Donald Trump cleared by Mueller report


The long-awaited Special Counsel report produced by Robert Mueller was delivered to Attorney General William Barr this past Friday.  Donald Trump, his administration and band of supporters are claiming victory that the report did not find him conspiring with the Russia government during the 2016 presidential election.

But, did the Mueller report really clear him?  As predicted, Trump and his pundits which have flamed throughout media have misstated the conclusions reached by claiming he has been totally exonerated.

 

“Mueller did not find Trump or his campaign conspired with Russia, also did not exonerate him on obstruction”

The spin

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 24: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media as he returns to the White House after spending the weekend in Florida March 24, 2019 in Washington, DC. Trump returns to Washington as Special Counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

While team Trump spins the news that they have been absolutely vindicated by the report, a closer evaluation shows a much different summary.  Prior to Robert Mueller being pulled in to investigate allegations against Trump, for the most part his life was private, especially those related to his financial dealings.

No report would have been necessary…….

Once he summarily fired James Comey, he inadvertently triggered the investigation as we know it.  During that period of countless tweets, threats and other commentary never seen before by a United States president became an unfortunate side show.

 

Unfortunately for Trump, yes Mueller did not find a conspiracy with the Russian government.  But what Mueller did find and was crafty enough to move from his specific mandate, was uncover a long history of Trump behavior which have led to criminal investigations.  The Mueller report has completed and those actions will not be handled by the Special Counsel’s office.  Instead other jurisdictions have taken the baton which have more freedom in their pursuit of justice and the end result is Trump is now more vulnerable than if the report had not been initiated in the first place.

The bigger picture

So, while Trump’s opponents voiced dismay of the Mueller report not providing the results they were seeking, their thirst for a Trump take-down blindsided many from seeing the bigger picture.  Once they awaken from their nightmare of Trump escaping any of the Mueller indictments, they will see he actually did them a huge favor by sending the investigations to other jurisdictions.

Once Trump and his team finish their victory lap and admonishing those who they have defined as their enemies, a gauntlet of criminal investigations await them:

  • The hush money investigation
  • Trump’s inauguration funding
  • Pro-Trump super PAC
  • Trump Organization insurance policies
  • Trump Organization real estate deals
  • The Trump Foundation
  • Trump’s taxes
  • Trump’s golf club employing undocumented immigrants

CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS

  • House Intelligence Committee
  • House Judiciary Committee
  • House Oversight Committee
  • House Financial Services
  • House Ways and Means Committee
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Senate Intelligence

Trump nominates Stephen Moore to Fed Board.  Does this spell trouble for Jerome Powell?


ABOVE CAPTION.  President Trump Announces The Nominee For Federal Reserve Chair Of The Board Of Governors
Jerome Powell, governor of the U.S. Federal Reserve and President Donald Trump's nominee as chairman of the Federal Reserve, speaks as Trump, left, listens during a nomination announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. If approved by the Senate, the 64-year-old former Carlyle Group LP managing director and ex-Treasury undersecretary would succeed Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

“It is my pleasure to announce that @StephenMoore, a very respected Economist, will be nominated to serve on the Fed Board. I have known Steve for a long time – and have no doubt he will be an outstanding choice! @realDonaldTrump “

If your ambition is to serve as part of the Donald Trump administration, it helps to be part of the FOX network, speak negatively about the Obama administration or communicate in the media your disdain for someone in the current administration who happens to be in “hot water” with Donald Trump or his acolyte’s.  This morning it was Steven Moore’s turn to see if he can parlay his loyalty to Trump and go through the nomination process.

Stephen Moore, visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, listens during a Bloomberg Television interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, March 22, 2019. President Donald Trump said he’s nominating Moore, a long-time supporter of the president, for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Powell’s dilemma

The Federal Reserve is an independent body with the task of establishing monetary policy.  Currently there are two openings on the board.  Current Board Chair Jerome Powell has been in the crosshairs of Donald Trump for some time.  It doesn’t matter that Powell, a life-long Republican was recently nominated by Trump to his current post less than two years ago.  During that period the stock market hit some low marks.  Rather than blame himself for the policies he adopted which most economist indicated was the reason for the decline, Trump found a new foe in Powell and suffered the wrath and the blame.  Similar to so many officials Trump has appointed, many are independent and do not report or work for the White House.  Their role is to work on behalf of the citizens of the United States of America.   

Unfortunately as soon as whatever work they are doing intimates something Trump or the White House dislikes, they are admonished and chastised for not being a “team player.”

I only hire the best!

During the 2016 presidential campaign and leading up to naming key administration staff, Trump would boast, “he’d “surround myself only with the best and most serious people” — adding: “We want top-of-the-line professionals.”

That may result in a good sound-bite but the results to date have been a big flop.  More than a few people who had the aspiration to be part of team Trump has resigned, summarily shown the front door or indicted due to criminal behavior, while their dreams went up in flames.

Being a panderer has its benefits

In some circles, Moore has been viewed as the ultimate panderer known for making nervous smiles during his stint as a cable-news analyst.  He has demonstrated the willingness to support anything and everything spouted by Donald Trump.  His behavior has been very similar to those who are publicly interviewing for administration post’s knowing full-well of Trump’s appetite in spending as much time as possible consuming media.

The editorial

Up until this morning Moore was an analyst for CNN.

“Moore joined CNN as a contributor in early 2017. Given this news, he is no longer with the network, a CNN spokeswoman confirms.” CNN Chief Correspondent @brianstelter

He was known for his commitment to never admit anything negative about Donald Trump or his administration.  Despite tremendous documentation and evidence to the contrary, Moore’s would presents arguments that might result in an “F” grade in the most basic debate class.  His position was to always deny the obvious.

As mentioned, similar to other appointees Moore’s performance caught the attention of Trump.  But perhaps the thing that sealed his nomination was his March 13, 2019 editorial to the Wall Street Journal which blasted current chair Powell and blamed him for the concern about Wall Street.  This surely supported Trump’s attitude who in turn suggested to Economic Advisor, Larry Kudlow that Moore is just the type of person to fill one of the Fed vacancies.

Interestingly, many view the Federal Reserve as a prestigious organization where top economist who hold pHD’s wind up.  Moore’s resume does not compare to those who currently sit on the board.  Absent of a pHD, for the past three years his core employment was being a pundit for the Trump administration.

 

While Trump’s tweets are considered official communication, Moore indicated he has not received a firm offer.  Assuming it comes later today or within the next several days the next step is to go through the nomination process.  The big question is whether Trump is appointing Moore because he truly is competent and can improve the body or is he being positioned  to promote his views as articulated in his March 13th op-ed.

 

 

 

 

Trump Administration continues its attack on Cuba


 

Old American car drives near the Cuban telecommunications company ETECSA building in Havana, on February 28, 2019. – The European Union as well as Cuba faces a nervous wait as the countdown to US President Donald Trump’s March 17 deadline to activate sanctions against the Caribbean island nation approaches. Trump has broken with two decades of precedence in threatening to activate the Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which extended the US embargo to apply to foreign companies trading with Cuba. (Photo by YAMIL LAGE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

On March 4th, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced the United States has suspended Title III of the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) against Cuba.

The move is another twist of the administration’s zeal to thwart any progress made by the Obama administration regarding rebuilding relations between the two countries.

Ironically, Title III had been waived by presidents since 1996 and had been renewed consistently until the announcement by Pompeo.  The act essentially allows Cubans who fled the country and landed in the United States following the 1959 revolution to sue in an attempt to reclaim land and property which was claimed by the government.  Whether they will be successful in court is undefined at this time.

 

While the move appears pretty straight-forward, many international experts have a different perspective.  Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean and known for its independence and endurance.   In addition to being an ally to communist regimes, they have been a big supporter of Venezuela and their support of the Maduro government.

The 1959 Revolution resulted in those not supporting the new regime to flee leaving  property and other assets which the government used to rebuild the country.  No doubt the issue is controversial and bitter feelings still exist from those who were exiled.  However, some view the Trump Administration’s action as basic retaliation for the country supporting someone in another country who they do not support.  As mentioned Pompeo indicated the move will be revisited in 30 days.

Like many things with this administration, it is unclear how many lawsuits may be brought or their probability of success.

Another close ally of Donald Trump indicted


This morning, longtime Trump ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted on corruption charges.

 

Sometimes you just have to stop and ask a critical question?  Why is it so many people who consider themselves a close ally or an associate of Donald Trump find themselves under indictment, if not already convicted of criminal behavior?

 

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 5: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Oval Office of the White House March 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. The prime minister is on an official visit to the US until the end of the week. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

No doubt Trump supporters will vehemently dismiss such a question as a massive witch hunt, pure jealously by those who dislike him or simply those hellbent on trolling for any negative news that he might be connected.

 

Unfortunately, like a heartbeat the throbbing question remains and deserves some type of legitimate response.  It becomes a bit silly when Donald Trump and his supporters belt-out their choral refrain “There’s No Collusion, There’s No Russia interference!!!”  Yet, all of the lads listed below have suffered the wrath of being entangled in the legal system investigating Donald Trump.

image courtesy of Axios

 

What is it about people who maintain a confident or even arrogant position about their leadership who continue to dangle on the fine line of being a sincere servant or using their office as a criminal conduit?

 

Stay tuned………….in case you missed the Michael Cohen congressional hearing yesterday here is a clip of him admonishing those who blindly follow Trump and the peril they may encounter.

 

Your home: Lendable Equity


The basic benefit of home ownership is shelter.  Another critical benefit is it is an asset and valued based on normal market conditions.

 

  • Equity is the value of your property less encumbrances (loans, liens, etc.)


  • Lendable equity is the amount of EQUITY can borrow. 

Most prudent lenders have limitations on what percentage you can borrow.  Typically for the best rates/programs you can’t exceed 80%, however it is not uncommon to see programs where you can borrow ALL of your equity.

 

Many homeowners tap into their lendable equity to fund a variety of personal items.  On some occasions the lender may restrict how you can use your lendable equity but for the most part it belongs to you to do as you choose.

African-American Med students find life-raft in CUBA


About seven years ago I first heard of a program that seemed too good to be true!  Simply, the country of Cuba had a program where students could gain their medical education, training and degree at no cost to them.  Med school cost are crippling for most and range from $140,000 – $175,000 and that is just tuition.  When you factor in room & board, meals, supplies and other things the cost can easily skyrocket to nearly $500,000.

My treks started in 2014 and due to needing laser-focus energy on my two topics; Race in Cuba and the Old Negro Leagues in Cuba, I forgot about the program.

 

Fiction or Non-Fiction

Just like you I love entertainment.  The problem I have is limited time so when it comes to reading or viewing screenings, as a historian I tend to focus on non-fiction or real-life issues.  Maybe that is the reason I prefer documentaries?  The Pan-African Film Festival (PAFF) kicked off its 27th year last Thursday.

Lo and behold one of their features is “Dare to Dream.”  It is a riveting documentary that chronicles med students earning their credentials in Cuba.

(courtesy of Pomona Valley Med Center) Completing his residency at Pomona Valley Medical Center. Resident Year: 2019 Undergraduate School: The University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma Medical School: Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina

In 2000, a delegation representing the Congressional Black Caucus had the courage to visit Cuba and meet with Fidel Castro.  Part of their discussion was the pathetic health care African-Americans and other minorities had to deal with.  Later that year members of the Cuban Health ministry visited the group in New York and announced Castro was creating a program for the population affected to complete their studies in Cuba and the cous de gras was there was absolutely no cost.

Approximately half of the initial scholarships were targeted for African-American students.  The remainder were for Latino and other ethnic minorities who came from underserved communities.

 

The Escuela Latinoamericana de Ciencias Médicas (ELAM) program initially offered 500 scholarships total for US students.  Thus far nearly 200 US students have graduated and nearly 30,000 students from over 100 countries worldwide have benefitted.  IFCO is the organization which identifies and places students in the program.

 

As for those from the United States, they are placed in hospitals all over, including Pomona Valley Medical Center.

 

The first class of 1,498 ELAM doctors graduated on August 20, 2005, with 112 from other Cuban medical schools: 28 other countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States were represented by the graduates. The ceremony was led by Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Reportedly attending were Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua & BarbudaPrime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of DominicaPrime Minister Keith Mitchell of GrenadaPresident Martín Torrijos of PanamaPrime Minister Denzil Douglas of St. Kitts & Nevis and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent & the Grenadinesas well as high-ranking government representatives of The BahamasBarbadosBelize, the Dominican Republic, EcuadorGrenadaGuatemalaGuyanaJamaicaSt. LuciaSuriname and Trinidad & Tobago.

 

The documentary has two more screenings before PAFF ends.  To be informed and see for yourself this remarkable program I would encourage you to attend PAFF or purchase the video.

  • Friday – Feb. 15th 4:30pm
  • Saturday – Feb. 16th 6:30pm

 

Here is the trailer

Dare to Dream: Cuba’s Latin American Medical School from Jennifer Wager on Vimeo.

 

 

Aretha Franklin Kicks Off 27th Annual PAFF


Legendary Gospel and R&B artist Aretha Franklin will kick-off the 27th annual Pan-African Film Festival.  The never seen documentary which featured Franklin’s historic album – “Amazing Grace” will finally hit the big screens.  Through all of the years since the 1972 concert was filmed, due to various reasons it had never been shown.

The filming will be seen tonight at 7:30pm at the Director’s Guild located on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.  The rest of PAFF’s extraordinary lineup of independent films showcasing producer’s across the diaspora will be seen at the Rave Cinemark theaters in Baldwin Hills at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping complex.

A little nugget of history

Watts is a community in Los Angeles.  It was always known as a place many came to call home following the migration of African-Americans moving from parts of the South.  In 1965, due to feeling abuse, discrimination and the basic lack of upward mobility, some members of the community erupted and the riot which followed became known as the “Watts Riots.”

Through the years which followed the name Watts became synonymous with anything bad or negative.  As Los Angeles continued to grow, African-Americans moved in greater numbers to all parts of the city.  It was not uncommon to see various media reports mention any place where African-Americans lived in Los Angeles described as Watts.  More specifically some reports mentioned any place south of the Santa Monica freeway as being in Watts!

Historically, that is laughable if not insulting to the many who lived in Watts and were proud citizens.  The community of Watts is fairly small.  The north/south boundary is Firestone (Manchester) to the north and Imperial Highway to the south.  The east/west boundary is Central Avenue to the west and Alameda Street to the east.

The reason this tidbit or perspective is mentioned is many who have come to know about the famous concert Mrs. Franklin performed in debuting  Amazing Grace have listed the origin as taking place in Watts.  Unfortunately that is not correct.  New Temple Missionary Baptist Church is at 87th Street and Broadway and was erected in 1966.  That location has never been in Watts as it has always been in what is known as South Central Los Angeles.

 

For more information on PAFF and the 150+ screenings, click HERE

 

Baseball Legend Frank Robinson passes


“Frank Robinson’s resume in our game is without parallel, a trailblazer in every sense, whose impact spanned generations,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “He was one of the greatest players in the history of our game, but that was just the beginning of a multifaceted baseball career.”  Rob Manfred, Commissioner – Major League Baseball  


Baseball legend Frank Robinson passed today at 83.  The announcement was made today by Major League Baseball.  For the past several weeks he was in hospice and while his passing does not come as a surprise, it rekindles the greatness he displayed as a player and all-around talent in major league baseball.

iconic shot from 2016 Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium. Frank also was there to support Mrs. Rachel Robinson and his dear friend Dodgers legend Don Newcombe.

Following in the footsteps of Jackie Robinson, in 1956 Frank broke in with the Cincinnati Reds.  The rest is history.  He was known for his fierce competitive spirit; as a player, a manager and executive within the league.  Robinson shunned fraternization which is prevalent in today’s game.  Perhaps, because players lack the same team loyalty that once was common-place among teams during Robinson’ era.  They move around within the thirty teams at a more frequent pace as putting in more than five years with a team might be considered rare.

 

During Robinson’s era once the players hit the dugout to prepare for the game, it was unheard of for players to greet those from the opposition or even share a positive nod, let alone embrace them…..even though they may have been lifelong friends.

 

While Jackie is known for the player to break the color-barrier in MLB, Frank goes down as the manager who did the same.

“Frank use to tell us, we don’t talk to the other team…..we just beat them!!  Former Oriole teammate and Hall of Famer Jim Palmer

Key moments from Robinson’s career – click HERE

 

Tributes and condolences have started pouring in to acknowledge a life well-lived.  RIP Frank Robinson

January jobs report a positive mark for the Trump administration


“Reporters anti-Trump bias has spiraled out of control.” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders


Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its jobs report reflecting data compiled for January 2019. Great news for the 304,000 who are now employed. The report was also a positive shot in the arm for the Trump administration.

During the two-years the administration has been operating, they have accused the media of only focusing on negative news about the antics that Donald Trump belts out on almost a daily basis. Unfortunately, that is not true as over that period there is plenty of positive news the administration should be proud of.

The jobs report is just one marker. Eyebrows get raised when Trump and those who support him focus their retort primarily on African-American employment data as if they are some primitive group or the only group mentioned in the report. It is silly and many wonder why they don’t simply communicate an argument that includes everybody?

News such as the jobs report would lead media on a more frequent basis, if not for the self-inflicted wounds the administration consistently makes. Their blunders dampen the positive news they create resulting in them communicating a false narrative that “everybody is out to get them.’

The effects of the Government shutdown

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 28: Despite Friday’s end to the longest-ever partial government shutdown, federal employees continue to line up outside outside the World Central Kitchen for free food and coffee January 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. Founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, World Central Kitchen is a not-for-profit non-governmental organization devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. The kitchen has been providing meals, non-perishable food and other services to workers affected by the shutdown since January 16. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The January report is positive news. However, in a more thorough analysis you will see the unemployment rate ticked up to 4.0 percent. Again, that is not alarming as it merely is a data point. It must also be noted the number of unemployed persons rose to 6.5 million. Among those, 175,000 are in the “temporary layout” category.

Despite the shutdown, the January report is good news and some political leaders can’t fathom why Donald Trump doesn’t spend more energy on building on positive reports instead of being obsessed with watching cable television or trying to figure out ways to continue to hold the taxpayers hostage on a wall he proudly stated and his supporters echoed that “Mexico would pay for?”

Jackie Robinson:  Major League Baseball to feature yearlong celebration


Jackie Roosevelt Robinson was born January 31, 1919.  Today Major League Baseball (MLB) took the unprecedented step of declaring a full year celebration of his birth.  Throughout the year activities are planned to honor him.

Statues of Jackie Robinson are sprinkled in many parts of the United States. In September 2016 the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History & Culture unveiled this statue as part of its exhibit. This 2016 photo showcases Robinson’s iconic slide while stealing home.

While it is noted, Robinson’s fame was created as the first African-American player to break to color-barrier in MLB, his life spanned a career as a great humanitarian.

 

The Experiment

In 1947 history marked Robinson’s entry in joining the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Branch Rickey is noted as a trailblazer who bucked the racial codes of the time while shepherding Robinson through the rigors needed to perform at a top level.  Rickey and the Dodgers earned their platitudes in history by having the courage to deal with Jim Crow.  Many who understand the game and who have an appreciation of history understand the move had more to do with the economic uplift of MLB versus the benevolence of integrating the game.

 

Like most African-American baseball players of the time they were part of the Negro League organization.  The league was extremely popular among the African-American population who showed their appreciation with solid attendance.  The style of play was more entertaining than MLB.  Players did all types of antics that not only entertained the fans but showcased their athletic prowess.  Things like bunting, stealing a base, doing a double-windup, using the hit-and-run technique were revolutionary at the time.  Thus, the games became a major attraction from the cities they operated.  The parallel is while MLB featured great players showcasing great skills, it lacked to core entertainment value found in Negro League.  Thus, caused a stall in MLB as attendance became stagnant.

Rickey and others were known for their marketing acumen realized integrating the league with the “right players” could boast their economic dilemma.  So, while it is true Rickey gave Robinson the shot, the move created consternation with other Negro League players who were thirsty to showcase their talents on a larger state.  The move was not about who was the best player in the league but who could make the successful transition to MLB and endure all of the hostility and vitriol needed to help defeat segregation and open the door for other players to follow.

Chavez Ravine or Dodger Stadium was opened in 1962. It was not known for statues, however that changed in 2017 as the great statue of Robinson’s iconic slide is now visible for the public to see.

At 52, Jackie Robinson died a relatively young man but his beautiful wife, Rachel has helped to keep his legacy alive and the year long celebration is just one example of how sports transcends society.

Click HERE for a full list of activities.