The Full Weight of the Law

James Alex Fields Jr. Found Guilty In Murder Of Heather Heyer In Charlottesville Car Attack

I’m probably the most liberal guy you will ever meet in an American context. But I have struggled with feelings about the death penalty my entire life. And, right or wrong, I find myself thing, again and again, about this guy “Fry him!.”

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There is no 2nd Amendment in America if you are black.

Alabama Mall Shooting Shows, Again, That There‘s No Second Amendment for Black Men

Time and time and time again, we have seen that American police officers shoot first and ask questions later if they see a black man with a gun and they lie and lie and lie about what happened and try to pass all blame on the black man they have just shot. This is even more the case when they shoot an innocent black man, as has happened at least twice recently.

Do you want to know how to get restrictions on the 2nd Amendment? Encourage every African-American in the country to legally buy firearms and you would have 2nd Amendment restrictions before the ink was dry on their bills of sale. White Americans are terrified by the thought of legally armed black men, which is why they refuse to acknowledge their 2nd Amendment rights.

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Trump is wrong AGAIN!

AP FACT CHECK: Entire Trump tweet on immigrant aid is wrong

This moronic idiot is the goddamn president of the United States and he knows S.F.A about anything. He has the intelligence of a rock. And not a very big rock at that.

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Republican Senators Say CIA Evidence Shows MBS Complicit in Khashoggi murder

Senators accuse Saudi crown prince of complicity in Khashoggi murder

Republican and Democratic senators emerged from a meeting with CIA chief Gina Haspel and basically accused Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and James Mattis of lying at worst or of deliberately refusing to admit the role that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

I think the jig may be up for MBS. He has his share of enemies in the kingdom and his actions over the past year haven’t made many friends. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s comments that MBS is a “wrecking ball” and “crazy” and that he will not support any more arms sales to the Saudis, adds a LOT more fuel to the fire.

Graham made clear that the crown prince’s involvement in the killing had caused a breach in the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and said the United States should come down on the government in Riyadh like “a ton of bricks.” He said he could no longer support arms sales to the Saudis as long as Mohammed was in charge.

“Saudi Arabia’s a strategic ally and the relationship is worth saving — but not at all costs,” Graham said.

Saudi heirs to the throne have been replaced in the past. It could happen again.

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A Supreme Court hearing that looks at the issue of double jeopardy from state and federal charges

Supreme Court to consider case that could affect potential Manafort prosecutions

Well, this looks interesting. The Supreme Court will look at the question of whether a person who is found innocent on federal charges or is pardoned of those charges by someone like Donald Trump, can then be charged a state court. Or does that violate the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy? This issue was originally raised by the world’s oddest bedfellows, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Clarence Thomas, two or three years ago. When these issues originally came in front of the Supreme Court in the mid-19th century, the Supreme Court said it was okay to file federal and state charges for the same crime (largely because slaveholders wanted to be able to charge people who were hiding slaves if they escape federal charges). It is relevant now of course around the issue of all the various people who work for Trump who face federal charges of various kinds. New York State, for instance, is interested in perhaps charging Paul Manafort with some of his financial crimes if Trump pardons him for the federal ones. The Supreme Court has actually allocated extra time for these arguments, so important is this case.

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Musings, 12/03/18 -Something smelly in Bladen Co., North Carolina

NC board again declines to certify Mark Harris victory as mail-in ballots questioned

On Friday, North Carolina state board of elections again declined to certify the victory of Republican Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. That’s because there’s a real messy voter fraud issue brewing in Bladen County, which is encompassed in the area that Harris and McCready were battling over. Turns out somebody was doing something funny with absentee ballots that involved trying to trick minority members of the community.

In Bladen, Harris won 61 percent of the votes from mail-in ballots even though registered Republicans accounted for only 19 percent of the county’s accepted absentee ballots, an analysis by Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer showed. It was the only county in the district in which Harris won mail-in ballots.

Hmmmm. I wonder which party might be trying to trick minorities not to vote?

You know, Republicans talk again and again about voter fraud, and how people are trying to cheat the electoral system. We all know is just a way for them to try to keep minorities and other people from voting who would vote Democrat. Most of the cases of voter fraud I can find, the guilty parties were Republicans, not Democrats. This is just another example, maybe the most egregious in a long time. Maybe…

Mulroney to deliver eulogy for George H.W. Bush: ‘One of nature’s true gentlemen’

Apparently three years ago, George H. W. Bush asked former Canadian Prime Minister to deliver a eulogy at his funeral. Mulroney accepted. He will focus on Bush’s relations with Canada and the two important treaties he signed with the Great White North: the acid rain treaty and the original free-trade agreement. He will also talk on how Bush treated other nations, even small ones, with respect.

Can we talk a little truth about George H.W. Bush for a second? He was not a great president. Rather undistinguished in fact. Which is why he only won one term. Better than some, worse than others. But compared to the current occupant of the oval office, all former presidents look like Abraham Lincoln.

Wisconsin Republicans Seek to Hobble Democrats

Republicans are all in favor of democracy… Except when they don’t win. Then they try to pull every trick in the book to make sure that even though the people have said we don’t want Republicans in these particular positions, they continue to call the shots. Wisconsin Republicans seem to be particularly anti-democratic and eager to ignore the will of the people.

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Musings for December 2, 2018

For a Yazidi refugee in Canada, the trauma of ISIS triggers rare, terrifying seizures 1:35 p.m.

A fascinating piece from the Globe and Mail that talks about how Canada’s health care system is struggling to help people who have suffered terrible horrors from war. Not because the system is bad, but because Canadians have never seldom had to deal with these kinds of unspeakable horrors.

Yet another reason I hope we wipe ISIS from the face of the earth. Every last one of them.

Israeli PM Netanyahu Addresses Reporters | by U.S. Department of State

Police: Charge Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu With Bribery in Telecom Case (10:00 a.m.)

So, along with being a liar, a bigot, and a war criminal. Bibi should add alleged crook to his resume (for the third time).

The police and Israel Securities Authority on Sunday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, as well as media mogul Shaul Elovitch and his wife, Iris, for bribery and other corruption charges in the investigation dubbed Case 4000.

This is the third case in which the police have recommended charging the prime minister with bribery. The statement recommending charges against Netanyahu in the case was published on the last day in office for Commissioner Roni Alsheich, who is stepping down after a three-year term.

CIA Intercepts Underpin Assessment Saudi Crown Prince Targeted Khashoggi

Despite the denials of Trump et al., that the CIA had no solid proof that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was in anyway involved with the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the CIA has copies of the 11 texts that MBS sent to his aide, who was the leader of the Saudi killer squad, around the time the killing was taking place. It’s my guess they weren’ talking about the weather.

Cohen believed Trump would pardon him, but then things changed

Of all people, he should know have known that every second word out of Trump’s mouth is a lie. As is pointed out in this New York Times’ piece

“If the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has proved anything in his 18-month-long investigation — besides how intensely Russia meddled in an American presidential election — it is that Mr. Trump surrounded himself throughout 2016 and early 2017 with people to whom lying seemed to be second nature.”

“They lied to federal authorities even when they had lawyers advising them, even when the risk of getting caught was high and even when the consequences for them were dire.”

“Even more Trump associates are under investigation for the same offense. They are part of a group of people surrounding Mr. Trump — including some White House and cabinet officials — who contribute to a culture of bending, if not outright breaking, the truth, and whose leading exemplar is Mr. Trump himself.”

Playing high school football changes the teenage brain

I think football may be gone by the end of this century, if not before.

CNN Lets ‘Food Babe’ Spout Pseudoscience on Lettuce Outbreak

These so-called “experts” are a public nuisance more than anything else, and listening to some of them, like the woman who peddles Jilly Juice, can be hazardous to your health. But what really bothers me is that cable news networks like CNN that gives these people a public forum and treat them like experts. It is lazy, bloated journalism, plain, pure and simple.

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The truth about the 2nd Amendment

West facade of the Supreme Court building in Washington.

by Tom Regan

It’s a pretty common refrain you’ll hear from gun rights activists: The 2nd Amendment gives them the right to own whatever kind of gun they desire and any attempts to place restrictions on ownership, or the size of ammunition clips, or how long you have to wait before you buy a gun, or any kind of a restriction at all, are unconstitutional.

It’s a go-to argument for the guns right movement, and one that is echoed by members of Congress and their pay master, the National Rifle Association. It’s too bad it’s completely bogus.

To get the real story, you need to go back to two Supreme Court cases: Heller vs DC in 2008 and MacDonald vs City of Chicago in 2010.

In 2008, DC had some pretty restrictive laws about handguns, the use of gun locks and keeping them in your home. A group of citizens, of whom Mr. Heller was one, decided to sue the city of DC, arguing that these restrictive bans were anti-2nd Amendment and therefore unconstitutional.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where in 5-4 ruling, the Court held the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to “ possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” But since DC was a federal district, the question was whether the 2nd Amendment protections outlined in Heller were guaranteed under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. This was decided in another 5-4 case, the above-mentioned MacDonald vs The City of Chicago. This ruling “incorporated” the 2nd Amendment.

At first glance, this would seem to back the claims of gun right activists that any restrictions placed on the 2nd Amendment are unconstitutional. Again, this is completely bogus.

In his majority decision in Heller vs DC, Justice Antonin Scalia also wrote that “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited [my emphasis]. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those “in common use at the time” finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.” (Wikipedia summary)

More important, in the MacDonald vs The City of Chicago, the Supreme Court left this language intact.

Which brings us to today. In fact, it brings us to just yesterday. The Supreme Court passed on taking up a case challenging California’s mandatory 10-day waiting period to buy a gun, even if you had previously purchased a gun. It was the latest case of the Court refusing to hear a challenge to a law restricting gun rights.

These include the refusal in 2015 to hear a challenge to an ordinance in Highland Park, Ill. that banned the sale and possession of semi-automatic rifles. Eight other states have similar laws, none of which the Court has overturned.

In June of 2017, the Court did not take up a challenge to the constitutionality of a San Dingo ordinance about concealed weapons. The 9th Circuit Court ruled that “the 2nd Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”

In a February 2017 ruling, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, a much more conservative court, ruled en banc, 10-4, that Maryland’s ban on 45 different kinds of semi-automatic weapons and its limit of 10 rounds on gun magazines were both constitutional and that the 2nd Amendment doesn’t protect “weapons of war.” In November of 2017, the Supreme Court declined to heat the case.

What this tells us is that as far as the current justices are concerned, the matter is settled. It is lawful for people to keep a handgun or a shotgun in their homes for self-protection. The 2nd Amendment protects this right. But states are free to implement restrictions on “weapons of war” or on other aspects of gun rights.

If anyone tells you differently or you hear a politician or NRA official say different, it’s just B.S. Nothing more and nothing less.

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Canada prepares for ‘war’ with US

By Tom Regan

Is Canada going to war with the United States? No, not really. But you might say that some elements of the Canadian government are being put on a political ‘wartime’ footing.

Montana/Canada USA Border boundary crossing north of Eureka on Highway 93. (Photo by Spend a Day Touring LLC, Creative Commons)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made some questionable decisions lately, including the sudden decision to drop the plan to change the way Canadians elect members of Parliament. While there are some good reasons for his decision to do so, his way of dealing with the matter shows that over a year into his term he still having some problems figuring out the right way to do things.
One of the things that he has figured out the right way to deal with, however, is the Canadian relationship with the United States. Canada’s relationship with the United States is, at the moment, the most important economic one it has. (Ask me which one is the most important 10 years from now and I might say China.) While that relationship has had its ups and downs, particularly over issues like softwood lumber and cultural issues, it has been dependable and stable for decades.

That was then. This is now.

And now comes in the form of Pres. Donald Trump, a man whose ideas on how to effectively govern the most powerful nation on the planet could be written down on the back of a matchbook cover. Perhaps the most accurate description to be seen so far of Mr. Trump’s governing style was put forward by former liberal staffer Warren Kinsella who described Mr. Trump as a “monkey with a machine gun.” Trump’s habit of tweeting out policy at 3 AM in the morning when he’s restless and bored means anyone dealing with his administration needs to be nimble and one step ahead of the game.

And this is where Canada has perhaps shown the way for other nations in how to deal with Mr. Trump by creating a “war room” in Mr. Trudeau’s riding office in Papineau Québec. The office, headed by liberal political veteran Brian Clow, is designed to help coordinate the Trudeau government’s response to Mr. Trump’s unpredictable whims and fancies. As described in The Hill, which covers government and political issues emanating from Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the office will seek to ensure “integrated outreach across government, so that any projects or talks already underway continue to be worked on.”

Perhaps the most accurate description to be seen so far of Mr. Trump’s governing style was put forward by former liberal staffer Warren Kinsella who described Mr. Trump as a “monkey with a machine gun.”

The genius in this idea is that it will prevent the Trudeau government from “fighting the last war” – in other words move it away from conducting negotiations and outreach in the bureaucratic ways that used to work in the past, but are quite irrelevant in the age of social media and Mr. Trump’s ‘in the moment’ bulldozer style of public policy. Making sure that all government departments are coordinated and singing from the same hymnbook in their dealings with the Trump administration is also key. If you want to see how chaotic mixed messages can be, take a look at what’s happening south of the border right now, where government departments are sometimes called upon to respond to initiatives they didn’t even know were happening.

Another smart thing the Trudeau government did is make former Lieut. Gen., now Liberal MP, Andrew Leslie (Orléans, Ont.), parliamentary secretary to the Foreign Affairs minister, focused on Canada-U.S. relations. The Canadian-American military relationship is important one, and Mr. Leslie’s time working with the Americans, especially in Afghanistan, will serve him well. (There are already signs that the US military is not happy with Pres. Trump – witness the recent leak by three different officials at the Pentagon about how poorly planned the recent raid on Yemen was.) Considering the number of former military people now serving the Trump administration, having a solid relationship with them can only benefit Canada in the long run.

There will be pressure on Trudeau to not be too chummy with Trump, or face the kind of public backlash that greeted British Prime Minister Theresa Mays’ public relationship with The Donald. On the other hand, however, Trudeau cannot afford to be too standoffish or else he risks the wrath of a man known for his childish vengeful attacks on those he sees his opponents. Creating a war room to deal with the US and its new administration is one way of ensuring that Canada’s best interests will be looked after.

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