Sunday, April 23, 2017

Same-o, Same-o, MBA True Colors

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

GSE Events/Developments

Major GSE activities were absent last week; most community talk was back and forth over the meaning of minuscule movement in the prominent GSE court cases.

In other words, “nothing here folks, move on.”

But we did have the underwhelming unveiling of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) latest “get rid of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” proposal.

The MBA’s scheme (see below) is disappointing for several reasons, i.e. the nonsensical and meaningless “bright line” is back, but predictable in others.

Okay, trade associations do this all the time to promote their objectives, but that doesn’t absolve them from the need to explain what and why they are doing it, in this case a new “reform the mortgage system” design.

In talking to MBA folks over the months while this proposal was incubating in its task force meetings, there was some misdirection suggestions of a major “landmark proposal that would keep Fannie and Freddie functioning,” as in “Sure, we really do like the GSEs.”

But when it came time for the task force to “walk the talk,” that possibility disappeared and the trade group produced a predictably limp “wind down the GSEs” plan, with lots of new creations, financing arrangements, and structures—but the federal government still in it reliable position of holding up the whole shebang. (Hey, no possible calamity here, trust us.)

To me, the trade association’s specific details really don’t matter, when the MBA’s task force’s stated objective is the “post GSE period,” meaning Fannie and Freddie gone. Again, for this observer, how you get there is next to irrelevant.

The institutional hyperbole and short memories, too, are revealing.

It’s very disappointing that MBA President and CEO David Stevens and the task force--about which he was most excited given the quality and talent he said its member reflected—once again put out some principles and talking points, directed at the Congress, White House, other stakeholders, and the media.

I’ll let others comb the proposal’s details for its shortcomings, but my analysis “from 30,00 feet”  raises the obvious and continued questions about big bank dominance; free sharing the GSEs platform and resources; the huge additional capital supply needed for sufficient front end/back end mortgage insurance, if the market chooses not to provide it: and exactly how you force the nation’s largest banks to put up more capital when they—with the help of the MBA—are fighting the surviving Dodd-Frank previsions which would require them to do just that—not to mention the same cabal’s rabid opposition to greater financial regulation?

Why didn’t this august group of mortgage lenders, led by the talented Mr. Stevens (whom I am happy to report is enjoying better health, back at work, and ready to engage on MBA’s behalf) just cobble together a very specific legislative proposal, answering the many question their draft raises or even nail down some choices??

MBA: Let Congress Do It

My advice to MBA and David Stevens is jump on Steve Mnuchin’s broad back.

Letting the Congress do it really is not a viable solution to the GSE conundrum, especially when the new Treasury Secretary announces he is working on a plan to restore the GSEs to operational health, using executive authority.

My answer to why the MBA chose this path, in part--maybe giving the MBA task force too much credit--is it ran into the same market reality the Congress faces trying to solve the GSE Gordian knot when what you are trying to replace works better, more efficiently and fairly--for consumers and mortgage professionals alike—than your replacement albatross.

Currently, DC is filled with the carcasses of empty mortgage reform schemes—like Corker.Warner--most of which lay malodorously decomposing around the Urban Institute offices, with cutesy poo headline creating names about “housing paths forward,” etc.

Congress, caught up in their ideological biases and lack of understanding of mortgage market dynamics, stumbles on this same GSE market reality, offering all sorts of excuses and threats, but never saying, “Hmm, maybe there is a lot to like about the current system and possibly--if we fine tune it rather than destroy it--we might have something that will last for another five decades or more.”

But, that would take statesmen legislators with insight and a sense of history, not foppish characters who might have profited, surreptitiously, from trading in GSE securities.

And to the MBA and the world, all of your poppycock about ending the risk to the taxpayers goes right out the window, the moment you have—as the MBA proposes--Uncle Sam on the line insuring the single family and multi-family securities in your “get rid of Fannie and Freddie” ideas, especially when all of the bank players—many of which have non-banks subsidiaries--have reduced capital and most enjoy FDIC insurance for which they’ve not adequately paid because of that hidden federal subsidy.

The task force. absent virtue, prattles about reduced risk to the taxpayer, when its goal is a system which produces voluminous amounts of fixed rate financing. Our history shows only the federal government’s presence or backing can guarantee that result

That fact isn’t allayed by all of the plan’s admonitions for strong “capital supervision and regulation” and “minimize transition risks to avoid market disruptions.”

Let me repeat the nation’s biggest, strongest banks are right now fighting greater regulation and capital demands but is the MBA--a big bank-centric trade group--suggesting the behemoths will stop all of that because the MBA throws out this mortgage mélange?

The MBA implicitly demeans the existing system—which, yes, could use some slight changes—and ignores the copious amount of fixed rate financing Fannie and Freddie currently produce with only a marginal connection to the federal government, and calls for a clone but with the big banks and their brethren playing the traditional GSE role.

The current GSE federal protection could be even less chancy if the government would allow Fannie and Freddie to keep some of those $260 Billion in GSE profits the Treasury has sucked in—or excuse me “swept in”—since 2012. (I guess I missed the MBA’s discussion and opposition to that little item which, by itself, would help reform the nation’s mortgage markets without any legislative help, since the latter just becomes interference. Also missing was any discussion of the last time “big un” banks were give carte blanche to issue PLS.)

Why, MBA??

However a deeper question for me aimed at the MBA and its task force is why do you have to destroy that which works and has worked for your industry for almost 50 years? It can’t be all of those nifty task force meetings held in posh places, no doubt, free meals etc. etc?

Top MBA staffers understand the chaos, dislocation, confusion, increased costs, loss of efficiencies, and uncertainty inherent in any change the magnitude of which the task force proposes. In their opening principles, the MBA offers the forlorn wish that Congress and the White House will lessen the inevitable mortgage bedlam, with what…more regulations and do’s and don’ts? Will the big lenders listen?

So why make all of these recommendations, when tweaks not sledge hammers are available?

The big banks still are making money hand over fist and still complaining about excessive federal regulation and capital requirements. The mortgage banking sector of the economy has done well for the past few years. So exactly what needs fixed?

What parts of the Fannie/Freddie operations doesn't the MBA like and for what reasons?

Fannie and Freddie are regulated (excessively) by several hundred people at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). How many more will be needed when/if your task force proposal law and a new regulator or the new regulatory employees at the existing agencies decide to flex their muscles?

How about some mortgage banking industry candor? (Even though the American Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable will be happy, you know the small lenders and the community groups will oppose. And there is even some possibility that your current Herculean effort might not gain the support of the other big housing trades in town, because of the obvious consumer costs, bank giveaways, and embedded uncertainty which never is good for business.)

I am still back to my old wish/suggestion to see if all MBA members—especially the non-big bank shops--support your task force recommendations?

Poll them on whether they truly desire Fannie and Freddie wiped out with your task force recommendations’ resulting systemic financial disorder, before the inevitable big bank take over occurs of both the primary market and the GSE secondary mortgage market. (It won’t surprise me if the MBA demurs because of the old wisdom, “Never ask direction from somebody to whom you must listen.”)

I’d love to see America’s consumer weigh on that question, too.


POTUS Trump, his First Hundred Days

(I am going to limit my Trump commentary this week to offering various links to media others produced. I especially liked the George Will and David Shapiro columns.)

George Will

David Shapiro

100 Days Report

Russian election plan

Trevor Noah on O’Reilly

O’Reilly, Redux

What goes around….Judge Curiel

Maloni, 4-23-2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

All GSEs; DJT, mostly, gets time off

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

GSE Week: the Same Blah News

Let me try and review where I think the state of GSE play is, reminding you that I may be way off.

GSE Developments in the Courts

--Judge Margaret Sweeney awoke, saw her shadow-- growled at the government defendants for seeking additional time to give plaintiffs the thousands of federal documents which she has consistently requested for what seems about 100 years now--and then Sweeney—worried about two more months of snow?--promptly  gave the Treasury 43 more days to screw around and delay justice.

Sweeney told the world to tune back in the week of May 25 for her latest “you better” deadline to produce the desired docs, which I believe will produce a predictable government request for more time or some some other stalling consideration.

Ho hum, whatever it takes—or however long it takes—to get a GSE plaintiff’s win.

Those legal requests and others in GSE cases beg the question, “Have any Trump people arrived gotten into the Treasury-DoJ roles in the GSE cases, because the federal government’s actions sure look a lot of the Obama Administration’s obfuscate, delay, “dog ate my homework,” and more delay games???

Any chance Judge Sweeney once, a long time ago and far away, dated “Joe Btfsplk?”

Appeals Cases and Others

--Two appeals court cases, “Robinson versus FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Board)” (Sixth Circuit) ” and Saxton versus FHFA” (8th Circuit) still exist and the hope is that those courts might agree more with the outlier DC Appeals Judge Ann Brown who challenged the Lamberth opinion, than they do with Judges Ginsburg and Millett, who agreed with Lamberth and supported the government.

Those legal actions both will putt (golf term intended) along as we move into the late Spring/Summer doldrums and hope that some judges somewhere see the Lamberth overreach and reject it, setting up conflicting appeals court decisions, where the US Supreme Court would have to pick a winning side.

--Judge Nancy Atlas is hearing the “Collins” case in Texas, another lawsuit over the net worth sweep. Recently, she was asked by plaintiffs’ lawyers to wade into the thicket of whether FHFA is a constitutionally viable federal agency, since the FHFA Director cannot be removed by the President for “cause.”

The DC circuit court, in vacating a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) decision, Government lawyers used that argument to support plaintiffs opposing certain aspects of the CFPB’s regulatory activities. (Both FHFA and CFPB have similar organizational structures, each with a single agency director.) 

--And, yawn, we’re waiting for a Judge Royce Lamberth’s response when Judges Millett and Ginsburg asked Lamberth to review the shareholders rights concern expressed in their opinion which confirmed Lamberth’s original decision. But, none of these matters—as we’ve seen—have hard, “must meet” deadlines.

“Nodoz” or lots of caffeine anyone? 

GSE News From Capitol Hill

The GSE congressional evil forces are hard at work, trying to figure out a way to stifle Fannie and Freddie, for all of their old obvious reasons.

I expect they will continue to fail, ultimately, although in the House-- where House Banking Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex) can produce an “atomize the GSEs “proposal and likely get it to the House floor. That possibly would screw up his other ambitious plans to neuter the Consumer Financial Protection Board and push Dodd--Frank changes through as well.

But, there just is so much anti-consumer legislation the GOP can promote before it becomes obvious that the Republican party and its leadership care less about the public’s needs for fairness, equity, and financial protection, but prioritize what the large banks lavish on them with campaign contributions.

(I am not sure what’s left in Dodd-Frank to squeeze out, save the demand that major financial institutions have more capital to manage the risk they are great at claiming is excessive while their federal regulators, historically, give them a capital pass or easy capital maintenance.)

But, that won’t stop Hensarling from flexing his jaw and his committee jurisdiction muscles.

While House Dems may not be able to stop ol’ Jeb, but he could get slowed down or stopped, if there really is growing unhappiness in the hustings--see GOP angry town hall reports--with what President Trump campaigned on and what he’s done or plans to do.

The public may  not sit back, quietly, if Congress seeks to produce “more benefits for the banks” while lower and middle income Trump voters--and those others who didn’t support him--hungrily hold out their empty hands for promised consideration, jobs, health insurance, “Meals on Wheels,”* etc. and need many of the federal programs the new Administration seeks to cut. (*One wag noted, not only do they want to end the ‘meals,’ but they’ll also want to steal the wheels, too.”)

Voters who hope to buy a house or refinance their mortgage might not be happy when Jeb tells them to eat his dust and throws them to the mercy of the nation’s largest banks, who have never been consumer friendly, i.e. see opposition to CFPB, Dodd-Frank rules, and other pro-consumer issues.

The Senate rules and the stronger Democrat numbers holds out better hope for GSE advocates, if anyone on the Hill really believes this is the year to “reform the nation’s mortgage finance system,” code for “get rid of Fannie and Freddie.”

Until he changes his mind, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says all chamber non-tax reform legislation will abide by the 60 vote Senate rule, meaning it could be stopped by filibuster.

As I wrote to someone who asked about possible Hill action (paraphrasing), “There still is no meeting of the minds. Nobody up there recognizes, let alone understands, the role of shareholders, profits, and accurate capital. In any omnibus bill, instinctively congressional Democrats will try and solve every social ill they believe the current system ignores, while the GOP will try and abolish Fannie and Freddie and make the banks and their lending rules the only option for mortgage seekers.”

It’s another reason why I think the best hope revolves around the Trump White House, eschewing formal congressional action, then doing as much as it can to revive and resurrect Fannie and Freddie through regulation and executive authority. 

I hope Secretary Mnuchin and his new deputy Craig Phillips grasp that wisdom and realize the ugly—almost uninformed--nature of Congress on these matters.

Phillips has been named Mnuchin’s GSE point person and, like his boss, while he has a long Wall Street history in the business, will need to bone up on the ugly DC politics. (See the excellent Gretchen Morgenson’s NYT feature on Philips.)

Corker and Warner

Of course anything Fannie/Freddie in the Senate will draw “the terrible twins,” Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), who never saw a pro-GSE idea they liked. Yet, both invoke—without ever explaining it or I suspect understanding it—“The GSEs are guilty of private gain and public loss.”

When they do that, I am itching to ask these Senate solons—who, like Hensarling, favor giving the primary mortgage market as well as the secondary mortgage market operations to the nation’s biggest banks—1) which federal financial institutions don’t bathe in federal subsidies, 2) do they realize the big banks--going outside the GSE systems--lost more money on their “private label” mortgage security follies and took more than twice as much taxpayers dollars than the $187 Billion foisted on Fannie and Freddie in 2008 (banks took home over $400 Billion of Uncle’s TARP money in 2008-2009)?

So, exactly who or what did (and still does) engage in private gain and public loss with their pre-2008 shenanigans (and post facto bailouts) which led to our national financial woes nine years ago?

Rocky Top and Now Alex Jones

The other thing which bothers me about those two are the unresolved question of whether they personally profited selling GSE securities based on insider information coming from their Senate Banking Committee service?

Corker has a pretty shaky past with his personal investment and big bank-supplied (Wells Fargo) favors and has become a wealthy man. That was before he told a national television audience they should “short" Fannie and Freddie, advice he may have followed himself, bringing Warner along. 

Sometimes identified as the chamber’s wealthiest Senator, Mark Warner name's came up, too, in reports of the same activity. (Why would a Senator, with a reported near half billion net worth engage in penny ante trading based on insider info about two major entities which are constant issues in the Banking Committee?)

RockyTop News did a five section report series on Corker’s financial activities and despite objections made about Corker to the Senate Ethics Committee—does it still exist?—no report on either Senator has come from the Committee.

And now Alex Jones and James Corsi have picked up the scent and are articulating the same Corker (and Warner) allegations. Maybe these crusading Conservatives will prove some fire exists from all of this smoke.

What are the chances that the two Senators would clear the record and open their tax returns to prove they never acted in that manner nor profited from GSE stock trades?

Probably not too great, huh? 

GSE News from Around Town (DC)

Speaking of Senator Corker, his former aide, Michael Bright has come up in discussions about who might be nominated to head the Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae), the securitization operation in HUD which handles FHA and VA? 

Those graybeards among you will remember that Ginnie Mae was created out of Fannie Mae in 1970, to do what the “old” Fannie Mae had done, issue securities with government loans (FHA and VA) backing them.

The 1970 Lyndon Johnson legislation “privatized Fannie” and charged it to provide liquidity (buying and securitizing non-government insured mortgages or “conventional loans) to mortgage markets throughout the nation. After first exclusively serving the savings and loan industry, Freddie came along 10 years later and was given Fannie’s same broader market mission and lender custiomers.

Bright has bounced around various financial institutions and consulting spots, since he did Corker staff work on the Senators first legislative effort to destroy the GSEs.

That bill died of its own weight because it gave too much authority to the big banks and offered no mandatory affordable housing by financial institutions. 

While his paid positions have changed, regularly, Bright’s GSE objectives haven’t.

He and Ed DeMarco—much more on Eddie D in a minute—produced a “get rid of the GSEs” discussion draft while toiling for the Milken Institute

DeMarco took a new job last week as President of the Financial Services Roundtable Housing Policy Council, from which he no doubt heavily will lobby to kill the GSEs.

I hope Ed enjoys the same policy success he’s had since leaving his old job, as acting-head the GSE regulatory, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, where he also tried but failed to kill the GSEs. They are still here and Ed’s into his third or fourth post FHFA job.

Surprise, surprise, last week, the FSR sent a letter to the Hill “complaining about the GSEs and the legally still being heavily questioned legality of the forced $187 Billion financial support from Treasury. But nowhere in the letter is any reference that the FSR member big banks sucked up $400 Billion of taxpayers’ dollars (aforementioned TARP) because of their ruinous PLS habits. (Darn those readily available facts!)

Just as I asked about Corker and Warner adopting a new tack, I wonder if the FSR (and Ed) can consider a world where they actually cooperate and work with a GSE-centric mortgage model—which is what they have today and apparently from which they make lots of money—instead of chaotically trying to replace them.

The housing policy world knows the only way banks can work successfully in mortgage finance, long term, is when they have a strong or stronger entities (the GSEs) enforcing reasonable bank mortgage lending behavior regarding loan products, market access, and prices???

It’s All about Homeownership and what that means to Americans and America

In looking at my blog work this week and dozens of other articles and legal and political related issues, we can sometimes forget—if we even knew—about how and why the federal government supports homeownership and the resulting national and societal benefits that flow to American families and communities from what is measured as close to 20% of the United States’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

That all came back to me when pouring over an article sent to me by my former Fannie colleague and friend Gwenn Hibbs (the world’s best financial services lawyer).

It’s an excellent history lesson for those who haven’t spent years delving into the “whys” behind all of the “what’s” we see in the national mortgage policy ideological, industry, consumer, and political disputes. 

(Super read, Gwennie!!)

Maloni, 4-17-2017

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bad News/Good News for President Trump

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

GSE Commentary; DJT and Russia

I’ve heard from GSE allies and friends concerned about my growing negativity on GSE legal or possible Trump Administration progress.

That’s an accurate assessment of what I’ve been writing and also reflects what I think I am seeing, specifically my thesis has been the infamous “GSE Shit Wall” –or Tim Howard’s “financial establishment”--will preclude DC policy makers from ever making a decision supporting the GSEs or their shareholders, save some ersatz calls that are halfhearted but ineffectual, i.e. “Yes your rights were violated but you don’t get any damages.”

The friends claim;

“No Maloni, you are ignoring the inherent value (and difference) between preferred stock and common stock and the fact that Judges Millett-Ginsburg in their negative appeals decision, which most of us hate, specifically did ask Judge Lamberth—or whomever picks up these still unanswered legal questions—to closely examine American contract law, which my GSE friends believe might contain the seeds of a GSE settlement and hope for a future mortgage finance system with major roles for the GSEs.

That rendition may be a little more than the judges asked, but the Appeals opinion did tell Lamberth to go back and look specifically at that preferred matter since his original decision didn’t reflect that analysis.

(Although the “Maloni Devil theory” concurs--just like Judge Lamberth argues--unless barred by the SCOTUS or the Trump Administration--the government will do whatever it wants to GSE interests and nobody will say boo.)

Excuse me, but at the mention of Judge Millett and Judge Ginsburg, I must invoke the ancient Maloni family curse: “May those two jurists, for the rest of their lives, require kaopectate daily for their stomach distress.”

I can’t/won’t try and make the case for common versus preferred GSE securities, because I’m not smart enough, but will merely point out that because of the “preferred contract” there is a difference. 
In an email to me, here is what my friends argue and I think they are right. 
(A) GSE shareholders say that Fannie, Freddie, FHFA and Treasury have breached their contracts.  Those contracts are the prospectuses under which the GSEs made their pitch to potential investors and the corporate documents under which those securities were issued.  In America, contracts are important, and parties are expected to honor their contractual obligations even when it's inconvenient.  

(B) After reviewing Judge Lamberth's decision, the D.C. Circuit says Judge Lamberth improperly ignored and needs to review GSE shareholders' contract-based claims.  Specifically, the D.C. Circuit says Judge Lamberth needs to think about investors' liquidation preference and dividend rights buried in the contracts under which the securities were issued.  

(C) There is some confusion in the marketplace today about whether GSE investors' contractual rights travel with a security as it changes hands or whether those rights mutate as securities are bought and sold in the secondary market.  The U.S. Supreme Court has clearly said multiple times that an investor's bundle of rights is fixed when a security is issued and don't expand or contract based on the identity of the current holder.  All GSE security holders are equal.  The time at which a GSE security traded hands and the price paid for a GSE security is irrelevant.  

(D) The D.C. Circuit says that Judge Lamberth was incorrect when he said shareholders' claims are not ripe.  That's an important point no other court has squarely addressed.  Judge Sweeney should find that instructive as the takings litigation proceeds in her court.  


The President's Up and Down Week

First off, I want to apologize to anyone who will be offended with my examination, below, of a certain rumor currently circulating “inside the Beltway” about Russian intelligence services, the President Trump, and Mrs. Trump. 

I discuss it because the information is not new but it answers a few questions I had, initially, when these same matters were raised by others but seemed to disappear amid the hoopla of the Republican primary campaign and DJT’s win.

If close to accurate, this information would explain a lot, i.e. DJT's  long time Kremlin investment goals, as well as President Trump’s Russian infatuation, his near unfathomable Russian toadying, and Vlad P bromance.

Again, the operative word here is rumor—it all could be nonsense--but when this story touches certifiable details, some perspective gets added.

The narrative is kind of a reverse “Russian honey trap” using sex and related matters, likely embarrassing photos, plus inarguable evidence of wrong doing, as well as fears of exposure in the face of blackmail/coercion.

As explained to me midweek: US security services, likely the FBI, reaping their electronic surveillance activities have evidence Russia possesses and threatened to detail evidence showing First Lady Melania Trump was in the country illegally--before her  wedding to DJT--and engaged in disreputable employment that will not be found on any First Baptist Church Ladies Club list of acceptable vocational options for young ladies, even when they are beautiful and came from Eastern Europe (Slovenia) or not.

Remember the GOP presidential primary flack over exactly when Melania Knauss Trump, first arrived to work on our shores? But, with scant evidence beyond Donald Trump’s say so, all were assured by his attorneys was she was here legally.

The rumor—after a few modeling jobs—is Miss Knauss opted to become a professional “female escort,” which is how she met “the Donald,” at a time when he was the talk of NYC with flamboyant bachelor ways always surrounded by attractive young women.

With these provocative rumors, I go back to what’s already appeared. During the GOP primary, the New York Post printed some sultry photos of Melania Knauss, who as we know later would marry Donald J. Trump, give birth to their son Barron Trump and now is our current First Lady.

Did Donald Trump’s pre-presidential life--his desire to conduct major business in Russia—his Manhattan high living and womanizing allow Vladimir Putin and his spy network to bag themselves an orange haired “Manchurian Candidate” and use that intelligence eventually to extort DJT’s cooperation and abuse NATO, our European allies, and more?

That script is very Russian and very Putin.

Could all of DJT’s accusations of “fake news,” media hate talk, Tweets commanding his fans not to trust the major newspapers and networks, be a gigantic anticipatory spin 
For when this story—or other more revealing or humiliating Russian connections disadvantaging our nation--hit the news?

President Trump proudly brags he could shoot someone in the middle of NYC and still would be supported by the American people and exonerated in the courts.

Two congressional investigations, one DoJ/FBI, and microscopic press interest , eventually, will dismiss or provide support for these possibilities. 

If the Russians have or are trying to blackmail the POTUS, President Trump may get his chance to prove his theory of political invulnerability, although he, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne “Conwoman,” and Fox will label it all “false news,” no matter what sources verify it.


Yay H.R. McMaster

Wonder what Steve “Goebbels” Bannon did to PO the President and allow H.R. McMaster, his new Director of National Security, to dump “Goebbels” from that intelligence cast?

Whatever it was it must have been harrowing for SGB to get dropped like a hot rock, reportedly with a nudge from first son-in-law Jared “Bartholomew Cubbins” Kushner (because of his many policy hats).

I want “Goebbels” and his cabal of angry “nationalists”  to keep running afoul of McMaster, Kushner, and first daughter Ivanka.

In an old “addition by subtraction” scenario, President Trump’s White House would gain stature and character, if Bannon and his ideological pug uglies were bounced from his staff.

I hope there is some substance to this late breaking Sunday news story.

More Caught in the Russian Snare?

We have Mike Flynn gone for lying to VP Pence over Flynn’s Russian dealings and back channel discussions with Kremlin spies. Flynn still is reported to be seeking testimony immunity.

We have Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Justice Department’s Trump/Russia investigation.  And last week we saw Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes (R-Cal), step aside, under ugly clouds for his House collegial deceit and abdicating his congressional responsibilities by nakedly cooperating with the guy he is supposed to investigate.

With the President still insisting that there are no Russian issues here, political or strategic, a lot of heavy hitter Republican bigshots have been rendered hors de combat on the sidelines.

I’ll remind you—and repeat—what was said last week, when Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) suggested, about Flynn (paraphrasing), “When you seek immunity, it’s probably because you committed a crime.”

Forty five years ago….

Most of you reading this blog, likely, weren’t adults during the Richard Nixon denouement. Most didn’t live in Washington DC or work on the Hill, as I did reading the Washington Post and other media,  which had one Nixon aide or another confirm with on the record or off the record quotes that President Nixon was guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors related both to the Watergate DNC headquarters burglary but more significantly in the White House cover-up, for which Nixon later was impeached.

As the Congress, the media, the Administration, courts, and the nation today, work its way through this political and legal Russian quagmire, remember we have been lied to before, grossly, and that includes Bill Clinton, too.

And once one inside person starts talking, you soon see a flood, i.e. rats leaving a sinking ship.

Yay DJT, Twice

Before closing on this blog segment, let me confound and shock some of you by, legitimately, praising President Trump over his muscular response to the Syrian gas attacks. I was very critical of President Obama, i.e. "red lines and all" for talking a lot about Syria and other hot spots but doing little or nothing.

DJT’s military move—and what I expect will be others—provides him with greater diplomatic and strategic options than just imploring Russia and Iran--which he did before the cruise missile attacks--to rein in Assad.

Of possibly of greater value to the nation,  I also welcome the President (finally) using the attack to accept responsibility for his position and ownership of these military steps and associated domestic action.

Maloni, 4-10-2017

(To the landsmen, best wishes, good health, and Peace on this Passover.)