Impeachment

The House Progressive-Democrats have settled on two Articles of Impeachment.

The first article is on abuse of power. Democrats allege that Mr Trump took advantage of his position as president to pressure Kyiv to investigate a political rival. The second article is on obstruction of Congress, related to the president’s moves to block aides from participating in the impeachment investigation.

In conjunction with this, The Wall Street Journal asked a question:

Do you think President Trump will be impeached in the House under these two articles?

“Peace” in Donbas

Russia and Ukraine say they have agreed a ceasefire, to be effective by year’s end, in eastern Ukraine, currently occupied by Russia (along with Crimea) and Russia-instigated and -backed “rebels.”  It’s an unsatisfactory ceasefire.

There is no agreement on a timetable for free elections in the occupied eastern oblasts, even assuming the dubious need at all for elections there separate from the regular national elections. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants Russian troops out of those oblasts before the elections; Russia’s President Vladimir Putin insists merely that Ukraine should give those oblasts autonomy before the elections. Zelenskiy is right: elections have no possibility of being free with Russian troops occupying the region.  It’s an unsatisfactory ceasefire.

It Doesn’t Matter

Vice President Mike Pence doesn’t think it’s a done deal that the Progressive-Democrats have the votes in the House to impeach President Donald Trump.

He’s operating from a misunderstanding of the Progressive-Democrats’ purpose. Their move has nothing to do with impeachment—they know they have no case based on what they’ve leaked from their secret hearings and what’s been exposed in both their committees’ public hearings—and everything to do with smearing Trump and poisoning the upcoming election.

As Al Green (D, TX) has made clear.

Subpoenas

Congressman Jim Banks (R, IN) wants to subpoena Congressman Adam Schiff’s (D, CA) telephone records in retaliation for Schiff’s releasing the personal call records of a fellow Congressman, journalists, and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyers.

This is why I’ve called for a tit for tat.

Banks’ anger is understandable, but his proposed retaliatory move is misguided.  The Congressman whose call record was so dishonestly publicized by Schiff, Devin Nunes, has the better response: deal with Schiff’s dishonesty and his abuse of subpoenas in court, not with revenge.

Negotiated Penalties

I’m not going to pick on Boeing, but I am going to describe that company’s alleged wrong-doing in a particular case as a canonical example of a principle.

Boeing stands accused by the FAA of

install[ing] defective parts inside the wings of around 130 737NG aircraft and then knowingly vouch[ing that] they met all federal safety requirements.

In consequence, the FAA has proposed a $3.9 million penalty.  As if Boeing should have a say in the penalty it chooses to pay.  This is nonsense.

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

That’s what French unions are demanding with their strikes against French President Emmanuel Macron’s and French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s plans to streamline, standardize, and otherwise reduce the cost to French taxpayers of France’s byzantine pension system.

Never mind that the pension system consists of 42 different pension plans or that French civil servants insist that they are, somehow, special and so should have special perquisites unavailable to petty private sector workers.

Trains, subways, and buses were still severely curtailed on Friday, and hundreds of domestic and regional flights were canceled. There were no demonstrations on Friday, but unions have warned the strike could last days and become one of the biggest in France in over two decades.

Streamlining Negotiations

DoJ says it wants to “streamline” negotiations over the size of penalties misbehaving white collar employees should pay.

Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski, the head of the department’s criminal division—which overseas various white-collar criminal investigations—said the DOJ has sought to reduce the time it takes to negotiate resolutions by grounding proposed fines in US sentencing guidelines and other objective criteria.

Here’s a thought on how to streamline those negotiations.

Stop negotiating.  Make a plea offer (rarely, these too often get used to extort guilty pleas of any sort), and if the white collar declines—no back and forth—go to criminal trial.  Better, if DoJ thinks it has an actual case, go straight to criminal trial.

YGTBSM

Congressman Al Green (D, TX) is upset that, of all of the law professor witnesses testifying at Wednesday’s Jerry Nadler-run (D, NY) Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing, not one of them was “a person of color.” In his upset, he actually said this on the House floor before the Committee began its round of the Progressive-Democrats’ inquisition:

It hurts my heart, Mr Speaker, to see the Judiciary Committee hearing experts on the topic of impeachment—one of the seminal issues of this Congress—hearing experts…and not one person of color among the experts.
What subliminal message are we sending to the world when we have experts but not one person of color? Are we saying that there are no people of color who are experts on this topic of impeachment?

Seller’s Remorse

Not because they mistakenly sold, though, rather because they’re being blocked from selling. The People’s Republic of China’s telecom company Huawei is suing over an FCC ruling that prevents American rural wireless telecom companies from using Federal dollars to buy Huawei equipment.

Huawei executives have long hung their hats on this bit as their primary reason for being allowed into our national communications networks:

Huawei has long said that it is owned by its employees, operates independently of Beijing and would never spy on behalf of any government.

“The Burden of Compliance”

Hospitals have filed their initial suit to prevent the Trump administration from promulgating a rule that would require hospitals to make public the secret rates they agree with insurers. Their argument centers on this:

The burden of compliance with the rule is enormous, and way out of line with any projected benefits associated with the rule[.]

It’s hard to understand the degree of burden in simply publishing the agreed rates. Paper and ink aren’t expensive, and electrons are even cheaper.  Beyond that, the benefits are enormous: it would allow patients and prospective patients to know which hospital charges what for a given procedure, so the patient could determine—under his own imperatives—which hospital has the most cost effective procedure.