Bad news, good news

I’m going to rip off the bandage over the bad news: Bill Cosby has been released from prison. He was accused by 60 women of drugging and molesting them; he even confessed, in the most chillingly reptilian way, that yeah, he doped them so he could do whatever he wanted with them, but he made that confession after a prosecutor promised him immunity, so it was obtained under false pretenses, and now he’s been set free. I think it’s good that bad lawyers get their tactics rebuked, but yikes, they let a monster out.

At least he won’t be making any more puddin’ pop commercials, I hope.

In other bad news, Britney Spears has been living under a repressive conservatorship for well over a decade (I don’t care what you think of her music, whether you love it or hate it, this is a human being we’re talking about.) Why, I don’t know. She’s a grown-ass woman, pop stars have a long history of making fools of themselves without getting all their rights stripped away, but this seems to be one of those situations where a greedy family has a grip on the one money-making talent in their midst, and are squeezing her for all that she is worth. She’s been trying to get out from under their control, and unfortunately, a judge has ruled that her father will continue as her conservator. Leave Britney alone!

Now for the happy news. Nikole Hannah-Jones has been awarded tenure after all! This should have been a no-brainer, considering her immense accomplishments and standing in the intellectual community, but it took a second closed-door meeting and tremendous public pressure to get the board of trustees to do the right thing. Opponents just needed money. It turns out that a man who donated $25 million dollars to UNC thought that gave him the power to pressure the university to deny her tenure because he didn’t like her opinions.

Some of that opposition came from Walter Hussman, a UNC donor and Arkansas newspaper publisher whose name adorns UNC’s journalism school. Hussman, who is also an alumnus, told NPR he was given pause by criticism of prominent scholars that Hannah-Jones distorted the historical record in arguing that the protection of slavery was one of the primary motivations of the Founding Fathers in seeking independence from the British. (Hannah-Jones has recently tweeted that she will be able to back up that contention in her forthcoming book.)

You know, that doesn’t even sound that controversial to me. The British had outlawed slavery in their country, and we can see right there in the US Constitution all the compromises the founding fathers had made to convince the slave-holding states to join in their rebellion. I’d be curious to see her argument that this was a primary motivation, but I don’t find it at all implausible. Also not implausible: that a rich conservative Republican would try to silence a valid criticism of the history of this country.

But wait! We need more good news! How about the beginning of the end of the Trump grifting empire?

A grand jury in Manhattan filed criminal indictments Wednesday against former president Donald Trump’s company and its longtime chief financial officer, according to two people familiar with the indictments.

The indictments against the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg, will remain sealed until Thursday afternoon, leaving the specific charges against them unclear. Earlier Wednesday, people familiar with the case said the charges were related to allegations of unpaid taxes on benefits for Trump Organization executives.

Weisselberg is expected to surrender Thursday morning at the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D), two people familiar with the plan said. He is expected to be arraigned later in the day in front of a state court judge. The Trump Organization will also be arraigned, represented in court by one of its attorneys.

Trump himself is not indicted, yet. They’re going after the Trump hotels and golf courses, which probably hurts him more.

It’s also cute that they’re going after him on tax evasion, like Al Capone. The lesson I take from this is that when I become an evil overlord, I will be meticulous in paying my taxes. Either that, or I will buy a bunch of congresspeople and get legislation passed to give me plenty of legal loopholes.


  1. says

    Reading about Cosby yesterday brought up son uncomfortable memories. Memories of my own sexual assault. I legit had a panic attack reading that yesterday. The creepy bastard should have spent the rest of his life in prison. Now he’s free and living in his McMansion and I feel sick.

    BTW did you know they offered him early release, and all he had to do is complete a program for sexual criminals? He refused. Now we know why. He has shown absolute contempt for his victims. He is free to live the rest of his life believing he did nothing wrong. That is an unacceptable failure of justice.

  2. acroyear says

    Well, the problem with paying your taxes is that to file, you have to explain where the revenue and income came from. If you can’t do that, you’ll get audited anyways and they’ll connect it to criminal doings.

  3. consciousness razor says

    The British had outlawed slavery in their country, and we can see right there in the US Constitution all the compromises the founding fathers had made to convince the slave-holding states to join in their rebellion.

    When do you think that happened? 1833 perhaps? Or even as late as 1861?

    Take your pick, but it’s decades after we finally declared independence from them (so was the Constitution for that matter), which came after even more years of widespread unrest during the revolutionary period, leading up to the war itself.

    So, “had outlawed” is not how I would’ve put it. Unless this story is supposed to have something to do with time-travelers, I don’t think that makes a whole lot of sense. I’m also not too sure what you may have meant by “their country,” but I’m going to guess that it’s not supposed to be equivalent to “England” but to the empire over which they had legal and political control (i.e., the thing that used to rule over the colonies here).

  4. consciousness razor says

    Sorry…. The Constitution obviously wasn’t decades (plural) after the Declaration of Independence, but it was after.

  5. Jazzlet says

    Technically slavery was illegal in England due to Habeas Corpus, from the 16th century on there were cases of the courts declining to return runaway slaves to their owners. The slave trade was abolished in 1807, ownership on British Empire soil from 1833 onwards as you suggest.While there were campaigns against slavery and the slave trade beforehand they didn’t take off seriously until Anglicans like Wilberforce started getting involved in the 1880s.

  6. garnetstar says

    I read just yesterday (and I’m so sorry I can’t link to it, I never seem to keep links to things) something about “5 facts about July 4” or some such, that Jefferson’s first draft of the declaration was quite illuminating.

    He devoted 168 words, more than to any other complaint and reason to be independent from England, about how the British had “forced the negro race upon them” (aka, “We’re the real victims!”) and then tried to empower slaves in some (?) way, so that the British “put the dagger in the slaves’ hands” to threaten American whites. A lot of the southern states joined him in this complaint, but it was discreetly edited out of the final draft.


    I suppose we could look up the first draft and read what was actually written.

  7. Bruce says

    As to slavery before the Revolutionary War, I read about the British legal case of Somerset v Stewart in 1772. Wikipedia has info. That case in the UK inspired abolitionist lawsuits in Massachusetts in 1773-1774, in which abolition won, but that were overturned by the governor. So everyone in the colonies knew there were legal ideas in the UK that might influence future laws in UK colonies. Maybe the UNC scholar has new research about what Americans thought about this from then through 1789, when our Constitution was ratified.

  8. pilgham says

    An Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1807. Also William Wilberforce (24 August 1759 – 29 July 1833) but yeah, I’d like to read the book before I agree that British interference with slavery was a concern of the writers of the Declaration. They seemed more worried about the Crown having “excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured[sic] to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages”.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    garnetstar @ # 7: … something about “5 facts about July 4” or some such …

    Prob’ly The Declaration of Independence wasn’t really complaining about King George, and 5 other surprising facts for July Fourth:

    In that early draft, Jefferson’s single biggest grievance was that the mother country had first foisted enslaved Africans on white Americans and then attempted to incite them against their patriot owners. In an objection to which he gave 168 words – three times as many as any other complaint – Jefferson said George III had encouraged enslaved Americans “to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them.”

  10. brucegee1962 says

    @7 Garnetstar

    I suppose we could look up the first draft and read what was actually written.

    I could use an easy task today:

    “he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”
    Later in life Jefferson wrote:
    “The clause…reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in compliance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it. Our Northern brethren also I believe felt a little tender under these censures; for tho’ their people have very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.”
    Of course, we know that he didn’t hesitate to take advantage of slavery himself, so he doesn’t get too many kudos for condemning it here.

  11. says

    I think it’s good that bad lawyers get their tactics rebuked

    I don’t disagree, but I would note that does not seem to be the case here, per my understanding. As I saw it explained, it was one district attorney who promised not to prosecute, but it was their successor who decided to prosecute. So it was different lawyers. The ruling, as I understand it, is that the successor should have been bound to the promises of their predecessor. Whether or not the successor knew of those promises was not made clear.

  12. brucegee1962 says

    Regarding the Cosby case, the first prosecutor decided, for whatever reason, that there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute, and announced this publicly. This promise meant that Cosby had no 5th amendment protection to shield himself from being forced to testify in a civil suit. So he had to testify, and in the course of that testimony, he incriminated himself. Then the second prosecutor decided to try him after all, and used those self-incriminating statements as evidence. So it wasn’t the fact that the second prosecutor broke the promise, it was that she used the testimony that was only made possible because of that promise.
    I don’t think the Pennsylvania Supremes got it wrong here. If this was allowed to stand, it would give a green light for prosecutors to use civil suits as an end run to get past your 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination.
    The main question in my mind is why both prosecutors felt that, despite the host of women who had stepped forward, they didn’t have enough evidence to win the case without the addition of the incriminating statements. One can speculate that they felt spooked by the celebrity and high-profile lawyers they would be up against.
    The best face to put on it is that at least he spent some time in jail, which is more than most such celebrity predators have to suffer.

  13. unclefrogy says

    I do nott think that Cosby is done with legal problems just yet he is only out of prison for now. I would bet there are lawyers right now working on civil cases against him.
    the POP star was put under conservator-ship because of her self-destructive behavior (and the threat to the family’s financial success) she is now an adult in years and should be allowed to make her own decisions or all adults should be faced with the same judgements.
    I saw the other day that Hanna-Jones was awarded tenure in a change of decision it is as it should be. Any controversy she has generated belongs in the university and the public square and not swept under the rug by “conservative cancel culture”
    nice to see that the law is still proceeding along in the accustomed slow pace. that man will be in court for a long time to come I am afraid. I wonder if he has a bolt hole or does he really believe all the BS he slings around?

  14. says

    I think people should at least consider this: Tom Petty, Michael Jackson, Prince and probably dozens of other artists are dead now because nobody intervened in their stupid behaviors. So it just might be true that Brittney is alive today because her father intervened and took over her decisions.
    I can just see what people would be saying if the conservatorship ended and then she stopped taking any meds and then she becomes even more bat shit crazy than Kanye. And then she dies in some horrible accident or OD in 6 weeks.
    We just don’t know and the fact that this judge sided with her father strengthens my point. We just don’t know.

  15. John Morales says

    markmckee, what are you on about?

    This is about Bill Cosby. Released on a technicality.

    (He incriminated himself, didn’t mean to)

  16. says

    John Morales I’d suggest you go back to the top article that started this thread. That article is about Cosby, Brittney, the woman who finally got tenure after her book on critical race theory and also the Trump org indictments today.
    Go back to the top and check it out.

  17. John Morales says

    Mmm, OK, markmckee. Point.

    Can’t say I’m much worried about Britney, though.

    As for your post, granting it whatever relevance, seems to me daddy’s taking advantage.

    (I mean, sure: she’s being taken care of, as should be any wealth-generating asset)

  18. brucegee1962 says

    @15 markmckee

    What Britney described to the court and the world is basically a form of incarceration — she has lost the freedom to live as an adult, seek happiness, and make decisions for her own welfare. It was a sentence placed upon her because she had mental health issues, and probably because she made some mistakes related to drugs. We are just starting to move away from locking up drug offenders and mental health patients in this country — do you really want to advocate that they should now be placed under guardianship of somebody (their families or the state, whoever) and have their rights stripped away? In some ways guardianship seems worse than jail — at least a jail sentence has an end date when you are free, but guardianship is forever.

    Yes, the people you mention made poor decisions and died. The ability to make poor decisions is one of the hallmarks of being a free adult. When the government shows up to take your rights away, the first one it always goes for is the right to be stupid and self-destructive. It may not be a sexy right to defend, but it’s an important one.

  19. Kagehi says

    Basically – Cosby -> Technicality brought about by inclusion of evidence that was self incrimination, and shouldn’t have been used at all, but was anyway, so.. typical, “We used everything we could to nail this person, including things that we couldn’t legally. How did that go wrong.” At least the cops didn’t plant evidence, like in certain other cases.

    With Britney the problem comes down to the fact that her statements about what was really going on where “not” in the court. The court, and judge, only had the prior information to go on, when making a decision, and none of that prior assessment allowed him to judge in her favor. She can reapply, with the “new” information that is now out, and that can be used to make a new judgement, but the first ruling was made on “old data”.

    Still F-ed up, in both cases, but.. seems like in the first case.. the courts, DAs, cops, etc. never freaking learn, and the second is annoying, but understandable, given the context.

  20. garnetstar says

    Thanks, Pierce RB @10, that’s it. You must be better at searching than I am, because I couldn’t find the article again.

    And, yeah, bruce @11, that is some cognitive dissonance. “You forced me to do this un-christian evil thing! It’s your fault.”

  21. brucegee1962 says

    garnetstar, Yeah, Jefferson is pretty much the poster boy for cognitive dissonance. He clearly knew at some level that slavery was immoral, but he loved his fine wines, and the only way he could make a profit at Monticello was with slave-intensive industry, and he had all these visitors, and…and…and…
    So he used his considerable intellect to convince himself that what he was doing was ok. Besides, everyone was doing it, so that makes it moral, right?
    I like to imagine that, if he were to come back today and learn that his reputation was forever tarnished because of his slaveholding, he would hang his head and whisper “Good.”

  22. says

    In response to people who want Brittney to have her conservatorship ended I understand your point. But I think people would agree that if someone is on a ledge ready to jump everyone has the right to grab them and stop them in their tracks and them possibly commit them for a few days or until the suicidality passes.. IOW, what would normally be considered kidnapping is perfectly acceptable in this case.
    I think where we disagree on Brittney is on how close is Brittney to that edge? While on her meds I would argue she is far from that edge but the court found otherwise, presumably.
    Now I’m not arguing that she should never be freed from this conservatorship. I’m only arguing that we don’t have all the facts and assuming her father is wrong is just that, an assumption.
    I don’t know the answer but then nobody does who isn’t directly involved.

  23. brucegee1962 says

    markmckee, I’ve read a few articles that have said advocates for the disabled have been jumping onto Britney’s case to make the argument that the entire system of guardianship is flawed. It’s a disability rights issue. I don’t have time to look them up, but one quote that sticks in my mind was “It’s supposed to be a last resort, but all too often it’s a first resort.” If someone cannot make decisions or live as an adult, that’s one thing — people unable to figure out basic skills like managing a bank account or shopping for food probably need someone to watch their interests. But it should not be used for people who are perfectly capable of making decisions, but just make decisions that those around them don’t like. Britney is clearly able to live as an adult — after all, she’s rich enough to hire people to handle anything she wants handled — and that should be enough for the judge.
    I’m also a right-to-die advocate. If people choose to do it the slow way with drugs, should we stop them?

  24. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    markmckee, you did a bait and switch. You started with a very small forced waiting period time of a few days before suicide to being a virtual slave for your entire life. Many people who can agree with the first will vehemently disagree with the second.

  25. says


    I don’t think I disagree with either of you and I’m not sure I would insist that Brittney’s conservatorship should continue. I worked in mental health for many years as a provider and often found myself arguing for a patient’s rights knowing full well that it was quite risky to remove restrictions that were placed on them to save their lives. So I get it.

    I’m simply suggesting that it is also possible that Brittney is alive today because her father stepped in and just maybe people need to consider this possibility. I was actually surprised when the judge in this case decided to continue the conservatorship and wondered if there is a whole lot more to this “enforced protection” than the public is aware. Frankly I thought her presentation on her deserving her freedom was quite compelling.

    But you’ve got to find it interesting that we’ve heard Brittney’s “side of the story” but nothing on the other side… now that could be because the other side has no defense, but it could also be because they are a whole lot more concerned with Brittney’s privacy. Again, we don’t know.

    So that’s all I wanted to do. Raise awareness.

    I still think it is a shame that the planet lost Michael Jackson because nobody told him to grow up.