Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 9th, 2017

Orange County, Calif., sheriff says two deputies ‘were unaware they were required to testify honestly’ in court

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Sometimes you have to wonder about the state of law enforcement in the U.S. Some of Radley Balko’s links today:

  • The state of Louisiana put together a task force to hash out rules for the use of police body cameras. That’s the good news. The bad news? The legislature just took seats on the task force awayfrom the media, transparency groups, civil rights groups and the defense bar. The leaves only law enforcement and legislators.
  • This is a pretty astonishing sentence, from the latest in the ongoing informant debacle in Orange County, Calif: “Sheriff Sandra Hutchens claims the veteran officers were unaware they were required to testify honestly during prior court appearances …
  • Debunking some of the myths we often hear about free speech. The historical context for the phrase “You can’t yell ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater” is particularly helpful.
  • Video shows New Jersey cops kicking a man whose clothes caught fire after a police chase ended in a fiery, multi-car wreck. The head of the local police union told CBS News that the police were merely trying to extinguish the flames.
  • New study provides more evidence for a link between childhood exposure to lead and violent crime.
  • Lawsuit: 60-year-old man dies in Virginia jail due to neglect. According to the lawsuit, other inmates tried desperately to get a guard’s attention, but a guard responded, “I’m busy right now.”
  • Video appears to show Texas cops luring a dog out from its own backyard, then antagonizing the dog, and then killing it. They had received a call about a menacing dog in the area, but neighbors say the dog they killed wasn’t the dog causing problems.
  • Federal judge says 80 percent of the mandatory minimum sentences he is required to impose are unjust.
  • Last year, the city of Chicago paid more than $50 million to litigate and settle 187 police misconduct lawsuits.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2017 at 8:16 pm

Grassley blasts administration for policy to limit information shared with Congress

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Elise Viebeck has an important story in the Washington Post. In case you don’t follow politics, Charles Grassley is a very conservative Republican from Iowa, and his chewing out of the White House shows the degree to which Republicans are starting to realize what Trump can do to them, and to turn on him. The report begins:

The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee called on President Trump to retract a month-old policy allowing federal agencies not to comply with requests for information from most members of Congress, including Democrats.

In a letter to Trump released Friday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) chastised the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) for a May 1 opinion that rejected lawmakers’ authority to request information from the executive branch unless they are committee chairmen or participating in a request by a full committee or subcommittee.

The policy “completely misses the mark” and “frustrates the Constitutional function of legislating,” Grassley wrote to Trump on Wednesday.

“Unless Congress explicitly tells the Executive Branch to withhold information based on committee membership or leadership position, there is no legal or Constitutional basis for the Executive Branch to do so,” Grassley wrote.

He continued: “For OLC to so fundamentally misunderstand and misstate such a simple fact exposes its shocking lack of professionalism and objectivity. Indeed, OLC appears to have utterly failed to live up to its own standards. You are being ill-served and ill-advised.”

The May 1 opinion said that individual lawmakers “may request information from the Executive Branch, which may respond at its discretion, but such requests do not trigger any obligation to accommodate congressional needs.”

This is because, as the office put it, individual lawmakers — including the highest-ranking Democrats on each committee — “do not have the authority to conduct oversight in the absence of a specific delegation by a full house, committee, or subcommittee.”

“Whether it is appropriate to respond to requests from individual members will depend on the circumstances,” the policy stated.

Grassley called the office’s distinction between “constitutionally authorized” oversight and other requests for information by lawmakers “nonsense.”

“Shutting down oversight requests doesn’t drain the swamp, Mr. President,” Grassley wrote. “It floods the swamp.”

The letter is the latest example of friction between lawmakers and the Trump administration over officials’ and agencies’ lack of disclosure.

On Wednesday, . . .

Continue reading.

Grassley is pointing out that Congress exercises oversight on the Executive by law, it’s not just something they decided to do, and the law in question is the U.S. Constitution, the supreme law of the land. Of course, Trump is new to all this and didn’t know—he was treating Congress as though it’s a business competitor or some such thing from his background. But it isn’t going to fly, as Grassley points out. I think Grassley is ready to play rough (subpoenas).

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2017 at 5:16 pm

Cute story from a comment in the Washington Post

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This story is from a comment:

Trump is slowly but surely learning that he can’t make everyone in Washington kowtow to him. I remember when he called the House Freedom Caucus members in to the White House and one of his snarky little Roy-Cohn-lookalike aides told them they HAD to vote for the Trumpcare bill. A Texas congressman looked at him and said, “The last time anyone ordered me to do something I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. I didn’t listen to him either.”

Can’t stand the political views of the Freedom Caucus, but I liked that John Wayne-esque comment.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2017 at 4:52 pm

Wow. Watch Sen. Claire McCaskill ask why the Senate will have no hearings on healthcare bill.

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She makes an extraordinarily strong argument that shows just how broken and corrupt Congress has become, both House and Senate. And do watch it. You’ll have to turn on sound: the clip has sound off by default. Here’s a transcript:

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2017 at 1:09 pm

There is no doubt: Russia interfered in our presidential election

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Jennifer Rubin has a good column on yesterday’s hearing:

For months, President Trump has been calling the Russia investigation “fake news.” He has insisted that China or some other country could have been behind the hack of Democratic Party organizations’ computers and the effort to meddle in our elections. In his eyes, it’s all a plot to undermine him, and he is “vindicated” when it was confirmed that at the time former FBI director James B. Comey left the FBI, there was no investigation with his name on it.

Contrast that with this line of questioning from Thursday’s hearing:

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-N.C.): Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections?

COMEY: None.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the intrusions in the D triple-C systems [the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and the subsequent leaks of that information?

COMEY: No, no doubt.

BURR: Do you have any doubt the Russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered?

COMEY: I’m confident. When I left as director, I had seen no indication of that whatsoever.

In that same vein, Comey explained how definitive was the information:

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH (D-N.M.): The president has repeatedly talked about the Russian investigation into the U.S. — or Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election cycle as a hoax and fake news. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw as FBI director and, obviously, only the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was and why there was an investigation in the first place?

COMEY: Yes, sir. There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did it with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high-confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community, and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It’s not a close call. That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get. It is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. This is about America, not about a particular party.

HEINRICH: That is a hostile act by the Russian government against this country?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

One simply cannot square the president’s persistent public assertions that the Russia investigation was “fake news” or a “hoax” with such a definitive assessment from the former FBI director and the rest of the intelligence community. This raises the question as to why Trump kept suggesting that the Russians couldn’t be fingered.

Perhaps Trump knew that Russia was responsible (everyone in the intelligence community told him it was beyond dispute) but lied to the American people so as to convince them that he really, really won. Maybe Trump is unable to process facts or think logically, preferring rumors, conspiracy theories and the like. In other words, maybe he honestly did not understand what was going on.  Then again, Trump — if he was trying to remain in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s good graces — could have simply been covering for the former KGB lieutenant colonel. Whatever the reason, he persistently told the public an obvious falsehood, pretending that there had been no assault on American democracy. He needs to explain this disparity.

It is also possible that Trump and the intelligence community were talking past one another. Trump thinks of the Russia investigation as a “cloud” over him. If the story was that Trump personally colluded with Russia, then it had to be “fake news.” That, after all, was the reason he was frantic to have Comey clear his name. This truly is a case in which Trump considered the “Russia investigation” to be only about him.

The intelligence community and Comey, specifically, were of course definitive about an attack on American democracy. Comey declared:

The reason this is such a big deal. We have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time. But nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful. But we’re talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about and they will be back. Because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it.

That entire concept — the threat to democracy, the danger to our system of government, the violation of American self-government by a hostile power — seems to mean nothing to Trump. It’s a non-issue. What more evidence do we need that Trump cannot fulfill his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”? Trump’s psyche is geared to “preserve, protect and defend” Trump. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2017 at 11:36 am

What Alexander Hamilton noted about the character of the president

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Dana Milbank has a good column in the Washington Post this morning. From the column:

“The process of election affords a moral certainty,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 68, “that the office of president will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single state; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of president of the United States. It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the station filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue.”

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2017 at 10:39 am

Simpson Case, Stirling Executive Man, and the Rockwell 6S R3

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I’m on a small-brush kick, so the Simpson Case (one-time Wee Scot 3) was selected this morning. It worked up a fine lather quite easily for my sample-puck construction of 3/4 Executive man, 1/4 Sharp-Dressed Man. As is common with Stirling soaps, I had to add a little water as I loaded.

The Rockwell 6S remains a favorite razor. I have been using R4, but this morning I backed off to R3, and I admired again the design that makes it easy to remove and replace the baseplate while the blade stays securely in the cap.

Three passes, totally smooth, no problems, and a good splash of Executive Man aftershave finished the week.

I changed my email address—the local ISP I have used for almost 30 years has suffered a severe decline in quality of service—so that means a week or two of updating my email on various sites until I pull the plug. plus figuring out a few oddities. (For some reason, mail that arrives in my Apple Mail from Gmail ends up both in the Inbox folder and in the Archive folder. Eventually I’ll get that sorted.)

Written by LeisureGuy

9 June 2017 at 8:07 am

Posted in Shaving

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