Profiling Muslims is a bad idea and it’s unconstitutional

June 21, 2016

In his OpEd yesterday in the Washington Post titled, Trump’s special version of Jim Crow — for Muslims, Eugene Robinson wrote,

On Sunday, “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson reminded Trump that last year he had raised the idea of “profiling” for Muslims and asked him to elaborate. Trump’s response: “Well, I think profiling is something that we’re going to have to start thinking about as a country. Other countries do it,” he said, naming Israel, and “we have to start using common sense.”

Reuters reported late last week,

Muslim-Americans have repeatedly informed authorities of fellow Muslims they fear might be turning to extremism, law enforcement officials say, contrary to a claim by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump this week.

“They don’t report them,” Trump said in a CNN interview on Monday, in the wake of the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub of 49 people by an American Muslim who claimed allegiance to Islamic State. “For some reason, the Muslim community does not report people like this.”

But FBI director James Comey said, “They do not want people committing violence, either in their community or in the name of their faith, and so some of our most productive relationships are with people who see things and tell us things who happen to be Muslim.

“It’s at the heart of the FBI’s effectiveness to have good relationships with these folks,” Comey said at a press conference following the Orlando shootings.

In addition profiling Muslims is a violation of the reasonable-suspicion-based-on-articulable-objective-facts test of the 4th Amendment. It also violates the Freedom of Religion Clause of the First amendment.

Donald Trump and his supporters like to base their arguments on “common sense.”

Hogwash. If we relied on “common sense,” for example, we would still believe that the Earth is the center of the universe with the Sun, the planets and the stars revolving around it. We also would believe in magic, the supernatural and witches who consorted with the Devil. In Europe from approximately 1480 to 1650, the Inquisition murdered approximately, 80,000 to 100,000 mostly poor and elderly women for practicing witchcraft. After obtaining confessions through the use of torture, they burned them at the stake.

Since the Age of Enlightenment, we’ve been relying on evidence-based reasoning to question common-sense assumptions about reality. In the name of “common sense,” Trump and his merry band of idiots want to turn back time and recreate the witch craze. He has already promised to use torture to extract confessions. How many Muslims is he going to detain, torture and kill before we the people have to end the slaughter?

Hitler exterminated 6 million Jews less than a century ago.

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Will Trump exterminate them?

We need to make sure he loses the election.


Trump is a dangerous demagogue and conspiracy theorist who must be defeated

June 15, 2016

The Washington Post is reporting today regarding a new Washington Post-ABC News poll,

The poll finds 70 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, including a 56 percent majority who feel this way “strongly.” Negative ratings of Trump are up 10 percentage points from last month to their highest point since he announced his candidacy last summer, nearly reaching the level seen before his campaign began (71 percent). The survey was conducted Wednesday through Sunday among a random national sample of U.S. adults, coming after last week’s primary contests, but with the large majority of interviews completed before Sunday’s massacre at an Orlando club.

[Emphasis supplied]

Little wonder that his negative ratings are climbing out of sight. He’s a conspiracy theorist. Remember, he’s the racist birther extraordinaire who challenged President Obama’s presidency on the ground that Obama was supposedly born in Kenya and raised Muslim. He continues to push this racist nonsense despite Obama’s long form birth certificate that verifies his birth in Hawai’i.

Instead of demonstrating respect for the dead and wounded in Orlando, he is continuing to play the race/religion card by publicly hammering President Obama with the insane accusation that he is an ISIS sympathizer.

Again, from the Washington Post,

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a leading national security hawk, said he had “run out of adjectives” for Trump. “I don’t think he has the judgment or the temperament, the experience to deal with what we are facing,” said Graham, who does not currently support the mogul.

Graham, like other Republicans, took issue with Trump’s apparent suggestions in Monday interviews that Obama may identify with the radical Muslim terrorists. Obama “either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump told Fox News.

Trump expanded on that Tuesday, saying in an emailed response to questions from the Associated Press: “President Obama claims to know our enemy, and yet he continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies and, for that matter, the American people.”

Graham said that Trump “seems to be suggesting that the president is one of ‘them.’ I find that highly offensive. I find that whole line of reasoning way off base. My problems with President Obama are his policy choices.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who faces a challenging reelection bid, also called Trump’s insinuations about Obama “offensive.”

The outrage is not confined to criticizing President Obama and Hillary Clinton. Trump also attacked the Washington Post for reporting the truth; that is, that he had suggested the president is sympathetic to ISIS. He revoked their credentials to attend his rallies and press conferences.

So much for his respect for the First Amendment.

Unlike senators Graham and Johnson, most Republicans are taking the cowardly approach by avoiding the press. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the majority leader of the Senate, who cannot run away and hide, is refusing to answer any questions about the “presumptive nominee.” Speaker Paul Ryan respectfully and quietly disagrees with Trump, but continues to support him.

The Republicans can run but they can’t hide. They own him, unless they replace him. If they fail to do so, they deserve to end up as a footnote in history listed with the Whigs as a failed U.S. political party.

Meanwhile, I’m watching Trump on TV, a vulgar imbecile with an orange face and sticky hair preaching to his racist low-information voters about a conspiracy between President Obama and Hillary Clinton to conceal his Muslim beliefs and sympathy for ISIS while protecting her from being charged with federal crimes for using a private email server, which isn’t a crime.

We’re not going to get any help from the cowardly Republicans.

We’re going to have to turn out and vote for Hillary Clinton whether we like her or not.

Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue who must be defeated.

Despite the encouraging new poll, we must not fall asleep at the wheel. This is no time to be nonchalant. We must take his threat seriously and act accordingly.

He will destroy our constitution and our democracy if we fail.


Trump is a greater threat to our democracy than ISIS

June 13, 2016

While everyone else was grief stricken, praying for the victims and offering their condolences after the mass shootings at the Pulse in Orlando early Sunday morning that killed 50 and injured 53, Donald Trump was congratulating himself. He tweeted,

Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!

Notice that he disguised self-congratulation by misrepresenting it as congratulations received from others. Yes, this is the real Donald Trump, an incredibly selfish and vile human being without a shred of empathy whose first instinct is to use the deadliest mass shooting in our history for personal advantage.

In a separate statement, he demanded President Obama’s resignation from office.

In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the presidency.

Worse, he even suggested this morning on Fox and Friends that President Obama may have had foreknowledge of what was going to happen, but did nothing to stop it.

Trump’s behavior convinces me that he is a greater threat to our democracy than ISIS.


Trump University was an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity

June 5, 2016

Trump University was a massive fraudulent scheme that targeted financially stressed victims who borrowed money from friends and relatives, cashed out their IRAs and 401(k)s and maxed out their credit cards in order to extricate themselves from poverty. They were willing to risk financial ruin on the say-so of Donald Trump, who enriched himself by millions of dollars at their expense. If there is a silver lining to this tragic predation, you will find it in the Trump University Playbook, a remarkably detailed manual of step-by-step instructions to steal money from vulnerable victims. The fraud will not be difficult to prove because the playbook lays it all out in excruciating detail.

One of the civil cases pending against Donald Trump in federal court in San Diego is Cohen v. Trump, No. 3:13-cv-02519-DMS-RBB. I regard it as the most important case pending against Trump because, unlike the other cases, potentially hundreds of million of dollars are at stake. Two reasons explain why more money is at stake:

(1) This is the only case in which the plaintiff has alleged that Trump’s actions regarding Trump University violated the civil RICO statute that authorizes treble damages See 18 USC 1962(c), and

(2) The court has approved the plaintiff’s request to process the case as a class action that permits thousand of other victims to piggy-back their claims against Trump without having to retain counsel to independently sue him. The case is assigned to Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

RICO is an acronym for a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization that is referred to as the ‘enterprise’ in the RICO statute. An apparently legitimate organization or business, even a school or a police department, can qualify as an enterprise if it’s being used to defraud people through a pattern of racketeering activity. Trump University is the enterprise in this case. To prove a civil RICO violation, the plaintiff must prove that Trump knowingly, willfully and unlawfully defrauded people by conducting or participating, directly or indirectly, in the affairs of the enterprise (Trump University) through a pattern of racketeering activity. The ‘racketeering activity’ alleged in this case was to carry out the fraud by using wire transmissions to transmit money and the U.S. Postal Service to transmit communications. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Trump devised and knowingly carried out a material scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain money by means of materially false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, or omissions of material facts that he communicated to others by committing multiple acts of mail fraud and wire fraud every day. In short, the complaint accuses him of using his name and Trump University to create the appearance of legitimacy to conceal a scheme to induce people to pay thousands of dollars to learn his secret knowledge to make millions of dollars by acquiring distressed or forfeited real estate properties at auctions for little more than the amount of the owner/borrower’s deficiency and reselling them later at fair market value for a substantial profit.

We have a name for this money-making venture. We call it ‘vulture capitalism’ by flipping distressed properties pursuant to a detailed method controlled by statute to recycle properties that buyers no longer can afford. There is nothing magical or secret about this method. It has been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years and anyone can learn how to do it for free from the comfort of their own home by using the internet. Trump misled people when he induced them to pay thousands of dollars for his ‘secret’ knowledge that he did not develop and did not own. Even worse, he never provided the statutory process that details how to do it.

More important, this investment method is not risk free and he did not warn them about the risks involved. Consider the game Musical Chairs, for example. The proverbial music stopped when the real estate bubble burst and the market collapsed in 2007/2008. Expanding one’s inventory of dirt cheap properties is not recommended when the real estate market has not reached a bottom and reset itself so that buyers and sellers have a sufficient basis to estimate fair market value. In fact, the housing market is still circling the drain in many parts of the country.

Most of the victims of this fraud were struggling financially and hoped to avert disaster by making a killing flipping real estate. Spending their last dime to further enrich Donald Trump without receiving anything of value in return must have wreaked havoc. There ought to be a special place reserved in hell for people who engage in predatory financial frauds that target vulnerable victims.


Trump’s defense of Trump University fails the straight-face test

June 3, 2016

Donald Trump appears to be going down on his Trump University scam. He’s made two arguments this week in support of his claim of innocence. Both arguments fail to pass the straight-face test. As you all know, good lawyers can come up with all sorts of arguments in support of their client’s position in litigation. Tha’ts what good lawyers are paid to do. The straight-face test is a simple litmus test for determining whether to make a particular argument. Rule of thumb: Don’t make an argument if you can’t keep a straight face when you make it. These arguments are ridiculous.

The first argument is that Trump University was legitimate because 98% of the students gave the program the highest rating possible. That’s true, however, they filled out the evaluations in front of their instructors who asked them for the highest rating and this happened before the students were given their certificates and permitted to leave the main meeting room. In other words, the forms were not filled out anonymously and they filled them out with the expectation that they would soon learn Trump’s secrets to buying and selling real estate. That didn’t happen.

Instead instructors, many of whom knew little or nothing about real estate, have provided sworn statements that the school was a scam and they were told to focus on persuading people to spend more money for the advanced courses. They were also told to pressure the students into giving the favorable ratings before they took the actual courses.

The second argument is that Trump has produced three people who claim to have taken the courses and prospered. They do not qualify as independent witnesses, however, because they are in business with Donald Trump.

Trump announced today at a rally in San Jose that the school was so successful that he plans to reopen Trump University. I wouldn’t bet the ranch that will happen since New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and California Attorney General Kamala Harris are suing Trump for committing fraud with Trump University. They will shut him down if he tries to reopen it.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan finally endorsed Trump today despite the Trump University fiasco and this brings me to my final point. How can any Republican politician endorse Trump. He has dropped the mask with his overtly racist comments about United States District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who happens to have a Hispanic name, but was born and raised in Indiana. The Trump University case was assigned to him and the Donald hates him because he is doing his job.

As the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, Trump is now the face of the party. That means the Republican Party now stands for racism, xenophobia, misogyny and hatred and conspiracy thinking. There is no way to separate Trump from his avid supporters. They are the Republican party.

If I were a Republican serving in the House or Senate, I would hold a press conference and announce that I was resigning from the Republican Party. It is, after all, the party of Abraham Lincoln. It’s the ethical thing to do.

Saying that you are going to vote for Trump because you can’t vote for Hillary is a cop out because it’s still a vote for Trump, who may well be the most vile, disgusting and least qualified human being to ever run for president.


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 . . .


Death with dignity should be a fundamental human right

April 24, 2016

Lindsey Bever of the Washington Post wrote on Friday,

One gunshot.

Then another.

Within minutes, a prominent death-with-dignity advocate was shot dead along with his ailing wife in an assisted living center in Florida.

Eighty-one-year-old Frank Kavanaugh — who served on the national advisory board for the Final Exit Network, an advocacy organization in the right-to-die debate — was discovered dead in the early morning hours Tuesday alongside his wife, 88-year-old Barbara Kavanaugh.

The couple was found at the Solaris HealthCare Charlotte Harbor center in Port Charlotte, Fla. Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Skip Conroy said the case is being investigated as a murder-suicide.

I support death with dignity via physician assisted suicide. There are any number of ways to design the process for the purpose of excluding a spur-of-the-moment decision based on situational depression. If the woman in this case could have opted for physician assisted suicide, she likely would have, given the information in the article. However, it was not an option.

My English teacher in high school did what Frank Kavanaugh did. She shot to death her terminally-ill-with-cancer lover and then drove to the police station where she committed suicide by shooting herself in the head. She left a note explaining why she did it.

I was shocked, of course, as all of us were, but we respected her decision and the courage it took to do what she did.

Since most people do not want to commit suicide and could not be talked into it, I doubt that physician assisted suicide would unleash a tsunami of suicides.

For more information, please read another story by Lindsey Bever about Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman who was terminally ill with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor. She chose to die with dignity in her own bed at home via physician-assisted suicide surrounded by her loved ones.

I would like to see death with dignity via physician-assisted suicide designated as a fundamental human right.

____________________________________________

PS: Rachel’s father passed peacefully early Saturday morning. Our cat, Byrd, was killed by a vehicle on the street behind our house at approximately the same time. We found his cold body lying in the street when we walked out to our car at dawn. I buried him deep in the woods on a hill overlooking a lake.


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