Sunday, December 31, 2017
Happy New Year! Let us make resolutions for the New Year. Let us strive to keep them. And let us say goodbye to 2017 to the events that should not carry forward into 2018, but also the ones that need to continue. Here’s adios to 2017: The mainstream media and fake news. Several members of the media have abandoned any pretense of objectivity and routinely publish fake news in opposition to President Trump. The ones who have lost all objectivity include CNN, MSNBC and Newsweek. The Washington Post is also high on the list. The fact checkers, who should start fact checking their own media. The Never Trumpers, no matter what the President and his Administration achieve. The Russia Dossier. Clifford Irving (1930-2017), most famous for his hoax (he faked a Howard Hughes autobiography) would be proud of the fake Russia-Trump Dossier. The attacks on Christmas and Christianity. A Newsweek article “How Trump and the Nazis Stole Christmas to Promote White Nationalism.” The rise of Anti-Semitism. The War on Cops, not just the media attacks, political attacks, and Black Lives Matter, but especially the targeted shootings and killings of law enforcement officers. The homicide rates in Baltimore and Chicago. The stifling of free speech and muzzling of conservatives on the nation’s campuses. The rise of safe spaces and trigger warnings on our campuses. The mindless attack by academics on “White Privilege” Two recent examples: The University of Illinois Professor who wrote “On many levels, mathematics itself operates as whiteness.” The two San Diego State geology professors who contend farmers’ markets are “white spaces” which oppress minorities. The rise of fake racist attacks, as well as the actual racist attacks. The emergence of Antifa. The kneeling of NFL players. Iran and North Korea. “What Happened” by Hillary Rodham Clinton – She lost! Sanctuary cities and states Net Neutrality The Ball boys and dad at UCLA The natural disasters, especially the floods, hurricanes and California wildfires. Terrorism and other sordid acts of mass violence Here’s to next year: Energy prices and taxes dropping The fall of Hollywood titans and others on sexual harassment claims. For the new year, California joins the recreational pot states. You are now free to tune out the unfortunate events. A deeper draining of The Swamp The continual survival of Fox News Continuing into 2018 the “Making of America Great Again.”
Monday, December 25, 2017
Memo to Special Counsel/Prosecutor Mueller: Not Only Must Justice Be Done, But It Must Appear To Be Done
Lord Hewart in his famous decision ninety years ago in the British case of R v. Sussex Justices (1924), Ex Parte McCarthy (1923) 1 KB 526 (1923) wrote “Not only must justice be done, but it must seem to be done.” Your investigation is not a typical criminal investigation. It is an investigation into the activities of the President of the United States. The removal of a President in a democracy is akin to regicide in a monarchy. Many cheered Oliver Cromwell in executing King Charles I, but history has condemned him. The process should not be tainted. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is moving forward with his investigation of the Russian Connection with President Trump. He has secured indictments or guilty pleas from four figures. As your investigation proceeds, we are confused as to its purpose. And your status: Is it to: 1) Investigate Russian attempts to influence the 2016 Presidential Election? 2) Investigate the potential hacking of the Hillary Clinton personal server? 3) Investigate the hacking of John Podesta’s DNC emails? 4) Investigate possible collusion between the Trump Campaign and the Russians? 5) The facts of the Trump Dossier? Or 6) The indictment and/or impeachment of President Trump? Are you a special counsel or a special prosecutor? The distinction is critical. Not only must justice be done, but it must appear to be done. You may be a registered Republican, but your office is stacked with Clintonistas, if not outright Never Trumpers. Special prosecutor Kenneth Starr in the Clinton investigation was careful to staff his office with career lawyers in the Public Integrity Section and Democrats. You did the opposite, which creates an appearance of unfairness. Much of the alleged Trump-Russia Connection revolves around a 35 page dossier prepared by Fusion GPS, which was mounting a virulent anti-Trump campaign. The Trump Dossier was paid for by the Democratic National Committee by funneling $1.02 million through the law firm of Perkins Coie as “legal services.” The FBI received the Dossier in July 2016. The Trump Dossier is believed to have been the basis for an FBI FISA request Former FBI Director Comey referred to the Dossier as full of “salacious and unproven accusations.” Yet it is the root of the alleged Trump-Russian connection. You hired Andrew Weissmann as one of your staff. Weissmann has a reputation as a legal pit bull who does not necessarily follow the rules of law. He sent Arthur Anderson into oblivion and jailed four Merrill Lynch executives. The Supreme Court unanimously overturned the Arthur Anderson conviction while the Fifth Circuit exonerated the Merrill Lynch defendants. He had denied bail to the Merrill Lynch defendants who spent a year in prison before justice was served. His political bias is well known. President Trump fired Interim Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend his immigration order. Weissmann emailed Yates: “I am so proud and in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respect.” Andrew Weissmann on election night attended the planned Clinton Victory Party, witnessing her defeat. Peter Strzok is another conflict of interest for the FBI. His fingerprints are present everywhere in the Clinton-Trump investigations. Strzok oversaw the General Flynn interview, which led to a perjury plea. The General pled guilty to one count both because Mueller’s office threatened to indict his son and because the retired general was financially broke. Strzok edited Director Comey’s Hillary Clinton’s exculpatory letter to change the draft “grossly negligent,” a defined criminal violation in the statute, to ‘extremely careless,” which legally means the same, but doesn’t sound as bad. The release and findings were drafted two months before the pro forma interview with Hillary Clinton. The interview was not recorded and the FBI returned her server. That is highly questionable conduct! Strzok was present at the interview between Comey and Clinton. He interviewed her aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. They are believed to have answered questions with false responses, but they have received immunity. He is also involved in an exchange of compromising texts with Lisa Page, his girlfriend and FBI attorney. They are both vehemently opposed to Donald Trump. She wrote in an August text to him: “Wow, Donald Trump is an enormous douche.” He responded “How was Trump other than a douche?” She texted on March 4 “God, Trump is a loathsome human.” He responded “OMG [Trump’s] an idiot.” He texted on July 19: “Oooh, TURN IT ON!!! THE DO*CHEBAGS ARE ABOUT TO COME OUT. You can tell by the excitable clapping.” Those are just the openers. She also texted on August 6, 2016: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” He texted that day “I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.” He also texted “F Trump.” He texted Lisa on August 15: “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that’s there no way [trump] gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk.” He added: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” He referred to Donald Trump on October 20 as a “f---king idiot.” He wrote on The Justice Department properly recognizes that agents have Freedom of Speech, including political speech. That though does not mean they should be on a Justice Department task group investigating a President they despise. Rumors are also that Strzok used the dubious Trump Dossier to unleash the Russia investigation signing the requisite document. The Mueller investigation, or whatever it is, may be the fruit of the poisonous tree. Not only must justice be done, but it must appear to be done. Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr met secretly with Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, CEO of the company, the preparers of the Dossier. He did not notify his superiors. In addition, Nellie Ohr, his wife, was hired by Fusion GPS during the 2016 election to conduct opposition research on candidate Trump. Conflicting testimony by Deputy Director McCabe and others before the House intelligence Committee as well as his testimony that he was unaware of the provenance and financing of the Trump Dossier even though his signature is on documents establishing his knowledge Either we have an epidemic of selective memories or perjury before Congress. Are you investigating the testimony before Congress? You can’t make this up. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you can push the envelope doesn’t mean you should. The end does not justify the means in a country priding itself on the rule of Law. If this investigation were of Hillary Clinton under circumstances similar to President Trump’s alleged Russian collusion, the media would be outraged at the investigation. The disclosures about Strzok, Ohr, and Weissmann must be embarrassing to the FBI and Department of Justice. Stonewalling Congress by not opening up to Congress will only postpone full disclosure, and be even more embarrassing to the agencies. Strzok and Ohr were demoted, but Weissmann remains on your staff. Your recommendations, if to indict or impeach, should be based on solid facts, and not innuendos. The left is salivating over criminalizing the President as they did a decade earlier with Vice President Chaney. They will celebrate either or both actions. You will be sainted by them, but condemned by history if you don’t have a solid case. What about Hillary? Jeanie Rhee, another one of your staffers, represented Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s Deputy National Security Director, and Hillary Clinton. I understand that the FBI may not have wanted to be in the position of taking out one of the two major Presidential candidates during the election, but taking out a sitting President is even more dangerous in a democracy. Don’t forget the highly embarrassing miscarriage of justice by the Justice Department in the trial of Senator Ted Stevens. He was indicted a few months before the 2008 election and convicted 8 days before the election. He lost reelection by 3000 votes, giving President the critical 60 votes necessary to control the Senate. His conviction was based on gross prosecutorial misconduct. The prosecutors violated the Brady Rule by not turning over exculpatory evidence. They also introduced false testimony to secure the conviction. Attorney General Eric Holder dropped all charges against the Senator. He also ordered an annual day of training for Justice Department attorneys on the Brady Rule. In short, federal prosecutors thought the end justified the means in taking out a federal Senator. They had all the proof necessary to know Senator Stevens was innocent. Robert Mueller should be well aware of the Stevens case. He was FBI Director during the debacle. Not only must justice be done, but it must appear to be done!
Friday, December 22, 2017
Both the Trump Tax Cut and the enactment of ObamaCare took about a year. Both were viewed negatively by the public. Both acts are emblematic of the two parties. ObamaCare was such a major act that Vice President Biden loudly whispered to President Trump that “it’s a big fucking deal.” The media celebrated the passage of ObamaCare. No Republican has called the Trump tax cuts a “BFD,” but they celebrated. The media thought their celebration was excessive and ill-advised. The public reaction against Obamacare resulted in Republican landslides across the board. ObamaCare is still unpopular. The Trump tax cuts are similarly disfavored by the public in recent polls. That opposition may change as workers soon notice increased pay checks. So far, they have been convinced by Democrats and the media that the tax bill simply represents tax cuts for the corporations and the wealthy. The two bills represent the differences between the parties. Republicans prefer cutting taxes and Democrats raising tax after tax: income taxes, property taxes, sales and excise taxes, cigarette taxes, gas taxes, and a seemingly infinite number of fees. Republicans believe that workers should keep their earnings. They earned it. Government should have a compelling reason to tax. Democrats believe that the government should decide how much of your earnings you get to keep because they know better than you the best use of your/their money. Republicans believe in enriching the people. Democrats believe in redistributionism. Democrats are very compassionate with other peoples' money. Republicans believe American exceptionalism was built on hard work, individualism, personal freedom, and liberty. The entrepreneur should be rewarded – not penalized by the government. Democrats believe that today’s America is built on the largesse of government. Thus, they increase individual reliance on government and the Nanny State. They believe the solution to every problem is to spend money on it. Many Americans are ignorant today of economics. Thus the classic “I got my Obama Phone” by the woman in Cleveland. The democrats wage class warfare to increase reliance on the government. Favorite targets are the rich, corporations, bankers, insurers, drug companies, oil companies, and tobacco companies, coal companies, gun manufacturers, and a host of “deplorables.” ObamaCare is a great trifecta for the Democrats as a mammoth redistributionist program. It raises taxes and creates new taxes, increases dependence on the government, and subjects 17% of the nation’s economy to government regulation and control. Every new program necessitates hiring more government workers. Bureaucracy grows, and with it the power of the public employee unions, the main funders of the modern Democratic Party. A wide chasm separates the parties.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Boeing filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging Bombardier, the Canadian aircraft manufacturer, received unfair subsidies from the Canadian government to build 100 seat CSeries jets. Bombardier and the Brazilian Embraer build the smaller size passenger jets usually flown by commuter airlines. Airbus and Boeing concentrate on the larger passenger jets. Boeing claimed Bombardier's new CS100 jets would unfairly compete with its 737 series, in essence dumping the CS100 on the U.S. market with a sales price of $19.6 million each, a substantial discount from the estimated manufacturing cost of $33.2 million/plane. Delta has a contract to purchase 125 CS100 planes from Bombardier. The ITC agreed with Boeing on September 26, 2017, assessed a preliminary 220% tariff on CS100 jets, and added a 80% preliminary anti-dumping duty to it, creating a 300% tariff on CS100 jets. The 300% tariff would quadruple the cost of the plane. These penalties are preliminary, subject to review. Boeing, which no longer manufactures a 100 seat jet, claims the CS100 would unfairly compete with its 737 Max 7’s and 737-700. McDonnell Douglas in its last years of independence marketed the MD-95, a 100 seated. Orders were received from ValuJet and Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) before Boeing acquired McDonnel Douglas. Boeing rebadged the plane as the Boeing 717, but could not make it financially viable. The last of 156 717’s rolled off the Long beach assembly in 2006. Most of the 717’s are flown by Delta today. The original Boeing 737 could be configured to 100 seats, but the newer models all have a larger seating capacity. Boeing savored the ITC decision, but may not have anticipated the backlash. Ed Bastian’s, Delta’s CEO, made it clear that it will take the planes, but will not pay the added tariff. Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, said “we won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business.” Canada cancelled a prospective deal to acquire 18 new Super Hornet F/A-18 fighter jets from Boeing, a $5.2 billion deal. Canada will instead purchase used F-18’s from Australia. Boeing will still make some money on spare parts, but not what it would have reaped from new sales. Canada intends to cannibalize some of the Australian planes for spare parts for its existing fleet of F-18’s. Canada will open a competition in 2019 for new fighters. Boeing should not expect a favorable bid under current circumstances. The Boeing/ITC decision against Bombardier has impacts not only in Canada, but also in the United Kingdom. Bombardier, the largest manufacturer in Northern Ireland, employs 4,000 workers at a plant in Northern Ireland, where it builds wings for the CSeries plane. British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that any future contracts with Boeing are at risk. The Prime Minister needs the 10 votes of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party for her fragile coalition government. The U.K. has been a major purchaser of Boeing’s defense products. The question remains open as to British Air’s plans for future plane purchases. Boeing is a font of hypocrisy. Its hands are not clear in the subsidy battle. Both Boeing and Airbus have received large government subsidies. The United States Export-Import Bank was created during the Great Depression in 1934 to facilitate the export of United States products. The Ex-Im Bank provides loans, guarantees, and insurance to borrowers. Its renewal is very controversial. It’s been nicknamed the “Bank of Boeing” because 40% of its financing subsidizes Boeing sales. $40.5 billion was approved for guarantees to airline from 2007-2014 to purchase Boeing jets. 48% was for government owned airlines. Delta, United and American are very upset with the Ex-Im subsidies to the Persian Gulf airlines of Emirates, Etihad and Qatar, which combined with government subsidies makes it difficult for the American carriers to compete on flights to the Mideast and beyond. Boeing has been receiving since 2003 an estimated $160 million/year for 20 years from the state of Washington. It got another $8.7 billion tax incentive from Washington State in 2013 to assembly the 777 in the state. South Carolina has thrown in another $900 million in subsidies to build an assembly plant in North Charleston for its B-787 Dreamliners. Boeing received another $56 million in property tax subsidies from Illinois in 2001 to entice the company to move its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago, which otherwise made no sense. Chicago outbid Denver and Dallas-Fort Worth to attract Boeing. Barry Gardiner, trade spokesman for the U.K. Labor Party labeled Boeing a “Subsidy Junkie.” Boeing should also take note that Delta, one of its largest customers, is very upset with the company. What about Bombardier? It has entered into a partnership with Airbus as the largest partner (50.1%) to further develop, manufacture, sell and service the fuel efficient CSeries of jets globally. The CSeries will be built in Mobile, Alabama, if necessary. Boeing professes not to be worried. It said the same thing when Airbus entered the passenger jet market. Is Boeing acting like an Ostrich with its head in the sand as it savors its Pyrrhic victory?
Friday, December 8, 2017
A veritable tsunami has been released against sexual assaulters and harassers by women, and sometimes men, against powerful figures in America, most often in the entertainment and media industries. The question is why now? What caused the dam to break? The answer is that this is the next step towards full equality by women. Religions and societies historically treated women as second class citizens. Even today Saudi women are just receiving the right to drive. Step by step women achieved equality in much of the world. The change started with higher education in the United States. Oberlin College admitted women from its founding in 1833. Mount Holyoke opened its doors in 1837 as a woman’s college. The University of Iowa in 1855 became both the first coed university and the first public university to admit women. Michigan followed in 1870 and Berkeley in 1871. Many Catholic universities and Ivy League institutions went coed in the 1960’s. Women today comprise over half of the college students in the United States. British colonies led the way in granting the suffrage to women. The Isle of Man granted the vote in 1881, followed by New Zealand in 1893, all of Australia in 1902, and Canada in 1917. Great Britain gave women the vote in 1918. The United States ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 granting the right to vote to women, following the lead of a few territories, Wyoming in 1869 and Utah in 1870, and the state of Colorado in 1883. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbad sex discrimination in employment while Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 mandated equal protection of women in higher education. One immediate effect was the growth of women athletics in the nation’s colleges. Statutes though are not self-executing. Scores of lawsuits gave legal power to victims seeking compensation for the violations of their rights Women increasingly entered the nation’s professional schools in the late 1960’s. They realized they could become doctors as well as nurses, lawyers rather than paralegals, executives instead of secretaries, pilots and not flight attendants. The doors were open. Women are often over half of the student’s in the nation’s law schools. “Old Boy’s Networks” are breaking down in the Academy and professions. Women entered politics. Twenty-one women currently serve as United States Senators, 84 as representatives, and 6 as state governors. However, despite all the advances women have made in society and the workplace, sexual assaults and harassment remain a problem. The fabled Hollywood Casting Couch goes back to the beginnings of the industry. The problem is pervasive throughout employment and education. Conduct and talk that was common among males became unreasonable when women joined the workforce. Women were scared of losing their jobs or careers if they complained. Their reputations could be shattered, while the alleged perpetrators went unscathed. Justice Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Woody Allen continued making movies. Roman Polanski received a standing ovation upon winning the Oscar. Instances of reaction against sexual harassment arose over the years. The Tailhook Convention of Navy and Marine aviators at the Las Vegas Hilton September 8-12, 1991 saw 83 women and 7 men assaulted by over 100 Navy and Marine officers. 14 Admirals and over 300 sailors and Navy personnel were cashiered or otherwise punished. The Pentagon initiated a strong anti-sexual harassment policy. Yet the problem persists in the military. Businesses have spent hundreds of millions of dollars settling sexual harassment claims, but the cases rarely received widespread publicity. Cracks appeared in the dam in 2014. The comedian Hannibal Buress in a Philadelphia comedy routine on October 16, 2014 talked about Bill Cosby’s rape history. The routine went viral online. Bill Cosby fell from grace, been criminally prosecuted, and served with scores of lawsuits. The Board of Directors of the American Apparel Company suspended Dov Charney on June 18, 2014 for a history of sexual misconduct in the workplace. They fired him in December. The issue of sexual harassment in the workplace was building like the magma before a volcanic eruption, but it had not yet blown. Women remained scared of publicly complaining of, or often even rejecting, sexual harassment and advances. Gretchen Carlson, formerly of Fox News, filed a sexual harassment suit on July 6, 2016 against Roger Ailes of Fox News and Fox. Other women came forward with allegations against Roger Ailes. Roger Ailes resigned on July 21, 2016. The case was settled in September by Fox for $20 million and an apology. Victims of harassment began to realize that they could seek justice. The mainstream media and liberal politicians had a field day castigating the conservative Fox News. Other stalwarts of Fox fell: Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling while two female stars, Greta Van Susteren and Megyn Kelly left Fox News. However, the cheering on of the sexual harassment suits against Fox coupled with large settlements by Fox opened a Pandora’s Box of claims throughout Hollywood, the media, politics, academics and business. The New York Times and New Yorker articles on Harvey Weinstein showed prominent actresses stepping forward against one of the most powerful figures in Hollywood. The dam burst as victims, mostly women realized they could survive. The account #MeToo prompted tens of thousands of responses. Social media spreads the word. Women found a voice to fight one of the most invidious forms of discrimination. It is the next step in women’s rights of equality.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Masterpiece Bakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: Does a Custom Wedding Cake Constitute Freedom of Expression
The facts of the case are simple, at first glance Charlie Craig and David Mullins of Colorado were planning to get married in 2012 in Massachusetts because Colorado did not allow same sex marriages. They entered Masterpiece Cakes of Lakewood, Colorado to order a custom wedding cake. Jack Phillips, the bakery’s owner, said they could buy any baked product they wanted in the bakery. However, he would not bake a custom cake for same sex marriages because of his religious beliefs. Jack Phillips made it clear in one sense that he was not discriminating against gays. He stated that he would sell a cake to anyone, straight or gay, or buys a cake in the store. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which held for them. His response to the Colorado decision was to stop baking custom cakes for anyone. The issue is poised as religious freedom versus anti-discrimination and equality. The issue was created by the 2015 5:4 Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled unconstitutional bans on same sex marriages. The decision left open the question of the religious beliefs of private parties. The Supreme Court held during the Civil Rights Movement that places of public accommodations, such as hotels and restaurants could not racially discriminate in providing services. The conflict in this case is between the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment. The First Amendment protects Freedom of Speech and Freedom of religion. The 14th Amendment provides equal protection of the law. Freedom of Speech includes Freedom of Expression. Mr. Phillips’ argument is that making a custom cake is an act of artistic expression. A critical of freedom of speech is that the government cannot compel you to speak or “express” yourself. Cases have held Freedom of Expression have included arm bands, art, banners, buttons, commercials films, flag burning, formulas, leaflets, lyrics, photos, religious clothing and religious schools, sit-ins, slogans, and t-shirts. Other aspects of the case are troubling. First, Heidi Hess, a commissioner on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission expressed her antipathy to religion. She stated “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether oit be slavery or the Holocaust.” She also said “And to me, it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.” She expressed a bias against and intolerance for any claim of religious freedom. Secondly, same sex marriages were neither recognized by Colorado or the Supreme Court at the time Mr. Phillips refused to bake the case. In other words, he is being penalized for not baking a cake for a wedding that could not be performed in Colorado at that time. Speech and expression that was lawful at the time should not later be punished. Which will prevail: The First Amendment or the 14th Amendment? Justice Anthony Kennedy will decide
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Scores of women, and a few men, have come forward with accusations of sexual harassment and assaults in the entertainment and media industry, politics, business, and just beginning in the academic profession. This blog compiles a list to date of the accused. A few caveats are in order. First, an accusation is not the same as guilt or even probable cause. Accusations are easy to make, difficult to rebut. Second, many of the accusations go back decades and would be very difficult to prove without collaborating evidence. That’s why we have statutes of limitation. Several of the accused lotharios and abusers involve personalities, like Harvey Weinstein, whose misdeeds were well known within their industry. Roger Ailes is the only deceased person on the list. This is a mostly complete list to date, December 5, 2017. Where’s the next shoe to fall? Who’s Next? THE LIST Ben Affleck Actor Casey Affleck Actor Woody Allen Actor, Director and Producer Ken Baker Correspondent Hadrian Belove Movie executive Eddie Berganza D.C. Comics John Besh Celebrity Chef Stephen Bittel Chair of the Florida Democratic Committee David Blaine Magician Steven Blackwell Billboard Magazine Eric Bolling Fox Nick Carter Singer Giuseppe Castellano Publisher Art Director Louis C. K. Comedian Bill Cosby Comedian and Actor David Corn Mother Jones Andy Dick Actor Richard Dreyfuss Actor Roger Ailes Fox Teddy Davis CNN Shadie Elnasias Movie Executive Adam Fields Producer Hamilton Fish Publisher Benjamin Genocchio Armory Director Gary Goddard Producer Tyler Grasham Agent Davis Guillod Producer Mark Halperin NBC Adam Henry Casting CSI John Hockenberry NPR Dustin Hoffman Actor Israel Horovitz Playwright Johnny Iuzzini Top Chef Rick Najera CBS Ron Jeremy Actor Ethan Kath Musician Garrison Keillor PBS R. Kelly Musician Robert Knepper Actor Andrew Kramer Lionsgate Andy Kreisberg Producer Knight Landesman Publisher John Lasseter Disney Matt Lauer NBC James Levine Met Opera Director Melanie Martinez Singer Danny Masterson Actor Benny Medina Agent Murray Miller HBO Jason Mojica and two co-workers Vice Media Matt Mondanile Musician Rick Najera CBS Bill O’Reilly Fox Michael Orestes NPR Shervin Pishevar Uber Jeremy Piven Actor Roman Polanski Director Roy Price Amazon Twiggy Ramirez Musician Brett Ratner Producer Tony Richardson Photographer Geraldo Rivera Fox Charlie Rose CBS Gilbert Rozon Festival Organizer Chris Savino Show Runner Mark Schwan Show Runner Robert Scoble Blogger Steven Seagal Actor Bill Shine Fox Andy Signore Defy Media Russell Simmons Producer Tom Sizemore Actor Kevin Spacey Actor Sylvester Stallone Actor Lockhart Steele Vox Media Oliver Stone Producer and Director David Sweeny NPR George Takai Actor Jeffrey Tambor Actor Glenn Thrush New York Times James Toback Director Adam Venik Agent Kirt Webster Public Relations Matt Weiner Producer Bob Weinstein Producer Harvey Weinstein Producer Jann Wenner Rolling Stone Bruce Weber Photographer Ed Westwick Actor Leon Wieseltier Publishing James Woods Actor Matt Zimmerman NBC Politicians Former Presidents William Clinton George H. W. Bush Former Vice President Al Gore Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger California (R) Members of Congress Senator Al Franken Minnesota (D) John Conyers Michigan (D) Joe Barton (R) Texas Blake Farenthold Texas ® Rueben Kihuan Nevada (D) Alabama Roy Moore (R) Arizona Dan Shooter (R) California Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D) Assemblyman Matt Dabaneh (D) Senator Tony Mendoza (D) Colorado Representative Steve Lebsock (D) Representative Paul Rosenthal (D) Illinois Senator Ira Silverstein (D) Kansas Senator Dan Kirby (R) Kentucky Senator Julian Carroll (D) Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover (R) Representatives Brian Linder (R) Jim DeCesare (R) Michael Meredith (R) Louisiana Johnny Anderson Staff of Lieutenant Governor Minnesota Representative Dan Schoen (D) Representative Terry Cornish (R) Missouri Senator Paul LeVota (D) House Speaker John Diehl (R) Representative Joshua Peters (D) Nevada Senator Mark Manendo (D) New Hampshire Representative Eric Schleien (R) New York Representative Steven McLaughlin (R) Representative Angela Wozniak (C) Ohio Representative Wesley Goodman (R) Senator Cliff Hite (R) Oklahoma Senator Ralph Shortey (R) Senator Bryce Marlatt (R) Representative Fourkiller (D) Representative Dan Kirby (R) Oregon Senator Jeff Kruse (R) Representative David Gomberg (D) South Dakota Senator Brian Gosch (R) Representative Matthew Wollman (R) Tennessee Representative Jeremy Durham (R) Representative Mark Lovell (R) Washington Representative Brendan Williams (D) Wisconsin House Majority Leader Bill Kramer (R) Representative Josh Zepnick (D) Portland Mayor Sam Adams Business Dov Charney American Apparel Steve Jurvetson Venture Capitalist Other Dr. Larry Nassar National Gymnastics Physician
Saturday, December 2, 2017
A jury in the arch sanctuary city of San Francisco acquitted Jose Innes Garcia Zarate of first and second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a semi-automatic weapon, but convicted him of being a felon unlawfully in possession of a firearm. Zarate was the five times deported illegal immigrant who shot Kate Steinle to death from the back. She collapsed in her father’s arms and died two hours later in the hospital. Zarate claimed it was an accident, with the bullet ricocheting off a concrete deck. He said the gun went off accidentally when he reached for the gun on the ground. He had said though in the police report that he was trying to shoot at sea lions. Outrage followed the decision. President Trump called it a disgrace. Attorney General Sessions issued a statement: “When jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities, they put the public’s safety at risk.” Tom Homan, Deputy Director of ICE, echoed the Attorney General: “San Francisco’s policy of refusing to honor ICE detainers is a blatant threat to public safety and undermines the rule of law. This tragedy could have been prevented if San Francisco had turned the alien over to ICE, as we requested, instead of releasing him back onto the streets.” Was it simply a case of San Francisco being San Francisco? Is it San Francisco sending a message to President Trump? Was it jury nullification? What about judicial nullification? Not all in San Francisco are celebrating the jury verdict. The very liberal San Francisco Chronicle editorialized ”Justice was rendered, but it was not served.” Zarate was released from a federal prison after serving his sentence for unlawfully reentering the United States. The Bureau of Prisons turned him over to San Francisco on an outstanding bench warrant for illegal possession of marijuana. The presumption was that San Francisco would return him to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) upon resolution of the marijuana case. However, San Francisco’s leftish, incompetent, spousal abusing Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi released Zarate on the streets on April 15, 2015 without notifying ICE. The tragic shooting followed 2½ months later on July 1. Much of the blame for the decision should fall on Judge James Feng. Supporters of the jury verdict assert it was based on the facts. That’s true as far as it goes. Counsel are limited in their cases by what the judge allows, or refuses to admit, into evidence. Judge Feng forbad mention of Garcia’s immigration status, that he had been deported 5 times, or had a felony record (7 felonies including multiple heroin arrests). Most significantly, the judge denied the jury’s request to examine the pistol’s trigger. They wanted to determine if it was easy or hard to fire. The prosecution argued the gun, a .40-caliber-Sig Sauer P239 required a high degree of force to shoot. Mayor Lee’s spokeswoman poured fuel on the fire by releasing the statement: “San Francisco is and always will be a sanctuary city.” Francisco Ugarte, the defense attorney, called it a “vindication for the rest of immigrants.” We’ll see when some prominent residents are killed by the illegal immigrants. San Francisco loosened somewhat its sanctuary policy after the tragic killing of Kate Steinle. Zarate said he comes to San Francisco because he knows it will not deport him. The more San Francisco serves as a beacon to felonious aliens, the greater the risk of more tragedies. Signs of sanity exist in the city. Sheriff Mirkarimi was defeated for reelection in 2015, receiving only 32% of the vote against Sheriff Captain Vicki Hennessey. She advocates a more flexible approach to the immigrants. I’ve reached the point where little surprises me in jury verdicts. The acquittals of O.J., Aaron Hernandez, Michael Jackson, Robert Blake, and Casey Anthony continue to mystify me. Some are threatening to boycott California. I live in California; it is impossible for me to Boycott California. Many are promising to boycott San Francisco in response to #BoycottSanFrancisco. Not me. I don’t like boycotts in general. I was born, raised, and educated in San Francisco. Francis Scott Key Elementary School, A.P. Gianinni Junior High, Lowell High School, and the University of San Francisco. The Sunset District a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean was my home for years. San Francisco is in my DNA. San Francisco is to me Neil Diamond’s song “I am, I said.” He sang “LA’s fine, but it ain’t home. New York is my home, but it ain’t mine no more.” Substitute San Francisco for New York, and anywhere I’ve lived for the O.C. No matter how much I like, or even love, Ann Arbor, Ada, Ohio, Tacoma, Seattle, Springfield, Massachusetts, or Tustin, San Francisco will always be my home.
Friday, December 1, 2017
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Spat Is Over the Future of America Two claimants assert their right to be the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The initial impression is that of a slapstick comedy appropriate to the third world, not the United States. This impression is wrong. The dispute is not a battle of bureaucrats. Nor is it a fight over consumer protection. It is a debate over the future of our Republic. The issue is whether our elected officials or unelected bureaucrats will govern. Will government be responsive to the people or will it carry out the will of bureaucrats? The drafters of the Constitution gave us three separate, but equal branches of government: the executive, judicial, and legislative. They did not, and could not, foresee the rise of the administrative branch of government beginning with the New Deal. Agencies have multiplied at the federal, state, and local levels, increasingly regulating our business, professional, and personal lives with an ever expanding Nanny State in our lives. Agency powers have been escalating with favorable court decisions. They had the good will of the courts since the days of the New Deal. Courts generally defer to the agencies as long as they are acting within their jurisdiction and discretion. Some agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, are within the Executive Branch, subject to control by the President. The others are independent commissions, such as the Securities Exchange Commission or National Labor Relations Board. The President appoints, subject to confirmation by the Senate, the administrators, commissioners, and directors of both forms of agencies. In addition, Congress has the power of the purse, controlling the appropriations and budgets of these agencies in addition to the statutory writ that governs the agencies. The leaders of the executive branch agencies, as with the cabinet officers, serve at the pleasure of the President. Conversely, the commissioners of the independent agencies serve the term of their office, not subject to termination by the President. The instinct and nature of administrative bureaucracies is to expand their jurisdiction and powers. They would become an independent fourth branch of government if they could. The CFPB is as close as we have come. It is the creation of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who stuck it into the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The first significant difference is that Congress does not control the CFPB’s budget. Their funding comes directly from the funds of the Federal Reserve Bank. The second critical difference is the issue in this case. The Director serves for 5 years, but the Deputy Director becomes the interim director “in the absence or unavailability of the Director,” also a contribution of Senator Warren. The agency is highly controversial with conservatives reviling it and its outgoing director Richard Cordray, an acolyte of Senator Warren. The agency has pushed its jurisdiction, attacked auto dealers when barred by Congress from doing so, and diverted some settlement funds to Democrat linked NGO’s. Director Cordray resigned, promoting Leandra English, his Chief of Staff, as Deputy Director, and thus interim director. President Trump, pursuant to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, appointed Michael Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, as the new interim director, creating a conflict. The Vacancies Act allows the President to fill a vacancy with an official previously confirmed by the Senate. Thus, two potentially conflicting options exist for filling the vacancy. The Justice Department issued an opinion upholding the power of the President to fill the position. The General Counsel of the CFPB also agreed, as did a Ninth Circuit decision last year. Ms. English was not deterred by these decisions. She rushed to Senator Warren and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for succor. She also relied on the Democrat’s favorite legal recourse, filing a lawsuit Sunday night seeking to enjoin the President. The judge held for the President Tuesday. Director Mulvaney has assumed control of the CFRB and will rein in the agency’s excesses. The power of the people, expressed through the ballot box, is safe for now.