Indivisible Upper Yellowstone: Weekly Journal, Vol.4 No.10, Week of September 17 – 23, 2022 (Trump Sued by State of New York)

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, September 17 through Friday, September 23, 2022 [Vol.4 No.10]

Trump Sued by State of New York

Abortion

Climate

Gun Control

Rule of Law

Pandemic

Inflation

Ukraine

Insurrection

 

The Week’s Most Notable

A Week with a “Red-Letter Day” Doesn’t Come Along Very Often. This past Wednesday was jammed with significant events, none actual or final outcomes, but signaling major changes.

The legal cases against Trump clarified and amplified. The big event was the civil suit filed by Letitia James, AG of New York State, on a variety of business fraud-related charges. There are more than 200 individual instances of evidence that the Trump family, corporation, and employees fraudulently used various forms of financial evaluation to gain tax and property advantages. This behavior actually goes back decades, but this case covers mainly the last 10 years.

Then there is the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Trump lawyers sought out and found a sympathetic Trump-appointed judge, Eileen Cannon, who granted them a diversionary tactic called a special master, assigned to sort through all documentation seized at Mar-a-Lago which halted investigation in the case, which unfortunately also included the national risk assessment. The DOJ immediately appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of Judge Cannon’s order. The Court of Appeals replied immediately, rebuked Judge Cannon, and reinstated the DOJ investigation.

Both cases are in relatively early stages. The New York civil case is very strong but ultimately will be played out not in a criminal conviction but a potentially severe financial penalty. Trump personally will still be standing, but his corporation may not be. The Mar-a-Lago case doesn’t have the heft of the January 6 (pending) case – unless FBI investigators can find incontestable proof of what Trump was doing with 323 classified documents, such as selling them, using them for personal advantage, etc.

Russia and the Ukraine war have a new look and feel. One defeat is an unfortunate loss, two defeats are a trend. The Ukrainian breakthrough of the counteroffensive, reclaiming more than 3,000 square miles of Ukrainian territory in the Northeast, shook the Russian military, Kremlin, and Russian elites. Putin responded Wednesday with an emergency partial mobilization, which in some respects is like being partially pregnant, but in fact belies a new atmosphere in Moscow that all is not going well. Russian losses in men and matériel are staggering and have spooked important allies such as China and India. It was also a huge morale boost not only for Ukraine but the American and European allies. It’s still going to be a long tough winter, but the landscape has changed. The unpredictable is more likely.

Coincidentally, the United Nations General Assembly provided a platform for both Biden and Zelensky. On Wednesday they created a kind of tag-team of speeches attacking Russia for war crimes, “trying to erase the sovereign state from the map,” (Biden), and warning about the threats to use nuclear arms. The most interesting part might be the relative acquiescence from the majority of members in the General Assembly, although Russian foreign secretary Lavrov did walk out. There is a sense that world opinion, which does affect world trade attitudes, is turning against the Russians.

Iran does demonstrations and protests, it’s an old story. Every time it happens, the world wonders if it’s the end of the current regime, some version of the Ayatollah controlled Islamic Republic that is usually repressive and intensely disliked. These may be the largest protests since 2009, but most of the participants are young people and a few women; it doesn’t look like men, and particularly businessmen, are backing this particular round.

Inflation (a bit like COVID) is reducing, but hardly gone. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve has “got religion” and attacked the inflation problem on Wednesday with yet another 0.75-point increase in the Fed interest rate. The cost of money is going up, hopefully to discourage inflation; but as most economists know, tight money can provoke a slump in consumer demand that can translate into a recession. Democrats are hoping for only good news between now and November 8.

Saturday, September 17

[Trump Rally] Trump Holds Rally in Ohio Featuring Q-Anon – Trump rallies have had Q-Anon elements for a long time, but this was the first where an important thematic, visual, and rhetorical emphasis was Q-Anon oriented. Incidentally, the event was held to support Ohio GOP Senate candidate, J.D. Vance. The rally was marked by some of Trump’s most extreme rhetoric, reflected Q-Anon deep-state themes, accompanied by music imitating the Q-Anon anthem, and participants using the synchronized Q-Anon index finger in the air. The event illustrated Trump’s increasing integration with Q-Anon, while still retaining his own campaign identity.  

[Alaska] Typhoon Merbok Strikes Western Alaska – One of the strongest storms in decades fortunately crossed sparsely populated coastline. There have been some evacuations but no injuries or deaths.

[Japan] Super-Typhoon Nanmadol Begins Its Run Across Japan – Considered the most dangerous storm in decades, Nanmadol hit the beaches of southern Japan (Kyushu) forcing evacuations and storm warnings along the western regions. [Update: It could have been worse. So far 4 dead and 114 injured with thousands of structures damaged, but the storm missed the largest population centers, especially Tokyo, and turned into mainly a destructive rain event.]

Sunday, September 18                                                                                              

[Hurricane Fiona] Fiona Leaves Puerto Rico Without Power – Almost five years to the day after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, Category 1 Fiona came ashore, dumping up to 25 inches of rain and downing key power lines. It appears the storm will track mainly along the southern regions, limiting damage compared to Maria. Still, Puerto Rico has not fully recovered from Maria and is ill-prepared for another multi-billion $ rebuilding, although this time the administration in Washington is more likely to help, excluding a toss-the-peons paper towels event. {Update: Fiona continued up the Atlantic, avoiding the U.S. coast but damaging the Dominican Republic, and islands around Turks & Caicos and Bermuda, until – by September 24, it reached Canada as one of the strongest non-tropical storms in recent years.}

[Biden Gaffe] Biden Declares Pandemic Over – Pragmatically, he was somewhat right – and he did clarify that COVID is still a scourge that must be dealt with – but anything about COVID is politically hypersensitive, which Republicans cheerfully exploited to reject extra funding, and even Fauci rushed to explain that with 400+ COVID deaths per day, there’s a need to have people continue to get the new booster shot.

[UK] World Leaders Gather in London to Honor Queen Elizabeth II – The funeral of Elizabeth II dominated the world over the weekend. More than 200 world leaders attended, including Biden (but not Putin or Xi).

Monday, September 19

[Ukraine] Russians Drop Missile Close to Second Nuclear Plant – It was clearly a warning shot, labelled “see what we can do.” The South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant is 350 kilometers south of Kyiv and the second largest in the country.

[UK] Queen Elizabeth II Laid to Rest – Shortly, she and her husband Prince Philip will be Interred in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle.

[Migrant Flights] Migrant Flight Investigations Begin – Flying 48 hapless Venezuelan asylum seekers from Texas to Florida and then to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts was an attention-grabbing political stunt, which worked as PR but has since burgeoned into multiple legal actions. The first was initiated by the relevant county sheriff in Texas, Javier Salazar of Bexar County, who said, “The asylum-seekers were in the country legally, and somebody came from out of state, preyed upon these people, lured them with promises of better life, then unceremoniously stranded them for nothing more than political posturing.” [Update: By the end of the week there were three more legal actions against DeSantis, as the story began to unfold with several shady aspects – including the airplane hired for transport.]

[Justice] Adnan Syed Murder Conviction Vacated – His 20+ years of imprisonment for allegedly murdering his high school girlfriend has long been contested and recently Baltimore prosecutors asked for the vacating of his sentence based upon new exculpatory evidence that had been withheld during his trial. His case has attracted considerable media attention, including the first season of the Serial podcast.

Tuesday, September 20

[Ukraine] Russia Announces Plans to Annex Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizka Provinces The move to annexation means these provinces become part of Russia itself. That is, Russia can consider any attack in these areas as an attack on Russia, justifying any kind of defense (including nuclear). Referenda will be held in each province, beginning this coming weekend, and will require only a few days since the outcome is a foregone conclusion and the paperwork a formality. Few if any countries will recognize the annexations; it’s all a rhetorical gesture mostly for internal Russian consumption and legal documentation.

Wednesday, September 21

[Trump Lawsuit] New York AG Files $250 Million Suit Against Trump, Family, and Company – The main charges are tax fraud, falsifying records, insurance fraud, and criminal conspiracy. The suit has been in the works for three years; is 220 pages long, filled with detailed evidence, and relies on “receipts” – hard numbers, actual documents, and very little subjective testimony. It is by far the most comprehensive lawsuit yet filed against Trump et al., and promises to provide years of legal wrangling. It’s important to keep in mind this is a civil suit, not a criminal indictment. If Trump loses, he doesn’t go to jail, but he might lose his company – a $250 million penalty (baseline; it could much more), prohibited from running a company or real-estate development in New York for 5 years.  AG Letitia James is in charge of the case and has referred it to the DOJ and IRS for criminal investigation.

[Mar-a-Lago] Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of DOJ – The ruling was issued under two very significant circumstances: First, it appeared within 24 hours of the DOJ emergency appeal; second, it was issued per curiam, for the entire Eleventh Circuit, not just the three-judge panel. The appeals court provided a point-by-point smack-down of Federal Judge Eileen Cannon’s ruling that created a special master. The court allowed the DOJ access to its own classified documents, to continue its Mar-a-Lago documents investigation, and to disallow access by the special master.

[Putin Escalation] Partial Mobilization: Russia Will Add 300,000 Troops, Threatens Nuclear Force Again – Putin had a big speech scheduled for Tuesday, then nothing happened, including any explanation. Delivered on Wednesday, the speech turned out to be a complex mash of compromises – not declaring war, but legally allowing an open-ended draft, new wartime laws, and stepped-up war production. The effects were: instant rioting, including in the major cities; a flood of people leaving the country, especially young men; widespread skepticism – most military observers don’t believe the Russians can identify, collect, induct, train, outfit, and deploy that many diverse people as an effective fighting body. Overall, the effect will be to further destabilize the Russian economy, the military environment, and political order. On the whole, Ukraine, the U.S., NATO and the EU can work with that. Nuclear weapons, on the other hand – currently, Putin is bluffing; later, if he’s really losing . . .

[U.N.] Biden and Zelensky Give U.N. Speeches – Generally, UN speeches don’t get much attention; but hearing the U.S. and Ukrainian leaders on the same day, both hammering away at Russia and particularly its war crimes, seems to have had a kind of emotional effect on the UN General Assembly.

[Iran] Street Riots Against Iranian Morality Police – After simmering for a few days, the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman of Kurdish descent, erupted into nationwide outbreaks of rioting and protest. She was arrested for not adequately covering her hair, and was subsequently beaten to death at the hands of the Iranian” morality police.” In effect, she became a martyr for the growing antigovernment sentiment. The riots have spread to more than 80 cities and account for more than 35 deaths.

[Economy] Fed Raises Interest Rates Another 0.75% to Fight Inflation – This was the fourth significant rate increase this year and it’s already having a profound effect on large purchase loans, particularly housing. Economists are closely watching the domestic goods market – especially food – which has been particularly resistant to anti-inflationary measures. As has generally been the case this year, inflation rates have been more of political than economic interest.

[Media] Trump Interviewed by Hannity (Ends Crazy Day) – The media collects Trump bloopers like curios, but the real or feigned derangement of Trump while he was being interviewed by Hannity have long gone viral, for example: “if you’re President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, it’s declassified. Even by thinking about it, because you’re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you’re sending it.” And “there is also a lot of speculation because of what they did, the severity of the FBI coming and raiding Mar-a-Lago. Were they looking for Hillary Clinton emails that were deleted but they are around someplace, or were they looking for the spying . . .”

Thursday, September 22                                                 

[COVID Relief Fraud] Labor Department Puts Pandemic Fraud at $45.6 Billion – A report by the Inspector General of the Labor Department based its estimates on fraudulent distribution, duplicate payments, money sent to dead people, and to prisoners – in short “resulting in historic levels of fraud and other improper payments.” In one sense, given the urgency at the time, this level of fraud might be considered a cost of doing business. In another sense, in a world where pandemics and other disasters are part of planning, and where the mechanics of emergency funding are already known , this sort of fraud shouldn’t happen in the first place.

[Mar-a-Lago] Special Master Orders Trump Lawyers to Present Proof of “Planted Evidence” – In the grand scheme of things this is a small point, but over the years it has often been heard from Trump people that so-and-so (usually the FBI) planted evidence. Trump lawyers for the Mar-a-Lago case and Trump himself have frequently repeated this canard. Judge Dearie, the special master, finally had enough; he ordered Trump lawyers to provide him with a list of “newly appearing” items by September 30. Put up, or shut up.

Friday, September 23                                                                                          

[GOP] House Republicans Produce “Commitment to America” – Perhaps only the House GOP could produce such a document as a guiding agenda for 2023. It’s essentially a two-page brochure. Some of the pictures illustrating American farming came from Russia and Ukraine. It had a Lincoln quote, which was fake. It does not mention abortion, climate change, Russia, Ukraine war, nor threats to democracy (of course not). There also was no mention of Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) and his highly controversial earlier agenda that, among other things, called for ending Social Security and Medicare.

[Hurricane Ian] Tropical Storm Ian is Heading for Intensification and Florida – Current projections put it into Central Florida (Tampa Bay area) by the middle of next week. This could be a bad, Category 4 or 5, hurricane.

[Hilary Mantel [1952 – 2022 (70)] English novelist, two-time winner of the Booker Prize. One of the era’s better writers, noted for the Wolf Hall (a Cromwell) trilogy.

 

Pinned Point: Until the filibuster rules are modified, most of the Biden agenda will not pass the Senate.

Quote of the Week

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, in his first U.S. media interview, said that the Biden administration’s promise to adhere to a new nuclear agreement was “meaningless” without guarantees that the United States would not again unilaterally withdraw from the deal in the future.

  1. DeYoung, “Iran Says No Nuclear Without U.S. Guarantee It Won’t Walk Out Again,” The Washington Post, 9/19/2022.

 

[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are at least casually familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search.]

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