Trump is a greater threat to our democracy than ISIS

June 13, 2016

While everyone else was grief stricken, praying for the victims and offering their condolences after the mass shootings at the Pulse in Orlando early Sunday morning that killed 50 and injured 53, Donald Trump was congratulating himself. He tweeted,

Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!

Notice that he disguised self-congratulation by misrepresenting it as congratulations received from others. Yes, this is the real Donald Trump, an incredibly selfish and vile human being without a shred of empathy whose first instinct is to use the deadliest mass shooting in our history for personal advantage.

In a separate statement, he demanded President Obama’s resignation from office.

In his remarks today, President Obama disgracefully refused to even say the words ‘Radical Islam’. For that reason alone, he should step down. If Hillary Clinton, after this attack, still cannot say the two words ‘Radical Islam’ she should get out of this race for the presidency.

Worse, he even suggested this morning on Fox and Friends that President Obama may have had foreknowledge of what was going to happen, but did nothing to stop it.

Trump’s behavior convinces me that he is a greater threat to our democracy than ISIS.


Trump University was an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity

June 5, 2016

Trump University was a massive fraudulent scheme that targeted financially stressed victims who borrowed money from friends and relatives, cashed out their IRAs and 401(k)s and maxed out their credit cards in order to extricate themselves from poverty. They were willing to risk financial ruin on the say-so of Donald Trump, who enriched himself by millions of dollars at their expense. If there is a silver lining to this tragic predation, you will find it in the Trump University Playbook, a remarkably detailed manual of step-by-step instructions to steal money from vulnerable victims. The fraud will not be difficult to prove because the playbook lays it all out in excruciating detail.

One of the civil cases pending against Donald Trump in federal court in San Diego is Cohen v. Trump, No. 3:13-cv-02519-DMS-RBB. I regard it as the most important case pending against Trump because, unlike the other cases, potentially hundreds of million of dollars are at stake. Two reasons explain why more money is at stake:

(1) This is the only case in which the plaintiff has alleged that Trump’s actions regarding Trump University violated the civil RICO statute that authorizes treble damages See 18 USC 1962(c), and

(2) The court has approved the plaintiff’s request to process the case as a class action that permits thousand of other victims to piggy-back their claims against Trump without having to retain counsel to independently sue him. The case is assigned to Judge Gonzalo Curiel.

RICO is an acronym for a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization that is referred to as the ‘enterprise’ in the RICO statute. An apparently legitimate organization or business, even a school or a police department, can qualify as an enterprise if it’s being used to defraud people through a pattern of racketeering activity. Trump University is the enterprise in this case. To prove a civil RICO violation, the plaintiff must prove that Trump knowingly, willfully and unlawfully defrauded people by conducting or participating, directly or indirectly, in the affairs of the enterprise (Trump University) through a pattern of racketeering activity. The ‘racketeering activity’ alleged in this case was to carry out the fraud by using wire transmissions to transmit money and the U.S. Postal Service to transmit communications. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Trump devised and knowingly carried out a material scheme or artifice to defraud or to obtain money by means of materially false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises, or omissions of material facts that he communicated to others by committing multiple acts of mail fraud and wire fraud every day. In short, the complaint accuses him of using his name and Trump University to create the appearance of legitimacy to conceal a scheme to induce people to pay thousands of dollars to learn his secret knowledge to make millions of dollars by acquiring distressed or forfeited real estate properties at auctions for little more than the amount of the owner/borrower’s deficiency and reselling them later at fair market value for a substantial profit.

We have a name for this money-making venture. We call it ‘vulture capitalism’ by flipping distressed properties pursuant to a detailed method controlled by statute to recycle properties that buyers no longer can afford. There is nothing magical or secret about this method. It has been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years and anyone can learn how to do it for free from the comfort of their own home by using the internet. Trump misled people when he induced them to pay thousands of dollars for his ‘secret’ knowledge that he did not develop and did not own. Even worse, he never provided the statutory process that details how to do it.

More important, this investment method is not risk free and he did not warn them about the risks involved. Consider the game Musical Chairs, for example. The proverbial music stopped when the real estate bubble burst and the market collapsed in 2007/2008. Expanding one’s inventory of dirt cheap properties is not recommended when the real estate market has not reached a bottom and reset itself so that buyers and sellers have a sufficient basis to estimate fair market value. In fact, the housing market is still circling the drain in many parts of the country.

Most of the victims of this fraud were struggling financially and hoped to avert disaster by making a killing flipping real estate. Spending their last dime to further enrich Donald Trump without receiving anything of value in return must have wreaked havoc. There ought to be a special place reserved in hell for people who engage in predatory financial frauds that target vulnerable victims.


Trump’s defense of Trump University fails the straight-face test

June 3, 2016

Donald Trump appears to be going down on his Trump University scam. He’s made two arguments this week in support of his claim of innocence. Both arguments fail to pass the straight-face test. As you all know, good lawyers can come up with all sorts of arguments in support of their client’s position in litigation. Tha’ts what good lawyers are paid to do. The straight-face test is a simple litmus test for determining whether to make a particular argument. Rule of thumb: Don’t make an argument if you can’t keep a straight face when you make it. These arguments are ridiculous.

The first argument is that Trump University was legitimate because 98% of the students gave the program the highest rating possible. That’s true, however, they filled out the evaluations in front of their instructors who asked them for the highest rating and this happened before the students were given their certificates and permitted to leave the main meeting room. In other words, the forms were not filled out anonymously and they filled them out with the expectation that they would soon learn Trump’s secrets to buying and selling real estate. That didn’t happen.

Instead instructors, many of whom knew little or nothing about real estate, have provided sworn statements that the school was a scam and they were told to focus on persuading people to spend more money for the advanced courses. They were also told to pressure the students into giving the favorable ratings before they took the actual courses.

The second argument is that Trump has produced three people who claim to have taken the courses and prospered. They do not qualify as independent witnesses, however, because they are in business with Donald Trump.

Trump announced today at a rally in San Jose that the school was so successful that he plans to reopen Trump University. I wouldn’t bet the ranch that will happen since New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and California Attorney General Kamala Harris are suing Trump for committing fraud with Trump University. They will shut him down if he tries to reopen it.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan finally endorsed Trump today despite the Trump University fiasco and this brings me to my final point. How can any Republican politician endorse Trump. He has dropped the mask with his overtly racist comments about United States District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who happens to have a Hispanic name, but was born and raised in Indiana. The Trump University case was assigned to him and the Donald hates him because he is doing his job.

As the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party, Trump is now the face of the party. That means the Republican Party now stands for racism, xenophobia, misogyny and hatred and conspiracy thinking. There is no way to separate Trump from his avid supporters. They are the Republican party.

If I were a Republican serving in the House or Senate, I would hold a press conference and announce that I was resigning from the Republican Party. It is, after all, the party of Abraham Lincoln. It’s the ethical thing to do.

Saying that you are going to vote for Trump because you can’t vote for Hillary is a cop out because it’s still a vote for Trump, who may well be the most vile, disgusting and least qualified human being to ever run for president.


Trump University looks and quacks like a duck

May 29, 2016

I’ve reviewed a copy of the 2010 Trump University Playbook and it certainly looks like a scam to me. The principle objective identified in the 172-page playbook is to classify the attendees into 1 of 4 categories based on the amount of liquid assets they have at their disposal. The categories are set forth on page 36.

1. Greater than $35 K;
2. Between $20 K and $30 K;
3. Greater than $10 K; and
4. Greater than $2 K.

The target group is the 1st category, which they call the Gold Elite Group.

With one important exception, the rest of the playbook is a detailed how-to manual regarding procedures like scheduling conferences, setting up conference rooms and submitting bills seeking reimbursement for expenses.

The exception is a recommended set of strategies to employ in convincing people in the Gold Elite Group to signup for advanced conferences where the strictly hush-hush mystical goodies will be revealed to the worthy initiates.

Yes, indeed, you would be correct if you guessed that the advanced level conferences cost lots of money. From $1,500 to the super special $35,000 conference where Trump himself will disclose the mystical goodies.

Speaker subject matter is tightly controlled. For example, the playbook warns them to use only the approved course materials and illustrative slide shows when lecturing to the students. No variation is permitted and anecdotal stories are prohibited without prior approval. The absence of room to move suggests that no special expertise is required to give a lecture.

My suspicions deepened when I reviewed carefully scripted responses in the playbook to frequently asked questions. No variation from the scripted responses was permitted. If a student asked a question that was not on the list, the playbook recommended segues to steer the student to a scripted answer. I got the impression that a pleasant voice, a smiling face and an ability to read slides were the only prerequisites to be a speaker.

Guidelines are provided for dealing with disruptive students, reporters and inquisitive attorney generals.

Separating a student from his or her money appears to have been the prime directive.

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . .


Trump is unqualified to be president

March 31, 2016

Donald Trump is unqualified to be our next president because he acts like a thug, does not know how our system of government works and he lacks the proper temperament to govern in the best interests of everyone. Thuggery and poor temperament cannot be fixed because that is who he is. He admires those ‘qualities’ in himself and he is unlikely to change. While lack of knowledge can be fixed by learning, given sufficient time and commitment, he has not demonstrated that he realizes he is ignorant about anything. A president who respects no one except himself and who relies on intimidation to get what he wants is not suited to govern democratically in the best interests of the many as opposed to the few.

He has been conducting a war against people who protest at his public appearances by calling them bad people, ordering security personnel to evict them and offering to pay the legal fees of anyone who assaults them. He has invoked his right to freedom of speech to justify excluding and assaulting protesters. He mistakenly believes that the Freedom of Speech Clause in the First Amendment protects his right to speak to his supporters, but it does not protect people who disagree with him. He has it backwards. The Freedom of Speech Clause protects people who disagree with the government and the Freedom of Assembly Clause protects them when they assemble in a public place to express their dissent. Instead, he abuses the First Amendment to eliminate dissent rather than protect it. This is what dictators do. They criminalize dissent and govern from the top down by proclamation. People who disagree are imprisoned or killed.

Next, let’s take a look at the Corey Lewandowski case. He is Trump’s campaign director who was charged recently with battery for grabbing a reporter and pulling her away from Trump while she was questioning him. Wikipedia provides a summary of the incident.

On March 8, 2016, Michelle Fields, a reporter for Breitbart News, alleged she was yanked out of the way and bruised by Lewandowski while attempting to pose a question to candidate Donald Trump while he was exiting a room in the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida following a press conference. Ben Terris of the Washington Post identified Lewandowski as the man who yanked her.[24][25][26] The Trump campaign denied the allegations, as did Lewandowski on his Twitter feed, wherein he denied ever having touched her.

On March 29, 2016, Lewandowski was charged with one count of simple battery by the Jupiter Police Department for the March 8 incident. A court date was set for May 4, 2016, after Lewandowski surrendered himself to the authorities. He released a statement maintaining his innocence. The Jupiter Police also released closed-circuit video of the incident taken by an overhead camera at the Trump National Golf Club resort.

Battery, which is defined as an ‘unpermitted touching,’ is a misdemeanor crime. The touching must be the result of an intentional act, as opposed to an unconscious, inadvertent, or accidental act. A video shows Fields suddenly being yanked backward and she has bruises on her arm caused by the person who grabbed her. Although we cannot see the hand and arm of the person who yanked her backward, Lewandowski was right behind her in a position where he could have grabbed her arm or, at a minimum, was in position to have seen who did. No one else appears to have been close enough to have grabbed her, however, and she has identified Lewandowski as the person who grabbed her. Ben Terris, a reporter for the Washington Post, has independently confirmed the identification. This evidence certainly is sufficient to establish probable cause (reasonable grounds) to believe that Lewandowski committed a battery.

At first Lewandowski denied that he touched Fields. Recently, however, he conceded that might have inadvertently touched her. He and Trump have denied knowing her. Curiously, both have accused her of being ‘crazy.’ Neither has explained how they would know that if they had no idea who she was. Trump attacked Fields yesterday for reporting such an ‘insignificant’ matter to the police and suggested that she should have been charged for harassing him. This is intolerable victim-shaming, a form of witness intimidation that potentially could be the subject of a new criminal charge.

This is not how we handle criminal cases in this country. A defendant who has been charged with a crime can admit or deny guilt. If he were to deny guilt, the matter would be scheduled for trial. He would be released and the case would be dismissed, if the jury finds him not guilty. The matter would proceed to sentencing if the jury finds him guilty.

Trump is trampling Lewandowski’s right to due process of law while putting the victim on trial. This stunt will likely backfire by alienating women voters, a result he can ill afford since 70% of women surveyed in a recent poll said they would not vote for Trump.

Trump aggravated the situation yesterday when he told MSNBC’s Chris Mathews that he believes women who have abortions should be sentenced to prison, if abortion were to be legalized. He changed his mind later in the day after he was criticized by Ted Cruz and John Kasich. He now agrees with them. If the SCOTUS were to overrule Roe v. Wade, they would punish the person who performed the abortion, but not the woman, whom they would regard as a victim.

In conclusion, We want a president who is knowledgeable about the issues of the day and not given to shooting from the hip. Electing Donald Trump would be a disaster.


Trump and Cruz want police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods

March 23, 2016

Trump and Cruz are demonstrating that they are unqualified to lead our country. Patrolling Muslim neighborhoods, assuming there are any, would only intimidate and infuriate Muslims.

Trump wants to torture Muslims for information.

They are really talking about establishing an American version of the Nazi Gestapo and that’s insane.

The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and they are the front line against ISIS. They need our assistance to do it and we need their cooperation to assist them. The big problem in Brussels is the absence of communication between Muslims and law enforcement. That’s why law enforcement could not find Salah Abdeslam, even though he never left Brussels. Caught between ISIS killers on one side and suspicious hostile police on the other and unable to communicate with them because they do not speak the language, they kept quiet.

That barrier must be broken to have any chance to prevail against ISIS. Terrorizing Muslims with Gestapo tactics will only help ISIS to recruit more jihadists.

Trump and Cruz need to shut-up and stop helping ISIS.


Trump soils himself meeting with WaPo Editorial Board

March 22, 2016

A transcript of Donald Trump’s meeting with The Washington Post editorial board

Read and Weep, Groan or Guffaw: Your Choice.

Like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist

Here it is. What you have been waiting for.

Trump Unplugged.

Seriously, you have to read it to believe it.

Meanwhile, pray for Brussels

My Momma didn’t tell me

There’d be days like this.


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