Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Why doesn't US MSM publish things like this.

Al-Jazeera on Trump being Putin's puppet:
Trump does not behave as Putin's puppet. He behaves as a person who sees himself as a great deal-maker, who is able to negotiate with anyone - from Putin to Kim Jong-un - to get a good deal.

The US president is a businessman who started his career in the real estate sector. In this type of business, one does not care who buys the penthouse as long as it is swiftly paid for. A number of apartments in the Trump Tower, for example, were bought by people of questionable or criminal background (including Russian citizens).

In this sense, it is not a surprise that Trump is dealing with anyone and everyone in the pursuit of the most lucrative deal.

Of course, whether this strategy is indeed effective or not can be debated. Many experts think it isn't, but this does not mean that Trump's policies are dictated by Putin; they are dictated by his own views, however wrong they may be.

This is not necessarily good for Putin. Despite all the niceties exchanged and footballs passed at the summit, there is still no development on the major issues of concern for the Kremlin: sanctions and Ukraine. If this is how Trump will do business for the next two years and if reelected, the another four afterwards, the Russian president might start thinking that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee emails might not have been such a good idea after all.
One of the major issues during the campaign was that Trump was a rogue actor. Some people were hoping he would bring down the Republican Party. The Al-Jazeera article makes a really good case that the US MSM spin on Trump and Putin's meeting may not be correct.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Maybe I shouldn't write off Fox News...

I have to agree that I don't think these indictments will go anywhere since there is way too much refutation to this case to provide reasonable doubt. Toss in that there are no specific instances of "Russian meddling" that couldn't be shown to possibly be domestically produced. This segment from Fox news sounds plausible to me as a former lawyer who practised criminal law.And the hack is open to debate.

Not sure where this will go if the Republicans win the "mid-term" elections. Also not sure why the powers that be would have let Trump run, unless it is true about the DNC wanting a pied piper candidate, which is why I think the meddling is domestic and not Russian. And it came from the DNC.

As I said, no one is denying that the leaked e-mails are genuine, which is dangerous since any defence attorney worth their pay has their defence mapped out for them in the e-mails. After all what's the point of having strict rules over elections and referendums if there are no consequences for them being broken? And how is "Russian interference" germane if the DNC can break its own rules and run a rigged primary. As I said before, nothing in the Wikileaks leaked documents came as a revelation to people in the Sanders campaign.

I think this shit is a distraction to keep people from demanding campaign reform.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Internal Misconduct is far more of a concern than "foreign interference".

As I said before, if the goal of  the alleged "Russian interference" in US elections is to destroy confidence in the process, then they don't have too much work to do other than rub the US public's nose in the shit that the electoral process happens to be. Whatever "Russian interference" that may have existed pales in comparison to all the shenanigans that are considered SOP in US elections. The level of damage caused by "Russians" is unquantifiable.

On the other hand, the institutions and institutional practises that led to Clinton "losing" the election tend to be mostly home grown, which is what the "hacked e-mails" demonstrated. Although, it is questionable as to whether the e-mails were really hacked, or leaked by someone disgusted with DNC violations of its own rules. Additionally, Clinton only "lost" in the electoral college, an institution which is intended on thwarting democracy and democratic process. That is the obvious cause for her "defeat" while having one of the largest margins of the popular vote.

In fact, that is the main problem with the "Russian Interference" allegations: Clinton didn't lose by the standards of most democratic systems. Instead, Clinton lost because of an anachronistic, anti-democratic institution created by the US Constitution. It is an institution that most people don't understand.

The letter that former FBI Director James Comey sent to Congress on Oct. 28, 2016, and the subsequent media firestorm over it was an event that could also have contributed to Clinton's "loss". The impact is relatively easy to measure because it was the biggest news event in the final two weeks of the campaign, and we can compare polls conducted just before the Comey letter to the ones conducted just after it.

Is James Comey under indictment?

As I understand it, Russian attempts at influencing the US election consist of the hacking incident, which the Democrats assured us was not an issue: until they lost the election. They also consist of trying to show Clinton as being dishonest and otherwise discredit her. That's another one of those things which is amazingly easy to defend against! Just play one of the many tapes of Clinton contradicting herself.

Anyway, there are a lot of other explanations for why Trump is president which are far more credible and substantial than Russian interference. Any defence attorney worth their pay can blow this one out the stadium with little effort.

You also have to remember that the standard for burden of proof in a criminal conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt", or "that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty."

I have yet to see that non-US actions caused Clinton's loss or that any "foreign interference" went beyond that standard.

I think US resources would be far better spent on addressing the internal problems than trying to place fault on things which probably didn't effect the outcome at all.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Wanna see a Liberal's head explode.

I could see this one coming. I mean it had to come didn't it.

Now, watch the pundits try to dodge accusations of anti-semitism if they decide to go down this path.

Russian influence or was Hillary just a bad candidate?

Nate Silver points out that:
How did Trump win? Or more to the point, how did Trump win given that he only had a 38 percent favorability rating among people who voted on Election Day? The answer is partly the Electoral College, of course. But it’s also that Clinton was really, really unpopular herself — almost as unpopular as Trump — with a favorability rating of just 43 percent among Election Day voters. Also, the substantial number of voters who disliked both Clinton and Trump went to Trump by a 17-point margin. Voters really weren’t willing to give Clinton the benefit of the doubt.
That’s largely because Clinton was viewed as dishonest and untrustworthy, exactly the sort of message that the Russian campaign (which used hashtags such as #Hillary4Prison) was trying to cultivate. Trump, of course, was trying to cultivate this message too. Media coverage often struck the same themes. And voters sometimes heard variations on this theme from Sanders and his supporters in the more contentious moments of the Democratic primaries. Was some of this Clinton’s fault? Yep, of course. Would Clinton still have been “Crooked Hillary” even without the Russians? Almost certainly. But the Russians were at least adding fuel to the right fire — the one that wound up consuming Clinton’s campaign.
It's hard to tell what was "Russian influence" or Hillary's own faults the way I read that since a lot of people were talking about "Hillary for Prison" without having the Russians involved. Toss in her reputation for not being trustworthy was due to her own actions and position flipping. There was a 2008 Obama ad that "She'll Say Anything And Change Nothing".

Toss in the bottom line that you were taken by Russian influence if you voted for Trump, Sanders, or Jill Stein. I can honestly say that the DNC is rife with Russian Operatives if that is the basis for saying Russian operatives fixed the election. The DNC's actions pretty much were why I left the Democratic Party.

We can also get into Media complicity in giving Trump free air time which increased his profile.

You also have to remember that the standard for burden of proof in a criminal conviction is "beyond a reasonable doubt", or "that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty."

Anyway, I am 100% certain any "Russian influence" was insignificant compared to internal US actions. Any investigation worth the money needs to look into the US institutional problems which led to the 2016 election disaster.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The People who persuaded me it would be OK to vote Green.

Hey, Mueller, you gonna indict these people too???

Because they were so sure she was going to win, Hillary Clinton couldn’t have really lost.

All too ironically, they turned for solace to the line Donald Trump was feeding to his followers to embrace in anticipation of defeat ahead of the November election: The election must have been rigged! So on and on the Democratic Party and its supporters in the media have gone about Russian interference in the 2016 election, an interpretation that it now appears will never abate for the fiercest of Democratic partisans (And, suprisingly, even some Republicans).

Admitting the DNC rigged the election against itself by ignoring independent voters and aggressively quelling the nearly successful primary challenge by an independent candidate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is out of the question.

Let's toss in that Clinton DID WIN by the standard used by most democracies: the  popular vote. She only "lost" in the electoral college, yet that is another thing which people can't get their heads around because few people understand what the fuck the electoral college actually does.

See also:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hillary Clinton's Margin of the Popular Vote


That is the number of popular votes that Hillary Clinton had over Donald Trump. It was a number that was 2.1% more of the popular vote than Donald Trump won.

That is a number which is larger than the population of 16 States and District of Columbia (Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana Delaware, South Dakota,    Alaska, North Dakota, District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming). It is slightly less than the populations of 4 States: Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, and Utah). It is slightly more than the combined populations of Alaska, North Dakota, District of Columbia, Vermont, and Wyoming (2578472).

It's also a number which is larger than most of the 100 largest US Cities (Only NYC and LA have a larger population).

It's not an insignificant number, yet somehow Clinton lost with one of the highest margins of the popular vote because of the Electoral College and how it distorts the vote.

Monday, July 16, 2018

You don't need Russians to interfere or meddle or whatever.

The threat is real. There is unanimity of opinion in the intelligence community that hackers working on behalf of the Russian government undertook a coordinated effort to destabilize our election system. As the witnesses from the intelligence and law enforcement community testified, one of their primary objectives was to undermine Americans confidence and trust in their election system. We now live in a world where foreign governments wage war on our country not with guns and bombs, but by attempting to diminish Americans’ faith in our democratic institutions.
Source: The Hill: The truth about Russia, 'hacking' and the 2016 election

As I have been saying any serious investigation requires scrutinising US institutions. You have the Electoral College which is designed to be anti-democratic and the 2016 demonstrated how much it can deviate from the popular vote. But don't think I am being a "snowflake" since FairVote decided to look at the 2008 election for a “worst case scenario” of just how few popular votes Barack Obama really needed to earn a majority of the vote in the Electoral College.  They didn’t change John McCain’s votes, but eliminated all the “unnecessary” votes earned by Obama – meaning all of his votes in states he didn’t’ need to win and any “surplus” votes earned in states he wins (meaning any votes beyond one more than McCain).
 President Obama could have defeated Sen. John McCain in the Electoral College with as few as 24,781,169 popular votes despite McCain earning 59,479,469 votes. In other words, he could have won even while losing the popular vote by 69% to 29% (with 2% for other).

Looking only at states that he actually won, Obama could have carried enough states to earn 270 electoral votes with just 26,721,494 votes – meaning with a popular vote defeat by 68% to 30%.

The leaked DNC emails were no real revelation to be quite honest since most people suspected what was in them. They were a confirmation of people's distrust. It was the icing on the DNC's pushing of Hillary Clinton and disdain for people who weren't "true democrats".  As I said, it was shit like that that made me leave the democratic party.

Even more important is the money in US politics. The primary system is long and drawn out to keep people who don't have big bucks backing them. On the other hand, someone like Donald Trump was able to game the system to get anywhere from $2 to $5 Billion in free, "earned" media attention. Which was also given to him by anyone who showed outrage at Trump's antics (figure includes social media). I remember in 1980 when US Stations couldn't show "Bedtime for Bonzo" because it would have given Reagan free coverage.

No Russian help needed to get people disgusted with US politics: the duopoly does a wonderful job on its own.

Ultimately, it is the electoral college, closed primaries, gerrymandering, uncontested elections, big money, and pretty much the whole election circus that causes the results that people want to attribute to the Russians.

So I find that the real culprits are home grown. And that is where all the energy should be directed, not de minimis "foreign meddling".  Simply stated, if the "Russian Objective" is to destroy confidence in "US democratic institutions", then I see any "Russian activities" as being de minimis compared to those of the DNC, Cambridge Analytica/Robert Mercer, and US media, who spent far more money than the Russians are alleged to have spent for destroying confidence in US Democracy.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

An open letter to Robert Mueller regarding the 2016 Presidential Election Investigation

OK, let's begin this with the stipulation that the DNC e-mails in question are authentic. It was revealed by WikiLeaks emails from the DNC hack that under the guidance of the now scandal-ridden former chairperson of the DNC, Deborah Wasserman Schultz, the party leadership had shown high levels of favourability towards Hillary Clinton and that they quashed the campaign of Bernie Sanders to make sure she won the nomination.

Sometimes a criminal investigation finds more criminal activity than what was originally alleged. In this case, the e-mails show democratic party collusion to promote Hillary Clinton as well as sabotage Bernie Sanders' campaign. There was a class action suit about this which went nowhere, despite all the misconduct of the DNC being a given.

I believe there have been allegations of vote suppression, which I believe is an offence. Some of the e-mails in question show the DNC staff in damage control over allegations from the Sanders campaign, when a report—corroborated by a Politico—revealed the DNC’s joint fundraising committee with the Clinton campaign was laundering money to the Clinton campaign instead of fundraising for down-ticket Democrats. Regardless of the fundraising tactics, because both major campaigns didn’t agree to use the joint fundraising committee super-PAC with the DNC, the DNC should have recused itself from participating with just the Clinton campaign.

The Associated Press called the Democratic primary races in six states for Hillary Clinton on Monday night, based on its survey of superdelegates. CNN confirmed the count a few hours after that, based on the network's criteria, then declared that it had broken the story. This is one of the things that threw the election.

Even more concerning is that an email released by WikiLeaks shows how the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party bear direct responsibility for making Trump the Republican candidate. The email describes using a "pied piper" strategy, the Clinton campaign proposed intentionally cultivating extreme right-wing presidential candidates, hoping to turn them into the new "mainstream of the Republican Party" in order to try to increase Clinton's chances of winning.The Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee called for using far-right candidates "as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right." Clinton's camp insisted that Trump and other extremists should be "elevated" to "leaders of the pack" and media outlets should be told to "take them seriousl

You need to broaden the scope of your investigation to include the DNC misconduct shown in these e-mails if you want to avoid any allegations that your investigation is a political witch hunt. Failure to do so leaves this investigation wide open to those charges.

As someone who voted for Bernie Sanders and then abandoned the Democratic Party to go back to being independent, I can say that the actions of the Democratic Party were far more damaging to it than any purported "Russian Influence".

I know there are a lot of people who buy into the "Russians did it", probably the way they swallowed that the Iraqis had WMD. I didn't . Likewise I do not believe for one second that any Russian activity would rise to the level of misconduct demonstrated by the DNC. And it was the DNC misconduct which cost the election.

And it was Clinton's piss poor campaign and the Electoral College that cost her the election, not the Russians. Address that or your investigation is crap.

See also:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Oh, no, not more Russians and E-mails

OK, the first question everybody should be asking is "are these authentic, DNC internal messages?" I think it's pretty much taken as given that these are. That means Russian interference is pretty meaningless. That's because these e-mails kill the democratic party by showing that it was biased against Sanders which went against party bylaws.

On the other hand, nothing in these e-mails comes as a revelation if you happened to be a Sanders supporter. Glenn Greenwald pretty much sums up the situation:
“When Trump becomes the starting point and ending point for how we talk about American politics, [we] don’t end up talking about the fundamental ways the American political and economic and cultural system are completely fucked for huge numbers of Americans who voted for Trump for that reason,” he says. “We don’t talk about all the ways the Democratic Party is a complete fucking disaster and a corrupt, sleazy sewer, and not an adequate alternative to this far-right movement that’s taking over American politics.”
The issue is that both parties stink and that Hillary basically was her own worst enemy. That was pretty much what the leaked e-mails confirmed. It wasn't anything that most people didn't already know.

And I am going with it was an internal DNC leak since it seems the evidence pointing to it being a Russian is that there is evidence a Russian VPN was used.

Seriously? People use VPNs to HIDE their location, not broadcast it. Toss in any legit VPN host will give the actual location if there is criminal investigation. Give me the actual location, not a VPN IP address.

But let's get into who the messenger is: Robert Mueller. A dude to claimed that Iraq had WMD!

Gimme a break. I call BS then and I'm calling BS now.

Unless Mueller is also investigating the DNC and what the leaked e-mails revealed, then this investigation is partisan bullshit.

After all, no one is denying the e-mails were actual DNC internal communications.

And it was DNC misconduct that made me realise that I was wasting my vote by supporting a duopoly candidate.

Unless this investigation starts looking at the internal US causes of why Trump became president, this is a waste of time. The obvious cause was the electoral college, yet I am hearing squat about addressing that issue.

See also:

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Death of Originalism

I have to comment about Brett Kavanaugh and his judicial philosophy, which he calls "originalist" I understand this approach is to interpret the Constitution's meaning as stable from the time of enactment, which can be changed only by the steps set out in Article Five.  That means altering the Constitution requires an amendment or amendments and subsequent ratification.

Well, if he really wants to be an originalist and follow the US Constitution AS WRITTEN, then he can't rule on the constitutionality of legislation: as that is not an enumerated role for the Supreme Court.

Instead, that comes from the case of Marbury v Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). Marbury also says that no clause in the Constitution is without meaning, which means that Heller and McDonald are BS since they ignore a clause in the Second Amendment. I would add for good measure that the previous SCOTUS Second Amendment cases (Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, and US v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174) Made it clear that the Second Amendment applied to the Militia, or current National Guard.

Miller contradicts the findings of the Heller and McDonald decisions saying:

"With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces, the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view."  

Justice William O Douglas, who was on the court when Miller was decided, gave a summary of that case in his dissent to Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S 143, 150 -51 (1972):

The leading case is United States v. Miller, 307 U. S. 174, upholding a federal law making criminal the shipment in interstate commerce of a sawed-off shotgun. The law was upheld, there being no evidence that a sawed-off shotgun had "some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia." Id. at 307 U. S. 178. The Second Amendment, it was held, "must be interpreted and applied" with the view of maintaining a "militia."

According how the originalists claim their method of interpreting the constitution, a change from the Second Amendment applying to the Militia to allow for personal possession of firearms in the home would require and amendment: not occur through judicial fiat.

I would also add that the Constitution makes clear that it deals with matters of the common defence in the preamble and is silent on self-defence. Any first year law student knows that when a legal document is silent on an issue that that issue is not covered. There are a few other accepted rules of statutory interpretation which pretty much rule out that self-defence is addressed in the US Constitution and that the Second Amendment should be extended to allow for deadly weapons to be used for that purpose.

This adds in that the concept of self-defence in traditional common law is a mitigation, not an excuse. The black letter common law for this is:
Self-defence is a legal doctrine which says that a person may use reasonable force in the defence of themself or another.

Reasonable force is not in the mind of the person claiming self-defence, but in the finder of fact's (jury or judge) opinion. But the rule is pretty much that deadly force is NOT allowed unless there are extreme circumstances.

This might be the time to push this issue. No matter what, I would like an answer on the matter of how an "originalist" can somehow rule on constitutionality since that is not found in the text of the Constitution.

Even more importantly, an Originalist should not go against precedent and the Constitution as written. I am not sure how one would handle overturning a law for unconstitutionality since that is not a role given to the Supreme Court in the Constitution. Instead, it is found in custom.

On the other hand, now might be the time to find out how exactly a justice would handle this dilemma if they claim that they obey the constitution as written and any real change requires an amendment.