A sitting U. S. Senator is on trial for corruption and is involved in a sex scandal, but you wouldn’t know it.

Robert Menendez, (D-NJ) is on trial for 12 counts of bribery and corruption; his co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, is on for 11 counts. The jury is deadlocked but will resume deliberations today.

CNN touched on four of the charges:

Official Act #1: Visas for Friends
Official Act #2: The Dominican Port Security Contract
Official Act #3: US Scanning Equipment Donation to the Dominican Republic
Official Act #4: Attempt to resolve Melgen’s $8.9 million billing dispute

The trial is new, but I was posting on How Bob Menendez sponsored a bill that would have benefited his biggest political donor four years ago. Four and a half years ago I was already saying that The real scandal in the Menendez story… is the relationship between Miami ophthalmologist Solomon Melgen and Menendez.

Back then the media was not interested in corruption charges involving Democrats goings-on, least of all in the Dominican Republic. Things changed when Menendez became ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

The Obama administration was displeased by Menendez’s positions on the Iran deal, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and by

Menendez’s support of dissidents from countries other than Cuba: He vigorously supports the State of Israel against Iran-sponsored Hamas in Gaza, which also figures in his support of international sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program – sanctions that Ecuador and Venezuela attempt to help Iran avoid.

Most of this was ignored. I know from experience (having blogged on LatAm for 13 years) that news involving overseas transactions generally elicit eyes glazing over.

Hawever, sex sells, so the headlines mentioned that he liked the ‘newest and youngest’ prostitutes. The missing hos turned up, and apparently were not underage in Dominican Republic law.

The legal issue was, and is, as Glenn Reynolds pointed out then, a

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Billion With a ‘B’: Did Menendez Provide Special Favors to HookerGate Donor? “Follow the money – if Melgen had a billion-dollar contract at stake, his ‘friendship’ with Senator Menendez was obviously more than a mere social acquaintance, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it was illegal for Menendez to pressure the administration to help Melgen enforce his Dominican port security contract. But how and why does a Florida opthalmologist become an international port-security mogul?”

The fact remains that the media would rather not cover the trial, and guess who’s to blame,

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Democrats Standing behind Bill Clinton Dec 19th 1998
I’ve been taking a lot of heat on twitter for neither calling for Roy Moore to withdraw from the Alabama race nor giving credence to either Gloria Aldred (funny how the women she scrounged up to accuse Herman Cain suddenly disappeared without any charges or lawsuits once he pulled out isn’t it) or the Washington Post over various charges (although Powerline makes a good point here)

However I think it’s time once again to remind our Democrat liberal friends who have suddenly post Weinstein become great defender of morality of this moment.

That crowd btw includes the now convicted former rep and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner who has been sentenced for his crimes along with plenty of people still in congress.

So you’ll forgive me if I don’t take these people or anyone who voted for Bill’s enabler Hillary Clinton or any of the Newspapers who defended Bill Clinton seriously when they tell me Roy Moore is beyond the pale or get swept up in hysteria.

I think I’ll think for myself thank you very much an if I decide that the charges against Moore are valid then I’ll support his expulsion if elected but until then he’ll get he benefit of the doubt from me.

Closing thought: Are any of the Democrat members of congress or liberal newspapers calling for Moore’s withdrawal from the race or expulsion if elected calling for Robert Menendez to expelled? If not why not?

Update: Don Surber as usual gets it

Caitlin Flanagan at the Atlantic is horrified. The bill for defending Bill Clinton came in. The price is her silence as Judge Roy Moore stands accused of touching a 14-year-old girl back n the 1970s.

Just like all the Hollywood apologists for Roman Polanski, Flanagan and her fellow feminists have absolutely no moral standing in this case.

Kennedy drowned a woman. He stayed in the Senate, got a Portuguese water dog, and named him Splash.

And he predates Clinton by decades as did Barney Frank (who is in that picture) and Gary Studds who retired the year before.

Clinton of course was guilty. He admitted it. But Democrats — and many Republicans — defended him, and the Senate refused to convict him for perjury and suborning perjury after his impeachment.

Now some senators want to expel Moore before the election.

Phooey. That’s virtue signaling.

In fairness it’s the desperate need to find a GOP version of the Harvey Weinstein democrat left even if they have to reach far enough into the past to a time when their GOP target was a democrat.

Update 2: Instalanche They spent 25+ years having Clinton’s back even after things were proved. I submit and suggest if Roy Moore had remained a Democrat, guilty or innocent, they would have had his today.


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More like undead.

by baldilocks

The NSA got the Coconut Treatment.

From Business Insider:

The National Security Agency, the US’s largest and most secretive intelligence agency, has been deeply infiltrated by anonymous hackers, as detailed in a New York Times exposé published Sunday.

The NSA, which compiles massive troves of data on US citizens and organizes cyberoffensives against the US’s enemies, was deeply compromised by a group known as the Shadow Brokers, which has made headlines in the past year in connection to the breach, whose source remains unclear.

The group now posts cryptic, mocking messages pointed toward the NSA as it sells the cyberweapons, created at huge cost to US taxpayers, to any and all buyers, including US adversaries like North Korea and Russia.

“It’s a disaster on multiple levels,” Jake Williams, a cybersecurity expert who formerly worked on the NSA’s hacking group, told The Times. “It’s embarrassing that the people responsible for this have not been brought to justice.”

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a former USAF linguist. I have many longtime friends and acquaintances from that profession who have worked for what used to be sweetly called No Such Agency – as if people didn’t see NSA analysts arriving to work every day.

Many of these friends are liberals and, of that number, a significant portion rabidly and vocally despise Donald Trump, and that’s fair. But I never see them offer an opinion on this sort of thing, all of which happened during the Obama Administration and under another rabid anti-Trump personality, former DNI James Clapper. They won’t even share these types of links. Surely they read the NYT.

I realize that some of my friends are unable to legally comment on such things, but you would think that more of them would have been anti-Obama during the past eight years. But they seem to love him. Strange.

(Thanks to Richard Fernandez)

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

My opposition to the new tax bill is selfish. It’s gonna cost me money!

As a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I live in one of the bluest cities in one of the bluer states in the country. I pay city and state taxes—both of which will no longer be deductible under the proposals.

I understand the argument that the tax bill is intended to hold the line on exorbitant government budgets. But Philadelphia and Pennsylvania are not known for their penny-pinching, and the proposed tax bill is unlikely to change that.

Keep in mind, however, that Pennsylvania voted for Trump, and it’s unlikely that I am the only one who voted for the Republicans in 2016 and will lose money.

It’s a risky scenario given the fact that Pennsylvania hadn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate in decades. Moreover, the margin of victory was only 44,000 votes out of six million cast.

Congress should look at allowing a standardized amount that people should be able to deduct for state and local income taxes—say $5,000 across the board.

Sure, the increase of the exemption for a married couple from $12,700 to $24,000 will help but not enough to swing the tax bill is my favor.

There’s more. The cap on the real estate tax exemption at $10,000 will help me but not the many Republicans in the suburbs who pay much higher taxes than I do in the city.

And there’s more. The elimination of the deductions for charitable contributions will hit my wife and me. I doubt it will cause us to give less. But it does mean we will face higher taxes here, too. The elimination of the tax credit for adoptions makes no sense to me, particularly when it probably saved the lives of some potential victims of abortion.

It appears that my deductions for my home office will disappear. I’ve had outside income for more than 20 years and have reduced the tax exposure with my expenses at home. The tax bill means that I will be unable to deduct some of the costs I spend to do research in China, which I have done over the past three years.

I understand that the GOP needs a win, and I’d be willing to help finance a bit of that. At the moment, however, the cost is simply too steep, probably in the neighborhood of several thousand dollars. Since I don’t think I’m alone in my economic and political quandary, Congress and the president need to come up with some changes to make the tax bill more palatable. Otherwise, I am afraid the plan will lose more votes than gain them.

tax

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT —  Well, that didn’t take long.

Tyrone White, a convicted car burglar who was released early under Louisiana’s new free-the-criminals criminal justice overall, has been re-arrested.  White was out of jail only five days before he picked up a gun and robbed a construction worker in Kenner, Louisiana.  He is now back in jail.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry commented:

“Gov. (John Bel) Edwards’ staffer, (corrections secretary) James LeBlanc, indicated we needed to give the ‘reforms’ time to work,” said the release from Citizens for Louisiana Job Creators. “Perhaps we could suggest that anyone who has SIXTY FOUR counts of burglary NOT be set free when Governor Edwards and the Department of Corrections decides to let the next batch of 1,500+ criminals out of jail on Dec. 1.

“As we said last week, lock your doors and, as U.S. Senator (John) Kennedy has suggested, ‘You ought to own a handgun just in case.’ “

Wait, he said sixty-four counts of burglary?!

Tyrone White has a 40-page criminal history in Jefferson Parish alone.  Is he an outlier?  Is he an early-release candidate that slipped through the cracks and should never have been released?  Who knows.  Who knows how many more Tyrone Whites are walking around right now, free, due to this new legislation package?

In the spring, in order to address Louisiana’s high incarceration rate, the Edwards administration pushed a sweeping criminal justice reform package:

Most significantly, the package of bills aims to overhaul sentencing in the state criminal codes. The package will reduce mandatory minimums, trim sentences and give some inmates access to parole eligibility sooner. It creates a medical furlough program, which allows the sickest inmates to temporarily receive treatment off site, and be eligible for Medicaid, which saves the state on medical costs. The package overhauls drug sentencing, allowing lighter sentences based on weights, and streamlines the state’s many incongruous theft penalties. One bill in the package will limit how often juvenile offenders can receive life without parole sentences.

The measure also expands prison alternatives, like drug court, and expand safety nets for people getting out of jail and returning to their communities, by reducing their financial burdens and helping them have better access to jobs. Another bill will help improve the way victims are notified when offenders have parole hearings or are released.

In this first wave of early release, nearly 2,000 prisoners were set free.  Another wave comes in a couple of weeks.

It is not surprising that the law enforcement community is unhappy about many of these changes.  It means they have to deal with the Tyrone Whites again and again.  And some law enforcement officials are making it known that the numbers of criminals on early release are much higher than what is being officially reported.

The early release provision indicates that “non-violent offenders” are the only prisoners eligible for early release.  In all likelihood, the construction worker on the other end of Tyrone White’s gun last week would beg to differ.

There’s nothing wrong with criminal justice reform and truly low level offenders perhaps deserve a second look and a chance of early release.  But these candidates must be carefully screened and evaluated to ensure their chances of success and assimilation back into society.  What tools are we giving them to ensure they can find jobs and avoid recidivism?

Tyrone White won’t be the only one of the early released to return to jail.  But perhaps he will serve a cautionary purpose in ensuring that those who are released in the coming months are given a second look.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

The State Sponsor of Terror List needs more teeth. In its current form, the list only leverages three elements of national power (diplomatic, informational, and economic). It is time to discuss changing this reality by adding the fourth and final element of national power.

On November 2nd  the State Department failed to meet a congressional deadline. Their task is to determine whether the United States should relist North Korea on the State Sponsor of Terror List. President Trump will announce a decision at the end of his current Pacific diplomatic visits.

It may come as a surprise to most Americans that North Korea is not currently on this list. They were removed by the Bush administration in 2008 in a forlorn hope that the North Korean dictatorship then under Kim Jong-il would honor new denuclearization options in exchange for their removal from the list. As anyone with common sense and a rudimentary understanding of that region’s history should know, that did not work. Also unchanged is the Kim dynasty’s sponsorship of international terrorist movements who actively target the west, especially the United States and its interests.

This discussion, however, provides an opportunity to reconsider the usefulness of the State Sponsor of Terror List in its current form. There are three countries identified on the current list: Iran, Sudan and Syria. They have all been on this list for many years, and they have not changed their behavior in any tangible fashion. In fact, one could argue that all of them, and most certainly Iran, have accelerated their support for terrorist organizations.

Why? Listing a nation as a state sponsor of terror results in automatic diplomatic and economic sanctions, and such actions have next to no impact on leaders of nations who simply don’t care. Certainly, adding North Korea to this list will do almost nothing to them we are not already doing. Can we impose further diplomatic or economic sanctions than those already imposed due to their withdrawal from the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and their pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems for their nuclear warheads? The obvious answer is, “No.”

The United States must alter its current policy to include the military element of national power. We must include the stated right to immediately, and without warning, retaliate against any state sponsor of terror in any fashion the US deems appropriate, up to and including the use of our own nuclear arsenal. Such an attack will be triggered as a response to a terrorist attack against our nation, its people, or our allies so long as the terrorist organization is shown to receive any support (arms, money, training, safe harbor, etc.) from a state sponsor on the list. This will provide a level of deterrence that currently does not exist.

Some may argue such a change would be extreme. I, however, would argue it is in our survival interest to do this quickly. Technology has progressed to where even third world dictators like Kim Jon-un are able to acquire weapons that can kill tens of millions, destroy hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure, contaminate our food sources, attack our economic infrastructure, shut down national electric grids, etc. Our enemies are all pursuing some or all of these technologies. It is very possible, and arguably probable, that at some point one of these nations will consider providing such a weapon to a terrorist organization they believe they can control. We need to insure they think long and hard before doing so.

This is a narrowly defined policy change. It would only apply to those nations who we place on the list. The State Sponsor of Terror List will then have a level of importance it currently does not, both for nations added and for those who are removed.

We need to stop giving the state sponsors of terror a pass while they conduct war by proxy against the US and its allies. Change our policy, and place North Korea on this list.

By John Ruberry

Manhunt: Unabomber, is an engrossing eight-episode Discovery Channel mini-series, which is also available on Netflix, that dramatizes the search for the man dubbed the Unabomber by the FBI, Ted Kaczynski.

Sam Worthington, best known for his starring role in Avatar, stars as James “Fitz” Fitzgerald, the FBI profiler and linguist who connects what became known as the Unabomber Manifesto to writings by serial bomber turned into the FBI by Kaczynski’s brother, James.

The Unabomber’s attack spree began with the explosion of a device that caused minor injuries in 1978 at Northwestern University and ended the fatal attack with a much more sophisticated bomb that killed a timber industry lobbyist in California in 1995. Two other people were murdered by Kaczynski’s bombs, several more were permanently maimed.

Shortly after the murder of he lobbyist, in what the still-unidentified Kaczynski later dismissed as a prank, he threatened to blow up a jet airliner. Ten months later Kaczynski was arrested in his primitive cabin Montana after a search warrant was issued that was based largely on the FBI’s linguistic analysis. Inside the cabin loads of incriminating evidence was discovered, including a bomb ready to be mailed.

FBI sketch of the Unabomber

Paul Bettany portrays the former mathematics professor in an appropriately enigmatic fashion. Is Kaczynski, who is serving six life sentences at the “Supermax” prison in Colorado, an evil man? Or is he a deeply troubled genius trying to find the elusive balance between creativity and madness, in a manner reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s struggles?

Manhunt explores Kaczynski’s youth in the blue collar southwest Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park. A social misfit, Kaczynski was double-promoted in elementary school but, as his Manhunt character says, “I was still the smartest one in my class.” Entering Harvard at 16, Kaczynski was mentally tortured in cruel experiments conducted by psychiatrist Henry Murray (Brian d’Arcy in the series). In this statue-razing era, I say if there is one of Murray standing somewhere, tear it down now.

Kaczynski gets into the head of Fitzgerald in his many jailhouse interviews with him. But there’s a problem here. This is a dramatization of the Unabom story–there were no meetings between the two. Here’s another: the linguistics professor with whom the married Fitz has a soft romance with in the series, was in real life a man.

Abandoned rail line north of Chicago

On the other hand, Kaczynski gets into the heads of viewers, or at least this one. My degree of separation with the Unabomber is three. A friend of mine who lives in Lombard, Illinois, where Kaczynski’s parents moved to around 1970, used to have coffee at the home of his parents. “A nice and sweet old couple,” she told me. They never mentioned anything about their sons to her. Just a couple of blocks from the Kaczynski’s modest frame house in Lombard is the Illinois Prairie Path, which was constructed in the late 1960s, it was the first trail in America created from an abandoned rail line. After the terrorist’s arrest and conviction, I mused while running on the Prairie Path that perhaps he was inspired by the pastoralization of the old Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railway. Perhaps post-industrial society was that not far away, Kaczynski may have reasoned. He lived with his parents in Lombard for a while in the 1970s.

“The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race” is the opening sentence in the Unabomber Manifesto. A few paragraphs later he adds, “We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system.”

Bettany’s Unabomber is a bit too sympathetic of a portrayal for me. Missing are the cold-blooded journal entries recounting his bombings, including one described as “excellent.” In another recounting, Kaczynski expressed “no regret” that his last murder victim was not his intended target.

“People with advanced degrees aren’t as smart as they think they are,” Kaczynski mockingly wrote to one of his victims who was severely wounded by one of his bombs. “If you’d had any brains you would have realized that there are a lot of people out there who resent bitterly the way technonerds like you are changing the world and you wouldn’t have been dumb enough to open an unexpected package from an unknown source.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit and he is a native of Chicago’s southwest suburbs.

Steve Bannon in Manchester 11-10-17
As I mentioned on Friday Thursday evening Steve Bannon came to Manchester NH for fundraiser for the 603 Alliance.

This event was pricey from $125 for general admission to $750 for the top VIP position yet there were very few tables with an empty seat.

This is a huge contrast to the old days at CPAC when Steve was holding his “Uninvited” events and ignored, also a contrast unfortunately is availability, gone are the days when I was one of the free interested in getting an interview Thursday there was press galore and as soon as his speech was over Steve was out the door and intro a car to the airport and all my running outside and chasing in the hopes of getting an interview were in vain.

However I did get some speeches such as 603 alliance member and former state rep Fran Wendelboe who talked about keeping people in office honest

She introduced Corey Lewindowski who spoke next

Corey was also kind enough to give me an exclusive interview after the event

Steve Bannon followed Corey and he gave a doozy of a speech

despite charging my battery before I left for the event Steve’s speech ran it dry so I had to finish it with Camera #2

and I voiced over what was missed about wanting to be governed by the first 100 people who walked into this room rather than others.

One part of his speech that I suspect will get almost no press was his complementing the 2016 field as one of the best and most qualified collection of pols ever assembled for a presidential race. We’ll likely never see a field of people so full of excellent choices again in our lifetime.

As I mentioned when the event was over Steve was gone pretty quick despite my running outside in the hopes of grabbing an interview but with my newly scalped head there’s always the chance he didn’t recognize me.

(I told my wife she could cut my hair and boy did she)

By the time I got back inside most of the crowd was gone but I lucked into Rep Al Baldarsario who is running for speaker of the NH house and as always he had time for me

I’m fascinated by folks like Corey and Al who recognized the potential for Trump at a time when all of us missed it.

I’d like to close with one little minor insight. The head table where Steve Corey and others were sitting had one empty seat when I got it, that was filled by a lady that I remember from CPAC. The moment she got to the table every single man at the table rose from his seat before she took hers.

Now I know that’s a little thing in the scheme of things but I thought culturally it spoke volumes

The photo gallery follows

My apologies for the paltry number of pitchers as I noted my directions were bad and I got there a bit late

Hollywood Sign in 1923

by baldilocks

With the accusation avalanche of sexual crimes/misconduct being slung about in Hollywood and in the Hollywood for Ugly People (Washington DC), we have this bit of news.

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, who reported to prison this week to begin a 21-month sentence for sexting with a 15-year-old girl, is hoping to stay in contact with the outside world.

Weiner’s away message on his personal email addresses provide specific instructions on how to stay in contact with the disgraced Congressman, the New York Post reported Thursday.

“Thanks for reaching out,” the message says. “Starting November 6th, I’ll be away for a while but I would love to stay in touch. As quaint as it may sound, the best way to reach me is by sending a letter. When you write, ill get you the information about how email might work.

“So please include your full mailing address here and of course include it when you write,” Weiner says in the message.

You and I both know that Weiner will have no shortage of correspondents.

And then, this morning, we wake up to the news that some dude accuses Star Trek actor George Takei of possibly slipping him a roofie and taking advantage in 1981.

In other words, it’s Saturday and I have nothing really to talk about and choose to gawk at these people.

Both Hollywoods seem to be magnets for predators of many varieties because what they are selling is fantasy and what they are buying is power. That these fantasy-power exchanges spill over into the sexual area shouldn’t be a surprise because most of the denizens of the two kingdoms have no moral/spiritual reign on their appetites – though many of the Ugly Hollywood residents pretend to religious virtue to get elected and the Pretty Hollywood pretends to secular virtue because they’re pretty, Harvey Weinstein notwithstanding. A stage, all the world is.

Watching the stuff is almost as entertaining as going to the zoo. Almost.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

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So it’s Veteran’s Day, a chance to have a Federal Holiday, get a free meal from local restaurant, and then go about my day. Sadly, that’s how I spend most Veteran’s Days. What I should be doing is talking to more people about what it means to be a Veteran, and try to dispel the myths that surround us. Most people are real weird about talking to me in uniform, almost like I’m some mythical unicorn demi-god creature that you should worship at a distance.

Trust me, I’m not.

I encourage everyone reading this to find a veteran and talk to them. Whether it’s the young kid in uniform in the airport or an older lady in a VA hospital, please, go and speak to your veterans. To give you a hand, here are the best questions I can think of for you to ask:

Continue reading “Please talk to your Veteran today”