All posts by Animal

Rule Five Failed Coup Friday

This came out almost a week ago over at Human Events, but I needed a few days to digest it before commenting.  Excerpt:

This is a story about a legal chess match played for the highest stakes imaginable: Trump’s Presidency – and whether it would be under the cloud of an endless special counsel investigation – hinged on the result.

John Dowd, Ty Cobb, Jay Sekulow, and the rest of President Trump’s personal legal team were on one side. Mueller, Andrew Weissmann, and the Special Counsel’s office were on the other.

The dispute was a year-long struggle over the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2).

No judge ever ruled on who was right about the meaning of this obstruction statute. No formal decision was ever rendered.

All the same, Trump’s legal team prevailed on February 14, 2019.

That’s the day William Pelham Barr was confirmed as United States Attorney General.

FRAMING THE DISPUTE

So why, exactly, was the interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) so contested?

Let’s start by looking the statute, excerpted here:

(c) Whoever corruptly—

(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or

(2) otherwise obstructs, influences or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so [is guilty of the crime of obstruction]. (Emphasis added).

Why was this so important to Mueller? Because most of the obstruction statutes couldn’t possibly apply to President Trump’s behavior, as they require that a defendant obstruct a “pending proceeding” before an agency or tribunal.

It is settled law that an FBI investigation does not constitute such a proceeding. But § 1512(c) applies to acts of obstruction done with the intent of impairing evidence for a future, potential proceeding. That made it potentially usable against the President.

Second – the language of subsection (c)(2), read in isolation, is *very* broad. Removing subsection (1), it reads like this:

“Whoever corruptly… obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so [is guilty of the crime of obstruction].”

If taken to its extreme, it could be read to cover any act – no matter how lawful – that has the effect of impeding a federal investigation. That would include, for example, asking an FBI director to lay off an investigation, or firing an FBI director. The Mueller Report revealed that Mueller interpreted § 1512(c)(2) in just such a broad fashion.

Please do read the whole thing, and as I did, take some time to digest it.  This analysis is well worth bending a few neurons over.  Go on, read it right now – I’ll wait right here.

All done?  OK, let’s go on.

What this article points out, to my thinking, is how narrowly we avoided a legal coup d’état intended to remove a duly elected, sitting President.  This wasn’t Watergate, after all, where there was an unambiguous, unmistakable cover-up after which President Nixon’s own party told him he had to resign.  This was an utterly partisan exercise intended to undo the 2016 Presidential election, which many in the Imperial City establishment felt hadn’t gone the way it was “supposed” to go.

Here’s the conclusion:

When the June 2018 Barr memorandum became public in December, many Democrats tried to weaponize it against him. But because Barr’s memo was specific to a particular statute, and was perfectly defensible legal analysis, it was hard for the Democrats to get any traction.

In hindsight, however, it’s clear that Barr was the assassin Democrats feared.

Within six weeks of his confirmation, the Mueller probe was over.

When Mueller equivocated on obstruction in his report, Barr affirmatively determined that there was no viable obstruction charge.  In a twist, Barr didn’t rely on a narrow reading of § 1512(c)(2); instead, he exploited the malleability of Mueller’s theory and determined that Trump lacked the requisite intent to commit obstruction.

At the same time, he made clear during the press conference that he didn’t agree with Mueller’s legal theories; one has to suspect he was referring to the debate over § 1512(c)(2).

In any event, Mueller and Weissman had lost the chess match. Trump and his team had won.

No Collusion. No Obstruction. No more Mueller Investigation.

Checkmate.

Indeed.  But here’s my worry:  Corruption in government only grows.  It is the nature of government to grow ever more intrusive, ever more corrupt, and it is in the nature of those in power to seek to retain that power.  And it’s also increasingly obvious that the real power in the Imperial City is not in the hands of the elected officials with their increasingly-unhinged kabuki posturings, but in the bureaucrats that work behind the scenes.

The Mueller investigation has laid that bare, but the question remains, so what?  What can be done about it?  This swamp won’t be so easily drained; I’m worried that we may well already be past the point of no return.

Animal’s Daily About Damn Time News

New Army Service Uniforms! (Image from article)

So, finally, long after my time in Uncle Sam’s colors, the U.S. Army is finally going back to a uniform that doesn’t make you look like a traffic cop or… ugh…  a sailor.  (Just kidding, all you present and veteran squids out there.)  Excerpt:

The United States Army wanted a spiffy new service uniform, one that would stand out in a tough recruiting environment and polish the Army’s image after a generation of grinding and divisive wars.

So it turned the clock back. Way back.

It chose a new uniform that looks almost exactly like the old green gabardine wool field coat and khaki trousers that officers wore in World War II. Probably not by coincidence, that’s what the Army was wearing the last time the nation celebrated total victory in a major war.

“We went back and asked, when is the most prominent time when the Army’s service to our nation was universally recognized, and the answer came very quickly,” said Daniel A. Dailey, the sergeant major of the Army, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier in the service. “That victory, that impact on the nation, is still felt today by the sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters of the ‘Greatest Generation.’”

And:

The Old Man in 1945, his 1911 at his side.

Army Greens will be the military equivalent of a business suit, which the Army largely stopped using during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just as civilians have been dressing more casually in professional and social settings, troops have been wearing camouflage fatigues in situations that used to call for a jacket and tie, like office work or travel between bases. Even in the Pentagon, officers spend a good deal of their time in combat boots.

With far fewer troops deployed in combat operations now, though, the Army has signaled that it wants to get back to the old spit and polish. It is hoping that reintroducing an iconic service uniform from the days of the Band of Brothers and Rosie the Riveter will help reframe its public image.

This does have the distinct look of the WW2 uniforms, although the difference between officer and enlisted uniforms will be less pronounced, it appears.  Dad used to comment that in the Forties, you could tell an officer from an enlisted man from across the parade ground; not a good thing in combat, but possibly handy in garrison.

Honestly, though, I like the return to a bit of spit and polish.  It’s part of the soldier’s discipline to keep one’s self strack; back in my Cold War days, when in garrison, we took a great deal of pride in looking high-speed, low-drag, with pressed OD’s/BDUs, spit-shined boots and blocked caps.  And boy howdy, the yarns you’d hear spun in those late-night boot-shining parties.

A soldier should look soldierly.  You’re representing the entire U.S. Army when you wear that uniform, and more than that, you’re representing your country.  You should wear the uniform with pride.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

HOLY CRAP!  That notorious right-wing rag, the New York Times, has taken the official editorial position that there is, in fact, a crisis at our southern border.  The article still argues against a border barrier and takes some cheap shots at President Trump but the underlying message is still yes, we need to do something.  Excerpt:

President Trump is right: There is a crisis at the southern border. Just not the one he rants about…But as record numbers of Central American families flee violence and poverty in their homelands, they are overwhelming United States border systems, fueling a humanitarian crisis of overcrowding, disease and chaos. The Border Patrol is now averaging 1,200 daily arrests, with many migrants arriving exhausted and sick…On Wednesday, the White House sent Congress a request for $4.5 billion in emergency funding to help manage the surge. In a letter to lawmakers, the acting director of the White House’s budget office, Russell Vought, sought to convey the scope of the challenge. “In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered more than 76,000 illegal border crossers and inadmissible aliens, and in March that number exceeded 100,000 — the highest monthly level in more than a decade,” Mr. Vought wrote. He described what he said were “alarming numbers” of women and children jammed into Border Patrol stations never intended as long-term shelters.

Funding for vital services is not expected to last through the fiscal year, Mr. Vought said. Most urgently, the program that deals with unaccompanied minors is expected to run dry next month, requiring resources to be diverted from other programs and leading to a further deterioration in conditions…Nearly three-quarters of the funds, $3.3 billion, would be earmarked for humanitarian needs, with much of it flowing to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency responsible for unaccompanied minors. None of the money would go toward Mr. Trump’s border wall. Several hundred million dollars would, however, go toward shoring up border security operations, including increasing the number of detention beds overseen by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. This, for Democrats, is a nonstarter…The Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey of New York, said that the administration was seeking billions of dollars to “double down on cruel and ill-conceived policies” and bail out ICE for locking up more migrant families than it could humanely accommodate. But until better policies are in place, Democrats need to find a way to provide money for adequate shelter.

Now, in for a penny, in for a pound, as the saying goes; you can’t fix this problem without improving border security.  Long stretches of our southern border as simply wide open; other long stretches are sealed only by vehicle barriers that pose no impediment to pilgrims on foot.

Now, the Times does make one valid point, and that is what I will call the “assault weapon effect.”  No, this doesn’t involve shooting at people.  In another article, the Times also points out:

Yet, perversely, the president’s own anti-immigrant rhetoric has helped supercharge the pipeline of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Smugglers lately have been buying radio ads in Central America, warning that Mr. Trump is about to shut down all immigration. If you ever want to go to the United States, they say, go now!

Well Armed.

Remember what happened to AR-15 prices when President Obama was in office and a Democrat Congress was RRHEEEEEing about “assault weapons?”  Prices on those rifles shot up and sales still set records.  Well, the same thing is happening here; plenty of folks in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have decided to git while the gittin’s good.

And, for now, they’re succeeding, because our border control system is ineffective, our facilities are overwhelmed, and Congress refuses to act.

This will be the campaign issue of the 2020 election.  And President Trump holds the winning cards here.

Animal’s Daily Daffy Uncle Joe News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson is pretty sure kooky old Uncle Joe Biden won’t land the Dem’s Presidential nomination for 2020.  Excerpt:

But the real reason why Biden won’t get the nomination is that he and his family are corrupt, enriching themselves courtesy of foreign governments. Normally, that would not be a problem for a Democrat because the dominant mainstream media is not interested in scandals affecting powerful Democrats. But with 22 Democrats running for president, some of them with MSM allies, and with grave doubts about Biden’s ability to defeat Trump (their overriding goal), these scandals will not be suppressed. Especially because they involve collusion with a foreign power.

Vanity Fair and the New York Times, which are nobody’s idea of right wing publications, are onto the story of Biden helping his son make a huge fortune via deals with China. Breitbart summarizes:

A $1.5 billion sweetheart deal Hunter Biden’s private equity firm secured from the state-owned Bank of China is “looming on the horizon” as a potential line of attack against his father’s 2020 presidential campaign, according to Vanity Fair’s Tina Nguyen.

This comes days after a New York Times article renewed interest in the revelations exposed in Peter Schweizer’s 2018 bestseller Secret Empires concerning the sweetheart deals Hunter Biden’s private equity firm secured while his father, Joe Biden, was vice president.

One is tempted to ask “since when is blatant and overweening corruption a dis-qualifier for a Presidential candidate?”  We could (let’s say it very softly) point out a certain Presidential spouse who was certainly involved in all sorts of shenanigans, and never faced any sort of music for it – not even a brief, whistled tune.

But that candidate and his spouse, who ended up being revealed as some of the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figures since Huey Long, were not facing today’s clown car of a Democrat primary field.

Joe Biden’s corruption may not have caused him problems when he first thought about the Presidency in 1988.  But today?  Not only is Uncle Joe too old and too white, he’s not nearly far enough to the left to gain the Dem nod, not the way that party has lurched in the last few years.  He’s framing himself as the rational moderate, but a plurality – maybe a slight majority – of Democrat primary voters will want a Bernie-style progressive.  And the progressive candidates will hand Joe Biden’s backdoor deals and nepotism around his neck like an anvil in the primary season.

Daffy old Uncle Joe came out of the gate strong.  But so did Rudy Giuliani and Job Bush.  Joe will probably suffer the same fate they did.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five linkery!

Programming note:  This coming weekend Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. will be on the road to see one of our daughters graduate college, so Monday May 13 and Tuesday May 14 will be fulsome totty placeholder posts while our family is celebrating this milestone.  Meanwhile, for today, let’s look at some tidbits from the morning news crawl.

DNA-based AI robots may be frighteningly close to alive.  Color me skeptical.  Life is tremendously complex and almost impossible to simulate; even the simplest life on this planet is the result of four and a half billion years of a drunkard’s walk through a chaotic and endless changing environment.  I’m not overly worried about accidentally producing that in the lab.

Ticket prices plunge for Her Imperial Majesty and the Prince Consort’s speaking tour.  This is a pretty good indication that even the Democrats wish that the Clintons would just please, finally, shut up and go away.

Welcome to the new Cold War, same as the old Cold War.  Between this, Russia’s meddling in Nicaragua, and China’s meddling elsewhere, it seems the Monroe Doctrine is well and truly dead.

Welcome to the new crazy, same as the old crazy.  I’m all in favor of the ‘whatever floats your boat’ theory of living, but this really strikes me as being a little self-obsessed.  Oh well.

A silicon factory blows up in Illinois.  Purveyors of fake boobs hardest hit.  (I prefer the natural kind, myself.)

Speaking of crazy… Seriously, what’s wrong with these people?

And on that note, we return you to your Monday, already in progress.

Rule Five Wealth Tax Friday

Fauxcohantas Warren is proposing a wealth tax to pay for all the Free Shit she proposes to hand out in the unlikely event she becomes President Imperator.  Here’s the problem:  She can’t. It’s unconstitutional..  Excerpt:

Whenever Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is asked how she’ll fund “free” college tuition and her many other promised goodies, she has a ready answer: a tax. Specifically, she wants the federal government to impose a 2 percent annual tax on accumulated wealth in excess of $50 million.

This is hardly a new idea. Of the 14 wealthy OECD countries with a wealth tax in 1996, 10 have since then abandoned it. With good reason: this wealth tax is economically destructive.

Even if it weren’t, a pure wealth or asset tax would be unconstitutional. Even CNN, in its fact-checking of Warren’s tax, couldn’t ignore this, noting “there are several procedural problems with the proposal, including its legality.”

Here’s why. States have a general “police power”— that is, a general authority to enact laws regulating private conduct—but Congress does not. Congress has only the specific legislative authority that the Constitution grants it, and the three relevant provisions do not authorize Congress to adopt a wealth or asset tax.

Article 1, Section 9, permits Congress to impose direct taxes on individuals if they are equally apportioned along with excise taxes and duties. The 16th Amendment permits Congress to adopt an income tax. That amendment is important because the Supreme Court had ruled that Congress previously lacked the Article I power to adopt an income tax.

Finally, Article 1, Section 8, permits Congress to adopt indirect taxes in the form of excise taxes on specific goods or transactions. Supreme Court precedent (see Knowlton v. Moore) explains that the estate tax is one such permissible indirect tax, because it is a duty imposed on a transfer of property predicated by death.

Bear in mind that the fact that a proposal is forbidden by the Constitution doesn’t stop politicians from touting this form of stupidity; Congress and the Executive Branch in particular have been using the Constitution as asswipe since about 1860.

But Liawatha’s proposal is especially egregious in its stupidity, not only for legal reasons but also moral and economic reasons.  The moral reasons are simple; a wealth tax, like any tax, is theft perpetrated by government, wherein government confiscates a portion of the citizenry’s wealth by force.  (If you don’t believe that, try not paying your taxes and see how long it takes the government to send men with guns out looking for you.)

And, as the lined article notes, several nations who have adopted wealth taxes have abandoned them due to the economic damage they caused.  Followers of the purveyors of envy like Chief Spreading Bull Warren seem to think that the wealthy keep their money in giant Scrooge McDuckian vaults so they can swim in gold coins; this is a canard.  The wealthy by and large have their assets out in the economy, invested in new ventures, funding new enterprises, new equipment, new facilities, new technologies.  That brings economic growth; that creates jobs.

Liawatha would damage all that in the name of handing out Free Shit.  That’s way to the left of stupid.

Animal’s Daily Mexican Standoff News

In case you’re one of the three people in North America who hasn’t noticed, Mexico is a real mess.  Excerpt:

More than 135,000 people have been killed since 2012. More than 1,300 clandestine graves have turned up since 2007. More than 37,000 people are reported missing. More than 600 soldiers have been killed in the drug war. At least 130 politicians and nine journalists were killed preceding the elections in July. And the violence is indeed spreading. Murder rates have risen in 26 of the country’s 32 states. In 2014, 152 municipalities accounting for 43 percent of Mexico’s population reported at least one execution-style murder per month; in 2017, the number grew to 262 municipalities and 57 percent of the population. Villages have become worse than cities: 40 percent of the population lives outside metropolitan areas but suffers 48 percent of homicides.

Most killings remain tied to the drug wars, but a growing share comes from robbery, assault, extortion, and kidnapping. “Mexico is no longer a world of cartels and capos,” says Alejandro Hope, a security specialist based near Mexico City. Organized crime networks control territory to varying degrees in 19 states and the capital, but much less of their profits comes from the U.S. drug market, which has become more competitive. The biggest new business is stealing oil from the state-owned energy company, Pemex. Mexico has the largest, most efficient black-market fuel-distribution network in the world, Hope says. In Puebla, reported thefts from pipelines spiked from 15 in 2000 to 1,533 in 2016. Guanajuato—emblematic of the good and bad Mexico—ranks third among states in job creation, thanks to its auto industry, and first in homicides, due to murders tied to fuel thefts from refineries.

Train robberies and carjackings are more frequent. Robbery of cargo trucks has jumped 180 percent in two years. Coca-Cola and Pepsi refuse to send delivery trucks into parts of Acapulco because so many have wound up stolen and burned. The rate of reported house robberies reached an all-time high of 179.4 per 100,000 homes in 2017. More than 80,000 people were reported kidnapped. Some 5,000 children have been abducted between 2007 and 2018, 40 percent from the states of Puebla and Mexico, where human-trafficking bands are known to operate.

Read the entire article, as it’s an eloquent examination of events and possible causes of the failed narco-state on our southern border.

And honestly, anyone who thinks we don’t need to completely control our southern border needs to take a good hard look at this; in fact, they should have their damn noses rubbed in it.  It’s not only likely that this crap could spill over our border, violence and corruption already is; one of the most horrific examples is the rise of MS-13 in our borders, and while their origins aren’t in Mexico, almost all of them transit Mexico on the way here.  And if you think that Mexican criminal organizations won’t eventually start to look harder at their wealthy northern neighbor, you’re probably drinking too much of your bong water.

But note the line above:  “…but much less of their profits comes from the U.S. drug market, which has become more competitive.”  It would be interesting to know some of the metrics here, which are not presented in this article.  Specifically; how much has the ongoing trend of marijuana legalization affected these profits?

I don’t know the answer to that.  And, to be honest, while I’ve long been a critic of the War on Drugs, I don’t think that our changes in drug policy are going to help Mexico all that much; they have systemic issues that go beyond that.  The Mexican criminal gangs will just turn to other malpractices if completely deprived of drug income, and you can see some examples in the article; kidnapping, robbery, theft, hijacking.

While this is a problem Mexico needs to address, it’s a significant issue that speaks to our inadequate border security.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Remember when the idea of a university requiring a loyalty oath would have been abhorrent to… well, almost everyone?  Well, not any more.  Excerpt:

The University of California has published a loving, celebratory  timeline describing the reaction among faculty and the ultimate repeal of the loyalty oath.  Loyalty oaths were very, very bad, back then.

But loyalty oaths are back again, and this time, according to the progressive deep thinkers, they are good. Because it is not loyalty to the United States, but rather loyalty to the ideology of “diversity” that is being demanded. Christian Schneider writes in the New York Post:

Consider the University of California, Los Angeles. To be considered for tenure-track positions, applicants are required to write a full statement outlining their commitment to diversity. According to UCLA guidelines, the extent to which a professor promotes equity, diversity and inclusion is a key factor in making progress on the tenure track.

Promoting these ideals “is inseparable from how the University of California conceives of ‘merit,’ ” the school says. UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley all require similar diversity statements.

I cannot interpret this as anything other than an elevation of loyalty to the same or higher level than merit in making decisions about faculty careers. “Diversity” as an ideology requires subordinating excellence to identity group status in making decisions about a person’s fate. This is why Asian-American organizations are suing Harvard.

China, under Mao Tse-tung, faced exactly this question, phrased at the time as “Red vs. expert.” In the Cultural Revolution, it was decreed that “Red” – meaning ideological loyalty to Mao’s Little Red Book – was more important than expertise, in other words, actual professional competence, in appointing officials to be in charge of important public matters.

My initial reaction to this is simply “fuck off, slavers” but the very fact that this is happening should be horrifying to anyone with any capacity for independent thought, which is apparently no longer a requirement for tenure-track positions at UCLA.

One of the worst things about this particular species of idiocy is the shallow falseness of their commitment to “diversity.”  What UCLA is looking for is not “diversity” in any meaningful sense; the very concept of a loyalty oath illustrates that very plainly.  They are looking for diversity in melanin content and sexual preference, but what they absolutely will not tolerate under any circumstances is the one thing a university should take great pains to provide:  Intellectual diversity.

No instructor with any self-awareness should accept this requirement.  No professor worthy of the title should take this oath.  “Go to hell” is the only appropriate response to such a demand.

Animal’s Daily World’s Most Expensive Fish News

Not a salmon, but what the hell.

Check out my latest over at Glibertarians; this is the first in a series on the history of bolt guns.  Also, our thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links!

Moving right along, ever-more-loony Californey has produced the world’s most expensive fish, at (minimum) $178 million per fish.  Excerpt:

Threatened Central Valley Chinook adult salmon have returned and spawned to the San Joaquin River!

For some, it’s proof they have been able to avoid predators and multi-billion dollar infrastructure that keeps millions of humans alive.

It has been nearly 65 years since the species has spawned in the San Joaquin. And the news this week follows major political and environmental action.

After being released in 2017, the salmon made it hundreds of miles to the Pacific Ocean, and have found their way back to the San Joaquin River.

The total yield from the Bureau of Reclamation: five so far. One died, but for the sake of argument, I’ll call it five.

There are more to critical issues than a feel-good attitude just because it’s nice to see threatened salmon in the San Joaquin River.

It can’t be overstated the cost and effort it took to make this happen.

Here’s a recap of that effort:

Taking the conservative cost estimate, each of the five fish caught cost taxpayers and water users $178,000,000.

And each of those fish needed 50,000 acre-feet of water per year.

I won’t even stress the cost of pumping, aquifer consequences, fallowed land, and – lest we forget – lost jobs. Many politicians aren’t either.

H.L. Mencken famously said that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”  While the United States is not a democracy but rather a Constitutional Republic, California increasingly practices direct democracy with their initiative program; but the cause of this kind of lunacy is something else, specifically, the California Democratic Party’s re-jiggering of the election system to ensure one-party rule for eternity.

This is just one example of what happens when you have one-party rule.  In a state where there is an effective political opposition,  these types of shenanigans would at least be more difficult to pull off; at the very least, the opposition party would be able to run on a platform of defunding lunacy and have a chance of winning.

Not so under California’s jungle primary system, which frequently results in a general election where both candidates are Democrats.  From the shit-stained streets of San Francisco to the nine-figure fish of the San Joaquin River, the once and former Golden State’s voters are reaping what they sow.  Mencken has been proved right.