Breathtaking Inanity

Number 17 of a continuing series

A conversation has been going back and forth on Facebook. It relates to a post on this site concerning this country’s remarkable rate of gun-related tragedies. Here’s the gist:

  • John Blanton We need to hear both sides. There are many who will contend we should accept the collateral damage. The problem is getting them to make that statement.
  • Daniel G. Kuttner I’ll say something like what you’re fishing for, John:

    In a free society, bad things will happen.

    It is a pipe dream to believe one can regulate and legislate utopia. Quite the opposite is the result.

    Using government to take away “their” rights results in powers which later on will be used to take awy your own.

  • John Blanton Thank you, Daniel G. Kuttner, You have stated the case more precisely than anybody else could have.
    • Daniel G. Kuttner What’s your position on it?
    • John Blanton My position is that you are giving an honest answer. Instead of saying we are safer having a proliferation of guns in society, you are saying that all these deaths represent acceptable collateral damage.
    • Daniel G. Kuttner Again you misrepresent what I said.

      “Unavoidable” is not the same as “acceptable” in my dictionary.

      I still await your statement of your position.

    • John Blanton My position is, given the proliferation of guns in society, the consequences are unavoidable. Since it is unavoidable, it must be acceptable to those who insist upon a proliferation of guns in society.
    • Daniel G. Kuttner John: (I think you know) I meant your position on “keeping and bearing” arms. That is, the right (or not) of self-protection.

      Just please don’t mislabel my position as “insisting on a proliferation of guns.”

      You use a lot of labels which seem to me loaded. Maybe you could reconsider that manner of speaking/writing, at least, if you want to appear scientific in drawing your conclusions.

    • John Blanton Daniel G. Kuttner Right now I’m sitting among strangers in a strange city, enjoying a cup of hot cocoa. I [will] post a lengthy response when I get back to my computer.
    • Daniel G. Kuttner John: Glad you’re in a pleasant place.

      No need to be lengthy on my account!

      I still don’t know if you’re pro-self defense or not.

In total, Dan wants me to state my position on the “keeping and bearing” arms, as paraphrased from the Second Amendment of the Constitution. That amendment is stated as such:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The first thing a person reading this notices is the amendment does not mention guns. It does not mention “firearms.” Hopefully that does not come as a shock to members of the National Rifle Association.

So what does the wording mean by “arms?” I contend some interpretation is required. Note at this point many fans of the Second Amendment argue daily there must be no interpretation. The right to keep and bear arms must not in any manner be infringed. So what are “arms?” What did the writers of the amendment mean? My take goes back to the initial wording, “A well regulated Militia being necessary…” The Second Amendment is meant to preserve the right to keep and bear weapons of war. Guns? Yes. Machine guns? Yes. Claymore mines? Yes.

Obviously some interpretation is required. Once fans of the Second Amendment agree on that point, then it is sort of downhill from there. The Second Amendment must be interpreted to mean that citizens on the street (not active in a well regulated militia) do not have the right to use Claymore mines for home defense.

Take this further. Not everybody should have the right to keep and bear guns. There are some people who should not be allowed near a firearm. We have such laws. Convicted felons can be and are prohibited under penalty of prosecution from having a firearm on or around themselves. Others are likewise prohibited.

A problem arises when such prohibitions are diluted to the point that is it almost impossible to keep certain people from getting hold of firearms.

  • Guns are sold individual to individual with no regulation.
  • Guns are sold at swap meets.
  • People are not penalized for having their weapons stolen.
  • People who obviously should not be allowed to touch a firearm cannot be prevented from getting hold of one. Think about people who have otherwise threatened others. Should such a person be denied for life from having a gun?

The courts have, of late, ruled in favor of very much unrestricted access to guns and also against laws that prevent carrying guns on the streets and in public places. That is the law as it stands. Dan wants to know whether I support the law.

I do support the law. Considering that in some places it is your right to carry a loaded pistol into a classroom. I think the law should be changed. If on reading the paragraphs above you agree the Second Amendment is subject to interpretation, then you should begin to think about how it should be interpreted to bring down the rate of death and injury due to guns.

Dan asks how I feel about self-defense. Dan, I’m for it. Let’s see who else has been for it.

  • Man in Florida shot the man who threw popcorn on him.
  • Man in Florida shot the teenager he thought might have a gun.
  • Retired Army major I met shot his neighbor, who was wandering in his back yard.
  • Man shot foreign student who did not understand his command to “freeze.”
  • Numerous cases of road rage escalating into deadly shootings.

Let’s get real about self-defense.

Dan says he does not advocate a proliferation of guns in society. What language would he prefer instead? In American society there is a gun for every person. Does Dan want the proliferation to be reduced? By how much?

I will wind down. Stuff coming up tomorrow. We should rejoin this conversation from time to time.

This is your President speaking.

Number 182 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!

More on the rigged fraud.

This is your President speaking.

Number 179 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

“Michael Cohen asks judge for no Prison Time.” You mean he can do all of the TERRIBLE, unrelated to Trump, things having to do with fraud, big loans, Taxis, etc., and not serve a long prison term? He makes up stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself, and get…..

….his wife and father-in-law (who has the money?) off Scott Free. He lied for this outcome and should, in my opinion, serve a full and complete sentence.

Dude, why don’t you just pardon him?

This is your President speaking.

Number 162 in a series

Movie poster from Wikipedia

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!

Astounding! How many other ways are there to spell “breathtaking inanity?” With this president we have no need for late-night television.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 3 of a series

I previously posted on an item I received in the mail from a group calling themselves Judicial Watch.. That mailing wanted me to get interested in, and to support, their efforts to further investigate past deeds of former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Their appeal had a strange appearance, since all the matters presented in their letter have since been investigated thoroughly by some of this country’s best legal minds. I hesitate to characterize their appeal as an emotional tug at my bank account, with the aim at fattening their coffers for other projects or possibly to underwrite the salaries of people on their payroll. So, I let it drop.

The subject of the most recent appeal relates to somebody’s infatuation with immigration enforcement. There are any number of federal crimes that do damage to our society, among them being espionage, money laundering, tax evasion, mail fraud, kidnapping, and bank robbery. Violation of immigration law is also a federal crime, but while the previously mentioned are felonies, entering the country illegally is a misdemeanor for the first offense. You see what I’m getting at. It’s time we made a big deal of immigration crime.

And that appears to be the thrust of this most recent Judicial Watch letter:

To: John Blanton

You are being contacted because state of Texas has been identified as a possible “sanctuary state” containing townships, cities, counties and/or regions unlawfully aiding, abetting and/or shielding illegal immigrants from federal immigration law.

The letter advocates for the involvement of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and here is a part that escapes my comprehension.

Your signature is needed because “open borders” advocates and politicians in these “sanctuary states” are using or preparing to use taxpayer-paid legal defense funds, legal action and the courts to hinder federal efforts to curtail the unlawful protection of illegal aliens in the U.S.

I need to show my support by signing and delivering an enclosed petition. Else Attorney General Paxton will not be inspired to enforce the law? And what law? Does Texas, or any state, have laws regarding illegal immigration? Somewhere in the Constitution there must be wording to the effect the federal government solely is charged with international affairs. The letter gets to the meat of the matter.

To counter these unlawful efforts to flaunt and/or evade immigration laws, the conservative public interest 501 (cX3) organization Judicial Watch is conducting a state-by-state program to investigate, expose and, where warranted, challenge in court unlawful sanctuary policies.

Your signed authorization via the enclosed AFFIRMATION OF PUBLIC SUPPORT will help Judicial Watch establish a necessary record of “in-state” public support for investigations into and judicial actions against violations of federal immigration policy and laws because they are of benefit to, and in the public interest of, the lawful citizens of said state.

Passing over the slight English language failure in the above, it is apparent that Judicial Watch wants me to throw my weight behind their endeavor. A complete reading hints they also want me to throw my money into the fray, as well.

Then begins an elaboration of the problem to be addressed:

The facts regarding the widespread efforts to aid, abet and shield illegal immigrants from the law are not in dispute. This is a purely ideological disagreement between those of us who believe we should have borders and border controls, and those who believe there should be no borders and no controls. As many as 400 regions, townships, counties and cities in every region of our country, including the vast majority of major American cities, have taken unlawful steps to offer illegal aliens some form of sanctuary; help them obstruct federal immigration law and policy; and even use tax dollars to encourage and offer legal aid to illegal immigrants, e.g.:

Followed by a summation of examples. A subsequent section of the letter reinforces the need to take action.

The consequences of illegal immigration are equally beyond dispute. Despite claims that comprehensive statistics on illegal immigrant crime are “not available” from the federal government, the disproportionate number of illegal aliens involved in drug trafficking, violent crime and gang activity is well documented in state and local jurisdictions in every region of the country:

This is followed by

a) Illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population;

b) Illegal immigrants accounted for nearly 75% of federal drug sentences in 2014 according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission;

c) In Florida, 40% of all murder convictions were criminal aliens;

d) In Los Angeles, 95% of outstanding warrants for homicide were for illegal aliens;

e) ICE reported that illegal criminal aliens released by Homeland Security during the Obama Administration accounted for 64,000 crimes, including assault, kidnapping and homicide; and

f) At various times, 25,000 illegal immigrants were serving murder sentences nationwide.

Reconciling these statements with some known facts presents difficulties. Here is something from another source:

There is no empirical evidence that immigration, including illegal immigration, increases the crime rate in the United States.[24][157] According to PolitiFact, “every expert we polled said there is a consensus among scholars that undocumented immigrants are not more likely to commit crimes than U.S. citizens.”[25] Most studies have shown that illegal immigrants tend to commit less crime than natives.[26] For immigration in general, a majority of studies in the U.S. have found lower crime rates among immigrants than among non-immigrants, and that higher concentrations of immigrants are associated with lower crime rates.[158][159][160][161][162][163][164][165][166][167][168][169][170][171][172][173][174][175][176][177][178][179] Some research even suggests that increases in immigration may partly explain the reduction in the U.S. crime rate.[180][181][182][183][184][185]

A 2018 study found that undocumented immigration to the United States did not increase violent crime.[186] A 2017 study found that “Increased undocumented immigration was significantly associated with reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests, net of other factors.”[187] A 2016 study finds no link between illegal immigrant populations and violent crime, although there is a small but significant association between illegal immigrants and drug-related crime.[188] A 2017 study found that “Increased undocumented immigration was significantly associated with reductions in drug arrests, drug overdose deaths, and DUI arrests, net of other factors.”[189] A 2017 study found that California’s extension of driving licenses to unauthorized immigrants “did not increase the total number of accidents or the occurrence of fatal accidents, but it did reduce the likelihood of hit and run accidents, thereby improving traffic safety and reducing costs for California drivers… providing unauthorized immigrants with access to driver’s licenses can create positive externalities for the communities in which they live.”[190] A 2018 study in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy found that by restricting the employment opportunities for unauthorized immigrants, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) likely caused an increase in crime.[191][192]

According to a 1997 report by the National Research Council, The New Americans: Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration, “it is difficult to draw any strong conclusions on the association between immigration and crime”.[193]

However, the item from Wikipedia has this additional part:

The Arizona Department of Corrections reported in 2010 that illegal immigrants are over-represented in the state’s prison population. In June 2010, illegal immigrants represented 14.8 percent of Arizona state prisoners, but accounted for 7 percent of the state’s overall population according to the Department of Homeland Security.[194] In addition, the data showed that illegal immigrants accounted for 40% of all the prisoners serving time in Arizona state prisons for kidnapping; 24% of those serving time for drug charges; and 13 percent of those serving time for murder.[194] Criminologist professor James Alan Fox assets that this is to be expected as illegal immigrants who tend to be poor “will have a higher rate of individuals in prison” as there is a correlation between social class and criminality, a correlation between social class and the probability to being sent to prison for the same crime as compared to people in a higher social class, and inadequate legal representation for the poor.[194]

The cause for the apparent dichotomy between the Judicial Watch statements and the above is hinted at by examining how JW crafts its words. Take their item a) above: “Illegal immigrants are three times as likely to be convicted of murder as members of the general population.” I have highlighted the word “convicted.” JW is not saying illegal immigrants are more likely to commit crimes. They are saying they are more likely to be convicted of their crimes.

Putting aside all that, I am going to interpret the letter from Judicial Watch as an appeal to my supposed alignment with the anti-immigration sentiment that pervades our politically conservative culture. And the irony is palpable.

Conservative causes and candidates receive massive support from American business owners, who tend to be conservative due to their opposition to overbearing government regulation. The irony is that illegal immigration feeds the profit line of many of these concerns. From the same Wikipedia entry:

Wal-Mart: In 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle a federal investigation that found hundreds of illegal immigrants were hired by Wal-Mart’s cleaning contractors.[91]

Swift & Co.: In December 2006, in the largest such crackdown in American history, U.S. federal immigration authorities raided Swift & Co. meat-processing plants in six U.S. states, arresting about 1,300 illegal immigrant employees.[92]

Tyson Foods: This company was accused of actively importing illegal labor for its chicken packing plants; at trial, however, the jury acquitted the company after evidence was presented that Tyson went beyond mandated government requirements in demanding documentation for its employees.[93]

Gebbers Farms: In December 2009, U.S. immigration authorities forced this Brewster, Washington, farm known for its fruit orchards to fire more than 500 illegal workers, mostly immigrants from Mexico. Some were working with false social security cards and other false identification.[94]

The hard fact is that illegal workers do not enjoy the protection of labor laws to the extent citizens and legal workers do. The threat of exposure, arrest, and deportation prevents their complaining when employers short their wages or require them to work in unsafe environments. Employers use these circumstances to drive down wages and thereby increase profits. And the business owners vote Republican. Whether they underwrite Judicial Watch in this campaign is unknown to me.

Full disclosure: I support the government’s immigration laws. The federal government has the right to control immigration, limit the number of people allowed to enter the country on a permanent basis each year, and to set requirements for aliens who want to work here. That said, I agree that immigration is beneficial to the American economy and to the strength of our nation. We really should accept more immigrants from our nearest neighbors, including Mexico. Conservatives have exhibited a distaste for immigration from Arabic and Muslim countries, the excuse being that some of these people might be terrorists. I chuckle.

Stories I see posted on conservative sites and in mail I receive from conservative advocates zero in on illegal, sometimes heinous, acts committed by immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants. Particular note is made of incidents that involve Muslims. These conservative sources are the same ones that advocate a proliferation of deadly weapons in society, which on a daily basis accounts for more horror than a year’s worth of contribution from Muslims and from immigrants.

All this prompts an appraisal of Judicial Watch, its legitimacy, and its competence. While JW has had notable successes, its history is also marked by a number of excesses. Examples:

On August 31, 2018, Judicial Watch reported on its blog that the Justice Department “admitted” in a court filing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings regarding the surveillance application for former Trump adviser Carter Page. In their blog post, Judicial Watch linked to the court filing, which was in response to a FOIA lawsuit, but nowhere in the post was it mentioned that the court filing stated, “Specifically, FOIA staff consulted with knowledgeable subject matter experts in the Office of Intelligence. Those experts confirmed that, as is typical in proceedings before the FISC, no hearings were held with respect to the acknowledged Carter Page FISA applications, and thus no responsive transcripts exist.”[15][16] Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton appeared on Fox News that night and stated that the Justice Department said there were no hearings for the Page application, but did not mention that the DOJ said this was “typical in proceedings before the FISC.”[17] The Judicial Watch story was reported as scandalous by conservative websites, such as Gateway Pundit.[18][19] The following day, Trump tweeted about the story.[20]

Judicial Watch helped stir the conspiracy theory that Vince Foster was murdered by the Clintons.[23][14][24]

In 2010, Judicial Watch made inaccurate claims about air travel spending by Nancy Pelosi’s congressional delegation; Judicial Watch’s claims were picked up by the conservative conspiracy site WorldNetDaily.[26] Judicial Watch also made false claims about Pelosi’s air travel in 2008 as well.[27][27]

In total, Judicial Watch gives the appearance, intentional or not, of being a nutty right-wing advocacy group, living off the prejudices and fears of a like-minded segment of our society. And I enjoy receiving their mail.

Houston, we have a problem.

Number 2 of a series

I get letters. Rather, I get email. I sign up for some of the most bizarre the Internet has to offer. It’s my penance for a life of idleness and sloth. I’m feeling better now.

Last week I received an actual letter in my postal mailbox. It’s from Judicial Watch. They want me to give money. I think I will not. They presented their argument. It is not convincing. Here are some samples:

To: John Blanton

The conservative public interest organization Judicial Watch, organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal RevenueService code, “has launched’ a series of in\7Estigationsarid lawsuits into former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and her staff regarding various counts of corruption, deception and concealment.

This investigation and several lawsuits remain active. As a resident of Texas in the 5th Circuit, you are being asked if you will show your support of these actions by signing and returning the enclosed AFFIRMATION OF PUBLIC SUPPORT of our investigations into Hillary Clinton.

The purpose of this public AFFIRMATION is to establish a foundation of public support in each of the twelve federal circuit court districts across the United States to substantiate sufficient public interest in the efficacy of pursuant judicial actions while demonstrating that such legal actions are of public benefit.

Your signature on this AFFIRMATION allows Judicial Watch to establish a necessary record of public support for its investigative and litigation proceedings into the public record of Hillary Clinton and her staff.

That’s the opening. There are eight pages. They tell us what it’s going to be about:

It is the contention of Judicial Watch that, in service to a self-serving agenda, former First Lady, former U.S. Senator, former U.S. Secretary of State and former candidate for President Hillary Rodham Clinton exploited the use of her office (and any other lever of public power she has maintained) to circumvent the rules of public service to finance and shape her image as a candidate for the 2016 presidential election.

What’s especially troubling is that Hillary Clinton has played this same corrupt tune (lying, obstruction, “pay for play” and graft) for nearly a quarter-century. Since 1994 Judicial Watch has had to expend enormous resources investigating Hillary Clinton.

Yes, that’s it. Concerning matters of settled jurisprudence, the organization calling itself Judicial Watch wants my support (and ultimately my money) in kicking an intire remuda, already dead. They propose—presumably after first locating the remains of Judge Crater—to resolve one or more of these pressing issues regarding Hillary Clinton:

  • Obstructing the release of records about the Whitewater land deal when her husband was running for president in 1992 (her Rose Law Firm billing records were mysteriously lost for two years and then turned up in the White House residence).
  • Refusing to tell the truth about the deadly Benghazi terrorist attack that took place on her watch as Secretary of State in 2012 and her role in the cover-up by lying about the attack to the Amer­ican people.
  • Abusing her public office to trade cash for favors — with corporate money, Russian and other foreign money, foreign government money…gobs of money, much of which is now sloshing around her “charity” that could be renamed “The Clinton Corruption Family Foundation.”
  • Permitting her 2016 presidential campaign to bankroll and market the phony “Trump Dossier” full of unsubstantiated and salacious allegations against her opponent, Donald Trump, which was corruptly used by Clinton allies in the FBI to launch the multi-million dollar, out-of-control investigation headed by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller that continues to the present day.

These are some of Clinton’s heinous crimes that must be resolved before we can get around to the serious business of figuring out how NASA faked the moon landings. More seriously, it is what comes before any one of the following:

Maybe we should all contribute to Judicial Watch, so they can clean up the Clinton mess and get around to reading President Trump’s income tax filings. I’m holding my breath.

Flash News!

I just now made a trek out into the rain and retrieved another letter from Judicial Watch. I await with anticipation the moment when I will open it and discover another trove of legal gems such as these. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 32 in a series

People ask me, “How come you don’t do one of these every day?” Actually, nobody asks. But if they did ask I would have to concede I am at the point where I’m running low on energy. But for an ambitious landscaping project, I might have posted this Friday while it was still hot. Which reminds me, I need to be sure to get Barbara Jean a birthday present.

Anyhow, the following image, a screen shot from MSNBC streaming on YouTube, shows some people desperately in need of assistance.

These are the hosts (Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt and Brian Kilmeade) of Fox and Friends on (where else) the Fox network, and if they appear distressed to you, then you are imagining things. That’s because I watched this episode, and I can tell you that at this point in a thirty-minute sequence these people were desperate to not appear distressed, but they were squirming, and they were trying mightily to get a caller off the phone. They were also trying mightily to conceal that fact. The reason for their discomfort is the caller was their supreme, exalted patron, the President of the United States, who had just spent the major part of half an hour demonstrating why I call him the Schlemiel-in-Chief.

If you just returned from a trek through the desert on a horse with no name, then I need to inform you what the rest of the nation already knows. The Fox network show Fox and Friends comes on at 6 a.m. Eastern Time, and sometimes the President of the United States phones in, and the hosts are always glad to have him, they being his chief cheer leading squad. Last Thursday that joy appeared to last all of ten minutes. Some explanation as to why:

TRUMP: People have to understand how dishonest the news is. And in all fairness to Fox, you guys don’t always treat me great. But you treat me fairly. It’s not like Fox is perfect for me. They’re not! They’re tough. But at least it’s fair. When you look at some of the others, you look at like a CNN, they’ll have a council of seven people [audibly becoming enraged] and of the seven people, every one of them is against me! I’m saying, where do they even find these people?

BRIAN KILMEADE: I’m not your doctor, Mr. President, but I would recommend you watch less of them.

TRUMP: I don’t watch them at all! I watched last night, I tell you what. I watched leaking lying Comey last night [Steve Doocy guffaws sycophantically] and I did, I hated to do it, you know, one of the reasons, people say, “You’re still looking good, Mr. President—how do you do it?” [Ed.: No one says this, I hope]

DOOCY: All right—

There is more from Fortune:

Trump criticized the Obama administration and former Secretary of State John Kerry for not handling tensions with North Korea sooner.

“This should have been settled long before I came into office,” he said, calling Kerry “the worst negotiator” he’s ever seen.

The president said he did watch the interview with former FBI director James Comey on CNN Wednesday night.

“His performance, by the way, was horrible,” Trump said. He blasted Comey as a criminal, calling him a “leaker and a liar.”

“He is guilty of crimes,” the president said. “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him.”

On Michael Cohen pleading the fifth

“This doesn’t have to do with me, Michael is a businessman,” the president said. “I have nothing to do with his business.”

He emphasized the small role Cohen played in his own legal affairs.

“Just so you understand, I have many attorneys. So many attorneys you wouldn’t even believe it,” Trump said. “He represented me on this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, and from what I can see he did absolutely nothing wrong.”

The president hit his favorite highlights in the interview with Fox and Friends, criticizing CNN and NBC, among others, as “fake news,” and bragging about his electoral college win.

“The electoral college is set up perfectly for the Democrats,” he said, “They should never lose the electoral college and they did.”

Trump repeated the claim that the Russia investigation is an effort by Democrats to save face after an embarrassing loss, citing the number of electoral votes he won.

On how he would grade his time in office so far

“I would give myself an A+,” Trump said. “Nobody has done what I’ve been able to do and I’ve done it despite the fact that I have a phony cloud over my head that doesn’t exist.”

He spoke about accomplishments like deregulation and the Republican tax bill, but mostly emphasized the challenges he’s faced during his first year.

“I’m fighting a battle against a horrible group of deep-seated people — drain the swamp — that are coming up with all sorts of phony charges against me and they’re not bringing up real charges against the other side,” the president said. “So we have a phony deal going on and it’s a cloud over my head. And I’ve been able to really escape that cloud, because the message now everyone knows now it’s a fix, it’s a witch hunt.”

From Vanity Fair:

Doocy, Kilmeade, and Earhardt endured the deluge heroically, fidgeting slightly at times, and offering small laughs as they encouraged the president and tried to keep him on track. The interview went off the rails, however, when the Fox hosts asked Trump about the Russia investigation dogging his presidency, and whether he would agree to interview with Mueller:

“Well, if I can. The problem is that it’s such a—if you take a look, they’re so conflicted, the people that are doing the investigation. You have 13 people that are Democrats, you have Hillary Clinton people, you have people that worked on Hillary Clinton’s foundation. They’re all—I don’t mean Democrats. I mean, like, the real deal. And then you look at the phony Lisa Page and [Peter] Strzok and the memos back and forth and the F.B.I.—and by the way, you take a poll at the F.B.I. I love the F.B.I.; the F.B.I. loves me. But the top people at the F.B.I., headed by Comey, were crooked.”

“You look at the corruption at the top of the F.B.I.—it’s a disgrace,” Trump continued, practically yelling, as the Fox hosts stared ahead nervously. “And our Justice Department—which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t—our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia. There is no collusion with me, and everyone knows it.”

As the Fox & Friends control room may have guessed, Trump’s burning anger could come at the expense of his current legal-defense strategy. With Mueller reportedly investigating the president and his associates for obstruction of justice in the Russian collusion probe, Trump’s lawyers have urged him to stay quiet about the special counsel’s work and allow his investigation to go forward. By impugning the F.B.I. and threatening to intervene at the Justice Department, Trump may have just given his adversaries more legal ammunition. He may also have undermined his case in more roundabout ways: at another point, he referred to his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen as having done a “tiny, tiny little fraction of my legal work”—an apparent attempt to distance himself from Cohen, who he admitted represented him in “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal.” Michael Avenatti, Daniels’s lawyer, immediately called the admission a “gift from the heavens” and “hugely damaging”: not only did Trump’s statement suggest he was aware that Cohen had paid hush money to Daniels, it also undercut Cohen’s argument that his communications with Trump, recently seized by the F.B.I., are protected by attorney-client privilege.

I find it breathtaking that three Fox TV hosts grasped something the President of the United States failed to. That is when Fox host Steve Doocy spoke words that may eventually be carved in granite.

Meyers unpacked what he called the “truly crazy rant” that was Trump’s phone interview with Fox & Friends on Thursday morning. It was a conversation in which the Commander-in-Chief “rambled on for so long about so many random topics that at one point the Fox & Friends hosts said they were the ones who were running out of time,” Meyers said — before cutting to footage of the Fox & Friends hosts’ deflating expressions and Steve Doocy interrupting Trump to say, “We’re running out of time.” [Emphasis added]

On the first level Doocy was wanting to get the President of the United States off the air, back into his box, and safe from American ears. On another level Doocy may have offered up a prophecy. We [Fox and Trump] are running out of time. There is only so much longer this comedy can go on before it is dragged down by the sheer weight of its lunacy.

In the meantime, President Trump has trapped himself with his own words. Two hours after this bit flapped publicly, Justice Department lawyers handed into a judge an argument that the President’s words have unraveled his claims for attorney-client privilege in the investigation of his lawyer, Michael Cohen.

 

In particular, the letter to Kimba M. Wood United States District Judge Southern District of New York, government lawyers used the President’s language from the Fox and Friends interview against his case.

2 If Cohen’s request for a privilege log were to be granted, there is no reason the Government’s Investigative Team could not review the privilege log.
3 As the Court is aware, after originally stating that the Government seized “thousands, if not millions,” of pages of privileged documents, Cohen subsequently identified three current clients.Of those three clients, one, Sean Hannity, has since said that “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter. I never retained him, received an invoice, or paid legal fees.” Another, President Trump, reportedly said on cable television this morning that Cohen performs “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work. These statements by two of Cohen’s three identified clients suggest that the seized materials are unlikely to contain voluminous privileged documents, further supporting the importance of efficiency here.

If ever there was a definition for Schlemiel-in-Chief, then this should be enshrined.

The Government You Paid For

Number 17

Voters (and taxpayers) are rejoicing all over this land. That which was promised had been delivered. We finally have the government we paid for. And are we ever so well rewarded. Recently-elected President of the United States Donald J. Trump promised, and he has delivered.

Extraordinary! Twelve Federal Circuit Court judges confirmed, and President Trump is still in his first year in office. This accomplishment exceeds that of any other president—more than Kennedy’s and Nixon’s 11 in their first year and far ahead of President Obama’s three. What makes President Trump’s accomplishment all the more remarkable is that he had to deal with a Republican Senate and a Republican House. Of course, the House of Representatives is not involved in confirmation of judges, but I’m just throwing that out to impress you.

Additionally remarkable is the caliber of individuals being advanced to this judicial level. An example would be Matthew Spencer Petersen, which person President Trump nominated to the Court. To be sure, before a nominee can advance to actually sitting in judgment on federal cases, that person must be confirmed by the Senate, and to assure some legitimacy of such confirmation there is a proforma hearing—merely a bureaucratic exercise the nominee is required to endure before he is hustled off to his chair behind the bench. Mr Petersen’s experience with this exercise was notable.

Here is a transcript of part of the process involving Mr. Petersen. The “Kennedy” referenced in the transcript is Judiciary Committee member John Neely Kennedy (R-La.). From The Washington Post:

KENNEDY: Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom?

(PETERSEN RAISES HIS HAND)

KENNEDY: Mr. Petersen, have you ever tried a jury trial?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Civil?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Criminal?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Bench?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: State or federal court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Have you ever taken a deposition?

PETERSEN: I was involved in taking depositions when I was an associate at Wiley Rein when I first came out of law school. But that was —

KENNEDY: How many depositions?

PETERSEN: I’d be struggling to remember.

KENNEDY: Less than 10?

PETERSEN: Yes.

KENNEDY: Less than 5?

PETERSEN: (Pauses) Probably somewhere in that range.

KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a — taken a deposition by yourself?

PETERSEN: I believe not — no.

KENNEDY: Okay. Have you ever argued a motion in state court?

PETERSEN: I have not.

KENNEDY: Have you ever argued a motion in federal court?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: (Nods repeatedly) When’s the last time you read the Rules of Civil Procedure?

PETERSEN: The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure? I — in my current position, I obviously don’t need to stay as invested in those on a day-to-day basis, but I do try to keep up to speed. We do have at the Federal Election Commission roughly 70 attorneys who work under our guidance, including a large litigation division. And as a commissioner, we oversee that litigation, we advise them on overall legal strategy, provide recommendations and edits to briefs and so forth, and meet with them about how we’re going to handle —

KENNEDY: If I could ask you — I’m sorry to interrupt you, but we’re only given five minutes for five of you. So, when’s the last time you read the Federal Rules of Evidence?

PETERSEN: The Federal Rules of Evidence, all that way through would — well, comprehensively would have been in law school. Obviously I have been involved in — when I was an associate — that was something that we had to stay closely abreast of. And there have been some issues having to do with evidentiary issues that will cause me to examine those periodically in our oversight role for litigation at the Federal Election Commission.

KENNEDY: Well, as a trial judge, you’re obviously going to have witnesses. Can you tell me what the Daubert standard is?

PETERSEN: Sen. Kennedy, I don’t have that readily at my disposal but I would be happy to take a closer look at that. That is not something I’ve had to contend with.

KENNEDY: Do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: Yes. I haven’t — I’m, again — my background is not in litigation — as when I was replying to Chairman [Charles] Grassley. I haven’t had to, again, do a deep dive. And I understand, and I appreciate this line of questioning. I understand the challenge that would be ahead of me if I were fortunate enough to become a district court judge. I understand that the path that many successful district court judges have taken has been a different one than I have taken. But as I mentioned in my earlier answer, I believe that the path that I have taken to be one who’s been in a decision-making role in somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 enforcement matters, overseen I don’t know how many cases in federal court the administration has been a party to during my time —

KENNEDY: Yes, I’ve read your résumé. Just for the record, do you know what a motion in limine is?

PETERSEN: I would probably not be able to give you a good definition right here at the table.

KENNEDY: Do you know what the Younger abstention doctrine is?

PETERSEN: I’ve heard of it, but I, again —

KENNEDY: How about the Pullman abstention doctrine?

PETERSEN: I — I —

KENNEDY: Y’all see that a lot in federal court. Okay, any one of you blog?

PETERSEN: No.

KENNEDY: Any of you ever blogged in support of the Ku Klux Klan?

PETERSEN: No, Senator. (Other witnesses indicate no.)

And that is so heart-warming. Isn’t this a great country? We live in a place where the President of the United States can just step outside the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania and pull somebody off the sidewalk, announcing, “How would you like to the Queen for a Day?” All right, it only a judgeship, but who’s quibbling. At long last we are getting the government we paid for.

Here’s a video:

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

I like to remind my readers that the National Rifle Association is their friend, always ready to protect their Second Amendment freedoms. Nobody appreciates this concern more than Radee Labeeb Prince, 37 years old:

The man believed to have killed three people in a “targeted attack” near a Maryland business and also suspected in a later shooting in Delaware was apprehended by police in Delaware Wednesday evening after a manhunt that stretched on for hours.

Thankfully for Mr. Prince, the NRA was there to look out for his rights. Although Mr. Prince may not have been allowed to possess a handgun legally, that would not have been much of a problem. If a dealer had sold him the weapon he used, it’s possible a considerable waiting period and a comprehensive background check would not have thwarted the transaction. If Mr. Prince had purchased the weapon at a gun show, there would have been no background check, and there would have been no record of the transaction forwarded to legal authorities. Similarly if Mr. Prince had purchased the gun from an individual. Same for if an individual had given Mr. Prince the weapon with no money changing hands. Had Mr. Prince stolen the weapon, it would have been the first time in its recent history that a law had been broken, but there would have been no requirement for the previous owner to report the theft, along with the weapon’s serial number.

No, there was little if anything to prevent Mr. Prince, despite his legal history, from having the weapon he used to kill three and to  injure three others. We can be so thankful that Mr. Prince’s Second Amendment rights have organizations such as the NRA to protect them. And the elected officials who take their money.

People Unclear

This is number 23

Full disclosure. I served six years in the Navy Reserve, several months of which were active duty and aboard Navy warships. Respect for the flag in the military is a critical issue, and daily there are raising and lowering ceremonies. If you are above decks (outdoors) when the bugle sounds, then you stand at attention and salute. Additionally if you don’t already know, the Navy has a code that you always wear your hat when above decks, and you never wear your hat when below decks. And you never salute unless you are wearing your hat. This is enforced.

Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore did not serve in the Navy, but he did serve in the United States Army, and I am sure he picked up some good flag etiquette there. That said, he seems to conflate military flag etiquette with civil law. How do I know this? I know this because he said as much in so many words:

Alabama’s Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore said Wednesday that NFL players and other athletes who take a knee during the national anthem in protest are violating a federal law.

In an interview with Time magazine, Moore said that NFL players are violating a section of federal law that establishes “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem, and details proper respectful conduct during its performance.

“It’s against the law, you know that?” Moore said. “It was an act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That’s the law.”

“It’s against the law, you know that?” Let that sink in. A candidate for the United States Senate seems to be unclear on the issue. Here is what is real and official:

Prior to Flag Day, June 14, 1923, neither the federal government nor the states had official guidelines governing the display of the United States’ flag. On that date, the National Flag Code was constructed by representatives of over 68 organizations, under the auspices of the National Americanism Commission of the American Legion. The code drafted by that conference was printed by the national organization of the American Legion and given nationwide distribution.

On June 22, 1942, the Code became Public Law 77-623; chapter 435. Little had changed in the code since the Flag Day 1923 Conference. The most notable change was the removal of the Bellamy salute due to its similarities to the Hitler salute.

A subsequent federal court ruling held that enforcement of flag etiquette on civilians is an abridgment of the First Amendment and cannot be enforced. Judge Moore’s mental idle ramblings notwithstanding, nobody is in trouble for kneeling during a flag ceremony, or for the playing of the national anthem.

Judge [former] Moore is unclear on a great number of things, and one day I will make an attempt at a comprehensive listing.

The Government You Paid For

Number 8

From WND

Wait for it. It’s coming. It’s coming. Wait! It’s here!

Washington (CNN) — President Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio on Friday, sparing the controversial former Arizona sheriff a jail sentence after he was convicted of criminal contempt related to his hard-line tactics going after undocumented immigrants.

There. It’s done. Did you ever doubt it was going to happen? To find anything more predictable I had to go all the way back to… To last week, when an eclipse of the sun raced across this country from the west coast to the east. That was more predictable. But it was close.

So, what does it take to draw a get-out-of-jail-free card from President Trump? You might not be surprised:

Arpaio has been accused of various types of police misconduct, including abuse of power; misuse of funds; failure to investigate sex crimes; improper clearance of cases; unlawful enforcement of immigration laws; and election law violations. A Federal court monitor was appointed to oversee his office’s operations because of complaints of racial profiling. The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Arpaio oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, and subsequently filed suit against him for unlawful discriminatory police conduct. Arpaio’s office paid more than $146 million in fees, settlements, and court awards.

Over the course of his career Arpaio was the subject of several federal civil rights lawsuits. In one case he was a defendant in a decade-long suit in which a federal court issued an injunction barring him from conducting further “immigration round-ups”. A federal court subsequently found that after the order was issued, Arpaio’s office continued to detain “persons for further investigation without reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed.” In July 2017, he was convicted of criminal contempt of court, a crime for which he was pardoned by President Donald Trump on August 25, 2017. In a separate racial-profiling case which concluded in 2013, Arpaio and his subordinates were found to have unfairly targeted Hispanics in conducting traffic stops.

Yes! Those are exactly the qualities that are going to earn you a nod from Donald Trump. Did we ever not see this coming?

We complained, and we complained, but now we need to quit complaining. At last we have the government we paid for.

Friday Funny

Number 70 of a series

A Facebook friend posted an item referencing “God’s ACLU.” It’s about an organization to defend religious liberty:

Advocates for religious liberty in America are part of what might be seen as the second wave of rights activism in the courts, the first being the wave that began in the 1950s and ’60s with litigation over the rights of minorities, women and criminal suspects, among others. In the past 25 years, conservative and libertarian groups have applied lessons that the liberal vanguard learned about how to select test cases for litigation as a way to steer the law. The focus today is still on the individual, but on his right to own guns, send his children to the school of his choice, or—Ms. Alvarado’s field of concern—worship freely and live a full religious life uncramped by the state.

“Our first case at Becket was in 1996,” Ms. Alvarado says. “A boy name Zachary Hood wanted to bring a ‘Beginner’s Bible’ to his first-grade class on share-your-favorite-story day. His teacher said, ‘No, you don’t get to do that.’ ” The family sued the school board but lost the case, and the Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal. But the board eventually settled in a related matter—having to do with a Thanksgiving poster the 6-year-old had drawn saying he was “thankful for Jesus”—and the federal Education Department issued official guidance shortly thereafter, affirming a student’s right to express religious beliefs in all schoolwork.

Some who know me may be surprised, but I an in favor of religious rights, otherwise known as the right to  act foolishly in public. That said, someone seriously in need of such protection is whacked out pastor Rick Joyner:

Right-wing pastor Rick Joyner posted a video on his Facebook page today claiming that the chaos that is engulfing the Trump White House is actually a sign that President Trump is an “extraordinary leader” … just like Jesus.

“I’m expecting some chaos in the White House team for the duration of Trump’s administration,” Joyner said, “and I am saying this is because he is such an extraordinary leader. It’s not a lack of leadership; it’s a different kind of leadership.”

Few would not agree that this is funny to an extraordinary degree.

Please join me in protecting Pastor Rick Joyner’s right to act foolishly in public.

Majority of One

A Continuation—Number 2

Four years ago I posted on the Edward Snowden business:

Snowden has seen something that is wrong with this country, and he has acted to correct it. From his point of view. The issue is currently being batted about in the halls of government, and some are saying PRISM and FISA are bad, and some are saying they are good. The discussion will likely go on for some time, and in the end some disagreement is sure to persist.

In the mean time Snowden has nullified all those other votes with his one vote. He has become a Majority of One. It would appear that sometimes it is necessary to destroy one part of democracy in order to save another part.

There’s a long tradition of defying the law to do what’s right. Mohandas Gandhi was one such person. Martin Luther King was another. We have to wonder whether Snowden saw himself in the same light as these two. Both saw a wrong that needed to be corrected, and both went beyond the law. Of course, there’s a difference. Gandhi and King owned up, didn’t flee, didn’t back away. They offered themselves up to suffer the legal consequences of their actions. Both were murdered. Snowden, to the contrary, sought refuge from justice within the purview of one of the most corrupt and anti-democratic regimes on the planet, refusing to submit to the legal consequences of what he did. It takes some of the shine off.

That said, I never condoned Snowden’s methods. The government actions he exposed were not part of a great scheme to subjugate people and to suppress equal opportunity under the law. Furthermore, there is serious question whether anybody’s civil rights were in jeopardy. Snowden figured he had a vote in the matter, and he cast it—a majority of one.

There’s more.

While the Edward Snowden affair was still fresh in people’s minds, others figured they had a better lock on what was right and just than the American court system. There was the episode I titled High-Pocket Pickpocket.

Bundy’s family has been grazing cattle on the disputed piece of public land since the 1800s. The government allows private entities to use public lands for commercial purposes on a fee basis. The trouble with Bundy began in 1993 when the government changed the rules for grazing in this area, and Bundy quit paying the fees in protest. From all appearances, Bundy is getting a lot of support from locals and from out-of-towners who share a disdain for government regulations:

What I found most impressive was the support Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy got from those whose pockets he was picking. The cold facts are this. Bundy’s ranch was grazing its cattle on government land for which a fee was required. He refused to pay the fee. In essence, he was getting for free the use of the land and the grazing. Contrast this to somebody in competition with the Bundy ranch. The competition, those raising cattle and selling to the same market, either owned their land or else leased it, often from the government. It’s a nice arrangement for Bundy, he can 1) undercut the competition and still break even, or 2) he can go head to head with the competition and pocket more of the proceeds. Either way, it’s a win for Bundy. As I mentioned three years ago, this arrangement put Bundy ahead of his competition to the tune of $1.3 million over the previous 20 years. And civil liberties be damned.

What really caught the news was the armed confrontation with government agents. Bundy’s friends and neighbors were not of the same ilk as Gandhi and King. They brought their guns. And they pointed them at the G-men. There were further developments and ultimately consequences. See the image above from the FBI video in Oregon last year. Bundy’s sons and some like-minded people took command of a government building in the wilderness and held out for several days. They had guns. As the confrontation with the FBI came to a conclusion, one of the Bundy fans, Robert LaVoy Finicum, was shot and killed by an agent. So much for a majority of one.

Subsequently there was a trial, and the anti-government gunmen were acquitted of the charges against them. Additionally, an FBI agent who participated in the confrontation with Finicum has been indicted for making false statements concerning the event:

An FBI agent, W. Joseph Astarita, is alleged to have fired two shots at Finicum’s pickup, one of which penetrated the roof of the pickup and exited through a window. FBI agents were believed to have recovered the ejected empty cartridges. A five-count indictment for lying about the circumstances at the scene of Finicum’s death, and obstruction of justice, has been obtained in Portland against Astarita by the Department of Justice. He is being represented by a public defender.

There have been other developments. The consequences of Bundy and supporters pointing guns at federal agents are winding their way through the justice system. The first to go down has been one Gregory Burleson:

The weight of a heavy sentence landed in the quiet federal courtroom Wednesday morning, leaving Gregory Burleson occasionally stroking his graying beard and his attorney pleading unsuccessfully for leniency.

The 53-year-old Burleson was the first to be sentenced for his role in the 2014 standoff between federal agents and supporters of Cliven Bundy near his Nevada ranch.

He got 68 years in prison.

Again, so much for a majority of one. An additional Bundy friend has been convicted and is due to be sentenced in September, unlikely to get the breaks obtained by Burleson. Four others obtained acquittals on offenses related to the ranch standoff, but they are now schedule for trial on federal charges. Once that trial is concluded, according to the Los Angeles Times, Cliven Bundy and his son Ammon will go to trial for their part.

As you may have guessed, that’s not the end of the list of people who think American law is for other people. Most recently we have the case of former  Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In years past he made a name for himself as the toughest sheriff in the United States of A. This by being rough on prisoners and also on those not yet prisoners. On multiple occasions the courts have had to smack Sheriff Joe down for wandering outside the laws governing civil rights in this country. Bypassing all that and getting to the most recent, a federal judge enjoined the sheriff from enforcing his policy of profiling suspected illegal aliens, an injunction which he disregarded. He was charged with contempt of court, and about the same time the voters of Maricopa County ended his decades-long tenure. And the majority of one has also come to an end:

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio committed a crime by defying a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants, a judge ruled on Monday, in the latest rebuke for a once-popular politician who was voted out of office last year.

United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton found Mr. Arpaio, 85, guilty of criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. Mr. Arpaio’s lawyers said he would appeal.

So that’s what it all comes to. There is the rule of law, and there is personal preference. Keep your personal preference close to your heart and defy the law at your peril:

Lying here in the darkness
I hear the sirens wail
Somebody going to emergency
Somebody’s going to jail

And Edward Snowden will need to learn to speak Russian.

Upstairs Downstairs Inside Out

Revisiting a theme from a few years back

What is it about diplomats behaving badly? There was this business about an Indian diplomat abusing the employment of a member of her household staff in violation of American law and also contrary to the terms of the staffer’s work visa:

Anyhow, society in other places is much more stratified, and it’s expected there will be a privileged class and a servant class. That’s the way it was in this case.

Arrest, strip-search of Indian diplomat in New York triggers uproar

(CNN) — The prosecutor in the U.S. government’s case against an Indian diplomat charged in New York with visa fraud related to her treatment of her housekeeper expressed dismay Wednesday over the direction the case has taken.

So, that sort of thing is not going to happen again.  Except when it does:

(CNN) — A high-ranking Bangladeshi diplomat based in New York accused of forcing his servant to work for up to 18 hours a day without pay was charged Monday with labor trafficking and assault.

In a case described by the district attorney as “very disturbing,” Mohammed Shaheldul Islam, 45, a deputy consul general of Bangladesh, is alleged to have used a combination of physical violence and “vile” threats to control the victim, Mohammed Amin, for a period of several years.

Americans need to get used to the fact that in other cultures human exploitation is normal and a way of life, particularly for those privileged to be the exploiter rather than the exploitee. Accounts of what transpired in the Devyani Khobragade case would indicate the caste system remains intact, and the Indian government comes down on the side of the exploiter:

On January 10 the Indian government ordered the expulsion of US diplomat Wayne May because he had assisted Richard’s family in securing T-visas and traveling to the United States. Media sources stated that May had taken “unilateral actions” in expediting the travel of Richard’s family from India and violated various procedures with respect to actions taken related to the case. Media sources also quoted disparaging remarks about India and Indian culture made by May and his wife on their personal social media accounts since their posting to New Delhi. At the time of his expulsion, May was the head of the embassy’s diplomatic security contingent managing a staff of 424 security officers including 10 Marine Security Guards, and had been in India since 2010. The expulsion of a US diplomat by India is viewed as unprecedented. In the history of the US-India relationships, a similar event has happened only once when India blocked appointment of George G B Griffin, a Reagan appointee to the post of US political counselor, the third-ranking post in the United States Embassy.

The best we can hope is the United States continues to place its regard for human rights above any need to curry favor with a foreign  power. More may develop. Keep reading.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

If you don’t believe your handgun is your friend, ask Miguel Hector Pugo. His semi-auto pistol came in handy when he found it necessary to confront a troublesome wife:

The kidnapping charge against the suspect originated on March 8, when he was accused of kidnapping his wife of two years at gunpoint and pistol whipping her, according to Lt. Eddie Hernandez with Sheriff’s Department.

The woman was able to escape after the suspect stopped at the victim’s mother’s house to allow her to use the restroom, according to the news release.

On Friday, deputies spotted his vehicle on West 99th Street and Budlong Avenue, Hernandez said.

When deputies tried to pull him over, he accelerated and the pursuit ensued, according to Hernandez.

Again, Mr. Pugo’s handgun came in handy when the police just positively refused to back off and allow him to go about his business.

MiguelHectorPugo-01

 

How many different ways are there to say, “Go away and quit bothering me?”

MiguelHectorPugo-02

Ow! That didn’t go well. Keep this in mind, and we like to remind friends of handguns, “Your results may vary.” As it turned out in this case… As it turns out in most all cases, the police are better with that first shot than your average man on the street, man running from the police, man deciding to trade shots with the police.

I have not followed up on the saga of Mr. Miguel Pugo, but I suspect once he gets out of the hospital and once he gets out of jail, his privileges regarding the carrying of a handgun will be severely restricted. In retrospect, Mr. Pugo is lucky he was not on the DHS no-fly list, else he would have had to face the cops with just a finger of his right hand.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Religion-AbrahamExcuseForMurder

If another person has been prayed to death, this must be Tuesday:

The scope of statutory religious exemptions pertaining to medical care of sick children varies widely. Some are ambiguous, some give only the right to rely exclusively on prayer for trivial, self-limiting illnesses, while others, such as Idaho law, give parents the legal right to withhold lifesaving medical care.

Many Idaho children have suffered and died without medical care because of the Followers of Christ beliefs. Arrian Granden, 15, died in 2012 after days of nausea and vomiting so much that her esophagus ruptured. Micah Eells, 4 days old, died in 2013 of a bowel obstruction, which usually causes excruciating pain and vomiting. Pamela Eells, 16, died in 2011, of pneumonia, drowning slowly as her lungs filled with fluid. Cooper Shippy died in 2010 of untreated diabetes shortly before his second birthday.

Idaho public officials take no action about these deaths. Criminal charges are never filed. The legislature is not willing to repeal Idaho’s religious defense to manslaughter and criminal injury. The Canyon County coroner told the press she doesn’t even do autopsies when children die without medical care in faith-healing sects.

Unfortunately for these dead children, their state government refused to protect them from the ignorance of their parents. Fortunately (?) for the parents, murder is not yet a federal crime.

Getting Real

Continuing from a previous post

I previously posted on reasonable legal measures to counter this country’s massive problem with gun violence. Quoting myself:

In the wake of the mass shooting and murder at the Pulse night club in Orlando, there has been a renewed call for restrictive gun legislation. And some response. Vis, a recent Facebook posting:

Nobody added comments to my post, but a link I posted to Facebook received some response. A screen shot captures a summary, omitting 22 additional comments.

Gun-FacebookPage-01

Here is a transcription from the above image:

Steven Breed So back to the first bullet point then: How does it reduce gun deaths?

John Blanton It does not.

Steven Breed Now I’m confused. Does it work in conjunction with the other bullets to reduce them? What is it supposed to do?

John Blanton Steve, because you have shown so much interest in this topic, I am now encouraged to give it the full attention it deserves. Stand by for another Skeptical Analysis post.

Hence this post. To recap, following is my current (revised since the original post) bullet list:

  • Firearms must be registered. Yeah, yeah, this is a preamble for taking away your guns. Get over it.
  • Severe restrictions on the carrying of guns. If you want to handle your weapon anywhere outside your home, anywhere besides a shooting range or a hunting location, you’re going to need a permit, and to obtain that permit you’re going to need to demonstrate you have a good business reason for carrying a gun on the street.
  • Severe penalties for violations. You don’t register your gun, the government can seize it, you won’t get it back, ever. Carry your weapon on the street without the proper permit, and you lose it. Besides, you are going to jail. And you will receive no compensation from the government.
  • Sever penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime. These laws exist and are enforceable. Penalties can be increased.
  • The need for an automatic weapon must be demonstrated before such a weapon can be used outside the home. Gun people like to pick words over what is an automatic weapon, but as an engineer, any machine that operates itself is by definition automatic. Any weapon that reloads itself is automatic.
  • Automatic weapons will not be authorized for hunting.
  • Guns being transported must be locked up. We had these laws in Texas for years. You’re going hunting? You need to keep your weapons in the trunk of the car until you get where you’re going.
  • It will be illegal to transfer a gun from one person’s ownership to another’s without a proper background check.
  • It will be illegal to lend a gun to somebody who does not have the right to possess a gun.
  • Violation of gun laws will result in the forfeiture of the right of ownership for life.
  • Pistols will be regarded as exceptional weapons, requiring additional restrictions for ownership.

Steve’s question is “Does it work in conjunction with the other bullets to reduce them? What is it supposed to do?” I was hoping Steve would have figured that one out, but I am prepared to do the legwork and outline how registration of firearms will lend itself to reducing gun fatalities. Not being a lawyer or legal scholar by any measure, I am sure to get various points wrong. Challenges and corrections are solicited.

  1. When a gun is registered it becomes associated with an individual.
  2. If an individual registered as a gun owner is convicted of a felony, especially a felony involving violence, all guns registered to that individual become subject to confiscation without reimbursement. These guns become the property of some government agency.
  3. If a registered gun from 2 above cannot be located, then the gun will be placed on a watch list.
  4. Any attempt to transfer possession (ownership) of the illegal weapon will incur criminal charges.
  5. The person found in possession of the illegal weapon will be prosecuted.
  6. If a registered weapon is stolen it will be recorded as an illegal weapon, with criminal penalties attached to its subsequent possession.
  7. The above procedures will reduce the free circulation of weapons and will also provide government authorities the ability to remove illegal weapons from circulation.
  8. An obvious result of the above is that a gun removed from circulation will not shortly become involved in death or injury to somebody. People legally possessing a gun will be dissuaded from illegally selling, lending, or giving the gun to somebody who should not have it.

All this may seem minor, and somebody is going to argue that it places undue burden on legitimate gun owners at very little accomplished toward reducing gun violence. The point is conceded, except for the “undue” part. The burden is due and will become part of the cost of gun ownership.

A full transcript of the Facebook exchange is available on request. Again, comments and suggestions are solicited. If you are reading this from a Facebook link, comment in the section below rather than on Facebook. This saves me the trouble of transferring Facebook comments to this posting.

Getting Real

It has come to my attention that my bullet list was incomplete in its original form. This post has been revised to correct that.

It’s getting about time for a reality check. See the photo below.

GunDebate-MariahDavis

That’s five-year-old Mariah Davis. Only now she’s dead. She was not the victim of international terrorists. She was not the victim of a crazed shooter. She was not the victim of a scumbag criminal. She was killed, either by herself or by another child in her own home. Laws banning assault rifles would not have prevented this tragedy. She was killed by a handgun owned by her grandmother, supposedly a responsible gun owner.

In the wake of the mass shooting and murder at the Pulse night club in Orlando, there has been a renewed call for restrictive gun legislation. And some response. Vis, a recent Facebook posting:

Guns-HarlowKeithOrlandoShooting

Silly remarks are laid upon both sides of this debate. Those notwithstanding, some things are real.

The embarrassing rate of gun-related deaths in the United States cannot be attributed to mental illness. Mariah’s grandmother was not mentally ill. Also, she did not do the shooting. Let’s get real. Let’s toss out all the mentally ill and all the drug gangs and the terrorists attacks. How many countries can even approach the United States when it comes to killings by children under the age of 10?

It is not solely a matter of criminals and deranged individuals with guns. Strike those, and the United States is still number one among advanced countries. The truth is that the more guns there are around the more people will be killed by guns.

Underlying that problem is the Second Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment protects the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. Contrary to the thinking of the National Rifle Association and legions of gun rights advocates, the Amendment nowhere mentions guns. Apparently the Second Amendment was intended to be interpreted. Interpretations have been many. For example:

Its foggy wording and odd locution stand out in the Constitution. Lawyers and scholars debate its commas and clauses. For 218 years, judges overwhelmingly concluded that the amendment authorized states to form militias, what we now call the National Guard. Then, in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upended two centuries of precedent. In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia declared that the Constitution confers a right to own a gun for self-defense in the home. That’s right: the Supreme Court found there to be an individual right to gun ownership just a few years ago. Now, when we debate gun control we do so in the context of a Supreme Court ruling that limits what we can do (though we don’t yet know how much).

Waldman, Michael. The Second Amendment: A Biography (Kindle Locations 39-44). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

This has been a critical decision by the Court. Not being a legal scholar, I take this to mean that if you want to own a gun the government is going to need a good reason to deny you the opportunity. Even the NRA concedes convicted criminals can be denied the right to have a gun.

My opinion: this has escalated beyond all sensibility. States have enacted open carry laws, allowing people with permits to carry weapons concealed or in plain sight just about anywhere they want to go. And this has resulted in greater safety for all of us.

No, it has not.

What is reasonable? Is it too early to start getting reasonable? Maybe the time has come.

Some plans are top of the head foolish. Take away peoples guns. Never going to happen. People purchased guns at a time when the law allowed them to do so. Seizing their property now would, at the least, be in violation of due process, part of the Bill of Rights.

Gun buy-back programs are also foolish and on the face unworkable. People will game the system, even purchasing cheap, often unworkable, weapons and working the program for a profit.

Prohibiting the sale of certain weapon designs. That has gone nowhere in the past, as minor changes in design can defeat the definition of what is prohibited. Exception: machine guns, what gun buffs call automatic weapons, can be outlawed.

Prohibiting the manufacture of certain weapons. Nah.

Holding manufacturers and marketers responsible. No, again.

Enough of that. What can be done? What can be done that has the slightest chance of passing muster with the courts. My suggestions:

  • Firearms must be registered. Yeah, yeah, this is a preamble for taking away your guns. Get over it.
  • Severe restrictions on the carrying of guns. If you want to handle your weapon anywhere outside your home, anywhere besides a shooting range or a hunting location, you’re going to need a permit, and to obtain that permit you’re going to need to demonstrate you have a good business reason for carrying a gun on the street.
  • Severe penalties for violations. You don’t register your gun, the government can seize it, you won’t get it back, ever. Carry your weapon on the street without the proper permit, and you lose it. Besides, you are going to jail. And you will receive no compensation from the government.
  • Sever penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime. These laws exist and are enforceable. Penalties can be increased.
  • The need for an automatic weapon must be demonstrated before such a weapon can be used outside the home. Gun people like to pick words over what is an automatic weapon, but as an engineer, any machine that operates itself is by definition automatic. Any weapon that reloads itself is automatic.
  • Automatic weapons will not be authorized for hunting.
  • Guns being transported must be locked up. We had these laws in Texas for years. You’re going hunting? You need to keep your weapons in the trunk of the car until you get where you’re going.
  • It will be illegal to transfer a gun from one person’s ownership to another’s without a proper background check.
  • It will be illegal to lend a gun to somebody who does not have the right to possess a gun.
  • Violation of gun laws will result in the forfeiture of the right of ownership for life.
  • Pistols will be regarded as exceptional weapons, requiring additional restrictions for ownership.

Good, sensible gun advocates like to remind me that no gun law will prevent gun violence. Of course. No piece of paper will keep a bad guy from having a gun. Of course. What the piece of paper does accomplish is to give police the authorization to seize a weapon and even arrest a person. Without the “piece of paper” the police have to stand by until a crime has been committed or is about to happen. There is a case in point.

This is from news reports. People reported a man on the street carrying a gun. Police did not respond. Without probable cause the police could not stop the man and interfere with his going about his business. After the man killed two people the police were able to respond. Here is a case:

Case study: the Neenah stop. Recently in Neenah, WI, a woman called the police to report a man with a gun strapped to his back walking down the street. The call was placed to the non-emergency police number and the caller didn’t report that the man was doing anything threatening, but she did suggest that the police check on the situation. As a result, an officer stopped the man and his companion. The officer engaged in a protracted dialogue with the man, at one point telling the man that he would be shot in the head if he made any furtive movements. Other officers also responded, and at least one drew her weapon. The man who was stopped remained calm throughout the interaction and was eventually permitted to depart. The full 18-minute video of the stop is here. A local news article about the stop is here. It has generated quite a bit of controversy. Were the officer’s actions lawful and justified by public safety concerns? Or was it an unjustified response to lawful open carry? This post breaks down the legal issues.

Here is another:

As I first reported late Monday, questions are hanging over how the Colorado Springs Police Department handled a 911 call on Saturday morning, when a resident saw a man carrying a rifle on her residential block prior to a deadly gun rampage. The caller, Naomi Bettis, was alarmed about 33-year-old Noah Harpham—who soon went on to shoot three people to death in the area before being killed by police. But when Bettis made the 911 call, her first of two, the police dispatcher apparently reacted without urgency, telling Bettis about Colorado’s law allowing firearms to be carried openly in public. Bettis hung up, and when she called back it was because the killing was underway.

Yes, I’m thinking we’ve had about enough of this business. It’s time to get real.

Friday Funny

One of a series

So, why am I showing this image of a brown (?) Probe? Maybe it has to do with today’s funny headline:

Kenyan Judge Says Anal Probes Are a Legal Way to Determine if Someone is Gay

In Kenya, a nation where sodomy is a criminal offense, a judge just ruled that anal probes are a legal way to determine someone’s sexual orientation.

And that’s funny.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks. Just keep on moving.

Fox6now.com

Fox6now.com

You never know when you’re going to need one. For example, suppose you’re driving down Highway 175 in Wisconsin, and you’ve got your kid in the back seat. What are you going to do if an ISIS terrorist yanks open the passenger side door and gets in, threating to kill you and the kid. Remember, this is a terrorist who got into this country because Islamic President Barack Obama instructed the CIA to look the other way when these guys cross the bridge into Texas at Laredo.

Well, if your’e prepared, you have already taken care of such an eventuality. You have your trusty handgun with you, safely out of the way in the back seat so the kid can keep and eye on it and flip it to you the instant the ISIS terrorist makes a play to get into the car.

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office says witness accounts indicate a child in the back seat of a vehicle in the southbound lanes of Highway 175 on Tuesday morning, April 26th, got hold of a gun and discharged the firearm. That sent a single bullet into the driver’s back.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene around 10:30 a.m. They found a 26-year-old woman had suffered a gunshot wound. She was did not have a pulse and was not breathing.

Deputies began CPR until the Milwaukee Fire Department arrived on the scene. However, the woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

Remember, the United States Constitution gives you the inalienable right to have this weapon for your protection, or even on a whim. So, how’s that working out?