Category: Politics

The Memo

So yesterday the GOP released the long-awaited Nunes Memo about supposed malfeasance in the FBI and their attempts to tip the election or undermine Trump. The memo is about six pages long and you can read it very quickly.

I must say, for all the hype, this landed with a resounding thud. It didn’t say much that we hadn’t already heard. Partisans will claim vindication for whatever it is they believe. But it’s not the game-changer it was cracked up to be. Most of the commentators appear not to have read the bloody thing, even though it’s a few pages long. A few notes:

  • The hysterical claims from Democrats like Pelosi that the release of this memo endangered national security are indeed hysterical. While the memo was classified, nothing in it reveals intelligence methods or reveals anything the Russians didn’t already know. If anything, it highlights our government’s reflexive tendency to classify everything, regardless of its importance.
  • The hysterical claims that this reveals a vast conspiracy to throw the election to Clinton or undermine Trump are also hysterical. The primary complaint is about the process by which the Carter Page FISA warrant was obtained. But Page was no longer a member of the Trump team in October 2016, when the FISA warrant was issued. And Page had been on the FBI’s radar for years before this. The warrant was also renewed, which indicates additional information was coming to light.
  • Conservatives are harping on the use of the partisan Steele Dossier to obtain the warrant. But there are several points to untangle. First, the report that the warrant would not have been obtained without the Steele Dossier is second-hand. A number of people are already disputing this. Second, there is no requirement in the law that potential biases in information need to be revealed. And it’s not clear that there should be. What matters is if the information is accurate, not where it comes from. If I report someone to the police for dealing drugs, it doesn’t matter if I have a personal vendetta against him and the police are not required to tell a judge if I do (and indeed don’t, when they are tipped off by rival drug dealers).
  • In addition, not all of the material in the Dossier was “salacious and unverified”. The Nunes memo misquotes Comey, who said that some of the information was salacious and unverified. What matters is if that unverified stuff was material to the warrant. The memo doesn’t reveal whether it was or not.
  • The memo does not the FBI used a news report to confirm the Steele Dossier; a news report that was based on … Steele himself. But it’s not clear if this was the only confirmation they used.
  • Indeed, there is a lot of important information the memo does not reveal: what other confirming evidence the FBI had, what specific information from the Steele Dossier was used for the warrant, what information came to light that justified future warrants. Nunes is not a stupid man. It’s my experience than when not-stupid people ask the wrong questions, it’s because the right ones aren’t giving them the answers they want.
  • The memo reveals that a couple of people involved in the Page investigation did not want Trump elected. That’s hardly a giant conspiracy. And that’s hardly damaging since FBI agents are allowed to have opinions. The questions is whether their opinion affected their work and … this doesn’t make the case for that. I’m further unimpressed because, a week ago, we saw hysterical claims about a “secret society” in the FBI that turned out to be … a one-line joke in a text message. We’ve heard a lot of hysteria on this subject with little to back it up.
  • This is especially true now that we know that Strzok was one of those pushing to re-open the Clinton e-mail investigation days before the election, an event that may have tipped the election to Trump.

In short, the memo is not nothing but it’s not the game-changer we were promised. At worst, it reveals some sloppiness by the FBI and possibly some bia. It’s hardly a revelation to those even vaguely familiar with the bureau’s methods that they are occasionally sloppy and biased.

Look, if the Republicans want to make the case that the FISA process is opaque, canted against the civil liberties of Americans and open to misdirection and misleading claims, I’m not going to argue against that. But … where the fuck have they been for the last 15 years?! People have been complaining about this for a long time. Some Republicans — Justin Amash, Rand Paul — have some credibility on this. But hearing this from Trump supporters, from Republicans who voted to expand FISA surveillance just a few weeks ago — reeks of partisanship.

No. No, it’s worse. It reeks of elitism.

You may remember last year I wrote about the Comet Ping Pong incident where Right Wing idiots conjured a sex trafficking conspiracy in a pizzeria out of thing air, culminating in some guy taking shots at the owner.

As my friend Maggie McNeill said, here is the real story: our national hysteria over sex trafficking finally hurt a friend of the powerful. This war is damaging the lives of thousands of consenting adults every day. But they don’t matter because they’re not politically connected. The owner of this pizzeria is a friend and fund-raiser for Clinton. So suddenly, miraculously, it’s a national crisis.

So yeah, let’s talk about conspiracy theorists and the people who pass on their crazy conspiracy theories. Let’s talk about Alex Jones and 4Chan and all that. Let’s acknowledge that this pizzagate business if a fabrication that is making life hell for an innocent person. But let’s also talk about the trafficking hysteria that fed into this and that results in guns being pointed in the faces of consenting adults every day.

Because until we talk about that, this Comet Ping Pong business is just another example of how crushing people’s freedom is fine … until it happens to the elites or their friends.

Every day in this country, hundred of violent no-knock SWAT raids are launched against our citizens, mostly for drugs. Some are justified. But many of these fail to recover drugs or weapons. Occasionally, they result in tragedies like a flash-bang grenade mutilating a toddler. And many of them are based on warrants that have a much more tenuous basis than the Page FISA warrant. Every day, boilerplate language is fed to judges. Every day, false or misleading claims are made. Every day, criminals accused of crimes and trying to get off are used as the basis of warrants, arrests or court testimony. And this happens without a peep from the Republicans.

I’ll believe that Republicans care about the FISA process when they care about it for someone not connected to the Trump campaign. I’ll believe they care about raids and biased warrants when they care about it for everyone else. Until that day, I see this for what it is: an attempt to muddy the waters and deflect attention away from the serious accusations against Carter Page and possible related allegations against Trump.

The Return of the Shutdown

It’s baaaack:

Much of the federal government officially shut down early Saturday morning after Senate Democrats, showing remarkable solidarity in the face of a clear political danger, blocked consideration of a stopgap spending measure to keep the government operating.

The shutdown, coming one year to the day after President Trump took office, set off a new round of partisan recriminations and posed risks for both parties. It came after a fruitless last-minute negotiating session at the White House between Mr. Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

With just 50 senators voting in favor, Senate Republican leaders fell well short of the 60 votes necessary to proceed on the spending measure, which had passed the House on Thursday. Five conservative state Democrats voted for the spending measure. Five Republicans voted against it, although one of those, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, did so for procedural reasons.

The basics are this: the Democrats will not agree to a continuing resolution without a fix to the DACA situation (a problem I warned about back in September when Trump struck his crap deal with the Democrats). It seemed that there was a deal on immigration earlier this week but after a handshake deal with Schumer, Trump changed his mind apparently on the urging of the more anti-immigration members of his staff. He then indicated that he would not agree to an immigration deal until after a continuing resolution was passed. The Administration’s shifting narrative has left the Senate GOPers scrambling around, trying to figure out what exactly the President’s stance is.

Right now, everyone is trying to find someone to blame. As far as that goes, I would allocate the blame thusly:

Chuck Schumer (20%) — Schumer made passage of the CR conditional on a DACA agreement. I support DACA (as do the vast majority of Americans, including Republicans). But this is the big hangup. Even attaching six years of CHIP funding couldn’t get him on board.

Mitch McConnel (30%) – Flake effectively called McConnell out, saying they should put together a deal and send it Trump and let him sign or veto it. Unfortunately, that chance may have passed. With the shutdown in effect, Trump will feel that his manhood is at stake. Which means #1 is:

Trump (50%) – Trump killed a bipartisan deal on DACA, which plunged us into this abyss. He has given no indication to his own party what his intentions are. And by making immigration his signature issue, he has put that as the stumbling block before everything. In past government shutdowns, the President played a key role, making it clear what he wanted, what he might concede on, what he might not. In the Gingrich-Clinton shutdown, Clinton was constantly negotiating with the GOP and you knew what his stance was. In the Obama-Ryan shutdown, both sides were clear on their intentions. Hell, if you go back to the Carter shutdowns, it was clear where everyone stood on the abortion funding issue. Having a White House with no clear agenda is the biggest problem right now.

It’s hard to give the Democrats most of the blame here when the Republicans control both houses and the White House. They’re being dumb to shut down the government over DACA but the Republicans are more dumb not only for failing to come up with a deal but for kicking down the road again back in September.

In any case, the big question is where do we go from here and … I have no idea. The logical course is for the Senate to make a deal without Trump and then hope he’ll sign it. But Republicans are too cowardly and Democrats too craven for that right now. So I expect this one to last for a while.

A Seat For The Deplorable Vet

The SOTU is coming at the end of the month. If we go with some of the Chicken Little’s here, the true TDS sufferers, the state is in bad shape,”grim, desperate times “, gee, that sounds pretty bad. Of course, reality is otherwise.

Your typical SOTU is more fanfare, boilerplate, propaganda, and talking points then any real objective analysis of current affairs. The President will always put a happy face on events, unless his party does not hold Congress, then it’s the other guy’s fault. No real news is made or new policies revealed, some strutting and jeering, but usually just snooze inducing. Of course this upcoming SOTU will be a bit different, see, some Democrats just can’t be in the same room with Trump, so they will boycott, what a punch of pussies;

On Monday, after Congresswoman Maxine Waters joined other Democratic lawmakers announcing they planned to skip President Trump’s State of the Union address, an American veteran who served 10 years in the Army and two tours in Afghanistan had a a great idea that quickly went viral, suggesting that the seats be filled with veterans instead.

Waters announced last Friday night on MSNBC that she would join three other House Democrats, Rep. John Lewis (GA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (FL), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (OR) to boycott the January 30 address. Waters snapped, “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar? … He doesn’t deserve my attention.”

The veteran had a powerful rejoinder to Waters and her cohorts:

Here is Deplorable Vet, and his tweets.

What a great idea. I suggest Trump send out a tweet requesting that any Dem congress critters that wish to stay home and catch up on old reruns of Gossip Girl, let him know a head of time so he can fill those seats with Vets. In addition, invite a few hundred vets to the event and if no seats are available, standing room only can be used in the back. As several respond tweets can attest, many vets would love to attend. We can all be spared the sour constipated faces that normally accompany the sore losers, make it a party.

Maybe something like this.

Wrong is not Unconstitutional

I’m a bit bumfuzzled by last week’s judicial decision on DACA. A federal judge suspended Trump’s efforts to end DACA. Doug Mataconis gets into the weeds of the federal issue, notably the issue of “equitable estoppel” — the idea that it is unfair to DACA recipients to have had the government make promises to them, have them act on those promises and then have the rug jerked out from under them. I understand those arguments, to the extent I can. But ultimately, it seems absurd that Trump can not undo by executive order what Obama did by executive order.

Look, I’m in favor of extending DACA. And it frustrates me no end that Trump apparently nixed a deal last week on advice from rat-toad Stephen Miller. But he is will within his authority to undo Obama’s executive orders. In fact, most of Trump’s “accomplishments” in his first year have simply been rescinding Obama executive orders. Live by the pen and the phone, die by the pen and the phone. I opposed Obama’s DACA order precisely for that reason: that this is something that should be done through Congress. Yeah, Trump’s being a jerk by treating the Dreamers this way. But Obama was just as big a jerk by getting the Dreamers to believe that they were taken care of when they, in fact, were not.

I have been saying this now for 15 years and the lesson is still not sinking in: executive power is not a way to run a government. The Democrats still haven’t learned this lesson; their leadership voted just last week to give Trump expanded surveillance powers. But the danger to DACA recipients is the result of depending on the executive to right all the wrongs in our country. What one king can do another can undo. And that is no way to run a country.

The Wolff Book

Look, I understand it’s the BIG NEWS now that Michael Wolff wrote a book that purports to chronicle Trump’s rise to power and first year in office. But having read excerpts from it, it crosses me as as bit … exaggerated (and frankly, sloppy). I think it’s quite likely that Trump didn’t really want to be President and I think it’s quite likely that his Administration, especially in the early days, was marked by chaos, backstabbing and incompetence. But the picture he paints is one of complete dysfunction which I’m not seeing. Like it or not, this Administration has gotten some things done. Blunderingly, haltingly and while pissing two-thirds of the country off. But they did put in a travel restriction, they did cut taxes, they did get judges appointed, they have rolled back some regulation, they are ending a lot of immigration programs and may move on trade soon. Whether you like what they’re doing or not — and I have many issues — this is not an Administration in complete paralysis.

Moreover, think it would be dangerous for Trump opponents to read this and underestimate the relative order that Kelly has brought to things. There is a tendency of the “resistance” to buy any story about Trump as long as it’s bad, to see his tweets as a diagnostic of what’s going on inside the White House. And there’s been a recent and foolish tendency to try to diagnose Trump as having a mental disease. But NeverTrumper David Brooks cautions against this:

Imagine if Trump didn’t tweet. The craziness of the past weeks would be out of the way, and we’d see a White House that is briskly pursuing its goals: the shift in our Pakistan policy, the shift in our offshore drilling policy, the fruition of our ISIS policy, the nomination for judgeships and the formation of policies on infrastructure, DACA, North Korea and trade.

It’s almost as if there are two White Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk in front of the TV, the lawyers working the Russian investigation and the press operation. Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.

I mention these inconvenient observations because the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.

Exactly. The internet has been buzzing about a recent report that Trump only works at most about 7 hours a day and spends most of his time watching television and talking on the phone. Let’s assume that’s true. And? What does this mean, exactly? Many celebrity politicians get bored with politics once they realize how limited their power is. I have long predicted that this would happen with Trump. The descriptions of Trump cross me less as a Howard Hughes type madman gradually retreating to his lair and more of a man who really doesn’t want to be President and is happy to turn as much responsibility over to his staff as possible. This is probably for the best, but it is a double-edged sword. Trump’s staff are unelected, only accountable to him and free to pursue their own agendas. Many of the policies we see being enacted are still bad ideas. And the possibility that Trump is an unstable person looms over us. So, sure, there is reason for concern. But the recent spate of articles calling for the 25th Amendment to be invoked are still, one year into this Administration, premature. This is not a situation for panic. Yet.

Our friend Thrill read the book and has more detail. But my limited time has become even more limited now that I’m teaching so I will probably not find the time to slog through it. Nevertheless, I will recommend taking it a grain of salt. Hell, I recommend taking any story about the inner workings of this Administration with a grain of salt.

Lock Her Up? Not So Fast

Russian collusion, that is what they told us, remember? Not being able to accept the unfathomable (Hillary lost? How did that happen, Ah, the sneaky Russians) an explanation was needed, even a fabricated one. The problem with running with a fabricated narrative and tasking investigators to look under rocks, some of your dirty laundry just might turn up………oops;

Hillary Clinton could be in for a rough 2018. The former Obama-era Secretary of State is facing three investigations and could be part of a fourth investigation, all of which the Clintons insist is nothing more than a manufactured attempt by “Trump” and “Fox News” to divert attention from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia election probe.

Below are the investigations that Clinton is facing, or could face in the near future:

Taken in succession;

1) Clearly this was long overdue. I know there is a substantial cadre of followers out there that parrot the notion, “Hey, she lost, you guys won, we don’t lock up political opponents like banana republics, leave her alone”. This would naturally follow if the losing opponent had not committed actual crimes. If an FBI investigation (a real one, not one guided by a Hillary sycophant) reveals irregularities, doesn’t justice demand some retribution? As the very least, massive fines and a closing down of that Clinton money laundering enterprise? Lets see were the facts take us.

2) This one stunk from the very beginning. I was going to tic off all the irregularities but I found this, from a real live seasoned FBI investigator;

When it happened I wrote posts about the irregularities, Comey putting on a “prosecutor” hat (one they don’t ever wear), the clandestine meeting at the tarmac, no grand jury, immunity given out like candy. But this is a boombshell;

On Thursday, The Hill published a report from John Solomon which featured former FBI Director James Comey’s original draft on the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server. The draft showed that the term “gross negligence” was used multiple times and specifically said that there was evidence to conclude that Clinton committed a felony. Anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok, who texted about having an “insurance policy” against Trump’s election, softened the language in Comey’s draft so Clinton could avoid possible criminal charges.

Oh, and guess what, Comey probably needs to go to jail as well. Comey giving his friend classified memo’s to leak to the press? Let’s look into that as well.

3)I know Hal has told us over and over that there is no there there, but smarter more connected and certainly more knowledgeable folks have opined that there is lots of there there, for now I say lets investigate. It certainly seems like a quid pro quo, but if “seems” was all you needed to convict, Zarate and Officer Yanes would be in prison now.

4) OK, now this one is rather recent, and about a juicy as they get. We now most of the lengths Obama went to secure his bad Iranian nuclear deal (he needed something to secure a flapping in the wind legacy) but if any of this is true, great googly moogly, this would be huge. Put some sunshine on this as well.

Democrats have long backtracked from their Russian collusion meme, now all that’s left is to let Mueller hunt for evidence for their inevitable impeachment wet dream. But it is amusing to watch them trip over each other to get away from the Steele Dossier;

Democrats have been quoting from the infamous anti-Trump “Steele dossier” as if it were gospel, but now that Hillary Clinton has been revealed as its paymaster and a Hillary-friendly FBI is under investigation for possibly launching the Trump-Russia “collusion” probe under its false pretenses, they are suddenly in full retreat from it.

Their credibility is in tatters along with the discredited document.

You know, if Hillary just road into the sunset and disappeared like all other losers, I would probably (?) be more forgiving. But justice has really been turned on it’s head of late. Flynn is hip deep in the grease for lying, but Hillary lied, Mills lied, Abedine lied, that tech guy that bleached her server, he lied, Lady Justice is supposed to keep her blind fold on tight, and the rule of law equally applied is the very cornerstone of our democracy.

No, Hillary or Comey or any of the other bit players are going to jail, or is Trump going to fire Mueller, but normal folk like to see evil doers pay for their sins. If anything, the Clintons and all their willing henchmen need to be exposed so that the history books have a proper accounting of events. Ditto with Trump, he better have all his ducks in a row because if the dems take the house this year……….the best paid job in DC, being a Trump lawyer.

The Tax Bill Passes

So, it happened. The GOP got the votes for the tax bill and it passed both houses today. Trump is guaranteed to sign it.

The reconciliation process fixed some of the flaws in the bill but many of the others — the explosion of debt, the blow to individual insurance markets, the half-baked territorial tax, the BS budget gimmicks that make the bill seem smaller than it actually is — remain. The cut in the corporate tax rate is good as are some of the simplifications. But it’s not the radical reform we needed. In the end, however, the deficit remains my primary concern. This is yet another example of how the GOP has abandoned even the pretense of fiscal conservatism.

That having been said, the reactions from the Left Wing are nothing short of hysterical. Seemingly, every liberal blog out there is calling this a betrayal, a plundering of America, the end of freedom, the end of America, the end of the world. The GOP tax cut bill is irresponsible, but if the “resistance” wants to be taken seriously, they need to knock it off with this apocalyptic bullshit. A bill can be bad and not be the end of the world. And hearing cries about “the process” from people who cheered Obamacare and “fiscal responsibility” from people who thought the stimulus was too small is laughable. This will not be the panacea the Republicans are claiming; but neither will it be armageddon. It’s simply one more step on our way to full fiscal insolvency, a process that’s been going, almost without pause, for 15 years.

What I think really bothers the Left is that Trump finally has an accomplishment he can claim. Frankly, he’s welcome to it.

That last part has been harped on by the Trumpaloos as proof of Trump’s genius. But I have a hard time believing any Republican President wouldn’t have gotten this tax cut through. And they might have gotten a much better and more responsible bill.

I know my blogging has fallen dramatically since Trump’s election. I’ve gone from posting almost every day to maybe once a week. The reason is because I can’t think of much to say. Trump is bad, the Democrats are stupid and the GOP is reckless. Each day of 2017 has been just a rerun of those realities. There are only so many ways I can say the same thing.

Hopefully, 2018 will see some changes. I suspect — or maybe hope is the right word — that the GOP will begin to resist Trump’s worst tendencies now that they’ve gotten their judges and their tax cuts. But we shall see.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, folks.

Moore Loses

Right now, the AP and other organizations are projecting Doug Jones to win the Alabama Senate race. While I have my issues with Jones (and the Democratic Party), I can’t help but be relieved. Having that Constitution-shredding theocrat in Washington would have been a nightmare.

It will be interesting to see what happens now. This was a clear rejection of Trump, Bannon and the radical wing of the GOP. They managed to blow a Senate seat they should have taken by 30 points. If the GOP doesn’t shape up, they are looking at losing the whole shebang next year.

The Death of Daniel Shaver

In early 2016, pest-control specialist Daniel Shaver was a in a hotel drinking with two friends he’d picked up and showing off a pellet gun he used for his job. Someone saw him at the window and called the police. What resulted was a police officer shooting Shaver to death. The officer was acquitted last week and the judge released the body cam video of the shooting. If you can stomach it, here it is:

If you can’t watch — which I understand — I’ll tell you what happens. Shaver — drunk, scared, crying and begging the officers not to shoot him — is trying to comply with the barked orders of one of the officers, which are often contradictory and confusing. As he begins crawling toward the officers, he reaches back — possibly to pull up his pants. At that point, the officer with the camera shoots him five times, killing him. The officer who shot him was removed from the force at least in part for etching “You’re Fucked” in the barrel of his rifle.

Patterico, a prosecutor, gives as good a defense of the shooting as can be given here, citing videos that were often deceptive as to what was happening. It’s a fair analysis but I disagree with it. There were multiple officers at the scene; there was no indication of a second gunman; telling Shaver that if he moved the wrong way he’d get shot was a grossly unreasonable demand to make. Patterico’s analysis illustrates, once again, the underlying problem with police-civilian confrontations: untrained civilians are expected to react perfectly and not make a single mistake; trained police officers are allowed leeway for mistakes and errors. We’ll break down shootings like the Zapruder film to illustrate “mistakes” the victim made that justified the shooting; but we won’t hold officers to the same standard.

What we see in the video is the result of the aggressive training police officers have been getting in recent years (one of which is literally called “Bulletproof Warrior”). They are told to see every movement as a potential attack — this at a time when shooting of police officers and assaults on officers are at an all-time low. And they react accordingly.

The reason for the acquittal is that juries have been told, based on Supreme Court precedent, that a shooting is justified if the police are in fear of their lives. Note that there’s no requirement that the fear be reasonable. Or that the fear not be a result of their own previous actions. If police needlessly provoke a confrontation that results in a civilian getting shot, all the jury needs to consider is what was going on at the moment of the shooting, not all the mistakes that led up to that. In the Tamir Rice incident, for example, the fact that the police roared up in a car, jumped out and opened fire was considered irrelevant. All that mattered was that Rice made some motion that could possible be interpreted as dangerous (the avoidance of which would have required superhuman reflex control on his part).

This, again, is not a standard that applies to civilians. Had Daniel Shaver shot an officer under similar circumstances, he’d be on death row. Had Shafer needlessly provoked or confronted the officers, he’d be held responsible.

I don’t know what we can do to stop this. Over a thousand civilians are killed by police every year, accounting for one-third of the stranger killings in the US. Granted, sometimes those a unavoidable; there are people who decided to attack cops. But over and over again, we see avoidable shootings for which no one is held responsible.

(One rare exception was the Walter Scott shooting. Officer Slager was recently found guilty of murder and sent to prison. But this is hardly a vindication. Slager was caught on cell phone video shooting a fleeing unarmed man in the back. Before that video emerged, he was well on his way to acquittal, claiming that he shot Scott when the latter grabbed his taser (even falsely claiming to have performed CPR). Had it not been for the civilian taking video, I doubt he would have even been charged.)

We need a serious change in how we approach policing in this country. Our methods are designed to deal with crime rates of 30 years ago, which were double what they are now. No, scratch that. They were designed to deal with a supposed wave of superpredators and monsters that never emerged. Until things change, people will continue to die and distrust of the police will continue to grow.

The Steinle Verdict

Yesterday, a jury acquitted Jose Inez Garcia Zarate of both murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Kate Steinle, while convicting him of a gun charge. Zarate was a seven-time felon who had been deported five times from the United States. ICE asked San Francisco to detain him but San Francisco is a sanctuary city. As he was neither facing a violent felony charge nor had violent felony convictions, he was released. While in the Embarcadero district, he picked up a gun and either fired it or had it accidentally go off. The bullet ricocheted and hit Steinle in the chest, severing her aorta and killing her. She was 32.

Naturally, there has been a lot of anger at the verdict, led by the Baby in Chief. But there are two very separate issues here.

First, I believe that the jury delivered the correct verdict. The death of Steinle, while horrifying, appears to have been an accident (or at least could not be proven one beyond a reasonable doubt). Zarate didn’t deliberately shoot her. And under California law, a voluntary manslaughter charge requires a deliberate act.

Second, there is the debate over sanctuary cities, multiple re-entry illegals, the wall and “Kate’s Law”. To me, this debate should be going on independent of the verdict of juries. We need to be thinking about the future, not trying to prevent the past. I’m mixed on a lot of this. I’m not happy with sanctuary cities which defy federal law for political reasons but many of the proposed solutions to his problem cross me as unconstitutional. Kate’s Law — which would impose mandatory minimum’s — strikes me as a potential disaster:

I’ve never seen any credible evidence that more prosecutions or higher sentences deter aliens from returning after deportation. Certainly an alien with a criminal record who is sitting in federal prison is not, at that moment, returning after another deportation and committing more crimes, but the system lacks the resources to make a statistically significant impact through such incarcerations, unless you’d like to pay a lot more in taxes, which you would not. And while you are incapacitating criminal aliens through mandatory-minimum incarceration you are not using those prosecutors, judges, or jail cells to incapacitate other criminals, including domestic criminals who offend at a higher rate.

Mandatory minimums, if applied rigorously, would therefore dramatically reduce federal immigration prosecutions. Of course, they wouldn’t be applied rigorously; they almost never are. Instead, the likely outcome is this: Congress would pass mandatory minimum laws covering some illegal reentries. Federal prosecutors would retain discretion of whether to charge aliens under those new statues or under existing statutes without mandatory minimums. Federal prosecutors would use that discretion the way they usually do — to coerce cooperation and guilty pleas. So the length of sentences for aliens returning after deportation wouldn’t increase; there would just be more prosecutorial power and discretion and somewhat quicker pleas. The impact of the law would be the opposite of how it is sold to the public.

Ultimately, what we need is comprehensive immigration reform. Streamline the immigration process for legal immigrants while improving enforcement of those laws. We’ve known this and needed this for 15 years. But every time it comes up, Republicans scream “amnesty”, Democrats scream “racism” and a compromise becomes impossible.

This is a bit personal for me. Many years ago, a close relative — who I’ll call Liz — was T-boned at an intersection by a truck full of illegal immigrants who blew through a red light. Her car careened into a telephone poll. She was not wearing her seat belt. The accident broke one of her high cervical vertebra. Fortunately, her spine was not severed or she would have died on the spot or been quadriplegic. But the injury has dogged her and will dog her for the rest of her life. The illegal immigrants vanished, leaving her insurance to cover the cost.

You can talk all day about how immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than American citizens or that they’re just here to work, etc. But those words mean nothing to someone who has had a loved one injured or, God forbid, killed by a person who should not have been in this country in the first place. Their anger and frustration over that is not racism. It’s not bigotry. It’s not white supremacy. It’s a normal reaction to tragedy that could have been avoided.

People are saying Kate would still be alive if we’d had a wall or if Obama had not been “weak” on immigration (this about the President who set records in deportations). Maybe. But I would rather think about the future and what we can do to prevent other tragedies. A wall by itself will only stimulate the Mexican ladder industry. But a comprehensive approach would allow law-abiding people to come here, would allow us to know where they are and what they’re up to and free up resources to keep people like Zarate out of the country.

Unfortunately, I see no chance this will happen. Our Congress is useless, our President is clueless and our media are chasing their own tails.