Friday, July 19, 2019

The Trial of Bijan Rafiekian

  The following is a compilation of articles about the trial of Flynn business partner Bijan Rafiekian.  It was due to Flynn's anticipated testimony/cooperation at this trial that his sentencing in his own matter of lying to the FBI has been repeatedly delayed.


Recently, the government suddenly changed course and announced they would not be calling Flynn as a witness following his refusal to state that he knowingly filed a false FARA document. 


Subsequent to that refusal, the government also reversed course on their position that Flynn was not a co conspirator in the Rafiekian trial, now maintaining that he wss a co conspirator.  If they could support this claim in court, it would allow them to present hearsay evidence from Flynn against Rafiekian that they otherwise not be able to present.


My focus on this case has more to do with what effect it will have on sentencing in the lying to the FBI case.  Flynn wa still willing to cooperate/testify, but not willing to admit knowingly falsifying the FARA. 

Michael Flynn Attorney Suggests Special Counsel Withheld Key Information From His Defense

Michael Flynn’s new attorney Sidney Powell suggested the special counsel may not have produced classified information relevant to Flynn’s case. Powell intends to obtain it.



Defense straddles strategies as trial opens for Flynn business partner


LAWYERSPOTTING: Among the onlookers at opening statements in Flynn business partner Kian's trial today: Flynn attorney Powell, Flynn prosecutor Van Grack, and US Atty for EDVA Terwilliger

Flynn’s ex-lawyer takes witness stand for the prosecution


It's not every day a defense attorney gets called to testify for the prosecution, but it happened today to Gen. Mike Flynn's ex-lawyer, Rob Kelner. The cross-examination produced some friction. More here:

Flynn juggled Trump campaign role with foreign lobbying, jurors told

His foreign lobbying role has been central to the case against Bijan Rafiekian, a former business partner.

At trial today of Gen. Mike Flynn's business partner, a retired FBI agent recalled this blunt response to the defendant's plan to avoid registering as a foreign agent: 'I wouldn't f--- around with that.'

PAY TO PLAY? We knew that while sending over $500,000 to Flynn during the campaign, his Turkish client was complaining to a Flynn aide that Trump wasn't being supportive enough. In court today, we found out Flynn heard those pleas directly

Judge withholds ruling on acquitting Flynn partner

Bijan Rafiekian is on trial for acting as an unregistered agent for Turkey during his work for Flynn Intel Group, a consulting firm.

NEW: Prosecutors narrowly escaped a judge-ordered acquittal today for Flynn business partner charged with foreign-agent crimes following Mueller probe. Looks like judge will let jury deliberate in case, while not ruling out tossing it--or part of it--later

After completing his testimony at trial of Flynn biz partner Bijan Kian on foreign-agent charges, lobbyist
did something unusual for a prosecution witness: gave the defendant a firm, enthusiastic handshake in front of the jury

Latest Development In Flynn Case Proves Special Counsel Was A Cover For Taking Down Trump


His former lawyer’s latest testimony establishes two facts, both of which benefit Michael Flynn and both of which the media has missed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Trump vs "The Squad": We're at an Inflection Point

 We're watching realignments taking place on both sides of the political spectrum.  For several months now,  the Democrats have been engaged in a food fight between Speaker Pelosi, and an outspoken "squad" of freshman Congresswomen who are determined to transform their party overnight into an openly socialist, no borders, anti-semitic, and pro al Qaida party.

And judging by statements from the Democratic presidential candidates, the so called "squad" is meeting with some success.  The rhetoric has gotten so heated that Pelosi was accused by those same members of being biased against women of color.  That epithet, the dreaded race card, is usually reserved for Republican opponents.  Remember the good old days when we used to think that Nancy was the radical face of her party?.  Yeah...good times!  Anyway...

 The Republicans have been doing some realignment of their own, thanks largely to the overwhelming persona of one Donald J Trump.  In contrast to the volatility of Democratic politics in recent days, most of the fireworks on the Republican side took place in the run-up to the 2016 election.  That's not to say that things in Republican circles have gone completely dark since Trump's election, but the fight for the heart and soul of the Republican party has been taking place on a more intellectual plane, largely unnoticed by the mainstream press.  Most conservative thinkers have grudgingly acquiesced to Trump's ownership of the party, but a compact nucleus of staunch Never Trumpers still persist in their opposition to the president.  Unlike the Democrat's recent conflagration, the Republican's debates have been more restrained.

Sohrab Ahmari used to write for conservative Commentary Magazine.  As a regular listener to the Commentary Podcast, I am familiar with his thinking.  He is not blind to Trump's manifest flaws, but he has come to terms with the man, and like many conservatives, he accepts Trump on a transactional basis.  He's the president.  We'll support him when he's working towards shared goals.  He has recently moved on to become the Opinion Editor for the New York Post.

David French writes for the National Review, another of my go to publications.  He's a principled conservative and remains solidly Never Trump to this day.  Sohrab is a Catholic.  David is an evangelical Christian.  Both men's politics are strongly influenced by their faith.  At the end of May, Sohrab published an essay on the First Things website entitled Against David Frenchism  where he makes the case for full throated support for Trump despite his flaws.  To do any less is just ceding territory to a relentless opposition who will exploit any advantage to mercilessly pursue their cultural agendas.  A couple of excerpts from Ahmari's piece illustrate his thinking.

With a kind of animal instinct, Trump understood what was missing from mainstream (more or less French-ian) conservatism....

French’s response to these developments on the right has been predictable: He has spent two years promoting the now-discredited Russian “collusion” theory; moralizing and pretending we don’t face enemies who seek our personal destruction (just ask Justice Kavanaugh); and haranguing his fellow evangelical Protestants for supporting Trump, as if they were the only American voting bloc ever forced to compromise. As an activist, French has benefited from the Trump GOP’s ascendance, but he has kept his hands clean, his soul untainted.

 Then there is this:

Progressives understand that culture war means discrediting their opponents and weakening or destroying their institutions. Conservatives should approach the culture war with a similar realism. Civility and decency are secondary values. They regulate compliance with an established order and orthodoxy. We should seek to use these values to enforce our order and our orthodoxy, not pretend that they could ever be neutral. To recognize that enmity is real is its own kind of moral duty.  

Ahmari has clearly staked out his position.  We're at war.  We can't afford to play by the enemies rules.  Rules which they have no intention of observing themselves.  If any nation should recognize the hazards of rules of engagement that are too circumscribed, it is the United States.  As you can imagine, there has been pushback from French and his supporters.  This back and forth has continued over the past six or seven weeks.  It's largely a Twitter phenomenon and has remained under the radar of the mainstream press.  But it is the rare politically active conservative who isn't familiar with the debate and who doesn't have an opinion on the matter.

If the vigor of this dialogue was on the ebb, recent events are likely to re-ignite the debate.  The president recently posted a series of Tweets where he challenged the aforementioned squad of Congresswomen.  If they didn't like America, they should leave .

  • So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly......
    8:27 AM · Jul 14, 2019 · 
    Replying to
    ....and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how.... is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!

    Democrats and the press were howling about the so called racist Tweets.  Trump was criticized for apparently not realizing that three of the four women in question were in fact born in the United States.   Republicans were criticized for being too slow and not enthusiastic enough in their condemnation of the president.  Trump, for his part doubled down in a Rose Garden press conference two days later.

    The squad responded that same evening with a press conference of their own where notably, Rep. Ilhan Omar refused to disavow al Qaida.

    I think we witnessed a watershed moment with those dueling press conferences.  An inflection point.  The president has never been shy about what he believes.  It's kind of his trademark.  But yesterday was a significant departure from the norm; even for him.  The president declared war yesterday, and "the Squad" answered back in kind.  Clausewitz famously said, "War is the continuation of politics by other means."  And make no mistake.  We're at war.  That's why the Sohrab Ahmari-David French debate is so timely now.  It's time for conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, and independents to make a choice.  The Democratic agenda as put forward by these Congresswomen and the Democratic presidential candidates (who's leading who?) represents an existential threat to the America that was.  I don't know anybody who doesn't have a few ideas about how to make America better, but do we really want "the Squad" driving that bus?  Venezuela of the North is what they want because, as they'll likely tell you, socialism has only failed everywhere it's ever been tried because there wasn't enough of it.  They have an agenda, and there doesn't seem to be any lack of commitment on their part. Trump has gone all in on the presumption that voters will despise what the Democrats have become more than they despise him.  I'm not so sure he's right.  Trump never asked me if I was willing to bet it all and roll the dice, but that's where we stand.  No turning back now.  Will we support him or will we insist, as Ahmari suggests David French does, "on keeping our hands clean, and our souls untainted?"  It's time to choose.  I feel like a passenger in a car where the driver has decided to engage in a high speed game of chicken.  No one asked me if I wanted to play, but I'm stuck in the passenger seat, and it's too late to get out.  It's high risk, and we're all in this together.  There's no turning back.

    I'm reminded of a scene from The Hunt for Red October when Fred Thompson's character says, "This business will get out of control. It'll get out of control, and we'll be lucky to live through it!"  It's time to buckle up.  Trump just told the more timid members of his party to step up or step out! It's no time for faintheartedness.  He needs a wartime consigliere.  

    Monday, July 8, 2019

    Jeffrey Epstein: Some links

    7 July 2019  YouTube  Mike Cernovich and Stefan Molyneux discuss new indictment

    6 March 2019  Ann Coulter Summary at Breitbart  Includes audio  

    Part I Miami Herald Story from 28 November, 2018 by Julie Brown 

    Part II

    Part III

    Epsteins Connections


    Palm Beach County’s Democratic prosecutor Barry Krischer abetted Epstein

    Palm Beach Police Chief Michael Reiter blew the whistle

    The [Palm Beach County] sheriff, Ric Bradshaw, would not answer questions, submitted by the Miami Herald, about Epstein’s work release.

    Read more here:

    Acosta made a deal with Washington, D.C. attorney Jay Lefkowitz, his former colleague, at a breakfast meeting in October 2007, according to the Miami Herald.

    “How in the world, do you, the U.S. attorney, engage in a negotiation with a criminal defendant, basically allowing that criminal defendant to write up the agreement?” Bradley Edwards, a former state prosecutor who represents victims of Epstein, told the Miami Herald. 

    Acosta, in 2011, would explain that he was unduly pressured by Epstein’s heavy-hitting lawyers — [Jay] Lefkowitz, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Jack Goldberger, Roy Black, former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis, Gerald Lefcourt, and Kenneth Starr, the former Whitewater special prosecutor who investigated Bill Clinton’s sexual liaisons with Monica Lewinsky.

    In email after email, Acosta and the lead federal prosecutor, A. Marie VillafaƱa, acquiesced to Epstein’s legal team’s demands, which often focused on ways to limit the scandal by shutting out his victims and the media, including suggesting that the charges be filed in Miami, instead of Palm Beach, where Epstein’s victims lived.

    Read more here:

    Read more here:
    In 2014, the brilliant conservative lawyer Paul Cassell and Bradley Edwards brought suit against the federal prosecutors for violating the Crime Victims’ Rights Act in the Epstein case.

    A prosecutor under New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance argued on Epstein’s behalf, telling New York Supreme Court Judge Ruth Pickholtz that the Florida case never led to an indictment and that his underage victims failed to cooperate in the case. Pickholtz, however, denied the petition, expressing astonishment that a New York prosecutor would make such a request on behalf of a serial sex offender accused of molesting so many girls.

    Mike Cernovich claims he initiated the lawsuit (as intervenor) later joined by the Miami Herald that led to judgement to release thousands of pages of documents to the public.  Those documents, not yet released will expose the details of the Epstein case and are the reason the new charges are being filed.  Had these documents remained secret, the Epstein case would never have been revisited.   The case has to do with a civil suit from 21 Sep 2015 by alleged Epstein victim VIRGINIA GIUFFRE against Epstein girlfriend and procurer Ghislaine Maxwell for defamation.  Maxwell had called Giuffre a liar for accusations related to procurement.

    3 Jul 2019 US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruling in favor of  intervenors Mike Cernovich, Miami Herald (Julie Brown), and Alan Dershowitz to unseal docket in Maxwell v Giuffre Request for Summary mJudgement filing.
    This pending release of documents is said to be the reason why new charges were being filed against Epstein.  May show others involved.

     Guardian story about settlement of Virginia Roberts Giuffre's defamation lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell  24 May 2017

    Read more here:
    Vicky Ward Vanity Fair profile of Jeffrey Epstein from March 2003

    Jan 6, 2015 Vicky Ward story from The Daily Beast (updated July 8, 2019) distills the lengthier March 2003 Vanity Fair story, but includes the references to the two sister whom Epstein allegedly abused (cut from the Vanity Fair article by editor Graydon Carter after pressure from Epstein)

    8 July, 2019 Daily Caller on then U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Now Sec Labor Alex Acosta  

    Two unidentified John Doe parties petitioning lower court NOT to release sealed docs that Appeals Court said should be unsealed
    My guess is that the impending release of these docs was all that prompted the Feds to indict Epstein.  They knew that once public, they'd look even worse that they already do for having given Epstein the sweetheart deal in 2008.

    Hugh Hewitt interviews thriller writer James Patterson who, in 2016, departed from his usual genre to write the non fiction book Filthy Rich about Jeffrey Epstein.

    He says he was shocked he couldn't get the media interested, perhaps because, rightly or wrongly, they were concerned too vigorous an exploration of the subject might lead to Bill Clinton.

    Epstein argument for bail INCLUDES NON PROSECUTION AGREEMENT FROM 2007.

    Government argues against bail

    Sunday, July 7, 2019

    Breaking News: Dog Bites Man

    **Snowflake Alert**  I use the term illegal aliens.  I don't use terms like undocumented worker  or other euphemisms that try to normalize their status.  If that bothers you, stop reading now.

    Furthermore, I understand and sympathize with their reasons for coming here.  I don't hate them. But we can't take them all.  It's our country.  We have a right to make the rules on who we accept and we have the right to enforce those rules.

    President Trump said something stupid the other day.  Yeah, I know.  What's so unusual about that?  That's hardly a man bites dog story.  The president is always saying something stupid.  The difference is that this time, I didn't recognize how stupid it was until I consulted my handy Pocket Constitution.

    The president was giving one of his impromptu news conferences as he walked out to Marine One on the way to somewhere or other, and someone asked him about the citizenship question on the Census.  Here was the stupid part of his reply starting at the 45 second mark:

    "But you need it for many reasons.  Number one, you need it for Congress, you need it for Congress, for districting, you need it for appropriations."

    Fair enough I thought.  It certainly doesn't make sense to allocate Congressional seats to a constituency that can't vote, right?  But wait a minute.  What are the actual rules for allocating those seats, I wondered.  If I recall correctly, it's spelled out quite specifically in the Constitution.  Why not go to the source and see what it says?

    I encourage you to keep reading, but 


    If you're like me, you're not gonna like the answer.  The original description of how House seats are allocated was spelled out in Article I of the Constitution, but it was changed by Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment.  (Remember that whole 3/5 person kerfuffle in Article I, Section 2?  Yeah it's that part!)  Anyway, here's how the rules stand now:

    "Amendment 14, Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State."
    So you don't need to be a citizen to count toward Congressional representation.  You only have to be a person.  Nothing says you need to be a citizen or even a legal non citizen to count toward a Congressional seat.  Illegal aliens count toward House representation.  It's in the Constitution!  Yeah, I know.  It sucks right?  But it's the law.

    So if you were like me, and you thought it was totally reasonable to ask about citizenship as a means to prevent a misallocation of Congressional seats, I've got some bad news for you.  Citizenship doesn't enter into it.  And neither does illegal status.  All persons count.  Who knew?  Not me, and apparently not Trump.

    Now I know why liberal politicians are promoting sanctuary cities and sanctuary states.  Those illegals can't vote, not directly and not legally at least.  But they do count toward how many Congressmen those sanctuary cities and states can elect to Congress to represent THEIR interests as opposed to YOUR interests.

    I used to think that these liberal politicians promoting sanctuary cities were just pandering to their minority constituents who favored more lenient policies toward illegals.  Now I realize that their motives are much more nefarious.  They've discovered a back door means of getting more clout in Congress.  Even if illegals aren't directly voting in our elections, the Constitution creates an incentive for unscrupulous pols to offer them this back door voting franchise via greater Congressional representation.  Welcoming more illegals garners your city or state more votes in Congress than they would otherwise be entitled to.

    By the way, when you consider the game being played here, it puts Trump's threat to send the thousands of illegals intercepted at the border to sanctuary cities in a whole new light.  Rather than burdening those sanctuary cities with the responsibility of caring for the thousands they would welcome into their midst, the  policy would only serve to empower those sanctuary cities by enhancing their influence in Congress.  In fact, the best thing Trump could do with these thousands of newcomers would be to move them all to Red States.  At least until after the Census is complete.  How's that for irony? 

    I've always opposed open borders because I thought they were not compatible with our welfare state.  I also vehemently oppose a path to citizenship for any illegals already here who, for practical reasons having to do with the sheer numbers,  we choose not to expel.  They should count themselves lucky they are just left alone, and that includes the DACA folks. But to the extent that I now view this whole sanctuary city situation as nothing more than a cynical ploy to gain more representation in Congress for policies I oppose, I find myself even less sympathetic to the status of illegal aliens in this country than I was before.  Even if illegal aliens are not voting in any appreciable numbers, a concession I make ONLY for the sake of argument, they still represent a potential distortion in make-up of the House of Representatives.  That is no small thing.

    (BTW, there's nothing in the Constitution that says you need to be a citizen to vote either.  The second paragraphs of both Articles I and II say the individual States get to decide who qualifies to vote.  But that's a discussion for another day)

    Thursday, July 4, 2019

    Howard Zinn's America is Not My America

    I have a message for Nike and Colin Kaepernick:

    Just Blow Me!

    I've been pondering something for a few weeks now, and this Fourth of July seems to offer the perfect opportunity to commit my thoughts to (digital) paper.  I have more than a few friends, some in "meat space", but mostly on social media, who seem to be adherents of the Howard Zinn school of American history.  In 1980, Zinn first published his A People's History of the United States.  To quote Wikipedia, Zinn considered it to be:
    "a different side of history from the more traditional fundamental nationalist glorification of country. Zinn portrays a side of American history that can largely be seen as the exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems that hugely favor a small aggregate of elite rulers from across the orthodox political parties."

    Apparently, when it comes to America at least, Professor Zinn is a really tough grader.  Too tough in my opinion.

    I'd be the first to admit that the simplified and sanitized version of American History that we all learned in elementary school and even high school was probably a little heavy on patriotism and a little light on critical analysis.  Nevertheless, "exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems..." is a little too much of a swing of the pendulum to an alternate reality.  

    I think a lot of the people who believe and promote Zinn's version of America only do so because of the perceived cachet attached to the new and more radical interpretation.  Kind of like the early adopter who brags about his new 85" 4K TV even though it's way too big for his tiny apartment, and we're years away from any significant amount of 4K programming. 

    Take away all the Zinn acolytes who are just trying to be the "wokest" kids on the block, and a lot of those who are left (pun intended), just hate America.  

    So this Independence Day, I'm celebrating America.  Not just the America of myth that I learned about in high school, but also the real America that I've learned about since.  American exceptionalism is still the real deal.  Even with all her flaws, I can't think of anyplace in the world I'd rather live.  We're flying the flag on the front porch today, and if Nike and Colin Kaepernick don't like it, I have a message for them.

    Just blow me!