They’re coming down to the wire in Washington D.C. and it looks like the Democrats have decided to keep it tight with only two counts for the impeachment: Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. All of the facts related to those two counts are already in the record and my judgment is they could impeach him just on what they already know without anything else. The more interesting decisions are those that face the Republican majority in the Senate. For procedure, they could just follow the Nixon or Clinton process or vote their own process. Clearly, they are not going to convict him no matter what, since it takes a two-thirds majority to do that, so they may just choose to keep it low key and let it fizzle out quickly. I’ve been told, but have not been able to confirm it yet, that that the Senate could, by majority vote, decide to make it a closed ballot, which could certainly change things—perhaps not the outcome but possibly the vote. It appears from what he has said that Trump would like to throw it wide open, subpoena the Bidens, father and son, and others and turn it into political theatre. Whether that will happen depends on Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, who has to think about getting himself re-elected and also trying to protect his majority in the Senate, and also whether Trump goes bonkers on Twitter. All of the Republicans will be trying to assess how their base is viewing it. It’s all going to be very interesting and we are watching history being made.

•••

The homeless problem continues to grow and people seem to becoming less tolerant as time goes on. We’re overwhelmed at their numbers, their lack of hygiene and the obvious mental illness and perhaps drug needs of many of them. We’ve voted bonds but that doesn’t seem to have helped much. Many people feel we should just run them out of town, or confiscate their belongings, or have the sheriff arrest them or simply send them someplace else. The problem is, you simply can’t do that anymore. The courts will stop you if you do and the fines will be large. Frankly, what it means is everyone, every town, every city, is going to have to take a share of the homeless population and also provide basic amenities. Malibu is probably going have to set aside some location for tents, kitchens, showers, toilets and parking for people who live in cars or RVs. There is an enormous shortage of middle class housing in the LA area, modest income areas are rapidly being gentrified and for the lowest end of the scale there is virtually nothing available other than living in tents or cars.

•••

The legislature passed a new privacy law that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020. It is supposed to give us control over our personal data. We’d probably be amazed if we knew how much personal data these large companies and data banks have on us. They know who you are and what you earn and what you buy and read and watch. They know who your kids are, and where they go to school, and what programs they watch and probably what they do online. In fact, they probably know a heck of a lot more about your kids than you do. They can track your movements through your car, your phone, your computer, your Alexa and perhaps what you look for on search engines. Look for a certain make and model of car and suddenly ads start popping up on your computer, your phone, your car radio, etc. Can that hurt you? You bet. A quick example: We now do all sorts of genetic testing. All we need is a little blood, perhaps a strand of hair. Just think if you can take a newborn baby and test it genetically and find that it has a certain percent propensity to get cancer, or heart disease or MS in its lifetime. Well, that’s very valuable information to medical insurers and life insurance companies. Supposedly, the new laws are going to help us get control of our personal data, require companies tell us their data policy, help us know what data they are collecting and who they are selling it to and make it easier for us to stop it. But, frankly, I’m skeptical. How many times do you get a long disclosure online to read, written in impenetrable English, and in the final analysis you have a choice to either press the “Accept” button or just leave? Most of us just press the button consenting to what? I frequently haven’t the faintest idea. 

•••

The LA Times just did an article about the explosion in overtime pay to the firefighters with the climate changing and extended fire seasons. I realize now I made a mistake. I opted to go to law school. I should have opted to join the fire department and make some real bucks.

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