President Donald Trump may or may not get the funding he wants for The Wall, but, he has taken a major leap forward against illegal aliens of another sort.
On Tuesday Dec.18, Trump signed a memo that officially established a US Space Command, which is seen as the first step toward the “Space Force” that the President has envisioned as the sixth branch of the U.S. Military. The news was announced by Vice President Mike Pence during a speech Tuesday morning at the SpaceX Rocket Launch event in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
“Under his leadership the United States is taking steps to ensure that American national security is as dominant in space as it is here on Earth,” Pence said. “It is my privilege to announce that today, President Trump will direct the Department of Defense to establish a combatant command that will oversee all our military activities in space.”
Pence added; “The U.S. Space Command will integrate space capabilities across all branches of the military. It will develop the space doctrine tactics, techniques and procedures that will enable our war fighters to defend our nation in this new era.”
Officially called the United States Space Command, the new command will fall short of becoming a new branch of the armed services – or “Space Force” as Trump has said previously – but Pence noted in his remarks on Tuesday that Trump is expected to sign a policy directive soon laying out plans and a timeline to make the “Space Force” the sixth branch of the military.
There was a U.S. Space Command that had existed in this same capacity from 1982 to 2002. After the 9/11 attacks, it was moved under U.S. Strategic Command, which is responsible for all of the U.S. military’s nuclear weapons.
According to Fox News, the new command, makes it once again a separate entity, and raises its profile, putting it on par with the current combatant commands such as U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), responsible for U.S. forces in the Middle East and Afghanistan and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
Threats From Space
All conspiracy theories and kidding aside about Hollywood style alien invasions, the Department of Defense readily agrees that the U.S. faces significant threats from space. Not from little green men, but from satellite killers and other space-based weapons of our earthbound adversaries. Even before the memorandum, the Pentagon has been pushing programs such as anti-satellite weapons, missile detection capability and space-based solar power to counter mounting space threats from Russia and China.
Still others argue that a “Space Force” is needed to counter the danger of the tons of space debris that is floating around the Earth in continually decaying orbits. Not to mention the real threat of an asteroid impact, similar to the one that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Who knows, once created, a Space Force, may indeed “boldly go where no man has gone before.” However, for now, whatever their ultimate mission, experts tend to agree that a “Space Force” won’t be something that will be patrolling the final frontier anytime during Trump’s current presidential term.
“This is something that is going to take a long time to get running, three to five years if things run smoothly and this actually gets through Congress,” John Crassidis, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Buffalo, told Fox News.
The left has called former New York Mayor, and current Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani’s recent defense of Trump everything from “idiotic” to “crazy.” But the former prosecutor may just be crazy like a fox.
One thing for sure, is Rudy enjoys the spotlight as much as his boss, and Trump is not likely to find a more loyal, or shrewd supporter anywhere. As shocking as it may be, instead of trying to deny the most recent bombshell allegations that have been hurled against POTUS since the recent court filings in the Cohen and Flynn cases, Rudy, in his usual acerbic style, denies nothing. He casually admits that Trump probably did do the things he is accused of in respect to payments to women he allegedly had affairs with. He may have even lied about those events, but in the end none of that matters, because according to Rudy, “no crimes have been committed” by Trump.
He also says that as regards to Trump now being clearly caught in lies about the incidents, that he should be forgiven about not remembering properly, because he was “very busy at the time,” referring to the heart of the 2016 presidential campaign.
Are such statements by Rudy more harmful than helpful to Trump as some suggest, blissfully ignorant about how serious the charges against Trump are, or could become — or are they a brilliant strategy by master manipulator of public opinion?
Donald Trump’s Jury Is the Public
As a former tough on crime prosecutor in the very district in southern New York where the Cohen and Flynn cases are being argued, Giuliani knows full-well that a typical defense lawyer’s stance is to admit nothing, especially in public. Rudy has seemed to go the opposite way, and instead admit everything, and deny nothing.
As far as the hush money payments — speaking on the Sunday Dec. 15 airing of ABC’s This Week, Giuliani said, “sure that happened.” But he qualified it by dismissively adding that “paying $130,000 to Stormy whatever and paying [$150,000] to the other one is not a crime.” And anyway, he said, those paltry settlement sums show that the women were just looking for money, “I have been involved in cases like this. When it’s true and you have the kind of money the president had, it’s a $1 million settlement. When it’s a harassment settlement and it’s not true, you give them $130,000, $150,000. They went away for so little money that it indicates their case was very, very weak,” said Giuliani.
As far as the accusations of colluding with the Russians, Rudy also said that, even if it occurred, “collusion is not a crime,” and when confronted with the clear evidence that Trump had been lying about the payments since last November, he told host George Stephanopoulos, “The president’s not under oath. And the president tried to do the best he can to remember what happened back at a time when he was the busiest man in the world.”
Giuliani has said that he believes that since Mr. Trump is essentially having his day in court, in real time, his “jury is the public.”
According to the New York Times, “Those who are close to him say that Giuliani’s calculated and cutthroat approach channels his client, and serves as a tactical attack on the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. Given the Justice Department’s longstanding policy and the view of many legal scholars that a sitting president cannot be indicted, Mr. Giuliani is exercising his lawyerly skills in the court of public opinion to ward against the mutterings of impeachment.”
By that count, while others may think otherwise, Rudy’s strategy seems to be working. He told the Times, “Mueller is now slightly more distrusted than trusted, and Trump is a little ahead of the game. So I think we’ve done really well, and my client’s happy.”
The populist right and left have united across Europe in a massive revolt against the corrupt neoliberal world order.
Working class Europeans of every political persuasion and age are in revolt. From France to Sweden, the U.K. to Germany, Belgium to the Netherlands, everyday people are taking to the streets to voice their discontent with the present neoliberal system – a corrupt system which has failed them. Similar protests have surfaced in Greece, Serbia, Croatia and to a lesser extent Hungary.
You may be asking yourself just how the present system has failed ordinary people. The better question, and the question you should be asking, however, is how has the current system not failed ordinary people.
Let us begin in France, at the epicenter of this populist revolt against the static,out-of-touch, plutocratic, pro-globalization, pro-EU, banking, media and political elite. Five weeks ago, on November 17th, a hike in fuel taxes served as the catalyst which initially sparked what’s being called ‘Mouvement des gilents jaunes’ or the Yellow Vest Movement. This was the last straw for the tired, overworked, overtaxed, and struggling French working and middle classes.
In the five weeks since the initial protest,Macron, in an effort to quell the month-long revolt, suspended the proposed fuel tax hike, and announced increases in the minimum wage and a tax cut for most pensioners. Despite these concessions, today, thousands of Yellow Vest protestors, old and young, are still out protesting.
So, what exactly are they calling for?
Until just recently, the demands of the Yellow Vest Movement were not entirely clear. That changed three days ago when the Official Charter of the Yellow Vests: 25 Demands to End the Crisis was drafted. The 25 demands are organized into four categories: Economy/Work, Politics, Health and Environment, and Geopolitical.
Among the demands include ending banking monopolies and breaking up ‘too big to fail’ banks, leaving the European Union (Frexit), ending mass immigration, removing globalist ideology from all national educational institutions, breaking up media monopolies, weakening Big Pharma’s influence on healthcare, and banning GMOs.
Alain De Benoist, a prominent French philosopher, academic and political intellectual has described the Yellow Vest Movement as ‘populism in its purest form’. The symbol of the yellow vest embodies this expression of pure populism. But how?
In France, it is obligatory to carry a yellow vest in your car, so practically everyone owns one. There is perhaps no better uniform or article of clothing that can be used to symbolize the worker or proletariat, and thus the populist movement. Think about it. Who are the ones building our bridges,buildings and skyscrapers? Who are the ones fixing the roads we drive on? What about firefighters, airport workers or those who are fixing our telephone and electricity lines? Every one of these essential workers wears a high visibility yellow vest.
And just how have these essential yellow vest worn workers been treated by the ruling neoliberal globalist elite? Aside from being left behind economically, many have been written off as uneducated rednecks, racists,bigots, sexists, homophobic and deplorable. In truth, the neoliberal globalist elite, or the ‘new elite’, absolutely detest those who fall into this sector of society.
Russian philosopher,academic and political analyst, Aleksandr Dugin, echoes this sentiment. He writes, “According to these ‘new elites’, the people and society, in their current state, have no place in this world. Therefore, the typical representative of the ‘new elite’ Hillary Clinton, upset by the success of the right-wing populist Trump, openly insulted ordinary Americans – deplorable, which in meaning means “insignificance.” ‘Deplorable’ have chosen Trump – not because they loved him, but to respond to the ‘globalist witch’ Clinton. The populism of the “yellow vests” – can be viewed as a retaliatory uprising of the people against the elites, who have completely lost their connection with society. The elites have built their own world in which double standards, norms of political correctness, liberal demagogy reign.”
Without a doubt, the concerns which lie at the heart of the yellow vest protests transcend national boundaries. The yellow vests are now being used across Europe to symbolize the people’s discontent with the out-of-touch, corrupt, metropolitan elite. It’s no surprise that similar protests have sprung up all over Europe.
Last week, in London, thousands of pro-Brexit protestors in yellow vests took to the street to express their dissatisfaction with their Prime Minister,Theresa May’s attempt to sabotage the Brexit deal. As it stands, the current ‘Brexit deal’ would mean Britain would remain in the single market and customs union. The country would also be required to obey all current and new EU laws, comply with budget commitments and comply with ECJ judicial oversight. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the current deal would allow the continuation of free movement from other EU states into the country – something Britons clearly do not want. In short, May’s Brexit deal goes against everything Britons voted for in 2016.
Yellow Vest protests have also been seen in Stockholm, Sweden, where demonstrators gathered to peacefully protest the U.N. Migration Pact.
In Brussels, Belgium large amounts of yellow vest demonstrators gathered voice their discontent with current living conditions as well as the U.N. Migration Pact. Protestors have called for the resignation of the Prime Minister. Belgians pay the highest state taxes on diesel in the whole of Europe. Following Belgian yellow vest protestors taking to the streets, Belgian ministers announced fuel prices would not be index-linked from 2019. Despite this concession, and as they did in France, protests have continued.
Although substantially smaller in scope, the cities of Rotterdam and The Hague, in the Netherlands, have also seen yellow vest protests spring up over general dissatisfaction toward the governments’ economic measures. People are simply struggling each month to make ends meet.
On Friday, the 15th of December, thousands of protest took to the streets of the Serbian capital of Belgrade to call for resignation of President Aleksandar Vucic. A substantial contingent of protestors were seen wearing yellow vests.
In the last few days, protests in the Hungarian capital of Budapest erupted over newly enacted labor laws that would allow employers to demand up to 400 hours of overtime from workers. Having been present at the demonstrations in Budapest, I can say that the political complexion of the mass of people protesting did not show much resemblance to protests in France, Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands. I only saw but a few demonstrators wearing yellow vests. Furthermore, and unlike the yellow vest protests in Western Europe, the aura of the protests in Hungary was seemingly more left wing, pro-EU,and pro-globalization.
Croatia and Canada have also seen there own smaller yellow vest demonstrations pop up in metropolitan areas.
While it is true that the people from different European nations were originally drawn to the streets for slightly different reasons, there does seem to be a common undercurrent that is driving the majority of these demonstrations – namely discontent over globalist neoliberal policies and governments.
Can this European Spring, which is only in its infancy, result in any lasting change, and if so, can the same spirit of revolution and change spread to other parts of the world? For more info, please check out Occidental Defense
Every time we come to the brink of yet another federal funding crisis, the potential of a “government shutdown” looms. Like things that go bump in the night, we are aroused to heights of unreasonable anticipation and Draconian fears. Imagine … our armies sitting around the barracks, airport control towers vacant, no social security checks, national parks and monuments closed, no more border security, no one to answer the emergency call buttons at the Veterans’ hospitals and all those thousands of federal office buildings looking like scenes from the apocalyptic television series “Life After People.”
Weeeell, fear not. All these threats of shutting down the government and what will happen is all pure politics – in other words, malarkey. It is Kabuki theater being played out as if it was real.
Placing blame for shutting down the government is more important than actually shutting it down or keeping it running. (And which of those options best serves the public interest is, itself, worthy of debate.) For weeks in advance of the deadline, both sides are hard selling their standard accusations that the other side is at fault. Since it takes two sides to agree or not to agree to keep our federal government operating or not, logic would say it is a shared responsibility.
The public, the media and the politicians need to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys. Therefore, it is the Democrats’ fault for not giving Trump his wall or it is Trump’s fault for wanting it. Both sides are pouting and promising not to give an inch – or in this case, a thousand miles of concrete. Rest assured, there will be a compromise – and then BOTH sides will declare victory.
To make the other side look bad, both sides conjure up visions of the results of a so-called “government shutdown.” So-called? Yes, so-called. That is because the shutdown will not impact all the essential services – not even a day off for those folks.
If you recall … during that shut down under President Obama, he specifically ordered the Washington monuments to be roped off to create an unnecessary photo op and frustrate a lot of tourists. Those monuments would have been accessible had White House not closed them. That is called game playing.
If the government should be shut down, the vast majority of America will not even know the difference. It will only involve “non-essential” workers. And if soooo many people are NOT essential, why do we need them in the first place. Of course, we know that our federal bureaucracy is bloated with a lot of non-essential workers even then the government is in full operation.
If this pending shutdown is like those in the past, there will be a quick resolution – maybe on the eve of the shutdown or within a couple of days afterward. Virtually no one will feel the impact.
So, while all the politicians are posing in front of the cameras and posturing for a political position – warning us of the dreaded shutdown — we the people should just take in a movie. The melodrama on the screen will be much more entertaining than the just-as-fictional drama on the news channels.
So, there ‘tis.
As the Holidays approach, and visions of sugar plum fairies, school breaks and vacations are on everybody’s mind, there are plenty of “hot tickets” to go around. There are Broadway shows like Hamilton, rock concerts like the recently announced Rolling Stones tour, and of course movie tickets to the cinematic blockbusters that tend to be released over the Holidays.
But, one ticket that isn’t exactly selling like hot cakes, is to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s “whirlwind” speaking tour. The first few dates of the tour had dismal sales, and now, according to Fox News, tickets to nine of the remaining dates have showed up on Groupon at “deeply discounted” prices!
According to reports, at the first stop in Toronto there were many noticeably empty seats. The second stop of the tour, scheduled for Houston, had to be delayed due to the death of President H.W. Bush, probably saving the Clinton’s further embarrassment.
Even in deeply blue territory, there does not seem to be much interest in what the Clintons have to say. Some of the deepest discounted ticket sales are offered in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia
A Bargain to Be had?
According to Fox, tickets to the April 11 talk at the Beacon Theatre in New York – normally priced $287 – are going for $145 on Groupon. Tickets to an April 12 Detroit talk, originally listed for $220.70, are going for $95. And tickets in Philadelphia for an April 12 talk have been reduced from $208.20 to $85.
The Groupon deals seem to have worked, and Fox reported that tickets to a May 4 appearance in Inglewood, Calif., that were normally priced $77 and reduced to $35, quickly sold out. Perhaps they were bought up by Santa who wants to leave them for nasty boys and girls instead of lumps of coal!
Third-party ticket sellers have listed “An Evening With the Clintons” tickets for as low as $7.
You can’t just chalk it up to democratic apathy. The disinterest in the Clinton tour stands in stark contrast to Michelle Obama’s Becoming book tour, which has sold out venues and drawn the former first lady reams of positive media attention. Ticket packages for Obama’s tour have sold for as much as $3,000.
So why the lack of interest? Perhaps New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, put it best. In her review of “An Evening With the Clintons” she wrote “What is the point? It’s not inspirational. It’s not for charity. They’re not raising awareness about a cause, like Al Gore is with global warming. They’re only raising awareness about the Clintons.”
Despite all of the recent turmoil stemming from the Mueller investigation, current events have not been all bad news for the Trump administration. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has announced that it has formally endorsed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and that the powerful organization will use its influence to help the President to win support for the deal in Congress. At the same time the chamber warned however, that a complete withdrawal from NAFTA, as Trump threatened on the campaign trail, would be a mistake.
In a statement issued on December 10, Tom Donohue, the chamber’s president and CEO, said, “After carefully assessing the new deal and its impact on our members, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has thrown its support behind the USMCA, which is critical to maintaining strong economic growth in the U.S. We will work with the administration and other stakeholders to address a handful of outstanding issues and secure approval of the USMCA in Congress.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions. The chamber has been a pro-business voice in Washington for over 100 years.
When USMCA was first proposed by the Trump administration back in October, the chamber said that it contained “many wins” for all parties concerned, but it did not offer their full endorsement at that time.
The U.S Chamber of Commerce’s Influence
The chamber is among the most powerful business lobbies in the nation. Its significant influence could prove crucial to USMCA’s ratification, by gaining support from business-friendly lawmakers, mainly Republicans, who had some concerns over some of the provisions in the agreement. While Donohue has offered his complete support in helping the President to overcome those objections, he warned against a pullout from NAFTA in order to force a vote on USMCA to replace it. Donohue instead advised that Trump should allow him and the lobbying power of the chamber to sell the deal to the new Congress on its own merits.
The chamber’s statement also called for an immediate repeal of tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico. “These tariffs – imposed on our partners as a negotiating tactic – have invited $15 billion in counter-tariffs on U.S. agricultural and manufactured goods. Every week that the tariffs remain in place, $500 million in U.S. imports and exports are affected, inflicting significant harm on American workers, farmers, and ranchers.”
USMCA was signed by the three countries on November 30, as a kind of add-on to NAFTA. In the words of the chamber, the agreement was designed to “modernize the trade partnership that has formed the basis of North American relations for a quarter of a century.”
While Democrats have cried foul, and have even invoked the “I” word, President Trump says the hush money payments made to women by his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, were nothing more than “simple transactions.”
This was Trump’s reaction to the initial court filings on Friday, December 7th which spelled some trouble for Trump.
When the news of the court filings broke, Democratic U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler told CNN that if the payments are proven to be felony campaign finance violations, that could be grounds for impeachment. “Well, they would be impeachable offenses. Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question,” said Nadler, who will lead the Judiciary Committee when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in January.
However, this was all said before a teary-eyed Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday, December 12, for a “veritable smorgasbord” of crimes that included the hush payments to the two women before the 2016 election. During a plea for mercy in Manhattan federal court, Cohen — who once said that he would “take a bullet for the president” but has since turned on his former boss, and has been cooperating with the Mueller investigation — said his “blind loyalty” to Trump had “led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”
The problem for Trump now lies in that Cohen has not only pled guilty to a crime, but has said under oath that it was with the full knowledge of, and at the behest of then-candidate Trump, who can now be considered an “un-indicted co-conspirator” in a federal crime.
Trump Denies Ordering Cohen to Break the Law
Trump did not respond to questions that were shouted to him during a White House event following Cohen’s sentencing. Since then, however, in his favorite form of communication, the President has tweeted that he never ordered Cohen to break the law.
“I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer, and he is supposed to know the law. It is called ‘advice of counsel,’ and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made,” Trump tweeted.
In the series of tweets, which seem to be setting up Trump’s defense, should he be indicted, Trump wrote, “That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly stated that I did nothing wrong concerning campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance.”
“Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil basis.”
“Those charges were just agreed to by him to embarrass the president and get a much-reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!”
At the crux of the matter, Cohen pleaded guilty to paying porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to stay silent about alleged affairs with Trump, then a candidate for president. According to prosecutors, the payments should have been disclosed as campaign expenditures.
Trump continues to deny that the affairs with Daniels and McDougal ever took place, and argues that the payments to them were not “campaign contributions.”
Legal experts — split along party lines as you might imagine — are divided as to if the Constitution provides that a sitting president can be indicted for a crime, or that if the campaign finance violations represented by the pay-offs rise to the level of criminal offenses.
It is very early in what is likely to be his very long, long tenure on the Supreme Court, but Justice Brett Kavanaugh has already disappointed the conservative community generally – and the pro-life folks specifically. This is particularly noteworthy given how viciously the political left and the feminists (but I repeat myself) excoriated Kavanaugh for his pro-life views.
The issue at hand was whether citizens could take state governments to court for refusing to cover Medicaid medical services of specific providers. Several federal court cases developed out of the decision of Kanas to deny Medicare coverage for services provided by Planned Parenthood. Four federal courts ruled that states could not impose such restrictions and federal courts said they could. That is precisely the kind of situation that virtually compels the Supreme Court to settle the issue.
For the case to be accepted by the High Court, four justices must sign off on the decision to hear the case. The pro-life community had assumed that the Court would take up the case AND decide in favor of the lone lower court judge who decided in favor of states’ right to restrict funding.
The Court failed to get the four necessary signatures, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Kavanaugh joining the four liberals in rejecting the case. The three conservatives – Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Clarence Thomas – signed on to hear the case.
Thomas, who is not one of the Court’s major draftsman, wrote a particularly strong dissent. Though the case rose after several states cut-off Planned Parenthood when it was discovered that the organization was “selling” fetal body parts in violation of the law. Thomas argued that the issue was broader than abortion and dealt with the “private rights of action under the Medicaid Act.”
Thomas strongly criticized his colleagues. He wrote that “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty. If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background.”
The pro-life advocacy group, Americans United for Life (AUL) was disappointed by the decision but expressed optimism that in the future the Court will again take up the issue. AUL President Catherine Glenn Foster said the organization “is disappointed that the Court declined to hear argument in these cases, and we join the dissent in calling on the Court to do its duty.”
Foster noted that “there are other similar cases pending in lower courts, which may give the Supreme Court another opportunity to decide this important issue.”
In looking at Roberts and Kavanaugh, it appears that the progressives may have less to fear from the new “conservative” justices than they feared.
So. There ‘tis.
One of the iconic cartoons – and sometimes even in real life – there is a robed character on a street corner with a sign the reads “The End of the World is Coming.” Of course, both science and logic tell us that he is right.
Usually, that warning is an invitation to repent for some wayward ways or maybe just a solicitation for a few coins. We would be foolish to take him too seriously because we know that his warning has no relevance to our lives.
If we do take such ominous warnings seriously, we might be like the late Reverend Harold Camping, who on two occasions led his followers on a “camping trip” (I could not resist the pun) to the mountain to await the imminent Rapture — the first phase of the world-ending Apocalypse in which the forces of good and evil will face off in worldwide conflagration. According to the theology, the good Christians will be beamed up to the heavenly place while the less worthy will be left behind to suffer from – or conduct — the awful biblical battle. If Camping had read the Bible more closely, he might not have been so quick to predict the hour of judgment. According to Matthew 24:36, “of that day and hour knoweth no man.”
I think of all this whenever some agency … some scientific authority … some politician by the name Al Gore makes yet another “end of the world” prediction. As I have written in the past, I am an agnostic on the meaning of climate change. My unwillingness to embrace the predicted earth-ending calamities is not the denial of scientific empiricism.
It does appear that the earth has warmed up a smidgeon over the past few years. But we are also told by scientists that the earth will again enter ice ages – even to become what it was at one time, “snowball earth.” Yes, our beautiful green planet was once covered in ice and snow from pole to pole – and they say it is going to happen again in a few billion years.
I react to that as I do to the guy on the corner with the sign. They are probably right, but it is so far in the future – and so little, if anything, we can do about it – that the warning is irrelevant.
Of course, the Draconian hyperbolic outcomes predicted for our warming earth are more immediate. We are told that we must … must … act now to save the planet. The existence of humans hangs in the balance. According to the dangerous climate change sign-carriers, we are just decades … nay, years … away from catastrophic events. In fact, the events are upon us already in the form of increasingly severe hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires and sunburns.
We are told that the Camp Fire in California was the most destructive and deadly in history. But … was that because the geological and climate conditions are so different than in the past? OR because we have constructed thousands of homes and other structures in regions where massive forest and brush fires are common? Is the death and destruction from hurricanes because they are inherently more powerful? OR because more people have migrated to the southern seashores?
Since virtually all their deadlined-predications in the past have never come to pass, I am not overly concerned about the latest ones. Al Gore seems to be standing in for Reverend Camping in repeatedly leading us to the mountain of failed prophecy.
Perhaps the earth is in a warming cycle, but I do not believe mankind has the power to impact on that reality to any significant degree – at least not without returning to the Stone Age. So, maybe for a while we will have to not build residences in floodplains or on seashores. Or, accept the consequence. Maybe retaining walls are a better investment than fear-mongering-for-profit campaigns.
Our most prudent plan would be to spend our resources adjusting to the reality of the consequences of a warming cycle than to try to stop it like one might want to stop a speeding train by standing on the track.
Part of my skepticism is also borne out of my own experience with science versing mother nature.
At one time, I owned a home on the shore of Lake Michigan. At the time, the lake was rising and taking down the sand dunes and no few homes. There was only a sliver of a beach – and at times none at all. I was told that it was a climate problem. Lake Michigan would never recede in our lifetimes. We had to fortify our lakefront to save the homes. Many of my neighbors did. I did not.
Weeeeell … much to my pleasant surprise and to the surprise of the scientists and experts, the lake level dropped. The bare bluffs that had collapsed into the lake were again green with bushes and trees. And my beach – from bluff to shoreline — was as wide as a football field. The experts never did – or could – explain why they were so bloody wrong. But I learned that scientists are often only slightly better than crystal ball readers in predicting the future.
In the 1950s, those atomic tests were going to destroy the planet. The nuclear age continued and so did the earth. In the 1960s, the world was to be ravaged by war and starvation due to the imminent “population explosion.” The “explosion” has continued, but the Draconian outcomes did not occur. In the 1980s, scientists predicted that we would be out of fossil fuel by the Twenty-First Century.
And now, we seem to have more than ever – much to the chagrin of the climate catastrophe folks.
My bet is that all those terrible things that are predicted to happen in the next 10 or 20 years if we do not take drastic actions IMMEDIATELY, will not be nearly as bad as they predict and may not happen at all regardless of what we do, or do not do.
So, there ‘tis.
In one of the most memorable scenes from the classic movie Casablanca, Police Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) is ordered to conduct a raid on the nightclub/backroom casino owned by Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) – a casino in which the good inspector, himself, had been gambling. With an expression of mock sincerity on his face, the inspector says, “ I am shocked – SHOCKED — to find that gambling is going on in here!”
Like in our current political melodrama, the raid on the casino was not the result of the rule-of-law — or the gambling joint would have been closed long before. It was an arbitrary political decision based on the political desires of the establishment at that moment. What was once overlooked by the local gendarme, was suddenly recognized as a crime
With Special Counsel Robert Mueller taking up the Louis Renault role, we are told of the shocking news that President Trump may have told a few fibs about his alleged assignation with cinema slut Stephanie Clifford playing in the role of Stormy Daniels — and that these prevarications were crimes against the people. Breaking campaign finance laws, to be specific. We are to be shocked – SHOCKED – by these revelations.
Unlike Casablanca, where the crime of gambling was tangibly evident, the crime of obstruction of justice is much more ethereal – a crime based on the state of the mind. IF, as the President’s critics argue, Trump paid off “the mouth that whored” SOLELY to prevent her from undermining his chances of becoming President, It COULD BE – note, that is “could be” – construed as an illegal campaign contribution.
However … IF the payment was to protect Trump’s general reputation – such as it is – or keep his adultery from his family, then it is not specifically a campaign issue and, therefore, no violation of the campaign laws. And that is even true if the concern about the campaign was, in fact, one of Trump’s reasons. The money must have no other purpose than to support the campaign, or the law does not apply.
There is also the issue of prosecutorial discretion. The same issue can be charged as a technical civil infraction by the Federal Election Commission – which would result in a fine – or a criminal felony. This is just another example that we do not live under the much-proclaimed rule-of-law, but under the arbitrary interpretations of law by prosecutors and judges.
That is why most prosecutors say it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to actually convict Trump on violating campaign laws. Many go further to opine that no prosecutor would even attempt an indictment on that charge based on the inability to prove intent.
There is also the issue of obstruction of justice. The recent court filing by the Special Counsel states that “Individual 1” (obviously Trump) was engage in preliminary talks with Russian business interests through attorney Michael Cohen at a time when candidate Trump said he has no deals with Russia. According to the armchair quarterbacks, in concealing his alleged dealings, Trump was obstructing the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and any possible collusion with his campaign.
In the court-of-public-opinion – ruled over by the lords of the Fourth Estate – accusation, when consistent with preconceived narratives, is equivalent to conviction. In that spirit, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell – whose “Last Word” is never such (sigh) – is prodding Democrats to take up the impeachment of the President. He notes, that no President in history has ever been accused of a federal crime without an ensuing impeachment. In fact, O’Donnell told the Huffington Post that Trump “must be impeached.” I am sure if you asked him, O’Donnell would also endorse having the President “hanged, drawn and quartered.” Among the unhinged Trump haters, there is not even the presumption of a presumption-of-innocence.
And is there even a standard for obstruction of justice – or is it just whatever a prosecutor wants it to be? If Trump saying that he did not have business “deals” with Russians – a word with a wide range of interpretations – is evidence of obstruction of justice, what in God’s name was Bill Clinton’s public statement that he had never “had sex with that woman?” In the days of Clinton, it was widely held that fibbing in public to protect oneself was an understandable sin, but hardly a crime – and certainly not enough to consider removing a President from office.
Despite all the sound and fury surrounding the various Mueller investigations, it is unlikely – based on what we know today – that Trump will be convicted of any of the crimes he is accused of committing. Accusations are the cheapest currency of politics – and even one of those too-easy-to-obtain indictments is a matter of opinion to be tested in court. Much of the work of the Special Counsel is more of a shadow game to influence the political process.
At best, Mueller could name Trump as an “unindicted co-conspirator.” Why no indictment? One reason that likely will be given is that under the current rules of the Department of Justice, a sitting President cannot be indicted. However, this may be nothing more than political cover for the fact that any indictment on the evidence would be unsuccessful in court. Mueller has no winnable case to bring.
Just as FBI Director James Comey admitted that he leaked negative information about Trump to provoke the appointment of a special prosecutor, his good buddy Mueller could gratuitously have included the “co-conspirator” language simply to provoke an impeachment hearing.
So, there ‘tis.