23 April 2018

Update no.851

Update from the Sunland
No.851
16.4.18 – 22.4.18
Blog version:  http://heartlandupdate.blogspot.com/

            Tall,

            Jeanne and I watched the Spielberg movie “The Post” about the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971—a helluva cinema event.  For those born short of my generation, you may not appreciate the significance of the events and the time portrayed in the movie, but everyone should know what happened during that time and why those events occurred.  Spielberg did a credible job at capturing those days and events. Unfortunately, the subject of the movie has direct applicability to the anti-Press campaign the BIC has persisted in waging today.

            Just a courtesy reminder: BIC = Bully In Chief . . . AKA the fellow in the Oval Office (a play on the constitutional commander-in-chief).  I simply find it difficult to repeat his name.  I look forward to the 46th President whomever that might be.

            The follow-up news items:
-- The BIC’s fixer Michael Cohen [837, 850], under orders from the judge in his case, had to disclose his client list.  He complied.  He had three clients in toto: the BIC, GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy (under a criminal cloud himself and his own payoff for silence case), and an unnamed third person.  According to Cohen’s attorneys, the third client had “directed Mr. Cohen to not reveal the identity publicly.”  The judge did not find that response acceptable and insisted upon disclosure to the bench.  Cohen chose to blurt out the third client was Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, who in turned denied engaging or retaining Cohen.  The disclosure does not bode well for Cohen or the BIC.  I expect the judge to reject the restraining order petition and allow the normal evidence assessment process to proceed. Hopefully, we do not have to wait too long.  As so many things associated with the BIC, I wonder why he so afraid of what Cohen might have to divulge?  The BIC has the authority to pardon Cohen, even before he his charged with any specific crimes; he cannot pardon or exclude the material seized by the FBI in the warranted searches.
-- This whole U.S.-DPRK summit affair remains one of those specific, singular actions/events that might well gain the BIC some degree of recovery in the dustbin of history. I am watching the evolution of this meeting with keen attention (as best I can as an observant private citizen). The disclosure this week that CIA Director Mike Pompeo met with DPRK dictator Kim Jong Un [836, 844/9] in Pyongyang in preparation for the summit offered encouragement. The disclosure was probably intended to bolster Pompeo’s lagging confirmation as the new secretary of state rather than illuminate the summit preparations.  Nonetheless, the administration’s outreach via the Pompeo visit was a positive move.  I am guardedly optimistic that positive change might be achieved for the Korean peninsula, for the region and perhaps even the world; however, the history of the DPRK’s conduct weighs down my optimism . . . or perhaps I must acknowledge my wishful thinking.  
-- Former FBI Director James Comey has been on a media blitz [850] upon publication of his book.  The two memoranda that he released to Columbia University Law Professor Daniel C. Richman and precipitated the Special Counsel investigation [804] were disclosed (redacted) this week.  Those memoranda were also marked and classified, which presents an enormous ethical dilemma and certainly reflects the reality that Comey was seriously between a rock and hard spot since he first acknowledged the FBI Clinton eMail server investigation [737, 760].  Comey himself redacted elements of one that he knew to be classified to protect secrets before he handed the documents over to his friend.  He determined at the time that another memo contained no classified information, but after he left the FBI, bureau officials upgraded it to “confidential,” the lowest level of classification.  One of many sad realities with all this, Comey was virtually forced to make his public statement on Clinton after the content of his procedural disclosure to Congress was leaked to the Press (I believe to this day that a Republican Member of Congress leaked that notification letter to create doubt about Hillary Clinton during the campaign; and the primary candidate for the source of that leak to the Press is Representative Devin Gerald Nunes of California, Chairman, HPSCI [840], probably on stimulation from his political benefactor).  Regardless of whether we agree with or support Comey, we must give him credit for standing to the mark and enduring brutal questioning on a public stage.  He is calm, balanced, articulate and very careful with his choice of words—quite the contrast with his tormentor.  
-- The Democratic National Committee has filed a civil suit, citing the Russian government, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks as defendants and accusing them of conspiring to interfere in the 2016 presidential election [782].  I understand the sentiment alleged in the suit.  However, I think the suit is ill advised, likely to be counter-productive and an extraordinary waste of resources on a low-yield endeavor. A far higher-yield path would be protecting the Special Counsel investigation [804], since Congress has proven itself wholly unable to properly investigate Russian election meddling.  So far, it appears the Russians may well have accomplished their objectives—cast doubt upon and weaken American democracy; it sure looks that way based on our present body of facts.

            Comments and contributions from Update no.850:
Comment to the Blog:
“Trump's campaign had significant contact with Russians and sought to conceal that fact. (I can state that much as simple fact at this point.)  Of course, they fear the investigation into Russian election activities.  Beyond that, the Mueller investigation has already uncovered criminal activity by Trump associates that is not the focus of their investigation and has referred that information to the appropriate authorities. Regardless of legal hair-splitting, if Trump attempts to remove Mueller he will be met with street protests and a great deal of other resistance.  The other investigations will also continue.
“Cap, your view of Tesla's choice not to cooperate with the NTSB investigation into the autonomous-vehicle accident comes only from your work history.  Tesla very likely seeks to influence the outcome of the investigation by bringing public pressure on the investigators.  While that is ethically questionable, it very much reflects the times in which we live.  Casting government as the villain has been the modus operandi of the various powerful people in the USA back to Reagan.
“I don't understand your unstated emotion about ABC's interview with James Comey.  I see zero new information there except that the prosecutor in Comey seeks to downplay the chance of an insanity plea by declaring that Trump is ‘morally’ unfit rather than mentally ill.  Comey has a best seller to market.  Pardoning Scooter Libby annoys me, but I'm accustomed to Trump admiring those I see as criminals.
“You continue to rail against Trump's outrageous rantings. Why?  Whatever the explanation, that's a familiar phenomenon by now.  Unlike Mr. Comey, I think Trump might appropriately plead insanity.
“Americans still need a longer perspective on how our government has come to this sad state.  It's not merely Trump or the current Congress that brought us down.  The genesis of our condition goes back to at least the Reagan campaign (including Oliver North et al.) on the Republican side and the advent of the Clinton Democrats on their side.  I'm remembering Johnny Carson's advice.  ‘If they buy the premise, they'll buy the bit.’  Reagan sold the ‘trickle down/greed is good/everybody else hates us white U.S. men’ premise thoroughly.  Enough voters to elect Trump still buy the bit.  The current Congress came about largely because of the gullibility of those Reagan voters.  (If you’re one of Reagan’s voters, I’d rather not offend you, but I stand by the statement.)  Unwilling to do the intellectual and emotional work of understanding their surroundings, they voted for emotionally soothing notions presented by a well-chosen grandfatherly actor.  It has taken hard work and big money for the oligarchs to keep that process going, but here we are.
“In this connection, I see Mueller as part of our deliverance, but the millennials as the larger piece.  They are the future in a literal sense, and they know what they are going through and understand the process I discussed.”
My response to the Blog:
            Hiding and lying about pre-election meetings with the Russians is not collusion.  The BIC may well be correct, i.e., there was no collusion.  Lying to federal investigators is a crime. Negotiating with a foreign government before the BIC became POTUS is unethical and also a crime (although it has never been prosecuted).  I have felt for some time now that the BIC’s mortal fear is not collusion, or the Russian interference in our election(s), but the potential exposure of shady business dealings, his real net worth, and his potential criminal activities in international business, e.g., bribery, money laundering, et cetera.  There are already signs Mueller may well be following the money and where the breadcrumbs lead his investigative team, e.g., their referral of the Cohen investigation to the U.S. Attorney in NY.
            Yes; precisely; and, my working experience, both military & civilian, covers more than a few aircraft accident investigations, i.e., time tested.  The structure of NTSB investigations has evolved over time.  While I broadly agree with and support the NTSB investigative process, I have one notable exception—the TWA 800 investigation; however, I chalk up that particular exception to political interference, which is not supposed to happen.
            Well, that is a slightly different perspective. I do not and never have believed or even suspected that he was / is clinically diagnosable as insane. I do absolutely agree with Comey’s assessment that the BIC’s sense of morality, however much might exist, is so far below any acceptable or even tolerable level, but that does not alter the reality that the BIC is the duly elected POTUS, and a paucity of morality is not an impeachable offense . . . until his absence of morality causes him to actually commit a crime.  I will also note that the BIC’s “shoot someone” public pronouncement is absolutely consistent with Comey’s “morally unfit” assertion.
            Your critique of my continued railings against the BIC’s incoherent rantings is quite appropriate; it serves no purpose beyond giving me some momentary, fleeting, sense of satisfaction . . . like recognizing a tornado.
            I do not have much to argue with in your genesis assessment.  I would add that the Tea Party Republicans have gained inordinate influence—they vote in the primaries.  Once the candidate is determined, the loyaltists fall in line regardless of the immorality of the candidate.  A commentator observed there is 35% of the electorate that will vote Republican no matter what; conversely, there are 35% who will vote Democrat no matter what.  That leaves 30% of moderates and independents who must decide between the lesser of two evils. Unless we start altering vote counts like Stalin consistently did, the oligarchs only have as much power as we give them.  For example, it is up to We, the People, to filter out the effects of yellow journalism or the weighted advertisements of the oligarchs.
            I’m afraid we shall have to hope and pray the millennials do sort it out.  Our generation has failed.  The cleaning of the house will take time.  There is always hope.
 . . . follow-up comments:
“Your analysis of Trump's legal situation is completely correct as far as I know but does not address the larger picture.  The important part, to me, is that Trump is clearly hiding some important facts and believes Mueller has begun to uncover them.  Trump has a personality that focuses on personal conflict rather than more moral or practical issues.  Thus, he sees Mueller as a personal enemy rather than understand that doing business and politics in certain ways will have consequences.  Trump's grasp of the legal details is probably beyond fuzzy.  Thus, Trump continues to attack Mueller. Mueller, not burdened by the personality focus, has wisely referred some of the legal issues to another authority.
“My point about your view of the Uber accident investigation is that you fail to see others' ‘reality.’  Uber's objective has little to do with helping outside investigators understand the nature of the accident. Corporations, by design, are self-serving.  Objectively helping the investigation (and submitting to its authority) would probably cost Uber money one way or another. That's an ethical issue, but it's not news.
“If there is a line between morality and sanity, it's exceedingly hard to find in cases like Trump's.
“Your description of voters (35% each Democrat and Republican, 30% independents) leaves out non-voters.  They are an increasing and important part of those who are eligible to vote.  In 2016, they (and I) voted for ‘neither of these,’ meaning neither Trump nor Clinton.  Speaking for myself, I refuse to vote for candidates I believe would further damage this country.  A plurality of registered voters either did not vote or, as I did, voted for a candidate with little chance of winning. Think about that.  If we counted all registered voters as expressing their opinion, neither Trump nor Clinton would be President.  ‘None of the above’ would have won by a large margin.  The candidate who can change that can defeat all others but will have to outsmart the oligarchs to wage a campaign.”
 . . . my follow-up response:
            I’m not sure I understand why you think I missed the larger picture.  Nonetheless, I do agree with your assessment.  The BIC has failed continuously to recognize the essence of the Russia investigation (begun by the FBI) was the offensive activities of Russia to muddy up our election (and others).  It was the firing of FBI Director Comey that precipitated the appointment of Special Prosecutor Mueller, as the specter of obstruction of justice exceeded tolerable levels.  He did this to himself, period, full stop!  Once his actions created the Special Counsel, the door was open to expose leads and follow the leads of any potential criminal activity . . . far beyond the instigating Russia investigation.  If he had just encouraged the FBI Russia investigation and supported that investigation, he would most likely not be in the pickle he is today.  It is my considered opinion that he had far more to hide in his business dealings than he ever had from collusion with respect to the election.  He simply could never get passed his personal perception of individual focus, i.e., in his mind, the investigation had to be about him personally, because everything (including the Sun) revolves around him—the ultimate consequence of extreme narcissistic egocentricity.
            To my knowledge, Uber is cooperating, as is Volvo who owns the technology.  It is Tesla who is resisting.  I would agree, the profit motive is probably driving Tesla’s uncooperative position.  Tesla owned the technology involved in their accident.  What I refuse to accept, the aircraft manufacturers have the same, if not far greater, investment in the engineering and technology of their products. Again, to my knowledge, none of the aircraft manufacturers have ever resisted NTSB investigations, and by their participation, they have very rarely dissented from any investigation, including TWA 800.
            The BIC’s paucity of morality presents extraordinary threats and challenges given the constitutional powers we have given him.
            Well, now, I must confess my mistake and relevant error.  I have always assumed (until now) that electorate meant those who voted.  The dictionary definition is far broader . . . those eligible or allowed to vote.  Thus, you are precisely correct.  I failed to acknowledge abstentions by intention, neglect or ignorance.  The comment and my reflection were focused on the narrow portion of those citizens who actually voted.  Likewise, I acknowledge that the lesser of two evils in the last election may well have turned off a significant number of voters, and by their abstention, we have what we have today.  Of all the available candidates, I voted for what I believed was the best of the lot.  That said, I cannot disagree with your assessment, except “none of the above” results in no viable commander-in-chief.

            Mvery best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cheers,
Cap                        :-)