May 13, 2017
The often quoted statement that “all 17 agencies” signed on to the allegation of Russian election interference in the U.S. turns out not to be true. According to this post by a former intelligence officer, there were only three agencies involved--NSA, CIA and FBI--and those agencies did not follow usual procedures on filing an opinion even out of their agencies. The experts behind the report were cherry-picked. The statement itself had many qualifiers in it as well.
Again, this is just part of the Democratic storyline that Hillary Clinton had the election stolen from her by Russian interference. The agency representatives all are suspect in terms of their credibility: General James Clapper, NSA, who looks like he was won over to the other side, CIA Director John Brennan, who was always in the tank for the Democrats, and former FBI Director Comey, who flitted from side to side.
May 13, 2017
President Trump’s great strength is his steadfastness of purpose, but he could benefit from more advance reflection. One possibility is that his Cabinet, now that it is starting to be formed, could meet with some regularity, and effectively serve like a board of directors, with the President as the CEO. Trump is more apt to follow the advice of these individuals, who are his peers, than if he has a staff. The President cherishes his Twitter time, because he feels this is his way to communicate directly—but there needs to be some review, because more of these reflect poorly than they do positively. It will be difficult to take Trump’s megaphone away from him.
As Trump’s first term goes forward, some staff changes and possibly even Cabinet changes will occur. As attention turns to international affairs, as it will shortly, the Russian interference story will die of its own weight. That story has three parts: first, was there Russian interference—and obviously there was—and the tools available probably took it to a higher level than in prior years. The second, which will prove to be false, is—are any persons linked in some fashion to Donald Trump duplicitous in their dealings with the Russians? This is the sore point for Trump, as the narrative is totally inaccurate. The third piece is—who in the government has been leaking Trump’s conversations? Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates gave a very slick performance as she pushed an unbelievable narrative of Lt. Gen (Ret.) Mike Flynn being blackmail-able, without ever stating a crime that he committed.
President Trump’s effectiveness is shown to the extent to which his actions have drawn blood from the Democrats, and their liberal press compatriots.
May 6, 2017
The worldwide damage done by Al Gore prior to and since his presidential defeat has been costly to global GDP growth. Not only has global warming become a mantra in schools and among Millennials, but it has also been embraced by corporations around the globe nearly universally.
President Trump has been the first global leader who has questioned the dubious science behind global warming. During his administration, bogus assertions about man’s role in global warming will be examined.
Temperature fluctuations have occurred since the beginning of recorded time, and have risen without any of the current allegations of manmade causes.
If corporations did not have to spend to modify their facilities, such could be put into productive assets which would greatly benefit global GDP.
Alternative energy, particularly wind and solar, has been instituted at great public cost, and can only exist with continued government subsidies—except in some very narrow applications.
At the beginning of Margaret Thatcher’s term, she asked Lord Christopher Monckton to investigate what was then feared to be “global cooling,” Ironically, within 10 years, this became global warming, which became climate change. Lord Monckton said that man did not cause this, and if man did, it couldn’t be reversed, and by attempting to reverse such, governments would soon lose the capacity to fund this futile effort.
Great opportunity exists to divert poorly directed capital additions to more productive ones.
May 6, 2017
No less a source than FBI Director James Comey has said there is no bear there on the Trump-Russia connection. Comey's comment came in the response noted in the New York Post story linked here. This is significant because Comey is not only the investigator, but he also steps into the role of judge and jury.
Other parties who have reached the same conclusion are: former acting CIA Director Mike Morell, who said there is no connection, as did former intel czar General James Clapper. The press and the Dems have no storyline, other than their campaign theme that the Russians caused Hillary's loss.
This story will play through slowly, as numerous House and Senate committees want in on the action, and the same witnesses will be taken over the coals in numerous forms.
The real story is the manner in which information on the key Republican targets, General Mike Flynn, Roger Stone, and Carter Page, were outed by the Obama administration. Former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice can with a straight face say she did not leak information to the press, as she did not need to. The Obama administration shared with all of the countless intel agencies information gathered just prior to their departure, ensuring that a leak would occur somewhere.
April 17, 2017
Donald Trump is the only Republican presidential nominee who could have won in 2016. He did not run as a conservative Republican, or even a moderate one—he ran and won as a populist, which gave the GOP a different winning electoral base. Steve Bannon was one of the architects to keep this strategy on track. President Trump will frustrate the Mainstream Media and the Dems—they are one and the same—by becoming more traditional in his issue focus in 2020. This occurs because, after four years, Trump will no longer be an outsider, but more importantly, he will have achieved major victories on the populist topics under which he was elected in 2016. Immigration largely will have been stemmed—extreme vetting will not be necessary, and talk of a wall will recede. He can take credit for having solved this overwhelmingly large problem. Job growth will continue—much of it through his job owning. He will strengthen his economic team in the process. The tax system will be modified, and health care will have been re-addressed.
China will not be charged with being a currency manipulator, and will become a key to stabilized world relations, particularly in Asia, in a very successful trade-off.
This will be driven primarily by decisive leadership Trump will show on the international front involving Russia in a fair reset, chipping away of Iran’s position, and an end to the nuclear terrorism of North Korea. President Trump will have been handicapped in his efforts by a GOP Congress which has had trouble getting its act together. He will be spurred by gains in the 2018 election, from which leadership changes will occur in both the House and the Senate. He will benefit from a gain in Senate seats, and maintaining control of the House. He will, in the process, distress his opponents.
March 29, 2017
Former deputy assistant secretary of defense Evelyn Farkas under Obama let the cat out of the bag on the Obama administration’s surveillance of the Trump campaign. President Trump’s instinct that he had been monitored is almost undisputed. The Democratic ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee only wants to talk about how Chairman Nunes is running the Committee. It is increasingly clear that the Democrats are not cooperating.
The Committee’s delay appears to stem from the failure of FBI Director James Comey to comply with the Committee’s information request, even though the NSA appears to have cooperated somewhat.
March 29, 2017
Incredibly, the FBI, in its fall 2016 Russian election “investigation,” took as gospel the assertion of a private firm, CrowdStrike, showing Russian intervention favoring candidate Trump. The FBI under Director Comey fell in line with this erroneous conclusion on Russian election mischief, without the FBI doing any original work on its own. Interestingly, a former Russian national, Dmitri Alperovitch, is the out-front principal of CrowdStrike, whose prior analysis on another story had to be amended.
March 29, 2017
The respected Gallup organization has been tracking presidential standing since President Truman. Currently, Gallup bases these on a daily tracker of the population. There’s a wide margin for error for polling, owing to the manner in which the persons who are polled are selected. Gallup does not disclose its criteria on the number of Republicans, Democrats, undecideds, and other demographics of its polled group. Gallup is now employee-owned, and its findings are open to questioning. Other polling groups, such as Rasmussen, have had the Trump approval rating as high as 50%.
March 29, 2017
One of the takeaways from the failure of the GOP to bring Obamacare to a vote is the degree to which House Republicans coalesced on ideology—the moderates in the Tuesday Group, and the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus.
Alliances such as these should be loose ones. Their fixed ideological bent should be secondary to their need to deliver a Republican vote.
The beauty of the American two-party system is that it forces the political parties to adopt positions that are flexible enough to win elections. This is exactly what Donald Trump did as a candidate, and that’s the reason for his election success.
March 10, 2017
James Comey is the most interventionist FBI Director since the formation of the Bureau. Director Comey feels that no event, even presidential elections, are complete until he weighs in with his judgment. Twice during the 2016 Election did so following a protracted investigation of Secretary Clinton, declared her guilty close to the end, and yet simultaneously pardoned her. Later, he expressed second thoughts, and at the closing of the election, he recanted his judgment—then only a few days later reverted to keep it the same.
In recent weeks, the hyperactive Director has weighed in on issues in the news that appeared to have been subject to an ongoing FBI investigation. The absurdness of his intervention even extended to consideration by the FBI retaining a former MI6 agent, the author of an amateurish, partisan, anti-Trump dossier.
His FBI Deputy Director later withdrew an FBI view, saying the agency did not want to “call balls and strikes.” Quite frankly, the agency has never been content with minor calls, and its recent track record is to call politicians “out or safe,” or even to suggest their disqualification.
No political system can continue to be subject to such arbitrariness, and such tactics will surely overtake Director Comey before the end of the six-year remainder of his term.
March 10, 2017
Steve Bannon is more the architect of President Trump’s success than Karl Rove was for President George W. Bush.
While Karl Rove did so on the basis of tactics, Bannon based his on strategy. He set Trump on a crusade against political correctness, urging him to do so by making a frontal attack on the mainstream media.
Steve Bannon is also said to be a believer in the Strauss-Howe generational theory. Its authors define a “social generation” as the aggregate of all people born over the span of roughly 20 years. This is about the length of one phase of life— childhood, young adulthood, midlife, and old age.
According to this theory, President Trump is serving at the downleg stage, when incoming millennials are ready to throw out the old and bring in the new. This is another way to describe the Brexit experience, which President Trump rode to victory: discontent with all elements of the status quo.
March 10, 2017
Only Donald Trump could have won the Presidency for the Republicans in 2016.
Why? Two reasons:
First, he took on political correctness, and secondly, he took on the mainstream media. No other nominee would have remained steadfast in doing so, nor would any other nominee have avoided political correctness or marginalized the mainstream media.
Further, Trump melded the Republican Party with conservatives. In past recent elections, losing Republican nominees have been unable to hold both Republican and conservative voters. Trump did so very adroitly. What’s more, he attracted Democratic voters who have not been seen in Republican ranks since the Reagan Democrats.
Outstanding conservative Congressional leaders such as Rep. Jim Jordan need to be Republicans first, and conservatives second.
Trump’s timing was perfect, as he got out in front of the anti-incumbent sentiment, having spotted the early stages of Brexit. He is now propelling this movement as the discontent with the status quo roils through European countries.
January 16, 2017
The Democratic excuse for their 2016 election loss now is down to “Russian interference.” While intel agencies are accountable primarily to the President, therefore tending to spin tales as directed, as is never more evident than under the Obama administration.
In October, retiring Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson did the Administration’s political bidding together with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to issue an artfully worded statement suggesting Russian meddling. After the election, Gen. Clapper doubled down on his previous assertions of Russian involvement, in tandem with Admiral Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency. These statements were used to assert that these observations had the support of “all 17 intel agencies.”
Further, last week, Gen. Clapper, this time joined by CIA Director John Brennan, elevated to the highest intel briefing level a flimsy fabricated opposition research piece on the President-elect. This amateurish report was apparently put together by a former British MI6 intelligence officer. In a politically correct inaugural speech, the new head of MI6 endorsed this bogus dossier.
This politicization of U.S. intel is highlighted in the Benghazi talking points edited by then-acting CIA Director Mike Morrell. His subsequent testimony before Congressional committees twisted Morrell's views like a pretzel. His involvement may well need a Presidential pardon, as the Benghazi whitewash was critical for Obama’s 2012 reelection.
The current cries of Russian involvement relate to five episodes, four of which were released by WikiLeaks, with the other being in their possession but not having been released. WikiLeaks is the gold standard of transmission of whistleblower-obtained material on government wrongdoing. That organization has a flawless record, not ever having been charged with the release of unauthenticated material.
- Clintonmail.com operated on a virtually unprotected server. Its contents were openly available to nation-states and to individuals. WikiLeaks said it was in possession of the 33,000 or so missing Clinton emails and has sat on them for nine months without releasing them.
- Guccifer (Marcel Lehel Lazar), an individual self-trained in cybersecurity, successfully hacked into 100 private email accounts of prominent U.S. and world government officials with ease. His unchallenged legal testimony indicated no Russian involvement.
- John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign, had his commercial email account hacked when he fell for a bogus password-change request. His emails were released through WikiLeaks, with no evidence of Russian involvement.
- While Guccifer 2.0 is an individual who claims to have modeled his work after the original Guccifer, his DNC server leaks resulted in the resignation of the discredited head of the DNC. The material was readily available from the DNC site, which had protection deficiencies which were unattended to for 18 months. WikiLeaks said that the copies delivered to them came from a leak from a disgruntled DNC staffer, not a hack.
- DCLeaks appears to involve individuals in the Washington, D.C. area who are interested in disseminating political information. Included in these emails were those belonging to the author, which were on a weakly-protected state GOP server. It is difficult to see that such mundane content would be of interest to Russia.
Peter W. Smith
January 16, 2017
The Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") and its international counterparts bear an enormous responsibility for approving new drugs in the form of compounds, as well as new medical devices. The now existing multi-year process requires is open to reform. Such will come with the application of technology which may accurately simulate the time-consuming human trial testing model put in place over forty years ago. This current process involving four stages is akin to "one strike and out" with the FDA determining, as they go along, how many pitches will be thrown. The FDA, while being rooted in protecting health, seeks to ensure its processes are appropriate for the twenty-first century.
Drug Compounds are seldom approved by the FDA - The odds of obtaining FDA approval of a new drug are staggeringly low. Of an estimated 10,000 compounds in the drug discovery pipeline, only 250 will proceed to wide pre-clinical development. In each of the past ten years the FDA has approved only about forty new drugs annually. This static level low approval is remarkable given the much stronger scientific foundation supporting the applications submitted. Nearly a quarter of filings arise from bio-tech research, and the advent of bio-similars. The probability of FDA approval is so low that the Pharmas are dramatically reducing their own in-house drug research activity and are buying or licensing compounds developed by startup companies.
Medical Devices have an equally low FDA approval rate - The probability of a medical device application being approved are equally low to compounds. A somewhat shorter FDA process is still based on "one strike and out." A means of financing for certain medical device startups is a reverse merger into a dormant public company. This has been used in several segments including for weight loss devices.
Licensing of Pharma or device manufacturers is a solution - The sale or licensing for startup entities that have compounds and devices is a wise risk mitigation strategy. This allows a Pharma or device manufacturer to fund heavy costs while the startup entity receives an initial payment and backend royalties. Our Firm has learned from unfortunate first hand experience, that quest to obtain FDA approval is not for startups. Going only by such undercapitalized entities is sheer folly. We have the experience to obtain such licensing agreements.
December 6, 2016
WikiLeaks, regardless of what one might think about the information they disclose, does so with a high level of reliability of their disclosures. Charges that WikiLeaks distributes bogus material are unsubstantiated. As an organization, WikiLeaks does not directly obtain internet files, but relies on others to provide such to them. They then release such after checking authenticity.
Under U.S. law in the past, individuals and groups releasing information about government wrongdoing who have not stolen material have been afforded whistleblower protection. WikiLeaks, under U.S. law, may well qualify as a whistleblower.
Despite this protection, WikiLeaks elected not to publish the 33,000 or so missing emails from Secretary Clinton’s private server, even though these were in WikiLeaks’ possession for more than nine months. They may have refrained in the hopes that they could curry favor with an incoming Clinton administration. If WikiLeaks withheld disclosure, the Clinton administration might not elect to prosecute. The Trump campaign was not in a position to provide such assurance. The Obama administration was unclear on what its position may be. This may account for why the 33,000 missing emails were not made public.
December 6, 2016
When Donald Rumsfeld became Secretary of Defense for the second time in 2005, he planned to bring cost and purchasing efficiency to the Pentagon. Secretary Rumsfeld had good basis for this, having previously served in that post, and he knew where improvements could be made. Preceding him, Secretary Bob McNamara, given his Ford Motor Company whiz-kid insight, sought to reduce redundant spending. Neither of these efforts proceeded far because pesky wars intervened.
Since then, as Bob Woodward's most insightful story shows, three succeeding Defense Secretaries tried to address this topic, but their efforts were diverted. Secretaries Cohen, Gates and Hagel launched efficiency drives in 1997, 2010 and 2013, but as the reporting notes, the clock ran out before they could implement their findings.
The Pentagon leaders bitterly complained of the bite that sequestration takes on them, but it has not been addressed by spotlighting bureaucratic waste. The incoming Trump administration is well-positioned to bring about needed change so that new expenditures go to support activities where the rubber hits the road, eliminating functions and personnel involved in support roles.
Progressives who generally do not support military strength should join in this effort to reduce unneeded spending in a sector that does not appeal to them. Bob Woodward and the Washington Post have done a great service in highlighting the need for long overdue reform which can greatly benefit the military and our country's defense.
November 29, 2016
The nomination of U.S. Rep. Tom Price by President-elect Trump to head the Department of Health and Human Services ensures that Obamacare (Affordable Care Act or ACA) will be drastically reformed. While in Congress, Rep. Price championed legislation to eradicate Obamacare.
A consequence of the much-needed reforms is that healthcare information systems will become patient-centric. Medical (EHR) records will be controlled by the patient and not reside with hospitals as is currently the case. Under the ACA, significant federal expenditures were provided to hospitals to develop hospital-centric EHR systems. Several hospital IT vendors, principally Epic, had heavy political ties to the Obama administration from which they benefitted enormously, and reciprocated by being a generous Democratic Party contributor. These hospital-centric systems restrict operability of patient information across different providers and different hospital systems, a practice which is likely to change without the wholesale abrogation of contracts.
November 28, 2016
Democratic pols like Governor Ed Rendell may not have a place at the trough for what they envision as FDR-New Deal public works spending.
In the past, politicians have benefited, directly and indirectly, by contract letting that went to their associates and friends. This may not be the case if President-elect Trump decides to go with a privatization approach. Privatization was en vogue during the Reagan years—championed by the Reason Foundation, whose founder, Robert Poole, has long led the movement—but then was curtailed in the subsequent Bush administration.
Financial engineering wunderkind Wilbur Ross appears to be in line to serve as President-elect Trump’s Commerce Department head. Ross has been carefully hatching an infrastructure plan based on privatization. Under this, a $1 billion infrastructure (airport, bridge, highways) project could be undertaken with corporate sponsorship. Expenditures would then be subject to an 85% income tax credit, which effectively reduces the at-risk money which is comprised of a 20% equity component. An excellent outline of this concept is found here, developed by Ross in concert with Peter Navarro, a UC-Irvine business professor (both at that time senior advisers to the Trump campaign.) Ross is a master at restructuring troubled businesses, and the U.S. government is one of the most troubled institutions in the world. Its massive undisclosed liabilities make the U.S. government an excellent place for attention to be directed.
Such an undertaking could be overseen at Commerce, where Ross may reside, even though most of the financial aspects would be under the aegis of the Treasury Department.
Big-government Republicans will be equally chagrined at their inability to participate in government-controlled largesse. In private hands, these expenditures will be carefully managed, and not result in a bloated workforce with completion delays and cost overruns.
November 21, 2016
Despite assertions of the Obama-controlled national security establishment, no evidence was offered that nation-states were involved in the release the Clinton, DNC and Podesta emails. Clearly, all nation-state players had access to the content of these three websites, but appear not to have released such. Many third parties had access, and are likely to have been the source of the disclosure.
First, the Clinton homebrew email server hosting Clintonmail.com had no protection whatsoever.
Secondly, a commercial account which was involved in the Podesta email leaks was easily accessible, even by novice hackers. Many techniques to do so are used: for example, a password-change trick was employed to gain access to Podesta’s Gmail account. The jailed Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer” utilized these common tools—which he taught himself. He accessed more than 100 commercial email accounts, often involving prominent government officials. The hacker, Marcel Lehel, an unemployed taxi driver, testified under oath that he did not possess even rudimentary computer skills until he went online and trained himself. His testimony was not challenged.
In the 2016 election cycle, a political reconnaissance entity known to us, in a limited cursory effort, was able to come upon several private non-government sources that had accessed the Clinton personal server emails. The parties having the access were motivated by the desire to receive compensation or notoriety, and none were in the employ of a nation-state.
WikiLeaks has reported that they received the Clinton emails nine months ago, but have not released them. These emails were widely available.
General James Clapper, the resigning Director of National Intelligence, in tandem with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, artfully suggested nation-state involvement, but did not flatly say so.
There is no evidence that the release of emails of the DNC came from a nation-state. The cause of this hacking could be similar to that of how most commercial ones are accessed. No business or government website is secure, especially in organizations with frequent employee turnover such as the DNC. Frequently, the biggest vulnerability comes from disclosure—deliberate or inadvertent—by current or past employees. Sometimes, these occur from a device which is not properly secured, or has become misplaced with no password on the device. There is press speculation that Russian intelligence groups, using the pseudonym “Guccifer 2.0,” perpetrated the DNC email leaks using password “spear-phishing” techniques. However, Guccifer 2.0 claims to be a Romanian hacker carrying on Marcel Lehel’s legacy.
While the internet has driven a technological boom, it has created an enormous problem of data security, as virtually all emails are sent and received on an unencrypted basis. The financial resources and capabilities of a nation-state are not needed to gain access to email accounts.
November 18, 2016
President Obama's legacy will primarily consist of a projected 325 federal judges who were approved during his term. He did so with Republicans being in the minority in the Senate in three of the four Congressional Sessions during his term. That is because what limited legislation Obama passed, such as the Affordable Care Act, was done without a single Republican vote. Many of his other advances were done by executive order, which can be overturned--but his judicial appointments will remain.
President-elect Trump could nominate as many as 375 federal judges, and these nominees will have the approval of a Republican majority in the Senate in the first Congressional session of Trump's term, and in all likelihood, a greater Republican majority in the second, pushing the GOP Senate seats to 60.
|Total Seats, Supreme||Total Seats, Circuit||Total Seats, District|
|President||Ronald Reagan||Sen. GOP||Supreme||Circuit||District||Total|
|President||George H. W. Bush|
|President||George W. Bush|
|President-elect Donald J. Trump (Projected)|
November 18, 2016
In 2016, the GOP was defending 24 seats, but in 2018, only 8 Republican seats are up, and Democrats must defend 23, not counting the 2 Independents. In the outlook below, the GOP is set to gain 8 seats, for a total of 60.
On the House side, the Democrats would need to have a tsunami election as the GOP did in 1994, when the GOP picked up 52 seats in order to tip the balance. Without question, in the first presidential off-year election, there will be an increase in Democratic-held seats. However, experts predict that Democrats will not attain a sea change in House makeup, given that Democrat voters are densely packed into relatively few Congressional districts.
The 2020 presidential race is too early to size. President-elect Trump will surely reinvent himself from the populist outsider that led him to office in 2016, as many populist initiatives are not fully achievable in the eyes of those who wanted change.
Outcome of 2016 Election (assuming GOP wins Louisiana)—
Democrat Seats Up—23
Republican Seats Up—8
Independent Seats Up—2
Democrats will certainly win 14:
California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington
Republicans will certainly win 6:
Mississippi, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wyoming
*Arizona and Nevada are not certain, but likely GOP wins
Independents will win 2:
Maine and Vermont
5 Democrat-Held Toss-Ups that Trump Won:
Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, West Virginia
6 Democrat-Held Toss-Ups:
Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, New Jersey
In politics, business, and life in general, being in the bisection of the two circles is important. We all spend far too much time in the white space.
November 11, 2016
On November 8, nine strong Republicans stood for Trump in a goal line stand against an 11-person Dem team.
The GOP line, anchored by Giuliani, Gingrich, Christie, and Flynn, was backed up by Clovis and Bannon, and co-captained by Conway and Priebus. Ryan wound up on the field as the ninth player. McConnell, a willing substitute, remained on the sidelines.
In the stands for the Dems was the entire Bush family, Romney, and Kasich.
The Dem line, anchored by CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and MSNBC, had Jay Z and Beyonce split wide. Its backfield consisted of President Obama, Vice President Biden, Mrs. Obama, and President Clinton.
Director Comey suited up to play for both teams, but both rejected him.
At the ball snap with seconds remaining and a touchdown needed, the Dems, caught in a premature celebration, coughed up the ball, which the GOP took downfield to the goal.