19 February 2018

Update no.842

Update from the Sunland
No.842
12.2.18 – 18.2.18

            To all,
            The follow-up news items:
-- Special Counsel Robert Mueller signed and submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia a 37-page, Grand Jury indictment against three Russian companies and 13 named Russian nationals.  The indictment alleges the companies and their employees attacked “a number of candidates” during the 2016 election campaign season, however, by the middle of the year (and the conventions had selected their candidates for election), the companies’ operations were focused on “supporting” the Trump campaign and “disparaging” his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
            The Russia investigation [782 & sub] just got a whole lot closer and indirectly makes the fellow in the Oval Office appear substantially guiltier after his incessant denial chats and obstruction attempts.
            I read the indictment in its entirety.  The last sentence of the second paragraph is the most ominous.
Defendants knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other (and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury) to defraud the United States by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of the government through fraud and deceit for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.”
“. . . persons known and unknown . . .” clearly illuminates the prosecutors have other, specific, named individuals in their sights in this case, and the investigation continues in their effort to identify the presumed “unknown” involved people.
Paragraph 6 began:
Defendant ORGANIZATION had a strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Defendants posted derogatory information about a number of candidates, and by early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of the -candidate Donald J. Trump ("Trump Campaign") and disparaging Hillary Clinton.
Those are plainly and directly written words that summarize the Russian activities during the 2016 campaign, and clearly and demonstrably refute the protestations of the fellow in the Oval Office.
Paragraph 46:
In or around the latter half of 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators, through their ORGANIZATION-controlled personas, began to encourage U.S. minority groups not to vote in the 2016 U.S. presidential election or to vote for a third-party U.S. presidential candidate.
This statement alone should seriously chill every American citizen, and then went on to detail the basis of the statement.
            The worst part of all this is not articulated in the indictment.  Facts have been placed in the public domain and in a court of law that definitively illuminate the false, repeated and persistent statements of the fellow in the Oval Office.  The President’s false statements, while not criminal, are precisely the same as President Clinton’s public denial: “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”  Based on the blatantly false statements of the fellow in the Oval Office and if I was a betting person (which I am not), I strongly suspect the Special Prosecutor is ratcheting along toward equally definitive charges of collusion and obstruction of justice.  Ignorance of the law is not and never will be a viable defense.
            With everything to date, I have not seen any direct evidence of collusion by the fellow in the Oval Office.  I accept that he may well be correct regarding his direct action, and further I accept that he may be reacting to the pressure he feels with respect to his children or other family members.  Yet, as much as he screams “no collusion,” I would not be surprised in the slightest if one or more of his children appear on the defendants list when the “known” persons are indicted.  Even if the Special Prosecutor accumulates sufficient evidence for probable cause, or even beyond the reasonable doubt threshold, it is not clear whether he will indict the president, since he is immune from prosecution until he leaves office.  Also, I have seen no evidence the Russians actually altered the vote counts in any precinct within the United States.  However, if their disinformation campaign convinced one citizen to change his vote or to simply not vote out of frustration or confusion, have they not altered the vote count?  Lastly, I am not sure I see the difference between a physical attack versus an electronic attack.  President Obama failed to respond appropriately to the attack apparently out of fear of biasing the election.  The current fellow in the Oval Office has been literally obsessed with his own image rather than the threat to this Grand Republic.
            If I was a loyal follower of the fellow in the Oval Office, I would be preparing myself for potential impeachment of the messiah and even unprecedented criminal charges after he is removed from office.  While we are emphatically not at that stage, as yet, we just moved a giant step toward that point.  We are not to the “sad day” moment either; it just became more real and impending, it seems to me.
            A Democratic Party hoax, Mister President . . . really?  How silly and irrelevant do you actually want to be and appear?

            What is the old axiom of leadership . . . oh yeah . . . praise in public, criticize in private.  Seems the fellow in the Oval Office failed to learn that reality.  He attacks the FBI as if he has no vested interest in the federal government’s primary law enforcement agency.

            His consistent, persistent and relentless denial tweets, speeches and impromptu remarks in the face of mounting evidence simply make him appear guiltier.  That is his choice entirely.  Add in his continuous efforts to deflect and blame the Clintons and Obama for his actions magnify his appearance of guilt.  The image I am left with is a narcissistic, egocentric man who is becoming progressively more desperate to salvage what is left of his public persona.  I have never been a fan of his, but I must confess to my feeling of considerable gloom at watching the disintegration of a proud man.

            Once again, a deranged young man walked into a school and killed 17 innocent people and wounded 15 others.  In this latest incident it was the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
            Unfortunately, the talking heads are focusing on the obvious symptoms and not the root cause.
            We need common sense gun reform within the constraints of the 2nd Amendment.  Yet, I am compelled to state that firearms are not the problem.  The disturbed people who use these tools in such horrific ways are the root of the problem.  It is what corrupts the minds, consciousness and motivations of these perpetrators to execute their dastardly deeds.  We must concentrate on the root causes, not the symptoms.
            We also need a concomitant comprehensive community education and system’s reinforcement process.  This is not a law enforcement problem.  This is a community problem.  The community must be part of the solution.  There is no legislation that can or will control the thoughts of a deranged mind.  It is up to each an every one of us to be vigilant, to see the signs, and report those signs to competent authorities to assist in the process of identifying potential perpetrators before they act.
            We all know what happens if someone, even joking, says he has a bomb on an airplane.  The security of the aircraft, crew and passengers exceeds the individual’s First Amendment freedom of speech rights.  Why is not that same exceedance threshold broached when anyone (set aside a history of mental illness) says, “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”  We failed, all of us, in not interceding in this case (and many others past and future).  Mentally ill citizens have killed far more innocent citizens than all illegal immigrants and jihadi terrorists since 9/11 combined.  However, I must caution, we MUST NOT condemn the mentally ill among us—there but for the grace of God go I.  It is the smaller fraction of those mentally ill citizens who are prone to violence that we must focus our restrictions upon . . . and hopefully, provide medical assistance to mitigate the threat their mental illness presents.

            A friend and regular contributor sent along the following timely article:
“Does Committing Domestic Violence First Make it Easier to Commit Mass Shootings Later?”
by Max Fisher and Amanda Taub – The Interpreter
New York Times
Published: Friday, February 16, 2018
We will share a portion of our subsequent exchange.
My reply:
            Seems pretty accurate to me.  The signs in this latest case are becoming glaringly apparent.  We must find a way to collect the dots and paint a picture without infringing upon constitutional rights.   As I am writing for this week's Update, there are times when public safety exceeds (and rightly so) an individual's constitutional rights.
 . . . follow-on comment:
“The interesting thing for me in this is that it addresses violent history rather than attempting to detect mental illness.  That looks like a more direct and effective way to set limits on selling firearms to dangerous people.  It would also have a sounder Constitutional justification.”
 . . . my follow-up reply:
            Works for me . . . demonstrated violence, prone to violence or even expressing violent thoughts works for me.  As many have observed, the mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of violence than commit a violent act.  I am not in favor of condemning the mentally ill . . . just those who have the potential for violence.  The latest fellow clearly fit that criterion.”
Postscript:
            We are agreed on some elements of the gun control question.  We all want responsible background checks to be completed in order to purchase or acquire a firearm of any type.  I only add one qualifier: a reasonable appeal process must also be provided.  I believe we are agreed that individuals of any age who have professed or demonstrated a propensity for violence or injury to others by any means should not be allowed to purchase, own, possess or use a firearm of any type—meaning firearms can be legally confiscated from any individual convicted of violent or injurious crimes.  I also believe that any device or mechanism that enables automatic fire should be illegal.  So, if I am correct, let us start there.

            The outrage of so many that our schools and our children must do lockdown drills along with fire drills in school seems very strange and misapplied to me.  When I was in elementary school, we did nuclear attack drills—duck and cover.  Fortunately, those drills were never tested.  Preparing our children to protect themselves does not seem unreasonable to me.  Like all parents and grandparents around the world, I truly wish our children and grandchildren did not have to learn such things and could grow up and mature in peace and safety.  However, in the real world, there are bad men, and we must ensure our children are properly prepared to protect themselves against such bad men.

            Comments and contributions from Update no.841:
Comment to the Blog:
“I'm finding it difficult to doubt Trump's guilty actions.
"The courts' repudiation of gerrymandering cheers me among all the destruction Republicans and their ‘leader’ cause.  This and other election reforms have real potential to bring an end to the oligarchs' reign.  Their insanity is exceeded only by their hostility to everyone but themselves.  The courts, even influenced by Republican appointees and Congress’s refusal to allow Obama his right to appoint a justice, still take seriously their duty to the Constitution.
“I concede to Elon Musk a major achievement in the successful flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket.  I deplore the ego displayed in his choice of cargo.  Surely a better payload could be found than a product of Musk’s ego.
“Republicans lie outright in their fiscal conservatism claims.  Fiscal conservatives would not fund military programs that waste billions of dollars, and they would eventually find it necessary to collect taxes to pay for vital domestic programs.  Of course, both parties also raid the Social Security fund to make themselves looks relatively responsible fiscally.
“The #metoo movement is a beginning effort to right wrongs that probably go back as far as human history.  Excesses accompany such a massive change. I would like to find a way to offer due process to each accused person, but I see no realistic way to do that.  I see that as the price of progress, even though it will probably wrong some men. We have no way of knowing who is innocent among the accused.  My bet is that it's not a high percentage, based on what I've witnessed and experienced as a member of the less powerful class.”
My response to the Blog:
            Re: the fellow in the Oval Office.  There are many folksy colloquialisms that seem quite appropriate.  The one that seems the most applicable at the moment is: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.  Nobody is making him look so bloody guilty; he is doing that all by himself—his words alone, full stop!
            In the light of fairness, Democratic legislatures have been quite effective at gerrymandering, as well, when they hold the majority.  It is all about preservation of power, which is precisely why the Supreme Court must make a definitive statement regarding the unacceptability and inherent unfairness of such activities.  We shall see.
            Yeah, what the Senate Republican leadership did relative to Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland was unconstitutional and verging upon un-American, driven solely by political partisanship . . . not materially different from gerrymandering.  What they did was unforgivable!  They should have run the process and vote—up or down.  I suspect the leadership heard the ideologues and knew they would not likely have the votes to stop such a qualified judge—very un-American from my perspective.
            I see Musk’s choice of test payload as whimsical rather than egotistic.  If he printed his name in large, gold letters on every surface of the car, I would be more inclined to agree with you.  I suspect he could not find a paying customer for the proof of concept event.
            Re: fiscal conservatism.  Quite so!  Very hypocritical!  Yet, like most things legislative, We, the People, must shoulder some of the blame.  We elect the bastards.  Far too many of us say cut, cut, cut . . . except for my sacred cow(s).  Republican spending on the military (as they like to publicly profess) is all too often spending for political reasons—not military or national security, i.e., buying more than the military needs to keep production lines running.  I’ve seen it all too often.  I see very little, if any, bona fide fiscal conservatism.
            Re: misogyny.  Yes, I understand that and I inherently agree with that reality.  However, punishing the son for the sins of the father hardly seems like a worthy endeavor in a free, open society expressing commitment to equality.  Steve Bannon has been the boldest and most blatant of the misogynists; he reportedly said, “The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history.  He is correct.  I say, as it should be and long overdue.  Patriarchy is the Doctrine of Coverture by another name.  Neanderthals like Bannon must be relegated to the dusty annals of history—a day gone by and rightly so.  I shall continue to be a voice for equality in life.
 . . . a follow-up comment:
“I would not attempt to defend the Democrats' history of gerrymandering.  The two major parties are tarred with the same brush on that issue.  Our best hope is the courts.  On a related issue, I still see the Electoral College as part of the problem, not part of the solution.
“Musk could have chosen cargo that would be of use in future missions.  If he couldn't think of anything else, he could have chosen items symbolic of his planet and/or nation.”
 . . . my follow-up response:
            We agree precisely up to the point of the Electoral College.  Our differences are that topic have been articulated and illuminated.
            There were myriad choices for the Falcon Heavy payload.  He could have sent a stack of bricks or 4,000 gallons of water into space.  All of those are symbolic of earth.  None of those would have garnered the Press coverage and public attention that Starman and his Tesla roadster have attracted.  At least he did not have MUSK in huge gold letters emblazoned all over the payload.  I’m just sayin’.
            Sadly, we are talking more about the unusual payload than we are about the extraordinary engineering accomplishment of the Falcon Heavy launch and specifically the simultaneous spot on landing (recovery) of the two external, first stage boosters.

            My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cheers,
Cap                        :-)