NBA, which has been so progressive on issues around Black Lives Matter and moved the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, over a law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates, could operate a training camp amid a Chinese government crackdown that also targeted NBA employees.

“You can’t have it both ways,” the former employee said. “… You can’t be over here in February promoting Black History Month and be over in China, where they’re in reeducation camps and all the people that you’re partnering with are hitting kids.”

Unsurprisingly, in order to avoid embarrassing their Chinese clients the NBA made no announcement about the closure of the Xinjiang academy, and they deny knowledge of the harassment of league coaches even though one of them, Corbin Loubert, confirmed these practices in a tweet to CNN last year. The decision to close the academy appears to have been made on the spur of the moment, not after a period of careful deliberation. Up until the moment the academy was shuttered, an anonymous coach told ESPN, the league was still trying to hire staffers to send to Xianjiang. And as far as I can tell, the other two academies in Zhejiang and Shandong remain open, as does the NBA China office in Shanghi.

Business interests who want to operate in China should carefully consider the ramifications of doing so, and they should have the honesty to reconsider their strategy of hyper-woke marketing at home when they enable brutally repressive regimes in far-flung corners of the world. Just as Apple’s Tim Cook ostentatiously calls for boycotts of U.S. states which don’t conform to the Silicon Valley ethos on sex and gender while simultaneously seeking to sell his product to countries where homosexuality is still illegal and in some cases punishable by death, the NBA needs to think through its abject pandering to the shrillest elements of the wokerati while happily partnering with deep-pocketed police states. I’ve come to expect so little from multi-billion-dollar entertainment conglomerates, but is it too much to ask that “Uyghur Lives Matter” be stenciled on an NBA court once or twice this season?

– JVW

George Bush And His Beautiful Tribute To John Lewis At Today’s Funeral Service

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:12 pm



[guest post by Dana]

He avoids politics, and instead focuses on the full measure of an incredible man who wholeheartedly served the nation, and loved his God:

Listen, John and I had our disagreements, of course. But in the America John Lewis fought for, and the America I believe in, differences of opinions are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action. We the people, including congressmen and presidents, can have differing views on how to perfect our union while sharing the conviction that our nation, however flawed, is at heart a good and noble one.

Amen.

–Dana

Herman Cain Dies of COVID-19

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Herman Cain has died of COVID-19.

After opposing wearing masks:

This is shocking and horrible. His death should not be viewed as just retribution — although I predictably see lefties doing so online — but as the very sad event it is.

That said, while masks are not the be-all and end-all, they do seem to serve an important purpose. I hope this tragic ending to Cain’s life serves as a warning to people now taking the stance he so recently took.

I do not think it will.

UPDATE: As I said on Twitter:

Radical leftists will cheer; radical Trumpists will fail to learn the lesson. Radicalism is a disease, and it kills both bodies and souls.

Trump: “With Universal Mail-In Voting, 2020 Will Be Most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in History”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 7:11 am



[guest post by Dana]

Going all in, I see:

Interestingly, the President’s tweets came right after the latest numbers were reported:

The U.S. economy shrank by a shocking 32.9 percent annual rate in the second quarter—the biggest decrease since record-keeping began. Bloomberg News reports economists had predicted a 34.5 percent slump ahead of Thursday morning’s announcement from the Commerce Department. It’s said to be the biggest hit to the U.S. economy since quarterly records starting being routinely estimated back in 1947. The plummet was the result of dozens of U.S. states going into lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic fanned out across the country; economists have said they expect growth to return for the third quarter, which began at the beginning of July.

New jobless claim figures out Thursday also painted a bleak picture of the U.S. economy, with initial applications last week rising to 1.43 million. The Wall Street Journal reported the new filings appear to show the surge in new infections is slowing the recovery in several states.

The presidential election is now 96 days away.

Psst, President Trump:

3 U.S. Code § 1. Time of appointing electors. The electors of President and Vice President shall be appointed, in each State, on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President.

–Dana

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: As usual, the biggest danger is posed not by the President alone, but by the President if/when supported by a sizable group of committed supporters. If Trump loses, he won’t accept it as the result of a fair election. He’s Trump. He always wins unless he is mistreated in a very very unfair way, maybe the most unfair way anyone has ever heard of.

But “removing him” from office is a simple matter of sending in people with guns to politely escort him out. And he knows that. So he won’t refuse to leave.

Unless…

Unless he whips up a sizable part of the country into believing that the election has been stolen. If that happens, his ability to wreak havoc increases. Just as his ability to wreak havoc in office has always depended on the support of those same people.

And the closer the election is, the better the chance that he can convince people it was stolen.

Hugh Hewitt once wrote a book titled “If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat.” It’s also true that if it’s not close, it’s harder to say the winner cheated.

This is why it’s particularly important to beat Trump badly. Since we know he will claim he was the victim of cheating, the margin has to be decisive, to prevent a sizable majority of the country from believing his claims and rising up with violence to support his claim.

7/29/2020

From Prison to Public Policy: It’s Nice to Have Connections

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:11 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Here’s a news item from last month which escaped my notice. Do you all recall Esteban Nuñez, the son of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez? Patterico wrote about him nearly a decade ago when then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reduced the younger Nuñez’s sentence for manslaughter stemming from his participation in an attack at a San Diego State fraternity party which left a college student dead. The arrangement was unseemly, poorly-considered, and, by the governor’s own admission, a one hand washes the other gift from one politico to another. In many ways it was the perfect capstone to Arnie’s awful second term as governor, and it justly remains a stain on his legacy to this day.

So I was a bit surprised to come across the name Esteban Nuñez while reading through the great CalMatters news site yesterday. After receiving his early parole did Nuñez el hijo vow to live a normal life of quiet contemplation and service to his fellow man, far away from the limelight? Nah, he’s gone into the family business as a lobbyist.

In early March, before the pandemic closed the state Capitol to visitors, Esteban Nuñez led former prisoners through the regal building where his father was once one of California’s most powerful politicians.

He exuded know-how, his shiny loafers clicking across marble floors as they moved toward an elevator. Down a hallway. Into the office of a lawmaker they hoped to convince to grant voting rights to Californians released from prison, but still on parole.

Not long ago, Nuñez himself had been one of them.

Esteban Nuñez is an $80,000 per year policy director for a nonprofit group called Cut50, which is a celebrity-driven organization largely funded by the usual cast of Hollywood activists and leftist or libertarian foundations such as George Soros’ Open Society, the ACLU, the Charles Koch Foundation, Abigail Disney, the Ford Foundation, and others. It was on behalf of Cut50 that Kim Kardashian visited the Trump White House and lobbied Jared Kushner who has become the administration’s most notable advocate for sentencing reform and leniency.

Most recently, the younger Nuñez has devoted his attention to two reform-related items: securing the release of inmates at California prisons which have seen COVID-19 outbreaks and restoring voting rights for felons. According to CalMatters, Cut50 and their well-connected policy director have a Bernard Sanders/Kamala Harris-like belief that even incarcerated felons ought to be allowed to vote, though Cut50 acknowledge that controversial idea is still an uphill struggle and have thus shifted attention towards accelerating the process by which paroled felons can have their voting rights restored.

One person who will never be able to vote again is Luis Santos, the young man killed in the fight started by the younger Nuñez and his friends. Mr. Santos died on the scene from a knife laceration to his heart, and the father of one of the surviving victims of the Nuñez party’s attack strongly rebuts the claim that the knife-wielding assailants acted in self-defense. Indeed, after two members of the party cut plea deals requiring them to testify against Esteban Nuñez and fellow-stabber Ryan Jett, who is believed to have delivered the fatal blow to Mr. Santos’ heart, the Assembly Speaker’s son and his associate were forced to cop to a manslaughter charge or else face a murder sentence which could have brought them 25 years incarceration. Esteban Nuñez was released from prison in April 2016 after serving six years, and his parole period ended fifteen months ago after lasting three years. Mr. Jett, who had a prior conviction and whose sentence was not commuted by Gov. Schwarzenegger, is serving time in Valley State Prison and is eligible for parole next month.

Navigating a fairly fraught path, Esteban Nuñez strives to express remorse for the death of Mr. Santos while at the same time still failing to take complete responsibility for it. He also seeks to paint himself as a victim of an allegedly oppressive prison atmosphere which targeted him for his status:

At Mule Creek State Prison east of Sacramento, Nuñez was focused on survival. The young man who had once dined with his family at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s home was now a prison cook making 16 cents an hour.

“Everybody knew my father was a politician,” Nuñez said. “For people inside, it was like I had a life that I squandered away, which I understand and respect. And for correctional officers, I think it was like, ‘Oh, you’re in our house now. Let me show you how it goes down in here.’

“I think there was just a lot of desire to humble me.”

In contrast to Mr. Nuñez’s recollection, Bruce Henderson, the father of stabbing survivor Evan Henderson, reports that while at Mule Creek State Prison the politician’s son was “transferred to a ‘sensitive-needs’ unit after the Nunez family sent to the warden’s assistant a new Kindle, which was later returned.” Esteban Nuñez expresses a desire to “someday” apologize to the Santos family, and the CalMatters article suggests that he makes monthly restitution payments to them from his $80k lobbyist salary.

I would have a lot more respect for Esteban Nuñez had he become an engineer (he initially studied mechanical engineering upon leaving prison), a teacher, a salesman, a prison counselor, or any number of occupations that lack the taint of a well-connected Sacramento insider. Instead he has become a lobbyist, and no matter how much he tries to spin this as “giving back” or “trying to effect positive change” in the criminal justice system, I can’t help but see this as yet another offspring of the band of criminals who runs the Golden State making an undeserved living from family connections. Once Cut50 gets all of their agenda enacted — and make no mistake: in the post-George Floyd world a left-wing state like California will enact pretty much every item of criminal justice reform that Cut50 demands — don’t be too surprised if the younger Nuñez moves into the well-heeled boutique lobbying firm where his dad is currently a partner.

Speaking of fathers, let’s let Luis Santos’ father have the last word on what society “owes” the killers of his son:

“I don’t think people that committed violent crimes should be allowed to vote,” Fred Santos said. “Because they violated other citizens’ rights, they should not have their rights.”

Santos, a Bay Area software engineer, is resentful that Nuñez is trying to earn more rights for criminals while he and his wife still grieve for their son. The family visits Luis’ grave several times a year, Santos said, on Christmas, Valentine’s Day, his birthday and the anniversary of his murder. They return at the start of every football and basketball season to adorn the gravesite for Luis’ favorite teams: black and silver for the Raiders, blue and gold for the Warriors.

“People get together and talk to their children; we go to the cemetery and put flowers and decorate,” Santos said. “That’s as much as we can do.”

– JVW

Politician Suggests That Wearing Face Mask May Have Caused Him To Test Positive For Coronavirus (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:05 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Hoo-boy. Mask naysayer politician tests positive:

Rep. Louie Gohmert — a Tyler Republican who peddled a nonexistent disinfectant for COVID-19 in April and is often spotted in the U.S. Capitol without a mask — has tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing him to miss a flight to West Texas aboard Air Force One.

Gohmert, 66, was scheduled to fly Wednesday morning with President Donald Trump for a fundraiser in Odessa and a speech on energy policy in Midland. He tested positive for COVID-19 at the White House pre-screening, he confirmed in a tweeted video from his Capitol Hill office.

“It’s really ironic because a lot of people have made a big deal out of my not wearing a mask a lot, but in the last week or two, I have worn a mask more than I have in the whole last four months,” he told Tyler local television station KETK in a Wednesday interview he also filmed from his Capitol Hill office.

Gohmert now wonders if it was because he wore a mask, that he now has the virus:

Moving the mask around, get it just right, I was bound to put some virus on the mask that soaked in…

So in other words, he was touching his face with unwashed hands. Some big no-no’s right there… Wearing a mask wasn’t the problem. It’s what Gohmert chose to do after the mask was in place. And what he chose to do after the mask was in place is what we’ve been cautioned not to do.

Anyway, look who Gohmert was in maskless contact with just yesterday:

One would think that any number of individuals present at yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, including AG Barr, will now be self-quarantining for the next two weeks…

Coronavirus is bringing out the crazy: Yesterday it was sex demons. Today it’s mask-wearing might be causing people to become infected. One shudders to consider what tomorrow may bring.

UPDATE: This is just damning:

–Dana

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