Climate Change Wisdom from Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has extolled the benefits of a warming planet:

“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as twenty days.”

Last week Pompeo shared his climate knowledge with the Washington Times — not to be confused with the Washington Post — newspaper:

“If waters rise — I was just in the Netherlands, all below sea level, right? Living a wonderful, thriving economic situation.”

Unfortunately what works for Netherlands won’t work for the state of Florida:

“Most of the state—consists of limestone that was laid down over the millions of years Florida sat at the bottom of a shallow sea. The limestone is filled with holes, and the holes are, for the most part, filled with water.”
“You can’t build levees on the coast and stop the water. The water would just come underground.”

(Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker):

No big deal; the climate “always changes,” and so “societies reorganize, we move to different places, we develop technology and innovation.”

Like they’re doing in Guatemala:

“Guatemala is consistently listed among the world’s 10 most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change. Increasingly erratic climate patterns have produced year after year of failed harvests and dwindling work opportunities across the country, forcing more and more people to consider migration in a last-ditch effort to escape skyrocketing levels of food insecurity and poverty.”

(Gena Steffens in the National Geographic)

As we know, Pompeo and his boss are doing everything they can to assist Guatemalan refugees unable to sustain themselves in their home country.

And say good-bye to Louisiana.

How Mar-a-Lago Staves Off Bankruptcy

The Trump Organization multiple times has made use of a time-honored business strategy: bleed the business for personal enrichment and then stiff the investors, contractors, suppliers and any other entity owed money by employing bankruptcy proceedings. Although the Organization has had multiple business failures – Airlines, University, Steaks, to name only a few – bankruptcy seems to be the preferred tactic for dying entertainment businesses. The Plaza Hotel and multiple casino operations have ended in bankruptcy courts.

Your tax dollars at work.

Other hospitality properties manage to appear solvent: the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC (that caused many of us to learn what the “emoluments clause” in the Constitution is) and the Westchester Golf Club (where they are shocked, shocked! at accusations that undocumented employees were forced to work off the clock).

ProPublica recently reported on a paid-by-taxpayers $1,000 charge at the the soon-to-be literally underwater Mar-a-Lago resort, a tiny example of the business strategy keeping the operation metaphorically afloat. $1,000? No big deal; it’s a nearly insignificant amount. But it illustrates the overall symbiosis between government expenditures and the personal enrichment of the current occupant of the White House.

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Mar-a-Lago in April 2017 for a two-day summit. Later in the evening after the lavish state dinner, a group, including Steve Bannon who says he doesn’t drink and doesn’t remember anything about it, found its way to the resort’s Library Bar – presided over by a portrait on the wall titled “The Visionary.” (You-know-who dressed in tennis whites.) The group dismissed the bartender; the Secret Service guarded the door.

Six days later, Mar-a-Lago presented a bill for $1,006 – $838 for liquor plus 20% gratuity – with no documentation of who was there and what was the nature of the meeting. The State Department declined to pay and forwarded it to the White House, which of course did pay.

Click here for more about how to bill the government.

CNN’s Fake News Chart

If your memory is good, you may remember CNN as Jon Stewart’s favorite punching bag. Cable News Network, has had its ups and downs since Ted Turner founded it in 1980. Turner said the first all-news network and the first 24-hour news network was “my greatest career achievement.” (Marrying Jane Fonda was a personal achievement.)

Turner sold his greatest achievement, as part of Turner Broadcasting, to Time Warner in 1996 for $7.3 billion in stock. After Time Warner purchased AOL in 2001 Turner’s net worth sank along with T-W’s stock price.

CNN made its reputation with its coverage of the first Gulf War in 1991 and burnished it with reporting on 9/11. The network lost much of its reputation with incessant dubious reporting on plane crashes and disappeared young blonde women.

The renamed WarnerMedia is now owned by AT&T; CNN is now the favorite punching bag of the current occupant of the White House.

The Leader of the Free World

Although not in the same class as the above video, CNN recently performed a public service by publishing an interactive graphic charting the White House’s ever-changing answers to various issues:

  • Russian Collusion
  • Comey Firing
  • Mueller Legal Process
  • Russian Business Ties
  • Trump Associates

Click here to have more fun than spinning your fidget.

Lawyers 1,055 – Clients 145

The current occupant of the White House’s business modus operandi used fear of bankruptcy-by-attorneys as a cudgel. For example, in 2006, architect Andrew Tesoro submitted his final bill to the Trump Organization for his work on the clubhouse at the National Golf Club Westchester: $140,000. He was offered $50,000. Wanting to avoid legal hassle and expense, he sent a revised billing for $50,000. When that went unpaid, Tesoro contacted The Donald himself who said he would pay $25,000. Knowing that legal action to collect would cost much more, Tesoro took it, 18% of the billed amount, less than what he owed the consultants who had worked with him on the project.

A local news report tells of a couple in Rohnert Park California who were successful in their suit against the city. Police officers had entered Raul and Elva Barajas’s house, with guns drawn, looking for their son who was on parole.

Unfortunately for the city and its police force, they neglected to get a warrant for the search.

A federal court rendered its judgement against the city of Rohnert Park: $1.2 million. Mr. and Mrs. Barajas couple were awarded $75,000 damages and an additional $70,000 punitive damages. Their attorneys got… well, you can do the arithmetic.

The lawyers always win.

The Border, the President, the Wayback Machine

The current occupant of the White House gave a speech to Americans about the urgency of U.S. taxpayers funding a border wall. (As with the deficit and Mexico paying for the wall, Republicans no longer mention the president’s TelePrompTer use.) The major television networks acquiesced and broadcast the scripted, sometimes coherent harangue. Never mind that in 2014 the same networks declined to give airtime to the President – that would be Barack Obama – addressing the nation about border security. The reason given? It was too political. Previously, the networks did air George W. Bush’s immigration speech.

Continue reading “The Border, the President, the Wayback Machine”

Some New Year’s Reading (Trigger Warning: It’s About Current Occupant of White House)

If your brain can handle more background on the perpetrator of multiple business failures who occasionally spends time in the Oval Office, Foreign Policy magazine – not known as a left-wing propaganda organ  – has published a well-researched and dispassionate overview of business dealings with Russia.

A couple fun quotes:

“I think part of it was he was toxic to the banks. I think he also probably learned that personal guarantees [on loans] weren’t a brilliant idea either. So he was saying to himself, ‘What else could I do in the world? I’ll just convince people to buy my brand.’ And the only people who were willing to buy it were tasteless Russians, people who like the absurd, ostentatious gold-leaf lifestyle he has.”

 – former business associate

“Trump is not much different than most of the NY real estate developers. Obnoxious, liar, screws people, impossible to trust, etc, but in NY real estate–not unusual. None of any of that is proof of anything other than Trump was considered a bad guy who nobody trusted to do business with in the US banking world. That is far from any proof he did anything wrong as to collusion which there was none.”

-Joel Ross, investment banker

Read the whole article here.

Bonus Reading: a couple deep dives from The New Yorker – well-known for its fact checking:

Donald Trump’s Worst Deal

“The President helped build a hotel in Azerbaijan that appears to be a corrupt operation engineered by oligarchs tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.”

Trump, Putin and the New Cold War

“What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead?”

Happy New Year!