Monday, September 19, 2016
Presidential Election 2016 / O+M+G / Observations & Comments (Part Three – Hillary Clinton, Democratic Candidate)
As a FBI Special Agent, working Organized Crime, one of the first things you learn is that the biggest problem facing Organized Crime is how they ‘launder their money’. This is their weakness. They aren’t particularly worried about being arrested for their various criminal activities, because they insulate themselves. They indirectly deal in the sale of illegal drugs, prostitution, extortion, protection, bank fraud, loan sharking and skimming union funds. But, when arrests are made, it’s usually the underlings that get busted; underlings who know it’s in their best interest to keep their mouths shut. Most of these types of arrests are made by local law enforcement.
The FBI, however, attempts to take down the organizational structure, the ‘big dogs’ at the top. And, how do they do that? They follow the money.
‘Money laundering’ is taking illegally obtained or ‘dirty’ money and converting that money, or ‘laundering’ the money, so crime bosses can use it to buy everything their hearts’ desire: women, cars, mansions, and even a form of public legitimacy. But, ‘laundering’ money isn’t as easy as you might first think. Large deposits to banks are continually monitored by the government. You could deal in cash, of course; but if you have millions of dollars sitting in your home safe – well, the continual utilization of cash in big number transactions becomes a tip-off too.
So, what has this got to do with Hillary Clinton? Maybe nothing. I’m just curious about the Clinton Foundation; and what a cleverly constructed, potential way that said Foundation could be used to ‘launder’ money. Mind you, I don’t think Bill and Hillary are involved in illegal drugs, extortion, or ‘loan sharking’, etcetera; but they are in a great position to sell access and influence. It’s clear that hundreds of millions of dollars have flowed into the Clinton Foundation, much of which originated from big corporate or foreign, sometimes dubious, sources for no apparent reason other than it ingratiates them to the Clintons - which equates to access and influence.
Example Tax Avoidance 101: Let’s just say you were very rich or powerful and some big corporation or foreign government offered to pay you $500,000 for a one hour speech – attended by a few of their chosen colleagues. What will the speech be about? Oh, that doesn’t really matter. It’s just a ruse to pass you money, to have your ear, to be your friend – someone who when they call you, you will pick up the phone. You give the speech, transcripts of which will never be disclosed; and they pay you the $500,000. At that point, you are looking at a fairly big tax bill. So, you donate the $500,000 to your foundation – and it’s all tax deductible – just as if you gave the money to the Salvation Army (who incidentally would have done something meaningful with the money).
Is influence pedaling illegal? Well, it could be; but it would be extremely hard to prove. Moreover, the Clintons are in a position to quash any FBI investigations along those lines; unless a ‘source’ within the Foundation came forth. However, it’s doubtful that would ever happen. The Clintons are too smart for that. And if any such thing was contemplated by a source within, the Clintons would unleash a public firestorm that would destroy almost anyone’s reputation and credibility.
OK, I understand that most, if not all, ultra-rich people start foundations. It is there opportunity to do good works in their area of choice; and, keep in mind, it is a great tax dodge. You can write off any expense that is even remotely associated with the foundation: luxurious offices and apartments for ‘work’ or ‘entertaining’; private airplanes and associated travel; fantastic, vastly overpaid jobs for yourself, your children or anyone else who you happen to favor; and the list goes on.
As an aside, isn’t it interesting that Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, was quoted in one of the recently (unauthorized of course) releases of his personal emails in which he commented regarding Hillary’s illegal email server and her irresponsible handling of classified material: “Hillary’s Mafia keeps trying to suck me into it.” I realize Secretary Powell never expected his comment to see the light of day; but an interesting turn of a phrase nonetheless. Probably just joking, I suppose...
Regarding a few other issues of concern for me personally:
+ Democratic Party nominating system was rigged against Bernie Sanders and in favor of Hillary.
+ FBI altering their interview and interrogation rules in the Hillary inquiry to give her a free pass.
+ Bill Clinton will be back in the White House (as Colin Powell phrased it) “dickin” around.
+ National Debt is out of control.
+ Illegal Immigration is out of control.
+ Failure to acknowledge that there is actually “Radical Islamic Terrorism” And that we need to fight it with every available resource.
I won’t be voting for Hillary for a number of reasons. Many will vote for her. Many feel they should vote for someone; and the options to Hillary are not compelling. I understand that completely. I actually think that she will win the election. Unless, and this is a longshot, the so-called ‘silent majority’ decides otherwise and gets out and votes – an American backlash, an American Brexit vote. If Trump should win, I will be somewhat shocked; but I will not necessarily be dismayed. Maybe, its time this country had a shakeup.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Presidential Election 2016 / O+M+G / Observations & Comments (Part Two - Donald Trump, Republican Candidate)
Let me say a few words about Donald Trump.
To my mind, Trump’s biggest problem is that he was born rich, has always been rich, and that he has never learned or acquired a ‘social filter.’ He has probably throughout his adulthood, possibly even in later childhood, surrounded himself with individuals who are, let’s face it, sycophants – or as many of us would say ‘brownnosers.’ Consequently, Trump often says whatever crosses his mind. He blurts it out – expecting everyone to approve of his self-supposed cleverness and frankness, laugh at his jokes even when they’re not funny, and praise his many perceived although questionable qualities. He seems mostly unaware that some of his statements personally hurt people; apparently because no one along the way, his ‘friends,’ business associates or even his family have pointed this out to him. And, if anyone had dared, he’d probably consider it undeserved; and one way or another he’d strike back. You often see this same trait in major athletes and some celebrities. And, I suppose for the very rich this lack of a ‘social filter’ is common. For the rest of us, Mom and Dad, friendly or not so friendly acquaintances put us in our place.
Example #1: His disparaging words about John McCain’s military service. McCain served bravely, enduring torture and surviving under very difficult circumstances. His behavior during those years has been substantiated by his fellow captives who have praised his courage and leadership. Trump’s words, incredibly, emanated from a man who had never even served in the military. It really is unconscionable. Why did he say it? Well, he probably regrets it now. I hope he does. The point is he opens his mouth and he just lets fly – no ‘social filter.’
Example #2: Trump’s description of what he considered to be John Kasich’s “disgusting” eating habits. Why would Trump say such a thing? I suppose he feels that if he can think it, he can say it. He always has and probably always will. Shouldn’t someone close to Trump advise him that decent people just don’t talk like that? No one? How about Melania? Or would that mean, for her, a one-way ticket out the front door of her current, very luxurious mansion?
Example #3: Is Trump a ‘Racist?’ Come on, let’s be honest here. Black, White, Asian, everyone is a ‘racist’ to some degree. It’s instinctive, tribal, part of our evolution. Is Trump worse than the rest of us? I don’t think there is any real evidence of that. But, once again, Trump has opened his mouth and speaks what others might be thinking. But, those others usually have the decency and the civility not to say it.
Can Trump be a good President? Maybe, if he surrounds himself with strong advisors, both men and women who feel free to speak their minds. But, I just don’t think he has it in him to allow straight talk from subordinates. It’s not his nature.
What Trump needs is a modicum of humility (even if he has to fake it), and a crash course at a good ‘finishing school.’
On the other hand: If I read one more article from Eastern liberals (who incidentally seem to have infested the New York Times) about how incredibly stupid, bigoted and uninformed Donald Trump supporters are, I may end up voting for him.
Friday, September 9, 2016
Presidential Election 2016 / O + M + G / Observations and Comments (Part one – Gary Johnson, Libertarian Candidate)
Oh my God, as a Nation, what have we become? This is an election like no other in my lifetime. Hard lines have been drawn. No one really wants to discuss political issues, and rightfully so. ‘Issues,’ what’s that? Issues are apparently not particularly relevant, when you have candidates like Hillary and Donald. It’s about candidate dislike, even hate. It is about name calling.
The previous widely circulated recommendation to potential voters was ‘vote for the candidate you dislike the least, but vote.’ Now, the advice seems to be ‘vote against the candidate you hate the most, or butt out.’ There is no nice alternative I’m sorry to say. I’m leaning toward the ‘Butt-out’ option.
There is, of course, Hillary Clinton (the pathological liar married to the convicted and disbarred liar) vs. Donald Trump (the egomaniac). Choose your poison. As an aside, perhaps an alternative position, might be Gary Johnson (I thought about this), Libertarian or Jill Stein (don't think so), Green Party; but really, why bother.
Nonetheless, I will be offering you some observations / advice as the election season progresses. I’ll try to keep it succinct. This will be the first of a series of very astute (and then again maybe not) political observations – many of which you’ve tried to block out of your mind. I realize reading my comments might be tough on you, but it gives me an outlet. I need some help with this. Readers’ comments or counter arguments are always appreciated – at least those that are not immediately deleted.
First up is Gary Johnson. Have you read the Libertarian platform? You probably should before you cast your vote. Some things I like. Some I don’t. However, I don’t plan to drone-on about that at the moment. Let’s talk about Aleppo. Say what?
Gary Johnson was thrown a floating-curveball (a question) by one of the co-hosts on the ‘Morning Joe’ program on MSNBC. Does anyone watch MSNBC? I’m serious does anyone? Anyway, Gary whiffed the ball.
As a result of said question, there arose an embarrassing situation for Gary Johnson and it is getting a lot of press coverage. The pitcher (questioner) was Mike Barnicle. Personally, I think the question was a bit obscure; but Gary managed to make the worst of it.
Question to Johnson: “If you were elected what would you do about Aleppo?” Now, when you really think about it, this was kind of stupid question – at least in my opinion. A question to which no one, and I mean no one, including our current President, would have a coherent answer.”
But, Johnson, to his discredit (I suppose) really blew it when he said: “And what is Aleppo?” Yes, he was serious – oh boy – and the look on his face. If he had missed the general meaning, or didn’t know that Aleppo is a war-torn city in Syria, he should have just said: ‘I’m not sure what you are referring to. Could you rephrase the question?’ But, he didn’t and it was pretty dog-gone embarrassing.
Is this a big deal? No, not really. However, if you are a Johnson supporter, brace yourself; you will automatically be ridiculed on the basis that your chosen candidate doesn’t even know where Aleppo is, or has the slightest idea what is going on in Syria. Although, let’s be honest. Most people, up to now, didn’t know who, what or where is an Aleppo – and still don’t.
Good news though – more of the public, including Johnson, now know where Aleppo is. If you don’t know, look it up - so that someone doesn’t pull a ‘Johnson’ on you.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Having done countless interviews and interrogations for the FBI, and later in my capacity as a Security Manager with a Fortune 100 company, I’m convinced that the Federal Bureau of Investigation ‘jumped in the tank’ on this investigation. Harsh, you might say. I don’t think so. The reports of Hillary Clinton’s interview seem to show every indication that the FBI's interview was choreographed to cause Ms. Clinton the least possible inconvenience, and to create the best possible opportunity for her to rationalize past conduct involving her emails and her personal ‘server.’
First, let us establish a basis. The FBI was involved in a massive criminal investigation that lasted months, involved numerous FBI Agents and outside experts, and cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. The ‘subject’ of that investigation, the ‘suspect,’ was Hillary Clinton. And, the culmination of that investigation was Hillary Clinton being interviewed for a little over three hours; and apparently one, two or three Agents wrote 302s summarizing their understanding of what took place and what was said during the interview.
Ms. Clinton had previously stated that the FBI inquiry was little more than a “security review;” a characterization to which FBI Director James Comey strongly objected. However, as it turned out that was exactly what the FBI accomplished – a ‘security review’ of the State Department’s dangerously inadequate procedures in handling ‘classified’ and other sensitive documents. With the primary offender being the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
So what is a FD 302 to which the FBI has often referred? It’s been quite a few years now, but it sounds like the FBI has not progressed from that antiquated system. It’s basically a blank sheet of paper. The Principal Special Agent dictates his interview notes, and a stenographer types them up, corrects grammar and structural flaws (without theoretically changing the content), therefore giving the 302 a professional look. The Agent dictating the 302 reads the finished product and signs it as accurate. Other Agents that were present during the interview also sign the 302 as being accurate.
The interview format: FBI Director Comey has stated five or six Agents participated in the interview of Clinton. Yes, that’s hard to believe. But, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. OK, we’d have approximately six Agents, Hillary Clinton (of course) and she probably had two or three attorneys and/or staff people with her. Reportedly, the FBI’s interview seems more like a get-together, a social gathering, a conclave, rather than an official, fact-finding interview.
Normally, there will be one principal Agent conducting the interview. If two or more Agents are questioning a subject, it becomes too confusing and the interview begins to lose focus. Perhaps the Clinton interview was compartmentally separated with Agents conducting their own segment. But, this too can become very confusing; and usually obscures good follow-up questioning. The principal interviewing Agent has to manage the interview and be thoroughly prepared. He or she usually takes the notes because he already knows where they want to go with the interview. And, he is, should be, the most informed investigator in the room.
Additionally, one Agent is assigned to do the ‘Interview Log.’ What this consists of is a time sheet including notations such as: What time the interview began and what time it ended. When breaks were taken and the nature of the break; were breaks taken to consult with attorneys, go to the bathroom, serve coffee, etc.
In HRC’s interview, I imagine that there was at least one assigned woman Special Agent present in the room – if for nothing else than to soften appearances. The principal Agent would begin with introductions and then establish the foundation. This might take 30 to 45 minutes – perhaps an hour. The object being to create a comfortable atmosphere and to lay-out the general ground rules.
The interview: After the principal Agent finishes his questioning, he would ask other Agents in the room for follow-up questions. Follow-up questions usually develop other areas of interest based on the subject’s answers and the need for clarification. In an important case like this, the principal Agent probably would require a private meeting with the other Agents in an adjacent office or conference room to discuss the interview’s progress and to garner suggestions from the other Agents present. In most instances, this private meeting would generate new areas of questioning that need to be explored in more detail.
Subsequent: The principal Agent, utilizing his hand-written notes, would then dictate the findings of the interview. The FBI used to have a ‘five day rule,’ which meant that the interview notes had to be transcribed within five days.
Now, let’s be clear, if this is what occurred in such a very short time (the alleged 3+ hours), the FBI Agents had to have been already briefed that there was to be no prosecution in the matter. More importantly, they used this antiquated interview method to make sure that Clinton didn’t stumble and somehow throw a wrench into the previously decided decision. The FBI was simply going through the motions – little more than a PR exercise.
What should the FBI have done? At the very least, the FBI should have required a verbatim transcript. Even better would have been a video and transcript. Now, it’s my understanding that Clinton’s attorneys negotiated (demanded) the interview conditions, prior to the interview; and that there would be no transcript - a condition to which the FBI agreed. In other words, Clinton’s attorneys and the FBI colluded to establish the least effective interview format; and the most beneficial format for Clinton. What if Clinton had refused to be interviewed? From an FBI standpoint that would be fine too. They would simply refer their investigative results to the US Attorney with the postscript that the subject (Hillary Clinton) refused to be interviewed. This can also be an indication of guilt when a subject refuses to be interviewed.
Duration: I’ve undergone depositions, involving civil matters on investigations that I had conducted (civil and criminal matters which were infinitely less complex than the Hillary matter) that lasted more than a day. Every answer, every word, was transcribed. If I misstated or embellished under oath that would have subsequently been used against me in court to diminish or destroy my testimony. This is mentioned to show contrast with the FBI’s ‘hit and run’ interview of Clinton.
Hillary Clinton is an attorney. She is a master of obfuscation and evasion. Her attorneys, as is there custom, would object during the interview and ask to confer privately with Clinton. With breaks and attorney conferences outside the interview room, I would guess Hillary’s interview lasted no more than an hour – if that.
My advice to any Congressional Review Panel evaluating the quality, findings and conclusions of this FBI interview would be to request all hand-written notes completed by Agents, as well as the ‘Interview Log.’ This would be a pretty good indication of how thorough the interview was. Or should I say that it would probably confirm what most current and former FBI Agents already know.
Yes indeed folks, politics talks and justice walks.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Presidential Race 2016 / Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton / Day 3 & 4 / Democratic Convention / Part 5
Well, I’m going to wrap this up. I’m losing steam and quite frankly I’ve lost interest. The Presidential Conventions are over. Now, it’s head to head, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The Presidential debates could be entertaining.
Just some quick thoughts…
Senator Tim Caine, designated VP for Hillary Clinton, gave kind of a strange ‘acceptance’ speech – trying to mock Donald Trump with the “believe me” line which he used over and over. It got real tiresome, even embarrassing. First impression of him is that he isn’t much of a public speaker. However, he and his wife have a son in the Marines; and that’s a positive as far as I’m concerned. Too many politicians talk tough, but want to send someone else’s sons and daughters to do the heavy lifting, you know the dangerous stuff.
I heard most of Hillary Clinton’s speech. I thought she did, presentation-wise, pretty well. The PBS News Hour staff of commentators seemed to give her about a ‘C’ – kind of average. No comparison, they said, to Obama.
My thoughts about her speech: Hillary promised something for everyone to include...
Free college education for children of the middle class (that’s good for me, I can stop making contributions to my grandchildren’s 529 college plans);
She will expand Social Security benefits (whatever that means);
There will be a living wage and associated benefits for everyone to include child care and maternity leave – if you are working full time (apparently regardless of what type of ‘entry’ position you might have);
There will be massive infrastructure programs - jobs for everyone – good jobs (and, yes ladies and gentlemen, you have heard that one before / remember Obama's shovel-ready promises);
She doesn’t plan to “abolish the Second Amendment” or take our guns away (that’s good, but not sure why she needed to say it – that’s not going to happen as far as I’m concerned) - elaborating on the subject, she said she just doesn’t want guns to get in the hands of criminals (OK, I’m on board with that one – let’s enforce current gun laws);
She practically said that she would pursue amnesty for illegal immigrants and that more would be on the way (brace yourself young folks – especially those needing a job – illegal immigrants will gladly work harder and longer hours then you are prepared to do – and Republican business owners are smiling at the prospect / furthermore, Democrats are smiling about the grateful wave of new Democratic voters moving north to the U.S. - it's a win - win situation - at you young folks expense.)
But, there is no need to worry about how much this will cost because Hillary said the top one percent of the wealthy, plus corporations and ‘Wall Street’ will be picking up the tab for all of this (and, she said it with a straight face – good luck with that one).
Note: For those recent college graduates who probably don’t know this – corporations don’t actually pay taxes. People pay taxes. Any tax placed on a corporation is simply passed on to whoever (or is it whomever) is purchasing their product – yes, young grads, that would be all of us – including you, when and if you get a job. Additionally, you should know that if a corporation or business can’t pass along the tax (the extra overhead) they go out of business. That is known as Capitalism.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Presidential Race 2016 / Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton / Day 2 Democratic Convention / Bill's Life with Hillary / Part 4
I didn’t watch much of the convention yesterday evening; but I did listen to William Jefferson Clinton. Yes, the old wizard is a pretty good speaker. He told the story of his wonderful life with his amazing wife Hillary Clinton. I think most would agree that Bill spread it on a little thick.
Remember, I said the Trump family reminded me of the motion picture, The Stepford Wives (The Stepford Family). Well, Hillary and Bill remind me of Francis Underwood and his wife, Claire (House of Cards). Remorseless political ambition.
If you have been living in a cave (with no TV or radio) for the last twenty years or so , you might not know the back story; and, at this point, I suppose there is no real point in attempting to reiterate same. However...
If you have been living in a cave (with no TV or radio) for the last twenty years or so , you might not know the back story; and, at this point, I suppose there is no real point in attempting to reiterate same. However...
There was a noteworthy, recent exchange between Jesse Watters and Leslie Marshall – just for the sake of context.
Jesse Watters “is an interviewer at Fox News. He frequently appears on the O'Reilly Factor and is known for his on-the-street interviews, featured in his segment of the show, ‘Watters' World’.”
Leslie Marshall “has been a liberal radio talk host since 1988 and a commentator on national television since 2001. Leslie became the youngest person ever to be nationally syndicated on radio when she replaced Tom Snyder on the ABC Satellite Radio Network in 1992. She was also the first woman to host an issues oriented program nationwide. Leslie is a Muslim. Her physician husband and his family are Muslims. Leslie converted to Islam and that is undoubtedly the basis for her pro-Muslim stance. She goes to great lengths to keep this fact hidden when she appears on TV.”
The following is an exchange from the program: ‘The O’Reilly Factor.’
Watters asked Marshall whether or not former President Bill Clinton has abused women, but she was left momentarily speechless before she was able to give an answer.
"I think your silence says a lot," Watters said.
But Marshall shot back, "No, I wanted to be very clear because I wanted to think about Monica - although consensual, she was young. I wouldn't say abuse - taken advantage of? Yes. Abused? No."
Watters listed off the facts, "Two women have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault. Another woman sued Clinton for defamation because he allegedly smeared her after an affair, and, you know as you said, he did prey on a young intern while at work. And he did use state troopers while at office to arrange the relationships. And then we know that he used his political attack machine to go after whistleblowers of the women who accused him of doing the wrong thing. It looks like there is a track record of being very aggressive with women and then using political power to then cover it up and smear. Am I wrong," Watters asked.
Marshall responded, "I missed the part where Bill Clinton's running again. He's already served two terms. His wife is running."
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Presidential Race 2016 / Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton / Democratic Convention / The "Love" Theme / Part 3
Day One of the Democratic Convention was completed. The biggest issue was Bernie Sanders’ supporters not about to leave with a whimper. They booed and demonstrated over the news that the Democratic National Committee (headed by Debbie Wasserman Schultz) attempted to ‘rig’ the primary – perhaps actually did ‘rig’ the primary, in favor of Hillary Clinton. Shouts were heard by Bernie Sanders’ followers like "lock her up;" in apparent reference to the FBI’s questionable investigation into the Hillary email scandal. Wow – some way to start off a Presidential run.
Michelle Obama gave a good speech during which she threw her ‘whole-hearted’ support to Hillary Clinton; interesting because it has been reported that neither she, nor her husband, particularly like Hillary. That’s politics I suppose. And, due to some of Donald Trump’s statements about President Obama, Michelle’s endorsement of Hillary seemed entirely understandable.
I have never heard a complete speech by Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren before last night – both are compelling speakers – crowd seemed to love it. Corey Booker, U.S. Senator from New Jersey, made a good speech – and had the crowd on their feet.
Regarding the various speeches’ content – just my opinion. The overriding theme seemed to be ‘love,’ which they mentioned innumerable times. OK, we the low-information voters, get it. Love thy neighbor. It’s in the 'good book.' Personally, I think ‘respect,’ should come before ‘love,’ that’s how most relationships begin. And again, just my experience, I’ve seen a lot of the underbelly of our population; and it’s hard to respect someone who doesn’t respect themselves.
Americans have been shown to be the most generous people in the history of the world, but we can only do so much. I never heard that mentioned by the Democratic speakers. The ‘love’ theme is a throw-back to the ‘hippie era.’ And, yes, I’ve worked the mean streets of Oakland and Berkeley during that era – and I hope that’s not where we are headed. The hard-working folks in this country can’t afford to revisit that wasted generation.
There wasn't much talk about ‘leadership;’ more about give-away programs, free college, expanding Medicare, expanding Social Security Benefits, with a brief mention of an expanded national infrastructure, etc. The U.S. is presently 19 trillion dollars in debt. Obama has increased the National Debt by about eight trillion. It appears more debt is on the way. When does it stop? And, when it does stop, what will that look like? It won’t be pretty, that’s for sure.
I suppose more taxes are the answer; but did you notice there was no mention of simplifying the tax code – so that everyone will understand who is paying what.
Taxes: Let’s see. We could identify the 25 wealthiest people in the U.S. and take 50% of their money. They could still live quite comfortably. But, that won’t cover it. How about the 100 richest, or 1000 richest; but nope that won’t cover it either. To keep us out of further debt, the ‘middle class,’ will have to pony-up as usual. The middle class will tighten their belts. The rich will do what the rich have always done. Not sure exactly what that is – I’ve never been rich.
The bottom line is: This election is probably not my problem. I was reading an article in Money Magazine. Did you know that if you’re a man who just turned seventy, your chance of living two more decades is less than one in five? So, I figure, if I can squeak- by and make it to 80 or 85, Social Security should still be solvent - at least until then. For the rest of you, all I can say is ‘good luck.’
PS: Just wondering - must have missed it - who was the babe sitting next to Bill in the Executive Box?