Trump lied when he accused Hillary Clinton of corruption

June 23, 2016

Trump based his accusation of corrupt behavior by the Clintons, regarding foreign financial contributions to the Clinton Foundation, on information in Clinton Cash, by Peter Schweiser. In Fact-checking the April 26 shows, ‘Clinton Cash’ published by PoliFact, Newt Gingrich made a similar claim. The authors wrote.

Robert Delahunty, a University of St. Thomas constitutional law professor who worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel from 1989 to 2003, also called Gingrich’s link between Clinton and the foreign governments’ gifts to the Clinton Foundation as “implausible.”

“The truth is that we establish corporate bodies like the Clinton Foundation because the law endows these entities with a separate and distinct legal personhood,” Delahunty said.


Trump University looks and quacks like a duck

May 29, 2016

I’ve reviewed a copy of the 2010 Trump University Playbook and it certainly looks like a scam to me. The principle objective identified in the 172-page playbook is to classify the attendees into 1 of 4 categories based on the amount of liquid assets they have at their disposal. The categories are set forth on page 36.

1. Greater than $35 K;
2. Between $20 K and $30 K;
3. Greater than $10 K; and
4. Greater than $2 K.

The target group is the 1st category, which they call the Gold Elite Group.

With one important exception, the rest of the playbook is a detailed how-to manual regarding procedures like scheduling conferences, setting up conference rooms and submitting bills seeking reimbursement for expenses.

The exception is a recommended set of strategies to employ in convincing people in the Gold Elite Group to signup for advanced conferences where the strictly hush-hush mystical goodies will be revealed to the worthy initiates.

Yes, indeed, you would be correct if you guessed that the advanced level conferences cost lots of money. From $1,500 to the super special $35,000 conference where Trump himself will disclose the mystical goodies.

Speaker subject matter is tightly controlled. For example, the playbook warns them to use only the approved course materials and illustrative slide shows when lecturing to the students. No variation is permitted and anecdotal stories are prohibited without prior approval. The absence of room to move suggests that no special expertise is required to give a lecture.

My suspicions deepened when I reviewed carefully scripted responses in the playbook to frequently asked questions. No variation from the scripted responses was permitted. If a student asked a question that was not on the list, the playbook recommended segues to steer the student to a scripted answer. I got the impression that a pleasant voice, a smiling face and an ability to read slides were the only prerequisites to be a speaker.

Guidelines are provided for dealing with disruptive students, reporters and inquisitive attorney generals.

Separating a student from his or her money appears to have been the prime directive.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . .


Panama Papers: A Shot Heard Round The World

April 5, 2016

Standing on Shaky Ground

An anonymous person has leaked more than 11 million documents documenting how the rich and powerful hide their money in offshore tax havens. The documents were published Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper, and several news organizations around the world, including the BBC, after a yearlong investigation. The actions described in the documents are not necessarily illegal, but some of the documents reveal a clandestine web of shell companies, their real owners concealed under layers of secrecy, and connections to firms in different tax havens. A coalition of more than 100 news organizations published a review of the documents yesterday. USA Today describes the treasure trove,

The cache exposes assets of everyone from political officials to billionaires to celebrities to sports stars that were previously undisclosed. The documents expose holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and details of the hidden financial dealings of 128 more politicians and public officials worldwide. Included: At least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of links to wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist groups or rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran. According to Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the Munich-based newspaper that obtained the trove of documents more than a year ago from an anonymous source tied to Mossack Fonseca [a law firm in Panama with 40 offices around the world], the “Panama Papers” include approximately 11.5 million documents — more than the combined total of the Wikileaks Cablegate, Offshore Leaks, Lux Leaks and Swiss Leaks.

The leak of documents shows how the rich and famous can exploit offshore tax shelters and reveals an unprecedented pattern of corruption worldwide for 40 years, including maneuvers by major banks who created the hard-to-trace companies. World leaders or associates who have embraced anti-corruption platforms are featured throughout. The papers also allege a billion-dollar money laundering ring run by a Russian bank tied to associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Difficult at this point to determine who violated any laws. Tax avoidance is a lawful standard-operating procedure for the rich. Tax evasion, however, and money laundering are crimes. The use of multiple transactions by shell companies that consist of little more than a name and a P.O. box, together with nominee owners who conceal the real parties in interest is inherently suspicious. Mossack Fonseca, the Panama law firm, specializes in creating opaque financial transactions involving equally opaque offshore banks.

Sorting through it all is going to take some time.


Donald Trump does not comprehend macroeconomics

April 3, 2016

Donald Trump claims he can fix our trade deficit by renegotiating better deals with other countries, principally the Chinese. If he understood trade deficits, he would not say that. Trade surpluses or deficits are based on the net difference between exports and imports with a particular country. They are consumer driven. For example, we run a trade deficit with China, if consumers in our country buy more products made in China than consumers in China buy from us. Therefore, a trade deficit is based on a comparison of business or individual spending by two countries.

Trump does not know what he is talking about when he says he will pay for the $16 million wall that he wants to build along the Mexican border by raiding Mexico’s $58 million surplus in its balance of trade with us because that money has been paid to businesses in Mexico, not the Mexican government.

A government deficit is the difference between government spending, rather than business or individual spending, and government revenues. Our national debt (total of all debt since 1790) at the end of Fiscal Year 2016 is estimated to be $19.4 trillion. The amount is large, but so is our economy. There is no reason to freak out. Investors certainly aren’t freaking out or they would not invest in Treasury bonds. Here is a Wikipedia explanation using Modern Monetary Theory (MMT):

The government sector is considered to include the treasury and the central bank, whereas the non-government sector includes private individuals and firms (including the private banking system) and the external sector – that is, foreign buyers and sellers.

In any given time period, the government’s budget can be either in deficit or in surplus. A deficit occurs when the government spends more than it taxes; and a surplus occurs when a government taxes more than it spends. Sectoral balances analysis states that as a matter of accounting, it follows that government budget deficits add net financial assets to the private sector. This is because a budget deficit means that a government has deposited more money and bonds into private holdings than it has removed in taxes. A budget surplus means the opposite: in total, the government has removed more money and bonds from private holdings via taxes than it has put back in via spending.

Therefore, budget deficits, by definition, are equivalent to adding net financial assets to the private sector, whereas budget surpluses remove financial assets from the private sector.

This is represented by the identity:

(G-T) = (S-I) -NX

where NX is net exports.

The conclusion drawn from this is that private net saving is only possible if the government runs budget deficits; alternately, the private sector is forced to dissave when the government runs a budget surplus.

According to the sectoral balances framework, budget surpluses remove net savings; in a time of high effective demand, this may lead to a private sector reliance on credit to finance consumption patterns. Hence, continual budget deficits are necessary for a growing economy that wants to avoid deflation. Therefore, budget surpluses are required only when the economy has excessive aggregate demand, and is in danger of inflation.Because the government can issue its own currency at will, MMT maintains that the level of taxation relative to government spending (the government’s deficit spending or budget surplus) is in reality a policy tool that regulates inflation and unemployment, and not a means of funding the government’s activities per se.

Our government can afford and should pay a living wage to put people to work fixing our infrastructure. Every dollar spent will be respent 7 times dramatically increasing tax revenues. If we tax the rich, we can pay down the debt as desired.

There is no evidence-based reason to hit the panic button.

Donald Trump is an idiot willfully ignorant and stubborn.

He demonstrates his ignorance and idiotic ideas in this interview:

Transcript: Donald Trump interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa


Trump is unqualified to be president

March 31, 2016

Donald Trump is unqualified to be our next president because he acts like a thug, does not know how our system of government works and he lacks the proper temperament to govern in the best interests of everyone. Thuggery and poor temperament cannot be fixed because that is who he is. He admires those ‘qualities’ in himself and he is unlikely to change. While lack of knowledge can be fixed by learning, given sufficient time and commitment, he has not demonstrated that he realizes he is ignorant about anything. A president who respects no one except himself and who relies on intimidation to get what he wants is not suited to govern democratically in the best interests of the many as opposed to the few.

He has been conducting a war against people who protest at his public appearances by calling them bad people, ordering security personnel to evict them and offering to pay the legal fees of anyone who assaults them. He has invoked his right to freedom of speech to justify excluding and assaulting protesters. He mistakenly believes that the Freedom of Speech Clause in the First Amendment protects his right to speak to his supporters, but it does not protect people who disagree with him. He has it backwards. The Freedom of Speech Clause protects people who disagree with the government and the Freedom of Assembly Clause protects them when they assemble in a public place to express their dissent. Instead, he abuses the First Amendment to eliminate dissent rather than protect it. This is what dictators do. They criminalize dissent and govern from the top down by proclamation. People who disagree are imprisoned or killed.

Next, let’s take a look at the Corey Lewandowski case. He is Trump’s campaign director who was charged recently with battery for grabbing a reporter and pulling her away from Trump while she was questioning him. Wikipedia provides a summary of the incident.

On March 8, 2016, Michelle Fields, a reporter for Breitbart News, alleged she was yanked out of the way and bruised by Lewandowski while attempting to pose a question to candidate Donald Trump while he was exiting a room in the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida following a press conference. Ben Terris of the Washington Post identified Lewandowski as the man who yanked her.[24][25][26] The Trump campaign denied the allegations, as did Lewandowski on his Twitter feed, wherein he denied ever having touched her.

On March 29, 2016, Lewandowski was charged with one count of simple battery by the Jupiter Police Department for the March 8 incident. A court date was set for May 4, 2016, after Lewandowski surrendered himself to the authorities. He released a statement maintaining his innocence. The Jupiter Police also released closed-circuit video of the incident taken by an overhead camera at the Trump National Golf Club resort.

Battery, which is defined as an ‘unpermitted touching,’ is a misdemeanor crime. The touching must be the result of an intentional act, as opposed to an unconscious, inadvertent, or accidental act. A video shows Fields suddenly being yanked backward and she has bruises on her arm caused by the person who grabbed her. Although we cannot see the hand and arm of the person who yanked her backward, Lewandowski was right behind her in a position where he could have grabbed her arm or, at a minimum, was in position to have seen who did. No one else appears to have been close enough to have grabbed her, however, and she has identified Lewandowski as the person who grabbed her. Ben Terris, a reporter for the Washington Post, has independently confirmed the identification. This evidence certainly is sufficient to establish probable cause (reasonable grounds) to believe that Lewandowski committed a battery.

At first Lewandowski denied that he touched Fields. Recently, however, he conceded that might have inadvertently touched her. He and Trump have denied knowing her. Curiously, both have accused her of being ‘crazy.’ Neither has explained how they would know that if they had no idea who she was. Trump attacked Fields yesterday for reporting such an ‘insignificant’ matter to the police and suggested that she should have been charged for harassing him. This is intolerable victim-shaming, a form of witness intimidation that potentially could be the subject of a new criminal charge.

This is not how we handle criminal cases in this country. A defendant who has been charged with a crime can admit or deny guilt. If he were to deny guilt, the matter would be scheduled for trial. He would be released and the case would be dismissed, if the jury finds him not guilty. The matter would proceed to sentencing if the jury finds him guilty.

Trump is trampling Lewandowski’s right to due process of law while putting the victim on trial. This stunt will likely backfire by alienating women voters, a result he can ill afford since 70% of women surveyed in a recent poll said they would not vote for Trump.

Trump aggravated the situation yesterday when he told MSNBC’s Chris Mathews that he believes women who have abortions should be sentenced to prison, if abortion were to be legalized. He changed his mind later in the day after he was criticized by Ted Cruz and John Kasich. He now agrees with them. If the SCOTUS were to overrule Roe v. Wade, they would punish the person who performed the abortion, but not the woman, whom they would regard as a victim.

In conclusion, We want a president who is knowledgeable about the issues of the day and not given to shooting from the hip. Electing Donald Trump would be a disaster.


Cruz Sex Scandal: True or False

March 25, 2016

I never thought I would be gossip writer. Oh well . . .

The National Enquirer has published a story titled, SHOCKING CLAIMS: Pervy Ted Cruz Caught Cheating — With 5 Secret Mistresses!, that has the nation all atwitter (#CruzSexScandal). Before you dismiss this story, consider that the magazine broke the story about John Edwards affair with a campaign aide who bore his child.

This story claims that Ted Cruz has had affairs with five women, including Katrina Pierson who is Donald Trump’s spokesperson. She has a connection to Ted Cruz. Wikipedia reports,

In January 2015, Pierson attended a meeting for Tea Party activists in Myrtle Beach with Ted Cruz; while in Myrtle Beach, she also met with Donald Trump. After meeting with Trump or his aides a few more times in the spring,Pierson introduced Trump at a campaign rally held in Dallas in September. In November 2015, she was hired as the national spokesperson for Trump’s campaign, subsequently appearing frequently on television in this capacity.

Another woman identified in the article is Amanda Carpenter. Wikipedia reports that she:

is an American author, political advisor, and speechwriter. She previously worked as a columnist for The Washington Times, and is the author of The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’s Dossier on Hillary Rodham Clinton. She has worked in the staffs for Senators Jim DeMint and Ted Cruz. In 2014, the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call reported that Carpenter had surpassed 50,000 Twitter followers, far more than other congressional staffers.

Both women have denied the accusation as has Cruz, who blames Donald Trump.

Trump certainly has a motive to make a false accusation, however, I doubt he would have identified his own spokesperson as one of Cruz’s mistresses knowing she wasn’t.

I will leave to you all to decide whether the story is true or false.

Your faithful scribe


Freedom of Religion Does Not Justify Hate

March 24, 2016

Governor Pat McCrory (R) of North Carolina signed a bill into law yesterday that prohibits cities and counties from enacting laws that permit transgender people to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. The governor called the legislature into a special session to nullify a city ordinance enacted by the City of Charlotte that permitted transgender people to do that. Senate democrats, who are outnumbered by republicans refused to participate in the vote and walked out in protest.

The governor, who signed the law, and the republicans in the state legislature who passed it deserve to be enshrined in an eternal hall of shame.

The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of religion. It does not protect freedom to hate.

The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits racial, religious and gender discrimination. Laws that prohibited black people from using white-only bathrooms violated the Fourteenth Amendment and were struck down. The SCOTUS held last June in Obergefell that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits laws that prohibit same-sex marriage. The Fourteenth Amendment does not protect hate.

It doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows. Laws that in effect prohibit transgender people from using public bathrooms violate the Fourteenth Amendment. To argue that freedom of religion protects faith-based hate is absurd because it would create an exception that would swallow the Fourteenth Amendment.

If it were otherwise, we would soon see republicans arguing that the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits slavery, does not apply to anyone who believes they have a faith based right to own slaves. After all, Abraham had slaves and the Bible does not prohibit slavery. Therefore, God is OK with slavery.

Enough is enough.

It’s not OK to hate anyone for any reason. Prohibiting transgender people from using the bathroom of their transgendered identity is hateful and disgraceful.


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