Category Archives: Media Criticism

Convicting Of Federal Crimes

Ken White says it’s far too easy:

“Investigators and prosecutors will tell you that this is a good thing — that their power to convict targets for lying or obstruction helps catch criminals who would otherwise go free because of problems of proof. But people who hold vast power rarely think they ought not. In fact, the most petty and weak human reactions can lead to federal felony convictions during an investigation. To be a federal crime, a false statement to the federal government must be material — that is, meaningful.

But federal courts have defined materiality in a way that criminalizes trifles. Under current law, a statement is material if it is the sort of statement that could influence the federal government, whether or not it actually did. Hence, federal agents interrogating people always ask some questions as to which they already have irrefutable proof, hoping that the target will lie and hand the feds an easy conviction. That’s how FBI agents caught my client that early morning when he lied fruitlessly about being at a meeting the FBI knew with certainty he had attended.

People — good people, decent people, people who are usually honest — lie foolishly when frightened and under great stress. Is that immoral? That’s a philosophical question. Should it lead to a debilitating federal felony when it does not hinder a federal investigation in the slightest, when the federal government was fishing for a lie? No. That gives the feds far too much power to turn human frailty into crime.

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds says that Mueller should resign, or we need a second special counsel:

as Otis notes, the Justice Department’s rules forbid a person from participating in an investigation if doing so “may result in a personal … conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.” Mueller clearly has one here.

And yet, despite a clear requirement that Mueller be “disqualified” from this investigation, his dismissal by either Trump or Sessions on the heels of the president’s firing of Comey would create a political firestorm that the president — even if entirely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever—might be unable to survive.

And Mueller can’t fix things by simply recusing himself from the “obstruction” investigation, while delegating it to a subordinate. Perhaps unwisely, he has chosen lawyers who records show have contributed substantially to Democratic campaigns. Indeed, two have given the maximum $2,700 donation to Hillary Clinton last year, while another worked for the Clinton Foundation. No one could accept them as impartial towards the man who defeated her.

So if he cares about the rules, Mueller needs to resign. But if he doesn’t, there is another way — and it may be the only way — to avoid either a tainted investigation or a political explosion.

Sessions can and should appoint a second special counsel lacking Mueller’s close relationship to any person “substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation” of the “obstruction” issue, leaving the original investigation of “collusion” in the hands of Mueller.

And I suspect that there is no collusion. Undistracted by Comey’s nonsense, he would be able to focus on finding that.

Our Cold Civil War

While there is some violence involved, it’s largely a war of lawyers, and lawfare:

The distinguished political scientist Angelo Codevilla coined the ominous term “cold civil war” to describe America’s precarious condition, adding: “Statesmanship’s first task is to prevent it from turning hot.” The attempted massacre on June 14 of Republican congressmen and their staff by a deranged partisan of Sen. Bernie Sanders turned up the heat a notch, but it would be mistaken to attribute much importance to this dreadful outburst of left-wing rage. The augury of American fracture will not be street violence, but a constitutional crisis implicating virtually the whole of America’s governing caste. The shock troops in the cold civil war are not gunmen but lawyers.

A considerable portion of America’s permanent bureaucracy, including elements of its intelligence community, is engaged in an illegal and unconstitutional mutiny against the elected commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump. Most of the Democratic Party and a fair sampling of the Republican establishment wants to force Trump out of office, and to this end undertook an entrapment scheme to entice the president and his staff into actions which might be construed after the fact as obstruction of justice. By means yet undisclosed, the mutineers forced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn from office and now seek to bring down the president for allegedly obstructing an investigation of Gen. Flynn that arose in the first place from the entrapment scheme.

One of the Republican Party’s most distinguished statesman recently told a closed gathering that a “cold coup” is underway against the president.

That would certainly appear to be the case.

California’s Minimum Wage

It’s already devastating the restaurant industry, and it hasn’t even fully kicked in yet:

Christopher Thornberg, director of UC Riverside’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Development, told the San Bernardino Sun that politicians should have adopted a regional approach. He said it would been better to adapt minimum-wage levels to varying economies – something like the Oregon model, the nation’s first multi-tiered minimum-wage strategy.

Oregon’s minimum-wage law is phased, with increases over six years. By 2022, the minimum will be $14.75 an hour in Portland, $13.50 in midsize counties and $12.50 in rural areas.

“That makes sense,” Thornberg told the Sun. “That’s logical.”

California is even more varied economically than Oregon. Thornberg believes hiking wages in blanket fashion will spark layoffs and edge low-skilled workers out of the job market.

It’s not “logical.” It’s just slightly less insane. And this is why a federal minimum wage is even more insane.

The Giffords Assassination Attempt

Over six years later, the lie that won’t die, because it’s important to the narrative. More from Guy Benson:

The Times has added an online correction on this coruscating inaccuracy, reducing the likelihood that they’ll get sued over their libelous bilge. I obviously approve of the decision to alter this grossly inaccurate content, but the fact that their essay was approved as fit to print in the first place last evening is quite revealing. A central piece of their argument was rooted in fantastical left-wing folk lore, repeated so frequently by people who populate institutions like the New York Times editorial board that it morphed into a “fact.” The new version of the editorial still mentions Palin’s map, which is totally unconnected to anything of relevance on this subject. A bizarre non-sequitur. Their utterly wrong, unsupported implication remains intact. How about deleting the entire piece? Also, having made a change to their virtual copy under intense criticism today, will the Times showcase an apology and retraction in tomorrow’s print edition?

Don’t bet on it. Palin should sue them. This is a classic case of reckless disregard for the truth.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Cool, she may do it:

Sarah Palin indicated on Thursday that she might sue the New York Times over editorial that suggested she was in some way responsible for the 2011 shooting of then-Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords.

“Commonsense suggestion by a journalist, am talking to attorneys this [morning] and exploring options,” she said. “[By the way], wonder WHY someone would no longer be in public eye? Think constant libel & slander have anything to do with it?”

I’ve often wondered if much of her erratic behavior since her election loss was a result of all of the vile abuse she’s had to take from the media, and the Left. But I repeat myself.