Thursday, July 12, 2018

Trump Creating Serious Damage to World Order

Here's an astute observation from my friend Micah Escobedo:

Until Trump leaves office, the United States will remain one of the biggest destabilizing forces to the post-WWII global order. 

He found the following summative quote, which I share with you, from Heather Hurlburt, a Senior Fellow in National Security at Human Rights First:

“Our European allies may keep coming to the summits, politely tolerating his abuse, and even upping their defense spending — but they are getting the message. So are leaders in Moscow, Beijing, and elsewhere. Much more than about NATO, it’s a message that the leader’s personal pique means a great deal — and years or even decades of commitments and partnership may mean very little. That monumental shift in how the U.S. is expected to conduct itself cannot be “cleaned up” — not by Cabinet “adults” or staff, not by a good meeting in London or Helsinki, and definitely not by tweets.”

Monday, June 18, 2018

Immigration "Policy"

What kind of person would take a crying toddler away from its mother and lock it up in a cage? This is morally bankrupt on so many levels. Such people cannot be permitted to lead this nation. Let's do something decisive about this in November.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Election Recommendations

Tomorrow, Tuesday June 5, is primary election day in California. Here are my choices for the ballot. Feel free to consider each position on candidates and propositions as an endorsement. Sometimes there have been more than one good candidate in a race, so don't construe my selections as being "against" any particular candidate. As usual, I will be glued to the election returns tomorrow night. I've already sent in my ballot by mail awhile back, so if you haven't, please vote! Take your ballot in to any polling place in California and it will be counted in your proper precinct.

STATE OFFICES

Governor: Gavin Newsom
Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty Yee
Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond 
Board of Equalization, 4th District: David Dodson
Assembly, 77th District: Sunday Gover

FEDERAL OFFICES
U.S. Senator: Dianne Feinstein
U.S. Representative, 52nd District: Scott Peters

COUNTY AND LOCAL OFFICES
Superior Court Judge, Office No. 28: Herbert J. Exarhos
Superior Court Judge, Office No. 37: Matt Brower
County Board of Education, 5th District: Rick Shea
County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk: Matt Strabone
District Attorney: Genevieve Jones-Wright
Sheriff: Dave Myers
County Treasurer/Tax Collector: Dan McAllister

PROPOSITIONS
68: Yes
69: Yes
70: No
71: Yes
72: Yes

Friday, June 1, 2018

"I Will Speak Out Until Integrity Returns to the White House" by John Brennan

Former CIA Director John Brennan served and had direct personal contact with every president from George H. W. Bush to Barack Obama. He found that though they all had different policy approaches, strengths and weaknesses, they all shared two crucial traits: a basic human decency and a sincere desire to do what they felt was in the best interest of the American people, regardless of the politics involved. Never a partisan, Mr. Brennan was summoned to the White House "several hundred times" to bring intelligence, analysis and advice through many international crises and came to hold "respect, awe and admiration" for all of these men: George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

That makes Mr. Brennan's view of current President Donald Trump all the more important. In an editorial entitled, "I Will Speak Out Until Integrity Returns to the White House," Brennan finds in Trump a "demagogue" who presents a clear and present danger to the United States: a man given to "lying routinely to the American people without compunction," who formulates policy based on how it benefits himself rather than the country, who works to "intentionally fuel divisions in our country" and who attacks the Constitutional institutions established to preserve our democracy when they threaten to expose his misdeeds. Brennan finds these traits and motivations more in common with the "corrupt, incompetent and narcissistic foreign officials" he was often called upon to characterize to past American presidents than to any previous American leader. 

Read John Brennan's piece for yourself for a chilling view from a man of experience as to why this president is a danger to American security and freedom and a blot on an office he is unworthy to hold. 

"I Will Speak Out Until Integrity Returns to the White House" by John Brennan.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Is Real Peace Breaking out in Korea?

What can we look forward to in upcoming dealings with North Korea (officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK)? The first thing to understand is that the main reason the US pays attention to DPRK tyrant Kim Jong-Un is that now he has the atomic bomb, and missiles capable of threatening the US mainland which may at some point be able to carry nuclear warheads. I read today that North Korean diplomats have specifically stated that former Libyan dictator Moammar Khaddafi and former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein NOT having the bomb is what allowed the US to overthrow them. The DPRK dictatorship thus clearly sees their nuclear capabilities as enhancing the survival of their regime.

Therefore the most important question in any negotiations is whether Kim will actually give up the capabilities he now has. I think that's pretty far fetched. But if he will, the next question is, what is his price? His first and most likely achievable demand is the lifting of international sanctions. He will also demand an actual peace treaty formally ending the Korean War, the US and South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea, or ROK) signing a non-aggression pact and recognizing the Kim dynasty as the DPRK's legitimate rulers. If these are the extent of Kim’s demands they are probably attainable. The verification of the liquidation of the North’s nukes, program and plutonium would be major sticking points. It must not be forgotten that the regime has agreed in the past to ending its program but has always reneged.

But will his price also include the withdrawal of US forces from ROK?  The severing of the US-ROK defense treaty? Perhaps even withdrawal of US forces from and ending its defense treaty with Japan? These are all probable DPRK demands, but not plausible US gives in any normal administration. There may be a cosmetic thawing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but the chances of real lasting peace under conditions honestly adhered to by the murderous and tyrannical North Korean regime are, in my view, very small.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Is Mueller Investigation a Witch Hunt?

Regarding some of the latest developments in Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election depredations and the Trump campaign, a friend recently emailed me that his conservative colleagues are saying that mixing in issues with prostitutes means it is "just a witch hunt." He wonders why part of the investigation has turned this way. Why, he asks, rather than focusing like a laser on Russia, which is a real and important thing, is it delving into "sexual silliness."

Here is my reply: 

Some of your conservative friends say the Mueller probe has gone off in error delving into sex issues and is thus a "witch hunt." Not. Mueller is not after that stuff because it’s salacious. He’s after criminality, and he’s after leverage so he can flip witnesses to go after the bigger fish. Think. If campaign money was used to pay hush money, federal crime. Think. Trump’s signature is not on the non-disclosure deal with porn star Stormy Daniels. Trump says he knows nothing about the deal. If both those things are true it's critical that (Trump attorney Michael) Cohen says he paid with his own money. If Cohen committed his client to a deal without telling him, that’s a crime. He can get disbarred. Cohen had a proclivity to record all his conversations. Mueller’s guys just raided to get a hold of those things. What else might be in there? Maybe things that will hang him out to dry. Maybe things incriminating Trump. Or maybe things that incriminate Cohen. As Trump’s personal attorney and fixer for many years what does he know about Trump’s shady or downright illegal doings? If he’s facing prison time what might he be willing to reveal about his boss? The investigation has gotten 5 guilty pleas and 19 additional indictments, including charges against 13 Russian meddlers. That’s no witch hunt. It’s a criminal and intelligence bonanza, and there is more to come. Impress that on your conservative colleagues. Guilty pleas haven’t been secured in witch hunts since the Inquisition.

My friend next asked whether raiding Cohen's papers, recordings and computer records might be a violation of attorney-client privilege. The answer is that no, it is not. The attorney-client confidentiality privilege does not extend to criminal conduct. In order for the FBI to even get such a search warrant it had to convince a federal judge that there is a strong likelihood of exposing criminality by the seizure of such materials. It isn't good news for Cohen-and possibly Trump-that the federal court was convinced that such evidence was likely to be secured.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Surprise: GOP Tax Scam Helps Rich, not Workers

Shocking! New economic analysis shows that the Republican tax bill is producing exactly the results Democrats predicted: massive profits for the corporations, being used for stock buybacks to fatten the accounts of the well-heeled and the bonuses of the top corporate execs, and a few crumbs for a few workers here and there. Walmart, for instance, is projected to fatten its coffers by $18 billion due to the tax cut. The much-ballyhooed $1,000 bonuses for the workers (workers who have been with the company 20 years, as it turns out) will cost the corporation all of $400,000,000. Bottom line: $17.6 billion for investors and company bigwigs and $0.4 billion for the workers. The consistent mantra that such moves are to help create jobs and help the working class is revealed again for the cynically manipulative campaign of subterfuge it is: 2.2% of these benefits are gong to average folks, who will now be asked to pay for them with things like reduced medicare coverage.

See the full story in the Washington Post by Paul Waldman here.