Is Special Counsel Robert Mueller obstructing justice?

June 22, 2017

American prosecutors often treat the concept of obstruction of justice as if the concept only meant efforts to prevent them from successfully prosecuting a case.  That concept of obstruction might be acceptable in a country like  Nazi  Germany or the Soviet Union, but it is not acceptable in the United States of America.  The U.S. Constitution guarantees rights to American citizens accused of illegal actions.

A prosecutor who uses illegally obtained information in an investigation is guilty of obstruction of justice.   The Constitution guarantees those accused of crimes the right to confront their accusers in court because the British government had allowed convictions based on anonymous claims that might have been fabrications. Government agencies wanting to obtain information by electronic eavesdropping must first obtain approval by a judge.      Eavesdropping information obtained without court approval may be considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” and thus unusable by the prosecution.  The courts may prevent prosecution of individuals whose possible involvement in an activity is learned from “fruit of the poisonous tree”

Should American Military Employ “Comfort Women”?

June 11, 2017

“Make love not war” was a popular slogan in the late sixties.   Soldiers in many wars  have found that “making love” is a way to forget the realities of war.

Sex and war have been connected since the first time men from one village attacked another village to kidnap women.    Invading armies often have a problem with soldiers sexually assaulting local  women.
American military forces have an ongoing problem with male personnel sexually assaulting female personnel.

Although genes don’t control human behavior the way genes control the behavior of other animals,  genes do influence human behavior.    It may be significant that in species in which  males may fight each other to the death, the fighting is over acquisition of females.

During World  War II Japan decided to try to  prevent the rape problem by hiring women  to serve as “comfort women” who would provide sexual services for Japanese soldiers.   The size of the Japanese military hampered the effort to have an all volunteer unit.  Japan dealt with this situation by conscripting  women in the countries Japan conquered.  The controversy over the practice continues to  hamper relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Although I would not advocate the use of “comfort women”, I recognize “comfort women”  could provide an option for reducing rapes by male personnel.

Women providing sexual services would probably have a military job title like “personal therapist”.  The men they provide services to would be officially listed as “patients” and the “treatment” they receive would have the same privacy protection as other medical treatment.  Patients would have to pass some basic physical exam to make sure they don’t have contagious diseases or medical conditions that sexual activity might affect.   Therapists  would inform patients that a doctor or nurse might monitor their treatment by video.  Any monitoring  would be for quality control as well as to protect the therapists.   There are rare cases in which even young seemingly healthy athletes have heart attacks during strenuous activity because of undetected heart conditions.

Therapists  would receive  training as counselors and be expected  to watch for problems like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so men could  receive treatment as early as possible.
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Outside  the building where the services are provided therapists would wear the same uniforms as other female personnel during the time when they are expected to be in uniform.     To guarantee personal privacy their living quarters would be separate from where the work area even if the living quarters are in the same building.    Therapists would receive hazardous duty pay because of the disease risk.   They would have a clothing allowance for their “work clothes”.

I realize that some people will question  having the military encourage what they consider an immoral practice.   I would ask these people if they  consider war a more moral activity than making love.   What many ignore is that prostitution is a business relationship rather than a personal relationship.   Although some prostitutes enjoy their work,  they don’t become involved with their clients.  The “personal therapists” I’m proposing would be providing a therapeutic service to those who are asked to risk their lives for their fellow Americans.  How can that be immoral?

Part of the rape problem is the failure of   American culture to teach men that they should learn to control their sexual nature.  Instead American culture encourages men to expect women to serve their sexual desires.   Unfortunately it isn’t practical for the military to change men’s sexual attitudes.   The most practical alternative is to employ women whose profession involves serving men’s sexual needs.

A Hero’s Last Mission

May 24, 2017

This is the city, Fallujah, Iraq. When insurgents took over the city, elements of the 3rd Marine Regiment went to work to force them out.

It was Monday November 15th. It was hot in Fallujah. As part of Operation Al Fajr Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment was clearing houses of insurgents.

Sgt. Rafael Peralta volunteered to join an undermanned squad participating in the operation even though he wasn’t required to. Although Peralta wasn’t born in the United States, he was so grateful for being given a green card he decided to enlist in the Marines.

[Psychology professors often conduct an experiment in which someone enters the classroom does something and then leaves the room. Students typically give a variety of different accounts of what happened. If this happens in a stable situation, imagine the difficulty of recognizing and remembering what happened in a chaotic situation when someone is shooting at you and all are moving.

Those of us who have watched videos of football plays which last only a few seconds know it is sometimes necessary to rewind the video a few times to tell what happened and what order various actions occurred. The entire incident in Iraq from the opening of the door to the explosion of the grenade might have taken six seconds or less.]

After clearing several houses the Marines entered a house where they found two rooms. After clearing the first two rooms the Marines found that the two rooms were linked at the other end where they found the closed door to a third room. .

Sgt. Peralta opened the door to the third room and they were met by gunfire. In the confusion that followed. combat correspondent Lance Corporal T.J. Kaemmerer thought that Peralta was hit in the face with gunfire,. However, this claim is inconsistent with the pathologist report that his fatal head wound was in the back of the head rather than the face. The statement that “he jumped into the already cleared, adjoining room”indicates Peralta was not seriously wounded by the initial gunfire.

I doubt Kaemmerer’s description of a grenade “bouncing” into the room Peralta was in. Grenades don’t bounce very well and a grenade coming in like that wouldn’t have gotten much past the door. I think it is more probable that Peralta followed the grenade into the room. Peralta was in the best position to see the grenade come through the doorway. His view of the doorway could have allowed him to see the grenade as it left the insurgent’s hand. His movement after he opened the door might have been intended to help him try to catch the grenade or deflect it. If the insurgent noticed Peralta he likely tried to throw the grenade so it would be difficult for Peralta to catch.

Gravity would have caused the grenade to hit the floor less than half a second after it was thrown. The insurgent would have had to throw the grenade at a speed of at least 30-45 mph [44-66 feet per second] to get it into the room with the Marines It likely would have exploded in four seconds or less. It would have been difficult for someone who didn’t see the grenade coming toward him to see it until it was on the floor.

Peralta wouldn’t have had time to think about what he was doing. He would only have had time to react. Peralta might have tried, and failed, to catch the grenade. The grenade could have hit him in the face if he had gotten in it’s path. In this case, others might have interpreted his motions as an indication he had been shot.

Based on Kaemmerer’s description of the rooms,I am wondering if the grenade could have landed where the Marines saw it unless Peralta deflected it, possibly while trying to catch it. If he had deflected it to an area with other Marines he would have felt an obligation to follow it. He would have “jumped into the room”, as Kaemmerer says, to save time. When he thought he was close enough he would have tried to dive onto the grenade to save time. This motion would have drawn the attention of the other Marines to the grenade. They would have seen him first and then the grenade and assumed the grenade arrived after he was on the floor. If his dive had left him short of the grenade, he would have had to reach for it.

Peralta could not have pulled the grenade under his body directly if he had been lying face down on the floor. He would have had to have rolled onto his side to get enough clearance so the grenade would fit under his body when he rolled back onto it. The other Marines describe him as pulling the grenade to his body which is how it would have looked to them even if he used his hand to “bat” the grenade toward his torso to save time. The time required for this maneuver would likely have meant the grenade would have exploded before he could have rolled onto it. He still could have protected those who were behind him. If the grenade exploded as it was moving the fuse might have hit his body armor with the fragments hitting another area of the body. The grenade might even have bounced off the body armor as it exploded.

As I noted above, I doubt that Peralta received the controversial head wound when he opened the door. If he had been wounded at that time he would have fallen in the doorway rather than moving into the adjoining room. It is unlikely he could have been hit in the back of the head at that time. Insurgents bullets would have hit him in the face. “Friendly fire” at point blank range would have dropped him where he stood. Insurgent fire would have been unlikely to have hit him directly once he moved away from the doorway. However, there would have remained the possibility of a ricochet off a hard wall. .

The most likely time for him to have been hit in the back of the head was after he was on the floor. One of the Marines might have fired accidentally in the confusion after seeing the grenade. [Although my duties in an army post office in Vietnam didn’t involve clearing buildings there was always the possibility that the enemy would have gotten inside the perimeter at night. In that situation I would have kept my finger on the trigger in spite of the danger of accidentally putting just enough pressure on the trigger to fire a round.] If the floor where Peralta lay was hard enough a round could have ricocheted off the floor and hit his head. The Marines probably would not have noticed the sound of a rifle fired nearly simultaneously with the explosion of the grenade. A Marine who reflexively placed a little too much pressure on the trigger might not have noticed what he had done if he had been preoccupied with the grenade.

Something strange happened that November morning in a Fallujah building. A grenade went off in a room with several Marines and only one of the them was killed. The Marines who survived said that the dead Marine. Sgt. Rafael Peralta, used his body to protect them from the grenade. A pathologist claims a head wound would have prevented Peralta from covering the grenade even though Peralta might have been wounded after he moved to cover the grenade. Unless someone can come up with an alternate explanation of why only one man died, the Pentagon should accept the explanation of the eyewitnesses and award a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor to Sgt. Peralta.

Amazing Grace: The Perfect Hymn

April 18, 2017

“Amazing Grace”  is one of the most popular hymns because it has a simple message and readily lends itself to being performed  in different ways. It can be sung fast or slow, loud or soft.  Reporter Bill Moyers once did a PBS documentary about the hymn “Amazing Grace” which included several different ways of singing the hymn.   When I was in college I learned a version sung to the tune of “The Wanderer”.

I have heard impressive performances played on a magnificent pipe organ and on a simple harmonica.  It can be played on a heavenly sounding harp or on a jazzy trumpet.  I don’t know of any song I would rather hear on the bagpipes.  Or, “Amazing Grace” can be sung acappella as  Judy Collins did in a 1970 recording.

Some call “Amazing Grace” a white spiritual because  it combines English words with an African melody.  I had never really thought about where the melody came from until Larnell Harris mentioned it on one of the Gaither music programs.  According to Harris the melody is an Africa sorrow chant.

John Newton, who wrote  “Amazing Grace”, likely learned the melody while working on slave ships and briefly being a slave himself in West Africa.  When Newton wrote “a wretch like me” he meant it literally.  Newton’s sailing career began when he joined the crew of his sea captain father’s ship.  Newton served on various ships after his father retired before ending up on the slave ship Pegasus. He had so much trouble getting along with the rest of the crew that they eventually sold him to a west African slave trader who turned Newton over to his wife who abused Newton in the same way as her other slaves.  After a friend of Newton’s father rescued him. he returned to sailing and subsequently became the captain of a slave ship.  A religious conversion eventually led him to become  minister.  Decades later he became a leading advocate for abolishing slavery.

Was ISIS Behind Syria Gas Attack?

April 13, 2017

Those who claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad  used poison gas against rebels need to consider the possibility that some members of his military are ISIS sympathizers.  Considering the reaction Assad generated when he previously used nerve gas, it seems unlikely he would use gas now.  He would be unlikely to receive any benefit from using gas.

ISIS could be the biggest potential beneficiary of  using gas because of the potential of an American response against Syria.  On the eve of World War II Germany created the appearance of  a Polish attack on a German radio station to justify  a German invasion of Poland.  ISIS could have had its operatives replace regular Syrian munitions with poison gas so that the Syrian government would appear to be responsible for using the gas.

I’m sure ISIS would love to get President Donald Trump to repeat President Barack Obama’s huge blunder in Libya.  Obama created  a political vacuum in Libya by overthrowing the government without the presence of a viable replacement.   Terrorists quickly took advantage of the opportunity to operate in Libya.   ISIS gained supporters from those upset about American and European “imperialism”.

Syrian rebels don’t appear any more capable of controlling the country than Libyan rebels were at the time of the Western invasion.   American overthrow of the Syrian government would give ISIS an opportunity  to replace the geographic base it is losing in Iraq.

Westerners sometimes ask why people in the Middle East hate western nations so much.   The people of the Middle East resent Western intervention in their countries.  The areas that today are the site of countries with names like “Egypt”, “Syria”, “Iran” and “Iraq” were  the locations of the capitals of great empires when Europeans were too primitive to have governments.   ISIS and other terrorist organizations claim they can restore a Middle Eastern empire.

Those who claim Adolf Hitler didn’t use poison gas in WWII ignore the gas chambers Hitler used to murder Jews.

Syria,  Bashar al-Assad, nerve gas, ISIS, President Trump, Libya, WWII, Germany

Do Gold Sellers Know Something Buyers Don’t?

April 9, 2017

Some of the tv channels  I watch have been inundated in recent years by people trying to get others to buy gold.  They tout gold as a great investment that will go up in value.

If they really believe gold will be worth more next week  why do they want to sell now?   Do they know something about future gold prices that others don’t know?  What will they invest the money they get from selling their gold in?

One reason they might want to sell is that they think the supply of gold will increase and cause a drop in price.  Some  people believe the Pebble deposit   in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska could contain a significant amount of gold.   Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.  hopes the Trump administration will approve its application to mine this region.  Approval of the application would likely cause  an increase in the price of Northern Dynasty stock and a reduction in the price of gold.

Black Men Don’t Matter on Decades Channel

February 17, 2017

I’m white, but I am concerned that the  February schedule for the “Decades” television channel  could indicate the staff is racist.   February is supposed to be Black History month, but you can barely tell it from the Decades program schedule.   The emphasis is on publicizing the lives of those they call remarkable women even though women have the month of March as their month.

Decades normally has a schedule that combines history documentaries and entertainment programs. Each weekday has a program that summarizes major events that occurred on that day which may include events such as a birth or career milestone in a celebrity’s life.  Weekends have marathons called “binges” of a single series.  Lately they have been running mini-binges with two 3-hour periods devoted to a single series possibly featuring a celebrity being emphasized that day.   This month they are running series featuring predominately white women.  They are running a week of shows featuring black women, but except for “Touched by an Angel”  the shows have a white male as the principle character.

There aren’t very many female entertainers who are more remarkable than Debbie Allen who played  a dancing teacher on “Fame” while being the show’s choreographer.  She later became a successful director.   Diahann Carroll as “Julia” was one of the first black women to play the central character in a sitcom.    “Barefoot in the Park”, a series about a young black couple,  was the first show since “Amos and Andy” to feature a predominately black cast.  Teresa Graves starred in “Get Christie Love” the first series about  a police woman since the fifties’ series “Police Decoy”,

I had expected they would emphasize programs featuring black performers to observe Black History Month possibly including episodes of Nat King Cole’s program.   There’s no good reason to run women’s programs instead of black programs this month. One thing that would have been great would have been to run different series showing how the roles available to blacks changed since the fifties.   If they wanted to devote two months to women’s programs instead of one month they could have used April instead of February.   The devotion of a week to black women indicates they believe  black women matter.  The lack of a similar  week for lack men implies they don’t believe black  men matter.

Will Trump Bring Down Gold Prices?

January 18, 2017

ou’ve probably seen the ads urging you to purchase gold. You might want to investigate Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. first. If the company gets EPA approval for its request to mine the Pebble deposit in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska the price of gold will drop while the price of Northern Dynasty Minerals stock increases.

I had been wondering why some people are so anxious to sell their gold if it is such a great investment. It appears they want to sell before the supply of gold increases causing a drop in gold prices. Of course they won’t warn their customers that the price may drop.

Russia Didn’t “Hack” Election

December 15, 2016

Thoughts on the fake news claim that Russia “meddled” in or “hacked” the presidential election.

Those who claim that Russia “meddled” in the recent presidential election have an even lower opinion of President Barack Obama than the Republicans who call him the worst president in American history.. Countries can only “meddle” in countries that are weaker than they are, including countries that are weak because of weak or inept leaders. For example, President Barack Obama frequently meddled in middle eastern countries. So far those alleging Russian meddling have not provided evidence that Russia tried to meddle by influencing election officials or providing financial assistance to candidates. Spying on government officials or would be government officials is normal governmental action that governments do year round so they can be prepared for actions that might adversely impact them. Attempting to influence public opinion in other countries is also normal action that is done year round and is not “meddling”. Governments are likely to try to discredit opinion makers who portray their country, or its leaders, in a negative light to prevent the development of sentiment for war or other adverse actions against their country..

The media are misrepresenting the hacking issue. Russia, China, Israel and North Korea and possibly others along with the NSA probably did hack into insecure email systems, but that does not mean they altered election results as media stories falsely imply. Foreign nations have often made significant efforts to influence American public opinion since WWI, but there is nothing illegal about that. Seeking to influence public opinion isn’t “hacking” What would be improper would be if CIA employees are deliberately misrepresenting the situation in an attempt to overturn the election of Donald Trump. Such actions would subject individuals to impeachment and would indicate Congress should turn the agency’s functions over to other departments

If Russians helped us learn Hillary’s dirty secrets we should thank them just like many Americans thanked Daniel Ellsberg for revealing the Pentagon’s secrets about Vietnam During the Cold War the United States operated radio stations that broadcast news to communist countries that their governments didn’t want them to know.

Why don’t you media children grow up? If the Democrats, or Republicans, used insecure communications foreign governments would have spied on them. Russia, Israel, China and North Korea would certainly have led any “hacking”, but others might also have participated. Governments have to spy on each other, and on political candidates, so they can prepare for actions that might negatively impact them. If the Russians informed us of Hillary’s secrets the way Daniel Ellsberg did the Pentagon’s secrets we should thank them rather than complain. Foreign governments have been making significant efforts to affect voters’ opinions since at least WWI so any Russian effort to affect the 2016 election wouldn’t be anything new.

Democrats need to accept the fact that Hillary Clinton lost because she was a lousy candidate. Party leaders had discouraged people from running against her for the nomination because they knew she was a lousy candidate.

Black Man Wants Father’s Identify

November 7, 2016

There is a young black man who is attempting to learn for sure who his father is, but the man he has long believed to be his father continues to ignore him.  He is attempting to obtain the man’s DNA so he can find out for sure.   He has gone so far as to ask the President of the United States, Barack Obama, for help because the father is a  politician  President Obama is acquainted with.   The father claims to favor racial equality on the political level, but apparently not at the personal level.

The alleged father wouldn’t be the first white 20th Century politician to have fathered a black child.  Former Sen. Strom Thurmond  fathered a black child, but Thurmond accepted the responsibility of being a father.  Thurmond kept in touch with his daughter and financed her college education.   Although Thurmond had fought racial integration at the political level, he had no trouble having a personal relationship with a black daughter.

And now for what commentator Paul Harvey would have called the “Rest of the Story”.   The young man’s name is Danney Lee Williams-Clinton and the man he believes to be his father is Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States.