The Hottest Places in Hell Are Reserved for Those Who in a Period of Moral Crisis Maintain Their Neutrality—Dante


With the loss of 17 young lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida the United States is now engaged in a soul-searching mission like never before. Young people have taken to the streets and voicing their opinions with a “take no prisoners attitude.” No subject is off limits regarding gun control or other control mechanisms. And there is no shortage of ideas on what to do about the problem of mass murder in the face of opposition from the gun lobby.

Ninety years ago Will Rogers said, “America has the best politicians money can buy.” You know what? He was right. Politicians, particularly conservative Republicans, have sold their souls for the almighty dollar. Some might even say, “They’ve sold their soul to the devil by trading on the death and suffering of others.”

Influence of NRA on American Politics

Gun manufacturers, NRA lobbying groups, and Congressional and Senatorial political entities, who’ve been bought by the NRA, are all collectively—Merchants of Death.

Rationalizations from these economically-driven piranhas would suggest that it’s all done to defend the Second Amendment. Nothing could be further from the truth (more explained later). The real motivation underlying NRA actions is money, plain and simple. For them, lobbying and paying out large sums of money is an investment in future profits. How much money is the NRA worth? More than five years ago, (December 2012), the National Rifle Association had $227.8 million in revenues and $163 million in the worth of their assets.

I would estimate now that this organization has a combined (revenues and assets) in excess of ½ billion dollars.

In 2017, total lobbying expenditures paid out by the National Rifle Association were $5,122,000 on behalf of the Gun Rights industry.  This included $4,802,000 for the Parent National Rifle Association and $320,000 for its subsidiary Institute for Legislative Action.

In the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to support Donald Trump and they spent an additional $19,756,346 to oppose Hillary Clinton. That’s over $31 million spent on one presidential race. No organization would pony up that much money unless they expected an excellent return on their investments.

Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights.

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals, while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices. State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right, per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.

Please note that the right to bear arms is not unlimited. This is a significant interpretation of U.S. Constitutional law. 

I mentioned earlier that the rationalization of the NRA is money, not the Second Amendment. This is because they know they can influence and buy politicians like purchasing cattle or sheep, but engaging in criminal activity and bribing federal judges at the Supreme Court, District Courts of Appeal, or lower district courts is quite a different matter. Courts are powerful. And legal interpretation and analysis is always needed. I must point out to my readers that calling a Supreme Court justice liberal or conservative may not necessarily help one predict how they analyze data or how they are going to vote. For example, I was struck by the legal reasoning of the late conservative United States Supreme Court justice Anthony Scalia.

Back in 2012 he was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox Sunday News. Here is the gist of what he had to say on Fox news about the Second Amendment:

The conservative justice notably authored the Supreme Court’s 2008 opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, which ruled that the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to bear arms and struck down a D.C. ban on handguns. The court also ruled, though, that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” Scalia pointed out  that that the Second Amendment “obviously” doesn’t apply to weapons that can’t be hand-carried and modern-day weapons like “hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes” weren’t factored in at the time of the writing of the Constitution.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that there are “undoubtedly” limits to a person’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, but that future court cases will have to decide where to draw the line.

Where to draw the line

I would like to say something about the logic and thinking that needs to be considered about drawing such a line between individual gun rights on the one hand, and limitations of gun rights on the other.

With respect to Anthony Scalia’s statement that future courts will have to decide where to draw the line, it tells me that sociologically speaking, legal interpretation of the law cannot completely divorce itself from making value judgments. This is why there is always a window of opportunity for both liberal and conservative justices to put forth their own political or ideological spin on any particular case.

The implication of Scalia saying future judges must decide where to draw the line suggests that the fine points of legal reasoning are, at its core, predicated on both values as well as facts in a particular case. Whenever you hear any judge use the term “reasonableness” when rendering any legal decision, that is your clue to know that values (are) were part of that decision.

What are the implications of all this? Courts don’t make laws per se; that’s what legislative branches of government do. Courts however are charged with interpreting laws. In theory it is a good system; in reality however no system is perfect. And even what a “perfect” decision-making system would be ultimately is still based on value judgments.

But the courts don’t get much help from legislative bodies. Why? Because our democratic political system doesn’t work when politicians can be bought or sold. When that happens our political system becomes tainted and stinks of undue influence. Put another way, the public’s interests and concerns matter little except at election time. And even then more is promised but little is ever delivered.

Since values are critical to decision making (legal or otherwise) think about this! What kind of insanity would exist if “right to bear arms” was interpreted to include: military tanks, RPGs, bazookas, flame throwers, or should I say it—the right to have an atomic bomb in everyone’s one’s garage. Why not, if that was ever permissible under the Second Amendment? Oh! But you’re going to say—that’s insane. Tell me folks, is that really any more insane than an AR-15, automatic weapons made into killing machines from bump stocks, or high-powered, high capacity magazine rifles used with the goal of murdering scores of people, including teenagers and children? You draw your line; I know I’ve drawn mine.

Being Upfront with my Readers

     I am not unbiased in my feelings about this issue. I’m a gun owner and a really tough old navy veteran in my 70s. Nevertheless, as emotionally strong as anyone, I totally lost it one day back in December 2012 when the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.in Connecticut took place.

Pictures of 20 first grade students were shown on the TV. Their young faces caught my attention immediately and cut me to the core. I broke down in tears and sobbed like a young child; my tears were uncontrollable. Did I personally know any of these people? No! But it didn’t matter. I am a human being with feelings and I care about humanity as much as I care about my own family. A piece of me died that day.

If any horrific event like the Sandy Hook slaughter was ever going to bring about change it had to be this tragedy of tragedies. Nevertheless, Republicans in both houses of Congress, backed by the NRA, prevented any change at all. Republicans from the Freedom Caucus, Tea Party and some conservative Senators were still genuflecting, and bowing down in supplication before the high priests of money—those powerful merchants of death—the NRA.

Now, we have a psycho in the White House to make matters worse. Not only is he a carbon copy of his ultra-conservative stooges but he is, by his actions with the Russians, a traitor to his country. He is the Benedict Arnold of our time.

Donald Trump came to Washington to drain the swamp. Come this November we’re going to help him do that. But it won’t be what he expects. If he isn’t already impeached by then, the millennials, along with one “angry as hell” public, are going to remove every shameless, immoral, political reprobate bought and paid for by the NRA.




Once you have money and fame, the next thing you should expect is scandal and shame

Michael Bassey Johnson

     Recent news articles have brought more attention to one of the most likely criminal activities of Donald Trump—Money Laundering. Money laundering is the concealment of the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by means of transfers involving foreign banks or legitimate businesses.

Or, said another way—It is concealment or transformation of profits from illegal activities and corruption into ostensibly “legitimate” assets.

After the money is “cleaned” it can be used in the mainstream economy for accumulation of wealth, such as acquisition of properties, or otherwise spent on things like golf courses, resorts, or a lavish lifestyle or on anything else the money launderer wishes to acquire.



The following is a recent article, titled:

Deutsche Bank: Where the Dots of Russiagate Connect

“In this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, Martin Sheil, a retired branch chief of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, shows how the modern history of Deutsche Bank follows a trajectory that brought the bank to the center of worldwide money laundering operations.

In its efforts to grow rapidly, Deutsche Bank threw away traditional ideas of risk management. In their pursuit of fees and earnings, bank executives got into business with some of the world’s most shady and financially needy characters: Russian oligarchs, President Donald Trump, the Kushner’s, the Mercers, Paul Manafort, Vladimir Putin and many other key Russiagate figures are among their customers.

Time and again, Deutsche Bank brought Trump and the Russians closer together. In fact, even when the relationship with Trump almost fell apart over a lawsuit, the financial institution just moved the real estate mogul to another part of the bank that put him in even closer proximity to Russians.

According to Sheil, the Russians were and are still the world champions of money laundering, and Deutsche Bank was the major vehicle for their manipulations. Given the financial needs of Trump and his cronies, it is hardly surprising that they became part of this worldwide dark web.

If you haven’t had the chance to read Parts 1 and 2 of Sheil’s comprehensive and arresting look at Deutsche Bank and its connection to Trump and a global array of shady characters, this is an opportunity to get a full overview of the story before Part 3 appears next week.”

Deutsche Bank’s checkered Past

One of the least known aspects of the Deutsche Bank’s past was their relationship to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich before and during World War II. In a 2015 book, Lurking in the Shadows: German Sabotage in America during WWI and its Impact on Future Legislation, author Roy V. Lewis pointed out, “It’s important to know today that Deutsche Bank had a checkered past during part of the 20th Century. After Adolf Hitler came to power, instituting The Third Reich, Deutsche Bank dismissed its three Jewish Board members in 1933.

In subsequent years, Deutsche Bank took part in the ‘aryanization’ of Jewish-owned businesses. According to its own historians, the bank was involved in 363 such confiscations by November, 1938. During the war, Deutsche Bank incorporated other banks that fell into German hands during the occupation of Eastern Europe. Deutsche Bank provided banking facilities for the Gestapo and loaned funds used to build the Auschwitz camp and the nearby IG Farben facilities.

Deutsche Bank revealed its involvement in Auschwitz in February, 1999. In December 1999 Deutsche Bank, along with other major German companies, contributed to a United States $5.2 billion compensation fund following lawsuits brought by Holocaust survivors. The history of the Deutsche Bank during the Second World War has been documented by independent historians commissioned by the Bank.”

Muller’s Investigation

In another article by Cortney O’Brien that was posted on January 30th, is of great importance. It was titled:

Former Clinton Senior Counsel Speculates the Real Reason Trump Is Nervous About Mueller Investigation

“President Trump’s blatant interruptions into the Robert Mueller investigation suggest he truly believes he’s innocent in the Russian collusion claims, according to Paul Rosenzweig, former Senior Counsel to President Bill Clinton. Were he guilty, Trump would be ‘more cautious’ than to so publicly condemn the investigation, Rosenzweig wrote in a new piece for The Atlantic. You can’t get much louder than dismissing the investigation as a ‘witch hunt.’


Still, something clearly has Trump unnerved, and Rosenzweig thinks it has something to do with his business dealings.

Wisps of information in the wind suggest a far different, deeper concern. The president’s finances have always been suspect. Some have thought them resting on shaky foundations. Ongoing investigations have looked to his banking and investments as well as those of his closest family. Several of the special counsel’s prosecutorial hires specialize in money-laundering cases—an odd specialty for an election fraud/computer-hacking case (which, basically, is what the Russia investigation amounts to). Perhaps, just perhaps, it is that investigation that has motivated the president’s response. (The Atlantic)

But, he even need not fear money laundering charges, because those too are not likely to get him indicted, however, Rosenzweig predicts. He sees little reason to believe anything is going to result in an indictment for Trump. At most, Mueller will create a report of his findings for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (since Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.)

On Monday night, the House of Representatives voted to release a memo detailing abuses at the FBI. House Speaker Paul Ryan said the memo may provide some compelling evidence for bias at the agency, but it should be considered separate from the Mueller investigation.

‘This is a completely separate matter from Bob Mueller’s investigation, and his investigation should be allowed to take his course,’ Ryan said.”

Review of Politics and Motivations of the Republican Party

Normal people may be very puzzled by the genuflecting behavior of the Republican Party in Congress toward Donald Trump. Such unwarranted servility begs the question: What in the hell is their motivation to subjugate their own honor and integrity by supporting the worst president in history?  They back a man whose behavior gives new meaning to the word degenerate.

It turns out Republicans want to shield Donald Trump because they have something to hide. And because of this they have collectively dishonored themselves and the institutions of democracy. So, what is it they are trying to hide? They are trying to cover up their intense fear that they will be destroyed in future elections because of changing population demographics and their lack of support from younger generations of voters, independents and college-educated women.

Progressive culture changes in younger citizens and other voters threaten Republicans’ very existence. Because Republicans figured this out by themselves, it reminds me of the famous quote by John Stewart Mill. That quote was “Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative.” Evidently, Republicans can make use of data on occasion when it personally suits and affects them.

In general however facts are normally the enemy for Republican survival. This applies especially to the political world of Washington, D.C. and elsewhere in Republican-held State legislatures throughout the country.

In all likelihood hope for Republicans winning any seats in the 2018 mid-term elections are slim to none. They believe this, and that is why many high level Republicans in Congress have chosen not to seek re-election in 2018 or 2020. They are bailing out like rats during a flood. The flood this time is majority opinion in the country. Why has this happened?

The reasons are simple. Republicans, for too long, have been acting as only a self-serving political party. They believe beyond all else—Party First, and let the Public be damned.

The Republicans have been in control of Congress since 2010 for just one major reason—to successfully disenfranchise  the American voter. Supporting strategies for their success have been to engage in  promoting public voter apathy through lies, voter suppression through State Legislatures, and the most colossal miscarriage of justice ever enacted—Gerrymandering. The deleterious effect of Gerrymandering (carried out at different times by both political parties in America) is a dishonest and disloyal perversion of the American democratic process. This political process is the ultimate tool in voter disenfranchisement.

For Republicans, the underlying sociological basis of their deceit is based on the social issue of race. The lily white Freedom Caucus, for example, has a psychologically terrifying fear known as White Fright/ White Flight. Such fear, of course, is totally irrational.

And the irrationality they feel exists on many levels. Rather than embrace diversity as a badge of social justice to be worn proudly; they simply fear they will become a white minority that will lose control.

The great irony is that Republicans have a tendency to misread their social environment completely. The greatest diversity of all is not groups. It is the individual where everyone is different yet similar in so many ways. The most important similarity among all of us is that (1) looking at our true origins we are all Afrikaners whose ancestors moved out of Africa some 160,000-200,000 years ago. We all share the same origin making us all truly brothers and sisters under the same sun, and (2) we are all human beings deserving of love, respect and a chance to grow.

Republicans today need to stop thinking like a mindless neophyte from the 19th Century, and start living like an intelligent and more socially relevant human being in the 21st Century. In other words, they need to see the “big picture,” not the minutia of everyday prejudice and bigotry.

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both—Dwight David Eisenhower

Some of the objectives I’m about to describe are my political hopes for 2018 are tongue-in-cheek. But some items I am deadly serious about. One hint: I really do want President Trump impeached early in 2018. Some of the other objectives follow from this. It’s up to you to decide whether the ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are something you’d like to see happen in 2018.
This holiday season each of us sees the future as we would personally like it to be. Here are my wishes and hopes for 2018:

Goal: A Better Country and World

Donald Trump is impeached in early 2018 for Obstruction of Justice and other crimes.

The Freedom Caucus is utterly destroyed in the November, 2018 mid-term elections
After November, 2018 Republicans will cease to exist as a viable political party in the United States.
There will be no war with North Korea.
Black Ops from the CIA will be put in charge to do diplomacy with North Korea: Like the Gambino crime family, Black Ops will make Kim Jong-Un “an offer he cannot refuse.”
The people of Russia will overthrow Vladimir Putin.
The people of Iran will overthrow its Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights will become World Law for all nations to adhere to.
The United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division will put forth the effort to investigate all police shootings in the United States.
Betsy (Elizabeth Dee DeVos), the educational Czar in the Trump Administration, will be fired.
Jim Jordan, the Republican Congressman from Ohio will be impeached along with his other Freedom Cauca’s cronies for Obstruction of Justice.
Core diehard Trump supporters will be deported from the United States for treasonous acts of disloyalty, lack of voter competence and outright un-American values that are anti-thetical to our country’s laws, the United States Constitution, and the principled institutions of our democracy.
The United States government in 2018 will no longer accept the now defunct “Trickle-Down-Economics Theory” of job creation. Instead its Guiding Principle will be [not promises of job creation] but stipulating and connecting tax breaks to actual jobs created. Otherwise, the tax cut money will be treated as a loan to be repaid to the United States government. Said another way No Business or Corporate welfare or gifts allowed. We want results not promises.

If all of these hopes and wishes were to come to fruition in 2018 it would indeed make America Great Again. Below is a little humor to entertain you as we enter 2018.

  • “So enjoy your victory, Trump voters! Because when you’re dying because you don’t have health insurance to treat the infection you got from a back alley abortion you had to get because of fetal lead poisoning, you can say to yourself, ‘At least I didn’t vote for someone with a private email server.'” –Bill Maher
  • “As you know, Trump is being accused of sexual misconduct by a slew of women. Of course, that is a case of ‘he said’ and ‘she said, she said, she said, she said, she said.'” –Jimmy Kimmel
  • “Trump denied the (groping) allegations, calling them ‘ludicrous’ at a rally today. But here’s the problem for Trump: There’s very good reason to believe he did what he’s accused of. Why? Because an irrefutable, inside source told us so: Donald Trump. Donald Trump is his own Deep Throat. He’s Creep Throat.” –Seth Meyers

Enjoy 2018 everyone!!!

Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Sociological Context of Values
Social values form an important part of culture in society. The broadest conduit through which values are formed includes folk ways, mores, and codified rules known as laws.
It is a sociological observation that values influence every aspect of human behavior and belief in every society. It is “a person’s principles or standards of behavior, one’s judgment of what is important in life.”
Some values are relatively unimportant while the principled “inner-core values” of an individual are ingrained from childhood and are considered of great importance. Why are ingrained values so important? It is because principled core values form the basis of one’s own identity.
So what are Values?
Values are defined as, “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” Besides beliefs about the value of something, at a higher level of abstraction, values are tied, not just to objects or minor preferences, but to human conduct with a moral assessment (or belief) about what is considered “right” and “wrong.”
Donald Trump’s Values
Much of human behavior in this and every other society is the result of values people hold. In America today, under the Trump administration, there are hidden values that belie and confute as a smokescreen for white nationalism. White nationalism is itself the antithesis of long-standing American values that are embodied in both the people of this country and documented through the United States Constitution.
What motivates most White nationalists is a fear of losing power and privilege in what sociologists so accurately describe as “white fright/white flight.” The nexus of this social phenomenon of “white fright/white flight” is its unadulterated circumlocution to racism.
Live and let live is a concept that is absolutely foreign to the White nationalist in America. And, it is important to point out to my reader that any world view is also influenced by one’s core and collective values. Never are these values more socially destructive as when prejudice translates into behavior known as discrimination.
Donald Trump’s World View
Donald Trump’s world view of white nationalism is reflected in his disguised view of his own racially motivated behavior. This includes: (1) his racial discrimination in preventing African Americans from renting Trump properties in the 1970s (2) his ruthless morally critical and cruel castigation of the Central Park Five (five African American young men that were falsely incarcerated in the Central Park jogger case). This case concerned the assault, rape, and sodomy of Trisha Meili, a female jogger. That crime occurred on April 19, 1989), (3) his repudiation of a Hispanic judge over a legal case involving Trump himself, (4) his total disrespect of the Muslim Kahn family, a gold star military family, that had lost their son in Iraq, and (5) more recently, his incompetent offensive mishandling of a condolence call to the widow of La David Johnson, an African Staff Sergeant who was killed in Niger. These racially biased views of Donald Trump and his White nationalism protecting whites and their historical position of dominance and privilege, reflect his values.
Values can either bring people together or split people apart. Values are just values until one gets to the notion of “value judgments” made collectively or by individuals. Donald Trump’s base reflects the values of racism and White nationalism as a collectivity, In Washington D.C. today the mouthpiece for these White nationalist values falls primarily on just one individual—Donald Trump.

Nationalism as a World View
Nationalism is the belief that your country is superior, without question or doubt. In some cases, nationalism can inspire people to break free of a foreign oppressor, as in the American Revolution, but nationalism can also lead a country to cut itself off from the rest of the world. American isolationism prior to the onset of World War II was a self-protection world view.
“From a political or sociological outlook, there are three main paradigms for understanding the origins and basis of nationalism. The first, known as primordialism or perennialism, sees nationalism as a natural phenomenon. It holds that, although the concept of nationhood may be recent, nations have always existed.
The second paradigm is ethno symbolism, which is a complex perspective seeking to explain nationalism by contextualizing it throughout history as a dynamic, evolutionary phenomenon and by further examining the strength of nationalism as a result of the nation’s subjective ties to national symbols imbued with historical meaning.
The third and most dominant paradigm is modernism, which sees nationalism as a recent phenomenon that needs the structural conditions of modern society to exist.” Also, “National symbols and flags, national anthems, national languages, national myths and other symbols of national identity are highly important in nationalism.” Does this ring a bell anyone?
Trump’s appreciation and fondness of world dictators is a very troubling insight into his character. Trump’s general manifestation of paranoia is tied to his psychological suspicions of the American values of inclusiveness, an open society, and a country stepped in the values of the Bill of Rights. Donald Trump, the wannabe dictator bears an uncanny similarity to a very vicious nationalist of the 1930s—Germany’s Adolf Hitler, who kept his secret agenda away from the German people until he had seized total control and power.
In order to better clarify this often perplexing phenomena of differing values one must glean at least some semblance of insight from the field of sociology. The emotional life of the individual is best understood by studying psychology. But our emotional life is definitely intertwined with our identity, reflected in the many beliefs and values one holds.
To understand any group is to look at their professed and sometimes hidden values. To understand the individual is to focus on the mental or emotional state of the individual and its interplay with the values one holds. This type of scientific study or analysis is a very complex undertaking when it seeks to test hypotheses across academic disciplines. One very influential book written tying individual needs or characteristics to sociological constructs of beliefs and values was the seminal work of Eric Hoffer’s 1951 book, The True Believer.” I recommend this book to everyone. Despite the fact this book was published more than 66 years ago, it is of great relevance today. It will provide great insight into the bizarre, confusing and strange government we have now led by Republicans.
Final Comments
Collectively, values can either pull people together in a common cause and direction (e.g., during a hurricane or during a terrorist attack like September 11th), or split people apart along the lines of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or no religion), education, age, or social class.
The values of Donald Trump, his supporters and white nationalists, favor the politics of division. They are the dividers in our society with hidden motives related to the sociological concept of “white fright//white flight.”
Currently political values are playing a major role in dividing people like never before. My sense is that hatred between the political right and political left is at an all-time high. Ideologues and intransigent demagogues on both the far right and the far left care little about democracy. And there unfortunately has been a decline in those of the political center. These are people and voters I would characterize as rational centrists.
Rational centrists tend to see the world through the prism of data and logic, not exclusively by dogma or bias. They value the principles this country was founded on—equality, justice and freedom for all.
I would be remiss if I did not point out that there is an inescapable “truth. And that “truth” is that bias and prejudice exist in all of us, yet, it is also true that we possess a living document more sacred than the Bible, Torah, or the Koran put together. And for Americans that document is the Constitution of the United States and its most honored principles—The first 10 amendments to the Constitution known as the Bill of Rights.
Right now our country has a colossal failure in the White House. He is a miserable, insecure, mentally unbalanced buffoon. Nevertheless, the predominantly Republican Congress can’t seem to differentiate between real moral conviction in protecting democracy, and their own self-serving, self-aggrandizing motives.
As French sociologist and political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) said in the 18th Century, “everybody feels the evil, but no one has courage or energy enough to seek the cure.” What is the cure to all this widespread American misery? It’s called impeachment.

Breaking News
And, as I write this Blog putting the finishing touches to it, there is great news. On Friday October 27th Special Counsel and Investigator Robert Mueller announced that a grand jury he had convened has brought the very first charges into the Russian probe of the 2016 election.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “At least one person was charged Friday in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to people familiar with the matter. That person could be taken into custody as soon as Monday, these people said. The number and identity of the defendants, and the charges, couldn’t be determined.
A spokesman for Mr. Mueller, Peter Carr, declined to comment. The news of the charges, marking the first in Mr. Mueller’s investigation, was reported by CNN on Friday.”

He came out of the gold-plated suites and privileged classes of New York, screwing over others as an unbearable dork.
A loan from his father made it really all possible. But he helped to create a son who was insecure and irascible.
A braggart and a playboy he soon became, shamelessly flaunting his wealth with nobody but himself to blame.
But woe-is-me his elitist education and job success couldn’t correct a defective personality, given his proclivity for lying and womanizing and that was his reality.
By night he had the morals of an alley cat, but in the daylight of business he was nothing but a “dirty” little rat. Some women nonetheless saw him as somebody’s Mr. Right, despite the fact he really wasn’t too bright.
Onward and upward ever did he go, trampling people and businesses just for show. Oh my! He went ahead buying and building, building and buying, buildings that could reach the sky, that he was somehow the perfect guy who ended up so high.
But soon his empire began to crumble, implode and abort, when he finally started to end up in bankruptcy court.
He desperately wanted to be wealthy beyond all belief, but when his Atlantic City and fraudulent Trump University ended in a legal brief, it caused contractors and students alike only misery and grief. With this business failure and his tumbling fall, they began to feel he was not a clever business mogul at all. Soon the public began recognizing he always wanted others to take the blame, for his bad business decisions and that brought him much shame.
. He began to have dreams that he was some kind of Adonis and God’s gift to women with whom he was never modest. He liked to grope and fondle women any time he wanted, and cavalierly act and never be undaunted.
It is alleged he raped, beat and threatened a young girl of 13 in 1994; he believed he could get away with it, after all, he thought; she was just a little whore.
The irony of ironies surfaced just five years earlier when Trump couldn’t be anything but surlier, when he accused and condemned publicly like a shark, five minority teenage boys of raping and beating a white female jogger in New York City’s Central Park.
Exoneration followed when the five young men were released from prison when justice had finally arisen. Trump continued his aggression because of his obsession despite the fact their convictions were vacated based on DNA evidence and a murderer’s confession.
Trump enjoys hurting innocent people; it’s his way of feeling superior like a rising phoenix soaring above a church steeple. Just like a criminal offender who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client, Trump looks in his own mirror and sees an awesome 10 foot giant. Delusions of grandeur follow him everywhere, but he, quite frankly, doesn’t really give a damn or a care.
Bigger and bigger his fantasies did grow, till one day he could even see his own glow. .He thought to himself I am the anointed one, and wouldn’t it be so much fun to become the next president for which there is no precedent. He dwelled on this fantasy ‘till one day he thought he really should be president and become the White House’s next resident. Didn’t you know, it was all just to be a really big TV reality show?
Elected he was and that caused such a buzz. The American people immediately went into a catastrophic depression, hoping beyond hope his actions wouldn’t bring war, locus, petulance or even a recession.
He and his tweeter have created much theater. This barbarian has many short comings because his tweets are like non-sensical nothings. His arguments and statements are mostly fallacious and he desperately needs an editor to deal with his thinking processes that are non-sequitur.
He bragged about crowds being larger than ever, thinking his lies would make him look clever. Despite losing to Hillary Clinton by 3 million in the popular vote, he tried to hide his lack of support behind his ugliest, ugliest gloat.
One of Trump’s greatest mistakes came back to punch him in the chin, 21 days after he had appointed then terminated a security advisor named Flynn. Successes by Trump seem to elude him making him feel all the more grim. What can you expect from the president, who Senator Mitch McConnell said, “Our New president, of course, has not been in this line of work before.” and probably thought to himself he’s really just a baboon and a jerk?
Running a government in today’s world is no small matter. The only thing Trump has going for him is his egotistically-driven swagger. Trump has done nothing to really help his own base, other than to generate divisiveness based on someone’s race.
It seems a delusional state can always amass, when followers follow him and his values so crass, and values everyone should dump in the trash. Collectively, Trump and his ardent followers are headed toward the gates of hell, where they all together one day will dwell.
This charlatan and con man extraordinaire with his authoritarian personality and outlook on life, is creating a country with too much strife. The Nazis, KKK and white nationalists came out of the woodwork, to sing the praises of their anointed God in the White House and put to sleep forever any notion of sanity, because everywhere they go they are nothing but a calamity promoting their insanity.
Playing to his base or his white-nationalist Homies he showed he was dictator of all the people by firing Mr. Comey. Mr. Comey was a distinguished director of the FBI and was forced to be laid-off, so Trump could continue to run the government like an evil despicable man named Adolf.
He tries to convince everyone he is really a tough guy and a smart-looking social dandy, but most believe this is a façade; he’s really a sissy-like pansy. He walks around the White House like a Peacock in heat, thinking about how best to construct his next tweet.
Final Poetic Comments
Most people in the country wanted to puke at the fluke of the 2016 election. They wanted to wish it away, keep him at bay, and never be president—not a single day. He brought the American public to tears, by creating incipient anguish and playing to their worst fears.
History books must omit any mention of American’s greatest political rake, while Trump voters come to accept the fact that they caused our country’s greatest mistake.
When he leaves office there will be no statutes or honors to bestow upon Trump, except for that golden calf that will bring such wrath. Once again Moses will come down from Mount Sinai and chastise Trump supporters for their wanting an autocracy instead of a democracy, all because of their fatuous idolatry.
But another group known as elected republicans can share in the blame as well, because come midterm election day in 2018, they have about as much chance of surviving the election as a snowball in hell.
Trump has surprised everyone by working with democrats to do something to perhaps end their stale-matted combats. At stake today are the lives of 800,000 DACA immigrants who are often treated without respect and fear their departure might be imminent.
Republicans want no role in helping these people stay in America, because love of humanity is for them just too esoterica. They never want to help blacks, Hispanics, Asians or other minorities, the socially disenfranchised, or the lower economic classes. This is because that would defy the moneymakers and republicans always need to dehumanize the masses. Just like the 1994 Contract with America failed and never came to pass, the voters in 2018 need to kick them all out on their ass.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with being a political conservative; however, it’s just better to choose to be a forward-looking liberal alternative. After all, no conservative is perfect because he lives in the past where time waits for no one, and he hides behind false narratives and the rhetoric of divisiveness, and can’t get legislation through Congress, because of his lack of purpose and decisiveness.
At the heart of a republican’s defect is the inability to put themselves in the shoes of another, or to act benevolently like a caring big brother. Words like sympathy and empathy have great meaning, but republicans prefer to treat others with an attitude that is de-meaning. Remember the sage advice we heard in our youth sometimes out of the blue, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.”
Bigots and bandits the Republican Party does comprise, for an informed public that should come as no surprise. Trump the con man played the public for fools and pretended to drain the swamp by changing all the rules. He’ll never keep his promises or create a new promised land. He will bypass any original campaign promises with a sigh, because at heart Donald Trump only believes in one thing—“Me, Myself and I.”
Donald Trump is kind of existential threat to humanity, creating through his executive orders a state of mass insanity. He is not unlike all the nut cases in Samuel Beckett’s 1952 play, “Waiting for Godot,” where they demonstrate that life has no meaning at all, and only suffering, or didn’t you know? That is, he is more than a threat to our mere existence. He threatens our entire way of life, underlying American values and Constitution, all at his insistence.
Impeachment Impeachment where do we stand? It’s waiting for witnesses to take the stand. Obstruction of Justice, Abuse of Power, collusion with Russians, financial crimes and mental incapacitation will soon be terms that are much much clearer, once the House prosecutors and the Senate jury get nearer, to impeaching that garish rogue who thought he was in vogue, who came on the scene despite being obscene.
It’s a sad commentary on American life that we’ve all had to bear witness to a real life tragicomedy in the White House for almost 9 months now. Why has there been any comedic aspect to it? It’s because every time Donald Trump or his surrogates opened their mouth, I was constantly laughing like hell!!! Once again, I say this from my heart; it demonstrates just how peculiar it is when life imitates art.

Donald Trump’s Presidency in Jeopardy
Impeachment Now on the Horizon

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. The Constitution, Article I, Section 3: The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments.
Donald Trump’s approval rating is at a 70-year low; it is now at 36 percent. In the months ahead there is a high probability that the presidency of Donald Trump will come to an end in impeachment or resignation. It will be the culmination of an intensive investigation by the Special Prosecutor and intelligence committees in both the House and Senate.
When it comes to criminal charges (and this is my best guess) many people in the Trump Administration, including Donald Trump himself, will be charged with criminal offenses or violations of constitutional law or other federal laws. Without boring my audience and re-hashing all of the things that have led to a failed Trump presidency, I think this Blog would better serve an audience by going over the impeachment process that will be carried out, factors related to the motivation of the Russians to hack our election, and something rather unique in all this, i.e., the concept of “life imitating art” or “art imitating life.” This latter concept will be explained against the backdrop of the strange, often bizarre relationship between the reality of a Trump presidency and the fantasy of the entertainment industry of which he was a part. Explanation will follow shortly.
In addition, it will be important to describe what this author believes was the real underlying motivation of Vladimir Putin to direct a cyber-attack against the United States during and preceding the American presidential election of 2016.
I doubt that President Trump will be removed from office because of treason because the United States is not currently in a “declared war.” However, sharing classified information (top secret, secret, or confidential) with officials of a foreign (albeit enemy) country is a federal crime tantamount to espionage. In addition, the following crimes may come into play during the impeachment process of Donald Trump. These crimes include:
• Obstruction of Justice
• Abuse of Power
• Violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emolument Clause
• Espionage
• Violation of federal laws related to financial or political corruption including illegal campaign finance laws and regulations

The following is an article by Charlie Savage for the New York Times, dated May 17, 2017 and describes how the impeachment process works.

How the Impeachment Process Works
“WASHINGTON — The account from the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey of President Trump pressing him to drop an investigation into Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, has escalated talk among the president’s critics that his actions may amount to obstruction of justice and grounds for impeachment.
Asking F.B.I. to drop an investigation is obstruction of justice, Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. ‘Obstruction of justice is an impeachable offense.’
But several legal specialists across party lines cautioned that talk of impeachment was premature while the facts remained unclear; the White House has denied that Mr. Trump pressured Mr. Comey to drop the case.
Still, the early chatter has heightened interest in how the impeachment process works. Here’s what you need to know:
What is impeachment?
The Constitution permits Congress to remove presidents before their term is up if enough lawmakers vote to say that they committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Only three presidents have been subjected to impeachment proceedings. Two were impeached but acquitted and stayed in office: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 and 1999. A third, Richard M. Nixon in 1974, resigned to avoid being impeached.
What is the process?
First, the House of Representatives votes on one or more articles of impeachment. If at least one gets a majority vote, the president is impeached — which essentially means being indicted. (In both the Nixon and the Clinton cases, the House Judiciary Committee considered the matter first.)
Next, the proceedings move to the Senate, which holds a trial overseen by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors. The president has defense lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury.
If at least two-thirds of the senators find the president guilty, he is removed, and the vice president takes over as president.”
What are the rules?
There are no standard rules. Rather, the Senate passes a resolution first laying out trial procedures.
‘When the Senate decided what the rules were going to be for our trial, they really made them up as they went along,’ said Greg Craig, who helped defend Mr. Clinton in his impeachment proceeding and later served as White House counsel to President Barack Obama.
For example, Mr. Craig said, the initial rules in that case gave four days to the Republican managers to make a case for conviction, followed by four days for the president’s legal team to defend him — essentially opening statements. The Senate then decided whether to hear witnesses, and if so, whether it would be live or on videotape. Eventually, the Senate permitted each side to depose several witnesses by videotape.
The rules adopted by the Senate in the Clinton trial — including limiting the number of witnesses and the length of depositions — made it harder to prove a case compared with trials in federal court, said former Representative Bob Barr, a Georgia Republican who served as a House manager during the trial and is also a former United States attorney.
‘Impeachment is a creature unto itself,’ Mr. Barr said. ‘The jury in a criminal case doesn’t set the rules for a case and can’t decide what evidence they want to see and what they won’t.’
What are the standards?
The Constitution allows for the impeachment and removal of a president for ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.’ But no controlling authority serves as a check on how lawmakers choose to interpret that standard, which makes it as much a question of political will as of legal analysis.
In the case of Mr. Clinton’s trial, for example, Robert Byrd, a Democratic senator from West Virginia at the time, told his colleagues that he thought Mr. Clinton was clearly guilty of perjury but that removing him from office was a bad idea.
‘To drop the sword of Damocles now, given the bitter political partisanship surrounding this entire matter, would only serve to further undermine a public trust that is too much damaged already,’ he said. ‘Therefore, I will reluctantly vote to acquit.’
Mr. Clinton was impeached by a Congress in which the opposition party controlled both the House and the Senate. In Mr. Trump’s case, his party controls both chambers, making it more politically unappealing for them to vote to impeach him.
What about the 25th Amendment?
Adopted in 1967, the 25th Amendment provides another mechanism for removing a president. It is geared toward dealing with a president who becomes too disabled to carry out the duties of the office, as opposed to presidential lawbreaking.
Under its procedures, if the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet tell Congress that the president is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,’ the vice president immediately becomes the acting president. If the president contests that finding, but two-thirds of both chambers of Congress side with the vice president, the vice president remains the acting president for the rest of the term.”
What really is the underlying motivation of Russia’s Interference in U.S. Elections?
Donald Trump’s financial dealings that relate to the Emolument Clause of the United States Constitution may transcend the country of Russia. Payments may be coming into the coffers of Donald Trump financial holdings from many countries.
However, it is clear that Russia is the pivotal country when it comes to hacking into a democratic country’s election, and whose motivation to engage in collusion with the Trump campaign not only occurred but was spearheaded by the Kremlin’s top man: Vladimir Putin.
If you’re not familiar with the Magnitsky Act, a 2012 U.S. law, here is the most important thing to understand: Russian President Vladimir Putin and everyone in his orbit hate it.
“A purely political, unfriendly act,” Putin called it at the time, and he has been railing against it ever since.
Congress wanted to punish Russian human rights abusers by barring them from entering the U.S. This followed the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died at age 37 in a Moscow prison where he was held — and allegedly beaten — after accusing Russian officials of massive tax fraud.
The law symbolized the deteriorating relations between the U.S. and Russia. Days after Congress passed it, the Russian parliament responded by banning American citizens from adopting Russian orphans.
In a bizarre 2013 trial, a Russian court went even further, convicting Magnitsky of tax fraud — four years after he died.

Donald Trump Jr. Meeting Included Russian Lobbyist:
The Magnitsky Act re-emerged as a front-burner topic this week in connection with the investigations surrounding President Trump’s campaign and possible links to Russian meddling in last year’s presidential race.
Russia has lobbied hard for repeal of the act. That’s what Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya said she was doing when she met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016 at Trump Tower in New York.

Trump Says He Would Invite Putin to White House ‘At the Right Time:’
News broke Friday that she was accompanied at that meeting by Russian-American Rinat Akhmetshin. He is known as a skilled political operator who has worked in both the former Soviet Union and the United States on behalf of his clients, according to a U.S. journalist who has known him for two decades.
Akhmetshin has also spoke freely about his past in Soviet military intelligence, according to the journalist, Steve Levine, who works for Axios in Washington.

5 Questions Raised By Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails:
However, in remarks to The Associated Press, Akhmetshin said he served in a military unit that was part of counterintelligence but was not trained as a spy.
Levine first encountered Akhmetshin in Kazakhstan. There, in 1998, he provided Levine with confidential banking and legal documents pointing to financial corruption by the country’s president.

Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails about Meeting with Russian Lawyer: Annotated
“His signature is to be able to drill very, very deeply in the former Soviet Union, in a very knowing way,” Levine said. “Here in Washington, he’s this very unusual character, who may be the most skilled lobbyist I’ve met.”
Akhmetshin is, he added, “someone who can ingratiate himself with members of Congress and their staffs, power figures here, and make things happen.”
Levine said they’ve been in touch periodically over the years, including in brief email exchanges in recent days as Akhmetshin’s name began to surface in media reports.
Akhmetshin, who has become a U.S. citizen, has aggressively lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. Just a few days after his meeting with Trump Jr. in New York last year, Akhmetshin was in Washington to promote a movie called The Magnitsky Act — Behind the Scenes.
The film was shown at the Newseum in Washington on June 13, 2016. It offers the Russian government’s version of events and claims that Magnitsky was not mistreated by Russian authorities.
Trump Jr. has also said that — to his disappointment — last year’s meeting with the Russians focused on the Magnitsky Act. Trump Jr. was told in advance the meeting would produce critical material on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. When the topic turned out to be the U.S. law, he considered it a waste of time.
Analysts have offered many theories on why Russia wanted to meddle in the U.S. presidential election: to undermine the credibility of the U.S. vote or to harm Hillary Clinton, whom Putin blamed for the protests leading up the Russian presidential election in 2012.
Rarely mentioned is the Magnitsky Act, a relatively obscure matter inside the U.S. but a major frustration for Russia’s leadership.

Life Imitates Art and Vice-Versa
Here we are in the summer of 2017, six months into the presidency of Donald Trump. As I think back over the last two years of this nightmare with Donald Trump, I am convinced he lives in a childish fantasy of his own creation, ego-driven, and propped up by those around him in his close circle of “want to-be” important people.
Nationally, his supporters have dwindled to only 36% as of July 17, 2017. With the failure of his administration to repeal and replace Obamacare even his remaining supporters will never benefit from a low-cost comprehensive health care plan. This is unfortunate since a disproportionate number of his supporters are in dire need of good health care, particularly psychiatric mental health services.
It is both beguiling and perplexing to know that a degenerate womanizer and misogynist, white nationalist racist, crude, anti-intellectual buffoon could ever be elected president of the United States. And yet, here we are! Doesn’t say much for the intelligence and moral fiber of a sizeable portion of the American electorate— now does it?
He has tarnished the status of the highest office in the land and that, my friends, is unforgivable. He has taken a great American institution and turned it into garbage. I cannot help but see the quixotic (foolishly impractical, unrealistic, or capricious) parallel between the real life Donald Trump and the fantasy world he lives in.
There is an old expression that “art imitates life.” Ironically, sometimes the reverse is true, i.e., life imitates art. But in the make-believe world of art we often watch on television or in the movies, fantasy often parallels what’s going on in the real world. And television or movies often draw on material from the real world. It’s almost symbiotic in nature. Oscar Wilde seemed to believe however that this observable parallel was not equal.
Oscar Wilde Statement in 1889
Life imitating art. Anti-mimesis is a philosophical position that holds the direct opposite of Aristotelian mimesis. Its most notable proponent is Oscar Wilde, who opined in his 1889 essay The Decay of Lying that, “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”
Sometimes the symbiotic relationship between life and art is fortuitous, at other times it seems like it is planned. For example script writing drew from current day events some of its planned material in the award winning TV drama series House of Cards (Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright).
The U.S. version of this series gives us an inside look at the greed and corruption in American Politics. Recently Vanity Fair looked at the similarity between Donald Trump and House of Cards president Frank Underwood (initials F.U.).
On May 30th Yohana Desta wrote the article. Titled “Trump vs. Underwood: 7 Times House of Cards Hit a Little Too Close to Reality.
Trump vs. Underwood: 7 Times House of Cards Hit a Little Too Close to Reality
Season 5 of the hit political series mirrored the Trump administration in a number of eerie ways.
Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about Season 5 of House of Cards.
House of Cards has always pulled from the headlines. The political Netflix series, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, thrives on mirroring the more conniving side of U.S. statecraft, combing through American history to find story lines that feed and shape its White House narrative. The new season debuted Tuesday morning at a time when the country’s current president, Donald Trump, is besieged by allegations of obstructing justice and colluding with Russia, among other claims. Numerous moments in this latest installment of House of Cards reflected this moment in history perhaps a little too well. From Senate investigations to startling political tactics, here’s all the times this season might have hit too close to home.

1. Everything is a “distraction”
In Episode 1, Washington Herald editor Tom Hammerschmidt dismisses one of Frank Underwood’s political tactics as merely a “distraction” to the underlying issues at play. In most circumstances, that would be a fairly benign thing to say, but it’s a pointed choice of words that’s hard to ignore in an age when Trump’s critics have urged people not to get “distracted” by the president’s tweets or outlandish comments, and his Trump’s supporters have argued that all the chaotic “distraction” is actually part of his master plan.
Of course, the season ends with Underwood revealing that a large amount of the chaos that takes place actually is part of his master plan—but that’s a rather Machiavellian feat that Trump himself will likely not achieve.

2. All the executive orders!
Presidents throwing their weight around with executive orders are nothing new, but the incessant signing of new orders (some of them incendiary and arguably unconstitutional) is now a hallmark of Trump’s first 100 days. There are shades of his bullishness in Episode 2, when Frank Underwood declares an executive order for protecting “voting centers” and enforcing strict border restrictions, invoking “Section Blah Blah of the Blah Blah Act and Section Blah Blah of Title Blah Blah, Paragraph Bullshit Bullshit.”
The episode is bookended with Underwood secretly manufacturing a fake hack by terrorist group I.C.O., using it to prod the government to make a declaration of war. Hacks, terrorist attacks, and war talks! Where have we heard this all before . . . ?

3. A suspicious election
No TV drama about a presidential election would be complete without absurd twists and turns. This season of HoC crafts a presidential race filled to the brim with scandal, illicit behavior, and shocking results, premiering just a few months after the U.S.’s own wild election in which Trump came out the victor over expected winner Hillary Clinton. In the show, Underwood prevails over projected winner Will Conway, who wins the popular vote, but, of course, Underwood wins the race by rigging the election in vital Electoral College states and engaging in voter suppression. In the real world, the Department of Justice and both houses of Congress are investigating potential Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and improper contact with members of Trump’s campaign, with new reports surfacing about their alleged collusion. (And voter suppression tactics figured in U.S. history long before Trump.)
The next episode shows how American citizens are reacting to the election, featuring a group of protesters banding together outside the White House and chanting “Not my president!” and holding signs that read “Never Underwood.” Both actions mimic the actual chants and signs seen during anti-Trump protests.
Later in the season, as Conway sinks deeper into a petulant downward spiral after losing the election, his adviser tries to cheer him up by saying, “You lost—but more than half the country still considers you their president.” Though Conway’s post-election temperament is miles away from Clinton’s reflective grace, it’s tough to imagine that people haven’t bolstered her spirits with the same kind of encouragement.
4. Acts of Russian aggression
House of Cards has already done a Russia-obsessed season, which would have been too on the nose had it premiered now. But it’s not done with Viktor Petrov, its version of Vladimir Putin, just yet. He turns up in the second half of the show as Russia approaches an American research facility stationed in Antarctica, poking around for oil. “It’s a brazen act of aggression,” Secretary of State Catherine Durant says in the episode. Her quote brings to mind actual acts of Russian aggression, such as recent reports of Russian fighter jets doing barrel rolls over U.S. planes, and flying close to a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft.
This event also leads to a long line of backdoor negotiations with Russia, which might make some folks in the current administration (cough, Jared Kushner, cough) a bit uncomfortable.
5. A president under investigation
In Episode 9, scorned Congressman Romero decides to relaunch the committee investigating Underwood’s potentially impeachable offenses. With the Trump administration under its own investigation—and talk of impeachment fluttering around, just as they do for Underwood—it’s hard not to compare the two.
The investigation in the show also leads to the questioning of F.B.I. deputy director Nathan Green, who’s deeply entangled in the Underwood administration and has done a number of illegal things. Hey, does anyone remember if there’s anything crazy going on with the real world F.B.I. right now?
6. A gas attack in Syria
Episode 10 features a devastating gas attack in Syria, which the Underwood’s try to use to their political advantage. The attack eerily mirrors the recent chemical attack in Syria, which was one of the worst in the country’s history. Season 5 was already wrapped by the time the attack happened, so the show didn’t directly pluck from the headlines for that. However, it’s still a surprising (and incredibly sad) example of how the show veers dangerously close to real life.
7. “Welcome to the death of the age of reason.”
Those are the intimidating words Underwood snarls to the camera in this season’s penultimate episode during his committee testimony. “There is no right or wrong, not anymore. There’s only being in and then being out,” he says. His words, sadly, invoke the current age of “alternative facts.” Underwood’s message rings particularly true when held up against Trump’s own behavior. The current president is prone to making outlandish, verifiably false or simply unfounded remarks in interviews and on Twitter, while also waging a war against the media (#FakeNews), leaving his team to scramble and smooth out his claims. Meanwhile, the rest of the country anxiously watches and waits for whatever fresh hell is coming next.
Final Comments
The colossal failure of the country to elect a real president in 2016 will continue to dishonor and haunt us long after the last stench of Donald Trump is removed from the White House. With the mid-term elections around the corner, it is time for democrats around the country to gear up for a good fight against republicans who, besides Donald Trump, have also let the country down.
Needless to say the role of the new DNC head will be critically important in trying not just to elect more democrats, but to convince people of the United States that their interests come first in this sometimes chaotic world we all live in.
A final moment of reverie for this author, please. The character of Donald Trump we’ve all seen many times in our lives. It is like “art imitating life.” A daydream I had has kept re-occurring over the last two years. But my original stimulus for this daydream occurred more than 60 years ago.
In 1957 I was a freshman in high school. One important movie made in 1957 was an academy award-winning movie (Best picture, Best Director, Best Actor) known as Witness for the Prosecution.
It starred the great English actor Charles Laughton, along with Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Power. I won’t sidetrack my readers by going into a detailed recounting of the plot. It was based on a very clever book by the much esteemed Agatha Christie originally written in 1925.
I connect this movie’s most dramatic court room scenes to Donald Trump. Imagine if you will Donald Trump (the Prevaricator-in- Chief as President) was being grilled by a Sir Wilfred Robarts (Charles Laughton). What a field-day that would be if, like the movie, when Sir Wilfred says to Trump in Laughton’s surly special voice, “ Were you lying then, are you lying now, or are you not in fact a chronic and habitual Liar? In the movie Charles Laughton screaming the word liar—was absolutely deafening.

A Few New Ideas for the Immigration Policy Debate

[A Two-part Series]

Part II

Shedding Light on the Issue of Immigration and Crime, and a Novel Proposal for a Humanitarian Approach to Immigration Policy


Do Immigrants (legal or illegal) commit a lot of Crime?

Where immigration is concerned most rule-making as laws are simply arbitrary beliefs of what is valued as a society depending upon which group is in power—in this case whites with a slim majority over minorities. And, solving the problem of immigration may simply mean reversing the creation of deviance through over-criminalization of people coming across the border.

    It is a fact that both legal immigrants and illegal immigrants commit less crime than do native born in the United States. The Cato Institute has done some remarkable research on the issue of immigrants and crime.

The following is a research article written by Alex Nowrasteh and published for the Cato Library. The study is dated July 14, 2015. The title of the article is “Immigration and Crime – What the Research Says.”

“The alleged murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco by illegal immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez has reignited the debate over the link between immigration and crime. Such debates often call for change in policy regarding the deportation or apprehension of illegal immigrants. However, if policies should change, it should not be in reaction to a single tragic murder.  It should be in response to careful research on whether immigrants actually boost the U.S. crime rates.

With few exceptions, immigrants are less crime prone than natives or have no effect on crime rates.  As described below, the research is fairly one-sided.

There are two broad types of studies that investigate immigrant criminality.  The first type uses Census and American Community Survey (ACS) data from the institutionalized population and broadly concludes that immigrants are less crime prone than the native-born population.  It is important to note that immigrants convicted of crimes serve their sentences before being deported with few exceptions.  However, there are some potential problems with Census-based studies that could lead to inaccurate results.  That’s where the second type of study comes in.  The second type is a macro level analysis to judge the impact of immigration on crime rates, generally finding that increased immigration does not increase crime and sometimes even causes crime rates to fall.

Type 1: Immigrant Crime – Censuses of the Institutionalized Population

Butcher and Piehl examine the incarceration rates for men aged 18-40 in the 1980, 1990, and 2000 Censuses.  In each year immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than natives with the gap widening each decade.  By 2000, immigrants have incarceration rates that are one-fifth those of the native-born.  Butcher and Piehl wrote another paper focusing on immigrant incarceration in California by looking at both property and violent crimes by city.  Between years 2000 and 2005, California cities with large inflows of recent immigrants tended to  have lower violent crimes rates and the findings are statistically significant.  During the same time period, there is no statistically significant relationship between immigration and property crime.

Ewing, Martinez, and Rumbaut summarize their findings on criminality and immigration thusly:

“[R]oughly 1.6 percent of immigrant males 18-39 are incarcerated compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born.  The disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial census.  In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.”

They continue by focusing on immigrant incarceration rates by country of origin in the 2010 Census.  Less educated young Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men (poorly educated young men are most likely to be incarcerated) make up the bulk of the unlawful immigrant population but have significantly lower incarceration rates than native-born men without a high-school diploma.  In 2010, 10.7 percent of native-born men aged 18-39 without a high school degree were incarcerated compared to 2.8 percent of Mexican immigrants and 1.7 percent of Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants.  These are similar to Rumbaut’s older research also based on Census data from 2000.  Controlling for relevant observable factors, young uneducated immigrant men from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala are less likely to be incarcerated than similarly situated native-born men.

However, studies of immigrant criminality based on Census data alone could fail to give the full picture.  First, many of the answers given to the Census may have been educated guesses from the Census workers and not the inmates.  Second, the government has done a very poor job of gathering data on the nationality and immigration status of prisoners – even when it has tried.  That biases me against the accuracy of prison surveys by the Census Bureau.  Third, incarceration rates may better reflect the priorities of law enforcement than the true rates of criminal activity among certain populations.

Type 2: Macro Level Analysis of Immigrant Criminality

To avoid the potential Census data problems, other researchers have looked at crime rates and immigration on a macro scale.  These investigations also capture other avenues through which immigration could cause crimes – for instance, by inducing an increase in native criminality or by being easy targets for native criminals.

The phased rollout of the Secure Communities (S-COMM) immigration enforcement program provided a natural experiment.  A recent paper by Thomas J. Miles and Adam B. Cox used the phased rollout to see how S-COMM affected crime rates per county.  If immigrants were disproportionately criminal, then S-COMM would decrease the crime rates.  They found that S-COMM “led to no meaningful reduction in the FBI index crime rate” including violent crimes.  Relying on similar data with different specifications, Treyger et al. found that S-COMM did not decrease crime rates nor did it lead to an increase in discriminatory policing that some critics were worried about.  According to both reports, the population of immigrants is either not correlated, or negatively correlated, with crime rates.

Ousey and Kubrin looked at 159 cities at three dates between 1980 and 2000 and found that crime rates and levels of immigration are not correlated.  They conclude that “[v]iolent crime is not a deleterious consequence of increased immigration.”  Martinez looked at 111 U.S. cities with at least 5,000 Hispanics and found no statistically significant findings.  Reid et al. looked at a sample of 150 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and found that levels of recent immigration had a statistically significant negative effect on homicide rates but no effect on property crime rates.  They wrote, “[i]t appears that anti-immigrant sentiments that view immigrants as crime prone are not only inaccurate at the micro-level, they are also inaccurate at the macro-level … increased immigration may actually be beneficial in terms of lessening some types of crimes.”  Wadsworth found that cities with greater growth in immigrant or new immigrant populations between 1990 and 2000 tended to have steeper decreases in homicide and robbery rates.

Using panel data on U.S. counties, Spenkuch finds that a 10 percent increase in the share of immigrants increases the property crime rate by 1.2 percent.  In other words, the average immigrant commits roughly 2.5 times as many property crimes as the average native but with no impact on violent crime rates.  He finds that this effect on property crime rates is caused entirely by Mexican immigrants.  Separating Mexicans from other immigrants, the former commit 3.5 to 5 times as many crimes as the average native.  However, all other immigrants commit less than half as many crimes as natives.  This is the most deleterious finding that I discovered.

Stowell et al. looks at 103 different MSAs from 1994-2004 and finds that violent crime rates tended to decrease as the concentration of immigrants increased.  An immigrant concentration two standard deviations above the mean translates into 40.5 fewer violent crimes per 100,000 compared to a decrease of 8.1 violent crimes in areas that experienced a change in immigration concentration two standard deviations below the mean.  It is easy to focus on the horrible tragedies when somebody is murdered by an immigrant but it’s very hard to imagine all of the people who weren’t murdered because of the lower crime rates created by increased immigration.  In their summary of the research on this topic, they write:

“[T]he weight of the evidence suggests that immigration is not associated with increased levels of crime.  To the extent that a relationship does exist, research often finds a negative effect of immigration on levels of crime, in general, and on homicide in particular.

Some immigrants from certain countries of origin may be more crime prone than others, as Spenkuch finds above.  To test this, Chalfin used rainfall patterns in Mexico to estimate inflows of Mexican immigrants.  The idea is that lower rainfall and a decrease in agricultural productivity in Mexico would push marginal Mexican immigrants out of Mexico and into the U.S. labor market.  Mexican rainfall patterns and the subsequent immigration had no effect on violent or property crime rates in major U.S. metropolitan areas.

These trends have also been found on the local level.  Davies and Fagan looked at crime and immigration patterns at the neighborhood level in New York City.  They find that crime rates are not higher in areas with more immigrants.  Sampson looked at Chicago and found that Hispanic immigrants were far less likely to commit a violent criminal act then either black or white native Chicagoans.  Lee et al. found that trends in recent immigration are either not correlated with homicides or are negatively correlated in Miami, San Diego, and El Paso.  The only exception is that there is a positive relationship between immigration and black homicide rates in San Diego.

Numerous studies also conclude that the high immigration rate of the 1990s significantly contributed to the precipitous crime decline of that decade.  According to this theory, immigrants are less crime prone and have positive spillover effects like aiding in community redevelopment, rebuilding of local civil society in formerly decaying urban cores, and contributing to greater economic prosperity through pushing natives up the skills spectrum through complementary task specialization.

Note on Illegal Immigration

The public focus is on the crime rates of unauthorized or illegal immigrants.  The research papers above mostly include all immigrants regardless of legal status.  However, every problem with gathering data on immigrant criminality is multiplied for unauthorized immigrants.  There is some work that can help shed light here.

With particular implications for the murder of Kate Steinle, Hickman et al. look at the recidivism rates of 517 deportable and 780 no deportable aliens released from the Los Angeles County Jail over a 30-day period in 2002.  They found that there is no difference in the re-arrest rate of deportable and no deportable immigrants released from incarceration at the same place and time.  Their paper is not entirely convincing for several reasons, the most important being that their sample does not include the higher risk inmates who were transferred to state prison and were subsequently released from there.  There are also findings in their paper that seem to contradict their conclusion that isn’t adequately accounted for.  This is only one study of one sample in one city, but the results should be incorporated into any argument over sanctuary cities.


Both the Census-data driven studies and macro-level studies find that immigrants are less crime-prone than natives with some small potential exceptions.  There are numerous reasons why immigrant criminality is lower than native criminality.  One explanation is that immigrants who commit crimes can be deported and thus are punished more for criminal behavior, making them less likely to break the law.

Another explanation is that immigrants self-select for those willing to work rather than those willing to commit crimes.  According to this “healthy immigrant thesis,” motivated and ambitious foreigners are more likely to immigrate and those folks are less likely to be criminals. This could explain why immigrants are less likely to engage in “anti-social” behaviors than natives despite having lower incomes.  It’s also possible that more effective interior immigration enforcement is catching and deporting unlawful immigrants who are more likely to be criminals before they have a chance to be incarcerated.

The above research is a vital and missing component in the debate over the supposed links between immigration and crime.”

This alone is sufficient to ask the following question: If immigrants are more law-abiding as people than those who were born in the United States, then why is the government working to over-criminalize everyone who comes across our borders? The motivation is the same as before. That is, people who are already citizens by being second, third or fourth generation immigrants seem to have no qualms about casting aspersions at newcomers like Hispanics or Muslims. The new kid on the block has always been treated suspiciously. In addition, the psychological and sociological nature of “White Fright”/”White Flight” appears to show its ugly face again as to why such a large portion of a largely white electorate wants to discriminate against Hispanics, and the Muslim population of refugees who want to settle in the United States.

The belief that Donald Trump will better protect the United States through a ban of immigrants from Mexico/South America or from Muslim countries has not been well thought out, is discriminatory, and goes against the very laws (like the U.S. Constitution) he swore at inauguration he would uphold.

A Novel Proposal for a Humanitarian Approach to Immigration Policy—Basic Ideas

What is the basic program overall?

The operation of passports, visas and green cards should probably remain the same. However, whether one is already inside the country or outside, the issue of people wanting to seek full American citizenship is a separate issue altogether. There needs to be a re-definition or new definition of citizenship. It is my idea that two levels of citizenship should exist.

The first level would be called Temporary Citizenship, granted to all for 2 years while they relocate within the United States, seek jobs, receive humanitarian aid, and vetted initially in one of two locations (to be described in detail shortly).

The first location will require staffing and resources to open. But the original Ellis Island in New York needs to be re-opened. Both Ellis Island locations will need the resources of the United States government. Since American business owners are the beneficiary of this new untapped source of labor, they will be asked to contribute their fair share to this immigration plan.

The second level of citizenship would be called Full Citizenship and would occur after a temporary citizen passes the current requirements for Full- Citizenship.

Most naturalization applicants are required to take a test on:

  • English
  • Civics (U.S. history and government)

If these requirements are met, the vetted new immigrants would be given official notice that they are now a citizen of the United States of America.

It has been estimated that close to 40 percent of all current U.S. citizens can trace at least one of their ancestors to Ellis Island (the one in New York). Trump’s plan to simply build a wall between Mexico and the United States is “not too bright” and won’t achieve its objectives.

A much better way to achieve this goal is both humanitarian and intelligent: (1) Enact amnesty as the policy of the United States in order to encourage, not discourage, people who want to become American citizens, (2) establish a new singular entry point along our southern border similar to the original “Ellis Island” that operated between 1892 and 1954. The new “Ellis Island” would function to welcome people from Mexico as well as South American countries, (3) in addition to opening a new “Ellis Island” along our southern border (soon to be called The Freedom Bridge), there needs to be a re-opening of the original Ellis Island for immigrants wanting to come into the country from elsewhere in the world, and (4) reduce the many hurdles and obstacles reflected in prior amnesty programs. Amnesty needs to be simplified not encumbered with needless over-regulation.

Once released to enter American soil, immigrants would all be given assistance in relocating across the country with federal, state and local job counseling, employment services and temporary housing and some monetary assistance, and offered educational programs and family services. County health departments would initially serve to provide health care to all newly arriving immigrants and their family members.

I am recommending that the federal government set aside, in the annual federal budget, an investment in helping newly vetted immigrants. Investing in people rather than wasting taxpayer money on some worthless, ineffectual wall, will generate over the long haul, a real return on one’s investment such as more people succeeding and paying federal, state and local taxes. Immigrants represent a real and potential source for expanding our economy and well-being. Where would the money for assistance come from?

The current 2017 fiscal year budget for the Federal Housing and Urban Development Department is 48.9 billion in discretionary funding, and 11.3 billion in mandatory funding over the next ten years. A modest annual investment of $2 billion dollars from this federal agency could be allocated each year to help provide newly entering immigrants to have all the services needed to give them a leg up on becoming a fully functioning American citizen.

Should there be amnesty? The answer is absolutely yes. But it still needs to be a program that facilitates rather than throws up unnecessary and capricious roadblocks all along the way. This mercurial and temperamental inclination of our nation’s representatives is to over-control people. It smacks of an authoritarian regime rather than a country bent on helping our citizens (or to be citizens) achieve the American dream.

What I did not like about the Amnesty proposals of 2012 by the Obama administration is that there were still too many hurdles or hoops to jump through to become a citizen of this great country of ours.

Paying the U.S. supposedly $5000 in back taxes, for those already illegally in the country, seemed like an unnecessary and somewhat arbitrary notion of creating hurdles that really block, rather than facilitate, becoming a citizen who will, in short order, be paying taxes anyway. So, what do I propose that would make sense?

What about El Paso, Texas

Under my system, one of the border agent’s duties would be to provide transportation to newly arriving immigrants from Mexico and/or South America. Instead of arresting people coming across the border they would be assisted by the border patrol in their journey to peacefully reach El Paso, Texas. This would mean helping people trying to cross the border anywhere along the way between El Paso, Texas and San Diego, California.

Instead of calling it Ellis Island II—– I think a more appropriate name would be “The Freedom Bridge.” What kind of city is El Paso, Texas?

“El Paso, Texas is about 300 miles south of Albuquerque and 300 miles east of Tucson. The metropolitan population of the city is about 830,000 and the 2010 US Census Bureau reports a population of about 650,000. Major industries in El Paso include manufacturing, cold storage, and call centers.

The El Paso economy is largely based on how well and how safe Ciudad Juarez is at any time. El Paso also benefits from its vicinity to the border and despite its rowdy neighbor Juarez; El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States.

Recent trends in El Paso include a new triple-A baseball team with a new ballpark downtown. The triple-A team was previously in Tucson. The new ballpark has spurred some new development downtown including two proposed hotels. The office and industrial markets are currently steady with a few projects under construction. The multi-family and retail markets are doing well around Fort Bliss, which recently received a large influx of personnel returning from missions. New single-family residential projects are at the lower end of the price range and are building on the existing finished lot inventory. Overall, the market appears to be steady and recovering slowly from the long recession.”

All crossing the border into the United States would be shown respect and dignity and afforded common humanitarian aid. Arrival at the new Ellis Island”  would be the beginning of their journey toward citizenship. The new Ellis Island would not be a detention facility, but like its predecessor of 1892 to 1954, it would be a processing facility.

     Any decisions to deport someone could only come from legal due process with the right of any arriving immigrant to receive legal counsel. A lot of legislation will have to be passed before this plan can take effect.

The perfect city, in my opinion, for such an “Ellis Island facility,” is El Paso Texas with its bridge separating Juarez, Mexico from the city of El Paso. Juarez could be a staging area to ready tired travelers prior to their journey across the bridge (The Freedom Bridge) to the United States.

Crossing the bridge itself will have symbolic significance all by itself. The bridge to freedom will soon have as much significance as those passengers, back at the beginning of the 20th Century, who embraced the view of the Statute of Liberty as their ships docked in New York so long ago.

Mexico is not going to pay for the wall; perhaps however, they might be willing to assist this transition by providing much humanitarian aid to those who show up in Juarez as a staging area with food, water, sleeping bags, and written material to let them know what to expect once they cross the bridge.

Every potential citizen from Mexico or South America who goes through the new Ellis Island would be issued a red, white, and blue card as proof that they had come through the new Ellis Island in El Paso, Texas.

Each card would have a thumbprint and a one-of-a-kind identification number on the card besides full name, and city of origin. This would all be part of the vetting process. The green card system that currently exists could and should continue to operate for those immigrants who desire only a temporary stay in the United States. Passports and Visa’s would also continue to operate as they had in the past.

The “Ellis Island” card would be carried on the person to offer up should they be (legally or illegally) stopped by any law enforcement agency. After two years the card would simply be a souvenir to keep after full citizenship is achieved. Those who fail to meet full citizenship requirements by two years would be allowed to receive a one-time additional two year extension of temporary citizenship. Therefore, full citizenship would have to be earned in four years from date of vetting completion.

What about illegals who are already here in America?

With Amnesty the law of the land, former illegals would be free to come out of the shadows. Instead of a few U.S. cities being a sanctuary, the entire country would become a sanctuary welcoming all to our shores, the only restriction being they must be vetted and not exceed in total 1 million a year.        .

It should be pointed out that the number of illegals coming to the United States each year from south of the border has been dropping for several years (Trump gives himself credit for this) even though the decline in people coming across our southern border preceded his even becoming a candidate for the highest office in the land.

In addition, there are some walls erected along the southern border already. Tunnels have been created in various spots to go under the walls, rendering wall structures practically worthless. The new Trump plan to put concrete 6 feet below the wall won’t work either. This is because people will simply dig holes below the concrete plus the cost of such use of concrete along a 2,000 mile border would be astronomical.

Every sociologist knows that deviance, legally defined, is as much the product of the “rule–makers” as it is the “rule-breakers.” This notion is based on Labeling Theory in sociology. One day an illegal alien is a violator of immigration laws, but just as easily could be a non-violator without the stigma of a label defining that person as a rule-breaker. It all depends on who sets the rules and the defining of a behavior (with value judgments like “good” or “bad”) as such in the first place. By analogy it is no different in concept than to define the Japanese or Germans as our enemy but, since the end of WWII, they have become our ally.

Paying for a Humanitarian Approach to Immigration Policy    

As mentioned earlier $2 billion dollars would be needed annually (a modest investment by comparison to the total 2017 Fiscal Year Budget proposed). It should come from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development on an annual basis. So, how do we pay for the construction of a new Ellis Island and refurbishing and re-tooling of the original Ellis Island in New York?

The cost of creating, re-creating and operating two Ellis Island facilities on an annual basis is estimated to be, as a minimum, about 500 million dollars.  The cost of Trump’s wall has been estimated to be, at a minimum, about 25 billion dollars. The cost of two Ellis Island facilities would be 1/50 the cost of building a wall under the Trump plan. What this means is that the total cost of my idea would be approximately, $2.5 billion dollars a year. Once again, total cost of my proposal is 1/10 the cost of Donald Trump’s proposed wall. In terms of cost effectiveness my plan is significantly better and more cost effective.

Final Thoughts

People of every group in America believe in the value of every human being, no matter what their social status in life. Consequently, the whole concept of Amnesty needs desperately to be implemented in the United States. It is what a civilized people would do.

By accepting the 11 million undocumented people, predominantly from Mexico and South America, then ICE resources currently dedicated to removing illegals who are already in the country  would be better spent providing backup to overworked, underappreciated border patrol officers. A comprehensive immigration plan has been absent from the American consciousness for a very long time.

Both Presidents Bush and Obama wanted a comprehensive immigration plan but were unsuccessful in getting it legislatively passed. The current President has no interest in a comprehensive immigration plan. Until the current president is impeached, leaves office, or dies in office, it is unlikely a comprehensive immigration plan will ever become a reality.