Supreme Court Decisions – 3 Down and one biggie to go.

“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”    Trump’s tweets, June 18, 2020.   (Referencing the court’s decision in favor of the DREAMers, see last link)

The reference to Second Amendment rights is really pretty weird, because the Supreme Court refused to hear 10 petitions regarding gun rights, letting these issues be resolved in the lower courts. In the current term, due to expire very soon, there are no gun rights cases.

Trump has lost 3 cases in a row.  He loves to brag on how he’s backed the courts with conservative judges,  but in these cases, at least one has sided with the liberals on  the court.   The cases that were decided against Trump were:  (1) The Louisiana abortion restrictions case (2)  DACA legality case and (3) LGBQT discrimination case.   You can’t win a case in the Supreme Court unless a Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Republican president joins with the liberals.  If Biden wins,  I suspect Ginsburg will retire, so we will still be 5 conservatives and 4 liberals.

The most recent decision, the Louisiana abortion limitations case,  was decided in favor of the liberal minority, because John Roberts, normally a conservative, decided to join them.   Roberts concurred with the decision, but wrote a separate opinion, defending the decision based on the “Texas Case.”     Simply put, like cases should have like outcomes.   It is called “stare decisis.”

The Supreme Court made its interpretation of the Second Amendment in the District of Columbia v. Heller case.   Based on Heller, any  town, city or state  which passes a rule or law, which renders a gun not readily usable for the owners protection in their home has violated the Second Amendment, and judges must declare these rules to be unconstitutional.   For those who own guns and want to keep them in their homes for protection,  the Supreme Court ruled on this more than a decade ago and the doctrine of “stare decisis” will ensure that these rights are preserved.    Voting for Biden or Trump won’t change a thing.   The liberals on the court  believe strongly in stare decisis, because without this, the conservative majority could undo many decisions, including gay marriage, the right to an abortion and desegregation of schools, to name a few.

The big ones, coming any day now, are 3 lawsuits aimed at release of Trump’s taxes (Trump v. Deutsche Bank,  Trump v. Mazars, USA,  Trump v. Vance).    I think at least one of these, is going to succeed.  From what I understand it, the DOJ has opined that a sitting president can not be indicted,  and the extension of this, is that a sitting president may not be investigated for criminal actions.   Sort of blanket immunity.   We will see soon enough how far this blanket will stretch,

So in advance, let me re-tweet Donald:

“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of me.”

If he’s got to give up his taxes, he will not exactly go gently into the night.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Wikipedia:  2019 to 2020:  Supreme Court Pending Cases

NPR:  Supreme Court Hands Abortion-Rights Advocates A Victory In Louisiana Case

NPR: Supreme Court Delivers Major Victory To LGBTQ Employees

NPR:  Supreme Court Rules For DREAMers, Against Trump

CNBC:  Supreme Court decides not to hear big gun-rights cases, dealing blow to Second Amendment activists

The DNC v-Convention

The Democratic Convention will be from August  17 to 20, in Milwaukee,  Wisconsin.   Officials have announced that the actual event will be scaled back due to the Covid-19 epidemic.   The delegates do not have to fly to Milwaukee, stay at hotel rooms, go to packed arenas, meet with others in photo ops  and sit together in numerous meetings, etc.  A convention is an epidemiologist worse nightmare.    Delegates can stay home and vote remotely.   For the health of the delegates, and their entourage, volunteers,  the press, the residents of Milwaukee and really for the state of Wisconsin, I think it’s a terrific move.

I believe the convention should be renamed the v-Convention as in the virtual convention.   Officials should play up this internet event, as not scaling down the convention but scaling up it by placing it on the internet.  The primary purpose of both the Republican and Democratic conventions is marketing of their candidate and bashing the opposition.   Recently, it seems more time is spent on the latter.  The Democrats can claim a health conscious convention and connect with voters in this manner.

I’ve also suggested to the DNC, that this should be called the v-Convention or Convention in the Clouds.   It can be amazingly successful, with live streams of supporters in all the key states.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Bolton’s book – Part 3

“I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my tenure that wasn’t driven by re-election calculations,” writes Bolton, who left his position in September.  APF press reports, “Bolton writes that Trump, who came from the worlds of real estate and show business, was inclined to offer ‘personal favors to dictators he liked.'” These excerpts taken from Bolton’s book  have been repeated dozens of times.

John Bolton will be interviewed by Martha Raddatz, tonight June 21 at 9;00 pm ET on ABC.   It is an one hour program.   

John  Bolton served under three presidents (Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush  and G.W. Bush) prior to his 17 months as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor.  I saw him very frequently as a commentator on Fox News, during the Obama administration.   He was always very quick to explain why Obama’s policies, particularly on the Iran Nuclear Deal, were completely wrong.  A summary of his experience is provided in the first link at the bottom of this blog.  According to Wikipedia, “Bolton is a former senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Fox News Channel commentator. He was a foreign policy adviser to 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney.”

I expect my book to arrive on Tuesday.   Shipments to booksellers have begun.  Legal action to block the book publication appears to  have failed.   But the court case isn’t over.  In the end, Bolton may lose the 2 million dollars that he was promised.  I’m thinking this could easily linger in the courts for a long while.

I am certain Trump admired Bolton’s combative style, his nationalistic approach to foreign issues  and conservative views.  I think Bolton’s way of skewing facts to his favor, really helped him convince Trump that he would be an asset to his administration.     His time at the UN showed that he was not a particularly diplomatic representative to the UN and could be very blunt.   I suspect this is why Trump selected him to head up the National Security Agency in 2018.   At a moments notice, John Bolton could present a clear and concise defense of any of Trump’s foreign policies.

Trump reminded everyone at a press conference that Bolton was not confirmed as Ambassador to the UN in December 2006 under the Bush administration after serving in the UN for 5 months.  What he fails to mention that the Senate was controlled at that time  by the Democrats in late 2006.    Senator Lincoln Chafee, a Republican from Rhode Island, on the Senate Foreign Relations  Committee opposed Bolton.  Bolton had been considered as a poor choice by Democrats as he had supported Bush in the Iraq War, but was  strongly supported by conservative Republicans and George Bush.   As stated in the link below,  at press conference, the President Bush said, “I received the resignation of Ambassador John Bolton. I accept it. I’m not happy about it. I think he deserved to be confirmed.”

I’m not particularly upset that Bolton chose to release all he know no and not during the impeachment inquiry.   In Bolton’s book, he states the impeachment inquiry was  too focused on Ukraine.   But Bolton is wrong.  Had the inquiry been broader, the evidence would have been weaker, and the Republicans in the Senate would have been accusing Democrats of making wild accusations.  Come to think of it, they did any way and tried to disparage the witnesses who had testified in the House.      They brought up the fact that the numerous Democrats thought Trump should be impeached based on Russian interference and his obstruction of justice related to the probe, then switched to Ukraine where there evidence was rock solid.

Had Bolton agreed to testify in House, Trump still would have been acquitted in the Senate.  No amount of evidence on the Ukraine scandal  could have changed the verdict.   This was re-iterated in the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg,   “That Bolton did not testify to this earlier is to his immense disgrace. But it is a national disgrace that his confirmation of the Democrats’ impeachment case probably won’t matter, so inured are Republicans to staggering corruption.”    In fact, according to excerpts in the book,  Bolton felt acquittal in the Senate was a done deal, and if the Republicans had been  allowed subpoenaed him, Trump still would have been acquitted.  I’m paraphrasing this a bit.

I would have liked it even better if Bolton had released his book in August 2020, as Trump was really trying to rev up his base support.    From the beginning, I was not a big fan of the impeachment inquiry, because it was as clear as day,  Trump would be acquitted in the Senate, regardless of the evidence.   I said the proper way to get rid of President Trump was through the ballot box in November.

Vote, 2020.

Stay tuned and safe,

Dave

Links:

Bolton, John,  The Room Where it Happened ($19.95 Hardcopy, available June 23, 2020 Amazon Prime).  Accepting pre-orders.

Wikipedia Link:  John Bolton

APF: John Bolton’s explosive charges against Trump

(There are many copies in circulation among journalists, so many posts like the one above can be found on the internet)

Propublica, John Bolton Skewed Intelligence, Say People Who Worked With Him
Please note this article appeared when Bolton was in March 2018, when Trump announced Bolton’s appointment as National Security Advisor.

Time, John Bolton’s Temper  (Please not the date of this article,  April 25, 2005)

 

 

Bolton’s book – Part 2

Seems everybody knows what’s in this book, entitled “In the room where it happened” that I could just as well read the excerpts.  Fox New quotes Chris Hayes (MSNBC commentator) for criticizing John Bolton, but they carefully cherry pick Chris Hayes’ comments.   Of course, all this discussion is occurring when not a single copy has been distributed to the public.   What seems to really upset Chris Hayes, is a statement within the book, which blames the Democrats for failing to impeach Donald Trump, with a narrow focus on just Ukraine.   Bolton had his chance to set the record straight four months ago in front of Congress and he didn’t.   But, I think he and just about everyone else knew that once in the Senate, impeachment would fall short of the two-thirds majority as required to send Trump packing.   So, he chose the book rather than the grilling in front of Congress.  If he had chosen to  testified,  the Republicans would have attacked Bolton, despite his life long allegiance to the Republican party.

To correct the record, see below for all the comments made by Chris Hayes on MSNBC:

https://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/bolton-blames-democrats-for-failed-impeachment-despite-refusing-to-testify-85295173778

Stay tuned,

Dave

Bolton’s book is coming

John Bolton served as National Security Advisor to Donald Trump from April 2018 to September 2019.  He refused when asked to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee, in the impeachment inquiry.   Interestingly, he was never subpoenaed to testify,  His book, entitled  “The Room Where It Happened”  will be  distributed on June 23, 2020.   Release has been delayed several months in order to obtain a security clearance.  After nearly 6 months, no security clearance was given, and the publisher decided to proceed without it.

I ordered a copy from Amazon, and hope they will deliver my copy on June 23, 2020 as promised.  I have not read the other books by John Bolton, but just by their titles, I know he advocates a more militant posture for the US, particularly in our relations to Iran.   John Bolton was a very frequent guest on Fox News as was KT McFarland, typically critical of President Obama’s foreign policy.

A lawsuit has been filed by the Department of Justice, as reported below by CNN:

Trump said Bolton would have “criminal problems” if the book was published as is. The lawsuit filed Tuesday is a civil suit, and carries no criminal penalties. Initially, Attorney General William Barr did not confirm that his department was preparing a lawsuit but said the administration was focused on getting Bolton to complete the clearance process for publishing books.

At the end of the CNN article as given below, there is a link  to the DOJ civil complaint.   If this were a criminal charge, the lawsuit would have cited violations of rule 18 US Code 798, “Disclosure of Classified Information” and charged  John Bolton or the publisher of releasing information which damages the interests of the US.   The lawsuit claims John Bolton violated his non-disclosure agreement.  The remedies for this breach are generally monetary.

According to the DOJ lawsuit, the process to obtain clearance was an iterative one, beginning in December 30, 2019.  In the DOJ filing, it is stated that, “In late January 2020,  … [it was]  confirmed in writing [by the NSC reviewer, Ellen Knight] that the chapter in question contained significant classified information.”    This indicates it was not the entire book, but just one chapter that the reviewer was concerned about.   The lawsuit also reveals that on April 27, 2020 this NSC reviewer had concluded that the book contained no classified material.    It is very clear from the filing, that there was a very active period between mid February to April 27, 2020 when the book was being revised to eliminate classified information.  On April 28, 2020,  NSC decided to cut off this interaction,  and Bolton was simply told the process was ongoing.    Anyone reading the DOJ filing can feel that John Bolton was being given the run around, after close interactions with Ellen McKnight.

What happen after April 28 is clear from the filing.   Ellen Knight’s expedited review process was the normal process.   She worked with John Bolton to make the necessary changes so the manuscript was good to go.   Likely, a lot of factual details had to be removed.  The “chapter in question” as identified in January 2020,   containing classified information,  I am assuming, was the one on the Ukraine scandal leading to the impeachment of Donald Trump.   The  White House did not  want to see the book published, so they restarted the entire  review, not wanting a single sentence to be published.   It was no longer a chapter, but the book in its entirety that was under a new review.   On May 1, 2020, this new review  can only be described as a slow boat to China.  Michael Ellis holds the title of Senior Director of Intelligence Programs.  He assumed the position in March 1, 2020, and on May 1, 2020 began his review.   This time around, there were no meetings or phone calls with John Bolton or his lawyer.    It sure looks as if this was a desperate attempt to stop the publication of the book by the White House as, unlike the Knight’s review,  Ellis simply informed Bolton that “the process is ongoing” and that he was bound by the Non-Disclosure Agreement.  Unlike McKnight’s review,  Ellis kept Bolton in the dark.

I have read the complaint.   The DOJ lawsuit  does not accuse either John Bolton nor the publisher of  committing the crime of disclosure of classified information.    No lawsuit has been filed against Simon and Schuster, so there is nothing preventing them from printing the book.   Everything Trump says or does as President is not automatically classified and former employees have First Amendment rights.

In fact, the DOJ filing, provides sufficient evidence that the government did not expeditiously and in good faith work with John Bolton from May 1 to June 7, 2020 to revise or remove any classified information.  They basically stonewalled him for 5 weeks, after the book had been with the NSC for 5 months.  The  second phase of the review was simply to push approval to after November 2020.  If the book was in praise of Trump, it would have been out the door in days.  Certainly, Nikki Haley’s book faced no long term scrutiny.

The court case will be a civil lawsuit, as whether Bolton breached his non-disclosure agreements and what remedies are appropriate.  It will be a drawn out process.    As part of the remedy, the lawsuit asks the court to instruct the Bolton to tell Simon and Schuster to destroy all the pre-print copies of the book, if he can.  Just not going to happen.

I will get my copy of The Room Where it Happen.  Amazon, Simon and Schuster and of course,  John Bolton will get more publicity than they can imagine.  Amazon will publish two more books, one by Trump’s niece in July 2020, Too much is never enough,  and the second book by H.R.  McMasters entitled, Battlegrounds.   See links below.

Stay tuned and healthy,

Dave

 Links:

Trump Administration  sues Bolton over Book Dispute (includes a link to the lawsuit)

From Amazon:

John Bolton: The Room Where it Happened (June 23, 2020)

Mary Trump:  Too much and never enough: How my family created the world’s most dangerous man (July 2020)

H.R McMasters:  Battlegrounds:  The fight to defend the free world,  Sept 2020

 

Covid-19 hits South America hard

Covid-19 is exponentially increasing in  Peru, Brazil and Mexico.   Covid-19 has the capability of doubling the new cases in 2-3 days.  Each infected person gives it to 2-3 people before they become so sick that they are confirmed infected.  The lax attitude of their leaders is partially to blame.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/06/americas/latin-america-coronavirus-intl/index.html

If anything has proven effective, it is lockdowns including travel  and social distancing, whether we like it or not.   Someone with Covid-19 symptoms must immediately be isolated.

Covid-19 is worldwide, and international cooperation, including the WHO and aid organizations, is critical.  I am hoping that a vaccine can be found which is safe, effective  and easily accessible to everyone in the world.  If not, it will come back to China or  Europe, and we will see a second wave.  World problems are solvable when we pull together.

Stay tuned and safe,

Dave

 

 

 

Covid-19 Positive News on a Vaccine

The government’s initiative to help vaccine development under project “warp speed” is commendable.    Out of the hundreds of laboratories around the world, in vaccine development,  they are backing the five most promising candidates.   The success will depend on excellent international cooperation.   One reason why Dr. Fauci and others have constantly been saying it takes between 12 to 18 months to develop a vaccine, is because it must:   (a) Be safe for the billions of people likely to take it and (b) Be effective in preventing Covid-19 and (c) Be easily available worldwide at low cost.   So in sum, the vaccine must be:

  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Available in large quantities and at a  low cost

The development process right now is being fast tracked in a highly  unique manner.   Traditionally it’s safety first, then effectiveness and finally availability.  The way they’re speeding up the process is to do all three at once!  I was very surprised when I saw a Facebook posting by a dear friend, that the  Oxford University vaccine (AZD1222) was set to begin human trials with 2,000 volunteers  in São Paulo,Brazil this month.   Having just posted how to unreliable anything is on Facebook, I did some research and found out to my surprise, that it was 100% true.   The Oxford University vaccine received a grant from the Lemann foundation to fund 1,000 volunteers.   Screening and testing does not come cheap.  The individuals must be free from Covid-19 virus, as determined by tests, and be medical workers in São Paulo,

This good news continues.   Oxford University is already conducting tests  with 10,000 volunteers in Britain.   The problem with Britain is that the chance of contracting Covid-19 is low, so knowing the vaccine is working is difficult.   I guess scientists felt the city of Sao Paulo would provided additional evidence that the vaccine actually works.   Oxford has teamed up with AstraZeneca,  a very large pharmaceutical company (market cap = 143 billion USD) to manufacture the vaccine.  AstraZeneca says it has the capacity to make 2 billion doses by the end of the year.  AstraZeneca has agreed a $750 million deal to produce 300 million doses with international foundations the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi the Vaccine Alliance.   A second agreement, with Serum Institute of India, will allow the leading vaccine manufacturer to make 1 billion doses for poorer countries, with 40% of those to arrive by the end of 2020.   It was just recently announced the potential global supply of a potential coronavirus vaccine has been doubled to 2 billion after a deal including $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Of course,  making a vaccine before it is proven effective and safe is risky.  But the intent is excellent and the generosity of the Serum Institute,  Gates Foundations and other others is just incredible.   Besides Oxford, there are many other companies,  including Moderna,  Gilead,  Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson developing vaccines.   Novavax received Department of Defense funding to produce 10 million doses of their vaccine in 2020.

So, the vaccine research, development and production are roaring ahead. Exactly how this plays out is anyone’s guess.

Covid-19 is a global problem and we need global solutions.

Stay tuned and healthy,

Dave

Links:

https://money.cnn.com/quote/quote.html?symb=AZN&source=story_quote_link

https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/05/24/oxford-professor-lowers-coronavirus-vaccines-odds.aspx

https://www.fool.com/investing/2020/06/04/astrazeneca-to-produce-2-billion-doses-of-its-coro.aspx