Fall woods

Fall woods

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sweet Jesus

A child killed herself today at Thing One’s high school.

The rumor mill is saying lots of things.  I won’t repeat any because I don’t know what’s true.  I have no idea if she was bullied, depressed, LGBTQ, marginalized, had received some bad news....anything.  It really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that my son came home from school today, and somebody else’s child didn’t.  I can hug Thing One (and you’d better believe I did, over and over and over) and those parents can’t.  I can have the conversation with him yet again: nothing is worth killing yourself over.  NOTHING.  Tell an adult if you hear anything.  I love you to the moon and back, as does your father.  The three of us can get through anything together.

They can’t.

I am sick to my stomach.  There but for the grace of God.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Explain This To Me, Please

I took the dog for a long hike in the woods today because she needed to get out. As I picked ticks off both her and myself afterward, I pondered the fact that I can give her an oral medication to make ticks leave her alone or die when they bite her (I forget which) and that I can also have the vet give her an annual Lyme vaccine shot, both of which I do.

By contrast, despite the fact that Lyme disease has well documented, debilitating short- and long-term effects on humans, the only precaution I can take for myself, other than not going into the woods, is applying permethrin to my clothing and boots.  Yippee flipping skippy.

If they can develop these medications and vaccines for dogs, they should be able to do it for humans. Just saying.  Seems ironic that she’s far better protected than I am!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Annie Oakley Rides Again

For some time, it has been on my bucket list to learn to shoot a gun.  Not that I want to actually own one, mind you--with three curious kids in the house, that would be a recipe for disaster, but I really did want to see what kind of damage I could do on a target.  Out here in the sticks, lots of people have guns for home protection, range use and/or hunting, including three of my better geocaching buddies.  One of them offered to take me to the range with him this past Friday; I grabbed my courage in both hands and took him up on the offer.

Bill is a retired shop teacher, which means that his geocache containers are just about impossible to find.  The trick generally lies in figuring out what he took apart and put back together again with a container in the middle!  Pieces of wood and plastic, train track parts--on abandoned lines of course--etc, etc.  The operative word in this particular case, though, turned out to be "teacher."  Knowing that I was an utter novice, he sent me two long emails of diagrams and explanations and videos to look at ahead of time.  (I joked that it was my pre-reading before the lecture.)  He has four or five pistols, and wanted me to try shooting three of them: a .22, a 9mm, and a .45.  The first hour of the lesson was spent at his kitchen table learning how the different kinds of sights work, how to load and unload the three guns and how to use them safely.  Once he was fully satisfied that I wouldn't inadvertently kill either myself or him (my husband's only request!) he handed me ear protection and a pair of goggles and we drove over to an indoor range.        

We started with the .22, which was the only one that did not have a laser sight.  Took me a while to figure out how to aim it using an iron sight, but I eventually sorta got the hang of it.  This is the .22 target.  Bullet holes all over the place, but at least all on the paper!  The paper targets are taped to a piece of stiff cardboard hanging from a pulley, which you can set at any distance you want from the shooting booth using a rope.  I was shooting at a range of 15-20 feet, far enough for a beginner.  At this stage of the game I was happy just to be hitting the paper, since I was still trying to figure out how to hold the gun comfortably and sight it properly.  By the second magazine I was hitting inside the larger red square, at least.  This was a great pistol to start with because it has virtually no 'kick' when you shoot it.

We moved on from there to the 9mm, which was a scary-looking piece of work and had a serious kick to it.  The laser sight helped a lot with aiming, at least.  I felt pretty badass standing there with that Steyer in my hand!!  This one was my target (of course, Bill's looked a lot better.)  Not too bad for a novice, if I do say so myself.  :)

Bill's .45 is a Colt 1911, the standard Army sidepiece from 1911 until sometime in the 1980s.  It is heavy as hell and those things kick like an Arkansas mule, so I was pretty dubious about even trying it after the 9mm.  He's nearly 70 though, so I figured if he could hold it, I could.  Famous last words, right???  I picked it up, lined up the sight dot, squeezed the trigger...

...and blasted my first ever .45 shot straight into the middle of the target!!  Couldn't have worked out better if I actually knew what I was doing.  I turned around, handed the gun back to Bill and called it a day on the spot.  I needed to head home anyway to get the kids off the bus and sure as hell, my next shot would have been into the floor or ceiling or something.  That was the shot to end the day on without any doubt at all!  

So much fun.  I was lucky to have such a patient, thorough and safe teacher.  And look at what he sneaked into a pocket of my purse while I was sweeping up my spent casings!

Now I have a few souvenirs of the day for my kitchen windowsill as well.  The small ones are the ejected .22 casings, the silver are the 9mm, and the larger brass the .45s.  Definitely a good day.  :)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Political Analysis of the Flynn Situation via Tweet

A compilation of tweets today from Seth Abramson, a Harvard-educated law professor at UNH.

1/ First, it's important to understand that Mueller has entered into a plea deal with Flynn in which Flynn pleads guilty to far less than the available evidence suggests he could be charged with. This indicates that he has cut a deal with Mueller to cooperate in the Russia probe.
2/ We've already seen Mueller do this once before in the probe, with George Papadopoulos—who was charged with the same crime as Flynn, Making False Statements, to secure his cooperation with the Russia probe. The Papadopoulos plea affidavit emphasized facts were being left out.
3/ Flynn is widely regarded as dead-to-rights on more charges than Making False Statements—notably, FARA violations (failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey under the Foreign Agent Registration Act). There's recently been evidence he was part of a kidnapping plot, too.
4/ Getting charged with just one count of Making False Statements is a great deal for Mike Flynn—it doesn't necessarily mean he'll escape incarceration, but a) it makes that a possibility (depending on what the parties and judge say and do), and b) any time served may be minimal.
5/ What this suggests is Flynn brings substantial inculpatory info (info tending to incriminate others) to the table. Unlike Papadopoulos, Flynn was going to be—because of his position in the administration—a primary target of the probe. So he had to offer a lot to get this deal.
6/ Deals like this are offered *only* when a witness can incriminate someone "higher up the food-chain" than them. In the case of the nation's former National Security Advisor, the *only* people above him in the executive-branch hierarchy are the President and the Vice President.
7/ There may be other targets in the Russia probe—such as Attorney General Sessions—at Flynn's same level in the hierarchy, but unless he could incriminate two or more of them, a deal like this would not be offered to him. And there *aren't* two or more at his level in this case.
8/ What this indicates—beyond any serious doubt—is the following: Special Counsel Bob Mueller, the former Director of the FBI, believes Mike Flynn's testimony will *incriminate* the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, or both of these two men.
9/ For this reason, what's about to happen in 50 minutes is far and away the biggest development thus far in the Trump-Russia probe, and likely the biggest development in U.S. politics since President Nixon resigned from office during the Watergate scandal. 
This is historic.
10/ The Papadopoulos plea paled in comparison to this because Papadopoulos was a top national security advisor to Mr. Trump, but still at nothing like Flynn's level of access and authority. The Manafort indictment pales in comparison because it was just an indictment, not a plea.
11/ The range of crimes for which Flynn can incriminate the president is unknown, but we have *some* sense of what could be involved. The first thing to understand is that Flynn had access to—and influence with—Trump on national security issues beginning in the Summer of 2015.
12/ The last *known* contact between Trump and Mike Flynn was late April 2017—meaning the two men were in contact for approximately one year and nine months. Given that these twenty-one months make up almost the entirety of Trump's political career, this is a huge swath of time.
13/ During their last known contact—April 2017—we know Trump told Flynn (at a minimum) to "stay strong," after which Flynn stopped cooperating with investigators. So the first thing Flynn can tell Mueller is all Trump said—and if he obstructed justice—during that April 2017 call.
14/ But of course the "story to tell" that Flynn's attorney bragged the ex-NSA had—back in late March of 2017—goes *well* beyond Obstruction allegations. Flynn was at the center of numerous contacts with Russia that he can report the president knew about and perhaps even ordered.
15/ Flynn met with the Russian ambassador and Jared Kushner in early December 2016 to discuss a "Kremlin back-channel" that some have argued would have constituted an act of espionage. Did Mr. Trump know about this? Did he direct Flynn and/or Kushner to pursue this back-channel?
16/ This December 2016 event underscores that Flynn's a threat not just to Trump but to others. It's easy to forget that, just because Flynn—it appears—can incriminate the president, doesn't mean he can *only* incriminate the president. Many others are at risk, including Kushner.
17/ Indeed, today's plea coming so close on the heels of Mueller asking Kushner to come in and talk about Flynn suggests Kushner is also a target of the Russia probe. Perhaps Mueller didn't think Kushner would flip on family, so he set him up to Make False Statements about Flynn.
18/ This is critical: Flynn pleading guilty today means he was cooperating with Mueller *before* this. You don't offer value to a prosecution *after* you plead, you offer it beforehand—via what's called a "proffer" of info (that incriminates others). That's what earns you a deal.
19/ So it's entirely possible that when Mueller called Kushner in to talk about Flynn, he already had everything Flynn planned to give him—meaning he was *testing* Kushner to see if Kushner would lie about events Mueller was already fully informed about via Flynn's prior proffer.
20/ That proffer may have incriminated not just Trump and Kushner and—perhaps—Pence, but any number of Trump NatSec (or simply "top") aides: Manafort, Sessions, Clovis, Hicks, Lewandowski, Page, and Gordon, to name a few. We may not know, however, until someone else is indicted.
21/ Mueller isn't obligated to tell the public what Flynn told him. We'll first learn of it (for all but Trump) via future indictments of those Flynn incriminated. As for Trump, he can't be criminally tried as POTUS, and probably can't even be indicted, so it'll work differently.
22/ What Flynn told Mueller about Trump will first appear in an indictment of a third party—quite possible, if the third party was/is close enough to Trump—or else in the final report Mueller is tasked with giving Rod Rosenstein at the DOJ (though that may take a while to come).
23/ How long it will take Mueller to issue indictments based on Flynn's proffer? It's hard to say: it depends on what evidence was given, what evidence Mueller already had, what additional investigation he wants to do on that person (perhaps to bring further charges), and so on.
24/ But Mueller may act on Flynn's proffer at any time, which means—and here's another critical point—the daily, harrowing watch to see if Trump will attempt to fire Special Counsel Bob Mueller begins in earnest *now*. 
If Trump moves to fire Mueller, all hell will break loose.
25/ I've long said that Trump *will* move to fire Mueller—simply because doing so would quickly become one of his only options for self-preservation when/if Mike Flynn or another top associate entered into the cooperation deal with the Special Counsel. 
Well, we're finally here.
26/ As I've said, we now have reason to believe—to a near-certainty—Flynn can incriminate Trump. And as noted, the range of potential crimes is vast. Did Flynn tell Trump and/or Pence the truth about his Russia contacts as they were happening—despite what the White House claimed?
27/ Remember, besides a long course of conduct involving both Obstruction of Justice and Witness Tampering—of Sally Yates, of Comey, of Jr., of Flynn himself, of Sessions, and of various Congressional investigators—Trump is being looked at for Aiding and Abetting Computer Crimes.
28/ In the Aiding and Abetting Computer Crimes probe, the question is a) when Trump knew Russia was committing crimes against the United States, and b) whether and how Trump offered Russia anything of financial or political value ostensibly for "free" after he had this knowledge.
29/ If Donald Trump learned Russia was committing crimes against America and subsequently offered—unilaterally—policy shifts of political or financial value directly to Russian agents either himself or through intermediaries, he's guilty of a crime as great as the underlying one.
30/ We know Trump knew there was a "high likelihood" (the legal standard in this case) Russia was committing crimes against America as of August 17, 2016, when he received his first security briefing as a presidential candidate. A speech in late July suggests he knew it earlier.
31/ But given that Mike Flynn dined with Vladimir Putin in Moscow in December of 2015—after he'd been a key Trump campaign foreign policy and national security advisor for four months—it's possible Trump had this knowledge as early as the fall of 2015 or the winter of 2015-2016.
32/ This is the key information Mike Flynn can offer: what Trump knew about Russian crimes, and when; and also, what actions he directed his national security advisory apparatus to take—possibly in response to this knowledge—and when. For instance, secret sanctions negotiations.
33/ We know Flynn was engaged in secret sanctions negotiations with Russia that Trump—rather oddly—said he "would have told him" to engage in throughout December of 2016. But we've *no* idea if this was the first time such negotiations occurred. Flynn will have this information.
34/ Flynn will also know exactly what occurred as the White House tried to cover up these illicit December 2016 sanctions negotiations—or any earlier ones—including what Trump and Pence knew of them, and when, and how and when they coordinated lying to American voters about them.
35/ Remember that Trump *not only* tried to get Comey to drop the case against Flynn—suggesting he was scared about what that case could uncover—he *also* tried to convince his aides to let him *re-hire* Flynn after his firing and *then* called Flynn to tell him to "stay strong."
36/ While Trump also exhibited some fear about what Manafort could reveal to investigators—keeping him on as an unpaid advisor through February 2017 after "firing" him as an unpaid Campaign Manager in the summer of 2016—he's shown much *more* concern about Mike Flynn's situation.
37/ A quick pause while I read the court documents for today's plea—they're just coming out now.
38/ One thing is clear: Mueller charged Flynn with the most innocuous lies he could to shield from the public—and far more importantly, from President Trump and his allies (at least for now)—the extent of what Flynn has told him. A longer charging document would reveal too much.
39/ The first allegation in the single-count charging document is that Flynn lied about asking Russia to moderate its response to the US decision to level new sanctions in December 2016. Presumably, Flynn made this request on a representation Trump would undo those new sanctions.
40/ The second allegation, dating from 12/22/16—the first was from 12/29/16—involves Flynn asking Russia to take a particular stance on a UN resolution. While both these acts violate the Logan Act—private citizens can't negotiate with foreign governments—they're just appetizers.
41/ For Mueller to be *so guarded* in what information he's willing to reveal in his single-count indictment—as we know Mike Flynn lied to the FBI about far more serious things than Mueller has disclosed—confirms, indirectly, that Flynn's proffer to the FBI was *quite* explosive.
42/ That said, the UN resolution had to do with Israel—and we know Israel had reached out to Kushner about that same resolution, so there's a possibility that the second allegation against Flynn will give the lie to things *Kushner* told the FBI about his contacts with Israel.
43/ But remember, when the FBI sat down to discuss Flynn's Russia contacts with him, they would have asked him about *all* his recent Russia contacts—including, for instance, his December '15 trip to Moscow to dine with Putin. So the topics Flynn lied about could date back years.
44/ (When I get a number of new readers—as today—people ask me to restate my bona fides: Harvard Law School, 2001; public defender for eight years in two jurisdictions; trained at Georgetown/Harvard as a criminal investigator; represented 2000+ defendants in cases up to homicide;
45/ have worked at 3 public defenders since 1996—one federal—and have testified in federal criminal cases as a defense investigator; current member in good standing of the New Hampshire bar and the federal bar for the District of New Hampshire; I now teach legal advocacy at UNH.)
46/ Another key point many will forget: Flynn was so scared about the extent of his criminal liability as Trump's pre-election advisor and post-election NSA that in March 2017 his lawyer took the *extraordinary* step of *publicly* offering to cooperate with federal investigators.
47/ Usually, this sort of offer is made privately—and usually it's made somewhat further along in a federal investigation than was the case with Flynn, who made the offer just a few weeks after he was fired by Trump. 
It was after that offer that Trump told him to "stay strong."
48/ At the time, Flynn's lawyer said he had "a story to tell." It was clear Flynn and his attorney believed enough *other* potential witnesses had similarly inculpatory information about Trump that they needed to "race to the courthouse" (as we say) to get a deal *before* others.
49/ It can't be overstated that Flynn had been assumed to be one of the primary targets of the Trump-Russia probe—so him being given a sweetheart deal by federal law enforcement means the "story to tell" that he had was a very, very good one in Special Counsel Bob Mueller's view.
50/ UPDATE: CNN confirms Flynn has now plead guilty. Technically, he pled to *four* false statements, though they were paired—he lied about two statements he made to the Russians *and* their responses to those two statements, one about U.S. sanctions policy and one about Israel.
51/ It's *very* telling that U.S. media has received *no official response* from the White House about this. Remember how quickly they came out with a party line about Papadopoulos' plea, and even the Manafort and Gates indictments? This is so bad there's nothing for them to say.
52/ You can read the available charging document from the Flynn case here (and note that, for this being perhaps the most significant indictment in U.S. politics of our lifetimes, its brevity is truly *astounding*—and underscores how much more is coming): cnn.com/2017/12/01/pol
53/ BREAKING NEWS: Flynn told the FBI that Trump ordered him to make contact with the Russians.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Just Priceless

A good friend of mine and frequent geocaching partner is an Assistant Scoutmaster.  He had to pass the Boy Scouts’ Wilderness First Aid training course in order to qualify to go on some crazy hiking trip or other next summer, so he spent the weekend up north freezing his butt off and learning what to do in case of various medical emergencies on the trail.  As he put it, if the parents knew all the scenarios they train for, they'd never let their kids go on these hikes.

At any rate, one of the potential injury types they discussed was bites from poisonous snakes (my personal worst hiking fear, so I’m glad my usual hiking partner now knows what to do if it happens.) The EMTs who teach this course told the group that women are generally bitten on the feet and legs, while men are more frequently bitten on the hands, arms and face.  When my friend told me this, I burst out laughing.  Of course, it’s because women have the sense to leave the snakes alone and try to get away, while men lean over them and poke them and try to grab them!!  Too funny.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Some Things Never Change

When my children were young, my mother, who is very good with a needle, got tired of seeing them freezing on the sidelines of soccer and baseball games and made the three of them an enormous blanket of heavyweight flannel for outdoor use that is affectionately known to one and all as the “Nana blanket.”  Two layers thick, one printed with soccer balls and the other with a space motif; it’s a good solid armload to carry but it has lived in the trunk of my car during cold weather sports seasons (and seen a whole lot of use) for the better part of seven or eight years now.

Thing One had a soccer game tonight starting at 8PM.  Outside.  I would guess the gametime temperature was hovering around 30, but at least it wasn’t windy.  Because I am still a mother no matter HOW big my kids get, I quietly walked over to his team’s bench at the beginning of the game and placed the folded Nana blanket on one end.  Sure as hell, by halftime there were half a dozen fourteen-year old boys huddled together under it!

Thanks again, Mom.  :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Not Sure If I Should Be Offended On Behalf Of All Women Or Just Myself!

So, Petunia decided that she was going to do a little Halloween decorating last week.  She dug through the big bin of decorations in the basement and chose some to put up, including a sign much like this one.

Note that there is a little tie at the top of the star where the "in" is written, so that it can be turned around to read "out."

After a day or two, I noticed that the star was being turned regularly, so I asked her about it.

M: "I see that you're turning the star on the witch sign.  Who is the witch?"

P: "You are, Mom."

M: "Uh..."  

P: "You're the lady in the house.  That makes you the witch."

Gee thanks, kid.  Out of the mouths of babes.  Happy Halloween, everyone!!