The Kupperman case

Dr. Kupperman is a private citizen.  He was briefly the National Security Adviser, after John Bolton was abruptly fired.  He has been subpoened to appear at the impeachment inquiry on Monday.  His testimony is important to the Ukraine scandal.  He has been notified by the White House that he should not testify, because he has “Constitutional Immunity,”  the impeachment inquiry is illegal and  his testimony could harm the national security.    His attorney has filed in Federal court, stating that he is unable to comply with both the subpoena and the request from the White House, not to testify.   I guess he has the option of appearing and refusing to answer the questions.

Adam Schiff has responded as follows (Politico):

Democrats, though, cited Howell’s ruling in a Saturday letter to Kupperman blasting his decision to turn to the courts, which they claimed was done in coordination with the White House.

“Dr. Kupperman’s lawsuit—lacking in legal merit and apparently coordinated with the White House—is an obvious and desperate tactic by the President to delay and obstruct the lawful constitutional functions of Congress and conceal evidence about his conduct from the impeachment inquiry,” wrote Reps. Adam Schiff, Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney, the three chairs leading the impeachment inquiry.

“Notwithstanding this attempted obstruction, the duly authorized subpoena remains in full force and Dr. Kupperman remains legally obligated to appear for the deposition on Monday.”

“The deposition will begin on time and, should your client defy the subpoena, his absence will constitute evidence that may be used against him in a contempt proceeding,” they added.

What Schiff is saying makes sense.   The White House can suggest but not demand that Dr. Kupperman not appear and this would be an act of civil disobedience.  We’ll know on Monday what will happen.  Being it is a closed door deposition, it stands to reason that any information that could harm the national security would not be released to the public.  I think Schiff recognizes that there will be a number of  contempt of Congress proceedings, which could bog down the inquiry.  There are many other subpoenas related to documents, which are in non-compliance.  These requests were made to Mike Esper, Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pence.  The list of subpoenas will grow.   I hope Dr. Kupperman appears on Monday as it will be harder for John Bolton to avoid his subpoena.

See my new page on the impeachment inquiry documents.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/25/charles-kupperman-bolton-impeachment-058254

Another Brick in the Wall

The Trump administration lost badly in the District Circuit Court of Washington, D.C. on obtaining the redacted portions of the Mueller Report on grounds that it related to Grand Jury testimony.   The DOJ argued that the impeachment inquiry was illegal.  The judge issued a scathing opinion, ordering the Justice Department to comply with the Subpoena from the House inquiry as follows:

“Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry,” Howell wrote.

The DOJ will appeal the ruling.    Judge Howell has legitimize the impeachment inquiry and given it powers reserved for the judicial branch.   The DOJ knows that if the appellate court rules against them, this will set a precedent and make it much easier to get compliance on a subpoena.  The ruling elevates the inquiry  beyond normal Congressional investigations, giving subpoenas the same weight as in court cases.  Judge Howell states:

“(A)n impeachment trial is an exercise of judicial power,” Howell wrote. “Contrary to (the Justice Department’s) position — and as historical practice, the Federalist Papers, the text of the Constitution, and Supreme Court precedent all make clear — impeachment trials are judicial in nature and constitute judicial proceedings.”

What happens when subpoena are ignored?  It is rare, but there is precedent when Attorney General Eric Holder defied an subpoena from Congress.  Holder was found in Contempt of Congress in June 2012 for refusal to turn over documents in regards to the Fast and Furious scandal.  The documents were sought to show Holder had knowledge of the program earlier than what he stated in his testimony.   Presidential Candidate Rick Perry called on Holder to resign.   The Obama administration and the Department of Justice declined to prosecute citing executive privilege.  (see links)

However, Howell’s ruling, if allowed to stand, makes the subpoena battle between the Executive and Judiciary branches.  so the Holder precedent doesn’t apply.   The Watergate tape case seems applicable, and when the Supreme Court ruled against Nixon, he complied.

What House Majority leader, Nancy Pelosi move in structuring the inquiry is brilliant.  Keep the committee chairmen out of the limelight and allow the depositions to go forward as quickly as possible  with 3 committees meeting together.  This means a group of 100 representatives, nearly a quarter of all representatives in Congress.

Intelligence – Chaired by Adam Schiff
Foreign Affairs – Chaired by Eliot Engel
Oversight and Reform – Carolyn Maloney (currently acting chair due to the passing of Elijah Cummings).

According to Wikipedia, “The Intelligence Committee will focus on the contents of the whistleblower complaint and whether the complaint may have been wrongfully hidden from Congress, while the Foreign Affairs Committee will focus on interactions the State Department may have had with the President’s personal attorney Giuliani, and the Oversight and Reform Committee will investigate whether White House classification systems were used to secure potentially damaging records of phone calls between the President and leaders of various countries around the world.”

To help with compliance of the subpoenas,  the depositions to date have been taken in closed door sessions.  What he has not done, is to exclude all Republican members (47 in total) from participating in the sessions.  Of course, without the media coverage, I’m certain many pass on this opportunity.

How much more is there to the inquiry?  Good question.  There are a total of 51 requests and subpoenas, of which 11 individuals have testified.  So, on this basis, we have a long ways to go.   There’s a lot of good links summarizing what has taken place.  I will begin a special web page for the documents related to the impeachment.  For a running unbiased summary, I particularly like Wikipedia.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

howell ruling (pdf file) 75 pages

Wikipedia:  Impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump 

Judge says impeachment inquiry is legal and justifies disclosing grand jury material

Trump impeachment tracker: Following all the action in Congress

Pompeo subpoenaed by House committees for failure to produce Ukraine documents

Key Witness in Impeachment Inquiry Asks Federal Court to Rule Over Testifying

Mr, Charles Kupperman’s case is interesting because he is really trying to know whether “Constitutional Immunity” exists before disregarding a subpoena.   My guess is the Federal Court will not help out Mr. Kupperman, because there is no case (violation of law)  in front of them.   They may wait until the “Don McGahn case” (he refused to testify) is resolved.   A lot of gears in motion!

Wikipedia Contempt of Congress

Wikipedia Eric Holder

New York Times:  Subpoenas and Requests

White House Letter:  Advising Laura Cooper not to testify:

white house blocking testimony

 

What happens next in the Impeachment process

There is little doubt in my mind, that the evidence is strong enough to impeach Trump.   Ambassador Taylor provided more details on the what the Ukrainian President had to deliver before receiving 391 million dollars in aid.  He had to announce in public that an investigation into Biden’s son prior work in Ukraine  was being undertaken.   This would be linked to Vice President Biden efforts to get the Ukrainian Chief Prosecutor fired.

Trump will lose in the House.  I predict a vote taken in the House in late December or early January.  Then the matter goes to the Senate.  A vote along party lines  mean that Trump will win.  How can Republicans vote to find Trump innocent can be answered in several ways.  First, that this deal never went through.   The Ukrainian President never announced an investigation of any kind.   Second,  people like Ambassador Taylor was not in constant contact with the President, and at any time Trump could change his mind.   Finally, the charges against him (Articles of Impeachment) do not rise to the level of misconduct to send Trump packing.

At present, the Republicans are arguing that the impeachment inquiry is illegal because the House has not passed a resolution to begin the inquiry.   It doesn’t need to.  The inquiry is legal.  The Fox News has yet to present on legal scholar which will say otherwise.  The inquiry can take place behind closed doors.  Both Republicans and Democrats take part in the questioning.

So, what is the final outcome?  I believe Trump will not be found guilty by a 2/3 vote and will immediately claim victory.  Maybe I’m wrong,    We shall see.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

The gift Trump retrieved from Adam Schiff

It was a bizarre few days.  The G-7 meeting wouldn’t be at the Doral Country Resort. The change occurred 48 hours after the announcement was made.  Mike Mulvaney made the announcement at a White House briefing with reporters, which was a nightmare for the Trump administration. because in response to journalists’ questions, he admitted that 400 million dollars in military aid had been withheld, pending an investigation into the Bidens.   I’m certain Adam Schiff could not believe his luck that day.

Trump’s Doral Resort is doing badly by many accounts (see link at bottom).  Some reports say that revenues are off 60%.  The G-7 meeting was to be held in June, after the beginning of hurricane season.  Attendees from around the world better bring a lot of bug spray.

The White House media contacts had to be going nuts, trying to defend his decision to host the meeting there, as the only suitable location in the US  and then backtrack 48 hours later.

Trump was already being sued for violating the emolument clause of the US Constitution with his hotel in Washington and an active impeachment inquiry was proceeding in Congress.  Obviously, the impeachment inquiry had been revitalized by the Ukraine-Biden Dirt scandal.    Who in their right mind would do this?

Trump’s tweet, “… Therefore, based on both Media and Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami as the host site of the G-7 in 2020. ”

Note, it was the Media this time, not the “Fake News, Liberal Media and the failing New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, etc”  that was to blame.

Maybe, just maybe Trump tuned into Fox News, and heard their legal analyst, Judge Napolitano statement, “This is about a direct and profound a violation of the emoluments clause as one could create.”  Napolitano was being interviewed by Neil Cavuto, who added that the Trump Doral Resort had been “severely underperforming” for years.   Napolitano told Cavuto that emoluments are cash payments and Trump’s stock ownership into two corporations, one that owns the resort and another that provides management services, would create the legal issues.  He predicted a third emolument lawsuit would arise in Florida.

I don’t think Trump has any respect for Democrats or most of the commentators on social media.  He can insult them all he wants. His supporters like that.   How he thought he could get away with this, still amazes me.  As reported, he tends to listen only to people who agree with him.   What forced his hand ultimately, I believe,  is the realization that this action was going to be a key impeachable offense as well as a legal nightmare.  On top of that, the fact that the Resort was in decline, was an added publicity mess.  That’s why we have Congressional oversight, an independent judiciary and free speech – to hold a President accountable.

One final note- Donald Trump never takes responsibility for ill considered decision like this one.   Latest report is that they are looking for a replacement for White House Chief of Staff, Mike Mulvaney, a terribly thankless job.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Fox News: Judge Napolitano: Hosting G7 at Trump Doral is a violation of Emoluments Clause

Trump lies constantly

Who would go to a rally where Trump lies constantly?    I mean at his Texas rally, it was one lie every 3 to 4 minutes, for a total of 26 in 87 minutes.  And yet they were cheering all this rubbish.

Here’s a few whoppers:

Trump conflated his accusations against former Vice President Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden — railing against Hunter Biden’s business dealings, then saying that Joe Biden “takes a billion-five” from China and “allows China to rip us off.” He added, “So the Bidens got rich while America got robbed.”
Facts First: There is no evidence Joe Biden has received large sums of money from China or has otherwise gained wealth as a result of his son’s business dealings abroad.
Trump has previously made the “billion-five” accusation against Hunter Biden. While a conservative author has used this figure, it has not been proven. A lawyer for Hunter Biden, George Mesires, says the investment company in which Hunter Biden has an equity stake was capitalized with a total of about $4.2 million at today’s exchange rates, “not $1.5 billion.” Even this investment was not a direct payment to Hunter Biden; Hunter Biden holds a 10% stake in the firm, Mesires says, and has not made a profit to date.

Trump said again that the whistleblower who complained about his dealings with Ukraine “got it all wrong.”
Facts First: The whistleblower’s account of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was highly accurate — as the rough transcript released by the White House confirms.

Trump: Vowing to end the AIDS epidemic in the US within a decade, Trump said the Obama administration spent “no money on that.”
Facts First: The Obama administration spent $10.8 billion on domestic HIV/AIDS research between the 2013 fiscal year and 2016 fiscal year alone, according to a review by the Kaiser Family Foundation, and $85.1 billion more on domestic HIV/AIDS care, housing and prevention programs in those four years. It also spent $26 billion on international HIV/AIDS initiatives of various kinds over the same time period.

Trump said again that his tariffs on imported Chinese products have “cost us nothing,” claiming China has “eaten” the cost.
Facts First: A bevy of economic studies have found that Americans are bearing the overwhelming majority of the tariff costs, and Americans make the actual tariff payments.
Trump repeated his promise to “always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.”
Facts First: The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have repeatedly put forward bills and filed lawsuits that would weaken Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Trump is currently supporting a Republican lawsuit that is seeking to declare all of Obamacare void. He has not issued a plan to reinstate the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions if the suit succeeds.
Each of these were lies I caught easily.  These false statements related to some pretty important issues – the impeachment inquiry, AIDS epidemic, trade war with China, and Trump’s alternative to Obamacare,  I go back to the quote from the late Senator Moynihan:  “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”
Links:

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:

 

 

 

 

 

Still against impeaching Trump

If you are a Democrat, you’re supposed to be wildly enthusiastic about impeaching Trump and if you’re a Republican, you call it a coup.  So call me a Republican, who cares! I don’t support impeaching Trump.  I support letting the voters decide in November 2020.

Impeachment will end  badly with the Senate voting down every article of impeachment, and Trump will declare he prevented an illegal coup.  This is the hard cold reality of impeachment.  The two times in our nation’s history that the Senate has voted on articles of impeachment, it has been in a highly partisan manner, No president has ever been thrown out of office by impeachment.  Nixon resign, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson both won.    There just are not enough Republicans in the Senate that will vote to convict.

Secondly, a recent article in the Washington Post (yes, the Washington Post that Trump hates)  makes excellent arguments why there really is no legal obligation for Congress to impeach a president for what they consider impeachable offenses.  It is really time some members of Congress get off their high horse, and see that impeachment is a radical solution, overturning the results of an election.  The US Constitution only states that our Congress has the sole authority to impeach elected officials for high crimes and misdemeanors and conviction means they are removed from office.

Congress need not vote to impeach.  They can stop after the inquiry, and simply say for the good of the country,  let Trump complete his last 6 months in office, in deference to the electorate that put him there.    Congress is not a law enforcement agency, but should act in what is best for the country.     Further, the trial of impeachment is not a fair trial with an unbiased jury.  It is just the opposite, a highly emotional and partisan trial.  Every American has the right to a fair trial except the President in the removal of office.  The question will be not whether Trump actions  were wrong,  but whether they rise to the level of impeachable offenses?

The inquiry will get bogged down with a long list of subpoenas and nuances about who said what.  It is going to be difficult to have a simple clear summary of the offenses.   Trump will claim that the Democrats are inventing their own facts and  grandstanding.     Sure,  there are important  questions here related to the Mueller report and  the whistleblower scandal.  At the end of the day,   Democrats will cry guilty on all accounts, and Republicans will cry innocent.   Trump has recently added to his international dirt finding mission, by enlisting Australia and China’s help.  Yes, things are getting nutsy at the White House as Trump tries to the old “distract and deflect” tactics over his reckless actions.   One commentator opined that Trump is trying to normalize recklessness and hubris.

If I were in Congress, I wouldn’t support impeachment.   Impeachment means months will be wasted ignoring very important issues:  climate change, China trade wars,  the stalled out talks with North Korea, and the worsening relations with Iran, potentially putting them back on to developing nuclear weapons.   Domestic issues are important and our immigration problems are not solved just by wll construction.   Yes, I’d like elections to be called right now, but this isn’t Britain.

I have no confidence in Trump and want voters to show him the door in November 2020.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

.

Trump’s new occupation – Farming

Actually, he’s been at it for a long time.  Trump loves “dirt” and somehow I really believe he thinks it puts him out in front of the others.   He uses a blended mix, some actual facts mixed in with pure cow manure.  He connects up with experts in this area, who know how to concoct a good story and spread it on social media.   Trump did not write “Clinton Cash”  a book  filled with false accusations against Bill and Hillary Clinton, but he quickly connected with those involved, including Steve Bannon.

Trump has crossed the line between legitimate accusations and complete fabrication so many times,  he just doesn’t see the line anymore.    If you want to see a pattern of behavior that is so ingrained in Trump, you have to go back to his failed Taj Mahal casino, where he not only blasted a financial analyst who said his hotel was in trouble, but Trump was actually able to get the analyst fired from Barrons.  In this case, the story does have a happy ending, as the casino failed just as the analyst predicted, because revenues came up short during New Jersey’s winter months, and the analyst sued his investment firm and won.  I wrote about this in a two part blog, “I’ll see you in court”   See link

He needs help on his farm.  Sean Hannity, a commentator with Fox News is one hand who is so predictable and loyal to him.    “Sean, throw dirt on ___” and Sean will do it.  Lou Dobbs is another one.   The dirt farm bankers are the Koch brothers and Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire hedge fund manager, Robert Mercer.   Rebekah gets her way because she’s got so much ready cash.   She’s on the board of the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organizations.  The Mercers contributed 25 million dollars to Trump’s campaign, in 2016.   Trump aided by Steve Bannon was lambasting Hillary’s connections to wealthy elites, and Trump as an independent with a self funded campaign.  This was a joke.

Need more support for the dirt farm?  Got money  and we’ve got the time,  Ready and willing conspiracy inventors includes Peter Schweizer, who is a master in world wide conspiracy theories.   It used to “all about Bill” or the Clinton Foundation.   I haven’t  read any of his books because from all serious writers, they are filled with unsubstantiated accusations. For 3 years, we’ve had a Department of Justice, CIA and FBI, all run by Trump nominees.   Yet,  no indictments.  The person leading the “Lock her up” chants at the Republican Convention, Michael Flynn went to jail.   He’s since is trying to get into the Republican conspiracy racket.

A lot of investigations are started with little information.   But, at some point, prosecutors at either the state of federal level, have to decide whether a crime been committed.   Now, the right wing conspiracy promoters were forever saying there was a massive coverup, because  Obama’s DOJ was not charging either Bill or Hillary Clinton with anything criminal.   Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs had  already concluded there was enough on them that any half wit prosecutor could come and haul them to jail.   Trump gave the impression he would and for the last 3 years, the FBI, CIA and the Department of Justice did not charge the Clintons or anyone associated with the Clinton Foundation.  Note that the Department of Justice employs 11,000 lawyers.

In preparation for the 2020 election,  Trump has extended his search for dirt to the Ukraine, Australia and China.  I’ll have to do each of the dirt expeditions later.   It does remind one of the McCarthy era, where there were communist agents hiding our FBI, State Department  and finally the Army.   Joseph Welch, representing the Army finally let him have it, after McCarthy

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”  Welch asked, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?” 

Why do commentators like Sean Hannity continue to be Donald Trump’s messenger boy?  Because it’s great money.  Sean makes approximately 36 million  dollars a year.   This stuff really pays!  Remember, that Trump  loved to talk about draining the swamp.  Well the swamp is huge now.

So,  even after allegations are found to be shot full of holes by real investigative  journalists, the myths live on in their own little world.   And stations like Fox News really don’t care.  That’s the real tragedy.

The conspiracy theories tend to morph themselves into huge cover-up fantasies.  The Hillary email scandal “cover-up” now extends over both Democratic and Republican administrations and now, via Trump’s call, extends to a potential hidden server in the Ukraine.  Pure tabloid trash.  It’s the only way for advocates to keep the story alive without admitting that it was a myth.    I call it the hot air balloon effect.  To keep a hot air balloon rising, it must be constantly fed more hot air.   Conspiracy theorists like to link a lot of myths together, which include FBI and CIA covering up crimes, in  smokey back rooms, to mislead people the directors of their respective agencies (which happen to be Trump appointees) in the fantasized “Deep State.”  I guess now the Deep State extends to the Ukraine, China and Australia.  Where to next?

Hot air balloons tend to use up all their fuel eventually.

I think the farm has enough cow made fertilizer to last for the next 15 months.

Dave

Links:

Feds say Michael Flynn is pushing conspiracy theories in bid to hinder case

“Have you no sense of decency?” Sen. Joseph McCarthy is asked in hearing

Wikipedia- Sean Hannity 

-Sean’s latest target is Adam Schiff, which seems to involve mostly name calling.

 

I want it all, I want it now!

Wonderful lyrics from Queen + Adam Lambert, which was the closing act of the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park, New York City.  Really powerful.

Even Donald Trump would like the lyrics, but with a slight change:

“I want all the credit, and none of the blame”

The stock market goes up, it is an affirmation of his good work and in defiance of all the naysayers from the left.

The stock market goes down, it can’t be the trade war with China.  Has to be the misguided Federal Reserve.

So it goes.  And Trump often takes credit for things he didn’t do.

I’m certain that’s not the meaning of these lyrics.  Wanting all from life, and not waiting for things to happen are the right messages.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Trump’s impeachment

Do I dare go there?  There is some excellent coverage already, and I just can’t see adding much.  I believe this scenario:  House will vote in favor of impeachment.  Trump and his supporters will immediately claim they did because they knew that they’ll never win at the polls in 2020, and will stop at nothing to throw him out.   The Senate will fail to get the 2/3 needed and the rest is history.

I’ll let others figure out how this affects Trump’s popularity.   So far Gallup polls don’t show much change up or down.  I would like the time spent discussing other important issues.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

 

African News and Tabloid News

I lived and worked in Angola during the 1980’s.  The media (newspapers, television and radio) were controlled by the government,  Television’s lead story was how successful the government leaders were in areas of health, housing, job creation, and many other social areas.  Medical care for most Angolans was horrible.  Nobody really believed it.  I’ll call it African news, but it is probably a terrible label, as state controlled media exists in every continent.

Then there is the tabloid news.  Fox News is probably the worse as they allow guests on who generally see large looming conspiracies.   The “Deep State” is total nonsense.    It is based on the idea of some “Obama loyalists” inside the Justice Department, FBI,  and the intelligence community, all plotting (currently and in the past) against Donald Trump.   What is true, is the people Donald Trump fired, and really wants prosecuted for anything have not, because they didn’t do anything illegal.  This includes James Comey and Andrew McCabe, who served as the Director of the FBI and Acting Director.  Similarly with FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose name comes up constantly as part of the deep conspiracy,  Not only have McCabe and Strzok not charged with anything criminal, they are suing the government because they were forced out for political reasons.

If Fox News wants a guest to slam opponents hard and go on about deep state conspiracy stuff, they call up Attorney Joe diGenova who recently said on the Laura Ingraham’s (Fox News) podcast:

JOE DIGENOVA (GUEST): We are in a civil war in this country. There’s two standards of justice, one for Democrats one for Republicans. The press is all Democrat, all liberal, all progressive, all left – they hate Republicans, they hate Trump. So the suggestion that there’s ever going to be civil discourse in this country for the foreseeable future in this country is over. It’s not going to be. It’s going to be total war. And as I say to my friends, I do two things – I vote and I buy guns.

This is the lawyer that Trump wanted as his personal lawyer, but due to a conflict of interest, never was hired.   Fox News should have banned diGenova, but it looks like they are using him more and more. I guess it helps their ratings.  It is a short step from “buy guns” to “use guns” because everything (government/the media) is now controlled by evil democrats.

Good news is comprehensive reporting from journalists around the world.  It comes from investigation.   Today’s New York Times just arrived, and of course the headline story was the  whistle-blower/Ukraine  scandal.  And I’m sure they will be doing their best to get to the facts straight, not just repeat what Trump has said.  This is not African news, nor Tabloid news, it is solid and credible reporting and it’s what I want to pay for and what I spend my time reading.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Frequent Fox News guest tells Laura Ingraham “we are in a civil war;” suggests everyone buy guns to prepare for “total war”

Behind the Whistle-Blower Case, a Long-Held Trump Grudge Toward Ukraine 

 

Saudi Arabia attack – Who do you trust?

“Half of Saudi oil production wiped out” was the headliner.   I predicted that Saudi Arabia had shut down a lot of their processing and storage facilities simply as a precaution while inspections were underway.  Saudi Arabia yesterday announced that 70% of their production was restored.  They are able to maintained contracted tanker liftings using their reserve oil.  WTI oil prices are around $58/bbl, about what they were before the attack.

The question still remains, as to whether the Houthis or the Iranians were behind the attack.   I don’t know.   Our President is a non-stop liar.    According to politifact.com,  69% of the 720 statements he has made were in the category of Mostly false, false or pants on fire.   Only 4% of his statements were true.

If you work with Donald Trump,  then you have to toe the line, and you better find a way to support him, or you will be out the door in a second.   So, I guess the question keeps coming around, who do you believe?

Not Trump nor Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.  And that doesn’t leave me believing the Iranians either.   I believe more in that the drones or any missiles were not sent from Iran, because it is not in Iran’s national interest to provoke a war with the Saudi’s.     But, there are a number of UN inspectors, which I feel will be far more impartial.

It definitely was the crisis that wasn’t.  The petroleum industry including  oil rigs, processing and export facilities, refineries and petrochemical plants are all vulnerable to drone attacks.  They were before the attack, but the public awareness wasn’t there.

It is easy to accuse Iran, but as I said, it just doesn’t make any sense they would provoke a war with the Saudis.  Of course, the Houthis are completely different.   They are already at war with Saudi Arabia.

 

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Links:

https://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/

 

 

 

 

The loss of our “soft power”

I just felt that the transcript of Fareed Zakaria’s My Take  fit so well within the last blog on the Saudi attack.   Fareed looks at all the crises:  North Korea Disarmament talks, China Trade war,  Israel – Palestine conflict,  Afghanistan disengagement and talks with the Taliban,  and concludes Trump has failed badly,  because he isn’t a good negotiator.

But he held out some hope for a US-Iran deal, something which would allow the Iran nuclear deal from unraveling.  Fareed’s piece was likely concluded just prior to the drone attack on Saudi Arabia.   The US now threatens to bomb Iran, in part because that’s what the Saudi’s would like.   Now,  none of these conflicts are new, except the hostilities between the US and Iran.  This occurred because Trump and the Republican party waged war against the Iranian nuclear deal.  The China trade wars are new, but the problem of China’s unfair trade practice are not new.

So, bottom line, Trump hasn’t really resolved any of the international conflicts he inherited from Obama, and has added Iran nuclearization to the heap of threats.   I would add climate change as sixth major threat, which Donald Trump has taken a giant step backwards by pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord.   The next president will arrive in 2020 with his or her plate full.

Diplomacy is the art of the compromise.   It is our strength.   It is why the US pushed for international organizations, like the UN, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Commission which is still doing the inspections in Iran, and many others.   It is soft power, and it looks like we are losing it.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

 Trump’s foreign policy is in shambles (Fareed Zakaria)

Soft Power

 

Saudi attack – Part 2

There’s a lot of news and commentary out there.  The big one is how long until the Saudi’s production is restored.  Of course, the damages are still being assessed.  Saudi Arabia will draw from emergency supplies, so for the immediate future, there will be no disruption in tanker liftings. Some production will be restored in days, but it appears to be weeks or months before all the oil production is back.  Oil prices are usually quoted in terms of Brent or West Texas Intermediate (WTI) on the futures market.  As I write this at 6:30 am on Monday, I see WTI at $59.53/bbl up 8.53% when trading began on Sunday.    This is down from $61.14/bbl as of Sunday night.  I’ve included the website oilprice.com in the links for those who like this stuff.   Looking at the chart on WTI, they hit a bottom on Dec 25, 2018 at $42.53/bbl then peaked on April 22, 2019 at $65.55/bbl.   So, this “incredible spike”  is unusual because it occurred on one day, but movements of 10% or more in a couple of months are pretty common.  These are traded futures values of oil, and include the anticipated price changes based on reported inventory levels and geopolitics.   I believe in a month or two,  this event will be buried in the usual fluctuations in crude prices.

Second,  Trump’s reaction is way over the top.  He announced he’s given approval to make withdrawals from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve if needed.    It won’t be necessary.    He’s threatening to retaliate against Iran, which seems ridiculous to me.   Yes, Iran helped arm the Houthis, but around the world, the US helps governments or their enemies, without a second thought.   Libya comes to mind, when we assisted the civil war there in 2011.   Our assistance to insurgents in Syria was very open.

Finally, the comments from Mike Pompeo to blame Iran and not the Houthis, even after they claimed responsibility for the attack, still seems weak.  Others have spoken out.   Senator Rand Paul arguments closely align with my own – see link.  The UN is the right place for presenting everything we know about the attack.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Oilprice.com 

CNN:  Sen Paul: Don’t bomb Iran

CNN: US is ‘locked and loaded’ 

NYT:  Saudi Oil Photos implicate Iran, US Says

Maybe it should state “US thinks” as it is clear the evidence is weak reading through the article,  I guess I’d like to know if cruise missile attack did occur, could it have been seen from satellite photos?  Good article.