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Friday, July 21, 2017

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.

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 larger 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?


You think hackers are tracking what Mueller's team is up to?
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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.
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Comments:
Maybe they gave him a new drug.

Peg
 
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.

https://newrepublic.com/article/143926/dirtbag-left-problem-dominance-politics?utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=sharebtn
 
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:
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-times-interview-annotated

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 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-lawyers-seek-to-undercut-muellers-russia-investigation/2017/07/20/232ebf2c-6d71-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html?utm_term=.f6ff0d94549f), 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.
 
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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.
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Comments:
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." https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/national/read-the-transcript-of-the-conversation-among-gop-leaders-obtained-by-the-post/2209/

Excerpted from http://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-year-old-mccarthy-comment-that-trump-1495063901-htmlstory.html

Indeed, Rohrabacher has a long history of sympathy for Russian political and business interests (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/russian-anti-sanctions-campaign-turned-to-california-congressman/534102/).

dataflo @punditcrawler.com
 
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 (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/why-did-russian-oligarch-pay-so-much-for-mansion-owned-by-trump/2316032; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2076017/Ekaterina-Rybolovleva-22-buys-88m-New-York-apartment.html).

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 (http://newscdn.newsrep.net/h5/nrshare.html?r=3&lan=en_US&pid=14&id=v0ae25190l1_us&app_lan=&mcc=&declared_lan=en_us&pubaccount=ocms_0&showall=1) Ms. Deng Murdoch is widely credited for introducing Ivanka to her future husband (http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/291465-ivanka-trump-vacationing-with-putins-rumored-girlfriend).

When Rybolovlev and Mercer yachts were photographed at anchor within a few 100 feet in the British Virgin Islands in March, 2017 (http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/national-govt--politics/yachts-trump-financial-backer-russian-oligarch-seen-close-together/gI074W3JLqvEYrQ0hm9zlN/), was Mercer, a reclusive poker player and computer savant, there to gamble, call in bets, or pay a debt? (http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article137881768.html).

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. (http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/03/27/the-reclusive-hedge-fund-tycoon-behind-the-trump-presidency)

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 (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/trump-pal-busted-allegedly-running-hooker-ring-yacht-article-1.191136). 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?

Dataflo @punditcrawler.com
 
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.
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Comments:
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.

https://twitter.com/SarahLerner/status/887512456095948800
 
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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?) 




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Comments:
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.
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Comments:
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."


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Comments:
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. http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2000/12/dunne200012

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.
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Comments:
"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:
http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/ledeen_michael/
 
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.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/22/us/politics/james-comey-election.html

"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

http://jacketmagazine.com/34/scott-p-d-5p.shtml

 
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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Friday, July 14, 2017

Russians and Americans

The focus on Russia has been understandable: Liberals love to see the way conservatives squirm when the president is accused of working with Moscow. But let's be honest: Russia cannot be the true "Big Bad" here.

Manpower, hacking skill, money: All of that could have come from Team Putin. But Russian influence cannot have been decisive. I would liken the 2016 campaign to a film set: The production may have had Russian crew members and a Russian executive producer -- even Russian funding. But the writer and the director must have been either Americans or Brits with a thorough knowledge of American culture.

Consider, for example, the language issue. When Trumpist trolls commandeered large chunks of the internet in 2016, we were not seeing many peoples who are talking like this, da? The trolls used our slang and pop cultural references. They were as American as a cross burning.

By contrast, the Guccifer 2.0 website -- now known to be the work of the GRU -- was written in English that was, at times, barely comprehensible. It was obvious from the start that the author thought in Russian.

In early October, Roger Stone and others predicted that Assange would soon release information certain to deal a death blow to the Clinton campaign. To the surprise of many, Assange passed up this opportunity. Guccifer did the honors -- and the results were hilarious.

We're talking about a lie so unconvincing that even the Alex Jonesians scoffed at it. Basically, Guccifer took doctored DNC files and tried to pretend that they were Clinton Foundation Files. From my earlier post:
How do we know that the results are bogus? Well, Guccifer offers a screenshot of folders which were supposedly on the Foundation's computer. There is no mention of the charitable work done by the Foundation around the world, and no reference to anyone who works for the Foundation. In other words, we see nothing that we might reasonably expect to see. Instead, the folders include such headings as "DNC" and "DC Region 2015-1016" and -- my favorite -- "Pay to Play."

Oh right. Surrrrrrre. As though that would be the actual name of a folder on the Clinton Foundation's (allegedly wide-open) computer system.

Why not a folder marked "Children Sacrificed to Lord NATAS" or "Hillary's Lesbian Lovers" or "Evil Things to Do Today"?

You'd have to have a single-digit IQ to believe this horseshit. Even Katrina Pierson must be rolling her eyes.

There is also the first page of a list of Democratic stalwarts (such as Barney Frank) who supposedly got TARP fund kickbacks, as though it were possible to pull off a scheme like that with the Republicans controlling congressional investigative committees. Are we really supposed to believe that not one banker anywhere complained or blew the whistle? Barney Frank is one of Wall Street's most powerful critics; the idea of him getting secret kickbacks from Wall Street firms is inane.

More to the point: Why would that list be on a computer owned by a fucking charity?
That was the best that the GRU could come up with: Really crappy, low-quality propaganda -- nonsense that couldn't persuade anyone who has blown out more than two birthday cake candles.

Guccifer's failure on that occasion tells me that the GRU possessed only a limited understanding of what would "fly" in this country. As they say in The Music Man: You gotta know the territory.

A conspiracy installed Trump; I'm convinced of that. Russia was a key part of this plan; I'm convinced of that. But Russia could not have done this job on their own. Jared Kushner seems to have been in charge of the American effort.

We also know that Cambridge Analytica has strong ties to both the Mercers and to Russia.

In that light, I'd like to republish a couple of comments offered by a reader who calls himself or herself Dataflo. (These comments were originally written in response to this post.) I don't know anything about Dataflo -- but you may want to follow the links. (I've somewhat edited the text to aid comprehension.)
Please add to your timeline for the Trump campaign, Brad Parscale's meeting with POTUS on June 8th - see Parscale's Tweet, reported in the Guardian. Note that the President planned to travel to San Antonio on June 16th 2016, for a fund-raiser likely attended by key members of his web-hosting/internet data campaign management firm, Giles-Parscale.

Perscale is a long-time friend of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Is it a coincidence that Giles-Parscale suddenly hired an additional 100 programmers, 10 of whom were alumni of Computer Analytica?

A National Review article provides a brief view of the link between the Trump campaign and a Mercer backed computer analytics company founded by a U.K.-based oligarch whose fortune is linked to Putin's. (Also see here.)

The Guardian article offers Brad Parscale's picture of himself and the President in a June 8th tweet about his meeting with POTUS:
Great meeting with our next POTUS. I have the great honor to work for @realDonaldTrump daily #TrumpTrain @DanScavino
12:12 PM - 8 Jun 2016
According to mysanantonio.com on June 14, 2016:
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee hired Parscale in 2012 to build a website for Trump International Realty. Parscale went on to work on sites for Trump Winery, the Eric Trump Foundation and a site for Trump’s wife, Melania. Among Giles-Parscale’s other clients are the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, the Archdiocese of San Antonio and the University of the Incarnate Word. Trump will stop in San Antonio on Friday (June 16) for a private fundraiser likely to be held at Oak Hills Country Club on the city’s North West side.
To understand why the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign's web-hosting, campaign marketing, and data firm, Giles-Parscale, place Brad Parscale's tweet about his June 8, 2016, meeting w/ POTUS in context with Don Jr's tweets and the timeline of meetings w/ Russians. Now add...

1) Peter Thiel's (co-founder of Crunchbase, PayPal founder, Facebook board member)...
"It's hard to overstate and hard to summarize Jared's role in the campaign," says billionaire Peter Thiel, the only significant Silicon Valley figure to publicly back Trump. "If Trump was the CEO, Jared was effectively the chief operating officer."
...and 2) This quote from Eric Schmidt's, former CEO of Google.
"Jared Kushner is the biggest surprise of the 2016 election," adds Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who helped design the Clinton campaign's technology system. "Best I can tell, he actually ran the campaign and did it with essentially no resources."
Now consider Brad Parscale's role in leading the multi-state ad campaign for the Mercer funded non-profit organization, Make America Great Again, and look at the Trump campaign spending and the FBI's Annapolis MD raid on Strategic Campaign Group in May, 2017.

Who is leaking WH info, including Don Jr's emails...? Maybe someone in Giles-Parscale, not just Bannon. Many people are motivated to swing attention toward Kushner and away from Mercer-backed operators and interests.

Certainly, Giles-Parscale personnel will have a strong interest in turning state's evidence soon, but if you follow the money, all roads lead to Mercer family business, PAC, and non-profit investments and henchpersons (Bannon, Conway, Parscale, Thiel, Eric Trump's wife who works for a Giles-Parscale entity), not just Russia. Mercer's co-conspirators and minions have an incentive to frame Kushner.

Trump is in Kompromat bind. He was played through his greed and bottomless sense of entitlement. Does he really have any choice about who is sacrificed -- his sons, his daughter's husband?

Mercer family interests and entities advocate for a post-nationalist world with spineless, corrupt governments primed to do the bidding of a handful of wealthiest people in the world. Mercer organizations' debt to Russian intelligence is strong. Kompromat is a ponzi scheme where an inner cabal, a handful of players, will have agency to dominate world affairs. Everyone is either a pawn or player. In their de-constructed, cutthroat vision for world order, the ends justify the means. We all know by now that "make America great again" is just another lie.

Look twice at who is in the FBI's legal crosshairs...? For example, who has monetized criminal activity (e.g. RICO/money laundering... in NY) that they can lean on to turn state's evidence in a Russia interference in the U.S. election investigation?
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Comments:
Joseph, another mind-expanding post. Will follow links.

One link of my own is having read back in college, apparently digested, then forgotten the Hamilton piece you wrote about recently. It seems to have been forgotten, but it informed my political sensibility. So thanks for bringing it back.

The suberb book _Democracy in Chains_ tells an important part of the story of how such a plan has been and is carried out.
 
Wordsmith stuff…"Trump is in Kompromat bind. He was played through his greed and bottomless sense of entitlement. Does he really have any choice about who is sacrificed -- his sons, his daughter's husband?" end of quote.

"Bottomless sense of entitlement". Wow.
 
After reading about the Michigan primary and the outcome of the general election vote in the swing states, why am I reminded of Beverley Harris and Black Box Voting?
 
Hillary said as much in one of her interviews. Although I had a feeling she was thinking of Americans other than Rs as culprits.
 
So there were at least eight people at the meeting in Trump Tower:

Donald Trump Jr,
Jared Kushner,
Paul Manafort,
Natalia Veselnitskaya,
Rinat Akhmetshin (who first lied and said he wasn't there),
Rob Goldstone,
Anatoli Samochornov (interpreter),
a representative of the Agalarovs.

This is not the end of the story!
 
@b:
Yeah, that’s about the only conclusion that can be safely drawn… The representative of the Agalarovs was most likely Emin. Since there seems to be a consensus that Kushner and Manafort completely lost interest after just a few minutes, including in Veselnitskaya’s “plastic folder”, they must have come to the meeting knowing exactly what they were looking for. And I guess there were a lot more emails and messaging about the meeting.
-Brumel

 
At this point what prevents Hillary from starting a law suit to overturn the election? There is something like that at the the state level, I am sure an enterprising lawyer can find a way to extend it. I am sure within few hours they can secure a hundred millions signatures. Her silence is maddening.
 
I've been wondering along the same lines about law suits. Certainly there's an enormous class of millions who have been harmed.
 
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Jared Kushner's dad and a forgotten sex scandal

So much is going on! I didn't want to divert attention so soon from the previous post -- which may be very important -- but this tweet from Adam Khan has reminded me of the first time the name of Charles Kushner -- Jared's dad -- appeared in this blog. The elder Kushner played a role in a now-forgotten sex scandal which may tell us much about that clan.

The scandal involved New Jersey governor James McGreevey. Wikipedia offers the quickest summary of the case...
In early 2002, McGreevey was criticized for appointing his secret lover,[2] Israeli national Golan Cipel as homeland security adviser even though he lacked experience or other qualifications for the position. Cipel resigned but threats from his lawyers about sexual harassment lawsuits prompted McGreevey to announce, on August 12, 2004, that he was gay and would resign the governorship, effective November 15, 2004. This made McGreevey the first openly gay governor in United States history.
McGreevey was criticized for appointing as homeland security adviser Golan Cipel, because he lacked experience or other qualifications for the position. In addition, Cipel could not gain a security approval from the Federal government, as he was Israeli and not a U.S. citizen. McGreevey had met him in Israel during a trip there in 2000.
Of course, the public's attitude toward gays has become more civilized since 2002 -- yet even by current standards, this scandal is still scandalous. The governor gave an important security position to a foreign national with no applicable background.

Not only that. The remarkable Mr. Cipel, a man of no obvious talent, nevertheless moved in rarified circles even after leaving McGreevey's employ. Cipel was paid $7500 a month by construction magnate Daniel Tishman, whose firm built the World Trade Center.
At the time Mr Tishman hired Cipel, Tishman Construction Corp was seeking a contract with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority as construction adviser on the $1.3 billion Xanadu entertainment complex planned for the New Jersey Meadowlands Sports Complex, which was later approved by the Authority’s director, George Zoffinger (Gov McGreevey‘s appointee).

The contract is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Gov McGreevey, who had veto power over the board’s actions, allowed the contract to go through, perhaps as one last kiss-off to Golan Cipel—-or was it payoff for Cipel dropping the sexual harassment lawsuit?
Here's a tasty treat for you to savor: Tishman Construction was headquartered at 666 Fifth Avenue, a skyscraper owned by the company -- in fact, they had built it. Tishman sold it to Jared Kushner in 2007 (not exactly the best time for real estate investment). As everyone knows, he overpaid for the property and still must deal with the problem of being hideously over-extended.

The fact that Cipel used to work in a building now owned by Jared Kushner would be easy to dismiss as coincidence -- save for one thing: The magic Israeli has another link to the Kushner family.

Here's what I wrote back in 2009:
Cipel was brought to the United States under the auspices of New Jersey real estate mogul Charles Kushner, who eventually got into legal trouble and expected a pardon from the governor. No such pardon came, and shortly thereafter the affair with Cipel became public. To the best of my knowledge, no-one has linked Kushner to the current corruption probe, although he is closely linked to current governor Jon Corzine -- who (coincidentally) also happens to be a Goldman Sachs alum.
Previously, Cipel had worked as an "information officer" in the Israeli consulate. (If you've ever read any books about spies, you know what that means.) He then went back to Israel, where he met McGreevey, who was on a junket.

Cipel tried to blackmail the governor to the tune of $50 million. Today, Cipel claims that that the governor subjected him to repeated sexual assaults. Believe that if you will. Cipel has said that he never had sex with the Governor while the Governor insists that he and the Israeli made the beast with two parallel backs. Why would any major politician falsely claim that he had had a gay affair, when in fact he had not?
I was not the only one to voice suspicions that Cipel had subterranean links to Israeli intelligence; even Haaretz seemed to think so.

The Kushner family had a deep and longstanding relationship with Governor McGreevey, as this NY Magazine article details...
Golan Cipel was only a plaything. It was developer Charles Kushner who speeded his passage through the swamps of New Jersey patronage politics—till Kushner was brought down in his own spectacular sex scandal.
Kushner’s split with McGreevey had occurred almost nine months earlier, when Kushner was competing with Bruce Ratner to buy the New Jersey Nets. During a conference call that included the governor and two officials of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, Kushner laid out his proposal for the basketball team, and asked for a $25 million subsidy from the state.

According to sources familiar with the call, McGreevey responded in a very un-McGreevey-like way: He said no, a word he rarely spoke to anyone. Thoughtfully, he explained why the state couldn’t spend vast sums of public money to keep the Nets in New Jersey. Perhaps surprised by the governor’s intransigence, Kushner was “angry and bitterly disappointed,” according to someone on the call, and he apparently lost it. He went into a screaming tirade—everyone was stunned. When Kushner hung up, McGreevey calmly said to those around him, “Well, I guess I won’t have to put up with Charles Kushner anymore.”
Remember: Charles Kushner set up his own brother-in-law in a sex sting operation. That was his go-to play when dealing with a foe. It seems obvious that Charles Kushner wanted the governor of New Jersey to function as his puppet. When Pinocchio began to resent his strings, Kushner decided to acquire some kompromat. Even if we discount the oft-heard claim of a Cipel/Mossad link, we still have a very sordid story -- one which tells us a lot about the Kushner clan.

However, I still don't understand the weird Cipel/Tishman/666 Fifth Avenue linkage. What is it about that building? Why did Jared insist on overpaying for it?

Not only that. When Jared bought the building bearing that infernal address, he managed to squirrel away $300,000 for a very unusual purpose
Swill also said Kushner paid at least $300,000 from the deal into a separate bank account for financier Mark O'Donnell, the live-in boyfriend of former Gov. James McGreevey and now an investment officer with Kushner's companies.

Those payments, as well as others covering family loans and Kushner's personal mortgage, allegedly amounted to a "wrongful diversion" of the proceeds from a complicated purchase of 666 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan.
For some reason, the Kushner family felt obliged to make sure that McGreevey's lovers lived well -- and it all had something to do with that building.

(This post has been expanded and somewhat rewritten since original publication.)
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Comments:
Nice post, thanks! Here is MD voters are talking about some guy running for Governor who could possibly be the first openly gay governor...well, I guess the first to run as openly gay!

Ack, the Kushners. I'm thinking they overpaid simply to have the 666 address.
 
Wow! Good stuff here, Joseph--thanks for this. As a resident of NJ, I remember the McGreevey affair but I did not know of this element of it.


 
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Is this real? Trump, Russia, and a Facebook mystery

I haven't the time to write at length, but you'll definitely want to check out this thread on Democratic Underground. It concerns a couple of extraordinarily revealing Facebook posts allegedly written by Russian politician and Putin ally Konstantin Rykov. Basically, he says that the the conspiracy to elect Trump in America (and Marine Le Pen in France) began in 2012. 

Here are some excerpts -- and please understand that this text was probably washed through a Google machine translation:
What was our idea with Donald Trump?

In four years and two days.. It was necessary to get into the brain and capture all possible means of mass perception of reality. To Win Donald in the election of the president of the United States. After that, a political alliance between the United States, France, Russia (and other states) and a new world order will be established.
Donald has decided to invite the special science department at Cambridge University.

British scientists from Cambridge Analytica offered to make out of 5 thousand existing human psikhotipov - a "perfect image" of a possible supporter of trump. Then.. put this image back on all psikhotipy and thus find the universal key to each and every one.

The development ended up cost $ 5 million. But! He got his hands on a secret super weapon.

Who's doing a p.r. ad.. will know what that means.
It was further to upload these data into information flows and social networks. And we started looking for someone who could do better than others.

At the very beginning of Braves and romantic there was not much. Couple hacker factions, civil journalists from wikileaks and political strategist Михаил Kovalev.

The next step was to develop a system for the transfer of tasks and information so that no gebukha and nsa could burn it.

How can even people do not speak the language of each other, could exchange information quickly, understand each other with wise, feel trends and influence their development?

This system has been programmed for about a year. Another year went for tests and refinement. In the end. In a year with little, we set up "Mediafilʹtr" to everyone who was able to pull up our plot and on August 18, 2015 opened the trump-2016. Portal.
It all seems TOO good. Then again, I would have said the same of the DJT Jr. emails, if someone had sent me a transcript two weeks ago.

Let me emphasize: I am not saying that this material is real. To the contrary: I advise caution. I'm asking all interested parties to publicize and to research this matter, because the "group mind" can do what one person cannot. Perhaps these claimed Rykov posts are legit; perhaps they deserve to be tossed in the "fraud" bin.

Added note: The message from Rykov ends with these words:
August 19 In 9:00 I received a message from Vladimir Volfovich.
This is probably a reference to Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky, the infamous Russian fascist. He's a funny guy.
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Comments:
Dial that back to 2004. I have searched for the article but have been unable to find it. It lingers vividly in my memory now. V. Putin in an interview discussing Karl Rove's hacking the presidential election (particularly Ohio). I remember thinking, he's better informed than most of our citizens. Also, appears to have a decent understanding of probability and statistics.

Dial that back again to 1987. As detailed in the rather surprisingly gentle book Trumped!, about Trump's early days running casinos, Trump took an all expenses paid tour of the USSR. Two weeks w/ Ivana. Returned and was immediately bristling with political ambitions. Presidential even. Not one whisper about politics prior to this.

Question: who arranged the trip.*

*of note: Roy Cohn, his mentor, died of AIDS in 1986.
 
Why would a Putin crony post those things on Facebook? And why not a vKontakte?
 
Even Christopher Hitchens wrote about problems, at some length, with voting, and inaccurate voting machines in Ohio in 2004. Vanity Fair March 2005.

While this was somewhat known at the time, I don't think anyone considered outsourcing a possibility.
 
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Whodunnit? Plus: Pro-Bernie election-rigging

Many are wondering: Did someone within the White House aid the NYT investigation which uncovered the meeting between Jared Kushner, DJT Jr., Paul Manafort and Natalia Veselnitskaya?

Lawrence O'Donnell has hinted that Jared Kushner is the leaker. According to this theory, press attention paid to DJT Junior means that everyone will pay less attention to Jared Kushner, who is at far greater legal risk -- after all, it was Jared (not Donnie the younger) who lied on that security form. Would Jared sell out his own brother-in-law? Perhaps. Kushner's father went to jail for a crime committed against his brother-in-law.

Roger Stone hints that he blames someone with the initials "JK," which probably refers to Jared Kushner, although there are a couple of other possibilities.

I don't buy the Kushner theory, for one simple reason: The NYT stories have led to calls for his resignation. If Kushner had any sense, he'd go now.

Another weirdly popular theory blames Putin. If you believe that, then you may also be in the market for Trump's nutball allegation that Putin wanted Clinton to win.

Other theorists point to Corey Lewandowski and Mike "46" Pence. The former may be the classic disgruntled former employee, while the latter...well. Cui bono?

Rachel Maddow's show contained a segment outlining the possibility that Mike Pence may be as dirty as DJT Jr. when it comes to Russiagate. Fascinating! Perhpas the real plan is to rid the political world of both POTUS and his Veep. Perhaps the entire Trump presidency (both its creation and its undoing) is a massive Batman Gambit engineered by Paul Ryan -- who, being an unlovable Ayn Randian prick, knows full well that he has no other shot at the Oval Office.

I suppose it's possible that someone from Mueller's office is secretly feeding info to the press. The emails could have been acquired via warrant or subpoena. A plausible idea, this -- and very boring. Where's the palace intrigue, the backstabbing, the melodrama?

My favorite suspect remains Steve Bannon. This is the theory favored by Joe Scarborough, and for good reason.
He also claimed that Mr Bannon was the source of embarrassing leaks about Mr Kushner’s alleged Russia ties.

“Steve Bannon has been leaking – I believe, based on everything that I've heard – has been leaking these stories,” he said.

“People very close to Steve Bannon were telling me before the stories were leaked that he was going to be leaking these stories.”
The TV host said his sources told him that Mr Bannon had been bragging about how he was going to sideline Mr Kushner.

“Two days after I heard this – two days! – front-page New York Times story about the links between Kushner and Russia,” he added. “A coincidence? Absolutely not.”
As I've said before: Bannon heads up the Russiagate war room, in which capacity he may have been granted access to campaign-related emails and text messages. He has probably also established contacts with the mainstream press.

Is Bannon ballsy enough to attempt to separate Donald Trump from his own whelplings and whelpling-in-law? Yes. I would go so far as to opine that Bannon somewhat resembles a giant ambulatory testicle.

Did Russia rig the Michigan primary election for Bernie? This edition of the Palmer Report addresses the question.
Apart from the stunning general election swing state victories for Donald Trump, the only other truly shocking result in the entire 2016 presidential elect cycle was when Bernie Sanders won Michigan. It was the only other time in which the polls, and the pundits, ended up being wildly and inexplicably wrong. Hillary finished eighteen points worse than she was supposed to – and those kinds of things just don’t happen in presidential races. For reference, wasn’t a single other state in the Democratic Primary where the polls were off by more than a few points. And that Michigan primary changed everything. Bernie generally won the states he was expected to win, by the expected margins. Hillary generally won the states she was expected to win, by the expected margins. Then there was Michigan, one of the most insane outliers in election history.

When Bernie shockingly won the Michigan primary, it breathed new life into his campaign after he had just gotten blown out on Super Tuesday. Even though Michigan didn’t come close to putting him back into contention (he also got blown out in Mississippi that same day, for instance), the momentum from the upset meant he was able to stay in the race for much longer. If he had lost Michigan as expected, his donations would have dried up much sooner, and he’d probably have had to drop out at least two months earlier than he did.

Those two months prevented the Democratic Party from being able to formally unite behind Hillary during Donald Trump’s most vulnerable stretch. And as the Democratic primary dragged on into May and June, it created bitterness for all involved.
For a long time now, I've made no secret of my view that the MI primary was the most obviously fraudulent election this country has ever seen. But is there any evidence pointing to Russia? Nope. Not unless you count this tidbit:
Come to think of it, why was the Trump Tower email server only communicating with Russia and a Betsy DeVos-controlled company in Michigan?
Added note: The DJT Jr. phone call that nearly everyone missed. Last night, Chris Hayes devoted a segment to an interesting discovery (or deduction). The emails released by Donald Trump Jr. strongly indicate that Junior spoke to one or both of the Agalarovs on the phone on June 6, prior to the meeting with the lawyer in Trump Tower. No-one outside of MSNBC seems to have noticed that phone call...

...except for little old me. I mention it here.

The phone call is important because it undercuts Junior's claim that he had no idea what the lawyer was going to say. I think he's lying his ass off. So is the lawyer. So is Agalarov.
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I think that should be Whelpling or Whelp, rather than Whelping.

Bannon seems quite likely, but I wouldn't rules Putin out. I mean, what has Trump actually done for Putin? Those sanctions are still in place and Trump has said they will stay in place until the Crimea is returned. America has been made a laughing stock, certainly. Trump will continue to weaken America, but at some point there will be more to be gained by the spectacular collapse of the American government, possibly down to Ryan and beyond, than the continued comedy stylings of the Don.
 
I think the NYT’s usage of “adviser to the WH” should be taken very loosely, as people who have in a broad sense “advised” the WH in some matter. Most likely in the process of Kushner’s security clearance. I’m sure the NYT is reveling in all the speculation when it knows that they were just subordinate ranks.

However, I’m surprised how unscathed the figure of Rob Goldstone has been surviving this affair so far. I mean, who could invent a “Crown prosecutor of Russia” if not a Briton? And who could promote his client Veselitskaya with such a pretentious title if not a music promoter? Clearly Goldstone, for some reason that wasn’t of his own invention, trapped the Junior into this meeting. And I find it very, very odd that he attended the meeting himself (especially after having written to Don Jr: “I won’t sit in”).

I haven't seen this oddity noticed anywhere. Please consider: Kushner and Manafort were willing to discuss “highly sensitive information” that “is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump” - while some nondescript British music promoter was sitting in the room and listening??? Whatever it is, something can't be right here.
-Brumel
 
Michigan has had a long history of changing election outcomes in dubious ways. Is there something inherently wrong with the system there? Or is it such a swing state that it is targeted by those wanting to game the system?
 
If Natalia Veselnitsakaya doesn't know English, what was she doing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee on 14 June 2016, sitting behind former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul?

What client would pay for a lawyer to attend a legislative inquiry conducted in a language the lawyer doesn't understand"?

And by that time, had the hearing been completed for which, according to Rob Goldstone, her presence in court was supposedly required on 9 June? What case was that, anyway? What was her role in it?

I know she says in the document filed in the Prevezon case in January 2016 that she doesn't read or write English, but is it true?

The purpose of the story that when she went to meet Trump Jr and Manafort she was accompanied by "an interpreter", rather than being to support what she wrote in that earlier document, may be to pre-empt the revelation of the "interpreter's" identity.

"Who the fuck is THAT?" "Oh, that's just the interpreter".
 
Jr's emails were not campaign emails. It seems to me that there are really only four people with access to those emails, Jr, Kushner, Manafort and Goldstone. Trump did not raise the issue of sanctions at the G-20, Trump is talking about increased oil production here and Trump has not reversed the Magnitsky Act. It seems to me that Russia is letting Trump know who is boss and that they can destroy him any time they want.
 
Stephen: "Whelpling" is what I meant. Damn. I made the mistake TWICE. What next? Am I going to forget how many Ns are in "Cannon"?

Thanks.

Brumel: I've seen a few people notice the "crown prosecutor" oddity. I think that most people have simply decided that Rob isn't all that brilliant. I would love to know precisely what he did in Trump Tower. Did he hand with Der Donald himself? I mean...why NOT?

b: Thanks for the link. I've been doing some research into Natalia Veselnitsakaya. While I don't know how much English she really knows, I'm sure that she ties into the case of William Browder, which is really the business that gave rise to the Magnitsky case. I don't know what you may or may not have read about Browder, but there are several YouTube videos in which he talks about his experiences in Russia. He's a good speaker and the subject is fascinating. I think that Veselnitskaya wanted to tie Hillary in with Browder, not realizing that -- although Browder is considered a bad guy in Russia, he's considered a good guy here.
 
Brumel: I meant to write "Did he HANG with.."
 
What are the odds that DT was listening in to every word in that meeting room? He rushed back to Trump Tower in order to be in the building at the time of the meeting, and he's never had a problem with snooping before, include teenage beauty contestants. He regards everyone around him as an employee, or the potential target of a scam (or both).
 
No idea whether Goldstone hung with the Godfather but I am quite sure Fredo hung with Emin, who was also in New York (you can see him behind Veselitskaya in the congressional hearing video). After all, Emin had been the one to initiate the meeting in the first place, apparently using a special connection to Fredo. Who knows maybe this solves the mystery of the interpreter?
-Brumel
 
I'll have to read up on Browder and Hermitage.

I think Stone's "JK" hint was pre-prepared. Nobody thinks that fast.

Another candidate for leaker is Rob Goldstone. The following lines from one of his emails suggests that he is putting something on record for purposes other than communication with the other party:

"This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump (...). What do you think is the best way to handle this information (...) "

Emphasis added.

"Crown prosecutor" is strange usage. It makes me wonder what experiences Goldstone may have had with the criminal justice system in one or more of the very few jurisdictions that use this term.

I was going to write that although the Russian "republic" has as one of its symbols the double-headed eagle, it doesn't have a crown. But I would have been mistaken: it has three crowns, and an orb and sceptre too. The Bulgarian "republic's" arms go one better and have four crowns. We live in very strange times.

Got to wonder whether Trump believes he can make Don Jr his crown prince and hand over to him in 2025.

The NYT reports that the Trump Org took the coat of arms of Joseph Davies, third husband of Marjorie Merriweather Post, who had Mar-a-Lago built. They also spot that in Scotland he adds the two-headed eagle.
 
That stuff written by the Palmer report is 100% garbage. For God's sake, Joe I read your column all the time and you're better than this. I get it. You hate Bernie. You shouldn't because articles like the one you mentioned are designed to get people to hate Bernie. First off, he didn't win by 18 points. Second. there were dozens of states that were way off from the exit polls and ALL gave the win to Hillary. I do polling for a living. Here in MA, I watched in real time how they stole the election when Boston areas whose previous polls and exit polls showed a huge surge for Bernie, yet he lost by a huge margin instead. The same went for Iowa. Nate Silver himself could not figure out how Hillary won in these two states as well. There were at least a dozen states that Hillary way over performed. Bernie had two (OK was way higher than polls suggested). This is not debatable but fact. Look it up if you don't believe me. There are two cults going on right now and both are freaking dangerous. One is for Trump. The other is for Hillary. There is a lawsuit going on right now that alleges Hillary AND Trump both cheated. I would also like to say the general election was rigged AGAINST Hillary, as 23 states had their exit polls also not match Why do we bother doing exit polls if we keep ignoring the results? Bernie and his supporters are not the devil. As a matter of fact, I found them to be way more sane than the delusional Trump and Hillary supporters lately. I keep getting flack for reminding people HILLARY CHEATED! Again, an absolute fact. Bernie didn't. Please research your stuff better because this article was crap.
 
omg, it's going on 100 degrees here, do we have to also suffer St. Bernie cultitsts? Hillary won Massachusetts in 2008, too, dood, and the bros in power ignored the voters and handed the nomination to Obama. I was on the ground in 2008 and saw all the trucked-in Obama and Ron Paul bot traveling bros, and watched the campaigns freak out like headless chickens. The local support was all Hillary, bubble boy, as anyone on the ground could plainly see.

I suppose the preceding post was passed thru as a lark, but I'm just not in the mood to laugh at lunatics who think if Hillary won the states with ballots and voters of color, she "overperformed" and only the bully-caucus states were "fair" because loud white men, yay! The only chuckle I've gotten out of this was a recent meme showing a box of Crayola crayons in a special Bernie edition: all white. Berniebros' bald white savior with the hat...Palast...has been found by PolitiFact, the Nation, LA Times, etc, to be a liar. Pants on fire liar. Looks like he was desperate to make a comeback after his brief Florida 2000 recount fame, and he counted on you St Bernheads to be just enough, if not to catapult him back to minor notoriety, to at least keep him afloat. Run along now, and keep the...dream...aka delusion...alive!

 
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