Patterico's Pontifications


The Republican Governor, the Nude Photo, and the Indictment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:30 pm

The Republican governor of Missouri has been indicted on felony “invasion of privacy” charges alleging that he threatened to release a nude photo of a woman if she revealed her affair with him:

Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted Thursday afternoon by a St. Louis grand jury on a felony charge of invasion of privacy.

The charge stems from a 2015 affair and allegations that he threatened to release a nude photograph of the woman, taken while she was blindfolded and her hands were bound, if she ever spoke publicly about the affair.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched a criminal investigation of the allegations last month shortly after they become public. The indictment accuses Greitens of not only knowingly photographing the woman with whom he had an affair, but also transmitting the image “in a manner that allowed access to that image via a computer.”

After news of the indictment broke, Greitens was seen being led down a hallway in the local courthouse by several St. Louis city deputies, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

RedState’s smoosieq wrote about the allegations when they surfaced last month, noting that Greitens had admitted the affair but denied the blackmail. smoosieq said then:

My own takeaway at present is, “What a bleepin’ mess.” It’s probably too much to hope that this sordid tale won’t distract from some of the positive strides Missourians were hoping to take with a legislature and Governor who were seemingly on the same page.

Well, it’s an even bigger bleepin’ mess now. The Governor is not taking this lying down, blasting St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner as “a reckless liberal prosecutor who uses her office to score political points.”

As always, the proof will be in the pudding, which is to say, the evidence. Until that is revealed, it’s all political chest-beating, illuminating nothing.

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

George Washington Agrees to Serve Another Term

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:36 pm

[guest post by JVW]

This serves as my annual reflection on George Washington’s birthday. You can click on the links to read my entries from last year, from 2016, and from 2015.

By 1792, President George Washington had grown tired of public life. He had stood as what passed in those days as a celebrity for 35 years, having achieved fame for his diplomacy, bravery, leadership, and navigational skills (honed from his years as a surveyor) in the Ohio River Valley during the French & Indian War. He had become a prosperous farmer, shrewdly abandoning tobacco as a crop when he realized that it was being over-cultivated throughout Virginia and the Carolinas (Thomas Jefferson tragically lacked this foresight and spent most of his life in debt to creditors). After Lexington & Concord, Washington had been the logical choice as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, and his perseverance, tenacity, and determination to keep an army in the field year after year had worn down Great Britain — the world’s foremost military power — and convinced them to accept American independence. Finally, Washington had put down his plow and headed to New York to serve as the unanimously elected First President of the United States.

So by his sixtieth birthday, the Cincinnatus of America felt that he had given all that he possibly could. Washington had labored hard over the past three years to establish the office of the Presidency, famously disdaining flowery titles for his position and insisting that he be addressed in a simple and republican manner as “Mr. President” instead of the more ostentatious “Your Excellency.” He had done his best to nip in the bud the emerging spirit of party, as the nation’s leaders began to divide itself into rival Federalist and Republican camps. His loyal Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, had strengthened the national government by federalizing the individual states’ debts, establishing the Bank of the United States, and making plans to mint the first national currency. Determining that he had accomplished as much as could be hoped, and fearing that a second term would be plagued by rancor and recrimination of partisanship, the President made it known to his family that spring that he desired to return to Mount Vernon. Later that May, Washington turned to Congressman James Madison, a fellow Virginian, and asked him to draft an address to the people which would announce the news. Madison, who did not want to see Washington step down, prepared a three-page valediction which Washington intended to run in newspapers across the country.

The news of the potential retirement of the Great Man was not well received among his cabinet or his political allies. Hamilton and his arch-rival Jefferson united to implore Washington to stand for a second term, which he was assured of winning. Perhaps the two antagonists both felt a mutual paranoia that the other was conspiring to be Washington’s heir as chief executive, but on the indispensability of the man the rivals were in agreement. Jefferson, who believed that Virginia would work to undermine all of Hamilton’s financial reforms, famously told Washington that “North & South will hang together if they have you to hang on.” Washington asked his personal secretary, Tobias Lear, to make discreet inquiries as to whether there was any candidate that would be suitable to both emerging factions, only to be told that “No other person is contemplated.” Lear also reported that Senator Robert Morris of Pennsylvania believed that “the reasons for your continuing were, if possible, more strong than those which first induced your acceptance of the office,” a belief that Attorney General Edmund Randolph also apparently communicated. Washington, who had initially determined to make a definitive decision by the time that the Congressional session opened on November 4, was still on the fence when that date arrived, and made no mention of his plans when he addressed Congress, a fact that did not go unnoticed by observers.

History records that it was a rather unlikely protagonist who finally convinced the Father of His Country to stay at the helm for another four years. Elizabeth Willing Powel, the wife of a prosperous Philadelphia merchant and one-time mayor of that city, had known Washington since the revolutionary year of 1776. Described by a writer as “a saucy, interesting, attractive, intelligent, flirtatious woman . . . the epitome of confidence, determination, and class,” Mrs. Powel was exactly the sort of woman to whom the charming and debonair General would be socially attracted. When Washington mentioned socially to his old friend that he and Mrs. Washington desired to return to Mount Vernon, Mrs. Powel immediately remonstrated against the idea, using an argument that echoed Jefferson’s warning about a North/South split and declaring that Washington’s departure would lead to the dissolving of the union. Understanding Washington’s careful cultivation of his image, she bluntly informed him “Be assured that a great Deal of the well earned Popularity you are now in Possession of will be torn from you by the Envious and Malignant should you follow the bent of your Inclinations. You know human Nature too well not to believe that you have Enemies. Merit & Virtue, when placed on an Eminence, will as certainly attract Envy as the Magnet does the Needle.” Leaving office now, Mrs. Powel warned, would convince small-minded people “that ambition hand been the moving spring of all your actions. . . that as nature had not closed the scene while your career was glorious, you had with profound address withdrawn yourself from a station that promised nothing to your ambition and that might eventually involve your popularity.” Turning it up full bore, she concluded that her friend “was the only man in America that dared to do right on all public occasions. . . You have shown that you are not to be intoxicated by power or misled by flattery. . . and you have frequently demonstrated that you possess an empire over yourself. For God’s sake, do not yield that empire to a love of ease.”

Despite that, interestingly enough, the Old Man never publicly announced that he would consent to a second term. Nor for that matter did he announce that he planned to return to Mount Vernon. Instead, he simply remained silent and throughout the month of November the various state electors met and unanimously reelected George Washington to a second term as President of the United States. In a sign that harmony extended no further than the Great Man, the electors split their second vote among four candidates, with John Adams holding off a challenge from Governor George Clinton of New York, to remain as Vice-President. Washington never wrote or spoke of his feelings at being conscripted into another term as President, but as noted by historian Joseph Ellis, his Second Inaugural Address, “the briefest in Presidential history, only two short paragraphs long, wholly devoid of content, respectful but regretful in tone,” can be considered an accurate expression of his mood.

(Much of this information is sourced from His Excellency George Washington by Joseph Ellis, Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation by Richard Norton Smith, and Washington by Douglas Southall Freeman.)

Cross-posted at the Jury Talks Back.


My Exchange with Jake Tapper Regarding the Shooting Survivors Whose Voices Weren’t Heard Last Night

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

I’m going to put my cards on the table: First, I like and respect Jake Tapper. He’s one of very few people on CNN who bends over backwards to be fair, most of the time — and he’s willing to interact on Twitter with people who are polite to him. Second, I was not able to watch his town hall on the Florida school shooting last night. Like Allahpundit at Hot Air, however, I was dubious about the notion of this town hall, given the title they chose for it:

The actual network-approved title of tonight’s event is “Stand Up: The Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action.” This is an advocacy event, not a “news program,” and they’re making no bones about it.

Not having seen the program, I can’t claim to opine on its fairness. Any judgments I make without having watched it would be unreliable second-hand judgments based on clips I have seen and the general reaction of the commentariat. But Allahpundit made a point in his post last night about who was invited, and who wasn’t, and I think it’s a fair issue to raise: “It’s a showcase for very sympathetic victims on one side but not, a la Steve Scalise, on the other.”

So I decided to ask Jake Tapper on Twitter about two shooting victims who don’t toe the gun control line, and why they weren’t on the program. Here is our public exchange. I asked:

Tapper replied:

I asked another question:

I did not get a public response to that question. (I don’t mean to make Tapper sound unresponsive. He talked with me about it a little bit in direct messages, but I’m not going to repeat the contents of private conversations.)

In case you haven’t heard of him, Brandon Minoff is a survivor of the school shooting who has publicly expressed disdain for what he perceives as the media using the shooting to promote gun control:

A survivor of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who was previously interviewed by CNN and MSNBC following the mass shooting, told Fox News he believes certain media outlets are politicizing the tragedy to push gun control.

Brandon Minoff, an 18-year-old senior, said the media chose to target gun control advocates instead of focusing on the 17 lives lost in Wednesday’s slaughter.

“I wholeheartedly believe that the media is politicizing this tragedy,” Minoff said. “It seems that gun control laws is the major topic of conversation rather than focusing on the bigger issue of 17 innocent lives being taken at the hands of another human.”

Now, I’m not aware that Minoff tried to submit a question. Nor am I accusing Tapper of bias in the selection of students, since I have no reason to believe he was the person selecting who spoke. Again — and I’ll take flak from Trump lovers for this, but that’s fine — I like and respect Tapper, and see him as a newsman who tries to be fair. I’m not saying he wasn’t trying to be fair last night.

Here’s what I am saying: Minoff had a valuable perspective to offer CNN’s town hall. He would have been a good person to seek out. If CNN didn’t want to invite on Scalise because a) he’s not a survivor of this shooting and b) he doesn’t represent these Florida students, I think those are fair points. But a student who suffered through this shooting but nevertheless rejects the pro-gun control arguments is a voice that should have been heard. I knew about Minoff yesterday morning, and mentioned him in this post. I wish CNN had known about him too, and had sought him out to offer his point of view.

Please note: I’m not complaining about Dana Loesch being invited on to represent the NRA position. Dana is their spokesperson, and she’s very articulate, and clips like this show that she can hold her own. But the impression I am getting from critics — which, again, I can’t confirm because I didn’t watch the program — is that the town hall was short on skeptics of gun control among students who survived the shooting. And yet, they exist — and shooting survivors carry that “moral authority” that spokespeople like Loesch or politicians like Rubio (but not Scalise!) lack.

I’m going to take CNN at their word that they didn’t censor student Colton Haab or try to script his answer. This is not an accusation that CNN is trying to squash a particular position, so much as a lament that the perspective of Brandon Minoff was not heard.

That said, I thank Jake Tapper for his answers.

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

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