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jberryhill's Journal
jberryhill's Journal
December 22, 2019

Wine Caves? We are going on about wine caves?

Is there a lovely cask of Amontillado in it?

For the love of God, Montresor!
December 21, 2019

After Notre Dame, France increases fire safety

In fact, there are so many fire exits now, there are 50 ways to leave the Louvre.
December 19, 2019

Michael Avenatti's disbarment proceeding started today...


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Attorney Michael Avenatti should be prevented from practicing law for pocketing a client’s settlement and covering his tracks through “deceit, dishonesty and lies,” a lawyer for the California State Bar said Wednesday.

Attorney Eli Morgenstern said Avenatti poses a threat to clients and the public if he continues to perform legal work. The bar is seeking to put Avenatti on involuntary inactive status, and Morgenstern said it is likely he will eventually be disbarred.

Avenatti, who separately faces federal criminal charges, denounced the hearing as a “dog and pony show” and a “complete joke.”


“Nothing Mr. Avenatti says changes the fact that he appears to have falsified the payment dates in Mr. Barela’s settlement agreement and stolen his settlement money,” attorney Steven Bledsoe said.
December 13, 2019

Why Are Right-Wing Conspiracies so Obsessed With Pedophilia? (Mother Jones)

I'm not convinced this is an exclusive preoccupation of just the "right wing". The McMartin mania drew from across the spectrum, as did the "Franklin Scandal" and more recent manifestations of this phenomenon...


The story is the same, from the day-care panics to QAnon: It’s not really about the kids. It’s about fears of a changing social order.

Conspiracies centering on the vulnerability of children are neither new nor distinctly American. Wild claims of Jews killing Christian children and using their blood in rituals—the “blood libel”—date back to at least the 12th century and have popped up every so often since then, and long before that Christians were suspected of performing similar rites. “Hurting children is one of the worst things you can say someone is doing. It’s an easy way to demonize your enemy,” says Kathryn Olmsted, a professor of history at the University of California-Davis, who has studied conspiracy theories.

Why do child-abuse conspiracies explode into public consciousness at certain moments? Explanations offered for the peculiar resonance of Pizzagate and QAnon tend to focus on pathologies in the media ecosystem—epistemic bubbles, polarization, the unruly growth of social media. But years before the fracturing of mass culture and the dawn of Reddit and 4chan, the McMartin accusations fed a national spectacle during which scores of people were wrongly accused of sex crimes against children.

The continuities between the McMartin case and Pizzagate suggest a broader explanation for pedophile conspiracies: They aren’t the residue of malfunctions in our media culture. They’re an outgrowth of the normal workings of reactionary politics.
December 12, 2019

Interesting Government Motion in US v. Parnas (this is a good one)

So, Lev Parnas recently sought a modification of his conditions of release, since he wants some outdoor time now that the weather is getting chilly.

The government's response is interesting - not only do they oppose, but they have a renewed concern that Parnas should be locked up.

Original document for those who prefer actual facts:


Some highlights I found interesting:

Parnas poses a significant risk of flight for several reasons, the chief among which are his
considerable ties abroad and access to seemingly limitless sources of foreign funding. Parnas has
extensive and significant international ties, particularly in Ukraine, the country of his birth. Over
the past two years, Parnas traveled repeatedly to Ukraine, and met with numerous Ukrainian
government officials, including officials at the very highest level of government.
More broadly,
Parnas has traveled abroad more than twenty times over the past four years, including on a nearly
monthly basis in 2019. Parnas took circuitous travel routes that obscured his final destination,
such as by departing the U.S. for one country, but returning from a different country on a different
airline. Parnas traveled internationally by private jet as recently as this year; bank account records
from Account-1 show that Parnas spent more than $70,000 on private air travel in September 2019
alone. It also bears noting that Parnas could easily flee the country from the Southern District of
Florida, where Parnas resides: the District is home to at least five international airports, numerous
private airports, and international marine terminals. It would not be difficult for Parnas to leave
the United States and live abroad: he also speaks fluent Russian, appears to own no property within
the United States aside from two vehicles, and his wife and children could flee with him.

In addition, Parnas’s close ties abroad include connections to Russian and Ukrainian
nationals of nearly limitless means
, including Foreign National-1 and a Ukrainian oligarch living
in Vienna who is currently fighting extradition to this country. Parnas has proven adept at gaining
access to foreign funding: in the last three years, Parnas received in excess of $1.5 million from
Ukrainian and Russian sources.
In sum, given Parnas’s significant, high-level connections to
powerful and wealthy Ukrainians and at least one Russian national, he could quickly and easily
flee the United States for Ukraine or another foreign country, and recoup the security posted to his
bond. It is difficult to overstate the extreme flight risk that Parnas poses.

Moreover, given the information that has emerged about Parnas’s true financial picture—
which he did not disclose to Pretrial or the Government at the time of his arrest—it is clear that
the existing bail package is woefully insufficient to ensure Parnas’s appearance. Parnas provided
a materially misleading picture of his assets and income to Pretrial Services and the Government
in order to secure his release on terms that were favorable to Parnas. Parnas has posted $200,000
to secure his bond, based on his representations that it was all the money or property he could post.
But given that Parnas received over a $1 million in September 2019 alone, intended to purchase a
home worth approximately $4.5 million, and has access to other sources of funding that equal or
exceed the amount of the bond, it is clear that $200,000 is not a meaningful amount of money to

The whole thing is a pretty gripping read.

Don't let others decide for you what matters.
December 10, 2019

Bizarre filing by Jesus in Trump v. Vance Supreme Court case (the NY state tax subpoena case)

The case in which the State of NY in the person of Cyrus Vance Jr. has subpoenaed the accounting firm Mazar's for Trumps tax records is rolling along, with the current docket looking like this:

Nov 14 2019 Petition for a writ of certiorari filed. (Response due December 18, 2019)

Nov 21 2019 Brief of respondents Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., in his official capacity as district attorney of the County of New York,et al. in opposition filed.

Nov 21 2019 Waiver of right of respondent Mazars USA LLP to respond filed.

Nov 22 2019 Brief amicus curiae of United States filed.

Nov 25 2019 Reply of petitioner Donald Trump filed.

Nov 25 2019 Brief amicus curiae of Christian Family Coalition (CFC) Florida, Inc. filed.

Nov 26 2019 DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 12/13/2019.

So the petition for cert. (i.e. the argument about whether or not the Supreme Court should take up the case) will be considered on Friday. The related case involving Congress' request for the same materials is lagging slightly behind this one, so it's not clear whether they will combine the two. That would gain some efficiency, but since the Vance case involves a state investigation instead of a Congressional investigation, some of the issues are different.

The really weird thing, looking at this docket, is the amicus brief filed by the Christian Family Coalition (CFC) Florida, Inc..

Who knew that whether or not a state prosecutor should get his hands on a president's tax filings pursuant to a state criminal investigation was a topic that Jesus was particularly concerned about. Of course, who knew that Jesus had much to say on the subject of families in the first place, other than encouraging people to leave their families in order to follow him.

Be that as it may, far be it from me to argue with Jesus if he wants to have his representatives here on earth file a brief in this case which, in all its holy glory, is linked here:


The first bit of humor is in the section where they state their interest in the case:

Amicus is a non-profit corporation registered in Florida since 2003 as a human rights and social justice advocacy organization representing over 500,000 fair-minded voters in the Sunshine State. Amicus actively seeks to protect human rights and social justice in litigation and political forums. These values also are among the President’s responsibilities as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief under Article II of the Constitution. Amicus has an interest in this petition because the subpoena which is directed to the President and his business holdings is a wide-ranging fishing expedition which will seriously impair the Presidential function and office

Because, yeah, social justice organizations are typically concerned about impeding the office of the President. Mind you, this subpoena is directed to an accounting firm and requires NOTHING on the part of the president.

But let's get down to the meat of it. Why, Jesus, must we not subpoena the president's accountants?

And the LORD sayeth:

Respondent’s wide-ranging and blunderbuss criminal subpoena for virtually all the President’s private financial records and income-tax returns for the past 8 years poses a plausible risk of serious distraction from the President’s performance of his official duties and responsibilities. The likely distraction and diversion from the duties of Office are palpable and real. Article II of the Constitution commands that the subpoena be quashed.

The official duties and responsibilities of the President are daunting. Under Article II of the Constitution, the President is Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s armed forces, is responsible for their conduct everywhere in the world, is Chief Executive of the United States government, the nation’s representative to the rest of the world, the person responsible for choosing all major department heads and federal judges (subject to Senate approval), and the single person ultimately responsible for the functioning of the entire Executive Branch of Government.

The President has the nuclear-launch codes by his side 24/7, must be ready and focused at a moment’s notice to address any crisis at any time anywhere in the world and beyond, is on-call at 3:00 AM no less than 9-5, and requires a live-in office in the White House to discharge his official duties around the clock and around the world.

So, there you have it.

According to Jesus, you can't subpoena the president's accountants, because it will tucker him out and he might not be able to appoint a judge or launch nukes at 3 in the morning.

On edit: It gets better!

The lawyer who wrote this for the "Christian Family Coalition" sued his own brother!

November 29, 2019

Looking for entertainment in Oakland today?

This sounds like a fun-filled event.

You can go to a non-descript intersection in Oakland and play with sidewalk chalk.


Basta Chalking Event for Chelsea and Julian @ Weekly 4pm Friday Tabling

Date Friday November 29
Time 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Event Type Party/Street Party
Organizer/Author orion edmonson
Location Details
Fruitvale and MacArthur oakland 94602

Saving Chelsea and Julian is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!! To the Working
class and it’s Allies.They told us the truth about the wars! And all the NEW
McArthyism (phony Russia Gate conspiracy led by the New York Times) is
blaming Julian for being a puppet of Russia. So much of all our issues stem from
the honesty of Chelsea and Julian!! That’s why the RULING CLASS imprisoned
them and want’s them DEAD.
November 28, 2019

60,000 evacuated in Texas in chemical plant explosion

Tens of thousands of people in Port Neches and surrounding areas have been forced from their homes by an explosion and toxic gas.


60,000 people forced to evacuate after explosions at Texas chemical plant

Also, Randy Weber, their elected Congressional representative, has this to say:

November 26, 2019

The Supreme Court procedural ruling in one of the Trump tax cases - What you should know

On November 14, 2019, the US DC Court of Appeals affirmed the district court decision that Trump's tax returns must be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee. As is obvious in a case like this, the appellate court had stayed the district court decision while they considered the case. To do otherwise - i.e. to require the release of the documents while the court decided whether to compel release of the documents - would make no sense (unless one is a determined idiot).

Under Rule 13 of Supreme Court procedure, Trump would normally have 90 days to file a writ of certiori, which is a fancy name for "an argument as to why the Supreme Court should hear the case". It is not the case brief or argument, but simply a petition that states reasons why it should be taken up.


Rule13. Review on Certiorari : Time for Petitioning

1. Unless otherwise provided by law, a petition for a writ of certiorari to review a judgment in any case, civil or criminal, entered by a state court of last resort or a United States court of appeals (including the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces) is timely when it is fled with the Clerk of this Court within 90 days after entry of the judgment. A petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of a judgment of a lower state court that is subject to discre-tionary review by the state court of last resort is timely when it is fled with the Clerk within 90 days after entry of the order denying discretionary review.


So, under the normal rule, that petition would not be due until February 12, 2020 - 90 days from November 14, 2019.

Normally, in a direct conflict between two Constitutional actors - in this instance Congress and the President - a controversy will merit review by the Supreme Court. They don't have to do so, and we actually won't know until the Supreme Court considers the writ of certiori. And, again, since the case revolves around whether to compel disclosure of certain documents, it is a no-brainer that the Court would stay the decision until they see at least a writ of certiori.

What this means is that under the normal rules, Trump would not even have to file the writ of certiori until well into next year.

HOWEVER, what the Supreme Court did yesterday, as is in their power to do, was to accelerate the schedule for this case.

Instead of allowing Trump until February to file the writ, the Court has required Trump to file it next week, on December 5, 2019.

That's a good thing. The Court has put this case on an extremely fast track, and is not going to drag this thing out.

I can't for the life of me figure out why that pisses off a contingent at DU who seem single-mindedly focused on attacking the way the US court system works. What might be motivating that kind of thing is left to your imagination.

November 26, 2019

Two things to consider in the various subpoena cases

1. Kavanaugh cut his teeth working for Ken Starr. It would be entertaining for him, of all people, to support a blanket presidential immunity against investigatory mechanisms.

2. Have a look at the first sentence of today’s decision on the McGahn subpoena:


The first sentence refers to a dispute involving a congressional subpoena of Harriet Meiers.

Do you remember Harriet Meiers? W’s personal attorney whom he appointed to a staff position and then embarrassingly nominated to the Supreme Court?

That Harriet Meiers.

When she left the White House, do you know who got her job next?

That’s right. Justice Beer Bong Weenie Waver.

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