Monday, June 26, 2017

Supreme Court Did NOT Uphold Trump's Travel Ban! And Kennedy's Not Leaving!

First, about Justice Kennedy.
All the rumors about him retiring are apparently untrue. He made no retirement announcement today, the traditonal "goodbye day". Thank heaven! He's apparently staying. He's the swing vote in 5-4 decisions. His being replaced by a Trump appointee is too awful to think about. 

Nevertheless, right now Trump is likely strutting and balleyhooing that the Supreme Court has upheld his travel ban. 

That's not what's happened. 

Without having read the actual text of the Court decision (it's not available just yet), my reading of the news coverage is that the Court greatly restricted the ban so that it's virtually a nothing:

"[T]he ban may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.  (Quoted by the Washington Post, 
Supreme Court allows limited version of Trump’s travel ban to take effect.

That's a very porous ban! After all, it typically took two years to get a visa before the whole ban thing started!

Further sticking its finger into Trump's eye, the Court has given his now-decimated ban a very short shelf life,  just three months for the feds to come up with persuasive evidence that something like the ban is actually needed. Further, the lower court orders freezing the Trump ban since February have already gone a long way to running out the clock on Trump's ban. Five months have already gone by without the ban in effect.

The case is set for further Court review in the October session, at which time the executive branch has the burden of showing justification for such a measure. There isn't any.

Since the executive has also been firmly told that it has until October to make good on its claim it needed time to create better vetting, the executive will be faced in October with the weird task of proving that it still has a problem even after having been given a total of eight months to fix it! The Trump folks have had since late January to fix their vetting!

The actual big news is that the Court was willing to limit the executive power at all in the areas of national security, foreign affairs, and immigration — areas generally off limits to the Court by its own long-standing policy. In October it will take up the religious discrimination charged against the ban. That is if the ban is not moot by then. Which it likely will be.

In the meantime, the Court's "limited version" of Trump's ban is a three-legged horse, going nowhere very slowly. Consider the myriad number of court cases the Court's ruling will generate if the feds still try to exclude broadly under this Court-ordered weakening of the ban. Consider the termsit includes!  "[T]he ban may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. 

Almost all the people who were so cruelly excluded under Trump's original ban could have come within those exclusions. And if the feds fight to keep the exclusions narrow, an old attorney like me sees lots of litigation in that one sentence. What's a "credible claim"? A "bon fide relationship"? A "person"? An "entity"? 

It's the "Attorney Full Employment Act"!

I'll write later if a reading of the Supreme Court's complete text seems to warrant more comment from this old attorney. 

Meantime remember that those writing the news stories and the headlines are not attorneys. 

Also in the meantime ignore Trump's ignorant claims about this decision as he foments to his hardcore base. 

Ignoring Trump is a good motto for life! 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trump as a District Attorney Who Gets Tired of Winning

I am so seriously whacked by the rumor of Supreme Court justice Kennedy retiring that I have to find joy wherever I can. I won't even discuss Trump getting to appoint Kennedy's replacement. I need a dose of distraction!

And just as ever, here comes Mr Distraction himself: here's Trump to cheer us all up with his insane stupidity and the increasingly real image of him in an orange jumpsuit, sporting manacles, and headed out the door to prison. I borrowed this comment from my own Facebook page. Today is Saturday and I had a rough week so I get to cheat and plagarize my own stuff. Maybe this will cheer you up too!

Here's a lessson on how to convict yourself of obstruction of justice. Note the masterful expertise of an idiot putting both his small feet in his mouth. Trump should be a DA. He could bring prosecutions against himself for crimes and thus "get tired of winning"! And why does he attack Obama for not punishing Russia for something that Trump doesn't even believe happened? An idiot for the ages. If there is a future, will anybody believe this guy existed?  His proud look here reminds me of an old theme song from the Golden Age of radio comedy:  "It pays to be ignorant, to be dumb, to be daft, to be ignorant." 


He confesses he meant to affect Comey's testimony in a potential proceeding aginst him. He has here spelled out the requisite intent for the crime of obstruction of justice. It's textbook! No one has so blatantly convicted himself since some long-ago fool said, "I shot Cock Robin"! And Trump did this right out in front of God and the good folks of Iowa. It's enough to make a cat laugh!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Georgia 6th Proves Old Rules But Not The Future

An Opening Note, a happy one: The Democrats still have a decent shot at taking over the House in 2018 in spite of having botched the GA 6th. See the link to Nate Silver's "538" that I've included below in the discussion of Rule Three. The consensus across the board is that the Democrats performance in the four special House elections this year indicate the Democrats will take back the House in 2018. Nevertheless, there's lessons to be learned.

So let's look at how the Democrats broke some key rules of politics and lost a special election Tuesday. Here's what happened:

Rule One of politics:   Republicans always vote Republican.

Rule Two: All politics is local.

Rule Three: You gotta know the territory.

Rule Four: Democrats need a shove out the door. 

In the Georgia 6th Congressional District the Democrats yesterday   ignored these four old rules and blew millions and millions losing a race they could have won.  

Re Rule One: The Democratic party didn't give the GOP voters a reason to vote Democratic. Obviously the Democrats were counting on disgust with Trump and hate for the GOP health care bill to move enough GOP voters. Except they forgot to remind GOP voters that these were at stake. Absent such powerful motives, the GOP voters reverted to form and stayed with the Republican candidate.

The Democrats also ignored Rule One by waving the Democratic banner, pouring in party money, publicly balleyhooing the party's involvement. The last thing you should do is remind a GOP voter that the candidate you're pushing is a Democrat.  Moderate or not, "Democrat" is anathema! The Democrat in GA 6 did fine raising his own money. There was no need for party money!

Maybe the Democrat in the SC 5th race did so well in part because the national party stayed out of it!
Re Rule Two: The Democrats looked at the GA 6th just as numbers. That approach suits the computer geeks who misjudged Clinton's chances in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan last year. But a district is more than numbers. It is people. Why wasn't the Democratic candidate talking to the people of the 6th District about things like: "How many of you or members of your family have pre-existing conditions that will bar you from health insurance under Trump's proposal?" That's hitting at the two things the Democrats were hoping would sway GOP voters. 

Re Rule Three: The Democratic leadership made no study of the election history in the SC 5th and GA 6th. As a consequence, they didn't know the territory. But Nate Silver, the guru of analysts, has looked at that history and points out:
"[T]he results aren’t all that surprising if you zoom out and take a wider view. In 2012, Barack Obama came considerably closer to Mitt Romney in South Carolina 5 than he did in Georgia 6. And Republican incumbents were re-elected to the House by wider margins in Georgia 6 than in South Carolina 5 in both 2014 and 2016. South Carolina 5 has also much more recently elected a Democrat to Congress; John Spratt served there until the 2010 midterms, while Republicans have held Georgia 6 since Newt Gingrich’s win there in 1978.
Silver continues: "To some extent, Montana — where Democrat Rob Quist lost to Republican Greg Gianforte by 6 points last month — also fits the South Carolina 5 pattern. It went strongly for Trump in 2016, but less so for Romney in 2012 — and Obama nearly won there in 2008. It has also been reasonably competitive in past Congressional races." Where Can Democrats Win?
Complicated but key! GA 6 was not as good a bet for a Dem win as other places this year unless you do as the Democratic leadership did and look only at Trump's narrow win in the 6th. 

Re Rule Four: If more Democrats had voted, the Democrat might have won the 6th. But why should working class Democrats get out and vote Democratic? Unless you have a "give 'em hell" candidate like Bernie Sanders, these overworked, desperately busy people are not going to be bothered. Even anti-Trump feelings aren't enough. Just as Washington types are out of touch with these voters, these should-be voters are out of touch with D.C. and Trumps antics. But look at this: in the SC 5th the Democratic candidate, even though a bank-type, was a Bernie Sanders populist, and he did damn well in spite of less resources and worse registration, losing by about the same as the Democrat in GA.
A ClosingNote: Wednesday morning analyst Nate Silver wrote in essential agreement with me as to how the Democrats botched the GA 6th. Not to worry. Silver and I didn't copy each other! But if we both think the same on this one, it's gotta be right! 

Says Silver:" 
"One lesson for Democrats would therefore seem to be to look at a mix of indicators for the competitiveness and partisanship of a district, rather than focusing on the 2016 presidential result alone. Trump’s popularity will be a key factor, but so could the long term partisan lean of the district and how it has voted for Congress in the past. Local issues, particularly how the new health care bill might affect the district, could also play a role."  Where Can Democrats Win?

Are ya listening, Democrats?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"We're Off to See the Money!" And Trump to Prison!

For months I've written, "Follow the money" and thereby put Trump in jail. 

This past week the New York Times reported that Special Counselor Robert Mueller is now investigating Trump's finances: 

"A former senior official said Mr. Mueller’s investigation was looking at money laundering by Trump associates. The suspicion is that any cooperation with Russian officials would most likely have been in exchange for some kind of financial payoff, and that there would have been an effort to hide the payments, probably by routing them through offshore banking centers."  New York Times reports

Donny Deutsch said Friday on "Morning Joe", this will "take down" Trump. Deutsch is a sort of adman, but mainly he's a guy attuned to "the talk on the street", the street being Wall Street. 

And, per Donny, The Street says that Trump is a crook, ran through his credit in the USA, and had to go begging to Russia for loans to stay alive. Donny Deutsch: financial dealings will bring down 'sleazy ...

So what does Russia get in return? Deutsch and others suggest money laundering. I can think of four other things: an end to the sanctions now crippling Russia's economy; the USA abandoning NATO, thus allowing Eastern Europe to fall back into the maw of Russia; a let's-play-nice-with-Putin stance by Trump to heighten Putin's stature with his own people; a quiet greenlight for Russia and Assad in Syria. 

There's probably more, but it's now past my lunch time and I'll wind this down. Watching Trump flailing and falling gives me quite an appetite.

What make me so sure there's something financially creepy about Trump in all this? Not just Donny Deutsch saying so. No, it's Trump saying so. With every enraged tweet he announces how distraught he is. And getting more so! 

Nothing could frighten him this much other than being caught for his money misdeeds. Two reasons: one is that he can be jailed for these since they occurred before his inauguration. While presidents are not subject to prosecution for misdeeds while in the presidency, their prior misdeeds are not protected.

Second, there's not much quibbling about a conviction based on a written record of financial transactions. No issues of Intent; no swearing contests by witnesses. It's all in the record, probably bank records. And tax records, Trump's taxes. Even those GOP voters who still believe in him would have to believe this kind of evidence.

Mueller is going to want to see those all those records, including Trump's tax returns. So are some Congressional committees. And golly, that's what really scares Trump! Because his tax records may reveal that he's not nearly as rich as he claims.

This twisted, tiny little man is so insecure, so focused on being the biggest and the best. He won't be able to stand us learning that he's not a billionaire many times over, not one of the really big boys financially. That's worse for him than going to jail!

He'd probably do almost anything to keep us from knowing that he is not really, really rich. (See footnote.)

One question:  Would his doing "almost anything" include touching off a nuclear war?  

That would certainly be a distraction. And distraction is Trump's main weapon when things are going badly.

I keep thinking of the ending of Dr. Strangelove. "We'll meet again..." 

Oh, my. Is that mushroom-cloud-risk worth seeing those tax returns?

Actually it is.

Violence or the threat of it must never win our aquiescence. 

Trump just released a "financial disclosure" statement for all of 2016, plus 3 months of this year. It's meaningless absent  income tax returns since the amount on the form apparently includes business revenue, according to Bloomberg News:  Trump Discloses Multimillion-Dollar "Income" in Latest Filing ...  Business revenues can be many multiples time actual income. Trump is boastfully inflating his supposed earnings. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

How Deep Is the Hot Water for Trump?

(UPDATE: Here's right-this-moment-breaking news about Trump's increasing legal peril: D.C., Maryland to sue Trump over foreign payments to his businesses. The DAs in these two entities are suing on the basis that Trump is violating the Constitutional prohibition on federal officials taking any kind of payments ("emoluments") from foreign governments. In this case the payments are for hotel stays by foreign officials at Trump facilities. Excellent discussion of the issue of "standing".)  

How deep in jeopardy is Trump? "The water's five feet and rising, Pa," the old song said, "But the damn fool says to press on." 

In Trump's situation the rising water is hot because it can mean serving prison time. Prison for Trump is preferable to impeachment because: 

(1) Unlike impeachment, criminal prosecution is not in the control of the GOP Congress and can't be blocked by partisan blindness.  

(2) Trump's been a scoff-law all his life or at least "a twister" who boasts of wiggling around the law. Jail time will tell the world and our children that our laws mean something. 

(3) The evidence supporting a criminal conviction would have to be so compelling that even Trump supporters might finally see him for what he really is. 

(4) Trump deserves punishment. He is a cruel and vindictive man who has caused terrible suffering to immigrants and others, has cancelled worker safety laws, and has imperiled our planet.       

So how does Trump get sent to prison? As the poet said, "Let me count the ways....."

1.Obstruction of justice?:  This is everybody's nit-picky topic right now as they explore the weeds, i.e. whether Trump's saying "I hope" to James Comey constitutes giving an order and thus shows Trump intended to obstruct the FBI investigation of Trump aide Michael Flynn and/or possible Trump campaign collusion with the Russians in messing with our 2016 election. That's a complicated sentence because weed-searches tend to be complicated.

Give me a break! The topic is not complicated. On TV Trump boastfully told NBC's Lester Holt his intent and also told the Russians what he did and why. Thus the meaning of "hope" is irrelevant because Trump has publicly confessed to the required intent. 

Further, Comey virtually assured the Senate committee last week that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate this possible crime. Comey saying so makes it certain Mueller will. 

If Mueller, however, does find an indictable offense, Trump can't go to jail for what he did as president, impeachment traditionally being the sole allowable remedy against a president for crimes commited while in office. Given that Mueller can't indict Trump, he may just skip the obstruction issue and go right for the biggies, such as.....

2. Trump's financial crimes: These are stunning in number and brazenness but get little press. One of the most criminal and complex is described in the "New Yorker" at Donald Trump's Worst Deal. In a subsequent "New Yorker" article, Your Questions About "Donald Trump's Worst Deal," Answered ..., the author of the original article discusses the likelihood of prosecution for the apparent Trump crimes he described in the first article. 

He has done a spectacularly good job of investigative reporting, on a par with the "New Yorker" coup of revealing the American torture of Iraqui captives at Abu Ghraib prison.Torture at Abu Ghraib - The New Yorker.   misses a few points, namely that Trump apparently violated not only the Foreign Campaign Practices Act but possibly the sanctions against dealing with Iran and also various federal racketeering and money-laundering laws. All these carry prison time.

The activities referred to above are just the tip of the iceberg: Trump and family apparently routinely engage in bent financial activity. Will Mueller go after it all? And is he able to unwind some very deliberately complex deals. 

I don't know how many he will tackle but it sure seems he is well-equipped to unravel any financial complexities. The FBI has always been good at sniffing out the money. Remember that their first big leap to prominence came with the jailing of mobster/murderer Al Capone for income tax fraud. 

It's no surprise therefore that Mueller has muscled up with some of the best in law enforcement. He has now hired the former FBI agent who broke the backs of not just one top New York mafia family but their arch-rivals as well. Mueller has similarly hired other prosecutors, several with big reputations for busting white-collar crime.

3. Trump's Failure to Get Real Legal Help: This may  be the biggest factor in whether Trump goes to jail. He has this past week hired his own long-time New York lawyer to help him now as his private attorney. (White House counsel represent only the presidency, not the president in his personal life.) The NY attorney is woefully inadequate for the job, being ignorant of D.C. and the relevant law and legal hurdles. His response this week to Comey's testimony has already showed his inadequacy. In fact, he attacked Comey this past week in a way that may constitute unlawful intimidation of a witness. (See discussion below at Item 5.)     Looks like Trump's lawyer may soon need his own lawyer!

Pitiful as Trump's current lawyer is, Trump reportedly can't do much better. A number of top firms have turned him down, including the attorney who represented George W in the fight over the Florida vote count in 2000. Trump's reputation has spread that (a) he's a client you can't control and (b) he doesn't pay his attorney bills. No attorney of any status wants a client like Trump even if he is a president.

4. Trump Will Talk Himself into Jail Time: Trump is his own worst enemy. He compulsively convicts himself out of his own mouth. He is every prosecutor's dream of a pefect defendent.

5. Someone will sell him out.  Mueller will press for turncoats, and he will get them. Michael Flynn has already offered to turn state's witness. Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chair, is under investigation for criminal conduct vis-a-vis Ukraine and Russia. Now also targeted by Mueller is Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, and — as of yesterday — Trump's clueless son Donald Jr. is under investigation by the New York state Attorney General for possible improprieties in his "charitable" organization. Will these relatives turn on Daddy Trump? I bet they will in a minute.

And what about Jeff Sessions, the Trump-appointed Attorney General and head of the Dpartment of JUstice? This week Comey indicated that Sessions may also be under investigation for his twice-failure to report his meetings with the Russians. Failing to disclose such on an application for a security clearance is a felony, as is lying under oath about the meetings to the Senate committee that examined him for his appointment to being AG. 

Would Sessions try to buy his way into the clear by revealing collusion between the Russians and Trump or the Trump campaign to tip the 2016 election? Why wouldn't he? Trump makes a big thing out of loyalty, but why would he expect self-sacrificing loyalty from men who have already violated their loyalty to their country and to the law?

Once a rat, always a rat.

5. There's more!: Trump virtually commits a crime a day. Some aren't readily punishable by law. For example, his disclosing secrets to the Russians becomes a non-crime because the president can choose to declassify material.  But other missteps aren't protected. 

Trump's latest is interfering with a witness by attempting intimidation. In this he was aided by — of all people! — his private attorney. Threatening to have Comey "investigated" for "leaking" Comey's own memoranda is a blatant attempt at intimidation of a potential future witness. The nifty thing here is that both Trump and his attorney are potentially liable for this crime. Only an attorney as ineffective as Trump's would make such a blunder.

Meantime Mueller's investigation and that of the Senate Intelligence Committee aren't all that Trump faces. Various other government agences are investigating the Trumps, and there are several private law suits of considerabe threat to him. One of the latter is an "unfair competition" suit against his D.C. hotel on the grounds it exploits Trump's presidential status and thus unfairly takes business from competitors. This won't bring prison time, but it's nice to know Trump has one more thing to worry about.

Conclusion: Trump sure looks like he's headed to jail. The only remaining question is whether his wife — who visibly flinches when he gets close — will visit him in jail to bring the little unhealthy snacks he so loves.   

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Why Is Trump Suffering?

Trump is miserable. He's worried. He's angry. He's afraid.

How do we know? Because the White House staff has been whispering about Trump's "misery" to reporters and others ever since Trump got back from his 9-day trip abroad. The trip gave his approval rating a small bounce, but he has come back to the same mess about Russia. 

Only now it's worse. Much worse. Now it's also about money and prison time.

How does Trump suffer? Let me count the ways:

1. Subpoenas are falling like raindrops all over D.C. but especially on the White House and those connected with it. Subpoenas are always a scary signal that things are now getting very serious. 

2. The special prosecutor and the Senate Intelligence Committee are going after Trump's son-in-law and his Russian contacts, which include the Putin-controlled bank now off-limits under US sanctions. Looking at the son-in-law means looking at business deals with Russia, including Trump's.

2. His son-in-law may have attempted a treasonous act by proposing to communicate with the Kremlin and the sanctioned bank via  Russian equipment in the Russian embassy. He thought he'd avoid US surveillance. This smells of hiding criminal activity on behalf of the family's finances. Or of treasonous collusion of some sort?

3. James Comey has been cleared by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to testify this Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Trump's possible obstruction of justice in asking Comey to drop the FBI investigation of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the 2016 election. Further, given what Comey will likely say, Mueller may also come to view his firing by Trump as furtherance of the obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is a jailable offense though some argue that presidents are immune to criminal charges for deeds done in office but can only be impeached. 

4. Trump's private attorney going back for years has been subpoenaed to produce his records and those of his company. This is strange, to say the least, and may be a way of negating attorney-client privilege by showing the attorney was part of a Trump criminal act. What criminal act? There are so many Trump possibles to choose from! And I am only half-joking in saying that.

5. Perhaps worst of all, the Senate investigating committee and Mueller want Trump's tax filings. Reportedly this is really driving Trump up the walls. 

Is he afraid of jail for tax fraud? Afraid it will be shown he isn't really a billionaire? Afraid it will provide proof of money laundering? Of violation of the racketeering laws in dealings with the New York and Russian Mafia? Of illegal transactions, even traitorous ones, with the Iranian Republican Guard? From news stories in mainline, highly respectable media, all of these spooks are in his closet.

There is one thing to be clear about. When Trump said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still keep his political following, he may have been right. But he still would have been arrested for committing a crime. 

What worries Trump is that, even though he has eluded public sanctions in slithering around doing wrongful business deals, he appears to have committed white collar crimes that carry severe prison time. Even more scary is that some of these crimes — such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — are virtually "strict liability" statutes. That's bad news for careless or crooked business people.

The FCPA, for example, prohibits doing business with a person or entity which has engaged in corrupt practices, e.g. bribery of foreign officials. Trump's never-to-open hotel in Azerbaijan appears to be a textbook of such crimes. Donald Trump's Worst Deal - The New Yorker  

What makes FCPA nightmarish for even non-corrupt  business people is that you can violate it without knowing that the people you are in business with are being corrupt in some other deal. You are obliged to investigate those with whom you would do business.

And that investigation has to use "due diligence". An ice-skating job won't do.

Is that why Mueller wants to look at Trump's private lawyer and his documents? In the past Trump's attorneys have claimed they did appropriate research in accord with the FCPA. But did any law enforcement agency ever check up on that? It appears not. 

When the New Yorker reporter looked into the Azerbaijanian deal, Trump's "chief legal officer" responded:"... that he didn’t oversee the due-diligence process. 'The people who did are no longer at the company,' he said. 'I can’t tell you what was done in this situation.' He would not identify the former employees. When I asked him to provide documentation of due diligence, he said that he couldn’t share it with me, because 'it’s confidential and privileged.'”

It sure sounds like it's time some law enforcement agency looked into the issue of Trump's due diligence in the Azerbaijanian dealings. Maybe Trump's current attorney wasn't around for that deal, but one has to start somewhere. 

I know what you're about to say now. That Trump's worst sorrow isn't the prospect of jail time at all. He's miserable because James Comey is still lots bigger than he is. Firing Comey didn't make him shorter. At 6'8" he still towrs over Trump. And even worse, France's new president is much better looking than Trump, is younger too, and actually made a lot of money as a businessman instead of aquiring glitz with proceeds of bankruptcy.

Poor little Trump. He's right. Everybody IS out to get him! 

He doesn't want to make America great again. He wants to make Trump great... finally, some day, some way. 

Wonder what con he can run in prison.... 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

"Follow The Money" to Get Rid of Trump and Co.

"Follow the money" — a  still shot of Deep Throat in All The President's Men. See video at:
All the President's Men (8/9) Movie CLIP - Deep Throat (1976) HD - Duration: 2:33. Movieclips 28,971 views 

The advice is still as good as it was in the Watergate episode when Deep Throat whispered it to Bob Woodward in a shadowy parking garage over 40 years ago: 
                                  "Follow the money."

With Trump and Co. the advice is even more pertinent because Trump and Co. are supremely motivated by money, whereas Nixon's crimes arose from his desire to preserve his power.

As I've said before, Trump and Family view the White House as their own cash register. Ka-ching, it goes! Music to their ears, as money flows into Trump golf courses and hotels because of his presidency.

But that stuff is comparatively chump change. So is Trump's daughter's line of expensive gim-crackery jewelry, etc. and her newly-acquired brand protections in China. So is Jared Kushner's sister's attempt to peddle American visas using the Trump status. 

The real money is off-shore. Way off-shore. It's in Trump dealings with Azerbaijania and Moscow and Ukraine and Cyprus. It's in the billions being laundered by the Trumps for the Moscow/New York Mafia and for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It's in the loans given the Trumps by Russian banks when US banks would no longer pony up after being burned repeatedly by Donald Trump's business practices and Jared Kushner's recklessly paying double the going price for Manhattan real estate footage.

Donald Trump is not a big businessman. He's a crooked one. His favorite ploy is like that depicted in the wonderful Mel Brooks' comedy "The Producers", in which a down-and-out Broadway producer and his accountant raise far more money than their latest production, "Springtime for Hitler", requires. "Springtime"is carefully designed to be a sure-fire failure so it can close after the first night and be declared a bankruptcy, while Producers Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder walk off with all the money they raised and didn't spend.

That's how Trump has managed casinos and hotels. He borrowed bigtime to create hotels and casinos. Then he stiffed the guys who built the projects and the suppliers who sold him the construction materials. He stiffed the little working guys too and the people who helped the facilities function. He pocketed the money he had been loaned to pay these people and then declared bankruptcy so he could walk away with the banks' money.

He also stiffed his attorneys in the flock of lawsuits brought on by his crooked ways. In fact a New York attorney was laughing his head of on MSNBC last week at the news that Trump is lawyering up. "Not in New York City", the attorney said. "The word is out on him in the New York legal community that he stiffs his attorneys."

Want an amazing example of Trump's crookedness? This involves not only crooked business practices re raising money on false pretenses, but violates at least three major federal laws: dealing with the forbidden Iranian Revolutionary Guard, money laundering, and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This last not only carries huge fines, but unlike most white-collar crime, also carries stiff prison sentences. Read about this huge Trump-brand hotel and why it never opens because of its criminal parentage.

Donald Trump's Worst Deal - The New Yorker  (Also see footnote below.)

Trump's "worst deal", this pictured Azerbaijanian project, not only violated various business laws but also constituted a form of treason. As the New Yorker article explains, the Azerbaijanian hotel deal involved the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This gang of hoods not only controls Iran's oil proceeds but is the godfather of the Iranian nuclear bomb efforts. Trump is footsie with people designing a nuclear weapon with our name on it. Further, Americans are expressly forbidden to do business with Iran about oil, this being one of the sanctions that drove Iran to agree to halt development of a nuclear weapon.  

Playing footsie with these Iranian guys is clearly aiding and abetting an enemy of the United States. Trump is supporting a force that threatens our very survival. He is a traitor. 

And it's all for money.

That will be his undoing. Money dealings leave paper trails. They have to because the crooks don't trust each other. Money trails are harder to defend against than the "he said v. they said" of witness testimony in, for example, collusion trials. Hopefully one or more of the current investigations, including the one by the fraud unit of the Treasury Department, will indeed follow the money.

Ka-ching may thus turn to Ka-clunk, the latter being the sound of the closing of a prison door.

It is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

FOOTNOTE: The excellent article in the New Yorker referred to here — "Donald Trump's Worst Deal" — came out in March. The mainstream print media saluted it, but it got little traction on TV or social media. No investigators or Trump critics have made anything of it. Perhaps it's a little too complicated for them. But not for us, right! Because we know that the more complicated the coverup, the bigger the underlying crime. In due course this chicken will come all the way home from Azerbaijania to roost on Trump. I wrote about this "worst deal" once before and will do so again. 

This money must be followed.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kushner Proposal Is Treasonous?

Trump's security chiefs H.R. McMasters and John Kelly went on TV  this past week to proclaim that Jered Kushner's proposed "back channel", as they termed it, was "a good thing", a useful way for "governments to communicate discreetly".


Kushner wasn't proposing an ordinary "back channel". Such are indeed useful, JFK having used one to Krushev so as to avoid nuclear war in the Cuban missile crisis. 

But as George W. Bush's State Department adviser Elliot Cohen says,“There’s no way that it can be appropriate to say, ‘I want to use a hostile government’s communications system to avoid our government knowing anything about it.’ ”  As White House defends Kushner, experts criticize his alleged back-channel move

What Kushner proposed was a "covert" channel for the Trump familyIt was to have nothing to do with our government. That's why it was to originate in the Russian embassy and go from there to the Kremlin. This was Kushner's idea of how to keep our government from knowing anything about what was going on. The ignoramnus hadn't learned or even suspected that the US government monitors every message going in or out of the embassy. 

Why distrust our own government but trust the Russians? A senior State Department official has raised that point: Kushner's effort shows "that the Trump team had less trust in the American government than in a foreign adversary that undermined our election. And the million-dollar question then becomes: What was so urgent and so sensitive that the president needed it to be handled this way? Every explanation offered so far has been wholly unsatisfying.” 
On December 1 and 2, the dates of Kushner's alleged proposal, the Obama administration was still in office, but what was Kushner trying to hide from them? By December 1, Obama had smacked Russia with additional sanctions beyond those imposed for aggression in the Ukraine and Crimea. These new sanctions were for interfering with our election. Did Kushner want to hide discusssion of the Trump role in this interference?

Or was it about illict family business? 

How do we know the proposed discussions may have involved Trump family business and not our government's business? 

Here's the tip-off. The embassy link was supposed to also connect Kushner with the Russian bank virtually run by Putin and on a US list of sanctioned Russian players.

So it's obvious this wasn't a traditional back channel to do government business. There is no USA government business conceivable that would have included that proscribed bank. 

What is very troubling is that McMasters and Kelly, the very tippy-top of Trump's intelligance advisory team, are so dumb they didn't spot this. 

Or are they so devoted to being Trump's puppets that they will say anything to cover for their boss?

Either way, we have to get rid of Trump and His Gang That Can't Shoot Straight.

Because, my friends, we are talking about national security. We need smart security people and not just dummies or puppets. 

Howard Dean was on a Sunday talk show, pointing out that this Kushner proposal would be a "covert" operation dedicated to the Trump family, not a back channel for diplomacy. May we please have Howard Dean as president? Or Bernie Sanders? Or six others I can think of. All of them smart. And all loyal to the USA.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fool Me Twice? Is the Krushner Story a Russian Hoax?

Maybe you too have wondered for a moment about the validity of the story that Trump's son-in-law wanted a covert channel to the Kremlin via the equipment in the Russian embassy. After all, we apparently know about this because the Russian ambassador in D.C. told Moscow about it via the Russian embassy equipment while the US was listening in. 

Did the Russian ambassador plant the story in order to throw our wildly confused government into even greater disarray? 

We know the Russians fed then-FBI director James Comey a fake report last summer, claiming the then-Attorney General had secretly pledged Hillary Clinton would not be indicted for her email carelessness and violation of rules. As a result, Comey felt obliged to exclude the Attorney General from the Clinton matter and on his own hook announced Clinton had been careless but nothing more. 

You know the rest: he rescinded that conclusion when he found out that some of her emails had been forwarded to the laptop of her aide's disgusting and perverted husband, he of the unfortuante but apt name of Anthony Weiner. Even though the investigation closed again a few days before the election, the Hillary forces maintain the non-fruitful reopening cost her the election.  (See footnote as to this being incorrect.)

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Has Russia fooled us again? 

Two things made me wonder. First, why are we only learning of the Krushner matter now? It supposedly happened last December 1 or 2. Since we monitor the Russian embassy constantly (that's how the FBI caught Michael Flynn), why has this even more startling Kushner story taken so long to emerge? It consists of what the Russian ambassador supposedly relayed to the Kremlin, i.e. we have only his word for it as far we now know.

Second, why would the Russian ambassador relay the story to the Kremlin via equipment he surely knew was tapped? If he didn't already suspect it, he damn well should have. He is tightly enough wrapped into the Russian espionage establishment to know that we monitor all the embassy communications. Discussing Kushner's proposal on monitored equipment makes it seem that the ambassador  wanted us to know what Kushner was up to.

In politics you always ask why? Why does the other guy do something. What does he want? Why would Russia feed us a fake story making us think the worst of the family member closest to the president and virtually in charge of everything going on in the Oval Office?

That question sort of answers itself. To sow discord, suspicion and distress in rival goverments is a pretty effective thing to do. Look at the mileage the Russians got from hacking the Democratic National Committee and playing into the Clinton email mess. The United States, the world's oldest and strongest democracy, is now looking a bit punch-drunk.

I think there's some reason to be cautious about anything connected with Russia over which they had control, such as the control they had here in letting this story supposedly leak from their embassy-to-Kremlin comunications. They could have sent this information by diplomatic pouch and it would have been absolutely secure. So why was it going over a transmission system they knew we were monitoring?

Our problem is we don't really know what the Russian stakes are in their relationship with Trump. What's their ultimate goal? 

If it's to have the sanctions removed that are strangling the Russian economy, then their best course would seem to be to allow Trump sufficient status and credibility to remove those sanctions, not look like a dithering idiot in league with Russia as against US interests. 

Keeping Trump in power to undo the sanctions seems to me to be a far more valuable goal than making the Trump & Co cortege look bad. Why falsely make his son-in-law look like a traitor when you can use the son-in-law to rescue your country's economy and save Putin from being tossed out by a suffering populace?

Well, I know which road I'd take if I was Putin. 

But I'm not Putin. 

And I am really glad of that because I wouldn't want a ride like this!

Watch this video and get a good laugh! We need all the laughs we can get these days!   Putin on the Ritz
_______________FOOTNOTE: Clinton's loss of the presidency cannot be explained by Comey's opening and closing of the email investigation. Her poll numbers were sinking before he reopened the investigation. She was already toast. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Trump Team Appearance of Treason: Is Money the Motive?

This week's Friday night block-buster was a double-header. The first news to break was that Trump son-in-law and White House power, Jared Kushner, tried in early December to set up a secret "back channel" to Russia — now get this! — with him talking from the Russian embassy. He proposed to the Russian ambassador that he be allowed to use the Russians' equipment so as to be secure from US surveillance. He wanted to talk to the Kremlin and to a bank run by Putin that's under US sanctions. 

(The second part of the double-header, reported 5 minutes later, was that the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the Trump team for all campaign emails, phone records, and documents from the Trump campaign going back to its beginning in 2015. This is highly significant but let's hold off on it for now.)

The Kushner revelation is stunning. No one of any rank in D.C. or the media can recall such a flagrant disregard of the strictures against sneaking into the arms of a US adversary the way Kushner proposed. In a lame attempt at push-back, today the Trump puppet national security adviser, H.R. McMasters said he "wouldn't be concerned" about back-channel communications but noted he was speaking "in general" and then refused to comment on the Kushner matter. 

In fact, he did some self-protective distancing: "It's not something I have been involved with or have any knowledge  of."

Why in heaven's name would someone in Kushner's position make such a bizarre and traitorous-appearing move? By early December hadn't President Obama just announced that the Russians had tried to interfere with our election? Hadn't he just smacked them with more sanctions on top of the ones he imposed because of their invading Ukraine and the Crimea? Russia is certainly our adversary, to use the polite term for an enemy we are not actaully at war with. Sure, Trump has shown he's too stupid to weigh the appearance or substance of what he does, but is the son-in-law that stupid too?

Probably not. But I suggest that he has a very strong motive that would blind him to the an outcry that his proposal may be traitorous. That powerful motive is money. 

As I've written before, the White House is the Trump family's idea of a big cash register, ringing a constant "ka-ching" for the family fortune. Even as I write Trump is raking in money from a major golf tournament at one of his courses, and one of his sons is boasting what "a great marketing job" it was booking the event there. 

Why talk to a Russian bank on a secure line that is protected from surveillance by your own government?  Gosh, doesn't the word "money" come to mind when your hear "bank"?  And don't you want to be "secure" from anyone knowing you're dealing with forbidden entities?

I suspect that the Trump family and their cohorts have simply sold themselves to Russia. They are not traitors of the usual persuasion, i.e. idealogically driven.  Nor are they like the spies in John LeCarre's books, honey-trapped by women or black-mailed for their tawdry ways.  Naw, they're just your usual prostitutes, people who  
will do anything for money.

What did the Russians get, or hope to get, in return? Pretty big stuff, actually. The lifting of sanctions isn't just so Russia can regain some kind of respect. It's survival. With oil prices way, way down for years, the Russians have hit very hard times. Oil is virtually their only export. With sanctions further strangling Russian trade, their economy is on the verge of collapse.

And for people who have had a burst of prosperity, as the Russians did when oil prices were up, a return to poverty is doubly hard to take. They are going to punish someone.

Most likely it will be Putin. He knows that. Elections are next year in Russia. And so he wants those sanctions gone. That's why Michael Flynn was talking to the Russians about the sanctions when the US "listeners" caught him while eavesdropping on the Russian embassy. 

If Flynn, Kushner, and others of the Trump team have been conspiring to undercut a measure adopted by our federal government to punish and curtail an "adversary", i.e. the sanctions against Russia, that sure looks like traitorous activity.

Maybe we are indeed going to celebrate the centennial of the 1917 Espionage Act by enforcing it against the highest ranks in the White House.

Do you think the Trumps might lend their brand to a "Trump Prison"? 

If the price is right?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Trump's Pushing and His Montana Man's Body-Slamming.

 Only six month ago, this is what our president and vice-president were like. They didn't shove or attack people. Their hands were for comforting, for greeting, for support.

Contrast with Trump yesterday at NATO in the moment of shoving the leader of Montenegro out of his way so that he — the almighty Trump — can be in the front of the group picture. and scroll to see the pushing in progress)

J.K. Rowling said of this atrocious moment, "You tiny, tiny, tiny little man."

Brave little Montenegro and its leader had defied Russia in order to join NATO. This was the first meeting of NATO Montenegro attended. Here Trump steps in for Russia and pushes Montenegro around. No wonder Trump admires Russia. It too is a bully-boy.

Our revulsion at his violence and bullying in politics will be Donald Trump's signature legacy as president. 

During the campaign he encouraged his followers to beat up on protesters and the news media. As of Wednesday night that's exactly what the GOP candidate in Montana did. He body-slammed a reporter and pummeled him ..... for asking questions! 70% of the vote had already been cast, so he paid no price at the polls. He is, however, headed to court on a criminal charge of misdeamenor assault. But that doesn't right this wrong! Throwing him out of office next year is also required.

He was smothering one of our freedoms. Asking questions is what the press does in a democracy. Freedom of the press certainly includes freedom from being beat up by the politicos. We have got to protect the press because freedom of the press is our freedom. It's our freedom to know.

At almost the same time as this disgrace in Montana, Donald Trump — the instigator of bullying in politics — was shoving the leader of Montenegro. 

I never thought that I would live to see violence like this in American politics. What's next? Brown Shirts? Jack-boots. Goose-stepping?

We have to get rid of this and not just from the arena of politics. We have to get rid of the support it has in 30% of our people, based in their ignorance and hate-filled resentment and racism. The healing of these people will take time, but unless we rid ourselves of the disgusting and dangerous examples of Trump and that Montana man, the job of purging it from our society will get only harder.

Our presidents all the way back through my 81 years have never behaved like Trump. They were all good and classy men. We could be proud of them. Let's look again at the opening picture of the leadership that was ours just six months ago.

I feel like calling out to them as they go through the door, "No wait! Don't go! We desperately need you!"

I am broken-hearted this evening. Can we ever set this right?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump's Wrong! Here's Heartland America on the Rise!

Here's the real America — heartland America — getting great again without Donald Trump and his hate-filled ideas. Read this and be encouraged. America is still America. Innovative, community-based, full of initiative. As the longshoreman/philosopher Eric Hoffman said 50 years ago, "You can put a group of Americans on the side of a mountain and they would form a successful community."

From Thomas Friedman in the NY Times: Opinion | A Road Trip Through Rusting and Rising America


               Thomas L. Friedman A Road Trip Through Rusting and Rising America