Patterico's Pontifications


Michelle Obama, Unbound

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:29 pm

[guest post by JVW]

I was never really big on some conservatives’ outright disdain for Michelle Obama. Yes, I thought her infamous comment about her husband’s successes being “the first time in my adult lifetime I’m really proud of my country” belied a conveniently-suppressed radicalism; I was no fan of her busybody efforts at managing school nutrition from Washington; and I too had a great deal of contempt for the cozy sinecure she fell into at the University of Chicago Hospital as her husband was climbing the political ladder, though I chalked that up to typical Illinois corruption. But I never cared for the snide remarks about her looks (e.g. Rush’s childish “Moochele”) — I think she’s actually quite an attractive woman — and it seemed to me that as First Lady she conducted herself for the most part with warmth and class. I certainly found her less appealing than, say, Mamie Eisenhower or Laura Bush, but I thought she was a world better than Edith Wilson or Hillary Clinton. And I never bought into the idea that she was interested in a political career of her own; I always thought that she would be someone who would be happy being removed from the Washington maelstrom.

So I must confess that I find it very intriguing that Mrs. Obama has recently been in the news singing from the crybully songbook at various progressive gatherings. Dana reported last week on Mrs. Obama’s curious contention that women who failed to vote for Hillary Trump voted against their own interests, which is sort of like contending that white men who failed to vote for John McCain or Mitt Romney were equally guilty of sabotaging their own kind. It’s not news to any of us that this is the progressive mindset — know your place and don’t step outside of your designated interest box — and it’s no surprise that Mrs. Obama holds these beliefs, but she spent the past eight years mostly keeping this kind of thoughts to herself and it’s kind of surprising that she didn’t find a more weasely way of making this point.

And yesterday she left no doubt that she is fully on-board with the racial and sexual grievances that drive her political party in this day and age. Speaking on Tuesday at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, she fell back upon an intellectually lazy stereotype of the GOP. While recalling the State of the Union addresses that she attended during her husband’s Presidency, she described the House chambers thusly:

“On one side of the room, it’s literally gray and white. Literally, that’s the color palette on one side of the room,” Obama said. “On the other side of the room, there are yellows and blues and whites and greens. Physically, there’s a difference in color, in the tone. Because one side: all men, all white. On the other side: some women, some people of color.”

At Barack Obama’s final interminably dull and pointless annual droning, the GOP members of the 114th Congress included Senators Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio, Joni Ernst, Susan Collins, Deb Fischer, Kelly Ayotte, Tim Scott, Ted Cruz, and Shelly Moore Capito, along with Representatives Martha Roby, Martha McSally, Mimi Walters, Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Cubero, Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, Raul Labrador, Jackie Walorsky, Susan Brooks, Lynn Jenkins, Charles Boustany, Ralph Abraham, Candice Miller, Ann Wagner, Vickie Hartzler, Elise Stefanik, Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx, Kristi Noem, Diane Black, Marsh Blackburn, Kay Granger, Bill Flores, Mia Love, Barbara Comstock, Cathy McMorris Rogers, and Cynthia Loomis, and Delegate Amata Coleman Ratewagen of America Samoa. Do the Democrats have more women and minorities in their caucus? Certainly. But Mrs. Obama’s observation was factually incorrect and grossly stereotypical, much as if a Republican in her position had claimed that there are no Democrats with military service or private enterprise experience. Earlier this morning, Marco Rubio Tweeted a friendly reminder to Mrs. Obama:

The last week has me reassessing my relatively benign feelings towards Michelle Obama. I guess that a Princeton and Harvard-educated lawyer who went from prestigious job to prestigious job then finally ended up as the First Lady of the wealthiest, most powerful country the world has ever known is incapable of fading quietly into semi-public life in a Washington mansion as her husband rakes in millions of dollars for doing nothing more than rehashing his dreary Presidency for wealthy people who desire his presence. Instead, she has decided to enter into the social justice olympics, making a rather weak showing in her first two competitive events. If that’s the way she wants it, then I hope she’s ready for the pointed criticism that her vapid blathering deserves.


Democrats: Powerful Millionaire Accused Of Decades Of Sexual Harassment Defended By Noted Feminist Attorney

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:07 pm

[guest post by Dana]


The New York Times is reporting that Harvey Weinstein, film industry titan and ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton, noted champion of women, has been sexually harassing women for decades:

An investigation by The New York Times found previously undisclosed allegations against Mr. Weinstein stretching over nearly three decades, documented through interviews with current and former employees and film industry workers, as well as legal records, emails and internal documents from the businesses he has run, Miramax and the Weinstein Company.

During that time, after being confronted with allegations including sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact, Mr. Weinstein has reached at least eight settlements with women, according to two company officials speaking on the condition of anonymity. Among the recipients, The Times found, were a young assistant in New York in 1990, an actress in 1997, an assistant in London in 1998, an Italian model in 2015 and Ms. O’Connor shortly after, according to records and those familiar with the agreements.

The details of the accusations, while pretty awful, seem to be the standard method used by powerful men in Hollywood to exploit employees or those hoping to break into the business. Because some things never change:

In interviews, eight women described varying behavior by Mr. Weinstein: appearing nearly or fully naked in front of them, requiring them to be present while he bathed or repeatedly asking for a massage or initiating one himself. The women, typically in their early or mid-20s and hoping to get a toehold in the film industry, said he could switch course quickly — meetings and clipboards one moment, intimate comments the next. One woman advised a peer to wear a parka when summoned for duty as a layer of protection against unwelcome advances.

Laura Madden, a former employee who said Mr. Weinstein prodded her for massages at hotels in Dublin and London beginning in 1991, said he had a way of making anyone who objected feel like an outlier. “It was so manipulative,” she said in an interview. “You constantly question yourself — am I the one who is the problem?”

“I don’t know anything about that,” Mr. Weinstein said.


Across the years and continents, accounts of Mr. Weinstein’s conduct share a common narrative: Women reported to a hotel for what they thought were work reasons, only to discover that Mr. Weinstein, who has been married for most of three decades, sometimes seemed to have different interests.

Working for Mr. Weinstein could mean getting him out of bed in the morning and doing “turndown duty” late at night, preparing him for sleep.

For his part, Weinstein offered this “apology” for his predatory behavior::

“I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it,” reads Weinstein’s statement. “Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.”

And then he offered this ridiculous excuse for having sexually harassed women for 30 years:

Weinstein also added: “I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.”

Show of hands: how many commenters here came up in the 60’s and 70’s and believed it was permissible to sexually harass women, especially those with whom you exerted professional power and control over? I am fairly confident that every reader here in that age bracket, knew, with complete assurance, that behaving in said manner was wrong and unacceptable on every level.

Interestingly, the internet being what it is, it was an easy find to see that Weinstein was a rather substantial contributor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton, whose presidential campaign platform included:

Confront violence against women. One in five women in America is sexually assaulted while in college. Twenty-two percent of women experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. American women are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries. It’s time to address violence against women—and Hillary will put forward bold plans to do that.

We’ll see if she speaks out against Weinstein and his outrageous exploitation of women, return his tainted campaign contributions.

Apparently, in the time that I’ve been writing this post, it’s been announced that Weinstein plans to sue the New York Times for their bombshell report:

Harvey Weinstein says he will sue the New York Times for an estimated $50 million after it published a bombshell report claiming the movie mogul subjected actresses and female staffers to “decades of sexual harassment.”

“The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein. It relies on mostly hearsay accounts and a faulty report, apparently stolen from an employee personnel file, which has been debunked by 9 different eyewitnesses. We sent the Times the facts and evidence, but they ignored it and rushed to publish. We are preparing the lawsuit now. All proceeds will be donated to women’s organizations.”

Irony abounds: When Bill O’Reilly faced sexual harassment accusations, attorney Lisa Bloom, daughter of Gloria Allred, made headlines when she represented “the three women whose latest complaints against O’Reilly precipitated his ouster from Fox News,” and famously said, “Bill O’Reilly is going to be driven out,” and that Fox News network was “a cesspool of intimidation and retaliation.” Guess who she’s defending now:

Bloom said she and Weinstein “have had many wide-ranging conversations over the last year about rumors and allegations against him. He denies many of the accusations as patently false. Nevertheless, I have explained to him that due to the power difference between a major studio head like him and most others in the industry, whatever his motives, some of his words and behaviors can be perceived as inappropriate, even intimidating.”

“As a women’s rights advocate, I have been blunt with Harvey and he has listened to me. I have told him that times have changed, it is 2017, and he needs to evolve to a higher standard. I have found Harvey to be refreshingly candid and receptive to my message. He has acknowledged mistakes he has made. He is reading books and going to therapy. He is an old dinosaur learning new ways. He wants to reach out to any of the women who may have issues with him to talk to them in a respectful, peaceful way, with me present if that is acceptable to them. He has been working on a major foundation with USC with one of the largest grants for female directors, which started well over a year ago. And as we work together on a project bringing my book to the screen, he has always been respectful toward me.”

Oh, for godsake. Just stop it. Bloom is defending a powerful mogul who is working to… bring her book to the screen?? This gives her credibility? Does she believe Women everywhere are collectively shaking their heads in understanding, Ah, well, that makes sense. How else are you going to get your book turned into a movie? Irony doesn’t bite much more than Lisa Bloom herself selling her soul for the part. And while Bloom mentioned two appropriate “I” words to describe Weinstein’s behavior, inappropriate and intimidating, I’m thinking there might be yet one more appropriate “I” word to describe his behavior…

The lesson must be that if a Democrat who has been accused of “decades of sexual harassment,” has backed up their political persuasion with sizable donations to the candidate of choice, and promises to make her movie, then Bloom’s decision to tarnish the cause of feminism and show her hypocritical underpants is justified. She has no qualms about defending this powerful, wealthy “old dinosaur,” even if it has been feminists on the left who have been the targets of his harassment.

But hey, given that Weinstein probably has voluminous amounts of inside information on just about everyone in Hollywood, the media, the Democratic party and elsewhere, the man to whom Meryl Streep reverently referred to as “God” will no doubt reclaim his throne in no time.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


New York Times: Republicans Open to Banning Bump Stocks

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

The New York Times reports that — as I recently predicted — there seems to be some support among Republicans in Congress for banning “bump stocks,” which make it easier to fire semiautomatic weapons at a rate similar to that of automatic weapons:

Top congressional Republicans, who have for decades resisted any legislative limits on guns, signaled on Wednesday that they would be open to banning the firearm accessory that the Las Vegas gunman used to transform his rifles to mimic automatic weapon fire.

For a generation, Republicans in Congress — often joined by conservative Democrats — have bottled up gun legislation, even as the carnage of mass shootings grew ever more gruesome and the weaponry ever more deadly. A decade ago, they blocked efforts to limit the size of magazines after the massacre at Virginia Tech. Five years later, Republican leaders thwarted bipartisan legislation to expand background checks of gun purchasers after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Last year, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, they blocked legislation to stop gun sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists.

But in this week’s massacre in Las Vegas, lawmakers in both parties may have found the part of the weapons trade that few could countenance: previously obscure gun conversion kits, called “bump stocks,” that turn semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing in long, deadly bursts.

Before we go any further, let’s just correct some of the revisionist history here. In 2016, both sides passed their own stiffer gun control measures, each set of which was blocked by the other party. So it would be perfectly accurate to say that some gun restrictions were backed by Republicans but blocked by Democrats. For example, Republicans voted for a bill that would ban sales of firearms to people on terrorism watch lists. But Democrats voted against it because they rejected the due process protections that Republicans had included, given the well-known overbreadth of the no-fly list and the constitutional issues at stake. Republicans also voted to fortify the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Democrats voted against that proposal because they wanted more. Democrats would rather have gun control as an issue to smear Republicans with than accomplish something and have to share credit. Just so we’re clear on that.

Back to the article and the bump stock issue:

“I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sportsman, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said, adding, “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”

. . . .

Other Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida, said they would be open to considering legislation on bump stocks.

. . . .

In the House, Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, said he was drafting bipartisan legislation banning the conversion kits. Representative Mark Meadows, the head of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also said he would be open to considering a bill, while Representative Bill Flores, Republican of Texas, called for an outright ban.

“I think they should be banned,” Mr. Flores told the newspaper The Hill. “There’s no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semiautomatic to something that behaves like an automatic.”

I understand the reluctance of gun rights supporters not to give the left even an inch on this. Every time there is a mass shooting, the left agitates for some form of new gun control, as if this would solve the problem. Often the new gun control proposal has no connection to the shooting that prompted the proposal, and would not have prevented the current tragedy. That doesn’t stop the left. It’s like clockwork: they act as if conservatives simply acceded to their “common sense” proposals — some of which include banning all semiautomatics (!) or even grabbing all guns in the country (!!) — there would be no problem.

It doesn’t matter that researchers who look into gun control as gun control supporters have their minds changed by the data, and come to doubt the efficacy of gun control. For the left, policy is almost always about intentions, and not results.

But the fact that “common sense” has become a leftist buzz phrase to represent “more gun control” doesn’t mean we can’t apply some actual common sense, consistent with the Constitution and the Heller decision. Justice Scalia said in Heller that “commentators and courts [have] routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” The justices in the Heller majority were not saying that machine guns were constitutionally protected. So what is the real problem with banning something that makes it easy to replicate the speed of automatic fire with a semiautomatic handguns?

I saw someone compare the Second Amendment’s relation to machine guns with the First Amendment’s relation to child pornography. Just because an amendment protects a right we love, and just because people are always trying to chip away at the freedoms protected by that amendment, does not mean we must automatically oppose any restrictions whatsoever. Unless you want to go to the mattresses to argue that we need to make machine guns fully available again — which they are not now — then there is little reason to get exercised about bump stocks.

Supporters of new legislation need to understand certain limitations on the efficacy of any proposed legislation. There are other ways to replicate the speed of machine gun fire. It can be done using one’s belt loops, as a simple YouTube search will show. Such techniques may not be as easy as using bump stocks, or permit the same sort of accuracy and aim, but they are possible. Also, bump stocks do tend to lead to less accurate fire than a simple semiautomatic, used in the normal manner, is capable of — making their use as a killing accessory rather limited to situations like the Las Vegas shooting, where there is a packed crowd and accuracy is less important. And the slippery slope argument is nothing to sneeze at. The real goal here is to ban all firearms. We need to be aware of that and vigilant against it.

And, as is always the case with gun control measures, you’re not going to prevent more mass shootings by passing this legislation. At best, you might make it marginally harder for someone to copycat this exact shooting in this exact manner.

That said, I don’t see the Big Threat to Our Liberties here. I think this particular restriction is coming, and it’s sensible. Republicans are right to get ahead of it.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

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