Daily Archives: February 16, 2019

My take: Jussie Smollett made it all up

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Actor Jussie Smollett cried during his first television interview after allegedly having been the victim of a hate crime on January 29. Meh. He very most likely was crying wolf. (He appears to me to be acting — fairly poorly — in that interview, by the way.)

I’ve been quiet on the alleged hate crime against TV show “Empire” star Jussie Smollett on January 29 in Chicago.

My inclination is to believe the victim, or at least to give the alleged victim the benefit of the doubt, anyway, but Smollett’s story was a bit over the top from the get-go: two male attackers, he claimed, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck and yelled, “This is MAGA country!” as well as racist and homophobic slurs.

Smollett initially reported that his attackers wore ski masks, but presumably they were white, since allegedly they had perpetrated a race-based hate crime against him and yelled “This is MAGA country!” (Indeed, in the TV interview mentioned above, by elimination he pretty much claims that his attackers were indeed white, which he apparently could see even though they were wearing ski masks.)

The details of the alleged hate crime against Smollett and its subsequent investigation are convoluted and go back and forth, with ample yes-but-no-but-no-but-yes. (You can read them here and here and in many other places on the Internet.) I won’t rehash all of them here.

But CNN reports today:

Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN that Chicago Police believe actor Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate an assault on him that he reported late last month.

The men, who are brothers, were arrested Wednesday but released without charges Friday after Chicago police cited the discovery of “new evidence.

“The sources told CNN the two men are now cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Smollett told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who were “yelling out racial and homophobic slurs.” He said one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him.

The sources told CNN there are records that show the two brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago.

CNN’s attempts Saturday to reach both Smollett’s representative and attorney were unsuccessful.

Smollett identifies as gay and since 2015 has played the gay character of Jamal on the Fox TV drama “Empire.”

According to Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, the actor told detectives he was attacked by two men near the lower entrance of a Loews hotel in Chicago. Police were told the two men yelled “‘Empire’ fa***t” and “‘Empire’ n***er'” while striking him.

The day after the incident, police released surveillance images that showed two silhouetted individuals walking down a sidewalk, and police said they were wanted for questioning.

The two men were arrested Wednesday. Police on Friday said the men were being viewed as “potential suspects” and that detectives had “probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime.” [Note that that crime was not specified…]

But by Friday night they had been released, Guglielmi said, “due to new evidence as a result of today’s investigations.”

“And detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” he added.

One of the men has appeared on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. A police source also told CNN on Friday night that the men had a previous affiliation with Smollett, but did not provide additional details. …

It was reported that Smollett might have made up the attack because he feared that he was about to be written out of “Empire” — and presumably, the show-runners then would be hesitant to do so after he’d been attacked in a hate crime — but the show-runners have denied that Smollett’s role ever was in jeopardy. (Of course, for public relations reasons — to keep their target audience — they could be lying about that…)

In any event, if I had to put money on it, for whatever reason, I surmise, Smollett indeed made the whole thing up.

Not only was his initial report over the top — it would be rare for hate-crime attackers, who don’t tend to be all that smart or creative, to do all of the things that he alleged — and certainly they would have had to have been stalking him already, since they allegedly came prepared with props (bleach and a noose). And further, somehow they knew exactly when to bring those props with them: when the “Empire” star just happened to be going to Subway for food around 2 a.m.

Really?

Also, would real attackers really call Smollett “‘Empire’ faggot” and “‘Empire’ nigger”? Plain-old “faggot” and/or “nigger” I could see, but I rather doubt that they would mention the show in which he stars. Again: over the top. It’s bad writing because it beggars belief.

If Smollett actually is found to not have made the whole thing up, then I’d be the first to say so (and update this post accordingly) and offer and apology, but yeah, I very much doubt that Smollett’s story, in the end, will be corroborated.

If he lied — and he wouldn’t be the first to have lied about having been the victim of a hate crime — of course he has made it worse for those who come after him who actually are the victims of hate crimes, and of course he should be prosecuted for having lied to the police.

And I’ll come out and say it: the black community hasn’t been big on defending gay people, to put it quite mildly and charitably, so it seems to me that in this case they have responded more to the alleged racist hate crime against Smollett than to the alleged homophobic hate crime against him.

Just sayin’: The Smollett case apparently not only says a lot about Smollett and what apparent bullshit story he believed would fly in this age of toxic identity politics, but says a lot about those who were so quick to claim that he had to be telling the truth — before the details of the investigation ever even came out. It’s been quite the Rorschach test. (See: confirmation bias.)

P.S. Smollett apparently even fooled “President” Pussygrabber, who called that the alleged attack on Smollett “horrible,” adding, “It doesn’t get worse.” Actually, it does get worse, sometimes a lot worse; Smollett had only superficial (self-inflicted?) skin wounds, no broken bones, no damage to any organs, and he’s still very much alive.

On that note, Kamala Harris rather dramatically called Smollett’s account “an attempted modern day lynching.”

Again, two words: confirmation bias. Harris desperately wants that black base, I know, but she might show some, um, presidential caution before commenting next time. There has been no evidence presented thus far that anyone actually was trying to lynch Smollett, for fuck’s sake.

This woman was a prosecutor? Scary…

P.P.S. Cory Booker also called the Smollett account “an attempted modern-day lynching.” Of course. Jesus fuck.

I’m not sure who tweeted that bullshit first, Harris or Booker (tweets are given time stamps, but from which time zone[s]?), but it’s hard to believe that both would use the exact same phrase without knowledge that the other had done so first.

And, again, to stoke interracial strife before the facts of an alleged incident are even established — again, hardly what I would call presidential.

P.P.P.S. It’s being reported that Smollett has hired Michael Cohen’s criminal defense attorney.

To be abundantly fair, hiring a criminal defense attorney doesn’t necessarily mean that you are guilty of a crime, but, um…

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Politico: Bernie Sanders has made 2020 presidential announcement video

Image result for bat signal

Bernie Sanders apparently is about to put out the official signal.

Politico reports today:

Bernie Sanders, inching closer to a second bid for the White House, has recorded a campaign video in which he says he is running for president in 2020, according to two people familiar with the spot.

It’s the latest sign the independent senator, the runner-up in the 2016 contest for the Democratic nomination, is nearing a presidential announcement.

Another hint that Sanders is getting closer to a launch: As Politico reported this week, the Sanders team has been interviewing people for top staff positions. Chuck Rocha, a political consultant who advised Sanders’ 2016 campaign, is expected to join him again if a second bid materializes.

It is unclear when, or even whether, the Sanders video will be released. It’s possible that Sanders could launch a 2020 campaign with an exploratory committee and then formally declare his candidacy later, a route other presidential candidates, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have taken. …

I long have assumed that Bernie would run again. As I noted recently, he’d be crazy not to.

Bernie didn’t go away after his surprisingly narrow loss to Queen Billary in 2016. He has remained in the spotlight, introducing such progressive legislation as Medicare for All, most notably (most of the top-tier candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination signed on to Bernie’s Medicare for All bill), and he released three books after the November 2016 election and has traveled to numerous states since then.

Bernie remains popular — he remains the most popular elected official in the United States — and takes second place only to Joe Biden in reputable nationwide polling of 2020 Democratic Party presidential preference.

If Joe Biden runs, once he starts running his center-right mouth again, the voters will be reminded of why they passed him up on his first two runs for president in 1988 and in 2008, I predict, so Bernie is a strong contender for the nomination.

Not only that, but fivethirtyeight.com’s Nate Silver recently noted that past elections indicate that the more candidates who run in a presidential primary, the more difficult it is for party establishmentarians to ensure that their favorite candidate emerges as the nominee. Silver concludes:

… But the past electoral cycles where the field was nearly as big as this one shouldn’t exactly be comforting to [establishmentarian] Democrats, and it should be particularly worrying for next-in-line candidates such as Biden.

Democratic voters like a lot of their choices and feel optimistic about their chances of beating Trump in 2020. The large field is both a sign that there may not be consensus about the best candidate and a source of unpredictability.

Indeed, 2020 won’t be 2016, in which Bernie and Billary were the only two viable candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Recall that no other high-profile Democrat, including Elizabeth Warren, dared to run against Queen Billary in 2016; Bernie was the only U.S. senator who had the balls to do that.

So while Bernie isn’t polling at No. 1 (yet), again, Joe Biden, with his stale Clintonian pro-corporate centrism, is, in my book, a weak candidate given the Democratic Party base’s ongoing shift to the left. Billary either didn’t see that shift or believed that she safely could ignore it, and instead offered only rehashed Clintonism (always served cold) — and look how that turned out for her.

And (along with what Nate Silver stated) with so many Democratic candidates running, of course Bernie stands to gain from not having to face just one establishmentarian opponent, as he faced only Queen Billary in 2016, but in 2019 and 2020 he faces several establishmentarian opponents who are splintering the establishmentarian vote, including five other sitting U.S. senators.*

And, of course, because Bernie won 22 states and 46 percent of the democratically earned delegates in the 2016 primary battle, he starts off already fairly strong. Indeed, unlike the other, weaker candidates who already have announced, Bernie hasn’t had to jump in yet because he already has a sizable base of support.

Finally, the Democratic National Committee that rigged the game for Billary in 2016 — both Elizabeth Warren and Donna Brazile have said that the DNC indeed rigged the game for Billary — is not the same DNC of today.

Former DNC chair and Billarybot Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was incredibly corrupt, resigned in disgrace, and new chair Tom Perez is much more decent and fair; Team Bernie got some important DNC reforms, most notably the reining in of the anti-democratic “super-delegates” who helped Billary “win” (by making her appear to be inevitable [like with the Borg, resistance reportedly was futile]) before we peons even got to participate in a primary election or caucus; and Clintonism, for the most part, died when Billary tanked in November 2016.

My guess is that once Bernie’s second presidential bid is official, not only will his poll numbers go up and Biden’s and (most) everyone else’s will go down, but his pre-existing army of supporters from 2016 will flood his campaign coffers with individual donations (I sure will!).

We Berners aren’t dead; we are diehards and we’ve just been waiting for Bernie’s bat signal, and once it is illuminating the sky, it’s on.

*Those five senators are Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

Booker, Gillibrand and Klobuchar indisputably are establishmentarian party hacks, and Harris, in my book, is just co-opting Bernie’s positions in order to try to siphon off some of his support.

I have lived in California for more than 20 years now, and Harris never has been a remarkable progressive. She never has taken a position that wasn’t politically safe for her. (She publicly opposes such things as lynching — as though that were a bold, controversial stance, as though a majority of Americans support lynchings and as though lynchings still were commonplace. [Next, she’ll boldly come out against slavery!])

And Elizabeth Warren — I’m falling out of love with her. Not only is she not campaigning well, including the “Pocahontas” stuff, but she was too much of a party hack to oppose Billary in 2016 and she won’t call herself a democratic socialist, but either truly believes that capitalism can be reformed (it cannot be) or is just too fucking cowardly to embrace democratic socialism, as she was too cowardly to face Billary in 2016.

Liz Warren is more of an establishmentarian Democrat than anything else. (Also, of course, she used to be a Repugnican as late as the 1990s. Oh, yeah.)

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