Patterico's Pontifications


Note From The Left: No One Is “Self-Made”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:15 pm

[guest post by Dana]


By this logic, if you’ve ever driven on a highway, attended a public school, or utilized any other taxpayer funded program, you can never claim to be self-made – even if you become a billionaire through sheer determination, hard work and a belief in yourself. As such, the term “self-made” no longer has any meaning or value in our society.

Here are some more examples of how Schultz’s accurate claim of being “self-made” has angered those on the left:

“Howard Schultz: I’m a self-made billionaire. Also Howard Schultz: The federal government paid for my housing,” tweeted Jamison Foser, who serves currently as a senior adviser to the Tom Steyer-founded political action committee NextGen America.

New York Times magazine’s Nikole Hannah-Jones said elsewhere that “Growing up in government-(i.e. taxpayer) subsidized housing is actually the opposite of making it by yourself. Your fellow Americans put in so your parents could provide you decent housing.” She was re-tweeted in this anti-poor sentiment by no less than MSNBC’s Chris Hayes.

“No one is self-made,” grumbled economist David Rothschild. “‘Projects in Brooklyn’ are government funded housing. Government also educated him, etc. [Starbucks] thrives because US military ensures the security of our international trade, police/fire protect its buildings, roads/sidewalks transport their customers.”

Also, here is More:

Growing up in government-(ie taxpayer)subsidized housing is actually the opposite of making it by yourself. Your fellow Americans put in so your parents could provide you decent housing.

Beckett Adams sums up ridiculousness of it all:

We’re really going to do this? We’re going to stupidly pretend that “self-made” means something other than “I did not inherit my wealth”? It’d be one thing if these critics were aiming to tear down the idea of individualism. It’d be one thing if they sought to underscore a contradiction between Schultz’s personal story and his position on whether social safety nets ought to be eliminated (he hasn’t advocated for this).

But they’re not doing any of those things. Their complaints amount to nothing more than: You’re not “self-made” if you were once poor enough to qualify for government assistance. As New York magazine’s Ezekiel Kweku notes, this is just as stupid as saying, “you’re not self-made, your parents didn’t let you starve to death.”

At this rate, it’s a guarantee we’ll see even dumber attacks on the most vanilla personality ever to mull a presidential bid in the United States. For now, though, dunking on kids from the projects is the low point of the Left’s anti-Schultz freak out.

Wealth envy is such an unattractive quality. But hey, it’s so much easier to attack someone else for having the grit and fortitude to propel themselves from poverty to being a creator of wealth rather than push the big rock uphill and create one’s own wealth.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)



Virginia: Bill Allowing Abortions Up Until Birth Is Defeated

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:37 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Last week I wrote about New York’s ghoulish celebration at the passage of the Reproductive Health Act which removed any restrictions for abortion to the point of birth. It’s no surprise that other states are now following suit.

Kathy Tran (D), a lawmaker in the Virginia House of Delegates, introduced a bill (House Bill 2491) also allowing women to get an abortion up until birth:

A new bill proposed in the Virginia legislature would loosen restrictions on abortions during the third trimester of pregnancy, and allow abortions during the second trimester to take place outside hospitals.

Under current Virginia law, abortions during the third trimester require a determination by a doctor and two consulting physicians that continuing the pregnancy would likely result in the woman’s death or “substantially and irremediably” impair her mental or physical health.

The bill, proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates by Democrat Kathy Tran, would require only one doctor to make the determination that the pregnancy threatens the woman’s life or health. The proposed legislation would also eliminate the requirement that abortions during the second trimester be performed in a state-licensed hospital.

Here is video of Tran being questioned about the bill by Republican Todd Gilbert:

Tran explicitly – and appallingly – admits that her bill would allow a woman to have an abortion while she is in labor, and at the point of birth. Here is part of the exchange with Gilbert:

Tran: So, the suggestion that we’ve made in the bill is to say it’s in the 3rd trimester, you know, with the certification of the physician.

Gilbert: So how late in the 3rd trimester would you be able to do that?

Tran: You know it’s very unfortunate that our physician witnesses were not able to attend today to speak specifically…

Gilbert: No I’m talking about your bill. How late in the 3rd trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman.

Tran: Or physical health.

Gilbert: Okay, I’m talking about the mental health.

Tran: Through the 3rd trimester. The 3rd trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.

Gilbert: Okay, but to the end of the 3rd trimester.

Tran: Yup, I don’t think we have a limit in the bill.

Gilbert: So, um, where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth. She has physical signs that she is about to give birth. Would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was so-certified…she’s dilating.

Tran: Mr. Chairman, that would be a, you know, a decision that the doctor, the physician and the woman would make at that point.

Gilbert: I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.

Tran: My bill would allow that, yes.

It gets worse, much worse. In response to the push back from the pro-life community at this monstrosity, Governor Northam, who supports the bill, weighed in during a radio interview, and went even further than Tran did when discussing her bill as he brought up a post-birth abortion scenario where the baby is born alive:

Northam: “There are, you know, when we talk about third trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of, obviously, the mother, with the consent of the physicians – more than one physician, by the way – and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable.

“In this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Northam said. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

“We want the government not to be involved in these types of decisions,” Northam said. “We want the decision to be made by the mothers and their providers, and this is why, Julie, that legislators, most of whom are men, by the way, shouldn’t be telling a woman what she should and shouldn’t be doing with her body.”

“There may be” is not an absolute, only-if situation. If one doctor determines the mother’s “mental health” is in question or would be adversely impacted by delivering her baby, she could have a late-term abortion right then and there. Even as she is dilating. And does the governor believe that “severe deformities” naturally preclude an individual from leading a productive and fulfilled life? Further, if a baby is born alive and survived the birth and is no longer within the mother’s body, does he or she not have the right to live?

What I take from Gov. Northam’s “reassurances” of a born-alive baby’s laughably humane treatment, is that we’re now supposed to feel good about some sliver of humanity after a barbaric act of murder has taken place. But being left alone to die a slow and painful death reassures no one. The governor, who is also, unbelievably, a pediatric neurologist, evidences his own lack of humanity with these words.

For Godsake, this isn’t hard: a baby born alive is a human being, replete with a soul, a spirit, full humanity and personhood. As I said last week: the goal has always been to normalize this horrific standard medical care, dehumanize its innocent victims by denying their undeniable humanity, and remove any remnant of a long-held moral respect for the sanctity of life from our culture. Safe, legal and rare was just a cheap gimmick to make the pro-abortionists feel righteous about their death march and convince others that there would always be limits to abortion. Clearly, evil has been unleashed, and the obvious trend does not bode well for us as a nation if we are to be judged by how our most vulnerable members are treated.

Gov. Northam’s spokewoman sought to explain the governor’s comments:

Ofirah Yheskel, a spokeswoman for Northam, said “No woman seeks a third trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor’s comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor.”

“Attempts to extrapolate these comments otherwise is in bad faith and underscores exactly why the governor believes physicians and women, not legislators, should make these difficult and deeply personal medical decisions,” she said.

John Sexton pushes back:

To be clear, Gov. Northam may have been talking about a non-viable baby as his spokeswoman claims. In fact, that was my initial take on his comments and I said so on Twitter. However, it’s not clear that the bill itself makes any such distinction. And if the bill doesn’t make that distinction then it doesn’t actually matter if Gov. Northam introduced it in his answer (probably as a way to sidestep the issue). Because if what Northam describes were to happen to a viable baby, it would be infanticide. And you don’t have to be a conservative to find that objectionable.

And while the Washington Post necessarily focused its attention on anything but what takes place in the womb during a third trimester abortion with their dramatic accusatory lede: “Va. Gov. Northam faces fierce conservative backlash over late term abortion bill,” I think if there is anything worth getting fierce and loud about, it’s legalized abortion to the point of birth.

Update: Thankfully, this bill was defeated by the Republican majority.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


When Facts Don’t Matter: Writer Equates Soot-Covered Coal Miners With Blackface

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:25 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Rashaad Thomas, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, poet and essayist has opined that a photograph hanging in a Phoenix restaurant that captures coal miners with their soot-blackened faces sharing a beer after work made him feel threatened:

… Then a photograph caught my attention.

Friends said, “It’s coal miners at a pub after work.” It was a photograph of coal miners with blackened faces. I asked a Latinx and white woman for their opinion. They said it looked like coal miners at a pub after work. Then they stepped back, frowned and said it’s men in blackface.

I asked the waitress to speak with a manager. Instead, I spoke with a white restaurant owner. I explained to him why the photograph was offensive. Evidently, someone else had made a similar comment about the photograph before.

Yet, the photograph remained on the wall. He said he would talk to the other owners and get back to me. While leaving, I asked him had he spoke with the other owners. He had not spoken with them, but mentioned Google said it’s coal miners after work.

Thomas freely acknowledges that the facts don’t matter, it is his emotional response that does:

Fact: The photograph shows coal miners’ faces covered in soot. The context of the photograph is not the issue.

And yet:

Art can be a trickster. People view artwork once and subsequently see something different.

Viewers cannot determine the intention of an artist’s work. Art also exposes society’s blind spots. Blackface is only a glimpse of a larger issue. The larger issue is the lack of representation of marginalized people and their voices in Phoenix.

Frequently, I enter art galleries and I am not represented in the art, which leads to uneducated curation for exhibitions. While shopping I am ignored because it is assumed I unable to purchase anything, or I am followed by a security guard because it is assumed that I am a threat to the store.

Each assumption is based on a stereotype. Blackface caricatures stereotypes of black people.

At the downtown Phoenix restaurant, my concern that the photograph of men in blackface was a threat to me and my face and voice were ignored.

A business’ photograph of men with blackened faces culturally says to me, “Whites Only.” It says people like me are not welcome.

Except this isn’t an artist’s rendering in the sense that it wasn’t created from someone’s imagination, nor was it the result of individuals specifically adopting blackface for a photograph. This is a very real capture of very real people after a very real day at work. Because the photograph does not represent in any way, shape or form the racist intent of historical “blackface,” to use it as a weapon of complaint about feeling threatened and inadequately represented is disingenuous. The photograph of the coal miners covered in soot is not the same as a group of white people dressed up in “blackface” seeking to denigrate a specific group of marginalized people. Thomas sorely hurts his cause, and the cause of everyone interested in seeing equal treatment and respect to individuals of every race and color by lumping coal miners covered in black soot in the same basket with racist bigots in blackface. It’s ridiculous to claim that hard working men in the photograph threaten anyone. Perhaps if Thomas immersed himself in the history of coal mining, particularly during the time period when the photograph was taken, he might temper his claims.

Interestingly, as the photograph in question appears on the cover of a book titled The Home Front 1914 – 1918 How Britain Survived The Great War by Ian Beckett, and Wales Online describes the photograph as colliers in a public house in Cwmbach, Aberdare in about 1910:


Concerning the very dangerous work of coal miners during the war, that anyone was able to live to tell, let alone have a beer at the end of the day was awfully lucky:

In the First World War trenches cleaved Europe from the North Sea to Switzerland. While the battlefield above ground was static, a secret subterranean war raged underground.

The British Army began to form specialist army units of trained tunnellers in 1915, initially recruiting men from poor coal mining communities in Britain. Their job was to create a labyrinth of long underground tunnels that extended under enemy lines and could be packed with explosives, and to dig ‘camouflets’, smaller mines used to collapse enemy tunnels. They were also tasked with building extensive networks of tunnels behind Allied lines, allowing for undetected movement of men and supplies.

Added to the hazards of early 20th century mining, the miners were exposed to the particular horrors of underground warfare. These included enemy explosives, asphyxiation, trench foot, drowning, entombment, cold, cramp and the threat of unearthing German soldiers digging in the other direction and having to fight hand-to-hand to stay alive. Mining casualties were high; one tunnelling company had 16 killed, 48 sent to hospital and 86 minor cases treated at the shaft head in a six-week period.

Tunnellers worked by candlelight and operated in silence to avoid detection. Allied miners used the ‘clay kicking method,’ a technique borrowed from sewer, road and railway works in England. In each team there would be a ‘kicker’ who would lie on his back on a wooden cross and use his legs to work a finely sharpened spade known as a ‘grafting tool’ into the rock face. A ‘bagger’ would then fill sandbags with soil, and a ‘trammer’ would transport the debris out of the gallery on small rubber-tyred trolleys on rails. He would return with a trolley stacked with timber. The wood was for the walls, which would be erected without nails or screws in order to maintain silence; miners relied on the pressure of the swelling clay to hold it in place.

Facts must be taken into consideration when responding to situations. If facts are willingly ignored, our responses are subjective as we become little more than non-reasoning, knee-jerk emotional responders in spite of being otherwise informed by very tangible evidence. Because we willingly choose to see a situation through only an emotional lens, does not make that reality. Thomas certainly has the right to his views, and to express them publicly. I applaud anyone who has the wherewithal and follow through to do so. But in this particular instance, his efforts to make use one innocuous photograph to further a complaint about the much broader issue of unequal representation of blacks is misguided.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


“Team of Vipers” by Cliff Sims: Not Bad So Far

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:57 am

Donald Trump on Twitter:

Oh, hey, thanks for reminding me about this book! I had seen word about it a week or two ago and had made a mental note to consider getting it, but forgot about it until Trump’s tweet.

I’m a sucker for the tell-all books, but Michael Wolff’s, and to a lesser but still significant extent Bob Woodward’s, suffered from the lowered credibility associated with anonymous sourcing. (The anonymity of Woodward’s subjects is wafer thin, but the issue remains.) You always have to take everything with shakerfuls of salt, but you need extra shakers when there is no name behind what’s being said.

I couldn’t care less what, say, Chris Christie has to say about Donald Trump, but Sims interests me. I’m about 5 chapters in (there are 15 total) but so far I find this account very credible — in part because Sims actually seems to like Trump, and thus provides a more nuanced picture of Trump than Wolff or Woodward gave us. Sims left his job as CEO of a media company that had broken major stories about state politics in Alabama to become a communications guy for Trump’s campaign. He was a longtime conservative evangelical who was ideologically more in tune with Cruz than Trump, but thought it was important that Trump beat Hillary and wanted to do his part to help. He was one of the “loyalists” who stuck with Trump after the Access Hollywood tape broke, reasoning that the tape was bad but not a reason to allow Hillary Clinton to win. He came to the Trump White House as one of the loyalists and earned some access to the President by virtue of having been one of the folks who did not abandon Trump in his time of greatest need.

His portrait of Trump so far is not as favorable as you usually see from sycophants, but not anywhere near as critical as the anonymous sources for the more famous previous tell-alls. Sims seems to have a genuine admiration for Trump’s communication skills, and for his ability to stay calm in the midst of crisis. He is clear-eyed about the ways that Trump is less than perfectly beholden to the truth or the facts, but he sounds in tone like a lot of the commenters here: yes, the guy has some obvious flaws, but he certainly is better than Hillary Clinton.

A couple of anecdotes spring to mind. One has to do with Sean Spicer’s initial press briefing — you know, the one where he went wild with a bunch of false facts about the size of the inaugural crowd. Sims ruefully admits culpability for full participation in that fiasco, explaining that Trump was a) justifiably upset about a bogus story in Time magazine concerning the alleged removal of a bust of MLK from the Oval Office (didn’t happen), and b) obsessed with crowd size as a measure of popularity. Spicer’s need to rush the briefing put the comms team in a situation where everyone saw a speedy response as the top priority, and they relied on a set of “facts” provided by the head of Trump’s Inaugural Committee that turned out to be wrong — and that the team had not taken time to fact-check. Spicer could have capitalized on the false story about the MLK bust, but instead spouted a bunch of false facts that doomed his credibility from the start. Sims provides an interesting account of this disaster, from the perspective of someone who was deeply embroiled in it.

Moving from that to a quirkier story: as background, Sims mentions Trump’s unusual OCD penchant for slightly moving objects in front of him, as shown in this video:

Then Sims tells the story about how, on the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, there’s a box with a little red button on it. Often, when people come into the Oval Office, Trump does his little move where he pushes the box away half an inch, and says something like: “Don’t worry about that. No one wants me to push that button so we’ll just keep it over here.”

Then, later, Trump will press the button without comment. Whoever is in the office and unfamiliar with its purpose will look around nervously. Finally, a steward comes in with a Diet Coke. Trump laughs and says: “People never know what to think about that red button! Is he launching the nukes?!”

It’s a cute story, and Sims uses it to describe Trump as both a prankster and as someone who is self-aware, playing on his reputation as someone whose access to nuclear bombs makes many nervous.

Everyone has an agenda, and surely Sims is no exception, but to me this insider look is one of the most honest accounts I have run across. Recommended. If you wish, you can buy it at the affiliate link here.

P.S. Here is a video of Sims being interviewed on CNN, and reacting on the fly to Trump’s insulting tweet. I’m starting you at 8:03 to keep the clip short, but feel free to watch the whole thing.

He seems like a good guy.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Previously Deported Sexual Predator Sentenced To 401 Years For Crimes Against Young Girls

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:52 pm

[guest post by Dana]

As ongoing border wall negotiations continue, some Democrats have broken with Nancy Pelosi’s claim that a border wall is immoral, and have publicly stated that some sort of barrier is necessary at the Southern border. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer weighed in with Bret Baier:

“Obviously, they [walls] work some places,” Hoyer responded, when asked if he favored removing border walls. “But the president wanted to first build a wall apparently 1,954 miles of — and he changed that very substantially. ”

He added: “A wall is — that protects people is not immoral. I think the issue is whether it works. … And the debate ought to be not on morality or racism, I will — I will say that we’re not pleased with some rhetoric that has come about dealing with those — coming across the border, and we think some of the rhetoric was in fact racist. We think some of that rhetoric was to inflame and was not based upon facts.”

Newly-elected Democrats, especially those from battleground states, also didn’t judge a wall on the border as immoral, but rather voiced support to varying degrees for a physical barrier at the border.

Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) expressed her support for a physical barrier while arguing that the disagreement has become a matter of semantics:

Rep. Katie Hill said she’s fine with a wall: The conflict between congressional leaders and the president is over semantics.

“For many of us, there’s not really doubt that some kind of physical barrier is necessary,” she said said in a Fox News appearance on Saturday. “I think the challenge is that we’ve gotten so hung up on the semantics, really on both sides. Gosh, I can’t tell you how much I’ve come to hate the word ‘wall,’ and many of us have.”

She maintained that she, like some of her cohorts, is in favor of a physical wall.

“Democrats are for border security, too, and part of that is physical barriers,” she said.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi, (D-New York) also spoke about the need for a physical barrier:

Brindisi — who narrowly defeated a first-term Republican incumbent last year and declined to support Nancy Pelosi for speaker of the House — scorned President Donald Trump for the shutdown but expressed agreement that some sort of physical barrier should exist at the border, WBNG reported.

The 22nd District Democrat and chair of the Blue Dog Caucus also argued for “immigration reforms” more broadly.

“Investments in technology at the border, you have to have more border agents and if we can throw in there some other immigration reforms that have been hampering us for the last couple years we should try and get that done too,” Brindisi said.

Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minnesota) was also open to increased barriers:

But Craig — a former executive for a Minnesota medical device manufacturer who unseated a freshman Republican to represent the 2nd District last year — agreed the U.S. “should be investing in advanced technology on our border and yes, there may be places where we need additional barriers.”

The semantics of a “wall” are also being addressed today by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA):

A border security compromise that Congress hopes to produce doesn’t have to include the word “wall,” the top House Republican said Tuesday, signaling a rhetorical retreat from a term that President Donald Trump made a keystone of his presidential campaign.

“It could be barrier. It doesn’t have to be a wall,” McCarthy told reporters.

In recent weeks, Trump has veered between using the terms “wall” or “barrier.” He’s retreated increasingly from “wall” as it became apparent that he lacked the votes in Congress to win taxpayer financing for the project, which he initially said would be financed by Mexico.

McCarthy said wall and barrier mean the same thing to him and Trump.

“Inside the meetings we’ve had, he’s said it could be a barrier, it could be a wall,” said McCarthy. “Because what a barrier does, it’s still the same thing. It’s the 30-foot steel slat, that’s a barrier.”

Whether one calls it a “wall” or a “barrier,” it’s obvious that something needs to be done to enhance security at our porous Southern border because it’s far too easy for illegal aliens deported for a prior conviction to cross back into the U.S. and commit even more heinous crimes. You may say: Well, heinous crimes committed by illegal aliens don’t happen that often. To which I would say to you: Even one crime that is heinous in nature is one too many, and we should not have to put up with it and we should be doing everything possible to prevent that criminal illegal alien from re-entering the U.S. at all costs. And if erecting more walls or barriers is part of that prevention, how can it be argued against and called immoral? Or is the devastation wrought by one deported criminal alien not enough to budge a political heart of stone? :

A California judge sentenced a man to serve 401 years to life in prison for numerous violent sex crimes.

On December 4, a jury found Macario Cerda, 39, guilty of three counts of forcible rape, one count of kidnapping to commit rape, one count of criminal threats, and seven counts of lewd acts upon a child under the age of fourteen.

According to court records, Cerda, while in a relationship with the victim’s mother, forced the girl into his van, drove her to a remote location and raped her in 2013. When Cerda temporarily exited the van, documents say the victim jumped into the driver’s seat and drove away.

Cerda was later arrested by Tulare County Sheriff’s deputies.

During an investigation, it was discovered the victim had also been raped by Cerda when she was a minor in 2010, which resulted in the pregnancy and birth of a baby.

The victim’s younger sister also stated that Cerda had raped and abused her when she was a child.

According to court documents, Cerda has been deported before and returned within five months where he committed these crimes soon after.

For Godsake, what does it say about our immigration system and lack of border security that one of the young rape victims was compelled to plead to the court that which is so painfully obvious and to our great shame:

“[N]ever grant him any possibility at being deported because he has crawled his way back into the States illegally way too many times.”

Yet another criminal alien unlawfully entered the U.S. shortly after having been deported and wreaked vile havoc on two young sisters, doing untold damage to them and forever changing the course of their lives. Crimes, particularly those which are so unspeakable, are crimes that should never have happened because illegal aliens like Macario Cerda should not have been here in the first place.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


That “Cops Playing Russian Roulette” Case Out of St. Louis Looks a Lot Like Murder

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:01 am

This is a rare and excellent guest post by commenter and very occasional guest blogger JRM. For best results, follow all the links. — Patterico

[Guest post by JRM]

OK, so let’s talk about the St. Louis shooting of the cop by the other cop. I’d like to thank the host for a shot at a guest post. (tl;dr version: Yes, it should be murder.)

Part One: The Facts. The allegations are: Officer Hendren and Partner are on duty. They go to visit Officer Alix who is off-duty. Alix is the only female officer, and they visit at Hendren’s house. As you do, they begin playing with handguns. Hendren clears a revolver – not a duty weapon – and puts one bullet in the chamber and begins screwing around, spinning the cylinder. Partner wanders away. Supposedly, Hendren aimed the weapon away from Alix when he fired, and then Alix took it and pointed it at his head and dry-fired, and then Hendren took it back and shot her in the chest and then she died.

Now, our source for this account appears to be Hendren. Partner is out of the room (he says) when the shooting occurs. Alix is dead. This leaves one person telling the tale. The unpleasant and cynical among you may think claiming Russian roulette where you shoot the other person at your house while you’re on duty and she’s not is maybe not true. And let me get this out of the way: We don’t have reliable facts on this generally because the law enforcement earlier response to this contradicts the current narrative. But for this analysis, I’m accepting these facts as true.

Part Two: Russian Roulette, Polish Roulette, and Just Shoot Them.

These cases come in four basic scenarios:

1. Regular Russian roulette: One bullet in the chamber, we all take turns (usually while hammered) pulling the trigger until someone dies. The seminal case on this, Commonwealth v. Atencio, comes from Massachussetts in 1964 where the survivors were successfully prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter, but different states have different rules. This is a thorny issue that merits another 600 words, which you’ve built up sufficient karma to avoid.  

2. The after-party: Someone ends up killing themselves accidentally after everyone else has finished the game and no one’s dead yet. This is generally not a criminal homicide. 

3. This thing, where the gun is pointed at the other person, called “Polish roulette,” in one case. I can find no case where a murder conviction has been overturned for this conduct anywhere in the United States. I am not saying they don’t exist, but that’s the way to bet. Here’s a case where the guy has two bullets in the chamber, fires once to his head (click) asks his friend if she’s OK with him firing it at her, and she says “yes.” Then she’s dead. He appealed on the ground of, “Hey, this is involuntary manslaughter because I’m super-wasted and she consented.” No. No, it isn’t. 

4. “Russian roulette,” in name only. Somebody may have different goals and be playing by different rules. In one case, a guy claimed it was Russian roulette but then clarified that he put the gun at the back of the other guy’s head and said, “Surprise, motherfucker,” before pulling the trigger. The victim was more dead than surprised. 

Part Three: The Law, almost everywhere in the United States: Let’s take a step back and figure out what crime is committed when we’re having our fun game of Russian roulette. For this, in most jurisdictions, we need to discuss malice.

Suppose Patterico says, “That JRM has been dissing Ted Cruz for a long time. I would like him dead; in order to make him dead, I will stab him a lot of times,” and then stabs me a lot of times. That’s express malice. That’s murder.

Suppose Carl Llama stabs a guy in the chest 37 times. The defense: “I did not know stabbing people in the chest all those times could kill him” — if true — negates malice in California and lots and lots of other states and it’s an involuntary manslaughter. But just not caring is not enough; we think Carl is lying about this. It’s not a felony murder because of something called the “merger doctrine,” which makes assaultive felonies that constitute the killing ineligible for felony murder.

So we end up with implied malice or depraved heart murders on all kinds of facts – go on a weeklong meth bender and leave your baby to die, and you’re a murderer. Drive 110 miles an hour super-stoned? Murder for you. You did something very dangerous knowing it was dangerous. Like, say, firing a gun with at least one bullet in it at a person.

The Model Penal Code and lots of states have ruled either explicitly or implicitly that Russian roulette is one of those things that shows implied malice or depraved heart murder. 

But this, my friends, is just a detour in this specific case. Because we’re in Missouri. 

Part Four:  The Law in Missouri – like Texas before it – is different. A 1986 change in the law removed first degree felony murder for enumerated felonies, and made all felonies eligible for second degree murder. The Missouri courts were initially taking the Beavis approach to legislative intent — “Words suck” — until eventually coming around to the Butthead approach — “Words mean stuff” — and abolished the merger doctrine.

The relevant statutes are Missouri’s second degree murder statute – Missouri Revised Statute (MRS) 565.021 which says a person commits murder if they “commit or attempt to commit  any felony, and, in the perpetration or the attempted perpetration of such felony or in the flight from the perpetration or attempted perpetration of such felony, another person is killed[…]”

Do we have a felony here? How about second degree assault, which is MRS 565.052(4) – Recklessly causes physical injury to another person by means of discharge of a firearm? That happened.

Now, ideally, we’d have a series of cases which explain that the merger doctrine has been abolished specifically as to second degree assault… oh, right, in 2016 State v. Tuttle approved of an instruction that made the felony of stabbing sufficient for felony murder and said the merger doctrine was dead in Missouri. That’s a Southern District case; the Western District has similarly ruled, and the Eastern District (where St. Louis is) has a case where the court rules that it doesn’t have to decide, but that current Missouri jurisprudence was that the merger doctrine was, like many a Russian roulette player, stone cold dead.

Which means in Missouri, this is a felony murder.

Part Five: Sympathy for a Cop-killer. (But not from me.)

Hendren has now been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and the DA”s statement is striking. I am not making this up:  “Today, as much as it saddens my staff and me to file these charges, Katlyn [Alix] and her family deserve accountability and justice.”

Let’s take a look at prosecutor’s statements when people point guns at cops and shoot them to death. Generally, they lack the tone of, “I am very sad to charge poor Mr. Copkiller with a very bad charge, but I guess we need to do this, not because murdering police is super-terrible but the family has hurt feelings, so we just have to no matter how much catching and prosecuting cop-killers makes us cry.” 

This appears to be murder under Missouri law, under every other state’s law, under basic systems of fairness, under everything. I’d understand a non-murder resolution, but murder’s not an overcharge here. It’s not remotely a reach – it’s the clear crime when one takes a partly loaded firearm, aims it at someone’s chest, and fires. Officer Alix paid with her life; Officer – I assume soon-to-be Mr. – Hendren ought to pay with more than an involuntary manslaughter. 

This charging and this explanation are not respectful to the good cops out there. It’s not respectful to the rule of law. It’s not respectful to the citizens of St. Louis. This is not some second-guessing of a snap judgment, this is a straight-up unjustified, predictable killing. This is a bad business, and it sure as hell looks like murder to me.

Part Six: The Caveats. 

I might be wrong on the facts. I might have misinterpreted Missouri law. I might not know very important things that alter the equities of the situation.

I’ve included funny links and humor in this post. I always give a little blurb early in my oral law-of-homicide presentations – I’m educating with humor, but actual murders are awful. Occasionally a murder victim’s family member attends one of these; they are always very nice and understanding. To be clear: Officer Alix deserved better. If the factual account is accurate, this looks like murder, and I believe based on my incomplete information that it ought to have been charged.

That’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.  

(If you think I speak for my employer, I weep for you.)

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]



Charles Cooke Hits It Out of the Ballpark

Filed under: General,Media Bias — JVW @ 2:21 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Reflecting upon the last couple weeks of malodorous journalism, National Review’s Charles W. Cooke provides his usual pointed appraisal:

Our national press is a national joke. Vain, languid, excitable, morbid, duplicitous, cheap, insular, mawkish, and possessed of a chronic self-obsession that would have made Dorian Gray blush, it rambles around the United States in neon pants, demanding congratulation for its travails. Not since Florence Foster Jenkins have Americans been treated to such an excruciating example of self-delusion. The most vocal among the press corps’ ranks cast themselves openly as “firefighters” when, at worst, they are pyromaniacs and, at best, they are obsequious asbestos salesmen.

He writes about the idea of the media frenzy, which we saw in such stark relief last weekend, where the narrative reigns above all, facts and nuance be dammed. Noting that this tendency to readily believe stories which neatly fit into the preconceived biases of an educated but uninquisitive urban self-appointed elite is nothing new, Mr. Cooke notes that this sort of lazy malpractice has become markedly worse since Donald Trump became President:

[T]he victim of the frenzy — who is usually Donald Trump but might also be Brett Kavanaugh or Nikki Haley or Ben Shapiro or a county comptroller from Arkansas or the children of Covington High School or someone who just happens to share a name with a school shooter and once complained online about his property taxes — who will complain bitterly about the spectacle and then be condescended to on the weekend shows by professional media apologists such as CNN’s Brian Stelter.

This phase is the final one within the cycle, and it may also be the most pernicious, for it is here that it is made clear to the architects of the screw-up at hand that they should expect no internal policing or pressure from their peers and that, on the contrary, they should think of themselves as equals to Lewis and Clark. To watch Stelter’s show, Reliable Sources, after a reporting debacle is to watch a master class in whataboutism and faux-persecution, followed by the insistence that even the most egregious lapses in judgment or professionalism are to be expected from time to time and that we should actually be worrying about the real victim here: the media’s reputation. This, suffice it to say, is not helpful. Were a football commentator to worry aloud that a team’s ten straight losses might lead some to think they weren’t any good — and then to cast any criticisms as an attack on sports per se — he would be laughed out of the announcers’ box.

[Note, link above has been added by me and is not in the original NRO piece.]

And here he gets to the heart of the matter:

“Accountability” doesn’t mean “always running a retraction when you get it wrong.” At some point it means learning and adapting and changing one’s approach. It is not an accident that all of the press’s mistakes go in one political or narrative direction. It is not happenstance that none of the major figures seem capable of playing “wait and see” when the subject is this presidency. And it is not foreordained that they must reflexively appeal to generalities when a member of the guild steps forcefully onto the nearest rake. Ronald Reagan liked to quip that a government department represented the closest thing to eternal life we are likely to see on this earth. In close second is a bad journalist with the right opinions, for he will be treated as if he were the very embodiment of liberty.

And with respect to the oft-made claim that President Trump is a threat the First Amendment, Mr. Cooke is not buying it:

Donald Trump, at whom [MSNBC’s Kasie] Hunt’s quip [that Trump was the most anti-First Amendment American ruler since King George III] was aimed, does indeed have instincts toward the First Amendment of which he and his acolytes should be ashamed; he does indeed have a tenuous relationship with the truth; and he does indeed wear a skin so thin as to border on the translucent. But he has not — ever — “attacked the free press”; he has not prevented, or attempted to prevent, the publication of a single printed word; and he has made no attempt whatsoever to change the law that he might do so. Rather, he has repeatedly — and often stupidly — criticized the press corps. The difference between these two actions is the difference between a bad art critic’s savaging a painting in print and a bad art critic’s savaging a painting with a chainsaw. One is the exercise of liberty; the other, vandalism and intimidation.

It’s a long piece and I could go on and on pulling out the great tidbits that are neatly sliced with Mr. Cooke’s sharp wit (no, wait, that metaphor strains way too much; unfortunately he’s a way better writer than I am). If you will indulge me one more, I really liked this paragraph where the inanity of modern news reporting is attributed to the historical ignorance of the media class, a particular bugaboo of mine:

Selective political interest is disastrous in its own right. But when combined with the catastrophic historical illiteracy that is rife among the journalistic class, its result is what might best be described as the everything-happening-now-is-new fallacy, which leads almost everybody on cable news and the opinion pages to deem every moment of national irritation unprecedented, to cast all political fights as novel crises, and, provided it is being run by Republicans, to determine that the present Congress is “the worst ever.” Turn on the television and you will learn that our language is the “least civil,” our politics is “the most divided,” and our environment is the “most dangerous.” When a Democrat is president, he is “facing opposition of the kind that no president has had to suffer”; when a Republican is president, he is held to be badly unlike the previous ones, who were, in turn, regarded as a departure from their predecessors. Continually, we are held to be on the verge of descending into anarchy or reinstituting Jim Crow or murdering the marginalized or, a particular favorite of mine, establishing the regime outlined in The Handmaid’s Tale. Past is prologue, context, and balm. Without it, all is panic.

Anyway, do read the whole thing. Not only does Mr. Cooke give the corrupt media establishment forty stripes minus one across the back, but he also names deserving names (hello, Jim Acosta!). Great stuff as usual from him.


Sunday Music: Bach Cantata BWV 143

Filed under: Bach Cantatas,General,Music — Patterico @ 12:01 am

It is the third Sunday after Epiphany. Today’s Bach cantata is “Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele” (Praise the Lord, my soul)

Today’s Gospel reading is Luke 4:14-21:

Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

We don’t get to the punchline until next Sunday, when the crowd drives Jesus out of Nazareth.

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

Think, Lord, at this time on Your office,
that You are a Prince of peace,
and graciously help us all together
now and at this moment;
let us henceforth
speak Your divine word
yet longer in peace.

We have previously listened to a cantata (BWV 69) with the same title, but this is a different piece. Both concentrate on the theme of Jesus as the Prince of Peace.

Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Ken White on the Roger Stone Indictment

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:17 pm

Ken White has an excellent analysis of Roger Stone and his criminal troubles in The Atlantic:

Stone is perfectly suited for the age of clickbait. He’s got a flamboyant wardrobe, a Nixon tattoo, and a flair for getting people to laugh at him. He has a brand: truculent and unjustified self-confidence, meandering trash-talking, and a penchant for lashing out at perceived enemies. These things make him a reliable eye-catcher. Nobody ever changed the channel when Stone was trying to talk himself out of trouble. But these same qualities make Stone and people like him easy targets for a ruthless prosecutor. The indictment depicts Stone acting in private more or less the way he acts in public. The special counsel has charged Stone with five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering, and one count of obstructing a House intelligence probe into Russian interference.

The indictment charges that Stone eagerly pitched himself to the Trump campaign as the man with connections to WikiLeaks (thinly disguised as “Organization 1” in the document); that he vigorously mined his network to suggest questions for WikiLeaks to answer, amid a media blitz in which he touted upcoming leaks about Trump’s Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton. The indictment identifies Stone’s WikiLeaks connection only as “Person 1,” but news reports have repeatedly identified him as the author and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. The indictment identifies Stone’s favorite media contact as “Person 2,” someone who is widely believed to be Randy Credico, a dog-fancying talk-show host who comes off as a slightly dim off-Broadway understudy for the role of Stone. The common theme of Stone’s compulsive texts and emails to Corsi, Credico, and the Trump campaign was not just an appetite for dirt on Clinton, but Stone’s own relentless self-promotion. It appears he was successful in getting the attention he wanted—the indictment reveals that a “high-ranking Trump Campaign official” sent Stone a text message reading “well done” after WikiLeaks released stolen Clinton campaign emails in October 2016.

. . . .

Most cinematically, the special counsel charges that Stone turned on Credico, bullying and threatening him in an effort to get Credico to shut up or support Stone’s story. The indictment says that Stone quoted Richard Nixon: “Stonewall it. Plead the fifth. Anything to save the plan.” Stone, according to the indictment, also invoked The Godfather: Part II, telling Credico to do a “Frank Pentangeli,” referencing a character who tells Congress he knows nothing of Michael Corleone and then kills himself in prison. Perhaps Stone hoped that Credico hadn’t watched the whole movie. Eventually, Stone allegedly turned to abuse and threats, calling Credico a rat and a stoolie, threatening to take his dog away, and telling him to “prepare to die,” the indictment said. Stone did all of this in writing because—again—Roger Stone can’t stop being Roger Stone. Credico, for his part, repeatedly advised Stone to smarten up, stop perjuring himself, and tell the truth. When Randy Credico is the most sensible person in your indictment, you’ve fallen upon hard times.

It’s all very funny — and but for some grumpy editors lacking a sense of humor, it could have been even funnier:

Ken notes that the communications with Wikileaks alleged in the indictment are not criminal in and of themselves, although they would have been damaging to Trump’s candidacy had they been revealed before the election.

It’s so weird how Trump is surrounded by criminals — his campaign manager, his national security adviser, his lawyer and fixer, his buddies and media pals — and yet is not a criminal himself! (Hopefully you can hear the eyeroll in my writing.)

UPDATE: I added a third paragraph to the quotation above. It’s too good not to quote.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Roger Stone Indicted and Arrested

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:09 am

Is there any sweeter way to begin the weekend? New York Times:

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, revealed on Friday the most direct link yet between the Trump campaign’s and WikiLeaks’ parallel efforts to use Democratic Party material stolen by Russians to damage the election campaign of Hillary R. Clinton.

In an indictment unsealed Friday, the special counsel disclosed evidence that a top campaign official in 2016 dispatched Roger J. Stone, a longtime adviser to President Trump, to get information from WikiLeaks about the thousands of hacked Democratic emails. The effort began well after it was widely reported that Russian intelligence operatives were behind the theft, which was part of Moscow’s broad campaign to sabotage the 2016 president election.

The indictment charges obstruction of justice, lying to the feds about contacts with Wikileaks, and witness tampering. Back to the NYT:

The indictment makes no mention of whether Mr. Trump played a role in the coordination, though Mr. Mueller did leave a curious clue about how high in the campaign the effort reached: A senior campaign official “was directed” by an unnamed person to contact Mr. Stone about additional WikiLeaks releases that might damage the Clinton campaign, according to the court document.

So, about that. It’s looking like Stone functioned as a conduit of information between Wikileaks and the Trump campaign by way of Steve Bannon:

This has been reported before, as the screenshots in that tweet show — but now the information is being confirmed by Robert Mueller.


Here’s video of the pre-dawn raid:

Our President is taking it in stride:

While Trump and Trump superfans are accusing Mueller and/or the FBI of tipping off the FBI, all evidence suggests otherwise.

The initial video in this post explains further if you watch the whole thing.

Stone has been released on $250,000 bond and is defiant in a *checks notes* Nixonian sort of way:

Afterward, outside the courthouse, Mr. Stone vowed to beat the investigation, which he called politically motivated.

“There is no circumstance whatsoever under which I will bear false witness against the president nor will I make up lies to ease the pressure on myself,” he told reporters afterward.

“I look forward to being fully and completely vindicated,” he added, then flashed twin V-for-victory hand signs reminiscent of his onetime boss, former President Richard M. Nixon.

People have got to know whether or not their President’s buddy and conduit for hacked oppo research is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.

Happy Friday!

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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