Early reports that the F.B.I. search of former President Donald J. Trump’s residence in Florida related to an investigation into whether he had unlawfully taken government files when he left the White House focused attention on an obscure criminal law barring removal of official records. The penalties for breaking that law include disqualification from holding any federal office.
Because Mr. Trump is widely believed to be preparing to run for president again in 2024, that unusual penalty raised the prospect that he might be legally barred from returning to the White House.
Specifically, the law in question — Section 2071 of Title 18 of the United States Code — makes it a crime if someone who has custody of government documents or records “willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies or destroys” them. If convicted, defendants can be fined or sentenced to prison for up to three years. In addition, the statute says, if they are currently in a federal office, they “shall forfeit” that office, and they shall “be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” On its face, then, if Mr. Trump were to be charged and convicted of removing, concealing or destroying government records under that law, he would seem to be ineligible to become president again.
But there was reason for caution
several legal scholars — including Seth B. Tillman of Maynooth University in Ireland and Eugene Volokh of the University of California, Los Angeles — noted that the Constitution sets eligibility criteria for who can be president, and argued that Supreme Court rulings suggest Congress cannot alter them. The Constitution allows Congress to disqualify people from holding office in impeachment proceedings, but grants no such power for ordinary criminal law.
Maybe this has happened for a long time, and we didn’t notice it, but in 2022, several primary races between Republicans have had Democrats spending on ads for the more extreme Republican, with the thought being the extremists will be easier to defeat in a general election.
This strategy better be right! or else a whole cadre of MAGA zealots are going to be in a position to really really really wreck havoc. 2016 – 2020 was bad enough, and most Republicans voted in lock-step with Trump because essentially their policy goals overlapped. But if the 2022 New MAGA gets elected, you better start looking for the exit signs.
Allegedly, Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 encouraged Trump to run, with the expectation that the country wouldn’t vote for such an obviously deranged and stupid man, we know how that turned out – not good.
One China Policy is polite fiction, at best. A nation of millions simply does not vanish because their antagonistic neighbor wants them to.
The island democracy governs itself, but China claims it as its territory. Rumors of Pelosi’s visit launched a geopolitical firestorm amid escalating tensions between the U.S. and China.
The Taiwanese government has operated separately from the mainland since nationalists fled there after losing the civil war to communists in 1949. Thirty years later, the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, adopting what’s known as the “One China” policy, in which Washington acknowledges Beijing’s position that Taiwan is a part of China. However, the U.S. has never supported China’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan and maintains a substantial, though unofficial, relationship with the island.
By law, the U.S. is obligated to provide Taiwan with weapons and services. But the U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” keeps open the question of whether it would intervene in the case of a military invasion by China. The Biden administration has been accused of mixed messaging on this, after Biden said on multiple occassions that the U.S. would come to Taiwan’s defense; a sentiment the White House walked back.
The Chinese government remains adamantly opposed to any official exchanges between Taiwan’s government and other foreign governments, and views official American contact with Taiwan as an indication of support for its independence.
The issue, besides military posturing, is economics. American businesses rely heavily upon both China and Taiwan, any additional escalation will be devastating to economies of the world.
From the People’s Republic of China perspective, One China policy is akin to Putin’s One Russia policy, namely that everywhere Russia once held territory, it should take it back, by force if necessary. The PRC hated Hong Kong when it has democracy so took action to crush independent Hong Kong, and hates that Taiwan is thriving capitalist democracy right across the Taiwan Strait. There is real danger that the PRC has plans to invade Taiwan, or otherwise attack it, and they should be stopped.
From Speaker Pelosi’s OpEd:
Today, America must remember that vow. We must stand by Taiwan, which is an island of resilience. Taiwan is a leader in governance: currently, in addressing the covid-19 pandemic and championing environmental conservation and climate action. It is a leader in peace, security and economic dynamism: with an entrepreneurial spirit, culture of innovation and technological prowess that are envies of the world.
Yet, disturbingly, this vibrant, robust democracy — named one of the freest in the world by Freedom House and proudly led by a woman, President Tsai Ing-wen — is under threat.
In recent years, Beijing has dramatically intensified tensions with Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has ramped up patrols of bombers, fighter jets and surveillance aircraft near and even over Taiwan’s air defense zone, leading the U.S. Defense Department to conclude that China’s army is “likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the PRC by force.”
The PRC has also taken the fight into cyberspace, launching scores of attacks on Taiwan government agencies each day. At the same time, Beijing is squeezing Taiwan economically, pressuring global corporations to cut ties with the island, intimidating countries that cooperate with Taiwan, and clamping down on tourism from the PRC.
In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom.
The PRC cannot back down at the moment due to domestic politics, but let’s all hope1 that cooler heads prevail. Not many truly want a war in Asia. A more likely outcome will be military displays off the coast of Taiwan and bluster. And bluster. And bluster…
Pelosi-Taiwan Taiwanese government officials confirm they have received notice that Pelosi will definitely arrive in Taipei tomorrow evening
US Navy sent the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan/two assault ships USS Tripoli and USS America with F-35 fighters to the Taiwan area pic.twitter.com/l8O8KcawnK
China has strongly objected to Pelosi’s visit, with a foreign ministry spokesperson warning on Tuesday afternoon that the US would be “held liable and pay the price for hurting China’s sovereignty and security interests”.
“Faced with reckless US disregard of China’s repeated and serious representations, any countermeasures taken by the Chinese side will be justified and necessary,” said Hua Chunying.
Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters reported several Chinese warships and planes had travelled near the median line – an unofficial border between China and Taiwan in the Taiwan strait. Citing unnamed sources, the report said the vessels had been in the area since Monday, while the latest flights occurred on Tuesday morning, prompting Taiwan’s air force to scramble its aircraft in response.
Taiwan’s defence ministry has earlier reportedly adjusted and strengthened its military’s combat readiness in response to the threat of China. According to the public broadcaster CNA, it had not formally changed the readiness level, which relates to two stages: the current regular staging, and wartime.
On Chinese social media on Tuesday there were multiple photos of dozens of tanks and other military vehicles on the streets in Xiamen, a Chinese city five kilometres across the water from the Taiwan island of Kinmen.
The fake electoral vote creator aka insurrectionists need to serve time in prison.
The New York Times reports:
Previously undisclosed emails provide an inside look at the increasingly desperate and often slapdash efforts by advisers to President Donald J. Trump to reverse his election defeat in the weeks before the Jan. 6 attack, including acknowledgments that a key element of their plan was of dubious legality and lived up to its billing as “fake.”
The dozens of emails among people connected to the Trump campaign, outside advisers and close associates of Mr. Trump show a particular focus on assembling lists of people who would claim — with no basis — to be Electoral College electors on his behalf in battleground states that he had lost.
In emails reviewed by The New York Times and authenticated by people who had worked with the Trump campaign at the time, one lawyer involved in the detailed discussions repeatedly used the word “fake” to refer to the so-called electors, who were intended to provide Vice President Mike Pence and Mr. Trump’s allies in Congress a rationale for derailing the congressional process of certifying the outcome. And lawyers working on the proposal made clear they knew that the pro-Trump electors they were putting forward might not hold up to legal scrutiny.
In a follow-up email, Mr. Wilenchik wrote that “‘alternative’ votes is probably a better term than ‘fake’ votes,” adding a smiley face emoji.
One of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The revival of a 1920s ban on abortion. The country’s worst episode of migrant death in recent memory. And an electrical grid, which failed during bitter cold, now straining under soaring heat.
The unrelenting succession of death and difficulty facing Texans over the last two months has soured them on the direction of the state, hurting Gov. Greg Abbott and making the race for governor perhaps the most competitive since Democrats last held that office in the 1990s.
Polls have shown a tightening, single-digit contest between Mr. Abbott, the two-term incumbent, and his ubiquitous Democratic challenger, the former congressman Beto O’Rourke. Mr. O’Rourke is now raising more campaign cash than Mr. Abbott — $27.6 million to $24.9 million in the last filing — in a race that is likely to be among the most expensive of 2022.
For some reason, I was exploring photos I took during a visit to Frostpocket, circa 2014. I wish it was more accessible, and friendlier for drop-in visits, because Frostpocket really is a beautiful hundred acres.
Anyway, all of these photos were processed in my digital darkroom today, but taken in September 2014.
Click to embiggen, if you wish…
Red Maple In the Rain
It did rain many of the days I was there, but not hard enough to keep us inside.
Stories We’ve Heard So Many Times Before
Leaves in water is a cliché, but still fun to photograph.
Act As If You’ve Never Been Away
Easier said than accomplished. Especially when the wind blows your subject around and you can’t get a proper focus quickly enough. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Moss And Rock
and George’s shoe…
In Phil’s house. Presumedly wood burning, and presumedly worth something now that it is such an antique.
Birch Root and Rock
I didn’t get a great photo of this but it was nonetheless impressive. Life is for the living, even birch trees attempting to get nutrients out of a rock.
One Door Will Open
The lovely colorful chaos of nature.
I have no idea what this fungi is, nor would I attempt to eat it, but it is aesthetically appealing.
I’ll believe it when my phone stops filling up with these relentless scam voice mails…
US telecom providers will now be required to block millions of illegal robocalls a day advertising extended vehicle warranties, the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday, taking aim at a group of individuals accused of sending more than 8 billion such messages since 2018.
Thursday’s order by the FCC requires voice providers to stop carrying calls the agency has linked to 13 individuals and six companies, mostly based in Texas and California but also in such far-flung places as Hungary.
The robocalls produced by the group typically begin with recorded lines such as, “We’ve been trying to reach you concerning your car’s extended warranty,” the FCC order said.
Such calls represented the single largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC in each of the past two years, adding up to thousands of complaints a year.
I am looking forward to this season finale of the Jan 6 Committee. Hope there is a second season airing this fall…
The NYT reports:
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol will hold its next public hearing on Thursday, returning to prime time for the eighth in a series of hearings that began in June.
The committee has spent more than a year investigating the events surrounding the riot. The forthcoming hearing is expected to focus on the 187 minutes during which President Donald J. Trump stood by while a mob of his supporters overran the Capitol, resisting repeated calls from those in his inner circle to tell the rioters to stand down.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to read Isaac Chotiner’s interview with noted narcissist, flim-flam man, Alan Dershowitz, you should do so. I point out that The New Yorker still is the gold standard for fact checking, which is important to remember as you encounter the many parenthetical asides that seem to contradict Mr. Dershowitz’s fables of self-regard.
Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker:
Alan Dershowitz became one of the most famous lawyers in America by representing high-profile clients such as Jeffrey Epstein, Mike Tyson, and O. J. Simpson, and enmeshing himself in political debates on subjects such as torture and the Israeli occupation. (He has defended both.) In recent years, however, his career has taken even more controversial turns, notably his public campaign against the Mueller investigation and his decision to join President Trump’s legal team. In 2019, Connie Bruck profiled Dershowitz for The New Yorker, and looked into allegations that he had sexually abused Virginia Giuffre, who was trafficked by Epstein. (Dershowitz denies the accusations.)
Dershowitz has lately been going on television and Twitter to discuss cancel culture, specifically how he has been shunned on Martha’s Vineyard, his longtime summer getaway. He even released the text of what he said was an e-mail from someone who had been beaten up on the beach for reading one of his books. I recently spoke by phone with Dershowitz, an emeritus professor of law at Harvard and the author of the new book “The Price of Principle: Why Integrity Is Worth the Consequences.” It was released last week and happens to be about the very subject of the e-mail he received: cancel culture, and an unwillingness to hear differing opinions. (He describes the book as “the story of my cancellation.”) During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed what has happened to his social life since he defended Donald Trump, his fallout with Larry David, and why he compared the January 6th committee to McCarthyism.
Governor Greg Abbott is as cold a human being in real life as he appears on television – cares for nobody, nobody cares much for him. If Texas is lucky, Abbott won’t win his re-election, but nobody is holding their breath. This is Texas after all.
Ariana Garcia, Chron reports:
Gov. Greg Abbott did not attend a single funeral for any of the 19 children or two teachers killed mass shooting at Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, according to his schedule, which was obtained through an open records request by ABC News.
Abbott’s schedule from May 25 to June 14 indicates that his last visit to Uvalde was on June 5 to attend a community worship event at the Uvalde County Fairplex. However, missing from the schedule is any mention of Uvalde victim funerals. The last funeral held in Uvalde for victims was on June 16, when 11-year-old Layla Salazar was laid to rest.
“I don’t want this to sound like some political assault on him, but at the end of the day he hasn’t been there since Day 5, when the president came… We had a failed response on giving resources to families,” [state Sen. Roland] Gutierrez said. “He did not go to one single funeral—and quite honestly, many of the families didn’t want him there.”
Gutierrez’s statements align with recent statements from some of the shooting victims’ families. During a July 13 news conference, Angel Garza, father of 10-year-old victim Amerie Jo Garza, alleged that “since this happened, Gov. Abbott has yet to reach out.” Garza added that Sen. Ted Cruz, who also attended some prayer vigils for victims, similarly failed to reach out to victims’ families.
David Frum may be an Axis of Evil asshole, but he is right sometimes. In this case, re: the ridiculousness of US ethanol policies.
The Atlantic reports:
The United States is supporting Ukraine with aid and weapons and punishing Russian aggression with financial and economic sanctions. But the United States can do more to resolve the global crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine: It can end the ethanol program.
For decades, the U.S. government has, at great expense, encouraged farmers to grow more corn so that it can be turned into ethanol, a gasoline additive. Ethanol makers receive all kinds of grants and subsidies. Federal regulations require ethanol to be blended into gasoline, creating a giant industry that would not exist without large subsidies and imperious mandates. America’s largest ethanol company earned annual revenues of $8 billion pre-pandemic. Demand from the ethanol industry, in turn, bids up the price of corn, and the income of those who farm it.
Ethanol has become a Washington joke. John McCain often quipped that he started his day with a glass of ethanol. Who could blame him? The ethanol program is a giveaway so big, so entrenched, and so wasteful that laughter might seem like the best response. But as we laugh, we’re missing that America’s ethanol madness has strengthened Russia’s grip upon the world’s food supply.
I posted a help request to TidBITS last night because Siri wouldn’t launch on my newest iPhone after I switched telecoms.
TidBITS Talk – TidBITS Talk:
I upgraded my iPhone recently and switched carriers, but now my Apple Watch (Series 5, running WatchOS 8.5.1) no longer will connect to Siri (or Shazam) but seems to be able to communicate with iPhone. I can receive calls on the watch, I can see what music is playing on the phone, etc., I receive alerts from various apps, and texts. But if I ask Siri to do something from the Watch itself, it fails eventually.
“I’m having trouble with the connection. Please try again”
Other than nuking everything on the watch, what else should I try?
Yesterday Twitter Inc. sued Elon Musk in Delaware to hold him to his agreement to buy Twitter for $54.20 per share. Twitter’s lawyers are hoping for a quick trial in September, so that the deal can close on schedule in October. You can read Twitter’s complaint here. Here’s the gist of it:
Having mounted a public spectacle to put Twitter in play, and having proposed and then signed a seller-friendly merger agreement, Musk apparently believes that he — unlike every other party subject to Delaware contract law — is free to change his mind, trash the company, disrupt its operations, destroy stockholder value, and walk away. This repudiation follows a long list of material contractual breaches by Musk that have cast a pall over Twitter and its business. Twitter brings this action to enjoin Musk from further breaches, to compel Musk to fulfill his legal obligations, and to compel consummation of the merger upon satisfaction of the few outstanding conditions.
…The basic narrative beats will be familiar. Musk secretly bought a 9.1% stake in Twitter, violating securities laws in the process, then announced that stake and agitated to join Twitter’s board
…Musk announced that he wanted to buy Twitter because he thought there were too many spam bots. He sent in an unsolicited offer to buy Twitter, did no due diligence at all about spam bots, and asked Twitter for no representations about spam bots. He imagined that there were lots of spam bots, and he was eager to “defeat” them. And then the stock market went down, so now he is pretending that he was tricked into buying Twitter because they went around lying to him about how few spam bots there were. This pretext is bad
Surgical procedures and medication for miscarriages are identical to those for abortion, and some patients report delayed or denied miscarriage care because doctors and pharmacists fear running afoul of abortion bans.
Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, numerous states are enacting bans or sharp restrictions on abortion. While the laws are technically intended to apply only to abortions, some patients have reported hurdles receiving standard surgical procedures or medication for the loss of desired pregnancies.
The uncertain climate has led some doctors and hospitals to worry about being accused of facilitating an abortion, a fear that has also caused some pharmacists to deny or delay filling prescriptions for medication to complete miscarriages, providers and patients say. Last week, the Biden administration warned that if a pharmacy refuses to fill prescriptions for pills “including medications needed to manage a miscarriage or complications from pregnancy loss, because these medications can also be used to terminate a pregnancy — the pharmacy may be discriminating on the basis of sex.”
I am ashamed to admit that my bandwidth to enable juggling 25 things at once has diminished. I have so far avoided1 the dreaded COVID-19, but cannot seem to muster energy to live, and work on my photography/art, and feed the ravenous maw of this blog. The news of our planet is entirely dreadful, each and every day, perhaps that is a factor.