Saturday, December 21, 2019

Impeachment 2019 to 2020

It's been a long time since my last blog.  I still don't know whether I was right about William Barr or not.  The DOJ IG report on the Page FISA application came out a mixed bag.  It points out lots of FBI misconduct, mistakes, and/or illegal acts, all of which worked towards continuing a pointless investigation of President Trump.  But IG Horowitz failed to draw any conclusions regarding bias or intent.  It's kind of like he takes Pelosi's word that she prays for the good of President Trump while she's impeaching him on trumped up 'nothing' charges.  Surely she cannot hate, detest, or dislike President Trump since she doesn't admit to those feelings!

Since FBI Director Wray is just correcting the process within the FBI so the FISA mistakes won't happen again, that leaves only prosecutor Durham's investigation to produce any consequences for the FBI, DOJ or intelligence community beyond changing internal regulations.

But what I really wanted to talk about was the recent passing of Articles of Impeachment by the House of Representatives against President Trump.  Those were for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress.  I don't believe either is written in law with any legal consequences.  Thus no crime.  I won't go any further with those arguments, as it's been done comprehensively and repetitively in the press and blogs.

But after passing the articles, with only Democratic congress-persons votes, Speaker Pelosi did not have a vote to transmit the articles to the Senate.  She has indicated that she will not transmit them until she is satisfied that there will be a 'fair' trial in the Senate.  Since she has no leverage to change Senate rules for such a trail, I have my doubts about her public reasons.

And an aside here.  The Articles of Impeachment were published, so the Senate has access to them.  Likewise, they published the vote on TV and announced that the Articles had passed.  I relooked at the Constitution and it says nothing about the House being required to transmit them to the Senate.  The only thing stopping the Senate from holding a trial now is the Senate's own rules.

Many folks seem to think Pelosi is afraid of a quick disposition and acquittal of President Trump.  That is likely true.

But consider the alternatives going forward:

  • The House transmits the articles sometime after the new year, and public opinion has grown even more against finding President Trump guilty.  She's worse off.
  • The House transmits the articles sometime after the new year, and public opinion has turned against President Trump.  Democrats have scored for 2020 elections.
  • The House holds the articles until the election, hoping to gain seats in the Senate where they can convict Trump in the new congress.  Election impact is unknown for Democrats.
  • The House holds the articles until they can add another article, with a more credible sounding crime, to the list.  Hurts Republicans in the election, and may sway Republicans to convict in a Senate trial.
  • Finally, the House transmits the articles, loses in the Senate, then creates new articles of impeachment for another try (or two or three).
I figure Speaker Pelosi is going to do her risk analysis and try to pick the option with the best outcome for Democrats.  I do not believe she is limited to only transmitting or not transmitting the current two Articles of Impeachment.

Consider that in the past (and near present), the media has been a big plus for Democrats, doing everything they can to bring down Trump.  It didn't work in the impeachment trial--I suspect because they couldn't control what the public saw on round-the-clock, live coverage.  But everyone learns from mistakes, especially the broadcast networks.  If they don't broadcast everything live, they can cherry pick quotes and present lies and misconstrued statements as facts.  Most of the public sees only what they want them to see.  Public opinion would move in their favor.

Hence, I believe if the Democrats can gin up any kind of follow-up charges, they can add them to the list of Articles of Impeachment and do a better job of moving public opinion their way.  Democrats in this case are the combined democrats in congress, democrats in the deep state (the bureaucracy), and the media.

I really hope that doesn't happen and I'm just wandering around lost within my own thoughts.

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?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Whether to Hike?

There have been a couple of events in the past few months that have given me pause to think about my love of hiking and backpacking. 

First, mid-summer, I had a bout of vertigo.  This had never happened to me before.  I was on a four-day backpacking trip around the 4th of July, and the second night, the world started spinning.  I actually fell off my 2" air-filled pad.  It's taken several months, but the symptoms finally went away completely.  The problem was that for about a month, I was afraid to lay down in bed because of the potential for spinning and falling off.  At that time, I couldn't even conceive of the idea of trying to sleep reclined in a tent again.  I was pretty devastated worrying about not being able to backpack.  It made me realize how much I loved backpacking and what it would mean to be unable to backpack in the future.

A couple of months later, when I was feeling better, I started revisiting some of my old backpacking blog sites.  One site, 'Walking with Wired' had essentially been shut down with a good-bye message.  Wired was a triple-crowner, and had been doing thru-hikes around the world for about the last 7 years or so.  Her blogging was terrific.  I really don't know how she was able to do such a fantastic job with mixed text and pictures and interesting details.  Anyway, she said she found a life-partner and was going to stop doing thru hikes as her partner was not a hiker.

I figure she got a bit burnt out with the year-after-year thru's.  But it sure seemed like backpacking was in her blood. I may be wrong, but I suspect she will be back, maybe not with thru hikes, but at least with long backpacking trips.  My wife has always been unhappy with my trips, and at one point I promised her I would stop.  I skipped a year.  But I couldn't resist the lure of the trail, and I broke that promise.  There's only so much you can give up for a spouse.

The last thing that I wanted to mention was a recent decision by a friend that a hike in a certain area was not one that he wanted to repeat.  I wanted to go back and hit an area I walked last year, and inquired whether a couple of friends wanted to join me.  This very nice person pointed out his trip in the 80's to this location and said the scenery was monotonous and his hiking partner had a fall in the river.

It made me realize that not everyone loves the trail and the outdoors just for the joy of it.  I've had two situations that I would hesitate to repeat.  One was crossing nearly endless boulder fields with a high risk of breaking a bone.  The second is trying 13,000' and above peaks without spending the time to properly acclimatize.  Even so, I would be willing to practice on smaller boulder fields and to do some peaks after proper acclimatization (in a leisurely manner).

But every other trail I've been on has been fascinating.  It doesn't have to have majestic scenery or unique landscapes.  I like woods, rivers, desert, mountains, peaks, islands and pasture.  Even the desert sandstorm was fun.  I also liked hiking all day in the rain--though I'm not thrilled with multi-inch deep mud that doesn't end.  Just being out there gives me a feeling of peace.  It doesn't matter whether I'm alone or with other people, I enjoy my time outdoors.

Finally, I wanted to compare a couple of my hobbies.  First, you probably know I've always been a nerd.  My degrees are in physics and electrical engineering.  I love math and science.  My second favorite hobby is writing software.  But given the choice of writing some code or hiking a trail, I'll take the trail any day.