Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Thursday Evening's Planning Commission Meeting: City Staff's Farcical Capitulation

For a while there I thought City Hall was dealing with the obviously illegal Henry A. Darling demolition like it was a serious issue. I was wrong, of course. Blame it on my too abundant capacity to believe. This has led me down unhappy roads before, and obviously I have fallen for it all over again. Very sad to say.

We all know the Henry A. Darling house story by now, and the last thing I feel like doing on this cool and breezy evening is regurgitating that sad tale of arrogance and stupidity all over again. As we know, life is far too short for that.

But there are two portions of the Staff Report for this item that literally defy all logic. If these people are the guardians of this city's interests, along with the defenders of its laws and construction codes, then you might as well head on down to City Hall and take whatever you want. Apparently staff will just stand by, grinning happily as you remove office equipment and anything else of value and beat feet to the nearest pawn shop.

Which, if I am not mistaken, is somewhere due east of here. Possibly in Pomona.

Here is that portion of the agenda report (link) where staff calls upon the Planning Commission to give Billy Kefalas and his lawsuit happy lawyer every little thing their hearts desire.

Did you get that? It is repeated later as well.

In this new Robert Carpenter "Historical Resource Evaluation Report," commissioned by Mr Kefalas because the original one did not reach a conclusion that served his personal interests, the following astonishing conclusion is drawn.

There it is. The Henry A. Darling house no longer has any historical validity because the things that would have given it that designation were destroyed. Therefore the Planning Commission should give the guy who brought about that very destruction a Discretionary Demolition Permit. Something Kefalas needs so he can continue doing with that property as he sees fit.

That is what City Staff has based their decision on. The Henry A. Darling house no longer has any historical value because that part of it was destroyed. Therefore let's give the guy who did the deed what he needs to reap the rewards his unhappy actions will bring him.

Bad, even for city government. Your tax dollars at work.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Join the Campaign to Repeal the Car Tax

Mod: Here is an interesting gadfly campaign. Apparently the cash mad pols of Sacramento passed some rather huge car and gas tax increases recently, and folks are none too happy about it. I was asked to pass this on, so here you go. I am not certain your signature on this petition will mean anything since it is for a recall election down there in the pulpy citric bowels of Orange County. But perhaps you know someone from that neck of the woods who would like to become involved? It is definitely the kind of local initiative that could end up having some rather interesting statewide ramifications. As an aside, if you don't live in the OC, but don't want to pay all those new gas taxes anyway, get an electric car. My Chevy Volt is now averaging just around 130 MPG life to date. I have spent $5 at the gas pump this month. Irony is, Sacramento gave me a $1,500 tax rebate so that I could avoid paying gas taxes. The Feds gave me a $7,500 tax credit. How can you lose?

Join the Campaign to Repeal the Car Tax (link): With virtually no notice to the public, Democratic politicians in the California State Legislature crammed through a massive hike to the Car Tax and Gas Tax.

Fortunately, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio has unveiled a strategy for getting citizens involved in overturning these tax hikes! More on that in a bit, but first you need to understand how these tax hikes will cost YOU!

Car Tax: Pay More, Get Less!

Depending on the value of your car, miles driven, and your MPG, the typical California family will end up paying $350-700 more per year under the Car Tax and Gas Tax hike!

What’s worse, the money is spent with virtually zero accountability for fixing roads! In fact, Californians already pay the highest gas tax in the country and yet we still have the worst roads. For every $1 in average costs for road repairs spent in the other 49 states in the US, California spends $4.7 dollars for the same repairs – resulting in wasteful spending of 470 percent more!

 “Politicians have been caught stealing gas tax monies and recent audits show billions in waste that should be going to road repairs,” notes Carl DeMaio. “The Car Tax and Gas Tax hike contains zero reforms of wasteful spending, meaning we are throwing good money after bad,” DeMaio warns.

The Gazelle Strategy to Repeal the Car Tax: Recalls!

California Democrats were able to pass the Car Tax and Gas Tax Hike because they hold a 2/3rds Super-Majority in both houses of the state legislature. We have two choices: run an initiative to roll back the Car Tax – which must be done statewide. OR we can fix the real problem which is removing the Democrats from their Super-Majority status by targeting their weakest members for Recall campaigns in 2017 or defeat in 2018.

Think of this strategy as the “Gazelle Strategy.” If you have seen Animal Planet, you know that lions hunt for food not by attacking an entire pack of Gazelles at once, but targeting the weakest gazelle and taking that one gazelle out. Far more efficient and an almost guaranteed success rate.

Our campaign to repeal the Car Tax utilizes the Gazelle Strategy. That’s why we propose to launch a Recall Campaign against State Senator Josh Newman (D-Orange County).

Senator Josh Newman won by less than 1% of the vote in 2016 – and yet he betrayed his constituents by voting for the Car Tax and Gas Tax hikes.

Our campaign intends to file Recall Papers in the next month against Senator Newman and collect 60,000 valid signatures to force him from office.

After we succeed in recalling Josh Newman, Democrats will lose their Super Majority and will not be able to arbitrarily raise our taxes.

Then we will demand that California Democrats repeal the Car and Gas Tax Hikes – or we will file additional Recall Elections against more of their members. We will also use the Car Tax as the big issue to defeat their candidates in 2018.

We need YOU to join our campaign today – help repeal the Car Tax!

Mod: Here is what the petition looks like. You can link to it directly by clicking here.

Monday, May 29, 2017 Will Donald Trump Be Impeached?

Mod: It is Memorial Day, a time when we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms we all enjoy. And one of those freedoms is the right to remove those who behave illegally in office. Here political oddsmaker Nate Silver expounds on the possibilities.

Will Donald Trump Be Impeached? ( link): After a cacophonous two weeks of political news, a new sound has begun to emerge from Washington: the word “impeachment.” Following the news that President Trump may have tried to bully FBI director James Comey out of investigating Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, Sen. Angus King of Maine, an independent, told CNN that recent allegations, if true, are already making impeachment hearings more likely. Rep. Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, became the first congressman to call for Trump’s impeachment from the House floor. And even some Republicans in blue-leaning districts, such as Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, have begun to entertain impeachment as a possibility.

This might all seem like a liberal fantasy: No president has ever been booted out of the job, and only Richard Nixon resigned under the pressure of the impeachment process.

But people putting money on the line are taking impeachment seriously. According to the prediction market Betfair, the chance that Trump will fail to serve out his four-year term is about 50 percent (!). There’s even a 20 to 25 percent probability (!!) that Trump doesn’t finish out 2017 in office, these bettors reckon.

Are those numbers within the realm of reason? It isn’t easy to forecast Trump’s odds of impeachment, or of his removal from office. There isn’t enough data to build a statistical model of it, in the way we would for an election. But we can say that there are two opposite forces tugging strongly on the impeachment rope:

- On the one side, there’s Trump’s escalating pattern of (alleged) misconduct, which increasingly reflects behavior that has been used as grounds for impeachment in the past.

- On the other side, there’s the intense partisan loyalty of Republicans, both among GOP members of Congress and among voters in the states and districts they represent.

So long as these sides are pulling with roughly equal force, Trump isn’t going to be removed from office, which would require a two-thirds majority in the Senate. But if something snaps — if Republicans have reason to think Trump has become a liability even in red states — look out. History suggests Trump could be vulnerable under such circumstances, despite the historical rarity of impeachment.

Mod: You can read a lot more on this topic by clicking on the link provided at the top.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Watergate prosecutor: ‘Social media’ changes White House investigation

Mod: The news rolls on, and one of the Trump administration's biggest concerns is its inability to control the Internet. Here people have the freedom to say pretty much whatever they want, no matter who claims they shouldn't be allowed to do so. It has become a serious problem for tyrants, both national and local. 

Watergate prosecutor: ‘Social media’ changes White House investigation (The Hill link): A former Watergate special prosecutor said on Friday that social media and the internet have dramatically escalated the pace of the law enforcement investigation into possible collusion between President Trump's campaign and the Kremlin.

"The biggest difference is the existence of social media and the internet, so the news is spreading much faster and is available to everyone who reads to understand what's going on," attorney Jill Wine-Banks told MSNBC's Ari Melber.

That such information is being made public at such as a fast pace, she said, has made it increasingly difficult for the Trump administration to keep tabs on what has been revealed.

"Clearly, if you're representing the Trump people, this is a nightmare because the news is coming so fast that it's hard to keep up with and it is an accumulation of evidence that could end up being the smoking gun that the June 23 tape was in Watergate," she said, referring to the recording that linked former President Richard Nixon to a coverup of the Watergate burglary.

Trump's White House has been faced with a growing number of controversies in recent weeks, most recently surrounding Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is now a focus of the FBI's Russia probe due to meetings he had with Russian officials last year.

Trump has repeatedly denied any coordination between his campaign and Moscow, and has dismissed news coverage of the investigation as "fake news." The White House has largely remained silent on the controversies since Trump left for his first trip abroad last week.

Mike Pence Is Toast: Anonymous Letter To WaPo Shows The Role Of Eric Prince In Trump-Russia (Daily Kos link): Mike Pence lost all plausible deniability about his alleged ignorance of all things Russian today, if the Washington Post is correct that Pence benefactor and mentor Erik Prince is the "representative of Trump" named in an anonymous letter received by the Post in December; and moreover that Prince was a member of the Trump transition team all along.

The letter said among other things that Jared Kushner had talked to Sergei Kislyak about setting up a secret and secure communications channel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin. The letter also made reference to a “Trump representative” meeting with a Russian contact to set up the communications channel and the Trump representative is Erik Prince. If The Washington Post is correct, and it certainly appears that way, there is absolutely no way that Pence can maintain he didn’t know everything about Flynn and Trump-Russia, and that he learned it first hand from Mike Flynn, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, and Erik Prince. This could be more than a leak, this could be a deluge, where Mike Pence and his credibility are concerned. The Washington Post said this:

In addition to their discussion about setting up the communications channel, Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak also talked about arranging a meeting between a representative of Trump and a “Russian contact” in a third country whose name was not identified, according to the anonymous letter ... The Post reported in April that Erik Prince, the former founder of the private security firm Blackwater and an informal adviser to the Trump transition team, met on Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean with a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Could Erik Prince be the representative of Trump that is referred to? It certainly seems that way.

Mod: There is much more at the link above.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Washington Post: Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation

ModDonald Trump became famous for many things in his life before politics, and one of them was as a "Reality TV" star. And if you think about it, that has now continued on into his presidency. The latest episode involves his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the possibility that he served as a kind of a bagman to the Russians for the Trump gang. Or so some of the Feds in on the investigation are starting to believe. Here are a few of the current news articles detailing the latest developments in the affairs of America's most prominent reality TV stars, the Trump Family. You never know what will happen next.

Jared Kushner now a focus in Russia investigation (Washington Post link): Investigators are focusing on a series of meetings held by Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and an influential White House adviser, as part of their probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and related matters, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Kushner, who held meetings in December with the Russian ambassador and a banker from Moscow, is being investigated because of the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians, the people said.

The Washington Post reported last week that a senior White House official close to the president was a significant focus of the high-stakes investigation, though it did not name Kushner.

FBI agents also remain keenly interested in former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, but Kushner is the only current White House official known to be considered a key person in the probe.

In addition to possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, investigators are also looking broadly into possible financial crimes — but the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not specify who or what was being examined.

Kushner Is Said to Have Discussed a Secret Channel to Talk to Russia (The New York Times link): Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, spoke in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow to discuss strategy in Syria and other policy issues, according to three people with knowledge of the discussion.

The conversation between Mr. Kushner and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, took place during a meeting at Trump Tower that Mr. Trump’s presidential transition team did not acknowledge at the time. Also present at the meeting was Michael T. Flynn, the retired general who would become Mr. Trump’s short-lived national security adviser, the three people said.

It is unclear who first proposed the communications channel, but the people familiar with the meeting said the idea was to have Mr. Flynn speak directly with a senior military official in Moscow to discuss Syria and other security issues. The communications channel was never set up, the people said.

The three people were not authorized to discuss the December meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The White House declined to comment on Friday night.

News of the discussion was first reported by The Washington Post. The revelation has stoked new questions about Mr. Kushner’s connections to Russian officials at a time when the F.B.I. is conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s presidential election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s advisers assisted in the Russian campaign.

Ex-CIA Director: CIA would consider Kushner actions 'espionage' (The Hill link): Former acting CIA director John McLaughlan on Friday responded to reports that President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner discussed setting up a secret communications line between Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, saying if such reports are true, it would be considered espionage.

"I don’t want to overstate this because obviously there is a lot we don’t know — we don’t know the exact content of the conversation. We don’t know the objective that was a part of the conversation — those things we don’t know," McLaughlan said on MSNBC's "The Last Word" Friday.

"But I can’t keep out of my mind the thought that, if an American intelligence officer had done anything like this, we’d consider it espionage.”

The president's son-in-law and senior adviser inquired about using Russian diplomatic facilities for the communications, apparently to shield the talks, U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports told The Washington Post.

Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak told his superiors that Kushner floated the idea during a meeting at Trump Tower on Dec. 1 or 2, according to the Post, which cited intercepts of Russian communications reviewed by U.S. officials.

Following the reports on Friday, the Democratic National Committee called for Kushner's immediate firing from his White House position.

When asked what his first reaction would be if reports are proven true, McLaughlan said he'd ask himself, "is this a prank?"

“[The reaction] would be kind of disbelief, because it’s not the sort of they think you would expect to happen in a normal transition," he said.

'This is serious': Jared Kushner reportedly tried to set up a secret Trump-Russia back channel (Business Insider link): Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and top White House adviser, was willing to go extraordinary lengths to establish a secret line of communication between the Trump administration and Russian government officials, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

During the presidential transition period leading up to Trump's inauguration, Kushner held a series of meetings with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, and the head of a Moscow bank that was under US sanctions.

In talks with Kislyak in December, Kushner floated the possibility of setting up a secure line of communication between the Trump transition team and Russia — and having those talks take place in Russian diplomatic facilities in the US, essentially concealing their interactions from US government scrutiny, The Post wrote, citing US intelligence officials briefed on the matter.

Kislyak reportedly passed along that request to Moscow. The Post's Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller reported that the Russian ambassador was "taken aback" by Kushner's request, because it posed significant risks for both the Trump team and the Kremlin.

Kushner, who did not disclose the meeting on his security clearance form, is now a subject in the FBI's investigation of Russia's election interference, and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to undermine Hillary Clinton.

He also had two previously undisclosed phone calls with Kislyak between April and November of last year, according to Reuters. Kushner's attorney James Gorelick responded to the Reuters story Friday evening via CNN, saying "Mr. Kushner participated in thousands of calls in this time period. He has no recollection of the calls as described. We have asked (Reuters) for the dates of such alleged calls so we may look into it and respond, but we have not received such information."

"GOOD GRIEF. This is serious," said Bob Deitz, a veteran of the NSA and the CIA who worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations.

Mod: More news of the Trump Family's adventures in Washington as it breaks.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Big SCAG Fail: The 710 Tunnel Is Dead (For Now)

The losers.
Mod: Just in case you unhappily believe citizen action does not work, and that nobody can ever hope to successfully fight the insane excesses of government, yesterday the proverbial stake was administered to the dark and unwholesome heart of the 710 Tunnel. Sometimes the good guys do win, and the planning integrity and environmental health of local communities can take precedence over the needs of our internationally beholden state and federal shipping and transportation bureaucracies. This is not to say that some unfortunate group or thing won't attempt to revive the tunnel someday, but for now it is quite officially dead. Here is how the Pasadena Star News is reporting it.

Metro takes 710 tunnel project off the table, will use money for local street fixes (Pasadena Star News link): In a historic vote, the governing board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority unanimously rejected an extension of the 710 Freeway on Thursday, saying building a multibillion-dollar tunnel would not be feasible.

The 12-0 vote removes the 6.3-mile freeway tunnel from the list of alternatives, the final option for closing the 710 Freeway gap from El Sereno through South Pasadena and Pasadena. The freeway extension has been on the state’s master freeway list since 1959.

Caltrans is expected to vote on the car-tunnel project in 2018, after it completes a final environmental impact report released in March 2015.

“This is a day that will go down in the record books,” said board member and Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian, who has opposed a surface and tunnel freeway extension for decades. He was often the lone “no” vote on the Metro board.

On Thursday, the anti-tunnel sentiment swept through the board, taking in newly elected representatives from the county, the city of Los Angeles and cities of the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys.

Mod: The rest of this article is available at the link above. In the way of some celebratory comic relief, it was not too long ago that SCAG's very own Hasan Ikhrata was calling the 710 Tunnel a done deal and that those who were struggling to defeat this boondoggle needed to simply vanish. Again, from the Pasadena Star News (link).

Mod: Has there ever been a government official more consistently wrong than the always absurd Mr. Ikhrata

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Something To Think About This Memorial Day

Mod: Recently former CIA Director John Brennan confirmed the existence of evidence that Russia and Donald Trump's campaign communicated often during last fall's election. What he had to say about this should strike a deep chord with anyone who loves this country and its freedoms, and honors those whose sacrifices continue to make that possible.

Former CIA Director Brennan: “With every last ounce of devotion to this country, resist” (Shareblue link): If you have been wondering why the investigations into Russia’s interference in our presidential election matters, former CIA Director John Brennan has a powerful answer. During the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing on the investigation, Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) asked Brennan to explain — not just to the committee, but to all Americans — why it matters that we get the full truth of what happened in the 2016 election.

Considering how egregiously the White House has obstructed the investigation, and how Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress have tried to slow-walk their own investigations, it is a fair question.

HECK: I now pose it to you, sir. Not for my sake, but for America’s sake. As someone who has devoted your entire life to public service, in your own words, please tell my constituents, my neighbors, why they should care. Not just here in Washington, D.C., but in Washington state, and Texas, and Connecticut and points in between. Why should they care? Why do you care, sir?

BRENNAN: Because for the last 241 years, this nation and its citizens have cherished the freedom and liberty that this country was founded upon. Many, many Americans — brave Americans over the years — have lost their lives to be able to protect that freedom and liberty.

They’ve lost their lives also to protect the freedom and liberties of other countries and other peoples around the world. Our ability to choose our elected leaders as we see fit is, I believe, an inalienable right that we must protect with all of our resources and all of our authority and power.

And the fact that the Russians tried to influence that election so that the will of the American people was not going to be realized by that election, I find outrageous and something that we need to, with every last ounce of devotion to this country, resist. And to try to act to prevent further instances of that.

And so, therefore, I believe that this is something that’s critically important to every American. Certainly it’s very important to me, for my children and grandchildren, to make sure that never again will a foreign country try to influence and interfere in the foundation stone of this country, which is electing our leaders.

Trump reveals location of 2 nuclear submarines to Philippines' president (Los Angeles Times link): President Trump praised the Philippines' president for an "unbelievable job" in a fight against illegal drugs that has left thousands dead and drawn condemnation from American lawmakers, according to a leaked transcript of their telephone conversation last month. Trump's discussion with Rodrigo Duterte is likely to reinforce the impression that Trump is sidelining human rights concerns in his foreign policy. Trump has met with several authoritarian leaders since taking office in January, offering few critiques of their records on democracy, the rule of law and protecting essential freedoms.

The transcript of the April 29 call was first posted by the Washington Post. It is marked confidential and is contained under a cover sheet from the Philippine Foreign Ministry. Neither the Philippine government nor the White House verified the transcript, but they didn't dispute its contents.

It also shows the leaders discussing the North Korean threat, with each referring to North Korea's ruler, Kim Jong Un, as a "madman." In an unusual disclosure of the movements of U.S. military assets, Trump revealed the U.S. had two nuclear submarines in the region. He said the United States didn't want to use them.

Mod: A President who shares our military secrets with foreign dictators is not just a threat to the security of this country, but also the lives of those serving in our military.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Kin Hui Groingate: Who Kneed this Famous Arcadia and Pasadena Developer in the Family Jewels?

If you were consider who the supposed victim is here, a gentleman named Kin Hui, perhaps the wealthiest and most influential  developer in this part of the world, then you might find the nature of the alleged crime a little hard to fathom. Here is a guy who owns more properties than anyone you might know, yet he apparently got into a fight with someone in a local restaurant and, as court documents show, got kneed on the groin. Which became the basis of a legal action that ended in Kin's favor.

To be perfectly upfront with you, so far I only have a few legal documents to go by. And like so many potentially newsworthy events in this part of the world, it got virtually no coverage in the media whatsoever. Print, radio or television. Which is hardly surprising. Developers possessing this level of influence spend a lot of dough to keep such things out of the press. They are quite fastidious about their public images. Mr. Hui even more so than most.

However, we will continue our investigation into Kin Hui Groingate and hope to post a follow-up article as well.

Please also note, Kin Hui is suspected by some parties of being the financial muscle behind noted McMansion development fan man, Arcadia City Councilmember Sho Tay. Who, allow me to add, has not been kneed in the groin. At least not lately, and as far as we know. We continue to investigate that possibility as well. Who knows, it could be a kind of crime wave.

Here is how Kin Hui's (pronounced "Huey") LinkedIn biography reads (link). So you know just who we're talking about here. Certainly a man to be reckoned with on the local scene.

That certainly is quite an encomium. How you keep track of it all is beyond me. He must have a staff for that. Or a museum with an extremely busy curator.

But I digress. Here are several of the documents I was able to obtain by going to Pasadena and hanging around the Courthouse for a few lost hours talking to the employees. Folks who obviously wished they could be someplace else. At home reading Facebook being my first guess.

A couple of observations. The defendant, Kai Lo Hsu, was born in March of 1950. Which means that at age 66 he must be a rather spry groin kneeing kind of guy. You don't usually see that kind of initiative in gentlemen of such seniority. Especially in a seafood restaurant where normally sedate people go to eat freshly cooked fish.

Kai Lo Hsu also required the assistance of a Public Defender. Meaning he probably doesn't have a lot of dough. Kin Hui, on the other hand, is fabulously flush. So there is an economic disparity thing going on here. We have no idea if Kin contributed in any way to this altercation, his crime scene behavior is not discussed in the few documents I was able to obtain. That could be due to certain lifestyle advantages.

There is a typo in the complaint. Kin Hui's name was initially spelled incorrectly. It does appear corrected in later documents. A second infraction was added. PC 415(2) is for Disturbing the Peace. Mr. Hsu plead no contest to that second charge. A plea bargained lesser count I guess. The actual groin kneeing itself did not result in a conviction.

In the defense attorney's declaration, it does state this allegation: That Mr. Hsu kneed Mr. Hui in the groin. As I previously suggested, no motive for this occurrence is given. Maybe they were quarreling over a particularly delectable species of fish, and there was only one in the tank at the Full House Seafood Restaurant that unfortunate day?

There are several recordings that were part of the evidence, but I was told they will need translating. These recordings are not part of the court file, either. I am attempting to get them, and if I do I will share that here with you.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Donald Trump appears to 'curtsey' to Saudi king after mocking Barack Obama for bowing

click here

Mod: There are those who have never found it in themselves to forgive Saudi Arabia for the role it played in the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York. I number among them. And it used to be that Donald Trump would have agreed with me. But as it is with many things concerning the Orange One, that has now radically changed. Here is how the UK news organization The Independent describes his one time animus to the homeland of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, and what happened there this week.

Donald Trump signs $110 billion arms deal with nation he accused of masterminding 9/11 (The Independent link): Donald Trump has signed the largest arms deal in history with Saudi Arabia despite warnings he could be accused of being complicit in war crimes and after blaming Saudi Arabia himself for producing the terrorists behind 9/11.

The President confirmed he had signed a weapons deal with the Saudis worth $109.7 billion, predicted to grow to a $380 billion Saudi investment within 10 years, during his first trip abroad since his Inauguration.

Mr Trump’s Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the deal was positive news for American employment and the economy.

Yet a February Gallup poll found that Saudi Arabia is one of the least liked countries by Americans, only slightly less than Russia.

The deal would also appear hypocritical after the President publicly accused the Saudis of masterminding the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001.

After his election, Mr Trump said Saudi Arabia should be banned from exporting oil to the US, and has accused the country of killing gay people and enslaving women.

Mod: As we know, with Trump money changes anything. Even when it comes to America's enemies. As we have all seen with Vladimir Putin and Russian organized crime, apparently for The Donald there is no fanny too evil that he won't kiss for a few bucks. 

Donald Trump appears to 'curtsey' to Saudi king after mocking Barack Obama for bowing (The Independent link): Donald Trump has been accused of hypocrisy after appearing to "curtsey" while receiving a gold medal from the king of Saudi Arabia.

Back in 2012, Mr Trump criticised his predecessor Barack Obama for bowing to foreign leaders, including then-Saudi King Abdullah.

But he bowed his head while receiving the country's highest civilian honor on Saturday, the Collar of King Abdulaziz al-Saud.

After King Salman placed the chain around his neck, the President performed a small dip widely interpreted as a curtsey by observers.

One Twitter user commented: "Unlike Obama, Trump refuses to debase himself by bowing before a king. Diplomat that he is, he deftly opts instead for a half-curtsey."

Outraged conservatives also chastised Mr Obama for bowing to the Saudi king, contending that the leader of the free world must not bend over to foreigners.

Mod: Funny how these "outraged conservatives" are fine and dandy with Trump's degrading and now infamous curtsey. But that's just how things seem to be going these days with many of our leading so-called "patriots."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sober Living: How some Southern California drug rehab centers exploit addiction

Mod: A great four part series of articles from the Orange County Register on California's deeply troubled drug rehab industry called "How some Southern California drug rehab centers exploit addiction" is now available. This impressive work is a must read and can be accessed in its entirety by clicking here. In Sierra Madre the topic would specifically be sober living homes, as typified by the Dedicato Treatment Center on W. Carter Avenue. Here is the portion of that OC Register piece dealing with the problematic nature of many of these places.

Sober living?

While the state tracks licensed rehab centers, there is little oversight or regulation related to sober living homes. Experts say there are thousands of sober living homes in California, but nobody knows the exact number.

What these homes ostensibly provide sounds great – fellowship and support for people struggling to stay clean; housing for people who might otherwise be homeless; structure.

The living arrangement, in fact, is considered a family by law. And cities and counties can’t ban sober living houses because the residents – like patients in licensed rehab centers – are legally protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

But critics suggest sober living homes also are where some of the most egregious abuses of the rehab system take place.

Timmy Solomon repeatedly lapsed in sober living homes.

In 2013, Solomon, now 28, came from his hometown, Boston, to Dana Point, to get sober. Since then, the long-time addict has lived in rehab centers, sober living homes and on the streets.

Earlier this year, to get a glimpse of what happens inside rehab, the Southern California News Group followed Solomon for about 90 days. During that time he spent separate stints in a string of detox hospitals, residential rehabilitation centers and sober living homes in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The pattern for Solomon was consistent and depressingly familiar – shooting up narcotics, entering rehab, relapsing and eviction.

Solomon’s journey revealed a key point – sober living homes can be places where recovery falls apart.

One of Solomon’s relapses came after Solomon claimed he’d been drug-free, in a sober living home, for more than a month. A friend at a San Juan Capistrano recovery center gave him a bag of methamphetamine, he said, and he used it.

During another meeting with reporters, at a Whittier-area sober living home, Solomon showed up saying he’d just knocked back three beers to ease the side-effects of detoxing cold turkey.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Solomon entered Mission Hospital in Laguna Beach for detox. He spent 10 days there before leaving for a sober living home in San Clemente.

In late April, on what was supposed to be his 40th day clean, Solomon escorted reporters into a bathroom in the San Clemente home, where he shut the door, locked it and turned on the shower. As the room steamed up, he dumped a baggie of new needles on the counter, along with a bottle of 75 oxycodone pills he said a doctor had just prescribed him. “He’s trying to help me get off heroin,” Solomon said of the physician. “I haven’t slept in two nights.”

Solomon then crushed up six pills, mixed them with methamphetamine and water, and injected it all into his vein.

Sober living managers don’t need to be credentialed in any way. In some homes, they’re recovering addicts or former drug dealers. Critics say some rehab centers use sober living homes as way stations of sorts, places to store patients who can be given or encouraged to use drugs again so they can become candidates to return to lucrative in-patient rehab.

“The thing that’s causing the most problems is the sober living home environment,” said Robert Harris, a policy adviser at the California Society of Addictive Medicine.

Congressman Darrell Issa, a Republican who represents south Orange County, said he’s pushing to undo what he views as overly bureaucratic protections for sober living homes.

“If you’re interested in getting (addicts) back into productive lives, (the current protections) don’t make sense.”

Another politician, California Assemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez, a Republican from Lake Elsinore, is sponsoring a bill (AB 285) that would require the state to regulate and monitor sober living homes for the first time.

She became interested in the rehab industry after a string of four deaths between 2008 and 2010 at a rehab center in Murrieta and other rehab deaths in Lake Arrowhead. She’s targeting sober living homes because they can provide a fallback for unscrupulous rehab center operators.

“What happens to these facilities when they shut down?” Melendez asked.

“Do (the operators) up and move into another California community with another name and another cast of characters doing the same thing?”

Melendez didn’t differentiate between licensed centers and sober living homes when she first learned about the industry. Prosecutors sometimes don’t either.

Experts say the case against Los Angeles-based rehab operator Chris Bathum offers a glimpse into how the industry can break down.

Bathum, whose empire included the Seasons rehab center in Malibu and who described himself as “The Rehab Mogul,” is accused of sexually assaulting nine female patients, sometimes providing them with drugs as they struggled to overcome their addictions. He denies those allegations.

Bathum also is accused of fraudulent billing to the tune of $176 million, prosecutors said. The alleged billing includes charges for services that prosecutors say were never provided.

Bathum has denied all of the fraud allegations as well, and his attorney declined to comment.

Still, regulators say the criminal case is also a case study.

The allegations against Bathum “illustrate the medical provider fraud that can and does occur,” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said. “It’s egregious.”

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Philippine News: FilAm sworn in Mayor of Sierra Madre

Mod: Congratulations from all over the world have been pouring in for Sierra Madre's new mayor Rachelle Arizmendi. The following comes from the Philippine News (link).

Sierra Madre, CARachelle Sumagaysay-Pastor Arizmendi made history (again) as the first person of color to be sworn in mayor of this city, selected by the members of the Sierra Madre City Council during their April 25 meeting. An educator and veteran non-profit administrator, Arizmendi first held a city council seat here, as one of two winners and the first Asian, at the April 8, 2014 elections. The Sierra Madre City Council is comprised of five members elected to four-year terms, so Arizmendi is up for re-election next year. “It really is something to be humbled about, something to be honored about, that residents of Sierra Madre have enough faith in me to take this position,” Arizmendi stated. “It’s a badge of honor, at the same time it’s a responsibility – so I’m going to do my best to represent the Filipinos, whether it’s in our city or California or throughout the United States.”

Born in Carmel, CA, Rachelle is the daughter of Franklin Pastor from Laoag, Ilocos Norte, and Ofelia Sumagaysay-Pastor from Sta. Barbara, Iloilo. She’s a graduate of San Diego State University where she earned two Bachelor’s degrees prior to pursuing her Master’s degree at Eastern Illinois University. She continues to hold her Registered Dietitian designation and has taught Nutrition courses at Pasadena City College. She and her husband Fili, and their dog Madison, have resided in Sierra Madre, also known as ‘Village of the Foothills,’ for over 10 years.

Sierra Madre, with a population of 11,000, nine percent of whom are Asians, is located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley below the southern edge of the Angeles National Forest. Pasadena and Altadena are to its west with Arcadia to its south and east. It is known as ‘Wisteria City,’ home of a 115 year-old wisteria vine.

 “This is still a city where people say hello to each other on the streets,” she beamed with pride, “it’s still a city where you can walk at 10:30 at night and still feel safe; and still walk down to the local produce market and get food and people remember what you got the day before.” She’s determined to maintain the quality of life in their city, preserve what they have now and continue to keep her hometown safe and friendly.

Rachelle is the Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer of PACE (Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment), a non-profit community development organization that serves over 40,000 people every year in the areas of job training and employment, business development, early childhood education, financial education and asset building, energy and weatherization.

“It’s probably, I would say, where my heart is – serving the people,” she said.

 She oversees a budget of close to $30 million and a staff of 300 employees. In her previous capacity at PACE, she held the position of Education Project Director for 16 years. She was also the Executive Director for 2-1-1 California (an affiliate organization of the United Ways of California). But Rachelle finds time to have fun – she enjoys traveling and outdoor activities, reading and country line-dancing.

At the last council meeting as Mayor Pro Tem, Rachelle thanked Mayor Gene Goss who in turn commended her for her professionalism. She also thanked her family and the community and noted that the coming year would be “challenging” as the council tackles various issues including budget cuts and water infrastructure. “I’m confident though,” assured the new mayor, “that with the leadership of our new city manager and our dedicated city staff, we will be able to persevere as they carry out the charge of the council.”

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Are California Democrats like the National GOP?

Mod: Just because they control everything doesn't mean they'll get anything done. Nationally the GOP holds majorities in both houses of Congress, plus the White House, but have apparently been incapable of repealing Obamacare or instituting their long promised tax reforms. Conversely, here in California, the Democrats run the entire show. But judging by the chaos at their state convention in Sacramento this weekend, they aren't about to get much done, either. 

California Democrats Open Convention With Eye on Trump (US News & World Report link): California Democrats meet Saturday with renewed optimism about their party's chances of adding to their huge majority among the state's 53-member congressional delegation and potentially tipping the balance of power in the U.S. House. In a state where Democrats are itching to lead the liberal resistance to Trump and the Republican Congress, the party's activists find themselves singularly united behind the goal of stunting the GOP.

But the Democrats are also a party divided, still nursing deep divisions between insurgent supporters of Bernie Sanders and the party's establishment wing.

The divide was on clear display Friday as they opened their annual three-day convention in Sacramento. Activists demanding government-funded health care for all residents stormed into the convention center and interrupted an introductory speech by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg with chants about corporate greed.

The annual meeting caps a dizzying week that saw the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into possible Russian coordination with the Trump campaign.

Some 3,000 delegates in the nation's largest state Democratic party will hear from their party's longstanding stalwarts and rising stars.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to speak Saturday, along with Sen. Kamala Harris, the former state attorney general who often mentioned as a potential 2020 presidential candidate, and all Democrats running for governor. Rep. Adam Schiff, who rose from obscurity to national prominence thanks to his perch as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee in the Trump era, will give the keynote address.

The party's path back to national relevance will likely go through California, where half of the 14 Republicans in Congress represent districts that supported Clinton over Trump. Democrats need to pick up at least 24 Republican-held seats to win the majority in the U.S. House, gaining the power to issue subpoenas and hold hearings to investigate Trump or, as a handful of lawmakers have suggested, to impeach him.

"I think it's important that we start now, so we cannot just educate people but get them engaged," said Tiffany Countryman, a 47-year-old human-resources manager from Lancaster.

Countryman said she's seen newly active in Democratic politics and is determined to defeat her Congressman, Steve Knight, the only Republican in Congress from Los Angeles County and a top target for Democrats in next year's election.

Late Saturday, Democrats will settle a hard-fought race for party chair that has highlighted the divide between longtime party activists and a new breed of progressives, many loyal to former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who won a bloc of convention seats earlier this year and is clamoring for changes in party leadership.

While both major candidates for party chair endorsed Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, Sanders supporters have rallied around Kimberly Ellis, the former head of an organization that works to elect Democratic women to office.

Ellis has called for new blood in the party, a dig at her main rival, Eric Bauman, the party's vice chair who points to Democrats' dominance in California and says the party needs a steady hand to continue that success. Bauman has lined up the support from the vast majority of elected Democrats and was the overwhelming favorite to win until agitators loyal to Sanders surged Ellis' support.

"It's just not enough for the Democratic Party to be the anti-Trump party," Bauman says in a campaign video sent to delegates this week. "We must unite around our shared progressive agenda and values."

Democrats have a tight grip on all of California's levers of power with control of all statewide offices, supermajorities in both legislative chambers and an overwhelming majority if the congressional delegation.

"We've had tremendous success in the electoral sense. We haven't always used our success to advance progressive ideas," said Naida Tushnet, a 75-year-old retired educator from Long Beach who said she's a longtime party volunteer but attending her first state convention.

Tushnet is baffled that such a strong and proudly Democratic state has not adopted universal, government-funded health care - a policy known as single-payer health care that's become a rallying cry for many liberals. It's time for the party's progressive wing to flex its muscles, she said.

"We've got a two-thirds supermajority. Why is there even a discussion about passing single-payer?" Tushnet said.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Slate: We Live in the World Roger Ailes Broke

Mod: Not everyone mourns the passing of Roger Ailes.

We Live in the World Roger Ailes Broke ( link): Roger Ailes, the former head of the Fox News Channel, passed away on Thursday at the age of 77. The news was announced via a statement from his wife, Elizabeth, who wrote that “his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions.” This is true. Ailes leaves behind one of the largest legacies of any media figure of the past century: He made our country nastier, stupider, cruder, and more bigoted. Even as the memory of Ailes the man fades, we will always be able to look back on what he built.

When Rupert Murdoch hired Ailes to create Fox News as an "alternative" to the mainstream media, Murdoch's intention was clear. He wanted to degrade American society in precisely the way he had degraded British society. And when degradation is your goal, there is no better hire than Roger Ailes. Ailes was a political aide turned television genius who emanated anger; his crucial insight was that there was a great amount of money to be made off the resentments of others. And the more you could stoke those resentments, the more money you would earn. At the same time, you could increase the net amount of resentment, and create a coarser society, all the better for your own pocketbook.

But Ailes was not some phony elitist playing a con on the rubes. No, he really loved degrading people, and he held the same resentments as the pathetic viewers whose worlds he manipulated. Indeed, one of the special things about Ailes was the depth of his hatred, and the broad-ranging reach of his racism. Some bigots confine their disgust to a single group, or religion; Ailes, however, was never so limited. Who did the man dislike? Muslims? Yep. Black Americans? Check. Jews? Uh-huh. Hispanics? Yes. Fox, under Ailes' leadership, became a leader in spewing all these different forms of bigotry. He was a visionary.

Ailes also took a special interest in the careers of much of the female talent at Fox News. His leadership style was to sexually harass female employees and ensure a grotesque environment at the network, which nicely mimicked the misogyny Fox watchers could see on their television screens every day. Elizabeth Ailes’ statement recalling the millions of lives her husband affected calls to mind Stalin’s line about one death being a tragedy, and millions of deaths being a mere statistic. Ailes’ family and friends should never forget that their beloved Roger ruined individual lives, too.

It is sometimes said during a period of mourning that we should focus on the life, rather than the death. Who could disagree in this case? There will be other Roger Ailes: men of low character and morals who don't care about the society they help destroy and the lives they help wreck, who don't give a second thought to the victims of their petty prejudices and vomit-inducing sexual desires. But by ensuring that his id was available on television every night for millions of viewers, Ailes helped elect a president remarkably similar to himself, thus permanently enshrining his legacy. Ailes may be resting in peace; the rest of us live in the decidedly nonpacific world he helped create.

Media Wars

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Water Bomb: Something Did Happen At The Last Sierra Madre City Council Meeting

Mod: I am not sure anyone was paying much attention to the last City Council meeting. There wasn't any comment about it here. But one resident was watching closer than most, and wrote in with the following observations.

I just caught the end of the rerun for the May 9 council meeting. They were discussing the last item of the night...the budget. Apparently, the city has been losing a lot of money to water leaks. They lost 29% of their water in 2015, and they lost another 21% in 2016. All due to leaks. This question was asked many times in the past, and only know is it being answered.

The new City Manager is recommending that money from the General Fund be used to help pay off the water bond debt. I am not sure if he meant General Fund or General Fund reserves. He said Marcie wants the money taken out of some water fund. Who is Marcie?

Here's a strange thing:  The city is NOT recommending a tax increase in 2017-2018. (Is this a trick statement? There is no election in 2017.) Or are they really going to forfeit the rumored parcel tax? Maybe they decided a water rate increase is a better idea. It's easier to pass a Prop 218 measure than it would be a parcel tax, which would require a full 2/3s of the vote to pass.

Capoccia was stressed. Arizmendi said the report was "sobering." I think she said we need to find money for infrastructure.  I realize I came in late watching this, but...isn't that what the 2011 and 2014 water rate increases were supposed to cover?  Infrastructure? How many years are they going to cry wolf and not fix the pipes??

Now that I look back, I remember seeing Barbara Leigh ask a question from the podium at this May 9 meeting. I think I was watching it live. She asked how much was left on the water debt and Arizmendi told her to stay tuned. (It would be included in the budget item later that evening.) While watching the rerun tonight, I didn't hear the magic number but I'll bet I would have if I had tuned in earlier.

Mod: There might be a silver lining to this dark cloud. It would appear that the city might actually be ready to admit that the millions of dollars in remaining water bond debt really is the reason for raising water rates here for the third time in the last seven years. I posted about this debt on May 8, and you can link to that bit of news by clicking here. And yes, the magic number is there. Actually, there is a whole lot of them.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Poll: Forty-eight percent of American voters now want the president impeached

Mod: Presidential impeachment is in the air this spring, something both invigorating and refreshing. And just so you know, this is not just another attempt at trendy fashion chasing here by The Tattler. The polls are beginning show that quite a few folks are getting on board as well. We all need to face it, the biggest political reality show ever could be just around the corner.  

Poll Finds Growing Support for Impeaching Trump ( link): Over Trump's last month in office, the government has lost an FBI director, gained a controversial new healthcare bill, and left many people wondering whether or not the current administration can be trusted to handle highly classified intelligence. Perhaps those are just some of the reasons that a majority of American voters say they want Trump impeached, according to a new poll.

The poll, released Tuesday from Public Policy Polling, surveyed 692 registered voters from around the country between May 12–14—right after former FBI director James Comey's abrupt dismissal—and asked about their approval of Trump's job so far and how long they think he'll last in the Oval Office. It found that 48 percent of American voters think Trump should be impeached, while 41 percent disagree.

Even more voters—54 percent—disapprove with the job Trump's done, while only 40 percent approve. Those numbers are slightly higher than a Quinnipiac University poll released last Wednesday that clocked Trump's approval rating at just 36 percent. According to Gallup, Trump's 36 percent approval rating is a record low for any president since the poll began in 1953.

"There is no way to spin or sugarcoat these sagging numbers," Tim Malloy, Quinnipiac University Poll's assistant director, said. "Deepening concerns about Trump's honesty, intelligence, and level headedness are red flags that the administration simply can't brush away."

The participants in the Public Policy Poll were surveyed before the Washington Post revealed Monday that Trump had disclosed highly classified intelligence during a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week. While revealing sensitive intelligence to another foreign nation may be incredibly careless, it's not illegal, so impeachment on those grounds is still a long shot.

Still, with a scandal embroiling Trump and his administration seemingly every week, voters aren't confident he'll be in office for a full term—45 percent polled said he wouldn't last four years.

Mod: (not wanting to miss out on all of the fun), has now published a roster of what they believe could be the Articles of Impeachment for Trump. It is a first pass, but what stands out is the numbers of items on their list. See if you agree.

Articles of Impeachment for Donald J. Trump ( link): The framers of our Constitution likely never imagined a President like Donald J. Trump. And yet, they inserted impeachment provisions into the original text of the Constitution, some 230 years ago, to empower Congress to act in case a rube, tyrant, or criminal came to occupy the nation’s highest office.

It’s not crystal clear which Trump might be, but the president’s latest outrageous actions—the reported passing of highly classified intelligence to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office—should awake Republicans and Democrats in Congress to the dangers posed by Trump to the nation in case that wasn’t already obvious.

His conduct now goes far beyond mere offense or incitement to constitute actual damage to U.S. national security, the very definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors” contemplated by the men who crafted the Constitution’s impeachment clauses. With this latest act, the time has come to commence the slow, deliberate process of demonstrating that Trump needs to be removed from office so he can harm the nation no more. A broad congressional inquiry should begin immediately, to inform drafters who will prepare articles of impeachment for consideration by the House and Senate.

While Republican control of Congress means that such proceedings won’t occur anytime soon, it’s clear that they are warranted. We don’t yet know for certain what precisely such an investigation would yield, but there is enough public information already available to roughly map out what such articles of impeachment might—and probably should—look like.

Article 1: Compromising the integrity of the presidency through continuing violation of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause. From his first day in office, Trump’s continuing stake in Trump Organization businesses has violated the clause of the Constitution proscribing federal officials from receiving foreign payments. The true and full extent of Trump’s conflicts of interest remains unknown. For his part, Trump has transferred day-to-day control over these interests to his adult children and the management of the Trump Organization. However, he remains the ultimate beneficiary for these businesses, so the fundamental conflict of interest remains. These foreign business ties violate both the letter and spirit of the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, and arguably provide the clearest basis for impeachment based on the facts and law.

Article 2: Violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the duties of his office by disregarding U.S. interests and pursuing the interests of a hostile foreign power, to wit, Russia. L’affaire Russia began during Trump’s campaign for the presidency, during which several top aides reportedly had contacts with Russia and its intelligence service. His campaign manager also had reportedly worked either directly or indirectly for the Kremlin. These contacts continued, famously, into the presidential transition, when the president’s chosen national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had his ill-fated contacts with Russia. Beyond these contacts, Trump has substantively acted in myriad ways that benefit Russia, including dangerous diplomacy that has reportedly frayed relationships with our allies and allegedly put allied intelligence assets at risk. By offering classified information to the Russians, it was reported that Trump risked the intelligence assets of a Middle Eastern ally that already warned American officials that it would stop sharing such information with America if that information was shared too widely. In risking that relationship, Trump has opened up the possibility for the loss of that information stream for combatting terrorism, and potentially put American lives at risk from the loss of intelligence that could inform officials about future attacks on Americans at home and abroad.

Article 3: Impairment and obstruction of inquiries by the Justice Department and Congress into the extent of the Trump administration’s conflicts of interests and Russia ties. The Trump administration has systematically impeded, avoided, or obstructed the machinery of justice to obscure its business relationships, its Russia ties, and the forces acting within the Trump White House to animate policy. The most egregious and visible examples have been Trump’s firings of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey. [Update, 6:18 p.m.: The New York Times reported on Tuesday afternoon on an even more egregious case of apparent obstruction of justice, wherein Trump allegedly directly asked Comey to end the FBI's investigation of Michael Flynn.] Each termination had what appeared to be a lawful pretext; subsequent statements or admissions have indicated each had more to do with obstructing justice than holding leaders accountable. Alongside these sackings, the Trump administration has also worked to starve Justice Department inquiries of resources and refocus investigators on suspected leaks instead of the White House’s own Russia intrigues. The Trump administration also interfered with congressional inquiries through attempting to block witnesses like Yates from appearing or selective leaking of classified information to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, compromising Nunes so badly he had to recuse himself from the matter.

Article 4: Undermining of the American judicial system through felonious intimidation of potential witnesses. In his desire to continue Comey’s public humiliation, and ensure Comey remained silent about Trump’s possible sins, the president threatened Comey on Twitter with disclosure of “tapes” of their conversations. This follows a pattern of Trump roughly treating witnesses and litigation adversaries that stretches back for decades before his presidency. Since taking office, Trump has also used the bully pulpit of his office to threaten intelligence officials for purported leaks and badger former Yates before her congressional testimony. In addition to falling beneath the dignity of the presidency, these verbal assaults also constitute obstruction of justice, prohibited by federal statutes on witness intimidation, retaliation against a witness, and obstruction of federal proceedings. These attacks don’t just harm the individuals who are targeted; they assault and undermine the rule of law. As such, they constitute further grounds for impeachment of Trump and his removal from the presidency.

Article 5: Undermining of his office and the Constitution through repeated assaults on the integrity of the federal judiciary and its officers. During the presidential campaign, Trump publicly attacked federal district Judge Gonzalo Curiel on the basis of his ethnicity, saying Curiel had been “extremely hostile to (Trump),” and that the judge had ruled against Trump because of his “Mexican heritage.” Since taking office, Trump has continued his unpresidential assaults on the federal judiciary, particularly after repeatedly losing court battles over his travel bans. At one point, he described a member of the bench as a “so-called judge,” undermining the premise of an independent judiciary. These statements also undermined both the dignity and power of the presidency, and threaten the rule of law by attacking the integrity of the federal judiciary.

Article 6: Demeaning the integrity of government and its public servants, particularly the military and intelligence agencies, in contravention of his constitutional duties to serve as chief executive and commander in chief of the armed forces. Trump swept into office with considerable disdain for the government and its military. Indeed, during his campaign, he insulted former prisoners of war, Purple Heart recipients, and Gold Star families; criticized the military for its performance in Iraq; and said today’s generals and admirals had been “reduced to rubble” during the Obama administration. Trump carried this disdain into the presidency, through his attacks on the “deep state” of military and intelligence officials that he believed to be obstructing his agenda. He also demeaned the military and its apolitical ethos through use of military fora and audiences as public spectacle—first to sign his immigration order in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes, and then to deliver rambling speeches at military and intelligence headquarters suggesting that pro-Trump elements in those agencies were grateful Trump had taken power. Trump has also continued to wage political war against his intelligence community, suggesting as recently as Tuesday morning that it was sabotaging his administration through leaking and other nefarious activities. In doing these things, Trump has undermined his constitutional office as president and commander in chief of the armed forces.

Article 7: Dereliction of his constitutional duty to faithfully execute the office of president by failing to timely appoint officers of the United States to administer the nation’s federal agencies. Shortly after taking office, Trump administration strategist Stephen Bannon articulated his plan for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” During its first four months in office, the Trump administration’s neglect of governance illustrates how this strategy is to be executed: delay of political appointments, failure to reach budget agreements with Congress in a timely manner, and deliberate neglect of governance and government operations. These actions and failures risk the health, welfare, and security of the nation, and represent a dereliction of Trump’s constitutional duty to faithfully execute the office of the presidency.