JPMorgan Staff Members Knew About Epstein

In 2006, a member of JPMorgan Chases’ bank’s risk department flagged the late Jeffrey Epstein’s cash withdrawals (up to $750,000 per year) two years before Mr. Epstein entered a guilty plea to solicitation of prostitution with a minor.

Still, the relationship continued. But staff members were onto him.  E-mails referred to the convicted sex offender as “Sugar Daddy.  In 2010, the bank’s compliance department flagged a loan to Mr. Epstein in relation to a modeling agency that had been charged with bringing underage girls into the United States.

Finally, after one meeting with Mr. Epstein, held in 2013, the head of asset and wealth management “fired” Mr. Epstein as a client. Way to muster some backbone.

We do not know the full extent of those who were involved, inextricably intertwined, or knew about Epstein.  As it unfolds, even our already too numb consciences are still shocked.

•Khadeeja Safdar and David Benoit,“JPMorgan Staffers Flagged Epstein.”  Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2023, p. B1.


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Ticket Brokers, Ticket Buyers, and Misguided Regulation

Marianne M. Jennings and Stephen K. Happel, emeritus professors ,W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

Another Taylor Swift concert. Then comes weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth with accompanying demands that someone in any branch of government address the injustices of the ticket world once and for all. Pause and breathe, dear fans, for regulators have been tinkering with the distribution of tickets since the time of Shakespeare. Through centuries of plays, concerts, and sporting events, those regulations have not reduced prices or ensured that more fans got tickets.

What regulation has wrought is Taylor Swift debacles. In the name of consumerism, reasonable prices, and fairness, regulation allowed TicketMaster to acquire and operate a vertical monopoly.  TicketMaster now controls the venues, primary ticket sales, and the secondary market for those tickets.  Ticketmaster has class monopolist classic behaviors: incompetence, poor service, and ticket prices reaching $5,000+.  The Wall Street Journal reports resentment by Swift, Springsteen, and Beyonce fans reaching $1,311, $480 and $469, respectively.

But artists, politicians, and consumers are determined to hark back to the 1850s in the United States, when goverments imposed price controls on tickets. Price controls produce corruption, even higher prices, and more fans clamoring for tickets. 

 Beyond price controls, there are, once again, calls to eliminate the perceived source of evil in ticket markets: ticket brokers, aka “scalpers.” During a Pollstar panel, Irving Azoff, James Dolan, and Garth Brooks, along with monopolist Ticketmaster, called on Congress to pass the Fair Ticketing Act.  Along the lines of an Inflation Reduction Act, opposite outcomes spring from ill-named legislation. When the word “fair” shows up in any statute, basic economics is tossed to the wind.

The Fair Ticketing Act would banish ticket brokers from the face of the nation. Decades of our research into the primary and secondary ticket markets yield this advice: Wrong direction. Big mistake.

 The ticket market has unique qualities. The supply of tickets to one-time events is fixed and live shows carry a certain psychological irrationality.  A Taylor Swift type-concert brings demand that far exceeds the limited supply inherent in venue size.

Into this mix we throw promoters and artists with a delicate balancing act in pricing tickets. Promoters need to fill all seats but do not want to sell low. Artists feel the backlash when zealous consumers and avid fans cannot get tickets or cry foul on high prices. Even Bernie Sanders was dogged by loyal Marxists when they learned they he was charging $95 for admission to his book signings. Artists lack the Bernie je ne sais quoi option: Throw your publisher under the bus. Ticket buyers continually weigh when and where to get tickets as prices fluctuate. Even Bernie’s Marxists turned to the scalpers.

One much-maligned group, ticket brokers, provide a service to promoters, artists, and consumers. Ticket brokers understand ticket markets more than the other three interested groups combined.  They are in the business of arbitrage. Ticket brokers use instincts and experience to assess the market for an event. They buy primary sale tickets and then resell those tickets to those fans who were unsuccessful in the TicketMaster scramble.

Brokers make money because promoters and artists set a too-low initial selling price too. But brokers assume the risk of buying tickets for events without knowing which way prices will go or if the event will sell out. If prices climb, brokers take the heat.  Artists and promoters throw them under the bus. 

Brokers simply play an economic and critical role – they help buyers get seats.  But brokers also absorb the losses for both the artists and promoters when an event falls flat.  The seats are sold because of them, but they are not always filled because brokers are left holding tickets they cannot give away.

 True enough — brokers make money when demand is high.  Artists and promoters then wail that someone else is taking “my money.” But nary a word is heard when brokers absorb their losses because they are stuck with tickets. Brokers make money if they are shrewd enough to predict markets and courageous enough to lay down the scratch and face the slings and arrows of consumer and regulator backlash.

In 2015, the Grateful Dead held a farewell concert at Soldier Field, capacity 73,000, in Chicago. As the Dead had done for decades, they attempted to prevent ticket brokers from buying tickets. They had fans send postcards requesting tickets.  A committee then decided who got the tickets and then determined a fair price. With brokers restricted, the somewhat ungrateful Dead discovered that resale prices went through the roof. Fans capitalized on the demand and priced accordingly. Dead fans were outraged, in a subdued manner Grateful Dead fans can manage.

The Dead tried a different approach for their last concert at California’s Levi Stadium, capacity 73,000. Rather than restrict the sale of tickets by brokers, the band opened up sales to brokers.  Brokers bought large numbers of tickets, expecting Chicago sky-high resale prices. As the event approached, ticket prices went down.  The classic cartel phenomenon took hold and prices plummeted. The brokers absorbed the losses, not the Dead.

Country singer Zach Bryan, outspoken critic of ticket prices, plans to sell tickets to his upcoming tour for no more than $156. By using non-transferable technology, the official website will control resale and only allow face value to be paid. Tickets purchased on non-official sites will not be honored. This revolutionary price control is being implemented by the market rather than government mandate. 

 Yet, there is a downside to Bryan’s plan. Assume Bryan and his entourage are pure at heart and are not planning to hold some tickets back to sell at higher prices. The secondary ticket market always finds a way because markets abhor underpricing. Bryan will still face backlash from fans. Bruce Springsteen has tried to “boss” the market for decades in the name of fairness. As noted, his formulas have likewise alienated his fans.

The Bryan fairness approach may be an economic decision – the artist is focusing on a long term strategy. That one price-serves-all ingratiates a performer to fans and could be a long-run revenue maximizer as fan popularity rises in response.  The loss-leader artist approach has market potential because it relies on economics.

Yet, despite Bryan’s best efforts, tickets for his events can still be found on resale platforms like Vivid Seats and Tickpick for hundreds of dollars more than fair value. Brokers have undoubtably found a way around Bryan’s resale restrictions, which will probably lead to greater efforts to rein them in. Brokers, as players in a secondary market, find tickets. Roadies given free tickets have also been around since Shakespeare and they too value placing them for an open market.

Having brokers buy up tickets to major events can be the best way to benefit artists, promoters, and fans. The market will inevitably control the price of tickets, commensurate with fluctuating demand and the fickleness of fans. The most inaccurate word used by those denouncing brokers and calling for their elimination by government action is “fair.” 

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The Compton California Ransacking

A mob took over a gas station food mart in Compton, California at 2:30 AM on Sunday, April 16. They took thousands in beer, condoms, and cigarettes.  Not exactly the same as Valjean stealing bread.

Meanwhile, across the country in Philadelphia, 10 men managed to steal $200,000 in dimes from a truck carrying $750,000 in dimes from Philadelphia to Florida. Must have been needed for the high stakes mahjong matches down there.

In the meantime, how will the dime thieves cash in the dimes?

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Meta vs. Reality: Poor Babies Have No Breakfast Cereal or Sufficient Snacks

Meta (nee Facebook) employees (who are left) are griping.  No more free laundry service.  Free dinner has been pushed way back on the clock to prevent employees from taking food home. Those “micro kitchens” at their headquarters do not have enough snack replenishments. Not to mention the losses they are experiencing with their options because Zuckerberg’s run in his authority-defying hoodie is over.

They were living their best lives at a company paying too much to too many and offering too many perks:  free food, clean clothes, and not many time demands at work.  Now the real world has hit Silicon Valley.  Welcome to the office, dear ones.  Bring some protein bars from home, grab some Tide pods, and swing by Whole Foods for dinner.  Welcome to Kansas. It’s a hard-knock life, this working for a living.

Sheera Frenkel and Mike Issac, “Mass Layoffs and Absentee Bosses Lead to a Moral Crisis at Meta,” New York Times, April 12, 2023, p. B1.


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Some Investment Advice: If a Sports Arena Is Named After a Company — Do What the Monty Python Boys Say, “Run Away! Run Away!”

The Barometer noted that the Miami Heat had a fairly large branding error with their home base, i.e., the FTX Arena.  Then the mental recollection wheels began to turn.  Adelphia graced the home of the Tennessee Titans before the founder and several officers of that collapsed company ended up in the hoosegow for using the company as a piggy bank. The Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers have had their home graced by the brands of Wachovia, First Union, and still struggle through now with Wells Fargo, the home of 3.5 million fake accounts.

The poor Houston Astros had Enron Field. Enron executives went on to 9 months to 24 years in prison after that company’s overnight collapse. Perhaps there was a contagion because MLB concluded the Astros cheated, but let them keep their World Series title.  No harm, no foul.

The Nets has its arena in Brooklyn branded with Barclays.  The bank’s CEO’s connections with Jeffrey Epstein have been dogging the bank and CEO for several years.  MCI, nee WorldCom, graced the Washington Wizards’ and Capitals’ arena before WorldCom became the largest bankruptcy in history in 2002.

The Los Angeles Kings and Sparks had their facility named the HealthSouth Training Center until that $3 billion accounting fraud was uncovered. It is now the Toyota Training Center. HealthSouth spread its branding wealth around because, after all, it was specializing in sports injury and surgery rehabilitation — The San Antonio Spurs also had a HealthSouth Training Center.

There are ones to watch.  Comerica’s stock is down 38% and that means trouble might lie ahead for the Detroit Tigers. the Texas Legends, and Dallas Stars. In fact, those regional banks are big arena names around the country.  Watch for those names to fade. and the LA Clippers may not be a good brand affiliation post-FTX.

Sports writers call it the arena curse. The Barometer sees it as bad judgment.  How many Tigers fans switch to Comerica because they saw it at a baseball game?  And how many Nets fans take their banking dollars over to Barclays because they were intrigued at a basketball game?  These are expensive marketing ploys akin to vanity license plates.  Lots of people seem them, but to what end? The car owner feels good but the rest of us just shrug our shoulders and do just as well  keeping  the extra money as we accept, for no extra charge,  the state-issued plates. Save your marketing dollars.  For the teams — save your reputations.  For investors, if you see a sports field, facility, or arena named for a company, do not invest.  Run away.

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Bad News: When Your Ethics and Compliance Officer Is Charged with Helping Your Customers Evade the Law

For all the crypto currency fans out there who have been saying, “What could possibly go wrong?” in a financial industry no one can explain, and, as if FTX was not enough, we have this:

Samuel Lin, the compliance chief for Binance Holdings Ltd. from 2018-2022, has been sued by the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with willfully aiding and abetting his company in evading U.S. laws. Interpretation:  the compliance officer set up a system for evasion of his own compliance controls.

And, Binance has refused to provide the CFTC with Mr. Lim’s residential address in Singapore so that he can be served with an investigative subpoena.

The complaint alleges that Binance, despite its denials, has long been soliciting customers in the United States. Binance was soliciting U.S. customers through a complex structure to evade U.S. laws and regulations.  The company used personnel and vendors in the United States and actively cultivated VIP customers in the United States.  However, the complaint also alleges that once customers were hooked, Mr. Lim helped them evade compliance controls.  Mr. Lim  told customers to use VPNs to avoid Binance’s internet protocol address-based controls.  Off-shore companies were the recommended tool for evading Binance’s anti-money laundering controls.

The complaint in the suit provides lesson in the following axioms:

(a) If you are doing stuff that just might cross a line here and there, don’t brag about it in e-mail; and

(2) “Criminals are Stupid” — the title of the Barometer’s criminal law professor’s book about his experiences as a prosecutor.

Some gems from the complaint in Commodities Futures Trading Commission v.Changpeng Zhao, Binance Holdings Limited, Binance Holdings (IE) Limited, Binance (Services) Holdings Limited, and Samuel Lim

Binance has been aware that its compliance controls have been ineffective. As Lim—at the time Binance’s CCO—recognized in an October 2020 chat with other Binance compliance personnel, Binance’s compliance environment has amounted to “email sending and no action . . . for media pickup . . . I guess you can say its ‘fo sho.’”

As part of an audit for a customer, the Binance employee who held the title of Money Laundering Reporting Officer (“MLRO”) lamented that she “need[ed] to write a fake annual MLRO report to Binance board of directors wtf.” Lim, who was aware that Binance did not have a board of directors, nevertheless assured her, “yea it’s fine I can get mgmt. to sign” off on the fake report. Around the same time as the referenced “half assed” compliance audit.”

In November 2020 the MLRO exclaimed to Lim in a chat, “I HAZ NO CONFIDENCE IN OUR GEOFENCING [screening out customers from certain countries, e.g., the U.S.].

in February 2019, after receiving information “regarding HAMAS transactions” on Binance, Lim explained to a colleague that terrorists usually send “small sums” as “large sums constitute money laundering.” Lim’s colleague replied: “can barely buy an AK47 with 600 bucks.”

And with regard to certain Binance customers, including customers from Russia, Lim acknowledged in a February 2020 chat: “Like come on. They are here for crime.”  Binance’s MLRO agreed that “we see the bad, but we close 2 eyes.”

Yes, indeed, it was a web of crime and Binance officers, such as they were, had their eyes wide shut.  Alleged crime, and alleged eyes shut that is.

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Banks Are, Generally, Well, Trouble

We are still cleaning up bank messes from 7 years ago as we find ourselves in yet another.  It was 2016 when the news hit that all the new accounts Wells Fargo was boasting about were not real.  By the time the dust settled, regulators found 3.5 million fake accounts.  The Barometer would have gone into business if she had understood you can just make stuff up.

And the Wells scandal broke just 8 years after we lost Lehman and Wachovia and a host of other financial institutions in 2008.

Now, as banks were folding right and left over the past 10 days, Wells Fargo’s former head of community banking, Carrie Tolstedt, agreed to enter a guilty plea to obstructing regulators. The allegations were that Ms. Tolstedt knew of the Wells “fakery” as early as 2004, but kept it quiet. The regulators, ever slow on the uptake, were trying to figure out the fake account scandal.

Wells paid $3 billion to settle the charges of faking accounts.  Ms. Tolstedt could serve up to 16 months in prison.

Now we are facing Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank, First Republic Bank, and Credit Suisse, the banks on the brink. Despite clean audit opinions these banks somehow ran out of money.  Go figure.  No worries — we will sort through it all over the next seven years — about the time the next scandal breaks wide open.

Dave Michaels, “Ex-Wells Executive to Enter Guilty Plea,” Wall Street Journal, March 16 2023, p. B10.

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Rating Service: Gaming the System

The Barometer has noted the presence of a nearly instantaneous quality-of-service survey in her inbox seconds after Clear has “cleared” her through TSA airport security.  Except in Atlanta.  The Atlanta airport is a mess.  The Clear lines there serpentine in a Disney World manner and length.  You pay extra fees to Clear to avoid lines. In the case of Atlanta, however, Clear has managed to make its lines longer than the lines for those who just show upsand get in the short lines. Clear has high ratings if you can skew the data.

When the Barometer has her car serviced, there will be e-mails and calls of warning, “If you are not satisfied with your service experience, let me know so that I can fix it before you fill out a survey that is coming from the auto manufacturer.”  How will the manufacturer know what dealerships really do a good job if the dealership is hiding problems and cooking the customer surveys?

The survey madness was the focus of a book called “The Ultimate Question.”  That question (s) is “Are you likely to return to ________?” or “How likely are you to recommend ________?” Supposedly, good numbers on those questions translate to successful businesses. But not if you are fooling around with strategies pre-survey.

Airbnb owners are posting “Vacation Rental Rating Guides” to persuade guests to use the appropriate number of stars. Grade inflation in rental property evaluations.! Fours star actually means average as renters follow their instruction sheets.

The average score on Airbnb evaluations is 4.5.  So, you get an average rating that is recorded as excellent.   Then there are the guests who refuse to give a bad score, fearful of hurting the owner.  Hello renters! Airbnbers and other property rental firms just charged you $600 a night for a house that was cleaned by a 13-year-old neighbor.  A little negativity could help their business if they were willing to listen.

No one listens. No one speaks, at least truthfully  So, this odd world of surveys has brought us feedback of excellence without the disclosure of the baggage of gaming the system. Without Atlanta, Clear looks great. A car dealership gets fabulous service ratings, until you get there and experience the reality of manipulated data. With a ratings sheet posted on the refrigerator that tells customers what to put, all Airbnb properties are a slice of heaven. Owners achieve the highest ratings possible even when the floors are filthy.

The ultimate question has, ironically, fooled the customers.  Everyone is too busy gaming the system to be bothered by details about improving service and eliminating glitches.

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Samuel Bankman-Fried vs. Dr. Jerry Robinson

When the story of the multibillion dollar collapse of FTX broke, the Barometer thought Dr. Jerry Robinson (Peter Bonerz), orthodontist office mate of Dr. Bob Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show had succumbed to financial temptations. You decide:Icon: The Untold Story Of Crypto Billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried

The Bob Newhart Show: Season 2, Episode 16 - Rotten Tomatoes

Dr. Jerry Robinson played a loyal friend in the series and went on to direct successful television shows (Murphy Brown).

Samuel Bankman-Fried has been thrown under the bus by his colleagues and friends. He’s the only one involved in the gigantic FTX fraud who has not entered a guilty plea.

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Madison Square Garden Banishes Plaintiff Lawyers

MSG Entertainment, which owns and operates Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, other venues, and restaurants, took a bold step.  It sent a letter to 90 law firms that are in litigation with MSG stating, “Neither you, nor any other attorney employed at your firm, may enter the Company’s venues until final resolution of the litigation.”  The purpose of the ban was to prevent said lawyers from collecting evidence “outside proper litigation discovery channels.”

MSG then used facial recognition technology to turn the lawyers away. Lawyers then did what they are trained to do, they sued MSQ. Lawyers are not a protected class, yet.  So, anti-discrimination laws do not apply. The NBA does not prohibit the use of facial recognition.

So, the lawyers relied on a 1941 New York law that prohibits entertainment venues from denying admission unless the patron has become abusive. The law was drafted by an ACLU attorney for a theater critic who had been banished from 30 theaters.  Tough to pan a play when you haven’t seen it.

A court has granted a temporary injunction against MSG’s ban until things can be sorted out, well, in litigation over litigation. MSG has appealed. The lawyers are making the litigation about the dangers of using facial recognition technology.

Facial recognition is the tool for implementing the ban.  The issue is whether business owners can decide who gets to enter their establishments.  As the attorney for MSG pointed out to the judge in one of the cases, “Lawyers sometimes alienate people.”  He added that when he was a prosecutor cracking down on the mafia, “There are some Italian restaurants I couldn’t get a reservation at.  I didn’t sue them.”

It seems lawyers have hit an occupational hazard that affects their social lives. Hell hath no fury like a slip-and-fall lawyer banished from Knicks games and Phish concerts.

Kashmir Hill, “Arena Ban on Lawyers Fails to Stick,” New York Times, January 17, 2023, p. B1.



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When the Justice Department Jumped the Shark

In October 2021 there was the memo that Attorney General Merrick Garland sent out to all offices about the need to crack down on those violent parents at school-board meetings. He could offer no examples or prior investigations before Congress when asked what prompted the memo.  Later we learned that it was at the urging of the National School Board Association and its contacts at the White House that brought AG Garland to his senses.  So, he offered a stern memo for all hands on deck to crack down on those rascally scalawag parents. It took our Caspar-Milquetoast-meets-Barnet-Fife AG only five days after that memo arrived in the White House to get out his memo. The Mr. Limpet of lawyering said it was time to call a “domestic terrorist” a “domestic terrorist.”  Let the tackling of the soccer moms and wresting of their minivans headed for school-board meetings begin.

The terrorists showed him.  They sued him (case dismissed) and then began ousting school board members right and left, although mostly left, from Miami to San Francisco.  Congress is still investigating, and the mild-mannered Merrick is still resisting answers and investigators.  He has referred questions to Karine Jean-Pierre at the White House.  Ms. Jean-Pierre has responded that she is referring all questions to the Justice Department except those about Southwest Airlines, the Supply Chain, FAA ground-stops, and stalled infrastructure to Secretary of Transportation, Mayor “Pete” Buttigieg.  Mr. Buttigieg is currently on permanent leave owing to being a parent of twins.  He does report for work for press appearances to explain his latest harshly worded letter to someone else responsible for all road, shipping, strike, and transportation debacles under his watch.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court tossed the abortion issue back to the states, Mr. Garland’s Justice Department has been busy suing those states for doing what the highest court in the land said they can and should be doing.

When desperate Doug Duce, then-governor of Arizona. erected a wall on the Arizona-Mexico border made up of shipping containers, the Justice Department filed suit for an order requiring their removal.  The containers were on federal land and were creating an environmental hazard.

You can find Merrick Garland and his merry band of Justice Department lawyers with their noses in just about anything that does or does not concern them.  After all, its name is self-descriptive.  All this has been done in the name of Justice, literally and figuratively.

However, with President Biden’s document debacle, the ongoing drama of the Justice Department is running short on strategies for remaining opaque even as it litigates, intimidates, and obfuscates.

The bottom line on the document debacle is as follows:

  1. November 2, 2022 Mr. Biden’s lawyers report finding classified materials at the Biden Center for Some Kind of Mubo Jumbo Globalism for the Study of Pumping Funds to Some Biden from Somewhere Else.  No word on how Biden lawyers happened to be snooping around the Center or why they were engaged as clerical two-men-and-a-truck flunkies. The University of Pennsylvania, the home of the Biden Center issued a statement, “Who knew?” and adamantly denied that any funds from China went to the Center (more on that issue coming).
  2. November 4, 2022 The classified materials from the Pumping Center somehow landed at the National Archives.  The National Archives Inspector General then contacted the Justice Department about the unauthorized possession, storage, transport, reading, or use of classified documents.
  3. November 8, 2022 Federal elections are held.  Nary a word was heard on the Biden possession of classified documents. No discouraging word was uttered on the topics covered in those documents:  Ukraine and Iran.
  4. November 10, 2022  The FBI commences an “assessment” to determine whether the documents had been mishandled in violation of federal law.  No word yet on why the FBI in no longer the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has become the FBA, Federal Bureau of Assessment.  Also, no word on why the FBI opted for no search warrants, raids, or searches of Dr. Jill’s underwear draws for nuclear secrets.
  5. November 10, 2022  The FBA notifies Biden attorneys that it had begun its scary assessment  process but that it would keep in regular contact.  No word yet on why Biden attorneys were not left standing outside the National Archives, FBA headquarters, Biden homes in Delaware, or the Biden Corvette garage. “Let’s keep in touch,” is the new motto for the new FBA.
  6. November 14, 2022 U.S. Attorney John Lausch is asked by Milquetoast Limpet to look into maybe whether or possibly a special counsel should be appointed by said Limpet. Mr. Lausch was at that time a U.S. Attorney in Illinois but is  headed out the door and  into private practice in February.
  7. November 18, 2022 Caspar Fife appoints a special counsel to “investigate”  Mr. Trump’s possession of “sensitive documents” as well as his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Jack Smith, said special counsel, is currently wrapping up a stint at the Hague prosecuting war criminals.  He pledged to handle the investigations in “the best traditions of the Justice Department.”  Uh-oh, that means trouble for Trump and a temporary reprieve for war criminals everywhere. He also added that he conducts “investigations” and not “assessments.”
  8. December 20, 2022  Those happy-go-lucky Biden sortin’ and movin’ lawyers find more documents at the Biden home in Wilmington, Delaware.  This time the FBA swings into action and heads out to secure the documents. That Inspector General at the National Archives cannot be trusted to handle issues such as this.
  9. December 21, 2022 The FBA takes possession of the classified  documents. The Wilmington home is not searched by the FBA. The FBA does not spread the documents on the carpet or issue any photos of the documents obtained.
  10. January 5, 2023 John Lausch reports to Mr. Toast, “You gotta appoint a special counsel here, Caspar.” Mr. Lausch also resurrects that nasty term, “investigate.”
  11. January 8, 2023 Representative James Comer announces on the Mark Levin program that he will be looking into the activities of the National Archives and possible politicization of that agency.
  12. January 9, 2023 CBS breaks the news about the Biden Center documents.  Karine Jean-Pierre responds, “Who knew?” and refers all questions to Mayor Pete or the Justice Deaprtment.
  13. January 10, 2023 Ironically, in a 60 Minutes prerecorded interview, President Joseph Robinette Biden addresses Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents, noting, “How that could possibly happen, how one anyone [sic] could be that irresponsible?”
  14. January 10, 2023 President Joseph Robinette Byden issues a statement on the documents of, “Who knew?”  He pledged cooperation and refers all questions to Karine Jean-Pierre.
  15. January 11, 2023  Those movin’ and sortin’ Biden lawyers report finding more classified documents  at the Wilmington Biden home in the Biden garage. The lawyers stop their search and notify the FBA.  The FBA searches the Wilmington home as well as the Biden Rehobeth Beach home.  No additional documents were located.  No photos were issued by the FBA of the garage document, the Biden Corvette in that garage, or the bike lock on the Biden garage door.  Such a lock apparently qualified the Biden garage as a SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility).
  16. January 12, 2023  Apparently the promise that no further documents were found by the FBA at the Wilmington Biden home were not quite accurate. Mr. Limpet held a press conference and disclosed that more documents had been found in the home.
  17. January 12, 2023 Those Biden lawyers (Keystone Kop-esque) head to the Wilmington to search the house again and found more documents in that SCIF garage (five more).  No word from the FBA on how they missed the documents in their assessment the day before.
  18. January 12, 2023  Caspar Fife announces the appointment of a special counsel to investigate “the handling of classified documents.” No word on whether the FBA will return to investigative work or continue to rely on special counsel and simply stick to its knitting of “assessments.” Mr. Garland referred all questions to Karine Jean-Pierre and she referred reporters back to him.
  19. January 17, 2023 The Wall Street Journal reports that FBA said that it considered monitoring Biden lawyer searches for additional documents but concluded it would not do so to avoid complicating “later stages of the investigation.” After all, when one is simply assessing, one cannot get involved in watching third-parties scoop up evidence. The FBA referred all questions to the Justice Department, to which one reported responded, “Aren’t you part of the Justice Department?”
  20. January 21, 2023 — The White House Chief of Staff is leaving after the State of the Union address. He has referred all questions to Mayor Pete or Karine Jean-Pierre.
  21. January 22, 2023 The FBA finds more documents in the Biden Wilmington home following a 13-hour search. No word on Dr. Jill’s drawers. Ms. Jean-Pierre reiterates that the White House continues to cooperate and will now begin a policy of distributing schedules for upcoming further document searches..

Regardless of how one feels politically, a simple timeline and a review of the Justice Department’s actions, inactions, and responses has brought it to that same point flailing sit-coms face and then attempt to regain former glory.  They resort to the unbelievable.

UPDATED January 23 2023.

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Wells Fargo VP Terminated for Urinating on a 72-year-old Woman (Allegedly)

Shankar Mishra, 34, until recently a VP at Wells Fargo, was on a flight from New York to Delhi, India. Mr. Mishra had been drinking on the flight and for some reason began urinating on a fellow passenger.  According to witnesses, Mr. Mishra did not stop his bathroom behavior until another passenger tapped him and told him to return to his seat.

When the flight landed, Mr. Mishra was charged with an “obscene act in a public place, assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty, word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman, and misconduct in public by a drunken person.”  Quite the statute India has.

The crew is under investigation by Air India for its actions and inactions:

  1. The pilot vetoed a request by the crew to have the female passenger moved to first class.
  2. The crew forced Mr. Mishra to apologize.
  3. The crew’s delay and in efficiencies in addressing the situation.

According to the female passenger, Mr. Mishra began crying and begging not to be taken into custody when the flight landed. Mr. Mishra’s father, Shyam, explained that the allegations in an interview on India Today TV are “totally false.”  He added that his son had not slept for 72 hours, had a drink, and is unable to recall anything that happened after that. Shyam Mishra added, “I don’t think he would have done this. The woman is 72 years old, she is like a mother to him.”  Ah, so age is the inborn restraint on abuse of fellow passengers.

Authorities from India called Wells Fargo about Mr. Mishra.  Wells Fargo then terminated Mr. Mishra immediately, noting in a Tweet, “Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards of professional and personal behavior and we find these allegations deeply disturbing,” it said, per ANI. “This individual has been terminated from Wells Fargo. We are cooperating with law enforcement and ask that any additional inquiries be directed to them.”

Wells decided not to wait for the wheels of justice to turn in India.  Perhaps the bigger issue for Wells is: “How on earth did this man get to be a vice president?” Followed by, “Is tweeting the best way to address HR questions?”

For airlines, a follow-up issue is the return to serving spirits on flights. Perhaps a drink maximum?

For us, drunk or not, is anything left to civility?

Charmaine Patterson,  “Wells Fargo Fires Top Exec After He Allegedly Urinated on Elderly Woman During Flight to India,” People, January 7, 2023.

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The Conversations That Have No Point

The New York Times runs a regular feature called, “The Conversation.”  Columnists Gail Collins and Bret Stephens shoot the breeze in a stream-of-consciousness format.  The Conversation is lengthy, too lengthy once you catch on to its content.  You will find no new facts, a void in logic, and a great deal of snark.  In fact, it’s a fest to see which can be snarkiest.  Look no more for the source of division and contention.  The root cause is the terms, phraseology, and vitriole in our discourse.  We’re not thinking, analyzing, and grasping consequences.  We just keep harping on the same topics without the merciful realization that we already said that.  Herewith a few classic quotes from our hero and heroine, Bret Stephens and Gail Collins:

Bret:  Oh, and speaking of dealing with gangsters– your thoughts on the current crop of legal cases against the former guy?

Gail:  I’ve never thought — and still don’t– that a former president is going to go to jail, even for stealing federal documents or rousing violent crowds to march on the Capitol.

Bret:  Agree. Alas.

Gail:  But I’ve always had a yearning that he might wind up bankrupt and, say, living in a Motel 6.  Knew that was impossible — told myself to remember all the money he can make just on speaking tours or hosting parties at Mar-a-Logo.

Move over Archimedes!  There’s reasoning at its best.  Aristotle must defer because his definition of virtue has been shut down,  Where did they cross the line? Maybe in wishing for federal indictment and offering bankruptcy as  an alternative, a final resting spot that could achieve contentment.

Wishing prison and bankruptcy on anyone reveals a void in religious thought. Perhaps we could reach out to “love our enemies.”

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“Aiming for an Ivy and Try to Seem Less ‘Asian'”

Title of a story in the New York Times about applicants of Asian descent tailoring their application materials to maximize their chances for getting into an Ivy League school.  Some Asian applicants check “prefer not to say” when the demographic questions such as the one on race pop up .  Another hid her competitive chess success. Harvard doesn’t want winning chess-playing Asians on its campus.  As one young women noted — it is tough to hide who are unless you change your last name.

It is hard to believe we now live in a country in which disclosing your race means that you stand less of a chance in getting into a top college.  The best way to stop this problem of discriminating on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision coming next year on Harvard’s negative scoring of Asian applicants, well, we may experience a halt to discriminating on the basis of race. We did fight a Civil War and the battles of the civil rights era to stop this.  Apparently, it just changed the directions of the cannons.  Still discriminating after all these years

Amy Qin, “Aiming for an Ivy and Trying to Seem Less Asian,” New York Times, December 3, 2022, p. A1.

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