October 28, 2016

The #OctoberSurprise has landed — FBI reopens #ClintonEmail probe

Very, very interesting.

FBI director James Comey has said the bureau is reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.
Investigators have discovered new emails "in connection with an unrelated case... that appear to be pertinent to the investigation", he said.
Mr Comey said investigators would determine whether the emails contain classified information.
I wonder what the "unrelated case" is, first of all.

Second, I wonder how big a deal it is.

Third, I wonder if Comey was prodded by wingnut GOPers, was sandbagging Clinton all along, was mad at the sandbagging BY Clinton he discovered after first shutting the things down, or what.

Certainly, even if the "unrelated case" is not that big, if Comey felt he was sandbagged, he would be wanting to use something like this for a pound of flesh in revenge.

And, per the NYT, Comey says he doesn't know how long this investigation will take. That's a downer for Trump, as Comey's not guaranteeing any results before Nov. 8, but it's also a downer for Clinton, who doesn't know if maybe he won't release something before then, but with little pre-election time for her to spin.

And, we know now that the new emails were uncovered during an investigation of electronic devices used by the notorious Anthony Weiner. Specific, they're related to his allegedly sexting a 15-year-old girl.

As for motivation? Especially given that he's right that Comey could have had any job he wanted in the Clinton Administration, a month ago, Ken Silverstein wonders if this is part of some sort of plea deal by Weiner, and via wife and Hillary BFF Huma Abedin, he's really got some goods.

Update: I hate to be siding with Hillary Clinton, but per Comey's new comments about the details, or lack of them, it sounds like he should have kept his yap shut until, oh, Monday? I mean, how can you say "they appear to be pertinent" while in the next breath, the FBI acknowledges it doesn't know ANY of the details of their contents?

And, it sounds like maybe Ken's spitballing might not be so on target?

Update 2: Per friend Brains, the reveal ... especially with Comey's waffle ... is unlikely to influence many likely Democratic voters. Indirectly per Brains, many early votes are already banked, too.

Getcha popcorn!


Update, May 14, 2019: Former Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein has turned both barrels on Comey, calling him a "partisan pundit" who trampled "bright lines that should never be crossed."

The specific target of his ire is how Comey handled reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails adn server after then-AG Loretta Lynch had had her conflict-of-interest inducing meeting with Bill Clinton on the Phoenix tarmac.

Rosenstein is totally right. It was grandstanding, as I said at the time, and not SOP, either. Then-Assistant AG Sally Yates should have been contacted by Comey and she should have been asked to get Lynch to officially recuse herself, then take over.

Rosenstein said he would have handled Comey's firing differently had it been just him, not Trump, but that Comey deserved to be fired.

He did.

Period and end of story, Donut Twitter and Resistance.

October 27, 2016

#OregonStandoff — Bundy verdict not necessarily wrong, legally

Brokeback Oregon went on trial starting on Sept. 7. And now, just over two and a half months later, seven of them, including leaders Ryan and Ammon Bundy, have been found not guilty. Oregon Public Broadcasting has yet more depth on the verdict, with quotes.

In reality, this isn't THAT surprising. And, per the header, it's not necessarily wrong.

Agree? Disagree? Unsure?
Vote at right!

First, the feds have a long history of charging people with conspiracies without also charging the individuals with specific, individuated crimes.

For example, here in Texas, the conspiracy statute is "engaging in organized criminal activity." Two or more people each must be charged with the same "individuated" crime to also be charged with this. Not so with the feds. (And, especially in the post-9/11 world, fat chance of the federal statute ever being amended like that — even though the Texas one is abused in other ways.)

And this is another clear case of that.

They were charged with a conspiracy to hinder federal employees from doing their jobs, while none was actually charged with actually doing so. This particular conspiracy law, though, has rarely been used, and stems from the Civil War. As the link notes, in modern times, it's been used against environmental and antiwar activists. Liberals, let alone left-liberals, are you really OK with that?

In the future, it could be used against Dakota pipeline protestors. #NoDAPL liberal backers, are you OK with that? If the Bundys had been convicted, would you be OK with that as a precedent of sorts in pipeline cases?

And, with a not guilty on that, the weapons charges were guaranteed to go by the wayside. (Unless the weapon is used for another crime, the charge has a maximum prison time of one year; basically, it's an enhancer for other charges.) Yes, there was clear evidence of that, but, from what I've read of the case, prosecutors chose to focus on the conspiracy, which has a six-year max penalty.

In other words, the prosecution rolled the dice on getting at least six years, with a minimum of concurrent sentences reducing chances for early parole and perhaps hoping for consecutive sentences. And lost, big time.

The gummint's case wasn't helped by the revelation a week ago that there was an FBI informant inside the Ammonites, I'm sure, even if his role was overblown.

I mean, destruction of property (criminal mischief the state statute here in Texas) and other charges (if the Feds have an equivalent of theft of services, which would be kind of like preventing employees from working .. but the actual charge, not a conspiracy to do so) were clearly available in the case. Ryan Bundy was charged with theft, of FBI security cameras, but got a hung jury on that. And that was it, other than the weapons charges.

One has to wonder — and some degree of conspiracy thinking is sometimes valid with federal prosecutors in particular and prosecutors in general — if the particulars of charges were structured to sandbag the case. And, yes, prosecutors do occasionally do stuff like that. They may think a case isn't winnable, and to make sure it isn't, do something like this.

Morally? Totally different issue. But lawyers, and others who also know better, know the law has nothing to do with morals.

But, speaking of ...

High Country News reviews the bad history of the Ammonites. And, it notes that even other defenders of the New Sagebrush Rebellion or whatever we call it are perplexed at the legal strategery of Ryan and Ammon Bundy, above all others in the case. (Maybe they're less perplexed now, but probably not; a lot of the strategery was idiotic.)

(Note: For #BrokebackOregon or #BundyEroticFanFic, go to this blog post with some quite purplish, and turgid, prose.)

Mark Miller: A dangerous alternative for the Railroad Commission

A lot of newspapers, and some Democrats who know that Grady Yarbrough has no business running for the spot, are touting Libertarian Mark Miller for the Texas Railroad Commission seat.

Wayne Christian, the GOP candidate, of course thinks that regulating fracking makes people gay, so he's definitely not an option.

Yes, Miller knows more about the oil and gas industry than Yarbrough, Christian, or Green Party nominee Martina Salinas.

But, he's got some bad stances. Especially on one big issue.

Let's look at his website campaign comment on climate change and global warming.

1. He does — on paper — accept that anthropogenic global warming exists, while trying to fuzz up with the "skeptic" claim how much of global warming over the past couple of centuries is anthropogenic. Therefore, we should put him in the "denier lite" category, per:

2. He outrightly lies, as I see it, with his claim that global temperatures may have declines since 2007.

The reality is a lot different.

First, every one of the 10 hottest years in recorded history has been 1998 or later.

Also, through July, every month this year has been the hottest on global record.

He doubles down on this lie here, when he says:
Existing climate models have failed to predict the recent leveling off of global temperatures.
The first link was from his previous 2014 run, but there's ZERO excuse for doubling down now. I can only consider him to be a conscious, willful liar, in my opinion.

3. He claims, in essence, there's no way to force China (and others) on the same page as us.
WRONG! As both Paul Krugman and I know, the World Trade Organization allows carbon tax PLUS carbon tariff regulations. Period and end of story. A man with a graduate degree in petroleum engineering should know this. And probably does, given Point No. 2.

4. He believes in natural gas as a bridge fuel. Nowhere in that paragraph does he discuss how methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas, before it breaks down, than is carbon dioxide. Nowhere in that paragraph does he discuss wellhead leakage rates.

5. He puts mitigation of climate change effects ahead of trying to prevent more climate change. Since he doesn't mention renewable energy here, this libertarian — like many — ignores the "cost-effectiveness" mantra when it's convenient.

It's interesting that he himself thinks the RRC should be renamed the Texas Oil and Gas Commission but NOT the Texas Energy Commission, which would, of course (theoretically) include wind and solar.

Also, claiming the free market always has the most moral stances, as he does here, is just BS.

Beyond this issue, I have no idea of his stance on moving hearings for drilling permits out of Austin and to the area of the proposed drilling. If he wants to properly regulate the industry, this is a basic.

I will give him a kudo for wanting to raise vehicle fuel taxes, but that's a small one.

The real answer for the RRC, even if she's not perfect and on a shoestring budget, is Martina Salinas.

Democrats who know Yarbrough is NOT the answer but are endorsing Miller should be shot. And, Chris Tomlinson of the Chronic should know better. It's easy to find Miller's stance on global warming, whereas, I can find nothing about either gas wellhead leakage or locality on drilling permit hearings.

That said, Chris, though generally mildly to moderately liberal himself, works for a conservative newspaper. It's no surprise that Texas newspapers that normally tell people to vote Republican are plumbing for Miller rather than Wayne Christian. But, Tomlinson wouldn't even mention Salinas in his column, then sneered at her chances as a third party candidate, even though she got a little more than 60 percent as much vote as Miller did in 2014. And, also contra Chris, noting that she, like Miller, ran before, she isn't totally incoherent, or totally uninformed, on the issues.

Sorry, Wait, no I'm not sorry, Chris, but you kind of pissed me off on this.

That said, one can't find Salinas' detailed stances.

That's because she doesn't have a website, two months after saying she would.

Sorry, Green candidates, and, regional, county and state Green parties, but Facebook pages alone don't cut it for an online presence. I'll speak more about this in a post-election post-mortem post.

October 26, 2016

Draymond Green: The next Dennis Rodman?

It's by no means a guarantee that Golden State's Swiss Army knife, Draymond Green, could turn into as unstable of nitroglycerine as Dennis Rodman of Madonna and North Korea fame, among other things.

But, it's possible. I think it's quite possible after reading this ESPN piece. (And already seeing him pick up a dumb taunting-type technical in last night's opener.)

And, one problem with the Warriors' chemistry is that they're lacking someone like one particular player head coach Steve Kerr played with. The Warriors have no Michael Jordan.

He may have gotten some pushback from Klay Thompson last year, and some more quite control from Steph Curry. But, neither of them is MJ in that regard, and Kevin Durant isn't either. Andre Iguodala has the presence, in once sense, but I think Green would ignore him.

On the flip side, the Warriors, with the depth they now have, can ultimately decide to walk away from Green after his current contract ends. Of course, they've got four years left. If they can win a title, smooth over appearances and hit a peak, it would be a gamble, but they could trade him and try to rebuild on the fly at the end of the current season.

October 25, 2016

TX Progressives discuss the start of the election

The Texas Progressive Alliance celebrates the start of early voting as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff analyzes the state of the polls in Texas.

Libby Shaw at Daily Kos encourages all Democrats to show up at the voting polls. Texas Democrats have a fighting chance this year.  We can right a boatload of Republican wrongs. Nasty Ladies of Texas Unite! Houston is not impressed by Trump.

Socratic Gadfly, given ongoing recent problems in his area, says it's time to nationalize the Internet.

Can Hillary Clinton actually carry Texas in the Electoral College?  PDiddie at Brains and Eggs notes that blue teamers are desperately trying to squeeze out the 1 or 2% the Green Party is polling in order to do so.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes Sean Hannity's pick for speaker Louis Gohmert isn't the worst Texas Republican this week.  Brian Babin is.

Neil at All People Have Value admired the urban amber waves of Houston.  APHV is part of NeilAquino.com.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Cody Pogue notes that a bad president is better than a revolution.

Daniel Williams and Leah Binkovita explain the options in the HISD recapture referendum.

Keep Austin Wonky does a deep dive on the ìGo Bigî mobility bond.

The Lunch Tray wants to know why it's hard to find out information about sugar in school food.

BOR is crowdsourcing Texas Republican elected officials' support of Donald Trump.

Kyrie O'Connor and Eileen Smith are #NastyWomen.

The Texas Election Law Blog rounds up some good reads on voter registration and the resistance to it.

Transgriot reminds us that it is not incumbent upon the people who are being oppressed to forgive their oppressors.

Zachary Taylor wonders if Hillary and Donald aren't jointly conspiring in some way.

The Rag Blog's David Hamilton endorses Jill Stein.

October 24, 2016

Cubs vs Indians? I may not watch this #WorldSeries

First, while the team name "Indians," and the colloquial "Tribe," aren't racist — at least not from where I stand — the Wahoo logo is. It indulges in a variety of physical stereotyping, some of which have been applied by whites in America to other racial or ethnic groups as well. And the Cleveland Indians, like the Washington Redskins, have generally as a corporation resisted addressing the issue. (I've become more sensitive to such things since the last time Cleveland was in the World Series.)

And, I even Tweeted LeBron James, asking how, with his active support for Black Lives Matter, he can support a team with a racist mascot. One word from him might actually propel change. That's not guaranteed, but it certainly is possible.

On the flip side, we have the Chicago Cubs.

As I joked on social media last Saturday, the Cubs last got to the World Series in 1945 — the year World War II ended. And now, native Chicagoan and warhawk Hillary Clinton is running for president.

To complete one version of the joke, I said that the only way people could stop World War III was to vote Green for Dr. Jill Stein for president. Some people on Zuckerbook didn't like the joke, including the non-joking truth of Hillary as warhawk.

Worse yet is the saccharine in which this will be draped.

Joe Buck and John Smoltz in the broadcast booth will yammer until the cows come home about how America loves an underdog.

No it doesn't, at least not totally, or in and of itself. That myth is a hoary part of American exceptionalism.

Americans love an underdog only in the Horatio Alger sense, of how it supposedly proves social and other mobility is uniquely possible in America.

No it isn't.