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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Trump's dirtiest deal

    In last week's trip to Washington, I happened to drive down Pennsylvania Avenue.  The optics of Individual 1's dirty deal are so obvious, I felt I had to write.  The FBI headquarters building occupies an entire city block on Pennsylvania Ave.  It is located between The White House and the Capitol.  It is about a block away from the Trump Hotel.  The land on which it sits may be the most valuable land in all of Washington.  The headquarters is a crumbling overcrowded mess.  It accommodates about 7,000 of the FBI's 11,000 employees.  The rest work in various buildings in D.C. and the suburbs.
          The FBI has been looking at plans to build a new headquarters in a D.C. suburb since 2011.  After receiving several proposal the Government Services Administration (GSA) settled on the best proposal.  The present building and land would be sold for hundreds of millions to a private developer.  The developer would demolish the headquarters and build a hotel and commercial complex on the site.  The developer would also build a new FBI headquarters in the suburbs.  The new building in the suburbs would accommodate all 11,000 employees.  Then Chump got elected.
       On January 24, three days after being sworn in, Individual 1 met with the administrator of the GSA.  This is bizarre by itself. Who ever heard of a brand new president making it a top priority to meet with the head of the GSA? In May the GSA announced it was abandoning the existing plan and announced a new plan to demolish the existing building and build a new building on the same site.   The head of the GSA testified before a Senate panel  in  April, 2017 . She claimed that the reason for the change of plans was because the FBI asked to stay in the old site.  The administrator did not disclose that she had met with individual 1.  Now that this information is public, she has refused to say what was discussed at the meeting.
        Please understand that the change of plans represents a huge financial benefit to individual 1 and a huge cost to taxpayers.  First, of course, he will not have a competitor directly across the street from his hotel.  Second, with the FBI building in place, presumably some additional business will be generated for his hotel.  By the way, the new plan will costs hundreds of millions of dollars more than the old plan.  The new building will still require about 3,000 employees  to work off campus.  And finally, the new plan will require FBI employees  to relocate twice.
         In late October, 2018 Elijah Cummings and four other representatives sent a letter to the GSA asking for a detailed account of what was said in the January 24 meeting.  As far as I know that letter has never been answered.  Guess what, now it will be.  Cummings will make this investigation a priority.  He is going to have the GSA administrator under oath.  It will not surprise me  if it is revealed that she lied the first time when she testified that the change of plans was at the request of the FBI.
        Ryan Zinke, made national news with his dirty deal involving land in Whitefish Montana.  Zinke's deal was small potatoes compared to this.  If Chump talked about the deal with the GSA administrator, he  and she clearly violated ethics rules.  I am not a  criminal lawyer, but it seems to me that there must have been violations of criminal law. 
         The GSA administrator is  Emily Murphy.  I assume she has never before been embroiled in any ethical controversy.  It is amazing how Chump dirties everyone he deals with who was not dirty before.  It is not easy to have a Chump deal called the dirtiest of all.  I think this qualifies.  Thanks for listening.
                                                                                              Richard
                                                                                       
P.S.  It is sickening that the sociopath in chief has caused hundreds of thousands to go without pay.  He could not care less. His time is coming.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Delusional Vs Pathological liar

  Our family recently had a debate as to whether Individual 1 is merely a pathological liar or if he is delusional.  In the end we concluded he is both. 
        The inspiration for the debate was Chump's statement that privately several past president have told him that they wish they had done what he is doing in promoting "the wall."  This is beyond a lie.  It  sounds delusional.  According to all known sources, individual 1 has not spoken to any former president since he took office.   It is inconceivable that any of the living presidents, including W would have endorsed what he is doing. He can't possibly think that anyone would believe him.  Is it possible that  swimming around in his head this really happened?
       Then there is the pathological lying point of view.  His thousands of lies have been well documented.  The one that I most recently focused on was his statement that the president who had the greatest election victory ever cannot be impeached.  Bragging is one thing.  This is beyond bragging.  As a perfect rejoinder to Chump there is Richard Nixon.  Without question he would have been impeached  had he not resigned.  In 1973 Nixon won 49 out of 50 States' electoral votes.  Less than two years after the election he was gone.
          Chump has lasted longer than Nixon even though he is far more venal and far less competent.  That is because Chump has had a complicit Congress.   That has now changed.  It may be that Chump will survive for two more years.  But with all the material already available, and more to come,  Congress  or the criminal courts can get rid of Chump more quickly than Nixon.  Stay tuned.

                                             Richard

Saturday, January 5, 2019

An incredible day, three incredible women

Greetings from Washington.  Yesterday Kathryn and I joined in the festivities around the swearing in ceremonies of the new Congress.  We watched the ceremony on a screen in Elissa Slotkin's new congressional office.  We shuttled back and forth between Elissa's office and Haley Steven's office with a stop at Andy Levin's. Having never done this before I thought you might  want to get a first hand description of the day.
        Elissa and Haley are two of the three incredible women I will discuss.  The third is Nancy Pelosi.  Pelosi's name was put into nomination by Hakeem Jeffries, a congressman from NY.  His speech was beautiful.  See if you can find it on you tube. He is a rising star. He described Pelosi's incredible accomplishments.
           After the vote Pelosi also gave a magnificent speech.  She highlighted all of the important issues the new Congress will tackle.  She was gracious in reaching out to Republicans.  She even quoted Ronald Reagan in a quote I had never heard.  Reagan said something like" if we close the door to new Americans, our leadership to the world is lost. "   By the way, Reagan also agreed to amnesty for illegal immigrants.   Pelosi also gave high praise to George H W Bush for signing the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Pelosi vowed to have  open debates with a willingness to listen to all sides.  As I recall she never mentioned Chump or any potential investigations.  Her speech was gracious while at the same time setting forth Democratic priorities.  
        To set the scene, there are three congressional office buildings with multiple entrances.  There were long lines of celebrants waiting to get in.  The mood was jubilant.  Elissa and Haley opened their offices for afternoon receptions.  Unfortunately, Haley and Elissa could only pop in for a few minutes because they needed to get back to the House for important votes.  They also had evening receptions.  Again the could stay for only a short time because the continuing resolution bills were scheduled for a vote at 9:00.
       The events were filled with Haley and Elissa's families, friends and supporters.  For me the best part was hearing from people who had known them forever.  They said that they were not surprised by Haley's and Elissa's successes.  The successes were predictable from childhood.
      I am speaking of only three incredible women.  The Democrats have about 90 women in Congress.  Each is incredible in her own way.  I think the Republicans have about 13 women in Congress.  It was an amazing sight to see one side of the house filled with women and many people of color.  The other side  was primarily filled with old white men.
       There is one other woman who needs to be described.  She is less than incredible.  Liz Chaney, the daughter of Dick, made a speech endorsing Kevin McCarthy for speaker of the House.  Liz has famously feuded with her sister Mary who is married, gay and has two children.  Liz opposes gay marriage.  Liz has said she has a "disagreement" with her sister.  Mary has said this is not a disagreement.  It is purely a difference between right and wrong.
        She gave a disgustingly partisan speech.  There was not even a fake effort at bipartisanship.  She explained that McCarthy would fight hard to protect America from the stranglehold of socialism.  And for me, the most disturbing line was when she said that McCarthy understood that our rights are derived from God.  This person is considered a rising star in the Republican party.  
          I think there will never be a more euphoric event than Obama's first inauguration.  But there was euphoria aplenty in this event yesterday.  Individual 1 is largely responsible for the landslide election of Democrats.  He seems to be getting crazier by the day.  But in my view the checks and balances of our system is working.  With the election of a new Congress we may have turned the corner.  It sure looked like it yesterday.  Take care all.

                                                                          Richard

Friday, December 21, 2018

Our country, our democracy, in mortal danger

I am frightened. Seriously frightened for our people, our nation, and yes,
myself, in a way I never have been before.
We have a President of the United States who delights in sowing chaos and
threatening this nation’s stability at home and abroad.
               What he is doing and saying is also
threatening to tear our country apart.
               Not just destroy our alliances
and respect for us abroad. Not just ruin us financially, though he is doing
those things too.  He is destroying
respect for our government.
               Yesterday, for example, when it
was clear that Congressional leaders in both parties had reached agreement on a
continuing resolution to keep the government running for six weeks, Donald
Trump had what is being aptly described as a temper tantrum.
               Trump loudly bellowed that he
wouldn’t accept the deal, that if he didn’t get his way and the billions he
wanted for his crazy border wall, he’d shut the government down.     
The day got worse after that. Trump, often with
jeering contempt, regularly rejects the advice of those close to him on matters
of policy they know more about.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the one cabinet
member who still commands widespread respect, resigned after the President
decided to pull our troops out of Syria. As he often does, Trump totally ignored
the military and diplomatic advice of someone who knows far more about both
things than he ever will.
When that became public, Trump, after first lying and saying
his defense secretary was just retiring, next said that he might pull our
troops out of Afghanistan as well.  For
the first time, I actually began to wonder whether Trump is an agent of or
being blackmailed by Russia.
Regardless, he seems emotionally about two and a half
years old.
We have never seen anything like this before. I
remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, and my sixth-grade teacher telling us there
was probably going to be a nuclear war. I remember Watergate, and wondering if
Richard Nixon would obey the U.S. Supreme Court. I remember worrying about
nuclear war again under Ronald Reagan, and September 11th and all
that followed.
 But it never
occurred to me that any of those Presidents were mentally unstable, or willing
to put their own petty and spiteful emotional needs ahead of what was best for
our nation.
But that’s where we are now. I had thought I would
talk today about the pettiness and spitefulness of the Republicans in the
Michigan legislature, who spent much of this lame duck session doing things
like trying to take power away from the offices of governor, attorney general
and secretary of state, all jobs the GOP lost decisively in last month’s
election.
They made it harder to protect the environment, and
took pay and sick leave benefits away from low-income workers, after preventing
a state vote on the issue.
But what they and Trump are doing are part of an ugly
trend nationally.  Yes, we have an
accidental President who is clearly the most unfit man in history to hold that
office.
Yes, he has stirred up and given legitimacy to the
worst elements in the American soul, from racism to irrational hatred and fear
of immigrants.
Beyond him, however, we have a generation of politicians
who couldn’t care less about the common good, about democracy, who gleefully
delight in making it harder for Americans to vote, or in making sure the people
can’t overturn laws they hate.
This is a greater threat to America than any external
threat we’ve ever faced.
We have to hope we will do better at facing and
fighting it next year.
Jack Lessenberry | December 21, 2018, https://lessenberryink.com/author/jack/

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sentencing Memos

  The four sentencing memos  published last week have enough material to fill a college course.  Let me give a few of my impressions which I have not heard from others.
        Chump continues to tweet about Mueller and his posse of angry Democrats.  Of course, that's a lie.  Let's look at the Cohen sentencing memo coming from the Southern District of NY.  This was not Mueller.                    Chump failed to nominate a US attorney for the Southern District after he fired Preet Bharara..  So the forty or so judges in the district unanimously agreed to appoint Geoffrey Berman, using an unusual provision in the law.  Berman is a lifelong Republican.  After being appointed, Berman recused himself from the Cohen matter, presumably because he had a conflict of interest.  So his deputy Robert Khuzami took over the Cohen investigation.  Khuzami is also a Republican. 
          Khuzami's sentencing memo was a blistering rebuke of Cohen's payment of hush money in order to help swing the election for Chump.  Most importantly the memo explicitly stated that Cohen acted at the direction of Chump (identified as individual one, who was running for president).  This means that Khuzami stated that Chump committed a crime.         In fact, the crime wasn't merely payment of  hush money, it was a conspiracy to commit the crime which makes it more serious than the crime itself.  There is no explanation why Chump was not indicted since the prosecutor said he committed a crime.  Maybe it was in keeping with the Justice Department policy that a president can not be charged with a crime.  Maybe Khazami buckled under the enormity of such an action. Or maybe, Chump got a little bit of a break because the republican U.S.  attorney could not bring himself to indict a republican president.  There should be no doubt in anyone's mind, however, that in official court documents the Justice Department has stated the Donald J. Chump has committed a serious felony.
        As is my wont, I watched coverage of the memos obsessively on MSNBC and CNN.  All of the commentators correctly stated that these memos were huge.  My problem with the commentators is that they repeatedly said that it looks like Mueller is wrapping up the investigation.  I don't think so.  The crimes committed by Cohen, Flynn and Manafort identified so far, by and large  are not related to Russian interference in the election and Russian conspiracy with Chump, his children and his son in law.  Nothing so far has touched on the infamous Trump Tower meeting.  Nothing has touched upon Chump's statement before the meeting that in the next week there would be a pile of information about Hillary.  The Tower meeting turned out to be a bust, and Chump did not deliver the goods as promised.  How can there be any doubt that Chump had advance knowledge of the meeting?  Chump had a personal interest in writing the false narrative about the meeting.  I believe that Mueller will eventually report far more facts about Chump's conspiracy with Russia than anyone outside of Mueller knows. I suspect that the redactions in the Flynn memo are explosive.  They almost certainly involve Russia. And for good measure I am willing to bet that Chump committed perjury when he answered Mueller's questions.
         The crime which may be charged is a conspiracy to cause harm to the United States. How is that for a sitting president?  Some might call it treason. Chump has attempted to destroy the institutions of government which make our country great.  The institutions are much stronger than this two bit criminal.
        I could go on with a college course of more things to say..  The problem is that our brains can explode with all of this stuff.  So I hope my little bit of analysis puts all of this into perspective.  As always, thanks for listening.
 
                                                              Richard

Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Kentucky Colonel's Eleven Chickens

Senator Mitch McConnell's eleven he-men on the Senate Judiciary Committee talk tough, sound tough, and act tough.  After toying with Christine Blasey Ford, she has accepted their terms: a deal to testify on her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were in high school.  She was fifteen, he seventeen. 

Of course they plan to shame her, but they don't want women voters to see them do that!  So proving just how tough they really are, they hired a woman to ask the hard questions: not just any woman but a prosecutor from Maricopa County. 

That is the county that re-electedJoe Arpaio several times.  Arpaio, you may recall, is the notorious Sheriff recently pardoned by President Trump.

So here is how things stand: Every Senator will be given five minutes to ask questions. The eleven “”Chickens” will not ask questions but will hide behind the skirt of a woman who has been given all of the fifty-five minutes that were granted to the Republicans. The ten Democrats who oppose the nomination will each have five minutes to ask their questions and listen to the testimony. 

The majority vote for a lifetime job of Justice of the Supreme Court for Brett Kavanaugh will then be passed along to the entire Senate some time next week.  (At least that is the script they have written).

That may sound fair on Fox News: an experienced prosecutor with an uninterrupted hour gets to ask Ms, Ford questions, challenge, and then ask questions again and again for an additional fifty-five minutes.  Ten opposing Senators each get to ask whatever for five minutes. 

 It proves that the “Chickens” have no respect for their colleagues, for their interviewee’s donors, for their base, or for the American electorate! 

Al

 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Al's Blog - More Treachery

During the 2006 Election, Rudy Giuliani appeared on several TV channels, proclaiming that '"the FBI hates Hillary". Sometimes he was accompanied by Chris Christie, discussing their joy in the prospect of seeing Hillary Clinton humiliated by that agency.

But it is now clear that the FBI was more concerned about Russian interference on behalf of the Trump campaign.  The hypocrisy of Trump's puppets in the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees attacking top FBI agents, all Republicans, is beyond comprehension.  Maybe there was something even more pernicious about their “show trials" (as in the Nazi show trails In the late 1930's) Ifwe consider the fact that several secret files were shared with Congressmen who ordinarily had no right to see them.  What else might they be looking for?

1.  Of course we still don't know, but Strzok ran a 10-year undercover operation that broke the back of a major Russian spy ring! How many names of his assets made it to the Kremlin? How many of them were tortured and murdered?

Now they are working on Bruce Orr. When a Russian lawyer for one of Russia’s most powerful reputed crime bosses arrived at F.B.I. headquarters one day around 2006, he wanted to cut a deal. The Russian, Semion Y. Mogilevich, had been indicted three years earlier by the department on charges of defrauding a company outside Philadelphia out of $150 million and could not travel for fear of arrest.  

2.    “As the lawyer made his pitch, a supervising F.B.I. agent and a senior career Justice Department official, Bruce G. Ohr, both listened intently, according to a former bureau official who described the meeting. The case was significant for American law enforcement. It had made headlines and laid the groundwork for Justice Department efforts to combat Russian organized crime overseas. Finally, the F.B.I. agent spoke, “No deal, he said; Mr. Mogilevich must surrender. Mr. Ohr said little, but his unwillingness to negotiate was signal enough: The Justice Department would not compromise with the Russian mafia.

How much are his de-classified secret files worth to Vladimir Putin?
Did the hearings make our country safer, or did they serve Russian Intelligence?   Who else will be tortured and murdered (or poisoned?)
Were the hearings a matter of national security, or a smoke screen to do just the opposite?
Al