05/12/20

Trusting the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Far away and long ago, my company was the landlord to the FBI’s Austin By God Texas office. This brought me into close contact with the men who worked there. I judged them to be good men.

There are a lot of peculiarities when you build an office for the FBI — wouldn’t be smart for me to discuss them.  You get to know them very well and the way the offices, the conference rooms, the reception area is built teaches you something about how they conduct their business. Amigos, they use a lot of technology. A lot.

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04/28/20

President Trump Owes Bank Of China Millions

Last week, Politico breathlessly announced that “Trump Owes Tens of Millions to the Bank of China.”

The story was totally wrong. It was a fabricated story. It was fake news.

The story revolved around a financing secured by an office building located at 1290 Avenue of the Americas. It was a nice office building and the Trump Organization — the President’s real estate operating company, now run by a son — owned a minority interest of 30%.

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04/3/20

Paycheck Protection Program Interim Report Card — A+++

Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said he would get money to eligible persons as soon as possible.

“My name is Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and I have money for YOU! Come on down, amigos. Get some. Get yours. Let’s get busy.”

But, of course, he’s the “government” and — yawn — who believes the GOVERNMENT?

First day report:

Loans made — 1,926 (as of today at 11:00 AM EST)

Funds disbursed — $756,985,761

Participating lenders — 245 banks

This element of the rescue is dealing with Main Street not Wall Street and your Big Red Car has to say: “Well played, Federal Government. Well played, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. Well played indeed!”

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01/31/20

The United States of Impeachment

It is Friday, a bit before 4:00 PM CST. Senator Murkowski of Alaska has announced she is opposed to seeking more witnesses in the Impeachment Trial of President Donald J Trump.

In this Senator Murkowski joins Senator Lamar Alexander, thereby leaving Cocaine Mitch and the Republicans with a worst case scenario of 51-49 which embraces the notion that Senator Mitt Romney and Senator Susan Collins (both nominally Republicans, though the disguise is no longer believable, just switch parties and get over it) will vote to seek additional witnesses.

That 51-49 total does not make any allowance for the votes of Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Doug Jones, or Senator Krysten Sinema — all Democrats thought to be considering jumping ship from their party and voting to disavow witnesses. [I predict they do not jump ship.]

While the vote is about “witnesses,” it is really a proxy for the dismissal of all charges against President Donald J Trump, thereby leaving him in office until the end of this term and on the ballot to be re-elected in November 2020.

Thus ends the impeachment and trial of President Trump. Much ado about nothing.

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01/29/20

The Surprising State of American Satisfaction

 

I am a huge skeptic of polls as most of the polls are poorly constructed. The poorly designed samples doom the accuracy of the polls. The exception to that rule is Rassmussen and Gallup.

Of the two, I place more confidence in Rasmussen as it relates to political polls and in Gallup as it relates to “state of the state” type polls.

I was flabbergasted to read a recent late January 2020 poll from Gallup. Here is the data they report. It is quite surprising to me how favorably the country views the presidency of Donald J Trump. Nobody would ever have thought this based on the media. I am a policy guy, using the effectiveness of policy as my personal yardstick to evaluate satisfaction.

Take a look at this info which is take directly from the poll. See if you are as surprised as me?

Changes in Americans’ Satisfaction With Issues

Since Start of Trump Presidency

 

Jan 2017 Jan 2020 Change
Increased satisfaction
The state of the nation’s economy 46% 68% +22%
The nation’s security from terrorism 50 68 +18
The nation’s military strength and preparedness 66 81 +15
The state of race relations 22 36 +14
The nation’s policies to reduce or control crime 38 47 +9
The position of blacks and other racial minorities in the nation 37 46 +9
The way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S. 35 43 +8
The opportunity for a person in this nation to get ahead by working hard 66 72 +6
Satisfaction steady
The overall quality of life 80 84 +4
The influence of organized religion 56 59 +3
The nation’s energy policies 41 44 +3
Our system of government and how well it works 40 43 +3
Government regulation of businesses and industries 38 41 +3
The size and influence of major corporations 39 41 +2
The moral and ethical climate 31 32 +1
The quality of medical care in the nation 52 52 0
The nation’s laws or policies on guns 42 42 0
The nation’s efforts to deal with poverty and homelessness 23 22 -1
The role the U.S. plays in world affairs 45 43 -2
The size and power of the federal government 40 38 -2
The amount Americans pay in federal taxes 39 37 -2
The availability of affordable healthcare 39 37 -2
The quality of public education in the nation 37 35 -2
The acceptance of gays and lesbians in the nation 59 56 -3
The Social Security and Medicare systems 47 43 -4
Decreased satisfaction
The quality of the environment in the nation 52 46 -6
The level of immigration into the country today 41 35 -6
The nation’s policies regarding the abortion issue 39 32 -7

What do you think? Does it surprise you how high the general level of satisfaction is during the three years of the Trump admin? I am truly flabbergasted.

 

01/20/20

The Impeachment

We are on the verge of the first day of the impeachment trial of President Donald J Trump and, thus, I feel the necessity to say something of portent on the subject. I will try to be evenhanded, fair, and like Nancy Pelosi, wield a big hammer.

Fancy Nancy contemplating using her gavel on President Trump’s . . . . ?

This may be harder than I thought.

The Harlem Globetrotters and The Impeachment

The Harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Generals in displays of athleticism, sport, and comedy, but the Harlem Globetrotters always, always, always win. When you go to a Globetrotters game, you know the outcome before the tip.

This is how I feel about The Impeachment. I know the outcome. The Washington Generals will not win. Again. Yawn.

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01/8/20

Restraint — President Trump

When President Trump was sworn in one of the knocks on him was his lack of presidential bearing and gravitas. I thought at the time it was a fair concern though I also thought he would grow into the job.

I don’t hear these complaints today, but I have heard in its place a lament about his lack of restraint. In my mind, it is a balancing act — American restraint being the garden party voiceover for procrastination or the inability to actually accomplish things.

The American Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel — as teaching point

An example I find worthy of discussion is the intransigence about the movement of the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This move was ordered by the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 with the Senate approving it at the time by a vote of 95-5 and the House approving it with a 374-37 vote. The law demanded the Embassy be relocated by 31 may 1999.

The law provided for a series of six month waivers for “national security” justifications. Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump waived it for 22 years.

Then, on 6 December 2017 — first year of the Trump presidency — President Trump publicly announced the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and ordered that the planning for moving the Embassy should begin.

Two big things:

 1. From 1995 until 2017, American Presidents failed to implement the almost unanimous intentions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 — a period of 22 years.

 2. In the first year of his presidency, President Donald J Trump said, “Let’s get on with it. We’ve been clutching our pearls for too long. Now.”

On 14 May 2018 — on the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence — the US Embassy opened in Jerusalem in what had once been the Arnona consular building. The relocation turned out to be a renovation rather than a new build to suit. [President Trump is a builder and knew value when he saw it, saving us billions of dollars.]

That is the kind of lack of restraint that I applaud. President Trump gets things done that other presidents have kicked down the road for decades (NATO funding, trade, China, North Korea, Iran, immigration) — 22 years, three presidencies for the Jerusalem US Embassy. President Trump got it started in his first year, completed in his second year.

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01/5/20

The Trump Doctrine

Every President in modern times has created a National Security Strategy which encapsulates the foreign policy views of an administration and alerts the world to understand the attitude of an administration to them and their relationship with the United States.

This codification is often created by the press of real world issues at the time. It is often communicated during a State of the Union speech and it provides a guiding light for the White House, State Department, the Department of Defense, and the Congress.

The Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine is the granddaddy of all “doctrines” which was spoken for the first time in President James Monroe’s seventh State of the Union Address to Congress in December 1823.

It held the following guidance:

 1. The New World and the Old World were to be considered as two very different spheres of influence.

 2. Any European nation that attempted to quash the independence movements of its Latin American or South American colonies (talking to you, Portugal and Spain) would be viewed as having taken an “. . . unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”

 3. It further stated that European nations that adhered to the Monroe Doctrine could rest assured that the United States would not interfere in their internal affairs in Europe.

 4. The Monroe Doctrine was not called the Monroe Doctrine until 1850, but it was embraced as the policy of the United States for more than a century and influenced the administrations of Ulysses S Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan.

Not every administration from Monroe to the present had challenges in Latin or South America related to European colonial expansion, so the Monroe Doctrine was more important or less important to different administrations based on their current foreign affairs challenges. Today, it is not particularly relevant as there is no real European colonial kerfuffle in Latin America or South America though it is often invoked when talking about Russian or Chinese influence in places like Nicaragua or Venezuela.

I give you this background as I want to set the table to discuss what is an emerging Trump Doctrine applying to the Middle East and terrorism.

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