10 May 2017   Leave a comment

The deluge of commentary about the firing of Comey from the FBI makes careful analysis difficult–there is too much to process.  But some things seem to be clear.

1. The stated reason for Comey’s dismissal is not credible.  The argument that because Comey bungled the Clinton investigation in July and October of 2016 has nothing to do with a dismissal in May of 2017.  If President Trump truly believed that the Clinton investigation was not handled properly, then he should have fired Comey on the day he was inaugurated.  It may be the case that Mr. Trump had been thinking about the dismissal for some time, but previous comments by Mr. Trump and Sean Spicer belie that argument.  Moreover, the letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein that indicated concerns about Mr. Comey was dated 9 May 2017, the same day that Mr. Comey was fired–timing that suggests that the decision was precipitous.

2.  The dismissal in May of 2017 is more likely associated with these events:  a) the subpoenas issued by a grand jury into the activities of fired National Security Adviser, General Flynn; b) the growing fear that Flynn is seeking immunity and will likely give evidence that might incriminate Mr. Trump; c) the news that Mr. Comey was seeking additional resources for the Trump-Russia investigation indication that the investigation was deepening; d) the evidence indicating that Mr Spicer and his office were caught completely unaware of the decision; and e) the request by the Senate Intelligence Committee to the Treasury Department for Mr. Trump’s financial records.

3.  The “Saturday Night Massacre” parallel I suggested yesterday is, at this time, inappropriate.  In 1973, Archibald Cox was a Special Prosecutor and his firing essentially ended the investigation of President Nixon.  The firing of Mr. Comey does not necessarily end the FBI  investigation of Mr. Trump.  If Mr. Trump appoints someone to the FBI that will likely end the FBI (like Rudy Guiliani or Chris Christie), then the Saturday Night Massacre analogy might kick in.

4.  We should think carefully about what such an abrupt dismissal does on a very human level.  On the one hand, such dismissals sometimes intimidate others in the organization–there are likely some in the FBI who will now think twice before aggressively investigating Mr. Trump.  Perversely, this factor can encourage some in the FBI to more actively discourage the investigation to curry favor with the Administration.  The reputation of the FBI is superb and I expect most agents to be completely professional.  However, we do know that there were some agents in the New York City office who were leaking unfavorable information about Ms. Clinton to Rudy Guiliani in the presidential election.  There are genuine reasons to think that the FBI may not now be able to conduct an honest investigation.

My outrage at Mr. Comey’s dismissal remains.  But my outrage at having to parse through such disingenuous and palpably false explanations has grown.  As citizens, we should not be treated like we are incapable of assessing self-interested lying.  The refusal of some of the Republican leaders in Congress to treat this episode with the seriousness it deserves is criminal.  They are traitors to the Republic.

 

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was convicted of blasphemy in Indonesia.  Purnama was running for re-election as Governor of Jakarta in 2016 when he gave a speech indicating that some Muslims were making false statements that suggested that Muslims could not vote for a non-Muslim.  His conviction undermines those in Indonesia who believe that the government should be secular and not bound to religious law.   Indonesia’s constitution recognizes six officials religions.  Interestingly, Irish police are investigating comedian Stephen Fry for blasphemy as well.  Fry made this comment in an interview: “The god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac. Totally selfish.”  It is unlikely, however, that Fry will be prosecuted, let alone convicted and imprisoned.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama

 

A new study indicates that the target of the Paris Climate Agreements–to limit the increase in global temperatures to 1.5°C–may be reached in just nine years from now.  The research suggests that the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO), a natural climate variation, may have actually repressed the increase in temperatures during the first decade of the 21st century.  The research indicates that if the IPO follows this variation and gets warmer as usual, then temperatures could rise very quickly.  According to the report:

“It is therefore possible that a negative phase of the IPO since the turn of the century has cushioned the impacts of global warming on extreme events, such as heatwaves.

“A turnaround of the IPO to its positive phase could initiate a period of accelerated warming over the next one or two decades.

“This would likely lead to the Paris target of 1.5C being surpassed within the next decade.”

 

 

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Posted May 10, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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