Patterico's Pontifications


Jussie Smollett Sentenced: 150 Days

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:16 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Closing the book (at least until the inevitable appeals are filed) on one of the dumbest stories in the history of celebritydom, the notorious liar Jussie Smollett was sentenced today to five months imprisonment for staging a hate crime against himself over three years ago and then repeatedly lying about it to law enforcement and the court:

After a nearly seven-hour hearing, Judge James Linn sentenced the actor and singer to 150 days in jail and 30 months of probation, and ordered him to pay restitution of just over $120,000 and a $25,000 criminal fine. He could have been sentenced to as much as three years in prison. Immediately after the sentence was read, Smollett repeatedly declared that he was innocent and that he was not suicidal.

“I did not do this. If anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it myself,” Smollett said during an emotional outburst. He left the courtroom with his fist raised, continuing to declare his innocence. “I could have said that I was guilty a long time ago.”

Until now, I was not aware that Mr. Smollett had incriminating evidence against Bill and Hillary Clinton, but I wish him well in the hoosegow anyway.

Linn acknowledged the testimony of defense witnesses who described Smollett as a gentle person and a community advocate, dedicated to social justice. But Smollett has a “dark side,” Linn said, that includes extreme arrogance and narcissism.

“You wanted to make yourself more famous, and for a while it worked,” Linn said. “You actually threw a national pity party for yourself.”

Apparently Judge Linn had never before met a Hollywood celebrity. Also unmoored from reality and prone to fanciful conjecture, it would seem, is Mr. Smollett’s defense attorney:

Smollett’s defense lawyer, Nenye Uche, called for probation, arguing that the crimes his client was convicted of — filing false police reports — weren’t violent, and he doesn’t have a felony record. Smollett’s reputation and career already has been harmed, Uche said, and he’s already paid a fine and done community service. He called the charges against Smollett “a misdemeanor dressed up as a felony.” He asked Linn for mercy and said Smollett has suffered enough.

“Why are we jumping up and down acting like this is a murder case. It’s not,” Uche said, arguing that if Smollett were jailed, he could catch Covid-19 and die. “Sending Mr. Smollett to jail is almost like a death sentence. Yes, it is, because anything medically can go wrong.”

Naturally, the perp had his defenders:

Defense mitigation witnesses, including the former Empire music director, described Smollett as a “loving and wonderful young man” who donated time and money to nonprofits. He received letters of support from several people and groups, including the Black Lives Matter organization, actor Samuel L. Jackson, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

I’m sure that Samuel L. Jackson’s letter would have been far more effective if he had not addressed the judge as “Mothaf***er” and threatened “great vengeance and furious anger.” Associating with the noted twerp, Shelton “Spike” Lee, probably didn’t lend any credibility to Mr. Jackson’s earnest plea either.

Yes, things being how they are Mr. Smollett will probably be furloughed within 30 days, if he even serves any time at all. But at least the next hate crime hoaxer will know to come up with something more plausible than encountering MAGA guys in Chicago at 3:00 am on a freezing cold night while venturing out for some tasty Subway sandwiches. Godspeed to everyone involved in this abject lunacy, and I sincerely hope I never have to write the name Jussie Smollett again.



Open Thread: Jussie Smollett Verdict [Update: Guilty!]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:55 pm

[guest post by JVW]

A verdict has been reached in the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax trial. I don’t know that it has been announced (as of 2:55 pm Pacific time) whether or not the court is going to come back into session this afternoon (it’s pushing 5:00 pm in Chicago) or wait until tomorrow morning.

In casually following the trial, my opinion that Smollett is indeed guilty has not changed, though I do think his defense may have done just enough to get an acquittal by proposing a highly implausible but not impossible narrative that he truly was attacked. It will be interesting to see what the jury has come to believe.

Feel free to discuss this trial and the verdict, when it is finally read.

UPDATE 3:08 pm: It looks like the verdict announcement is going to come today:

UPDATE 3:30 pm: Guilty! Congratulations to the jury for seeing through the defense’s balderdash.

UPDATE 3:35 pm: Guilty on five of the six charges relating to disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. It’s a Class Four Felony and he could be sentenced to as much as three years in prison and fined up to $25,000.



Jussie Smollett Headlines

Filed under: Crime,Law — DRJ @ 3:38 am

[Headlines from DRJ]

Chicago Sun Times Judge unseals records in Jussie Smollett case

The “Empire” actor’s public comments about the case showed he was not concerned about his privacy after controversial decision to dismiss all charges, the judge ruled


Fox News: Onetime Michelle Obama staffer evades subpoena in Smollett-Foxx case, process server says



Well, Whaddaya Know: Charges Against Jussie Smollett Dropped

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:46 am

[guest post by JVW]

They were never going to prosecute someone with so much intersectionality street cred. National Review Online has the details:

Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all the charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who stood accused of staging a hate crime to advance his career.

Smollett was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct last month when police determined that he filed a false report after staging a racially motivated attack on himself with the help of two friends. He had pled not guilty to the charges before prosecutors decided to drop them.

[. . .]

Prosecutors took Smollett’s history of community service into account when deciding to drop the charges, according to a statement released by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office Tuesday afternoon.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the statement said.

It’s Chicago, so naturally corrupt local politicians are part of the story, as is a former Obama Administration official:

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police last week requested an investigation into State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx’s handling of the case on the grounds that she improperly asked [Chicago Police Chief Eddie] Johnson to turn the investigation over to the FBI after Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, requested that she do so at the behest of one of Smollett’s relatives.

“Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation,” Foxx wrote in an email sent two days after the alleged attack.

“OMG this would be a huge victory,” Tchen wrote in response to a text message from Foxx containing the same information as was included in the email.

“I make no guarantees,” Foxx responded, “but I’m trying.”

The FBI did not end up taking control of the probe, but I find it interesting that Ms. Tchen believed that the outcome would be more beneficial to Mr. Smollett if the feds were involved. It makes you wonder if Obama officials have more chits to call in with the feds than they do in the Windy City.

In any case, Jussie Smollett will probably resume his career as if nothing had happened, and he will to his dying day insist upon his version of events which will also gradually come to be accepted among the grievance-mongering left. Thank you, Chicago Police Department, for getting to the bottom of the story. Sorry that the political types are going to undercut all of your work.



Weekend Open Thread

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:42 am

[guest post by Dana]

Let’s go!

First news item

Navalny continues to be an irritant to Moscow, and yet one that also strikes fear in the powers-that-be. He tweets:

The main torment of imprisonment is, of course, the inability to see the faces of your family, to talk to your loved ones. I haven’t had any visits for 8 months and yesterday I was told that I’d be transferred to a cell-type facility for the maximum possible term of 6 months. No visits are allowed there. This means more than a year without a visit. Even maniacs and serial killers serving life sentences have the right to receive a visit, but I don’t. Well, hardships make one tougher, though I don’t understand why this should apply to my children too. But most importantly, when something like this happens to you, you realize how important it is to fight this unscrupulous regime, how important it is to do just about anything in order to throw the yoke of these scoundrels off Russia and dispel the illusion that they have planted in the heads of millions.

Let us try to remain strong and do all we can every day.

Navalny’s daughter told CNN after learning about her father being moved to solitary confinement that Vladimir Putin and the FPS are slowly torturing and killing him.

The particular cruelty of today’s Russian prisons :

One might object that Russia’s history is a litany of imprisonments—nothing new under Putin. This is not quite right since Russian prisons have evolved as reflections of the regimes that have used them to muzzle opposition. We know this from literature: many Russian writers have endured prison and lived to tell about it. Dostoyevsky, in The House of the Dead, relates his experience: collective detention rooms, with their fleas and their filth, but also their sharing of tea and alcohol. The horror was tempered by a kind of camaraderie. If Navalny had the choice, he would surely go back to Dostoyevsky’s time. Putin’s regime is far crueler than the Czars’ ever was. And at the end of the nineteenth century, the Czars were becoming more humane under European influence. Chekov traveled all the way to the penal colony of Sakhalin Island to assess the condition of the prisoners. Each had his stone hut and his garden. The air was pure, as Chekov relates, and the prisoners’ main complaint was that Sakhalin was far from home; they did not want to be buried in Asia, so far from their European birthplace. Navalny would probably like to go back to Chekov’s time—or even to the time of Solzhenitsyn. To be sure, the Gulag Archipelago was a harsh place, where one froze in the winter. But Solzhenitsyn was treated for cancer in the Gulag, where he recovered. And he had the paper and pencil necessary to write his memoirs. Today’s Russia, as revealed by its prisons, is thus crueler than the previous regimes ever were.


The Russia expert who uncovered the poison attack on Navalny on the run from the reach of the Kremlin:

The Bulgarian Russia expert and investigative journalist Christo Grozev wants to leave his adopted country of Austria because he himself has become a target of the Kremlin. Vienna, his home for almost 20 years, has become so dangerous for Grozev that he will not return here for the time being, the “Falter” reported on Wednesday. “I suspect that there are more Russian agents, informers and henchmen in the city than police officers,” the weekly newspaper quoted him as saying.

The 53-year-old journalist, who has been working for the investigative website “Bellingcat” since 2015, was put out by Russia for a wanted manhunt in December. Grozev gained international fame when he tracked down the assassins after the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In a phone call made under a false identity, Navalny was able to get one of the perpetrators to describe how the poison attack was carried out. Grozev found out about the group through creative data-journalistic approaches, such as the use of airline passenger data.

If you haven’t watched the documentary Navalny, you need to. I’m so happy to see that it has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature film. Hopefully, it will give Navalny’s cause even more exposure, and further expose the vileness that is Putin and the Kremlin.

Second news item

UPDATE : The balloon was downed this morning by Air Force fighter aircraft over the Carolina coast. The recovery effort is now underway.

Despite some people thinking it silly or paranoid to discuss or be concerned about the balloon’s presence over the continental United States, it would appear that it presented a serious enough problem that the administration and Pentagon felt it needed to be brought down. There may have also been concerned that the balloon could be collecting intelligence that might be problematic for us. We just don’t know. Perhaps we will learn more in the coming week. One last thought: It’s also quite possible that President Biden also felt he needed to respond to China’s provocation and send the message that if they violate our airspace there will be consequences. I think it’s an important message to send.

Chinese surveillance balloon over Montana:

A massive spy balloon believed to be from China was seen above Montana and is being tracked as it flies across the continental United States, with President Joe Biden for now deciding against “military options” because of the risk to civilians, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Still, officials insisted, they continue to closely monitor the vessel as they have since it entered the country — while voicing their concern to Beijing.

“The United States government has detected and is tracking a high-altitude surveillance balloon that is flying over the continental United States right now,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a statement on Thursday. “NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command] continues to track and monitor it closely.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry claims that it’s a weather balloon used for scientific research and simply drifted off course.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed this morning that it is a surveillance balloon, not a weather balloon, despite China’s insistence that it’s a weather balloon. He also reiterated that they don’t believe the balloon poses any threat to the U.S., but they did say that its presence violates U.S. airspace. The balloon is moving eastward, and there was no answer as to the question of whether the balloon was being controlled by China, or if it was just floating on its own.

JVW emails:

…if the balloon satellite poses no greater risk of gathering intelligence than low-orbit Chinese satellites do, then why would China even bother to launch this balloon, knowing full well that it would cause controversy here? Unless of course what they really want to know is how supine the Biden Administration will be when China provokes us. I guess they have found their answer, and it would not redound to our favor.

I think he’s hit on something there…but, if the U.S. knows that it’s a surveillance balloon collecting information over sensitive sites below (per the Pentagon) but we can’t take it out because the debris could injure people, it seems we are sending one of two messages: we may not have the ability to safely shoot it down, or we do but want to keep any such capabilities secret. But it’s just peculiar that the mere fact that it’s a Chinese spy balloon collecting information while over sensitive sites in the U.S. doesn’t compel us to take any seemingly real action… And let’s not forget that Antony Blinken has now canceled his scheduled trip to China as a result of the spy balloon, which indicates to me that it’s a far more serious issue than the Pentagon is letting on.

Third news item

Just terrible:

A New Jersey councilwoman — the mother of a young daughter and leader of her church — was shot and killed in a possible attack outside her home, an incident officials are calling “shocking” and “senseless.”

Eunice Dwumfour was the first sitting elected official in recent memory who had been shot and killed in office in the state, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy told reporters Thursday.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone told ABC News the councilwoman’s political position does not yet appear to have played any role in the homicide.

Dwumfour was inside her white SUV when she was shot Wednesday night, officials said. She sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Police have no clear motive for Dwumfour’s killing, according to law enforcement sources briefed on the investigation.

If police have no “clear motive” for Dwumfour’s murder, then how can the prosecutor say with any certainty, that Dwumfour’s politics didn’t play a role in the homicide? This jump-the-gun nonsense reminds me of Kamala Harris deeming that Jussie Smollett was the victim of an attempted “attempted modern-day lynching” even before an investigation took place…

Fourth news item

The importance of preventing Russia from rebuilding military capabilities:

European Union sanctions on Russia should be targeted at stopping Moscow from rebuilding its military capability, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday.

“We are very interested to ensure that Russia fails to rebuild military production. Sanctions are slowing down this process. We know precisely how many rockets were built there before the full-scale invasion and what happens now as result of sanctions from EU, US, Britain and other partners. Therefore, for us it is very important to make sure they don’t have the capability to bypass sanctions as they often manage with help of some other countries,” Zelensky said at a news conference in Kyiv alongside top European Union officials…”It is very important not to allow any dilution of the important European sanctions that have already been approved, as well as any relaxation of these sanctions against some individuals, as is speculated in some countries, and even in EU member states,” Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is attempting to hold onto the Eastern city of Bakhmut. Zelensky is emphatic that the city will not be surrendered.

After eight months of grinding combat, Russian forces are bearing down on the city from three directions, leaving Ukraine’s main supply line under severe pressure and Kyiv facing an agonising choice over the cost of holding its ground…While analysts say Bakhmut has little military significance, the city has become the focal point of both Ukrainian resistance and Moscow’s drive to regain battlefield momentum…with relentless shelling and first world war-style attacks, Russian forces have managed to capture several towns and villages around Bakhmut in recent weeks. Most notable among them was the salt mining town of Soledar, 15km to the north.

Unsurprisingly, it is now Russian troops supporting Wagner Group fighters in the battle for Bakhmut:

Fighters from the Wagner Group, a mercenary organisation founded by close Putin ally Evgeny Prigozhin, have been in the vanguard of the Russian assault. Many of its fighters were recruited from prison colonies in far-flung Russian regions. They were used as “cannon fodder”, Ukrainian soldiers told the Financial Times during a visit in December.

Fifth news item

Giving homeschoolers a bad name:

Ohio’s education department said it would investigate the apparent use of fascist materials by a home-schooling network after reports that the pro-Nazi group is run by a couple living in the state. The course materials denigrate the intelligence of African Americans and celebrate Adolf Hitler..But there’s likely little the state can do because while the state mandates that certain topics be taught, it does not govern details of what home school can and cannot include.

Specifics of the materials:

The messages and lessons distributed by the home schooling network are filled with Nazi, white supremacist and racist lessons…When the network reached its 1,000th subscriber [WHAT??!!], leaders celebrated with a photo of boys delivering a Nazi salute… She told a podcast called “Achtung! Amerikaner” that she started the network because she was having trouble finding “Nazi approved school material for my home-schooled children.”

She also said: “We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi.”

One lesson distributed by the network teaches students that Black people have lower IQs than White people do. The lessons venerate Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and denigrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Mrs. Saxon” also talks of celebrating Adolf Hitler’s birthday with favorite German foods, bragging about making a “swastika apple pie.”

Sixth news item

The problem with both political parties, in a nutshell:

Both parties are missing something big. For the Democrats it’s an inability to accept a gift from history and become a normal party again. For the Republicans, it’s an inability to agree on what they stand for in this century, and an inability to talk about the meaning of things.

Seventh news item


Lawyers representing Hunter Biden are urging federal and state investigations into several allies of former President Donald Trump, including Rudy Giuliani, alleging they unlawfully disseminated personal data used to attack his father, President Joe Biden.

The action by Biden’s attorneys, in letters to the Justice Department, the Internal Revenue Service and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, represent an aggressive offensive as House Republicans are poised to launch inquiries into the Biden family.

In a separate letter to Fox News and personality Tucker Carlson, attorney Bryan Sullivan demanded that the network retract reporting from a broadcast last month or face a possible defamation lawsuit.

Eighth news item

Worrisome call to arms in 2024:

On his Truth Social platform, Trump shared the message of a user actively encouraging physical violence on his behalf.

Discussing a hypothetical effort to disqualify Trump from office, the user said anyone behind such an effort “will have to figure out how to fight 80,000,000 + it’s not going to happen again.”

“People my age and old will physically fight for him this time,” the user said. “What we got to lose ? I’ll donate the rest of my time here on this planet to do it. And I know many many others who feel the same. They got my 6 and we Are Locked and LOADED.”

Discussing a hypothetical effort to disqualify Trump from office, the user said anyone behind such an effort “will have to figure out how to fight 80,000,000 + it’s not going to happen again.”

“People my age and old will physically fight for him this time,” the user said. “What we got to lose ? I’ll donate the rest of my time here on this planet to do it. And I know many many others who feel the same. They got my 6 and we Are Locked and LOADED.”

Ninth news item

Heroes who continue to fight for freedom:

An exile confirms the brutal tactic:

[Director of Abdul-Rahman Berman, Center for Human Rights in Iran] Roya Boroumand said another tactic used by Iranian police is to target people’s faces with pellets, which could result in them losing their eyesight.

Saman told ABC News that he was a victim of this tactic.

He said that an Iranian officer shot him in the eye with the paintball gun while he was attending a protest in Valiasr Square in September 2022. Saman was hospitalized and lost his left eye.

While recuperating in the hospital, Saman said he found out that the police were looking for his hospital room number.

“Fortunately I was in the examination room and, with my friend’s help, I managed to get myself to the hospital’s yard and escaped,” he said. “By leaving the country, I decided to make my face living evidence for the world to see the Islamic Republic of Iran’s crimes closely.”

Tenth news item

For starters, any U.S. president who fomented an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and encouraged rioters does not deserve to have any public entity named after him. Shame on these lawmakers:

Two lawmakers would like to see a portion of the street near the Tennessee Capitol Building renamed for a former president rather than the late Rep. John Lewis.

Sen. Frank Nicely (R—Strawberry Plains) and Rep. Paul Sherrell (R—Sparta) introduced a bill that would rename two-tenths of a mile of Rep. John Lewis Way to President Donald Trump Boulevard.

When I contast the lives of John Lewis and Donald Trump…


Father Brown is a favorite of mine for the same reasons, so now I love Bob Dylan even more after he said:

I recently binged Coronation Street, Father Brown, and some early Twilight Zones. I know they’re old-fashioned, but they make me feel at home. I’m no fan of packaged programmes or news shows…

Have a great weekend!



While Trump Goes On The Attack, Bubba Wallace Instructs The Next Generation (ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 1:10 pm

[guest post by Dana]

From the President of the United States:

Eh, I guess Trump missed this response from Wallace last month:

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany offered this defense of the president today when asked about his position on NASCAR:

REPORTER: “What is the president’s position? Does he think NASCAR made a mistake by banning the Confederate flag?”

MCENANY: “I spoke to him this morning about this and he said he was not making a judgment one way or the other. The intent of the tweet was to stand up for the men and women of NASCAR, the fans and those who have gone in this rush to judgment of the media to call something a hate crime when in fact the FBI report concluded this was not an intentional racist act. It very much mirrors other times where there’s been a rush to judgment, let’s say with the Covington boys or with Jussie Smollett.”

REPORTER: “Let’s drill down on the Confederate flag. Does he think it was a mistake for NASCAR to ban it?”

MCENANY: “The president said he wasn’t making a judgment one way or the other. You’re focusing on one word at the very bottom of the tweet that’s completely taken out of context and neglecting the complete rush to judgment.”

Here is a video exchange of McEnany and ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl, who disagrees with McEnany’s claim that he took anything out of context in his questions about the president:

McEnany also equated NASCAR’s banning of the Confederate flag with “cancel culture,” because of course she did:

The president wants no part of cancel culture…He stands against the demonization of Americans.


McEnany would not respond to repeated follow-up questions about why Wallace should apologize, considering that he was not the one who found the noose in the garage or the one who reported it, per an timeline of events.

While the FBI determined that the noose had been in place as a pull rope in a Talladega garage since October 2019 and thus was not intended for Wallace, NASCAR’s president confirmed that it “was real” and that it moved quickly to launch an investigation in order to “protect” its driver.

From Bubba Wallace, after Trump’s tweet. Wallace’s tweet was addressed to the next generation and little ones following my foot steps.#LoveWins :

Untitled (Recovered)

Anyway, it shouldn’t be so difficult for the President of the United States to say good on NASCAR for making a timely decision about the Confederate flag. But to take this confrontational stand, and point to “cancel culture” while unfairly demanding Wallace “apologize,” let’s us know that he is stirring the pot for his loyal sycophants [Ed. excludes those who voted for him as the lesser of two evils as opposed to those who really love the guy and what he stands for.] I guess it makes sense when you consider the various disasters he currently faces: His poll numbers are on a downhill slide, the pandemic hasn’t ended (no matter how much he tries to make us believe it has), and Russia and China are making his life miserable, among others. Thus, with the election just months away, my takeaway from all of this is that support for the Confederate flag is the hill upon which he is willing to make a stand. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about politics, and what he can benefit most from.



Witch Hunt

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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



Michael Avenatti Charged — In Two Districts

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:58 am

Washington Post:

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

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

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

Remarkable. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

UPDATE: Christmas in March.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]


Kamala Harris, Willie Brown, and Livin’ Large on the Taxpayer Dime

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:46 am

[guest post by JVW]

I’ve been working up a new joke. It goes like this:

Q: What’s the difference between Melania Trump and Kamala Harris?
A: Melania already had a highly-paid and prestigious job when she started sleeping with a powerful and well-connected man.

Last week Dana posed the incisive question of whether Senator Kamala Harris’s eager willingness to believe Jussie Smollett’s self-staged hate attack story undermines her credibility as one to whom the rule of law is allegedly sacrosanct. Along with her obvious self-serving hypocrisy, one aspect of Ms. Harris’s past that deserves scrutiny is certainly her ties to a corrupt Democrat Party machine in San Francisco, which helped to launch her along the path that has brought her within spitting distance of her party’s Presidential nomination.

Let’s lay out the facts as they are known. Kamala Harris graduated from the Hastings College of Law (a University of California affiliated school located in San Francisco) in 1990 and later that year was admitted to the State Bar of California. She then took a job as Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, which encompasses Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, Fremont, and other East Bay cities and towns. Today the annual salary for a Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County ranges from a high of $211,515 to a low of $98,172 depending upon factors such as years of service and the profile of cases to which the employee is assigned. This is an inexact estimation to be sure, but if we adjust those salary figures to the cost of living in 1991 (and it seems as though Alameda County salaries are pegged to cost-of-living considerations) by running them through the Bureau of Labor’s CPI calculator, the maximum salary back then would be $113,115 and the minimum salary would be $52,496. Again, I acknowledge that the reality of salaries 28 years ago might have been substantially different for whatever reason, but without researching the exact pay scales of 1991 I think this as reasonable a way to estimate as any.

So let’s assume that in January 1991, first-year Deputy District Attorney of Alameda County Kamala Harris was making somewhere in the $52.5k to $55k range. As we all know, though we are being admonished that mentioning it is gravely sexist, in 1994 the 29-year-old Ms. Harris began a romantic relationship with then Speaker of the California State Assembly Willie Brown, a married (though separated) man more than twice her age. The Speaker of the California Assembly is, as you can imagine, quite a powerful and well-connected position, and in short order Ms. Harris found herself with a temporary six-month appointment to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Assuming that she received half of the annual stipend back then of $97,088, the young Assistant DA would have made $48,500 for her — ahem, ahem — half-year of “service,” a nice chunk of change considering her regular salary at the time was probably no more than $70,000. After her temporary appointment ended, Boyfriend Brown hooked her up with a seat on the California Medical Assistance Commission which paid $72,000 per year, and likely doubled her annual income. Let me acknowledge that I do not know anything about either organization (the Medical Assistance Commission has since shut down), let alone how their respective boards operated, but my suspicion is that staff did most of the grunt work while board members gathered a few times a year for meetings where they rubber-stamped their subordinates’ efforts.

Beyond the moral distaste, I don’t care all that much if some creepy old codger finds himself a young and nubile side-piece and uses his wealth and connections to entice her into a bit of the ol’ hey-hey, consensually of course; nor do I care all that much if some nubile young honey tempts some foolish old Romeo into showering her with gifts in return for various and sundry carnal delights. Furthermore, I’ve no real objection to Willie Brown helping to launch her on her political path by connecting her with the corrupt and awful San Francisco Democrat machine. Nevertheless, I do expect the two of them not to present me with the bill. Jeff Bezos apparently self-funds his dalliances. Donald Trump either pays out of his own pockets for his libidinous indiscretions or he somehow passes the costs along to business associates or shareholders (and if he is committing fraud then I am fine with prosecuting him). John Edwards was lucky enough to have his patron Bunny Mellon fund his Clintonian excursions. But Willie Brown passed along the costs of his humpy-humpy to the taxpayers of our state, and Ms. Harris seems to have had no problem accepting the windfall, earned though it may be in ignominy.

We certainly don’t need any intimate details of the Harris-Brown relationship, but I don’t think it would be at all out of line to ask Candidate Harris if she really felt that she was deserving of those paid appointments, or if they were in fact for services rendered. Naturally I doubt that any of the mainstream news organizations will have the gumption to ask, leaving us to draw our own conclusions.



Correction: Our Story Was Garbage from Beginning to End

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 pm

Man. How did the New York Times botch this so badly?

NYT Correction

Correction: Jussie Smollett is not a beloved Doonesbury character, as this story originally reported, but rather an actor on “Empire.” Also, he told police he had been confronted by homophobic racist Trumpers — not, as the article said in the initial version, by a herd of tutu-wearing sheep bleating racist chants.

H/t Beldar.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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