Of course…

…it’s the fault of the voters that Kamala Harris is unelectable… they are simply not good enough to elect a black, female president. Yeah; that’s the ticket… it has nothing do do with her ineptness:

Jen Psaki says Kamala Harris is best alternative to Biden but worries America too ‘sexist and racist’

I’ve heard this argument before, when discussing the failure of socialist governments. In such cases (as told by the socialists) it’s the people who failed, not socialism. The people simply weren’t “good enough” citizens for socialism to succeed.

Such is the fate of Kamala Harris – the people simply aren’t “good enough” to elect an incompetent political figurehead –  no matter her sex or race. Thank Dog…

A very slippery slope

I have a real problem with the slippery slope(s) created by the whole E. Jean Carrol v. Donald J. Trump case. As much as Trump is a tool, I find that this cases raises serious legal concerns regarding free speech. It also suggests that the legal system is an appropriate tool to bring down political foes that you can’t otherwise beat at the polls. Taken together, this is some seriously worrisome sh*t!

Short background (from a CNN article):

Carroll alleged Trump raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store and then defamed her when he denied her claim, said she wasn’t his type and suggested she made up the story to boost sales of her book. Trump denied all wrongdoing.

Here are my concerns, in no particular order:

1) Trump is entitled to claim his innocence
Ms. Carroll is cited as having claimed that Trump raped her. Trump is entitled to make a claim of innocence; doing so does not defame the claimant. Neither does voicing an opinion suggesting someone is not your type, or voicing an opinion on possible alternate motives for the allegations. Readers or witnesses to his claims of innocence can decide for themselves whether or not the allegations are true.

What’s next? Are convicted criminals civilly liable to witnesses or victims if they continue to assert their innocence? Even if they are eventually cleared of the crimes of which they are convicted?

2) A second case between these two was made possible as a result of a New York “look-back” law that allowed sexual assault victims to sue in civil court – no matter how much time had passed since the alleged assault.

Statute of limitations are designed to protect a defendant from stale claims, where delays may have have eroded the defendant’s ability to collect evidence for their defense. Such “look-back” laws are troubling because they favor the plaintiff while severely disadvantaging the defense. How do you defend yourself against a claim that allegedly occurred 20+ years ago? How do you gather evidence for your defense when no physical evidence or records remain? How do you begin to gather evidence when your accuser doesn’t even have to definitively state in their claim when the alleged event occurred?

In a volatile case involving a polarizing public figure, such cases will boil down to the local jury pool and their perception of each litigant – or worse, the latest public outrage  (in the case, the “anyone but Trump” and “me, too” movements). With little if any possibility of collecting physical evidence or eyewitnesses due to the time that has passed, the case will fall to the testimony of the more publicly-favored  litigant. This is patently unfair to the defense in this case, and the reason that such stale claims are generally barred by a statute of limitations.

3) In the second case the jury found that Ms. Carroll had been sexually assaulted, but not raped. Doesn’t this make Trump’s claims that she lied about the rape true (under the law), if only in part, and thus not defamation? Doesn’t any reputation damage due to Trump now denying her claim of rape fall to Carroll for having made the claim?

4) The trial judge allowed hearsay evidence (what the plaintiff had allegedly told others who were not direct witnesses), and also testimony by others regarding past unproven allegations (from 40 years prior) unrelated to this case. Given the severe disadvantage already placed on the defense (due to New York’s “look-back” law and the plaintiff’s inability to even define when the alleged attack occurred), such testimony was inappropriate and unduly prejudicial.

So, in short:

i) No one should be denied the right to assert their innocence – even if the defendant is guilty, and even more so when the allegations are rejected by a jury. Such assertions should be protected speech, and not actionable as defamation.

ii) Speaking personal opinions, or opinions on alternative theories for an accusation – particularly political theories – should also be protected speech.

iii) “Look-back” laws that allow civil litigation for long-past allegations should recognize the hardship they place on a defendant’s right to a fair trial. Evidence rules should be held to the highest standard to minimize the unfair impact such law have on the defendant.

I don’t care whether you love or hate Trump. I want you to think instead about the precedence it sets when someone can make an allegation against you, 20+ years after the alleged act. Think about you being denied the right to dispute the allegations because your denial causes the claimant “reputational harm” – even when at least part of the allegations are found lacking by a jury. Think about your trial, where physical evidence collection and witness development is impossible due to the extreme passage of time, and where the evidence presented consists largely of hearsay or the unproven allegations by others in unrelated matters. Think about your trial in a venue where the majority of the voters (the source of the jury pool) voted against you in the previous election.

This case never should have made it to court – and particularly not in an anti-Trump venue like New York.

Gaza = Nazi ghetto?

Except that Jews in the Nazi ghettos didn’t elect a terrorist organization as their leaders, then massacre German citizens. Sorry, the comparison simply doesn’t quite work.

Despite backlash, Masha Gessen says comparing Gaza to a Nazi-era ghetto is necessary

I’ll give the author credit, however, for noticing these differences:

Gessen notes there are key differences between the two: The Nazi claim that ghettos were necessary to protect non-Jews from disease “had no basis in reality,” while Israel’s stance that the isolation of Gaza is necessary to protect against Palestinian terrorist attacks “stems from actual and repeated acts of violence.”

If the Palestinian-elected Hamas government had instead spent the last 17 years building peace and a functioning economy – instead of cancelling elections and becoming oligarchic dictators – Gaza might actually have been better off.

Saving democracy….

…by killing it? Really?

Colorado Supreme Court says Trump is ineligible to run again

This is a tough case. The section of the Constitution’s 14th amendment cited by the Colorado Supreme Court in justifying their decisions was designed to prevent those who previously served the United States but then served the confederacy from once again holding U.S. office. It reads in part:

Section 3
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”

Section 5
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

The question really is this: What due process is required to conclude that a prior “officer of the United States … engaged in insurrection or rebellion”? Has Congress passed “…appropriate legislation…” to determine the required due process? Or was their intent to leave this determination to partisan, elected officials of the individual states – like the Colorado Supreme Court? Can you image the political “nuclear winter” that will follow if the Colorado Supreme Court ruling stands?

I am not a lawyer, but my guess is that the unstated right to participate in our government (“…government of the people, by the people, for the people…”) is a right that should not so lightly be curtailed. It is my belief that either proof of service with an entity at war with the United States (such as holding office under the Confederacy – what this provision was meant to address) or a conviction under U.S. law (or impeachment proceedings) for insurrection or rebellion should be required to deprive one of this right.

It is partisan attacks such as this that are the true danger to our democracy. The power must remain with the people via their right to vote for the candidate of their choice – not with those politicians who wield the law as a dull scythe to unjustly cut down their opponents.

PS: If you’re interested, a good overview of both sides of the Trump insurrection argument can be found here:

2023 National Lawyers Convention: Insurrection & the 14th Amendment

But it’s not racist when they’re white, right?

One from the “It’s not racist to be racist against white people” column:

Boston mayor sends holiday party invite meant only for ‘electeds of color,’ dividing city councilors

Great way to be a poster child for racism, no? Exclude a group specifically because of their race?

Per the above linked article, once the mayor’s office realized their error they sent the following in a subsequent email:

“I wanted to apologize for my previous email regarding a Holiday Party for tomorrow,” DosSantos wrote. “I did send that to everyone by accident and I apologize if my email may have offended or came across as so. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.”

Soooo…. they’re apologizing for sending the email, but not for what it said? Aren’t they essentially saying:

So sorry for sending you that racist email – you know, the one regarding the upcoming party from which you are being excluded specifically because of your race. Didn’t mean for you to see that… whoops! But don’t worry – if anyone gets offended we’ll just label them as “racist” and get them cancelled. Ha ha ha! I crack myself up. Boy, I’d better lay off the crack for awhile…

I’m really getting tired of saying this, but we will NEVER defeat racism by being racist. Ever.

It can, however, get you elected mayor of Boston.

Shooting oneself in the foot….

Krazy Kalifornia has decided it’s the evil oil companies that are to blame for global warming:

California’s lawsuit says oil giants downplayed climate change. Here’s what to know

It’s bad enough to suggest that oil companies meeting consumer demand for energy are to blame for global warming (rather than the consumers who actually burned the fossil fuels). But to suggest that no one knew of the impact of fossil fuel use due to the so-called propaganda of the oil companies is ludicrous.

I first heard of the impact of CO2 emissions on climate change in the 1958 Frank Capra produced Bell System Science Series film, “The Unchained Goddess” – a film that many of us saw in primary school (I saw it in sixth grade). This film made clear – more than 6 decades ago – that continued CO2 emissions due to the use of fossil fuels would lead to global warming. So, in short, even school children knew by 1958 that fossil fuel use would lead to global warming. To claim ignorance with a straight face now is insulting to sixth graders everywhere.

The truth is that the people simply didn’t care. They insisted on personal automobiles, air conditioning, and cheap power to operate them. It’s the consumer and their demands for energy that have driven fossil fuel use and carbon emissions, even though they knew – or should have known – its long-term impact. Consumers are the ones to blame – not the oil companies.

Finally, any legal award against the fossil fuel companies will not result in a loss for the oil companies – even though that’s how climate change activists and politicians will present it to the voter. In truth the energy companies will simply be forced to charge substantially more for their products going forward, passing the costs of litigation and claims onto the poor consumer – who still needs the energy to power their Hummer for the occasional grocery run, or to condition their condo down to a crisp 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer heat. An award against the oil companies is really an award against your own pocketbook – no matter how loudly politicians cry otherwise.

The only real positive impact of such an award (from a climate perspective) is that the resulting increased cost of fossil fuels will drive a downturn in use, reducing carbon emissions (at least locally;  as if China – the world’s largest CO2 emitter – will give a damn…). However, the increased energy costs will disparately impact low-income users in the U.S., requiring additional government interference (i.e.: wealth redistribution systems) to resolve.

California politicians are wasting taxpayer funds to litigate a case that – even if they win – will only cost the average voter even more money, all while having a negligible impact on global CO2 emissions.

“Dear criminals…”

Dear Criminals –

All law-abiding people in Albuquerque New Mexico will no longer be allowed to carry firearms for their defense or the defense of others. So no more crime in Albuquerque, OK?

Best regards,

Her Royal Highness,

Gov. Michelle Grisham

PS: Even though all the law-abiding citizens of this town are now disarmed, please don’t shoot them. 

Governor announces statewide enforcement plan for gun violence, fentanyl reduction – Plan includes 30-day suspension of concealed, open carry in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County

Let’s be serious: this is simply a thinly-veiled local attempt to repeal the 2nd Amendment by the two-term Democrat Governor of New Mexico, conveniently disguised as a “public health” order. I wonder why she didn’t do this during her first term… oh, that’s right – she’s now term limited and doesn’t need to worry about the next election! Let’s also be serious on this decree’s possible impact: disarming law-abiding citizens (the only group likely to follow this decree by Grisham) will only get them killed by criminals now emboldened by the thought of defenseless victims.

Note, too that Grisham cited several shootings as justification for her unconstitutional ban, including this one (from a US News and World Report article):

Last month, 5-year-old Galilea Samaniego was fatally shot while asleep in a motor home. Four teens entered the mobile home community in two stolen vehicles early on Aug. 13 and opened fire on the trailer, according to police. The girl was struck in the head and later died at a hospital.

Now tell me: How is the decry by Grisham going to stop teenage hoodlums in stolen cars from shooting up a mobile home?

Miranda Viscoli, co-president of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, had this to say about Grisham’s order:

“If it saves one life, then it’s worth doing,” Viscoli said.

But what if it costs a life, Miranda? What if a law abiding citizen, prevented from carrying their self-defense firearm as a result of Grisham’s order, is killed by a criminal perpetrator during the commission of a crime? Would it be worth that life to further your political agenda, Miranda?

Laws restricting concealed carry of firearms only impact law-abiding citizens who have already gone through a significant national background check. Criminals who want to carjack and murder people simply don’t care about such laws – they can’t legally carry firearms for criminal purposes anyway, so why should they worry about Grisham’s new order? And, really – do you think they are worried about a gun charge (in this case, a civil gun charge) when they are going out to murder or rob someone? Are you kidding?

Good luck, Albuquerque. You’re going to need it.

PS: I can’t understand the idea of disarming law-abiding citizens as a way to combat gun crime. It is more likely that gun crime will increase when citizens are disarmed. Think of it: prior to this “public health” order, using a gun in criminal activity against law-abiding citizens might get you shot; it was a risk. Now, however, using a gun while committing a crime  in Albuquerque is no longer a risk – it is instead a just a solid advantage over your prey. And even if a criminal is caught with a gun during the “no-carry” period proclaimed by Grisham, the law calls for a civil – not criminal – penalty. With this in mind, do you think that the use of guns by criminals will increase or decrease as a result of this “public health” order?

It may well be that the Democrats want more gun crime, and know that this will occur as a result of their disarming the law-abiding population. More gun crime might garner support among democrats for their argument that the 2nd Amendment must be abolished altogether to bring peace to the streets of America (since gun laws – well, Democrat gun laws, anyway – will not have worked).

But it’s not that gun laws don’t work; it’s that gun laws passed by Democrats disproportionately impact law abiding citizens rather than criminals. If we want gun laws to work, such laws must disproportionately impact criminals instead. For instance, instead of a a ban on concealed carry for the next 30 days levied against law-abiding citizens, how about for the next 30 days we add 10 years of prison to the sentence of any criminal convicted of using a firearm in the commission of a crime? Which of these two options is more likely to reduce crime-related gun use in Albuquerque?

Only when gun laws punish criminals – rather than law-abiding citizens – will our streets be safe.

PPS: A day after this story broke, I searched both NPR and MSNBC web sites for any mention of this story. Guess what? I could not find a single one. I’ll let you figure out what that means…

“Are you F**king high?!?”

As it turns out, in California the answer is probably “yes”:

California bill decriminalizing personal use of psychedelics, magic mushrooms heads to Newsom’s desk

Nah…. more homeless drug users won’t “immigrate” to California as a result of this bill, will they?

I love this quote from California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher:

“If Democrats don’t think this will make things worse, they’re hallucinating…”

Bizarrely, democrats had another take:

Democrat State Assemblyman Scott Wiener, who introduced the bill, argued that veterans and first responders struggling with PTSD, depression, and addiction “deserve access to these promising plant medicines.”

WTF? Veterans and first responders – like military personnel and police officers? People with guns and PTSD? Do we really want them hallucinating on ‘shrooms?!? And should people suffering from “…PTSD, depression and addiction…” really be allowed to self-medicate without doctor supervision?

In truth, I’m all for people being able to take any reasonable drug that they want – even psychedelics. It’s their body and mind. However it should remain illegal for people to use such drugs in public, as it endangers them and others. Also, any users of such drugs should be restricted in their use and possession of firearms (particularly in California).

Any bill that permits the decriminalization of such drugs should include a stipulation that the use of these drugs in the public space is still illegal. This would keep drug use by homeless in the public space an offense that – if the cause of their homelessness – can be used by the courts to direct them into appropriate treatment.