Six months in office

Today is the six-month anniversary of Trump’s inauguration and already:

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

This has to be a record, right? Six months in office and you’ve managed to get yourself and your family in such trouble you’re looking for ways to get out from under criminal prosecution?

Apparently Trump is particularly disturbed that Special Counsel Mueller might gain access to his tax returns. What on earth do those things show, I wonder? How little money he really has? How much debt he owes foreign countries and/or companies, particularly ones in Russia?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Washed, Dried, Folded, Recycled

A few days ago The New Republic published an article entitled “Trump’s Russian Laundromat.” In it, reporter Craig Unger writes

But even without an investigation by Congress or a special prosecutor, there is much we already know about the president’s debt to Russia. A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics. “They saved his bacon,” says Kenneth McCallion, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration who investigated ties between organized crime and Trump’s developments in the 1980s.

Unger is careful to say that Trump may have been a patsy rather than an accomplice in all this, but the records pretty clearly show that without dirty money from Russia Trump’s business world would have been far less successful and his fame and fortune far smaller. And some of that money was really dirty and really physically close to Trump, in his own Trump Tower in Manhattan:

…unit 63A — a condo directly below one owned by Trump — served as the headquarters for a “sophisticated money-laundering scheme” that moved an estimated $100 million out of the former Soviet Union, through shell companies in Cyprus, and into investments in the United States. The entire operation, prosecutors say, was working under the protection of Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, whom the FBI identified as a top Russian vor closely allied with Semion Mogilevich. In a single two-month stretch, according to the federal indictment, the money launderers paid Tokhtakhounov $10 million.

Read the whole article. It’s both fascinating and disturbing.

R.I.P., Roland Cazimero

The Brothers Cazimero have been all-stars in the Hawai’ian music scene since about 1970. In 1975, I think, they left their previous band and began performing as a duo. I saw them once when they did a Christmas concert at the Bishop Museum in 1983. They were major contributors to the cultural revival of things Hawai’ian that began in the 1970s and continues into this century.

In this clip Roland’s the one on the right. He had a reputation among his friends for being kolohe, a rascal. You can see why.

Roland passed away yesterday after a lengthy illness.

Bonus coverage: they sold out Carnegie Hall in 1989:

National Parks Pass

Anyone over 62 who travels to National Parks, Historical Sites, Refuges and other Park System facilities needs to know the price of a lifetime Senior Pass goes from $10 to $80 effective Aug. 28 of this year. You can beat the increase by going to a nearby park and buying a pass. You can also buy online for $20 if you’re not close to a park. It’ll take about nine weeks to process if you buy online, but you still lock in a cheaper price. I did that because O’ahu has no National Parks. The Big Island has two, Maui has one, and Kauai has one. It seemed cheaper for me to pay $20 online than to buy a plane ticket, car rental and hotel lodging to one of those other alternatives.

Further information:

  • Provides entrance or access to pass owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle at Federal operated recreation sites across the country.
  • Photo identification may be required to verify ownership.
  • Passes are NON-REFUNDABLE, NON-TRANSFERABLE, and cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.
  • The cost of obtaining a Senior Pass through the mail is twenty dollars ($20). Ten ($10) for the Senior Pass and ten ($10) for processing the application. Applicants must provide documentation of age and residency or citizenship. If you cannot order a Senior pass online, you can submit a Paper Application by mail to the USGS using the paper application and enclosing the same documents and $20 fee
  • May provide a 50 percent discount on some amenity fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launch, and specialized interpretive services
  • Generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires.

Breitbart’s World

If you’re not a Republican, watching Republicans react to the news can feel a bit like witnessing a mass hallucination. Even more so when some emissary from the alternate Republican universe like Kellyanne Conway teleports onto CNN or another mainstream outlet to state her case.

That’s from an article in the Sunday New York Times entitled No One Cares About Russia in the World Breitbart Made. It’s just full of similarly cheerful thoughts like that. Here’s some more:

As recently as five or 10 years ago, every major news outlet would have treated this set of facts as front-page news and a dire threat to Mr. Trump’s presidency. The conservative press and Republican voters might disagree on certain particulars or points of emphasis. But their view of reality — of what happened and its significance — would have largely comported with that of the mainstream.

[snip]

Look to the right now and you’re apt to find an alternative reality in which the same set of facts is rearranged to compose an entirely different narrative. On Fox News, host Lou Dobbs offered a representative example on Thursday night, when he described the Donald Trump Jr. email story, with wild-eyed fervor, like this: “This is about a full-on assault by the left, the Democratic Party, to absolutely carry out a coup d’état against President Trump aided by the left-wing media.”

The Times says Dobbs isn’t a wacky outlier, but rather an example of how the conservative fringe has overtaken and swallowed up the mainstream right-leaning press. It absolutely is that, but personally I think Dobbs has been an outlier for years, starting when he had his own show on CNN and began screeching about immigrants with leprosy back in 2007 and refused to admit he got his facts and numbers wrong. The slapdown in that link is too kind to Dobbs, who clearly was expressing anti-immigrant sentiment as well as a refusal to admit he’d used bad data.

I don’t know how we get a respect for facts back in this country, but we’re in deep trouble if we can’t. Until we do we’re going to continue to see situations like this, in which Trump is loathed by 60+ percent of the population but basks in the approval of 85% of Republicans.

Clever, Link, clever

For the past two or three months I’ve had upper-arm or shoulder pain in my left arm, and I finally got around to making an appointment to see my doctor about it. All praise to the VA; I called and was transferred to the advice nurse when the original scheduler heard my problem. He said “she can get you an appointment a lot sooner than I can,” and boy was he right. I spoke to her yesterday afternoon and answered a whole battery of questions from her, like “are you feeling faint when this pain occurs? Are you vomiting? Got any chest pain to go with it?” and so on. She then checked my primary care doc’s schedule and managed to get me in the very next day (today) at 1:30 PM.

I got up there, was weighed (154.8 lbs.) and had my BP taken (106/60) and saw the good doctor shortly thereafter. He watched me try to move my arm and said “that’s shoulder, even if it feels like biceps/triceps. Off to the X-Ray people with you. If the pictures show anything screwy I’ll send you to an orthopedic surgeon. If not, I’ll send you to physical therapy.”

I’m almost pulling for the surgeon. PT would hurt!

Here’s the clever part of my visit: if you’re over 65 the CDC recommends that you get vaccinated for pneumonia. There are two vaccines given, and you can’t get the shots concurrently; you have to come back for the second one. It’s unclear how long the interval should be, but the Honolulu VA clinic’s policy is to demand a year between them. So I asked how long it had been since I had the first one and they looked it up and said “Over a year, so do you want the second round today?” and I of course said sure. But I thought “my left arm hurts already, so let’s get the shot in my right arm.” Smart. Now I have a sore left arm and a sore right one.

Unhacked!

Thanks to my good friend Annette and her staff at Hosting Matters my site has been freed of the graffiti left behind by whatever vandal stopped by.

It turned out that there wasn’t any serious damage (as far as we can tell). That little tab reading FORCE at the top of the page led to a newly-created page incorporated into the blog and a new Administrator was created in the user panel. Once identified it was easily removed and corrected. I’m lucky it was just vandalism.

If you need a good webhost I strongly recommend the nice people at Hosting Matters. They’re in Florida but they’re very responsive even to customers 5,000 miles away.

Hacked!

As far as I can tell, there’s been no harm done, but look at the top left corner of the page above the sidebar. See that word “FORCE?” Click on it. It shows what looks like a blog entry with the phrase “Hacked bY International Force.”

I’ve run a Malware scan and turned up nothing. I’ve searched the blog database for an entry which includes that phrase and found nothing. I’ve Googled and found a few hits, but it’s hard to tell whether those sites have been hit the same way or whether they purport to explain it. Most are in languages other than English and I’m not clicking on them.

I put in a support ticket to my host to see if they have any familiarity with it, so we’ll see if that does any good.

It’s annoying, but if that’s ALL it is I can live with it.

But, her emails!

The news of Donald J. Trump Jr.’s email chain about “official documents” that would “incriminate Hillary” must be bitterly ironic to the former Secretary of State and Presidential candidate. After the political press hammered her for months regarding her private email server Mrs. Clinton could be forgiven for asking “why the hell didn’t they look for Trump’s email?

The Washington Post has analysis:

The emails between President Trump’s oldest son and an intermediary for the Russians provide the clearest indication to date that Trump campaign officials and family members were at least prepared to do business with a foreign adversary in the mutual goal of taking down Hillary Clinton.

[snip]

And at a minimum, the information in the emails demolishes the president’s claim, made as recently as last week, that “nobody really knows” whether the Russians meddled in the U.S. election and, if they did, whether they did so with the intent of helping him and hurting Clinton.

One assumes that Mr. Mueller has leapt upon these revelations with both hands and will soon be asking hard questions of the President’s son, son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.

Mr. Trump senior may be holing up in the White House as though it were a foxhole. He hasn’t made a single public appearance since he got back from the G20 conference, which he and his staff think was highly productive and successful and the rest of the world thinks was dismal.

Trump isolated wouldn’t be a bad thing if his phone were taken away from him. As long as he’s got that he can blurt out inanities (Everyone at the G20 conference was talking about John Podesta’s actions with a mail server a year ago? Really?) or incoherencies (“covfefe”) or threats (If China won’t help we’ll solve North Korea ourselves).