Patterico's Pontifications

2/29/2024

John McKinney for Los Angeles County District Attorney

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 am



The following is for my readers who are registered to vote in Los Angeles County. The rest of you can safely skip it unless you’re interested.

Since I do have many L.A. readers, many have asked me for my thoughts about who should be the next District Attorney of Los Angeles. I have a firm recommendation: John McKinney.

I have known John for over 20 years. We were office mates in Compton early in both of our careers. I got to see firsthand what other people in the office would come to see over time: a highly talented and charismatic trial attorney who radiates calm confidence and good judgment.

John is more than a great trial attorney, but before we get to that, I think it’s worth taking a moment to talk about the fact that . . . well, he’s a great trial attorney. John started trying serious cases in the Hardcore Gang Division, where I worked for nine years. (The Division has been renamed under George Gascon, but it will always be the Hardcore Gang Division to me.) It is a unit that handles gang murders almost exclusively, with a smattering of gang-related attempted murders. John thrived there and moved on to the Major Crimes Division, which is the most elite unit in the office. Major Crimes handles the biggest cases around. John successfully convicted the killer of Ermias Asghedom, aka “Nipsey Hussle,” a Grammy-award-winning rap artist. Such high-profile cases can be a pressure-cooker, but John is always the calm eye in any storm.

But John gave his all to every case, whether it made huge headlines or not. I remember walking into a courtroom in Long Beach where John was cleaning up his belongings after having just sentenced a murderer he had tried and convicted there. We exchanged friendly words and he left, at which point I chatted with the judge and the court staff outside his presence. They told me that he had given possibly the most organized and impressive presentation of a case they had ever seen. (That’s pretty good, because they had seen me put on a case too–and without any false modesty, I’m not too bad . . . as long as you like your presentations thorough, as opposed to bare-bones. My juries have always seemed to appreciate the thorough approach.) The comments that the judge and court staff made about John left an impression on me. I have always been impressed with the work of the Major Crimes DDAs, but the praise of a judge and his staff is some of the highest praise you can get, and John had it.

Being a top-flight trial attorney has not always been a characteristic of elected District Attorneys in our county–but if you’re a thoughtful trial attorney with judgment, I think that can give you an important perspective that people in the top spot sometimes lack. If you’ve been in the trenches; talked to moms who lost their sons to gang violence; spoken to unreasonable prospective jurors; wrangled with difficult and/or unreasonable judges; faced obstreperous defense attorneys who casually malign your character without a sliver of a basis . . . if you’ve done these things, it gives you a frame of reference that helps you assess cases and policies with an informed outlook.

Here’s what you need to know about John: he cares about holding violent criminals accountable for their crimes and keeping society safe. He believes in proportional justice for people who have committed less severe crimes. He has sound judgment and a serene and poised demeanor. He also has an interesting background that gives him greater insight than most have about crime in the inner city. You can read all about his background on his “about” page, but here’s a teaser that tells you John has a life experience that is not necessarily typical of every prosecutor:

I was born and raised in Passaic, NJ. Passaic is an old industrial working-class city in Northern New Jersey, about 30 minutes from New York City. My mom and dad passed away when I was two years old and five years old, respectively. My eldest sister, who had three children of her own, took me in and raised me and four others as a single mother. My sister worked full-time on the second shift, making it even more challenging for her to parent five children aged 5-13.

My sister, Ora Jones, whom I often refer to as mom, was a superwoman who led by example. She sacrificed much of her own life to provide for our well-being. Anything good about me is because of her. She instilled the values of hard work, persistence, sacrifice, respect for others, and service to others in all of us. I carry those values with me to this day.

I was born in one of the most tumultuous years in U.S. history, 1968. Being born in 1968 meant I was in my early teens when crack cocaine dropped like a bomb in cities all over the country. Seemingly overnight, a neighborhood became a “hood.” Seemingly overnight, many hard-working and respected men and women became crack-addicted zombies. Many of my friends who were good students or great athletes began hustling on the streets for fast and easy money. An already uneven playing field for young men my age became a minefield. The temptation to sell crack and make lots of money and the pitfall of addiction combined to create a dangerous landscape. Along with the drug trade came the ancillary problems of violence, crime, and more aggressive policing. This was the cauldron in which my young adult character was forged.

Fortunately, I had made it to my early teens before that bomb went off. My safe and nurturing home environment, combined with the values instilled in me early in life, helped me navigate a challenging environment that required a significant amount of discipline. Many of my friends, whom I loved then as I do now, succumbed to the attractive nuisance of drug dealing or addiction. Some of my friends went in and out of a revolving door of incarceration, while others, even less fortunate, started getting high on their own supply. Some who got involved in the drug game lived, and some died. There was no escaping the impact of drugs in the 80s in my neighborhood. We were all impacted by the crack epidemic in one way or another. For those who survived those dark days, we never want to see that history be repeated.

John knows how crime affects people in underprivileged areas in a way many District Attorneys can only imagine.

Plus, to be an effective District Attorney, you have to be a good communicator. And John is that.

Another anecdote: early in Gascon’s tenure, I attended a candlelight vigil for victims’ rights–a concept that Gascon did not seem to hold in high regard, in my opinion. The vigil was in front of the Hall of Justice, and John spoke. He was articulate and compelling. You felt his passion for his job and for victims, and his empathy for the harm they have suffered–not just at the hands of defendants who violently took the lives of their loved ones, but also at the hands of a system (now tragically including the District Attorney) that seems to think they just need to keep their mouths shut.

Well, that’s not John. And after I heard his speech, and after the event was winding down, I approached him and told him: you know, you could do a much better job yourself than the guy who’s there now. Have you given any thought to eventually running against him? And with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, John allowed as how he was already thinking about that.

I’m thrilled that he decided to move forward with it. But John doesn’t have the money of a Nathan Hochman. So you’re not necessarily seeing a lot of TV commercials for John, or hearing radio ads for him, or getting mailers from him.

But you know whose backing John does have? John has the backing of the Deputy District Attorneys of Los Angeles County. A plebiscite was held in January, and John ran away with it. That should tell you something about the kind of D.A. he is. Here’s a quote from the story in the Met News (a great local legal publication that almost always gets it right) about the plebiscite:

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John McKinney is overwhelmingly favored by the county’s prosecutors to head their office, a plebiscite reveals, with McKinney attracting 67.4 percent of the 355 ballots cast, and incumbent George Gascón drawing only 1.7 percent.

The plebiscite was conducted by a 13-member group calling itself Ethical D.A.s, headed by Deputy District Attorney John Lewin. It acted, Lewin said yesterday, in response to an endorsement on Dec. 20 by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys’ Board of Directors of Eric Siddall, who was the ADDA’s vice president until he announced his candidacy.

There are “less than 10 people” on the board, Lewin noted.

He complained that the ADDA refused to urge participation in the plebiscite and will not announce the results.

The tallying of online votes was done by Simply Voting Inc., a Montreal-based company. Lewin noted that its services have been utilized by the ADDA.

His comments yesterday to the MetNews appear below.

In the plebiscite—the results of which were released Sunday—Siddall came in second, with 15.3 percent of the votes, and with Deputy District Attorneys Maria Ramirez receiving 12.4 percent and Jonathan Hatami attaining 2.3 percent.

John beat the closest contender by nearly 50 points.

I like Eric Siddall and Maria Ramirez. And even Hatami–who has a reputation in our office of being a bit full of himself–would be far better than Gascon.

But you should vote for John McKinney. This is an election where the people who make it to the runoff will be separated by just a few thousand votes. Your vote will matter.

Vote for John McKinney for D.A.

2/28/2024

Two Weeks in the Life of Yulia Navalnaya

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:36 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Alexie Navalny’s widow, Yulia, warned the European Parliament that Vladimir Putin is capable of anything and offered insight into how the West can confront and defeat the monster:

If you really want to defeat Putin, you have to become an innovator. And you have to stop being boring. You can’t hurt Putin with another resolution or another set of sanctions that is no different from the previous ones. You can’t defeat him by thinking he’s a man of principle who has morals and rules. And Alexei realized that a long time ago. You are not dealing with a politician, but with a bloody monster. Putin is a leader of an organized criminal gang. This includes poisoners and assassins but they’re just puppets. The most important thing is the people close to Putin — his friends, associates and keepers of mafia money.

To combat Putin, the same methods used to combat organized crime must be employed, she said.

“No diplomatic notes, but investigations into the financial machinations. Not statements of concern, but a search for mafia associates in your countries, for the discreet lawyers and financiers who are helping Putin and his friends to hide money.”

Meanwhile, knowing the threat that Yulia poses, the Kremlin is working overtime in a disinformation campaign to undermine her as she becomes the face of the opposition. Trying to make her appear disloyal to her husband, doctored videos and claims about affairs and abortions, etc. are being widely circulated on social media:

Lies about Navalnaya having affairs and abortions and not caring about her husband’s death are being shared widely on Telegram channels, Russian state-run media, and social media accounts controlled by groups with close ties to the Kremlin. The campaign, which features fake videos and doctored images, continues to gain momentum as Navalnaya speaks out about Navalny’s death and criticizes Russian president Vladimir Putin…

“The Kremlin is using gendered disinformation campaigns to crush dissent at home and to undermine democracy world over,” Kristina Wilfore, director of innovation and global projects at Reset, tells WIRED. “Rather than stand up to Vladimir Putin, social media platforms continue to provide the means for massive amplification of deeply harmful and defamatory rhetoric that puts women at risk and weaponizes gender.”

In the midst of all of this, Yulia has been planning a funeral for her husband. A big worry is how the authorities will respond to the crowds:

Alexei Navalny’s funeral will be held in Moscow on Friday, his wife Yulia announced, but she said she was unsure if it would pass off peacefully and that plans for a civil memorial service had been blocked.
Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokesperson, posted on X that a service for Navalny would be held on Friday afternoon in the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God in the Moscow district of Maryino where Navalny used to live…

It was not immediately clear how the authorities would ensure crowd control.
But judging from previous gatherings of Navalny supporters – whom Russian authorities have designated as U.S.-backed extremists – a heavy police presence is likely and the authorities will break up anything they deem to resemble a political demonstration under protest laws.

Yulia on X:

Two people are to blame for the fact that we do not have a place for a civil memorial service and farewell to Alexei – Vladimir Putin and Sergei Sobyanin. People in the Kremlin killed him, then they mocked Alexei’s body, then they mocked his mother, and now they mock his memory.

We don’t want any special treatment – just to give people the opportunity to say goodbye to Alexey normally. Just don’t bother me please.

I hope that Yulia continues to be surrounded by a solid team of strong people who are equally committed to the cause. She is on a difficult journey and she’ll need the strength. Surely the journey will only get more difficult as time goes on. She has my deep admiration and respect.

—Dana

Supreme Court Will Decide Trump’s Immunity Claim

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:10 pm



[guest post by Dana]

The Supreme Court will hear Trump’s immunity claims, it was announced today:

The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to decide whether Donald Trump may claim immunity in special counsel Jack Smith’s election subversion case, adding another explosive appeal from the former president to its docket and further delaying his federal trial.

The court agreed to expedite the case and hear arguments the week of April 22…

The decision is a significant victory for Trump for at least two reasons: He will now be able to argue for sweeping presidential immunity that, if granted, could undermine the bevy of legal challenges he faces, and he will also be able to push off a trial, likely for several weeks at least.

According to the order, the legal question the Court will decide is “Whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”

If you recall, Trump lost his immunity appeal in early February when a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit found that he had no immunity from federal charges as former president. They wrote: “For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defenses of any other criminal defendant.”

Donald Trump posted this bullshit after the Supreme Court announcement:

Legal Scholars are extremely thankful for the Supreme Court’s Decision today to take up Presidential Immunity. Without Presidential Immunity, a President will not be able to properly function, or make decisions, in the best interest of the United States of America. Presidents will always be concerned, and even paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation after they leave office. This could actually lead to the extortion and blackmail of a President. The other side would say, “If you don’t do something, just the way we want it, we are going to go after you when you leave office, or perhaps even sooner.”

Just incredible.

Judge Luttig was asked for his reaction to the news while making an appearance on CNN:

This is a momentous decision just to hear this case. There was no reason in the world for the Supreme Court to take this case. The three-judge panel…had written a masterful opinion denying the president’s claims of absolute immunity. Under the Constitutional laws of the U.S., there has never been an argument that a former president is immune from prosecution for crimes he committed while in office.

Compare and contrast said reactions…

–Dana

Mitch McConnell to Step Down After Election

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:30 pm



[guest post by JVW]

From National Review Online:

Mitch McConnell announced on Wednesday that he will step down as the Senate Republican leader in November, ending his tenure as the longest-serving Senate leader in history.

“This will be my last term as Republican Leader of the Senate,” the 82-year-old veteran of the chamber said to his colleagues on the Senate floor. “I’m not going anywhere… It’s time for the next generation of leadership.”

McConnell leaves behind a formidable and expansive legacy as the steward of the Senate GOP. In 2016, he rallied the Republican caucus and the then-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley to prevent Barack Obama from installing abortion-advocate Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court. Such an effort made possible the appointment of Justice Gorsuch and the eventual reversal of Roe v. Wade. Amid the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation circus, McConnell unified his party, and Republicans again retained their majority for two more critical years.

Besides health issues, one reason that Sen. McConnell might be stepping down is the difficulty of uniting a fractious party, especially in the Age of Donald Trump, as shown by the recent failure of what I saw as a decent immigration compromise:

“I’m unconflicted about the good within our country and the irreplaceable role we play as the leader of the free world,” he said. “It’s why I worked so hard to get the national security package passed earlier this month. Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time.”

Those of you who have read my posts over the past decade know that I am a fan of Cocaine Mitch, though I do believe that the time has come, especially after we all witnessed the rapid deterioration of the late Dianne Feinstein. He’s up for reelection in 2026, and it’s pretty clear at this point that he should leave the Senate then, if not sooner. Kentucky currently has a Democrat governor, so perhaps Senator McConnell needs to hold on to his seat until the next midterm elections to prevent the governor from replacing him with a Democrat.

Nevertheless, here’s saluting Addison Mitchell McConnell III (gotta love those Southern gentry families) for his faithful service and stalwart leadership. I fear the GOP will find him hard to replace.

– JVW

2/27/2024

Constitutional Vanguard: No, the Cases Against Trump Are Not “Lawfare”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:58 am



In my latest newsletter, which is over 10,000 words long, I once again pick on Sarah Isgur. Today I am taking issue with her contention that “Republican voters’ concerns about ‘lawfare’ aren’t entirely unfounded.” Specifically, I note various ways in which her presentation of the question omits important arguments that tend to dispel the notion that the cases against Trump are “lawfare.”

Yes, it’s long, but don’t fret. There’s a summary up front that’s no more than 1,700 words, which isn’t too bad. There are even bullet points, which are barely over 1,000 words. You can just read the bullet points and get the gist.

I’ve made the first 4,700 words or so available for all, and the remaining bit, over 5,000 words, accessible to the paid elite. But anyone can read the bullet-point summary up top and easily comprehend the nub of all my arguments.

Excerpt from the free portion:

Isgur suggests that even the classified documents case might be lawfare, because there is a precedent discussed in the recent report by Robert Hur (the special counsel in charge of the Biden documents case) in which Ronald Reagan was allowed to retain his own handwritten notes, which contained highly classified material, even after his presidency had ended. Isgur says Trump supporters are “left to wonder” why Trump is being treated differently, darkly suggesting that the reason is because Trump is running against Joe Biden.

What Isgur knows, but does not tell her readers, is that the Hur report clearly lays out why DOJ thinks Trump is different from Biden or even Reagan. Specifically, Hur says in his executive summary, which Isgur says she has read, that “after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite. According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for many months, but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it.” That was not true of Biden or Reagan. Hur explains that such aggravating facts present a circumstance why DOJ is compelled to bring a prosecution that it might not otherwise have brought. Isgur should have explained this to her readers.

Excerpt from the paid portion, addressing the significance of reported comments that Biden is impatient with the pace of the Trump prosecutions:

In fact, the Department of Justice has a long and proud history of independence from the politics of the White House. This independence is not beyond theoretical question regarding how total it may be (see: the so-called “unitary executive” theory) and the history is not entirely without blemish (see: the way that presidents like Nixon and Trump have threatened DOJ’s independence, to cite two examples among many). But generally speaking, DOJ has done an admirable job of keeping politics out of its prosecutions. The Department has rules about not interfering with elections, and about walling off the White House from decision making in politically sensitive cases. The Department is very good about this, in my judgment.

And nobody should know this history of independence better than Sarah Isgur, who was once the top spokesperson for the Department of Justice under Donald Trump. Not only should she know about this history of independence, she does know it—very well. I know this for a fact, because I have heard her talk about it many times—like, for example, when she explained why DOJ would never have consulted or even informed Biden before executing a search warrant on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

Yet the concept of DOJ’s independence, which one would think is particularly relevant to a discussion of whether Joe Biden is calling the shots in the Trump prosecutions, is oddly absent from Isgur’s entire piece. Indeed, in a paragraph whose topic sentence claims that GOP voters have some basis to be concerned about lawfare against Trump, Isgur cites Joe Biden’s dumb statements, without making even the slightest reference to DOJ’s history of independence, or to the overwhelming evidence in the Politico article she cites showing that DOJ has been acting independently under Biden in various politically charged decisions and prosecutions.

Read it here. Subscribe here.

2/23/2024

Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:06 am



[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Trump’s shortlist for VP, confirmed by the man-child himself: Byron Donalds, Tulsi Gabbard, Kristi Noem, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, and Vivek Ramaswamy.

DeSantis said he is not interested in the position.

Second news item

Florida bill banning social media use for under age 16 headed to governor’s desk:

The text of the bill creates a new section in the Florida Statutes that requires social media platforms to prohibit minors who are younger than 16 years old from creating accounts, to “use reasonable age verification methods to verify the age of each account holder,” and to provide a disclaimer warning about social media being “harmful to mental health” and using “design features that have addictive qualities.” Violations of the law, if passed, would be deemed “an unfair and deceptive trade practice” and the state government can collect a civil penalty of up to $50,000 per violation. If a minor account holder asks for their account to be deleted, or a parent or legal guardian asks for a minor’s account to be deleted, and the platform does not comply with the request within the statutory deadline (5 or 10 days, respectively), it would be liable for $10,000 per violation, plus court costs and attorney fees.

Concerns about First Amendment violations include: parents, not government should be making these decisions for their kids, parents are having the choice to decide taken away from them, the bill deplatforms young people.

Additionally:

The specific mechanism of HB-1 of requiring users to upload personal IDs, documents, and other information “would cause manifest cybersecurity vulnerabilities, it would violate the First Amendment many times over according to established precedent, and it would just waste taxpayer money,” she argued. “Preventing minors from accessing social media and requiring age verification means that all users in Florida will have to upload government IDs, face scans, social security numbers or other invasive means to endless platforms including TikTok, which many believe is a cybersecurity risk. Age verification is identity verification particularly when a parent needs to approve a child’s use. The parent has to prove they are not only an adult, but the parent to the specific child.”

Gov. DeSantis also thinks it has problems:

“I’m sympathetic to, as a parent, what’s going on with our youth,” DeSantis said at a press conference last month, according to WFLA. “But I also understand that to just say that someone that’s 15 just cannot have it no matter what, even if the parent consents, that may create some legal issues.”

Third news item

President Zelensky was interviewed by reporter Bret Baier, who asked the Ukrainian leader if he had heard Tucker Carlson’s interview with President Putin:

“I heard some messages in the media, and also my guys who are advisers told me. . .I don’t have time to hear more than two hours of bullshit about us. About the world, about the United States, about our relations.”

And on a serious note:

BAIER: So as you look at 2024 and those goals, what do you see? You know, one, if you get the funding from the U.S., what does it look like? And the other way, if you don’t, what does it look like?

ZELENSKY: Some journalist shouted, “Will Ukrainians survive without Congress support?” And this often the last months, as I often hear such question Will we survive? Of course, but not all of us. And if we understand this surprise, if the world is ready for this, okay, you will see it. But it’s tragedy. It will be tragedy for all of us, not only for Ukraine, not only for Ukrainians, for all Europe.

Meanwhile, frustrated by the GOP’s lack of vote to aid Ukraine, other avenues are being considered by Democrats:

House Democrats and some Republicans are preparing fallback plans to force a vote on Ukraine aid, with Democratic leaders drafting a special rule that could enable a narrow bipartisan majority to bypass Speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) in the coming weeks.

The plans to use rare parliamentary procedures are in the early stages and might never come into play – Democrats preference is for Speaker Johnson to allow a vote on the Senate’s $95 billion bill. . .

According to Pascrell (D-N.J.), Democrats will indeed “bring Ukraine funding to the House floor”.

Fourth news item

No exceptions for girls under 13:

A bill that would have allowed physicians to give children under 13 years old abortion care, as long as the physicians are licensed and check the child’s age, failed in a House subcommittee on Tuesday.

The bill, HB 2603, was introduced by Rep. Gloria Johnson (D – Knoxville). The bill would have ensured physicians could not face prosecution if they gave abortion care to a pregnant child who was under 13 years old. They would have been required to verify the child’s age before giving abortion care.

“This bill, HB 2603, if passed would codify the right to potentially life-saving abortions for anyone under the age of 13. In current Tennessee law, no child under the age of 13 can legally consent to sex, so this bill simply protects these children, all of whom were impregnated by rape,” said Johnson.

Republican objections to the bill were summed up as follows:

Rep. Michele Carringer (R – Knoxville) said according to the language of the bill, children could get abortion care at any stage of pregnancy and for any reason, without the need for a medical emergency or necessity.

“The thing I truly have problem with is, this is any time during the pregnancy. This could be right up to the day before they would deliver the child, without any medical problems or anything,” said Carringer.

“This bill provides no exceptions of two 13-year-olds having sex and becoming pregnant,” he said. “It makes the assumption that every 13-year-old becomes pregnant from other means other than, I mean you could have two 13-year-olds having sex, or 13 and 14-year-olds having sex, or 13 and 15-year-olds having sex and becoming pregnant. Your bill provides no, I mean it’s just, I’m just taken back at how this bill reads.”

The concerns were addressed:

Johnson said the bill does not include 13-year-olds because she said 13-year-olds can legally consent to sex, but 12-year-olds cannot consent to sex in any way. In Tennessee law, age can mitigate statutory rape charges. It’s known as a Romeo and Juliet law, and several other states have similar laws.

“This just deals with a pregnant 12-year-old, 11-year-old, 10-year-old, 9-year-old,” she said. “This is just to allow a child and their family to protect that child from losing their childhood, and losing their life.”

As it stands, young girls – children -who have been raped will be compelled to go through with the resulting pregnancy, no matter how much it threatens their physical health, or emotional and mental well-being.

Fifth news item

Taking his colleagues to the woodshed:

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) on Wednesday criticized his Republican colleagues for using a former FBI informant’s claims in their impeachment inquiry even though the statements hadn’t been verified.

“We were warned at the time that we received the document outlining this witness’s testimony. … We were warned that the credibility of this statement was not known,” Buck said on CNN’s “The Source.”

“And yet, people, my colleagues went out and talk to the public about how this was credible and how it was damning and how it proved President Biden’s — at the time Vice President Biden’s — complicity in receiving bribes,” he added.

Heh.

Sixth news item

Prime Minister Netanyahu said no:

Israeli lawmakers voted on Wednesday to back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of any “unilateral” recognition of a Palestinian state as international calls have grown for the revival of Palestinian statehood negotiations.

Issued amid the war in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the symbolic declaration also received backing from members of the opposition, with 99 of 120 lawmakers voting in support, the Knesset spokesperson said.

The vote drew condemnation from the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, which accused Israel of holding the rights of the Palestinian people hostage by forceful occupation of territories where Palestinians seek to establish a state.

“The ministry reaffirms that the State of Palestine’s full membership in the United Nations and its recognition by other nations does not require permission from Netanyahu,” it said in a statement.

Seventh news item

It is not possible to take the Republican Party seriously:

MAGA supporter Jack Prosobiec addresses audience at this year’s CPAC. I believe he is saying the quiet part out loud – and what he is proclaiming is worrisome, at the very least:

And then there is this, which mocks the insurrection of Jan. 6:

The game can be played over several modes, including “Stop the Steal,” “Fake News,” “Peaceful Protest,” “It’s a Setup,” “Babbitt Murder” — a reference to the Jan. 6 rioter who was shot and killed by police after trying to climb barriers at the Capitol — “Have Faith” and “Political Prisoners.” As you play each mode, videos from the insurrection play on a screen above.

Eighth news item

Even in death, Putin fears the power and draw of Alexei Navalny:

A spokeswoman for the late Alexei Navalny said on Friday that Russian authorities had told his mother he would be buried in the penal colony where he died unless she agreed within three hours to lay him to rest without a public funeral…

His mother Lyudmila, 69, has been demanding for days that authorities hand over his body to be buried in a way that will allow his friends, family and supporters to pay their respects. Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh posted on X: “An hour ago, an investigator called Alexei’s mother and gave her an ultimatum. Either she agrees within three hours to a secret funeral without a public farewell, or Alexei will be buried in the penal colony.”

Yarmysh said Navalny’s mother was refusing and continuing to demand that his body be handed to her. There was no immediate comment from the authorities.

Keep bullying and intimidating an older woman who is grieving the loss of her son. It’s a great look before an election. You can almost hear Putin seething and smarting behind closed doors, “Will no one rid me of this hero to the people.” Keep on pushing Navalny’s mother like this and you just keep reinforcing to the Russian people what a hero and now martyr Alexei Navalny is.

Ninth news item

State Dept. overturns Pompeo doctrine in the middle of the war:

Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on Friday that Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank is “inconsistent with international law,” reversing a Trump-era decision that had overturned decades of U.S. policy on the issue.

…Blinken’s decision to reverse what has been known as the “Pompeo doctrine” comes as a response to the Israeli government’s announcement on Thursday that it plans to expand the settlements in the West Bank, a U.S. official told Axios. The move has been considered by the State Department for the last three years.

“We are disappointed with the announcement [of new settlements]. It has been a long-standing policy of both Democratic and Republican administrations that new settlements are counterproductive to achieving enduring peace. They are also inconsistent with international law,” Blinken said.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman criticized the decision:

Curious that President Biden has allowed the Pompeo doctrine to remain in place for three years until now. Also, how wise is it to antagonize one of our closest allies while they are in the…middle of a war??

–Dana

2/22/2024

George Washington Avoids a Self-Aggrandizing Title

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:09 am



[guest post by JVW]

Today leaves us a mere eight years shy of the tricentennial of the birth of the Indispensable American, our first President George Washington. In the — gulp! — ten years that I have been guest blogging here I have tried to make it a tradition to mark the Great Man’s birthday by discussing one of the aspects of his life which helped shaped who are are as a country. Past entries are as follows:

2015 – George Washington’s Birthday
2016 – George Washington Quiets the Rebellion
2017 – George Washington Fears for His Country’s Future
2018 – George Washington Agrees to Serve Another Term
2019 – George Washington Goes Back to His Farm
2020 – George Washington Rallies the Troops
2021 – damn you, COVID
2022 – George Washington Takes Stock of the Senate
2023 – George Washington Goes to Church

Because this is an election year, I find myself thinking about how we Americans view our President. That, and the Roman Empire of course. I have long complained about my fellow countrymen and countrywomen’s predilection for exalting our Chief Executive and turning him into some sort of demi-God. We’ve seen this tendency from both parties, most explicitly within the past sixteen years. Part of this is the modern tendency of the President to behave like a celebrity, dominating news cycles, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, gallivanting across the country and the world in an effort to keep his name front and center. As for me, I prefer a Calvin Coolidge type, a salt-of-the-earth sort of fellow of acknowledged ability and strong character, and I lament that we no longer seem to recognize the virtue in that type, preferring instead the narcissists and popinjays with a high Q-score.

George Washington was a proud and dignified man who was born into a landholding family and who increased his own station in life by hard work and an advantageous marriage. He observed a stiff formality in his adult life, preferring a courtly bow by way of greeting rather than the more familiar handshake. Once he became the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775, he was usually formally addressed as “His Excellency, General George Washington,” a practice that according to biographer Joseph Ellis sprung from congratulatory letters addressed thusly sent to him by the Massachusetts and New York legislatures. (Colonial governors were also regularly addressed as “Your Excellency.”) Phillis Wheatley, a slave and poet, sent the General an original work of hers along with a letter wishing “your Excellency all possible success in the great cause you are so generously engaged in.” It was an apt designation for the man who carried with him the hopes of independence of his fellow colonists.

At one point, His Excellency’s insistence upon a proper title held up a British offer to allow the defeated Continental Army to escape from Brooklyn Heights to Manhattan after the Battle of Long Island in March of 1776. British General William Howe sent a letter to his American counterpart proposing lenient terms, but addressed it to “George Washington, Esq. &c. &c. &c.” His Excellency, already angry about the battlefield loss, refused to receive the letter. This was not an ego trip from the Continental General. When General Washington’s staff explained that he would not receive a letter so disrespectfully addressed, General Howe’s adjutant countered that to address his opponent in such respectful terms would lend legitimacy to to the rebellion. And so came an impasse.

But at the point where the revolution had been won and the first President set about establishing how the new Chief Executive would serve in this important role, the Great Man’s republican nature kicked in. Over in the Senate, a debate about how to address the national leader was underway. Vice-President John Adams, presiding over the upper chamber, suggested the grandiose titles “His Elective Majesty,” “His Mightiness,” and, incredibly enough, “His Highness, the President of the United States of America and the Protector of their Liberties.” Other members of Congress proposed “Your Highness” and “Your Most Benign Highness.” One Senator who at least understood the electoral process suggested “His Elected Highness.”

Then apparently one Congressman, whose name is unfortunately lost to history, read the Constitution and saw in Article 1, Section 9 that “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States,” and that was that. So instructed, Congress settled upon the title we have come to know, “the President of the United States of America.” In a further exercise in modesty, the holder of the office would come to be addressed as simply “Mr. President.”

Nowhere in the record is any indication of George Washington’s disposition in the title debate, but it seems unlikely that the figure who embodied our battle against monarchy would have desired a florid title better suited to heredity succession. The man who twice gave up power in order to return to his farm would not be likely to covet the title of “majesty” or “highness,” so I think it’s a safe bet that our first President gladly accepted the decision of Congress. In her terrific book Star-Spangled Manners, the inimitable Judith Martin, who writes as Miss Manners, explains the importance of President Washington appearing regal despite the humble title, while being forced to make it all up on the fly:

After all that work, a protocol-pooped first government turned over to the President the stylistically impossible task of appearing as both humble and exalted; a federal authority respectful of, but not subservient to, state authority; an unpretentious citizen thinking himself no better than his meanest countryman yet a figure of enormous dignity, respected, if not venerated, by all. Even the inaugural proceedings, the ceremony to raise to the country’s highest honor someone who was expected to make it clear that he wasn’t taking it too personally, was left to the President’s own design, with only the oath of office specified.

Today, long after kaisers have been displaced by chancellors and kings have given way to prime ministers, the world can look to the example of George Washington, Great Man though he was, as the model of the democratically elected leader of a republic, the first among equals. It’s another reason to remember him today and rejoice that it was he who set the course for our fledgling democracy.

– JVW

2/21/2024

Not All Women Are Equal: Women’s Organizations Everywhere, It Seems

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:24 pm



[guest post by Dana]

After her husband’s death was confirmed, Yulia Navalnaya released a video in which she addressed the Russian people. Completely shattered and yet defiant, Navalnaya bravely reassured her husband’s supporters that she “will continue to fight for the freedom of our country”:

“Vladimir Putin killed my husband…The most important thing we can do for Alexey and for ourselves is to keep fighting more desperately and more fiercely than before… We know exactly why Putin killed Alexey three days ago. We will definitely find out exactly who carried out this crime and how it was carried out. We will name names and show faces.”

Moscow claims that the accusations are “absolutely unacceptable.” Yeah. Whatever.

In the face of grief, Yulia Navalnaya shows both grace and courage. She understands her loss is also a great loss to freedom-seeking Russians. She knows that her husband was not just a Putin critic but a brave man who relentlessly mocked Putin and his cronies, and threatened them at every turn with his wit and smarts. And especially because he remained bold and brave despite their cruelty. Putin could no longer abide that. I pray that Yulia Navalnay is made of the same stern stuff as her husband. I pray that despite, or because of her grief and anger, Putin finds himself outraged by another Navalny troublemaker speaking freedom and refusing to stand down.

She certainly has her work cut out for, given that the presidential election is March 15 and her husband’s supporters are being arrested:

Arrested for leaving flowers, Navalny mourners fear worse to come. At least 366 people were detained over the weekend, leading to concern that the arrests could signal greater government repression ahead of Russia’s elections in March.

In contrast to the courageous Yulia Navalnay, the Board of INSPIRE, which sponsors a Women’s Day event in Canada , demonstrated anything but courage. To the contrary:

Leah Goldstein seemed like a natural fit to be the keynote speaker at an International Women’s Day event in Ontario, Canada, next month. A Canadian cyclist, she made history as the first woman to win a grueling 3,000-mile bike race across the United States. But in January, five months after accepting the invitation, Goldstein was told she was no longer invited to speak.

Can you guess why she was disinvited? Sure you can:

The cause, the event organizers said, was “a small but growing and extremely vocal group” that took issue with Goldstein’s service three decades ago in the Israeli army.

“Our focus at INSPIRE has been and will always be to create safe spaces to honour, share, and celebrate the remarkable stories of women and non-binary individuals,” the women’s empowerment group said in a statement. “In recognition of the current situation and the sensitivity of the conflict in the Middle East, the Board of INSPIRE will be changing our keynote speaker.”

Oh, bullshit. Quite clearly they are not about honoring, sharing, and celebrating the remarkable stories of women. Only certain women… What a disgrace. To show such disrespect to an invited keynote speaker because she served in the military is an Israeli Jew is enraging. But sadly, unsurprising.

On her website, Goldstein a posted about incident:

It has taken me a while to wrap my head around your decision to remove me as INSPIRE’s International Women’s Day “Inspire Inclusion” Keynote Speaker. I was hurt. I was angry. But most of all I was heartbroken.

I’ve been a speaker for nearly 10 years and have told my story in front of real estate agents, business managers, garbage collectors, CEOs, motorbike dealers, government agencies and many diverse women’s groups. Not once has someone (to my face, to the organizers, nor anonymously) ever claimed to have been offended by my presentation. Not once.

I must assume you hired me because I speak about overcoming sexism and failures. Correct? I speak to inspire and motivate. I speak about obstacles, and how to overcome them. I speak about bravery and growth and standing up for one another.

I don’t believe you hired me because I was a soldier and a cop. While these jobs are part of my story (and I’m very grateful to have had these experiences), they do not define me as a human being. As a Jewish woman, I would never be offended if a Palestinian woman were to speak about her obstacles and life journey. I thought that’s what women were supposed to do for each other – listen and support!

Instead, it seems you have chosen to give in to threats and hate – and this is the saddest part. You removed me and made a statement to your audience, without even giving me a chance to make my own. Why wasn’t I contacted personally? Don’t you think I at least deserved that tiny shred of dignity?

I will not pursue legal action, although I have been advised to do so. That’s not who I am. Right now, I am sad. I’m mad. And I am so disappointed. For now, I can only live in hope. I hope for peace. I hope that humans can learn to treat each other with respect and love. And I hope the future includes brave women who understand the fragile thread holding all of us together.

A smart and direct response from a classy woman. Shame on the women’s group for knuckling under to the outraged few. I hope the whiny-ass babies on the Board at INSPIRE find their missing spine. Are they afraid Goldstein will bite? Do they think she’ll attack them? Or are they just afraid of the worst possible thing they can imagine happening: Goldstein standing at the podium, sharing her life story, and graciously encouraging and lifting up women of all stripes – while being an Israeli Jew?

–Dana

Beware Conventional Wisdom, Bragg Indictment Edition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:16 am



As a longtime critic of Big Media, I am always on the alert for “tells” that suggest Big Media might be getting something wrong. One “tell” that crops up again and again is herd mentality. When literally everywhere you turn, from newspapers to cable news networks to online publications, everyone mindlessly repeats the same Conventional Wisdom . . . be careful. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Often they’re right. But it’s a sign that you need to carefully analyze the claim that is being mindlessly repeated. Especially when there is no real analysis of the contrary viewpoint — just an impatient dismissal of it without any attempt to analyze the facts.

Take the lab leak theory, for example. We still don’t know what caused the COVID virus to emerge, but for a while there, the Conventional Wisdom was that it was ridiculous to think it came from a lab. Big Media types never gave you a real analysis of the theory. They just impatiently dismissed it.

I think the same thing is happening with the Bragg indictment. This is not going to be a long post about the Bragg indictment. I have already written my detailed thoughts about why I, seemingly almost alone amongst legal commentators, think that the case might be solid, depending on the quality of the evidence.

My point here is, with the case seemingly first on the criminal docket for Donald Trump, you are increasingly hearing the Conventional Wisdom that the case is political garbage. Literally everywhere you turn, you will hear people shrug it off as an unimportant case. And everyone they know thinks the same thing. And nobody questions it.

It is less important than the other three, I agree. But I think it’s important.

Rather than reprise my previous screeds, which you can revisit in the links above if you like, I will simply cite a line from the judge’s recent opinion denying Donald Trump’s motions to dismiss the case. The line comes within a detailed discussion of a multi-factor test analyzing the issue of pre-indictment delay, so it could be easy to overlook. But the judge who wrote the opinion has a greater familiarity with the nature of this case than most people repeating the Conventional Wisdom about the case. And here is what the judge says:

[W]hile it is true that the charges involve the lowest level felony and no one suffered physical harm, it can hardly be said that the allegations are not severe. The People claim that the Defendant paid an individual $130,000 to conceal a sexual encounter in an effort to influence the 2016 Presidential election and then falsified 34 business records to cover up the payoff. In this Court’s view, those are serious allegations.

That’s true in my view as well.

I still don’t know what evidence Bragg has. His prosecutors might come up short. That is a real possibility.

But it is also a real possibility that about a month from now, the Conventional Wisdom will start to turn. And that people will realize: hey, this actually is a serious case after all.

In case that happens . . . you heard it here first.

2/20/2024

Compare and Contrast: Trump on Navalny, Haley responds

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:34 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Days after Alexei Navalny’s death was announced, Donald Trump posted about it. Well, after a fashion… Typical of Trump, he not only neglected to mention the despicable individual responsible for killing Navalny (President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump just happens to admire), but made it all about himself instead:

“The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country,” he wrote. “It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction. Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions are DESTROYING AMERICA. WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE, A FAILING NATION! MAGA2024.”

Trump’s challenger, the still-trailing Nikki Haley commented on the self-serving statement made by Trump:

“This is on the heels of Trump saying that he would encourage Putin to invade any NATO countries that didn’t pull their weight – And now the only comment he’s going to make about Navalny is not hitting Putin for murdering him, not praising Navalny for fighting the corruption that was happening in Russia. But instead he’s going to compare himself to Navalny and the victim that he is in his court cases?” she said.

While this is but one moment during the campaign, it speaks volumes about Trump and Haley, and how they view Navalny, Putin, Russia, and the sacrifice the Putin critic made for the people of Russia. So knowing that, how can Republicans choose Trump over Haley if they are truly voting for the most intelligent, clear-headed, knowledgeable, and frankly, normal candidate? One candidate who only cares about himself and can make even the most momentous, world-impacting event about himself versus the candidate who sees with clarity the evil that is Putin, the heroics of Navalny, and the obsessive victimhood of a narcissistic man-child. How hard can this be?

There’s so much more that can be said about Trump’s despicable victimhood, but we already know what he’s made of. Republican voters have an opportunity to excise the Party of this insanity. Let’s see if they do. If not, then yet again, the problem continues to be the voters.

Update: Trump spoke to Laura Ingram of Fox News today:

“Navalny is a very sad situation and he’s very brave, he was a very brave guy,” Trump said in response to a question from Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham. “He went back, he could have stayed away, and frankly probably would have been a lot better off staying away and talking from outside of the country as opposed to having to go back in, because people thought that could happen, and it did happen.

“And it’s a horrible thing, but it’s happening in our country, too,” Trump continued, suggesting his criminal indictments — which include two cases stemming from his efforts to overturn his 2020 defeat — are proof that the U.S. is “turning into a communist country in many ways.”

“I got indicted four times … all because of the fact that I’m in politics,” Trump said. “They indicted me on things that are so ridiculous.”

“It is a form of Navalny,” Trump said. “It is a form of communism, of fascism.”

Trump and Navalny, two persecuted peas in a pod, according to Trump. SMDH!!

—-Dana

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