What Trump wanted

Sondland testified:

“He [Zelenskiy]  had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.”

That’s really huge admission.

Dr. Pamela Karlan, the Stanford law professor testifying today, got it so perfectly right, what Sondland’s statement implied.  It was a smear campaign, not for the FBI or the Department of Justice, but for commentators on Fox news and Trump campaign rallies.   Those dealing in alt-right sleaze conspiracies were all primed and ready to go.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

CNN (Nov 21, 2019) The huge Gordon Sondland revelation almost everyone missed

Kudos to Chris Cillizza of CNN.

 

Trump-Ukraine Scandal: Public Opinion

C-Span has a program called Washington Journal, which allows callers to give their opinions.  They must identify themselves as being either Democrats,  Republicans or Independents and it seems they try to get a good blend of callers from these three groups.   In this case, the moderator was completely neutral.

On the issue of the impeachment inquiry, a caller described it as a totally “made up” story.  And she had her facts.  Adam Schiff had talked to the whistle blower before the whistle blower had submitted a complaint.  Also,  Schiff denied he or anyone on his staff had contact with the whistle blower.  So, this proved to the caller that everyone was lying and what was going on was just a lot of dishonest people out to get the President.   The conspiracy idea was that Adam Schiff told the whistle blower what to report, so he could get the president impeached.   He then rounded up a few dozen traitors in the State Department and told them what to say.   He must have manufactured other evidence like text messages and emails.   The news media was either complicit or just went along with this giant  hoax.

One piece of this conspiracy  immediately begins to fall apart.  Adam Schiff did not have any contact with the whistle blower – but apparently someone on his staff did, but not at a detailed level of the issues.  The whistle blower was asking what the proper way to file a complaint under the whistle blower protection laws.   What this staff person told the whistle blower is you need to get an attorney and go through proper channels.  No short cuts permitted to the House Intelligence Committee.

The evidence is really mounting against President Trump of trying to get dirt on Biden in exchange for approved military aid.   I  think this is a crime of  extortion and an abuse of presidential power.   The first day of public hearings will be on Wednesday, November 13.   The current chargée d’affaires,  to Ukraine, Bill Taylor and the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of State, George Kent, will testify.  I believe Counsel for the Democrats and Republicans  will do the questioning for 45 minutes each.   There won’t be any surprises.   I can say this because both individuals have testified extensively in closed sessions and the transcripts have been released on the House Intelligence Committee website.   So this hearing is not likely to add to the House inquiry.   It is more to legitimize the inquiry to the public.

Trump said today (Nov 8)  that there should be no open impeachment inquiry.  Pretty amazing as  Trump and other Republicans were highly critical of the closed sessions.

I hope the C-Span caller will tune in along with many Americans who have doubted the process.  This is not a witch hunt, hoax or fake news.  It is real and extremely serious.    I have included the biographies of both Bill Taylor and George Kent below.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:  William Taylor

Wikipedia:  George Kent

 

 

 

Ukraine and Trump

When corrupt officials are praised as good,  then those just doing their jobs are bad because they see what is happening.  They know too much.    So bad becomes good, and good becomes bad.   Trump lauds praise on Ukraine’s former chief prosecutor as follows:

     TRUMP: “Good [responding to Zelenskiy’s comment that investigations will be done openly], because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.  A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved.”

The chief prosecutor Trump is referring to, is likely Yuriy Lutsenko, who did not leave office until August 2019.  He was clearly not a “very good man” and is very likely the unnamed co-conspirator in the federal indictment against recently arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.   He has been charged with embezzlement and abuse of office.  Incredibly he did not have a law degree.  The Chief Prosecutor position  in Ukraine is a very powerful position, as the conviction rate is approximately 99%.

The former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, as shown on the left, has 33 years of experience and served under six presidents.  Her qualifications for Ambassador are excellent.  See the Wikipedia summary of her experience.

In March 2019, she was asked to extend her term through 2020.  But then in May, she was ousted.  She was called “bad news” by Trump  and the newly elected President, Zelenskiy surprisingly agreed with him, stating on the July 25, 2019 phone call, “she admired the previous President and she was on his side.”   I found Zelenskiy’s comments incredible, but I have a feeling that Giuliani and friends had told him what would please Trump.

It’s also possible that this rough transcript left out a lot, because she was gone before he became president.   From her testimony, she seemed very positive about the new president.   I have included her opening remarks to the House Intelligence Committee, currently conducting an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.   She was asked by the State Department to refuse to testify.  Marie Yovanovitch was ousted because of unfounded accusations  from Rudy Giuliani and others, that she was disloyal.    Please read her opening remarks.

The current impeachment inquiry will go deeper on Giuliani’s partners who had put making profits far ahead of political gains.   When you are working with corrupt officials,  what they will say or agree to, is just a matter of price.  See “Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm in links.”

We are at the tip of the iceberg, as far as I can tell.   The Global Energy Partners (GEP)  with Lev Parnas,  Igor Fruman and Harry Sargeant III  as partners sought lucrative LNG export contracts from Ukraine, but met opposition from CEO  of Naftogaz,  Andriy Kobolyev.  So, through pressure from the US, they wanted to oust Kobolyev,  and replace him with a friend of Giuliani’s  Andrew Favorov.  Now there is nothing wrong with trying to increase US LNG exports. but definitely wrong when you meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine, just to get better contract terms.  So,  for a country trying to reduce corruption, the Trump administration was going the opposite direction.

There is a whole lot more to come out.   For those who really want to get the full story – it’s all out there, from Poroshenko, Viktor Shokin (prior corrupt chief prosecutor),  and Representative Pete Cotton (Republican from Texas, who wanted Yovanovitch gone in a hurry).   Certainly,  there are some big GOP donors out there, who did not want an honest and very intelligent ambassador in their way.  From the AP news story:

“As Rudy Giuliani was pushing Ukrainian officials last spring to investigate one of Donald Trump’s main political rivals, a group of individuals with ties to the president and his personal lawyer were also active in the former Soviet republic.

Their aims were profit, not politics. This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.

Their plan hit a snag after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lost his reelection bid to Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose conversation with Trump about former Vice President Joe Biden is now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry of Trump.

But the effort to install a friendlier management team at the helm of the gas company, Naftogaz, would soon be taken up with Ukraine’s new president by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose slate of candidates included a fellow Texan who is one of Perry’s past political donors.”

It really sounds like something a hostile country might do – not one with principles and values.   I believe Mike Pompeo and Rick Perry are doing Trump;s dirty work, or at least turning a blind eye.    This is really an evolving story.

it is important to remember that Trump repeatedly praised Manafort as a “good man”  whose dealing in Ukraine made him rich.  Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort and  National Defense Advisor,  Michael Flynn both ended in prison.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

The President of Ukraine has been referred to as Zelenskyy and Zelensky, however I found recent articles prefer Zelenskiy.    Also Ukraine is often refer to as “the Ukraine.”

CNN: Giuliani’s case rests on two Ukrainians with checkered pasts and suspect motives

Wikipedia:  Yuriy Lutsenko

AP: Trump allies pressed Ukraine over gas firm

Wikipedia: Marie Yovanovitch 

Trump-Ukraine-transcript

Yovanovitch Opening Remarks at House Intelligence Committee (closed door hearing)

Ukraine Envoy Says She Was Told Trump Wanted Her Out Over Lack of Trust

Lutsenko is unnamed Ukrainian who led plot to oust Yovanovitch, says official

Donald Trump ad misleads about Joe Biden, Ukraine and the prosecutor

Two business associates of Trump’s personal attorney Giuliani have been arrested on campaign finance charges

Impeachment inquiry

Just want to make a few points.  First, the impeachment inquiry is valid.  Trump’s actions really put it over the top.   Legal experts  agree that Congress does not have to pass a resolution in front of the full house, before proceeding with an inquiry.

The inquiry will examine the evidence of wrong doing by Trump.  It will be highly contentious.  No way to get around that.

Finally, I like Representative Adam Schiff.  He’s the right man to lead the inquiry.   He is intelligent, patient and does not engage in name calling like some people we know.

I suggested previously that this will end in the Senate with a vote of not guilty on all articles, with the voting split along party line.  For this reason, I wish the whole impeachment process can be concluded rapidly  and we can resume looking at who would be the best next president.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

 

 

 

 

 

Libya, and the Trump Administration

It is now called the “Western Offensive (2019) or “Flood of Dignity Operation”  by General Haftar.  The UN reports states:

Libya: Heavy shelling and civilian deaths ‘blatant violation’ of international law – UN envoy

I know this is not headline news.  I could be commenting on the Mueller report or the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire.

The target is the Mitiga airport, in Tripoli, Libya, which is the only functioning international airport in Libya.  Haftar doesn’t care about the UN resolution with an arms embargo to Libya.  From the UN report:

The use of indiscriminate, explosive weapons in civilian areas constitutes a war crime,” Mr. Salame, who also heads the UN Support Mission (UNSMIL), said in a statement. He extended “with great sadness”, his “deepest condolences” to the victim’s families and wished the injured a speedy recovery. His statement pointed out that as of yesterday, there have been 54 confirmed civilian casualties, including 14 dead and 40 wounded, four of whom were health workers.“Liability for such actions lies not only with the individuals who committed the indiscriminate attacks, but also potentially with those who ordered them”, stressed the Special Representative.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE and Russia are backing General Haftar.  There is no question these are authoritarian regimes.   Haftar buys the support of local militias with money from the UAE and Saudi’s.  There will be continual civil war, if he comes to power.

France is a bit more complicated.  See Politico link:

France ostensibly supports the U.N.-mediated peace process, led by former Lebanese Culture Minister Ghassan Salamé, a veteran Paris-based political scientist. It has never officially acknowledged providing weaponry, training, intelligence and special forces assistance to Haftar. The death of three undercover French soldiers in a helicopter accident in Libya in 2016 provided a rare recognition of its secret presence in operations against Islamist fighters at the time.

Since the fall of Gaddafi,  the US has strongly supported efforts by the UN to bring together all sides in an unified government. By all accounts, the US is now, more than ever, is backing autocratic government.  It is an enormous step backwards.  Trump embraces autocrats much more than democratically elected leaders.   Haftar promises stability in Libya and control of radical Islamists.  This is the same thing as  Qaddafi.  Only problem is most the stability comes by suppressing their own people.

I think the Financial Times really got it right (see link below).

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Politico, France’s double game in Libya

Trump finds a new strongman in Libya

https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/12/1029031

Trade Wars – No winners

March 2 is getting way too close for comfort.  The stock market crashed yesterday as hopes dimmed on any negotiated settlement.  The two hard core hawks in Trump’s administration (Lighthizer and Navarro) are likely in control, working on the premise that once we exert enough economic pressure, China will cave in.

Trade wars are unlike real wars.  In this case, we know exactly how China will react on March 2 when tariffs go to 25%.  They will try to match us dollar for dollar. It will simultaneously  hurt both countries.   The slowing Chinese economy coupled with a general slowdown in Europe, will make for less demand for US goods abroad.

China can withstand a lot more pain than we can.  They know this and we know this.   Trump talks about doing what is right for our country, while Chinese leaders talk about global cooperation.   Wow, it used to be the other way around.   It is a mess, because we need China’s help in convincing North Korea to end their nuclear plans.

Republicans used to be for free trade, but by embracing Trump’s policies, they are really for isolation and protectionism.

Stay tuned.

Dave

Trump’s statement on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi (Corrected)

President Trump issued a statement on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi as provided at the end of this blog.   CNN had reported on the findings of the CIA as follows:

“The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, despite the Saudi government’s denials that the de facto ruler was involved, according to a senior US official and a source familiar with the matter.”

It was also stated that the CIA came to this conclusion after a review of tape recordings of conversations and phone calls within the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Turkey.    It was also evident that the team Saudi Arabia sent after the crime, including a chemist, were there to remove evidence of the crime, rather than investigate it.

Truump’s statement is provided below.  The murder of Jamal Khashoggi is not addressed until the fourth paragraph.    I would suggest the first three paragraphs be skipped on first reading.   The fact that Khashoggi is a permanent resident of the US and a well respected journalist living in the US  is never noted.  Nor does it seem important to Donald Trump, the reason why Khashoggi went to the Saudi Arabian consulate in the first place.  He was about to be married for a second time, and needed documents showing he was divorced from his first wife.    The planned assassination included a Saudi dressed as Khashoggi leave the consulate, but this failed as his shoes did not match.

Gina Haspel is the Director of the CIA since May 21, 2018.    She should be congratulated for providing an assessment based on the evidence without a political bias.   I have included her biography in the links. She rose through the ranks of the CIA from 1985, and it really feels like she was very qualified for the position of CIA Director.

Now, let’s go back to the first 3 paragraphs,  all of which are totally off the subject of the planned assassination of Jamal  Khashoggi and mostly false as well.  Iranian Foreign Minister mocked the statement in a tweet:
Mr. Trump bizarrely devotes the FIRST paragraph of his shameful statement on Saudi atrocities to accuse IRAN of every sort of malfeasance he can think of,He also wrote:
Perhaps we’re also responsible for the California fires, because we didn’t help rake the forests,” 

Iran has openly  opposed terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban, as radical Sunni organizations.   Remember that Iran is a Shite country and  considers Hezbollah as a resistance group against aggressive  Israel military actions.  The US considers the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist organizations.  The European Union disagrees, and considers only the military wing of the organization to be involved in terrorist activities.    Hezbollah fought to defend the Hassad regime in Syria.

The civil war in Yemen is made worse by the involvement of all other countries, including Saudi Arabia and the US.   It is a huge humanitarian tragedy.   Iran denies involvement.  Certainly it is difficult to withdraw from Yemen, when they don’t have troops there.

Finally,  the 450 billion and 110 billion dollars of investment are a joke.  The 100 billion dollars are from memorandums of understanding or Intent, not actual orders.  Saudi Arabia has spent 4 billion dollars on US military equipment since 2017, and likely will continue to be a buyer, as their military needs to maintain their arsenal with US made parts.   These are not off the shelf items  they can quickly change vendors.  Their investment in US arms is very extensive.

This statement is rotten to the core.   Khashoggi was a journalist, reporting on the decline of basic freedoms throughout the Arab world. He could only do this outside of Saudi Arabia.   This is why he was an enemy of the Prince, but I think a hero to many within Saudi Arabia.  It also says that when critics of autocratic governments are murdered, we will look the other way, thinking more about financial benefits.

Bottom line:  It is not America First, but Trump’s political agenda.  It is Trump’s political agenda first and foremost, and American values are out the window.

Stay tuned,
David Lord

Donald Trump’s statement: 

The world is a very dangerous place!

The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!

Thee crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.

Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that — this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!

That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!

I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels — so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!

Links:

Wikipedia  Gina Haspel,  CIA Director

Saudi Arabia top US weapons buyer – but does it buy that much?

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s death, sources say

CNN:  Trump’s statement

85,000 children have starved to death during the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, says new report

Rod Rosenstein’s Letter of May 9, 2017

I don’t always comment on the most current news.  Many thought Trump was going to fire Rod Rosenstein, because he was protecting the Mueller investigation.  Instead,  Trump fired Jeff Sessions.  Sessions did submit a resignation letter, but it was at the request of Trump.

On May 9, 2017 Rod Rosenstein prepared a memo, indicating that FBI administrator, James Comey, had committed three serious errors in his public disclosure of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.  Note that each of these errors concerned Comey overreaching his authority as FBI director or breaking with protocol on public disclosures.   There has been no accusation by the Department of Justice that Comey has ever acted in any partisan manner in the Clinton  email investigation or any other investigation.     Trump stated that Comey was a  “nut-job”,  “loose cannon” and a “showboat.”    Really, this describes better Donald Trump than James Comey.

The Rosenstein letter  was provided to Trump, because he wanted to base the  firing of James Comey on a DOJ recommendation.   This fabricated excuse failed when Trump explained on national television, in an interview with Lester Holt, that he was going to fire Comey anyway over his handling of the “Russian thing.”    So,  Trump blew his own pretext.

I think Trump knew the Rosenstein letter wasn’t going to fool anyone.    It would make no sense to go all the way back to events of July 5, 2016 in firing someone in May 2017.    It was quickly pointed out, that two of the three errors committed by Comey, as claimed by Rosenstein,  actually helped Trump get elected (Error #2, the “extremely careless” comment about Clinton, and Error #3, letter to Congress on the eve of the election, re-opening the email case).

I believe Trump or someone within the White House did edits on Rosenstein’s initial draft.    A second author added that Comey had failed to repented for his sins.  I believe the second author came up with subject line: Restoring the Public Confidence in the FBI.     This sounds much more as a heavy handed political statement than a legal one, and I don’t think it came from Rosenstein.

It was a dumb argument, that Comey should have admitted his faults and kowtowed to either Trump or Obama, and immediately ask for forgiveness.   Admitting your wrong, is never an option in the Trump administration.   The proper thing, is to quietly resign, so you do not disgrace Trump.     It was so dumb, that it had to have come from the White House.

I believe three edits were made:  (1) the subject of the letter,  (2) the opening statement and (3) the final paragraph.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has long been regarded as our nation’s premier federal investigative agency. Over the past year, however, the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. That is deeply troubling to many Department employees and veterans, legislators and citizens. 

Final paragraph:

Although the President has the power to remove an FBI director, the decision should not be taken lightly. I agree with the nearly unanimous opinions of former Department officials. The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.

Of course,  the extraordinary circumstances of the Clinton email scandal  –   unfounded claims by Trump at rallies and tweets,  together with highly partisan House and Senate oversight committees,  and political commentators on Fox News,  in a desperate attempt to diminish respect for the FBI and  influence the electorate – had zero chance of ever being repeated.  Rosenstein would not have written about the “necessary corrective steps”  –  far too vague.

If anyone had diminished confidence in the FBI,  it was Donald Trump.  And he’s still at it, but the scope has broaden to include the Department of Justice, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Amazon, which owns the Post.   Now, public enemy also includes CNN.

I begin with the part that came from Rosenstein.   His  memo claims Comey made two errors of judgement in his press conference of July 5, 2016, then a third error of judgement in his letter to Congress on October 28, 2016.   It is not cited that he broke any laws or rules, but went against tradition and policy norms.   Error #1 was to announce that the evidence against Hillary Clinton were not sufficient to warrant prosecution.   He had usurped the authority of the Attorney General.   This helped Hillary Clinton.   Then he said that Hillary Clinton was extremely sloppy in her handling of classified documents.  His hurt Hillary Clinton, but at least she could put the email scandal behind her in the critical last four months before the election.   Comey has defended his actions on July 5, 2016 saying that he took his unusual action, because of the extraordinary circumstances.

The extraordinary circumstances  were (1) The June 27, 2016 meeting between AG Lynch and Bill Clinton, at the Phoenix airport, for 20 minutes.  This meeting  has been portrayed repeatedly by Trump as backroom deal to get “Crooked Hillary” off the hook for a charge of criminal gross negligence and (2) Lynch had already stated that she would follow the recommendations of the FBI report on the email scandal.

Trump lost no time in the campaign to claim this meeting showed deep corruption in the FBI and the Department of Justice.    Trump tweeted immediately after the tarmac meeting:

Take a look at what happened w/ Bill Clinton. The system is totally rigged. Does anybody really believe that meeting was just a coincidence?

As Bernie Sanders said, Hillary Clinton has bad judgement. Bill’s meeting was probably initiated and demanded by Hillary!

So, the Trump absurd version of events, is that Hillary Clinton, although out of the Obama administration for 3 years, could still demand a meeting between Loretta Lynch and her husband.

Trump took the collusion/conspiracy theory one step further, claiming there was proof that the elite media was part of a broader cover up in Aug 2017:

E-mails show that the Amazon Washington Post and the Failing New York Times were reluctant to cover the Clinton/Lynch secret meeting in plane

The emails that Trump refers to,  are requests for information from the Washington Post and New York Times to the DOJ.   Of course, the DOJ doesn’t respond.   To get information, it’s important to downplay its importance, as “just want to clear up a few loose ends.”   These tricks, I don’t think work.

Error #3, the letter to Congress on October 28, 2016 certainly  helped Trump win the election.   Emails from Clinton’s private server were found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.   Now, for those that enjoy conspiracy theories (like Trump) this was solid gold.   From Wikipedia:

Law enforcement officials stated while investigating allegedly illicit text messages from Anthony Weiner husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina, they discovered emails related to Clinton’s private server on a laptop computer belonging to Weiner. On November 6, Comey notified Congress that the FBI had not changed its conclusion reached in July. The notification was later cited by Clinton as a factor in her loss in the 2016 presidential election.

Comey defended his actions, stating he had promised Congress that he would advise them if they found any new evidence, that warranted the re-opening of the case.

Rosenstein correctly states that other past Attorney Generals had similar criticisms of Comey, including Eric Holder, AG under Obama.   Holder begins his criticism with Error #3, and not to announce an investigation of a candidate to congress  just prior to an election.

I have a lot of respect for legal professionals.  They usually craft their arguments well.  This is why I believe the letter was edited to support the case of firing Comey.

Comey likely made it easier for Trump to win.   Trump, not Comey,  is diminishing respect for the DOJ,  FBI and other institutions, such as the free press.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

The Atlantic:  Rosenstein’s Case Against Comey, Annotated

Newsweek: Trump’s comments on the tarmac meeting

TRUMP: Hillary ‘probably’ demanded controversial meeting between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch

Wikipedia:  Hillary Clinton’s email scandal

 

Trump’s disastrous trip to France

This is the Aisne-Marne Cemetery, which Trump did not visit on his trip to France due to rain.   John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff, and  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joe Dunford attended in his place.

The cemetery lies 55 miles from Paris.   President Macron and Chancellor Merkel were there in the rain.   US forces suffered 9,700 casualties there in World War I.   The occasion was the 100th year anniversary of the end of World War I.   Neither Pence nor Trump visited Arlington Cemetery on  Veteran’s Day on November 11.   Other cabinet officials attended the ceremonies there.

In sum, a horrible Veteran’s day all around, for a President who talks like he is the greatest defender of our military forces.   The day following the cancelled cemetery visit,  Trump visited the American cemetery in Paris, but complained about the lack of reporting.   Wow!   What was he expecting?  A Trump rally in Paris.

Trump’s trips are becoming a national embarrassment.   The only times he seems to excel is at Trump rallies.  The  desk plaque with the words “just let it go”  or at least “back off” might be appropriate.   He seems rather to intensify and expand his attacks to include Macron’s approval rating and French wine.  It all seemed a familiar tactic to change the subject.

His tweet storm against Macron are quite silly and petty.   Macron was elected by 66% of the voters in France, while Trump lost the popular vote.  In September 2018, polls showed Macron’s popularity has plummeted, so Trump’s tweet is correct, with Macron’s popularity far below Trump’s, in the range of 19 to 25%.  However, approximately 20% were undecided.   A recently proposed  program to help the poor in France will likely help Macron’s popularity.

Well, Macron started it!

What set Trump off on his first attack Tweet, as an interview that Macron gave, when he tweeted:

Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the US, China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two – How did that work out for France?”

Nope.  Macron said that they have to defend themselves against cyber attacks,  from other countries.  However, in later speeches, Macron did discuss a  European military force,  an obvious push back to Trump’s threats to pull out of NATO, because the other countries are not paying their fair share.   Merkel has been supportive of a European military force.

Bottom line

This was supposed to be a commemoration of heroic events as lead by American forces making the ultimate sacrifice.  Trump complains about the reporting (television coverage) and cancels his cemetery visit.

I asked a close German friend if anyone in Germany likes Trump, and his response was a simple, “No.” Winston Churchill’s grandson, I think really nailed it, with one word, “pathetic.”

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia: The Battle for Belleau Woods

It takes enormous bravery to fight and die as these Americans did on French soil.

Trump Trip to Pay Tribute to U.S. Fallen Canceled in French Rain

The French Local: Trump trolls Macron over approval ratings, unemployment, the Nazi occupation and wine

Macron Fails to Convince Four-Fifths of French, Poll Shows (Sept 2018 poll)

 

 

Bolsonaro: International cooperative agreements (Part 1)

I will provide both English and Portuguese versions of these two  blogs.    The translations were done by Google and likely contain errors.   I would strongly recommend the two links listed below.

In about 10 days,  Brazilians will go to the poll and elect either Jair Bolsonaro or  Fernando Haddad.   I fear Bolsonaro will follow down the same path of Donald Trump,  as a destroyer of international cooperative agreements.    I fear Brazilians do not fully understand the vital role their country plays in global warming and the absolute necessity for aggressive governmental policies to protect  the Amazon.

Because of Donald Trump’s terrible record on environmental protection, I hope my country can find a new leader in year 2020.   Donald Trump never apologizes for his misguided policies.  He lies constantly, and exaggerates their success.

The US in the last century endured starvation in the 1930’s during an economic depression  and then a horrific world war,  where 60 million people around the world died.   This was my parent’s world.  From the ashes of  war, came a new cooperative international spirit,   which is best exemplified by the creation of the United Nations.   Trump has weaken the UN.  Bolsonaro will follow Trump.

The UN was designed to settle disputes among nations.   One of the greatest achievements of the UN was the ratification of the Iran Nuclear Pact,  which subjected the country of Iran to thorough inspections of its facilities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.    The US will soon be in direct violation of this agreement.

The UN Paris Climate Accord was a major breakthrough in international recognition on global warming as a threat to our planet.    Brazil is a vital partner in halting the deforestation of the Amazon.   It shares this responsibility with Peru,  Columbia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

Jair Bolsonaro has little interest in building the bonds of cooperation, and working through the UN in this effort.  Per the New York  Times:

In the Amazon, illegal loggers, miners, land-grabbers, as well as large land owners have rallied to his banner. Here, they don’t expect Bolsonaro to enforce the law. On the contrary, the hope is that he fulfils his promise to obliterate nearly all environment and pro-indigenous legislation. He won massive support in rural central western states and all but one Amazonian state.

In August, Bolsonaro raised  concerns internationally when he pledged to join Trump’s US and withdraw Brazil from the Paris agreement. That means the country would no longer be committed to curb its emissions from the deforestation of the Amazon, which is here a bigger source of greenhouse gas than the burning of fossil fuels.

Brazil can of course still insist that the US auto emissions are to blame, or India’s burning of coal.  In the end,  global warming is disastrous for the entire planet, just as World War 2 was.    We are one planet.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/09/brazils-bolsonaro-would-unleash-a-war-on-the-environment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jair_Bolsonaro

Carla

No I am not talking about the next hurricane. It really wouldn’t make sense because they go in alphabetical order.  I an talking about the avocado named Carla.  Oh gee, that Carla.  And it hasn’t got a thing to do about the movie, “Fish called Wanda”, starring John Cleese (wrote the screenplay), Jaime Lee Curtis, and Kevin Kline.   I’ll  add, as a completely unnecessary politically charged aside,  Cleese described Donald Trump in 2016 as, “a narcissist, with no attention span, who doesn’t have clear ideas about anything and makes it all up as he goes along” for the sole purpose of gaining some attention to the topic of avocados.  I suspect this sums up just about everything said about Trump in a slew of books including Woodward’s Fear,  Omarosa’s Unhinged, and Johnston’s It’s worse than you think, none of which I’ve read.

Now, after that bizarre tangent,  I return to the topic,  avocado named Carla.  Big,  light green smooth skin avocado are grown in Florida.  They are sold in the US and around the world.   Carla is one variety.   The avocados grown in California, are Hass varieties,  and are smaller, bumpy  dark green skinned ones.   Rudolf Hass patented this variety and the original tree that produced the Hass variety still stands in La Habra Heights, California.

Now, Carla is a patented variety, and the allegation is another grower is illegally making copies of this variety:

Agroindustria Ocoeña, the Dominican company that holds a U.S. patent for the Carla, is suing a Miami produce distributor, Fresh Directions International, claiming that it is illegally selling Carlas in South Florida from another grower. They aren’t knock-off avocados either, the lawsuit argues. DNA tests show they are virtual Carla clones, which the suit suggests can mean only a grifted graft — somebody pruned and pilfered Carla tree branches to recreate their own orchard.

Growers routinely graft. It means growing one variety to provide the roots and initial trunk of the tree (rootstock) and then taking a cutting from another variety (scion wood) and attaching (grafting) it on to create a nearly identical plant.   It is both a science and art, which has been in practice for at least 4,000 years in China.  See last link.    Avocados can be easily grown from seed, but to obtain consistent trees, with high yields, and disease resistance,  only grafted plants are sold from nurseries, at least in Florida.

The single tree that produced the first Carla avocados was discovered by Carlos Antonio Castillo Pimentel in 1994 in his orchard in the Ocoa River Valley. The Miami Herald article then goes on to say that they don’t know why it is called “Carla”  yet I think if it was pure marketing,  as a tasty Carla is better than a tasty Carlos.  Is this sexist?

Now, just looking at a tree, it would be really tough to know what variety was used as the scion wood.   But the crux of the Miami case against Fresh Directions, will be that DNA testing of the fruit can prove that they are growing the Carla variety.    Of course, the lawyers in Miami had to go into the supermarkets and buy a lot of avocados for testing.   And afterwards I guess you don’t have to preserve the evidence except a small sample, as the Miami Herald article quotes one of them as saying, “We ended up eating a lot of guacamole.”

I think the Carla’s will continued to be sold, whether they are legal or illegal from the perspective of the patent owner.  I think it’s all about collecting royalties, which the courts will decide.  It may be tough to collect if the company is headquartered in the Dominican Republic.  The patent was filed in 2006 and is for 15 years.   For everyone’s benefit, an out of court agreement might be best.

Avocados are super foods.   They make terrific smoothies,  particularly with bananas and mango juice.   See recipe at end.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Is your avocado an illegal clone? Grower sues Miami competitor over trendy hot-seller

M&S launches the giant ‘Carla’ avocado that is FIVE times bigger and weighs 1kg

Hass or Haas Avocados 

Grafting and Budding Nursery Crop Plants

https://food52.com/recipes/22704-green-smoothie-with-avocado

 

Secret diplomacy

Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin met in private in Helsinki on Monday for little over two hours.   There are those in the media and in Congress who think they have a right to know what was discussed.   Perhaps the translator took notes?  I find this absurd.   There is an absolute need to keep  sensitive diplomatic discussions private.   Congress leaks information, and they seem immune to prosecution.   Congress wanted all kinds of information after the Iran deal was completed.   I remember one Republican congressman asking John Kerry if he used his cell phone to send text messages.  Republicans  went totally nuts on Benghazi,  and deleted personal emails   They hold closed door sessions to protect confidentiality, then immediately following the interview, publicly  smear the person who testified.   Last victim was Lisa Page.

Private is private.  Democrats need to act like adults in the room.

I am working on a bit longer piece on the Helsinki disaster.   Just thought I’d get this one out first.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Peter Strzok – You’re it

I notice that when people have some trash to get rid of, they tend to dump it somewhere where there is already a lot of trash.  I think Mr. Jeffries got it right:

“There is a criminal investigation into the Trump campaign and possible crimes related to the 2016 presidential election involving collusion with Russian spies to sell out our democracy and hijack the presidency,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York. “My colleagues in the cover-up caucus don’t like that criminal investigation, and therefore, they need to identify a villain. Mr. Strzok, tag, you’re it.”

There about 1,000 summaries of the hearing on the internet, but I still like Mr. Jeffries the best.

Stay tuned,

Dave