Saturday, July 13, 2019

July links

Tangled mess. A knitting site has banned political discussions due to animosity between Trump supporters and opponents. I sympathize. Maybe it was the right move if people were arguing too much and not sharing enough knitting tips.

Election disinformation starting. Example #1 is about Kamala Harris.

NRA meltdown. This is something to watch. The NRA is embroiled in scandal. But it's also a big player in elections. Will we see any effects? Possibly not because it works mostly locally, not from the top down.

2020 forecast. The prediction by a forecaster who did well in the 2018 election.

Russia laughs at Trump display.  Russian media jokes about the lame military display for the Fourth of July. Oh really? Well, who lost the Cold War? That's right, suckers.

Police misbehaving. This isn't really a surprise. Police in a major city are caught making biased remarks on social media, including white supremacist remarks. However, I thought the comment section was worth reading.

Legal analysis on regulation. From a conservative source this time. An analysis of a recent Supreme Court decision. His prediction is a rolling back of government by regulation. I can't comprehend that, and wonder about chaos ensuing until the Supreme Court finds a good balance.

Historical footnote on rich people getting away with crime. Jeffrey Epstein was a known pedophile, and how did he stay out of jail? Good question. It's harder to charge him than you might think, until someone does it and then the other prosecutors look like wimps or worse. One of them being Trump's secretary of labor, now having resigned.

Trump's master stroke. After the grab-them-by-the-pussy video, Trump barely survived. However, he saved himself by going into attack mode during the next debate, and that was admired by much of the GOP.

Image: newstimes.com

Last outpost of crazy: Three stories

Overrun Area 51. Maybe this is a fad, but will some show up on the appointed day? Some humorous predictions of what might happen.

Saliva challenge. There's definitely a new fad for licking things, returning them to shelves, and recording the antics for display on social media. Because the subpar American is that fucking immature and obnoxious.

Zombie pigs. This political commentator takes a break from the heavy stuff to reassure us that we aren't going to be overrun by zombie pig brains. I'm so glad to read this, but it's hadn't been on my list of concerns.

Image: apptopia.com

Those crazy Trump people

Trump, or rather his quisling Wilbur Ross, was caught trying to change the census form on false pretenses. False pretenses, hokey lies, no surprise there. The Supreme Court ruled against it, and people, including the DOJ, thought that was the end. But not with Trump. He blathered that he'd still do it, and finally had to back down. Dum de dum dum. Wapo  Salon

By the way, how did the conservative media report this climb-down? Fox News got around to mentioning it was a climb-down after 10 paragraphs into the story. In the headline, it was the 'Executive Action' as promised.

Then there was a dust-up at some media conference in the White House Rose Garden. A former adviser to the prez was pretending to be a media person, and Trump called on him to ask a question. Can you say 'set-up?' To be clear, the former adviser was Sebastian Gorka, who has a bit of a reputation as less than a moderate.

Later on, Gorka got into a dust-up with a journalist, and nostrils flared, and insults were thrown, and someone would certainly have gotten their ass kicked.. if any punches had been thrown. Luckily the White House lawn isn't a space where impromptu fistfights are allowed. There are scores of secret service agents, and their job doesn't include standing by as fistfights developed. In the videos of the dust-up, there seem to be a few agents moving in while angry words are tossed. So blather but no punches. Just older out-of-shape men pretending to be tough guys. Video and more video.

Hey, in this internet age, everyone's a tough guy. I ought to know, as the toughest hombre on this blog.

Image: washingtonexaminer.com

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Attack on media? Not quite...

I've shown my bias in the title, but why hold back? An antifa group attacked a supposed journalist in Portland, Oregon, the site of frequent clashes between antifa and white nationalist groups. They fight there so often that it's the place to go with you want a street fight, which is one reason it keeps happening. Fight Central will draw the fighters.

Ted Cruz, that paragon of integrity, called for an investigation. It's odd that cells of antifa has been protesting all over the country and there's finally an incident that conservatives can seize on. However, not many are, and I wonder whether they know that it's not going to be a good narrative for them.

When watching the video, you can see Ngo (the supposed journalist) alone within a group of antifa. A couple milkshakes are thrown at him, silly string sprayed on him, a few punches thrown, and lots of yelling. He walks away. Walks, not limps... Those antifa protesters are so incompetent that they can't even beat the shit out of him. It might a pitiful contrast to the video of white nationalists beating a black man in Charlottesville. Though maybe we should be grateful that both victims walked away, and assailants didn't do as much harm as they might have. (Actually, no, we shouldn't be grateful. These assaults were wrong, and we aren't 'lucky' they weren't worse.)

However, the journalist (Andy Ngo) has been working on provoking the antifa group for months. His coverage is slanted, and according to reports he taunts the protesters to provoke a reaction. So he finally got something physical? Oh, SHAME!!!

Portland definitely seems to have a problem stopping all these protests, riots, and fights. Maybe at some point I'll read something that points to why the violence has gotten so entrenched there while other cities have been able to avoid that. Until then, I'm not swallowing the conservative narrative the antifa is the huge danger they pretend it is. People engaging in street fights - yes, but a serious danger to the country, NO.

Image: amgreatness.com


Extras. More on Portland. Are the Portland police cushy with the right-wing groups? Maybe. Ngo's journal doesn't have the highest ethics either. No surprise to someone like me who watches the media.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Post Mueller: what should he have done differently

There are so many opinions of what should have done differently. I can't say I agree. He kept his investigation clean as thousands of cubic feet of sludge were being thrown all around him, with him often being the target. It didn't stick, which is a testament to his integrity.

So here are the complaints, for whatever little there are worth.

National Review - how dare Mueller say what he said, as the author ignores the DOJ policy on presidential indictments
Contrast Mueller and Comey - the rulebook for these investigations isn't working, as both investigations show. I'm not sure I agree.
Fox news example of erroneous claim that Trump is completely vindicated.
Vox - Mueller left a vacuum that others filled
DailyBeast - hearings likely to be ugly
WaPo - much later than the other links, with Mueller being praised. The author suggests focusing on Trump's clear lies, like he was trying to do business deals while campaigning and denying any ties to Russia.

Image: foxnews.com

Extras. More WaPo - how GOP attacks on Mueller won't work. WaPo - why the press can't do now what it did during Watergate.

Update 7/12/19. Ken Starr appears on Hannity and has suggestions for what Republican congos should ask.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

June links

Negotiations with Iran. Trump does a U-turn because he wants something done. Also he might be trying to head off Bolton's push to war.

Hong Kong protests. China is trying to depress freedoms in Hong Kong, again. That's a difficult situation, and those are brave people.

Did tax cuts help the economy? Economists were in a race to check for the indicators before they were swamped by Trump's trade wars. The data is rather muddy.

Shaming Congress. Jon Stewart speaking with such humanity and passion to a bunch of butt-kissing politicians. This is the kind of person we need in Congress, not the ones we have now. (Scroll down for video of his full speech.) An economist tells Trump why too many sanctions are harmful.

Shaming a politically correct college. Oberlin College was hit with a massive judgment for abetting trumped-up demonstrations by students against a local business.

Special considerations when pregnant women are jailed. I have never considered this issue, but it seems that the jail and prison managers haven't either, and they have no excuse.

Forged videos and fake news. The fakers now have even better tools for the lies they may want to spread. Yikes!

The internet remembers everything. And Twitter rewards 'mean,' so you're screwed if you've used it, and you're nobody if you haven't.

Image: giphy.com

I try to figure out what 'probable cause' means

The FISA warrant application for surveillance on Carter Page is the only warrant I've ever read. The format, the way the information is provided--that's all new to me. Except the actual target (Page), the practice is to obscure the identities of other people and groups. So there is Individual 1, Candidate 1, etc.

Here is a copy of the warrant application.

I wondered about the definition of 'probable cause.' The statements in the application sound very definite, but how definite is it? After all, this is prior to the full investigation with surveillance. While researching, I found this quote from the governing case Illinois v. Gates:
"Probable" cause means that the investigator has to show "a fair probability," not a certainty or near-certainty.
So, it seems that the level of certainty is not without a doubt or beyond a reasonable doubt, or guaranteed to be true under penalty of perjury. It is 'fair probability.'

Some blowhard on the web (there are a few) claimed that the FISA warrant was perjured, and the person writing the warrant has to swear to the veracity of all the information. I have my doubts that he knows the law well enough to make such a claim. There is also the matter of actual practice of how warrants are written, what is the usual language, what is understood between the legal parties. So it's armchair speculation to attack or defend this warrant unless you have knowledge and experience with warrants.

I've done a bit of speculation. I've read that Brennan (some CIA honcho) said there were plenty of allied intelligence services warning about Trump. Is this true? I certainly don't know, and I'd like to know more, but I don't expect the intelligence services to just cough up the info. Maybe there were a lot of rumors from sources that are generally pretty responsible. If so, it's too bad they weren't mentioned in the warrant. Of course, maybe they were mentioned, somewhere in the 13 blacked out pages related to Page. Those 13 pages could contain a lot of info that hasn't ever been openly published, but we certainly don't know. Those who assume that dossier was the only info used for the warrant are assuming that there's nothing in those pages. I think it's an incorrect assumption. If it was about the dossier, why would it have been blacked out when other info about the dossier wasn't?

I'll also say that on reflection, it seems like a very bad idea to hire someone to pump Russians (or any enemy or questionable source) for dirt on your opponent. It looks like Steele and Clinton got played to a certain extent, but they also ended up looking very scummy. That's why neither Clinton nor the FBI revealed their connection to Steele. If you have to hide your connections, maybe you shouldn't have them. That applies to Mike Flynn, Jeff Sessions, and Hillary Clinton too. Anything you try to hide, it ain't going to stay hidden. Remember that.

Image: conservativefighters.com

Extras. I was researching probable cause and read most of this ruling. A good learning experience because of the clarity--or maybe I simply skipped over the convoluted parts.

How the Steele dossier looks in retrospect. Some of the Steele dossier was correct and some wasn't when you compare it to the Mueller report.