An open letter to Sen. Jim Risch

You are компромаT—compromised. You should recuse yourself from decisions and vacate your chair for discussions relating to Ukraine.

According to Federal Election Commission records, on Nov. 13, 2013, you met with three lobbyists from Mercury Public Affairs—Vin Weber, Ed Kutler and Michael McSherry. They were lobbying on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a “think tank” set up by Paul Manafort and Rick Gates to front for Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and his pro-Russia Party of Regions.

On December 4, 2013, Weber, Kutler and McSherry each contributed $1,000 to the Jim Risch for U.S. Senate Committee. These funds came from Ukraine/Russian oligarchs laundered through Manafort’s ECFMU. Weber, Kutler, and McSherry operated as unregistered foreign agents.

U.S. law prohibits your receiving campaign contributions from foreign nationals or contributions made by one person in the name of another. As a member of the Senate foreign relations committee, you must have been particularly aware of these restrictions, yet you accepted the tainted money.

While the lobbyists have tried retroactively to update their foreign lobbying disclosures, there is no record of your campaign having returned the unlawful $3,000 donation that helped finance your 2014 reelection.

I’ve forwarded the above letter to every print-media editor in Idaho for whom I could find an email address. Feel free to share it with friends and online media, blogs, etc.

The renewed focus on Ukraine (and Russia—but more about that later) makes it critical people that like Risch in positions of power come clean. I’ve also been asked for sources of the information upon which the letter is based. Here’s some of the story:

The story broke last year when Massachusetts attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee filed an election-law-violations complaint with the Dept. of Justice and, I believe, with Mueller’s investigation team. While working a case to revoke Paul Manafort’s Connecticut law license, Larrabee discovered that Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce, and Sen. Jim Risch received payments from the European Centre For a Modern Ukraine, a front that Manafort had set up to run his straw-donor scheme. No surprise that Rohrabacher, widely known as Putin’s Congressman, would take money from pro-Russian sources in Ukraine. After 20 years in the House, Rohrabacher lost his seat last year as did Royce; they both represented Orange County.

FEC records are not easy to search. I can’t find the link but have print-outs of the campaign’s Form 3’s for the Dec. 4, 2013, $1,000 contributions of Weber, Kutler and McSherry (Images #14020124372 & …76).

Here’s a link to “Manafort lobbyists met with Idaho’s Jim Risch, leading to claim of illegal donations,” by Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman (online), June 14, 2018: https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article213135899.html I also have a clip of the print version: “Mueller probe eyes meeting between lobbyists, Risch” by Cynthia Sewell, Idaho Statesman, Vol.153, no. 325, Friday, June 15, 2018 (print)

It’s been more than a year since I researched this stuff, and there appear to have been some more recent developments. I understand that Risch was questioned by Mueller’s investigators​; apparently, nothing came of it.

​In late August this year, former Congressman Vin Weber resigned from Mercury Public Affairs, the lobbying group he helped found, ​because of his association with Paul Manafort and his failure to register as a foreign agent, which was still being investigated:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/longtime-lobbyist-and-former-congressman-vin-weber-resigns-from-lobbying-firm/2019/08/30/ae444f26-cb3b-11e9-be05-f76ac4ec618c_story.html

​Given the growing importance of Ukraine​ in current events, I think it’s important that his constituents be reminded that Mr. Risch does not have a clean plate in matters involving Ukraine, Russia, Vin Weber, or Paul Manafort.

While most of the focus is currently on Trump’s pressuring Zelenskyy about Biden, Trump was also pushing another right-wing ​agenda item when he told ​Zelenskyy,

I would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like to get to the bottom of it.

Trump betrayed both his obsession with the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and his feeble grasp of the technology involved in the DNC hack that set it in motion:

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/27/765186504/what-the-cybersecurity-company-crowdstrike-has-to-do-with-the-trump-ukraine-matt?fbclid=IwAR1V8xNkQXqe5xr8JPTr0Cg6q8W2sZjRQ8U-LfevRmxKJUc7PsM7OjEU_8o

https://fortune.com/2019/09/28/crowdstrike-conspiracy-theories-trump-ukraine/

Fourth of July Salute to America

Donald Trump has announced plans for a “Salute to America” at the Lincoln Memorial on July 4th this year, which some see as another taxpayer-financed campaign rally sure to bring out his “base.” In his usual terse, demure prose, Trump has tweeted that the event will have “Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”

Proudly They Came (1): 1970


The album cover of Honor America Day recordings of the event that was largely seen as a pro-war, pro-Nixon rally held July 4, 1970 in Washington, D.C. The album contains an iconic version of Kate Smith’s God Bless America, but does not recognize protests at the event against the Vietnam War and for legalization of marijuana.

I can’t help but recall the July 4th “Honor America Day” at that location 49 years ago. It was a massive, entertainment-filled, patriotic ceremony kicked off in the morning with an interfaith service on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial led by Billy Graham and attended by some 10,000 people. The day’s planning committee was led by J Willard Marriott, the hotel-chain baron and friend of President Nixon. Bob Hope was the master of ceremonies. 


American evangelist Billy Graham speaks from a podium on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial while surrounded by uniformed members of the armed forces during ‘Honor America Day,’  in Washington, DC on July 4, 1970.
David Fenton/Getty Images

In spite of campaign promises to end the war in Vietnam, President Nixon had expanded the war with the carpet-bombing and invasion of Cambodia. In the fall of 1969, the largest antiwar protest ever held in the United States drew hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital. The antiwar movement continued to grow, particularly after National Guard soldiers in May 1970 killed four students attending an antiwar protest at Kent State in Ohio and two at Jackson State in Mississippi.

When Nixon supporters kicked off their Honor America celebration at one end of the National Mall ostensibly to express a sense of national unity and patriotism, many felt it was little more than a pro-war rally. From the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument at the other end of the mall, several thousand hippies and Yippies gathered for what was to become an annual Smoke-In to demand legalization of marijuana and the end to the war.

Proudly They Came (2): 1970

Four years ago, over objections from Congress, recreational marijuana was legalized in the District of Columbia. We can be certain that this year’s smoke-in will offer an interesting contrast to the Trump-sponsored Salute at the Lincoln Memorial.

Oil Springs

Oil Springs

DSCF2867

Oil Springs, Canada, birthplace of the petroleum industry & oil-well engineer John Ira Dupee

Tomorrow, my grandson Conner Richardson graduates from Texas Tech in Lubbock to become my family’s second petroleum engineer.

In lieu of a sappy graduation card (I looked over many), I decided to pull together some photos from the Canadian birthplace of the modern oil industry and of oil-well engineer John Ira Dupee, first in the family to mine the black gold. You can peruse a PDF copy of the result here: Conners congrats

Brilliant minds

Brilliant minds

I am continually amazed at the stuff I come across on the Internet. Recently, a friend turned me on to the work of Ray Kurzweil, a genius and futurist whose book The Singularity Is Near has been made into a movie.

Penrose-tiles3

Kurzweil’s hypotheses about the implications of reaching a “singularity” [a term borrowed from physics] with exponential advances in information technology give hope that the apocalypse just over the horizon may actually be avoidable:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtataLdqNvw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlRTbl_IB-s

YouTube has a way of clumping information. So, today I watched the presentation of another genius who popped up when Kurzweil’s lecture concluded.

I once thought I was going to be a mathematician, which fantasy vanished as I struggled through second-year calculus, when I could no longer visualize geometrically the algebraic operations of higher-order equations. Instead of giving up on math, I probably should have avoided analytics and headed over to topology. I am still fascinated by mathematical ideas, especially when they have a visual component, which is probably why this presentation by Roger Penrose talking about his tiles caught my attention. In this talk about tiles, Penrose explores mathematical ideas whose roots Pythagoras planted in ancient Greece, ideas explored by Plato, Kepler, Escher, and many others.

Penrose-tiles2

While I cannot fathom much of Sir Roger’s explanation of how he arrives at the intricate tiling arrangements, it is just fascinating to watch the mind of a genius at work on abstract concepts that have a profound bearing on our understanding of the physical structures, energy patterns and information fields that pervade our reality. Interesting, the way the pentagram keeps cropping up, whose mystical associations are ancient; Euclid devoted a healthy chunk of the Elements to construction of this Pythagorean symbol of Health.

Roger Penrose – Forbidden crystal symmetry in mathematics and architecture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th3YMEamzmw