Elizabeth Holmes’ Lawyers Beg for Incarceration

I’d never want to be a judge as I wouldn’t want the responsibility of determining the appropriate loss of freedom for people who do bad things. But if federal judge Edward Davila, who will sentence Theranos fraudster Elizabeth Holmes on November 18, takes the time to read the 82-page memo her lawyers submitted asking for 18 months of home detention, I will understand if he imposes the 80 years of potential jail time her criminal convictions allow.

The filing signed by four attorneys representing Holmes left me aghast, particularly as they work at Williams & Connolly, reputed to be one of the top law firms in the country. The filing is sloppily written, rife with contradictions, and lacks credibility. Rather than induce sympathy for Holmes, the filing leads me to believe that Holmes remains arrogant, entitled, and views herself as a victim, not the perpetrator of a massive fraud.

Citing character letters submitted on their client’s behalf, Holmes’ lawyers — Kevin Downey, Lance Wade, Amy Mason Saharia, and Katherine Trefz — argue the “real” Elizabeth Holmes is “driven by a single and simple purpose; she wants to make the world a better place than it would have been without her.” They maintain that the real Elizabeth Holmes “has within her a sincere desire to help others, to be of meaningful service, and possesses the capacity to redeem herself.” Holmes desire to make the world a better place is a recurring theme throughout the document.

Holmes’ lawyers would have the judge believe that Holmes was exploited by others, notably her former deputy Sunny Balwani, who was convicted of 12 felony fraud and conspiracy counts against Theranos investors and patients who relied on the company’s flawed blood tests. The lawyers emphasize that Holmes was only 34 years old when she was indicted and lacked business and management experience.

Holmes’ lawyers incredulously argue their client was a “humble” CEO. Humble?  She courted the media and posed for magazine covers wearing her trademark black turtlenecks, feigning the genius of Steve Jobs. The lawyers urge the judge not to be swayed by the “caricature” the “media vitriol” has created for their client. The lawyers seem to forget that the media’s vitriol was the result of an earlier caricature that Holmes nurtured touting her genius and seeming accomplishments, despite her lack of business and management experience.

The lawyers instruct the judge to consider character references from the “more than 130 individuals who actually know (emphasis mine)” Holmes.” One of those references is from David Sokol, who as Business Insider noted was a former heir to Warren Buffett but was forced to resign because of insider trading allegations. Sokol admits that he has “no historic family or business relationship” with Holmes, save for meeting her once at an awards event. Sokol essentially argues that the jury that convicted Holmes was likely too unsophisticated about business to levy an appropriate verdict. Deriding the judicial system and process over which Davila presides doesn’t strike me as the best way to win him over.

The document cites no evidence that Holmes has developed any humility since her indictment and conviction. Holmes has been working as a rape crisis counselor, which smacks of a PR stunt to curry sympathy. I’d be moved if Holmes worked as a nurse’s aide at a hospital or nursing home cleaning bed pans, as that would require genuine humility. The lawyers refer to Holmes’ bankruptcy, but disclose that she lives in Woodside, one of the wealthiest communities in America. I’d welcome knowing what Williams & Connolly billed Holmes for the time it took her four attorneys to prepare the document.

Holmes was convicted for defrauding affluent investors, so frankly I couldn’t care less if she gets off with a wrist slap. But if Holmes really wants to make the world a better place, she should readily embrace a sentence involving years of jail time, as that might deter other rich kids from believing they, too, are above the law.

WaPo’s Misguided Henry Ford Cancellation Advocacy

The Washington Post this week published a commentary by a writer named Rebecca Sonkin, who lives “near Detroit” and in New York, arguing for the removal of the ubiquitous Henry Ford name throughout the Motor City because of his virulent antisemitism.

“Drivers leaving the Detroit metropolitan airport encounter a highway sign pointing to Henry Ford College, another to the Ford Expressway,” Sonkin notes. “Downtown, the Henry Ford Hospital bills itself as a haven of “science + soul.” Sonkin says that in HFH’s ‘I AM HENRY’ marketing campaign, “Jews, so far as I can tell, are nowhere to be found in a campaign that otherwise strains for inclusivity.”

Sonkin obviously doesn’t know Detroit all that well. The Ford expressway she refers to was named after Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s son. Henry Ford Hospital is in an area called New Center, not downtown.

Removing the Henry Ford name would hardly be a triumph combating antisemitism, as the automotive entrepreneur’s Jew hatred is well known, particularly among Jews. Ford’s legacy to the Detroit region can’t be denied and removing all references to the man would likely result in less awareness about his virulent antisemitism.

Banishing the Henry Ford name would create some practical issues, as Henry Ford II, the grandson of the automotive founder, was a staunch supporter of Israel where he built a Ford factory despite calls for a boycott from Arab countries. He also had a close friendship with Max Fisher, a renowned Jewish businessman and philanthropist.

In 2019, Ford opened a major R&D center in Tel Aviv, despite Rep. Rashida Tlaib, whose district includes or abuts Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, calling for a boycott of Israel.

In 2014, Ford named Mark Fields, who is Jewish, CEO. The Ford family has donated generously to Jewish causes, including donating a rare 500-year-old Torah scroll to a suburban Detroit synagogue.

As for Henry Ford Hospital, the institution has long enjoyed the support of Detroit’s Jewish community, including a $20 million donation from Jewish philanthropist Mort Harris, one of the largest in the hospital’s history. Unlike a once more prosperous suburban-based Detroit area hospital, I’ve never heard any rumblings of antisemitism about HFH.

If Sonkin is sincere about wanting to combat antisemitism in the Detroit area, she should focus her attention and prose on Tlaib, who is regarded as one of the most influential Jew haters in the world.

The Return of the Manual Transmission

“Tesla has the quickest car on the market — just floor the accelerator and hang on. It doesn’t take any driver skill.”


Thank you, Bob Sorokanich, editor-in-chief of Jalopnik, for articulating why I’ve long viewed Elon Musk’s Teslas as hunks of poorly melded metal on wheels commanded by soulless software. I’d still prefer my 1986, 5-speed manual transmission Toyota Celica, which I reluctantly gave up because of a genetic foot problem that was aggravated when I was stuck in traffic and forced to continuously engage the clutch pedal. I traded in the car when I moved to New York City, where being stuck in traffic was pretty much all the time.

Bob Sorokanich/Twitter

Turns out, there’s a renewed demand for manual transmissions, and kudos to ABC News writer Morgan Korn for reporting on the trend. Porsche, BMW, Toyota, Acura, and Ford are among the automakers committed to manufacturing vehicles with manual transmissions and I’m delighted there’s a coterie of young people who still want to experience the thrill and excitement of commanding an internal combustion engine.

I wonder if Musk knows how to drive a manual transmission.

I’m sure Ford CEO Jim Farley, who is a racing enthusiast, knows how to drive and appreciates a stick, so it’s understandable that at the unveiling of the seventh-generation Ford Mustang in September, company executives reaffirmed the Blue Oval’s commitment to the clutch pedal.

“Ford has saved the manual transmission for a new generation and the 5.0-liter V8 continues to offer a standard six-speed manual transmission for customers who want an uncompromised connection to eight-cylinder power,” according to a company press release.

A manual Ford Mustang might be practical for me, as it will no doubt be subject to multiple recalls that will result in less use of the car, thereby putting less stress on my clutch foot.

Toyota’s lightweight GR Corolla is built exclusively with a manual and the company expects to sell all of them.

“The GR Corolla is meant for engagement,” Sorokanich told ABC News.

Porsche offers 25 models with a manual transmission at no cost. Certain 911 models, like the Carrera T and GT3 with Touring Package, come standard with a manual gearbox.

“We see the highest degree of interest in manual transmissions on particularly enthusiast-focused variants such as the 718 Cayman/Boxster T, 718 Cayman GT4 and 718 Spyder or 911 GT3, where the manual take rate in the U.S. can reach 50% or more,” a Porsche spokesperson told ABC News. “We aim to offer the manual transmission as a choice as long as regulations permit.”

Knowing there’s still a demand for manual transmission vehicles gives me hope. I salute every person who buys one.

Fall in Los Angeles

Okay, it doesn’t compete with fall foliage in New England or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but Southern California sort of has four seasons. I recently took this photo on Westwood in West LA.

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