Musings:12/09/18 – Say Hello to the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss

William Barr Is Jeff Sessions Without the Baggage

Just in case anyone thought that William Barr will bring a new approach to the Justice Department needs to remember that this is Donald Trump’s administration. Trump would not have chosen Barr, who’s been auditioning for the position for several months now, if he did not think that Barr would not only continue Jeff Sessions’ far-right approach to issues like police reform or criminal justice reform but also give him a man in the Department of Justice who he could count on to obstruct the Russia investigation as much as possible.

As this article in Slate explains, Barr is basically Jeff Sessions without the baggage. Perhaps not as racist, certainly as homophobic and who can certainly be counted on to continue Sessions’ battles against civil liberties and civil rights. Really not much of an upgrade.

Ex-Harper immigration minister calls out Scheer over ‘factually incorrect’ statements on UN migration pact

It really must be embarrassing for Canadian conservatives almost every time Andrew Scheer opens his mouth. Because every time he opens his mouth he seems to stick his foot in it. Scheer, who wants to pretend he is Canada’s Donald Trump (only without the money and the “big brain”) does share some of Trump’s greatest features: he doesn’t seem to care much about reading or actually learning the facts of the situation.

It’s pretty embarrassing when a member of your own party and former minister in the government of Stephen Harper (a group not known for being warmhearted towards any issue of immigration) basically tells you not only are you wrong but you are very wrong.

Watching Andrew Scheer’s performance from afar is like watching a car wreck unfold before your eyes. You really can’t do anything to stop it but it’s fascinating to watch.

Harvard’s Bipartisan Congressional Orientation Under Fire For Being Too Corporate

Boys, there’s a whole bunch of new sheriffs in town and they are not just going to go along to get along. If the Democratic Party thinks that the new progressive members elected in the 2018 midterms will just quietly lineup support the status quo, I think they are starting to realize that it ain’t gonna happen. The great danger is, of course, that this new progressive group within the Democratic caucus will become the “Freedom Party” of the left. Time will tell.

But it is obvious from the reaction to the overwhelmingly corporate nature of the orientation at Harvard, and its complete lack of any voices from labor or from any other progressive area, that these new voices are going to demand some changes and they are not going to do so quietly.

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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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Musing, 12/07/18: The Hypocrite in the Oval Office


Making President Trump’s Bed: A Housekeeper Without Papers

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Donald Trump is a hypocrite. He’s been saying one thing and doing something else his entire life and certainly his entire presidency. Trump lies the way other people breathe – it’s an automatic function that happens without thinking.

But this piece of business is particularly egregious. For a man who tried to derail Democrat hopes in the 2018 midterms (and fortunately failed) by turning a caravan of tired, hungry and scared immigrants into a desperate band of disease-ridden, sexually assaulting, desperate invaders in order to play to his base (and what a good word that is for them – base) the reality that for years he has hired illegal immigrants at his resort facilities is hypocrisy of such an order it cannot possibly be measured. In particular, the woman in this New York Times story, who has been personally responsible for looking after Trump when he visits his New Jersey golf course.

Has there ever been such a liar, such a scoundrel, such a grifter, such a hypocrite to occupy the presidency? I think not.

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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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Musings 12/06/18 – The Celebration and the Denunciation

George H.W. Bush’s funeral was a powerful renunciation of Trump
Bush’s Funeral Wasn’t About Trump. But Of Course It Was.

How odd it must’ve been for a man who insists that everything be about him, to sit through a 90-minute service about another person, and to listen to speaker after speaker extolled that person’s virtues when every virtue was a repudiation of how the listener conducts his life.

As John Harris writes in Politico, in Washington DC subtext is text. While each of the four speakers eulogizing the late Pres. George H. W. Bush focused on his service to his country, his understanding that the opposition is not the enemy, his desire for America to have a prominent place in the world, and perhaps most of all his kindness, they were also denouncing the lack of these traits in the current occupant of the oval office.

Trump sat through the service like a caged animal, arms folded in a defensive posture, restless, unable to tweet, not bothering to sing the songs or pray the prayers (probably because he didn’t know them – Trump probably has been near a church since he was baptized).

But the most stinging and straightforward rebukes came from a former Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, who praised Bush for his work on NAFTA, in NATO, on environmentalism, and in international leadership, all things which Trump has derided or debased.

For me, watching the service I had mixed emotions. I was not a huge fan of the 41st President of the United States (I will never forgive him for the Willie Horton ad) but he understood service and you cannot question his love of country. More than anything else I came away with a feeling of nostalgia. A nostalgia for a time when the president of the United States, regardless of his political party, actually tried to make the office more about the people of the country than about himself.

Huawei CFO arrest ‘violates human rights’, China says

Hearing China condemn another country for violating human rights is a bit like listening to the Ku Klux Klan condemn another organization for being racist.

Nonetheless, I was a little surprised to read of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer. The daughter of the founder of the Chinese telecom giant was picked up by Canadian authorities in Vancouver because her extradition is wanted by the United States for some reason. We don’t know what for yet, because Ms. Meng asked for a publication ban of the details of her arrest, which you can do under Canadian law. (Reporting on court cases and court proceedings in Canada is completely different than what is done under American law.)

Coming so soon after Pres. Trump and Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping seemed to momentarily put aside their trade differences for 90 days, this will not help smooth that road.

Recently several Western countries have restricted the use of Huawei technology in the building of infrastructure for the new 5G networks. That tells me that Western security services are concerned that the Chinese are building lots of backdoors and ways to disrupt a country’s technology through the use of Huawei equipment.

Facebook discussed cashing in on user data, emails suggest

The more I read about Facebook, the happier I am that I am leaving it on December 15. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff recently compared using Facebook to having an addiction to nicotine. As he said, Facebook is the new cigarette. It’s hard to leave, I won’t lie, but with each new bit of news about Facebook, it reaffirms my belief that I’m doing the right thing. Good riddance to bad garbage.

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“I like people who weren’t crucified.”

DONALD, MELANIA TRUMP DON’T RECITE APOSTLES’ CREED OR SING HYMNS UNLIKE OBAMAS, CLINTONS AT GEORGE H.W. BUSH FUNERAL

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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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Musings, 12/02/2019 – Our witness tampering president

Is Donald Trump’s Tweet About Roger Stone Witness Tampering?
We all know that one of the worst things about Donald Trump’s presidency is the tweets. Presidential policy dispensed in 280 characters. Even Republicans in rural states who strongly support Trump have told the media they wish the president would lay off Twitter for a while.

Well, it turns out the tweets are not only annoying, but they may also be illegal. In this interesting piece written by Lawfair, a legal blog, the writers examine the issue of whether or not Trump’s tweets in August about Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen and his tweet earlier this week about Roger Stone amount to witness tampering. They present a pretty strong case that it does. They also point out that the later comments by Roger Stone that Trump’s tweets don’t amount to witness tampering are in fact mistaken. And when it comes to legal matters, I wouldn’t trust Roger Stone or Donald Trump as far as I could throw them.

Facebook Lets Users Post About Killing Immigrants and Minorities

As you know I going through the final stages of leaving Facebook. While I appreciate the opportunity to reach out to friends and to speedily post articles about which I think are important for people to read, I could no longer justify continuing to support a company that engaged in so many possibly illegal and certainly distasteful practices.

And here is just one more example. Lots of far-right supporters of Donald Trump calling for his opponents to be shot or for members of the caravan approaching the US border to be shot. It’s not just that Facebook allows these hateful posts in to be made and remain online (so much for its new anti-hate speech technology) what really bothers me is that many of these posts are not being made by stereotypical right-wing weirdos but by police officers and people in positions of authority. And these cretins know Facebook won’t do much of anything to stop them from posting their vile and evil sentiments. Especially if they are white.

Like the Texas man, many of the hateful and violent comments came from white users. In 2017, ProPublica reported on internal Facebook documents that showed the company had an apparent bias toward protecting the speech of whites while flagging posts by black and other minority users.

Time to give up on Facebook. folks. The only way that Facebook will change is if millions of people leave.

Senior aides push back on Trump’s claim that China agreed to cut auto tariffs

It must be difficult to be an aide to Donald Trump in any capacity. Part of the job description has to include undoing presidential lies and overstatements. Because almost nothing Donald Trump says is actually true. Certainly not of the time that he says it.

Take, for example, his boast on Twitter that China was going to remove all tariffs on American auto imports. If it was true it would be quite an accomplishment. China imposes a 40% import duty on American autos. But sadly, as has been the case so many times in the past, it is not true.

Many of Trump’s top economic aides spent yesterday “pulling back” the president’s statement because no such agreement exists at the present time. And while these advisors tried to be as optimistic as possible and say it might happen, no one bothered to consult the Chinese who haven’t said anything about any kind of an auto agreement.

All politicians polish the apple a bit when it comes to their accomplishments. Trump polishes it so hard he makes it too slippery to pick up. In fact, most of the time he is trying to polish it when there’s no apple at all.

Canada punches ticket to 2019 FIBA World Cup with rout of Brazil

Well, a Canadian invented basketball. Why shouldn’t we be good at it?

So Canadians are responsible for two of the four major North American sports, hockey and basketball. And Canada’s McGill University is probably responsible for the beginnings of American football that we see today. While the first sort of football match was played between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869, it wasn’t until Harvard played McGill in 1874, and then adopted McGill’s rugby-style rules that football as we know it began to take shape. The first Harvard-Yale game was in 1875, and after that game, Yale and Princeton both decided to switch to the McGill rules. It was then the great Walter Camp at Yale who improved on these rugby-style rules and introduced the notion of downs, the quarterback and the 11-man team.

But it was those crazy Canucks who laid the groundwork.

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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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