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In Conversation: Quincy Jones

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In both music and manner, Quincy Jones has always registered — from afar, anyway — as smooth, sophisticated, and impeccably well-connected. (That’s what earning 28 Grammy awards and co-producing Michael Jackson’s biggest-selling albums will do.) But in person, the 84-year-old music-industry macher is far spikier and more complicated. “All I’ve ever done is tell the truth,” says Jones, seated on a couch in his palatial Bel Air home, and about to dish some outrageous gossip. “I’ve got nothing to be scared of, man.”

Currently in the midst of an extended victory lap ahead of his turning 85 in March — a Netflix documentary and a CBS special hosted by Oprah Winfrey are on the horizon — Jones, dressed in a loose sweater, dark slacks, and a jaunty scarf, talks like he has nothing to lose. He name-drops, he scolds, he praises, and he tells (and retells) stories about his very famous friends. Even when his words are harsh, he says them with an enveloping charm, frequently leaning over for fist bumps and to tap me on the knee. “The experiences I’ve had!” he says, shaking his head in wonder. “You almost can’t believe it.”

You worked with Michael Jackson more than anyone he wasn’t related to. What’s something people don’t understand about him?
I hate to get into this publicly, but Michael stole a lot of stuff. He stole a lot of songs. [Donna Summer’s] State of IndependenceOriginally written by Vangelis and longtime Yes front man Jon Anderson, “State of Independence” was recorded by Donna Summer in 1982. Jones produced Summer’s version, Michael Jackson helped out on backing vocals, and the song’s central riff does sound awfully similar (albeit faster) to the iconic bass riff on Jackson’s hit single “Billie Jean.” It should also be noted that, last year, Jones won a lawsuit over a royalties dispute against Jackson’s estate. and Billie Jean. The notes don’t lie, man. He was as Machiavellian as they come.

How so?
Greedy, man. Greedy. “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”Greg Phillinganes wrote the c sectionPhillinganes, an in-demand studio keyboardist, played on a handful of Jackson-Jones collaborations, including the 1979 album Off the Wall, from which “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” comes. . Michael should’ve given him 10 percent of the song. Wouldn’t do it.

What about outside of music? What’s misunderstood about Michael?
I used to kill him about the plastic surgery, man. He’d always justify it and say it was because of some disease he had. Bullshit.

How much were his problems wrapped up with fame?
You mean with the way he looked? He had a problem with his looks because his father told him he was ugly and abused himJackson described being abused by his father Joe in a 1993 interview with Oprah, as well as in a 2003 interview with Martin Bashir. “It was really bad,” he recalled during the latter. . What do you expect?

It’s such a strange juxtaposition — how Michael’s music was so joyous, but his life just seems sadder and more odd as time goes by.
Yes, but at the end Michael’s problem was PropofolIn 2009, not long after Jackson’s death, the Los Angeles County coroner announced that the singer’s death was caused by “acute propofol intoxication.” Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, had been prescribing the powerful sedative, which Jackson called his “milk,” to help with the singer’s insomnia. In 2011, Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death. , and that problem affects everyone — doesn’t matter if you’re famous. Big Pharma making OxyContin and all that shit is a serious thing. I was around the White House for eight years with the Clintons, and I’d learn about how much influence Big Pharma has. It’s no joke. What’s your sign, man?

Pisces.
Me too. It’s a great sign.

You just mentioned the Clintons, who are friends of yours. Why is there still such visceral dislike of them? What are other people not seeing in Hillary, for example, that you see?
It’s because there’s a side of her — when you keep secrets, they backfire.

Like what secrets?
This is something else I shouldn’t be talking about.

You sure seem to know a lot.
I know too much, man.

What’s something you wish you didn’t know?
Who killed Kennedy.

Who did it?
[Chicago mobster Sam] GiancanaChicago gangster Sam Giancana is a well-known name among Kennedy conspiracists, both for his alleged help in delivering Illinois votes for Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election and the 1963 assassination of the president. The latter theory largely stems from Giancana’s murder in 1975, not long before he was supposed to testify before a Senate committee investigating collusion between the mob and the CIA. . The connection was there between Sinatra and the Mafia and Kennedy. Joe Kennedy — he was a bad man — he came to Frank to have him talk to Giancana about getting votes.

I’ve heard this theory before, that the mob helped win Illinois for Kennedy in 1960.
We shouldn’t talk about this publicly. Where you from?

Toronto.
I was at the Massey Hall showIn May 1953, jazz geniuses Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, and Dizzy Gillespie were recorded — for the first and last time — together in concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall. The resulting live album, Jazz at Massey Hall, is rightly considered a classic. .

Really? The Charlie Parker concert with Mingus and those guys?
Yeah, man. I saw the contract after. The whole band made $1,100. I’ll never forget that. At the time it was just another gig. It wasn’t historical. Like with Woodstock, Tito Puente told me he wanted to go out to that gig. Those festivals ain’t my thing. Elon Musk keeps trying to get me to go to Burning Man. No thank you. But who knew what Woodstock would turn out to be? Jimi Hendrix was out there fucking up the national anthem

Wasn’t Hendrix supposed to play on Gula Matari?
He was supposed to play on my album

He was supposed to play on my albumApparently, Hendrix was supposed to lend guitar work to Jones’s 1970 album Gula Matari, which arrived at a time when the guitarist was expanding his musical vocabulary beyond rock and blues and into jazz and funk. Sadly, he didn’t get far, dying of asphyxiation in September of that same year. and he chickened out. He was nervous to play with Toots Thielemans, Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, Roland Kirk — those are some scary motherfuckers. Toots was one of the greatest soloists that ever fucking lived. The cats on my records were the baddest cats in the world and Hendrix didn’t want to play with them.

What’d you think when you first heard rock music?

Rock ain’t nothing but a white version of rhythm and blues, motherfucker. You know, I met Paul McCartney when he was 21.

What were your first impressions of the Beatles?

That they were the worst musicians in the world. They were no-playing motherfuckers. Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard. And Ringo? Don’t even talk about it. I remember once we were in the studio with George Martin, and RingoJones arranged a version of “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” for Starr’s 1970 solo debut album Sentimental Journey, which was produced by the Beatles’ frequent collaborator George Martin. The song, and album, are more than a bit gloopy. had taken three hours for a four-bar thing he was trying to fix on a song. He couldn’t get it. We said, “Mate, why don’t you get some lager and lime, some shepherd’s pie, and take an hour-and-a-half and relax a little bit.” So he did, and we called Ronnie Verrell, a jazz drummer. Ronnie came in for 15 minutes and tore it up. Ringo comes back and says, “George, can you play it back for me one more time?” So George did, and Ringo says, “That didn’t sound so bad.” And I said, “Yeah, motherfucker because it ain’t you.” Great guy, though.

Were there any rock musicians you thought were good?
I used to like Clapton’s band. What were they called?

Cream.
Yeah, they could play. But you know who sings and plays just like Hendrix?

Who?

Paul Allen

Stop it. The Microsoft guy?
Yeah, man. I went on a trip on his yacht, and he had David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Sean Lennon — all those crazy motherfuckers. Then on the last two days, Stevie Wonder came on with his band and made Paul come up and play with him — he’s good, man.

You hang out in these elite social circles and doing good has always been important to you, but are you seeing as much concern for the poor as you’d like from the ultrarich?  
No. The rich aren’t doing enough. They don’t fucking care. I came from the street, and I care about these kids who don’t have enough because I feel I’m one of ’em. These other people don’t know what it feels like to be poor, so they don’t care.

Are we in a better place as a country than we were when you started doing humanitarian work 50 years ago?
No. We’re the worst we’ve ever been, but that’s why we’re seeing people try and fix it. Feminism: Women are saying they’re not going to take it anymore. Racism: People are fighting it. God is pushing the bad in our face to make people fight back.

We’ve obviously been learning more lately about just how corrosive the entertainment industry can be for women. As someone who’s worked in that business at the highest levels for so many years, do all the recent revelations come as a surprise?    
No, man. Women had to put up with fucked-up shit. Women and brothers — we’re both dealing with the glass ceiling.

But what about the alleged behavior of a friend of yours like Bill Cosby? Is it hard to square what he’s been accused of with the person you know?
It was all of them. Brett Ratner. [Harvey] Weinstein. Weinstein — he’s a jive motherfucker. Wouldn’t return my five calls. A bully.

What about Cosby, though?
What about it?

Were the allegations a surprise to you?
We can’t talk about this in public, man.

I’m sorry to jump around —
Be a Pisces. Jam.

If you could snap your fingers and fix one problem in the country, what would it be?
Racism. I’ve been watching it a long time — the ’30s to now. We’ve come a long way but we’ve got a long way to go. The South has always been fucked up, but you know where you stand. The racism in the North is disguised. You never know where you stand. That’s why what’s happening now is good, because people are saying they are racists who didn’t used to say it. Now we know.

What’s stirred everything up? Is it all about Trumpism?
It’s Trump and uneducated rednecks. Trump is just telling them what they want to hear. I used to hang out with him. He’s a crazy motherfucker. Limited mentally — a megalomaniac, narcissistic. I can’t stand him. I used to date Ivanka, you know.

Wait, really?
Yes, sir. Twelve years ago. Tommy Hilfiger, who was working with my daughter KidadaA former model and current designer, Kidada is the daughter of Jones and his ex-wife Peggy Lipton. Jones’s other daughter with Lipton is the actress Rashida Jones. Jones has five other children, with four other women. , said, “Ivanka wants to have dinner with you.” I said, “No problem. She’s a fine motherfucker.” She had the most beautiful legs I ever saw in my life. Wrong father, though.

Would your friend Oprah be a good president?
I don’t think she should run. She doesn’t have the chops for it. If you haven’t been governor of a state or the CEO of a company or a military general, you don’t know how to lead people.

She is the CEO of a company.
A symphony conductor knows more about how to lead than most businesspeople — more than Trump does. He doesn’t know shit. Someone who knows about real leadership wouldn’t have as many people against him as he does. He’s a fucking idiot.

Is Hollywood as bad with race as the rest of the country? I know that when you started scoring films, you’d hear producers say things like they didn’t want a “bluesy” score, which was clearly code-speak. Are you still encountering that kind of racism?
It’s still fucked up. 1964, when I was in Vegas, there were places I wasn’t supposed to go because I was black, but Frank [Sinatra] fixed that for me. It takes individual efforts like that to change things. It takes white people to say to other white people, “Do you really want to live as a racist? Is that really what you believe?” But every place is different. When I go to Dublin, Bono makes me stay at his castle because Ireland is so racist. Bono’s my brother, man. He named his son after me.

Is U2 still making good music?
[Shakes head.]

Why not?
I don’t know. I love Bono with all my heart, but there’s too much pressure on the band. He’s doing good work all over the world. Working with him and Bob Geldof on debt reliefJones has a truly admirable record of humanitarian and philanthropic work, going back to his support of Dr. Martin Luther King in the early 1960s. In 1999, Jones, U2 lead singer Bono, and musician-activist Bob Geldof (who spearheaded 1985’s Live Aid charity concerts), traveled to the Vatican to meet with Pope John Paul II, hoping to gain his support in their effort to reduce third-world debt. was one of the greatest things I ever did. It’s up there with “We Are the WorldA charity single written by Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson and co-produced by Quincy Jones, “We Are the World” featured a who’s who of 1980s American pop and rock stars, a collection dubbed USA for Africa. .”

There’s a small anecdote in your memoir about how the rock musicians who’d been asked to sing on “We Are the World” were griping about the song. Is there more to that story?
It wasn’t the rockers. It was Cyndi Lauper. She had a manager come over to me and say, “The rockers don’t like the song.” I know how that shit works. We went to see Springsteen, Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, and all those cats and they said, “We love the song.” So I said [to Lauper], “Okay, you can just get your shit over with and leave.” And she was fucking up every take because her necklace or bracelet was rattling in the microphone. It was just her that had a problem.

What’s something you’ve worked on that should’ve been bigger?
What the fuck are you talking about? I’ve never had that problem. They were all big.

How about a musician who deserved more acclaim?
Come on, man. The Brothers Johnson. James Ingram. Tevin Campbell. Every one of them went straight through the roof.

From a strictly musical perspective, what have you done that you’re most proud of?
That anything I can feel, I can notate musically. Not many people can do that. I can make a band play like a singer sings. That’s what arranging is, and it’s a great gift. I wouldn’t trade it for shit.

A few years back there was a quote you supposedly gave — I couldn’t find the source of it, so maybe it’s apocryphal — where you dismissed rap as being a bunch of four-bar loops. Is that an opinion you stand by?
That’s true about rap, that it’s the same phrase over and over and over again. The ear has to have the melody groomed for it; you have to keep the ear candy going because the mind turns off when the music doesn’t change. Music is strange that way. You’ve got to keep the ear busy.

Is there an example from the work you did, maybe with Michael, which illustrates what you’re talking about?
Yeah, the best example of me trying to feed the musical principles of the past — I’m talking about bebop — is “Baby Be Mine.” [Hums the song’s melody.] That’s Coltrane done in a pop song. Getting the young kids to hear bebop is what I’m talking about. Jazz is at the top of the hierarchy of music because the musicians learned everything they could about music. Every time I used to see Coltrane he’d have Nicolas Slonimsky’s book.

Yeah, he was famously obsessed with the Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. That’s the one you’re talking about, right?
That’s right. You’re bringing up all the good subjects now! Everything that Coltrane ever played was in that thesaurus. In fact, right near the front of that book, there’s a 12-tone example — it’s “Giant Steps.” Everyone thinks Coltrane wrote that, he didn’t. It’s Slonimsky. That book started all the jazz guys improvising in 12-tone. Coltrane carried that book around till the pages fell off.

When Coltrane started to go far out with the music —
“Giant Steps.”

Even further out, though, like on Ascension
You can’t get further out than 12-tone, and “Giant Steps” is 12-tone.

But when he was playing atonally —
No, no, no. Even that was heavily influenced by Alban Berg — that’s as far out as you can get.

Do you hear the spirit of jazz in pop today?
No. People gave it up to chase money. When you go after Cîroc vodka and Phat FarmCîroc is the alcohol brand owned by Diddy. Phat Farm was the fashion label founded by hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons in 1992. Simmons sold the company in 2004. and all that shit, God walks out of the room. I have never in my life made music for money or fame. Not even ThrillerJones may not have worked on Thriller for money, but co-producing the album (with Jackson) presumably made him a ton of it: The 1982 album is widely reported to be the biggest-selling LP of all time, having sold somewhere north of 66 million copies. . No way. God walks out of the room when you’re thinking about money. You could spend a million dollars on a piano part and it won’t make you a million dollars back. That’s just not how it works.

Is there innovation happening in modern pop music?  
Hell no. It’s just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks. What is there for me to learn from that? There ain’t no fucking songs. The song is the power; the singer is the messenger. The greatest singer in the world cannot save a bad song. I learned that 50 years ago, and it’s the single greatest lesson I ever learned as a producer. If you don’t have a great song, it doesn’t matter what else you put around it.

What was your greatest musical innovation?
Everything I’ve done.

Everything you’ve done was innovative?
Everything was something to be proud of — absolutely. It’s been an amazing contrast of genres. Since I was very young, I’ve played all kinds of music: bar mitzvah music, Sousa marches, strip-club music, jazz, pop. Everything. I didn’t have to learn a thing to do Michael Jackson.

What would account for the songs being less good than they used to be?
The mentality of the people making the music. Producers now are ignoring all the musical principles of the previous generations. It’s a joke. That’s not the way it works: You’re supposed to use everything from the past. If you know where you come from, it’s easier to get where you’re going. You need to understand music to touch people and become the soundtrack to their lives. Can I tell you one of the greatest moments in my life?

Of course.
It was the first time they celebrated Dr. King’s birthday in Washington, D.C., and Stevie Wonder was in charge and asked me to be musical director. After the performance, we went to a reception, and three ladies came over: The older lady had Sinatra at the Sands, I arranged that; her daughter had my album The Dude; and then that lady’s daughter had Thriller. Three generations of women said those were their favorite records. That touched me so much.

I’m trying to isolate what you specifically believe the problem with modern pop is. It’s the lack of formal musical knowledge on the part of the musicians?
Yes! And they don’t even care they don’t have it.

Well, who’s doing good work?
Bruno Mars. Chance the Rapper. Kendrick Lamar. I like where Kendrick’s mind is. He’s grounded. Chance, too. And the Ed Sheeran record is great. Sam Smith — he’s so open about being gay. I love it. Mark Ronson is someone who knows how to produce.

Putting aside the quality of contemporary songs, are there any technical or sonic production techniques that feel fresh?
No. There ain’t nothing new. The producers are lazy and greedy.

How does that laziness manifest itself?
Listen to the music — these guys don’t know what they’re doing. You’ve got to respect the gift God gave you by learning your craft.

Are you as down on the state of film scoring as you are on pop?
It’s not good. Everybody’s lazy. Alexandre DesplatThe French film composer won an Oscar for his score for 2015’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and his been nominated an additional eight times. — he’s good. He’s my brother. He was influenced by my scores.

Again, when you say film composers are lazy, what does that mean, exactly, in this context?
It means they’re not going back and listening to what Bernard Herrmann did.

Do you see a future for the music business?
There isn’t a music business anymore! If these people had paid attention to Shawn Fanning 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be in this mess. But the music business is still too full of these old-school bean counters. You can’t be like that. You can’t be one of these back-in-my-day people.

You’re talking about business not music, but, and I mean this respectfully, don’t some of your thoughts about music fall under the category of “back in my day”?
Musical principles exist, man. Musicians today can’t go all the way with the music because they haven’t done their homework with the left brain. Music is emotion and science. You don’t have to practice emotion because that comes naturally. Technique is different. If you can’t get your finger between three and four and seven and eight on a piano, you can’t play. You can only get so far without technique. People limit themselves musically, man. Do these musicians know tango? Macumba? Yoruba music? Samba? Bossa nova? Salsa? Cha-cha?

Maybe not the cha-cha.
[Marlon] BrandoThe actor and Jones were longtime friends. During a down period in Jones’s life, he spent time on the island in Tahiti which Brando owned. The two called each other Leroy, owing to a story recounted extremely well (one among many) in this recent GQ profile. used to go cha-cha dancing with us. He could dance his ass off. He was the most charming motherfucker you ever met. He’d fuck anything. Anything! He’d fuck a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye.

He slept with them? How do you know that?
[Frowns.] Come on, man. He did not give a fuck! You like Brazilian music?

Yeah, but I don’t know much beyond Jorge Ben and Gilberto Gil.
Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso are the kings! You know, I visit the favelas every year. Those motherfuckers have a hard life. They’re tough, though. You think our shit in America’s bad? It’s worse there.

I read that as a young man you used to carry around a .32.
Yeah.

Did you ever fire it?
Yeah.

At what?
[Grins.] Just practicin’.

Okay, let me ask you a left-field question. In your memoir, there’s a section where you talk about —
Being a dog?

That’s not what I was thinking of, but yeah, that’s in there. I was thinking of a section where you describe having a nervous breakdown not long after Thriller. You talk so often about your ups — I’m wondering if maybe you can talk about one of your downs.
What happened was that I was a producer on The Color Purple. Spielberg and me are still great friends, man. He’s a great fucking guy. I loved working with him.

Yep, but what happened on The Color Purple that caused your breakdown?
What happened was that I was a producer on that movie and everybody went on vacation after we finished filming — everybody except me. I had to stay home and write an hour and 55 minutes of music for the movie. I was so fucking tired from doing that, I couldn’t see. I put too much on my plate and it took its toll. You learn from your mistakes and I learned I couldn’t do that again.

What’s the last mistake you learned from?
My last record [2010’s Q: Soul Bossa Nostra]. I was not in favor of doing it, but the rappers wanted to record something as a tribute to me, where they’d do versions of songs that I’d done over my career. I said to them, “Look, you got to make the music better than we did on the originals.” That didn’t happen. T-Pain, man, he didn’t pay attention to the details.

What’s something positive you’ve been feeling about music lately?
Understanding where it comes from. It’s fascinating. I was on a trip with Paul Allen a few years ago, and I went to the bathroom and there were maps on the wall of how the Earth looked a million-and-a-half years ago. Off the coast of South Africa, where Durban is, was the coast of China. The people had to be mixing, and you hear it in the music — in the drums from both places. There are African qualities to Chinese music, Japanese music, too, with the Kodo drumming. It all comes from Africa. It’s a heavy thing to think about.

You’re about to turn 85. Are you afraid of the end?
No.

What do you think happens when you pass?
You’re just gone.

Are you religious?
No, man. I know too much about it. I knew Romano Mussolini, the jazz piano player, the son of Benito Mussolini. We used to jam all night. And he’d tell me about where the Catholics were coming from. The Catholics have a religion based on fear, smoke, and murder. And the biggest gimmick in the world is confession: “You tell me what you did wrong and it’ll be okay.” Come on. And almost everywhere you go in the world, the biggest structures are the Catholic churches. It’s money, man. It’s fucked up.

On the subject of money, I have a crass question. You spent the first half of your career working in jazz, which isn’t especially lucrative. When did you start to make serious money?
When I started producing after Lesley Gore. I was the first black vice-president at a record label [Mercury], which was great — except that meant they didn’t pay me for producing herJones had his first major pop successes — including 1963’s “It’s My Party” — producing a teenaged Lesley Gore for the Mercury label, where Jones was named a vice-president in 1964. . You know how they do; you know your country. But after that, in the ’70s, when I started producing for other artists, and then with Michael of course, that made me a lot of money. And big money came from TV producing — The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, that was huge for me. Mad TV was on for 14 years. That syndication money is great, man.

How much did your upbringing — the difficulties with your mother and growing up in real povertyAs recounted in his 2002 autobiography, Q, Jones’s youth in Chicago and Seattle was one of almost unimaginable physical and emotional trauma. In addition to facing poverty, he was stabbed in the hand by a gang member as a child, and frequently witnessed his mother’s extreme and frightening mental instability. — affect how you perceive success?
Of course it affected it. I appreciate the shit I have because I know what it’s like to have nothing.

What about having a fractured family? How did that change you?
Same as with money, man. I appreciate what I got.

How often do you think about your mother?
All the time. She died in a mental home. Brilliant lady, but she never got the help she needed. Her dementia praecox could’ve been cured with vitamin B, but she couldn’t get it because she was black.

When you think about her now, what comes to mind?
That I wish I could’ve been closer to her. What happened to her — for kids, that’s a bitch.

What’s the most ambitious thing you have left to do?
Qwest TVQwest TV is a subscription streaming service mostly dedicated to footage of jazz performances and documentaries. It’s still in beta. . Everybody is excited about it. It’s going to be a musical Netflix. It’s the best music from every genre around the world. So if kids want to hear something great, it’ll be right there for them. I can’t believe I still get to be involved in things like this. I stopped drinking two years ago and I feel like I’m 19 years old. I’ve never been so creative. I can’t tell you, man — what a life!

This interview has been edited and condensed from two conversations.

Judge denies motion to wipe clean Arpaio’s criminal conviction

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U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said she dismissed Arpaio’s criminal contempt case after President Donald Trump decided to issue a pardon. But in an order denying Arpaio’s motion to vacate all records of the conviction, Bolton said not even the president can erase facts.

The no-nonsense sheriff was found guilty in late July. Bolton ruled then that Arpaio had exhibited a “flagrant disregard” of a court order that barred him from rounding up undocumented immigrants. In her ruling, Bolton cited as evidence several comments Arpaio had made to the media.

“Why are they going after this Sheriff? Well we know why. Because they don’t like me enforcing illegal immigration law,” Arpaio was quoted as saying in an April 2012 interview with CBS.

“I’m still going to do what I’m doing,” he told PBS Newshour that same month. “I’m still going to arrest illegal aliens coming into this country.”

After hinting at it during a campaign style rally in August, Trump eventually pardoned the former sheriff. That spared the 85-year-old from up to six months behind bars. But that’s not enough for Arpaio. His lawyers say the pardon entitles him to the erasure of any record of the conviction.

“The President’s pardon moots the case, and it warrants an automatic vacatur of all opinions, judgments, and verdicts related to the criminal charge,” Arpaio’s lawyers wrote in a motion in late August.

Quite the contrary, says Bolton. “The power to pardon is an executive prerogative of mercy, not of judicial record-keeping,” she wrote in her order, citing a previous court case.

Jack Wilenchik, one of Arpaio’s attorneys, told Capitol Media Services that the record of the conviction could be used against the former sheriff in future cases. “We’re not asking to undo facts,” he said.

“We’re not asking for expungement,” he continued. “There’s no such thing in federal law.”

Wilenchik said the pardon functions as if someone had died prior to sentencing or before having a chance to appeal. “The whole case gets undone,” he said.

Bolton disagrees. “Indeed, a pardon ‘carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it,’” she wrote, citing earlier court precedent.

“The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt,” Bolton wrote. “The President issued the pardon. Defendant accepted. The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, ‘revise the historical facts’ of this case.”

Arpaio’s lawyers have already filed paperwork to appeal the decision.

“It’s not going to be dropped,” Arpaio said.

Sight Alignment & Mag Grip – Did you know?

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Be honest … when you first began shooting did you know that you could adjust the sight alignment? Were you also aware that sight alignment, mag grip and hand positioning are key in shooting accuracy? I didn’t.
I remember purchasing my first firearm, a Smith & Wesson M&P 9c AKA ‘Method Man’, and no matter how much I practiced I could never seem to hit the intended target. I did much better using Tim’s full size 9mm and his Neos U22 Beretta but my new firearm, not so much. My grouping was all over the place and I had one hell of a hand “jerk”. As a new shooter, I knew my accuracy would not be perfect but I felt I should see some improvement with time. Tim explained a few things to me, 2 of which I still deal with today; sight alignment and mag grip.
I’ll start with sight alignment. Many people are unaware of the ability to adjust this, I was one of those people. I would, and still do, move position, stance as well as sight picture in an attempt to solidify my grouping but nothing seems to work. (Side note: sight alignment correction was in the process of being done as I typed this. Even though the Allen wrench loosened the screw it would not move. After review, purchasing a sight pusher was recommended but before doing that, using a bench rest to assure an adjustment is actually needed was also recommended. Next step, finding an affordable bench rest to use for the next range visit.)
Secondly, the purchase of Method Man included two magazines. The mag grip with the ‘pinky extension finger rest’ is a better fit for me when shooting. I noticed my trigger pull technique is more fluent when I use that one instead of the one without the extension. I have a better grip on the handle which in turn gives a smoother trigger pull and helps my accuracy. Once the sight alignment is corrected I do believe that I will have better accuracy and superb grouping. I am going to claim that right now.
As I go through this process I will be sure to share and hope that anyone else in the group would share their stories as well. We can all learn from one another. I would love to hear more from the ladies in the group so I know I am not alone.

Republican leads bipartisan House effort to ban ‘bump stocks’

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Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents the Florida Keys area in Congress, wants to ban bump fire stocks (Photo: House Republican Conference)

 

Backers hope co-sponsors will join in supporting the legislation “Noah’s Ark-style,” with each lawmaker bringing another from across the aisle.

Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, joined by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, announced their proposal Thursday, which aims to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” which have become a hot-button item after their use in the Route 91 Harvest shooting in Las Vegas where a gunman reportedly had as many as a dozen rifles equipped with the devices.

“For the first time in decades, there is growing bipartisan consensus for firearm reform, a polarizing issue that has deeply divided Republicans and Democrats,” Curbelo, who represents the Florida Keys area in Congress, said in a statement. “Common sense legislation that does not restrict Second Amendment rights is an important first step in addressing gun violence in our country. By banning devices that blatantly circumvent already existing law, we can show that Congress is capable of working constructively to make Americans safer.”

Moulton, Curbelo’s opposite from across the aisle, made headlines earlier this week when he refused to participate in a moment of silence on the House floor for the Las Vegas victims. He argued for action instead.

“It’s time for Members of Congress to find the courage to come together and finally do something to help stop the epidemic of mass shootings,” said Moulton.

The new proposal would compete with S.1916 and HR 3947, a pair of partisan bills introduced on Wednesday by Democrats banning both bump and slide-fire style stocks as well as “crank triggers” with exceptions for military and law enforcement use.

While the language of the Curbelo-Moulton act is not available, the Democrat proposal seemingly has no provision outlined to grandfather the thousands of stocks and triggers already in circulation.

Several Republicans have voiced support for a ban on the devices while House Majority Leader Paul Ryan said he was open to a vote on the matter.

It’s not just GOP members in Washington looking to outlaw the ATF-approved accessories which until last week were uncontroversial. Republican governors John Kasich of Ohio and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts also came out this week as backing a prohibition on bump fire stocks with Baker going so far as saying he would sign such a bill “tomorrow” if it was sent to him by lawmakers.

However, there at least a few Republicans are non-committal on an outright ban, with Montana’s entire Congressional delegation– including Democrat U.S. Sen. Jon Tester– shying away from the concept as a block at least until they get more information on the subject.

“I think we should hold a hearing on the issue so we can hear from firearms experts, disability advocates, and law enforcement,” said Tester.

Gun rights groups are wandering in the political landscape on a looming prohibition with NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre saying it may be time to “take a look at that and see if it’s in compliance with federal law, and it’s worthy of additional regulation” which some Dems have characterized as a dodge. The more conservative Gun Owners of America, meanwhile, is staunchly against any ban.

The devices are already reportedly illegal in California and New York while Democrats in New Jersey and Washington are backing statewide prohibitions of their own.

Gun stocks fluctuate as investigation into Vegas shooting deepens

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Las Vegas Metro Police and medical workers stage in the intersection of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard South after a mass shooting at a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 1, 2017.

 

 

Share prices for most gun makers ended on a high note Thursday as the ongoing investigation into the Las Vegas shooting triggers swings in the market.

Sturm, Ruger and Co. and Vista Outdoor made small gains after the National Rifle Association said the federal government should reexamine bump stocks — a legal modification to rifles mimicking automatic fire. American Outdoor Brands slipped less than one percent Thursday after posting a 4 percent increase 24 hours after the shooting.

“We didn’t talk about banning anything,” Chris Cox, NRA-ILA’s executive director, told Tucker Carlson during an interview Thursday on Fox News. “We talked about the ATF going back and looking at if these (bump stocks) comply with federal law.”

Bump stocks made headlines this week after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed 12 of the modification devices were found in 64-year-old Stephen Paddock’s two-room suite on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay and Casino. Paddock perpetrated the deadliest mass shooting in American history Sunday when he fired into a crowded country music festival from the windows of his hotel room, killing 58 and wounding 489 others.

Stocks for ShotSpotter — described as a “global leader in gunfire detection and location technology” on its website — jumped nearly 12 percent Thursday after the NRA’s public statement. Congressional Republicans likewise expressed public support for considering a bump stock ban, or at the very least, a review of the devices.

“Fully automatic weapons have been banned for a long time, apparently this allows you to take a semi-automatic and turn it into a fully automatic, so clearly that’s something we need to look into,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday.

Authorities still don’t know why Paddock, a retired accountant and frequent gambler, attacked the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Local and federal investigators found no ties to international terrorism while the gunman’s brother, Eric Paddock, insists he wasn’t particularly religious or partisan.

“What we know is Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Wednesday. “He meticulously planned on the worst domestic attack in United States history.”

New details in the case have emerged over the last four days indicating Paddock may have planned to target the Life Is Beautiful music festival a week earlier after evidence connected him to an Airbnb rental at a condominium within the festival’s 18-block boundary. Lombardo wouldn’t speculate why exactly the gunman rented the rooms.

He would confirm, however, Paddock checked into his room at Mandalay Bay on Sept. 28 where spent the next three days stocking his room with an arsenal of nearly two dozen firearms, including 12 modified with bump stocks. Authorities also found chemicals used to make explosives and 1,600 rounds of ammunition in his car.

“Our resolve is strong,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Aaron Rouse said during a press conference Wednesday. “We will get to the bottom of this, no matter how long it takes.”

Gov. Scott signs Florida emergency concealed carry bill

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It will now be legal for gun owners in the Sunshine State to temporarily carry concealed handguns without a permit during periods when the sun isn’t shining so bright.

Now law is a measure to allow law-abiding citizens without concealed carry licenses to bear arms during declared mandatory evacuations. A reboot of a failed 2014 bill that was killed in last minute political maneuvering, this session’s effort had an easier go of it after police lobby groups embraced the proposal. It passed the Republican-controlled Senate in an easy 29-10 vote while the House last month approved it by a 86-26 margin.

“As Hurricane Season approaches it’s critical that our rights are protected during natural disasters,” advised Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-Petersburg, in a statement. “With the signing of SB 290, all lawful gun owners will be permitted to carry a concealed weapon if they are complying with a mandatory evacuation during a state of emergency. I’m proud to have sponsored this bipartisan bill ensuring that we have the right to protect our families during these sometimes chaotic times.”

Brandes bill, SB 290, creates an exception to Florida’s prohibition against concealed carry of a weapon without a permit by allowing adults not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm to temporally do so while evacuating. The law allows for a 48-hour window that this would be allowed after the evacuation has been ordered. However, the governor can authorize an extension as needed.

Such evacuation orders occur frequently in the state, most often associated with hurricane threats. Florida, with hundreds of miles of coastline in the North Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, is prone to severe hurricanes. Since 2000, no less than 63 tropical or subtropical cyclones have affected Florida, more than any other state.

Second Amendment advocates in the state refer to the new law as true common-sense gun legislation.

“This bill is a no-brainer, particularly in Florida with our hurricane exposure,” Marion Hammer, president of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and past president of the National Rifle Association, told Guns.com Thursday. “When you’re ordered to evacuate — to take your kids, your dog and valuables and flee — the last thing you should leave behind is your gun.”

People have a responsibility to defend themselves and their family, “so taking firearms with you is not only your right, it is your responsibly,” said Hammer.

The law was effective Thursday at signing while the Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1.

NFL Michael Bennett Police singled me out put a gun near my head

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Michael Bennett, a defensive end for the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks, said Wednesday that police used racial profiling and excessive force when they pointed guns at him during an incident after the Mayweather-McGregor fight in Las Vegas last month.

Bennett, who is among the most well-known players to sit in protest for the national anthem before games, shared his account of the story in a letter he posted to Twitter on Wednesday. According to his statement, the incident occurred early in the morning on Aug. 27, after the Mayweather-McGregor fight.

While leaving an after party at a casino, Bennett said he was going back to his hotel when a crowd of people heard what sounded like gunshots, and he instinctively ran away from the sound, looking for a safe place to take cover.

Then, Bennett said, “Las Vegas police officers singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“A police officer ordered me to get on the ground,” Bennett continued. “As I laid on the ground, complying with his commands to not move, he placed his gun near my head and warned me that if I moved he would ‘blow my fucking head off.’”

Another officer then came over and jammed his knee into his back, Bennett claimed, causing him to have trouble breathing. The officer then handcuffed the football star, cinching the cuffs so tight Bennett said he lost feeling in his fingers.

Bennett describes feeling helpless and fearing for his life during the incident. When asking the officers what he had done, he said they replied by telling him to shut up and then took him to the back of a patrol car.

The officers eventually released Bennett, and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said at a Wednesday press conference that his department had launched an investigation into the incident and that Bennett had been detained for a total of 10 minutes.

McMahill said that so far he had found “no evidence that race played any role in this incident” and also noted that both of the officers who detained Bennett were Hispanic. The officers were responding to a call of battery and assault with a gun that had evolved into an active shooter situation.

As officers conducted a search inside and outside of Drai’s nightclub, the area where shots were supposedly heard, the scene became chaotic, with many people running from the club and casino in a panic. The officers then spotted Bennett crouched behind some machines, McMahill said, and Bennett then darted outside with the officers pursing him. The officers then took Bennett down and detained him.

McMahill said the officers explained the situation to Bennett, and at the time Bennett had no problem with how officers handled it, except for putting a gun to his head. During the press conference, McMahill played a video of officers searching the casino, with hordes of people running from the scene. It was later found that there was no shooter in the area and the sound heard was not a gunshot.

A video released by TMZ Wednesday shows an officer handcuffing Bennett. At one point, Bennett yelled to the officer: “I wasn’t doing nothing, man. I was here with my friends. They told us to get out; everybody ran. Can you answer my question, sir?”

McMahill said he did not know why Bennett had been singled out and hoped that the investigation would clarify that. He also said that anyone with video of the incident should send it to police to help the investigation, and urged Bennett to file a formal complaint.

Bennett said he had hired Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris to explore all legal options available to him. Burris also released a statement Wednesday, claiming that his client was an innocent victim of excessive force.

“We think there was an unlawful detention and the use of excessive force, with a gun put to his head,” Burris told The Associated Press. “He was just in the crowd. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. He wasn’t in a fight. He wasn’t resisting. He did nothing more or less than anyone in the crowd.”

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