Monday, July 29, 2019

Games Prosecutors Play

Andrew McCarthy explains what Mueller's Little Helpers were up to:
The special counsel’s staff wrote a 448-page tome, overflowing with details about a traitorous collusion plot that never happened and the obstruction of an investigation that was never actually impeded in the slightest. Even though the regulations call for a confidential report from the special counsel to the attorney general, the Mueller report was patently written with the intention that it would be transmitted to Congress and the public. (Indeed, even before the report was submitted to the Justice Department, various industrious publishers planned to make it available for sale.) Moreover, when AG Barr undertook to announce only the special counsel’s bottom-line conclusions, Mueller’s staff threw a fit, grousing to the media that Barr was wrongly withholding the report and denying the public the condemnatory narrative in which they had couched these benign conclusions.
It's been done before. Remember what happened to Scott Walker in Wisconsin? After the corrupt John Doe investigation was scuppered, the rogue prosecutors found a way to get their theories into the press, leaking to the British newspaper The Guardian, a media outlet last seen informing the world about Danielle Stella, the Ilhan Omar opponent from Bizarro World central casting. A summation of the Wisconsin prosecutor's tactics:
Prosecutors treated conservative organizations as if they were dangerous drug cartels or mob operations. As the Wisconsin Supreme Court said, they executed search warrants against the personal homes and families of the leaders of these nonprofits in “pre-dawn, armed, paramilitary-style raids in which bright floodlights were used to illuminate the targets’ homes.”

Here is the meritless theory behind the investigations: Any support for issues important to Gov. Scott Walker, such as the bill reducing union power over state government employees, was illegal “coordination.”

As the state Supreme Court said, however, our democracy is supposed to assure the “unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.” Instead, the prosecutors’ theories “would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished.”
Also known as the Roger Stone treatment.

You don't have to like Donald Trump, or Scott Walker, or any Republican. You can certainly argue they are scoundrels; Trump certainly has had his scoundrel-like moments. But if we give prosecutors unfettered power, we are risking something far more dangerous than impolite Tweets.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Who knew?

I'm impressed by this. The Guardian must have a hell of a Twin Cities bureau to scoop everyone about this development:
A pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress who is aiming to unseat Ilhan Omar in Minnesota has been charged with a felony after allegedly stealing from stores.

Danielle Stella was arrested twice this year in Minneapolis suburbs over allegations that she shoplifted items worth more than $2,300 from a Target and goods valued at $40 from a grocery store. She said she denied the allegations.

Stella, a 31-year-old special education teacher, was reported this week to be a supporter of the baseless “QAnon” conspiracy theory about Donald Trump battling a global cabal of elite liberal paedophiles.
I follow politics fairly closely. I'd never heard of Stella before. Had you? Impressive bit of reporting by the Guardian, I gotta say.

I'm pretty sure I saw the Elite Liberal Paedophiles open for the Del Fuegos at the Turf Club back in '88.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The internet is forever, baby

Michael Moore in 2019, after Mueller flamed out:

I,  Tire Fire Tiresias
What Michael Moore said in 2018:

Look upon my works, yet Mighty, and despair
Bad Trump Bad Trump whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when Mueller comes for you?

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Speaking of things that haven't aged well. . .

The internet is forever, baybee:

Mueller ain't coming, Mikey
By the way, it's remarkable how punitive our friends on the portside are.

Purviews, or I Can't Get Into That

Bob Mueller, at the top of his game:

That went well, now didn't it?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Franken Agonistes

Al Franken wants his old job back:
At his house, Franken said he understood that, in such an atmosphere, the public might not be eager to hear his grievances. Holding his head in his hands, he said, “I don’t think people who have been sexually assaulted, and those kinds of things, want to hear from people who have been #MeToo’d that they’re victims.” Yet, he added, being on the losing side of the #MeToo movement, which he fervently supports, has led him to spend time thinking about such matters as due process, proportionality of punishment, and the consequences of Internet-fuelled outrage. He told me that his therapist had likened his experience to “what happens when primates are shunned and humiliated by the rest of the other primates.” Their reaction, Franken said, with a mirthless laugh, “is ‘I’m going to die alone in the jungle.’ ”
And now, a musical interlude:

Regrets, he has a few, which Franken shared with Jane Mayer, last seen going after Brett Kavanaugh for things Kavanaugh hadn't done, but now in commiseration mode with a politician who actually did things:
When I asked him if he truly regretted his decision to resign, he said, “Oh, yeah. Absolutely.” He wishes that he had appeared before a Senate Ethics Committee hearing, as he had requested, allowing him to marshal facts that countered the narrative aired in the press. 
The piece I've linked, in the New Yorker, is very long and full of attempts at exculpation. Does Franken deserve a second chance? Was what happened to Franken fair?

Well, Franken's not going to get to represent Minnesota in the Senate again, unless Tina Smith were to stand down. Do you see that happening? I don't. Do you think Franken is going to primary Smith, the former Planned Parenthood executive? Do you think the DFL would let him? I don't. If Amy Klobuchar were to retire after her term is up (she's not going to be president, you know), Franken could run for that seat, but he'll have to wait until 2024 to have a chance. Franken will be 73 years old at that time, and there's little reason to believe Klobuchar would give up her seat in any event, unless she runs for president again. If that were to happen, there's a gaggle of younger DFL politicians a mile long who would want her seat and would not be amenable to standing aside to let Franken assuage his psyche.

If Franken really wants to avenge his situation, there's another solution: move back to New York and challenge Kirsten Gillibrand. Of course, he'd have to wait until 2024 for that chance, too. But if he's got anyone to blame for his fate, assuming he doesn't look in the mirror, Gillibrand is the culprit. Back to Mayer:
Minutes after Politico posted the story, Senator Gillibrand’s chief of staff called Franken’s to say that Gillibrand was going to demand his resignation. Franken was stung by Gillibrand’s failure to call him personally. They had been friends and squash partners. In a later call, Gillibrand’s chief of staff offered to have Gillibrand speak with Franken, but by that time Franken was frantically conferring with his staff and his family. Franken’s office proposed that Franken’s daughter speak with Gillibrand instead, but Gillibrand declined.

Gillibrand then went on Facebook and posted her demand that Franken resign: “Enough is enough. The women who have come forward are brave and I believe them. While it’s true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong, and should not be tolerated.”

Minutes later, at a previously scheduled press conference, Gillibrand added insult to injury: she reiterated her call for Franken to resign while also trumpeting her sponsorship of a new bill that banned mandatory arbitration of sexual-harassment claims. She didn’t mention that Franken had originated the legislation—and had given it to Gillibrand to sponsor, out of concern that it might be imperilled by his scandal.
For her part, Gillibrand regrets nothing:
I recently asked Gillibrand why she felt that Franken had to go. She said, “We had eight credible allegations, and they had been corroborated, in real time, by the press corps.” She acknowledged that she hadn’t spoken to any accusers, to assess their credibility, but said, “I had been a leader in this space of sexual harassment and assault, and it was weighing on me.” Franken was “entitled to whichever process he wants,” she said. “But he wasn’t entitled to me carrying his water, and defending him with my silence.” She acknowledged that the accusations against Franken “were different” from the kind of rape or molestation charges made against many other #MeToo targets. “But the women who came forward felt it was sexual harassment,” she said. “So it was.”
So Franken got knifed by an ambitious pol who pretended to be his friend. Should we be sympathetic to his plight? You can if you'd like. But as far as I'm concerned, if I'm going to feel sympathy for a former Minnesota senator, I'll pick Norm Coleman instead.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Moon

I'm old enough to remember the moon landing. I was 5 when it happened and I remember watching it at my aunt and uncle's house. They had color television and we didn't, but it didn't matter much because all of the video was in black and white anyway. At the moment of the landing, the NASA cameras weren't working, so you got a simulation, which I think has kept the "moon is faked" thing going for half a century:

It took Armstrong and Aldrin six hours to actually set foot on the moon. It was late, but we tried to stay up long enough to actually see it and I somewhat remember seeing it, although it's not clear that I actually did, because I've seen the footage many times later and memory is a tricky thing.

I started kindergarten a few weeks after Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins made their journey. What I remember is, at least at Jackson Elementary School in Appleton, astronauts were nifty and cool and all of my fellow kindergartners, boys and girls, wanted to be one. As a group we went about 0/25 on that aspiration.

I also remember Woodstock, or at least watching reports of it on the CBS Evening News. My dad didn't like it much.

Do you remember watching the moon landing?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Update/Good News

Barring anything unforeseen, I have a new gig. Will start work on an 18-month assignment for a medical device company on 7/29. I expect to learn a lot.

The blogging may still be lighter than it used to be; my pattern in the past was to get up very early in the morning so that I could write something before I headed to work. At this point in my life, sleep deprivation is a very poor idea, so I'm not going back to that schedule. But I'll stay awake.

I am grateful for your support. A lot of people were praying for me and I appreciate those prayers and well-wishes. While this is an era of low unemployment, it's not easy to find a job at a senior level, so your prayers have lifted me throughout this period of transition.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Squad Goals

As I recall, #squadgoals was a popular hashtag around 2015 or thereabouts. The always useful Grammar Girl wrote about the term back then:
"Squad goals" can be simply the goals of your squad (your friends or your clique), but sometimes that seems to play out in practice as simply "awesome," as in "This is awesome," meaning "I or we want this someday," or "We want to be like this." So when you see just a picture of hot women with nothing but the comment "squad goals," it means something like "We want to be like them" or "We want to date them." 
It's good to have goals and it's useful to have a squad. But do you want the Squad? As we've learned in recent days, the four principal members of the Squad are Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley in the Zeppo role. Aside from Pressley, they've all taken star turns in 2019 and bedeviled Nancy Pelosi something fierce. And now Donald Trump has decided to bring them to center stage:

Image result for AOC Squad
Impeach the MF-o, Al-Qaedo, Zeppo, Clapbacko
Trump went all Merle Haggard on these four, but he seemed to be training particular fire on our local hero, Omar, who walked right into the trap:

Al-Qaeda? Shmal-Qaeda! She won't dignify the question with a response, you see. I'm showing you this clip now because you might as well get used to seeing it; it should be part of just about every Republican ad you'll see in the next cycle.

Democrats want 2020 to be a referendum on Donald Trump. Donald Trump wants 2020 to be a referendum on the Squad and their supporters. Let's go back to Grammar Girl's definition:
"Squad goals" can be simply the goals of your squad (your friends or your clique), but sometimes that seems to play out in practice as simply "awesome," as in "This is awesome," meaning "I or we want this someday," or "We want to be like this."
Maybe the folks in Linden Hills find Ilhan Omar awesome and want to be like the Squad, at least as long as the Cedar-Riverside denizens don't take over all the tables at the Starbucks at 50th and France. But the eternal question remains -- does the Squad play in Peoria? Trump knows the answer. So does Nancy Pelosi, but because Trump will keep these four luminaries front and center, Pelosi has to defend them. And the folks in Peoria are paying attention, to say nothing of the folks in Grand Rapids, and Eau Claire, and Altoona, and even Duluth. Trump knows this, too. And Trump doesn't mind giving offense as long as he stays on offense.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Bye, Acosta

Alexander Acosta is gone:
Labor Secretary Alex Acosta has resigned amid controversy over his role in a 2008 plea deal with accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

President Donald Trump said Friday that it was Acosta's decision and not his as he spoke to reporters as he left the White House for a trip to Wisconsin.

Acosta was standing next to Trump as the president called him "a great labor secretary, not a good one."
So Trump is going to Wisconsin today? Wonder who might be there?

Image result for scott walker
Tanned, rested and ready
Man, I hope I'm right about this.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Under the Hood, or Perotmandias

Ross Perot, RIP:
Ross Perot, a self-made billionaire business magnate who twice ran as a third-party candidate for president, died Tuesday at his home in Dallas surrounded by family.

He was 89.

"In business and in life, Ross was a man of integrity and action," a statement from his family said. "A true American patriot and a man of rare vision, principle and deep compassion, he touched the lives of countless people through his unwavering support of the military and veterans and through his charitable endeavors."
I suppose that's true enough. At the time, particularly in 1992, he was seen as the guy who siphoned off enough votes from George H. W. Bush to allow Bill Clinton into the White House. That's debatable, and frankly not that interesting. The Bushes present their own issues.

Once Perot lost his second race, back in 1996, we didn't hear much from him any more. I don't see that the issues he was most concerned about have been addressed. Government has grown under Clinton, W, Obama, and Trump. Perot's concern about the national debt? Pshaw. Perot liked graphs. Here's one:

Image result for national debt by year
Spending fools
These debts will never be repaid, of course. You can blame presidents for spending, but Congress holds the power of the purse and it hasn't mattered one bit -- they all spend like there's no tomorrow. Tomorrow will arrive eventually. But the reckoning? Who knows?

As for Perot, he's as relevant now as any of his other third-party predecessors were. He might as well be Fighting Bob La Follette or Strom Thurmond in his Dixiecrat phase. We don't have anyone who is seeking to repair our government any more. Trump is simply trying to forestall worse ideas than what we've seen and endured already.

Round the decay/Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Epstein's Mothership

Jeffrey Epstein is in the dock again. The Trump haters are hoping Trump is implicated. The Clinton haters figure he's finally going to get his. Prince Andrew, Alan Dershowitz. . . all manner of big shots are implicated, or they aren't.

The stories have been going around for a long time. Epstein, a wealthy financier, apparently had a long career of procuring and violating teenage girls. He had a private plane and a private island. The plane was called the "Lolita Express." He was in the dock in 2008, but he got a plea bargain orchestrated by the man who is now Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta.

How will it play out? A few guesses:

  • Trump is implicated because he apparently flew on Epstein's plane one time. Bill Clinton flew on Epstein's plane 26 times. Flying on the plane doesn't prove either man diddled a teenager. While it's safe to assume both men will have their names dragged through the mud, it's unlikely they will be in the dock themselves.
  • However, if the Trump haters think they can bring Trump down on this one, they won't hesitate to do so, and if it means Bubba goes under the bus (or the landing gear, so to speak), they won't hesitate there, either. The Clintons are no longer useful.
  • Acosta may be in deep water, too. Paul Mirengoff at Powerline has been beating that drum for a long time. Acosta's departure wouldn't be a big loss, especially if Trump goes bold and puts Scott Walker in the seat. That confirmation hearing would be a whole lot of fun.