Saudi Arabia: Friend and Ally

The current occupant of the White House is looking to burnish his self-proclaimed reputation as the world’s greatest deal-maker with another arms sale to Saudi Arabia. To get rid of any distractions, he has fired the Inspector General who was looking into last year’s artful eight-billion-plus-dollar deal that sent weaponry to the Kingdom last year, over the strenuous objections of Congress.

The Bush family, too, were long-time friends and business partners with Saudi Arabian potentates.

Continue reading “Saudi Arabia: Friend and Ally”

Keeping Up with the President

“It’s true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?” — Ronald Reagan

You thought no president would be lazier than our fortieth? Even George W. Bush (43) spent much of his time clearing brush and driving a pickup truck around his Crawford Texas ranch.

There’s a quick and easy way to keep abreast of what the current occupant of the White House is doing. The web site Factba.se posts the president’s rigorous schedule, updated daily. For example, here is his very busy Friday, January 17, 2020.

11:00 am The President participates in the visit of the 2019 College Football National Champions: Louisiana State University Tigers

2:30 pm The President and First Lady depart the White House

5:25 pm The President and First Lady arrive at Mar-a-Lago

6:30 pm The President participates in a roundtable with supporters (closed to press)

7:00 pm The President delivers remarks at a joint finance committee dinner (closed to press)

Fun fact: Condominiums in Trump-branded buildings on average sell for 18.2% less per square foot compared to similar units in the same ZIP code.

Climate Change Wisdom from Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has extolled the benefits of a warming planet:

“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as twenty days.”

Last week Pompeo shared his climate knowledge with the Washington Times — not to be confused with the Washington Post — newspaper:

“If waters rise — I was just in the Netherlands, all below sea level, right? Living a wonderful, thriving economic situation.”

Unfortunately what works for Netherlands won’t work for the state of Florida:

“Most of the state—consists of limestone that was laid down over the millions of years Florida sat at the bottom of a shallow sea. The limestone is filled with holes, and the holes are, for the most part, filled with water.”
“You can’t build levees on the coast and stop the water. The water would just come underground.”

(Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker):

No big deal; the climate “always changes,” and so “societies reorganize, we move to different places, we develop technology and innovation.”

Like they’re doing in Guatemala:

“Guatemala is consistently listed among the world’s 10 most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change. Increasingly erratic climate patterns have produced year after year of failed harvests and dwindling work opportunities across the country, forcing more and more people to consider migration in a last-ditch effort to escape skyrocketing levels of food insecurity and poverty.”

(Gena Steffens in the National Geographic)

As we know, Pompeo and his boss are doing everything they can to assist Guatemalan refugees unable to sustain themselves in their home country.

And say good-bye to Louisiana.

How Mar-a-Lago Staves Off Bankruptcy

At least 24 White House and federal staffers stayed at Mar-a-Lago during the Xi visit… at $546 per room per night.

The Trump Organization multiple times has made use of a time-honored business strategy: bleed the business for personal enrichment and then stiff the investors, contractors, suppliers and any other entity owed money by employing bankruptcy proceedings. Although the Organization has had multiple business failures – Airlines, University, Steaks, to name only a few – bankruptcy seems to be the preferred tactic for dying entertainment businesses. The Plaza Hotel and multiple casino operations have ended in bankruptcy courts.

Your tax dollars at work.

Other hospitality properties manage to appear solvent: the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC (that caused many of us to learn what the “emoluments clause” in the Constitution is) and the Westchester Golf Club (where they are shocked, shocked! at accusations that undocumented employees were forced to work off the clock).

ProPublica recently reported on a paid-by-taxpayers $1,000 charge at the the soon-to-be literally underwater Mar-a-Lago resort, a tiny example of the business strategy keeping the operation metaphorically afloat. $1,000? No big deal; it’s a nearly insignificant amount. But it illustrates the overall symbiosis between government expenditures and the personal enrichment of the current occupant of the White House.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Mar-a-Lago in April 2017 for a two-day summit. Later in the evening after the lavish state dinner, a group, including Steve Bannon who says he doesn’t drink and doesn’t remember anything about it, found its way to the resort’s Library Bar – presided over by a portrait on the wall titled “The Visionary.” (You-know-who dressed in tennis whites.) The group dismissed the bartender; the Secret Service guarded the door.

Six days later, Mar-a-Lago presented a bill for $1,006 – $838 for liquor plus 20% gratuity – with no documentation of who was there and what was the nature of the meeting. The State Department declined to pay and forwarded it to the White House, which of course did pay.

Click here for more about how to bill the government.

CNN’s Fake News Chart

“Men should be disqualified for public office. Women should run the planet. They’re better than us.”
– Ted Turner

If your memory is good, you may remember CNN as Jon Stewart’s favorite punching bag. Cable News Network, has had its ups and downs since Ted Turner founded it in 1980. Turner said the first all-news network and the first 24-hour news network was “my greatest career achievement.” (Marrying Jane Fonda was a personal achievement.)

Turner sold his greatest achievement, as part of Turner Broadcasting, to Time Warner in 1996 for $7.3 billion in stock. After Time Warner purchased AOL in 2001 Turner’s net worth sank along with T-W’s stock price.

CNN made its reputation with its coverage of the first Gulf War in 1991 and burnished it with reporting on 9/11. The network lost much of its reputation with incessant dubious reporting on plane crashes and disappeared young blonde women.

The renamed WarnerMedia is now owned by AT&T; CNN is now the favorite punching bag of the current occupant of the White House.

The Leader of the Free World

Although not in the same class as the above video, CNN recently performed a public service by publishing an interactive graphic charting the White House’s ever-changing answers to various issues:

  • Russian Collusion
  • Comey Firing
  • Mueller Legal Process
  • Russian Business Ties
  • Trump Associates

Click here to have more fun than spinning your fidget.

Lawyers 1,055 – Clients 145

To get paid in full, people like Tesoro would have had to take him to court, an expensive, risky, and hassle-inducing prospect.

The current occupant of the White House’s business modus operandi used fear of bankruptcy-by-attorneys as a cudgel. For example, in 2006, architect Andrew Tesoro submitted his final bill to the Trump Organization for his work on the clubhouse at the National Golf Club Westchester: $140,000. He was offered $50,000. Wanting to avoid legal hassle and expense, he sent a revised billing for $50,000. When that went unpaid, Tesoro contacted The Donald himself who said he would pay $25,000. Knowing that legal action to collect would cost much more, Tesoro took it, 18% of the billed amount, less than what he owed the consultants who had worked with him on the project.

A local news report tells of a couple in Rohnert Park California who were successful in their suit against the city. Police officers had entered Raul and Elva Barajas’s house, with guns drawn, looking for their son who was on parole.

Unfortunately for the city and its police force, they neglected to get a warrant for the search.

A federal court rendered its judgement against the city of Rohnert Park: $1.2 million. Mr. and Mrs. Barajas couple were awarded $75,000 damages and an additional $70,000 punitive damages. Their attorneys got… well, you can do the arithmetic.

The lawyers always win.