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Sunday, April 6, 2014

For That Chick Who Plays Guitar

I lost a friend today.  She wasn’t really MY friend as we only hung out together a couple of times a few years ago.  We talked a couple of times since then, and I always felt some kind of kinship to her.  While I wasn’t close to her myself, she was very special to some people who are very special to me.  They are taking this hard. 

Like many will, I learned of her passing through Facebook as dozens of fellow students, coworkers, and friends posted their condolences to the family and promised her they would meet again.  Only a few days ago she was excited about a date she’d been on with someone new, showing off her new haircut, and celebrating her birthday.  This seems so out of the blue.  So unexpected.  But I guess it’s always unexpected. 

Several days ago, one of her Tweets made my heart twinge.  Without any specific words, she said she was struggling.  Looking at some posts further back, I decided she was probably on the mend from personal tragedies neither I nor the general public was aware of.  Friends close enough to do so replied their encouragement to that post.  I didn’t reply but sent her a hug in my own way.  Tonight I wonder if I should have spoken.

I don’t think the odd numbness and pain that I feel right now is for myself.  Instead I’m feeling for those who loved her and knew her better than I did.  I feel for her mother and cannot imagine losing my own child in such an awful way.  Or in any way.  I feel for her dad, knowing daughters are a very special thing for fathers.  I feel for her brothers who had to travel half the globe to be able to say their goodbyes before the machines supporting her life would be turned off, allowing her body to finally rest as her spirit is now at rest.

My heart goes out to her friend from last week, and I hope that neither that person nor anyone in her circle feels guilt or blame for what happened.  It goes out to fellow musicians who will never make music with her again, and to admirers like me who will never hear it.  And to friends who have known her only weeks and friends who have known her their whole lives.  It goes out to patients, children, and their parents who didn’t even speak her language but were touched by her in ways no words can express anyway.

My compassion is for medical personnel, clergy, emergency response technicians, and funeral workers who must be strong every day for families they’ve never met and will likely never meet again.  How much more difficult it must be when the life they were unable to save belonged to someone so young, so talented, and so completely unaware of how much they mattered.

I sympathize with so many others in her life who will not rest for many days or even years after this tragic loss of a loved one.  I am thankful for the few minutes that I knew this troubled young woman whose passion for healing inspired people all over the world to smile when there was nothing to smile about. 

I don’t have papers and loose tobacco or I’d roll a cigarette in your honor, so this evening I offer the one thing I think you really would have wanted.  I am smiling for you, my friend. I know you’re smiling back, all the way to your soul.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pushing the Limit

The Hubs used to tell me, “The higher you climb, the farther you can see.”  I always thought it was some kind of flaw in my personality that I didn’t understand why anyone wanted to see that far anyway.  When he asked, “What’s the worst that could happen?” I had a whole list of possibilities that kept me cautious.  That’s not just me, right?

I can’t tell you how many arguments we got into over the years while he was driving a brand new-to-us vehicle.  As soon as our name was on the title (and maybe during the test drive), he turned into Mario Andretti.  He would gun it from the stop sign to see how fast he could reach 60.  Or 90.  Or 120 if there was a nice straight-away.  He’d slam on the brakes, pass big trucks on the highway, or “get a little squirrely with it” just to see how it handled.  I stubbornly preached that if you didn’t drive like it was your last day on Earth, you’d never need to know “how it handled.”

He plays this little game of pushing things to their limits with his body, too.  He bought the Kid a weight bench for his fourteenth birthday in February, and the very first thing they did was find out whether they could lift ALL the weight.  Now that they’re working out, he’ll do eight reps of something… then do one more.  He always has to push that one extra bit, and he definitely has to push that one extra bit more than the Kid can do.  I don’t think it’s just him, though.  I think it’s all men.

When men get a new tool, they have to try it out to see exactly how hard it will work.  Will it drill concrete or just boards?  Will it cut metal pipe or just PVC?  Can you cut a 3” limb with it, or just the 2” ones?  If I can hit a nail with it, I can probably hit a crow bar with it, too.  Of course the ramp can handle it.  Drive it on up there!  Then they jump on the tongue of the trailer to see if it can handle another 180 lbs.

The quality that makes men push things further is probably the same quality that makes them say things like, “Naw, I don’t need a map.”  “Sure, dump the whole bottle in there – I like it spicy!”  “How big you reckon we can make that fire?  Throw those other limbs on there and bring me the gasoline.”  Some of these things lead to declarations like, “Doctor?  No, I don’t need a doctor!” right before he passes out.

Sometimes I think maybe the Hubs had mellowed a little by the time he turned forty, but my cat would probably disagree.  The Poop Machine is lying on my bed trying to sleep, an endeavor that is being greatly hindered by a man’s foot on his belly.  He seems to want to be petted as he drifts off, but like all house cats, you have to do it his way to avoid his wrath.

A woman would rub on him a little and let him be.  But a man?  No.  A man has to push the envelope.  The Hubs keeps messing with him until he finally gets mad and buries his claws into the naked human toes that have just been declared his mortal enemy.  I could have told him that was going to happen.

He explained to me once why men do things like that: If you don’t know the limits of a thing, how will you know how to handle it when something goes wrong?  If you don’t know how the car responds when you floor it, you may get run over trying to escape an 18-wheeler entering the freeway.  If you don’t skid a little in a controlled situation, how will you know how to respond in an UNcontrolled situation? 

The Hubs never told me to “gun it” unless he was confident we could get around the truck before the road ran out. He never swam the kids out to the buoy unless he was confident he could swim them back. He did those things fearlessly because at one time, he pushed the limits just for the sake of finding out where they were. I’m not sure I’ve ever pushed the limits just because.

If you’re like me, you don’t care a lick about jumping out of a plane, climbing a mountain, or running a marathon, but you probably care very much about accomplishing some other goals.  Maybe you want to go back to college, change careers, or write a book.  Silly fears and unreasonable “what ifs” may have kept you from taking chances that if you had been successful, would have given you a laughing, squealing, spinning-in-circles thrill that would rival any man’s adrenaline rush.  Instead, you have a big bunch of “what ifs.”

If you’re like me, maybe it’s time to stop wondering what if, and start pushing the limits.  I hear it’s worth it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Bit about the Bitcoin

The following article appeared on the cover of the March 2014 edition of The Northeast Texan.

For the last year or so, people have been talking about a new form of international currency called Bitcoin.  Some believe it is an answer to the constantly fluctuating, easily manipulated economy.  Interestingly, all the things that make Bitcoin great are also its greatest weaknesses.

First, what is it?  In spite of the picture above, Bitcoin is not really a coin at all.  It is a form of virtual “money” used for internet transactions.  One way to think of Bitcoin is like stock in a company.  You have a piece of paper that shows what stock you own, but you don’t actually own any thing.  What is represented by a stock certificate can be very valuable, though – especially if you could use those stocks as payment for other items.

Bitcoins (BTC) can be purchased by credit card from a Bitcoin exchange company or any other entity that wishes to sell their coins.  The “money” is kept in a virtual wallet on your computer or phone app.  To make a purchase, you give the seller identifying information that enables them to take BTC from your wallet and put it into theirs, much like a PayPal transaction. 

Transaction servers are operated and managed by a handful of developers around the world and are held accountable only to the Bitcoin community as a whole.  No individual, government entity, bank, or company owns, regulates, or creates BTC.  No government has written regulations for the Bitcoin system except Germany, which accepts it as a legal form of currency, and China, which outlawed it.

The original program created by Satoshi Nakamoto limited the number of Bitcoins that will ever exist to 21 million, so no one can create more to alter their value.  All wallet programs must be compatible with the original program, so in the same way that no one can create a bank app and give themselves a million dollars, no one can create a wallet app and give themselves a million Bitcoin, either.

Supporters say the Bitcoin isn’t subject to market fluctuation, but it obviously is.  It differs from regular money in that the value is only affected by how much it is traded, based on supply and demand.  If everyone wants them or uses them, the value goes up.  If people lose interest, the value goes down. 

When Bitcoin was introduced in 2009, the value of a single unit was almost zero, where it stayed until spring of 2013.  The first spike increased the value to $200 before dropping back to closer to $100, where it stayed for another six months.  During the month of November, something crazy happened.  Within a couple of weeks, the cost of a single BTC jumped from a couple hundred dollars to almost $1200 on December 1!  That was about the time a Lamborghini dealership in California sold a Tesla Model S for $103,000 in Bitcoin, giving it a boost in credibility.

February saw the crash of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, one of the largest Bitcoin exchange companies in existence.  “Leaky” security caused them to lose hundreds of thousands of their stored Bitcoins (about 6% of the total number in circulation, about $27 million USD) before going completely offline.  Those coins belonged to individuals, just as cash in a bank belongs to individuals.  Since new coins cannot be created, the loss of Bitcoins in this manner is as if there were a fire in the bank vault and no more money could be printed.  It’s just gone.  By the end of the month, Bitcoin had lost almost half its value, closing at only $560.

People have invested in Bitcoin because if the dollar or even the world economy crashes, BTC can still be traded through its peer-to-peer network.  They believe that without government regulation or recognition, and because wealth can be amassed in Bitcoin without being shown anywhere on paper, the accounts cannot be frozen or confiscated by the government, taxed, or traced by third parties.  This seems contrary to the FBI’s claim that they seized 26,000 BTC from the founder of the now defunct SilkRoad.com upon his arrest for dealing drugs through that site.

If the economy crashes, Bitcoin could still be recognized as viable currency among those who have them.  While admitting that a market currency (money created by the People for a specific market) could be a tiny factor in the eventual crash of the American dollar, Ron Paul states that, “If I can’t put it in my pocket, I have zero.”

The primary drawback is that if the economy crashes, the whole internet will likely crash, too, meaning users would have no way of spending Bitcoins, cashing them in (for dollars that would be worthless anyway), or even having access to them.  In spite of cautious optimism from respected fiscal conservatives like Glenn Beck and John Stossel, the only major online retailer to accept the currency is Overstock.com. 

For now, Bitcoin is a fiat currency like every other currency in the world.  It was created out of thin air by people who had the power to do so, and it is not backed up by anything.  Bitcoin value is subject to severe fluctuation based on buyers’ faith and trade volume, just like the stock market. 

It has proven to be a great investment in the short term and may even be a great investment in the long term, but at least one entire company has already disappeared overnight, leaving BTC owners with no way to recover their losses.  The undeterred say that weeding out sub-standard participants is simply part of the process and that Bitcoin will continue its path to become a viable worldwide currency.

Maybe.  But it is the opinion of this writer is that only persons who do not mind losing “real” money should purchase Bitcoin at this time.  Those concerned about the fall of the US economy would be wise to remember that precious metals like gold and silver have always been a wise and profitable investment, and probably always will be.

The best advice I ever got was in a game of cards, and I think it applies here.  Go with what you know.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The 411 on Cell Phone Privacy

The following article appeared on the cover of the February 2014 issue of The Northeast Texan.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases in April relating to the search of cell phones.  While the Court’s job is only to interpret the law, major decisions become landmarks that can change how law enforcement operates.  In this way, some rulings have the same impact as a statute. 

Many legal expectations we have today are based on Supreme Court decisions rather than actual laws.  For example, the Exclusionary Rule, which forbids a prosecutor from using illegally obtained evidence in a trial is only a hundred years old (Weeks v. US).  The Exclusionary Rule supports the Fourth Amendment rights of citizens and keeps the government from cheating to win their case.

The Fourth Amendment requires a warrant to be issued before a search can take place, but there have been exceptions to that stipulation for decades.  For example, you can be patted down or frisked anytime “a police officer's experience tells him that criminal activity may be occurring” (Terry v. Ohio, 1968).  Evidence found in a “stop and frisk” can be used as cause for arrest.  (Did you know “stop and frisk” had been around that long?)

You and your personal effects can also be searched if you are placed under arrest, either with a warrant or without (Draper v. US, 1959).  So if you are pulled over on a traffic violation and the officer learns you have a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket, he can search you, your clothes, your car, your purse, your kid’s backpack, and the gifts you were hauling to Grandma’s house to be sure you aren’t committing any other crimes.  Any evidence found can be used against you in court (US v. Calandra, 1974) because your vehicle is not offered the same protection as your home (Carroll v. US, 1925). 

In 1967 (Katz v. US), the Court ruled that information obtained from a listening device placed outside a phone booth without a warrant was illegally obtained because the booth user had a reasonable expectation of privacy; violating that privacy would require a warrant. 

The standard set in that case is that the “right to privacy” exists when the person truly expects privacy and when society generally recognizes that expectation as “reasonable.”  This matters because when a citizen expects privacy, such as in a confession booth or doctor’s office, listeners cannot be compelled to break confidentiality; without it, they can.

In an attempt to catch up with 20-year-old technology, the Texas Legislature recently passed a bill to amend portions of the Criminal Code relating to information stored electronically by “providers of electronic communications services and remote computing services.”  (That’s fancy for “cell phone and internet companies,” among others.)  It states that a warrant may be issued for “electronic consumer data” just like any tangible item, implying that our electronic data is private.

Information stored in your phones, computers, and flash drives has always been subject to search and seizure after a warrant is issued to retrieve it from you.  Now that all that information is stored and transmitted via servers and satellites, information can be obtained from the keeper of the information.  The expanded Texas law allows data to be subpoenaed even if it is stored elsewhere, such as in an internet database or the service provider’s call log. 

Searchable data may include phone calls, email, text messages, Facebook posts, internet search history, private chat conversations, calendar appointments, the GPS locator in your phone or vehicle, pictures of your vacation to Maui, and purchase history from your Starbucks app.

Even phones that aren’t very smart are considerably more advanced than a Rolodex and should be granted as much protection as your mother’s maiden name.  Most modern phones can provide access to bank records, credit card information, a password database, messages to your children, tracking apps for other phones on your plan, work product that may be proprietary, your personal journal, and Valentine’s pictures of your wife. 

If you are arrested, the officer can search your personal effects, but whether he can search your phone in hopes of finding calls to your drug dealer or pictures of you with stolen property is the question before the Supreme Court.

Ideally, the Supreme Court would rule this year that there is no safety concern or legal reason for an officer to have warrantless access to any of those.  Unfortunately, two previous decisions that will likely be used as precedent do not support such a ruling.

Mitch Miller argued in 1976 (US v. Miller) that his bank had no right or obligation to reveal his records to the government, even under subpoena, because the bank only had the records in the first place because it was required by law – not because Miller provided them.  Justice Powell ruled that such records were not Miller’s private papers, but business documents belonging to the bank; therefore, the bank must comply with the subpoena. 

Using this reasoning, the Court could decide any and all information available to your phone provider, including the content of text messages and emails, could be requested by court order.

Three years later, the Court ruled in Smith v. Maryland that the petitioner had no right to privacy when he made a phone call from his home.  Smith knew the record of that phone call was “exposed” to phone company equipment in the normal course of business, eliminating his right to privacy. 

Now that all communications are digital, this precedent suggests that they, too, are “exposed” to the phone company equipment and become their business records instead of your personal documents.  Between these two rulings, you have no expectation of privacy except when speaking face-to-face in your own home.  All other communications belong to your service company.

The Court is also likely to conclude that if sufficient evidence exists to place a person under arrest, all accessible electronic data related to that person, including information stored in the person’s cell phone, may also be searched and seized without a warrant in the same manner as any physical items. 

If the past is any indicator of the future, the Supreme Court will likely continue its position as the Approval Panel for Government Intrusion instead of the defender of the Constitution.  I’d give you my opinion on that, but well, that’s private.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Goals for 2014

Experts say that in order to be effective, goals should be specific and measurable; otherwise, how are you going to know if you’ve met them?  The goals I’ve set for 2014 reflect the fact that I believe most experts’ opinions are relative to who is paying for those opinions and generally disregard that kind of thing.   I think they’re goals just the same.

Feel better.  That’s going to mean different things on different days.  Some days it might mean getting off my butt and doing some yoga.  It might mean buying cupcakes from whatever non-profit peddlers are on Wal-Mart’s porch this week, getting a pedicure, or making that phone call I’ve been putting off.  I dread it meaning getting some dental work done and handling medical issues I’ve been putting off.  Ugh.

Look better.  I’m a firm believer that if you look better you feel better, so this is really a sub-goal.  Some days looking good might mean no more than pulling my hair out of my face so I can see to scrub the toilet.  Most days it will mean wearing regular clothes instead of pajamas, brushing my teeth before noon, and maybe putting my hair in a ponytail.  I’m hoping a few times this year it will mean getting all gussied up in shiny shoes, red lipstick, and something that shows off my legs. 

Goof off less.  I have no desire to get away from Facebook completely because I learn things there, get ideas for writing, and cheer myself up on hard days.  My entire social life is on that website, and that’s okay with me, but I spend way too much time crushing candy, saving pets, and shooting colored bubbles.  That’s a waste of my brain power, and I’d like to stop it. 

Read more.  This year, I’m choosing to spend that not-goofing-off time either writing something worth reading or reading something worth remembering.  I read a couple of actual books this year and really enjoyed it.  I’d like to do a little more of that in the coming months.

Write more.  I have several ideas for great books, and I can’t seem to get motivated to sit down and write any of them.  My goal is to write a book in 2014.  I’m not particular about which book yet; I just want to finish one.  Getting rich or famous from it is optional.

Establish the emotional pecking order.  It’s time for me to rule my emotions instead of letting my emotions rule me.  I’m pretty sure that if I can take care of this one, most of the others will take care of themselves.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Goal Check 2013

It would probably serve me better to make a point of checking my Goal List once a week instead of whenever it randomly occurs to me, so maybe I’ll make that one of my goals for next year.  It’s a little late to worry about it now, I guess.  Maybe my list for 2014 should include something about procrastination.

I had planned to learn to dance.  “For real, like in a bar at 5pm when they offer classes.  Then dance like no one’s watching.”  I did dance a few times like no one was watching, and I even went as far as calling a couple of places in town to see if they offer classes.  That was part of my plan for being a single woman, but it doesn’t seem so important to me now.  I don’t care that I didn’t make the goal of learning to dance; I’m glad I danced anyway.

Somewhere I got it in my head to write a song, which I didn’t do.  What I really wanted to write was something outside my norm, “just for the sake of doing it,” and in my mind at the time, it would be a song.  I’d like to make excuses here and say I made that goal anyway because I did write a lot of stuff that was outside my norm, but that’s hogwash.   The truth is, a song stopped being important to me, and I think that’s okay.  Goals were never meant to be set in stone. 

“Do more yoga.”  I don’t even want to talk about this one.  I did “handle business,” though, and I did write once a week “whether I have anything to say or not.”  My writings turned out to be more for myself and less for the public than I had intended, but I’ll change that this year.

When I published my list of goals last year, none of you knew that I would be divorced before the year was over, and none of you knew that I would later refer to the event as “my suicide.”  So when I wrote goal #6, I was the only person who understood it.  “Use rope to swing from branches, not hang myself from them.  I can commit suicide without hanging myself.” 

A friend had warned me that even though I wasn’t the type of person to become a drunk or sleep with every man I met, I was definitely prone to self-destruction of my heart.  Recognizing that as true, I set my sights on surviving my divorce by swinging from the branches of my newfound freedom without getting so tangled up in it that I killed myself all over again.  I never wanted to wallow in self pity, become a shell of the person I used to be, or make bad decisions in a desperate quest to feel better. 

I think I failed miserably at this one because I didn’t think high enough.  I never made the clean break, I fell in love with someone in an impossible situation, and then I walked right back into what I had walked out of.  I did manage to accomplish a couple of other goals in that process.  I stopped wearing masks, especially when I look in the mirror.  People who are privileged enough to see the real me are often challenged, blessed, and healed by seeing my face – my Self most of all.

Through all the dying and resurrecting, quitting and starting over, I did try to listen to myself this year.  I’m still learning to rely on instinct and not overthink everything, but it’s like learning a new language.  Hearing my Self speak and determining to heed its advice are two different things.  I have the former down pretty well; the latter could still use some work.

The two goals I thought would be the easiest turned out to be the most difficult.  “Keep some things to myself… Simply knowing is often enough.”  I found this one to be almost impossible.  I’m not talking about not telling the cook at Sonic that he’s too stupid to read the menu; I learned to shut up about that kind of thing a long time ago.  I’m talking about feeling the need to enlighten people around me.  It has recently become an even greater challenge to understand something about a person and remember it isn’t necessarily my job to tell them.  Some Truths are revealed to me so I may understand or be comforted; not so I may correct others.  I learned there is a fine line between being the teacher I was gifted with being and letting my temper teach a lesson.

The other impossible goal was to welcome change because it brings growth.  That’s easy when you can clearly see the payoff.  It’s much more difficult when the outcome of the change is uncertain or scares the living hell out of you.  I suppose the proper words for this goal were, “Learn to let go.”  Without the mask, I can admit that I hate change because the “what ifs” can be downright paralyzing. 

Well, I can’t very well dance and swing from branches if I’m paralyzed, can I?  Maybe next year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Call for Impeachment Answered


Photo of Eric Holder

Unless you keep up with “fringe” right-wing political sites and blogs, you may not know that on November 14, Rep. Pete Olson and 19 cosponsors filed a resolution to impeach US Attorney General Eric Holder.  Even though Holder could become the first sitting Cabinet member to be impeached in 140 years, mainstream media has all but ignored the action.

At the time of this writing, four Articles of Impeachment are still under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.  Chairman Goodlatte and two-thirds of that committee are Republicans.  Since the nation’s birth, the House has only voted to impeach sixteen officials, and only seven were convicted by the Senate.  Statistically, the chance of Mr. Holder eventually being convicted is small.

Article 1 – Failure to comply with a subpoena.  Following the death of Agent Brian Terry in an ATF sting operation that was supposed to track guns sold illegally in Arizona to Mexican drug cartel leaders, questions arose about the validity and logic of the operation. 

Upon learning of the poorly planned and poorly executed program when it ended in 2011, Congress called on several agents to give their reports.  Attorney General Holder failed to comply with the subpoena to appear and testify about the program and was held in contempt of Congress in June 2012.  This impeachment Article is not about the reckless Fast and Furious program itself, but his refusal to appear and produce documents about it.

Article 2 – Failure to enforce multiple laws.  According to the Dept. of Justice website, the Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer and legal advisor of the Federal Government. His primary responsibilities are to advise the President and other officials as needed, and to represent the United States in legal matters.  Much like a District Attorney, he has the authority to determine whether to bring charges against any party under federal laws.  The issue here is whether he should.

Mr. Holder is accused of not enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act, which is true.  On February 23, 2011, Holder sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner stating he would not be defending Section 3 of DOMA in two pending Supreme Court cases, partially because the law “violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment.” 

Because the Attorney General is part of the Executive Branch (which enforces laws) rather than the Judicial Branch (which interprets laws), whether he has the authority to determine Constitutionality is a gray area that has been debated for generations.  Article 3 Section 1 of the Constitution states, “All judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court” and lower courts established by Congress.  The Office of Attorney General had not even been created at that time, leaving no room for anyone to determine Constitutionality except the Court.  However, Thomas Jefferson believed any law that didn’t fit the Constitution was void anyway and no one was obligated to enforce it; that would naturally include the Attorney General. 

The cases in question were expected to determine whether DOMA was, in fact, Constitutional.  Ultimately, SCOTUS decided it was not.  Today, the federal government does not have to recognize same-sex unions except as legal marriages recognized by the state in which the couple resides.  This was Holder’s argument exactly.

Interesting side note: In the letter sent to the House, Holder states that the decision not to defend DOMA was made by the President, so why is Holder being impeached for this instead of President Obama? 

This Article also specifically names the Controlled Substances Act and the Substance Abuse Act of 1986.  The former determines what drugs are illegal and provides classification standards for all drugs through other agencies.  The latter sets minimum punishments for drug law violations. 

Social Conservatives may believe Holder failed to perform his duties by allowing states to effectually nullify federal drug laws (specifically marijuana laws) by choosing not to enforce them and not enforcing them himself with federal resources.  Social Liberals may support this Article because hundreds of independent studies have shown marijuana to be effective treatment for many medical conditions, yet the Attorney General has not directed controlling agencies to reconsider the “Schedule 1” classification of the drug, which includes the description of “no currently accepted medical use.”  Even cocaine and methamphetamine have lower classifications.

Article 3 – Failure to prosecute IRS officials.  In the past year, numerous complaints have been made about inappropriate IRS activity.  The Article specifically refers to “unauthorized disclosure of tax records belonging to political donors.”  Certain non-profit organizations are required to make information available about specifically qualified donations, but the IRS does not have that authority.  Some argue that the targeting of Tea Party and similar groups for audits should also be included.

Article 4 – Lying to Congress.  On May 15, 2013, Attorney General Holder testified under oath that he knew nothing about possible prosecution of Fox New’s James Rosen under The Espionage Act of 1917 and had no intention of prosecuting the press.  However, the DOJ released documents three days later proving otherwise.  A warrant to search Mr. Rosen’s gmail account and monitor his phones had been signed almost a year earlier, and Holder revealed that he had personally approved it.  Eric Holder’s name does not appear on the warrant issued by a US District Court in California.  His approval may have been informal, upon verbal recommendation, or via another document, such as an official memo. 

Many suspect Holder’s bias in allowing the unconstitutional records search of a member of the conservative Fox team while recusing himself from a similar investigation involving the more liberal Associated Press, but equal treatment and the First Amendment are not the issues of this Article.  His lying about it IS. 

Holder did state truthfully that he had no intention of prosecuting members of the press for doing their jobs.  After being subjected to several Bill of Rights violations, James Rosen has not been charged with any crime.

Articles 2 and 3 may be chalked up to poor judgment and are extremely subject to opinion.  Being a poorly performing employee of the government is not illegal, but blatant disregard for the duties of office is a “high crime.”  Which category Holder’s actions fall under is up for debate.

Conversely, Articles 1 and 4 reflect actual crimes, subject to existing laws.  Since the Attorney General was already found in contempt of Congress for actions mentioned in Article 1, one would expect him to be easily found guilty if tried by the Senate on that charge.

He did admit making the false statements mentioned in Article 4, but he did not admit intention to deceive interrogators.  As a member of the press myself, I wonder how that particularly rare type of search warrant could escape his memory, but the man has a lot on his plate.  A defense of, “I do not recall” could result in acquittal.  It wouldn’t be the first time it got someone out of trouble.