On Travel

I love to travel. I’ve done a lot of it, for business and pleasure.

I am forgetful. It is much easier traveling with my wife, as she is mindful of the stuff I forget. It is also very nice to travel with family who bring extra stuff.

Many people cite health and safety reasons for staying at home. I think exploring the world keeps you young. Well most of the world. Don’t go to Libya right now. See US State Department warnings:

“Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Libya. Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high, and extremist groups have made threats against U.S. government officials and citizens. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, hotels, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and government facilities.”

Covers a lot. If you do go to Libya, it is important to dress down. Of course, in two seconds, folks will know you are not from there. But, if thieves have to chose between a well dressed tourist, and a dirty tee-shirt guy, they will go for the former any day of the week. Tripoli has some really good seafood, but I still recommend letting things cool off for a while. The US consulate has been shut down since 2014, usually not a good sign for safety conscience people.

Documents like visas are important. I’ve learned from experience. Credit cards are super important. An unlocked cellphone is very nice for foreign travel.

For any travel, a positive attitude is important. If you are in a plane about to crash, don’t start talking how it was a mistake to go on the super cheap airlines (“yeah I knew there was a catch”) and instead, talk about how having seats way in the back means that you have nothing to fear. Of course, this works only if you actually have seats way in the back.

People who value comfort have problems traveling from a place with good weather to one with bad weather. This is a negative travel gradient. For example, when I went from Miami to Boston in December, there was a 50 degree change, from 75 degrees to 20 degrees F, definitely going in the wrong way comfort-wise. But visiting family and good food (I made some of it) made up for this, and I hated to leave.

That’s about it. Travel is good and staying home isn’t.

Stay tuned,


Trump – we’ve seen all this before

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will soon be able to formally arrest Donald Trump on charges that he misused campaign funds in the hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. The payments were made in 2016, and Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, served time for these payments.

And of course, Trump is pushing back, even though he has not yet been indicted.

Per the link below, Trump accused Bragg — without substantiation or evidence — of being a “George Soros-backed Radical Left Democrat prosecutor” and running a “sham” investigation against him.  Bragg has been very reluctant to bring charges against Trump in the past until he had a sufficiently strong case.

Trump’s response is bat shit crazy. Boy I’ve been wanting to use this phrase, but there just weren’t the right circumstances.

On March 15, 2023, I received a contribution request from Trump’s Save America PAC fund, with the subject as Never Surrender, all in capitals and goes on to state:

“The Left thinks that if they bury me with enough witch hunts and intimidate my family and associates that I’ll eventually throw up my hands and give up on our America First movement.

Let me be as clear as possible: I WILL NEVER SURRENDER.

I walked away from a very nice life where the media never said a single mean thing about me.

I knew the price I’d have to pay for running a campaign that promised to take on the Deep State, the Open Borders Lobby, global special interests, and the Soros Money Machine.”

The Soros Money Machine?? George Soros is a billionaire, who runs the Open Society Foundations. It is an excellent foundation, fighting repression in many ways by autocratic governments. Better education leads to an informed public and puts pressure on government to change and allow dissent. The foundation has been active in Eastern Europe’s refugee crisis. Soros money machine has been put to good use.

Insider, Trump’s Pre-emptive Attack on Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg

Open Source Foundations

Fact check, Reuters, 2020, False claims about George Soros

I don’t think paying a porn star hush money from campaign funds, is related to “Saving America” and will decline the bat shit crazy donation request. Trump says his first love is to his country, but everything else says that his first love is to himself and saving Donald Trump.


Likely indictment #2 is the Georgia Election Meddling Case. This one will be a bit more complicated and could involve a number of officials including Trump. A “Special Grand Jury” was used to help determine the facts in this case, and this information is then given to a normal Grand Jury, to determine if there was potential violations of the law.

See link: Jury in Georgia Trump Inquiry Recommended Multiple Indictments, Forewoman Says

The indictments could come as early as next week. The judge has sealed the recommendations of the Special Grand Jury.


Attorney Jack Smith is the Special Counsel appointed by DOJ AG Merrick Garland is leading more criminal investigations and likely to produce more indictments, related to obstruction of justice in relation to the classified documents taken from the White House and the event leading to the Jan 6 attack of the capital.

While Donald Trump will continue to blast the legal system and promote wacko conspiracy theories (deep state, George Soros, etc), some very serious prosecutors are on his case, because no one is above the law.

And Trump will be able to pay for the very best legal defense, but that might not be enough. Besides crazy charges that everyone is colluding to get him, Trump will do what every he can to drag our the proceedings.

The “everyone is out to get me” is not a defense. It is just a marketing ploy to get contributions.

So, everyone deserves their day in court, and Trump will get his and the chance to present his defense against the charges. That’s the way the courts work.

Stay tuned,


The F-16 and other armament issues

Biden does not want to play into Putin’s hand, whose narrative is that Ukraine is the aggressor. Of course, Ukraine is vastly outnumbered in the battlefield, so this is plainly absurd. But, Putin’s narrative is that Ukraine with NATO is a threat to Russia. NATO is a defense organization and because Ukraine is not a member, is not obligated to come to Ukraine’s defense. When US and Russian forces are on the same battlefield, you have the real possibility of World War III. Similarly when NATO and Russian forces meet in combat in Ukraine, there is not stopping the potential escalation that will occur.

So, from the onset of hostilities, the US has tried to make this an Ukrainian war, arming Ukrainians to defend themselves with limited range arms beginning with the Obama administration, and then ramping up quickly during the Trump administration. Then on February 24, 2022, the Russian army with the cooperation of Belarus, made their initial tank assault from the Ukraine-Belarus border. (To first occupy the site of the abandon Chernobyl nuclear reactor, was a terrible error, as the ground is still radio-active in many parts).

The bellicose nature of Putin, his autocratic rule and his hostilities towards NATO did not go unnoticed. NATO expanded into Eastern Europe in 2004, with the admission of seven countries, under President George W. Bush. I believe this was the right decision, approved by all members of NATO as required.

Link: Wikipedia, Members of NATO

Sending fighter jets to Ukraine will be viewed by Russia as arming Ukraine with offensive weapons which could be used to attack Russia. I believe this is exactly what Ukraine wants to do, principally to knock out the Russian supply bases on the Russian-Ukraine border. So, there are some really scary escalation scenarios.

It maybe a surprise to many, to know that the F-16 is a single engine plane, with just one pilot, first produced in 1978. But of course, it has been modified many times, so they refer to it as the Fighting Falcon or F-16C. Military experts give it high praise against the Russian MiG-29 in dogfights. Experts also conclude that if the US provided F-16’s, it could be a real game changer in knocking out Russia’s superiority in the sky. It would not stop the constant missile attacks.

Link: MiG 29 verses F-16

Ukraine is not trained to fly F-16. And there will be all sorts of issues with maintaining the aircraft. For those who remember the Vietnam war, the escalation began with the US providing helicopters and pilots to South Vietnam. Then more US troops were needed to defend these bases which we built.

The US has supplied helicopters to Ukraine, and a very long list of military equipment and funding for their defense. Other countries, most notably the UK, Germany and France, have been constantly helping Ukraine, but it is really a worldwide effort. See link below:

Link: List of Military Aid to Ukraine

At the very end of this list, a summary of future US aid to Ukraine is provided. The number of countries is long, and honestly, I didn’t expect to see New Zealand, Taiwan or South Korea on the list of countries.

I have commented in prior blogs on the automated battlefield weaponry including the suicidal drone like the switchblades, javelins and the HIMAR missile launchers. Military equipment is not my forte, but there are plenty of websites which go into extensive details.

I believe some countries are helping Ukraine, but through other countries and doing it quietly, so not to get on the bad side of Putin. Then there is a lot of Russian arms left behind by retreating Russian (or mercenary) soldiers. So, Russians are being killed sometimes by their own weapons.

There’s a lot of politics, and misinformation around which is bound to get worse as we approach the 2024 elections. In general, there has been bipartisan support of military aid to Ukraine, with some exceptions some select members of Congress, who want either less money to be spent or approval for the F-16. A number of guests on conservative Fox News, have advocated less money to Ukraine and more to stop illegal immigration. My thinking is we should not short change foreign policy because spending more on domestic policy is more popular with voters.

Trump has bragged about the 250 million dollars of aid given to Ukraine in 2019, but leaves out the fact that he held up providing the aid, in an attempt to pressure President Zelensky to lie to his people and announce that Ukraine was investigating Hunter Biden for possible violation of the law regarding Burisma. In exchange, Trump would unfreeze aid to Ukraine. This was the basis for his first impeachment. It was clearly an abuse of presidential power and grounds for impeachment.

Trump also exaggerated how little aid Obama gave Ukraine. Trump’s claim that Obama gave the former president only “pillow and sheets” has been debunked.

CNN: Fact-checking Trump’s claim that Obama gave Ukraine ‘pillows and sheets’

Politifact: https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2019/oct/25/matt-gaetz/matt-gaetz-says-obama-permanently-stopped-military/

Both of these links are from 2019. Going back in time and spreading disinformation does not help.

I guess there are enough real issues going forward, on whether more weapons will bring this war to an end, or broaden the conflict. The latest developments in regards to Moldova are scary. Hopefully, there are some countries in the background, helping to broker a ceasefire, as a first step to a Russian withdrawal.

Stay tuned,


Moldova and Transnistria

Ukraine’s President Zelensky has often stated that if Russian aggression does not stop at Ukraine, more countries will be invaded or will become Russian puppets because they fear the military presence of Russia. I agree, and it is the smaller and more unstable countries to go first. It will not necessarily be countries that lie on their borders. There are a number of smaller countries in Africa, which for the right price can be bought off.

Transnistria is a region on the southeastern border of Moldova. It is a breakaway state from Moldova, occupying a narrow strip of land on the Moldova-Ukraine border. Its capital is Tirispol. The Council of Europe considers the territory to be under military occupation by Russia. It is internationally recognized as a part of Moldova, but it is independent in many aspects. Per Wikipedia:

“Transnistria is an unrecognised but de facto independent presidential republic with its own government, parliament, military, police, postal system, currency, and vehicle registration. Its authorities have adopted a constitution, flag, national anthem, and coat of arms. After a 2005 agreement between Moldova and Ukraine, all Transnistrian companies that seek to export goods through the Ukrainian border must be registered with the Moldovan authorities.”

It was created by a ceasefire agreement in 1992, the first year with Yeltsin in office. It is a ceasefire agreement designed to end the violence broke out in 1990. The population of Transnistria is divided, with 29% Russian, 29% Moldovan and 23% Ukrainian. It has a higher percentage of Russians than the rest of Moldova.

Per Wikipedia:

The language laws presented a particularly volatile issue as a great proportion of the non-Moldovan population of the Moldavian SSR did not speak Moldovan (Romanian). … Some described the language laws as “discriminatory” and criticized their rapid implementation. Others, on the contrary, complained the laws were not followed.

Wikipedia Transnistria

Wikipedia Transnistria War


My concerns that Russia would use unrecognized Transnistria region to attack Ukraine appears to quickly becoming a reality. Putin is using a standard ploy of posing as the defender of Transnistria instead of the invader. This was exactly the same pretext as used a year ago. Russia had to invade the Dunbas region, to defend the populace against the Ukrainian “nazis.”

The President of Moldova, Maia Sandu, who wants her country to join the European Union, accused Moscow this month (February 2023) of planning a coup to topple Moldova’s leadership. Moscow denied the allegation. “The Kremlin’s attempts to bring violence to Moldova will not work. Our main goal is the security of citizens and the state. (The Guardian)

What has maintained the peace between Transnistria and Moldova, is the Joint Control Commission, which included both Moldova and Russian troops as a peacekeeping force. Of course, Putin wants to invade Transnistria and control it, and the ceasefire agreement is in his way. Transnistria will be critical to attacking Odesa and controlling the Black Sea ports.

The headline in Reuters, February 24, 2023 read, “Russia told the West on Friday that it would view as an attack on itself any actions that threatened Russian peacekeepers in Moldova’s breakaway Transdniestria region, one day after Moscow accused Ukraine of planning an invasion.”

Link: Russia warns West over threatening its troops in breakaway Moldovan region

So, Russia now is setting the stage for invading Transnistria (note minor spelling differences) on the absurd pretext of protecting its peacekeeping force of perhaps 1700 troops.

It is a terrible development as Russia is set on expanding the conflict, really just like President Zelensky said he would. Romania is strongly allied with Moldova, in its support of Ukraine. Romania has been part of NATO since 2004.

This small sliver of the breakaway state of Transnistria looks to become a red hot point of contention with Russia acting like they own it.

Stay tuned,


Norfolk Southern is to blame

National Transportation Safety Board does a slow through job of investigation accidents. In the case of Norfolk Southern accident in Ohio, the cause of the accident was so plain to engineers, that they issued a preliminary report and provided a hearing on the accident.

NTSB spokesperson Jennifer Homendy stated during a press conference that this derailment was 100% preventable, and the cause was an overheated wheel bearing. She said:

“We call things accidents. There is no accident. Every single event that we investigate is preventable,” she said. “So our hearts are with you know, that the NTSB has one goal and that is safety and ensuring that this never happens again.”

My last post was about how politicians duck important questions to peddle their own agenda. NTSB is just the opposite and I really like this agency. I also give high marks to the EPA who were onsite hours after the accident.

National Public Radio reports on the spill of vinyl chorides:

“There were no reported fatalities or injuries caused directly by the derailment, and responders were able to mitigate the fire within two days. But rising temperatures in one tank car carrying vinyl chloride — a toxic chemical that grows especially volatile at high temperatures — prompted concerns of an uncontrolled explosion. To prevent that, responders evacuated residents of the immediate area and performed a “release and burn” of five tank cars’ worth of the chemical, some 115,580 gallons.”

The plastic placards marking cars with hazardous materials have also been identified as an area of concern by both Buttigieg and NTSB officials. The fire following the derailment melted the plastic placards, making it difficult for first responders to discern which trains contained dangerous chemicals.”

Link Fox News: NTSB calls Ohio train derailment ‘100% preventable,’ says operators were warned of overheated axle

The overheating warning came too late for the train to safely stop. In the preliminary report, NTSB finds no fault of the operator. The heat sensors probably need to be placed closer together. The increases in temperature of wheel bearings instead of just the temperature estimates should also trigger warnings.

There is also the accusation from Democrats that a rollback in regulations during the Trump administration, could have prevented this accident. The NTSB stated that this is not true as follows:

“The ECP braking rule would’ve applied ONLY to HIGH HAZARD FLAMMABLE TRAINS. The train that derailed in East Palestine was a MIXED FREIGHT TRAIN containing only 3 placarded Class 3 flammable liquids cars.”

Nice. NTSB is just stating facts. But, the Department of Transportation is likely to make stricter regulations on this more dangerous trains.

There is a lot more work to be done, by the various federal agencies. Many local water wells need to be tested. Norfolk Southern is cooperating and working with residents to test their water. I like the fact that the various agencies are staffed by professional career specialists who do not descend into the political fray.

Stay tuned,


How to Pivot

Politicians pivot, which means they find a way to change the subject, when answering questions. It becomes almost reflexive. Then there is the grand pivot, which allows the politician or whoever is being interview free reign to bring up a host of subjects, all designed to make the president or opposition party look bad. A good interviewer will catch this, and get the guest to answer the question. Or at least try.

I watched a bit of Fox News. If the host of the program is Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, or Laura Ingraham, you can ask them any question, and it will come back in a minute to several favorite topics such as immigration, illegal drugs and our national debt. Sometimes all in one quick response. This is the grand pivot.

Case in point. Question given to one of the guests on Fox News, “What do you think of Biden’s trip to Ukraine?” and the guest came back, “Biden hasn’t a clue of what he is doing in so many areas, immigration, national debt and funding for Ukraine.” The guest avoids totally Biden’s very successful trip to Ukraine and the huge crowds he attracted in Warsaw.

This particular politician then took off in in his attack on Biden stating that he should get the Europeans to fund the war, so we can solve our problems at home, lower inflation, stop illegal immigration, and of course, lower the national debt. ” So, in a blink of an eye, the guest sees the question as a Segway to a host of other “issues” usually issues with few solutions. And of course on Fox News, the grand pivot is pretty normal.

Of course, the guest has really not answered the question. It got pretty silly, as the guest claimed that we were subject to an invasion on our southern border. Last I checked, Mexicans were not shooting missiles or bombing apartment buildings. When you have a southern border that stretches nearly 2,000 miles, you are going to have illegal immigrants.

I like the quote from John Kennedy: Domestic policy can only defeat us; foreign policy can kill us. John F. Kennedy

What Kennedy is talking about is bad policy. Doing less than we can do for Ukraine, will change the balance of power around the world.

It is true that politicians pivot, and Democrats will often change the subject. Frequently, the interviewer brings the guest back on track.

And just for the record, Biden and his administration, is trying hard to bring other allies to contribute to stop Putin. And war is extremely costly. We are paying with dollars, but the Ukrainians are paying with their lives.

Stay tuned,


Chinese Balloon Shoot Down – Additional Comments

I wrote it was a perfect shoot down because pieces of the spy balloon could be salvaged. Nothing I have read has changed my mind. The military can not divulge a lot of their information, but have made it clear that this is not an isolated case. We will learn very valuable information from the debris which includes the balloon itself and as much as possible the hardware inside.

When the balloon was first observed, it was over the Aleutian islands in the Bering sea. Mean depth of the Bering sea is about 5,000 ft, but the Aleutian trench, approximately 100 miles long and 50 miles wide, has a maximum depth of 25,000 ft. The shifting sheets of ice and snow are enormous and finding even pieces of the balloon was be extremely difficult.

Biden did the right thing as he gave permission for the military to shoot the balloon down, when they could do so without endangering Americans. It was then a technical decision of when to shoot it down. The Generals would turn to “modelers” for some estimate of the size of the debris field and the potential damage that could be done with falling bits of hardware. I know this field, because I spent a lifetime modeling physical phenomena. If one knows what is falling and has some prior experience with similar incidences, then analysts have something solid to build their models. In this case, there was only very limited information of what was shot down, and certainly no prior analogous experience.

So, prior to the destruction of the balloon, it would be very hard to know where pieces of metal might land and cause harm to residents below. So, when they were deciding the right time to shoot down the balloon, they were dealing with a debris field based on just a bunch of guesses. Intelligent guesses, for sure, but the hard data were missing.

But, now there is a debris field, much of which is yet to be discovered. Currents will distort the field, so the modelers will still have to factor this into their analysis. In the modeling world, the forward solution is to project from 10 miles in the sky down to the impact on the ocean surface. This solution is then can be refined when the debris is found. This can be called the inverse solution, or model validation. Modelers will undoubtedly try to assess the uncertainty in results. This is called sensitivity analysis.

From various sources, the debris field is likely in terms of miles. Pieces of the big white balloon were easy to find as I expected. The modelers will be hard at work, adjusting their models, to help the dive teams and unmanned subs to search of the pieces of debris.

Stay tuned,


The balloon shoot down – It was the perfect response!

Shoot something that’s 10 miles up over mountainous areas, or the Artic, and your salvage efforts will be nearly impossible. When I heard the balloon was shot down very close to Myrtle Beach, SC in 47 ft of water, I couldn’t have been happier. Perfect conditions to run a recovery operations. Recovery vessels could get to the site within hours. Time is of the essence.

Senators and members of the House held a closed door briefing. “There was nothing in there that I learned that would’ve said that we shouldn’t have shot it down when it was over Alaska,” added GOP Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, exiting the briefing.

Assistant Secretary of of Defense Melissa Dalton testified at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing:

“A key part of the calculus for this operation was the ability to salvage, understand and exploit the capabilities of the high altitude balloon.”

Without salvage of the equipment aboard the spy balloon, China would continue with their absurd cover story of an off-course weather balloon shot down by the US. And certainly other countries could go along with it, just to keep good relations with China. Now we’ve got the evidence to the contrary.

The Assistant Secretary further stated (summarized by CNBC):

“If we had taken it down over the state of Alaska … it would have been a very different recovery operation,” she said, noting that the deep, freezing water of the Bering Sea “would make recovery and salvage operations very dangerous.”

The temperature of the Bering sea is 40 degrees, and the Aleutian trench is 25,000 ft deep, approximately 50 to 100 miles wide. The Assistant Secretary was too kind. There would have been no recovery operation. It would be far too difficult at these depths.

Sure, blowing the balloon up over Alaska would be great for headlines if that’s all you’re interested in. But it would have destroyed the evidence of China’s illegal spy operations which is occurring in many countries. I am certain the Defense Department will be sharing what they know about China’s new generation of spy balloons with our NATO allies and allies in South America. I would love it if Secretary Austin makes a presentation at the UN Security Council. However, there is no need to turn up the heat at this point and our salvage operation is ongoing.

Stay tuned,


Masih Alinejad

Journalist Masih Alinejad escaped the long arms of Iran’s authoritarian regime, thanks to the excellent work of the FBI and the Department of Justice, who caught her would be assassins. It was a very close call. The Department of Justice announcement coincided with the beating death of Tyre Nichols, so unless you turned to C-Span, you likely didn’t catch this news story.

Masih Alinejad lives in the US. If she returned to Iran, she would be immediately arrested, for her efforts to advocate for the rights of Iranian women, and respect for civil liberties. It is alleged that the Iranian government paid assassins to permanently silence her in the United States.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the arrest. The following link provides the details of the three men arrested. Rafat Amirov was the group’s leader, and was arrested in New York. The three men arrested belong to an Eastern European crime group, and they were part of a murder-for-hire plot.

I am glad that Masih Alinejad can continue to do her important work.

Link CNN: Justice Department announces new arrests in plot to kill New York-based journalist directed from Iran

Stay tuned,


Alina Habba problem

On October 24, 2022, Alina Habba joined MAGA, Inc. Per Bloomberg News:

“One of former President Donald Trump’s top lawyers has taken on a role as senior adviser for his new political action committee, pressing his MAGA message even as she defends him in a series of high-stakes lawsuits.  Alina Habba, who represents Trump in the suit filed by New York’s attorney general over his asset valuations, has joined the MAGA Inc. team as it spends millions on ads to support Trump’s endorsed candidates in key midterm races.”

The above screenshot of Alina Habba is from NewsMax, where she was being interviewed by Sean Spicer. Sean Spicer has written several books since leaving the White House, all of which I assume are very favorable to Trump. She has an office close to Trump’s golf course and resort in Bedminister, NJ. Very convenient.

Link: Wikipedia, Alina Habba

Attorney Habba filed a civil lawsuit for Donald Trump and on January 19, 2023, Judge Middlebrooks ordered sanctions against Trump and Habba totaling $938,000. In my last posting, I summarized many of the Judge’s comments. They were not kind to Ms. Habba. Thus, Alina Habba got her 15 minutes of fame, appearing on Fox News, sending Twitter messages, etc. And for Donald Trump, it’s just another day at the office, or really running for President.

In the week that followed, two lawsuits against NY Attorney General Letitia James as filed by Alina Habba were withdrawn. Why? First, I assume that these lawsuits had zero chance of winning in court, because Trump would never allow a lawsuit that even had a one in a million chance of winning, to be withdrawn. It wasn’t every going to great news coverage, because it would remind people that AG James is suing Trump for a hefty 250 million dollars and her case is proceeding well.

Link: Trump drops appeal, ending legal fight against New York Attorney General Letitia James

Attorney Habba is worried about being disbarred, plain and simple. Sean Hannity isn’t about to invite her back to explain why she lost in court. Neither will Sean Spicer at NewsMax. When her conspiracy case got so obliterated by Judge Middlebrooks, there isn’t much to say unless you want to blame the entire legal system. They tend to be interested in facts over allegations. Trump can go on, and blame it all on the judge.

The judge added that Mr. Trump’s use of the courts had helped to undermine the public’s confidence in them. “A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm,”

The four lawyers which were initially sanctioned by Judge Middlebrooks are: Alina Habba, Michael T. Madaio, Peter Ticktin and Jamie Alan Sasson, were assessed $50,000 penalties, plus $16,000 to cover the legal fees paid by one of the defendants. I believe these sanctions are being appealed.

More on Habba’s law firm:

Link from Nov 2021: Trump turns to small N.J. law firm for latest lawsuits

One of the other lawyers sanctioned by Judge Middlebrooks is Peter Ticktin, whose law office is in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Tinkin is 76 years old, and was a classmate of Donald Trump at the New York Military Academy. See link:

Link from Daily Beast: Trump’s New Lawyer Has Been Fawning Over Him Since High School

Peter Ticktin even wrote a book documenting his love of Trump: What Makes Trump Tick: My Years with Donald Trump from New York Military Academy to the Present.

Finally, I can understand how those in the legal profession are tempted to use their power of persuasion to enter into politics. I mean they have years of experience in advocacy and oratory. The difference in court, you have opposing counsel, always there to check your facts And of course, a judge to examine both sides of an issue.

There are discipline ethic boards for attorneys, such as Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and perhaps Alina Habba, who went way too far, for their clients.

Stay tuned,


The Crime of the Century – Not!

In March 2022, Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against everyone he could think of connected to the DOJ Russian probe, the Clinton campaign and the Steele Dossier for damages under the RICO Act. He asked for at least 24 million dollars. Like so many of his lawsuits, it was dismissed in September with scathing comments from Judge Middlebrooks. So Trump got nothing but legal bills. Plus of course, a lot of free publicity, thanks to appearances of his attorney Alina Habba with Sean Hannity on Fox News. All pretty sad.

The Judge sanctioned Trump for filing a frivolous lawsuit. But the worst was still to come. On January 19, 2023, Trump and his lawyer had to pay Clinton and the other defendants just under one million dollars for their legal expenses.

Judge Middlebrooks let Trump have it by calling it a political manifesto and a shotgun pleading. But, his harsh language came only after he allowed Trump and his attorney, Alina Habba to “cure” obvious problems with the initial filing. Trump decided to double down, and add 80 more pages of unsupported claims.

I am thinking Trump’s big legal bill will be paid for by his “Save America” PAC. So, as usual, it is his biggest fans which Donald Trump is ripping off. The judge in the case got it right, in this lawsuit should never have been filed.

The Judge made it clear there would be no third filing, as the amended complaint was not just inadequate in any respect but was inadequate in all respects. Two strikes and you’re out.

“Here, we are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose,” he wrote.

As I was completing this blog, I discovered this blog from the Democratic Underground website which really nailed it:

Link: This is priceless! From the Court’s decision in TRUMP v. HILLARY CLINTON

Every quote is accurate. I have posted the orders of Judge Middlebrooks under “Trump’s Lawsuit” and it’s best to download the opinion. Everyone can select their favorite section. Here’s one I like:

“The deliberate use of a shotgun pleading is an abusive litigation tactic which amounts to obstruction of justice.”

Further on, the Judge states:

“I find that the pleadings here were abusive litigation tactics. The Complaint and Amended Complaint were drafted to advance a political narrative; not to address legal harm caused by any Defendant.”

I guess the only last bit I could add, is that two days after this verdict, Trump withdrew the 250 million dollar lawsuit he had filed against New York Attorney General Letitia James. See links below:

Additional links:

ABC News, January 20, 2023: Donald Trump withdraws lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James

New York Times November 11, 2022: Judge Fines Trump Lawyers in Clinton Conspiracy Suit Tossed in September

Newsweek Sept 9, 2022, Judge Threatens Trump Lawyers With Possible Sanctions Over Clinton Lawsuit

Now the gory details

Key dates are March 24, 2022 for the initial filing, June 22, 2022, amended filing, September 8, 2022 for the Order to Dismiss and January 19, 2023 for the Order to Sanction Donald Trump and lead attorney Alina Habbab for 938,000 dollars.

“Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on March 24, 2022, alleging that “the Defendants, blinded by political ambition, orchestrated a malicious conspiracy to disseminate patently false and injurious information about Donald J. Trump and his campaign, all in the hopes of destroying his life, his political career and rigging the 2016 Presidential Election in favor of Hillary Clinton.”

Page after page, the Judge shows it is Donald Trump, not the defendants who makes incomplete unsubstantiated claims. I have posted the judge’s scathing comments of September 8, 2022 on the Pages section of the website. As I read this, I am sure the judge wanted to do exactly what Speaker Pelosi did Trump’s state of the union address – tear it up.

The Order to Dismiss on September 8, 2022 does not mince words.

“Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is 193 pages in length, with 819 numbered paragraphs. It contains 14 counts, names 31 defendants, 10 “John Does” described as fictitious and unknown persons, and 10 “ABC Corporations” identified as fictitious and unknown entities. Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is neither short nor plain, and it certainly does not establish that Plaintiff is entitled to any relief. More troubling, the claims presented in the Amended Complaint are not warranted under existing law.”

When the Judge noted problems with the lawsuit with unsubstantiated claims, he allowed Trump to fix it. The normal way would be to add more evidence or withdraw a particular complaint. Instead, Trump just kept piling in another baseless claim of criminality – wire fraud.

“The Amended Complaint alleges that the Defendants “engaged in a calculated scheme to defraud the news media, law enforcement, and counterintelligence officials for the purpose of proliferating a false narrative of collusion between Trump and Russia.” (Am. Compl. ¶ 577). Not only does Plaintiff lack standing to complain about an alleged scheme to defraud the news media, but his lawyers ignore the Supreme Court’s holdings that the federal wire fraud statute prohibits only deceptive schemes to deprive the victim of money or property.”

Page 4 of Order to Dismiss. So, clearly when told to “cure” the complaint, Trump went in the opposite direction, making more baseless accusations.

In 2019, Attorney General Bill Barr appointed John Durham to head up an investigation of wrong doing in the origins of the Russian probe. It was supposed to find evidence that the Russian investigation was a “Witch Hunt” but has yet to find any serious legal violations. Michael Sussman was indicted for lying to the FBI, but found not guilty by a jury trial. The Judge’s commented:

“Likewise, the Amended Complaint cites copiously to the indictment of Michael Sussmann and a substantial portion of the Amended Complaint contains its allegations. But nowhere does the Amended Complaint mention Mr. Sussmann’s acquittal.” (page 9) Note that Michael Sussman was acquitted on May 31, 2022 and the amended complaint filed on June 22, 2022. For brevity I have not included the 27 citations which reference Michael Sussman.

On page 31, the judge states:

“Perplexingly, Plaintiff appears to argue that the Defendants obstructed investigation Crossfire Hurricane by contributing to the initiation of Crossfire Hurricane. That Defendants could have obstructed a proceeding by initiating it defies logic.”

In the US, anyone can sue anyone in a civil proceedings. But a private citizen needs to sue the agency of the government, not the individual. For this reason, 8 federal employees including former FBI Director, James Comey, Senator Adam Schiff, and former FBI agent, Kevin Clinesmith were removed as defendants, and the United States was added. FBI agent Clinesmith plead guilty to altering evidence in the FBI investigation (a single email) and received a one year probation sentence. I think that’s all the criminality that John Durham has proven to date. All claims of a deep state existing in the Department of Justice has apparently alluded John Durham’s investigation.

The RICO statutes were originally passed so law enforcement could go after organized crime. Later, they were used in numerous drug and financial criminal cases. In the 65 pages on the order to dismiss, Judge Middlebrooks methodically dismembers Trump’s lawsuit, and concludes on pages 63-64:

“It is not simply that I find the Amended Complaint “inadequate in any respect”; it is inadequate in nearly every respect. Defendants presented substantively identical arguments in support of dismissal in the earlier round of briefing on Plaintiff’s original Complaint. (See DEs 52, 124, 139, 141, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 157, 159, 160, 163, 165). But despite this briefing, Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint failed to cure any of the deficiencies. Instead, Plaintiff added eighty new pages of largely irrelevant allegations that did nothing to salvage the legal sufficiency of his claims. The inadequacies with Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint are not “merely issues of technical pleading,” as Plaintiff contends, but fatal substantive defects that preclude Plaintiff from proceeding under any of the theories he has presented. At its core, the problem with Plaintiff’s Amended Complaint is that Plaintiff is not attempting to seek redress for any legal harm; instead, he is seeking to flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him, and this Court is not the appropriate forum.”

A political manifesto. Wow. This is how the Order to Dismiss ends.

On January 19, 2023, the judge ruled in favor of defendants on sanctions. There were more choice words for the shotgun pleadings as he termed it. He cites other cases, which used similar strategies. The first two sentences of his order to sanctions are:

This case should never have been brought. Its inadequacy as a legal claim was evident from the start. No reasonable lawyer would have filed it. Intended for a political purpose, none of the counts of the amended complaint stated a cognizable legal claim. Thirty-one individuals and entities were needlessly harmed in order to dishonestly advance a political narrative. A continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Mr. Trump and his lawyers undermines the rule of law, portrays judges as partisans, and diverts resources from those who have suffered actual legal harm.

In his order, he delves into how the lead attorney, Alina Habba used conservative talk show hosts, NewsMax and Sean Hannity on Fox News to misrepresent the facts in the case.

The judge continues:

Here, we are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose. Mr. Trump is a prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries. He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the
judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer. He knew full well the impact of his actions. See Byrne, 261 F.3d at 1121. As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba.

As correctly stated from the blogger in the Democratic Underground website, to support their conspiracy theory, they used statements obtained from Russian intelligence as follows:

[From Trump’s complaint] Ratcliff’s letter stated that Clinton and her campaign conceived the false Russia collision [sic] story to protect Clinton’s presidential bid, which was at the time, in trouble because of revelations about her illegally using a private email server to handle classified information. Ratcliff confirmed in the letter that Obama, Comey and Strzok knew about it.

[Judge’s footnote] This provocative allegation stirred my curiosity, so I looked up the Ratcliff letter. The allegation in the Amended Complaint fails to mention that the information came from a Russian intelligence analysis and that Mr. Ratcliffe commented: “The IC (intelligence community) does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.” Letter from John Ratcliff, Dir. of Nat’l Intel., to Sen. Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senate (Sept. 29, 2020) https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/press/rep/releases/chairman-graham-releases-informationfrom-dni-ratcliffe-on-fbis-handling-of-crossfire-hurricane. Mr. Trump’s lawyers saw no professional impediment or irony in relying upon Russian intelligence as the good faith basis for their allegation.

Yes. We can trust Russian intelligence as we attack at least five members of the FBI, US Senator, and a host of other prominent officials.

It is likely there are more appeals before any payment is actually made. Personally, I’d like to have seen the sanctions equal to the 24 million dollars that Trump was asking for. But our legal system doesn’t work this way.

Stay tuned,


I checked Attorney Alina Habba website. It mentions a number of important cases she has worked on. Trump v. Clinton et al, isn’t one of them.

Debt Ceiling: Mint the Coin!

Democrats want Congress to raise the debt ceiling without conditions. Republicans in the House want numerous concessions. At present, it looks like both sides are on a collision course.

The Democrats on this issue are right. It should not require an act of Congress to allow the government to borrow the funds it needs to pay its obligations. As stated in Forbes:

Remember the U.S. is essentially the only country requiring a separate vote on raising the debt ceiling. Most governments assume if spending is legally authorized then the necessary funds must be made available, either through taxes or borrowing.

Yes, borrow it or raise taxes. Nobody, particularly Republicans are arguing to raise taxes.

See Link: The Trillion Dollar Coin

It does not need Congressional approval. Congress can work in a bipartisan manner, to cut spending. But not use the debt ceiling as some kind of bargaining chip. The consequences are too devastating in case of a standoff.

The second option which I like is for the Treasury to create a special-purpose entity to issue new securities (more like promissory notes) that can pay for expenditures. These entities have been used by the states, so in a way, they have been “road tested.”

I would have preferred Representative Elizabeth Warren’s recommendation to get rid of the debt ceiling. That makes perfect sense. Countries take incredible measures to avoid default on their debt, while we apparently intentionally crash our economy, while we have the ability to borrow the money.

See VOX Link: Our debt ceiling crisis could hit as early as June. Here’s how Biden can sidestep it.

The VOX article suggest in Option #3 that the president declares he must spend the money for the programs approved by Congress, and to do so, he is forced to borrow the money, since only Congress can raise taxes. So, in essence to obey one law, he must break another one. And of course, this is asking for a court battle and the 14th amendment will be pulled into the fight. . And absolutely calls for impeachment of Biden. Avoiding default by doing something about half of the US will consider illegal, is not a very good solution.

There is a second option, which I don’t see much chance in success. It is the discharge petition, which means Democrats have to find 5 moderate Republicans in the House to sign off on the no-strings attached ceiling limit increase, then get a discharge petition approved so they can bring it to the floor of the House.

Wall Street Journal: House Lawmakers Discuss Discharge Petition to Force Debt-Ceiling Vote

The last option would be to do everything the Republican want, which will assure Joe Biden or any other Democrat will have no chance of winning in 2024. Deep cuts in Medicare or Social Security will be blamed on Biden.

So, almost by default, the big coin option wins. The special purpose entity will buy time. The best option has to wait until Democrats control the House and the Senate, and the debt ceiling is eliminated for good.

Stay tuned,


The Political Riot in Brasilia

January 8, 2023 riot in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil resembled January 6, 2020 in some ways, but very different in others. It was widely anticipated that there would be massive protest turning into violence on inauguration day, January 1, 2023. This did not happen. There was a lot of speculation that the military would step in prior to January 8 and Lula da Silva would not be inaugurated. In fact, the more radical supporters of Bolsonaro hoped he would void the election by calling in the military. Again, this was completely unfounded, just a lot of Facebook posting nonsense.

The idea of calling in the military to “fix” an election result, is a very good way to end a democracy. Every dictator depends on the military to control the population. Just go ask Vladimir Putin.

The general election was held on October 2, 2022. The runoff election between Bolsonaro and Lula was held on October 30, 2022, and Lula was declared the winner on October 31.For a summary of the Brazilian first general election and runoff presidential election (Oct 30, 2022) see the link below:

Link: 2022 Brazilian General Election

Bolsonaro is not Trump. This is meant as a compliment. I was relieved when Bolsonaro made a brief statement on November 1, saying that he authorized his chief of staff to begin the transition process. In essence, he was telling millions of supporters that the election was over. There is no legal requirement to concede. All he has to do is step aside, and he did this.

He said everything he does is within the mandates of the constitution. Thank God for this. Everything seem quick and final. Brazil has no write in or mail in voting. It is 100% electronic and considered by many, to be reliable. Every Brazilian has a national identity number and getting a job is difficult without it. There was no “Stop the Steal” craziness or 61 attempts to challenge the results in court. But, he refused to acknowledge that Lula had won. I thought from November 1 to January 1 (inauguration day) things would cool off.

Per Wikipedia: “On 22 November, he and his party formally contested the election result, after an audit revealed that electronic voting machines made before 2020, which comprised 59% of machines used in the 2022 election, lacked identification numbers in their internal logs. They requested that the Superior Electoral Court invalidate the votes recorded by the affected machines, which would result in Bolsonaro being elected with 51% of the remaining valid votes. However, experts claimed that the software error did not affect the election results and pointed out that the identification numbers did appear in the physical vote records printed by the machines.[313] On the next day the court rejected the request and fined the party R$22.9 million (US$4.3 million) for what it considered bad faith litigation.[314]”

Unlike the US, there is only one ultimate authority on election integrity, and that is the Superior Electoral Court headed by Alexandre de Moraes. See link below for his background

Link: Alexandre de Moraes

The Brazilian system of justice may be flawed, but at least candidates need only to petition one court with their complaints. Justice Alexandre de Moraes was astute enough to ask if the results from 59% of voting machines were to be invalidated, did this apply to the first election and the runoff? The problem for Bolsonaro’s party was that many of their candidates for Governor, Senator and Congress won in the first election, so of course they did not want to throw out these favorable results. It was immediately obvious to everyone involved that the court filing was just a publicity stunt.

False information about the voting machines spread quickly both in Brazil and the US. I received several postings on Facebook saying that in truth, Bolsonaro had won 73% of the vote. It seems the Brazilian community in Miami were very quick to hit the share icon.

See link from National Public Radio (US): Why false claims about Brazil’s election are spreading in far-right U.S. circles

It is definitely true that Steve Bannon and others in the US were trying to package and sell the “Stop the Steal” campaign stuff to far right groups in Brazil after Bolsonaro lost. But, for the most part, it isn’t packageable, at least not yet. It really takes powerhouses like Sean Hannity and Carlson Tucker on Fox News to spread misinformation to fuel the anger and frustration that comes from losing an election.

There are other enormous differences between Brazil and the US in the months after the election. While Bolsonaro’s party did file in court that the voting machines were flawed, this was quickly ruled on and dismissed. In the US, Trump was taking every possible opportunity to advance the “Stop the Steal” movement in court filings and fully endorsed the angry mob on January 6, 2020 that was on the brink of becoming violent. The Save America campaign was created to raise money to keep the “big lie” alive. There was no equivalent in Brazil. Thank God!

There was desecration of artwork in official rooms I am glad that no one died in the riot on January 8, 2022. No official, including Bolsonaro, referred to the rioters as patriots. No politician downplayed or minimized the impact of the January 8 riots, as Republican lawmakers had done in the US. It was recognized as an anti-democracy attack.

Wikipedia: Artworks damaged, destroyed or stolen in the 2023 Brasilia attacks

I am also glad to hear over 1,000 rioters (some reports are 1,500) were arrested. They seemed to be filming themselves, for posting to social media. I’m certain many cellphones will be confiscated as evidence. Note to rioters, don’t bring expensive iphones to riots.

Justice Alexandre de Moraes suspended Governor of Brasilia, Ibaneis Rocha from his job as governor for at least 90 days, saying that the upheaval “could only occur with the consent, and even effective participation, of the security and intelligence authorities.” The supporters of Bolsonaro had set up tent cities in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro. The court ordered them dismantled.

Lula da Silva has got a huge challenge now, convincing Brazilians he truly wants to unite the country. The voting system of Brazil works. Many will go on believing that the election was stolen and Lula now will turn Brazil into an autocratic communist country like Cuba. The democratic structure of Brazil is too strong for this to happen.

Bolsonaro is too proud to say he lost in a free and fair election. But he shown to be much better than Trump, as he has conceded to others in private that he lost the election. He is now in the US, for medical treatment. I wish him well.

Stay tuned,


US House Republicans v. Republicans

In case you’ve missed it, I’m talking about the inability of the House Republicans to elect the Speaker of the House, because 20 “holdout” Republicans will not vote for the most likely candidate, Kevin McCarthy. Thus after now 11 votes, McCarthy has not gained a majority.

It is unprecedented event, at least in the last 164 years. Much of the negotiations are in secret, but some demands have leaked out. Imagine if a group of kidnappers took a child, and each sent a separate ransom note, and not one note assured the release of the child. It is that crazy.

Link: CNN, What do these hardliners want? Here’s what they’ve said

Link CNN: McCarthy fails on 11th ballot amid hopes for tentative deal with conservatives

The Republican lead House will not pass legislation. Most scary of all, the US reaches the debt ceiling in mid-summer and it needs to be raised. Unfortunately, it is wrongly portrayed as permission to spend recklessly. Approval has come after a lot of grandstanding by Republicans of how totally out of control our government spending is and they will put a stop to it.

It is in fact, it is government asking permission to borrow enough money above a certain limit to pay for expenses that have already been authorized. Failure to approve the debt ceiling increase will mean the US is now in default on its payments, and trust in the US dollar will plummet. Higher interest rates will affect everyone. Trying to repair the damage afterwards is very difficult.

Rep. Ralph Norman, a South Carolina Republican, said the debt ceiling fight is a “non-negotiable item” which is really scary talk. It guarantees that Norman will have his day in the sun, as he can blast the Democrats for our cumulative debt. The Trump administration also increased the national debt, with large tax cuts, mostly for the wealthy, in 2017, which continues to effect borrowing today.

Link: Kevin McCarthy must commit to government shutdown over raising debt ceiling, say Freedom Caucus holdout.

The Republicans will hold hearings. Under brutal attack will be the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas for the crisis at the southern border. Republicans may start impeachment hearings against Mayorkas.

Our support for Ukraine will come under constant attack from the radical right Republicans who will attack almost everything the Biden administration is doing right.

Many of the 20 holdouts belong to the Freedom Caucus, and one of the demands of this group, is that the members of important committees must be members of the Caucus. Thus, it is the Caucus with unelected officials and not the Republican Party, which is really driving policy.

Finally, the holdouts want to make it very easy to get rid of the Speaker, thus vastly reducing his authority. Imagine McCarthy has negotiated a deal on increasing the debt ceiling, but the hard right representatives don’t like it. They don’t need to debate it, they just send McCarthy packing. And then go through more rounds of voting on a new Speaker.

There has been some great reporting. From the New York Times, “It’s not about policies, it’s about the fight,” said Doug Heye, a former aide to Representative Eric Cantor, the onetime majority leader who lost his seat in a stunning 2014 upset by a far-right challenger, David Brat. “The more you hear the word ‘fight’ or ‘fighter,’ the less you hear about a strategy for winning that fight.”

Matt Gaetz has said repeatedly there are at least 5 representatives who absolutely will not vote for Kevin McCarthy, and this is enough to block him from serving as Speaker. One of them is Representative Lauren Boebert, who decided to be interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News. He asked, “Is this a game show?” which is interesting as I consider most of Hannity and Carlson Tucker just entertainment for conservative Republicans.

It is Trump MAGA stuff: Winning is for the strong, Compromise is for the weak. Unfortunately, as Trump has shown, it isn’t winning for the country, and for personal political gain.

Buckle up, we are in uncharted waters.


Trump’s insulting names for people and organizations

Wikipedia compiled a list. See link:

List of nicknames used by Donald Trump

It is a long list, and contains many Republicans as well as Democrats. Frequently, they are related to being corrupt or dishonest. What is interesting is that none of the people called corrupt, have ever been charged with a crime.

Then, there’s the lazy or low energy names, and the most famous is Sleepy Joe, for Joe Biden. He’s got a long list of nicknames for Biden, including the “Corrupt Joe.”

The Trump organization has already been found guilty of corruption. Steve Bannon is free on bond at present, as his conviction is being appealed. Roger Stone received a full pardon from Trump on December 23, 2020, but I think he’ll be back in court in connection with the January 6 violence.

The list is long, and way down at the bottom, are his insults to new organizations, which he attacked as corrupt, and offering the public “fake news.” No nicknames for the the truly corrupt and ultra right wing organization, Infowars, headed by Alex Jones. Awards to victims from the defamation cases total more than 1.4 billion dollars and Jones has filed for bankruptcy. Similarly, no insulting names for Fox News which is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems, for their commentators who constantly attacked the reliability of their equipment without evidence. This was real fake news.

I congratulate Wikipedia and the great service they do. Just before posting this blog, I wanted to discuss the recent success with nuclear fusion, and of course, my first reference was Wikipedia.

So, let me close with a nickname of my own: “Amazing Wikipedia.” It is their fund raising time, and you can make a donation from their website.

Stay tuned,