Sunday, April 21, 2019

Trump, Lori Loughlin and William Barr

OK, so you are probably wondering what all three of these have in common?  Not too much, except justice.  It's just that all three cases have really been bothering me over the past few days.

Despite being cleared by the Mueller report, Trump got screwed--again.  The world got to see his frustration with the probe, and his desire to end it.  He didn't end it, and in fact, he didn't do any acts of obstruction.  He allowed everyone to talk without invoking executive privilege and he freely gave all documents requested in the probe.  Yet we still are told about his private frustration expressed in communications with the White House lawyer and his other aids.  Who would not have been frustrated and wanted the probe ended?  Anyone who claims otherwise is a hypocrite.  The report actually gives me a low opinion of several people: 1) the White House counsel who did not invoke attorney-client privilege when no crime was committed, 2) Mueller and his team for spilling non-prosecutable dirt on Trump, 3) William Barr for releasing 'dirt' that was not a crime, and 4) all the media and readers that condemn Trump for being infuriated.

Lori Loughlin is a bit different.  At someone else's suggestion (Rick Singer), she provided him funds to bribe a USC coach to get her daughters into college.  She paid the funds to Singer's non-profit to make it look like a donation.  Supposedly, the feds charged 50 other parents with similar actions.  But she wasn't charged with bribery--that federal crime only applies to bribing government officials.  I read that the multiple federal charges against her have a penalty of up to 40 years.  The charges against Singer are only 70 years in total.  And I've read nothing about a penalty for the coach--except termination.

For full disclosure, I really like Lori Loughlin's mystery movies on Hallmark (Garage Sale Mysteries).  They are clean, moral, and just good fun--unlike most movies produced today.  So if you paid a bribe to get your child into college, would you think it fair to be threatened with 40 years in jail?  It's not on the level of murder, armed robbery, assault, or even embezzlement.  Yet she is getting charged with more years, on average, than many of those violent crimes.  Yet who did she hurt?  Potentially, two students weren't accepted at USC because of her actions.  I was not accepted at lots of prestigious universities that I thought I should have been accepted at (but couldn't afford anyway).  My conclusion is it's prosecutorial overreach.  She's being charged with federal crimes like fraudulently sending money through the 'federal' postal system and money laundering.  Crimes that were intended to catch serious criminals such as drug cartels and the mafia.  I'm just disgusted.

Finally, I come to William Barr.  As I said earlier, I don't like his release of derogatory information that does not reflect a crime.  He blacked out such material on others, who he says were not in the public eye.  So it's okay to do something to our president that isn't okay to do to someone else who was not charged?  But what's really bugging me is all of the bloggers who believe Barr will investigate FBI misbehavior and charge the wrong-doers.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, you aren't a conservative who thinks the swamp has been breaking laws in going after Trump.

Way too many of those bloggers think because Barr spoke honestly to Congress and the press, that he will do what is right, and punish those who broke laws.  What I think will happen is that Barr will investigate the FBI's behavior, and he will change the regulations under which they operate so it won't happen (he thinks) again in the future.  He will satisfy his desire for justice by rationalizing that he cannot change what has happened, but he can stop it from occurring again in the future.  Congress and the bureaucracy do this all the time.  Congress stops future behavior by passing laws.  Bureaucracy prevents unwanted future behavior by passing regulations.  Unfortunately, bad actors don't usually pay attention to regs or laws.  If they cannot work around them, they will just hide their actions.

I think Barr will try to minimize future controversy over his actions.  Charging people like Strozck and Comey would bring an uproar from the press and an attempt to destroy Barr's reputation (more than the current slander).  I'll think he'll avoid that and take the easy way out.  I agree with the bloggers that any FBI (or others) that broke laws in the probe's instigation or investigation ought to be prosecuted.  We have crimes on the book as deterrents.  If you don't use them, no one is deterred, and this will happen again to another, future president.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Despicable Judge Napolitano

Before Trump was elected, I used to like reading Judge Napolitano's articles on Fox News.  He was a pretty good libertarian and believed in constitutional government.  I didn't like his articles where every sentence was a question, but the other stuff was pretty good.

Then came President Trump's election.  Suddenly everything President Trump did was despicable, repellent, abhorrent, and likely subject to prosecution.  No longer did Judge Napolitano believe in freedom of speech, believe in innocent until proven guilty, or the primacy of constitutional protections and authorities.  Instead, his articles left out anything on the exoneration side of an argument against Trump. 

In my opinion, he became a rabid Never-Trumper who would not apply the principles of freedom he so strongly pushed during the Obama era.

And even after the Mueller report came out, he said there was enough there for prosecution.  I won't ever read another article of his.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame Fire - Accident a Cause or Hope?

In general I don't like conspiracy theories.  But I dislike premature government pronouncements even more.  And too often, especially in cases of large disasters, they sound like misdirection of the public.  A recent New York Post article on the Notre Dame fire yesterday contained one of those premature announcements.

The French regional manager announced that the fire was an accident.  The French stated there was no evidence of arson.  Then they stated that 50 investigators were interviewing workers to find out what happened.  And they were supposedly starting from the assumption that it was an accident.

How can you say it was an accident when you have 50 investigators trying to find out what happened?  My presumption would be, when starting an investigation, that it was arson or an act of terrorism.  Sure, you investigate all possibilities.  But you don't want to miss arson because the arsonist says it was an accident.

Since the statement it was an accident was obviously premature, this is one of those cases where I think the French government is intentionally trying to convince the public that the cause was what they prefer to find.  They don't want another blatant act of terrorism or arson, possibly by immigrants who are not Christian, to inflame bad feelings in their nation.

What really bothers me is the possibility that if they find something other than an accidental cause, they will label it a state secret and bury the results.  If that is not a possibility, why say it was an accident rather than that they were still trying to identify the source of the fire?