1. On the down side, “The Smollett Report” Explain this one: Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett announced today that all charges against him have been dropped.Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts related to making a false report that he was attacked by two men. The two men were found and implicated Smollett, and the evidence that it was hoax appeared overwhelming. A minimum condition of dropping cases requires some acceptance of responsibility, but the actor still professes that he’s innocent. “I’ve been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one,” he said.
What’s going on here? I have no idea, but the word “Chicago” keeps popping up in my head.”
2. Talk about a parallel universe! I had never seen this [Pointer: Althouse]: President Obama’s statement after the 2016 election:
“You take the baton, you run your best race, and hopefully, by the time you hand it off, you’re a little further ahead. You made a little progress. I want to make sure that hand-off is well executed because, ultimately, we’re all on the same team….
Everybody is sad when their side loses an election, but the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first.
This was a long and hard-fought campaign. A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today. A lot of Americans are less so, but that’s the nature of campaigns. That’s the nature of democracy. It is hard and sometimes contentious and noisy. It’s not always inspiring.”
“Sometimes you lose an argument. Sometimes you lose an election. We try really hard to persuade people that we’re right, and then people vote, and then we lose. We learn from our mistakes. We do some reflection. We lick our wounds. We brush ourselves off. We get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time.”
What a gracious, note-perfect statement! Then his party and followers went out and began protesting, carrying signs that said “Not our President!,” concocting impeachment theories, tried to rig the Electoral College, and boycotted the Inauguration. And they were just getting started…
What was going on here? Surely Obama had enough power and influence in the party to persuade Democrats not to act like spoiled and petty jack-asses in the wake of Trump’s victory…or did he? Or was this a fake, with Obama orchestrating “the resistance” behind the scenes? It would be hard to imagine a larger gap between a party leader’s exhortation to his followers to be ethical, and how they responded.
3. Whatever going on here, it’s stupid. On March 1, San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer was caught on video having a loud, public argument with his wife during which he tried take his cell phone out of her hands, which caused her to fall off of her chair and to the floor as she screamed “help me!” Even though he and his wife made public statements explaining the episode as an embarrassing but insignificant episode, spousal abuse activists decided to target Baer, and the San Francisco Chronicle decided that this was worthy of an editorial calling for Baer to be punished by Major League Baseball. So, naturally, MLB complied.
Baer has been suspended without pay through July 1. The San Francisco Chronicle reports, I’m sure with great satisfaction, that after his suspension, Baer may return as CEO but will no longer will not be in charge of his baseball operations staff. He will also be required to undergo an evaluation by an expert to determine an appropriate treatment and counseling plan.
You know when civil libertarians were protesting the increase in surveillance cameras in urban areas? Never mind: now the whole world is a surveillance camera, with eager spies just waiting to catch you misbehaving. By all accounts, the Baer’s got into a momentary clash in which she grabbed his cell phone at a restaurant, she wouldn’t give it back, he grabbed it, she lost her balance and fell out her chair. It wasn’t a crime or an assault, and her fall (and what she shouted) are irrelevant and moral luck. The Chronicle’s grandstanding editorial made the ridiculous claim that fans and kids look to baseball team owners as role models. The players are indeed paid heroes; the owners are not, and never have been. A simple apology to his team and its fans should have been sufficient. MLB’s punishment is grotesquely out of proportion to the offense.
On the plus side, now owners know not to try to take their cell phones back when their wives grab it in a restaurant.
4. What’s going on here? Schadenfreude! The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan filed extortion charges against Michael Avenatti, the cocky and obnoxious lawyer who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump. Avenatti was also indicted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles on wire fraud and banking charges this week, and was arrested in Manhattan today. The indictment accuses Avenatti of attempting to extract more than $20 million in payments from Nike by “threatening to use his ability to garner publicity to inflict substantial financial and reputational harm on the company if his demands were not met.”
Yes, that sounds like Avenatti.
How quickly they forget: Avenatti had already been arrested since he tried to leverage his slimy legal machinations into a political career. What I wrote in a November post after that arrest can be fairly repeated here:
Of course, Avenatti is not guilty of anything. This is an allegation only, at this point. And the fact that he tried to pile on to the politically-generated accusations against Brett Kavanaugh by endorsing the incredible claims by a woman, Juile Swetnick, connecting Kavanaugh to “gang rapes,” claims that she later contradicted and that are now the subject of an FBI investigation into possible felonies by both Swetnick and Avenatti, doesn’t mean he should not have the right to the presumption of innocence that he tried to deny Justice Kavanaugh.