Monthly Archive: July 2017

Eegads – Sunday 30th July

If this poll is a fair reflection of the views of self-identified Republicans, this is frightening. It is communicating the message that 45% of the self-identified Republicans polled have no intrinsic respect for the principles of free speech as implemented in the First Amendment.
I am going to lay this out here. The idea of the First Amendment is that the government does not get to disallow or censor speech simply because it does not like what is being said. Closing media outlets is in total conflict with that principle. If you think that the idea of shutting down media outlets that you don’t like is OK, you are an enabler for totalitarianism and fascism.


Eegds……it has been a long week

…from Dallas to Frankfort to Dallas to Plano in 4 working days…Where The Hell Am I? (as Donald Fagen sang in 1980).
And off to Frankfort KY again as some utterly uneffingbelievable hour of the morning on Monday.
Conclusions from traveling to KY, in no particular sequence:

1. AA sucks at value for money for checked baggage
This last 2 weeks I have been continuing to check bags on American.
No more.
Last night I checked my bag for AA5746 2.5 hours ahead of scheduled departure from Louisville. The bag still failed to make it to DFW. I am expecting that it will be delivered to my house today. Of course, if I had not pointedly said to the baggage office person “I am working in Plano all day so you are going to send it to my house aren’t you?” they would not have offered to do a thing, and simply expected me to show up at GodForsakenHourO’Clock this morning and pick it up. $25 doesn’t get you much in the way of anything, it would seem.

2. They are a bunch of drunkards in Kentucky
Every where I go there are distilleries and wineries. There is also a recovery clinic next to my office. Go figure.

3. I will have to work on Sunday
Lots of documents to create and update. That is what happens when you arrive late on an in-flight project. Well, that, plus cat-herding to the max.

Tomorrow it is a bike ride, haircut, and removing half a f**kton of grass from raised beds. Then it will be time to hold a wild party with the cats, since Mary is in Okalhoma. Well, the way I currently feel, the cats will be partying and I will be sleeping.


Denying reality has a limited shelf-life

The most interesting project manager I interacted with in the UK was a guy with a team of around 8 people at Xerox Corporation.
He had a plaque prominently displayed on his desk bearing the inscription

If you don’t get the facts, the facts will get you

He had a love-hate relationship with his team. They loved his ability to speak truth to power and back them up all the way. They HATED his tendency to quiz the entire team and seemingly play Devil’s Advocate in meetings as he argued with team consensus.
I talked to him about that process. His comment to me was if you are going to tell your leadership the things that they need to hear, rather than what they want to hear, you had better be right, otherwise you will not be taken seriously once you are found out to be wrong once. In order to be right, you have to have the facts on your side. So his “Devils Advocate” style of interaction was deliberate, a tactic to ensure that his team was not simply making decisions based on expediency and groupthink. Confirmation bias can be very distorting in members of a team.
This article in Forbes explains very compellingly why the GOP, since they took total control of the Legislative and Executive branches, has been unable to make much progress on most of their legislative agenda. Quite simply, many of their legislative ideas conflict with reality and facts. That means that sooner or later the painful reality check appears on the scene. The mess over the ACA is but one example of this.


Stop making excuses for Sean Spicer

Now that Sean Spicer has left his job as Press Secretary to the POTUS, some folks are busy arguing on social media that he is really a “nice guy” that does not deserve all of the scorn that has been heaped on him in his recent role, that he is a basically a “decent man”.
As far as I can tell, nobody forced Sean Spicer to take the job of Press Secretary. He was not drafted to the role, there was no blackmail that anybody is alleging or admitting to in order to get him to take the job. He volunteered to take that role, and then proceeded to utter claims and assertions, almost on a daily basis, that made Baghdad Bob look like a gold-plated exemplar of truth-telling.
There is a well-known historical feature of acting in a mendacious, deceitful and evil way, known as the Nuremberg Defense, which was attempted by numerous German officials and military members when they were arrested after the end of World War II. The defense boiled down to “I was only obeying orders”. The courts trying those German officials swiftly shot down that attempted defense.
Not only that, but in the US military, the UCMJ specifically states that a military member is under no obligation to follow an order that is plainly illegal.
Sean Spicer took a job that he should have known would force him to bullshit, lie and deflect in public. He signed up to do that job voluntarily. Whether he really understood how much weapons-grade bullshit he would have to utter, I do not know, but if he did not realize the potential extent of it, he clearly was not paying attention to the historical behavior of his new boss.
He might, for all I know, be a fine fellow who donates generously to charity, helps old ladies across the road etc. etc. However, if every time the public sees a person, they are behaving like a deceitful horse’s ass, the public is likely to conclude that they actually are a deceitful horse’s ass.
So…Sean Spicer has to take accountability for being the attempted second coming of Baghdad Bob before he is likely to be taken seriously in any form of spokesperson advocacy role. It’s his own fault. He squandered his public credibility and his reputation over the last 7 months. It was his choice and actions. Those have consequences.


Kim Brown, lawyers fees and the ACLU

We all know the story…Kim Brown, County Clerk in Kentucky, which is an elected position, determined that she would not issue marriage licenses for gay people. The state ordered her to issue licenses, she refused, so other people in her office issued the licenses after the ACLU sued to force the marriage licenses to be issued.
The ACLU sued for recovery of lawyers fees in the court cases.
Now a judge has ruled that the State owes $224k in lawyers fees to the ACLU.

Kim Davis’ lawyers are spinning this as a victory since Davis herself is not personally liable.
There is a lot of comment expressing disappointment that the judge did not rule that Kin Davis herself was personally liable for the fees.
I am not sure that the disappointment was fully justified. The position of County Clerk in Rowan County is an elected position. Effectively the electors voted for Davis to run the County Clerk’s office. They presumably knew of her convictions that gay marriage should not be allowed before they elected her. (NOTE – Davis ran for office and was elected as a Democrat).
So, the taxpayers who elected a person should be accountable.
The unfortunate aspect of the judge’s ruling is that, because the State of Kentucky, anxious to backup Davis in her quixotic battle, became a defendant in the case brought by the ACLU, the state is the body that now has to pay the lawyer’s fees. Ideally, the judge would have ruled that Rowan County electors should pay the fees award. After all, they elected Kim Davis.


Methods of sabotaging investigations

At this point in time it is clear that Donald Trump is seriously trying to evade responsibility for any acts that he and his family may have committed in the past or since he became the President.
We can tell this because he is working on two tactics:
1. He has ordered staff to investigate Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, looking for issues that might give him (as he sees it) grounds to dismiss him
2. He has been asking legal advisors about the limits of his Presidential Pardon powers

Option (1) is what I term the “nuclear option”. Dismissing Mueller would send the signal that Trump intends to evade any and all external scrutiny of his actions. Remember that Richard Nixon’s position became untenable only after he fired Archibald Cox from his role of Special Prosecutor over the emerging Watergate scandal. That led to the erosion of support for Nixon inside the Republican Party to the point where he resigned rather than be convicted in a Senate impeachment trial. Firing Mueller, whose record is unimpeachably good, will put the GOP in a nasty dilemna. Accepting the dismissal will lead to them being seen as accomplices in a cover-up. Their alternative is to set up their own independent investigation into Trump’s behavior and actions, possibly with Mueller continuing in his role, but reporting to the House or the Senate without answering to the POTUS. They will be very reluctant to do that, but negative public reaction may force their hand. It’s all about the 2018 elections. If enough GOP elected representatives say “either we investigate or we will be slaughtered next year at the polls”, then the GOP may continue to investigate.
Option (2) is one I consider to be more likely. Trump does not want to resign as POTUS without protection of himself and his family from legal consequences. He therefore is likely to pre-emptively pardon his entire family and business associates for any and all illegal acts committed over the last umpteen years.
(NOTE – in 1974, in response to inquiries from the Nixon administration, legal counsel advised that a President cannot pardon himself).
If Trump were to resign as POTUS (which I consider to be unlikely, until he finds out that he will lose an impeachment trial in the Senate) he would likely demand that VP Mike Pence also pardon him as part of the resignation deal. The GOP would probably accept that sort of deal, simply to sweep the Trump era under the rug and be able to continue with their authoritarian legislative agenda.
Please note, however, my previous posting. Presidential Pardon power only extends to Federal crimes. Donald Trump could still be investigated for acts that potentially violate State laws. If he is found guilty at State level, he or his successors currently have no way to pardon him of those crimes.


The very real limit of Presidential pardons

This Tweet is highly significant:

The President has the power of pardon for Federal crimes only. For state-level crimes, pardon power rests with the Governor of the state where the defendant was indicted, prosecuted or convicted.
So, sure, the POTUS can probably pardon all of his family members, friends, business associates and other hangers-on if they are under suspicion, indicted or being prosecuted for Federal crimes. However, he has no power to pardon anybody charged or convicted of a crime under State law.
So..if the POTUS or his associates are indicted or charged under state law, he is powerless to issue any pardons.


Quick Notes – 20th July 2018

1. Tweet Of The Day

2. English drama series
These definitely reflect the reality of English town life – festering jealousies, resentments and hatreds, all concealed behind a veneer of polite, even-handed hospitable smiles and glad-handing.

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