Monday Miscellany 6/3/24

Monday Miscellany 6/3/24 June 3, 2024


Who is guilty of election interference, Trump or His prosecutors? NATO troops will “eventually” go to Ukraine. And senators seek taxpayer money for artificial intelligence.

Who Is Guilty of Election Interference, Trump or His Prosecutors?

Former president Donald Trump was convicted of all 34 charges against him in connection with his payoff to a porn star.  Four days before his presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention, he will be sentenced, possibly to as much as four years in prison.

You don’t need to be a Trump fan to consider this trial to be political persecution.  It grew out of an act of adultery in 2006 when Trump invited a porn star known as Stormy Daniels to his hotel room and had sex with her.  That shows bad character, but it isn’t illegal, and it wasn’t what the trial was about, though the presiding judge allowed Daniels to testify about the sordid details to the jury.

In 2016 during the presidential campaign, word got out that Daniels was going to go public about the affair.  This was right after the video of Trump’s infamous talk about grabbing women came out, so his campaign was worried.  The plan was to pay Daniels $130,000 to be quiet.  Again, sordid but not a crime.

One of Trump’s lawyers paid her the money and Trump reimbursed him.  That was the crime.  Prosecutors claimed the money forwarded by the lawyer, even though it was reimbursed, was an illegal campaign contribution.   The accounting records listed the reimbursement as a legal expense because it was made to a lawyer.  The various transactions were charged with being falsification of business records, which are crimes.  The whole cover-up was claimed to be election interference since the intent was to hide  damaging information from voters.  As if all campaigns weren’t pre-occupied with that!

The Democratic prosecutor from the Democratic state of New York brought the charges, which the previous D.A. though also a Democrat declined to pursue, for the Democratic judge to preside over.  The jury found that Trump did do all of these things and was therefore guilty of 34 felonies.

Will the judge sentence Trump to jail?  Such white collar crimes, when anyone bothers to prosecute them, are usually punished with fines, especially for a first offense by someone with no prior convictions.  Pundits are saying jail time for Trump is “unlikely.” But I think it’s very likely, since the whole purpose of the prosecution was sticking it to Trump.  For the purpose of election interference.

UPDATE:  I have now learned that the possible four years in the slammer is for each felony, for a potential total of 136 years.  Also from the same source that the statute of limitations had expired, but that the prosecutor persuaded the judges that the years the defendant spent outside the state shouldn’t count.

Supporters of the verdict keep saying that former presidents are not above the law and should be treated like any other person.  But, as has been observed, that’s exactly the problem.  Donald Trump was not treated like any other person!

For a list of the flaws in the legal proceedings see this.

NATO Troops Will “Eventually” Go to Ukraine

The war drums are beating, with some NATO countries actively considering sending troops to Ukraine, a move that could bring the United States into war with Russia.

We blogged about how French President Emmanuel Macron has raised that threat.  Newsweek has an article by David Brennan entitled Momentum ‘Clearly’ Building for NATO Troops in Ukraine that quotes a spokesman for Macron’s party on what the French have in mind.

“We spend too much time being worried about escalation where when Russia is the country that has been escalating,” Haddad added, suggesting Western capitals must “think creatively” about how to better assist Kyiv in various ways, including by potentially putting boots on the ground.

“Right now, a lot of Ukrainian troops are stationed at the border with Belarus to prevent a potential invasion from the north,” he said. “Western forces could be deployed along the frontier ‘as a ‘tripwire’—as you have troops in in the Baltic states or in Poland—to be able to liberate some of these Ukrainian troops to go to the front.

Macron was originally talking about sending French troops in noncombat roles, to serve as trainers of Ukrainian recruits.  But this sounds like much more.  A tripwire?  And what will happen if that wire is tripped?

Meanwhile, other NATO countries are also getting on board for some kind of intervention:  The Czech Republic; Estonia; Lithurania; Poland.

The New York Times had a story on the subject entitled As Russia Advances, NATO Considers Sending Trainers Into Ukraine that goes into more detail about the conversations within NATO.  The U.S. is strongly discouraging the idea of sending NATO troops into the conflict, since, according to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, an attack on one member nation will be considered an attack on them all and will be met with armed force by all members.

And yet, according to the Times article, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thinks NATO trainers would go to Ukraine “eventually”:  “So far the United States has said no, but Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that a NATO deployment of trainers appeared inevitable. ‘We’ll get there eventually, over time,’ he said.”

UPDATE:  And now President Biden has given Ukraine permission to use certain U.S.-supplied weapons to strike targets within Russia, thus crossing one of Vladimir Putin’s red lines.

Senators Seek Taxpayer Money for Artificial Intelligence

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer (D-NY) has put together a bipartisan proposal to invest $32 billion a year in  taxpayer money for the development of Artificial Intelligence.

So reports a Wall Street Journal editorial entitled The AI Pork Barrel Arrives [behind a paywall].  It quotes Shumer saying, if China is “going to invest $50 billion, and we’re going to invest in nothing, they’ll inevitably get ahead of us.”  The lawmakers are citing a study group that concluded “This is not a time for abstract criticism of industrial policy or fears of deficit spending to stand in the way of progress.”

But the private sector has already spent twice as much on AI as China, and next year is projected to invest $82 billion.  Overall, the private sector funds more than three-quarters of the nation’s research and development, an area in which the U.S. generally leads the world.

Is there an actual need for government money to fund Artificial Intelligence?  Isn’t that technology doing well–maybe too well–as it is?  And as the causes for concern about the technology mount up, are we sure we even want more of it?

We shouldn’t let “fears of deficit spending to stand in the way of progress”?  I would say that our lack of fear about deficit spending will be what stands in the way of progress if our country goes bankrupt.


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