Beyond the Cusp

April 8, 2018

Latest Mueller Memo Proves Suspicions and Not Wishes

 

New filings from the Special Counsel, responding to Manafort’s motion to dismiss his indictment due to Mueller overstepping his defined jurisdictions for the Trump Russian collusion probe includes a new heavily redacted document from Rosenstein dated last August confirming that Manafort is within his remit. This was an older memo, according to the date on the release, August 2, 2017, simply defining the extra latitude granted the Mueller probe to include the financial dealing which Manafort had with other parties, in this case with Ukrainian politicians (see image below). This was nothing new and was merely released to refute Manafort’s claims for which he demanded the charges brought against him be thrown out as the information was attained outside the legal guidelines of the probe. There will still be a hearing as every motion gets its moment in court, even the least intelligent. The catch and risk of filing these memos and challenges is that you run the risk of making the judge(s) to this case quite put out. As this will also be the judge, or panel of judges, who will be hearing the case, ruling on objections and in the end, possibly determining the outcome. What will be interesting is what the judge(s) have to say when they decide between the motion to throw out the charges due to their being beyond the limits of the probe and the expanding of the probe into any financial dealings by a member of the Trump team completely outside anything to do with the campaign or election. The assumption is the permission from the Rosenstein memo to widen the investigation to include, one could say, almost any perfidy or potentially criminal act whether as part of the campaign or completely unrelated will stand due to his position as Acting Attorney General. Trump and Manafort supporters will hold out hope that the judge(s) will consider the politicization of the FBI and Department of Justice most ranking members and decide that the memo simply was permitting latitude far beyond what a reasonable individual would consider appropriate and legal. The debate on social media might provide some new wrinkles but also potentially set more friends and family members in hot debate with pitched tempers flaring. Whatever, this decision could have more of an effect and ripples down the road than is first apparent, and that is where we will find our discussion.

 

Rod J. Rosenstein Acting Attorney General Memo

Rod J. Rosenstein Acting Attorney General Memo

 

There is little to talk about should the decision come down in Manafort’s favor and the Mueller Probe is instructed to limit their investigations to the campaign, election and Russian collusion and tampering at the expressed requests of the Trump campaign. That would be a huge victory for the Trump administration and the people who worked on his campaign. We probably would not be able to imagine what some of the more important people have felt like as the Mueller Probe branched out investigating items further afield on several Trump campaign officials looking into items with little if any connection to the campaign. Anybody who had a skeleton hidden away in their basement closet believing it dead and buried never again to see the light of day, the expanding probe must have been a nightmare. What has been somewhat of a surprise has been that there have been so few indictments against Trump campaign people and nothing even coming anywhere near close to President Trump. The President is so far from being investigated for any wrongdoing that the latest leak from the Mueller Probe was that President Trump is not under consideration for anything criminal. As far as criminal probes in Washington go, the Mueller Probe has netted the fewest number of people on charges unless the potential implications of possible improper activity bringing charges against FBI officials and officials from the Justice Department are brought into consideration. Washington probes usually catch their targets and not net Washington high office holders from the Justice Department and FBI having committed the most serious offences.

 

On the other side of the coin, it could be decided that in order to keep Washington well within the law and to investigate all implications and leads to their furthest ramifications, the Mueller Probe may be freed up to go as far afield as they desire and look into anything which suits their fancy. That would, or at least should, send a chilling shiver down many Trump campaign officers’ spines. A ruling with an advisory that all activities which occurred during the campaign by officials or leading up to their consideration for a position in the campaign which may have been influential in their consideration is legally within the permitted scope for the probe would have unmatched ramifications. Such a ruling would lead to the Mueller Probe being granted an entirely new lease on life and the members of Mueller’s team chomping at the bit to go wide and far astray seeking any morsel of wrongdoing. About the only thing which might, at that point, be beyond inspection would be grade school principle’s behavior reports. Well, actually it would not quite be that bad but the span and scope of the investigations would then include looking into all of Trump’s business dealings, his Trump University, his work on beauty pageants, his reality television show, real estate dealings, the running of Mar a Lago resort and anything else Trump has done and all the legal wrangling performed by his lawyers. The anti-Trump army will be exhilarated and licking their lips at the promise that now they will have Trump as there is no way he will escape now. The truth is if the Mueller Probe team is permitted complete and unfettered latitude, then there is almost a guarantee that there will be some charges brought against President Trump, but they will be kept reserved for once he is out of office. There will not be anything which will give them their hoped for impeachment related charges. Even if somehow impeachment charges brought, and even if the House of Representatives impeach Trump sending him to the Senate for trial, he will not be found guilty, and that is all that matters in the end. That will simply send the already angered anti-Trumpers around the bend and into full-throated protestations as the only thing they have sought since election day fails before their eyes. Now all that is left is to wait for the decision by the Judge(s) on the request for charges on Manafort to be dropped due to their being beyond the scope of the Mueller probe.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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September 21, 2017

A Tale of Two Speeches

 

There were two very marked changes in the speeches given before the United Nations General Assembly at the annual opening ceremonies. The speech given by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was quieter and less bellicose. He gave recognition and thanks to the numerous leaders of the nations who visited Israel, many marking the first visit by their country’s leaders to the Jewish State. He also gave thanks to those nations he had visited on six continents, also many for the first time for an Israeli Prime Minister including to South America. Prime Minister Netanyahu also commended the United Nations for taking a more balanced view and positions on Israel and to the President of the General Assembly for their parts in this new enlightened set of views. The Prime Minister still had some harsher comments for the Iranian leadership and a not so veiled threat for the Grand Ayatollah concerning their nuclear, missile technologies, and their interferences on the Israeli border along with their sponsorship of terrorism. There were the specific acts of United Nations agencies such as UNESCO who received special note for ludicrous ignorance of history with their naming of Jewish Biblical sites as not belonging to the Jews but instead to the Palestinian entity and added that perhaps people might look to and read a best selling book on Amazon, the Bible. Still, all-in-all, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a more upbeat speech where probably the most meaningful comment was his praise for the speech given by President Trump quoted below.


“Thanks to President Trump’s unequivocal support for Israel in this body, that positive change is gathering force. So, thank you, President Trump. Thank you for supporting Israel at the UN. And thank you for your support, Ambassador Nikki Haley. Thank you for speaking the truth about Israel.
But, ladies and gentlemen, here at the UN, we must also speak the truth about Iran, as President Trump did so powerfully this morning. Now, you know I’ve been ambassador to the UN and I’m a long-serving Israeli prime minister, so I’ve listened to countless speeches in this hall, but I can say this: none were bolder, none more courageous and forthright than the one delivered by President Trump today.
President Trump rightly called the nuclear deal with Iran, he called it an embarrassment. Well, I couldn’t agree with him more. And here’s why: Iran vows to destroy my country every day, including by its chief of staff the other day. Iran is conducting a campaign of conquest across the Middle East and Iran is developing ballistic missiles to threaten the entire world.”

 

 

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu

 

The other speech, which was a marked change from those of the past decade, was the speech given by United States President Trump. The President spoke long and large about the pro-active approach the United States could entertain should the problem spots in the world continue to grow in the threats they posed. These were not so much threats to the United States, though that was also mentioned, but threats to the wellbeing of the people these governments were tasked with providing and protecting. President Trump summarily denounced socialism and communism as failed policies stating, “wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure. Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.” President Trump will be called out and has already been denounced for ignoring the sovereignty of other nations. Some from the leadership of these nations will surely have pointed and vicious responses to the comments made by the President. In particular, President Trump called out the Cuban government, the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, and Kim Jong-un in North Korea of whom the President cautioned was facing, “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” The President went on to warn and congratulate in his conclusion on North Korea stating, “It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved.”
The President denounced Iran with a strong warning as well with the below statement.


“The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy. It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos. The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.
Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors. This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.
We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program. (Applause.) The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me.
It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction. It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained. And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.
The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most. This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.”

 

The main thing left, other than waiting for all the caterwauling by their opposing media critics for both President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, is their, as their critics will claim, unmitigated, awful and dangerously threatening speeches, which were cowardly and overflowing with unrestrained flattery and threats to depose sovereign national governments. We are aware that the above statement has mutually irreconcilable contradictions but so will the media depending on which critique one reads and about which speech. All of these and more will be levelled as criticisms of both leaders who will have, of course, embarrassed themselves and their respective nations. There will be call to impeach the President and dissolve the coalition in the Knesset respectively. Personally, we loved both speeches and if we were to be critical, we might suggest that Prime Minister Netanyahu was too forgiving and spoke too softly but then he was attempting not to steal any thunder from President Trump’s earlier words. President Trump, on the other hand, was strong enough and direct enough and definitively announcing the era of a new sheriff in the free world willing and able to take out the trash. We might have asked that he have come up with other nicknames for the other leaders to add to the calling of Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man” so the media would have had a larger target upon which to concentrate and sound all the more unhinged. We will also join those waiting for Elton John to demand that President Trump cease using his song title in such a mean-spirited manner and insist on an apology. About Elton John should he desire an apology, we advise he not hold his breath on that one.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 11, 2017

Nobody Expects the Iconoclast Inquisition

 

The final showdown is coming and it has been a long time building. The United States citizenry can be divided along any number of lines, men and women, children and adults, wealthy and economically challenged, dog owners and cat owners, Democrats and Republicans and almost countless other means. None of the divisions is more marked than religious and irreligious. There are a large number of Americans who are somewhat religious with some more so than others. But we are speaking about the extremes. Those who love their religion, attend their house of worship, have strong feelings, live by their religious dictates and believe in a higher influence be it a deity or simply a place or destinations for the truly enlightened as in some Eastern religions. The United States believes in the need and acceptance of religion so strongly that the First Amendment provides for freedom of religion with no interference from government. Here is the First Amendment in its entirety.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The text we are concerned with particularly is, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This short phrase has been misinterpreted into the concept of building a wall between Church and State. We have discussed these phrases and ideas in detail in previous articles. We covered the structure of the First Amendment and that these concepts are divided into two components, the first being the “Establishment Clause” and the other being the “Exercise Clause” in Absolute Truth on the Wall Separating Church and State. We addressed the letter from which the phrase, “Separation of Church and State,” from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in “Separation of Church and State and the Jefferson Letter”. We will attempt to avoid rehashing these more than necessary. The main thing is that the First Amendment places a semipermeable membrane between government and religion. This membrane does not permit the government from influencing, restricting, requiring or otherwise attempting to influence or use religious tests in any manner as religion is to be free from any and all government meddling or influences. This membrane, on the other hand, permits religion to influence government and the enacting of laws and any or all other influences only restricted by the limitations placed on government. A religion cannot have the government give them any preference over other religions but can attempt to legislate moralities which agree with their concepts of morality. As an example, people of the Islamic faith may attempt to have laws enacted preventing alcohol consumption or to close the movie theaters. These same followers of Islam cannot have Sharia made the law of the land as it restricts the actions of other religions and the people who believe in them. Christians can attempt to pass laws restricting or forbidding abortions but they cannot pass a law requiring people attend services on Sunday, as not all faiths require service attendance on Sunday and there are those who do not even believe in any religion whatsoever.

 

First Amendment

First Amendment

 

The one thing that is stated in the First Amendment is that the government may not require that a person follow any particular religion to be appointed to a position nor can they deny a position because somebody may follow any religion. When it comes to religious belief or the lack thereof, the government must remain blind. That is for all positions within the government. That means that should there be a Quaker who is on the list to be eligible to be promoted to General, his religion and its aversion to war cannot be considered a disqualifying criteria for his promotion. Granted that is a condition which would be unlikely, but it makes the point. But we can present a recent case where the point is easily observed.

 

Notre Dame Law School Professor Amy Coney Barrett was recently nominated for a federal appeals court position. During her consideration and questioning, Senator Dick Durbin inquired of her, “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? That was cleared up by Senator Dianne Feinstein who added to the conversation this gem, “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.” Ah, so one who is dogmatically Catholic is incapable of judging cases according to the law as the law is interpreted to be applied by the Congress and Supreme Court, is that the idea? I did not realize that Catholic doctrines forbade free thought. But wait, even if you are an ardent supporter of a woman’s right to control over her own body, a euphemism for pro-abortion, and believe that Catholics are your most vicious enemies and must be withheld from position in the judiciary unless the world will fall into a chasm of darkness, we have another example from a while back.

 

Russell Vought was once merely a nominee for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Now, allow us to be informative about the position. This is a division of the government, which has to do with accounting, adding, subtracting and on occasion multiplying, dividing, percentages but at no point advanced calculus or rocket science. There may be estimates within budgetary and economic formulations, which are well established. So, during the hearings for Russell Vought, Senator Bernie Sanders pressed on an article written by Russell Vought decrying the supposition that everyone worships the same God. He claimed that this all too often used criteria was incorrect as the only means for salvations and having one’s soul be allowed to ascend to heaven was through the savior, Jesus Christ. This, according to Senator Sanders, was indicative of Islamophobia, an obvious thought crime. This led Senator Bernie Sanders, this irreligious Jew who has no great love of Israel, to the next obvious question, “What about Jews? Do they stand condemned, too?” So this man for his religious beliefs is now an Islamophobe and an anti-Semite according to our most irreverent Senator Sanders and thus he must be incapable of doing math and using the tools of economics and accounting.

 

So, now we all must realize that Catholics cannot interpret laws fairly and they are incapable of the simple mathematics used in accounting and are incapable of applying economic theories. One can only wonder what are some of the other religious limitations of the numerous religions. Wait; perhaps the problem is following any religion, that must be the problem. We need remember Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was queried by Senator Patrick Leahy, “Would the president have the authority to ban all Jews from America? Or all people that come from Israel? Would that be an easy question?” Senator Orin Hatch asked Neil Gorsuch, “Is it fair to say that the court’s decision in Hobby Lobby and your concurring opinion upheld this purpose and, in doing so, actually defended the unpopular and promoted religious tolerance?” Gorsuch was eventually confirmed so he must have handled the questions well enough, as they were not as far astray as the initial examples, especially for appointment to the OMB.

 

The law written as the First Amendment was questioned during ratification hearings in a number of states where their immediate problem with the law was it gave equal religious rights to such as Jews, Muslims and even heathens or barbarians who had stranger religions even than do the Jews and Muslims. These concerns were eventually quelled with the explanation that all religions had to qualify if the law was to hold any true meaning, even those that some may not particularly find as acceptable as they view their own as there probably are those who would question their religious rights believing their religion to be heretic. The absoluteness of the first Amendment is for the removal of government from having any restrictions on religion of any sort. On the other hand, it does restrict any religion from using the power of the government to gain position or advantage over any other religion or to degrade the universal rights of all religions to be practiced to the point that they would impinge on other religions. These are the absolutes of the First Amendment. The more or less defined and fuzzy areas are how far any religion can go in regard to influence on the government. As far as any position, religion cannot be used to prevent a person from serving as long as they do not misuse their power. If, let us say a person from some little known religion, we will call it Ipsolen, were appointed to a Federal Court. Their religious beliefs from their Ipsolen faith could not be used to keep them from serving. But let us sat that under the beliefs of Ipsolen other faiths were forbidden from permitting a member of the Ipsolen faith from taking things they needed without asking. Should this person as a judge apply this concept and thus find a fellow Ipsolen follower not guilty of theft on grounds that to do so would be to deny them their right to follow their religion, he could likely be brought up on charges for impeachment, though that would be a bit harsh. The use of his religious belief to supercede the law would be an impeachable offense and might get him disbarred. Fortunately, such problems will more often be revealed long before somebody is nominated to any of our higher courts and if a rare case comes up, there is always impeachment.

 

On impeachment, one item we need to understand, anyone can be impeached for any reason because the reason does not actually matter. In the case of President Trump, let us argue he was brought up for impeachment before the House of Representatives with the charge being incompetent and mental health issues. The House of Representatives voted with a simple majority to impeach President Trump on exactly those charges of being incompetent and mental health issues. That is sufficient to send it over to the Senate where appointed members from the House of Representatives present the case. After all has been said and done, the Senate votes and if a two-thirds majority votes to convict, that is it, the President is impeached. The charges are irrelevant as what it actually takes is a majority in the House of Representatives and a two-thirds vote of the Senate and that would impeach the President or anyone on any position brought up on charges and put through the system. If one side can get a majority of the Representatives and two-thirds of the Senate behind an impeachment, then nothing could prevent that exact result and they could claim he was chewing gum during some presumed important event and still impeach. This is the one thing that is not understood by many arguing whether this or that or the other is a justifiable case for impeachment, anything can be the justifiable case for impeachment. That is the reality, so anti-Trumpers, your work is cut out for you.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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