Tag: Politics

Like A Poker Player Drawing to an Inside Straight

From Vanity Fair’s Scott Turow

Robert Mueller, presumably, still doesn’t know what a truthful Manafort would have to say, but Trump does. If Manafort is, in fact, playing for a pardon, a route that even disgraced former N.S.A. chief Michael Flynn, whom Trump steadily defended, didn’t take it would speak volumes about how damaging Manafort’s testimony could be to Trump or to those close to him, such as his son, Donald Trump Jr., and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. If Manafort’s truthful testimony was simply going to absolve all of them of conspiring with the Russians, he could have made a deal long ago. Such testimony would have been as likely to earn an eventual pardon, once the smoke cleared. Manafort’s problem, then, seems to be that Mueller may already have evidence of collusion that threatens to endanger him, his former colleagues on the campaign, and possibly Trump himself.

Turow’s article does an amazing job of laying out how deftly “Bobby Three Sticks” is playing this and how Manfort’s already limited options are rapidly dwindling to nothing.  Even if Manfort holds out in the hopes of getting a pardon from 45, Mueller can still bring him in front of a grand jury because in that scenario, Manafort would have to talk as he would lose his Fifth Amendment right to silence since he has no risk of prosecution based on his testimony.  But if he lies in that scenario, he could still face the music.  If 45 fired Mueller, Washington would explode, not to mention the electorate, and impeachment hearings would start faster than you could say “kompromat”.

This Is Why Government is Broken

The Obama team started off their first week of his Presidency with the harsh realization that they have moved into the dark ages from a technological and communications perspective.

It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari. Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.

It appears they will be working on beige computer boxes with Windows 2000 on them. I realize that the Federal Government is quite a large organization and upgrading the systems is not a simple task, but you would have to think that the staff at the White House of all places would have an IT system and infrastructure that employs standards and technology from this decade.

Frost/Nixon

Rating: R
Released: December 5, 2008
Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell, Kevin Bacon
Trailer / Official Site

Watergate has always been a fascinating piece of American history. Watching Frost/Nixon was a great treat as these interviews were viewed by many as Nixon’s confession, even though he never fully grasped it or stated such. There were several interesting elements to the movie: the background that it provided about how Frost and his team scored the interview and their prep work before and during the interviews; the way Nixon was depicted, and how he turned “on” during the interviews and turned “off” when they were done revealed a great deal about Nixon himself; and most of all, the way Nixon was firmly convinced this was “his world” with “his rules” and we were just living in it. Langella’s overall performance as Nixon was fantastic and is definitely Oscar worthy. If you are a Watergate junkie, this is required viewing.

Worse or Dead Worse

Interesting article by Jim Cramer in NY Magazine this week about the sorry state of the economy today and what could possibly happen a year from now:

What will New York look like a year from now? The answer: bad and probably worse, and perhaps downright catastrophic. Three degrees of awful. The first step was passing the bank-bailout legislation. Now that it’s done and if it didn’t get done we would have been looking at a guaranteed economic collapse, the critical issue will be presidential leadership. And while any president will be an improvement over the current one, there is a growing belief on Wall Street that Barack Obama has the capacity to lead us out of this wilderness while John McCain does not. I’ll go a step further: Obama is a recession. McCain is a depression.

No matter how we cut it, things are just screwed up.

Bubba

Man, Bubba loves the spotlight of politics (posting this after watching him at the DNC in Denver this evening). I think if Bill Clinton had his way, he would have repealed the two term limits on Presidents and ran for a third term. Hell, he could be onto a 4th term by now, unless of course his “slick little Willy” got him in more trouble than the Lewinsky/cigar episode.

Will There Be Blood?

I’m not one to get on my soapbox to blog politics or the like, but I heard something today that really made me sit back and think about the state of this great nation, and how far down the tubes its been sent in the past 8 years.

What got me was an interview on the APM/NPR show Marketplace about the price of oil/gas and what could be done to deflate the oil bubble. Now I’m not one to believe everything I hear and/or read, but in this interview, Michael Greenberger from the University of Maryland Law School, basically stated that we’re still paying for Enron and commodity speculators:

Kai Ryssdal: You’re not really telling me that seven years on, we’re still paying the price for Enron, are you?

Michael Greenberger: Well, this has been called the “Enron Loophole” and there are many legislators working very hard to close that loophole. There is tremendous concern about this on Capitol Hill and on a bipartisan basis, people are drafting legislation to try and get a handle on this and not eliminate speculation, but bring the speculation under the kind of time-tested controls that were used until Enron had its way and amended the law to escape traditional tested regulation on speculative activities.

Greenberger went on to say that he thought that we were in a “bubble” situation with the oil market because of these speculators driving up prices. And with every bubble, there is a POP. So the next question is inevitable:

Ryssdal: How long is it going to take then if we are, as you say, in a bubble, for it to work its way through and us to get back to something more realistic for the price of a barrel of oil, whether its 50 bucks or 80 bucks?

Greenberger: From my own experience as a commodity regulator, I believe that if the Bush Administration were serious about its regulation, we could begin seeing prices drop within a month. If we don’t get the kind of regulation that has been done for decades and the market proceeds along the pace its proceeding, we will have to go through a very, very serious recession. The question is do you want to deflate the bubble by that kind of suffering or do you want to deflate the bubble by applying tight U.S. regulatory controls?

A month…it would take a flippin’ month to bring this back to some level of relative sanity. Do I fully buy that estimate? Not really. But the point is that if the administration had a clue, they could do what is needed quickly to bring prices back to some level of normalcy in fairly short order and turn this around before things get in really serious, serious trouble. If anything, the silver lining is that the country is now being forced to think about alternate energy sources.

Is it November yet?

I step off my soapbox and will get back to more entertaining posts.

Politics

Over the past few weeks, I have been watching the debates between the Presidential candidates (John Kerry and George W. Bush for those of you who live on Mars) along with the VP debate last week (John Edwards and Dick Cheney). In the Presidential debate, John Kerry clearly had the upper hand. He consistently had Bush on his heels and Bush’s reactions and facial expressions spoke volumes. I think Kerry impressed a lot of swing voters.

As for the VP debate, I think that it was close but I would reluctantly give the nod to Cheney. I think Cheney is very intimidating for some reason, and I don’t know why I feel this way. Maybe its his cold demeanor or the knowledge that he is really running the show in this country.

November will be an interesting election.

Enough Already

OK, so I am genuinely sad to hear of the passing of Ronald Reagan. In many ways, he was the great figurehead of the 1980’s, a time that was definitely an interesting period in my life. Don’t get me wrong, he was a very important figure in the history of the US and at the time, he was probably the best choice the country had as we were emerging out of the Vietnam and Watergate eras. But he was really not that great of a President IMHO and, similar to a certain current President, it was brutally obvious that there were people pulling the strings and he was the puppet. His tenure was marked by the Iran-Contra scandal, a scandal that for some reason did not nearly get the type attention and fallout on his Presidency that it deserved. And to say that Reagan ended the Cold War is just silly. All this talk about putting his bust on Mount Rushmore, or renaming something in every state for him, is just loony. Go ahead and name some streets, a river, and some place out in California that was important to him, but lets not get carried away here folks.