Friday, June 30, 2017

The GOP Plan To Achieve GOP Defeat in 2018, 2020

 I don't get it.

The GOP is constructing a complete failure for themselves in the coming elections. It's a genius of a plan if their intention is to wipe their party out. 

I just don't get why they are apparently deliberately plotting their own electoral suicide. But first, let's look at what that suicide plan is.

The centerpiece of their plan is their latest health insurance bill, which cuts a huge amount out of Medicaid so as to give that money to the rich as a tax cut. 

So guess who depends heavily on Medicaid? Seniors. The same seniors who always vote and mostly vote Republican. Without the senior vote, the GOP is toast.

Many of these same seniors are in nursing homes, their residency paid for by Medicaid. They are the same seniors who need other vital care that's not covered by Medicare but is covered by Medicaid, e.g. dentures, hearing aids, eyeglasses.

How can the GOP hang onto these voters when it takes away their nursing homes and other vital medical needs? As the GOP pushes the grandmas out of the nursing homes and over the cliff in their wheelchairs, those grannies will be angrily shaking their fists at the GOP as they go flying over the edge. 

But wait! There's even more ingenious election idiocy from the GOP. 

Everybody knows the GOP can't win the White House without certain states in the electoral college, such as Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and — as of 2016 — Michigan and Wisconsin. Now get this. The GOP's  health insurance reform plan whacks 22 million people off their present insurance under Obamacare. And guess where most of these people live.

Unbelievably the biggest hits will be taken in those same states that control the electoral college outcome! Most of those key states will have their uninsured rate near-double or more! 

Take a look at this excellent depiction of what will happen: 
Which states would be hit hardest by Obamacare repealPennsylvania, for example, will have 1,221,000 more uninsured.  That's a  a 197% increase. Michigan: 1,014,000, also a 197% increase. And so on down the list.

Besides the Rust Belt states, look at what what happens to Kentucky and West Virginia! They get hit the hardest. Harder than 48 other states! Kentucky has its uninsured people increase by 231%! That makes it second only to West Virginia in loss of health care for its people. 

And guess which state Senator Mitch McConnell represents. 


This is a strange way to "represent" a state, isn't it?

These people who will be kicked off their health insurance are in effect being murdered. When reckless disregard becomes too egregious it changes from gross negligence to murder because the intent to kill can be presumed from the high degree of disregard of the inflicted danger. 

Do we know people die from lack of medical care? Yes, we do. Can we predict the elderly will die if kicked out of nursing homes? 

Well, duh!

In 2009 Harvard estimated that 45,000 people died each year for lack of health insurance in the years following the Clinton failure to enact coverage. These dead included a family friend whose life could have been saved if he had had insurance.  He was only in his 40's. We didn't know his plight or would have helped. He was too proud to ask, I guess. New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of ...

Then Obamacare came along and began to save people, not just from death, but from unneccesary, untreated pain and suffering. 

People could get help.

And now a majority of Americans like Obamacare, according to polls. More than half of Americans approve of Obamacare now, Gallup ...

By contrast, the GOP health insurance bill to replace Obamacare has polled this past week at approval rates of 12%, 16%, and 17%. In fact, if you add the low approval rate of the GOP bill to Trump's low approval rate, even the combined total is less than the approval rate for Obamacare standing alone.

I worked for 30 years in politics to help people. Much of this work was in running campaigns. In fact, I may have been the first woman to ever run a Congressional campaign. We lost that one, though we did get some benefits for the people, e.g. a hundred housing units for farmworkers who were living in hovels and a federal law to prohibit  mass arrest and detention without due process. Pretty good stuff. Still, we didn't win the election. 

But we didn't engineer our own loss like these Republicans are apparently now doing. We fought like hell to win even in a district that was "unwinnable" according to the registration numbers. 

So I don't get it. 

Why are the Republicans setting themselves up to lose the White House and the House of Representatives? Instead of going for broke like we did a half-century ago, they are breaking all hope of winning.

Am I missing something here? 

They can't all be as nutsy as the ostensible head of their party. Is there actually some dark, hidden goal in their apparent craziness?

Anyway, Happy Fourth of July! And don't worry. The Great Experiment will go on! Neither Trump nor the ruthlessness of Mitch McConnell's GOP will destroy this country. As Lincoln said, America is the last best hope of humankind. 

It shall not perish from the earth. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why Democrats Won't Now Work With GOP on Health Insurance

Sen. Mitch McConnell is trying to scare his stubborn fellow senators into geting on board with his version of a bill to repeal/replace Obamacare. His threat is that if they don't give him enough GOP votes he'll just have to work with the Democrats to pass his bill.  McConnell warns Trump, GOP on health bill failure - POLITICO

Big problem, Mitch: the Democrats aren't interested in working on your bill. After it dies and has been dragged away, they'll work with the GOP on fresh new ground. 

Sounds harsh? No, it's just sensible. The Democrats have at least two and a half good reasons to take a hands-off position regarding your bill.

First, you don't mean what you say. They know that you are just using the threat of Democratic participation to coerce reluctant GOP senators into voting your way. These hold-out GOP senators are indeed afraid of Democratic participation. In the states of these recalcitrant senators and many of the other GOP senators, co-operating with Democrats is heresy. Senators who work with Democrats are toast at election time. That's a political climate you have helped father. Let's hope it now bites you on the you-know-what. So yours is an empty threat. You won't risk losing even more  votes, those already on-board. Thus you are actually inviting the Democrats to a party that isn't going to happen, and the Democrats won't accept being shark bait in your duplicitous strong-arming of your ranks.

The second reason the Democrats want no part in tinkering with your very bad bill, Senator M, is that you and the Democrats can never agree on the issue most central to this bill: drastically cutting Medicaid. Be honest! You GOP don't actually want to reform health insurance but instead, under the guise of halth insurance reform, you want to cut Medicaid funding for elderly in nursing homes and for the poor in order to finance a big gift to the rich. 

Under your conniving the  $710 billion cut to Medicaid over 10 years is to be used to pay for a similar amount of tax cut for the rich. Further, this cut to Medicaid has to come before the tax measure. reform. Under Senate procedural rules, the money to balance your huge tax gift to the rich has to be ready and waiting, already identified, in order for your so-called tax reform bill to pass the Senate on a simple majority rather than a super-majority that would necessitate some Democratic votes. There are no Democrats conservative enough to vote for that tax gift to the rich. Therefore you are stuck with trying to get the Medicaid money now with just a simple majority vote. 

(The LA Times says nearly $800 billion. Other media today have other amounts. "[T]he bill reduces Medicaid funding by almost $800 billion over 10 years compared with what would have been spent under Obamacare."  Is Mitch McConnell trying to tank Trumpcare? - LA Times)

As for what's happening right now, there are no Democrats who will go along with your $710 billion cut to Medicaid. Democrats don't do what even Trump has called "mean" things. As the old saying goes, Democrats care about people; the GOP cares about money. The likelihood of some middle ground on this one doesn't come to mind. Heck, the  GOP can't find a middle ground on it among themselves so as to get a couple of more GOP votes!

So why should the Democrats enter into a hopeless "bipartisan" effort with you, Senator McC, that will go nowhere, plus give you a chance to blame the Democrats for the failure?

And now the one-half a reason the Democrats won't work to help save your bill:  The polls.

Yesterday four major polls reported American approval of the GOP bill has gone down through the crust of the earth.  12%, 16%, 17%, 24%. Even a majority of GOP hate the bill. Even a majority of Trump supporters hate it.

Why would anyone want to get involved in that? Especially when there's the hopeless stalemate about cutting Medicaid.

And get this straight, McConnell: bad polls or not for the bill,  Democrats are not throwing 22 million people off their health insurance and cutting life-and-death aid to our old and our poor. Not now. Not ever. 

That's not a raving liberal's point of view. The low polls I cited above show that almost all Americans oppose throwing the poor and the elderly over the cliff. Good for the American people!

In those poll numbers is the proof that America is truly great again!

Just like it always was. 

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....