Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Compare and Contrast Remember those high school compare and contrast papers intended to test your analytical abilities? How about compare and contrast on current events? That’s tough because we don’t know all the facts, but that doesn’t stop us from looking at the current riots and looting in Baltimore. How does it compare to Ferguson? Some similarities exist, but the differences are great. Both cities, as all many others, were tinder box ready to explode. Both arose out of the death of a black man apparently at the hands of the police. We still don’t know for sure the reason for Freddie Gray’s severed spine. Michael Brown was shot by Darren Wilson, a white officer, but the story fed the public was a false narrative uttered by Brown’s partner in crime. The popular narrative became “Hands up’ Don’t shoot!” The killing, however tragic, was justified self-defense by the officer. Both cities lagged in getting the facts out. Both were followed by peaceful demonstrations and horrific riots and looting. Ferguson may have initially over responded, but Baltimore under responded. Both Ferguson and Baltimore called in allied police forces and the National Guard. Ferguson used both police force and conciliatory acts to quell the violence. The response in Baltimore Monday night was very different. The public watched on national TV the looting and arson while the police stood back. 19 buildings and 144 vehicles were burnt. 20 police officers were injured, mostly by rocks thrown at them. Commentators asked two questions: Why weren’t the police acting? Why didn’t the Governor call up the National Guard? Now we know. Mayor Rawlings-Blake told the police to stand down Monday and hesitated in asking for the National Guard. Governor Hogan had prepared the activation of the Guard, but was waiting for a request from the Mayor. The delay in response and the Mayor’s statements served as an open invitation to the looters. They knew they would get away with it. Innocent, often minority, merchants were wiped out in both cities. Both Baltimore and Ferguson suffered, in part, by flash mobs initiated through social media. In both cities a still unknown amount of the messages came from an outside source. Both cities witnessed outside agitators and looters entering the chaos. The authorities in Missouri used video recordings to subsequently arrest looters. We will see if arrests follow in Baltimore. Protestors in both cities cried out for social justice. Both are majority black communities. The political structures are different. Ferguson has a white power structure and Baltimore a black power structure. Ferguson had a majority white city council, a white mayor, a white police chief, and only 4 blacks on the Ferguson Police Force. Baltimore has a black mayor, a 100% Democratic, majority black city council, a black police chief, a black state’s attorney, and 41% blacks on the police force. Compare and contrast? They’re both American tragedies.
Monday, April 27, 2015
The House Republicans are going about it the wrong way. They’re engaged in political theatre in seeking the former Secretary of State’s emails and perhaps server to be met with frustration. The Clintons are experienced experts in the Three S Crisis Response: stonewall, spin, and slime the messenger. They’ve succeeded for over two decades. They will outdo the IRS in withholding emails. Watch the server disappear. No one will know anything. Everything is just a bunch of coincidences. The Clintons acolytes argue: “No evidence has been found that shows a conspiracy or link between the contributions and government actions” That’s because the emails are missing. The 18 missing minutes by Rosemary Woods on the Nixon tapes is minor league compared to the years of the Clintons. There is though a way to independently retrieve the missing emails irrespective of the Clintons Three S’s. Subpoena the Chinese and Russians. They undoubtedly possess the missing emails. They access so much of our nation’s governmental emails. Malware is a PLA (People’s Liberation Army) specialty. The Chinese employ about 100,000 hackers. The Russians have penetrated the Pentagon, White House, and Pentagon. We now learn that the Russians hacked into the White House Computer Center last October. President Obama’s non-confidential emails were at risk. We are told though that his confidential email on his Blackberry was protected, but conversations between the President and Ambassadors as well as policy discussions are vulnerable. We also are told that the hacking could access the email archives of people who communicated with President Obama. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter disclosed the Russians got into unclassified Pentagon computers. Chinese hackers nine times entered into the civilian computer systems of Pentagon transportation companies. They even entered malicious malware into an airline’s computer. Mike McConnell, former Director of National Security and the National Security Agency has said the “Chinese have penetrated every major corporation of any consequence in the United States.” Hacked victims include the New York Times, Bloomberg News, the United States Chamber of Commerce, NOAA, the Office of Personnel Management, the United States Postal Service, USIS (which performs security clearances for the United States), and Canada’s National Research Council. The odds that the Chinese and Russians did not attempt to hack the Secretary of State’s emails are slim to none. The odds her personal server is more secure than government’s are also slim to none, which means the Chinese and Russians have them. We can’t actually subpoena the Chinese and Russian governments. A friendly re-reset with Russia should obtain the info. Just push the button, and make sure it works this time. There’s undoubtedly a veritable treasure trove of Clinton shenanigans just about Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation in the hacked emails. Let’s tell the Russians they can retain the emails on the sweetheart uranium deal. Just let us see the rest.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
We visited Istanbul two years ago for a week. As have millions before us, we fell in love with the city. I would love to return to Turkey for 1-2 months to see the rest of this great country, which has so much to offer: history, the early Church, culture - Cappadocia, Izmir, Ephesus, Pergamon, Gallipoli, Troy, Ankara (Ataturk’s Memorial and Inoye), Mount Ararat, Bursa, Van, Bodrum, Konya, Pamukkale. Even one month is too short for Istanbul. However, if anyone in the current Turkish Government reads this blog, I’ll probably be denied a visa. The Armenian Genocide is a proven historical fact. It was even contemporaneously reported, almost daily by the New York Times, as it unfolded. The United States Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire sent periodic reports to Washington. German soldiers took photos. About only two facts are unknown. First is the actual death toll. Was it 500,000, 1 million, 1.2 million, or 1.5 million? The answer is unknowable, but one critical fact is the roughly 82% drop in the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire from 2,133,190 in 1914 to 387,800 in 1922 according to a study by the University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Many Armenians successfully fled. The Armenian diaspora includes Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Russia and the United States. For example, over 200,000 Armenian Americans claim residence in Los Angeles County. The second fact is that no written document from the Three Pashas ruling Turkey through the Committee on Union and Progress has been found ordering the deaths of the Armenians. The Deportation Order from Talat Pasha, and he kept abreast of the deportations by telegraph. The units executing the genocide did not act spontaneously; they received their orders, presumably oral, from someone, starting with Talat. Similarly, no written order has been found by Adolph Hitler authorizing the Holocaust. We know though the Armenian Genocide began on April 24, 1915 when 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders were arrested in Istanbul and subsequently executed. We also know that the Turkish Legislature enacted the Tehcir Law on May 29, 1915. It authorized the military to deport any one who posed a “threat to national security,” followed on September 13, 1915 by a statute authorizing the confiscation of abandoned Armenian property. General Enver Pasha led the Turkish Third Army into a disastrous defeat at Sarikemish against the Russian Army in 1914. He blamed his Armenian soldiers for the loss. Armenian soldiers in the Ottoman Army were disarmed and transferred out of active duty units into Labor Battalions, and subsequently killed. The Army and local authorities then rounded up the Armenians in Anatolia. Many were marched into the Syrian Desert to die from the elements or starvation. Armenians were shot, drowned, raped, tossed off cliffs, burned alive, and thrown overboard. Entire villages were burnt to the ground with the Armenians trapped inside. This was cruelty writ large. Anatolia is the heartland of Turkey. It was also home to over a million Armenian Christians when World War I began. The Armenians had been in Anatolia for millennia. The Ottomans wrote a chapter in “Man’s Inhumanity to Man” with the Armenian Genocide. It was a forerunner to the Nazi extermination of the Jews. German allies who witnessed the Armenian Genocide learned from it. Hitler is quoted as saying: “Who remembers the Armenians?” The Eurasian land mass traditionally lacked fixed political boundaries. Borders constantly changed with the vicissitudes of conquerors. Ethnic cleansing sometimes accompanied the changes. The end of World War I witnessed the creation of new countries out of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, Tsarist Russia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the fall of the Kaiser. Boundaries were shifted during and after World War II. The Soviet Union seized eastern Poland, while the Allies gave Prussia to Poland. The bloody partition of India ensued. Borders are still flexible. Germany (and Vietnam) have united, but Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia have split into pieces. The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in 15 new countries, but Mother Russia seems intent upon regaining control of many of them, starting with parts of Georgia and Ukraine. China is engaged in many border disputes with its neighbors, and the Mideast seems as fluid and volatile as ever. One of the greater lessons from the Armenian Genocide is how quickly people living together for generations will turn on their neighbors. It happened in Anatolia with Kurds being some of the most vicious Ottoman executioners of the Armenians. The Kurds have since been very apologetic to the Armenians. They had subsequently felt the wrath of the Turks. Neighbors turned on Jews during the Holocaust. The same pattern happened with the Rwanda Genocide, and more recently at the end of the Second Gulf War when Iraqi Sunnis turned on Iraqi Shia’a, and Shia’a turned on Sunnis. Serbian troops massacred Bosnian Muslims, especially at Srebrenica. Even the United States has the horrible experience on incarcerating the mainland Japanese Americans in concentration camps after Pearl Harbor. We did not though execute them. Let us also remember that individual Turks and Kurds saved Armenians from the genocide, just as Germans, Poles, French, Hungarian, Dutch, and the other people initially conquered by the Germans in World War II risked their lives to save Jews. Israel recognizes the “Righteous Among the Nations.” Several Ottoman officers refused to carry out genocide orders. No “Righteous Among the nations” for them, but they retained their honor and integrity. Thanks be to Allah. Turkey still does not admit the Armenian Genocide although it recognizes tragedies occurred. Several reasons explain the Turkish adamant, vehement denials. First is a matter of pride. It is hard to admit that one’s country has engaged in such atrocities. Japan has still not fully confronted its past, including the Korean “comfort women.” Turkey, with a degree of justification, believes it does not receive the respect it deserves from the West. The country has been kept out of the European Union, for what is probably bias against the Turks. The continuing denial of the Armenian Genocide will not help its case for admission to the EU. Second is the realization that many of the founding fathers of the Turkish Republic, albeit not Ataturk, had blood on their hands in the genocide. Many Turks profited from the Armenian demise in Anatolia. The Young Turks wanted an Armenia without Armenians, which became the heartland (Anatolia) of the Turkish Republic under Ataturk. The Ottomans lost an empire, but the Turks became a nation. Third is ignorance on the part of many Turks. They are not taught in school of the Armenian Genocide. Instead, they learn that Armenians killed half a million Turks during the War. The Ottomans were fighting Turkish rebels in Anatolia, who did not represent a large percent of the population. The Ottomans had been fighting rebellions for centuries as the size of the Empire continued to shrink. Fear also existed of the Armenians forming a “fifth column” with the Russians, just as many Americans feared he Japanese Americans would support Japan in World War II. The pictures and motion pictures exist of the Armenians being massacred. No such pictorial evidence exists of Armenians herding Turks into the Syrian Desert. No pictorial evidence exists of the Christian Armenians torching Turkish mosques. Fourth is the issue of reparations and compensation. The current tab is estimated to be in the trillions. Some Armenians will settle for an apology and acknowledgment of the genocide. Others want compensation. A compromise could presumably be reached, but no one seems to be working on one. Turkey will never be at peace with itself until it admits to the Armenian Genocide. Pope Francis stated in calling the Armenia Genocide the first genocide of the twentieth Century: "Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it." The tide of history is against the denial. The world says “Never Again.” Yes Never Again As we say never again, ethnic cleansing and genocide are occurring in North Africa and the Mideast. Christians, Jews, and Moslem lives are all at risk.
Friday, April 24, 2015
The California Rasins Case, Horne v. United States Department of Agriculture, Is About Fundamental Freedom
The United States Supreme Court held oral arguments Wednesday in the case of Horne v United States Department of Agriculture. Marvin and Laura Horne are raisin growers in Fresno. They withdrew a decade ago from the Department of Agriculture enforced cartel for raisin producers. We forget that part of President Roosevelt’s early New Deal Program was to stabilize prices through government sponsored cartels in the National Industrial Recovery Act administered through the National Recovery Administration (NRA). Participants could proudly display the Blue Eagle. The Supreme Court ruled the act unconstitutional in the 1935 case of Schechter Poultry Co. v. United States (My history professor called it "The Sick Chicken" case). The industrial cartels supposedly terminated at that point. However, the New Deal continued programs to “stabilize” agricultural markets. A 1937 statute, The Agriculture Marketing Agreement Act, attempted to keep commodity prices steady by restricting supply. Some programs restrict output, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in the famous 1942 case of Wickard v. Filburn. A 1949 marketing order promulgated the Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) to stabilize the raisin market. RAC is led by raisin farmers. The raisin program operates differently from the production levels and marketing regulations of other programs. RAC does not restrict the production of raisins, but determines how much of each crop, supposedly the excess production, raisin farmers are to turn over to the RAC, without compensation, to be put “in reserve.” It is not a production or marketing program. It is a take title and possession without compensation dictate. If the reserve raisins are subsequently sold by RAC, the net proceeds are to be distributed among the farmers. Eventhough RAC often reaps tens of millions of dollars from selling the raisins, its “expenses” almost always eat up the receipts, and thus little, if any, is allocated to the growers. The plaintiffs were told to forfeit 47%, almost half, of their 2002-03 production and 30% of the 2003-04 crop. They refused, and turned back the government truck when it arrived. The Department of Agriculture fined them $695,000 for their failure to cooperate. The government distributes and distributes the raisins outside the open market to school lunch programs, government agencies and overseas. In other words, regardless of how much lipstick you paint on a pig, the government confiscates the privately grown raisins and then reaps a profit and savings by redistributing them. The scheme is analogous to the government telling Apple that Apple must turn over 30-50% of its IPad production to the government to distribute to the nation’s public schools (essentially Justice Alito’s comment during oral arguments). No matter how it is glossed, it is an unconstitutional taking of private property without compensation, forbidden by the 5th Amendment. Any judge or justice who votes to uphold the program is showing contempt for the Constitution and the rights of the people. The Ninth Circuit had the temerity to uphold the program on the inane principle that the 5th Amendment only applies to real property and not personal property. Even Edwin Kneedler, the Deputy Solicitor General, did not use that argument before the Supreme Court. However, his argument is almost equally twisted. He justified the cartel, the seizure and confiscation of private property, as a “comprehensive program regulating the commercial marketing of a fungible agricultural product.” The government’s brief said the farmers are free to plant other crops if they don’t like the program. Another superficially shallow argument is that the Hornes have not suffered a loss because they benefit in the marketplace by selling their raisins at a higher price than would exist without the programs. The purpose of cartels is to restrict production and raise prices, but that is normally a per se violation of the nation’s antitrust laws. The big losers in this program are not so much the Hornes, although they have suffered economically. The major losers are consumers who are the victims of a blatant industry price fixing cartel, enforced by the federal government. 99% of the nation’s raisins, and 40% of the world’s raisins are grown in California. The assumption is that the Supreme Court will strike down the program. The only questions seem to be the vote count and the basis of the ruling. For example, Justice Breyer posited that if the program is a “takings,” then perhaps the remedy would be for the Hornes to seek compensation in the lower courts. Chirf Justice Roberts and Justices Alito and Scalia were clearly hostile to the program, but Justices Kennedy and Thomas (as usual) were quiet. The Chief Justice called it a “classical, physical taking.” The Court has unfortunately not always been consistent on physical appropriations. It held 5-4 in 2003 that a state could take the interest on lawyer’s client accounts and use these funds to subsidize legal assistance programs. I naively posited in 1972 that a balancing test should be used in determining if a government restriction or seizure would constitute a reasonable regulation or unconstitutional takings. The fallacy with this approach is that the government, as with legal assistance, can almost always come up with a compelling argument for its actions, thereby nullifying the Bill of Rights.
Gallipoli was an inspirational victory for the Turks during World War I. Three nations rose out of the rubble of the Allied defeat at Gallipoli: Australia, New Zealand, and modern Turkey. Turkey found a leader, who forged a new nation out of the broken Ottoman Empire. Tsar Nicholas I of Russia is credited in 1853 with calling the Ottoman Empire “The Sick Man of Europe,” but in fact the Empire had been in decline for over two centuries as the once-feared Ottoman armies consistently lost battles and wars. The Sultans were a spent force. The Byzantine Empire, the predecessor to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople, had declined to a few miles outside the city’s walls when it fell to the Ottomans in 1453. The Ottomans had not fallen nearly that low by 1914, but the days when the Ottoman Empire included the Black Sea, the Balkans, Mesopotamia, the Levant, North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean were becoming a distant memory. The British, led by Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, devised a plan to drive Turkey out of the War by seizing Istanbul and turning it and the Bosporus over to the Russians. The plan centered on capturing the Dardanelles, which connect the Mediterranean and the Aegean to the Black Sea and Russia through the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus. Turkey was weak. The Young Turks, mostly military officers, seized power in 1908, lost it, and regained control in a 1913 coup. Sultan Abdul Hamid II, the last absolute ruler, abdicated on April 13, 1909, to be succeeded by Mehmed V, a figurehead. The Young Turks, led by Enver Pasha (Ismail Enver), proved they could seize power, start a war, and initiate the Armenian genocide, and lose the war. Enver Pasha made the unilateral decision for Turkey to enter World War I on the side of the Central Powers, and then proceeded to lose an army in an early battle with Tsarist Russia. The collective decision was then made to demagogue the Armenians to divert the public attention away from the failures of the Young Turks. Lt. Colonel Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) was not a fan of Enver Pasha and his two co-rulers, Talaat Pasha and Djemal Pasha. The 35 year old officer was quasi-exiled to the Gallipoli Peninsula in command of the 19th Division, prior to the invasion. The initial British Plan was to send a fleet of 18, mostly aged, battleships through the Dardanelles and onto Constantinople on March 18, 1915. Turkish artillery, mines, and torpedoes defeated the fleet, sinking three battleships. The next step was to invade the Gallipoli Peninsula sandwiched between the Aegean Sea and the Dardanelles. Troy lies on the opposite side of the Dardanelles. The British assembled a Commonwealth and French army. The soldiers were from Australia, England, India, Ireland, Newfoundland, New Zealand, France, and Senegal. If they captured the Gallipoli Peninsula, then the army would have a quick march to Constantinople. Turkey would be forced out of the war. The British plan was doomed. They underestimated the Turkish soldiers and suffered from incompetent generals. The forces landed in several locations on April 25, 1915 and then essentially dug in, instead of seizing the initiative. The Turkish forces fiercely resisted, but in some areas were running short of ammunition. The 57th Infantry Regiment became a legend on the 25th. Out of ammo, with only fixed bayonets, Colonel Kemal issued his famous order: “I do not order you to fight. I order you to die. In the time which passes until we die, other troops and commanders can come forward and take our places.” Every member of the 57th was either killed or wounded in action. The Turks held. Turkish casualties exceeded the Allies, but the Turks were fighting for their home. They would not be defeated. They generally held on to the high grounds while Gallipoli degenerated into trench warfare similar to the western Front. Much of the nine month Gallipoli battle was fought in a 1½ mile square. The Allies finally evacuated on January 9, 1915, their most effective action of the battle. Gallipoli was a strategic defeat for the Allies. The Turks held on until the end of the War. Winston Churchill entered political purgatory for two decades. Australia and New Zealand celebrate Anzac Day on April 25 as they found their identity and nationhood. 60,000 Anzac soldiers landed at Gallipoli. 8,709 Australians and 2,721 New Zealanders died in action on the Gallipoli Peninsula. So did 14,300 French soldiers, but the legacy of Gallipoli belongs to Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey. The Turks won the battle, but ultimately lost the war, The Allies dismembered not only the Ottoman Empire after the war, but also attempted to carve up Turkey. Mustafa Kemal wrangled permission to go to Anatolia, whereupon he formed an army, which won Turkey’s War of Independence. Mustafa Kemal became Ataturk. Ataturk knew, and the world learnt, that the Turks could fight with competent leadership. Modern Turkey, which is mostly in Asia, emerged as an independent, secular Republic. Ataturk westernized the educational system, language, calendar, culture, dress, and laws. Turkey adopted the metric system. Women were granted equality. The Hagia Sophia had been converted into the Aya Sofya Mosque immediately upon the Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople. Ataturk in turn converted the Aya Sofya into a museum, across the Hippodrome from the equally famous Blue Mosque. 31 Commonwealth cemeteries are on Gallipoli. Ataturk is reported to have said at a dawn service to a delegation of British, Australian and New Zealand representatives in 1934 at Anzac Cove on the 20th Anniversary of Gallipoli: Those heroes who shed their blood And lost their lives You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country Therefore rest in peace There is no difference between the Johnnies And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side Here, in this country of ours You, the mothers Who sent their sons from far away countries Wipe away your tears Your sons are now lying in our bosom And are in peace After having lost their lives on this land they have Become our sons as well Australia and New Zealand have erected memorials to Ataturk. Rarely do countries commemorate losing battles much less celebrate the opposing victors. Australia, New Zealand and Turkey are united by Gallipoli through blood and the bonds of peace. Sadly, the collapse and dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire has led to many of the present problems in the Mideast. Gallipoli, both the naval battle and the land war, is a tremendous source of pride for the Turks today as well as an immediate morale boost a century ago. There would be no Turkey today without Gallipoli.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Secretary of State Clinton has in essence, if not consciously, adopted Helen Reddy’s great 1971 song, “I Am Woman,” as her mantra: “I am woman, hear me roar In numbers too big to ignore …………………………….. I am strong ……………………………. I am invincible …………………………… I am woman." Her key to victory: Capitalize on the gender gap, highlight the Republican War on Women, and keep Bill in the shadows. She Knows female voters outnumber male voters. Her Hope: to bring together once again the Obama Coalition. She knows that the young voters know little of the Clinton Presidency 16 years earlier. Thus, she can run on a quasi-populist plank, highlighting her Wellesley and Yale degrees, and service as a Senator and Secretary of State, glossing over the lack of accomplishments and success in those positions. Always on her womanhood. Yes, she will rail against inequality and demand an increase in the minimum wage, but the video of the Chipotle in Ohio shows the Clinton Party did not leave a tip. How does she treat her chauffeurs since the woman of the people has not driven in 20 years? She is targeting the 1%, but she is of the 1%. Raise the minimum pay and stand by labor: Solidarity forever, but she served on the WalMart Board of Directors from 1986-1992 and did not oppose WalMart’s staunch anti-union policies. She is running as the “New” Clinton, who has learned from the lessons of 2008. Once upon a time we had the “New” Nixon. I also remember the “New” Dukakis in Massachusetts. She is the “New” Woman running on focus group testing of themes and phrases. She asks “Don’t you think America is ready for a woman President?” or “Are you ready for a woman President?” Hillary Clinton is who she is. The earlier Hillary was avaricious, manipulative, and mendacious. Benghazi, personal email server, book contract, the Clinton Foundation, and speaking honoraria - That’s the new Hillary: avaricious, manipulative, and mendacious. She learned from Bill the art of stonewalling. Bill also had the ability to lie to your face and get away with it eventhough you knew he was lying to you and he knew you knew. She lacks that charm. She must keep Bill away from the camera. Let him spend 19 months with the grandchild else he will suck the oxygen out of her campaign. Is America ready for a woman in the White House? Of course. Also a Hispanic American, Asian America, or Arab-American. America made a giant leap in electing an African American to the White House. Unfortunately it is Barack Obama. Everything depends on the person. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is not the woman. She knows she is. The Democrats hope she is. She desperately needs the rights to “I Am Woman.”
Saturday, April 18, 2015
The Clinton Campaign ran a brilliant ad in the 2008 primary campaign. The ad had a 3:00AM emergency call, waking up the President. Immediate action was necessary in light of the emergency. The ad told us we needed an experienced President who would be ready to respond in just such an emergency. We were led to believe that the tried and tested, experienced Senator Clinton was that person rather than the unseasoned Junior Senator from Illinois. The ad could not save the unsalvageable Clinton Campaign, which anticipated a Clinton coronation. The 3:00AM call was more than merely prophetic. Neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Clinton answered the 2012 pre-election 3:00AM Benghazi call. Let’s assume that Secretary Clinton is elected President in 2016. Here is her 2017 Benghazi phone call. The President is peacefully asleep when the phone rings. She picks up the antique Princess phone: “Hellloooo; what da?’ The Caller: “Madame President, Our Benghazi consulate is under attack.” A bleary eye President Clinton: “What do you expect me to do about it? Blame it on a crazed mob. And don’t phone me again on this government line. Use my private cell phone and private email. Understand?” The Caller: “But Madame President, our Ambassador is under attack.” President Clinton: “All right then. Blame it on an anti-Muslim video. Good night!” The Caller 15 minutes later: “Madame President, I am sorry to wake you up, but the Ambassador and three other Americans are dead:’ President Clinton: “I told you to blame it on the video.” The Caller: “Madame President, What video?” President Clinton: “What video? I don’t know. Go find one! That’s your job. …. . And then set up a $70,000 advertising campaign in Pakistan to denounce the video. And get me a talk at the UN so that I can apologize to the world about the video and our Freedom of Speech." Wait a minute. Now that I’m awake. Also send Susan Rice out to the talk shows. Susan will parrot anything we tell her. Oh, and further more, say we are looking to prosecute the producer of the video. Do you understand, or do I need to repeat myself? (very loud, strident voice).” President Clinton slams the phone down. The caller phones back 30 minutes later: “Madame President. I found a video on YouTube, 'The Innocence of Muslims.' It’s perfect.” President Clinton: “Are you absolutely certain?” The Caller: “Yes, but only 50 people have viewed it.’ President Clinton: “All the better! Remember what I told you to do. And never use the phrase: ‘Cover Up.’”
Friday, April 17, 2015
I Almost got a Ticket Today (For a broken brake light), But Didn’t. Why Not? I am long overdue for a traffic ticket, but been lucky so far. I was driving to school today on a 4 lane stretch of Tustin Avenue. The left lane is a left turn only lane. I was in the adjoining lane when I stopped behind two cars at a traffic light. I saw a police officer driving slowly in the left turn lane and then he stopped next to me and eyeballed me. We eyeballed each other and then he drove on. It was eerie. Why? What had I done wrong? It wasn’t speeding. I noticed the officer a few blocks earlier and obeyed the speed limit. I didn’t go through a red light or engage in a sliding California stop. I signaled before switching lanes. The car’s registration is current. No warrants are outstanding. So why? A passing driver 4 traffic lights later signaled my right brake light was out. I could have been ticketed through no fault of my own, but wasn’t. Why not? The answer lies in North Charleston, South Carolina, Ferguson, Missouri, and Los Angeles, California. It’s called aggressive traffic enforcement. Police engage in the practice on major holidays, such as New Year’s, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day to reduce the carnage of drunk rivers. They set up checkpoints to catch and discourage drunk drivers. We applaud aggressive traffic enforcement in these scenarios. We do not applaud aggressive traffic enforcement in minority communities as a form of overzealous law enforcement. A 2011 Justice Department Study showed that Blacks are 31% more likely than whites to be pulled over for traffic violations. It creates a pressure cooker on a minority community. A spark, such as Officer Darrin Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, even if “by the book,” can cause the lid to blow with disastrous consequences. Aggressive traffic enforcement did not lead to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, but it caused the subsequent explosion. I mentioned once before that I witnessed aggressive traffic enforcement in the spring of 1968 in Los Angeles. Three of us from USF Law School were attending a 9th Circuit meeting of the Law Student Division (LSD ?) of the American Bar Association at the University of Southern California. We had a break time and wandered onto Figueroa, which in itself was an education (For those of you unfamiliar with USC’s location, it is in a bad neighborhood as are many urban campuses). A police car pulled over an African American male driving an old car. Two officers got out of the car. One put his hands on what appeared to be a 3’ long baton and the other officer on his gun. They questioned and searched the driver and then let him go, saying ”I’m sorry Sir, your left rear tire is a little low.) We did not know at the time that aggressive traffic enforcement in South Central Los Angeles was standard operating procedure. We know the pressure cooker in Los Angeles has blown up twice: the 1965 Watts Riots and the 1992 Rodney King riots, both as a reaction against the police. The North Charleston, South Carolina shooting of Walter Scott by Officer Michael Slager was initially triggered by a traffic stop over a non-functioning third brake light. We’ve seen the video. A running Walter Scott was shot five times in the back by Officer Slager, who then apparently planted a Taser by Scott’s body. The shooting is a violation on its dace of Mr. Scott’s Civil Rights. North Charleston has not erupted in the Ferguson Riots. Mayor Keith Summer and Police Chief Eddie Driggers responded differently than Ferguson. Officer Slager was arrested for murder shortly after the video emerged. The investigation of the shooting was turned over the state. In addition, Chief was hired two years ago, out of retirement, with the express charge of building trust between the police and the African American community (47.2% of the population). Chief Driggers said of the video: “I have watched the video, and have been sickened by what I saw.” Why wasn’t I ticketed? The officer exercised his discretion. Is it because, even with a dark complexion, I am white?
Two of the pioneers that built modern Orange County left us in recent months. Henry Segerstrom, the first, died on February 20 at 91 years of age. He plowed under his family’s lima bean farm in Costa Mesa and built the world famous South Coast Plaza, and then funded the world quality Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts. His is a story of success. The Reverend Robert Schuller, formerly of the Crystal Cathedral, died on April 2 at 88. His is a story of rags to riches to rags. Reverend Schuller is not America’s first televangelist, but he brought the church to television, paving the path for other mega-churches and televangelists in Orange County, including Reverend Rick Warren ‘s (The Purpose Driven Life) Saddleback Church and the Trinity Broadcasting Network, as well as nationally. Schuller started his Orange County ministry on the roof of a concessions stand at a drive-in theatre in 1956. He saw the power of the automobile in Southern California, marketing the Church with this phrase: “Come as you are in the family car.” His first week’s collection was $85.75 leading decades later to the $18 million Crystal Cathedral, which reaches to the Heavens, and brought the Hour of Power to the world in 1970 with a peak viewership of 20 million. His sermons and productions brought millions of dollars into his church and financed the Crystal Cathedral and two office buildings on 34 acres of prime real estate in Orange County. The Philip Johnson designed Crystal Cathedral contains 10,000 panes of glass. It seats 2,734 parishioners with an additional 1,000 seats for musicians The Schuller family became a modern American Greek Tragedy. At some point the family stopped serving God, and started serving themselves instead. They prey together and reaped where they had sown. Reverend Schuller installed his son, Reverend Robert A. Schuller, on January 1 2008 as Senior Pastor. But then two years later, he removed his son on October 25, 2008 and installed his daughter, Reverend Sheila Schuler Coleman in the pulpit. Reverend Robert A. Schuller’s apostasy was trying to expand the Church’s reach to a younger generation. The Church was suffering from an aging congregation and declining contributions. Reverend Sheila Schuller was not God’s answer to the Church’s declining fortunes. The Schullers preached the Gospel of Nepotism. All five Schuller children were on the Church’s payroll when it entered bankruptcy on October 18, 2010. The Church listed $48 million in debts, including a $36 million mortgage. The Schullers claimed $5 million was owed them. Four family members received $12.7 million in compensation between 1993-2010. 20 family members were earning a combined $1.9 million when the Church declared bankruptcy. The compensation included $832,490 in tax exempt housing subsidies to 8 family members. For example, Paul Dunn, husband of daughter Jeanne Schuller Dunn, received $142,281 in housing allowance and an additional $161,966 in “vendor billings.” The Dunns live in Hawaii, but Jeanne claimed her compensation was warranted she produced the famous and spectacular Glory of Easter and Glory of Christmas Pageants. The Pageants were cancelled in 2010 because of financial problems with creditors being stiffed until resolution of the bankruptcy proceedings. In addition Reverend Schuller and his relatives borrowed $10 million from the Church’s endowment between 2002 and 2009. The Church laid off 125 workers prior to the bankruptcy, but the Schullers retained their salaries and benefits. They thought the phrase “God helps those who help themselves” applied to them, but it is not in Scripture. The Schuller Clan was terminated from the Crystal Cathedral during bankruptcy. The family has splintered into competing ministries. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County purchased the Crystal Cathedral in November 2011 and is re-christening it as Christ Cathedral. The Reverend Schuller was laid to rest in the Crystal Cathedral next to Arvella, his wife of 63 years. His family had difficulty even agreeing on a memorial service. The Schuller Family Feud continues.
Saturday, April 11, 2015
Judge M. Mark Kelly was appointed to the Orange County Superior Court by Governor Gray Davis in 2000, after serving 12 years as an Assistant district Attorney in Orange County. Judge Kelly’s judgeship ended on April 3, 2015. He just doesn’t realize it yet. He sentenced a child rapist on April 3 to ten years in prison, 15 years below the statutory of 25 years to life, and then issued his opinion which has inflamed public opinion. The victim was three years old when she walked into 20 year-old Kevin Rojano-Nieto’s garage. The judge’s opinion said Kevin “inexplicably became sexually aroused, but did not appear to consciously intend to harm [her] when he sexually assaulted her.” Her mother was calling for her so Kevin put his hand over her mouth to silent her screams as he sodomized her. However, the Judge explained “There was no violence or disregard for the victim’s well-being.” The defendant sodomized the three year old girl. Isn’t that violence enough? Judge Kelly ruled that 25 years was cruel and unusual punishment under the circumstances. He explained that the defendant was a first-time offender rather than a long-time predator. While the crime was “serious and despicable,” the judge continued “it does not compare to a situation where a pedophile prays on an innocent child …. Because he did not seek out or stalk the victim.” Judge Kelly also relied on the testimony of a psychologist who said the defendant had a low risk of repetition. Outrage over the judge’s decision erupted on the internet. A petition asking the judge to step down from the bench has over 72,000 signatures. A Facebook page seeking his removal has over 17,000 “likes.” KFI’s Ken and John are burning the airwaves in promoting a recall campaign against Judge Kelly. The local newspapers and TV stations have aired the uproar over the Judge. A press conference was held last Thursday. Three of Orange County’s Supervisors appeared advocating his removal and extending their support for a recall. A formal recall drive will commence when the papers are issued. About 90,000 valid signatures within 160 days are needed to place the recall on the ballot. John and Ken will publicize the formal recall when it commences. Judge Kelly has not generally been regarded as a bad judge, but he is now. Did you know that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month? Apparently neither did Judge Kelly.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
Springfield, Massachusetts is one of America’s great industrial cities that post-industrial America is leaving behind. It is a city of many firsts, starting with the famous Springfield Armory, established by General Washington in 1777. The Armory employed 10,000 highly skilled workers, providing a skilled work force and training ground for the Connecticut River Valley for two centuries. However, President Johnson hated Massachusetts and the Kennedys. He closed the Armory in 1968, signaling a great decline for the City. President Nixon also hated the Kennedys and Massachusetts. He followed up by closing the Boston Naval Shipyard. Springfield had many firsts. The first American automobile was built in Springfield. For a short time Springfield vied with Detroit, but Henry Ford’s Model T doomed the Pioneer Valley auto industry. The gasoline pump, fire truck, handcuffs, vulcanized rubber, and Barry ice skates emerged from Springfield. Long gone is Indian Motorcycle, while some companies, such as Monarch Life Insurance (1991) of the variable annuity and Milton Bradley (1984), were mismanaged and either went under or were bought out. The first Sheraton Hotel and Ames Discount Sore were in Springfield. The Great Depression hurt Springfield, as it did many industrial cities. Rolls Royce manufactured cars in Springfield from 1919-1931. World War II granted Springfield a reprieve, but the decline resumed. United Technologies closed the American Bosch plant in 1986, shipping the jobs to lower cost facilities in the South. One by one the other industrial plants in the Northend closed or shrank: Westinghouse, Crane (Chapman Valves), Danaher (tools for Sears). Diamond Match closed in the mid 1980’s. Mead-Westvaco lay off 130 in shuttering two envelop and packaging plants. Styrolution closed in 2014 a polystyrene plant with 58 jobs. The local banks, indeed the New England banks of three decades ago, are almost all gone, mostly merging over two decades into the bank of America. Absorbine, Mass Mutual, Merriam Webster, and Smith & Wesson are still based in Springfield. Friendly Ice Cream, founded during the Great Depression still survives, but it has shrunk in size. The Picknelly family of Peter Pan Bus Lines have become major boosters of Springfield. Similarly, the D’Amour family of Big Y Supermarkets, also founded around the same time as Friendly’s have turned the chain into a regional powerhouse. Unfortunately, most of the old money has left Springfield, and the D’Amours and Picknellys can’t overcome that loss in a declining city of 154,000 residents. Nor can an expanding Bay State Medical Center replace the lost jobs. Bay State Medical Center, a teaching hospital for Tufts Medical School, is one of the largest employers in Massachusetts. The local universities, especially Springfield College and Western New England University, my former employer, are expanding. The Museum Quadrangle has renovated its existing museums, added the new Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History and the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden. Theodore Geisel grew up on Mulberry Street in Springfield. The Basketball Hall of Fame is at its third location, across the freeway and several blocks from downtown, serving as a magnet for restaurants and a new hotel, but drawing business from downtown. The staples of Main Street, the Forbes and Wallace (1976) and Steiger”s (1994) Department Stores and Johnson Book Store (2002) closed. Baystate West, the downtown mall, is mostly a ghost. Serv-U Hardware Stores called it quits in 2001. The once great deli, Gus & Paul’s, folded two years ago. And now comes the next great hope, the shift from an industrial city to a post-industrial casino. Some believe casinos are the economic engines of the future. The two Indian casinos in Connecticut, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, paved the way, apparently opening the doors to unlimited wealth. Rumors are that Foxwoods has lost its lustre and is drowning in debt. MGM broke ground on a $800 million casino on 14½ acres in the Southend two weeks ago. MGM promises 3,000 jobs when the casino opens with construction jobs in the meantime. It will offer 3,000 slots and 100 table games. Casinos never brought Atlantic City back, and three casinos have not been the salvation of Detroit. Springfield will not be a destination for high rollers, thereby limiting the casino’s prospects. Springfield residents voted for the casino, out of desperation. It may be the last, great hope for the City of Homes. It's a gamble.
“If You Like Your Israel, You Can Keep Your Israel:” Did President Obama Say That? Not exactly, but he kinda, sorta said that in an interview with the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman on January 6: “But what I would say to [Israelis] is that not only am I absolutely committed to making sure that they maintain their qualitative military edge, and that they can deter any potential future attacks, but what I’m willing to do is to make the kind of commitments that would give everybody in the neighborhood, including Iran, a clarity that if Israel were to be attacked by any state, that we would stand by them.” How serious is the Obama Administration about Israel’s security? Not very, as shown by a recent decision which received little publicity in the United States. The United States entered into a strategic agreement with Israel in 1975 to guarantee access to oil at a reasonable cost. The original agreement expired on November 25, 1994 and was twice extended for 10 years each. It last expired on November 25, 2014. The State Department did not renew the agreement last November. The oilless Israel never drew upon the guarantee, but its leaders knew the United States promise was there if needed. President Obama is believed to have denied the larger bunker buster bombs to Israel, to have lagged in resupplying Israel, and to have threatened to shoot down Israeli jets attacking Iran. Here’s the question: Does President Obama have Israel’s back? Or Will President Obama turn his back on Israel in its times of need? Russia invaded Ukraine with tanks, soldiers, special ops, and para-military. President Obama responded by sending MRE’s to the Ukrainian forces. President Obama drew a line in the sand with Syria’s President Assad on August 20, 2012: “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” Syria at least twice used chemical weapons and President Obama winced. President Obama touted “shovel-ready jobs” in pushing The Stimulus Bill: “We’ve got shovel-ready projects all over the country, and governors and mayors are pleading to fund it. The minute we can get these investments to the state level, jobs are going to be created.” Millions of shovel-ready jobs were waiting to be created. The shovel-ready jobs were an illusion. The President admitted, to laughter, at a meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina on June 12, 2011 “’Shovel-ready” was not as ‘shovel-ready’ as we expected.” Remember, “If you like your healthplan, you can keep your healthplan” and “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Any doubts about those repetitive misrepresentations were laid to rest by the loquacious Professor Jonathon Gruber. Six years of President Obama have taught us that his talking points are divorced from reality.
Saturday, April 4, 2015
What’s Wrong With the Iran Deal? No one can be wrong all the time. Sooner or later a right decision will be made. President Obama still hasn’t got it right with the Iran framework. His problem is one of underlying precepts. The President believes Israel is the major source of instability in the Mideast while Iran, the Mullahs of Iran, will be the source of stability in the Mideast. In short, he’s picking up where President Carter left off. His pro-Mullah bias manifested itself early in his Administration. The Mullahs and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the June 12, 2009 Iranian Presidential Election. The masses turned out in protest, only to be brutally suppressed. President Obama was silent. Yet he became a cheerleader for the Arab Spring, even pushing out Egypt’s President Mubarak with the extremist Muslim Brotherhood temporarily assuming power. The Arab Spring resulted in the overthrow of several dictators, pro-West secular leaders. How has that worked out in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Tunisia? Iran’s fingerprints are on the chaos throughout the Mideast and North Africa. Great Britain and France in negotiations with Nazi Germany decided the fate of Czechoslovakia. The United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, China and Russia in negotiations with Iran are deciding the fate of Israel and the Mideast. Any deal with Iran should be a comprehensive deal including recognizing the existence of Israel, reining in Iran’s expansionism, freeing the Americans held in Iran, and promoting regional security. Instead, Iranians can still yell “Death to America” during morning prayers while an Iranian General stated “Erasing Israel off the map is non-negotiable.” Iran will never successfully be the stabilizer in the Mideast. It, along with Iraq, are Shi’a nations, but the other nations are primarily Sunni. Sunni terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda, Al-Shabaad, Boko Haraam, and ISIS view Shi’a as infidels. Nor were the primarily Sunni Arab nations in the Mideast a party to the discussions. This agreement will not stabilize the Mideast. It does not recognize the existence of Israel. It does not obtain the return of the Americans currently held in Iran’s jails. It does not affect Iran continuing as the leading sponsor of state sponsored terrorism. It does not address Iran’s aggressive expansionism. It does not promote regional security. It does not affect Iran’s ballistic missile program. It does not improve the living standards of the Iranian people. It will promote nuclear proliferation. It does not provide how we will detect Iran’s chronic cheating. It does not provide for snap inspections. It does not stop Iran’s “research program.” So what does it do?
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Senator Robert Menendez was indicted yesterday on 14 counts, including 8 of bribery for trading political favors for luxury gifts. The 68 page indictment is quite specific in the facts. The Senator is accused of receiving about $1,000,000 in gifts and campaign contributions in exchange for running favors for Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was indicted on 13 counts. Over $750,000 was in campaign contributions and $40,000 to the Senator’s legal defense fund. Senator Menendez did not list many of the “gifts” on the required disclosure statements. The line between quid pro quo bribery and friendly campaign contributions is a very fine one. Imagine that: a politician accepts gifts and campaign contributions for doing political favors. It’s often called constituent services. Unions support President Obama, who just vetoed a Republican anti-labor bill. Democrats cater to the green energy whims of Thomas Steyer in exchange for tens of millions in campaign contributions. The Koch Brothers tailor their contributions to friendly Republicans. Corruption is endemic in politics. Four state Assembly Speakers have been indicted in the past year: Sheldon Silver of New York, Gordon Fox of Rhode Island, Bobby Harrell of South Carolina, and Mike Hubbard of Alabama. Three of the last four Speakers in Massachusetts have been convicted of felonies and Rob McCord, Pennsylvania State Treasurer, resigned in January while under federal scrutiny. New Jersey, the home of fictional Tony Soprano, certainly has a reputation for public corruption. The four term Democratic Senator Harrison Williams was convicted on nine counts of bribery and conspiracy on May 1, 1981 in the Abscam scandal. He served two years in prison. Six Congressmen, one from New Jersey, and the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey were also convicted in Abscam. The fictional movie, American Hustle, was partially based on Abscam. Democratic New Jersey Senator Robert “The Torch” Torricelli resigned from the Senate during his 2002 reelection campaign for taking campaign gifts from David Chang, who spent 18 months in prison for illegal campaign gifts. The gifts included expensive Italian suits, a $8,100 Rolex watch, 52 inch television, grandfather clock, and cash. The Justice Department declined to prosecute Senator Torricelli. Senator Menendez holds the Senate seat previously occupied by Senators Williams and Torricelli. And yet, something is wrong with the prosecution of Senator Menendez. Richard Frankel, the lead FBI Agent in New Jersey, said we “have a right to demand, honest, unbiased service and representation from [our] elected officials at all levels of government.” If so, a more deserving indictment would be of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who engaged in a series of questionable real estate transactions. The Senator became rich after entering Congress poor. The Senator bought land outside Vegas for $400,000 in 1988 while his friend Jay Brown bought an adjoining parcel. Senator Reid transferred the land in 2001 to a partnership with Brown, Patrick Lane LLC. The transfer was not disclosed on the Senate financial disclosure forms. The land was sold in 2004 to a shopping center developer after a favorable zoning reclassification from residential to commercial. The Senator made $700,000 in the deal. He paid $10,000 in 2002 to Clair Haycock, a lubricants dealer, for 160 acres in Bullhead City, Arizona. He paid about $166/acre for land assessed at $2,000/acre. Senator Reid sponsored legislation six months later to benefit lubricant dealers with Haycock as a major beneficiary. Congress enacted a $286 billion transportation bill in 2005. Senator Reid attached $300 in earmarks, including $18 million to build a bridge over the Colorado River connecting Bullhead City, Arizona and Laughlin, Nevada. The value of his Bullhead City land for residential development soared. Harvey Whittemore was a wheeler-dealer lawyer with mob connections in Nevada politics. He was convicted in 2013 on three felony counts for over $130,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Senator Reid’s 2007 reelection campaign. At one time Senator Reid’s four sons worked for Whittemore’s law firm. The Senator earlier introduced legislation and contacted the EPA to get a favorable resolution of Whittemore’s plans to develop the environmentally sensitive Coyote Springs. And then we have the Bureau of Land Management’s attempt to seize the cattle of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy last year to “protect the desert tortoise.” The Bundy land adjoins a 9,000 acre tract owned by China’s ENN Energy Group, which proposed to build a $5 billion solar energy farm on the land. The Bundy tract was to be turned over to ENN. The ENN land was earlier sold to ENN by the County when Rory Reid, the Senator’s son, chaired the County Planning Commission. Rory subsequently represented ENN in 2014. The BLM raid was initiated by a phone call by the Senate Minority Leader. The head of the BLM is a former senior aide to the Senator. BLM was planning to euthanize the desert tortoises on the adjoining land while professing to protect them on the Bundy Tract. Then Senator Obama entered into a questionable purchase of his Chicago house at 5046 Greenwood in the Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago. The house was listed for sale at $1,950,000 attached to a vacant lot listed at $625,000. The sellers wished to sell both as a package. The price was unaffordable to the Obamas. Tony Rezko, a Chicago wheeler-dealer paid the $650,000 for the vacant lot, appraised at $500,000 at the same day the Obamas purchased the house for $1,650,000 at a $300,000 discount in June 2005. Rezko then sold resold 1/6 of the vacant lot to the Obamas for $104,000. Senator Obama, according to the Chicago Sun Times, wrote to city and state officials in 2007 supporting a low-income, senior citizen development project headed by Rezko who then received $14 million in state funds, Rezko was convicted in 2008 of federal corruption charges and sentenced to ten years in prison. Senator Menendez’s big crime in the eyes of the Obama Administration is disloyalty. He is the one prominent Democratic Senator who has consistently spoken out against the Administration’s appeasement (my term) of Iran and cavalier disdain for Israel. As the son of Cuban refugees, he is vehemently opposed to the Obama Administration rapprochement with Cuba. The Eric Holder politicized Justice Department has responded with Chicago rules: Anything goes in politics. Anyway possible, clear the field; silence the opposition. The Senator's second in the eyes of the Obama Administration is that he is (or was) the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Administration can tolerate some apostasy, such as from Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginis on coal issues, but not on the President's signature, legacy issue of an agreement with Iran. Senators Menendez and Purl Kirk (R. Ill.) introduced in January the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015 along with 14 co-sponsors. The Bill would tighter sanctions on Iran. The President is strongly opposed to the Bill. Senator Menendez stepped down yesterday as the ranking Democrat, replaced by Senator Ben Cardin (D. Del.) who will toe the line with President Obama. The last Senator to be charged by the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department was Ted Stevens of Alaska. His conviction cost him reelection in 2008 but was subsequently reversed due to gross prosecutorial misconduct by the prosecutors. Let us also consider the indictment of Standard and Poor’s. Three major rating firms, Moods, S&P, and Fitch egregiously applied their imprimaturs on the mortgage backed securities for subprime loans. They bear a large degree of fault in the 2007 financial collapse. S&P downgraded the rating of long-term United States government debt to AA+ from AAA after the Budget Control Act of 2011. The Justice Department charged S&P in 2013 with fraud in rating several of the mortgage backed bond issues, seeking $5 billion in damages. The Justice Department has not charged either Moody’s, controlled by President Obama’s favorite investor, Warren Buffett, or Fitch. In the financial collapse, leading S&P, as well as several commentators, to believe the selective Justice Department prosecution was an application of Chicago Rules. Nevertheless, S&P settled the suit earlier this year for $1.38 billion while Moody’s and Fitch still have not been prosecuted. Senator Menendez may have crossed over the line; his actions may not pass the sniff test, but the Justice Department is mighty selective in initiating the prosecution. It also declined yesterday to prosecute Lois Lerner in the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Chicago Rules also require loyalty to your supporters.