consultants are sandburs

Friday, March 31, 2017

Russian readers of Crabgrass; but isn't all politics local, and this is Ramsey, Minnesota? Perhaps a 6500 word item is relevant? It, after all, has an image of Trump and mentor, Roy Cohn.

click image to read it
Google gives access stats for Blogger blogs, and earlier it has been noted the strange viewership pattern showing up recently, especially when Trump and Russia and/or Russians and/or oligarchs and/or Putin are part of a post. Those numbers are unusual for an obscure blog; unless they were to be annual numbers. It appears, at a guess, monthly, however.


Today's item should, given the pattern, be a bell-ringer. It's all news to me; and "fake news" or not, it is done by links to web content; not musings of a north metro Minnesota mind. That said; moving on:

Start with the links; main item here, "RUSS BAKER, C. COLLINS AND JONATHAN Z. LARSEN -- WHY FBI CAN’T TELL ALL ON TRUMP, RUSSIA;" also of interest USA Today, here, both items dated March 27, 2017. See, also; Financial Times, Aug, 2016.

Bayrock Group links of interest; here, here, here and here; the last item "digital" not "hacking" but apparently in the related "digital" for profit skill set.

The truth is I don't know anything more about Bayrock than its "about" page tells; along with mention in others of the above linked items; about, including:

Lots of puffery, based in LA, a European Proctor and Gamble experience set for the purported named boss; but, is that a different "Bayrock" than "Bayrock Group?" If there's a tie-in, you tell me.

Bayrock Group, some websearch hits, Wikipedia; Gulen mentioned and a while back there was that Turkish "failed coup" where Gulen was also mentioned, and mention of Bayrock Group in passing as background overlap, in an N.Y. Post item, with that outlet something of a stylistic mirror of Breitbart, at its seediest.

Back to Trump, this screencapture from the Financial Times, mid-2016 published item, at the item's beginning [with the entire thing much longer and a good read, and gee, some name overlap with the N.Y. Post item]:

Blogger image handling can sometimes make screencaptures difficult to read; but there is always the full original story.

The blockbuster story, if it's not "fake news" is this item, with three teaser snippets below, and it is a have-to-read story along with the parallel and equally lurid item also published online March 27, by USA Today. Snippets - click each to enlarge and read:

Aside from Trump, some really ugly looking people. In closing, this USA Today item; so is this Jarad-based item coincidentally parallel, or interweaved?

No tune time. Book time. Pynchon, his 2013 (copyright) New York City saga, Bleeding Edge. One I will have to read again, a story of Dark and Sinister high tech uncertainties in the big metropolis. But, it's fiction. At least not "fake fiction."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Follow the money is a good adage, and a proven strategy, but how can you credibly investigate Trump and Russia deals and ties without a full set of Trump personal and venture tax returns? And loan, financing contracts, and other business papers? Along with Jarad and Kushner family returns, books and records, especially on 666 Fifth Avenue dreams and schemes? They are a nest together, not separate, and Jarad's stuff might prove as or more interesting than anything Trump himself fronted.

Reuters, March 29, 207, "Russia probe should focus on Trump financial ties: senator."

Senator, in this case is Ron Wyden of Oregon. And the big question is whether the Republican Senators on whatever comittee holds investigations/hearings in parallel with the House will prefer keeping Trump, however he may have been compromised, or having the office divest to Mike Pence, who is a troublesome ideologue while Trump, being a selfish narcissist, has no ideology beyond self and family and accretion.

It should prove interesting, however it evolves. The Wyden article in early paragraphs notes:

In a formal written request made to the leaders of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Wyden said financial relationships between Trump, a real estate developer with properties around the world, and Russia are deserving of scrutiny because of resistance by Trump and some in his orbit have not been forthcoming about their finances.

"Efforts to understand these relationships and to separate fact from speculation have been hampered by the opacity of the finances of President Trump and his associates," Wyden, who also sits on the intelligence panel, wrote to Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Mark Warner.

The letter, though devoid of new details, is the latest piece of evidence suggesting Trump's business dealings are attracting expanded interest from investigators amid a raft of new reports scrutinizing potential financial entanglements between the president and Russia.

Trump has declined to release his tax returns, bucking decades of precedent for presidents and presidential candidates.

The letter followed new disclosures in recent weeks of previously unknown meetings and financial arrangements between Trump's associates and wealthy Russians, and came as Democrats attempt to focus public attention on questions about Trump's connections to Russia.

On Monday, the state development bank Vnesheconombank disclosed that its executives had met Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a top White House adviser, in December. And last week Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman, admitted he had done business work for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Trump has repeatedly insisted allegations that he or members of his administration have an untoward relationship with Russia as "fake news." He has also said that he has no business deals in Russia.

A Reuters investigation published earlier this month found that dozens of members of the Russian elite have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida, according to public documents, interviews and corporate records.

If the Senate Intelligence Committee lacks power to subpoena Trump tax records, who has it? They can and should. And Trump cannot claim executive privilege for personal money dealings; nor for pre-inauguration finances and deals.

They likely have him, if they want him out. Again, Pence is the big impediment. With the Speaker moving to VP.

OUCH! As far away as Russia they may be able to feel our pain on that aspect.

And Putin has an election this year, unless I have misread news [or been "faked"]. Readers should try a

websearch = putin russia next election

As Ron Paul was insistent about auditing the Fed, Wyden should be heard on auditing White House insiders. However, as the Clintons got away with only a few askance questions about paid speeches and their foundation, so too the Trump cabal will likely dodge the train by adroit sidestepping, delay, obfuscation, counterattack, blarney, and inuendo, exactly as only one mentored by Roy Cohn might. The good money bet is only something tepid, perhaps lurid, but then moving on. Trump's party is in the majority, both houses, with Pence next in line as an insurance policy, so expect little to then not be surprised.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

His policies are as legitimate and as well bolstered as his self-stated marathon time.

All suit no integrity.

Uniquely able to make Pence look capable.

Click the image to get an opening paragraph gist. The NY Times image-capture says what the accompanying text says, at length. Read all of it,  here.

A modest question. What critique can one have over the wise and fair words of the NYT editorial board? Well, a word search done on this lengthy an item about Paul Ryan where the words "mean" and "spiteful" are absent begs questioning. They miss an essence that way. (Indirection and understatement can be lost on some less sophisticated eyes or ears.)

At least FOX has his back, something about which his friend Trump tweeted of hours in advance of FOX broadcasting:

Earlier Saturday, Trump took to Twitter to urge his followers to tune into Pirro’s show, saying: “Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M.”

Caesar had about as sound a backup cast. Ryan's personality was/is his Rubicon.

UPDATE: So egregious a personality that Putin did not stoop to bother with him? I.e., so much himself, ever so, to be unable to gin up even a modest little Russian love and attention? Begging next an answer, were Ryan to step aside, who'd have the daunting litmus task then of making Pence look okay, and not jointly dumb, mean spirited and unstable?

Farm incomes are reported down in Minnesota, rural/urban imbalances in voting pattern and prosperity have been reported, and with the Ryancare miasma from his disastrous fiasco, (however bad the ultimate thing may ultimately turn out in final passage and signing by Republicans in both houses in concert with the Republican White House); farmers are likely to see more suffering. Ultimate Pence-Ryancare shall be aimed at lowering federal and state subsidization with less being spent by government. Add to that Trump policy against immigration affecting foreign trained health professionals joining our nation where they are more likely to service rural needs; all that together says farmers are about to take an even bigger hit.

Strib, not via a wire feed but in its own item, "BUSINESS - More than 30 percent of Minnesota farmers lost money in 2016 -- Two years of losses place financial stress on farmers as prices continue to decline. By Tom Meersman Star Tribune MARCH 28, 2017 — 9:05PM," tells the story of fading prices and yields up but insufficient to cover for declining price effects. This is for crop and livestock operations, in the State.

Faults in Ryancare were many, and are more likely to worsen than improve. The immigration shenanigans out of the Trumpsters having an impact on rural healthcare has been reported widely enough that readers can do their own websearch.

Might there be helpful answers - suggestions for a lessening of symptoms if not a cure - then readers are requested to suggest what they may be. Comments are moderated for objectionable content, spamming, and/or off topic content. However, helpful and informed comments are more than welcome, and get posted when useful. Each post footer indicates whether comments have been published, and on occasions where a comment is beyond doubt helpful it has been boosted into UPDATE text to assure greater reader notice and attention.

With Minnesota having a Governor attentive to every county in the State and to local needs, and with CD8 having Collin Peterson with seniority on House Ag committee action, the state is well positioned politically - and then there is Cargill. What the 800 pound Ag gorilla decides and does will likely be the biggest thing weighing on farm prosperity nationwide, worldwide, and in Minnesota. What they plan and then do is not as transparent as if they were a publicly traded firm.

This item is believed to fit into the theme of this post, yet admittedly, it is unclear precisely how.

And then, we still have Greenspan, who ought to be more old soldier than Julliard schooled sax player, and just fade away. (The sax is out of brass, Al, so you've a brass standard.)

Links can diverge yet hang together.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

NewsHound - Hegseth, again.

This link. The man needs an overhaul.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Jarad and Ivanka given cracker jack insider opportunity at diversifying their portfolio with prior knowledge of good bet directions.

But then the other party did not truly want the spoils, else they'd have run Bernie.

Buried on a sub-sub-headline of the Strib homepage, per this screen capture -

- is a headline saying the victor gets the spoils, while all that Andrew Jackson paraphernalia put into the Trump White House Oval Office says the same. Strib carries a WaPo item timestamped an hour after the WaPo online timestamp.

Wapo, in opening paragraphs, published:

President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy [...] potentially, privatizing some government functions.

The White House Office of American Innovation, to be led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will operate as its own nimble power center within the West Wing and will report directly to Trump. [... T]he office will be staffed by former business executives and is designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.

“All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays,” Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post. “I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government.”

In a White House riven at times by disorder and competing factions, the innovation office represents an expansion of Kushner’s already far-reaching influence.

Does that sound like investing a front-running-the-market capability? Make the kill and feed first, later the bone pickers and table scrap pets can finish the cleanup.

Opinions may differ.

ChiTrib carries the same WaPo item.

Why is the word "spoils" absent among the three mainstream outlets running the same item? Good manners, or something else at play?

Closing meandering musing: Looking back at Gipper's 80's putsch to privatization, the unprofitable provision of public goods seems to not be privatized. At least one gentleman in Ramsey, where I live, now is retired from a since-Gipper-Presidency crop insurance business he formed back then, when the Ag Department privatized that aspect, and he has done well with it, thereafter, to the present.

And Bush II, where did the cash flow from securing the homeland? But two thoughts; here and here. Bush I?

A reader request to the one or two Tea Party readers this blog has; name a few Obama era cash flow spinoffs, via a helpful, on-point comment. Oh - Clinton Foundation, not really privatizing in the Gipper sense, but flowing in cash. That does in fairness require mention.

To the extent that sort of "privatization" does injury, the impunity with which it is done adds insult to injury, salt to the wound. In closing, with Trump the context an obvious question: Didn't Yeltsin privatize a lot, "oligarch" being a word at the time springing into the popular press vocabulary? Somehow, with Trump, you can see thought in the choice of Andrew Jackson office decoration, rather than Yeltsin nick-nacks.

Some gifts keep giving. From the ChiTrib version, mid-item:

The innovation office has a particular focus on technology and data, and it is working with such titans as Apple chief executive Tim Cook, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff and Tesla founder and chief executive Elon Musk. The group has already hosted sessions with more than 100 such leaders and government officials.

"There is a need to figure out what policies are adding friction to the system without accompanying it with significant benefits," said Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive of the investment firm Blackstone Group. "It's easy for the private sector to at least see where the friction is, and to do that very quickly and succinctly."

"Obviously it has to be done with corresponding values and principles. We don't agree on everything," said Benioff, a Silicon Valley billionaire who raised money for Democrat Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.

But, Benioff added, "I'm hopeful that Jared will be collaborative with our industry in moving this forward. When I talk to him, he does remind me of a lot of the young, scrappy entrepreneurs that I invest in in their 30s."

Scrappy entrepreneurial terminology, in assessing and then benefiting from "trimming government reach."

Would that be public benefit, or private? Devilish detail to be entailed, in all likelihood. ChiTrib continues:

Kushner's ambitions for what the new office can achieve are grand. At least to start, the team plans to focus its attention on reimagining Veterans Affairs; modernizing the technology and data infrastructure of every federal department and agency; remodeling workforce-training programs; and developing "transformative projects" under the banner of Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, such as providing broadband Internet service to every American.

In some cases, the office could direct that government functions be privatized, or that existing contracts be awarded to new bidders.

The "p" word rears itself again into the fray, along with reallocation of government spending perks, also called, "existing contracts be awarded to new bidders." Might favoritism intrude into that reawarding process? Could that be?
Can you say "slush?"

And then, "friction." Another word usage. Do you expect this panel of private sector profit seekers, we can call them privateers, will opt for privatizing that which they deem frictional? That they might, seems fictional.

Did Long John Silver go for the gold boats, or those hauling salt or timber?

Go figure.

Video evidence: Pre-election China bashing; tunes can change, and consistency has been called the hob-goblin of petty minds; but really, does Jarad's real estate hopes TRUMP alleged needs of the nation? Where's China on the TRUMP agenda now?

Answer: MIA

Is that being Presidential? Answer: It should not be. But - Yes, for a corporatist, especially a Republican one, but there was Bill Clinton so the corruption is bipartisan.

It is as if a particular word has dropped from the man's vocabulary once in the Oval Office.

With all the executive orders, what's missing?

Is it that China bashing has been deep sixed? Or 666ed? For an interim transitory period if not forever?

Bernie in this video poses the "o" question. Were oligarchs providing a past safety net for Trump adventures on the shoals? As the YouTube segment shows Sanders is asking, "What do the Russians have on him?"

Somebody knows. The Russians, for example. If there's smoke, is there fire? Time favors cover-up destruction; but with Mike Pence VP and the Speaker next in succession - keep Trump no matter what, he's less destructive. Only counterproductive, which is a step better than Pence/Ryan. An the efforts at saying Ryan should resign? Who is being groomed and does he/she speak Russian?

Might there be some conduit thing via Jarad; a Trump, Jarad, Putin/oligarchs troika? Russia has some election soon, yes/no? Might the fan load closer to that event?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

OAK GROVE: Tossed around by Big Sumo. Strib published, but is it news? In the sense, nothing new; it's Met Council, again, as always, dictatorial.

This is an all politics is local post.

Strib today published, in its "North Metro" online coverage, "In Oak Grove, a fight over sprawling development illustrates Met Council tensions -- Oak Grove envisions large rural lots while agency pushes controlled growth. By Eric Roper, Star Tribune, March 25, 2017 — 8:01pm."

"Sprawling development" is editorilizing on the news page; worse, within a headline; both practices which should be discouraged in one of only two statewide published daily newspapers. Keep that editorial/op-ed stuff separate.

The question is better set as the desirability for housing diversity; i.e., the availability of comfortably spaced large lot development vs. crammed in stuff, including rabbit hutch shared wall which, some, but clearly not all, might prefer to live in. Robert Frost wrote, "Good fences make good neighbors," which begs the paraphrase, "Good distances make good neighbors," as the complete story on large lot desirability; a truth despite all propaganda emanating from Met Council's tell them crammed-tight housing is desirable often enough and perhaps they'll believe tendencies.

Strib's item stated in opening:

In Oak Grove, residents can have a slice of the country — acres of land between houses, room for horses and riding ATVs — just 30 miles from Minneapolis.

That peaceful Anoka County setting is at the center of a battle over exurban sprawl and the power of the Metropolitan Council, a fight spilling into the State Capitol where lawmakers are pushing to roll back the regional planning agency’s authority. City leaders want more land made available for developing homes on 2½-acre lots, but the Met Council is enforcing a decade-old compromise that preserves rural land in a corner of the city until there’s demand for traditional suburban subdivisions.

Again, "sprawl" editorializing, uncalled for and offensive in an ostensible news report.

The fact is, much of Ramsey where I live has neighborhoods of homes on acre and acre and a half lots, entirely sufficient in size for private domestic water well and septic drainfield needs; and the Met Council promulgated and/or inspired horseshit term "failing septic systems" is yet one more falsehood which offends. They don't fail, not often, and if/when any very infrequent failure happens, repair is the answer, not rhetoric. Ramsey has an ordinance requiring annual inspection by a licensed septic system contractor, pumping and inspection/repair making the Met Council propaganda a total shibboleth. They are passive natural bacterial based sewage digestion systems not needing flocculants or other processing chemicals used in some versions of centralized treatment, which if properly done and not undersized use the same natural sewage digestion bacterial basis the septic systems use. It's the same thing, on a privatized localized scale. It is true that established one-acre neighborhoods generate no cash flow for Met Council coffers, but none is owed by such environmentally sound alternative arrangements. Each home in such neighborhoods, since being built, has privately capitalized all actual housing needs with no need to subsidize governmental capital expenditure, a truth apart from what Met Council might prefer.

With Met Council and its fellow traveler henchpersons, what else can you expect? They sell flushes, and need cash flow from it to service bonding for their sewer network and treatment facility capital expenditure decisions - which are made as an imposition which tramples over local control norms of government. They decide, folks have to live with it. That is the nutshell of the ways and means of centralized planners (remember Stalin's five year plans if you want a slippery slope argument).

Strib continues - and note in the following quote, the "failing septic tanks" BS insertion - an argument bandied about without much real evidence but lots of propaganda gusto:

“It’s like a cartel,” said Oak Grove Mayor Mark Korin. “They’re dictating … with the belief that they know what’s best for growth patterns.”

The battle pits the city’s vision of houses on large lots against regional planners’ desire to limit “unsustainable growth patterns.” The impassioned debate illustrates the Met Council’s daunting task of protecting rural land from sprawling development in a way that still gives cities enough flexibility to grow as they wish. And it comes amid renewed criticism, particularly among Republicans, that the appointed board has grown too powerful with too little accountability.

[...] “Ultimately, we are trying to have a cost-effective means for providing wastewater services and transportation access for everyone in the region,” [Met Council Chair Adam] Duininck said. “That’s why we have a regional plan.”

The city has an influential ally at the Capitol in House Speaker Kurt Daudt, who represents part of Oak Grove and co-authored an unusual measure to override the Met Council’s plans for 2,600 acres at the center of the dispute.

“This is an example of they’re a little out of control and we need to reel them back in,” said Daudt, R-Crown. [...]

Metropolitan Council plans have long aimed to preserve rural areas ringing the Twin Cities until there’s demand for development dense enough to cover a fair share of related regional infrastructure costs, from roads to sewer service. Sprawling development there could impede that growth in the future, the agency says. [...]

But housing built on 1- to 2½-acre lots has nonetheless chewed up land in Oak Grove and other Anoka County cities like Andover and Ham Lake. Undeveloped and agricultural land fell from 83 percent of Oak Grove’s total acreage in 1990 to 68 percent in 2010.

“It’s inefficient and it throws costs onto the rest of the region that we all have to bear,” said Jim Erkel of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, noting the need to redesign roads for more traffic and bring sewer pipes to areas with failing septic tanks. “It almost always results in a demand for regional investments, but its density is too low to support them.”

There is more to Strib reporting, including an illustrative map, so do read the original. But that last paragraph; this Erkel individual quoted claiming a, "need to redesign roads for more traffic and bring sewer pipes to areas with failing septic tanks," which is an assertion deliberately ignoring two actual simple truths:

First, denser traffic and bottlenecking on roads results from shorter stretches of road with denser housing along them, that's the cars-entering-per-mile-in-rush-hour conundrum, ramp backups, etc.; and second, there simply is no existing epidemic of failing septic tanks among one acre suburban/exurban homes, where they've been built and have decades of history exactly opposite to that fright claim of the earth being poisoned because of septic tanks. It's pure bullshit (that being something which properly installed and maintained septic systems could handle outside of dairy manure levels). Agrichemicals, lawn chemicals, yes they are problematic, but where homes exist and have existed since the 1970's in neighborhoods of one acre size Erkel's dumb assertion of a need to bring sewer pipes is a total falsehood. There is no such need there. Things exist fine "as is" in such happy neighborhoods, where residents' major fear is over an unneeded sewer and water governmental cramdown; not a fear of properly maintained and working privately financed individualized sewage handling being anything beyond just fine and sufficient. The Erkel man is a jerk; if not a pure shill; one or the other unless a little of both. Went to planner school with a planning degree is my guess; i.e., the "little of both" category.

Also, in that extended quote, it is not a "daunting task" for bureaucrats to dictate, to stand on the throat of contrary but less powerful opinion. It seems, instead, Met Council's minions enjoy it as with Lake Elmo in litigation, and the more planner paychecks secured by saying "daunting task" the more Met Council employees smile.

Now, frequent readers of Crabgrass know it is not "Republican oriented" but rather Sanders "democratic socialist" in the beliefs of what government owes its citizens; vs any outlook the other way. Hence, Strib writing is biased in the declaration, "comes amid renewed criticism, particularly among Republicans, that the appointed board has grown too powerful with too little accountability." The sentiment transcends two-party politics. It is a question of relation between the individual and notions of freedom and diversity, vs one-size-fits-all overcentralization. A question of desiring less government along with responsive government. A responsive democratic socialist approach need not be payroll heavy, it being policy and not payroll that defines the outlook.

All of that is a lead-in to the below "between the dotted lines" republishing of what by now is likely as appropriate for Oak Grove as for Ramsey and Nowthen as originally written in the February 27, 2015, item, "Met. Council, comp plans, planners, all that stuff," a post which suggests a simple and quite short legislative solution to the Met Council heavy boot problem, for desiring locales:

See links, here and here.

In what some might see as a perfect world, there would be a statutory amendment cutting Ramsey and Nowthen from the Metropolitan Area. All it would take is a bit of statutory tuning; MS Sect. 473.121, subd. 2, adding one or two further "excluding the city of ..." specifications. Few words, big relief.

Let others do comp plans and suffer. It would be relief. Elk River seems to do okay, outside of the metro area.

Presumably that statutory route still exists, even with the legislatures' drive to every session diddle language hither and yon in the code via enactments purposed to prove paychecks are being earned, i.e., presuming that the cited statute in intervening time has not been amended to where it might not be so easily tuned to fit local preference.

Met Council 4-on-40 cramdown is effectively forestalling any practical current development of land, unless and until they've pipes there so they can sell flushes. There should be no wonder it offends.

Strib's reporter, instead of buying into chapter and verse of Met Council planner-speak gospel, should visit Ramsey neighborhoods of 1+ acre homes and ask the residents there if they are happy as is, or would they rather move to the shared wall Ramsey Town Center.

At least drive through the fairly recently built Tiger Meadows, higher end homes on 2-1/2 acres, and look next at Ramsey Town Center. Why would that diversity of housing options not be better than one rabbit-hutch size must fit all? How could it not be, from homeowner perspectives independent of planner bias?

It might likely would be an eye opener for the Strib reporter to so expand a perspective.

And, those older 1+ acre homes are AFFORDABLE HOUSING. Prices show this. Housing, to be affordable, need not be shared wall rental, alone. A well diversified mix, including suburban and exurban small homes on large lots, is better than ONLY cookie-cutter densities. Each has its place. That fact, unfortunately, is outside the propaganda aims Met Council flush-sellers will admit, despite it being clearly apparent by the 1+ acre modestly priced homes selling quickly as they are listed. The market does speak that way. Despite a Met Council deaf ear.

The fact that Met Council has totally taken off the table 1+ acre new home building where sewer/water do not now exist and where landowners or developers might want to build and sell that density, does not mean it is socially undesirable. Incompatible with selling flushes to subsidize greatly capital intensive central STP, that it might be, but in terms of desirability to families able to afford to buy a first home; would they rather comfortable separation or a first home equivalent of shared-wall rental? The likely answer, some might want the one, some might want the other, but what is the true soundness of a policy that is biased to a fault toward providing only the one, not the other?

Unsound? Met Council would never admit that.

__________FURTHER UPDATE__________
The Oak Grove situaiton is not new; politics was local back in July 2009 also. A decade can pass, the relentlessness of Met Council is a constant. BIG SUMO is as relentless as Crabgrass on your lawn of life.

He could not have! And his butler Tom Perez should tell him precisely that going into the future. He should stay out of Elizabeth Warren's way. That clear. That simple. Or four more years of Trump.

AP publishes a summary blurb, carried by ABC online under the headline, "Biden says if he'd run for president he could have won," this link. Fuller Joe-at-Colgate coverage is online, Utica Observer-Dispatch, here. The latter item, (source of the also carried image, man and teleprompter), states in part:

Colgate visit: Biden speaks of past, present, future
Friday - Mar 24, 2017 at 9:38 PM Mar 24, 2017 at 9:52 PM

"At the end of the day, I just couldn't do it," former Vice President Joe Biden said about running a campaign to be president. "So I don't regret not running. Do I regret not being president? Yes."

In Colgate University's Sanford Field House, University President Brian W. Casey opened the Kerschner Family Global Leaders series lecture question-and-answer panel with Biden by asking if Biden regrets not running to be president

"On a college campus I will never, never do anything other than answer the question completely unvarnished and straightforward," Biden said. "The answer is that I had planned on running for president. And although it would have been a very difficult primary, I think I could have won."

Biden said he had a lot of data collected and was fairly confident that as a Democratic party's nominee, he could have won.

[...] Colgate sophomore John Bennett, 19, a Democrat, was hoping to hear Biden speak on a variety of topics, including health care after President Donald Trump's bill for the American Health Care Act had failed to get enough support to pass earlier in the day before Biden's speech.

"I think it might be interesting to hear his take about foreign policy going forward with how we may be more isolationist in these coming years," he said.

[...] "I really hope he grows into the job a little bit," Biden said of Trump. "I don't have a lot of hope now. ... I hope that he succeeds."

What did give Biden hope, however, was the students in the room and their opportunities to create change.

"To all of you students assembled in this auditorium, we're counting on you," he said. "You understand this better than most of us."

Last two paragraphs, bullshit with a teleprompter. Clearly, the one sophomore pegged it, the man spun fluff and ducked policy commitment. Had he run, when the rumblings were loudest, he and the Podesta/Clinton clown car would have split the Inner Party, and Bernie could have won the Dem nomination, and soundly trounced Trump in the general election; as insurgent with a heart vs insurgent with a spiel. Biden left the inner party levers to Clinton, and as night follows day disaster followed that abdication. Had Biden run and squeezed Podesta/Clinton aside, just as happened but with Bernie also squeezed out by Inner Party forces, as happened, the progressives would have said "No dog of mine in that hunt" and it would have been Trump as insurgent with spiel vs entrenched elitist with spiel (as happened). Trump winning (as happened).

Biden should stay out of Elizabeth Warren's way to being the first female president, and the first in my lifetime with a progressive orientation; that being seven decades although I do not remember much of Truman during early childhood.

Biden is yesterday's fish. He is/would be warmed over Obama. That the man will not utter the needed words, "Single payer, universal health coverage as a right," puts out all anybody needs to know about the man from the state with the lowest common denominator of corporate law - Delaware, where all the multinationals incorporate, stateside, regardless of where they locate business sites or where offshore money gets parked and European coat hangers are used - Ireland being popular that way.

UPDATE: It would have been a hoot, however, to see Biden and Podesta/Clinton dancing the superdelegate shuffle (may that obscenity end, today being too late but better than tomorrow).

Saturday, March 25, 2017

More of the same.

This link, on a Trump nominee to head the SEC:

“Mr. Clayton has spent his career providing get-out-of-jail free cards to Wall Street executives and helping financial institutions avoid government regulation and fines," Sanders added.

Clayton helped Goldman Sachs get a $10 billion taxpayer bailout from the Treasury Department during the financial crisis. He represented Valeant Pharmaceuticals, a company that increased the price of its lead poisoning drug from $950 to $27,000 over a two-year period.

Drain that Swamp! Drain that Swamp! Tell that Lie. Fool enough of the people, enough of the time.

Taste that Tea. Corporate Tea. What else could you expect, either party?

Ring that death knell for Tea Party cred.

Deserving more than a closing paragraph link in the immediately preceding post (below), this from Amy Goodman's Democracy Now!

Dateline eight years ago today, March 25, 2009, Goodman's lead-in, "We speak with Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is attempting to block President Obama’s nominee to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs employee. 'Gensler worked with Sen. Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of A.I.G. and has resulted in the largest taxpayer bailout in U.S. history,' Sanders said. [includes rush transcript]"

Mid-item, this broadcast exchange:

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I don’t know all of where Maxine is coming from in this, but I can tell you Gary Gensler was a partner at Goldman Sachs, as well, before he entered the Clinton administration.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what would his job be now, if he gets confirmed?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: He would be head of the Commodities Future Exchange Commission, which is a very important regulatory body. You may recall that when, among other things, the price of oil went up — the price of gas went up to $4 a gallon, there was a lot of belief on Congress and among the American people, and among the oil industry, I should tell you, that one of the reasons for this rapid increase in gas prices had to do with speculation coming from Wall Street. The Commodities Futures Exchange Commission under Bush was very, very weak in taking a look at that. And obviously we want somebody to be very strong and to look — looking at futures trading and excessive speculation. That would be, among other things, the job that Gensler would have.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Sanders, what about the AIG bonuses? Where do you stand on this? The House passed the 90 percent tax on them.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I mean, you know, my phone is ringing off the hook, Amy. And I think what these bonuses is about is just another example of the incredible arrogance of Wall Street. And we need to understand what these people have done. You’re looking at a few dozen huge financial institutions who, through their greed, their recklessness, and I think through their illegal behavior, has the — impacted the lives of hundreds of millions of people around this world, caused massive job loss. People are losing their savings. They’re losing their homes. They’re losing their hope. The incredible greed and arrogance that we have seen on Wall Street is unprecedented, certainly since the early Depression and the people who took us into that depression. So, for those people to say, “Give us a bonus for this fine work that we have done in destroying the American economy,” is literally beyond comprehension.
One of the things that we are fighting for, Amy, is a major and thorough investigation as to how we got into this disaster, who the people are who are responsible for that. We need the Department of Justice to engage in criminal prosecution, because I think some of these people know a lot more than they are telling us. And I think there is probably illegal behavior at the very top of the pyramid on Wall Street.
But we need a new Wall Street. We need a Wall Street which is not based on pushing exotic financial instruments that nobody understands, where CEOs are making unbelievable amounts of money. We need a Wall Street where it gets back to important banking, which makes sure that the American people and small business and businesses, in general, which create jobs, can get the money that we need. So we need a revolution, I think, in the way we do financing in this country, and I hope that this disaster on Wall Street will wake the American people up to move us in that direction.
AMY GOODMAN: Is the Obama administration, is President Obama, just trying to restore the system? I mean, Timothy Geithner yesterday laying out the $1 trillion plan of what many are calling socializing the debt and privatizing the profit.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Again, I — in this, I am a supporter of Barack Obama. I think, for example, the stimulus package that we worked with him on is the most important piece of legislation that we have passed in many, many decades, not only creating millions of good jobs, but in fact changing the national priorities of this country, in terms of energy, in terms of paying attention to our kids, in terms of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. So I think, in many ways, what Barack Obama has inherited from the disaster of eight years of Bush is just an extraordinary set of problems, and I think he’s doing a really good job.
I think, again, in terms of how you deal with Wall Street and their power and their arrogance — and the fear that many of us have is that these guys are willing to bring down everything in order to protect their positions of power. It ain’t easy to deal with. It really is not. But I — all I would repeat is that I would like to see some new and progressive voices, people who don’t come from Wall Street, who look at the world a little bit different, help the President address this very, very difficult crisis.
AMY GOODMAN: Senator Sanders, you’re the independent senator from Vermont. For years, you called yourself a socialist. You hear the Republicans saying we’re not going to socialize this, for example, healthcare, etc. What is socialism? And where do you think it applies today?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, I think if people take a good look at what has gone on in Scandinavia, in Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, some other European countries, what they will find is that the people in those countries have good quality healthcare which is virtually free. Workers have, in some cases, thirty, forty days paid vacation. A college education in many of these countries is either free or virtually free. At a time when our country has an 18 percent rate of childhood poverty, which leads to so many people ending up in jail, in many of these countries the poverty rate for kids, and poverty in general, is three, four, five percent. Workers are more likely to be members of unions and have more power on their jobs to protect their own interests. People’s interest in politics and the political process is greater. So I think what you have seen is governments which are more responsive to the needs of working people and the middle class than certainly is in this country, where, among other things, we have by far the highest rate of inequality, in terms of distribution of wealth and income, of any major country on earth.
So what democratic socialism means to me is having a government which represents the middle class and working people, which guarantees the basic necessities of life for all of our people. Healthcare, obviously, has got to be a right, not a privilege. We need to make sure that our kids get off to a good start in life, not seeing so many kids living in poverty, childcare being the disastrous disaster that it is right now with so many working families unable to find quality affordable childcare. In other words, a government which works to protect all of the people, rather than, as we have right now, governments for so many years which have protected the needs of the very wealthy and the powerful large corporations.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you consider yourself a socialist today?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Democratic socialist, yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you for single payer.

Sidebar item on that Democracy Now! post: Sanders Votes No on Geithner: "[He's] More of a Part of the Problem...Than the Solution"

Bernie did NOT come out of nowhere without ideas in 2016 just to be a thorn in the side of the Podesta/Clinton Juggernaut. He was always Bernie. Bernie then, now, and in the future. As waffle free as anybody who's spent any time whatsoever in Washington, DC. Refreshingly consistent over decades. A well-intentioned caring gentleman.

UPDATE: If at first you don't succeed, don't punt, try again. Is there a suggestion Sanders has another try in him, for the Presidency? We wait to see.

____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
ZeroHedge on Gensler, Dec. 4, 2011, views the man unfavorably, along the lines Sanders expressed in the Amy Goodman interview with overlap but also additional detail, and in the course of fleshing out the viewpoint, ZeroHedge links to Salon, "WEDNESDAY, OCT 27, 2010 07:30 AM CDT --- Barack Obama: The oligarchs’ president," here, with this prescient mid-item excerpt:

It is, in short, overwhelmingly clear that President Obama and his administration decided to side with the oligarchs — or at least not to challenge them. This raises the question of why they have made this choice, and whether it is a correct (in the sense of rationally self-interested) calculation on their part.

As to the “why,” several explanations have been proposed. One is that the president, as a matter of individual psychology, is extremely conflict-averse, preferring to avoid fights no matter how important. A second hypothesis is that the president is simply doing the most he can, given the political climate and the furious lobbying effort with which he is confronted. This explanation, however, is belied by the personnel appointments, among other evidence.

A more disturbing possibility is that the Obama administration has simply codified a new strategic equilibrium in American politics, one first devised by the Clinton administration, in which both parties are supine with regard to the financial sector and the wealthy.

The objection to this view is that there is some evidence, in conventional political terms, that the Obama strategy of giving in to Wall Street might be a mistake. The economy remains in bad shape, bad enough to be a major political handicap, and will likely stay that way for several years. Democrats are having trouble fundraising (from individuals, at least; interest group donors remain plentiful), union voters may desert them, and it looks like Republicans and the Tea Party will make substantial inroads in the midterm elections. The liberal media, most prominently the Huffington Post but many other outlets as well, have turned sharply critical of administration policy. And my own conversations with friends and colleagues have revealed a deep, angry disillusionment with Obama.

But consider the situation more broadly. If the two parties both lie down for Wall Street in roughly equal measure, but fight viciously over other issues, it is possible to construct a stable strategic equilibrium. At the margin, the Democrats are slightly less favorable to business, at least for unionized industries, but nobody upsets the financial sector apple cart.

This angers much of the Democratic base. But the Democrats avoid the epic confrontation that would surely ensue if they were to take on the financial sector, which would retaliate with a massively funded effort. Instead, the two parties fight furiously, or at least pretend to fight furiously, about a wide range of other social issues that affect many voters deeply — abortion, gay rights, gun control, stem cell research, creationism, global warming, health insurance and so on. Each side can credibly warn its base that if it deserts the party, apocalypse may follow. So, while some citizens may register as independents, or stop voting, or stop donating to the system, the entrenched establishments of both parties will remain safe.

Foreseeing the Biden/Perez scuttling of Sanders/Ellison reform hopes among Dem Inner Party honchos at the recent DNC convention, back in a 2010 item, per the final quoted sentence, is startling but highly depressing in its truth.

Next, with Phil Gramm mentioned by Sanders and by ZeroHedge, one arguably can make the scorn reach the Gramm spouses; per this link.

Frontline, here.

Trump supine to Wall Street should surprise nobody but chumps who listened and believed, and voted accordingly. Chumps now getting the business from the businessman they elected, some perhaps still wearing "Great Again" caps while being incapable of seeing or smelling realities. Indeed, Clinton's sole positive is she might, and might not, have been better on things other than an equivalent supine positioning to Goldman Sachs and cronies. Some note the saying, "Love of money is the root of all evil," as meaning mainstream Repubilcans and Democrats are together rooted in evil. It is a thought not without merit. Honesty for most sentient people, rings honest. Bernie is honest, and is rooted elsewhere than in love of money. Joe Biden seems a different story. Reform beckons. Hard effort and defeat are likely, but how the hell can you stand things without trying?

Gorsuch, a post demanded by there being so apt a "tune time" song for the occasion.

Gorsuch is not nominated in a vacuum, he is nominated in Washington, DC, with all the trappings of short term history that apply. His capability is not the issue, as Gorsuch knows while also knowing full well that Garlands was not, either, and in any event Gorsuch seems to have a bit of the too-wily weasel to his testimony. Per online hearings live blogging:

11:33 a.m.

Judge Neil Gorsuch says he can't comment on whether former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland was treated fairly.

Gorsuch is President Donald Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland was originally nominated for the seat by former President Barack Obama, but he was blocked by Senate Republicans who said the next president should make the pick.

Gorsuch declared that he "can't get involved in politics," in response to a question from Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy. The nominee added that it would be "imprudent" for him to discuss political disputes.

Many Democrats are still furious that Republicans blocked Garland, and several have mentioned his failed nomination in their statements and questioning.

The man was born and raised into politics, mom being a Gipper EPA knife-wielding gut-the-agency's-effectiveness boss. He is neck deep in it, everybody knows that, and a response like that, if not a falsehood what should it be called? He knows. He sidesteps. In full Gorsuchian candor?

At any rate, tune time. Is Mitch ready? Is that a fact? Is he ready, for the big four years of . . .

. . . mirroring his prior eight years' actions?

Actually, little payback: In context, Mitch gets the pension rights and paycheck either way, his seniority already entrenched in the Senate country club, so theater payback is not real world payback, or only in a sense perhaps, but the suffering lands elsewhere than within the beltway maze. Ask Gary Gensler, (quintessential Goldman Sachs/beltway bureau maze navigating animal), or Phil Gramm or Alan Greenspan about credit swaps and any personal suffering personally "paid back." They got passed over when the mischief hit the fan on Bush/Bernanke's watch. Does any reader now know whether Greenspan gives Goldman Sachs speeches these days, for appropriate fees? Or is he fully retired/repentant? Phil Gramm, where is he now?

UPDATE: Mitch now sits in the majority leadership chair and the spouse is back to bringing in a double-dip taxpayer financed paycheck bonanza. Of course she will work hard, in her Cabinet leadership role, independent of any conflicting interest that might arise between her and Mitch because that's how things're done, DC duo style; little payback, family business spanning generations, as with Bush folks, Gorsuch folks. Then there are ordinary folks. No government paycheck, perhaps except for Social Security, which Ryan meanly covets for reasons unknown and incomprehensible to ordinary folks. He's Ryan. Safe gerrymandered district. Secure pension, paycheck, health plan. Isn't that enough to explain his hostile predilections?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Badge heavy bureaucrats exceed rationality, to prove their bureaucratic cajones. No real reason to tread heavy, beyond, they could; they were inclined; they had the badge; they had the pitifully bad judgment to show themselves needlessly in a terrible light.

Minnesota local is Minnesota nasty. By, who else, the government. This link. And this link. And this.

The governor's pardon power extends to overturning administrative [bureaucratic] overreach; or else there is NO remedy.

The governor has the ball in his court, and should put a suitable end to liquor authority nonsense, a/k/a abuse of authority.

Surdyk is a hero. They should give away Surdyk bobblehead dolls. From one of the linked Strib reports:

Surdyk did not consult with any authorities before opting to open his store. It was a decision that he claimed was in line with his family’s tradition, dating to a 50-year-old state law that permitted stores to offer discounts on liquor for the first time.

“My father was the first one to discount liquor way back in the 1960s, and he didn’t wait till July to do it,” Surdyk said.

Wanted to be first

About 1 p.m. [evil and snide badge toting bureaucrat] Wilson showed up at Surdyk’s, where the parking lot was full of cars, and advised Surdyk to “lock the doors.” If he did not comply with the advice, [evil and snide] Wilson “was going to write me up,” according to Surdyk, who added that he planned on staying open till 6 p.m. By midafternoon, checkout lines stretched to the back of the store.

Said [evil and snide badge heavy bureauman] Wilson, “I documented three liquor sales so I could instigate citations.” The city allows a fine of $500 for the first violation, and doubles the fines for each added one.

“I’m guessing the fine for Sunday would be $3,500,” [snide and intransigent] Wilson said, but the matter will go to the city attorney on Monday.

“The City will also pursue [chickenshit] sanctions against the off-sale liquor license held by Surdyk’s based on the owner’s clear disregard of the law,” said a statement issued by the city Sunday evening.

Many customers, meanwhile, were at Surdyk’s to be among the first in Minnesota history to purchase liquor from a store on a Sunday.

“I have a receipt that I bought beer!” said Rick Spaulding, of Minneapolis.

“I guess maybe [Jim Surdyk] is trying to make a point,” Spaulding said. “But what if he loses his license for a week?”

[bracketed judgmental text added, not in original] Some laws, with built-in totally stupid delays, are bad law; and Surdyk called the bureaucrats out on unbending will to enforce bad law. Good for Surdyk.

Bobblehead manufacturers; here is your template image. If they really do close his store for the full month of July, the governor declining to exercise pardon power, at lest the man should be entitled to sell bobblehead "defiance dolls" in front of the shuttered popular merchant location. It would be exceptionally just, were that to be.

More excerpting, from a second Strib item:

At 2:27 p.m. Carla Cincotta, an agent from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division contacted Surdyk and told him to close down shop. Surdyk asked if he and all his customers would be arrested if he didn’t comply, the warrant said.

The agent said only he was breaking the law. She asked again he was going to close the business, and he said “maybe” and hung up the telephone. Two agents were sent to the store to take pictures of the illegal activity and he was informed he would potentially be charged with a gross misdemeanor,

Customers learned about the Sunday sale through e-mails. Surdyk’s, the family-owned liquor store in northeast Minneapolis, issued a social-media blast saying “Open Today,” followed by a short message that the store would be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We just decided to open up,” Surdyk told the Star Tribune on that day. “We’re here, we’re busy, it’s great. People are happy to be here.”

Anybody who hangs up the phone on a nuisance bureaucrat should be given a medal. For: Defiance of Stupidity, Above and Beyond the Call of Duty.

The days of an open frontier free of erosion of individual dignity by nattering badge toting busy-bodies are gone, and missed greatly. Kennedy knew it. We need a New Frontier.

___________FURTHER UPDATE___________
After the War for independence from British oppressive government, within years that could be counted on a single hand after the Constitution's ratification, there was the Whiskey Rebellion; tune time. Frontier taxation without Statehood even. No state, no representation; etc. There is spirit and tradition to Surdyk showing there was absolutely zero need to delay Sunday sales; by selling on Sunday so that liquor taxes were thereby generated for the public fisk. Not good, the authorities opined. He disrespects us. Uppity. Needs a lesson, showing the stupidity of a half-year implementation delay without any rational basis whatsoever. At least they did not lynch the man.

March 23, 2017, Bloomberg headlining, "Trump Dares GOP in High-Stakes Vote on Troubled Health Bill." March 24 Reuters online headline; "Risky House healthcare vote to test Trump's negotiating skills." Is dot connecting feasible, despite uncertainty, given aspects reported of an earlier Trump White House meeting with boss honchos of Big Pharma - a meeting not with a bang but a whimper? [with UPDATES]

Not that the Big Pharma big-wigs were whimpering; not that at all. More later tying that in, but a hypothetical is only as good as time proves it correct or in error.

The two headline stories: Negotiations are over let's you guys vote, here for Bloomberg, here for Reuters. Readers should check each. Also, this websearch. So, why might Trump be casting down the gauntlet on Ryancare? Any guess is only a guess, remember that above all. Unless/until there is a final and definitive vote it will be in play among the bookies. Yet, perhaps if listening carefully, you might be able to hear the ever streaming Theme From High Noon as the media-loved ultimatum background music for the thing playing out among House stalwarts.

This arguably is a "money quote" from the Bloomberg report, mid-item, bolded subheadline included:

Then Trump aides, including senior strategist Steve Bannon, went to Capitol Hill to deliver a message in person to House leaders and the Republican caucus that the president has run out of patience: Trump wanted a vote Friday, win or lose, even if that means leaving Obamacare in place.

‘No More Negotiations’

“We have to have a vote tomorrow. He expects it to pass,” Representative Chris Collins of New York said, speaking about Trump. “We are done negotiating, there are no more negotiations.”

“If it loses, we just move on to tax reform,” added Collins, a Trump ally.

House conservatives, including Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows, emerged from the meeting saying they were still leaning against the bill, but were still evaluating the final package.

Meadows said late Thursday “I’m a no” for now, but said members had been given “a binary choice” and that he will talk with other members before making a final decision.

Try a Google = Tom Price Chris Collins Australian Pharmaceutical

Or use this prepackaged websearch, for results.

Yes, that Chris Collins, in the proffered "money quote."

Back to the opening sentence, Trump's White House pow-wow with big-wigs of the Drug Industrial Complex. Apparently a peace pipe was enjoyed by all. See, e.g., this websearch, checking out the first two hits; WaPo here; Business Journal here. WaPo beginning:

Since the early days of his campaign, President Trump vocally criticized rising drug prices. Occasionally, he faulted the government's inability to negotiate directly on drugs purchased through Medicare, a practice prohibited by law.

But in a meeting Tuesday with pharmaceutical executives, Trump's words were less clear. The executives say, behind closed doors, Trump never brought up government intervention on drug pricing. Meanwhile, Trump's public remarks were loaded with conflicting signals.

Before he closed the meeting-room door, Trump called for lowering “astronomical” drug prices but didn't specify how. Instead, he said that he would oppose “price-fixing” in Medicare — a term conservatives use critically to describe what would happen if the government were to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies.

Some said it was a clear reversal of Trump's policy position. But Trump also said he wanted “bidding wars” and told an anecdote about how he could buy aspirin at a pharmacy counter for cheaper than the U.S. government, which he pointedly called “the biggest purchaser of drugs anywhere in the world by far.”

During a later media briefing, in response to a request to clarify the president's drug-price plan, White House press secretary Sean Spicer criticized the “bureaucracy” that held back government programs such as Medicare from bargaining.

“He is a successful businessman and a top-notch negotiator,” Spicer said of Trump. “You've got such purchasing power that's not being utilized to the full extent.”

If that's not an endorsement of the status quo, what is it? Business Journal began:

Trump, who has previously said pharmaceutical companies are "getting away with murder," seemed to temper his statements Tuesday, according to media reports from the White House.

The CEOs of Novartis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Celgene, and Amgen attended the meeting along with the head of the industry's lobbying group, PhRMA.

Here's what went down:

-- The president reiterated his interest in bringing drug prices down in the US, especially for Medicare and Medicaid. "The US drug companies have produced extraordinary results for our country, but the pricing has been astronomical for our country," Trump said. "We have to do better."
-- Trump said medical products needed to be made in the US, and Trump called on the drugmakers to increase their US production.
-- Trump also said he wanted other countries to pay "their fair share" for US-made drugs, saying he wanted to end "global freeloading."
-- He also made comments about the Food and Drug Administration, saying he intended to streamline the drug-approval process and that he intended to announce his nomination for commissioner soon.
-- For their part, the drug-company executives asked for tax reform.

PhRMA's president, Steve Ubl, said on Twitter that the meeting was "positive" and "productive," especially when it came to growing the industry.

They not only passed the peace pipe on the status quo being a go, they inhaled. Taking a good deep "tax reform" puff for good measure.

So, if a Friday House vote kicks the can to the Senate, Trump wins. He can say, calling out against delay worked. If a Friday House session votes down Ryancare, it can be tarted up, lipstick put on that pig, and used again to divert attention from military activity in Syria, or whatever. Trump can say, okay, I pushed it, the Tea Party faction killed reform, so it is their fault, not mine, not the Speaker's.

Consider the clear possibility - Big Pharma likes Obamacare just as it is. Their ox from the outset was not gored, never close, Big Pharma reform as with Universal Care or "the single payer option" were not merely DOA, but killed in the get-go. The special interests got their special privileges sailed through intact.

Now, presume that the shake-out is Big Pharma liking Obamacare as a status quo but asking for emasculation of the FDA and "give us tax breaks" was a part of the meeting theme.

Then, a sabotage of Obamacare by amateurs, i.e., Ryancare, might be an uncertainty against their interests; i.e., the Pharma industry does not need nor want the threat of change. And Trump? What might be the next dot in a straight line with the two already there, the earlier Big Pharma pow wow behind closed doors; and the ultimatum, binary choice - do it now?

Well, in analyzing that question speculation is what it is, so that multiple scenarios may be guessed in or out. One possibility, which might surprise some if happening, could reflect back to the Business Journal pow wow sentence, "The CEOs of Novartis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Celgene, and Amgen attended the meeting along with the head of the industry's lobbying group, PhRMA." Novartis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly, Celgene, and Amgen; or any one of them or some combination among them might soon announce marketing plans for an "Ivanka" line of weight loss and mood attenuating pharmaceuticals, for which Steve Bannon would tour the nation (in his unofficial private citizen's capacity) visiting clinics and pharmacies to suggest the line be not only carried, but featured.

Again, guesses are only as good as time may prove; and multiple differing scenarios might play out. Predicting the future is never a guarantee, not in a securities prospectus, nor in a blog post. There is no infallable crystal ball.

Likelihoods might be uncertain going into an analysis, but time will tell.

For any/all the Trump voters out there enthused by the pre-election promising but now suffering Big Time buyer's remorse; tune time, time will tell. How about tune time for Big Pharma and its bond to Trump?

FURTHER: What about that first bite at the Trump budget apple? Screw the welfare of the working people, stoke the war machine. There's money in war. More on that, perhaps, in some future post at some uncertain time.

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
The appearance on Saturday, after the vote that never happened, is Trump being ready to move onto his agenda after Ryan had his agenda tested - Ryancare with its day in the sun. It, Ryancare, never had the votes to pass even in the Republican infested House, Trump acted as the good party soldier lobbying Congressmen on Ryan's behalf, but in the end it really was not Trump's deal; always, instead, Ryan's and Pence's, with Pence keeping his characteristic nasty but low profile. It, Ryancare, is like one of those plants - the corpse flower - that exists quiescent most of the time, blooms briefly, and quickly dies back into quiescence again, while, as in the past week in full bloom it stinks as Wikipedia describes:

In cultivation, the titan arum generally requires 7–10 years of vegetative growth before blooming for the first time. After its initial blooming, there can be considerable variation in blooming frequency. Some plants may not bloom again for another 7–10 years while others may bloom every two to three years.[11] There have also been documented cases of back-to-back blooms occurring within a year [...] As the spathe gradually opens, the spadix releases powerful odors to attract pollinators, insects which feed on dead animals or lay their eggs in rotting meat. The potency of the odor (aroma) gradually increases from late evening until the middle of the night, when carrion beetles and flesh flies are active as pollinators, then tapers off towards morning.[18] Analyses of chemicals released by the spadix show the “stench” includes dimethyl trisulfide (like limburger cheese), dimethyl disulfide, trimethylamine (rotting fish), isovaleric acid (sweaty socks), benzyl alcohol (sweet floral scent), phenol (like Chloraseptic), and indole (like human feces).

Ryancare in a nutshell. Perfectly described. In full resplendent flowering it stands out, big and ugly and stinky, as tall as Ryan himself when either is in full bloom, hard to miss, having its short bloom time when the carrion insects flock to pollinate it, with that bloom lasting at least longer than Ryan's self-reported but unsubstantiated marathon time, (having an identical smell).

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
If an Ivanka big pharma product line would be too great a reach; those monied mentioned pill operations could, be it one or several, decide to open branch offices at quite friendly rates in Trump real estate locations; which would of course be isolated from Pres. Donald by the Chinese Wall between him and his two sons running in name now the entire Trump empire.

Perhaps 666 Fifth Street Avenue might gain traction if opportune tenancies or tenancy commitments develop, in pure coincidence, after the vote that was not. There are a million stories in the Naked City.

___________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Of a portentious street address number,

sidebar synopsis to a Google

All we know is what we can read on the web; e.g. from the Google return list (rendering and all), stating in part:

One of the most risible qualities of 666 Fifth is bound to go overlooked, given the fog of influence-peddling and fascist spectacle concealing it. That is its potential use of EB-5 financing, an immigration program that has secured hundreds of millions in development for luxury real estate in exchange for visas for (mostly Chinese) foreign investors. The cash-for-visas program, which was the subject of House Judiciary Committee hearing in February, has garnered intense congressional scrutiny at a time when the Trump administration is closing U.S. borders for Muslims (and their laptops) as well as undocumented immigrants.

As it was originally designed, the EB-5 cash-for-visas program was meant to draw foreign direct investment to rural and distressed urban projects. Congress has pledged to take steps to either bring the immigration category back in line with its original intent or scrap it altogether. But Kushner’s interest in securing easy money for 666 Fifth could presage a White House defense of the beleaguered program. Specifically, a defense of EB-5 as a way to trade U.S. visas for Chinese investment in luxury real estate.

If plans for the 666 Fifth tower proceed, it will not be completed before 2025 at the earliest. By then, the president’s second term in the White House will have potentially just concluded. We might (or might not) have a big, beautiful border wall to stand as a concrete monument to his extraordinary administration, and all it represented. But no single Trump-era deal will show so neatly how the devil’s children have the devil’s luck quite like 666 Fifth.

[links omitted, hyperbole apparent] And add to what we read on the web, there is what video presents; e.g. an item believed pre-election; and not a recent expression.

Is ginning up leverage but one art of a deal? Asked another way, what does that 666 rendering look like, as a message to you and other regular ordinary citizens? Again, what part of 666 meanderings are China-centric, and where's "our government" these days on China bashing? Toe the 666 line, or the bully pulpit remains as yet another art of a deal? What? Who's Anbang? A currency manipulator, or just offshore corporate good guys chasing profits in the American Dream?

____________FURTHER UPDATE_____________
More Anbang for the buck: Things 666 seem to be heating recently, with days-ago reports online, here and here. At least one 2015 item was easily found so this might be a back-burner thing now, for unknown reasons, coming to a head or at the least gaining new attention. Relying on a design originating with a dead architect but with a living firm continuing, it is interesting, beastly number and all. The firm itself, per post election reporting apart from mention of Trump, has had some fire in its belly. Trump and affiliates sure can pick 'em.

This item from days ago concludes:

The building will require a substantial redesign of the existing structural core to accommodate an additional 40 stories, a task to be resolved by London-based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) which recently circulated a rendering of the ambitious 1,400-foot-tall tower. ZHA has been signed up for the project since 2015 and later this year will wrap construction on its first project in New York City, a residential building adjacent to the High Line. If all goes as intended, demolition will begin in 2019 with a desired completion by 2025.

The wording, "London-based Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) which recently circulated a rendering of the ambitious 1,400-foot-tall tower," augers for a movement, front-burner, of the stalled project.

Further coverage days ago, by, here and then putting faces on the rendering here, present a skeptical view. We await further word from the White House about currency manipulations, and suitable sanctions, if any, for manipulating nations.

One also might wonder whether a long term tenancy commitment for the project from global corporate giants, say Eli Lilly and/or Exxon Mobil, might be the kick needed to put the project over the hump - from plan to profits. Not that any online report of any such development has been found. To the contrary it is a pure hypothetical, but one with imagination.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Comey views on cybersecurity include a belief there is no right to "absolute privacy," meaning "absolute" is a weasel word; and the FBI is in the less-than-absolute right-to-privacy business. It is their world.

That Comey viewpoint may, unfortunately, be today's governing perception of wisdom and a balance between the individual and the government exercising powers over individual yearnings and action. Politico reported March 8, 2017, on Director Comey:

Comey, who delivered the keynote speech at the two-day conference on how the FBI is dealing with cybersecurity threats, did not address swirling questions around the bureau and claims by President Donald Trump that Obama ordered a wiretap of then-candidate Trump. Instead, his remarks covered privacy policy issues.

“All of us have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our homes, in our cars, and in our devices. But it also means with good reason, in court, government through law enforcement can invade our private spaces,” Comey said. “Even our memories aren’t private. Any of us can be compelled to say what we saw. … In appropriate circumstances, a judge can compel any of us to testify in court on those private communications.”

“There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America,” Comey said, because “there is no place in America outside of judicial reach.”

To the extent that last sentence holds truth, it is a damned good reason to question Neil Gorsuch as yet one more of "that kind" on the federal Supreme Court.

Back in the old days of Warren Court preeminence, when men on the Court were courageous, independent, and smart headed with no ties to big money having necessarily been a predicate to their being appointed a Justice; one of the best, William Douglas, wrote in Griswold v. Conneticut:

Appellant Griswold is Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Appellant Buxton is a licensed physician and a professor at the Yale Medical School who served as Medical Director for the League at its Center in New Haven—a center open and operating from November 1 to November 10, 1961, when appellants were arrested.

They gave information, instruction, and medical advice to married persons as to the means of preventing conception. They examined the wife and prescribed the best contraceptive device or material for her use. Fees were usually charged, although some couples were serviced free.

The statutes whose constitutionality is involved in this appeal are §§ 53-32 and 54-196 of the General Statutes of Connecticut (1958 rev.). The former provides:

"Any person who uses any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception shall be fined not less than fifty dollars or imprisoned not less than sixty days nor more than one year or be both fined and imprisoned."

Section 54-196 provides:

"Any person who assists, abets, counsels, causes, hires or commands another to commit any offense may be prosecuted and punished as if he were the principal offender."

The appellants were found guilty as accessories and fined $100 each, against the claim that the accessory statute as so applied violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

[...] Coming to the merits, we are met with a wide range of questions that implicate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. [...] We do not sit as a super-legislature to determine the wisdom, need, and propriety of laws that touch economic problems, business affairs, or social conditions. This law, however, operates directly on an intimate relation of husband and wife and their physician's role in one aspect of that relation.

The association of people is not mentioned in the Constitution nor in the Bill of Rights. The right to educate a child in a school of the parents' choice—whether public or private or parochial—is also not mentioned. Nor is the right to study any particular subject or any foreign language. Yet the First Amendment has been construed to include certain of those rights.

[...W]e protected the "freedom to associate and privacy in one's associations," noting that freedom of association was a peripheral First Amendment right. Disclosure of membership lists of a constitutionally valid association, we held, was invalid "as entailing the likelihood of a substantial restraint upon the exercise by petitioner's members of their right to freedom of association." Ibid. In other words, the First Amendment has a penumbra where privacy is protected from governmental intrusion. In like context, we have protected forms of "association" that are not political in the customary sense but pertain to the social, legal, and economic benefit of the members. [W]e held it not permissible to bar a lawyer from practice, because he had once been a member of the Communist Party. The man's "association with that Party" was not shown to be "anything more than a political faith in a political party" and was not action of a kind proving bad moral character.

[...] Association in that context is a form of expression of opinion; and while it is not expressly included in the First Amendment its existence is necessary in making the express guarantees fully meaningful.

The foregoing cases suggest that specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance. Various guarantees create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the First Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third Amendment in its prohibition against the quartering of soldiers "in any house" in time of peace without the consent of the owner is another facet of that privacy. The Fourth Amendment explicitly affirms the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." The Fifth Amendment in its Self-Incrimination Clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which government may not force him to surrender to his detriment. The Ninth Amendment provides: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

The Fourth and Fifth Amendments were described in Boyd v. United States, 116 U. S. 616, 630, as protection against all governmental invasions "of the sanctity of a man's home and the privacies of life."[*] We recently referred in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U. S. 643, 656, to the Fourth Amendment as creating a "right to privacy, no less important than any other right carefully and particularly reserved to the people."

We have had many controversies over these penumbral rights of "privacy and repose." These cases bear witness that the right of privacy which presses for recognition here is a legitimate one.

The present case, then, concerns a relationship lying within the zone of privacy created by several fundamental constitutional guarantees. And it concerns a law which, in forbidding the use of contraceptives rather than regulating their manufacture or sale, seeks to achieve its goals by means having a maximum destructive impact upon that relationship. Such a law cannot stand in light of the familiar principle, so often applied by this Court, that a "governmental purpose to control or prevent activities constitutionally subject to state regulation may not be achieved by means which sweep unnecessarily broadly and thereby invade the area of protected freedoms." Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.

[citations omitted] So, while "privacy" is not a specifically stated right in the Bill of Rights, courts recognize it as essential; and as collateral to other enumerated rights having a clear and sensible meaning.

Now we have secret courts that can have secret warrant applications filed and secret warrants can be issued and the feds can force your local library to disclose what you've checked out and presumably read. Snowden disclosed abuse of privacy by NSA, and Wikileaks recently published about tools of privacy abuse held and used by the CIA.

Comey does not like encryption. He heads the FBI. It is exactly that conjunction that makes citizens want and use encryption, also to stymie business or political espionage, by business competitors or by those wanting your politics stymied and weakened in order that theirs might be more strongly prevalent.

Indeed, as long as there is a death penalty, there is no "absolute right" to life; so when the head of the FBI says you have "no absolute right" to privacy, pay heed. It would be nice if sometime Director Comey were to expand upon his meaning of "absolute" and where you do have rights. Erosion of rights recognized strongly by the Warren Court is an ever-present danger, and Gorsuch joining "money talks" Roberts/Alito on the Court would be a questionable thing. Curtailment of the right to an abortion coming to mind as but one complication of Gorsuch's likelihoods, were he on the Court. Then there are rights of association of laborers; and how the collective right to bargain, to strike, and to boycott could be carved yet thinner than the already thin norms; secondary boycotts coming to mind as something that would strengthen unions greatly, if allowed.

In fact, you can be hauled into court, as Director Comey noted; and your right to defend yourself entails a right to bankrupt yourself trying. The heavy boot on the throat might, with time and much travail, be pushed off, but while there it is uncomfortable and its removal without official punishment might well be viewed by victims as inflicted punishment to a quite unfair degree.

Answer for yourself, what "absolute right" of any kind do you really have? If all you get is propaganda, you lack an effective right to think - honest facts being needed as the food for sound thought. And then some on a national plane talk of "alternative facts" so, perhaps, you have alternative rights. If you "homeschool" offspring, the government will look into it and perhaps intrude measuring tests. The Constutional guaratee of no government deprivation of life, liberty or property without due process of law begs for the future case-by-case resolution of what process might be undue. And case-by-case is costly, the impecunious being at the mercy of the deep pocket and there is talk of an actual golden rule that the person owning the gold rules.

Have a nice day.