The Jury Talks Back

3/31/2019

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the fourth Sunday in Lent. It is also the 334th anniversary of the date of Bach’s birth. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Herr Bach! Today’s Bach cantata is “Wo soll ich fliehen hin” (Where shall I flee).

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32:

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable:

The Parable of the Lost Son

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, which emphasize the importance of forgiveness of sins in the Gospel:

Where shall I flee,
since I am burdened
with many great sins?
Where shall I find rescue?

. . . .

My loving Savior comforts me,
buried in His grave
are the sins I committed;
however great my transgression is,
He makes me free and clear.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

3/29/2019

Former Lawmaker Accuses Joe Biden Of Kissing Her Without Consent

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 4:49 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Hoo-boy. For years I’ve railed about Joe Biden’s creepy handsiness when it comes to women other than his wife. While I’m not the least bit surprised that a former politician has accused Biden of kissing her on the campaign trail in 2014, I am surprised that she is publicly speaking out about it and not giving him cover for his bad behavior like powerful Democrats have done for years. And if everyday Americans have noticed the former vice-president’s incessant handsiness with women, then you know that everyone from President Obama to Nancy Pelosi to Hillary Clinton to Loretta Lynch and everyone else who has worked with Biden, also knew. But to my knowledge, no one has come forward to make a direct and public complaint. Until now.

From Lucy Flores writing in The Cut:

…when my campaign heard from Vice-President Joe Biden’s office that he was looking to help me and other Democrats in the state, I was grateful and flattered. His team offered to bring him to a campaign rally in an effort to help boost voter turnout. We set the date for November 1, just three days before election day.I found my way to the holding room for the speakers, where everyone was chatting, taking photos, and getting ready to speak to the hundreds of voters in the audience. Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?”

I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. [Ed. Seriously? Your concern was that you hadn’t washed your hair and it didn’t smell pretty for the veep? Oh. Come. On.] And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.

By then, as a young Latina in politics, I had gotten used to feeling like an outsider in rooms dominated by white men. But I had never experienced anything so blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before. Biden was the second-most powerful man in the country and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world. He was there to promote me as the right person for the lieutenant governor job. Instead, he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused. The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners — and I felt powerless to do anything about it.

Our strange interaction happened during a pivotal moment in my political career. I’d spent months raising money, talking to voters, and securing endorsements. Biden came to Nevada to speak to my leadership and my potential to be second-in-command — an important role he knew firsthand. But he stopped treating me like a peer the moment he touched me. Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful. I wasn’t attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.

Flores offers these parting thoughts:

I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point — and the whole problem.

The timing of Flores’s revealing story is interesting given that its publication comes in the midst of Biden teasing-out and test-running a possible announcement for his candidacy in 2020. Not only is he being coy about running, but he also appears to be gauging every possible reaction to an announcement and making preemptive strikes accordingly (possibly asking Stacy Abrams a place on his ticket and promising to only serve for one term).

Flores explains why she is coming forward with her accusations now:

For years I feared my experience would be dismissed. Biden will be Biden. Boys will be boys. I worried about the doubts, the threats, the insults, and the minimization. “It’s not that big of a deal. He touched her, so what?” The immediate passing of judgement and the questioning of motives. “Why now? Why so long after? She just wants attention.” Or: “It’s politically motivated.” I would be lying if I said I didn’t carefully consider all of this before deciding to speak. But hearing Biden’s potential candidacy for president discussed without much talk about his troubling past as it relates to women became too much to keep bottled up any longer.

It would be completely logical to assume that any forthcoming public accusation would indeed be dismissed, given that this has been the standard response by Democrats for years when it came to Biden and his inappropriate behavior with women. Ironically, Flores’s own party!

Bill Russo, a spokesman for Biden, responded to the accusation made by Flores:

“Vice President Biden was pleased to support Lucy Flores’s candidacy for lieutenant governor of Nevada in 2014 and to speak on her behalf at a well-attended public event.

Neither then, nor in the years since, did he or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes,

But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so. He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best.

As of yesterday, before this story broke, Biden held a comfortable lead over the other leading Dem candidates. Mind you, this is without even making an official announcement:

Former Vice President Joe Biden is out front in a poll by Quinnipiac University out Thursday, with 29% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters saying they’ll vote for him in the 2020 primary if he runs.

He is followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (19%), former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (12%), and Sen. Kamala Harris (8%), according to the Quinnipiac poll.

Oh, and I wanted to post this photo (via The Cut) of Biden standing between Lucy Flores and actress Eva Longoria at the event where the alleged kiss took place because it’s a perfect example of a question answering itself: Why would Biden have his hand up at the top of Longoria’s waist where he might accidentally feel the side of her breast?

Untitled

–Dana

Video: Trumpers Cheering for QAnon Conspiracy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:08 am

Here’s a guy walking around with a sign saying “Make Noise for Q” at a Trump rally. Many do. Some of them show off their own Q symbols.

I know I speak for many when I express the hope that Trump gives the green light to the QAnon conspiracy. Then we’ll get to have Very Serious Discussions about whether there is something to it. Maybe we can get some readers here to say it’s real.

Anticipating your objections, I know: it’s crazy for me to suggest that Trump would actually express support for a bizarre conspiracy theory.

3/28/2019

Trump Would Be Impeached If …

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:11 am

1) He had said only privately many of the things he has said publicly;

2) He were otherwise normal and not famously erratic; and

3) He didn’t already lie so constantly that everyone is numb to the lies.

Let’s look at a short and incomplete list of his relevant transgressions.

  • He admitted that he fired the FBI director in part, at least, out of anger over an investigation into his contacts with a hostile power (“And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story…'”).
  • He constantly berated (and ultimately fired) his loyalist Attorney General for appropriately recusing himself from that Russia investigation.
  • He tried to fire the Special Counsel investigating that Russia connection, and relented only when his lawyers threatened to quit.
  • He ordered a felonious payoff of a porn star to keep silent about her affair with him, for the purpose of benefiting his campaign.
  • He threatened the father in law of the man who made that payoff, who was at that point a major witness against him, just before that witness testified to Congress.
  • He had his lawyer dangle pardons in front of potential witnesses against him.
  • He asked the FBI director to “let go” an investigation into his national security advisor, who discussed lifting sanctions with a Russian ambassador (probably at his behest) before lying about it to the FBI (“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go…”).
  • He personally drafted a false statement about the nature of a meeting between a woman with ties to the Kremlin and his Kremlin-connected campaign manager, son, and son in law.

These are the types of things that are going to show up in the Mueller report, once we finally get it. Together, they paint a damning picture of someone manifestly unfit for office. But we already know about most of them, because hell, he said much of it in public. And the fact that he has obviously lied about a lot of it (the Veselnitskaya meeting, the porn star payoffs, etc.) doesn’t land because, hey, the guy lies constantly. And saying any of the things that he has said that would be shocking for most people … they just aren’t that shocking for him, because he is a giant obese walking bag of inappropriateness and impropriety.

These are the reasons he likely won’t be impeached. Because of (not in spite of) the fact that he is bizarre, ridiculous, and chronically dishonest — and he is these things openly and without shame.

Be proud, America. Pop open some beers, because it’s Vindication Time.

3/26/2019

Witch Hunt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:26 pm

For the longest time, all you heard from the media was: he’s guilty. He’s going down.

Sure, it took a while to build to that point. But in the end, it seemed universal: every time you turned the channel, everyone was saying: this guy’s done. It’s a turning point. This looks like the beginning of the end.

It sure looked bad for a while. Payoffs for illegal activity. Lying. Stuff that like doesn’t play well.

But in the end, it was up to the prosecutor. And the prosecutor has said there will be no prosecution. And even though we don’t seem to know all the details yet, that’s the end of it.

Sure, the people who have been wrong about this all along are livid. They will not let it go. They complain that the prosecutor who announced the decision is playing politics. That he’s getting away with it because of who he is. Look at the criminals around him!

But his supporters held fast. Show me the man, they noted, and I’ll show you the crime. And in the end, the witch hunt ended in total and complete vindication

(more…)

3/25/2019

Michael Avenatti Charged — In Two Districts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 10:59 am

Washington Post:

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

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

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

Remarkable. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

UPDATE: Christmas in March.

3/24/2019

Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 124

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:53 am

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

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

Repent or Perish

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

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

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

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

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

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

The Triumphalism Over the Mueller Report Is a Bit Overblown

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:46 am

This is a good point:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe tamp down the triumphalism a bit there, sport.

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

3/23/2019

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 1:40 pm

[guest post by Dana]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Streisand responded to the backlash without naming Jackson:

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

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

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

UPDATE: Streisand apologized for her comments this afternoon:

Untitled

–Dana

3/22/2019

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:13 am

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

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

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

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

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

3/20/2019

Nick Bostrom on Existential Risk

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:59 am

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

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

Oh, and then there’s this:

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

That’s a big part of the problem.

3/19/2019

Devin Nunes Sues Everyone, Including His Mom*

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:08 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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