Friday, May 3, 2019

Mueller Report Thoughts, How to Make a Lot of Money, Tying it All Together, Two Great Columns and a New Poem




Tying It All Together: Another Synagogue Shooting, the President’s Role, Republican Cowardice, the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court’s “Misinterpretation,” a History of Gun Violence, Foolish Jews, White Nationalists and the Only Solution


Sometimes, seemingly disparate issues come together and really end up constituting a single problem.  That’s what the lead off item on today’s posting is all about.

The President, by his equivocal comments (“There were good people on both sides”)  last year at the time of the Charlottesville White Nationalist demonstration has encouraged criminals to perpetrate hate crimes.  He shares their guilt.

Unfortunately, the Republicans in the Senate will prevent his well-deserved impeachment, an event which would take place in short order if they chose to put country over party, which they do not.  They are a disgrace to their party and to the country.  Hopefully, it would be a heaven-sent blessing if all 22 Republican Senate seats which will be contested in 2020 would turn Democratic.  There is no reason for real Americans to vote Republican any longer, so long as cowardice, bigotry and party loyalty dominate that sick party.

And as for the Second Amendment, it is time for its repeal.  Republican justices on the Supreme Court, again putting party over judicial precedent and the Amendment’s clear language, have permitted its gross misinterpretation and allowed the country to be flooded with 300,000,000 dangerous weapons in civilian hands. 

Any sixth grader can make sense out of what the Second Amendment says. Read it: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

In 2008, in D.C vs Heller, the Supreme Court chose to criminally separate its first thirteen words from the Second Amendment’s concluding fourteen words.  (I say “criminally” because people have been murdered because of the Supreme Court’s “misinterpretation,” making them accessories to those crimes.) The first thirteen words precisely lay out a specific limit upon the right provided by the following fourteen words, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” They describe the purpose of that “right,” which is clearly the necessity of having a well regulated militia.”  That was the way the Court viewed the Second Amendment until 2008.

It would be charitable and naïve to say that the late Justice Antonin Scalia
Justice Scalia
and those who voted with him on this issue in 2008 were too dumb to understand this language.  The only explanation is that they were Republicans, and that party gets a lot of support from gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association, which should be considered a subversive, un-American organization.

Along with the President, the hands of these Supreme Court Justices are soaked in blood.  All of them should be punished.  But they won’t be, but at least the President can be voted out of office.  Sadly, the Supreme Court Justices are there for life, unless they choose to resign in shame over the horrors for which they are responsible.

The Poway, California synagogue shooting which fortunately only involved one death, joins these other tragedies, all of which took at least ten lives: the Las Vegas hotel, the Orlando nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Sutherland Springs church, Luby’s restaurant, the University of Texas tower, Stoneman-Douglas High School, the San Bernardino office, Fort Hood, Columbine High School, the Aurora movie theatre, the Pittsburgh synagogue … and the list goes on. 


What does it take to wake up America?  How dumb are its citizens? 




                                                                                            
It cannot be ignored that the marchers in Charlottesville were undeniably anti-Semitic and that two of the recent attacks were made upon synagogues. 


Some of the "good people" marching in Charlottesville referred to by Trump

Other faiths have been attacked as well, but it is the anti-Semitic attacks that I address now. Some Jews give the President a pass on his responsibility for these acts because of his opposition to Israel’s implacable menace, Iran, his questionable withdrawal from the multi-nation agreement to reduce that country’s nuclear program, his unwavering support of Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and finally, his moving of the American embassy to Jerusalem.  They are fools.  Let me repeat that.  Such Jews are fools. What Trump has given to them cost him nothing and blinded them to the far greater danger which his non-critical acknowledgement of White Nationalism presents to them.

You should be aware that because of the freedoms allowed by the First Amendment, there are social media apps and websites where murderous White Nationalists contact one another and plan their heinous deeds. And they are not limited to the United States.  I would hope they are being closely monitored by law enforcement agencies on all levels all over the world. Their access to weapons must be blocked.  Really, there is no solution to this problem other than repeal of the Second Amendment in this country and the turning in of dangerous weapons, as was done in Australia, presently in the hands of civilians for no good reason.  But that will be difficult to accomplish on a voluntary basis.

This problem is so serious that it is not inconceivable that it could lead to a second Civil War in this country.  The issue of slavery simmered for seventy-one years before tearing the country apart in 1860.  
Gettysburg Bloodshed


The misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, leading to repeated murderous shootings, can tear the nation apart again.  The clock is ticking.  The issue of bringing an end to gun violence continues to simmer.   Most of us will not live to see its resolution, but there is hope that your children might.

Jack Lippman



Advice on How to Make a Lot of Money


There’s a fascinating article in the April 29 issue of BloombergBusinessweek which leads me to conclude that if we ever get to look at Donald Trump’s tax returns, they will show that he paid less taxes than anyone of you reading this!  That’s why he is ashamed to let America see those returns.  They would destroy his image and reinforce a new one, that of “Cheatin’ Donald.”

Macklowe
But Donald isn’t alone.  As the article, which concentrates on Harry Macklowe, a recently divorced Manhattan real estate tycoon (the divorce proceedings brought a lot of this information into the public eye) points out, “real estate tycoons get a host of special breaks not available to most other investors.”

Steven Rosenthal, a fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, is quoted as saying that “The real estate industry is notorious for throwing off lots of deductions, and real estate developers are notorious for paying very few taxes.  Years ago, you might recall, Leona Helmsley (who served time in prison for tax evasion and other offenses) said, “Only the little people pay taxes.”

Quoting the BloombergBusinessweek article which pointed out that Macklowe’s fortune would not have been accumulated in an industry other than real estate, “the U.S. tax code is designed to measure profitability over time, allowing businesses to write off losses in one year against income in the next.  For most companies, that provision is limited to losses on their own capital as opposed to losses on borrowed money.” Businessweek goes on to quote Steve Wamhoff, director of federal tax policy at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “a left-leaning” think tank as pointing out, “Real Estate is the exception.”  That means that when a real estate developer loses the money gotten from banks or other investors, they can claim a loss.  The money was never theirs to start with!  No other industry has this advantage, tax-wise.




In a debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump was asked if he used a $916,000,000 loss from his casino business to defer taxes.  “Of course I do,” he answered.  Do you believe that $916,000,000 was his to start with?  Sure, when pigs fly!  It was “other people’s money,” coming from investors in his casinos.   Great formula:  Borrow money, lose it, get a tax-deduction on your other income.  Smell it, folks?  If it were a perfume, it could be called “Eau de Trump.”

Trump is also quoted as citing “depreciation rules” as a way to reduce taxes.  “I love depreciation,” he said.  Bear in mind that “depreciation” of farm or factory equipment … which does not increase in value with the passage of time … differs from the increasing value of office buildings in places like midtown Manhattan, making depreciation deductions much more valuable to those in real estate, as contrasted with agriculture or manufacturing.

There's lots of ways to make money in that business  ... More than in most other businesses

There were a few additional goodies for the real estate industry included in the 2017 Tax Reform bill. It provided a 20 percent deduction for real estate investors who reported business income on their personal tax returns, while excluding it for other businesses.  It also established “opportunity” zones, supposedly in poor areas, where real estate investors might reduce or eliminate capital gains taxation by putting their money there.  Legislation which favors the real estate industry on both the national and more local levels is common, of course, because real estate “tycoons” all are extremely generous in their political donations.

If you personally want to make a lot of money, I have two words of advice for you.  (1) Find a bookie and place a bet that if and when Donald J. Trump’s tax returns are ever released, they will show that he hasn’t paid any taxes for years and (2) whatever you’re doing for a living right now, “fuhgeddaboudit” and go in the real estate business in New York City or some other major urban area.
JL


Two Great Columns to Check Out

It is understandable that conservatives, usually Republicans, running for office are unwilling to alienate Trump supporters because they would not be electable without their votes, even though in their hearts, many recognize the awful truth about the President.

Such is not the case, however, with conservatives who are not involved in running for elective office.  Some of them recognize what truth is and are not afraid to speak out especially journalists.   In addition to Kathleen Parker, Michael Gerson and David Brooks, I cite as an example right-wing columnist Mona Charen, whose credentials are at least the equivalent of those of the obstinately conservative Cal Thomas, whose regular appearances on the Palm Beach Post’s Opinion page were replaced a few years back by Charen’s column.  Here is what she had to say last week.  CLICK HERE   to share her wisdom.

Sanchez
And here’s another column to check out.  The Kansas City Star’s Mary Sanchez recently wrote on the failure of the United Nations to pass a resolution to aid victims of “military rape” by ISIS forces in the Middle East.  Because abortion was involved, the United States led the opposition to the measure.  For those who believe in an afterlife, feel sure that this guarantees Donald Trump and Michael Pence an eternal place in the warmest part of Hell, if their other deeds have not already done so.  Read her column by CLICKING HERE.





JL


Proposed Constitutional Amendment: “It’s Okay to Lie Just so Long as your Lies Don’t Amount to Crimes or My Thoughts on the Aftermath of the Mueller Report 

Imagine a teacher asking the class to submit their thoughts about a book he or she assigns them to read.  Otherwise too busy or perhaps too lazy to bother to read the book, a student finds a review of the book, reads that instead and completes the assignment based on the review, which happens to include the reviewer’s ideas and prejudices, not those of the student, who hasn’t even read the book.  The teacher, also having read that review as well as the book, recognizes the fraudulent nature of the student’s work.

Barr
This kind of chicanery is what America was asked to accept when presented with Attorney General Barr’s four-page summary of Special Counsel Mueller’s report concerning his investigation of Russian interference with our election process in 2016 and the President’s possible obstruction of that process.

Attorney General Barr provided an opinionated summary of the report and reaffirmed those opinions with an unprecedented press conference just before its public release because he presumed, probably correctly, that the American public would be too lazy or otherwise preoccupied to read Special Counsel Mueller’s actual report for themselves, once its full, although somewhat redacted, text became available. The manner in which Barr did this was intended to obfuscate the actual findings of the report which were:

(1)  Russia definitely interfered in our 2016 presidential election and tried very hard, apparently without success, to act in concert with the Republican party in doing so, and

(2) President Trump clearly attempted to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation, but in a manner which did not extend to indictable criminal actions, which didn’t really matter because the Department of Justice feels a sitting President cannot be indicted anyway.

Mueller
Just as that teacher might recognize the fraudulent work of the student and take him or her to task, so Special Counsel Mueller recognized the fraudulent, opinionated four-page summary of his team’s work which Attorney General Barr released.  He both corresponded to him about it and spoke to him by telephone, pointing out that "the summmary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office's work and conclusions," and then added that "there is now confusion about critical aspects of the result of our investigation."

During a House Appropriations Committee hearing on April 9, Florida Congressman
Crist
Charlie Crist alluded to this when he asked the Attorney General: “Reports have emerged recently that members of the Special Counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report’s findings. Do you know what they’re referencing with that?”  Barr answered: “No, I don’t,” and then added “I suspect that they probably wanted more put out, but in my view, I was not interested in putting out summaries or trying to summarize.” 
Apparently, he had by then forgotten about Mueller's letter and phone call, cited above.  Traditionally, liars have bad memories in court ... or before committees ... but God, this was our friggin' Attorney General! 
 

This week, Crist said that “There will be consequences” if Barr was not honest. Because lies told before a Congressional hearing under oath do not have to reach the level of being indictable, as they do in criminal DOJ matters, there indeed may be.  Barr, a master lawyer, had replied obliquely to Crist's question, carefully avoided telling a downright, clear cut, lie.  

After hearing Barr's answer to a question similar to Crist's asked in last week's Senate hearing, Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse commented, "I can't even follow that down the road.  I mean, boy, that's masterful hairsplitting."  The facts clearly show that Barr lied.  But so what, Trump does so every day.  


Barr believes, as do the President and Congressional Republicans (you can hear this view voiced on Fox News all day long) that if the Department of Justice, the branch of government under which Robert Mueller’s team worked, does not find grounds for criminal indictment in a case, it is to be closed.

Actually, this was the situation which former FBI head James Comey faced with the results of his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s supposed unauthorized Email servers.
Comey
Although he concluded that there was no basis of indicting Clinton and the Department of Justice was not pursuing it further, his releasing this information damaged her chances in the 2016 election and of course, despite the conclusion that nothing indictable occurred, the Republicans in Congress would not let go of that issue. To this day, the cry of “Lock Her Up” is still heard at Trump rallies. Of course, the Republican Party now hypocritically wants “Cheatin’ Donald’s” unindictable misdeeds regarding obstruction to be forgotten and erased from all discourse, a step which to this day Republicans will not take in regard to Clinton.

Michael Cohen
The DOJ position justifies the slimy way scoundrels in the business world, especially in the area of real estate investing and development, from which Trump comes, have operated for years.  If one can get away with something without being indicted for their misdeeds, those activities are perfectly okay.  Paying fines for violations is a legitimate cost of doing business and so long as a crime is not committed, everything is proper and legal.  They believe that is what lawyers are for. 
Roy Cohn
The late Roy Cohn, Senator Joe McCarthy's sidekick during the 1950's, taught this to Trump.  Years later, Michael Cohen became Trump’s “fixer.”  Trump, of course, is happy with the Mueller report because of the slanted way Barr presented it.  


Barr, who once served honorably as George H. W. Bush’s Attorney General has sunk to the gutter of the legal profession exemplified by the late Roy Cohn and “fixer” Michael Cohen, both of whom were disbarred. Ultimately, he may follow that path. John Mitchell, Richard Nixon's "Watergate" Attorney General, did and was also jailed for his misdeeds in the President's service.  William Barr should take note.

Democrats must avoid becoming deeply entangled in this morass. Republicans would be overjoyed if Democrats expended their energies between now and Election Day in 2020 endlessly battling this issue in the halls of Congress and in the succeeding levels of the court system, rather than concentrate on the issues which would benefit almost all Americans, making life better for them, and which the G.O.P. and the President prefer to ignore or temporarily paper over. 

     


      These issues are
1.  better health care,
2.  better educational opportunities,
3.    better job opportunities,
4.    better consumer protection,
5.    better financial oversight of money matters,
6.    tax reform to preserve Social Security and Medicare,
7. preserving and protecting our environment, 
8. repairing and improving our nation’s infrastructure to provide better transportation, roads, power, water and recreational options, and
9. recognizing and dealing with world-wide climage change.

This is the best way to get rid of "Cheatin' Donald" and his Republican followers and to work toward rejuvenating the presently politically corrupted Supreme Court as vacancies occur there.  

Get it?

JL



Gold’s Horseradish


Gold’s Horseradish kosher for Passover               
The red kind with beets not the white version    
To serve with gefilte fish without which               
The Seder meal would not be Passover                 
But just another holiday when Jews sit down to eat.        

There’s always half a bottle left over    
In the fridge to someday mix with catsup   
Fifty-fifty to make a cocktail sauce        
Around which to place plump and tasty shrimp   
Not kosher for Passover or ever for that matter.   

Months go by, you bring home a pound of shrimp
And find the bottle on the fridge’s door      
Has lost its color and looks a bit tired             
So you throw it out because quite clearly
It resents being used with shrimp after Passover’s done.

JL

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