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Week's End Thoughts & Reflections, August 11, 2018

Resist Trump Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Last Saturday I thought about checking out the Patriot Prayer-antifa affair from what could have been the safe vantage of the Hawthorne Bridge. Maybe I could have gotten some decent photos to accompany an article for the blog. I thought better of it after reports that the fascists planned to come armed and police could not do anything about people with Oregon concealed-carry permits. No telling where the bullets might have gone if a firefight broke out.

Reports indicate that an excessive police response was directed at counter-protesters while the Patriot Prayer gang were allowed to go about their dubious business. The fact that the Patriot Prayerers approved of the way the police handled the situation in and of itself calls police tactics into question. The police chief has called for a review. I emailed her and the mayor to express my concerns.

I remain convinced that antifa blockheads are part of the problem, playing into hands of the fascists who can then claim victimization. I would feel better if peaceful counter-protesters joined me in denouncing violence coming from antifa, anarchists, et al., as vigorously as they denounce fascist and police violence.

I am anxious about the Manafort trial. The consensus is that the prosecution is presenting a strong case. The defense relies on painting a picture of Rick Gates that no one disputes. He is unscrupulous. He is a crook. That might have something to do with why and how he came to hook up with Paul Manafort in the first place and everything to do with why he had reason to accept the plea deal with Mueller. What Gates is not is the primary source of evidence for the prosecution. He puts a human face on a mass of documentary evidence and offers corroboration. That is all.

My unease comes from the dynamic between Judge T.S. Ellis III and Mueller's team, which has been contentious. Ellis has been far from a neutral arbiter, nothing like Chief Justice John Roberts' ideal judge who is an umpire calling balls and strikes. To the contrary, he has inserted himself into the proceedings time and again in ways that could certainly have an effect on the jury. The sixty-four dollar question is about what that effect will be. Maybe the idea that the prosecution's case is flawed and is being pursued solely to get at the president will be planted in the minds of jurors and influence their decision. Conversely, a juror might conceivably conclude that the judge is unfairly hampering the prosecution for whatever reasons of his own. It might be an interesting exercise to see how it all plays out if the stakes were not so high. I shudder at the possibility that Manafort might walk.

Mind-boggling as the notion may be, it seems that there is within the NRA a hardline faction that believes the gun-rights organization to too conciliatory on gun control. "Some members feel it (the NRA) doesn’t go far enough to defend what we believe to be the core of the Second Amendment," Adam Kraut, a gun rights lawyer and second amendment purist, told Reuters.

These hardliners deeply cherish their right under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. They oppose any form of gun control, saying criminals will find ways around gun laws, which only strip lawful gun owners of the right to self-defense and protection against state tyranny. The gun-rights purists are outraged by any concessions the NRA makes in the wake of mass shootings, even if they are made to avoid stricter gun control laws. (Daniel Trotta, Hardline U.S. 'gundamentalists' pressure NRA from within, Reuters, August 5, 2018)

Tuesday's elections offer guarded reason for hope. I can still see the Dems blowing it in November. Here are some of Politico's takeaways from Tuesday:

  • Come November Republican candidates cannot count on the same level of financial support from national party organizations than some got for Tuesday's campaigns

  • Republicans' suburban problem continues

  • Bad night for far left (Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez wing).

  • Closer to home "The early Washington state vote count spells trouble for Republicans." (Steven Shepard and Scott Bland, Top takeaways from a pair of election-night squeakers, Politico, August 8, 2018)

Ruth Marcus offered a nice summation on yesterday's PBS Newshour (Brooks and Marcus):

Well, I think reports of a civil war in the Democratic Party and reports of a huge leftward lurch that will leave the Democrats in peril in November or beyond are, at least as of the results of Tuesday night, greatly exaggerated....

Tuesday night was good news for kind of moderate Democrats and good news for Democrats overall, because I think you have — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can win in her district. But she can’t win in the districts that Democrats need to win to take over the House.

This week's revelations about Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross come compliments of Forbes, a publication not widely accused of being in the liberal camp. Maybe author Dan Alexander and the editors are unwitting tools of the deep state. The details speak to the caliber of public servant the president recruited to person his regime.

Alexander reports that a

multimillion-dollar lawsuit has been quietly making its way through the New York State court system over the last three years, pitting a private equity manager named David Storper against his former boss: Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. The pair worked side by side for more than a decade, eventually at the firm, WL Ross & Co.—where, Storper later alleged, Ross stole his interests in a private equity fund, transferred them to himself, then tried to cover it up with bogus paperwork. Two weeks ago, just before the start of a trial with $4 million on the line, Ross and Storper agreed to a confidential settlement, whose existence has never been reported and whose terms remain secret.

Allegations range from the petty and borderline silly, Ross swiped handfuls of Sweet'N Low packets from a nearby restaurant so he would not have to buy them himself, to serious matters:

Many of those who worked directly with him claim that Ross wrongly siphoned or outright stole a few million here and a few million there, huge amounts for most but not necessarily for the commerce secretary. At least if you consider them individually. But all told, these allegations—which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine—come to more than $120 million. If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history. (Dan Alexander, New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting, Forbes, August 7, 2018)

Ancient Thebes had a law that no man could hold office who had not retired from business for ten years (Aristotle, Politics, Bk III, Ch 6). Just saying.

On a different note, so to speak, scholars have been figuring out what music sounded like in ancient Greece (Can we know what music sounded like in Ancient Greece?). Working from what we know about the meters used in ancient Greek poetry, discussions of melody and harmony by Plato, Aristotle, and other authors writing quite technically about scales and pitches, and fragments of Greek musical notation on papyrus, among them a fragment published in 1892 with music from Euripides' fragment Orestes, Armand D'Angour, an associate professor of classics and fellow of Jesus College at the University of Oxford, reconstructed the ancient score for the fragment and filmed a performance with chorus and aulos (double-pipe) (Rediscovering Ancient Greek Music). It's pretty cool.

Keep the faith.

Memo from the Editorial Desk

The opening paragraphs about last Saturday's demonstrations were added and minor edits were made to this post shortly after it was published.

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