Random Friday Morning Thoughts

  • Another day. Another Trump/Russia connection. 
    • BuzzFeed* reports that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his business interests there. "It's just Cohen," you say? Here's the money sentence: "The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Org and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents." [*8 Pulitzer Prize nominations in the past 2 years.]
    • And the soon to be new Attorney General wrote on June 8th of last year: "If a President . . . suborns perjury, or induces a witness to change testimony, or commits any act deliberately impairing the integrity of available evidence, then he, like anyone else, commits the crime of obstruction."
    • Regardless of what you believe, when Michael Cohen testifies before Congress on February 7th, we are going to have a spectacle unlike anything we've seen before. 
  • This is weird: This Southlake lady goes missing on Saturday night after heading to Dallas to meet friends, it prompts Southlake DPS to issue a missing person alert, and then she is "found safe" on Wednesday with no further explanation. (Her Instagram account has a little Random Thought Girl feel to it.)
  • Big criminal justice news out of Houston after a lawsuit over the bail bond system: If you get arrested in Harris County for a a misdemeanor, you'll now most likely be released on a personal recognizance bond instead of having to pay money.
    •  Example and explanation of the old system: If you get arrested a judge could, say, set a bond at $2,000. You could (1) post $2,000 in cash to the county to get out of jail knowing you'll get the money back once the case is over so long as you always show up for court, (2) pay a bondsman a non-refundable fee of 10% to 20% of the bond amount for them to promise the county they'll pay the $2,000 if you abscond, or (3) sign a PR bond where you promise to pay $2,000 if you miss a court date. In every county in Texas, #1 and #2 are available but #3 is very, very rare and requires a judge's special approval. Now in Houston, #3 is the norm for misdemeanors. That's a big deal.
    • The new judges in Houston are implementing this new system after the old bail bond scheme, which virtually every county follows, was held unconstitutional by the conservative Fifth Circuit. The judges who fought the lawsuit, who were booted out of office in November, caused Harris County to spend over $9 million in the effort.
    • Make no mistake about it: Every county in Texas which doesn't implement a policy  to set bond amounts specifically tailored for a particular individual's circumstances has an unconstitutional system. I've seen it all my professional life: Across the board, a bond amount of x is set for the crime of y. Really poor people stay in jail because they can't make bond. People who have the money gain their freedom.  That ain't right. It might not mean every county's system has to be revised as drastically as Houston to require PR bonds for everyone, but something needs to be done statewide.
  • Speaking of the poor . . . 
  • Kinda funny police chase yesterday as a guy keeps driving when the hood of his car pops over the windshield. And a pretty good everybody-bail-out finish is here. (With a good lesson on the credibility of eye-witnesses based upon one WFAA newscaster's faulty observations.)
  • I was randomly looking at some traffic ticket cases that were filed in Wise County yesterday and saw these appearing on the docket in Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 (which is basically the northern part of the county.) Where is there a 75 mph speed limit?
  • Sir!
  • That Washington Examiner story has been making the rounds. The funny part is that it involves unnamed "farmers and ranchers" from unidentified locations who wished to remain anonymous and are somehow experts on Islamic prayer rugs.  Breitbart has been using this "prayer rug" bit since 2014. (And, of course, anyone who has a prayer rug must have a bomb strapped to their backs.)
  • My only astronomical skill is to tell someone when they are looking at the stars in the sky that they are simply looking at snapshot of history. Those stars could have burned out years ago but that moment of burning out as not reached our eyes yet. Ergo, "light years." The closest star to us other than the sun is 4.4 light-years away so we are simply seeing what it looked like 4.4 years ago. BagofNothing has some great graphics at the bottom of his post today demonstrating that.