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Monday, July 24, 2017

Against the Alt Left

You're not going to read the full post that has been germinating in my mind for the past couple of days. That post would take about five hours to write, and I haven't the time to invest. This post is the two hour version.

It's a post about the Alt Left and the dangers posed by the BernieBros. In other words, the familiar Roger Stone "split the Dems" strategy is continuing to work.

I have no doubt that the Alt Lefties would express sheer fury at anyone who suggested that their movement was supported (and probably funded) by the Trumpists -- even though it has been established beyond rational debate that Russia manipulated the Bernie movement with a fake news tsunami.

The supporters of Shirley Chisolm would have felt the same fury in 1972 had anyone made a similar suggestion about her movement. The supporters of John Anderson would have felt the same fury had anyone made a similar suggestion about his movement. Nevertheless, it is a matter of provable historical fact that both the Chisolm and Anderson movements received Republican money and aid. I've documented this history in several previous posts. (I will also freely admit that there have been occasions in which the Libertarian Party got covert aid from the Democrats.)

Take a good look at the smirking, arrogant young assholes pictured above and discussed here. Their names are Matt Christman, Felix Biederman and Will Menaker, and their podcast is called Chapo Trap House. They consider themselves the Breitbart of the left -- as though mirroring Breitbartism were a desiderata.

From an article in New Republic which has attracted a lot of attention:
“However, to the pragmatists out there and the people who don’t like purity in politics, yes, let’s come together. But get this through your fucking head: You must bend the knee to us. Not the other way around. You have been proven as failures, and your entire worldview has been discredited. You bend the knee to us and then let’s fucking work together to defeat these things, not with fucking means testing or market-based solutions but with a powerful social democratic message.”
"Bend the knee?" Bend the fucking knee?

The hilarious fact of the matter is that these smirking young fuckfaces think they know politics. Yet that's how they talk: "Bend the knee." They think that line will attract people outside their narrow group of likeminded individuals.

Talk about idiocy!

I've been blogging since 2004, and my own record is clear. I'm basically an old hippie at heart. I grew up with left values. In 1980, I supported Teddy Kennedy and then -- to my lasting shame -- voted for Barry Commoner. (Now that was purity.) A couple of years later, I worked a bit for Gore Vidal's campaign. I marched against the Reagan adminstration's covert wars in Central America. I started this damned blog as my way of opposing the Iraq war. I've supported single-payer since the 1970s, when it was called National Health Insurance. In the past, I've referred to the New Republic as the Newly Republican.


If THOSE arrogant young fuckfaces from Clapo Trapo take over the Democratic Party, I won't vote for it. I'll run my wrists through a table saw before my hand pulls the lever for any of their candidates.

I will not vote for any candidate they endorse. EVER. Not even if the opposition is running on a pledge to ignite World War III just for the hell of it. Apocalypse is preferable to bending the knee.

You want to know how strongly I feel about this? Let's put it this way. If I myself were running against Donald Trump in 2020 -- and this is just a thought experiment: I will never run for even the lowliest public office -- to repeat: If I myself were to run against Donald Trump in 2020, and if I myself won the nomination, and if I myself were the only thing standing in the way of Trump attaining four more years -- I would step aside if I were endorsed by any of those Chapo Trap House smirking young arrogant fuckfaces.

Why? Because anyone who gets their endorsement must be shit. Because they made that "Bend the knee" remark, and you know damned well that they will never retract it.

The Alt Left is not a new phenomenon. The Nazis would not have attained power if the Alt Left of that era had not continually sought to undermine the Social Democrats (whom they considered their main enemy) and the centrist parties. The German left preferred the triumph of Nazism -- which they considered the lesser of two evils -- to governance by the Social Democrats.

How did that work out?

Here's a more recent example from American politics: When Bill Clinton spent enormous amounts of political capital trying to pass health care legislation in the 1990s, the left lambasted him ferociously because he would not get behind single-payer (which he knew would never pass). The left went crazy. Those of you old enough to recall those years may remember that leftwingers like Alexander Cockburn fastened on many of the right's conspiracy theories about Clinton.

In Los Angeles, you couldn't attend any lefty political function without hearing nonsense about Whitewater and Vince Foster. I'm sure the situation was similar elsewhere.

The left-wing manure-spreaders thought they were being incredibly hip when they parroted the far right's conspira-crap. The Alt Left of the 1990s did everything they could to besmirch the Clinton name -- and when you asked them why they were doing this, you would be told: "He didn't support National Health Insurance."

The result? Here's a bit of history most have forgotten.
By putting his personal signature on health care reform, moreover, Clinton gave the Republicans an incentive to defeat it and humiliate him rather than compromise. The Clinton label also led to confusion of public feelings about the president as a person with the entire issue of health care reform. The First Lady's role further muddied the issue. There is no logical connection between views on health care reform and, say, gays in the military or the role of women in society. But the identification of the Clintons with the reform of health care became so strong that sentiments crossed over. The Wall Street Journal reported showing the same description of a health reform plan to focus groups with and without the Clinton label. Without the label, the plan won more than 70 percent support; with the label, approval dropped 30 to 40 points. It seems likely, therefore, that when polls asked for opinions about the "Clinton health plan," they tapped general feelings of confidence in President Clinton rather than preferences about the specifics of health policy. Would different decisions on alliances, cost containment, and other provisions have attracted more public support? Elite opinion might well have been affected, but I am not sure it would have made any difference to the public at large. In fact, some survey evidence suggests that although public support for the president's approach fell, it remained higher than support for any other tested alternative.
The defeat of reform has set off a festival of recriminations. Among the criticisms, one often hears two complementary I-told-you-so's. From the left: If only Clinton had endorsed single payer or an expansion of Medicare, he would have had a simpler plan, and by rallying the public against the insurance industry, he could have won. And then, from conservative Democrats: If only Clinton had endorsed the Cooper plan or some other more moderate proposal, we would have substantial reform today.

Since we cannot rerun history, these critics are safe from ever being disproved. However, no serious observer believes that Congress might have passed a national single-payer plan. Paul Wellstone, single-payer's leading advocate in the Senate, had only four cosponsors for his bill; reaching 50 votes, much less 60, was inconceivable. Some single-payer advocates acknowledged that congressional passage was implausible but thought the president should take the issue to the public in a populist campaign against special interests. However, the defeat of California's single-payer ballot initiative by a margin of 73 to 27 percent should put to rest the notion that a popular uprising against the insurance industry was ready to be awakened. The supporters of single payer enjoyed the illusion that their plan was simpler and more popular only because the Clinton plan was the lightning rod for criticism.
Did you catch that last part? It's important.

In 1994, there was a single-payer plan in California called Proposition 186. This proposition passed the Alt Left purity test. The Alt Lefties of that period had assured us that THE PEOPLE would support a National Health Insurance policy the moment such a proposal was placed before them. (For the past forty years, Alt Lefties have assured us that every ranch hand in Montana is an Emma Goldmanite at heart.)

The Alt Lefties had no evidence for this presumption -- but boy, they sure had smugness aplenty. They capacity for self-delusion was matched only by their appetite for anti-Clinton conspiracy theories.

Guess what? In true-blue California, the one state that should have been receptive to such a measure, 1994's Prop 186 suffered a blistering defeat.

The smug, arrogant, progressive-purist Alt Lefties stood revealed as bullshit-peddlers par excellence. They insisted that everyone in America was desperate to get behind something something like Prop 186, even though it couldn't even get 30 percent support in fucking California.

Naturally, when 186 failed spectacularly, the Alt Lefties at that time refused to take blame. They were so fucking arrogant they would not say "We misjudged the public" despite all the evidence against them. They blamed Clinton, they blamed capitalism, they blamed anything and anyone except that guy in the mirror.

You can be sure that we're never going to get any kind of apology for that "bend the knee" remark. Like the Trumpers, your average Alt Lefty would rather slice off his own nipples with a potato peeler than ever utter the words "Gee, maybe I got it wrong."

Arrogance arrogance ARROGANCE.

Like the Trumpers, the Alt Lefties are the living embodiments of the Dunning/Kruger effect. They all have egos more fragile than eggshells, and they compensate for their insecurities with bombast and thuggish behavior.

Take the $15 an hour minimum wage, Bernie's signature issue -- the main cudgel he used against Hillary. (And by the way, using that cudgel was in accordance with Roger Stone's plan, as published in 2014.) The Seattle experiment has proven this idea to be wrongheaded. I'm very sorry to admit that fact: Frankly, the failure in Seattle upended my own preconceptions about the minimum wage. Besides, I live in a household that could benefit from such legislation.

But that's the difference between a guy like me and a dirtbag leftist: I'm willing to utter the words "Gee, maybe I was wrong about that."

Alt Lefties, like the Alt Rightists, can't bring themselves to do such a thing. They can't admit that when Hillary and Bernie debated the minimum wage, Hillary was right -- Seattle proves her right. Those arrogant young fucks have such fragile egos that they cannot admit to even the slightest degree of error. That's why it is perfectly fair to accuse both the Alt Right and the Alt Left of "Dominance Politics."

Whenever I see an Alt Lefty combine ignorance, brutishness and jackass self-confidence, I'm reminded of Sarah Palin. In 2008, Palin was blissfully convinced that she had what it takes to lead the country even though she didn't know who fought whom during WWII. I wonder how the current crop of Alt Lefties would fare if they had to take the same history quiz that I'd like to administer to Palin or Trump?

Y'see, I do know history. Not as well as I would like: Of the reading of books, there is no end; the more I learn, the more ignorant I feel. Still, after more than a half-century of bookworming, a few basic facts have managed to pass into even my obdurate skull.

I've already cited the sorry tale of the Alt Left in Weimar. I've already cited the sorry tale of the Alt Left in the Clinton era. If pressed, I can cite many, many similar tales.

Think of the people who could have had health insurance since the mid 1990s but didn't get it, thanks in large part to sabotage from the so-called progressives of that era. Study the history of how the German left joined forces with the Nazis in eradicating the potency of the Social Democrats and the center parties. And while you're at it, think about how much happier Russian history would be if Kerensky had been given a fair chance.

The Alt Left have racked up quite a body count. They have literally killed millions. Those smirking, arrogant young BernieBro fuckfaces are killers.

The Clapo Trapos refer to their supporters as Grey Wolves, in reference to the Turkish fascist movement. I'm sure that they will say "It's just a joke." It's one of those "jokes" that's not really a joke.

I know full well what they would say if they read these words. They're extremely predictable -- yet every time they give me their rap, they seem to be under the impression that I've never heard such words before. They keep telling me that they are going to blow my mind with some new new new arguments -- and every single time, they hit me over the head with a bag filled with cliches. In fact, I first heard the Alt Left yada-yada long before the current crop of smirking arrogant young assholes were born.

I even fell for their spew. For a while.

You'll never catch me throwing away my vote on a Barry Commoner ever again.

Lord H.A. H.A. I can't prove that that the "Clapo Trapo" folks are getting money from the Trumpists. But in order to assess them, let us learn from the tale of H.A. Goodman -- who was granted full leave to spread lies about Hillary Clinton in Salon and other "progressive" forums.

Have you seen the kinds of comments his videos now attract?

In Goodman's world, Hillary is still the devil incarnate, and the election never ended.  Yesterday's video bears the euphonious title: "CLINTON EMAIL BREAKING NEWS: James Comey Will Help Christopher Wray Indict Clinton." Here are some sample comments:
Comey wont roll, the Clinton body count is too high
When us Trump supporters were chanting, "Lock her up! Lock her up!"... We were NOT asking him to, we were telling him to.
I do believe that the democrats are done. They don't have a message. I just want to see something moving into the direction of investigations into wire tapping that will bring down obama Brennan Clapper Rice etc. I want to see investigations into clintons emails and pay for play. I am little worried about mueller he is just as corrupt as Hillary.
Cant they just send a terminator from the future etc. I really wish those clintons never existed.
Enough with soft-coddling FRIGGING CRIMINALS!!!!! Comey is guilty as sin. The punishment needs to fit the crime. NO DEALS, NO BARGAINS. MY GOD, in what reality are these people living?????
No deals for criminals! Can I get an AMEN???????
Can Trump do a cease and desist on the Obama Library which is where they are starting to hide information can we shut it down before it's even complete
Trump can shut this down with an execuative order.
HA is an awesome reporter! "Another brick on my load " love HA's analogies. Fucking Comey. Piece of shit liar!
You mean she didn't use a private server for convenience??? Lying snake, don't know how can anybody still support her? You need to be lying underneath a rock not to know there's nothing worse in Washington than Killary
And so on. And remember: Goodman was allowed to romp and scamper all over progressiveland. In large measure, the current incarnation of the Alt Left is an outgrowth of Goodmanism.

I'm reminded of the naive young lefties of the late 1980s -- the left-leaning anti-Reagan kids who considered themselves opponents of "corporate Democrats" like Mondale and Dukakis. In 1987, they fastened onto the Christic Institute lawsuit, which functioned as their introduction to the insidious attractions of conspiracy theory. By 1994, many of these same former young "progressives" were supporting the Gingrich revolution in Congress: "Maybe this new crop will bring about REAL CHANGE!"

Yes: Self-proclaimed lefties voted for the Gingrichites because they thought that the really important thing was bringing down Clinton, whom they considered the embodiment of covert evil. I saw this devolution happen to people I knew.

It was an old story even then. Young, idealistic left-wingers will always think that they are the hippest of the hip, and they always turn out to be incredibly easy to fool -- and to co-opt.
The nation is so fucked. Just watched Donald Trump speaking to the Boy Scouts of America in what is one of the most rank, partisan exercises I have seen in a long time. He trashes Obamacare, gets the scouts to boo Hillary Clinton and ties scouting goals to his own personal success. This nut job never ceases to amaze me. What is also disturbing are the comments with the video. Most singing his praises. These people would not recognise fascism if it hit them in the face. I had a hope that the scout leader standing next to him might have grabbed the mike and called him out as unfit for office and an insult to scouting values, but no such luck. Yet much of the public is in awe of this man. God help us.
So I'm not crazy to conclude that "leftist" are just ideological idiots who as rigid in their worldview and detached from reality as any crazy right-winger? In the never fucking ending of the 2016 primary, the Berners continue to completely ignore reality. The latest iteration is that Hillary didn't have a message and then say Democrats should stand for stuff (like anti-trust regulations) she of course already proposed. When you point this out, they say, well, she was too wonky and didn't paint it in big broad strokes. The Berners also claim, dismissing mountains of contrary evidence, that all of the Democrats problems can be solved with an economic message and Trump's nonsensical platitudes about bringing back the jobs is why he won. They also gaslight whenever you point out that Bernie wants to do a hostile takeover of the party and is deliberately trying to divide it by claiming that it's actually Hillary supporters who are dividing the party by opposing Bernie.

I'm almost at the point where I no longer take anyone seriously that takes Bernie seriously (like Chris Hayes or Matt Yglesias). If you can't tell how dishonest and harmful Bernie is, even you otherwise make a lot of sense, it's hard not to conclude you are a leftist ideologue that will make endless excuses for anyone who plays to your leftist fantasies. You're basically a dupe.
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Sunday, July 23, 2017


Rachel Maddow is the only one who gets it.

On last Friday's show, she warned the audience that the Trumpers are going to blame everything on Hillary -- and that they are going to accomplish this trick by way of the Fusion GPS connection. In a previous post, I outlined what I think will happen. Maddow seems to be the only major figure whose thinking resembles mine:
This thing that is about to happen on Wednesday that just got scheduled tonight. This is the thing that I have been saying was coming. This is the thing I’ve been saying was coming from Congressional Republicans and Republicans who want to defend Donald Trump. Sen. Grassley has sent the subpoena tonight to head of Fusion GPS. He has canceled the testimony from Don Jr. and Paul Manafort and instead of hearing from them next week on the collusion issue, the Senate instead, will play host at a big open televised hearing to the big Republican pushback theory that they have been gearing up with, gearing up for on conservative media for a couple of weeks now.

This is the big push back in which they will claim that there is a Russian scandal, but it’s not a Trump/Russia scandal. It’s the Democrats, and the dossier on Trump, that’s the real Russia scandal. That’s from Russia, and the scandal is about Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. We have known this was coming. Now, as of tonight, we know it is arriving on Wednesday morning in the Senate, and the first subpoena has just gone out.
Politicus adds:
The Senate Judiciary Committee is the home base for the Republican defense of Trump on the Russia scandal in the Senate. People should have known that Grassley was going to pull a bait and switch.

Sen. Grassley is dipping into the right wing conspiracy theory pool in a desperate effort to distract from the real Russia scandal. Rachel Maddow smelled a rat here early on. She knew that Grassley was going to abuse his committee’s investigative powers to try and save Trump, and thanks to here people aren’t going to be fooled by the latest look over here gimmick that Republicans are trying to pull.
The pro-Trump trolls have been preparing the way for the testimony of Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion GPS. Hell, they haven't been this active since the election. Pay attention to the trolls: They offer a glimpse of what's about to hit us.

Not long ago, a number of Dems stupidly came under the impression that Simpson's testimony can help them. Good Lord, why don't these people look around and see what's going on? The troll army has filled the internet with a bizarre conspiracy theory in which Evil Hillary took complete control of Simpson and forced him to come up with the Steele dossier, which the Trumpers consider a total fake. (As you know, the right pretends that all of Russiagate hinges on that dossier. It doesn't.) The rightists even say that Simpson was the one who wrangled poor DJT Jr. into that famous meeting in Trump Tower. A preposterous notion, this. Even though the scenario doesn't make one whit of sense, that's their story and they're sticking with it.

(What the right-wingers won't tell you is that Fusion switched sides, and has worked on behalf of Russians hoping to undo the Magnitsky Act.)

Being an irresponsible bastard, I'll take things further than Maddow does. I suspect that the Simpson has been given a script. I think that he is supposed to offer "damning" testimony against Clinton, and that what he has to say will be backstopped by fake documentary evidence, with perhaps a faked recording tossed in. This would be a risky maneuver, but Trump is desperate.

(Remember, during the election, "Guccifer 2.0" offered a massive "hack" of the Clinton Foundation -- a put-up job so hilariously obvious that not even the Infowars crowd would buy it. That episode tells us that we're dealing with people willing to gin up all sorts of "evidence.")

That, in my opinion, is the plan. Of course, my opinion be wrong; there is more than one way to read the tea leaves. But if I am right, this scheme would appear to have hit a big snag: Simpson wants no part of it. Can you blame him? For this operation to work, Simpson would have to give false testimony, and that's a huge risk.

Through his lawyer, Simpson tried to get out of testifying on the grounds that he was going on an overseas vacation. Apparently, it was to be one of those long, long vacations -- the kind of vacay that lasts until the heat is off. So the Committee decided to subpoena him.

From the Washington Times (caution: Right-wing spin ahead):
The co-founder of the Washington-based firm that commissioned the explosive and largely unsubstantiated anti-Trump campaign research dossier will reject a Senate subpoena to testify before Congress next week and invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, according to the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Poor guy. He really, really does not want to testify.
“Glenn Simpson, through his attorney, has declined to voluntarily attend Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing regarding compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act,” the senators wrote in a statement. “Therefore, a subpoena has been issued to compel his attendance. Simpson’s attorney has asserted that his client will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to the subpoena.”
A charge of not complying with FARA is hanging over Simpson. Violating FARA can get you up to five years.

That's the "stick" they will use. In a sense, he'll be given the "Susan McDougal" treatment: He'll face all sorts of legal hell until he agrees to offer false testimony against a Clinton. I predict that he will eventually play ball.

Savor the irony: Nobody is going to charge Paul Manafort or Michael Flynn with FARA non-compliance. They are allowed to register after the fact.
Dammit. I remember the Sundays we got Joan of Arc stories and whatnot. I kept hoping to see the Dirtbags illustrated, in the manner the BernieBros were....something fun like that.

I have not seen the trolls, yet, but I kept seeing this stupid poll showing Hillary as less popular than Donald Trump. Maybe those were "concern trolls." The media is going to comply with this scheme. Rachel's reports won't matter. She's the one allowed to be the gadfly...just as Bernie was, before he decided to run. He was the gadfly allowed to say anything, point out things no one else was saying. The echo chamber always tolerates one gadfly...but the mass of them will be complying with this pivot. And everyone is still in their own bubbles. Even I don't follow what the right believes: thanks for doing our dirty-work for us, Joseph. I was just starting to believe, maybe Joseph is wrong this time, and the pigeons will come home to roost for the Trumps. But why shouldn't they deal the Blame Hillary card? The media will play along, as usual, and it worked for the Bushes (blaming the Dems for "dirty tricks" in revealing truths about Dubya), it can work again.

No one is going to take to the streets. No one is going to disrupt the media, as we should be doing.

I do hope I'm wrong on this one. The fact that Maddow saw things in much the same way has me worried. For twenty five years, I've wondered why the Clintons don't do a more aggressive job of defending themselves -- but right now, if Hillary says anything in her own defense, she'll be accused of taking heat away from Trump and making everything about her.

It's a classic no-win scenario.
The past week's National Enquirer has as its main cover story the shocking revelation that the Clintons framed Trump on Russia by planting bogus information in her emails. (No, I'm not sure how that is supposed to have worked, either.) Sounds like some pre-emptive positioning in advance of possible new information to come....
Why is it everyone accepting the recent poll about Hillary's popularity(or lack off) without challenge. First of it doesn't make sense. Statistics in the last year didn't exactly proven to be the exact science they claim to be. Last year a poll about her popularity with similar result proven to be prejudiced by over 65% Rs in the sample. Those in the sample who were interviewed it seemed to me overwhelming not her supporters from way before her running. So that may signal to me the sampleing wasn't exactly correct. But now with all the campaign going on against her in all fronts I am almost sure that poll was part of it one way or the other.
OK, now that it's more fleshed out, I see why you think this will be effective. They have prepared this to be the big Trump defense. We will see, but I'm still skeptical (though less so than before I read this post). Trump and his goons step all over their own message all the time, and their counter-narratives are so laughable that they are usually debunked within an hour. This is reminding me of Devin Nunes. I'm sure the Trump camp all thought they were geniuses and bragged to all their buddies for coming up with the "going after the leakers" and "Obama wiretapping!" theory, but it got debunked within like a couple weeks and is now a punchline. Also, I think you are underestimating how difficult it will be to give credible cross-examined testimony about a laughably implausible theory, especially when the Trump camp has blown all its credibility on Russia. There's also the fact that I doubt this Simpson guy is an expert at BSing under oath. This is a tough task to pull off. If this is the plan, I predict he will commit multiple easily verified instances of perjury, and the whole plan will be blown apart.

God damn, after I reread the above, even I don't like how optimistic it sounds. I swear I'm not underestimating Trump and refusing to believe how shitty everything is. But they just suck at messaging. It convinces noone, and the cult doesn't need effective messaging to justify Trump. But I do want to end by repeating that now that I understand how much of the Trump defense is riding on this guy's testimony, it makes me somewhat nervous that this will be more effective than I'm anticipating. Then again, if Scaramucci is indicative of their new messaging strategy, I am worrying to much. We shall see.

I forgot to add in my previous comment that those same polls that show how unpopular Hillary is also show that she would still beat him if the election were held today. Funny how that part of the poll didn't get all the media attention. Goddamn I hate the media.
Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to There is no fee; I’m simply trying to add more content diversity f6or our community and I enjoyed reading your work. I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. If “OK” please let me know via email.

Is there an election going on I don't know about? It seems like the attacks on Hillary is going full force. Seriously, what does that woman have or know that scare the shit out of scums and make them rabidly hateful.
OMG...Trump Russia, Russia Russia Trump...this is so very important even if nothing happened that they would even consider taking a meeting to get some dirt on an opponent from a Foreign is unthinkable and should be investigated to the fullest !! Treason! Death to all named Trump!!

Wait a sec...this line of BS would mean what is being said in this video is also very bad...especially when she states "We're holding that in reserve"

Just pretend that never happened and move on...nothing to see there because it doesn't fit your "Trump is Evil" and "Hillary was a persecuted angel" narrative.

I don't give a crap who is President or who will be President, etc...never have. I do hate hypocrites though...Big Time !! It is very sad to me that You, Rachel Madcow, Maxine (James Brown Wig) Waters, Fake-Jake Tapper, Dana Bash-Trump, Bull Shitzer, Chuck Re-todd, Chris "Collude" Cuomo, Bull Maher, Van "Nothing-Burger" Jones, Loretta "Devil wears Pravda" Lynch and that Olberman guy are all birds of a feather.

Twist facts and bends rules/laws depending on who you are talking about.

What's up with that?

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Sessions. Plus: What to do when Trump fires Mueller

According to a new WP report, NSA intercepts reveal that Jeff Sessions -- contrary to his testimony -- talked about campaign matters with Kislyak. This revelation makes Sessions impeachable, and may even place him in legal jeopardy.

The obvious presumption is that Trump forces engineered this revelation. Trump wants Sessions out because a new AG will be in a position to fire Mueller. Simple as that.

According to CNN, this latest wrinkle in the Sessions saga has been privately known to Democrats for some time. Nevertheless, I feel confident that the WP's report appeared because Team Trump wanted it to appear. It's just too damned convenient. (As Charlie Chaplin once said: "I don't mind coincidence. Life is coincidence. But I hate convenience.")

I agree (in large part) with this DU poster...
Yeap, Hugh Hewitt calling for Sessions to resign is big indicator Session was setup by Red Don and his Russian KKKlan.
Winter is coming, ... I pray America has 3 big dragons to light some shit up when it does.

P.S. The CeC (Conservative Entertainment Complex) is pushing Meuller is a HRC shill pretty hard ... I mean hard, no other outlets are pushing this crap because they know its a bunch of bull. Meuller is out ... Sessions being fired on is a good tell tale for that also
Do you remember Sam Elliot in Gettysburg?
I've led a soldier's life, and I've never seen anything as brutally clear as this... As if it were already done... already a memory. An odd... set... stony quality to it. As if tomorrow has already happened and there's nothin' you can do about it.
Mueller's forthcoming firing is so brutally clear to me that "forthcoming" feels like the wrong word. Tomorrow has already happened. There's nothin' we can do about it.

The talking heads on CNN seem genuinely befuddled: Why, they keep asking, does Trump act like a guilty man? Whenever I hear those words, I want to yell at the screen: "Because he is guilty, dummies." In the words of that famous Doonesbury cartoon: Guilty guilty guilty!

What choice does Trump have? He has no shame. No honor. He will do whatever his survival instincts require.

Don't be misled by the oft-heard comparisons to Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre. In the end, Nixon didn't get away with it. What's to stop Trump? Mueller was our Plan A; we have no Plan B -- yet.

Here's my "Plan B" suggestion:


I'm talking about protests so large and terrifying as to make the post-inauguration Women's March look like an after-dinner belch. I'm talking about the longest, hottest summer in the history of this country. Protests prevented Trumpcare's passage; protests can force Congress to reinstitute Mueller.

Are you in? Do you have any suggestions as to how we make such a thing happen?

Update.  Kevin Drum of Mother Jones asks the right question but doesn't have the imagination to see the should-be-obvious answer.
Where is this stuff coming from? If it’s coming from the intelligence community, color me disturbed. I don’t like the idea that the CIA and NSA are basically at war with the Trump administration. But if, instead, it’s coming from folks inside the White House, I’m astonished that anyone there would be interested in bringing down a hammer this colossal on Sessions. Do they want him to resign that badly? Or is it coming from former Obama officials who are just now getting around to leaking it?
It came from NSA or CIA; nobody else would have those intercepts. The leak to the WP indicates that the intelligence community is not at war with the Trump administration; they are are at war FOR the administration. The NSA is helping Trump get rid of Sessions.

I've been saying for months that one faction of the intel community is pro-Trump. The fact that Mike Rogers, head of the NSA, kept the Reality Winner revelation hidden indicates his complicity in Trump's crimes. Don't forget that Rogers made a very strange trip to Trump Tower while Obama was still president.
Although I immediately sympathized with your conclusion that Trump wants to dump Sessions to pave the way for the firing of Mueller, I still can’t figure out how a new puppet AG can be installed for this purpose. Trump can’t just hire a new guy like that. There would be several weeks of gruelling Senate hearings between nomination and confirmation, accompanied by a huge media fallout and totally unpredictable twists. The risk that the confirmation might fail is substantial, and the nominee might be forced to preemptively recuse himself from matters related to the Mueller appointment, and thus become useless. I think such a scenario would be even worse for Trump than a Saturday Night Massacre. Trump obviously needs to get rid of Mueller, but I still see no good procedural options.
For a massive protest to happen, you need a unified democrats and decent citizens. The result of the 2016 election showed us that we are in short supply on both. Trump said it best; he would shoot someone in day light in front of a crowd and nothing would happen to him.
If Trump wants to be the all-powerful CEO of a Third World style country, let him be one. Let him pardon his wretched vassals and capos. He won't be impeached. Pelosi's House took impeachment off the table when Bush had mumbled about Iran being only a few hours or weeks away from having nukes: he ordered a Naval strike force to the Persian Gulf. In some African country (Darfur?), Secretary of State Colin Powel, wearing a flack jacket, repeated a reporter's question, "Should Israel attack Iran?" but it didn't matter how he answered, did it? That's politics, ain't they?

What can be done: the government can seize Trump's so-called business assets. That kind of action can precede a final court disposition, as it requires only alleged evidence of wrongdoing, criminal or civil. Mueller already has enough alleged evidence to start the process. Being a seizure of non-persons, the requirement for forfeiture need only be to show a preponderance of evidence of wrongdoing, not to prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.
OK, try this argument.

There is talk of Trump pardoning himself. If he pardons himself for acts committed since his inauguration, then in the formal executive act of granting himself a pardon he will ipso facto have admitted his guilt of named and serious crimes. He should therefore automatically leave office in the same way as he would if he pleaded guilty after impeachment or if he were to be found guilty at an impeachment trial. A presidential pardon is a formal state act that accepts that a person is guilty, as are a court's acceptance of a guilty plea and the return of a guilty verdict by a court-sworn jury. A pardon would mean that Trump stays out of jail (until convicted in the normal way) but leaves office.

If a president is found guilty at an impeachment trial, the requirement that he leaves office isn't a sentence. He remains a free man. Its import is that he is determined to have acted criminally and therefore he's out. The same premise applies if he pardons himself.

Meanwhile, what the fuck is this about Steve Bannon's portrait of himself as Napoleon, given to him by Nigel "Russia Today" Farage?

I'm waiting for Bony's third appearance in the news.

Exactly. I haven't exactly been able to put my finger on it, but I don't think firing Mueller is as done a deal as some are making it out to be. Now, I should be clear. We should absolutely be prepared for this scenario. Anybody who says otherwise has their head buried in the sand. But Trump can't directly fire Mueller. He has to get someone at DOJ to do it, starting with Rosenstein. And if he fires Sessions, it's hardly a fait accompli that he will be able to nominate an AG that can fire Mueller. There's also the matter that I highly doubt Mueller would have taken the job or been able to hire the caliber of team he has if the investigation can be shutdown by an act of Trump rage. And Adam Schiff has hinted that his committee will simply rehire Mueller if he's fired.

Long story short, unlike with Comey, Mueller went into this knowing Trump would try to fire him. I doubt Mueller doesn't have a plan in that scenario. Regardless of what happens, get ready for a bumpy ride and a lot of despair.
One bright spot in all this is that we have learned that presidential pardons can only be used for federal crimes...not state ones.

I do hope Mueller has a plan in place to transfer all of his team's findings to the New York State Attorney General in the event he is fired.

The State's money laundering law would seem to be exactly fit for purpose for team Trump:

His kids and cronies could be charged now and he himself done once he has been clear out of office.

Of course, a nationwide general strike would also be entirely appropriate, but I tend to doubt it would really happen.

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The story of Napoleon, by Donald Trump

Someone must create an animated cartoon of Donald Trump telling the story of Napoleon.

The cartoon should be in the style of the Lauren Kyanka videos, an example of which sits at the top of this post. (Others are here. They're cute and hilarious.)

Actually, five-year-old Lauren speaks more comprehensibly and logically than does Agent Orange. I'm being serious. Compare the two speakers: You tell me which one is more articulate.

While relating the world's most surreal summary of War and Peace, the Orange One also claimed that Napoleon Bonaparte designed modern Paris. Actually, that task was the work of Napoleon III -- or rather, of his administrator, Baron Haussmann. Most of us learned these things in high school or college -- or by watching the occasional documentary or reading the occasional book. Isn't it adorable to see the fires of new knowledge light up within a 71 year-old man?

Here's a bit of history that might interest Der Donald: An American dentist named Thomas Evans -- Louis Napoleon's confidant -- often learned in advance which sections of the city were scheduled for urban renewal. Inside information allowed him to purchase property just before it increased in value, which is how a humble dentist became one of the richest men in Europe. Moral of the story: Autocracy and real estate speculation have always had a kinship.

Actually, it's not fair to liken Evans and Trump. Evans used his money for socially beneficial causes. He also played a behind-the-scenes role in insuring that the Union won the American Civil War.

Hm. This post has wandered all over the place, hasn't it? What the hell. If Donald Trump and Lauren Kyanka can speak in a stream-of-consciousness style, then so, on occasion, may I.

Baltimore. Trump thinks that anyone from Baltimore will be prejudiced against him, since -- according to Trump -- there are "few if any" Republicans in this city. Apparently, only those of Trump's party should be allowed to work in government or the legal profession.

The president has forgotten that he has many supporters in the Baltimore suburb of Dundalk. During the campaign, he visited the Boulevard Diner on Merritt Avenue (previously made famous by Guy Fieri), which has trumpeted its Trump connection ever since. They lost my patronage -- although I may pop in one of these days to ask if they serve borscht.

What can one say about Dundalk, known locally as Dumb-talk? These aren't bad people. They have heart. Their grandparents built the ships that helped to win WWII. One hundred and thirty years before that, the British empire was stopped cold when a couple of local kids killed General Ross at the Battle of North Point.

But...well, let's put it this way: A local thrift store decided to give away all of its books on the grounds that "Nobody here reads."

The NSA is 12 miles southwest and the Edgewood Arsenal is twelve miles northeast, which makes Dundalk the heart of the intelligence community. That thought makes me smile.

Addendum to the preceding post: Looks like Jeff Sessions will hang onto his job for a while longer, even though I predicted that he would resign. (In my defense, many others offered the same prophesy.) Let's hope that my main forecast proves to be just as faulty. Even so, I still think that the world is paying attention to the wrong Simpson right now: Glenn, not OJ, is poised to make history. 

Many happy returns. Tweet from Scott Dworkin:  "Spoke to a lawyer who told me that Mueller probably got Trump's tax returns the first day on the job."

Maybe Mueller can tell us more about the matters discussed in the video below. Here's an ethical conundrum for you to chew on: Suppose Donald Trump arranges for Mueller to be fired soon. (Not unlikely.) Does Mueller just sit on the information he has already gathered? Are all of his investigators bound to keep silent? Suppose they've uncovered dirt that is very, very, very dirty. Shouldn't they feel obligated to warn the world, despite being unable to complete the investigation?

joe, trump is likely to try to fire mueller, but the way the statutes are written, it is very very unlikely he will succeed in removing him from the SC position. see john dean's latest entry:

second, wrt to what happens to his investigative materials, the investigation process proceeds, as it does in the fbi, despite comey's departure. worst case scenario, the office of special counsel is shut down entirely - which would be beyond highly suspect, indeed a full blown admission of guilt - but the materials are shifted to schneiderman. regardless, methinks these folks have considered all these eventualities and possibilities; mueller was reportedly visiting fbi hdqrs the week before rosenstein even announced the SC pan.

third, scott's right, but mueller did not have to ask for those tax forms; comey had already done that.

fourth, since your post, the wapo has reported that kislyak is on tape describing his chats with sessions about the campaign. this might well be mueller offering a bit of smoke to spook the elfen one into bumbling his sorry self into more perjury charges he'd like very much to get rid of except gosh those chats can also be interpreted as kinda treasonous, so might he spill his guts? or whatever he has that serves as such?

finally, absolutely adore your idea for a trump cartoon! a trumptoon! graphic novel! next, the musical! great idea.
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why Trump will win

The Orange One has had a rough few weeks -- hell, a rough six months. Sorry to say it, but I think that his fortunes will soon improve. In fact, his "Russia" troubles may soon be behind him.

You probably already know about his astounding NYT interview, in which he all but calls for the resignation of Jeff Sessions. He also reveals the excuses he will give when he fires Mueller -- and please note that I said "when," not "if."

Sessions will probably be gone before tomorrow's sun rises. With new blood running both Justice and the FBI and Mueller gone, Trump should be in the clear.

On MSNBC, NYT reporter Maggie Haberman said that Trump seemed much more chipper than has been the case recently. Obviously, he has formulated a plan to deep-six the Russia investigations.

Most liberals can't see what's coming. I believe that an unexpected development will soon hit them like a gunshot fired from an abandoned building at midnight.

Next week, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS -- the oppo research firm which hired Christopher Steele to compile THAT dossier -- will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Although the Steele dossier was originally commissioned by Republicans opposed to Trump, there has been a concerted effort in the right-wing media to picture Fusion GPS as Hillary's plaything:
In a June 7, 2017 letter to Simpson and Fusion GPS, U.S. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said that the commission had requested “information about Fusion GPS’ activities related to the dossier compiled by Mr. Christopher Steele.” Specifically, the Senate Judiciary Committee wanted to know about “the clients who hired and paid Fusion and the factual details of those arrangements.”
The image being pushed by the right is far from the truth. Hillary was Putin's worst enemy.  If she had become president, the Magnitsky Act would have been protected and expanded upon.

Simpson, by contrast, now works for Putin. For months, Simpson has been a key part of the effort to undo the Magnitsky Act, which placed sanctions on Russian oligarchs looking to launder money and live the high life in the west.

The oligarchs are focused like a laser beam on the task of upending those sanctions. They will spend any amount of money to attain this goal.

Forewarned is forearmed: In order to understand what's about to happen, you need to read this Daily Caller piece from last January. The article quotes William Browder (whom we have discussed in previous posts) on the Magnitsky Act.
The main proponent of that law, a British-American businessman named Bill Browder, tells TheDC that Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion GPS, the company behind the Trump dossier, is a “professional smear campaigner.”

According to Browder, Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, is working with a former Russian counterintelligence officer named Rinat Akhmetshin to destroy the Magnitsky Act, which is named after Browder’s late lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, and was signed into law in Dec. 2012.

“Glenn Simpson knowingly spread false information on behalf of people connected to the Russian government to try to protect Russian torturers and murderers from consequences,” Browder alleged in a phone interview from his office in London on Friday.

“Glenn Simpson’s job was to knowingly and dishonestly change the narrative of how Sergei Magnitsky came to die from murder to natural causes, and to change the narrative that Sergei Magnitsky was a criminal and not a whistleblower,” said Browder, who serves as CEO of the investment firm Hermitage Capital.
Simpson and Fusion GPS were first linked to the anti-Magnitsky effort last month. Politico reported then that Fusion GPS acknowledged that it was hired by the law firm BakerHostetler to dig up dirt on Browder. BakerHostetler was in turn working on behalf of Denis Katsyv, a Russian national who owns a company called Prevezon.

The company is currently the subject of a U.S. federal grand jury investigation based on evidence uncovered by Magnitsky. The Justice Department has frozen $14 million in Prevezon’s assets as part of its investigation.
Here's a much more recent piece by the same Daily Caller writer:
Browder is not linked to or identified in the dossier, but he has said that Fusion GPS’s involvement on the anti-Magnitsky effort raises questions about the veracity of the anti-Trump research.
Fusion’s work on the two projects — one favorable to the Kremlin (Magnitsky) and the other unfavorable (the dossier) — has drawn attention from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Grassley has inquired with the firm and with the FBI about the salacious dossier, which Steele began compiling last June.

The Republican has questioned why the FBI reportedly used an uncorroborated document financed by a Clinton ally as part of the basis for its investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Grassley has also asked the FBI about reports that the bureau informally agreed to pay Steele $50,000 to continue his research on Trump. That payment was reportedly never made, though it is unclear why. Both the FBI and Fusion GPS have avoided answering Grassley’s questions about the dossier.
Get the picture? Simpson will say whatever his Russian paymasters want him to say. The Russians will push the right-wing "party line" that the Steele dossier is a fraud masterminded by Hillary Clinton.

Simpson will confirm this story.

Let that sink in. Simpson will confirm what Russia and the right are saying about Hillary and THAT dossier. He will portray Hillary Clinton as the Queen of All Lies. He will confirm every right-wing fantasy about Evil Hillary, the monster bitch-mistress ruler of Conspiracyland.

And the world will believe him, because Hillary Clinton is still the woman that everyone loves to hate. Did you know that her approval ratings are actually lower than Trump's? Trolls will immediately fill Kos and DU and all other major liberal sites with Hillary-hate.

And Trump will smirk as no man has ever smirked before. You'll see a smirk that will haunt your nightmares and make your stomach do somersaults. You'll be so damned frustrated by that smirk, you'll want to punch the walls until your knuckles bleed.

Republicans will proclaim that the entire case against Trump has crumbled, that all of "Russiagate" was just a damnable Democratic plot. The resultant tumult will give Trump enough political maneuvering room to fire Mueller, because Mueller dared to include on his team investigators who donated money to the Evil One.

Congress will not keep the probe going. Even the Dems will want to forget the whole thing.

Such, at least, is my prediction.

I hope I'm wrong about this. I've been wrong before, Lord knows. But I've also called the shot correctly -- for example, even when the polls put Hillary far ahead, I said that Trump would win the election.

Right now, too many liberals speak as though Trump's removal from office is inevitable. Stop kidding yourselves. There's a reason why Trump's mood has become so giddy.
Maybe they gave him a new drug.

Same way they deflected Dubya's sins: by blaming it on "Dem dirty tricks." And the complicit media ran with that instead of the actual story. Don't forget we've heard nothing more about Reality Winner. Whistleblowers are the "traitors" now, and the actual traitors are the victims.

And looky here who will doubtless be on board to help: The Dirtbag Dems. These new incarnations of Bernie Bros are making $70k a month from their demands we bend our knees to St Bernard and the Lefty Left.
Why liberals always caught off guard. They never plan,anticipate, calculate or analyze anything effectively. They never see anything coming even from ten feet away.
After returning from Europe, Trump and family hoped to relax for a few days at the Trump National Golf Club where the USGA Women's Open Championship was being played. He dodged a bulletin, as the tournament had no disruptions from anticipated women protests, other activist meddling, or unthinkable damage and destruction. The family watched the play from their secure glass-enclosed quarters behind the 15th green on Saturday and Sunday, maybe also on Friday. Some of the players mentioned the crowd noise at the 15th, which carried everywhere on the course, when Trump arrived and waved, and the players knew the cheering wasn't for any of them. The TV showed some of the Asian players passing by and acknowledging the President with their ceremonial and social bow of courtesy and respect, which some also perform for their playing partners, their caddies, and anyone who matters because they are sharing the same planet. Surely Trump and family had reason to be concerned if not worried that a major disruption could occur. But nothing happened other than a great player won in front of the first sitting U.S. President who attended a USGA Women's Open Championship. Of course Trump was giddy.
There's a rather different way to look at what Trump said in that NYT interview, and Josh Marshall says it well in two words, "word salad," the meandering, rather senseless verbal flow of the delusional. Link:

Also there at TPM is a story, also deriving from the interview, on Trump's strange idea that health insurance costs $12 per year. The guy's increasingly unhinged. And goes around giving interviews with the NYT and having off the record discussions with reporters, after which he cannot understand why they're not in the papers...

It seems as though the world Trump lives in has begun to change. His old friends and "business partners," actually employers, have been acting in ways that damage Trump. Maybe he's finally noticed that.

"They tricked us, they lied!" The Trumpers said about the Kislyak, Lavrov, Russian photographer meeting in the WH. But did Trump wonder why?

Of increasing interest is, what else will be revealed? Meetings, email chains, financial documents? In the cases so far the veneer of deniability has been getting thinner through time.

From the NYT write-up of the interview:

"Mr. Trump said he believed Mr. Comey told him about the dossier to implicitly make clear he had something to hold over the president."

That's called blackmail.

"(Comey's) testimony is loaded up with lies, O.K.?"

That's called perjury.

Those are very serious crimes. Why doesn't Trump instruct a criminal investigation against Comey? Hasn't Small Hands got the guts?

Trump also says three times that Macron loves holding his hand.

And he seems to believe, or perhaps to think that Macron believes, that the reason Napoleon failed to conquer Russia was that he went off to have sex with someone one night.
Maybe he's giddy because he knows he'll soon be relieved of a job that he absolutely hates doing.
Respectfully, I don't buy it. The Trumpers have been trying to deflect everything onto Hillary and the Democrats since the beginning of this investigation by in party deploying stooges to lie for them. It hasn't worked so far, and it won't work in the way you're describing. If this happens, I guarantee you there will be a bombshell story released to negate his lies. And if necessary, Chris Steele himself can come testify to debunk him.

Yelling CROOKED HILLARY may have won Trump the election, (with a little help from his friends both foreign and domestic. Well, at least the domestic help used to be his friend.) but it has not stopped the investigation in any meaningful way. Honestly, if this is Trump's big plan, it will go over about as effectively as all that Obama wiretapping BS. LOL, remember that?

It's not over until it's over, and I'm knocking on wood everyday, but I think we've turned a corner. With the release of the Trump Jr. emails, the Senate's request to have he and other Trumpers testify, and the flurry of stories recently about money laundering, I don't think there's anything stopping this anymore. Oh Lord, please let this be true.
I'm glad for the pushback, madmen-spelled-backwards. At least you took my proposition seriously enough to mount a counterargument.

But I still think that there is plenty of mileage left in CROOKED HILLARY. Remember, the Russians can help Simpson backstop any anti-Hillary claims that he makes. Documentation, emails -- hell, even faked recorded telephone conversation. The technology for such fakery has been available for ten years at least.

Trump will take that chance rather see his presidency end in humiliation. The Russians will take that chance if it means keeping in office a president who has secretly pledged to get rid of Magnitsky.

The Simpson testimony will save Trump's ass. It will allow him to fire Mueller while keeping the political blowback manageable.

Psychologically, I have already accepted this outcome, just as I had adjusted to the idea of a Trump presidency in September. (My ladyfriend wondered why I was so preternaturally calm on election night, when she was freaking out.)

Could I be wrong? Sure! Looks like I was incorrect to predict that Sessions would resign today. (In fairness, lots of other people made the same prediction.) Maybe I'm wrong in my forecast of how the Simpson testimony will play out.

And maybe I'm not.
How does the hot-off-the-presses story in the Washington Post (, which describes how Trump has been inquiring as to the limits of his power to pardon, fit into this analysis? This is not a guy who does idle curiosity, after all.
cannot say as i follow your logic, joe. but as a practicing clinician myself, my take on trump's behavior is not really giddy but petrified and near manic with sleep-deprivation, fear, and disorientation. the investigations are closing in on him, ferchrissake; his own son and son-in-law are deeply implicated, and must testify before congress, under threat of subpoena. hence his inquiry on pardons, as cam knit above points out. not that pardons will help him or his kids at all, given schneiderman has been pursuing racketeering charges.

as for the mileage and fervor of "crooked hilllary" etc., are you forgetting that (a) she won a sizable majority of the vote, and (b) that kind of smack talk only flew inside trump's wee cult fests, this cult remaining at that infamous 35%, give or take. seriously, you're worried about these hapless jamucks pulling off a comeback to prevail when they are in disarray beyond belief? his scruffy lawyers are abandoning him, which is not a good sign.

i think you were right not to underestimate his potential to "win" in november, but remember, they cheated in very big ways. but it might be just as dangerous to overestimate his potential to pull this dead rat out of his arse at this point. he's pretty boxed in, and his behavior looks to me like he knows it, like he's scrambling to survive. and he must also know putin is in no position to come riding in on his mighty steed to rescue him. i mean, he has no reason on earth to be feeling giddy; to the extent that he might behave that way, it's his self-deluded mania yankin' his chain.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Putin doesn't know us very well, does he?

The Daily Beast reveals that Putin has exercised control over Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in order to push a propaganda film directed against William Browder, the American businessman and Putin opponent whose efforts gave us the Magnitsky Act, which places sanctions on Russian oligarchs.

I've not seen the film. Judging from the descriptions, it argues that Magnitsky was an evil SOB who deserved to be murdered in custody.
Members of the team of Russians who secured a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner also attempted to stage a show trial of anti-Putin campaigner Bill Browder on Capitol Hill.

The trial, which would have come in the form of a congressional hearing, was scheduled for mid-June 2016 by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), a long-standing Russia ally who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe. During the hearing, Rohrabacher had planned to confront Browder with a feature-length pro-Kremlin propaganda movie that viciously attacks him—as well as at least two witnesses linked to the Russian authorities, including lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Ultimately, the hearing was canceled when senior Republicans intervened and agreed to allow a hearing on Russia at the full committee level with a Moscow-sympathetic witness, according to multiple congressional aides.
Good Lord. Back in the day, did any American congressman show this level of fealty to Stalin?

Savor the irony: Heretofore, most Americans were unaware of William Browder. There are many interviews of the man available on YouTube, but the views number in the thousands, not the tens of thousands. Those interviews have gained much more exposure in recent days; I've certainly done my part to get the word out.

In America, until recently, Browder was still a fairly obscure figure as far as the general public was concerned, though the name was certainly well-known to the cogniscenti. Putin is inadvertently transforming the man into an American hero.

Putin doesn't know us very well, does he? Traditionally, Russians have always favored a heavy-handed approach to propaganda. That approach works elsewhere, and it also works here -- but only up to a certain point. Past that point, a backlash reaction sets in.

As for Rohrabacher, "Putin's favorite congressman": I don't think he's going to hold onto his seat for much longer. He hails from a pro-Hillary district, winning re-election through name recognition and voter laziness. But Orange County is no longer a conservative bastion -- and few there have any reason to feel love for Vladimir Putin.

We all know about that Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan were recorded "joking" that Rohrabacher takes money from Putin. The transcript does not convey the impression that the two men were being comic.
Joe, This brings to mind House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's comments re: Rohrabacher and Putin's American business emissary, Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev, whose plane (MKATE) and yacht (Anna) show up near Trump and Mercer planes, yachts, and Trump campaign/family members too often for the identical itineraries to be a coincidence.

You gotta love Republican unforced errors, including this 2016 error on Rohrabacher's back: "In a private meeting with Republican colleagues last year, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy commented that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and California congressional colleague Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) were being paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin."

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy said in the recording of a June 15 exchange obtained and published by the Washington Post. At that point, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) cut off the conversation and swore those present to secrecy."

The Post also provided a full transcript of the tape."

Excerpted from

Indeed, Rohrabacher has a long history of sympathy for Russian political and business interests (

Dmitry Rybolovlev, Putin's American business proxy, has plane and yacht itineraries that invite investigation. While Rybolovlev's trail of real estate money laundering transactions w/ President Trump and others should keep investigators busy for years, his plane and yacht itineraries are stand outs for the proximity they give him to the Trump campaign staff and supporters (;

Money laundering is a RICO crime, but the recency and frequency of Rybolovlev planes and yachts in unusual proximity to the Trump campaign plane on several occasions (including Las Vegas and Charlotte NC) or Trump supporters/family members doesn't pass the smell test.

Why is Rybolovlev's 220' yacht, Anna, popping up next to Trump supporter, Robert Mercer's yacht, anchored in the British Virgin Islands in March 2017. The yacht was also anchored in Croatia, where Trump family members vacationed in mid-August 2016, on David Geffen's $200 million yacht. There's a telling the photo of Ivanka standing beside divorcee Wendi Deng Murdoch, who is widely credited with introducing Ivanka to Jared and who was reported to be dating Putin at that time ( Ms. Deng Murdoch is widely credited for introducing Ivanka to her future husband (

When Rybolovlev and Mercer yachts were photographed at anchor within a few 100 feet in the British Virgin Islands in March, 2017 (, was Mercer, a reclusive poker player and computer savant, there to gamble, call in bets, or pay a debt? (

Robert Mercer, with his Renaissance Technologies computer and hedge fund megabucks and daughter, Rebekah, who runs PAC's and other entities providing financial, strategic, data, and logistical support for her family's political interests, invested heavily in Computer Analytica data to support first Cruz, then Trump. (

How much Russian-American political party-ing and de-nationalized business can Rybolovlev conduct for Putin over a local area network just by sidling up to the Trump campaign plane or Geffen's or Mercer's yachts? How could a reclusive Robert Mercer more easily conduct difficult to trace private networked data exchanges, conferencing, and strategic planning, or move info & assets without detection in coordination with Rybolovlev?

Mercer and his yacht are unlikely to be in the market for trafficked underage Eastern Europeans, as another Trump business associate's yacht is known to provide in the Mediterranean ( Can it continue to be a coincidence that Rybalovlev's jets or ship are so often parked/anchored within yelling distance of a Trump plane or key family member or supporter? Was it mere coincidence that Wendi Deng Murdoch, rumored to be dating Putin, spends a day in Dubrovnich with her friends, the Kushner's, just as Paul Manafort steps down from the campaign over some Ukraine legal and financial trouble while Rybolovlev's yacht Anna is moored nearby? Where was Ms. Deng Murdoch staying on her European vacation?

Funny you mention Rybolovlev, Dataflo. While all of this political intrigue was going on, he also made an extraordinary purchase: He bought a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. To be specific, he purchased what was, until recently, known as the Cook version of the Salvator Mundi, a painting only recently ascribed to Leonardo. (For many years, the original had been obscured by clumsy overpainting.)

My ladyfriend, who has a degree in Art History, and I have made a study of the Salvator Mundi. She even presented our findings at a conference held in one of the UC schools in 2010. The Renaissance expert in attendance described her presentation as "inarguable."

We believe that the Cook version -- the one in red -- may well have originated in Leonardo's studio, and may even contain passages of the Master's handiwork. The upraised hand is probably by Leonardo. However, we believe that TRUE original work was the version in red previously owned by the De Ganay family. (It is now in a museum in South America.) Before the Cook was restored, the De Ganay was considered by some scholars (including Ludwig Heydenreich) to be authentic. (Both paintings derive from the same cartoon, although the face is flipped -- a fact which nobody else seems to have noticed.) I think that Heydenreich was right, and that a restoration of the De Ganay -- which has ALSO been clumsily overpainted -- will reveal more of Leonardo's handiwork.

We've even put together a short film on the topic. Well, the film is only 2/3 complete, and it has a temporary narration. (I find it easier to edit to a "robot" voice, since this practice allows the narration to be easily changed at any stage.)

I really should finish that movie. If it is seen by the right people, and if our argument carries the day, the value of Rybolovlev's investment might be adversely affected. And that would be just awful.
Joseph, very interesting about that painting. Hope you finish your video. But you seem to be busy these days.

Dataflo, most useful speculation. Maybe those mysterious MKATE plane appearances are Mercer-related, using Trump's plane as data mule. Say you had data you needed to move but wanted kept out of the hands of the NSA. The internet's of no use to you. Jets-and-yachts-net.

Also just another link between Trump and Russia.
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And the Oscar goes to...Donald Trump!

After the failure of Trumpcare in the Senate, Donald Trump tweeted:
“The Senate must go to a 51 vote majority instead of current 60 votes. Even parts of full Repeal need 60. 8 Dems control Senate. Crazy!
Talk about crazy...! Everyone knows that fewer than 50 Republican senators supported his bill. Either Donald Trump does not understand what happened or he is trying to fool the ignorant.

Some evidence backs the latter theory. Trump has often snarled that not one Democrat supported the bill -- a complaint he voiced at a time when only a small group of Republicans could see the legislation. Even most GOP senators were left in the dark. Did he expect Dems to support the thing sight unseen?

Trump still blames the Democrats, even though the bill failed because it was so unpopular, so toxic, that it repulsed many within his own party. The desk in the oval office needs a new sign: "The buck stops anywhere but here."

Those of a truly conspiratorial turn of mind may suspect that Trump secretly wanted the GOP bill to fail. His daughter's family benefits from the continuation of Obamacare:
Trump has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, a vow that could threaten Oscar Insurance, a $2.7 billion technology startup co-founded by Ivanka Trump’s brother-in-law, Joshua Kushner. Oscar has also received funding from Trump adviser Peter Thiel, who could face a loss on his investment if Oscar folds under a Trump-led overhaul of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
That was from November. HuffPo published the following in March:
Kushner’s brother, Josh, co-founded Oscar, an insurance company that is valued at $2.7 billion. That would be an obvious appearance of a conflict of interest, at the very least, and the potential for a conflict is even greater because Oscar was started for the express purpose of making money on the state exchanges for individual insurance that were created as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Oscar, a website and app, sells insurance directly to individuals who aren’t already eligible for insurance through their employer or a government program. Under the ACA, individuals who aren’t already covered are required to buy insurance or pay a penalty under what is called the individual mandate. And the federal government may partially subsidize the plans that the Oscar app sells and manages. Precisely how big that subsidy is depends on the type of plan and the buyer’s income and, eventually, on the health care law that the Trump administration passes ― or fails to pass.
You could argue that Donald Trump's "repeat and replace" act was a performance worthy of an Oscar.
Sorry for OT, but did you see Bernie admit last night that he knew about Russian interference in his campaign at the time? Things are getting really fishy with this guy lately. I don't think he would've admitted this unless he knew there was something coming out implicating him. Like Trump, everytime I think I can't hate this guy more, he finds a lower level to sink down to. It's to the point where I can barely take anyone seriously that takes Bernie seriously.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Kompromat. Plus: "It is Art Company"

It has been confirmed that, during that infamous meeting in Trump Tower, the Russians did indeed present a dossier to Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort. From the start, I have argued that the meeting's purpose was not to divulge compromising material on Hillary Clinton but to outline a smear campaign.

Why do I think this way? Simple: During the campaign, we saw no incriminating evidence against Hillary. We did see plenty of smears. The Trumpers would not have kept the real dirt hidden while hammering Hillary with lies about emails, the Clinton Foundation and the candidate's health -- not to mention the absurd early Pizzagate stories which appeared just before the election.

Seth Abramson offers another possibility: What if the Russian file contained kompromat on Donald Trump, not on Hillary Clinton? Perhaps the initial offer of dirt on Hillary was simply a ruse designed to make the meeting happen.

I've taken the liberty of translating Abramson's tweets into conventional prose. His words appear below the asterisks -- and below that, you'll find a few further words from yours truly.

* * *

The New York Times now reports that the intel dossier left with Don (that he now can't recall) came from the king of Russian kompromat. No less than Fox News has noted that if the Trumps received top-shelf Clinton kompromat, they would have used it during the campaign.

We know from the Manafort-Priebus call a week before the inauguration that the Kremlin's kompromat on Clinton involves Ukrainian money. The Trump campaign clearly had that kompromat -- which is why Manafort told Priebus to release it -- but never used it during the campaign.

Don Jr. received a dossier of intel just two days after the Russians were certain the general election would be Trump versus Clinton. Don Jr. is now lying -- per participants in the meeting -- about the existence of any such dossier, and POTUS seems to be lying about it too.

It's not clear why Don would go out of his way to hide that the campaign received negative intel about Clinton. POTUS already admits it. The month of the meeting is the month Chris Steele began investigating the Russian operation to compromise Trump via Kremlin kompromat.

We know Don Jr. lied not just about receiving a dossier, but also about its contents -- which he (falsely) said were "vague and ambiguous." If Steele is right -- the Kremlin is blackmailing Trump -- at some point Putin had to have confronted Trump with a copy of Kremlin kompromat. The Russian attendees to the June 9th, 2016 meeting are such Russia and Putin loyalists they could be trusted to carry Trump kompromat.

I am neither saying I know this is true or even that I necessarily believe this is true. But it must be one investigatory theory. It would explain the need to hold such a risky general-election meeting at a place controlled -- and secured -- by the Trumps themselves.

What I'll say is this: all indications are that Trump received a dossier of kompromat, never disclosed it, and is lying about it now. And the need for such ongoing and spectacular public deceit only makes sense if the dossier was damaging to Trump, not Clinton.

P.S. And as I have noted in multiple threads, the two men who set up the meeting -- Aras and Emin Agalarov -- are known and proven Kremlin agents. And these known and proven Kremlin agents sent a representative to the meeting to make sure everything went well and to report back.

If the meeting was just to dump a dossier on the Trump campaign—not to discuss anything in the dossier—it could just be delivered. Somehow the Kremlin felt there had to be a gaggle of Putin loyalists in the room when Jr, Kushner and Manafort received the dossier.To be clear: perhaps the dossier was both files: Trump and Clinton kompromat. But some Trump kompromat being included makes sense.

* * *

Cannon here. I'll add this: The Steele dossier says that the Kremlin also made an attempt to gather dirt on Hillary. As I recall, the primary finding was that Hillary would say things in private that sharply diverged from her public statements; I don't recall anything about Ukraine. There are no details about these hidden private views, but they seem to have led Putin to think that he might -- grudgingly -- be able to work with Clinton, though he obviously preferred Trump.

The standard caveat: Much of the Steele dossier has not been verified, although some parts have been borne out by subsequent investigation. The dossier has not been "discredited," even though desperate pro-Trump propagandists often make that claim.

The eighth man in the room has been identified as real estate tycoon Ike Kaveladze, who says that he showed up to translate for Veselnitskaya, who already had a translator. Pull the other one, Ike: Guys on his level don't do translation.
In November 2000, a Government Accountability Office report—requested by then-Sen. Carl Levin—identified International Business Creations, a business run by Kaveladze, as being responsible for opening more than 2,000 bank accounts at two U.S. banks, at the behest of Russian-based brokers. The accounts were used to move more than $1.4 billion from individuals in Russia and Eastern Europe to various spots around the world.

“It is relatively easy for foreign individuals or entities to hide their identities while forming shell corporations that can be used for the purpose of laundering money,” the report determined.
Politico visited the nondescript offices in New Jersey where Kaveladze and Agalarov have set up mysterious business.
Business filings list Kaveladze as the founder of a company called IBC Group, which shares a New Jersey address — 333 Sylvan Avenue in Englewood Cliffs — with several shell companies connected to Aras Agalarov.

One of those firms is Saffron Property Management, which Agalarov reportedly used to purchase an $11 million condo in Florida last year.
The others include CI Publishing, PB Consulting, Russian Art Mall and a company called RJI Properties, which is run by two childhood friends of Agalarov's son, Emin, a well-known Russian pop-singer.
A POLITICO reporter visiting the nondescript office building where all of these companies are headquartered found that the suite linked to Agalarov and Kaveladze was empty, with unopened mail sitting by the door. A sign in the lobby indicated that the suite belonged to IBC and Russian Art Mall, which was founded in 2000 and registered to Emin Agalarov, who is a partner in his father's business.

"They're current on the rent. They're on our rent roll, they're just quiet," George Sayrafe, who said he has managed the building for 20 years, said. "I hadn't heard anything. Some tenants bother you, you know what I mean? These people, I haven't seen them in a long time."
Kaveladze was named in a round of news stories in 2000, when Congress was examining Russian money laundering through U.S. financial institutions.

At the time, Kaveladze was identified in contemporaneous news reports as the originator of thousands of Delaware-based shell corporations.

Through his company, which was at the time called International Business Creations, Kaveladze formed 2,000 corporations for Russian brokers, which helped steer more than $1.4 billion in wire transactions through U.S. banks, according to the Congressional inquiry.
RJI Properties is a real firm -- or rather, there are several companies going by that name, in Texas, Staten Island, North Carolina and Virginia.

There is also a firm called PB Consulting in the UK:
PB Consulting is a communications consultancy with an excellent track record in running high profile campaigns. We run engaging campaigns that help create policy, shift public opinion and develop supportive relationships.
I've seen no evidence of a link to Cambridge Analytica; if you know of such a link, please share. I've also seen no evidence linking the British version of PB Consulting with any Russians operating in New Jersey.

My favorite, of course, is Russian Art Mall:
Russian Art Mall; Inc located at 333 Sylvan Ave Suite 309,ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS,New Jersey,USA,It is Art company, Tel is 2018681950 (+1-201-868-1950),fax is 2018718481 (+1-201-871-8481),address is 333 Sylvan Ave Suite 309.This company SIC code is 841210,SIC Name is Museums, art galleries, and botanical and zoological gardens,You can find more Russian Art Mall; Inc contact info like fax,email,website below.
"It is Art Company." I love it! Oddly, this Art Company seems to have established no discernible online presence in the world of art.

Comrades! I am showing you now photo of actual New Jersey office building in which is being located many enterprises -- including glorious RUSSIAN ART MALL! Remember: It is Art Company.

(Wouldn't it be freaky to learn that there really is an office in there which houses works by Kandinsky and Aivasovsky?) 

A link between PB Consulting and Cambridge Analytica - now you're asking! Unfortunately I haven't found one yet.

The listed officer at the British company PB Consulting Limited is Paul Bristow. One of his other appointments is at Fulham Investment and Property Company Limited, which I had a quick look at because of how much Russian money is invested in property in London. The officers at that company include Tara John Douglas Home, whose grandfather was the prime minister, Alexander Douglas Home.

Other than that, going by their mugshots and hairstyles the PB Consulting crew don't look like bigshots. Bristow was a local councillor who failed to win a parliamentary seat for the Tories in 2010.
So Irakly Kaveladze was there. Had he met Trump before? And ... what was Trump doing during the Russia-Georgia war of 2008? :innocent face:
You can get an idea of the sort of art available at Russian Art Mall here. (BTW, the site you referenced for Russian Art Mall business info must have a munged database; the phone number listed is for a Bergen, NJ, pediatrician's office.)
Isn't it begging the question to assert that the June 9 meeting was about the election and how to win it? The principals are business (or "business") people, not professional or experienced political operatives. One topic might include the crucial matter of Trump's legitimate and also questionable financial connections and whether, if elected, he would have to cease being personally involved. If so, then the issue forks into If, Then. The sanctions issue matters, but it seems to be below the Trump principals' pay grade. Only after the lawyer gets assurances that no one will try to grab her by the pussy, does she offer to help the election in return for specific sanctions relief; but that is of secondary or less importance than the financial interests.

As for a dossier with kompromat on Clinton, the Trump campaign can't very well put it into the wild without someone discovering its source or hand-off. It's not inconceivable that the alleged kompromat in general was 'discovered' by an FBI source and precipitated both the Weiner laptop warrant and the Comey October letter, and so forth.
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Why is Kislyak at the State Department? Plus: Defending Hillary. Plus: Where was Trump? Let's ask the Secret Service...

Kislyak. Josh Lederman of AP offers an intriguing tweet.
Ambassador Kislyak and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov arrive at State Department to meet with Tom Shannon
I thought Kislyak was fired. So what the hell is going on? Am I the only person on the east coast who hasn't met with Kislyak?

Shannon was appointed by Obama in February of 2016, and served as the de facto Secretary of State until Tillerson was confirmed.

Will no-one defend Hillary? Donald Trump and his defenders keep repeating tired old lies about Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, both mainstream pundits and unabashed liberals refuse to expose these lies. Their refusal allows falsehoods to take root in the public imagination.

Take, for example, this recent Trump tweet:
HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?
Here's the WRONG way to answer this question: "Trump is guilty of whataboutism. The election is over, yet he is still running against Hillary Clinton." Although those are valid points, they allow a falsehood to stand as truth.

Here's the RIGHT way to answer: The FBI recovered the majority of those deleted messages and determined that they were inconsequential.

How do we know that the FBI's assessment was accurate? During the last six months, Donald Trump's Justice Department has not offered any indication that Hillary did anything wrong -- even though the Trumpers spent much of the campaign shouting "Lock her up."

Hillary herself did not delete any emails. Her legal staff provided Congress with all requested messages. After doing keyword searches of the headers, those charged with maintaining the server deleted personal items, just as you have probably deleted messages from your own email inbox. Remember: Emails are also stored locally on the recipients' computers (example: Huma's laptop) and on outside servers (when messages were sent to email addresses outside of Hillary's system). So we're talking about multiple copies.

As for Brazile's alleged "leak" -- what does it come to? Before a primary debate in Flint, MI, Brazile told Hillary that a woman from town had been chosen to address the candidates: "Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint."

And that's it. That's Brazile's big effing sin against Saint Bernie.

Come ON. Of course someone in Flint was going to ask about the poisoning of the water! What else would one expect? Hearing that question in Flint is about as surprising as seeing superheroes in an Avengers movie.

Here's an infuriating paradox for you to consider: Although the assault on Flint's infrastructure illustrates everything wrong with conservatism, the only national political figures who suffered from the Flint crisis were Hillary Clinton and Donna Brazile.

Even before we learned about Brazile's message, the allegedly "liberal" Washington Post assailed Hillary precisely because she did her best to draw attention to Flint's problems. When she said the words that liberals wanted her to say, the Guardian newspaper accused her of self-interested grandstanding. Of course, if she had said anything else, the press would have lambasted her. The situation was unwinnable.

The press has treated the Clintons this way for decades. That "unwinnability factor" -- the brazen injustice of it all -- is what made me sympathetic to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Obama never received this kind of treatment. If journalists had not behaved so unfairly toward the Clintons, I would have favored other Democrats.

Let's return to the present day.

"Collusion is not illegal" is the best defense that the Trumpers can muster. First: Many analysts argue that Junior did break campaign laws when he took that meeting. Second: There certainly is a law against lying on a security form, as Jared Kushner did. Third: The "It's not illegal" argument goes both ways. Even if we give Trump's tweeted accusations against Hillary the worst possible interpretation, the Orange one has not pinpointed a single instance of illegal activity. The Trumpers chanted "Lock her up" but cannot specify a single violation of US Code.

The only illegal act was the email hack itself. This deed was undertaken by Trump's pals to benefit Donald Trump.

The Secret Service. The Trumpers have blamed the Secret Service for not preventing Donald Trump Jr. from meeting the Russians. In response, the Secret Service pointed out that Junior was not under their protection at that time. True -- but Donald Trump the elder was. Question: Was Trump Sr. at that meeting? It was held in Trump Tower, and we know that Trump Sr. was in the building at that time. Secret Service agents can be compelled under oath to tell us which floor Trump was on.

Even if Trump was upstairs during the meeting, he probably listened in. We know that he believes in bugging.

UPDATE: While I wrote the above post, Josh Marshall wrote this
Did Russia hack Clinton’s private email server? We’ll probably never know. But I think the fact that those emails never appeared during the campaign makes it highly unlikely that they had them. Otherwise why not release them?
Why not? Because they were innocent. That's why not.

Releasing the emails would have exonerated Hillary and incriminated the Russians -- and, by extension, the Trumpers.

Of course, the Russians could have cobbled together some seemingly-sinister fakes. I believe that the Trump Tower meeting was intended to hammer out a quid-pro-quo: Russia would smear Hillary if Trump promised to get rid of the Magnitsky Act.

But any scheme to smear Hillary in this fashion would have run into a problem: It became clear that the FBI had recovered the majority of the deleted emails. How could the Russians plausibly produce incriminating emails that did not appear in the FBI's stash? The Trumpers did not want to make Hillary look like the victim of a crime.

From the standpoint of Team Trump, it was more effective to leave those emails a mystery. Trump and his supporters kept repeating the Big Lie about the deletion, never mentioning the recovery. Our compliant allegedly-liberal press went along with the program, rarely mentioning the recovery and spewing pious nonsense about the "perception" that Hillary lacks transparency. (And never mind the fact that Trump is the one who makes everyone signs NDAs.)

The public's imagination did the rest of the work.
Dana Brazil in the daily show was asked about the debate question. She didn't come out and say it in plain English, but she basically said she gave the question to both candidates. We know about Hillary's bc the hackers didn't want people to see Sanders' People keep forgetting that Hillary was the first candidate to talk about Flint so why would she need help wit that. I think a law suit from Hillary is the only way to shut him up.
Hi! I know this is kinda off topic however , I'd figured
I'd ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing a blog article or vice-versa?
My website goes over a lot of the same topics as yours
and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you are interested feel free to send me
an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!
It's days like these I wish this blog had emoticons. :)

Anonymous. Come on in, the water's fine. Make up a nym. Post a link.
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Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Trump/Russia connection: Let's go deep

We've been hearing a lot of talk on TV about the Magnitsky Act. Are you confused? Check out one or both of the embedded talks (above and below) by William Browder. He's an American businessman -- with a surprising family background -- who made untold millions during Russia's corrupted transition to capitalism, until he ran afoul of Vladimir Putin.

Browder is a gripping speaker, and he tells one of the most important stories of our time. I promise that you'll be transfixed -- and you'll also have a much better understanding of the history which underlays the Trump scandal.

In this NPR interview, Browder reveals the truth about Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Trump Tower is the world's tallest laundromat. Earlier today, a reader sent me a link to an important article by Craig Unger which looks into an issue that has popped into these very cyber-pages over the past month. Unger's subtitle summarizes the story: "How to use Trump Tower and other luxury high-rises to clean dirty money, run an international crime syndicate, and propel a failed real estate developer into the White House."

We know that the FBI "tapped" Trump Tower in order to listen in on that gambling ring and on other mob-related activities. In many previous posts, we've noted the parade of Russian mobsters who keep choosing that building as a home and base of operations. Unger goes even deeper into this history...
But even without an investigation by Congress or a special prosecutor, there is much we already know about the president’s debt to Russia. A review of the public record reveals a clear and disturbing pattern: Trump owes much of his business success, and by extension his presidency, to a flow of highly suspicious money from Russia. Over the past three decades, at least 13 people with known or alleged links to Russian mobsters or oligarchs have owned, lived in, and even run criminal activities out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Many used his apartments and casinos to launder untold millions in dirty money. Some ran a worldwide high-stakes gambling ring out of Trump Tower—in a unit directly below one owned by Trump. Others provided Trump with lucrative branding deals that required no investment on his part. Taken together, the flow of money from Russia provided Trump with a crucial infusion of financing that helped rescue his empire from ruin, burnish his image, and launch his career in television and politics. “They saved his bacon,” says Kenneth McCallion, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Reagan administration who investigated ties between organized crime and Trump’s developments in the 1980s.

It’s entirely possible that Trump was never more than a convenient patsy for Russian oligarchs and mobsters, with his casinos and condos providing easy pass-throughs for their illicit riches. At the very least, with his constant need for new infusions of cash and his well-documented troubles with creditors, Trump made an easy “mark” for anyone looking to launder money. But whatever his knowledge about the source of his wealth, the public record makes clear that Trump built his business empire in no small part with a lot of dirty money from a lot of dirty Russians—including the dirtiest and most feared of them all.
That would be Semion Mogilevich, the guy who sold weapons (including, it is said, WMDs) to Al Qaeda. Before being murdered, Litvinenko revealed Mogilevich's connections to Putin.

Among Mogilevich's many other activities is a keen interest in prostitution, including underaged prostitution. These girls are used in "sting" operations designed to entrap businessmen and government officials. Tevfik Arif, a Mogilevich associate, was arrested after one such sting escapade involving underaged girls on a yacht.

On a completely unrelated note: Trump's pal Jeffrey Epstein has often been seen in the company of very young women from Eastern Europe. According to Virginia Roberts, these girls are used to acquire kompromat on VIPs. Epstein is allegedly a money-manager for billionaires, though nobody knows who those clients are, and nobody can pinpoint the precise nature of the services he provides. Epstein and Trump were close.

I've written about Mogilevich before. Here's a remarkable fact you may have forgotten:
For more, you may want to check out an online book called Deep Capture. The chapter at the other end of the link includes the eye-opening revelation that Mogilevich was represented by former FBI Director William Sessions, even though the FBI had the Russian on its "Ten Most Wanted" list!
Dancing with Russians. Let us return to Unger's piece:
In 1998, Russia defaulted on $40 billion in debt, causing the ruble to plummet and Russian banks to close. The ensuing financial panic sent the country’s oligarchs and mobsters scrambling to find a safe place to put their money. That October, just two months after the Russian economy went into a tailspin, Trump broke ground on his biggest project yet. Rising to 72 stories in midtown Manhattan, Trump World Tower would be the tallest residential building on the planet. Construction got underway in 1999—just as Trump was preparing his first run for the presidency on the Reform Party ticket— and concluded in 2001. As Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier this year, it wasn’t long before one-third of the units on the tower’s priciest floors had been snatched up—either by individual buyers from the former Soviet Union, or by limited liability companies connected to Russia. “We had big buyers from Russia and Ukraine and Kazakhstan,” sales agent Debra Stotts told Bloomberg.

Trump had found his market. After Trump World Tower opened, Sotheby’s International Realty teamed up with a Russian real estate company to make a big sales push for the property in Russia. The “tower full of oligarchs,” as Bloomberg called it, became a model for Trump’s projects going forward. All he needed to do, it seemed, was slap the Trump name on a big building, and high-dollar customers from Russia and the former Soviet republics were guaranteed to come rushing in.
According to a Reuters investigation in March, at least 63 buyers with Russian addresses or passports spent $98 million on Trump’s properties in south Florida. What’s more, another one-third of the units—more than 700 in all—were bought by shadowy shell companies that concealed the true owners.
Trump claims to have nothing to do with Russians. That's a lie. Without Russia, Donald Trump probably would not be rich -- certainly not as rich as he is.

Among his close business associates is Russian underworld figure Felix Sater...
Sater apparently remains close to Trump’s inner circle. Earlier this year, one week before National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was fired for failing to report meetings with Russian officials, Trump’s personal attorney reportedly hand-delivered to Flynn’s office a “back-channel plan” for lifting sanctions on Russia. The co-author of the plan, according to the Times: Felix Sater.
"Sanctions" means, first and foremost, the Magnitsky Act.

Do you really think that Natalia Veselnitskaya and company came all that way just to discuss Russian orphans? Puh-leeaze. This meeting was all about the Magnitsky Act.

Putin suspended American adoptions of Russian orphans in retaliation for the sanctions imposed by the Magnitsky Act. Such adoptions were always unpopular in Russia for reasons of national pride. Trump himself obviously couldn't care less about Russian orphans. Thus, references to the "orphan" issue should probably be interpreted as a code term for lifting the Magnitsky Act sanctions.

These sanctions are murder on the Russian oligarchs for one simple reason: The oligarchs don't want to keep their stolen money in Russia. It's not safe there. They need to transport their loot to western nations where dirty money can be laundered via real estate and other schemes.

The rulers of Russia maintain homes in the west and send their kids to western schools. The whole point of being a Russian oligarch is to get out of Russia.

Again: The embedded talks by William Browder offer much of the necessary background. From Browder's NPR interview...
And so what has happened is that this woman, Natalia Veselnitskaya, via various people in the Russian government has become the proxy for Putin's interests in repealing the Magnitsky Act. And she has hired huge numbers of lobbyists and spent millions of dollars on lawyers, on public relations professionals, on smear campaigners with the objective of repealing the Magnitsky Act.

And obviously when Donald Trump was starting to rise and when he started to rise post-Republican nomination, I'm sure that they had a strategy meeting at headquarters and they said, we need to get to this guy to repeal the Magnitsky Act because this is their single most important foreign policy priority. And so they probably had embarked using all of their paid advisers to figure out how to get to Trump. And they finally found this odd in through this music promoter. And they went there with the sole objective of getting the Magnitsky Act repealed.
One final word about Russian orphans. Let's return to a matter which has received notice only in these humble pages. Above, I note that many consider "Russian orphans" a code phrase for getting rid of the Magnitsky Act. There is, however, a possibility that all of this talk about orphans goes to something even more ominous.

The American adoptions of Russian orphans were being run through a religious cult run by a disturbing fellow named Bill Gothard. His "Christian" cult established a presence in Russia during the waning days of the USSR. Gothard is linked to the Duggars and to Mike Huckabee -- and perhaps to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Gothard has been accused of abusing and brainwashing the American kids placed in the care of his religious institutions. One can only imagine the fate of Russian orphans -- kids without families, transported thousands of miles away from their home country. Those orphans were kept in an "orphanage" in either Indiana or Illinois, according to a report from someone who survived Gothard's cult.

I still don't know the exact role played by that cult. But I know this: Everyone involved with that meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya keeps referring to American adoptions of Russian orphans -- and most of those adoptions went through Bill Gothard.

As the scientist says in Close Encounters: "This is important. This means something."

Very interesting post, thank you.

It is very much worth remembering that the Magnitsksky Act applies to only 18 individuals. One wonders just what percentage of Russian GDP those 18 account for, given the extensive lobbying efforts.

I think we can look forward to meaty revelations exposing the many Trimp activities in the Russian area. This don, jr thing is, in my opinion, just a brief appetizer, an opening of the lid.
Diving a little deeper.

Bill Browder's Aspen Institute video contains a nugget about how the seed money for Hermitage Capital Management came from Edmund Safra. Dominic Dunne's 2000 article in Vanity Fair tells the story of Safra's death in Monaco.

Where does this fit in the timeline of Putin's rise to power?
It was Dreyfuss's character Roy who said that in Close Encounters, about his attempts to sculpt Devil's Tower.
Pax: Truffaut also says the same line.
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Trump and the Deep State -- or: The problems caused by right-wingers who steal left-wing terminology

On Democratic Underground today, a poster linked to a fairly recent piece titled "Donald Trump and the Deep State," written by Peter Dale Scott. Without reading the article, a couple of DU readers seem to have presumed that Scott must be some sort of neo-fascist wolf-in-sheep's clothing.

The problem is the term "deep state," which Scott popularized some years ago. (He borrowed the phrase from Turkey, where it is commonly used.) The American far rightists have appropriated the term "deep state." Tossing aside Scott's definition, neo-fascists now use the term to as a catch-all name for whatever conclave of boogeymen haunts the right-wing imagination on any given day. "Deep state" is the new "Illuminati."

(Some of you may recall when Roger Stone claimed that the "deep state" tried to kill him with polonium poisoning. He got better.)

When a youngster on DU suggested that Professor Scott should be classified with the Alt Right, I felt obligated to mount a response:

* * *

Professor Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat, a professor at Berkeley, and a respected poet. Over the decades, he has strongly opposed conservative administrations from Nixon to Reagan to Dubya. He wrote groundbreaking works exposing connections between the CIA and organized crime. He is well-known for his work on the CIA's disastrous coup in Indonesia, for his pieces exposing American links to Pinochet's Chile and other neofascist states, and for his opposition to the Vietnam war.

In short: For many years, his name was associated with progressivism, anti-interventionism and anti-militarism.

Scott borrowed the term "deep state" from Turkish politics. (The phrase is commonly used there.) I know that he defined the oil industry as a key component of the deep state -- thus, he would surely point to the appointment of Rex Tillerson as an example of the deep state in action.

A quick skim of Scott's latest piece will show you that he identifies Donald Trump as an exemplar (or tool) of the deep state who deceptively ran for office as an opponent of same. In this regard, Scott likens Trump to Hitler.

It is true the far rightists in this country fastened upon Scott's work and appropriated the term "deep state" for their own purposes. Scott is not responsible for that. He should have known better than to appear on Alex Jones' radio program some years back. Scott has also appeared -- far more often -- on shows run by leftwingers and socialists. (I first encountered him via the Pacifica network.) I guess that some people believe that a microphone is a microphone. Personally, I think that life is easier if one strives to avoid "guilt by association" accusations.

I chatted with Scott a few times more than twenty years ago; he probably would not recall. I definitely would NOT classify him as any sort of right-winger -- quite the opposite. That said, I've not really followed his work in recent years; it is possible that he has written cringe-inducing material during that past decade or so. If he has, I hope that someone reading these words will enlighten me.

There used to be a robust tradition of left-wing anti-CIA, anti-militarist, anti-fascist criticism. If you are old enough to recall publications like Covert Action Information Bulletin and CounterSpy, you may be familiar with that tradition. The situation is very strange now: Some of the rhetoric employed by those old-school lefty writers has been commandeered and perverted by the far right.

I'm an old dog, and I find these new tricks to be both infuriating and perplexing.

* * *

Here are a few excerpts from Scott's new piece. You tell me if Scott sounds like a Trump apologist or an Alt Rightist.
On February 3, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported President Trump’s plans to pave the way for a broad rollback of the recent financial reforms of Wall Street.[1] Although no surprise, the news was in ironic contrast to the rhetoric of his campaign, when he spent months denouncing both Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton for their links to Goldman Sachs, even when his campaign’s Financial Chairman was a former Goldman Sachs banker, Steve Mnuchin (now Trump’s Treasury Secretary).

Trump was hardly the first candidate to run against the banking establishment while surreptitiously taking money from big bankers. So did Hitler in 1933; so did Obama in 2008.
However, Trump’s connections to big money, both new (often self-made) and old (mostly institutional) were not only more blatant than usual; some were also possibly more sinister. Trump’s campaign was probably the first ever to be (as we shall see) scrutinized by the FBI for “financial connections with Russian financial figures,” and even with a Russian bank whose Washington influence was attacked years ago, after it was allegedly investigated in Russia for possible mafia connections.[4]

Trump’s appointment of the third former Goldman executive to lead Treasury in the last four administrations, after Robert Rubin (under Clinton) and Hank Paulson (under Bush), has reinforced recent speculation about Trump’s relationship to what is increasingly referred to as the deep state.
Throughout the campaign, the Kochs and Trump (whose chief backer was another maverick billionaire, Robert Mercer) were apparently at arm’s length from each other. Vanity Fair suggested in September that at that time the Kochs were “in direct opposition to the Mercers,” in a “civil war that threatens to tear the party apart” — even though, starting around 2011, the Mercers had been donating “at least $1 million a year to the Koch network.”[25]

Whatever the tensions, it was clear after the election that Trump in his transition team had “surrounded himself with people tied to the Kochs.”[26] Soon the Trump nominee for Education Secretary was Betsy DeVos, another major billionaire contributor to the Koch donor list. (Betsy’s brother Erik Prince, famous as the founder and owner of the notorious private army Blackwater, was quietly advising the Trump transition team on matters related to intelligence and defense.)[27]

And Trump’s CIA Director is Mike Pompeo, formerly a Koch-sponsored congressman “who was so closely entwined with the climate-change denying Koch brothers that he was known as the ‘congressman from Koch.”[28] (The new administration has reportedly instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website.)
I could quote more, but you get the gist.

So how do we deal with the problem of Alt Rightists and neo-fascists appropriating the terminology (and some of the argumentation) that once was the province of the left-wing radicals and antiwar protestors? Today, our political choices come down to an exasperatingly false dichotomy. In one corner, we have pro-Trumpers pretending to be rebels and revolutionaries and working-class heroes; in the other corner, we have MSNBC offering reverential treatment to Bush administration alumni and intelligence officers.

Where does that leave a guy like me?

Sure, I've taken to watching MSBC religiously. Times being what they are, I feel obligated to follow every quiver and convulsion of the ongoing battle against Trumpism. I've had to become a staunch defender of the Clintons, even though I wasn't really an enthusiastic fan of either one. I opposed Bernie because I thought he was a fraud and a tool (witting or unwitting) of the Trump campaign. I became a reluctant Obama defender in 2012, even though this blog had strongly opposed him from the left.

All of this categorizes me as a conventional Democrat. Yet on a deeper level, I feel alienated, homeless and friendless.
"Yes, Officer, I am Noah Cross, and I am rich." Forget it, Joe, it's Chinatown.
I feel the same way about "neoliberal," which to me brings thoughts of Charlie Peters, James Fallows, and The Washington Monthly rather than a bunch of bloodless Viennese academics....

"Deep State" is particularly interesting, though. Most recently there was a wave of polisci and international relations types explaining the term couldn't be applied to America as it referred to a specific business/government configuration unlikely to be found outside of Turkey -- oblivious to its long use by Scott and others. One of the most interesting of these others has been apostate GOP Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren, whose The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government echoed much of what Scott has been saying, repackaging it for a wider audience.

Scott himself seems to alternate between "Deep State" and "Deep Politics," with the latter being, I think, possibly a more-useful term: The former implies an organized group underpinning the visible state, while the latter suggests a looser coalition of players with common or overlapping interests. Today, there's no need for the heads of Big Oil actively to campaign for U.S. intervention to overthrow the next Mosaddegh, as their needs and desires have been internalized by the State Department.
Hello Joseph. You make it sound like you've drifted off the continent alone on a small desolate chunk of ice. Au contraire, I believe it is more like Someone has dialed down gravity and we are all floating in a disorientated state. Bad news is you are not alone, good news is Trump probably is 'peak disorientation'. I recommend the sublime series Patriot on Amazon to chase away the never ending campaign.
Peter Dale Scott has spent many decades documenting how the right wing has operated outside of legal structures to achieve their ends and consolidate power. As demonstrated in the quote from him above, he is unflinchingly honest. The only change I'm aware of is that he plans to work less on politics in order to return to poetry. Sounds like people need to know him better.

Hitler, since he's already been mentioned, was a clever demagogue. The Nazi party was called National Socialist for a reason, to fool people. Their platform promised all the good of socialism.

So the extreme right has a long history of taking terminology and distorting it for their own use.

On a separate but not completely unrelated topic, Michael Ledeen has been one of the right wing guys to watch. But his idea is to borrow from the right. His PhD was done on "Universal Fascism." Such a thing never existed. But it seemed that Ledeen was trying to extract what might be useful from the past. His militant dislike of Iran and "Islamofascism" have kept him a marketable entity.

A recent gig for Ledeen was ghostwriting Ge. Mike Flynn's book.

Good summary here:
One of the quotes you quoted...Trump’s campaign was probably the first ever to be (as we shall see) scrutinized by the FBI for “financial connections with Russian financial figures,

Except that the FBI was not investigating Trump during 2016.
The reason you may feel homeless as a democrat is because demcosrats have prioritized immigration issues over helping Elderly Americans in a fair and square manner. I am shocked at the financial shenanigans used by politicians to get the elderly excluded from government programs that are supposed to help the elderly.
Yet these same youngish, metro democrats will go out of their way to protest anything to do with putting any type of leash on immigration.
"Except that the FBI was not investigating Trump during 2016."

We all THOUGHT that was the case, but we later learned that the FBI was indeed doing so.

"What he did not say was that the F.B.I. was also investigating the campaign of Donald J. Trump. Just weeks before, Mr. Comey had declined to answer a question from Congress about whether there was such an investigation. Only in March, long after the election, did Mr. Comey confirm that there was one."
Even today's comments contain poetic fragments: "Someone has dialed down gravity and we're all floating..."

Nice, Arbusto!

Joseph, the millennial progressives are a vicious lot, armed to the teeth with ....Tolerance (tm). They will cram that Tolerance down your throat till you know how to regurgitate it precisely the way they do. Brave New Bulimitopia. I'm glad I'm a Beta. Alphas have to work too hard...

Here's a link to 5 of Peter Dale Scott's poems. "The Tao of 9/11" is a tough read, but the journey hits landmarks familiar to readers of this blog. I'm thinking a haibun might have been a better choice of form, but anyway, there are hits of pure poetry all the way through.

Like the times in a bad marriage
good times flash back with pain
so in the midst of preemptive war
I remember loving this country

Zee, thanks for the link to the poems. Nice quote, as well.

Scott has lived an amazing life as sometime diplomat, scholar-poet, historian and what might be called ad hoc journalist. This has gained him access to unusual and inaccessible people and places, that he then writes about.

It's not 1968 anymore and this isn't your grandfather's Democratic Party. The deep state (CIA/Wallstreet) has learned that corporate Democrats like Obama and Clinton can be just as useful as Republicans. With the yankee-capitalist brand having suffering so much damage over the last several decades, the deep state (CIA/Wallstreet) now finds neo-liberalism to be the more useful political philosophy to employ while plying its trade.

Tom, your words mean a lot, as this post did to me....tho I am probably the opposite of a diplomat and scholar-poet! I have more of a sprite muse. My own 9/11 poem was a combo of Surrealist "opposites" form meshed with Stevenson. However much I come off as a "get off my lawn!" type, Scott's actual life supercedes that...and I am grateful to learn of his talent. I was mostly expecting people to tell me to write my own haibun if I cared so much, haha!
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