25 thoughts on “News/Politics 5-12-17

  1. We respect our horses more than we respect Trump. Our horses are more intelligent and well-behaved than he is.


  2. Ah, I wonder if there are horses somewhere in The Land of Denial? I’ll have to start looking.

    Carry on.

    Impeachment proceedings launched before or by the end of the year, I predict.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well Donna it would help if they could come up with, you know, some actual impeachable offenses first. Thus far, they have not. Not that facts will deter the media (and Ricky) from hyper-ventilating endlessly over it.


    “The decision of President Donald Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey is generating a fevered, near-maniacal response that is out of proportion to the asserted wrong. There is certainly much grist for the mill, much of it related to the animosity that Trump is said to bear toward Comey, which proves once again that on all matters of state, this president is often his own worst enemy. (I have criticized him in no uncertain terms both before and after the election.) There is of course much to regret in the timing of the decision, and good reason to think it’s a political miscalculation in light of the ferocious response that it has generated.

    But political blunders are one thing, and a constitutional crisis is another. Yet in Washington’s fevered environment, Trump’s many critics take evident delight in trying to outdo each other in their denunciations of the president. Thus Vox’s Matthew Yglesias takes the position that although the time for impeachment has not yet arrived, Trump’s decision to fire Comey carries with it (as a headline put it) “a whiff of obstruction of justice,” which is an impeachable offense if proved.

    Writing in the New Yorker, Jeffrey Frank argues that Comey’s decision, while not (yet?) an impeachable offense, is “far more problematic and dangerous than the one facing the nation forty-four years ago.” At that time, President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox, which prompted the resignation of both Elliot Richardson, the attorney general, and William Ruckelshaus, his deputy. Robert Bork was left to discharge that unhappy task, for which he paid a heavy political price 14 years later when he was denied a seat on the Supreme Court.

    Not to be outdone, New Yorker columnist John Cassidy treated the firing as “a terrifying attack on the American system of government,” carried out by a man who “acted like a despot” who now has the opportunity to pick his own FBI head, who “will have the authority to close down the investigation.” At the same time, the Democrats, led by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, have insisted in unison on the appointment of a special prosecutor to take over the investigation, even before a permanent FBI director is in place.

    There are of course many reasons why one might oppose Trump’s decision to fire Comey, but none of them remotely deserve the hyperbolic responses that Comey’s termination has elicited. There are two sides to every story, and in this case the other side has, at least for the moment, the better of the argument.

    The first point to note is that Comey deserved to be fired, long ago, for the offenses that were set out in the memorandum of May 9, 2017 (subject line: “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI”), that Rod Rosenstein prepared, which outlined Comey’s breaches of his duties as FBI head. Rosenstein, the newly appointed deputy attorney general, cogently described several significant errors of judgment, mainly having to do with Comey’s public statements about his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.

    But, if anything, he understated the case against Comey. First, he treated the initial investigation of Hillary Clinton back in March 2015 with kid gloves. There were the inexcusable decisions to grant immunities to key Clinton backers without first serving them with a subpoena that would have allowed the FBI to extract a quid pro quo for any immunity that thereafter might be granted. Second, the FBI allowed Clinton’s key aide Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, to act as her legal counsel, even though she herself was a legitimate target of investigation who could have faced charges. And they did not conduct any of the ambush interviews that are commonly given in cases where criminal prosecution is warranted. The obvious inference is that Comey was kowtowing to his superiors in the Obama White House.”


    “A dangerous argument is now being put forward by some Democratic ideologues: namely that President Trump should be indicted for the crime of obstructing justice because he fired FBI Director James Comey. Whatever one may think of the president’s decision to fire Comey as a matter of policy, there is no legitimate basis for concluding that the president engaged in a crime by exercising his statutory and constitutional authority to fire director Comey. As Comey himself wrote in his letter to the FBI, no one should doubt the authority of the president to fire the director for any reason or no reason.

    It should not be a crime for a public official, whether the president or anyone else, to exercise his or her statutory and constitutional authority to hire or fire another public official. For something to be a crime there must be both an actus reus and mens rea – that is, a criminal act accompanied by a criminal state of mind.

    Even assuming that Trump was improperly motivated in firing Comey, motive alone should never constitute a crime. There should have to be an unlawful act. And exercising constitutional and statutory power should not constitute the actus reus of a crime. Otherwise the crime would place the defendant’s thoughts on trial, rather than his actions.

    Civil libertarians, and all who care about due process and justice, should be concerned about the broad scope of the statute that criminalizes “obstruction of justice.” Some courts have wrongly interpreted this accordion-like law so broadly as to encompass a mixture of lawful and unlawful acts. It is dangerous and wrong to criminalize lawful behavior because it may have been motivated by evil thoughts. People who care about the rule of law, regardless of how they feel about Trump, should not be advocating a broadening of obstruction of justice to include the lawful presidential act of firing the FBI director. Such an open-ended precedent could be used in the future to curtail the liberties of all Americans.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Meanwhile, Democrats who’ve actually been convicted of crimes are given a pass by most of the press.


    “A former Democratic Congresswoman faces a potentially long prison sentence after losing in federal court yesterday. A jury found Corrine Brown guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy charges, in a case filed last year by the Department of Justice. Brown got convicted on 18 of 22 counts, four of which involve her tax returns and one for concealing information from her Congressional financial disclosures:

    After a historic, nearly 25-year career representing Florida in Congress, former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown was found guilty on Thursday of taking money from a charity that was purported to be giving scholarships to poor students.

    The verdict came after prosecutors outlined a pattern of fraud by Brown, 70, and her top aide that included using hundreds of thousands of dollars from the One Door for Education Foundation for lavish parties, trips and shopping excursions. She was convicted of 18 of the 22 charges against her, including lying on her taxes and on her congressional financial disclosure forms. …

    Federal prosecutors said Brown and her associates used One Door to bring in more than $800,000 between 2012 and 2016, including a high-profile golf tournament at TPC Sawgrass. Brown’s indictment said the Virginia-based One Door only gave out one scholarship for $1,200 to an unidentified person in Florida.

    Brown remains free on her own recognizance until sentencing in 90 days. She’s looking at what could end up being a de facto life sentence, depending on how the judge crafts the penalties. The fraud convictions would likely get grouped together, but even with that, the base for federal fraud is six years, and the amount of corrupt takings in this case (and the use of a charity front) could push that all the way up to Level 10 on the federal sentencing table, with a 6-12 year stretch minimum. Conspiracy could add another 10 years, but that’s likely to get wrapped up in the fraud convictions. The tax evasion charges are likely to get addressed separately, but for a first-time offender, it seems unlikely that the judge would apply those consecutively rather than concurrently.”


  5. A long and interesting read.


    “Like the Jews before them, Christians are fleeing the Middle East, emptying what was once one of the world’s most-diverse regions of its ancient religions.

    They’re being driven away not only by Islamic State, but by governments the U.S. counts as allies in the fight against extremism.

    When suicide bomb attacks ripped through two separate Palm Sunday services in Egypt last month, parishioners responded with rage at Islamic State, which claimed the blasts, and at Egyptian state security.

    Government forces assigned to the Mar Girgis church in Tanta, north of Cairo, neglected to fix a faulty metal detector at the entrance after church guards found a bomb on the grounds just a week before. The double bombing killed at least 45 people, and came despite promises from the Egyptian government to protect its Christian minority.

    As congregants of the Tanta church swept the grounds of debris and scrubbed blood from the walls, a parishioner waved his national identity card: “This ID says whether we are Muslim or Christian. So how did that suicide bomber get into my church? If this identification isn’t for my protection, it’s used for my discrimination.”

    By 2025, Christians are expected to represent just over 3% of the Mideast’s population, down from 4.2% in 2010, according to Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass. A century before, in 1910, the figure was 13.6%. The accelerating decline stems mostly from emigration, Mr. Johnson says, though higher Muslim birthrates also contribute.

    The exodus leaves the Middle East overwhelmingly dominated by Islam, whose rival sects often clash, raising the prospect that radicalism in the region will deepen. Conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have erupted across the Middle East, squeezing out Christians in places such as Iraq and Syria and forcing them to carve out new lives abroad, in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. While we were in Childress, Travis noted that some commie Seattle newspaper had picked Childress as the 9th most conservative city in the US. West Texas had 4 of the top ten. We figured that during the 30 minutes we were in town, Childress was No. 1.


  7. I was not sure where and if I should post this bizarre local news as a distraction from national news. Last night I braved watching local news and all of it was almost too crazy. Then this on the top sheriff in my county. This is a bummer…


  8. Well, that did not work. The gist is that our top sheriff was caught in a downtown park breaking a city ordinance for indecent exposure.
    He wants to remain sheriff. Do I sense a break with reality on this?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You can thank the NSA for this.


    “Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users’ files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.

    It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.

    The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet.

    Britain’s national health service fell victim, its hospitals forced to close wards and emergency rooms and turn away patients. Russia appeared to be the hardest hit, according to security experts, with the country’s Interior Ministry confirming it was struck.

    All told, several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software in upward of 60 countries, including the United States, though its effects in the U.S. did not appear to be widespread, at least in the initial hours.

    Computers were infected with what is known as “ransomware” — software that freezes up a machine and flashes a message demanding payment to release the user’s data.

    Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at the Helsinki-based cybersecurity company F-Secure, called it “the biggest ransomware outbreak in history.””


  10. Well, when you’re right you’re right. And this time I’m afraid, Charles Krauthammer is right on target.

    ……It was implausible that Trump, a man notorious for being swayed by close and loyal personal advisers, fired Comey on the recommendation of a sub-Cabinet official whom Trump hardly knew and who’d been on the job all of two weeks.

    It was implausible that Trump found Rosenstein’s arguments so urgently persuasive that he acted immediately — so precipitously, in fact, that Comey learned of his own firing from TVs

    Over the last year, Comey has been repeatedly wrong. Not, in my view, out of malice or partisanship (although his self-righteousness about his own probity does occasionally grate). He was in an unprecedented situation with unpalatable choices. Never in American presidential history had a major party nominated a candidate under official FBI investigation. (Turns out the Trump campaign was under investigation as well.) Which makes the normal injunction that FBI directors not interfere in elections facile and impossible to follow. Any course of action — disclosure or silence, commission or omission — carried unavoidable electoral consequences.

    Comey had to make up the rules as he went along. He did. That was not his downfall. His downfall was making up contradictory, illogical rules, such as the July 5 non-indictment indictment of Clinton.

    A series of these — and Comey became anathema to both Democrats and Republicans. Clinton blamed her loss on two people. One of them was Comey.

    And there’s the puzzle. There was ample bipartisan sentiment for letting Comey go. And there was ample time from Election Day on to do so. A simple talk, a gold watch, a friendly farewell, a Comey resignation to allow the new president to pick the new director. No fanfare, no rancor.

    Instead we got this — a political ax murder, brutal even by Washington standards. (Or even Roman standards. Where was the vein-opening knife and the warm bath?) No final meeting, no letter of resignation, no presidential thanks, no cordial parting. Instead, a blindsided Comey ends up in a live-streamed O.J. Bronco ride, bolting from Los Angeles to be flown, defrocked, back to Washington.

    Why? Trump had become increasingly agitated with the Russia-election investigation and Comey’s very public part in it. If Trump thought this would kill the inquiry and the story, or perhaps even just derail it somewhat, he’s made the blunder of the decade….



  11. Thanks for posting, Debra.

    Of all the people who post here, you are one who supported Trump from early in the primary season. You agreed with his position on issues, and you and I enjoyed debating those issues. But you have never been a Trump cultist. You have been able to look at his behavior objectively.

    Most Never Trumpers like me always had ideological and character concerns with Trump. I have been mildly pleasantly surprised with his ideology as President to the extent he has been able to articulate an ideology. It was always the character concerns that made us regard him as unfit to hold office. His knowledge, discipline, temperament, self-control, and work ethic (as it regards studying issues, proposed laws and regulations and even our form of government) has been even worse than I expected.

    Your political views are not that far from Peggy Noonan. Before the election, she wistfully wrote about what might have happened if there had been a “sane Donald Trump”. A big part of me is glad that a sane Donald Trump will not impose tariffs or reduce levels of legal immigration of highly skilled immigrants. Those things will not happen because the crazy Donald Trump is going to be fully occupied setting himself on fire. However, I have sympathy for honest Trump supporters like you who can look at him objectively and state that the emperor is not wearing any clothes.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Ricky, it is still early in his term, and I haven’t lost hope that his presidency will be able, on balance, to deliver a better employment environment for American workers. However, the constant media barrage is getting old even for me. But it probably won’t get better until it gets old for the President.

    Liked by 1 person

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