The Jury Talks Back

12/10/2017

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 30, Part 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:15 am

It is the second Sunday in Advent, and the title of today’s cantata is “Freue dich, erlöste Schar” (Rejoice, redeemed flock), Part 1.

Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The text of today’s cantata is available here. It contains this passage:

The herald comes and announces the King,
he calls; therefore do not delay
and arouse yourselves
with a hasty gait,
hurry after this voice!
It shows the way, it shows the light,
by which that blessed pasture
we shall surely behold one day.

Happy listening!

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

12/9/2017

The Shooting of Daniel Shaver: The Law Enforcement Perspective

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 4:30 pm

On Thursday, an Arizona jury acquitted Philip Brailsford of murder and manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daniel Shaver. The online reaction has been that it was a “murder” and that the jury was insanely wrong.

I’m not so sure about that. Maybe that view is right. Maybe it’s not.

Many pieces ask you to make your initial judgment by showing you a video with very little additional context. I’m going to take a little different approach, and give you the context that the police officers were facing before I give you the video to watch.

The shooting occurred after police were called to a Mesa La Quinta Inn & Suites on a report of a person pointing a gun out a fifth-floor window. A couple in a hotel hot tub told staff they saw a silhouette with a gun pointed toward a nearby highway.

. . . .

Police later learned Shaver had been showing his pellet gun to Monique Portillo and Luis Nuñez, two hotel guests Shaver had met earlier that night. Both testified Shaver had been playing with the pellet gun near his hotel room window.

Shaver turned out to be unarmed when he was shot, but police did find the pellet gun inside the room.

Before I show you the events leading up to the shooting and the shooting, I am going to show you the very end of the video after the shooting — because it gives you some perspective on where the hotel room was:

You can see that the room is just beyond where they had Shaver initially lie on the ground. If they simply walked up to him and cuffed him, as many have suggested they should have done, they would have spent extra time in front of the door, where a gunman with a long gun could be just behind the door, waiting to shoot them.

Now, with that context, let’s watch the video. I warn you: it’s disturbing. Not just because of the shooting that happens at the end, but also because of the angry, contradictory, absurd commands barked by a sergeant at the scene. Critical to understand is that the shooter is not the person barking the idiotic commands. The voice you hear is that of a sergeant — the supervisor of the shooter. Here’s the video:

I am going to sum up my position on this in a nutshell, right up front, so there can be no mistake about what my views are:

  • 1) I believe this was an avoidable tragedy.
  • 2) The police officer’s instructions were absurd and contradictory.
  • 3) The video is infuriating because much of the time it’s impossible to guess what the cop actually wanted Shaver to do.
  • 4) Shaver’s reaching for his waist was a fatal mistake.
  • 5) The cop who shot Shaver was probably really scared.
  • 6) Whether this shooting was criminal or justified is a decision for a jury that has all the evidence. You can’t make up your mind based on this single video. You need more facts.

It’s points 4 through 6 that upset people the most, and therefore those are the points I plan to spend the most time on. That’s not because those points are the most important to me. It’s because I think I can offer the most value by discussing those points. You probably already feel points 1 through 3 in your gut. It doesn’t take a lot of discussion to explain these points, but I’ll start with them anyway.

One cannot “crawl” with their hands in the air. One cannot easily crawl with their legs crossed. It is impossible to “crawl” with your legs crossed and with your hands in the air. These have to be some of the stupidest instructions ever given to a suspect.

When a cop 1) screams orders at you at gunpoint, 2) screams also that you that you will be killed if you make a mistake, and then 3) gives you contradictory instructions, what in the hell are you supposed to do? Not everyone handles that situation as calmly as the old man did in Raising Arizona:

A good part of the reason people are upset by this is that they put themselves in Shaver’s position, and they imagine an angry cop barking contradictory orders at them . . . and they wonder: what would I have done in that situation? What would I have done when some cretin screams at me to crawl with my legs crossed? What would I have done when someone told me to crawl with my legs crossed with my hands in the air?

It’s insane. These ridiculous orders, and the cop’s tone, escalated the situation and made the shooting a thousand times more likely. The sergeant has no business being a police officer.

OK, now here comes the part you aren’t going to like. Shaver made a mistake putting his hands behind him without being instructed to. Thirty seconds later, he made a fatal mistake reaching for his waistband when he had been specifically told not to do that.

So, was it murder or was it justified? I don’t know. I didn’t see the trial. To me, the video alone is not necessarily enough. You need full context — the kind of context that you lack, because you did not see the trial.

You did see him reaching for his waistband, right?

I’ll take you through those actions in detail at the end of the post, with clips and screenshots of the orders Shaver was given and how he defies them. But first, let’s get some more context.

IMPORTANT NOTE THAT MANY WILL IGNORE: Please don’t tell me that I am “excusing” or “justifying” the shooting in the following discussion. It’s possible that a rational jury could find the shooter guilty of manslaughter or murder. That is not something I would say if I were “excusing” or “justifying” the shooting. I know that people love to get upset about things on the Internet and then unload on someone who they believe disagrees with them — and this is even more satisfying and cathartic if you can convince yourself that your opponent is simply evil. But it would be dishonest in the extreme to tell me that I am justifying this when I have repeatedly explained that I am not. So if you want to feel that frisson of self-righteousness that accompanies the act of telling off a jerk, find someone else who has no doubts about, or criticism of, the cops’ actions here. I do have doubts about, and criticism of, the police actions here.

A TRULY BAD OFFICER-INVOLVED SHOOTING

I’d like to start out the discussion with an example of an undeniably bad officer-involved shooting, by way of contrast. Here’s a video from 2016 in which an officer responded to a call of a man harassing people outside a convenience store. The officer sees a man fitting the description — or so he thinks — and confronts the man, who seems calm but continues to go about his business. Well, of course! He’s minding his own business talking on the phone! Why should he have to stop what he is doing just because some officer is yelling at him? The officer starts to freak out about the fact that the guy won’t take his hands out of his pockets, even though nobody ever said the man at the convenience store was armed. What happened next is an object lesson in how police officers get carried away at the slightest “false move.” There is about a minute of video here, and I warn you that it ends in a shooting:

OK, my description of the video was deliberately misleading — for a reason. I wanted you to view the video using the assumption that the man being stopped by the police officer was non-aggressive — so that you could actually feel, emotionally, in your gut, how someone who doesn’t appear to be presenting much of a threat can turn deadly in a heartbeat. Every police officer knows this, which is why their jobs are so dangerous and why their wives worry each time they leave the house that they might never come back.

There are plenty of other videos you can find online where people look normal one second and are shooting the next. So when cops think you may have a gun they do not want you to reach for your waistband — and if you do, it’s not good.

BUT HE WAS SOBBING! LOOK AT THE CONTEXT!

I have also had people tell me that the fact that the guy seemed “compliant” means he was not a threat. That we have to look at the context.

I’m happy to look at the context. That’s why I started the post by looking at what the officers believed they were responding to: a report of a man pointing a long gun out a hotel room window towards a highway.

Obviously he didn’t have a long gun on him. But that means another man with a long gun might still be in the hotel room. That is almost surely why they didn’t just walk up to him and cuff him. They wanted to minimize the time of exposure to a possible gunman behind the door.

Also, someone pointing a long gun out of a window in a hotel room might also have a handgun in his waistband.

Context can change. If you want to talk context, here’s a video of a traffic stop in which the motorist is dancing and cursing. Watch about 23 seconds, ending with the motorist dancing:

Ha ha! What a funny old man! It’s so comically absurd that it almost looks like one of those parody videos where the cop is doing field sobriety tests:

But the dancing motorist in the non-parody video turns out to be aggressive, showing you that context matters, but context can change on a dime. If you have a couple of minutes, watch the rest of the video with the dancing motorist. What happens is no parody. It was very real:

For better and for worse, that video is shown in police academies across the country as an example of what can happen to a police officer when he hesitates:

Experts and activists keep calling for de-escalation training, less-lethal force, anything to stop an officer’s bullet from taking flight. But a beanbag shotgun won’t fit on a utility belt. A baton has very short range. Pepper spray can blow back in your face. A Taser might not work on a suspect in a heavy coat. And in a nation with nearly as many guns as people, the Kyle Dinkheller video tells officers there could be a time when pulling the trigger is the only way.

“It has saved innumerable officers’ lives, in my opinion,” Ron Barber said.

Kirk Dinkheller believes the same thing, which is why he regularly visits police academies to expound on its lessons. He says several officers have approached him over the years and told him the video saved their lives. Its full effect is impossible to calculate. Many thousands of officers have seen it, and they’ve been in innumerable tense situations, and perhaps in some of those situations the video has made them a little quicker to fire. Is this a good thing? That is also unknowable. The line between firing too slowly and too quickly can be very, very thin.

Again, I am not comparing this man’s actions to Shaver’s actions. Instead, my point is that a dancing man turned violent. If the police officer had fired at the guy when he went back towards his truck, people would have said: how could he shoot a guy who just moments before was dancing around like a clown? In context, isn’t he obviously comical and harmless? Maybe. But context can change.

ONE VIDEO FROM ONE CAMERA ANGLE CAN BE MISLEADING

Another issue is that a single camera angle does not always tell the whole story. Here is a 26-second clip of police shooting an unarmed man in the back. It’s all caught on video:

This really happened. The man was unarmed. He was shot in the back. What was the cops’ lame story this time, to justify their cold-blooded execution? Get this: the cops said that the man had a cell phone. They gave him orders to drop it and he refused, instead repeatedly pointing it at them like it was a gun. Why, they had to shoot him!

That’s obviously a load of horse excrement, right? First of all, who points a cell phone at cops like it’s a gun? Second of all, it’s all caught on tape. You just watched the cold-blooded, first-degree-murder execution of an unarmed man. The cops aren’t just murderers; they’re liars, undone by the cold hard evidence of the dashcam.

There is no excuse for this, right? Verdict of Twitter court: convicted! Next case!

Except . . . there is a second angle:

How about that? Turns out he was indeed pointing the cell phone precisely like a gun, as you can see in this screenshot from 11 seconds into angle 2:

Angle 2 Screenshot 1

There is a police officer off to the left when he points the phone. I’m shocked that they didn’t shoot him then and there, but it probably has to do with reaction time and the fact that he stops pointing it. At that point, though, running through the officers’ minds as the man walks away are two things: 1) this guy has a gun and 2) he just pointed this gun at an officer. So when he suddenly spins around and seems to point it again, as he does here, 17 seconds in to camera angle 2, that’s all it takes to get them to open fire:

Angle 2 Screenshot 2

Again, due to reaction time, they’re not firing until he has again turned his back. Things don’t happen instantaneously in real life. You have to process visual cues and react.

Again: my point here is not to compare the actions of this individual to Shaver’s actions, or to suggest the facts are comparable in any way. The only reason I am presenting this example is to illustrate — I think pretty effectively — that a single camera angle doesn’t always show everything.

But what more do we need to know from the Shaver video? You could say the same thing about what you just watched, after watching the first video. What else did we need to see there? We didn’t know until we saw the second video, did we? The point is, one angle doesn’t always show everything.

LOOKING CLOSELY AT THE SHAVER SHOOTING

And now, with that context, let’s look at the critical moments when Shaver defies instructions and makes suspicious motions with his hands. Watch this 11-second clip from about 30 seconds or so before the shooting. Shaver puts his hands behind his back — where a gun could be in his waistband:

Nobody shoots him at that moment, but the cop explicitly tells him that if he does that again, he will be shot. He repeats the warning in this six-second clip:

COP: Your hands go into the small of your back or down, we are going to shoot you. Do you understand me?

SHAVER: Yes, sir.

And then Shaver reaches towards his right waistband in this two-second clip:

Here are a couple of screenshots:

Shaver reaching for his waistband:

Shaver Reaches for Waistband 1

And here he is coming down from the reach:

Shaver Reaches for Waistband 2

Is there anything in his hand? We know now that there wasn’t, but look closely. Are you willing to risk your life that this guy who just defied instructions not to reach for his back didn’t just get a gun?

Watch those two seconds again:

A detective testified during the trial that Shaver may have been going to pull up his pants. That is possible — and if that’s what happened, it compounds the tragedy. But a police officer who sees a man going for his waistband in contravention of lawful instructions has a difficult decision to make. I’m guessing the jury understood that.

THE LAW

In Twitter Court, the unwritten instructions for determining whether a killing is murder or manslaughter go a little something like this:

  • First-degree murder: killing that makes you super-upset
  • Second-degree murder: killing that makes you pretty damned upset
  • Manslaughter: killing that upsets you, but not as much as other killings do

In real court, a jury is read actual instructions that come from actual statutes passed by legislatures.

What is the law of murder in Arizona? I don’t know, and I’m not going to try to give a definitive view based on quick Internet research. My recent experience with people trying to explain the law of murder in California to me, based on quick visits to Web sites run by criminal defense attorneys, reinforces my belief that it’s easy to reach a false belief that you understand the law based on Googling it. I’m happy to discuss how California law would treat a case like this, but I can’t tell you how the Arizona jury was instructed, because every state’s law is potentially different.

In California the decision between murder and manslaughter is based on whether there was actual honest fear. The decision between manslaughter and an acquittal is based on whether that fear is reasonable. Someone who kills out of an honest belief that they needed to use deadly force is not guilty of murder. But if their response was unreasonable, they are guilty of manslaughter. It’s called “imperfect self-defense.” If their response was reasonable, it’s a not guilty.

I’m not sure if this is the law in Arizona. The doctrine of “imperfect self-defense” might not be available in Arizona. Apparently Brailsford was also acquitted of something called “reckless manslaughter.” How an honest but unreasonable use of force is analyzed under these laws, I am not even going to try to guess.

APPLYING THE LAW: SEEING IT FROM THE OFFICERS’ POINT OF VIEW

So was the jury wrong? I don’t know, because I didn’t see the trial. Based on what I know, I think the range of reasonable outcomes included a not guilty.

You’re probably recoiling against that conclusion. I think part of the reason might be that the jury explicitly has to look at the point of view of the shooter to make its decision. And that is a very difficult for most people to do in this case. Judging from my interactions with people on Twitter last night, any attempt I made to get people to understand the situation from the perspective of police officers was quickly turned around to viewing it from Shaver’s point of view.

I can see this situation from both sides.

I can imagine what it’s like to be in the position of the guy who was shot. I speak from some personal experience here, as someone who has had police officers point loaded guns at me twice — once as a teenager and once as an adult. (I did nothing wrong either time and each resulted from a misunderstanding that was quickly resolved.) I know what it’s like to be in that situation, and I can easily put myself in the decedent’s situation. I think just about anyone who watched the video can easily empathize with the plight of the decedent, desperately trying to follow the contradictory barked orders of an angry police officer.

I get it. From Shaver’s point of view, he is trying his best to follow absurd contradictory instructions.

But I can also put myself in the shoes of the police officers. And from the officers’ point of view, he reaches towards his back twice. It’s not five minutes of pure compliance, as I have seen many argue on Twitter. They’re responding to a call of a man with a gun. The guy has already reached towards his back once. He’s been told not to do it again.

If you honestly think this police officer shot while feeling no fear, it’s murder. Many point to the fact that the shooting officer etched “You’re f*cked” into the dust cover of the weapon that was used — a fact the jury was not allowed to hear. But even with that fact, the notion that the cop shot for the fun of it just seems like a wacky conclusion to me. The woman was not shot, and Shaver wasn’t shot until he reached for his waist..

Brailsford may have been too quick on the trigger. He may have acted unreasonably. But I think it’s ridiculous to believe that he shot a man on video for giggles.

So it comes down to a judgment whether the force was reasonable. The jury decided it was. As someone who did not see the trial, I can’t say for sure they were wrong.

Keep in mind: this shooting happened in 2016, long before Stephen Paddock opened fire from a Mandalay Bay hotel room, killing 58 people and wounding 546. But the jurors who heard this case — who heard that the cops were responding to a report of a man pointing a long gun out a hotel window — those jurors knew about Stephen Paddock.

Although the Vegas shooting had not happened yet, others had. And such shootings were on the cops’ mind. One police officer who didn’t shoot because he did not perceive an imminent threat said as much in the trial:

Mesa Police officer Brian Elmore testified Tuesday in a former colleague’s murder trial that he didn’t shoot at an unarmed Texas man because he didn’t see an imminent threat.

. . . .

At a time when active shooters situations have become more common, such tragedies were in Elmore’s mind when he responded to the call, the officer testified.

“I did think about some high-profile situations going on around the country,” he told the jury.

And in a devastating answer for the prosecution, he said he might have fired had he been in Brailsford’s position:

Still, he said, he didn’t shoot because he didn’t see the same threat as Brailsford, who was standing on the left side of Shaver several feet away when officers encountered him.

Piccarreta asked Elmore if he had been standing where Brailsford was standing, would he have shot Shaver.

“It’s possible,” Elmore responded.

In summary, the tactics here were terrible. The instructions were absurd and confusing. The sergeant who barked out the instructions probably created the atmosphere that made the tragedy possible.

But Shaver should never, ever have reached for his waistband. That action probably caused a genuine fear on the part of the police officer who shot him. Might a jury find that fear, and his actions in response, reasonable? Apparently they did. Was that verdict necessarily irrational? I can’t say for sure that it was.

One final thought: thank God Shaver was white, huh? Had he been black, there would be marches and riots. People might die as a result. If this is truly the worst police shooting people have ever seen, let’s remember that it happened to a white guy, and not assume that every police shooting is motivated by race.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

12/8/2017

Moore Accuser Says She Made Notes Underneath Roy Moore’s Signature In Her Yearbook

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 12:10 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Hoo-boy. Beverly Young Nelson, who has alleged that Roy Moore assaulted her when she was 16, was interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America today. During the interview she was asked about what she claims is Roy Moore’s signature in her high school yearbook:

“Beverly, he signed your yearbook?” ABC News reporter Tom Llamas asked.

“He did sign it,” Nelson replied.

“And you made some notes underneath?” Llamas followed up.

“Yes,” she answered.

Here is the yearbook signature:

Untitled

During a press conference last month with her attorney, Gloria Allred, Nelson said that when Moore spotted her yearbook on the counter at the restaurant where she was working and which he regularly frequented, he asked her if he could sign it. She agreed. The yearbook signature was presented by Nelson and Allred as connecting Moore to Nelson at the time of the alleged incident.

After that press conference, Moore’s attorney, Phillip Jarequi responded by asking, “Do you still hold that everything written in that yearbook was written by Judge Moore? Or was it written by somebody else? That’s not an allegation, it’s a question.” He followed up with a request that the yearbook be turned over to a neutral third-party for examination. Allred declined the request, and explained that she would be happy to hand it over to a neutral third-party on the condition that a Select Committee on Ethics open an investigation into Moore.

It’s surprising that someone with the extensive experience that Allred has in these matters, was not transparent about the distinction between the inscription and notes underneath it at the time of the press conference. Perhaps she didn’t know. But, if she didn’t know, then to what level of ineptitude on her part does that speak? And if Allred didn’t know about Nelson adding the notes, why wasn’t due diligence done by the attorney so that she did know? One last thing, I would like to know at what point Nelson added her notes.

It’s good to bear in mind that because Nelson has admitted that she added the notes, does not mean that her claims of assault by Moore are untrue. However, it does undermine her credibility. And unfortunately, it will have a ripple effect with other victims. One last thing, I would like to know at what point in time Nelson added her notes.

Allred is reportedly holding a news conference later today in which she will present evidence to support her client’s claims.

–Dana

Roy Moore: America Was Last Great When We Had Slavery

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

Roy Moore has a long and rich history of crazy quotes, and this is another nugget from the past that got little attention until recently. Moore was asked (by a black person) when America was last great, and his answer (at least as reported by a leftist rag) suggested that his answer was: those glorious days of slavery.

In response to a question from one of the only African Americans in the audience — who asked when Moore thought America was last “great” — Moore acknowledged the nation’s history of racial divisions, but said: “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another…. Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”

At the same event, Moore referred to Native Americans and Asian Americans as “reds and yellows,” and earlier this year he suggested the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were divine punishment.

I have a long and well-documented history of distrusting the Los Angeles Times, and this quote is a) truncated, b) not presented in full context, and c) unaccompanied by any video I could find. (If you can find video, let me know.) But on the other hand, Roy Moore also has a documented history of saying boneheaded things in a blatant attempt to appeal to small-minded bigots, which makes it more difficult to reject this as #FAKENEWS.

If you’re already a Moore supporter, you’ll say the L.A. Times made it up, or you’ll find a way to spin it. If you’re not, you’re likely just shaking your head at this. It is interesting, though, as a marker for how times have changed. As John Podhoretz notes:

America — or at least the Republican party — is different in the era of Donald Trump. God bless the UnididStatesh.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

ICYMI: Amazon Widget Back on Sidebar

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:38 am

First it was there. Then it was gone.

Then it was there again. Then it was gone again.

Now it’s there yet again. Hopefully, it will be allowed to stay.

More details about the saga in the future. For now, I am just reminding people who are out of the habit of using the widget to get back in the habit!

12/7/2017

Republican Congressman Resigns

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 5:32 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Republican Trent Franks announced his resignation, effective Jan. 31. Here is a portion of his statement:

Given the nature of numerous allegations and reports across America in recent weeks, I want to first make one thing completely clear. I have absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.

My wife and I have long struggled with infertility. We experienced three miscarriages.

We pursued adoption on more than one occasion only to have the adoptive mothers in each case change their mind prior to giving birth.

A wonderful and loving lady, to whom we will be forever grateful, acted as a gestational surrogate for our twins and was able to carry them successfully to live birth. The process by which they were conceived was a pro-life approach that did not discard or throw away any embryos.

My son and daughter are unspeakable gifts of God that have brought us our greatest earthly happiness in the 37 years we have been married.

When our twins were approximately 3 years old, we made a second attempt with a second surrogate who was also not genetically related to the child. Sadly, that pregnancy also resulted in miscarriage.

We continued to have a desire to have at least one additional sibling, for which our children had made repeated requests.

Due to my familiarity and experience with the process of surrogacy, I clearly became insensitive as to how the discussion of such an intensely personal topic might affect others.

I have recently learned that the Ethics Committee is reviewing an inquiry regarding my discussion of surrogacy with two previous female subordinates, making each feel uncomfortable. I deeply regret that my discussion of this option and process in the workplace caused distress.

We are in an unusual moment in history – there is collective focus on a very important problem of justice and sexual impropriety. It is so important that we get this right for everyone, especially for victims.

But in the midst of this current cultural and media climate, I am deeply convinced I would be unable to complete a fair House Ethics investigation before distorted and sensationalized versions of this story would put me, my family, my staff, and my noble colleagues in the House of Representatives through hyperbolized public excoriation. Rather than allow a sensationalized trial by media damage those things I love most, this morning I notified House leadership that I will be leaving Congress as of January 31st, 2018. It is with the greatest sadness, that for the sake of the causes I deeply love, I must now step back from the battle I have spent over three decades fighting. I hope my resignation will remain distinct from the great gains we have made. My time in Congress serving my constituents, America and the Constitution is and will remain one of God’s greatest gift to me in life.

Apparently, Franks had been the subject of rumors for a number of years:

One Arizona Republican said there had been rumors of inappropriate behavior. The Republican said the congressman had apparently been making plans to run for Senate in 2012, but abruptly canceled those plans.

“There’s been rumors swirling around him for years, at least in 2012,” the Republican said. “And if this turns out to be true, there won’t be that many people who are surprised.”

Given the very personal nature of the statement, my thoughts are with Mrs. Franks and their Franks’ adult children. This can’t be easy for them.

–Dana

Sen. Al Franken Announces His Upcoming Resignation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 10:43 am

[guest post by Dana]

This morning, facing political pressure from his own party, Sen. Al Franken announced from the Senate floor that he will be resigning his Senate seat:

“I am announcing that in the coming weeks I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate”

It’s interesting that his resignation is not going to be effectively immediately, like John Conyers. It’s a bit clever, given that in a few weeks time the special election will take place in Alabama. This allows time to see whether Republican Roy Moore, who faces serious allegations of sexual misconduct (including that involving a minor) and has the full support of the President of the United States, steps down. After all, if he doesn’t, what would actually compel Franken to follow through with his resignation?

Franken, who remained unapologetic and without contrition in his announcement, also noted this:

“I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,”

There is a heated battle taking place between the major political parties as Democrats and Republicans valiantly struggle to claim the moral high ground. The problem, of course, is that both sides have sunk to new lows in the mucky cesspool of tribal politics, thus making it virtually impossible for either party to be covered in anything other than hypocritical scum. Until this week, when a cynical calculation was made to jump a rung up on the ladder of principles and try to force the hand of Republicans, Democrats circled the wagons for Al Franken and cited legacy and iconic status as a justification for keeping John Conyers on board. At the same time, Republicans have not only been defending Roy Moore from serious allegations involving a minor, but disgustingly continue to support him even when they believe the allegations are true. Today, on the left side of the aisle, Conyers is no longer in office and Franken has announced his upcoming resignation. On the right side of the aisle, Moore is being supported by a Republican president who also faces allegations of sexual misconduct, as well as being supported by substantial numbers of Republicans in Alabama. Given this, exactly who gets to make a claim to the moral high ground now? Unless Moore steps down, certainly not Republicans. Unfortunately, Republicans sacrificed their principles in November, 2016.

–Dan

MSNBC Re-Hires Sam Seder; Mike Cernovich Hardest Hit

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

I summarized this saga a couple of days ago. In 2009, there was a national debate about the crimes of Roman Polanski after he was arrested in Switzerland and efforts were made to extradite him to the U.S. to face justice. In a disgusting display, many in the Hollywood elite rallied around Polanski. Lefty Sam Seder, a former Air America host and MSNBC yakker, wrote a bitingly satirical tweet attacking Polanski’s defenders, who seemed to care more about Polanski’s talents as a director than his rape of a 13-year-old. Seder’s tweet read: “Dont care re Polanski, but i hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/ a great sense of mise en scene.” Recently, alt right nutcase Mike Cernovich dug up the old tweet and willfully misinterpreted it as support for Polanski. Cernovich drummed up fauxtrage from his cynical supporters, and got Seder fired from his MSNBC gig.

Now, Seder has been rehired:

Progressive radio and television personality Sam Seder will be offered his MSNBC contributor job back and plans to accept, according to multiple MSNBC sources.

Seder and MSNBC were set to part ways when his contributor contract expired next year, with reports indicating the departure had to do with a 2009 tweet from Seder surfaced by the far-right provocateur Mike Cernovich. After initially caving in to right-wing internet outrage over the tweet, MSNBC reversed its decision to not renew Seder’s contract.

. . . .

“Sometimes you just get one wrong,” said MSNBC president Phil Griffin in a statement to The Intercept, “and that’s what happened here. We made our initial decision for the right reasons — because we don’t consider rape to be a funny topic to be joked about. But we’ve heard the feedback, and we understand the point Sam was trying to make in that tweet was actually in line with our values, even though the language was not. Sam will be welcome on our air going forward.”

Good. Seder is an unrepentant lefty, and I probably disagree with him on something between 90 to 99.999 percent of the things he says and believes. Nevertheless, his firing was disgraceful, and I’m very pleased to see that he has been re-hired.

Tom Kludt and Oliver Darcy, in a story written before Seder’s reinstatement, discuss the background in detail and explain how Cernovich’s absurd gloating helped MSNBC to reverse its decision:

After the news broke, Cernovich was triumphant.

“Thank you to everybody who emailed MSNBC,” Cernovich said in a video he posted on Twitter. “Thank you to all of you. You’re heroes. You’re heroes because you emailed MSNBC and you let them know about the tweet. You let them know the people will be heard.”

Elsewhere, MSNBC was pilloried for the decision, as critics pointed out that Seder was not actually excusing or making light of rape, but was in fact mocking Polanski’s defenders.

. . . .

An MSNBC executive who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter said there had been considerable deliberation over the decision to cut ties with Seder, and that the network was unsettled by the celebratory reaction from certain segments of the right-wing.

The episode did have one positive effect in that it reminded many (and revealed to others) the past comments of someone who made light of rape. That person turned out to be Mike Cernovich, whose comments included such delightful turns of phrase as “Who cares about breast cancer and rape? Not me” and “Over 50% of women have rape fantasies.” These quotes and others are collected in all their glorious and non-exculpating context here:

If you’re looking to get upset about someone not taking rape seriously, your best target is not Sam Seder. It’s Mike Cernovich.

Congratulations to Seder for getting back his job so he can make the airwaves annoying again with wrongheaded political opinions. I won’t be watching, but I’ll sleep a little better knowing that Mike Cernovich lost.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

12/6/2017

President Trump Officially Recognizes Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital, Embassy To Move

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 3:59 pm

[guest post by Dana]

President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the State Dept. to begin preparations to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Citing the decision as a new approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the president said:

In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city, and so importantly, is Israel’s capital. This act passed congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. And was reaffirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.

Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in.

After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver.

Today, I am delivering. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.

As expected, President Trump’s decision was met with criticism and dire warnings from the usual suspects. The Palestinians, who obviously have no interest in making peace with a people they prefer didn’t exist, have called for “three days of rage” in protest against the move. British Prime Minister Theresa May charged that “Jerusalem should ultimately form a shared capital between the Israeli and Palestinian states,” and said that she plans to speak with President Trump about the decision. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran blamed the move on U.S. “incompetence and failure”. Even Pope Francis weighed in, saying he could not “keep silent about [his] deep concern” for Jerusalem and urged respect for “the status quo of the city in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling today historic, thanked President Trump for his “courageous” and “just” decision”:

“This decision reflects the president’s commitment to an ancient but enduring truth,” Netanyahu said. “The president’s decision is an important step toward peace, for there is no peace that doesn’t include Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

With that, David French explains why President Trump’s actions today should be celebrated, and why he should be congratulated for taking such a bold step:

President Trump’s decision to formally recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to announce plans to move America’s embassy to the seat of Israel’s government is one of the best, most moral, and important decisions of his young administration. On this issue, he is demonstrating greater resolve than Republican and Democratic presidents before him, and he is defying some of the worst people in the world.

Also in his excellent piece, French looks at the “law, history, and context” of Israel, and the double-standard use of “stability” when applied to Israel:

From the birth of the modern nation-state of Israel, an unholy mixture of anti-Semites and eliminationists have both sought to drive the Jewish people into the sea and — when military measures failed — isolate the Jewish nation diplomatically, militarily, and culturally. Working through the U.N. and enabled by Soviet-bloc (and later) European allies, these anti-Semites and eliminationists have waged unrelenting “lawfare” against Israel. (Lawfare is the abuse of international law and legal processes to accomplish military objectives that can’t be achieved on the battlefield.)

The scam works like this: The U.N. and other international bodies establish rules that apply only to Israel, or they hold Israel to higher standards than any other nation on earth; then, when Israel (or its primary ally, America) object to those unjust rules and double standards, the Arab world threatens unrest, riots, or, at worst, renewed jihad. A cowardly European community goes along, perpetuating injustice in the name of “stability.”

If “stability” means the perpetuation of double standards, the isolation of Israel, and continued kowtowing to threats of violence, then it’s time to call the Arabs’ bluff. If the most powerful nation in the history of the world doesn’t have the moral strength to even properly recognize Israel’s capital, it gives aid and comfort to those who impose unique burdens on the Jewish state. Will America’s Arab allies — nations that depend on our alliances to confront a growing Iranian threat — forsake their own national security to protest an embassy location? It’s time to find out. The Trump administration has made the right move. Now let’s see how the bigots respond.

President Trump should be congratulated. He has taken an enormous step toward fulfilling his campaign promise that the embassy should be moved to “the eternal capital for the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” It has been a very good day for him.

–Dana

Calls For Democratic Lawmakers To Resign In Face Of More Allegations of Sexual Misconduct

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 1:17 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In today’s left side of the aisle sexual harassment news, Al Franken (D-MN.) has yet again been accused of sexual misconduct by a former Democratic congressional aide. The alleged incident took place in 2006:

The aide, whose name POLITICO is withholding to protect her identity, said Franken (D-Minn.) pursued her after her boss had left the studio. She said she was gathering her belongings to follow her boss out of the room. When she turned around, Franken was in her face.

The former staffer ducked to avoid Franken’s lips. As she hastily left the room, she said, Franken told her: “It’s my right as an entertainer.”

“He was between me and the door and he was coming at me to kiss me. It was very quick and I think my brain had to work really hard to be like ‘Wait, what is happening?’ But I knew whatever was happening was not right and I ducked,” the aide said in an interview. “I was really startled by it and I just sort of booked it towards the door and he said, ‘It’s my right as an entertainer.’”

Franken fully denies the latest accusation. In light of yet another allegation of groping or trying to forcibly kiss women, female Democratic lawmakers have called for Franken to step down. This includes Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) who recently said that Bill Clinton should have resigned over his scandal involving a young intern, and who said yesterday when asked whether Franken should resign that, although troubled by the situation, she wouldn’t call for him to step down. Just one more noble Democratic female demonstrating their side of the aisle’s classic profile in courage. Uh-huh…

For his part, Franken, whose unseeking hands mysteriously found themselves the unwilling recipients of women’s butts over the years, has denied this latest allegation. Franken, who blamed these “mishaps” on the fact that he is just “a warm person” who hugs people and too bad these accusers don’t understand this, is scheduled to make an announcement tomorrow.

Also happening on the left side of the aisle, Rep. John Conyers announced his resignation yesterday, effective immediately. This on the heels of two more accusers coming forward:

In the document released by lawyer Lisa Bloom, former staffer Elisa Grubbs said she worked in Conyers’ office from approximately 2001 to 2013. She claimed that the congressman “inappropriately touched” her during her time there. Grubbs also said she witnessed Conyers touching other women in the office.

In one incident, he slid his hand up her skirt and rubbed her thighs while the two were sitting next to each other in the front row of a church.

She said that when it happened she jumped up and exclaimed in front of other staffers, “He just ran his hand up my thigh!”

Another time at Conyers’ home, the congressman walked out of his bathroom naked, knowing that she was in the room, she said. She added that she “immediately ran out of the house.”

Also:

Grubbs said she saw Conyers stroking the legs and buttocks of other staffers on multiple occasions.

“Witnessing Rep. Conyers rub women’s thighs and buttocks and make comments about women’s physical attributes was a regular part of life while working in the Office of Rep. Conyers,” Grubbs said in the affidavit.

Amusingly, Conyers is endorsing his son, John Conyers III, to replace him in Congress because he believes he will be certain to preserve his legacy:

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what’ we’re going through now. This too shall pass,” the long-serving Congressman said. “My legacy will continue through my children. I have a great family here, especially in my oldest boy, John Conyers III, who I endorse to replace me in my seat in Congress.” He continued, “We’re all working together.”

Sure. Because when you think of John and Monica Conyers, you think the very definition of a great family…

–Dana

Bannon Upset Romney Avoided Vietnam

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 9:00 am

Steve Bannon is upset Mitt Romney avoided Vietnam. At a rally for Roy Moore, Bannon mocked Romney for not serving in the war:

Steve Bannon bashed Mitt Romney Tuesday night for, as he put it, hiding behind his religion to avoid getting drafted into the Vietnam War.

Bannon, stumping for controversial Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama in Fairhope, Alabama, touted Moore’s military service in Vietnam and criticized Romney for his lack of “honor and integrity.” Romney tweeted Monday, “no vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”

“By the way, Mitt, while we’re on the subject of honor an integrity, you avoided service, brother,” Bannon said. “Mitt, here’s how it is, brother: The college deferments, we can debate that — but you hid behind your religion. You went to France to be a missionary while guys were dying in rice paddies in Vietnam.”

Here’s some video:

“The college deferments we can debate that” thing may be a reference to the way Bannon himself stayed out of the war: “Bannon did not serve in Vietnam, either, though he was of age to do so and attended college during the final years of the war.”

But inquiring minds want to know: whatabout bone spurs?

Not that long ago, I noted that “Republicans will never again be able to credibly attack a Democrat on grounds of character in my lifetime.” Since the Trump/Bannon wing loves attacking Republicans at least as much as it loves attacking Democrats, I should have said “a Democrat or another Republican.” There’s no character-based attack that doesn’t also apply to Donald Trump.

By the way, Bannon attacked Romney’s family too: “Judge Moore has more honor and integrity in that pinky finger than your entire family has in its whole DNA.”

And a room full of people who voted for Mitt Romney cheered.

Next thing he’ll accuse Mitt Romney of being a rich fat cat who got where he is today only because of his dad. (Insert your own “this applies to Donald Trump too” joke here.)

No wonder Donald Trump says that people are saying there is a unity in this Republican party like we’ve never seen before.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Amazon Widget: Back Up and Working

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:39 am

I just verified that some folks have made purchases with the Amazon widget on the sidebar. It disappeared for a while (long story) but it’s back, so I’ll be mentioning it fairly often through December, for those who got out of the habit of using it. Thanks for remembering to use it for your holiday purchases. It really does make a difference.

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