Patterico's Pontifications


Biden Admin Seeks to Undermine Title IX; Little Aloha Sweetie to the Rescue

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:52 am

[guest post by JVW]

In “celebrating” the anniversary of Title IX earlier this week, the Biden Administration quietly undermined it by insisting that transgender females be given expansive rights to participate in women and girls sports, despite the biological advantages they may have accrued while male. Appearing with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, President Biden put the full weight of the federal government behind the transgender agenda:

One proposed change “would make clear that preventing any person from participating in an education program or activity consistent with their gender identity would subject them to more than de minimis harm on the basis of sex and therefore be prohibited, unless otherwise permitted by Title IX or the regulations.”

If adopted, the rule change would bar universities and any other federally funded institutions from maintaining men’s and women’s sports and sex-segregated spaces like locker rooms and dormitories.

And there you have it: further proof of the leftward lurch of Joe Biden, who won his party’s nomination largely because he seemed to be immune to the loudest voices in his coalition who were demanding radical social change. In retrospect, it would seem that perhaps the confused old codger was simply unaware of this stuff, and now that it is in front of him he lacks the intellectual wherewithal and the common sense to reject it. This ill-conceived decision hearkens back to the Obama Administration’s notorious 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter sent to university administrators instructing them to take a harsher stance against allegations of sexual abuse, which critics claim led to agenda-driven campus disciplinary proceedings against young men which were administered via kangaroo courts. The idea in both cases being to placate a loud and media-savvy group, collateral damage be dammed.

At a time when FINA, international swimming’s governing body, has tightened their rules with respect to under what circumstances a former male can compete as a female — rules which were expected to be adopted by the NCAA in the wake of the Lia Thomas controversy this past spring — the Biden Administration is seeking to circumvent the international sport regulations by apparently proposing the loosest possible rules imaginable and demanding that schools who participate in NCAA-sanctioned athletics adopt them. Instead of trying to navigate the shoals between all-or-nothing transgender activists and supporters of women athletics (including many feminist Democrats) who want to see a biologically-level playing field, Joe Biden sided with the radicals, as has been his wont lately.

And you know who is not having any of this nonsense? Sure you do. Former Hawai’i Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard has little use for woke posturing and she appeared yesterday at a pro-woman sports rally in Washington DC and spoke with Maddy Kearns of NRO, who is doing absolutely fantastic work to expose the dishonesty and underhandedness of the transgender lobby. Read the entire interview, presented in transcript format, to understand what draws our Warrior Princess to this cause. Here she is discussing the bravery of the young women who dare to question left-wing transgender orthodoxy:

Kearns: Why don’t you fear this [ostracism from progressive Democrats], then? Given that a lot of Democratic politicians —

Gabbard: Because I choose not to be driven by fear. You know, my actions are driven by my desire to do what I can to be of service to make a positive impact to serve the best interests of the people of this country, men and women alike, for all Americans. And I don’t care what the backlash may be. Just as women for generations fought for the rights of women, fought for Title IX to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, they faced backlash, and they were ostracized, and they were criticized. It’s that kind of courage that we need to see from our leaders today. And it’s that kind of courage that we’re seeing from these young women, these athletes here today who are choosing to use their voice to represent the many who are being directly impacted by this today, and to represent those who will come after and whose future in many ways will be impacted based on what we choose to do or not do at this moment.

[. . .]

Kearns: What would you like to see with regard to policy to push back on some of this stuff? Today, the Biden administration came out with regulations redefining “sex” to include gender identity. What can be done about that?

Gabbard: Congress needs to pass legislation. I mean, that’s the check and balance of the executive and the legislative branch. Congress needs to pass legislation in order to stop that action, [the] Biden administration’s action from moving forward because it will directly undermine Title IX and erase the progress that women have made.

I wanted her to be the Democrats’ nominee for President, and when it became obvious that wasn’t going to happen, I urged Joe Biden to name her as his running mate, but he instead went for the vacuous and annoying lady who used to — uh — “keep company” with Willie Brown. But the Little Aloha Sweetie is correct: it’s high-time for Congress to get off of its duff and push legislation to protect women athletes and keep the playing fields fair.



California Seeks to Undermine Education Department’s Title IX Rules

Filed under: General — JVW @ 2:45 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Just this past spring we were congratulating Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for finally bringing to heel the Obama Administration’s notorious “Dear Colleague” letter which had helped set in motion a campus sexual assault hysteria resulting in controversial sanctions and expulsions, mostly of young men. I suppose we should have realized that this would not be allowed to stand in hyper-woke California, and yesterday Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill authored by state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara which reimposed on state universities much of the kangaroo court nonsense that Secretary DeVos had hoped to quell.

The overview and the summary of the bill appear on face value to be fairly innocuous, covering just requirements that state colleges have a point person for harassment claims, that they have established rules for a disciplinary process, that various administrators receive training, etc., but buried within Section 3 of the law are a few nuggets making it clear that California should return to the Obama-Era regulations:

Section 3, article IV, subsection 3, item C, part i
Regardless of whether or not a complaint has been filed under the institution’s grievance procedures, if the institution knows, or reasonably should know, about possible sexual harassment involving individuals subject to the institution’s policies at the time, the institution shall promptly investigate to determine whether the alleged conduct more likely than not occurred, or otherwise respond if the institution determines that an investigation is not required. If the institution determines that the alleged conduct more likely than not occurred, it shall immediately take reasonable steps to end the harassment, address the hostile environment, if one has been created, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. [. . .]

In other words, as in the case of the USC football player and his girlfriend, a campus should investigate and punish an accuser on their own volition, even if the “victim” denies she has been harassed or assaulted.

Section 3, article IV, subsection 3, item C, part ii
The institution shall consider and respond to requests for accommodations relating to prior incidents of sexual harassment that could contribute to a hostile educational environment or otherwise interfere with a student’s access to education where both individuals are, at the time of the request, subject to the institution’s policies.

If I am not mistaken, this could mean that Mary sees John at freshman orientation, reports to the administration that he got fresh with her at a high school party back when they were both 15, and the university would be required to investigate and perhaps adjudicate if Mary asserts that John’s presence on campus interferes with her ability to receive an education. Never mind that this happened in the past and away from campus; under this rule it is germane if one party claims a present impact.

Section 3, article IV, subsection 3, item d, part i
If a complainant requests confidentiality, which could preclude a meaningful investigation or potential discipline of the potential respondent, or that no investigation or disciplinary action be pursued to address alleged sexual harassment, the institution shall take the request seriously, while at the same time considering its responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including for the complainant. The institution shall generally grant the request. [. . .]

The law then tries to outline how confidentiality requests would be granted, and to what degree that would impact the rights of the accused. But the reality of the situation is that they are creating a scenario in which the accused would have to respond to generic complaints without knowing any details which might divulge the identity of the complainant: “At any time during a party in the past three months did you place your hand on a female in a manner which she might have found harassing?” This is even worse for faculty or staff, or anyone else who is considered to enjoy a “power imbalance” over the complainant (campus advocacy groups have defined a power imbalance in such as broad fashion as to include a senior in a relationship with a freshman). And the new law states that the school can still judge a respondent guilty and subject to sanctions while maintaining complainant confidentiality, provided the institution can “conduct a thorough investigation and obtain relevant evidence.” While that seems to be a common-sense protection, past experience suggests that a broad definition of “thorough” and “relevant evidence” will allow the institution to make a great deal of mischief in pursuit of social justice.

And what would a California law these days be without a whole lot of stupid wishful thinking?

Section 3, article IV, subsection 4, item A, part i
[The published grievance procedures] shall state that the investigation and adjudication of alleged misconduct under this section is not an adversarial process between the complainant, the respondent, and the witnesses, but rather a process for postsecondary institutions to comply with their obligations under existing law. The complainant does not have the burden to prove, nor does the respondent have the burden to disprove, the underlying allegation or allegations of misconduct.

I’m sure it will mean a great deal to the 19-year-old kid facing expulsion and being sent back home to Buttscratch where he’ll spend the rest of his life working on the road crew to know that the process isn’t meant to be adversarial. This section then goes on to inform the parties that although there shall be a process of investigation which consists of collecting evidence and/or witnesses, if some evidence and/or witnesses emerge after the hearing begins they may not necessarily be considered. But don’t worry: this law establishes that “the persons or entities responsible for conducting investigations, finding facts, and making disciplinary decisions are neutral.” Because I guess if there is one thing that college administrators and faculty are known for in 2020 it is being scrupulously neutral.

And how about the ability of the accused to cross-examine the accuser? Forget about it, unless you think that this bare fig-leaf is adequate [bolded emphasis added by me]:

Student parties shall have the opportunity to submit written questions to the hearing officer in advance of the hearing. At the hearing, the other party shall have an opportunity to note an objection to the questions posed. The institution may limit such objections to written form, and neither the hearing officer nor the institution are obligated to respond, other than to include any objection in the record. The hearing officer shall have the authority and obligation to discard or rephrase any question that the hearing officer deems to be repetitive, irrelevant, or harassing. In making these determinations, the hearing officer is not bound by, but may take guidance from, the formal rules of evidence.

To hell with those pesky “formal rules of evidence” if they make it easier for the accused to slip the noose, I suppose. And this naturally leads us back to the “preponderance of evidence” standard the Obama Administration imposed, meaning that the accused can be found guilty if the tribunal determines that it is slightly more likely than unlikely that he is guilty, discarding the Trump Administration’s “clear and convincing evidence” standard. In a very close case with lots of ambiguity, how many times do you think that college administrators are going to find the accused 51% likely of a Title IX violation as opposed to 49% likely?

If you doubt that this legislation isn’t simply a clear attempt to rally the social justice left against Secretary DeVos and the Trump Administration, check out the press release that Sen. Jackson’s office coughed up after Governor Newsom signed the bill. Never mind educational institutions’ heavily checkered record in handling such matters; never mind the atmosphere of hostility that surrounds young men (who are after all the minority: 53% of UC students and 57% of Cal State students are female) on campuses these days thanks to the ugly monoculture that has been allowed to infest higher education. There are scores to be settled, and nothing is going to stop the crybullies from pursuing their agenda.



ACLU Joins Suit against Trump Administration’s Title IX Changes

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:30 am

[guest post by JVW]

A few days back we cheered the new Title IX guidelines announced by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, undoing the great mischief that the Obama Administration had encouraged. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, but the American Civil Liberties Union is joining with a group of plaintiffs in filing a suit to have the new guidelines halted:

The suit, filed on behalf of four advocacy groups for people who have been sexually assaulted, including Know Your IX and Girls for Gender Equity, is the first that seeks to block the Education Department’s new provisions before they go into effect on Aug. 14.

The rules championed by DeVos effectively bolster the rights of due process for those accused of sexual assault and harassment, allowing for live hearings and cross-examinations. It’s what agency officials say was lacking during the Obama administration to protect all students under Title IX, a 1972 law that prohibits gender discrimination, including sexual assault, at schools.

“This new federal effort to weaken Title IX makes it more difficult for victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to continue their educations and needlessly comes amid a global pandemic,” according to the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York-based law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP.

[. . .]

Advocates are concerned that students are “required to jump through hoops” to persuade their schools to even open investigations, Ria Tabacco Mar, director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, said Thursday.

The suit, she said, challenges Title IX regulations that will redefine sexual misconduct in narrower terms — as misconduct “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that it “denies a person equal access to the school’s education program or activity.” (The definition comports with how the Supreme Court regards sexual harassment.)

But Tabacco Mar argued that it creates a “double standard” for how schools must treat sexual discrimination complaints compared to how they handle allegations of racial, national origin and disability discrimination.

In addition, the suit takes issue with how the rule will allow colleges to investigate complaints that are made only through a formal process and to certain officials, as opposed to any school employee. (The rule, however, does permit complaints in K-12 schools to be shared with any employee, which then must trigger an investigation.)

Maybe the ACLU is actually on to something there and the Department of Education needs to encourage schools to tighten up the standards on what constitutes a valid racial, national origin, or disability discrimination claim. But to the degree that the ACLU appears to be advocating for a roll-back of due process protections for the accused, I can’t help but be disappointed.

Now in the centennial of their founding, the ACLU has always been a left-wing organization, with the progressive’s pronounced predilection for fighting on behalf of the underdog. At times they have been willing to stand on principle and take unpopular stances in the name of advancing important civil rights, for example their opposition to the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War or their advocacy for allowing Nazis to hold a public march in Skokie, IL during the 1970s. Over the last third of their existence, however, they have generally chosen to stick with trendy social justice crusades and ignore those instances where it’s their traditional allies on the left who seek to curtail our freedoms. The ACLU has mostly deserted the battlefield where campus speech codes are concerned, forcing groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to step into the void. They chose to support the alleged right to full contraception coverage promised by Obamacare over the religious freedom of the Little Sisters of the Poor. And now they’ve determined that kangaroo courts under no obligation to follow due process traditions are hunky-dory in their book if it provides feminists with a more secure sense of just retribution for alleged sexual assaults. At a time when the leadership of both major parties has appeared to be lukewarm at best to the Constitution, it’s a shame that the ACLU is so happily frittering away their reputation for protecting everyone’s civil rights, not just the groups in favor with the wokerati.

As for me, I will continue to return all of the mailings they send me in their postage-paid envelopes along with a note informing them that I will never donate to their rotten syndicate, and I will happily tell the canvassers seeking donations in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s to buzz off.



Weaponizing Title IX

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:26 am

As we stand on the hill waiting for the 1000-foot coronavirus wave to break, wondering whether we are on high enough ground to avoid being swept away, how about a miserable story having nothing to do with coronavirus?

It’s a long piece and I can’t do it justice in a short post. The basic idea is this: a university professor seeks a job in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan, but only if her wife can get some sort of a job there too. The professor lets that fact slip to another applicant for the job, who is jealous and resentful that he was not offered the job first. He instantly sets about engaging in a pattern of stalking and harassment by making anonymous Title IX complaints — made up wholly out of thin air — against the wife. The idea: to prevent the professor’s wife from getting a job, which will lead to the professor declining the job, opening the way for the harasser to get the job.

It is a long road.

Eventually, I wrote to the president of A.S.U. He had told us during our faculty orientation that we should always feel free to reach out directly to him, so I decided to take him at his word. I told him that someone had been using the university’s Title IX process to harass us, that this person had impersonated students and faculty members and had posted false statements about Marta on Reddit. I explained that there was no evidence that either Marta or I had done anything wrong, yet the Title IX office had told us that it could not close its investigation if emails kept coming in from this anonymous individual. “We are strong believers in the importance of Title IX protections,” I concluded, “but we also feel like there has to be a system in place to protect faculty and students from outsiders who might use that system to defame and harass.”

That afternoon, I received a response from the vice provost, who assured me that investigators were being urged to move expeditiously. “I know it can be frustrating to wait for findings,” she added, “but we are obligated to look into allegations that are brought to us.”

It ended up working. Marta did not get the job.

The story evoked flashbacks of what it is like to be the target of an obsessed Internet stalker. The techniques used are the same: the stalker uses phony accusations, pretends to be the victim himself, and does his level best to upend a stranger’s life for petty and vindictive personal reasons. It’s an agonizing and Orwellian story. Read it all!

Hey, at least it’s not about the coronavirus.


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.



The Sleaziness and Entitlement of Hunter Biden

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:08 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Not that this comes as a shock to any readers here, but the news about the manifest corruption and general sleaziness of the Biden family — embodied most particularly by First Son Hunter Biden and First Brother James Biden — continues to trickle out in the news. We discussed a while back how the New York Times was at long last forced to acknowledge that, yeah, the computer left in a Delaware repair shop with a harddrive full of sordid photos of Hunter and emails which suggest a hitherto unrealized level of family rottenness, including perhaps involvement by The Big Guy, likely does indeed legitimately belong to Mr. R. Hunter Biden.

Now comes the Washington Post, a notorious water-carrying outlet for Democrats and progressive policy which pretends to be a just-the-facts journalism shop, probably having concluded that there is no longer any advantage to protecting the heavily-compromised First Family and thus now willing to report on emerging details of their connection to troublesome overseas agents. In a story published today, which for the time being seems to be available to non-subscribers, they lay out the details

The deal was years in the making, the culmination of forging contacts, hosting dinners, of flights to and from China. But on Aug. 2, 2017, signatures were quickly affixed, one from Hunter Biden, the other from a Chinese executive named Gongwen Dong.

Within days, a new Cathay Bank account was created. Within a week, millions of dollars started to change hands.

Within a year, it would all begin to collapse.

The article catalogs Hunter Biden’s business deals with an outfit called CEFC China Energy, the outline of which has been known since at least 2020 when a GOP Senate report mentioned the arrangement. But it would seem that very recently the office of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has released financial information listing the payments that the Biden Boys received from the contract: a $1 million retainer and $3.8 million in consulting fees to various enterprises led by Hunter and James Biden, despite the fact that, as the Post puts it, “[t]he potential energy projects Hunter Biden discussed with CEFC never came to fruition.” That didn’t stop Patrick Ho, another CEFC exec, from invoking the retainer when he was arrested in the U.S. for masterminding a bribery scheme and demanding help from the son of the then-former Vice President of the United States. (It should be noted that the seeds of the Biden Family-CEFC China Energy partnership germinated while Joe Biden was still serving alongside of President Barack Obama.) Patrick Ho was ultimately represented in his criminal case by Edward Y. Kim, an attorney at Krieger Kim and former Assistant U.S. Attorney, with Ho being found guilty and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Ho’s downfall, and the early 2018 detainment in China of CEFC Chairman Ye Jianming (who had earlier gifted Hunter a diamond reportedly worth $80,000) on the suspicion of unnamed “economic crimes,” seems to have precipitated the fall of CEFC China Energy. But before things circled down the drain, there was one more opportunity for looting. The Post explains:

By March 2018, Hunter Biden’s uncle was seeking access to the $1 million retainer that he was owed for the Ho representation. James Biden on March 21, 2018, wrote to CEFC officials with “wiring instructions,” providing the address and routing numbers for how to transfer to the account linked to Hunter Biden.

“Received and will take care of this ASAP,” Mervyn Yan, one of the CEFC officials, wrote back in a verified email.

[. . .]

JiaQi Bao, an assistant with whom Hunter Biden had worked closely on CEFC business, wrote in a March 26, 2018, email that the company was being dissolved and she would lose her job — but that Hunter Biden should “take whatever money you can take, as long as the money is available to claim.”

“Take as much as possible, or figure out a way to spend them for your own benefit,” she wrote.

Bao did not respond to numerous phone and email messages.

Over the next six months, nearly $1.4 million was transferred to Hunter Biden’s account, according to bank records.

The story also contains telling character details regarding Hunter Biden, pertaining to arguments he had with his partners over his questionable expense reports; his threat to sue them in Delaware court where, he warned them, he was “privileged to have worked with and know every judge in the chancery court”; and his employment of Lunden Roberts, the Arkansas stripper who would give birth to Hunter’s daughter (the New York Post claims that to this day Hunter Biden has never met his youngest daughter).

One very small but it seems to me significant item is buried deep within the Washington Post’s story. When moving into new offices in the Swedish Embassy, Hunter Biden made an eye-raising request [bolded emphasis by me]:

On Sept. 21, 2017, Hunter Biden wrote to a building manager requesting new office signage to reflect a new family enterprise and a new business relationship: “The Biden Foundation and Hudson West (CEFC- US),” he wrote in emails to the property manager.

He also requested keys for his new office mates: his father, Joe; his mother, Jill; his uncle James; and the Chinese executive, Gongwen Dong.

As part of the request, he provided what he said was his father’s cellphone number, saying an office representative could use it to contact his new office mates.

Though Joe Biden apparently never picked up the office key his son had cut for him, how does Hunter’s request square with the White House’s insistence that Joe Biden had nothing at all whatsoever to do with his son’s shady business dealings?



First to Fall in Democrat Marathon and Possible Welcome to Another Entitled Progressive White Male

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:37 pm

[guest post by JVW]

If you had Eric Swalwell in your office pool as the first announced Democrat candidate to drop out of the race, then congratulations, you appear to be on the verge of winning:

Eric Swalwell is reportedly dropping out of the presidential race Monday after his long-shot bid failed to gain traction among voters.

The East Bay congressman is expected to announce he’s running for re-election at a news conference at his Dublin campaign headquarters this afternoon, the Los Angeles Times and CNN reported. The decision comes as Swalwell cancelled Fourth of July campaign events in New Hampshire at the last minute and found himself likely to be excluded from the second Democratic presidential debate later this month.

Once Rep. Swalwell is officially out, the next man out will likely be a tight race among Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton, who failed to qualify for the first round of debates, and four who managed to debate without making any memorable impact: Representatives Tim Ryan of Ohio and John Delaney of Maryland, and the two Coloradans, former governor John Hickenlooper and current senator Michael Bennett. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio probably has enough nutty leftist money to hold out a bit longer, at least until he is excluded from the fall debates for having failed to reach at least two-percent support in candidate polls.

But even with Rep. Swalwell’s departure, the number of candidates (and, happily, the number of entitled progressive white male candidates) may initially remain steady, with the strong potential of an imminent announcement (from same link as above):

Swalwell could almost immediately be replaced in the presidential race by another Democrat from the Bay Area. San Francisco megadonor and former hedge fund chief Tom Steyer has told political allies he’s reconsidering his decision not to run for president and could announce he’s getting back in the race as soon as Tuesday, according to multiple media reports Sunday night.

Because clearly what the American people are looking for is a candidate who combines Donald Trump’s wealth with Bernard Sanders’ righteous leftist rage, Elizabeth Warren’s gross hypocrisy, Kamala Harris’s penchant for grandstanding, and Robert O’Rourke’s yearning for the limelight. At least Mr. Steyer, who celebrated his sixty-second birthday last week, would I suppose bridge that crucial gap between the septuagenerians and the eager young pups. His entry into the race, especially if he vows to self-fund his campaign with his massive personal wealth, probably spells an end to the Jay Inslee candidacy too, as the California billionaire’s Tesla will run the Washington governor’s Prius right out of the hardcore green express lane. So in that regard, let’s add Gov. Inslee to the list above of the potential next candidates to bail out of the race.

Don’t be surprised if we don’t eventually see one or two more Democrat candidates emerge. Maybe even the long-rumored if fantastically implausible candidacy of a certain African-American woman with high name recognition who is broadly respected even if she has persistent critics who question if her attempts to appeal to mainstream America are sincere or if they are a front for a more radical and divisive agenda.

Of course, perhaps Serena Williams will just continue playing tennis and stay out of the world of politics.

UPDATE: Between the time I drafted this post and published it, Rep. Swalwell has apparently confirmed his departure from the race, at long last garnering some media attention.

Twitchy points out that just five months ago Rep. Swalwell promised not to run for reelection to Congress in 2020, declaring that he would focus exclusively on being elected President. He’s apparently back-tracking on that promise already. What a surprise. He will face a primary challenge from a young leftist inspired by our beloved nutty niece.



The Magnitsky Act and the Woman Who Met with Trump Jr.: Part Six of a Six-Part Series

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

This is Part Six of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death, and how it all relates to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. The springboard for the series of posts is this Michael Weiss article about Veselnitskaya and how she is connected to the Magnitsky case.

In Part One, I introduced the series and Weiss’s conclusions.

In Part Two, I began setting forth the background of the aggressive tax fraud scheme that Sergei Magnitsky discovered, as set out in Browder’s book Red Notice.

In Part Three, I discussed what Magnitsky did when he uncovered the scheme — and the terrible price he paid as a result.

In Part Four, I discussed the reaction of the Russian government to the Magnitsky Act, and why they hate it so much.

In Part Five, I discussed the connections between Natalia Veselnitskaya and the thieves behind the tax fraud uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky.

Today, in Part Six, I conclude by discussing Veselnitskaya’s relentless propaganda effort against Bill Browder, Sergei Magnitsky, and the Magnitsky Act. I return to Michael Weiss’s weekend piece, and draw some conclusions about the significance of the meeting with the Trump personnel.


Weiss’s latest piece notes the by-now familiar fact that Veselnitskaya has lobbied against the Magnitsky Act:

Concurrent with her legal work, she also lobbied in Washington against the very foundation upon which the US government’s case against Prevezon was constructed.

In February 2016, a few months before her meeting with Team Trump, this Moscow resident co-founded a Delaware-registered NGO called the Human Rights Global Accountability Initiative Foundation, purporting to seek the revocation of a controversial ban on American adoption of Russian children. In actuality, the ban itself and the dangled prospect of its repeal was cleverly conceived of by the Russian government as leverage with Washington to negotiate away a piece of American legislation acutely painful to the Kremlin.

He also explains how Veselnitskaya has aggressively maintained, consistent with the position of the Russian government, that Browder and Magnitsky are the Real Bad Guys:

Veselnitskaya has frequently argued in the Russian media that the entire story of what Magnitsky uncovered and the plight he endured is a fabrication accepted by a gullible US government from Magnitsky’s former client, William Browder, the CEO of Hermitage and Magnitsky’s posthumous flame tender.

In 2014, she told RBK-TV, “Sergei Magnitsky did not uncover any theft referred in the Magnitsky Act,” and, “Many events and data stated in the Magnitsky Act did not exist.”

Weiss also details her connections to high-level officials in the FSB, which was ultimately behind the case against Browder and Magnitsky. Indeed, she is also connected to Yuri Chaika, a high-level prosecutor and Putin favorite who opposed the Magnitsky Act.


Veselnitskaya admitted in a Wall Street Journal interview that she knows Chaika and provided him with information about the Magnitsky affair:

The Russian lawyer whom Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met last year with the hopes of receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton says she talked with the office of Russia’s top prosecutor while waging a campaign against a U.S. sanctions law and the hedge-fund manager who backed it.

Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya said she wasn’t working for Russian authorities, but she said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that she was meeting with Russian authorities regularly, and shared information about the hedge-fund manager with the Russian prosecutor general’s office, including with Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, a top official appointed by the Kremlin.

“I personally know the general prosecutor,” Ms. Veselnitskaya said. “In the course of my investigation [about the fund manager], I shared information with him.”

Mr. Chaika’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment on whether he knows and received information from Ms. Veselnitskaya.

The hedge-fund manager discussed in the article is Bill Browder.

Now, recall that former tabloid reporter Rob Goldstone had written Trump Jr. saying that the dirt on Hillary was going to come from “the Crown prosecutor of Russia:”

“Emin just called and asked me to contact you with something very interesting,” Mr. Goldstone wrote in the email. “The Crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father Aras this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.”

He added, “What do you think is the best way to handle this information and would you be able to speak to Emin about it directly?”

There is no such title as crown prosecutor in Russia — the Crown Prosecution Service is a British term — but the equivalent in Russia is the prosecutor general of Russia.

That office is held by Yury Yakovlevich Chaika, a Putin appointee who is known to be close to Ms. Veselnitskaya.

So Veselnitskaya admits she knows Chaika, a man very close to Vladimir Putin, and the most logical candidate for the person who (according to Goldstone’s email) offered to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary. This is all rather significant because the Magnitsky Act was the focus of the meeting from the point of view of Veselnitskaya, and Chaika was similarly interested in having the Magnitsky Act sanctions removed. Financial Times:

Mr Chaika did have an interest in the Magnitsky sanctions.

Bill Browder, the US financier who employed Sergei Magnitsky and inspired the sanctions on Russian officials, has accused Mr Chaika of covering up the real causes of Magnitsky’s death in prison and of closing down the investigation into the $230m tax fraud.

Two months before the June 2016 meeting, Viktor Grin — a top Chaika deputy who is on the sanctions list — gave Dana Rohrabacher, a pro-Russian US congressman, a dossier that included materials from Ms Veselnitskaya and hinted at possibilities of better US-Russia relations if Congress repealed the Magnitsky Act.

“Veselnitskaya was working hand in glove with Chaika’s office on the anti-Magnitsky campaign,” Mr Browder said.

None of this means that Donald Trump collaborated with Russia, or that Trump Jr. or the other meeting attendees were doing so. That’s not the point of this series of posts.

But when this meeting was first announced, certain commentators on the right portrayed Veselnitskaya as a sort of odd character with an inexplicable obsession with adoption. Here is Brit Hume laughing it up at the notion that the meeting with Veselnitskaya was in any way connected to the Russian government:

Hume portrays the meeting as farcical — but someone armed with the information I have discussed in this series of posts would come to a different conclusion. Rather than some random Moscow lawyer only tangentially connected to the Kremlin, Veselnitskaya was well connected not only to the Kremlin, but also to thieves deeply involved in the fraud uncovered by Magnitsky. Now, with Weiss’s latest piece, we know that she was strangely enriched in a manner similar to the enrichment of those (like cops Kuznetsov and Karpov) behind Magnitsky’s murder.

Perhaps the stupidest single opinion I saw about Veselnitskaya was this howler from Trump shill Jack Posobiec, which I ran across while perusing a link supplied by a commenter of mine who (like Posobiec) is a mindless Trump-supporting drone:

This has to be a candidate for the dumbest thing I have ever seen on the Internet. The notion that Veselnitskaya is out there promoting Bill Browder’s book is something that only a dim, totally uninformed, demi-literate nincompoop would say publicly. If this series of posts has taught you nothing else, it is that Veselnitskaya is very much anti-Browder, anti-Magnitsky, and in favor of Putin’s attempts to have the Magnitsky Act repealed.

If you have come this far, and you want to see the entire story presented in a compelling documentary that contains footage of the Russian hero Sergei Magnitsky, and what his death means, I encourage you to watch this:

It’s only about an hour long, and tells the story better than I can.

You’ll never think about the issue of “Russian adoption” the same way.

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


The Magnitsky Act and the Woman Who Met with Trump Jr.: Part Four of a Six-Part Series

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:00 am

This is Part Four of a six-part series on the death of Sergei Magnitsky, what he uncovered before his death, and how it all relates to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian woman who met with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Jared Kushner in June 2016. The springboard for the series of posts is this Michael Weiss article about Veselnitskaya and how she is connected to the Magnitsky case.

In Part One, I introduced the series and Weiss’s conclusions.

In Part Two, I began setting forth the background of the aggressive tax fraud scheme that Sergei Magnitsky discovered, as set out in Browder’s book Red Notice.

In Part Three, I discussed what Magnitsky did when he uncovered the scheme — and the terrible price he paid as a result.

Today, in Part Four, I discuss the reaction of the Russian government to the Magnitsky Act, and why they hate it so much.


The Magnitsky Act has very much upset the top echelons of Russian government. Browder and Magnitsky were tried in absentia for various crimes even after Magnitsky was killed — resulting in laughable convictions that nobody takes seriously. Putin has repeatedly tried to have Browder arrested by seeking a “red notice” from Interpol authorizing him to be arrested and extradited (hence the title of Browder’s book). Interpol, which usually honors such requests, has refused to do so in Browder’s case. In 2013, Putin puppet Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying at Davos: “It’s too bad that Sergei Magnitsky is dead and Bill Browder is still alive and free.” That is a chilling statement from someone who had recently been the president of a country known for assassinating its enemies, both at home and abroad.

Most significantly, Vladimir Putin retaliated against the United States’s passage of the Magnitsky Act by banning adoptions of Russian children by citizens of the United States. This was a heartless act, because the children that Americans adopt from Russia are at significant risk. As Browder explains in his book:

Putin’s proposed ban was significant because over the last decade Americans had adopted over sixty thousand Russian orphans. In recent years Russia had restricted most American adoptions to sick children — those with HIV, Down syndrome, and spina bifida, among many other disorders. Some of these children wouldn’t survive without the medical care they would receive from their new American families.

This meant that in addition to punishing American families who were waiting for Russian children to join them, Putin was also punishing, and potentially killing, defenseless orphans in his own country. To say that this was a heartless proposal doesn’t even qualify as an understatement. It was evil, pure and simple.

So when you hear Putin and other top Russian officials now talk about the issue of “adoptions” you should understand that they mean “repeal of the Magnitsky Act.” As Julia Ioffe explained in The Atlantic:

Let’s get something straight: The Magnitsky Act is not, nor has it ever been, about adoptions.

The Magnitsky Act, rather, is about money. It freezes certain Russian officials’ access to the stashes they were keeping in Western banks and real estate and bans their entry to the United States. The reason Russian (and now, American) officials keep talking about adoption in the same breath is because of how the Russian side retaliated to the Magnitsky Act in 2012, namely by banning American adoptions of Russian children.

Ioffe is 100% correct. Bill Browder explained to Jacob Weisberg why this is so important to Putin:

BROWDER: Vladimir Putin has made it his single largest foreign policy priority to get rid of the Magnitsky Act. It is not a surprise at all given how much money has been spent and how many lobbyists and intermediaries are involved that they somehow found their way to Donald Trump, who at the time was the Republican nominee.

WEISBERG: Why is this bill such a priority for Putin?

BROWDER: Putin has amassed an enormous fortune over the 17 years that he’s been at the top of the heap in Russia, and the Magnitsky Act very specifically would target him. We have been able to track down information and evidence that shows that some of the proceeds from the crime—the $230 million fraud that Sergei Magnitsky uncovered, exposed, and was killed over—went to a man named Sergei Roldugin. (For those of you who remember the Panama Papers, he was the famous $2 billion cellist from Russia who got all this largesse from various oligarchs in Russian companies.)

Roldugin received some of the money from the Magnitsky crime, and it’s well-known that he is a nominee trustee for Putin. When Putin reacts to the Magnitsky Act with such personal venom, he’s reacting because he feels like the entire purpose in life, which was to steal money from the Russian state and keep it offshore, is at risk. That’s why they’re ready to ruin relations with America over the Magnitsky Act by banning adoptions and doing other things, and that’s why so much money has been spent fighting the act and fighting me, the person behind the campaign to get Magnitsky Act in the United States and around the world.

When you hear Vladimir Putin talk about adoption of Russian children, he is talking about getting the Magnitsky Act reversed. When you hear that Natalia Veselnitskaya was talking to Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner about adoption of Russian children, she was talking about getting the Magnitsky Act reversed. As Ioffe explains, the Magnitsky Act is a big deal for Russian kleptocrats because they can’t protect their money:

What made Russian officialdom so mad about the Magnitsky Act is that it was the first time that there was some kind of roadblock to getting stolen money to safety. In Russia, after all, officers and bureaucrats could steal it again, the same way they had stolen it in the first place: a raid, an extortion racket, a crooked court case with forged documents—the possibilities are endless. Protecting the money meant getting it out of Russia. But what happens if you get it out of Russia and it’s frozen by Western authorities? What’s the point of stealing all that money if you can’t enjoy the Miami condo it bought you? What’s the point if you can’t use it to travel to the Côte d’Azur in luxury?

Worse, it looked for a while like the Europeans were going to pass a similar law—because Russians stash far more money in Europe than in the United States.

By the way, when Ioffe says that Russians often keep their money in “Europe” — remember that one country that Russians love to use to stash illegal proceeds is Cyprus — the place Artem Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov visited, as described in Part Two. Keep that in mind as you read tomorrow’s post, Part Five, in which I discuss Natalia Veselnitskaya, and her connections to the thieves who stole $230 million from the Russian government.

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


Hillary Proposes Six Weeks of Federally Mandated Paid Maternity Leave

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:30 am



Hillary Clinton on Tuesday will unveil several policy proposals for lowering child-care costs that were crafted in part by her daughter, Chelsea, including a plan to guarantee six weeks of paid maternity leave..

Progressive Democrats, in particular, have long seen a mandated expansion of the social safety net as desirable, while conservative Republicans see it as anathema to their attempts to shrink government spending and give companies more control over their leave policies.

Clinton campaign officials said Tuesday morning that the Democratic presidential nominee will propose a plan for paid leave that they believe can gain bipartisan approval. While details of the proposal remained unclear ahead of Clinton’s speech, the officials said it wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything more; instead, it would be financed through savings achieved by eliminating fraud in the unemployment insurance program.

This is, of course, insane on several levels. Government holding a gun to the head of an employer interferes with the market economy and is certain to cause increased disemployment (Peter Boettke’s term, about which more in a future post) if not outright unemployment. If the proposal is to make this another federally funded entitlement, as reports suggest, (by eliminating waste! fraud! and abuse!), then it’s just more spending.

And one annoying detail: why do we care that the candidate’s daughter had a hand in this, given that she has no proven policy experience? Are they just trying to groom her for a future in politics? Haven’t we had enough dynasties in this country already?

This is why so many people are considering voting Trump: because this sort of insane socialism shows why we can’t put another leftist in the central seat of power after the last eight years.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Wait, I’ve just been handed this piece of paper. [Patterico reads piece of paper silently to himself. His lips are moving. Dramatic pause.] Um. It turns out that the proposal is actually Donald Trump’s. The quote above has been altered to make it read as if it were Hillary’s proposal. Also, it is Trump’s daughter Ivanka, not Chelsea Clinton who played a role in fashioning this big-spending proposal.

Well, that’s different.

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