Monday, October 30, 2017

Russiagate Is Like Rosemary's Baby

The Trump presidency, with all of its bizarre manifestations and plot twists, has made Americans feel like we are watching a familiar movie.

A horror movie.

Appropriately enough, since the president is a sexual predator, it's a horror movie directed by a sexual predator.

It's Rosemary's Baby. We are all living in Rosemary's Baby, all living in creepy apartments at the Dakota, listening for the tiptoeing of witches, or is it Russians?

Here is a useful Who's Who...

The White House is the Dakota Apartment House.

Trump is Guy Woodhouse who sells his wife to Satan for greater fame and financial gain.

Putin is Beelzebub/Satan.

Roman Castevet is either Steve Bannon or Paul Manafort.

Kellyanne Conway is Minnie Castevet, played by Ruth Gordon without the charm.

Jeff Sessions is the absentminded witch played by Patsy Kelly. (Sarah Huckabee Sanders is understudy.)

General Flynn is Dr. Sapirstein.

Sebastian Gorka, Stephen Miller, Omarosa Manigault, Jared Kushner, Melania, Ivanka, Roger Stone, Donald Jr., Carter Page, etc. play all the other devil-worshippers in the room at the end...

Actually the whole Republican Party is in that room. (This new version of Rosemary's Baby really needs to be a cable series, there are so many wonderful parts. I see crowd scenes filled with Nazis carrying tiki torches. And everybody at FoxNews should have cameos. Not sure who should get William Castle's cameo as the guy waiting for the pay phone.)

Ben Carson is Dr. Bombay and is obviously in the wrong story.

Soviet ambassador/spymaster/bullfrog manquée Kislyak is Dr. Shand.

Jeb Bush is Donald Baumgart (the actor who goes blind to advance Guy Woodhouse’s career.)

James Comey is Dr. Hill (the naive "good guy" who unwittingly hands Rosemary back to the Satanists.)

Mr. Nicklas (Elisha Cook Jr.) is played interchangeably by the major network anchors.

Barack Obama is Rosemary's loyal friend Hutch, who the Satanists are determined to rub out.

Hillary is Rosemary’s friend Terry who gets thrown out of an upstairs window (very Russian.)

Neil Gorsuch, as far as I can tell, is the baby. (What have they done to his eyes?)

We are Rosemary.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Republicans hope reinvestigating Hillary will help Americans ignore investigations of Trump

Rep. Trey Gowdy* is preparing to begin year eight of the Benghazi Investigation into what happened in the city of that name where American diplomats were killed by terrorists. Most of Mr. Gowdy’s and his predecessor Darrel Issa’s prior inquisition has focused on the slowness with which the tragic sequence of events were described to the public by the White House team of then President Obama and then Sec of State Hillary Clinton. In the fog of war, the facts about what happened can be slow to emerge and confirm. (The first reports are often filled with rumor.) Try as they might, they cannot stop investigating Hillary. She is that fascinating…

Mostly, though, it appears to be an effort to distract from how the Russians punked our election to put Trump in the White House.

From the Guardian

What’s ironic is it has taken a considerable amount of time for the Trump administration to tell Americans what happened recently in Niger and nobody is promising an investigation of that. Would it be hypocritical of Democrats to mount the same kind of partisan witch hunt over the Niger incident? Maybe.

The difference between the two tragedies, though, is the Obama information sequence followed protocols for reporting this kind of event: seeking the best available facts before reporting to the public. The delay of several days by the Trump White House appears to be related to casual indifference and detachment and perhaps slow efforts to locate Niger on the map. (Niger is right next door to Nigeria after all. I am guessing the Trump team often confuses the various Dakotas and Carolinas and Virginias.) The problem is the Trump administration dislikes best practices and is very short on professional staff. The unprofessional staff seems secretive and dishonest. Also––and not surprisingly–– the chain of command in this very-generallish White House doesn’t seem to go all the way to the top.

From The Hill newspaper

President Trump on Wednesday said he did not personally authorize the mission in Niger in which four U.S. soldiers were killed, saying “my generals and my military” have decision-making authority.
Asked if he authorized the mission, Trump responded, “No, I didn’t, not specifically.”

“I have generals that are great generals,” he continued. “These are great fighters; these are warriors. I gave them authority to do what’s right so that we win. That’s the authority they have. I want to win. And we’re going to win.”

Trump made the comments to reporters on the White House south lawn as he left for Texas.

“My generals and my military, they have decision-making ability,” he added later. “As far as the incident that we’re talking about, I’ve been seeing it just like you’ve been seeing it. I’ve been getting reports. They have to meet the enemy and they meet them tough and that’s what happens.”

Which prompts me to ask the question I have been asking for months now: “How many generals does it take to screw in a junta?”

(*I have learned from reliable sources that Rep. Gowdy plans to go as Draco Malfoy again for Halloween this year.)

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Trump's history in the sordid world of sexual predation and exploitation

While America is fed a 24-7 stream of news about the true ugliness of the Weinstein sex scandal, we need to remember that this is not new. (In fact studio mogul sex predation goes all the way back to high moral scold Louis B. Mayer and his own casting couch.)

This Swedish writer has a good summary of the Trump involvement with the trafficking of underage models and his apparent enjoyment of this "flow of goods" from overseas. Via DailyKos

MotherJones ran this and other stories last year about Trump's involvement in this unsavory trafficking. (We elected him anyway.)

As did POLITICO...

We need to remember this isn’t confined to Hollywood. It exists wherever men have complete power. Not all the men in these environments are predators but that is what the men-only power structure enables and promotes. It promotes it because it enables men to get what they want, and to keep that power unrestricted in all areas of life: money, sex, power, leverage, etc. The women who oppose it or call it out are rubbished, called unattractive scolds and worse. The men who oppose this predation are considered troublemakers and worse. Anyone who reserves judgment because of lack of information and evidence (a large group) is simply doing what Americans have always done: assume innocence until guilt is proven. But the evidence is there. The reporting is there, but because of our legal standards that side with property and power against individual grievances, and our legal acceptance of nondisclosure agreements attached to civil settlements, the disclosures and reporting of previous decades is put into the dead file whenever a case is settled or closed or fails to convict on all counts or charges are pleaded down. It is easier and much more common for a very rich criminal to claim complete innocence than it is for an injured and unpowerful individual, because the rich person knows people in power, and rich people can manipulate people in power via Citizens United’s legalization of bribery, and because the rich person has lawyers and public relations people to flood the courts and the media with SLAP suits and published rubbishing of people who they may have injured who didn’t enjoy the experience.

The point we need to keep in mind is this male power structure and the enabling and promoting of sexual predation are very connected. The men-only mindset is being pushed very aggressively by the new Republican regime because it checks the right boxes and writes the right size checks. This mindset, this total grip on power by money and male clubbiness, is being weaponized because the president himself has a long history of sexual predation; to get what they want legislatively and judicially they need to protect the predator in chief. What makes it especially disturbing is how the so-called Christian Right in this country, in all its prudish piety, is fully behind what Trump represents and have excused or rationalized what he has done, what he has bragged about doing, what he is in favor of making fully acceptable.

The mindset that is protecting and enabling sexual predation is parallel to the other predation that is going on targeting the poor and the uninsured and the marginalized, but the Republican juggernaut is skillfully keeping the injured majority of Americans from uniting against it. The majority of Americans are not super wealthy and are preyed on legally and systematically because of laws written by the Republicans, but they are told to distrust their natural allies if they are black or Latino or female or Muslim. Divide and conquer.

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Friday, October 06, 2017

How to Disprove Inconvenient Truths

There is a great way to disprove something.

Murder the witnesses.

This is what the Mob has done for decades.

I get the feeling that the Republicans have taken their “can’t be true because I can’t bear it” equals “isn’t true because I refuse to find out” mindset and moved into full "disprove by discrediting and eliminating" mode.

I refer to the so-called brick wall and the Steele Dossier detailing Trump's involvement with the Russians. We learned about the Steele Dossier months ago, shortly after John McCain obtained a copy and gave it to the FBI.

After this happened certain Republicans set about discrediting the FBI. Then there were public statements about the Russian attack on our election aimed at electing Trump.

While this was going on earlier this year, the news reports and official reports presented to prove the charges were used as a roadmap for the assassins to rub out the witnesses.

Would it be possible to diagram the relationship between the “best practices” official findings distributed earlier in the year about who/how/where/when the Russians hacked our democracy and the subsequent and simultaneous baffling decease of key Russians who knew the who/how/what/where/when of the Russian election hack by mysteriously jumping from high windows or being gunned down on Moscow streets near the Kremlin, etc.?

Now the American intel community is showing prudent reluctance to explain too much about what they know, not wanting more witnesses murdered. And Republicans are turning this caution into a kind of disproof.

Sen. Grassley and South Carolina Rep. Draco Malfoy have begun to act as someone would act if they were under the supervision of the Russians.

Grassley turns “Don’t want to know”

into “Must not figure out”

into “This must not be true”

into “Whoever is saying these terrible things about Republican collusion with America’s Russian friends must be removed”

into “Whoever is saying that Republicans are conspiring with foreign enemies must themselves be guilty of conspiring with foreign enemies.”

Which is a bit like arresting, torturing into confession, and quickly hanging in secret the person who phoned the police to report a Mob execution.

“Whoever is accusing or suggesting that Republicans conspired with the Russian government to subvert our election MUST THEMSELVES BE GUILTY OF CONSPIRING WITH THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT!!!!

It’s called “projection”.

Legitimate news reports that accuse Trump of anything MUST be fake news and it’s much better to accept and believe the fake news supplied by the Russians to deliver the White House to Trump.

Or as we might call him “No Puppet!” Trump, who is also behaving exactly the way a Russian puppet would behave. Trump has also spent his entire life turning accusations around into accusations against his accusers. “I’m no puppet! No puppet! You’re the puppet!"

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Friends of Trump. Friends of Putin.

The Dutch investigative reporting unit Zembla working with the American newspaper group McClatchy has been tracking the multi-billion dollar transfers of money from around the world into Trump properties, notably Trump Soho, which Trump built with Russian mob figure Felix Sater. This three part documentary follows the money.

The documentary that follows the money trail from central Asia into Trump Soho and other properties.

Trump warned this summer that special prosecutor Mueller had better not look into his financial history. It seems clear why Trump is afraid of this. Trump made loud assurances that he had no investments in Russia. (But did he have Russian millions invested in his properties here and elsewhere?) He said he had no loans IN Russia. (Did he get multi-million or multi-billion dollar loans FROM Russia?)

Trump’s financial history is a roller coaster of boom and bust. Fabulous accumulations of cash followed by spectacular collapses that ruined thousands of investors, but left Trump flush with money. This is how confidence schemes work: draw the money in, then loot the money out, hiding it via multiple shell companies and flipped transactions. In many cases the collapse is carefully planned (think Mel Brooks’s The Producers, minus the comedy.) Much of the cash that built and purchased various Trump properties, notably Trump Soho, is alleged to have been looted from Kazakhstan and other countries, then laundered through hundreds of shadowy companies in financial centers like the Netherlands and London and Cyprus. (One of the banks in Cyprus targeted by money-laundering investigations is co-owned by Trump’s Secretary of Commerce and a Russian oligarch closely allied with Putin.)

This is the pattern of international fraud which loots economies and impoverishes law abiding workers around the world. Trump himself has a long history of stiffing people and companies who do work for him, building and furnishing and servicing his properties, and daring them to sue. So Trump himself behaves like these international crooks by looting the legitimate earnings of working people and hiding those millions where they are hard to locate. One of Trump’s favorite counterarguments when the Russia investigation is raised is to say that we should quit targeting the fine people of Russia. But the investigations are not targeting the fine people of Russia, they are targeting the criminals who stole billions from the fine people of Russia, the working people of Russia and other countries. Trump may not be the biggest villain in the world of global kleptocracy, but he has been in bed with the kleptocrats for decades. The biggest global kleptocrat today appears to be Putin himself, Trump’s role model and possible sugar daddy. While Trump rubbishes the victims of mass theft and fraud in carefully looted and impoverished parts of the world, he praises and kneels to the billionaires who profited from looting them and admires their “leadership”.

Former FBI man Mark Felt gave Woodward and Bernstein some famous advice in 1972 when they were investigating the crimes of the Nixon White House: “Follow the Money.” Following the money has grown more complicated over recent decades as the looting and fraud and money laundering has grown more massive and sophisticated and compliant governments have made the legal system more hospitable to fraud and looting and money laundering. (One example being Trump's abrupt lifting of the financial regulations and safeguards put in place by Obama after the financial crisis of 2008-9.)

Follow the money to discover the crimes of people like Trump, but also examine the company they keep. Trump has been tight with unsavory characters for many years, both the famous and the infamous, shadowy mobsters and nasty celebrities as well as leaders of corrupt and brutal regimes.

What is it about Trump's and Putin's bromances with the ugliest kinds of celebrity, people like Steven Seagal and Gerard Depardieu.

Why does Trump never say a critical or unpleasant word to or about Putin? Maybe he just admires the guy. Or maybe he is afraid to. To paraphrase the saying Gordon Liddy had on the wall in his office “When you have them by their junk [their global investments] their hearts and minds will follow.” We’ve long suspected that Putin holds Trump hostage via money, and Sec. of State Tillerson too. It appears that Russians put Trump’s fortunes in order after at least one bankruptcy. Is he still on the hook to them, and for how much?

Question: why appoint as Secretary of State an oil company CEO who organized the largest oil deal in history with Putin himself?

Big money deals buy a lot of boot-licking but it's not good for America when the licking is being done by our government, with foreign enemies praised and admired while traditional allies are insulted.

I like Gary Kasparov’s phrase “Reputation Laundering”, which describes what Trump is doing for Putin and what the GOP has done for Trump and Putin.

When our president lives off the profits of shady money and global criminality it quickly corrupts how we operate in the world. It stains our national reputation, our global standing.

F.O.P. “Friends of Putin” populate the world of big money. From the Financial Times.

It’s enlightening to look at the kind of scummy creatures who are friends of Putin’s, the kinds of things they do, the things they say, the scummy things they approve of and the decent things and people they ridicule.

It’s also worth looking at the list of Putin’s former friends. Many of them have died in unpleasant and sudden ways.

Reported in March by the Chicago Tribune.

A more recent article about Russian hits on Putin critics––from the New Yorker.

From Vox, a list of the dead.

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