Tuesday, May 29, 2018

America Gets its Most Important Relationship wrong James Fallows = The Atlantic

America Is Fumbling Its Most Important Relationship

The United States has a China problem—and pundits and politicians are making it worse.

Thomas Peter / Reuters
America Is Fumbling Its Most Important RelationshipThe United The United States has a China problem—and pundits and politicians are making it worse.
by James Fallows - The Atlantic
The core of such a plan should be trying to shape reality in ways that encourage and discourage various forms of Chinese behavior. The much-loathed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, was one of those possible shaping tools. The TPP was the rare policy that Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders all opposed, but its idea was to ally the United States with enough other Pacific Rim trading nations to create a rule-based economic reality too great and influential for China to ignore. Long-term industrial strategies, like the one the Clinton administration applied (successfully) in the early 1990s to revive the U.S. info-tech industry relative to Japan, also can have effect—and can include precisely thought-through tariffs as part of their power. Different times and different details require ever-shifting strategies, but none of them involves “villain” rhetoric or public demands and threats. Nor of course do they involve personal favors or business deals.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Taking a knee - thoughts on Memorial Day

Courage takes many forms.  Grace under pressure was Hemingway's phrase.  The photograph below exemplifies that.  

This weekend - Memorial Day - was first known as Decoration Day.  Mourners of the Civil War dead decorated graves.  Memorial Day became a national holiday in 1868 when General Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic - the Union Army - called for veterans and their communities to remember the dead soldiers and decorate their graves with flowers.  But the first decoration day was a parade by 10,000 Black people in 1965 in Charleston, S.C.. They commemorated the Martyrs of the Race Course - the 257 Union soldiers who died in captivity.

Learning that put me in mind of Colin Kaepernick and the protests he ignited.  And the bitter recriminations by Donald Trump before whom the NFL owners have now bowed.  But there is more than fear of a bully that drives the owners.  They know that they have encouraged a militarization of the NFL spectacle ; and that white Americans generally neither understand nor respect the grievances of Black Americans.  This photograph of Colin Kaepernick and teammates captured for me the contradiction - the gulf between gladiators and spectators, between Black and white.

The NFL is 70% Black.  The audiences overwhelmingly white and male.  The photograph demonstrates the dignity of the players.  In a prayerful posture they call for recognition of the grievances Black people suffer and have suffered.  Trump and many in the stands see it as a repudiation of country - rather than as a demand that the country live up to its ideals.

The physical strength of the players - so dramatically apparent in the photograph - demonstrates their personal discipline.  It is trite to say that sport builds character - but character is what we see in this image.  But we know - really know - the terrible toll that this violent and wildly popular game inflicts on players.  As we see now in thousands of veterans of football that toll is ghastly.  The men who suffer from dementia and other consequences of gladiatorial combat should be remembered too on Memorial Day. - gwc

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Believe the Autocrat - Greg Sargent - The Plum Line - WaPo

Believe the Autocrat  - The Plum Line - WaPo

by Greg Sargent
​Every day brings a new low and the knot in my stomach grows tighter​.  Relentless investigation during the Obama years produced no indictments - despite the prodigious efforts of, e.g. Trey Gowdy.  A year of Mueller's investigation has produced many indictments and a tsunami of leads.  The corruption is unapologetic and gross.

And now a full scale attack is underway on the Department of Justice and the FBI.  We are watching a slo-mo Saturday Night Massacre as prosecutors and investigators are called up on the Presidential carpet.  As the President declares : I hereby demand..." that those investigating him and his associates be themselves investigated.  ​The slo-mo judicial dismantling of the New Deal pales​ in comparison. [See Epic Systems - goodbye 8 hour day]

The above post by Greg Sargent relies on a recently published history of presidential control of the Department of Justice by my Fordham colleague Bruce Green and Rebecca Roiphe.  They write

This article addresses the question of presidential power principally from an historical perspective. It argues that the Department of Justice is independent of the President, and its decisions in individual cases and investigations are largely immune from his interference or direction. This does not result from any explicit constitutional or legislative mandate, but is rather based on an evolving understanding of prosecutorial independence and professional norms.

​We have a President whose ignorance of such norms is surpassed only by his contempt for them.​  And his political party has fallen in behind him with only meek dissent.

It is hard to conclude that there is anything more important to us as defenders of law's integrity than the threat presented by Donald Trump.

Monday, May 21, 2018

"I hereby demand" - Trump's grave threat - Laurence Tribe

Epic Fraud - SCOTUS Bars Collective Arbitrations for Fair Labor Standards Violations

Image result for yellow dog contracts
Epic Systems v. Lewis - United States Supreme Court May 21, 2018

Justice Gorsuch delivered what Senator McConnell, Donald Trump and the Republican Party were buying when they outrageously blocked Barack Obama's nomination of the eminently qualified centrist judge Merrick Garland.  Barring collective arbitration claims for violations of wage and hour laws today's opinion begins:
JUSTICE GORSUCH delivered the opinion of the Court. Should employees and employers be allowed to agree that any disputes between them will be resolved through one-on-one arbitration? Or should employees always be permitted to bring their claims in class or collective actions, no matter what they agreed with their employers? 
Allowed to agree?! The fraudulence is stunning - of course agreements to arbitrate should be enforced.  But the contract you enter as an employee is rarely the product of genuine agreement.  It is take it or leave it.  In employment contracts the employer dictates the terms on which an employee can pursue complaints of race, gender or other unlawful discrimination.

I just bought an item online.  I agreed to Amazon's terms and conditions.  Did I really agree when I clicked on the left mouse button?  As Justice Ginsburg, dissenting wrote
 [T]he edict that employees with wage and hours claims may seek relief only one-by-one does not come from Congress. It is the result of take-it-or-leave-it labor contracts harking back to the type called “yellow dog,” and of the readiness of this Court to enforce those unbargained-for agreements. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Challenges to New York and New Jersey's Segregated Schools

Despite the rise of white nationalism - (See Adam Serwer's The Nationalist's Delusion) There is a countervailing trend in New York - which according to a UCLA Civil Rights Project   report, “New York State’s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction and a Damaged Future”  have made New York Schools the Most Segregated in the Nation.

And in New Jersey a complaint was filed yesterday by a coalition determined to remedy New Jersey's similarly segregated public and charter schools, as reported in today's New York Times:
The school segregation in New Jersey is de facto segregation, not explicit segregation by law, as was the case in the American South before the Brown decision. It stems from a complicated mixture of discriminatory zoning practices in suburbs, poverty and personal choice, the plaintiffs claim. But it is institutionalized by a state law in New Jersey that requires children to attend schools in the municipalities where they live, said Elise Boddie, a law professor at Rutgers University and a founding member of the New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools,a nonprofit that organized the lawsuit.
Because neighborhoods and towns in New Jersey are so segregated, that law results in segregated schools. So the suit asks the state to let children cross municipal lines to go to school. It also calls on the state education commissioner to develop a comprehensive, detailed plan suggesting ways to integrate schools.
New Jersey is rare among the states: Its courts have declared even de facto school segregation unconstitutional since the 1960s. Such segregation has persisted, and worsened, however, because “no one has done anything about it,” said Gary Stein, a former New Jersey Supreme Court justice on the court that ordered equal funding for the state's districts.
“Here in New Jersey, we have segregation that’s more intense than any state today in the South,” he said. “What we have got in New Jersey, frankly, is an embarrassment. We have segregation at a level that is just intolerable for a state like ours, and we have never addressed it.”
The lawsuit suggests several remedies, including the creation of magnet schools that draw from multiple towns and districts and tax incentives for municipalities to create more diverse schools. It points to an effort in Hartford, stemming from a 1996 desegregation lawsuit, that created clusters of magnet schools so attractive that suburban children are bused into inner-city Hartford to attend them.
Children who attend integrated schools do better than those who remain in segregated schools, research shows.

The Nationalist's Delusion - The Atlantic

The Nationalist's Delusion - The Atlantic

Thursday, May 17, 2018

When Businesses Refuse to Serve for Religious Reasons: Drawing Lines between 'Participation' and 'Endorsement' in Claims of Moral Complicity by Angela Carmella :: SSRN

When Businesses Refuse to Serve for Religious Reasons: Drawing Lines between 'Participation' and 'Endorsement' in Claims of Moral Complicity by Angela Carmella :: SSRN
69 Rutgers University Law Review 1593 (2017)
The owners of small businesses and others involved in for-profit work occasionally refuse to provide a service to a patient, client, or customer on the grounds that to provide the service would render them complicit in immoral conduct in violation of their religious beliefs. Some of these conscientious refusals might be protected by legislation, regulation, or court decision, as in the case of a doctor refusing to perform an abortion, or an employer refusing to provide employees with contraception coverage. 
The new question raised—and soon to be answered by the U.S. Supreme Court—is whether wedding vendors (bakers, florists, and the like) who refuse to provide goods and services to same-sex couples will be similarly protected or whether they will be required to abide by the non-discrimination norms of public accommodations law. For those weary of religious claims in the culture wars, the very notion that the Court might extend legal protections to wedding vendors in such situations tends to cast doubt more generally on religion-based refusals in the for-profit context. 

The purpose of this article is to draw a bright line between the traditional category of complicity claims and this newer category of wedding vendor claims. Traditional claims typically involve health care personnel and others refusing to participate in activities they consider to be immoral—most often those that entail ethical issues surrounding the beginnings and endings of life, such as assisted reproduction and assisted suicide. In contrast, this newer set of claims involve wedding vendors refusing to endorse activities they consider to be immoral, like the marriage of a same-sex couple. Herein lies the critical distinction: participation in immoral activity is not the same thing as endorsement or approbation of someone else’s immoral activity. The wedding vendors concede the distinction, as they expressly claim the right not to endorse a message with which they disagree, but they seek to extend the protections of traditional complicity jurisprudence to their claims. 

The article contends that the traditional complicity jurisprudence, which allows businesses to refuse to participate in activity they consider immoral, has little, if anything, to say about refusals to approve the conduct of others. The Supreme Court should not extend this jurisprudence to the wedding vendor context.

Diversity at the Democratic National Committee

May 17, 2018
Join us.
Representation matters, George.

As Democrats, we value inclusion not simply because a diverse coalition is a strong coalition, but because we know that in order to expand opportunities for all Americans, all Americans must have a seat at the table. That's why we're building a team that knows what it takes to win in every community -- and the report below is a transparent examination of the DNC's efforts to build a party that truly reflects every single Democrat.

In presenting this report, we aim to both hold ourselves accountable and provide a roadmap for our partners within the progressive movement. 


Last year brought about an 80% increase in DNC officers of color. We now have a more diverse leadership pool than at any point in our party's history. We've more than doubled the number of African-American officers and increased the number of Latino officers.

Our senior leadership, which includes all department heads, also saw impressive diversity gains. We've seen a 67% increase in leaders of color and a 40% increase in women leaders. Women now make up two-thirds of directors at the DNC.

Last month, we invited prominent Black women leaders to come to our headquarters for a collaborative strategy session on our 2018 African American outreach and engagement efforts. This is part of our ongoing leadership strategy to be more inclusive and connected to community leaders and stakeholders.


A major part of the new leadership's rebuilding process included increasing staffing levels from historic lows following the 2016 cycle in order to ramp up the organizing and mobilizing efforts that led to the past year's victories. As Tom Perez often notes, personnel is policy and reflects an organization's priorities. The urgent need to staff up at the DNC provided an immediate opportunity to put our commitment into action.

Under our new leadership, the DNC has increased:
  • African-American staff by 36%
  • Asian-American/Pacific Islander staff by 30%
  • Latino staff by 340%
  • LGBTQ staff by 28%
Overall, 44% of DNC staffers are people of color. 51% of DNC staff are women.


We know that internships serve as the gateway into a career in politics. But the opportunity costs of unpaid internships are too burdensome for too many young people who are otherwise qualified -- and we know that this disproportionately affects young people of color, and other historically marginalized communities.

Tom Perez promised to end unpaid internships, and for the first time in DNC history, the spring 2018 class of interns received a stipend. We are excited by the increased diversity: Under the new policy 42% of our spring interns are people of color.


Like the staffing policy, we believe that the contracting and procurement process should create opportunities and be accessible and transparent, and our vendors should reflect the diversity of our country. Tom Perez followed through on his campaign commitments related to supplier diversity. All contracts and contractors will be reviewed before renewal -- there is no longer automatic renewal in practice or policy. The DNC has also eliminated many of the pre-existing contracts. We intentionally brought many services and talent in house to cut expenses as part of our rebuilding effort.

Our Chief Operating Officer, Laura Chambers, manages all diversity initiatives for the organization and has begun a new contract approval process that tracks all vendors receiving contracts of at least $5,000 in much greater detail  --  by gender, racial, and ethnic diversity.

Now outside consulting contracts only make up about 2% of the DNC's operating budget, with 29% of that money spent on contracts going to women and minority-owned businesses. We have also put out a national call for diverse vendors to submit their qualifications and intend to share this database of vendors so it is a resource to state parties and our partners in the Democratic community.

Moving forward

Democrats believe that our leadership should always reflect the diversity of our party and our country. It is a political and moral imperative. We simply cannot be effective advocates for the communities we represent if we do not accurately reflect them at every single level --  from staff, to party officers, to elected officials. Our work isn't complete, but we've made unprecedented progress. And we can say with confidence that we've spent this last year keeping our promise to build a Democratic Party that provides a voice for every single Democrat.

Thank you for your continued support,


Xochitl Hinojosa
Communications Director
Democratic National Committee

P.S. -- The key to our party's success in the years to come will be making investments in the women and people of color who form the backbone of our party. Democrats will win because our party accurately reflects the communities that we hope to represent.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"These aren't people..they're animals" - Trump's new low

The worst about this latest savagery from Donald Trump is that so may Americans will find ways to rationalize, explain, restate (he doesn't mean all of them..), embrace or otherwise accommodate themselves to a man who is morally unworthy of leadership.  The ultimate disgrace is the people in the country who have indulged their own worst traits. That is why I cannot say things like "we are all Americans" with any pride.   - gwc

GOP court-packing: Circuit Judges confirmed this week: 4 2015-2016: 2

Image result for mcconnell garland
If we ever get a Democrat for President and both houses of Congress enlarging the Supreme Court and expanding the federal judiciary should be a high priority.  Get even!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Israel at 70, Ivanka and Jared in Jerusalem, and Carnage in Gaza – Talking Points Memo

Israel at 70, Ivanka and Jared in Jerusalem, and Carnage in Gaza – Talking Points Memo
by John Judis

When I start railing about Israel’s government — he’s “Netanyahoo” as far as I am concerned — some of my co-religionists chide me for singling out Israel and exempting Putin’s Russia or Xi Jinping’s China from my complaints. My usual reply is that as a Jew I feel morally complicit in what Israel’s government does; I don’t feel that way about what Putin or Xi does.

But I’d say something more now — in the wake of Israel’s passionate embrace of Trump and rejection of an international Jerusalem (as decreed by the UN at Israel’s founding and with Israel’s support), in the wake of continuing settlements on and theft of Palestinian land in the West Bank and of Israel’s economic strangulation of Gaza, in the wake of growing Israeli attempts to squelch any dissent to the occupation, and of the disintegration of the Labour bloc as a moral alternative to Likud, and in the wake, finally, of Israeli troops firing on and killing Palestinian demonstrators who posed no mortal threat at the same time as the Trump children frolicked on the cobblestones of old Jerusalem. I’d say that Israel has become as bad an actor, period. And that upsets me to no end.

It’s the 70th anniversary of the Jewish state, and it’s worth pondering what has become of it and of Zionism. Zionism was a step-child of the nineteenth century nationalism that produced Italy and Germany and movements in opposition to the Russian and Hapsburg empires. I don’t accept the argument that Hitler’s Nazism or Mussolini’s fascism was a necessary outgrowth of this nationalism. So was German social democracy (with its emphasis on a solidaristic society and strong state). It took a set of intervening and unexpected circumstances to lead German or Italian nationalism into the dark byways of the 1920s and 1930s.

Zionism is misunderstood in exactly the opposite way. It was born as a national liberation movement, and its earlier leaders were secular socialists like Ben-Gurion or classic European liberals like Herzl. But there were always other tendencies buried within Zionism — the product of its being an offspring of Western colonialism and of its seeking to establish a state on a land already inhabited by another people. These tendencies were most clearly expressed by the post-World War I revisionists — “revisionists” because they objected to the British exempting Jordan from the ambitions of a Jewish Palestine. 

Revisionism was initially led by a secular European liberal but morphed into a cousin of fascism in the 1930s and later into an ethno-theocratic nationalism. This tendency — and not what was most visible in the early Zionism — now predominates and its heirs are in charge of Israel and appear to be getting stronger rather than weaker.***KEEP READING

CREW Supplements Criminal Coplaint against Trump for non-disclosure of debt to Cohen

from the CREW Press Release
WashingtonPresident Trump appears to have violated federal law by failing to disclose that he owed his attorney the $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, according to a supplemental criminal and ethics complaint filed today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
On March 8th, CREW, along with its Board Chair Norman Eisen, requested that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) investigate whether the payment made by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen constituted a loan which Trump intended to repay and which he would then have been required to report on the public financial disclosure form he filed last year. Newly hired Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani appeared to confirm that it was a loan and that the president subsequently repaid it in interviews with Fox NewsThe Washington Post and The New York Times last night.
“There is now more than enough evidence for the DOJ to investigate whether President Trump intentionally omitted the Stormy Daniels liability from his personal financial disclosures,” Eisen said. “This is a very serious matter, including because there can be criminal penalties for false statements.”
Trump was legally required to disclose any liability in excess of $10,000. He signed his financial disclosures attesting that they were complete and true, despite the absence of the payment.
“It’s not often that the president’s lawyer goes on television and appears to confirm one of our complaints,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “The president has an obligation to be transparent and truthful about his financial interests, and failing to do so can be not just an ethics violation, but also a serious criminal offense. The DOJ and OGE must launch a thorough investigation and take any and all appropriate action.”

To Quiet the Storm - Michael Avenatti Oversteps

Image result for stormy daniels courthouse new york
To Quiet the Storm

The current crisis of government created by the presidency of Donald Trump presents many dangers.  His relentless attacks on the press, diatribes against courts which challenge executive actions, and threats to block the Special Counsel and FBI investigation are unprecedented in their breadth  and hyperbole.  The controversy regarding the President’s payments to a pornographic film figure is now wrapped up with his personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s suddenly lucrative lobbying and consulting business.  The entangling of sexual scandal with financial scandal makes a mockery of the “drain the swamp” meme – but of equal importance is that it threatens to make a mockery of our system of justice
Judge Kimba Wood has before her a motion by Stephanie Clifford to intervene in the matter of U.S. v. Michael Cohen.  In that action Cohen assails the FBI’s seizure of documents that he asserts are protected by the attorney client privilege.  Clifford is a defendant in an action by Cohen and Donald Trump to impose penalties for her asserted breach of a non-disclosure agreement.   How that is germane to the federal criminal and national security investigation of Cohen is a mystery  The Federal Rules make no such provision.   The court has stayed the motion but it still presents a risk of further damage to the dignity and decorum of judicial proceedings.  Participation by Clifford threatens the ability to successfully demonstrate to the public that the investigation of the President and his campaign are being conducted impartially.
In making the motion Clifford’s California lawyer Michael Avenatti sought permission to appear pro hac vice in the Southern District of New York.   Avenatti – who has appeared on CNN daily for the past two months – was the first to disclose what he labeled a “timeline”.  It details the now ubiquitously reported and potentially improper payments to Cohen by Fortune 500 companies like AT&T and the pharma giant Novartis.    But  here Avenatti  seems to have stepped in a pothole with his release of documents regarding Michael Cohen's finances.  Much of the information   has been confirmed but his "timeline" appears to be based on Suspicious Activity Reports.

SARs are  mandated reports which banks generate when they suspect money laundering or other misconduct. They are highly confidential law enforcement documents compelled by the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970.  Avenatti is not a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.  He is a lawyer subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct.  
RPC 8.4 Misconduct  likely provides grounds to deny his application to appear in the New York federal District Court.
For all these reasons  Judge Kimba Wood should act firmly to quiet the media circus and deny Stephanie Clifford's thinly grounded motion to intervene in U.S. v. Michael Cohen.  Avenatti will have something to answer for in any event.
-        George Conk
-        May 15, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

John O. Brennan: Utter Disregard for Palestinian Rights by Trump and Netanyahu

Former CIA Director John O. Brennan

Martyi Indyk - Two Peoples in the Promised Land

Palestinians die at the hands of sharpshooters as they protest the settler colonialists who hold them in subordination.  Let's be clear: the Israels have no more right to their land than we do.  Both states achieved legitimacy by conquest.  The Palestinians do not accept that.  There will not be peace until Israel - the stronger party - accepts that it must make steep compromises.- gwc

National Dems Jump In To Avoid House Primary Calamities In California – Talking Points Memo

Swing districts demand centrist candidates.  for California Democrats the moment of truth comes in the primaries - not the general election.  A split primary vote can cost the Party seats in the general election.
The State Democratic party denied endorsement to Diane Feinstein.  Really? In post-Parkland America they want to toss the author of the assault weapons ban?  And an expert on security and intelligence matters?  For me only a mortal sin could condemn such person as Feinstein. - gwc
National Dems Jump In To Avoid House Primary Calamities In California – Talking Points Memo
by Cameron Joseph

Welcome to the jungle.
National Democrats are making a last-minute push to avoid catastrophe in California, where the state’s unusual jungle primary system could leave them without general election candidates in a number of districts they’re banking on to seize control of the House.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a number of elected officials from the state are rushing in to try to lift some Democrats over others and knock back second-tier Republicans, risking backlash and second-guessing in an effort to avoid getting locked out of winnable districts.
California’s top-two all-party primary system means that whatever two candidates win the most votes on June 5 will get to square off in the general election, regardless of what party they belong to. That, and a surge in the number of viable Democratic candidates compared to past years, has Democrats worried that their challengers could split the vote and let Republicans lock them out in five different districts they hope to contest this fall, most of them centered in fast-diversifying Orange County.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Trump vows to save Chinese jobs


Another Netanyahu-Bolton campaign of lies: this time it's Iran - Peter Beinart

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Avenatti Playing With Fire: Cohen’s Lawyers Poke Holes In Avenatti Doc, But Say He Identified Cohen Clients – Talking Points Memo

I have enjoyed the Stormy Daniels show as much as anyone.  Michael Avenatti has impressed me with his poise, showmanship, and sheer ballsiness to use an archaic expression.  (BTW just what is left of the story that she has not told?)  But Avenatti  seems to have stepped in a pothole with his release of documents re Michael Cohen's finances.  Much of the information in Avenatti's "timeline" appears to be based on Suspicious Activity Reports.

SARS are legally mandated reports which banks generate when they suspect money laundering or other misconduct. They are highly confidential law enforcement documents.
Avenatti is not a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.  He is a lawyer subject to the Rules of Professional Misconduct.  RPC 8.4 Misconduct is likely to block his application to appear in the New York federal District Court pro hac vice (for the purposes of this case).
Further, Judge Kimba Wood is certain to tamp down the media circus and deny Stephanie Clifford's thinly grounded motion to intervene in U.S. v. Michael Cohen.  Avenatti will have something to answer for in any event. - gwc
Cohen’s Lawyers Poke Holes In Avenatti Doc, But Say He Identified Cohen Clients – Talking Points Memo

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Former CIA Director Brennan: "A danger to our national security" - re Trump's Iran decision

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John O. Brennan (former Director of the CIA, Distinguished Fellow, Center for National Security, Fordham Law School)

'A serious mistake': Read Obama's statement on Trump's decision to pull out of Iran deal

Q. Rank these countries as a dangerous destabilizing force in the world.
A. Iran
B. North Korea
C. Russia
D. U.S.A.
'A serious mistake': Read Obama's statement on Trump's decision to pull out of Iran deal
***Finally, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior – including support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel and its neighbors. But that's precisely why it was so important that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Every aspect of Iranian behavior that is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran's destabilizing behavior – and to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies – is strengthened with the JCPOA, and weakened without it.
Because of these facts, I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake. Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America's own security; and trigger an arms race in the world's most dangerous region. If the constraints on Iran's nuclear program under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to prevent it.
In a dangerous world, America must be able to rely in part on strong, principled diplomacy to secure our country. We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong, principled, fact-based, and unifying leadership that can best secure our country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Fixers Cohen, Giuliani, et al., Esqs.

So Michael Cohen, Esq.  had general authority to pay off extortionists and civil complainants or others whose assertions might embarrass or jeopardize hi client Donald Trump's interests.  For that he would be "reimbursed".  It's a strange business partnership.  But as the President said Cohen is a businessman and handles only a "tiny" part of my legal work. 

Rudy Giuliani reports that he too pays off claims against his clients our of his "law firm funds".  Hmmm...
RPC 1.8 Conflicts of Interest
(e) A lawyer shall not provide financial assistance to a client in connection with pending or contemplated litigation, except that:
(1) a lawyer may advance court costs and expenses of litigation, the repayment of which may be contingent on the outcome of the matter
Model Rules of Professional Conduct (American Bar Association)
GIULIANI: I was talking about the $130,000 payment —
GIULIANI: The settlement payment, which is a very regular thing for lawyers to do. The question there was, the only possible violation there would be: Was it a campaign finance violation? Which usually results in a fine, by the way, not this big stormtroopers coming in and breaking down his apartment and breaking down his office.
That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do, out of his law firm funds or whatever funds — it doesn’t matter — and the president reimbursed that over the period of several months.

GIULIANI: Ah, he didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know. But he did know about the general arrangement, that Michael would take care of things like this. Like, I take care of this with my clients. I don’t burden them with every single thing that comes along. These are busy people. 

“Some time after the campaign is over, they set up a reimbursement, $35,000 a month, out of his personal family account,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that over all, Mr. Cohen was paid $460,000 or $470,000 from Mr. Trump through those payments, including for “incidental expenses” that he had incurred on Mr. Trump’s behalf. 

Gee that would be $330,000 or so in "incidental expenses".  Nice work if you can get it.