Archive for October, 2017
31 Oct 2017

Unpacking Yesterday’s Charges

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I was hoping somebody would take the time to read Mr. Mueller’s charges. Andrew C. McCarthy kindly did.

On first glance, Mueller’s case, at least in part, seems shaky and overcharged.

Even though the Ukrainian money goes back to 2006, the counts involving failure to file FBARs (Counts Three through Nine) go back only to 2012. This is likely because the five-year statute of limitations bars prosecution for anything before then. Obviously, one purpose of the conspiracy count (Count One) is to enable prosecutors, under the guise of establishing the full scope of the scheme, to prove law violations that would otherwise be time-barred.

The offense of failing to register as a foreign agent (Count Ten) may be a slam-dunk, but it is a violation that the Justice Department rarely prosecutes criminally. There is often ambiguity about whether the person’s actions trigger the registration requirement, so the Justice Department’s practice is to encourage people to register, not indict them for failing to do so.

It may well be that Manafort and Gates made false statements when they belatedly registered as foreign agents, but it appears that Mueller’s office has turned one offense into two, an abusive prosecutorial tactic that flouts congressional intent.

Specifically, Congress considers false statements in the specific context of foreign-agent registration to be a misdemeanor calling for zero to six months’ imprisonment. (See Section 622(a)(2) of Title 22, U.S. Code.) That is the offense Mueller charges in Count Eleven. But then, for good measure, Mueller adds a second false-statement count (Count Twelve) for the same conduct — charged under the penal-code section (Section 1001 of Title 18, U.S. Code) that makes any falsity or material omission in a statement to government officials a felony punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

Obviously, one cannot make a false statement on the foreign-agent registration form without also making a false statement to the government. Consequently, expect Manafort to argue that Mueller has violated double-jeopardy principles by charging the same exact offense in two separate counts, and that the special counsel is undermining Congress’s intent that the offense of providing false information on a foreign-agent registration form be considered merely a misdemeanor.

Finally, the money-laundering conspiracy allegation (Count Two) seems far from slam-dunk. For someone to be guilty of laundering, the money involved has to be the proceeds of criminal activity before the accused starts concealing it by (a) moving it through accounts or changing its form by buying assets, etc., or (b) dodging a reporting requirement under federal law.

Now, it is surely a terrible thing to take money, under the guise of “political consulting,” from an unsavory Ukranian political faction that is doing the Kremlin’s bidding. But it is not a violation of American law to do so. The violations occur when, as outlined above, there is a lack of compliance with various disclosure requirements. Mueller seems to acknowledge this: The money-laundering count does not allege that it was illegal for Manafort and Gates to be paid by the Ukrainian faction. It is alleged, rather, that they moved the money around to promote a scheme to function as unregistered foreign agents, and specifically to avoid the registration requirement.

That seems like a stretch. To be sure, the relevant money-laundering statute includes in its definition of “specified unlawful activity” “any violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.” (See Section 1956(c)(2)(7)(D) of Title 18, U.S. Code.) But the prosecution still has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the money was the proceeds of unlawful activity in the first place. Moreover, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Manafort and Gates (a) knew the money was the proceeds of illegal activity and (b) transported the money the way they did with the specific intent of avoiding having to register as foreign agents. This count will thus fail if there is any doubt that the Ukrainian money was illegal under American law, that Manafort and Gates knew it was illegal, that they knew the work they were doing required them to register as foreign agents, or that it was their intention to promote a failure-to-register violation.

Even from Paul Manafort’s perspective, there may be less to this indictment than meets the eye — it’s not so much a serious allegation of “conspiracy against the United States” as a dubious case of disclosure violations and money movement that would never have been brought had he not drawn attention to himself by temporarily joining the Trump campaign. From President Trump’s perspective, the indictment is a boon from which he can claim that the special counsel has no actionable collusion case.

31 Oct 2017

That Witches Coven Down in Alexandria

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Zman unloads on the SJW female nutcases who recently decided it would be necessary to tear down memorials to Washington and Lee in the church they once attended.

These churches are big on the “all are welcome” stuff. They hang banners outside their empty churches with this slogan, usually decorated with rainbows. My suggestion is the alt-right toughs should take pics of themselves dressed as Hitler, posing in front of these stupid signs. That would make for a hilarious social media campaign. The fact is, the only people welcome in these hell holes are Progressive nutters and sexual deviants. As is always the case with The Cult, the opposite of what they say is usually the truth.

If you have any doubts about any of this, take a look at the roster of clergy running this church. The rector has two last names, suggesting she is keeping her options open. A good rule of thumb is that a woman with two last names is a nut. That’s probably why she hired a tranny as a youth counselor. Her second in command is a former actress, a profession known to attract the stable and virtuous. Two more women fill out the priestly class of this old church. It’s not hard to see why they are waging jihad on George.

That’s the thing with these churches. They are run by social justice warriors who see the church as a vehicle to inflict Progressive morality on their congregations. You can be sure that no one in the church gave a damn about George Washington. These hens spend all day clucking about what they read in the New York Times or heard on NPR. They came up with the idea of evicting the father of the country, because they wanted attention. It is virtue signalling, but their idea of virtue originates outside the Episcopal Church.

Of course, this was always the end point of the Rebel Flag burning and statue toppling. It is the thing everyone knew all along. It may have started as a tantrum by Cloud People aimed at the Dirt People, but it was going to end as a orgy of self-abnegation. These people hate their own kind. They hate their ancestors. The reason is, they hate themselves and the way to erase themselves is to erase their past. Progressives dream of the day when they no longer exist and any memory of them is gone too.

He’s perfectly right on this one. Once you start putting in charge of your famous churches revolutionary activists who have already decided that they are entitled to overthrow two thousand years of ecclesiastical tradition (and the judgment of all the saints and doctors of the church past) in order to gratify their own amour propre by donning clerical robes and usurping a position never previously occupied by members of their sex, you can’t be surprised that the same historically-illiterate, limitlessly self-infatuated progressives will proceed on to further acts of destructive sacrilege.

31 Oct 2017

I Could Live There

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Červená Lhota Castle

Červená Lhota is a château about 20 kilometres (12 mi) north-west of Jindřichův Hradec in south Bohemia, Czech Republic. …Its name Červená Lhota* meaning “red lhota” can be explained by the colour of the château’s bright-red roof tiles. … [Acquired by the knightly family of Káb of Rybňan sometime around 1530. The family had the original Gothic castle rebuilt and the basic Renaissance remodelling carried out between 1542-1555. …The four-winged two-storey château, with a small courtyard in the center, occupies the whole rock and juts into the fishpond. A stone bridge, built in 1622, links the château with the banks of the pond, replacing the original drawbridge.

* Lhota, name of Czech villages, founded during the Middle-age colonization in Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia

30 Oct 2017

Rather Pricey

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Artnet:

Observers knew that Paul Newman’s Rolex watch, estimated to sell for around $1 million, would be the highlight of Phillips’s first ever New York watch auction yesterday. But no one expected the hand-crafted Daytona watch—which the late actor wore in movies, magazine shoots, and at parties—to sell for $17.8 million, going to an unidentified buyer after 12 minutes of heated bidding.

The sale smashed the previous record for a watch, $11.1 million for a stainless steel Patek Philippe, which sold at Phillips last November.

The “Paul Newman” has won legendary status in the watch community, both because it is considered to be one of the most coveted timepieces in the world—the New York Times compared it to the Mona Lisa for the watch collecting world—and because, until the sale’s announcement in August, few people outside of the Newman family knew where it was. It was first given to Newman by his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, who inscribed it with the message “DRIVE CAREFULLY ME.”

RTWT

30 Oct 2017

Periodic Table of Element Origins

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29 Oct 2017

Vestry Committee Votes to Take Down Lee & Washington Memorials in Church They Attended

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The soon-to-be removed offending memorial to George Washington.

The Washington Times reports that the much-predicted and inevitable has occurred. This time, they are going after Washington as well as Lee.

George Washington was one of the founding members of Christ Church in Alexandria, buying pew No. 5 when the church first opened in 1773, and attending for more than two decades.

This week the church announced it was pulling down a memorial to its one-time vestryman and the country’s first president, saying he and another famous parishioner, Robert E. Lee, have become too controversial and are chasing away would-be parishioners.

While acknowledging “friction” over the decision, the church’s leadership said the twin memorials, which are attached to the wall on either side of the altar, are relics of another era and have no business in a church that proclaims its motto as “All are welcome — no exceptions.”

“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques,” the church leaders said.

A staffer at the church Friday said the decision was going to be announced to the church on Sunday.

The smarmy letter announcing this spectacular insult to American history signed by all 12 Vestry committee members and the local priestess herself is here.

They explain that this destructive, insulting, and revolutionary step was necessary because “discussion about the appropriateness of the plaques in our worship space caused friction in our parish family.” In other words, some extraordinary and outrageous assholes infected with a repulsive ideology hostile to America, our history, our founding fathers, and our national heroes, started making irrational complaints, and the useless, spineless, brainless nincompoops and poltroons on that Vestry committee lacked both the backbone and intellectual resources to defend even the memory of George Washington in his own church, and decided to surrender.

Traditionally, the Episcopal Church would be considered to represent a prominent pillar of upper middle class American culture. Episcopalians used to be expected to be, on the average, wealthier, better educated, and more prominent in the leadership of the community than members of other denominations.

I find myself muttering to myself in frustration, and wondering aloud: how did this country ever come to this? How did we wind up with, everywhere you look, from Yale and Harvard, to city halls all over the Southland, to Christ Church in Alexandria with nobody in charge who thinks or cares? How did it ever happen that the American Establishment sold its soul and gave away its conscience to the brainless demoniac Radical Left? How is it possible that that gentleman over there, a graduate of an elite university, in a tweed jacket and a club tie or that attractive older female graduate of a Seven Sisters school in pearls, are today prepared to throw both Washington and Lee under the bus as sacrifices to the Gospel of Howard Zinn?

Thank goodness we have flyover, Red State America, because coastal urban Establishment America is rotten to the core. Our Establishment today is no less ready to surrender to the Reds than the one in St. Petersburg a hundred years ago this week.


You can see it again right there, on the left.

29 Oct 2017

Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Andrew

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This week, in his hebdomadal New York magazine piece, Andrew Sullivan was back to pure left-wing democrat partisan flackery. Just one little section, though, I thought, cried out for particular attention, the bit where Andrew sternly rebukes that lawless reprobate Donald Trump:

Almost all our liberal democratic norms and institutions are much weaker today than they were a year ago. Trump has not assaulted the Constitution directly. He has not refused a court order, so far. But he has obstructed justice in his firing of James Comey, and abused the spirit of the pardon power by using it for a public official who violated citizens’ Constitutional rights, before he was even sentenced. In the most worrying case so far, he has refused to enforce the sanctions against Russia that were passed by a veto-proof margin by the Congress. I fear this is because his psyche cannot actually follow the instructions of anyone but himself. This is also why, after failing to repeal, replace or amend Obamacare, he has not faithfully executed the law, but actively sabotaged it. If he does not have his way, he will either sulk and refuse to do his constitutional duty, or he will simply smash whatever institution or law that obstructs his will. At some point, we may come to a more profound test of his ability to operate as just one of three equal branches of government. I think he’ll fail it.

Yes, the forms of the Constitution remain largely intact after nine months. But the norms that make the Constitution work are crumbling. The structure looks the same, but Trump has relentlessly attacked their foundations. Do not therefore keep your eyes on the surface. Put your ear to the ground.

This is pretty rich stuff coming from illegal immigrant Andrew Sullivan who managed to successfully defy for most of two decades the 1987 ban on entry to the United States by HIV-infected persons. Sullivan managed to elude deportation, despite being diagnosed with HIV in 1993 (the same year the ban on immigration was statutorily re-affirmed) using Blat.

Andrew was then editor of The New Republic, a very influential and big deal position, and he was consequently, despite his contagious and potentially fatal, perverse-sex-connected illness, able to swing an indefinitely renewable “O” visa, a special status awarded to an alien “who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.”

All our liberal democratic institutions took another very big hit for Andrew in 2009, when the US Attorney working for the Obama Administration declined to pursue a marijuana charge against the British-born journalist because it would have resulted in the (probably permanent) deportation of a prominent commentator passionately devoted to the incumbent administration’s support. So flagrant was the special treatment Andrew Sullivan received that the US Magistrate Judge wrote an 11-page dissenting memorandum protesting what had occurred.

Boston Globe (12 September 2009):

[A] federal judge says Sullivan did not deserve preferential treatment from prosecutors who dropped a marijuana possession charge after the journalist was recently caught smoking a joint on a federally owned beach on Cape Cod.

In a strongly worded memorandum issued Thursday, US Magistrate Judge Robert B. Collings said the decision by Acting US Attorney Michael K. Loucks to dismiss a federal misdemeanor possession charge against Sullivan flouted a “cardinal principle of our legal system’’ – that all persons stand equal before the law.

Three other defendants charged with the same offense had to appear before Collings the same day as Sullivan, the judge noted. But Sullivan’s case was the only one prosecutors did not pursue, out of concern that the $125 fine carried by the relatively minor offense could derail his US immigration application.

“It is quite apparent that Mr. Sullivan is being treated differently from others who have been charged with the same crime in similar circumstances,’’ Collings wrote in the 11-page memorandum, adding that prosecutors’ rationale for the dismissal was inadequate.

Collings added with obvious irritation that he had no power to order prosecutors to pursue the case, and granted their motion to dismiss it. The fact that he did, however, “does not require the Court to believe that the end result is a just one,’’ he wrote.

So, tell us, Andrew, which outrage shakes the foundations of our liberal democratic norms and institutions more violently, the merciful (though obviously partisan) clemency sparing jail time to an 80-something-year-old Sheriff facing a contempt charge from a judicial political adversary (Joe Arpaio) or covert White House intervention to quash a criminal drug possession rap that might deport a useful journalistic ally (you)?

28 Oct 2017

Double Standards

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28 Oct 2017

Yale “Decolonizes” English Department

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The College Fix has some more bad news for Yale alumni:

A year and a half after a petition circulated calling for Yale to “decolonize the English department,” the first students are enrolled in a new course created by the department to increase the breadth of the curriculum and combat claims of departmental racism.

What’s more, new requirements are in place to ensure a more “diversified” slate of courses.

Previous requirements for the major included two courses in “Major English Poets,” including Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton and Eliot, among others. But that two-course series petitioners had deemed actively harmful due to its focus on white male poets. The series is no longer a graduation requirement for Yale’s English majors.

The petition, a Google document which has since been made private, critiqued the perceived whiteness of the English department requirements: “A year spent around a seminar table where the literary contributions of women, people of color, and queer folk are absent actively harms all students, regardless of their identity.”

“It’s time for the English major to decolonize — not diversify — its course offerings,” the petition added. “A 21st century education is a diverse education: we write to you today inspired by student activism across the university, and to make sure that you know that the English department is not immune from the collective call to action.”

Nearly a year after the petition, around seven months ago, Yale’s English faculty voted to “diversity” the curriculum. At the time of the vote, the director of the department’s undergraduate studies, Jessica Brantley, told The Yale Daily News: “We’ve constructed a curriculum that has inclusion as its goal, embedded in the structures of its requirements, and I’m very excited to implement and develop that curriculum further.”

The reconfiguring of the English department’s required courses did not directly address the demands of the petition to do away with the Major English Poets sequences altogether; the courses still exist. The reconfiguration also did not refocus the program’s pre-1800 and pre-1900 literature requirement to address issues of race, gender, and sexuality as demanded by the petition.

Instead, the English department now allows students to fill three required prerequisites from a choice of four different courses: Readings in English Poetry 1, Readings in English Poetry 2, Readings in American Literature, and a newly created course, Readings in Comparative World English Literature.

Because Chaucer and Shakespeare are both studied in English Poetry 1, these expanded options mean that a student could graduate from the program without ever reading either of these authors.

RTWT

27 Oct 2017

History of the Rat King

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Mental Floss:

A ball of furry fury, a rat king occurs when the tails of rodents become twisted, wrapped, and warped into a knot so impossible that not even the world’s most loyal Boy Scout could untangle it. Rat kings have been reported since the mid-16th century (almost entirely within Germany), and everything about them—from their name, to their cause, to their very existence—remains suspended in mystery.

RTWT

27 Oct 2017

The Other 1%

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Science20:

There is a different kind of 1 percent, and it isn’t people who can afford to buy organic food. It’s Americans who carry a handgun on a daily basis.

It’s not a surprise, given American history and horrific events like a psychopath in Las Vegas wounding or killing 500 people while police waited 70 minutes to attack him. A nearby hotel guest with a gun could have ended that more quickly.

Up to 7 million have concealed carry permits while up to 9 million might carry a handgun on a monthly basis (not all states require a license for a concealed weapon). That is alarming to Northeastern epidemiologist Professor Matthew Miller and colleagues, who published their survey results, funded by two anti-gun groups, and extrapolated figures for the country, in American Journal of Public Health. “We’re talking about several million adult handgun owners carrying a loaded firearm on their person every day,” Miller said. “That’s a sizable number of Americans.”

RTWT

27 Oct 2017

Whale Shark

27 Oct 2017

Man Shot Grizzly Off His Front Porch

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Bozeman Daily Chronicle, October 24:

A man shot a grizzly bear on his front porch near West Yellowstone last weekend after it broke into his garage to get a hanging elk carcass.

Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the incident happened on Sunday evening south of U.S. Highway 287 and near the Grayling Arm of Hebgen Lake. She said an agency investigation determined that the man shot the bear in self-defense.

“We have a pretty clear case of self-defense here,” Jones said.

Jones said the bear was a sow grizzly likely more than 15 years old. It broke through a metal door to get into a garage where an elk carcass was hanging.

The homeowner heard noise coming from the garage. He grabbed a gun and went onto the front porch to see what was going on.

“There was a bear not 10 paces from him on his porch,” Jones said.

Jones said the man told FWP investigators that the bear turned and began to approach him. He shot the bear dead.

Jones said investigators saw bloody paw prints around the property, including within 10 feet of the front door. They also saw paw prints on the home’s living room window.

The bear had been trapped by Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team researchers once before, but it didn’t have a history of run-ins with people.

Jones said it appeared that the garage was secured properly and that there was nothing the homeowner could have done differently.

She added that it’s important for people to recognize that both grizzly and black bears are still wandering around and trying to fatten up for the winter.

RTWT

I hope the black bear raiding my bird feeders reads this one.

26 Oct 2017

British Government: “Men Get Pregnant, Too”

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Daily Signal:

The phrase “pregnant woman” needs to be more inclusive and termed “pregnant people” in a U.N. treaty, the British government announced on Monday.

The British government’s suggestion on proposed amendments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights claims the wording excludes pregnant transgender people. The treaty says “pregnant women” are protected and not subject to the death penalty, reported The Times.

The current terminology excludes transgender people who have given birth, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office claims.

“We requested that the U.N. Human Rights Committee made it clear that the same right extends to pregnant transgender people,” Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials told The Times.

There are two transgender men on record in the U.K. who have given birth after having a sex change. The biological women kept their womb and ovaries during the change, according to the Sunday report.

Some feminists are not happy about the terminology.

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