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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Invisible Hand in Korea

Trump "diplomacy" "appears" to be working in the Korean peninsula.  The two enemies have battled or threatened each other since the end of WWII.  It is unbelievable* that in a matter of one year the two bullies are talking peace.  And it was so easy.  Why didn't the Presidents from Truman to Obama think of bullying back?
* Unbelievable means: Don't believe it.


The press has agreed on both sides of the great political divide that the United States must employ the support of South Korea, Japan, and China to work with the North Koreans in order to make a peace accord possible. However, they have missed the Bear in the Room! 

The have forgotten the invisible hand in North Korea.  That is the Russian Hand that we ignore at our greatest peril. Vladimir Putin is a master chess player, and he is playing on six political world stages at once: Europe, Middle East, Far East, North and South America while Donald Trump's strategy is at the Tic-Tack-Toe level!

I am not ready to show him in Africa, yet!

The Chinese were never the top supporters of North Korea: Russiawas there at its beginning and has remained a supplier of modern military equipment, a trainer of its air force and, at times, supplied the pilots who shot down hundreds of American and Allies' planes.  The Chinese only acted for their own self-interests during the Korean War because hawks like General MacArthur wanted to invade China, as well as, North Korea.  

It was the Russians whose MIG fighters were shooting down American pilots in American planes early in the conflict because our military hadn't expected that the Koreans could match our technology.  The Russian pilots wore Korean uniforms and kept radio silence.  I'll share more of that period in later blogs.

It was the Russians, not the Chinese, who were the main trainers and suppliers of the North Korean military, and I will share how Putin has helped with updated weapons.  But the North Koreans tried to balance support for both of their huge neighbors.

The conclusion I am proposing is that all of the furor and bombastic noise did not originate in Washington, but in Moscow.  And it was timed for the 2018 elections, and created as a shield for Trump against the Mueller investigation.

I know that these ideas may be shocking and hard to digest, but I hope to get people thinking before we lose all influence and credibility in the Far East.  It's clear that our influence in Western Europe is sinking as Russia's military build-up worries Eastern Europeans who have looked to an American led NATO for assurance that they can survive the next attack by Putin. And which citizens in NATO will forget seeing their leaders forced to beg Trump to maintain the Iran deal, only to be rebuffed! 

 Finally, a million Russian Jews who fled to Israel appear to have lost their memories of the pogroms of Czarist Russia and the purges of Jews in the Communist Soviet Union.

Future Topics:
Too many Americans are willing to give Trump credit for the Obama economy even though Trump and his Republican toadies are building the slope to make it crash!

Remember every lie that he tweets and repeats is designed to make you to forget that it was a lie in the first place!


P.S: Stop watching the Tic-Tack-Toe match.  The battle is on the chessboards!

P.P.S: Warn your Senators:  Gina Haskell’s service in the CIA included, not only permitting illegal torture of prisoners; but participating in the action, and finally destroying the taped evidence.  What evidence will she destroy at the CIA?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

the War Against Hillary

Like most dictators and “wannabe dictators” who can’t be satisfied to merely beat their adversaries, Trump’s right -wingers delight in beating Hillary Clinton over and over again with the hope that every memory of her will be smothered in lies and scandal! It’s ironic that their lies about Hillary and the Clinton family* are examples of the truth about Donald Trump!

>  Remember all of the negative signs that were directed at Hillary during her campaign stops?

“LIAR! LIAR” cried the signs. But they were pointed in the wrong direction! They should have been turned around to face the Trump crowd, itself! Nobody in politics has ever told as many lies as THEIR candidate!

>  Consider The Trump Foundation:  It was forced to shut down, because it helped Trump personally more than it supported any charities.
It was just as dishonest as The Trump University!  

For additional information on this subject: click on the link below to see the fact-check on the Clinton Foundation:

P.S. Now ask yourself: why does the DNC watch all of these attacks on Hillary Clinton and remain silent?


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Swamp news

  The chump brought his swamp to Michigan.  Hopefully he will never again bespoil our beautiful State with his presence.  He was about 50 miles from Flint.   It goes without saying that he may as well have been a million miles away. It seems that the sole purpose of the visit was to jump start his reelection bid.  If the intended effect is to chill all of us  to the bone, he succeeded.   This is what I want to know:  How much of our tax dollars are used for this swamp show.  Judicial watch, a conservative organization has reported that a trip to the Bedminster golf course costs $45,000.  A rally in Arizona cost 1.5 million.  The military says the cost of  flying Air Force One is $206,000 an hour.  So Pruitt's security staff and telephone booth, Zinke's private air travel, Mnuchin's use of government planes for personal trips are all Chump change, you should excuse the expression.
       Rachel Maddow has a chart showing all of the Chump people who have left the administration already.  She is just about out of room on the chart.  One guy who didn't even make it into the administration was the acting head of ICE.  He withdrew his name before he got to the Senate for confirmation.  This guy had so much baggage, he almost certainly would not have been confirmed.
       Yesterday a top Pruitt aide resigned.  This guy was a banker in Oklahoma.  He arranged a very questionable loan allowing Pruitt to buy an expensive house  from a lobbyist in a very questionable transaction.  Of course Pruitt brought him to Washington.  It did not matter that under a consent agreement with the FDIC this guy agreed to a lifetime ban from the banking industry.  Pruitt's top security guy also resigned.    He had been in the federal government for most of his adult life.  While there is no public explanation for his departure, I am willing to bet that the reason is a real doozy.
        But that was yesterday.  Today it was revealed that a lobbyist arranged for Pruitt's trip to Morocco.  Remember that boondoggle?  He was trying to get Morocco to buy natural gas from a firm for which his buddy was lobbying.  They landed in Paris on Friday to get a Saturday connection to Morocco.  They missed the morning flight so the whole crew spent an extra day in Paris.  We will probably never know why they missed the flight. So today it was revealed that Pruitt's buddy who arranged the trip entered into a $40,000 a month lobbying contract for Morocco. Coincidence? By the way, Pruitt is a committed evangelical.  He helps Chump with that base.  I need to catch up on my bible reading to find out how to rationalize all of this criminal behavior.
        How is it that Chump has attracted so much creatures to come out of the swamp?  It is now acceptable for criminals to run for office as Republicans.  A former congressman from New York was convicted of cheating his employees, filing false income tax returns, and lying to federeal investigators.  He's a huge Chump supporter.  He is running for his old seat.  Don Blankenship, convicted in the deaths of 20 coal miners in West Virginia is running for Senate.  He loves Chump.  Joe Arpiao was convicted of criminal contempt.  Chump pardoned him.  He's running for Senate in Arizona.  And Michael Flynn, a convicted felon is the star attraction at Republican candidates' rallies.  Those rallies are all Chump all the time.
         Chump has found part of America that most of did not know existed.  How is it possible that close to forty percent of the American people can enthusiastically support this demented, immoral con man?  Hopefully his reign of evil is drawing to a close.  And hopefully the damage he has done to our country.is reversible.   Take care.


Sunday, April 29, 2018

Koch and DACA

I wrote this opinion piece before the court ruling that Trump's assertion the Obama DACA plan was unconstitutional was not substantiated in spite of three attempts by the White House to prove Trump's position.  DACA is still alive and more eligible kids can apply for protection.  Our immigration policy is still up in the air,  but Democrats should be aware that the Republicans would love to own the popular DACA issue if they can figure a way for Trump to get credit for it.

My opinion below still stands:

It is my opinion that there is no single entity that has more power over the Republican Party than the Koch Brothers political organization. Their powerful network has changed the election process in the United States.  They created and established The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) a conservative organization of state legislators and private sector representatives, who draft and share model state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the United States that established the national Gerrymander of many states in 2011 12.

They created and funded the Tea Party (Freedom Caucus) that has a sizable presence in the Congress.  They funded a network of conservative "Think Tanks" at key points around the country to further their right-wing, libertarian ideas as serious academic research papers, and they funded economics departments in respected universities with strings attached that gave the Kochs control of the staffing and the curriculum. A threat from them would have moved those undecided Republicans. On top of the above structures, they were among the most dependable donors to Republican candidates. 

It’s obvious that they had the power to swing more than the necessary Republican votes in the House and Senate that, with the Democrats, pass an immigration bill that would become a model for the future of  immigrants like those who have led positive lives and raised such terrific young people.

So why are they running an expensive campaign now?  I believe they are using DACA to make it appear that it is only the Republicans who are serious about saving the DACA kids, but the Democrats let them down


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Comey's book

  The problem with writing an occasional piece is that in the interim there have been enumerable  scandalous things to write about. So for the moment I will write about James Comey.
        There has been an endless amount of discussion about his book.  I have seen several of his interviews.  My take is that he is a very bright, very thoughtful, very honest, very introspective person.  I have heard his justification for making the infamous Hillary disclosure just before the election.  After hearing his justification, I think he made a  dead wrong decision.  But I accept that he made an honest error in judgement.  
       For me the most important question asked of Comey is, "What do you want to be the takeaway from the book?"  His answer, "We need to bring good values back to our government.  
        Who ever thought that Democrats would be making values  an important issue.  The "Moral Majority" tried to own that issue.  Now they are slopping around in the sty of the most valueless president in the history of the United States.  By the way, I always resented the implication of the self righteous moral majority that liberals did not have values.  But that's for another discussion.
       Comey makes two major points regarding Chump's lack of values. First, is Chump's complete inability to tell the truth.  He lies about everything big and small.  Second, he has surrounded himself with corrupt people and runs the government like a criminal enterprise.
       Regarding lying, Chump supporters always trot out President Obama saying that if you like your insurance policy you can keep it.  He  was wrong.  I call it an honest mistake rather than a lie.  The difference between Obama and Chump, however, is that Obama admitted his mistake. he didn't own it.  He explained that third rate insurance policies would not qualify for Obamacare.  So those people who felt aggrieved because they needed to get different insurance, were actually getting better insurance.  It is well documented that Chump's lies are on a scale never before seen.  He is a pathological liar, pure and simple.
        Regarding the corruption endemic to the Chump presidency, from the beginning I have wondered how Chump could attract so many crooks.  The answer is that he has been with crooks his entire adult life. He had shady business dealings with crime figures.  He barely escaped criminal charges himself. Flynn and Gates  have already pleaded guilty.  I am not worried that Manafort will sue me for libel for calling him a crook.  His buddy Broidy is a convicted felon. His son in law's father is a convicted felon.  His daughter and son in law barely escaped criminal charges through some very questionable dealings with the prosecutor. His EPA  administrator illegally used money allocated by the Clean Drinking Water Act to give huge raises to his appointees. He brought his chief of staff down to his level by lying and refusing to apologize when his bald faced lie was discovered. His long time lawyer does very questionable, probably illegal, stuff for Chump.  Chump deals with highly questionable Russian crooks.  He is no doubt complicit in their money laundering.  And this is far from an exhaustive list.
      Comey also is clearly disgusted with Chump's picadillos with a porn star and a playmate, not to mention his bragadoccio about assaulting women.  We all know about Bill Clinton's failings.  I would like to point out to the moral majority that Hillary Clinton is a prime example of  family values.  After suffering the worst public humiliation one could ever imagine, she fought to save her marriage.  Contrast her with Chump.
        I have heard the justifications by evangelicals and the moral majority for being on board with Chump.  Sorry, it is nothing but first class hypocricy.  In the end, I think Comey is exactly right.  Whether Republican or Democrat, all Americans should reject our immoral, amoral president.  Our children and grandchildren should not think that what Chump says or does is okay.
         One last thing, how did we get here from where we were from 2009 to 2017?  Please correct me if I'm wrong, but there was not a single scandal during the entire eight years of the Obama presidency.  His appointments were top rate both with regard to ability and integrity. He personified morality and family values.  Hopefully we will get back to that place sooner rather than later.  Take care all.


Al’s Blog - Pompeo 3

In the United States of America, government appointees swear an oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” 
The oath is to the Constitution, not to one’s immediate supervisor in the executive branch and certainly not to the president personally. The FBI’s own website contains a useful essay written by FBI Academy legal instructor Jonathan Rudd about the significance of the oath of office. 
“It is significant,” he writes, “that we take an oath to support and defend the Constitution and not an individual leader, ruler, office, or entity ... a government based on individuals — who are inconsistent, fallible, and often prone to error — too easily leads to tyranny on the one extreme or anarchy on the other.”
That is the foundation of the rule of law in this and other countries, and to expect officials to do anything else would be fundamentally toxic to the endurance of the American republic.
The concept of a Loyalty Oath is the loyalty to an organization, institution, or state for which one is a member or participant. Similarly, it is not a pledge or oath of allegiance but more of a legal document a person signs and is legally bound to.  Mike Pompeo has signed such an oath or he would not have been appointed to the Trump Cabinet.  If the interests of the United States of America diverge from the personal interests of the President, we must be confident of that the loyalty of the Secretary of State is with the Constitution!

Donald Trump has disrespected the Senate and the American People by making Mike Pompeo the de facto Secretary of State before the Senate had confirmed him.  This action is another example of the way Trump bullies his way around anything he sees, as an obstruction of his will.  

If the Senate panel could not agree to his appointment before Trump’s action, it is even more important that they not succumb to it now, or forever be remembered as the Trump Toadies Committee!  The crisis that put Pompeo in North Korea was one of Trump’s own making.  He fired his Secretary of State, and he permitted the meeting with the North Korean leader.  Everything about the affair has been of Trump’s making.  For once Senators, vote your conscience.  Don’t take the easy way out!  If you didn’t trust Pompeo last week, this week’s development should make you even more leery.

Hearings are scheduled to resume on Monday!


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Supreme Court and Gerrymandering

  Today I heard some of the most interesting and important oral arguments I have ever heard.  The case involved a challenge to Maryland's Democratic gerrymandering scheme which resulted in Maryland going from a 6-2 Democratic advantage to 7-1.  Maryland is generally a 60/40 Democratic state.  But with gerrymandering its congressional delegation was 87.5% Democratic.
      Before getting into the argument let me give you the setting.  I got into the lawyers line about 6:00 A.M.  I became a member of the Supreme Court bar for the sole purpose of being able to get into the lawyers line (and to write e mails to you).  I was among the first lawyers.  The public line had formed the night before.  I chatted with several of the lawyers in line with me.  Three were with The Brennan Center For Justice.  There were also lawyers from the ACLU and other public interest organizations.  The lawyers from the Brennan Center had organized and filed briefs in opposition to Maryland's gerrymandering scheme.  They had also filed briefs in opposition to North Carolina and Wisconsin's Republican schemes.  They take the position that extreme gerrymandering whether Republican or Democratic is unconstitutional.  Once in the courtroom I had a second row seat, two arm lengths away from Nina Tottenberg and Pete Williams. 
     By way of background, the Supreme Court has already heard arguments involving Wisconsin's gerrymandering.  The Court has held in abeyance the challenge to North Carolina's scheme.  So at the moment there is a Democratic and a Republican scheme before the Court and a Republican scheme on hold.  If I could take a poll of Democratic  politicians across the country, I would bet that they would be happy if Maryland's scheme goes down along with Wisconsin's and North Carolina's. 
       There is a significant procedural difference between the Wisconsin case and the Maryland case.  In Wisconsin there has been a Court Of Appeals decision that their scheme is unconstitutional.  In Maryland, the plaintiffs are appealing a lower court's ruling that it would not  issue a temporary restraining order barring Maryland from implementing the gerrymandering plan.  In other words in the Maryland case, there has not been a ruling on the constitutionality of its gerrymandering.  This turned out to be a big issue in oral arguments.  The justices across the spectrum asked questions suggesting that it might be a good idea for them to do nothing until the lower court decides whether Maryland's scheme is unconstitutional.  Alito and Roberts really gave the attorney opposing gerrymandering a hard time on whether they should hear the case. This would mean, of course, that Maryland would not be impacted by the Supreme Court until at least the 2020 election.  Sotomayor and Ginsberg both suggested that it is too late for the Supreme Court to have any impact on Maryland's 2018 election.  While Democrats might like that result, it might be that the court would also not do anything in the Wisconsin and North Carolina cases where Republicans are unfairly favored.  In fact, Breyer made the suggestion that the court should have a rehearing in the Wisconsin case and then consolidate all three cases for a later hearing and decision.  The other jusices seemed receptive to that idea.  So don't be surprised if that is the result.  I really did not like where this whole line of questioning was going.
         Going to the merits, all of the justices who spoke seemed to feel that extreme gerrymandering is unconstitutional.  Thomas had laryngitis. The issue is then, what is the definition of "extreme."
          One of the interesting aspects of this  is that Maryland was represented by its Democratic attorney general.  The Republican governor of Maryland filed a brief in opposition to his attorney general.  In the lower court the deposition of Congressman Chris Van Hollen was taken.  He testified unabashedly that the purpose of the gerrymandering was to get one additional seat to go Democratic.  So they created a district that goes from the suburbs of Washington  across the panhandle of Maryland which is rural. Included in the district is the wealthy city of Potomac.  Roberts pointed out that there are farmers in Potomac as well as farmers in rural Maryland.  The difference is that the farmers in rural Maryland are real farmers while the farms in Potomac are hobbies.  In order to create this crazy district Maryland moved about 350,000 voters out of the district and moved about 350,000 into the new district.
       Kennedy as always asked an interesting question.  He asked if Maryland could pass a law mandating that there be a 7-1 congressional split.  The attorney general answered,"no, that would be unconstitutional."  Therefore, Kennedy asked why is this scheme  not unconstitutional since it came into effect pursuant to the Maryland redistricting law.  I thought the attorney general did not have a good answer.
       I happened to be sitting next to a Vanderbilt law professor who is African American.  At one point Roberts drew a distinction between gerrymandering based upon racial factors as opposed to gerrymandering along political lines.  Roberts said that perhaps political gerrymandering could be given leeway but under no circumstances will the Supreme Court allow racial gerrymandering.  The law professor and I gave each other elbow nudges.  By the way, there are plenty of conservatives who say that the courts should never get involved in gerrymandering questions.  Roberts made it clear that the Supreme Court in the past has and in the future will  get involved when racial gerrymandering is an issue.  Kagan said that in many ways the Maryland case is easier to decide than the racial cases.
        Breyer has a tremendous sense of humor.  He has displayed it at every hearing I have attended.  One of the attorneys suggested that it was important to consider the testimony of Van Holland in making a decision.  Breyer suggested that might be a bad idea.  Future redistricters are not stupid.  They would know better than to say out loud what their true intentions were.  Kennedy said that redistricters could get away with extreme gerrymandering as long as they don't publicly state their intentions.
        Near the end of oral arguments I thought Breyer got a terrific concession from the attorney general.    He got the attorney general to concede that in a case of extreme gerymandering it would be possible for the Supreme Court to do the redistricting.  This is in response to Roberts saying in the Wisconsin case that the court should not get involved in the gobbledigook of redistricting.
       I could make this e mail much longer, but I don't want to lose the half who are still with me.  Let me end by saying that it's much easier for me  in the audience to imagine what I would argue as opposed to  the one actually arguing.  Roberts said it would not be such a big deal if the Court's decision had no effect  until 2020.  The lawyer opposing gerrymandering gave a very technical answer.    I wish he would have thought of the old axiom, "Justice delayed is justice denied."  My guess is that this case is going back to the district court without a decision on constitutionality.  Stay tuned.  Thanks for reading.

P.S.  Michigan is horribly gerrymandered.  Hopefully that will go away after 2018. There will be an initiative on the November ballot to provide for a bipartisan commission to draw district lines both at the State and federal levels.  If passed it will go a long way toward fairness in elections.