Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

After Chaotic Weekend for Democrats and Wasserman Schultz, A Class Action Lawsuit Lies Ahead

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Pam Martens and Russ Martens have an interesting column in Wall Street on Parade. I will point out that, though Russia may indeed be behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the release of the emails, the content of the emails—what was said, what was planned, and what was done—was not done by Russia. Those flowed directly from decisions made by Debbie Wasserman Schulz and in cooperation with the Clinton campaign. What is exposed is tawdry and wrong and it was done deliberately within the Democratic Party establishment, which seems to have a rotten core—and indeed, that is exactly why so any of us welcomed Bernie Sanders’s campaign, seeing him as a new (and progressive) broom that could help cleanse the Democratic Party establishment of the rot that has festered within.

It is inappropriate, perhaps, for Russia to expose this rot, and but it is even more inappropriate that the Democratic Party establishment to take such non-democratic actions. I sincerely hope that Wasserman Schultz is sounding defeated in the primary this fall and lose to Tim Canova by some enormous margin (70-30 would be good). Quite apart from her inappropriate behavior as chair of the Democratic National Committee, she has been a strong advocate backing payday lenders and staunch opponent of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The column begins:

First it was Hillary Clinton handling Top Secret national security matters in emails with the caution of a drunken sailor. Now it’s emails leaked by Wikileaks showing that key officials at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) attempted to derail the Democratic campaign of Bernie Sanders in direct violation of the DNC’s own Charter.  Loose email lips are sinking a lot of ships in the Democratic corridors of power. And a lot more emails and depositions may be coming as a class action lawsuit filed in Federal Court gets underway.

Article 5, Section 4 of the DNC Charter mandates the following:

“The Chairperson shall be responsible for ensuring that the national officers and staff of the Democratic National Committee maintain impartiality and evenhandedness during the Democratic Party Presidential nominating process.”

Instead, according to more than 20,000 DNC emails exposed by Wikileaks on Friday,top DNC staffers were plotting to use Senator Bernie Sanders’ religious beliefs against him and to characterize his campaign as a mess.

Three months before the Wikileaks dump of emails on Friday, which show a clear strategy by the DNC to undermine Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton, Wall Street On Parade had previously asked the question “Are Hillary Clinton and the DNC Skirting Election Law?” in regard to the clearly biased structure of the Hillary Clinton and DNC joint fundraising committee, which operated for the benefit of each other as if Senator Bernie Sanders didn’t exist. Wall Street On Parade also reported in April that the DNC’s direct marketing firm displayed overt bias in favor of Clinton over Sanders on its Facebook page.

As a result of the leaked emails, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has announced she will step down from that position at the end of the Democratic National Convention which starts today in Philadelphia. Wasserman Schultz got a taste of what lies ahead for her at the convention as she was loudly booed at a convention breakfast this morning,according to an ABC News report.

The Wikileaks dump of the 20,000 emails will not be the end of disclosures about how the DNC under the tutelage of Wasserman Schultz orchestrated a campaign to coronate Hillary Clinton and undermine Sanders. A Federal class action lawsuit has been filed against the DNC and Wasserman Schultz alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence. The suit, Wilding et al v DNC Services Corporation and Deborah ‘Debbie’ Wasserman Schultz (Case Number 16-cv-61511-WJZ) was originally filed by . . .

Continue reading. There’s also video at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2016 at 9:19 am

Posted in Democrats, Election, Law

Some interesting thoughts on Trump from readers of James Fallows’s series “Trump Nation”

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Full disclosure: the first reader comment is from me. The others are quite interesting, though. The column begins:

In response to recent items on what Donald Trump is doing, readers offer views on why.

1) Id laid bare. In response to Time Capsule #54, “They Applauded for Me,” a reader says:

Today’s Trump™ Time Capsule reminded me of another example of unaware self-revelation.

Some 50 years ago I worked with a guy who volunteered at a meeting the statement, “I don’t get New Yorker cartoons.” He said it not without pride, as though it were somehow a badge of honor. There was no visible rolling of eyes and we went smoothly on with the meeting, but the remark explained much in my later encounters with him.

In Vital Lies, Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self-Deception, Daniel Goleman recounts in the preface a story of a woman talking about how much her family loves her, and how funny her mother is. If she was saying something that her mother didn’t like, her mother would just pick up what was at hand and throw it at her. “And once, we were eating dinner, so what she picked up was a knife and threw that at me,” told as a humorous anecdote.

Trump is id laid bare, so far as I can tell, and appeals directly to those controlled by the id.


2) Big versus little lies. This is very long but builds to a worthwhile point.

Thank you for the Time Capsule series. I think a lot of the commentary from all over on Trump is missing the main question, however. The fundamental question is seldom what people do; the fundamental question is why they do it.

Any “rational” analysis of Trump will fail. (“Rational” in both the “logical utility” and in the “sane” sense.) He is not presenting a logical way for attaining real benefits, nor is he presenting himself as sane.

What he is selling is fear and anger. It is those two emotions, and just  the emotions, that his supporters want. They want to be deathly afraid of the world, and they want to use that fear to justify an all-consuming anger. They are not looking for justification for those emotions; they just want the emotions themselves.

If you see his supporters as masses of the frustrated and disenfranchised who are seeking a voice at the table of power, then it makes no sense. Anybody like that would not want to be lied to. They have been lied to too many times by the powerful. Trump is an obvious liar, and he is never going to do what he says is is going to do. Anyone who simply feels betrayed by the political process isn’t about to set themselves up to be betrayed again. Those types will simply stay home on election day like they always do.

There is no point going into who said it, but it was said that “people would rather believe a big lie than a small one.” Once you lie, and once you lie very very big, then you are in constant fear of being found out. The only possible face-saving response is to use the energy of that fear to violently insist that you are right.

Once you stand up in public and say you believe that the Earth is flat, then you simply can’t back down. The fear of ridicule is so great that the only way forward is to be angry at all attackers. That anger then becomes its own validity. It is an addiction, pure and simple. It is an addiction to strong empty feelings. No one believes that the Earth is flat because of any logical argument. They believe that the Earth is flat because the panic that is caused by believing that lie sustains their desired anger. And their anger is all they have and all they want. Believing the lie is a deliberate and calculated act to drum up an overriding state of blind emotion.

Trump’s big lies are the whole point of his appeal.

Hillary’s fault is that she makes small lies (about the e-mails and a lot else). Small lies can be proven to be false, and the small liar shown to be a fool. You can say that you believed her about the e-mails, and then be shown that that small lie was wrong, and then say that she is a scoundrel for fooling you like that.

But if you swallow a big lie, you can’t back down. Any backdown would be such a loss of face, that your identity won’t allow it. You get trapped in a world of fear of discovery and anger at your critics and you can’t get out.

Most importantly, however, most people don’t want to get out. Most importantly, most people get in that position on purpose. That is why they support Trump. They live off the anger that believing a big lie produces in them.

I hate to always be bringing this up, but every year 250,000 Americans die from medical mistakes. That is over 600 a day, every day, all year long. That is more than a fully loaded 747 crashing every day due to preventable errors.

And the Wall Street Journal reports that immigrants have a lower crime and incarceration rate than natural-born Americans.

Where were the teary-eyed speakers at the RNC talking about their loved ones killed by medical mistakes or by native-born American criminals? There are only a couple hundred thousand more of those to be found than the ones they trotted out. But that is only if you believe in the weight of evidence.

There is no either sane or utilitarian reason to put the fear of immigrant criminals or Islamic terrorists anywhere within the top 100 things to worry about in life. But that is not the point. The point isn’t in believing in the truth what that does for you. The whole point is in believing the lie and what that does for you.


Trump is giving his followers what they want and what they insist on: a big lie that will feed their anger. They want to be lied to so that they can be angry at those who call them liars. That is all they want in life, and Trump is delivering the goods. Trump isn’t doing this because he has some carefully calculated path to power on backs of his supporters. He is doing it because he is an idiot and can’t do anything else. He is just a meaningless tool of the times. The more he lies the more his supporters feed off the anger those lies cause and it goes on and on.

The “Vichy Republicans” are just along for the ride, knowing full well that all they want is power and that they will get it and find a way to cover themselves no matter what happens. As you know, in politics, losing is often the best choice, because then you get all of the talk and none of the responsibility.

It is all up to democracy. If most of the people want to be lied to so that they can be angry, then goodbye the good old U.S.A. If Hillary isn’t up to bringing out the vote, then that’s the end.

But Trump isn’t stopped by showing him to be a liar. That just feeds the beast. You don’t convince someone that the Earth isn’t flat by telling them that they are stupid. They want you to say that, so that they can get angry at you for saying that, and that anger is all they really wanted from the beginning. If you are angry enough you don’t have to deal with anything else in the world. It is the cheapest and most powerful drug in the world. And once you are addicted, it is hard to stop. Once you are addicted you simply don’t know how to do anything else. And you want more and more of it.

You narrow his support by giving his supporters a way out. I think the best way to stop him, as has been pointed out by others, is to simply insult him. That way he will wind it so far out that even his supporters will see the humor in it. Get him to trash talk more about the U.S. and start bringing in UFOs and it will all turn into stand-up comedy even to his supporters. A good laugh puts you in charge, and gets you out.

Either that, or he starts insulting pockets of his own supporters, and then they start wondering who is next. Get some surrogates to insult him in public, and trust he handles it badly. Not call him a liar, but actually insult him. He’s afraid of the very thing he does to others. That’s why he does it. Reagan would have put on that famous smile and say “there you go again.” Trump will probably loose it.

That and when the Trump U case comes up, he’ll be shown to be a small liar.


3) Roots of his appeal. A reader with another tip:

Another magazine [apart from The Atlantic!] I’ve recently discovered that has a lot of insightful articles is The American Conservative. Belowis a link to a great article discussing the appeal of Trump to the white working class.

Yes, this interview with J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, is interesting and important. It intersects with the themes Deb and I have been covering, and we’ll return to it.


4) On Trump, Putin, and a bias toward chaos. Last for today:

I haven’t slept well since Trump’s RNC speech when it dawned me how close the alignment of Trump’s and Putin’s behavior and interests are. I plead that you dig deeper, much deeper. That you encourage your compatriots to uncover this connection. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2016 at 8:55 am

Posted in Election, GOP

Trump and Putin, a mutual admiration society

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Trump does have business interests in Russia, so he has a vested interest in staying on Putin’s good side, but it seems to go beyond that. Josh Marshall and Kevin Drum both point out the extraordinary way that Trump has made the GOP a Russian ally.

Josh Marshall at TPM:

Let me start by saying I’m no Russia hawk. I have long been skeptical of US efforts to extend security guarantees to countries within what the Russians consider their ‘near abroad’ or extend such guarantees and police Russian interactions with new states which for centuries were part of either the Russian Empire or the USSR. This isn’t a matter of indifference to these countries. It is based on my belief in seriously thinking through the potential costs of such policies. In the case of the Baltics, those countries are now part of NATO. Security commitments have been made which absolutely must be kept. But there are many other areas where such commitments have not been made. My point in raising this is that I do not come to this question or these policies as someone looking for confrontation or cold relations with Russia.

Let’s start with the basic facts. There is a lot of Russian money flowing into Trump’s coffers and he is conspicuously solicitous of Russian foreign policy priorities.

I’ll list off some facts.

1. All the other discussions of Trump’s finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin. Here’s a good overview from The Washington Post, with one morsel for illustration …

Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

3. One example of this is the Trump Soho development in Manhattan, one of Trump’s largest recent endeavors. The project was the hit with a series of lawsuits in response to some typically Trumpian efforts to defraud investors by making fraudulent claims about the financial health of the project. Emerging out of that litigation however was news about secret financing for the project from Russia and Kazakhstan. Most attention about the project has focused on the presence of a twice imprisoned Russian immigrant with extensive ties to the Russian criminal underworld. But that’s not the most salient part of the story. As the Times put it,

“Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt.”

Another suit alleged the project “occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia.”

Sounds completely legit.

Read both articles: After his bankruptcy and business failures roughly a decade ago Trump has had an increasingly difficult time finding sources of capital for new investments. As I noted above, Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major US presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s tax returns would likely clarify the depth of his connections to and dependence on Russian capital aligned with Putin. And in case you’re keeping score at home: no, that’s not reassuring.

4. Then there’s Paul Manafort, Trump’s nominal ‘campaign chair’ who now functions as campaign manager and top advisor. Manafort spent most of the last decade as top campaign and communications advisor for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian Prime Minister and then President whose ouster in 2014 led to the on-going crisis and proxy war in Ukraine. Yanukovych was and remains a close Putin ally. Manafort is running Trump’s campaign.

5. Trump’s foreign policy advisor on Russia and Europe is Carter Page, a man whose entire professional career has revolved around investments in Russia and who has deep and continuing financial and employment ties to Gazprom. If you’re not familiar with Gazprom, imagine if most or all of the US energy industry were rolled up into a single company and it were personally controlled by the US President who used it as a source of revenue and patronage. That is Gazprom’s role in the Russian political and economic system. It is no exaggeration to say that you cannot be involved with Gazprom at the very high level which Page has been without being wholly in alignment with Putin’s policies. Those ties also allow Putin to put Page out of business at any time.

6. Over the course of the last year, Putin has aligned all Russian state controlled media behind Trump. As Frank Foer explains here, this fits a pattern with how Putin has sought to prop up rightist/nationalist politicians across Europe, often with direct or covert infusions of money. In some cases this is because they support Russia-backed policies; in others it is simply because they sow discord in Western aligned states. Of course, Trump has repeatedly praised Putin, not only in the abstract but often for the authoritarian policies and patterns of government which have most soured his reputation around the world.

7. Here’s where it gets more interesting. . .

Continue reading.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

Today brings one of the weirdest stories of any recent presidential campaign: Hillary Clinton’s campaign has essentially accused Donald Trump of being a pawn of the Russians. Not in hints; not from an unaffiliated Super PAC; not in a deniable statement from an arms-length surrogate; and not in vague “doesn’t put America first” terms. Friday’s release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, says Clinton’s campaign manager, “was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.” And Trump intervened to change the Republican platform last week in a way that “some experts would regard as pro-Russian.”

Believe it or not, though, that’s not the weirdest part of this story. The weirdest part is (a) Clinton’s campaign might be right, and (b) this is not really getting an awful lot of attention from the media.

Let that sink in: the Clinton campaign has explicitly accused the Russians of being on Team Trump and suggested that Trump might be on Team Russia. And although the media is covering it, it’s not the top story anywhere. Seriously. WTF does it take these days to lead the news?

In a nutshell, here’s the evidence. A few months ago, when the DNC’s email was hacked, outside experts immediately said it looked like it had been done by the Russians. Here’s the New York Times:

Researchers have concluded that the national committee was breached by two Russian intelligence agencies, which were the same attackers behind previous Russian cyberoperations at the White House, the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff last year….Evidence so far suggests that the attack was the work of at least two separate agencies, each apparently working without the knowledge that the other was inside the Democrats’ computers.

….The experts cited by Mr. Mook include CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm that was brought into the Democratic National Committee when officials there suspected they had been hacked….Officials at several other firms that have examined the code for the malware used against the Democratic National Committee and the metadata of the stolen documents found evidence that the documents had been accessed by multiple computers, some with Russian language settings.

Eventually the email cache ended up in the hands of Wikileaks, which published it on Friday. “The release to WikiLeaks adds another strange element,” says the Times, “because it suggests that the intelligence findings are being ‘weaponized’ — used to influence the election in some way.” Other similar stories include this one from theWashington Post and this one from Defense One. Beyond that, Russian media has become conspicuously pro Trump over the past year.

So that’s the evidence that Russia is backing Team Trump. But what about the evidence that Trump is on Team Russia? This is a little trickier, but it turns out Trump has an impressive number of pro-Russian views:

  • The Washington Post: Trump didn’t bother much with the Republican platform, but on one topic he pulled out the heavy artillery: against the advice of virtually all conservative foreign policy analysts, he insisted on gutting a plank that said the US should provide weapons to Ukraine. Also: for many years, Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, was a lobbyist for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Putin former president of Ukraine.
  • The New York Times: A few days ago, Trump told David Sanger and Maggie Haberman that he might not defend the Baltics if Russia invaded them. He also suggested that the US had little moral authority to condemn human rights abuses in other countries—a decidedly unusual view for someone running on an extreme nationalist platform.
  • The Wall Street Journal: Trump has also suggested that NATO should reorient itself from defending Europe against Russian aggression and instead place more emphasis on Middle Eastern terrorism.
  • Josh Marshall: “Trump’s foreign policy advisor on Russia and Europe is Carter Page, a man whose entire professional career has revolved around investments in Russia and who has deep and continuing financial and employment ties to Gazprom.”
  • Slate: Trump has teamed up with Russian investors frequently on projects, and for years has lavished a surprising amount of praise on Vladimir Putin.
  • The Washington Times: Trump has been unusually sanguine about Russia’s intervention in Syria. “Let Russia fight ISIS, if they want to fight ‘em,” Trump said last year. “Why do we care?” . . .

Continue reading.

Of course, Hillary Clinton has aligned herself with Benjamin Netanyahu and pledged support for whatever he chooses to do, but Russia is a country with more expansionist ambitions and a bigger army—and has more impact on our European allies. I would worry more about a Russian connection (particularly with an impulsive person like Trump) than I do about an Israeli connection (particularly with a more thoughtful and policy-oriented person like Clinton).

UPDATE: All signs point to Russia as being behind the DNC hack.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2016 at 8:28 am

Posted in Democrats, Election, GOP

Merkur Futur to auction

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Futur side

My Merkur Futur is now listed on eBay.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2016 at 8:11 am

Posted in Shaving

Otoko Organics with an S-Brush and the Above the Tie S1 slant

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SOTD 2016-07-25

The Omega S-10005 synthetic was easily load with Otoko Organics, beginning with a damp brush and brushing the puck briskly for about 10 seconds. Once I applied that initial load of lather to the face, I added a driblet of water to the brush and worked up the lather, which blossomed nicely. I think this lather has somewhat less cushion than a lather from a regular (and good) shaving soap, but it’s perfectly usable and I enjoy the clean fragrance, which I think is from the pear essence in the formula.

I haven’t use my Above the Tie S1 head for a while, mounted here on a UFO handle. It does a fine job, though I think now it’s just a little less comfortable than the iKon X3 and 102. Certainly it’s a good razor, and I’ll want to compare again: some of that might be due to the lather. Maybe I’ll use it again tomorrow with a regular soap lather.

I finished the shave with a splash of Pinaud’s Lilac Vegetal, whose fragrance improves remarkably after it has been on my face for 20-30 minutes. The initial hit is strong, and some do not like that, but it calms down and smells better after a few minutes.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 July 2016 at 7:59 am

Posted in Shaving

Law-enforcement links from Radley Balko

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Just a few of the links from this column in the Washington Post:

  • The Marshall Project has heard from defense attorneys alleging prosecutors have “ghostwritten” judicial opinions in seven states.
  • Video shows North Miami, Fla., officer shooting an unarmed aide to an autistic man. The aide was lying on the ground with his arms stretched out. The autistic man was holding a toy truck. The aide did survive the shooting.
  • Pennsylvania to pay $195,000 to man arrested and jailed for nearly a month after a drug field test falsely indicated two bricks of homemade soap were cocaine. [I don’t know whether it was shaving soap. – LG]


Written by LeisureGuy

24 July 2016 at 11:24 am

Posted in Law Enforcement

Anything for profits: Olympus told U.S. executives no broad scope warning needed despite superbug outbreaks

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Chad Terhune reports in the LA Times:

Faced with superbug outbreaks in three countries by early 2013, Japanese device giant Olympus Corp. told U.S. executives not to issue a broad warning to American hospitals about potentially deadly infections from tainted medical scopes, internal emails show.

After two dozen infections were reported in French and Dutch hospitals, the company alerted European customers in January 2013 that a scope it manufactured could become contaminated.

A top Olympus executive in the U.S. grew concerned because the company was investigating a similar outbreak at a Pittsburgh hospital.

“Should [we] also be communicating to our users the information that [Olympus Europe] is communicating to their European users?” Laura Storms, vice president of regulatory and clinical affairs in Center Valley, Pa., asked in an email to Tokyoheadquarters on Jan. 31, 2013.

No, that’s not necessary, said Susumu Nishina, the company’s chief manager for market quality administration in Tokyo in a Feb. 6, 2013, reply.

It is “not need[ed] to communicate to all the users actively,” Nishina wrote, because a company assessment of the risk to patients found it to be “acceptable.”  However, he added that Storms should respond to questions from a customer.

Outbreaks of infection at hospitals in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Denver and other cities followed over the next three years. All told, at least 35 people at U.S. hospitals have died since 2013 – three of them at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center – after suffering infections from contaminated gastrointestinal scopes manufactured by Olympus, according to hospitals and public health officials.

Olympus’ actions – and inaction – are being closely examined in lawsuits by American patients and their families who contend that the manufacturer was negligent and might have prevented the outbreaks and deaths had it been more forthcoming. In addition, federal prosecutors are investigating Olympus’ handling of the infections – and the emails could become crucial evidence in any future case.

The company’s internal emails reveal conflicts inside Olympus over how to respond to a growing threat to patient safety, pitting U.S. executives against their superiors in Japan who had the final say. The emails were filed in a Pennsylvania court this month as part of a patient lawsuit and obtained by Kaiser Health News working in collaboration with the Los Angeles Times. . .

Continue reading.

This is very reminiscent of the Tanaka airbag cover up.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 July 2016 at 10:34 am


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