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Monday, June 03, 2019

Epstein: Why the cover-up will continue

From the Daily Beast:
But in February of this year, a federal judge ruled the non-prosecution agreement (NPA), which was concealed from the victims and their counsel, violated the law, specifically the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. Now the feds are contacting victims to discuss possible remedies.

During these meetings, the government is reportedly asking one question in particular: Did Epstein’s abuse ever cross state lines?
In other words, the government is asking: Should this case be tried at the federal level?

Obviously, it should. I've studied the flight logs of Epstein's jets (he had two), which clearly show that the underaged Virginia Roberts and other girls accompanied him on various flights. Roberts went to both Epstein's New York palace and to his private island.

It must never be forgotten that Roberts, then 15, was recruited at Mar-A-Lago by Ghislaine Maxwell, who seems to have had some position of authority there.

(Despite what you've read elsewhere, there is no evidence that Roberts -- or any other Epstein girl -- ever shared a flight with Bill Clinton or that Clinton ever went to Epstein's island. Epstein gave Clinton a lift to various international conferences, and all of those trips were covered by journalists. You may also have run into a particularly bizarre claim that Stephen Hawking, of all people, attended Epstein's orgies. That absurd assertion traces back to a 2006 article which appears to have been just an exercise in dark humor -- albeit one in extremely poor taste.)

The evidence is clear that Epstein was involved not just in moving girls across state lines but in international trafficking. See here:
The private Caribbean island, called Little St James, allegedly became the scene of riotous orgies involving under-aged girls flown in from eastern Europe.
And here:
Which included, for the record: buying a 14-year-old Yugloslavian named Natalia Marcinkova from her parents in order to keep Marcinkova as his “sex slave”; paying a retinue of women to trawl Palm Beach for teenagers economically desperate enough to agree to give Epstein “massages” that often led to sexual contact; receiving two 12-year-old French girls as a “birthday present”; and befriending Michael Wolff.
(Wolff's in the news again, isn't he? We will talk about his latest soon.)

The same source quotes the Daily Beast:
Perhaps most disturbing, in terms of possible sex trafficking, was Epstein’s relationship with Jean Luc Brunel, owner of the MC2 modeling agency. According to a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, an alleged victim said that Epstein, [assistant and girlfriend Ghislaine] Maxwell, Brunel, [house manager Alfredo] Rodriguez, and Marcinkova ‘deliberately engaged in a pattern of racketeering that involved luring minor children through MC2, mostly girls under the age of 17, to engage in sexual play for money.’
Finally, I draw your attention to this important piece by Vicki Ward:
Epstein is known about town as a man who loves women—lots of them, mostly young. Model types have been heard saying they are full of gratitude to Epstein for flying them around, and he is a familiar face to many of the Victoria’s Secret girls. One young woman recalls being summoned by Ghislaine Maxwell to a concert at Epstein’s town house, where the women seemed to outnumber the men by far. “These were not women you’d see at Upper East Side dinners,” the woman recalls. “Many seemed foreign and dressed a little bizarrely.” This same guest also attended a cocktail party thrown by Maxwell that Prince Andrew attended, which was filled, she says, with young Russian models. “Some of the guests were horrified,” the woman says.
As I've noted on more than one occasion, when it comes to the trafficking of underaged women from eastern Europe, the name of one crime lord stands out: Semion Mogelivich. He controls that racket -- or perhaps I should say "controlled" in the past tense, since he's getting on in years. He's pretty much untouchable. And he can be connected to Trump through various associates, primarily Felix Sater. This story from 2004 is worth citing:
According to Friedman, "Mogilevich's lieutenants are trained in intelligence operations and countersurveillance, and provide warnings of impending police actions...." They are experts at compromising Western security services, especially by making secret agreements to provide information on rival crime groups. Mogilevich's organization blends East Bloc intelligence professionalism with arms smuggling, money laundering, extortion, prostitution, drug trafficking and murder. Meanwhile, Mogilevich's "former" East bloc intelligence professionals are teaching al Qaeda how to set up safe houses and smuggle weapons.
Lots of people on the right and the left love to talk about Epstein's fixation on underaged girls, but far fewer people are curious about an even more important matter: How did he make his money?

That question has baffled Epstein-watchers for many years. We are told that he is some sort of "money manager" who works solely with billionaires, none of whom are named. I am not the only one to speculate that Epstein launders money for eastern European mobsters and oligarchs, and that he may have used their ill-gotten gains to back his own investments. Frankly, no other theory makes sense.

Several sources claim that Mogelivich uses "his" girls to entrap VIPs around the world. (It's easy to imagine a situation in which a girl's age is not revealed to the target until the morning after.) According to Virginia Roberts, Epstein also uses "his" girls to obtain blackmail material on important people. 

And that's why I doubt that the Florida authorities will be allowed to expand the Epstein inquiry to the federal level. Trump will put a stop to it. He has no choice.

I've quoted these tweets from John Schindler in a previous post:
You need to understand real estate finance, and Russian organized crime AND Russian intelligence...if you do, the picture is quite clear. Mogilevich is the biggest mob boss in Russia -- maybe the world -- and his capos+footprints are all over the Trump Org since early 1990s.

Mogilevich launders money in the West, including the USA, on a gargantuan scale; he is clever and good at this. FBI knows all about it.

In 1992, Mogilevich sent a capo to NYC to run his US show. That was Yaponchik AKA Vyacheslav Ivankov, who was murdered in Moscow in 2009. Yaponchik/Ivankov -- for 3 years until the FBI caught up with him -- was dividing his time between Trump Tower & Don's Taj Mahal Casino. There are literally dozens of Russian OC scams, some gargantuan, that we know were based at Trump properties -- quite a coincidence.

The real issue is how Mogilevich made the Trump Org one of his overseas subsidiaries, de facto, back in the 1990s. FBI knows this too.

Also, Mogilevich has a very cozy relationship with Putin & his special services, going back to KGB days. They help each other non-stop. Not long after Sasha Litvinenko told reporters about Putin's close links to Mogilevich, FSB gave him atomic tea. Another coincidence. There's an old IC joke about Russian organized crime: "Who do you think organized them?"

Trump being in bed with ROC = in bed with FSB
We are in very deep waters here. Again: Trump cannot possibly allow any of this to come to light. If Epstein is cornered on a federal charge, he may talk.
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The simple fact is that in the late USSR the strongest organisation was not the CPSU (as countless western sovietologists assumed, both conservative and liberal) or the army (as Cornelius Castoriadis was led by ideological stubbornness to believe); it was the KGB. If the KGB had wanted to wipe the mafia out, they could have done. It would have been terribly bloody. Just sorting out the prison system would have meant widescale butchery, let alone the airports, antiques, hotels, sports clubs, car supply networks, legal system, and so on. Why didn't they? It's not because they were evil and it's certainly not because they were stupid. It's because the mafia was amazingly useful (it's really a no-bullshit world), because it was already essentially on the same page and involved in the same types of activity, and because if they had even begun to confront it they would have found they were setting something up that looked very similar.

In 1991 the KGB did not disappear like the party, nor did its leaders rush to flog off whatever they could, as certain senior army officers did. It got stronger. One can ask a question which goes even further than John Schindler's cited question regarding who organised Russian organised crime. Here it is: who organised all those regime changes in Eastern Europe?

Looked at from an FSB POV, the idea of Estonia in NATO is thigh-slappingly funny. The same can be said of Mogilevich's little possession Hungary (or wait - does he share some of it with George Soros?) and for that matter Poland.

(PS: Joe, some feedback: the ReCaptcha here drives me half mental.)

 
In 1994, Trump went to a party with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire who was a notorious registered sex offender, and raped a 13-year-old girl that night in what was a "savage sexual attack," according to a lawsuit filed in June 2016 by "Jane Doe." The account was corroborated by a witness in the suit, who claimed to have watched as the child performed various sexual acts on Trump and Epstein even after the two were advised she was a minor.

"Immediately following this rape Defendant Trump threatened me that, were I ever to reveal any of the details of Defendant Trump's sexual and physical abuse of me, my family and I would be physically harmed if not killed," Jane Doe wrote in the lawsuit, filed in New York.

The lawsuit was dropped in November 2016, just four days before the election, with Jane Doe's attorneys citing "numerous threats" against her.
 
Is the Nader indictment for child pornography related?
 
gadfly, I believe you are talking about the "Katie Johnson" case. I've written about that from the very beginning -- she was Katie before she was Jane -- and I've always been suspicious of it. One reason for my suspicion is that her tale was heavily pushed by Robert Morrow, a crony of Roger Stone.

I could swear that, around the time she withdrew, I ran into a story that revealed her real name. Can't find that article anywhere. Maybe memory is playing its usual tricks.

My earlier stories explain why I think that this story is a ringer. Bottom line, she reveals nothing that was not out there already, and her description of Trump is just too pat. The original complaint read like bad fiction.

As always, I'm willing to revise my opinion as new facts come out.
 
To Joseph, the creator of the most amazing artwork I've ever had the pleasure of viewing. Saw this on DU & thought of you:

https://www.chonday.com/16575/moneartist3/?




 
Joseph, seems that Aussie diplomat Alexander Downer (of the George Papadopoulos story) is part of a high level private company called Hakluyt staffed by former senior MI6 and NSA operatives: the Director of GCHQ, the Deputy Director for Cyber Defence Operations at GCHQ, the Deputy Director of the NSA and Nick Bidmead, who at one stage worked "as CEO of a Cambridge-based software company specializing in advanced fraud detection analytics."

The former NSA Deputy Director also ran a cyber security company called Darktrace with links to Cambridge University and UK intel groups.

Their International Advisory Board is unbelievably high level. And they are incredibly focused on cyber security.

>>> Hakluyt was caught out in 2001 funding a former German spy to infiltrate environmental groups in Europe allegedly on behalf of oil company clients and preparing analyses for an Australian mining group.

Most recently in 2012 it hit the headlines when one of its part-time investigators was murdered in a Chinese hotel room under mysterious circumstances involving a high-level Communist Party figure and claims of espionage.<<<

Trump fans are claiming these guys have been "fitting up" Trump over his Russia connections (ignore) but Hakluyt is still an incredibly interesting company. Cheers.
 
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Friday, May 31, 2019

Let's talk Turkey

Eric Swawell:
"The question we have to ask is, would Donald Trump sell America's secrets to protect his own secrets? I think it's likely this guy's always looking to protect himself."
Indeed. Let's talk Turkey.

That country -- run by the authoritarian Tayyip Erdogan -- has purchased the S-400 missile system from Russia. They also bought some stealth jets from us. That's a problem, because those missiles were designed to shoot down those jets.
US officials were concerned that Ankara's purchase of the missile system would put advanced stealth F-35 fighter jets, which Turkey has also ordered, at risk because Moscow could steal sensitive information through the system's radar.

Confident of their assessment on the dangers posed by the missile system, US defence officials had refused to participate in the study group multiple times over the course of the past two months.
"Moscow could steal sensitive information through the system's radar"...? I'm not quite sure what that means, and I'm not sure that I want to know the specifics. But the basic point is clear enough. This situation is dangerous. According to the Russian news site Sputnik,
Ever since Ankara inked an agreement with Russia to buy S-400 defence systems in December 2017, Washington has been pressuring it into abandoning the deal. The US has threatened to halt the delivery of F-35 jets ordered by Turkey and even to boot it out of NATO, if it doesn't follow the demands.
To resolve this problem, Russia and Turkey wanted to create a study group. In all likelihood, this study group would have allowed the Russians to plumb the secrets of our F-35. That's why the DOD has resisted pressures to participate in this study group.

At least, that's the story told by most sources, including the Middle East Eye, quoted above. Sputnik gives a slightly different account:
Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on 31 May that he is unaware of plans to create a joint working group with Turkey on the S-400 issue, which were reported on earlier in the day.

"I haven't heard of the joint study group", he said during the Asia Security Summit in Singapore.

Shanahan reiterated his stance on the problem with Turkey's acquisition of Russian air defence systems, arguing that the S-400 is incompatible with the F-35 and that therefore the US shouldn't sell the latter to Ankara.

"The S-400 is designed to shoot down the F-35. They are natural enemies, that's the fundamental reason", he said.
With one phone call, Trump overcame all resistance. The study group will proceed. In all likelihood, Turkey will acquire both the Russian weapon and the F-35.

Turkey and Russia are not partners -- there are serious points of contention, particularly in Syria -- but that doesn't mean that Turkey should be considered a reliable ally of the US.

This isn't the first time Trump has acted abruptly and impulsively in his relations with Turkey. You may recall that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quit when Trump, against the advice of his military advisers, told Erdogan that the US would pull out of Syria.

You may also recall reports that Michael Flynn, while working for the Trump campaign, had hoped to arrange the kidnapping (and likely execution) of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania and whom Erdogan considers a threat. The BBC says that the Turkey offered Flynn $15 million. Flynn was an unregistered Turkish lobbyist during this period.

Are similar "behind the scenes" arrangements at work today?

Most Americans don't know that Trump does a substantial amount of business in that country. One (or is it two?) of the largest skyscrapers in Istanbul are the Trump Towers, which are two conjoined structures bearing his name. The property is actually owned by Turkish billionaire Aydın Doğan, who has a licensing deal with Trump. During a low spot in Turkish/American relations, Erdogan asked for the removal of Trump's name from the building, but the sign remains.

The exact nature of the deal between Doğan and Trump remains maddeningly opaque, as is ever the case with all things Trump. However, Trump himself admits that a conflict of interest exists. From a November, 2016 L.A. Times article:
Trump admitted in a radio interview last December that he had a conflict of interest in dealing with Turkey because he has property there.

"I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul," Trump said. "It's called Trump Towers. Two towers, instead of one. Not the usual one, it's two. And I've gotten to know Turkey very well."
Does this admitted conflict of interest have any connection to Trump's willingness to go along with a deal which, according to our military experts, will expose important secrets of our stealth technology?

How would the rightwingers react if Obama did such a thing?

When will people in the DOD recognize the danger posed by a president whose loyalty to the United States is, to put it mildly, questionable? 

A final note on gerrymandering. I am increasingly convinced that the Trump administration is founded on a Big Damn Secret. This Secret has little to do with Russia. It's something else.

This Big Damn Secret explains why all Republicans have bent the knee, and why Bush and Trump (who hate each other) worked together to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

The Big Damn Secret is the GOP's history of election manipulation. I believe that the problem goes beyond the caging tactics that Greg Palast talks about, although those tactics are definitely important. I also believe that the problem goes beyond gerrymandering, though gerrymandering is also very important.

I believe that actual rigging of voting equipment has occurred. Key Republicans understand that, if Trump is ousted, he will blab about The Secret, and history will label more than one president as illegitimate. That's why so many Republicans who otherwise dislike the Great Vulgarian are willing to do as he demands.

I state this as my personal theory, not as established fact. Some will consider me a left-wing analog to Alex Jones. Still, the recently-uncovered gerrymandering files go a long ways toward demonstrating that my theory is not so far-fetched as it may seem.
In February, attorneys challenging North Carolina’s legislative gerrymander notified the defendants, a group of Republican leaders in the legislature, that they’d issued a subpoena. The lawyers had asked Stephanie Hofeller Lizon to provide “any storage device” containing redistricting-related documents left by her estranged father, Thomas Hofeller, a Republican consultant who specialized in gerrymandering. Republican legislators did not object, and Lizon turned over the requested materials: 18 thumb drives and four hard drives containing more than 75,000 files—many related to her father’s consulting work. The voting rights attorneys had uncovered a vast trove of information exposing the inner workings of GOP gerrymandering across the country.
This race-based gerrymandering plan may not be the only bombshell on those thumb drives. Will we learn about other forms of election tampering? Perhaps not; gerrymandering was Hofeller's specialty. Nevertheless, I remain convinced -- for a host of reasons -- that election tampering is real.
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The S400 is a set of missiles designed to attack aerial targets at various ranges. It has a radar system to detect targets,as well as the missiles having radar systems built in. American stealth planes work by being made of materials which absorb radar signals and reduce the strength of the returning signal, hence making the plane visible only at shorter ranges.Radar absorbent materials only work against certain wavelengths and the Russians already include long range radar on their fighters to detect stealth planes. I'm sure the Russians would like to be able to test their radars against an actual American plane, but they'll do that in the wild soon enough.
 
Remember the howls of republican outrage when Bill Clinton OKed placing US made satellites atop Chinese rockets?
Remember how when one exploded republicans accused Chinese of a deliberate act for the purpose of salvaging the destroyed satellite for electronics technology?
Remember when republicans were moral and decent?
A long time ago.
 
Trump, who will be in Britain next Monday to Wednesday, recently gave an interview to the Sun newspaper, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

The first observation is that Trump is clearly mentally ill in a way that deprives him of all but a very low level of intellect. Ronald Reagan had a small intellect and George W Bush an even smaller one, to the point of being called borderline subnormal, but as far as I know neither of these dimwitted Republican predecessors of the current US president was mentally deranged. Trump is. I doubt he can hold a conversation with any sane person without that fact becoming clear within 30 seconds.

Repeatedly saying he is "great", and that any man whom he wants to flatter is also "great", as if his approval were what they seek most in the world, and implying that his endorsement would be worth a large number of "points" to any candidate for the Tory leadership who might receive it, suggests...well it suggests Trump doesn't know his arsehole from his elbow but gobs off regardless - a man without any self-consciousness. For all I might say about the US regime I do not believe that such a nutcase will be allowed to be in control of its nuclear arsenal, its government treasury, or anything that he might break or use at a time that those who would otherwise pocket loads of money out of such an action would find inconvenient.

The second observation is that he praises Britain's military spending. That is important. Britain's defence strategy is kind of in suspense at the moment. There was a defence review, it got binned, it wasn't called a defence review, and then you had Salisbury. The idea of a "small" war between Britain and Russia was certainly put in the air for a while, including through the Royal United Services Institute and the media. At one point the defence secretary called Brexit a good opportunity for fighting wars against Russia and China. Some time later the same defence secretary was hoiked out of office - not as an immediate result of making such an amazing statement that would have shamed Joseph Goebbels, but for allegedly leaking information concerning a decision regarding Huawei that had been taken by Britain's National Security Council. Increasing British military spending, perhaps by as much as 50% (and that is if a war against Russia doesn't break out), in combination with leaving the European Union (a combination that amounts to the British elite opening its bowels and giving the British population the "free bath" of its lifetime) is, it seems to me from Salisbury and from Trump's recent goboff, a goal that the gang behind Trump may well be rather interested in. War money may be a large part of the reason why British "politics" has been brought to the stage it's at now, when most serious observers would nod to the proposition that "anything might happen". I find it quite interesting that Trump visits Britain during the short period of time between the Brexit Party's success in the EU election and what will surely be the same new party's success in the Peterborough by-election, in which residents of that constituency will vote the day after Trump flies out. Any idea which contracts and weapon types might fit with this hypothesis, @Stephen?

"Asked if he would like all the candidates (for the Tory leadership) to make the same pledge on military spending, he added: 'I think it’s a good thing. I think it's great for the UK, and it would be part of trade. We make the greatest military equipment in the world. The UK should be able to defend themselves. It’s a great and very special place.' The President made reference to golf courses he owns on this side of the Atlantic. He said: 'As you know, OK, so, I own Turnberry, it’s a great place, one of the most beautiful.]"

He's gaga!
 
If memory serves me well, a number of seemingly well-qualified statisticians who have followed the "red shift" phenomenon, in which almost all the variances when a candidate wins a vote by a margin well outside the margin of error of reliable exit polls have broken for Republicans, consider it a virtual certainty that something is rotten. The most likely theory is that Republicans have been able to successfully manipulate the results of central tabulators (evidently much easier that trying to corrupt a huge number of voting machines) in key districts.
As careful readers of this excellent blog might recall, one theory I put forward some time ago
was that what the Russians actually accomplished with their successful voting equipment hacks was not to change the results themselves...but to uncover evidence that the Republicans have been doing exactly that. If kompromat like that has, indeed, been passed on to team Trump, it would explain an awful lot.
All of which is to say that - although I have zero evidence - I'm definitely with Joseph on this one!
 
Democrats waste too much time calling Trump a Racist and rallying everyone to believe the same. If a country has a Trump Hotel or two, that country is on his good country list.

If a country does not have a Trump hotel or two, that country is on Trump's shithole list. It's a bit frightening that is how his mind seems to work at ALL times. I am guessing because he has always been barely ahead of his creditors and had so much debt forgiven in the past, he is literally a broke billionaire and continues to fixate on Profits for his own Personal Empire.

 
Good stuff on the conflicted Mafia Don. Gerrymandering, on the other hand, was began by Democrat Elbridge Gerry who started the redistricting scam way back in 1812 when he was Governor of Massachusetts. So neither Trump nor Bush are original thinkers here and pointing fingers is totally inappropriate. I also believe that the decennial census count has far outlived its usefulness in the new world of electronic data compilation.

And when the deliberate combination of Crook A and Crook B happens to be Donald Trump and Wilbur Ross, you get headcount manipulation and tariffs, tariffs, tariffs designed to extract rents from unsuspecting followers of the insane adolescent septuagenarian - and in the process, all the rest of us taxpayers.

Repubs say, "but look at the economy" and I say, look at the economy in 18 months when we vote, provided the Democrat candidate is not screaming "healthcare, climate disaster and socialism." A walk on the wild side with Warren, Bernie, Booker and Beto is too far off-the-wall, so I am betting on Kamala or "Hands." I can understand Boot Edge Edge (as Trumpy calls him) hanging on but eventually he won't get the money he needs and Meany Amy got off on the wrong foot but those other baker's dozen or so need to drop out now.
 
BAe are now one of the US military's leading contractors. Mainly components and support services. It would be standard for a Trump trade drive to increase the US trade deficit.
 
@Alessandro - Re. Trump hotels, there's one in Baku in Azerbaijan. That's my go-to country for testing hypotheses about the geopolitics of Shia versus Sunni, followed by Bahrain. Arabs versus Persians is more like it IMO.
 
Is there a Trump Map that shows all of his holdings throughout the world? I would be curious to see if he simply ignores or scorns the countries he has no business ties to and focuses primarily on countries he has business dealings with.
Now that would be an impeachable offense in my opinion.
 
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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Why did Mueller hide THE key fact? Plus: Lying about Biden


Hate to say "I predicted this," but I predicted this. Months and months ago, I wrote that Bob Mueller exemplifies the axiom that every general prepares to fight the previous war, not the present war. His approach has always been "Squeeze those lower down in the criminal hierarchy and they will sing about Mr. Big." That approach won't work when Mr. Big has the power of the pardon.

It is abundantly clear that Mueller could not make his case on conspiracy because Trump offered pardons in exchange for shut mouths. True, Trump may not have made that offer openly and directly, but anyone reading his tweets should have been able to comprehend the thuddingly-obvious message.

Moreover, there are plenty of indications that such offers were made behind the scenes. In the case of Michael Flynn, we even have voicemails. This DU reader spotted an oft-overlooked nugget in the superseding indictment of Flynn:
“The defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could affect both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation. The defendant even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication.”
Did you hear anything about this in Mueller's statement yesterday? No, you did not.

If you listened very carefully, you may have caught a hint of a whisper of a semi-subliminal suggestion that witness tampering played a role in the deep-sixing of Mueller's case. Nothing stopped Mueller from making this claim forthrightly and unmistakably. He should have shouted the truth; instead, he tried to get his point across via ESP. Maybe he should have played a tape recording of one of those voicemails right there on camera. At the very least, he could have stated that such evidence exists.

Mueller's insistence on keeping this ultra-important fact veiled is unfathomable. In essence, he is protecting Trump.

And what is Mueller getting in return? Trump just blasted him as a "true Never Trumper." (Weirdly enough, Trump also used the occasion to go after John McCain again.) Deliciously, the president also admitted -- briefly -- that Russia helped him get elected. Meanwhile, all of the Red Media propagandists are painting "Satan horns" on Mueller's forehead; here is a particularly hellish example.

I still say that Mueller was compromised. 

Let's talk about Biden.
I don't have the heart to get too emotionally involved in the horse race because I really believe that Trump has it locked up. (Hey, it's me. I always bet on the worst possible outcome.) But some of you may be curious to know who I favor.

Right now, I can't make up my mind between Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Warren has the policies I like, particularly on the topic of student loans -- although she should also propose to do something about overpaid college administrators. (Why should taxpayers fund those leeches?) As for Harris: Her questioning of Barr was transcendentally sublime. They say that a politician must campaign in poetry and govern in prose; if that's true, then I must ask you: Is there a finer poet in this field?

I also admire some of the less-discussed candidates.

Montana governor Steve Bullock may have the best chance of winning over the rural voters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and elsewhere who gave the last election to Trump. His record is good -- as good as one can expect from a Dem in a red state. He favors affordable health care and clean elections. Plus, he reminds me of Joel McCrea -- the exemplar of the honest, plain-spoken westerner.

Cory Booker is another guy I just plain like. No-one in this country has mounted a more compelling argument for Trump's impeachment. When it comes to the poetry of politics, he's almost as gifted as Harris. And when he was mayor of Newark, he managed to increase affordable housing while reducing the deficit. That's an important factor, given all the hot checks that Trump has been writing.

As for Biden...

Well, I've always liked Biden, but I don't want him to win the nomination. He has (as mentioned in a previous posts) a deep, dark, dopey secret which will open him up to ridicule once it is revealed, as will inevitably occur.

Besides, age is a factor. That admission is not an easy one for me to make, given the grayness -- increasingly, the whiteness -- of my beard.

That said, I do feel compelled to defend the man against various unfair attacks. That crime bill? It was supported, at the time, by the Congressional Black Caucus. We can't allow that fact to go down the memory hole. The people complaining about black incarceration rates rarely mention that most of those convictions are on state charges.

As for Anita Hill: Biden did nothing wrong and should never have apologized. Here we have yet another of those situations where pure repetition has convinced many people that someone did something horrible even though few can cite any specifics.

(Hillary is another victim of this phenomenon. Next time you hear someone insult her, ask: "What, exactly, did she do?" Nine out of ten times, the insulter will sputter like Porky Pig. After a few seconds of sputtering, you'll probably hear some crap about Vince Foster. And pizza.)

When it comes to specifics, Anita Hill's actual complaint is that Biden did not allow other witnesses to come forward to support her claims. Here's the part that she's not telling you: The credibility of those other witnesses was questionable. The Republicans wanted them to appear on camera and to become the story. Biden did Hill a favor by making sure that the she remained the story.

In this instance, it's instructive to see how the right interprets the same set of facts. This writer in the Federalist castigates Biden not for impeding Hill but for bending the rules to help her.
On “The View,” one interlocutor told Biden that people were upset he hadn’t allowed other women to testify against Thomas. He explained that he tried to get them to testify, but there were problems and that forcing them to testify may have been worse for Hill. He was understating wildly, referring to the last woman mentioned in this summary of problems with Hill’s alleged witnesses:
Hill’s four alleged corroborating witnesses provided very weak testimony. One witness told Committee staff that the alleged harassment happened before Hill ever worked for Thomas. Another witness claimed that Hill had no political motives to oppose Thomas because she was a conservative who fully supported the Reagan Administration’s civil rights policies. This representation was false. Angela Wright, who many claimed would provide similar testimony as Hill, declined to testify because of serious credibility issues related to her motives and her previous efforts to falsely accuse a supervisor of racism.
Much revisionist history has been drafted by partisans who oppose Thomas’s judicial philosophy. It’s true that Biden did his best to help Hill, including concealing witnesses who would have been a disaster under examination.
Get it? The Republicans wanted Wright and the others to testify. Biden tried to help Hill.

Younger people are being given the false idea that Biden was the one who grilled Hill mercilessly. Actually, that role was played by Arlen "Single Bullet" Spector -- and no, there was nothing Biden could have done to shut Spector's vile mouth.

Some Hill supporters are engaging in pure anti-white racism:
“I know that we have been cultured to feel that only the white man can save us,” organizer Roxy D. Hall Williamson said at the event. “I just don't feel like Biden is our answer.”
In other words, Roxy D. Hall thinks that it's fine to judge a person by the color of his skin. And no, we have not been "cultured" to think any such thing. May I remind you of the Obama presidency? May I remind you that Hillary won the popular vote?

I believed Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings, and I still do. But the woman I admired then is not the woman I see now. The woman I see now is trying her best to re-elect the president. She's not the least bit frumpy, but she's more than a little bit Trumpy.
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On Biden...

Biden appears most electable at present, and that is job 1 in 2020. Policy objectives, however attractive (and I agree with you about Warren, are secondary. In fact, policy objectives are moot if Trump wins.

I can't see Biden serving more than one term because of his age, and I think that's acceptable at his age. He will no doubt appoint a younger, "femaler," "gayer," and/or browner running mate as a hand-off to the future, non-white, non-male demographics of Democratic leadership.

What maddens me about Biden is that, so far, he appears to be running Hillary's campaign. Only one policy statement so far -- education -- and nothing on higher education (student loan debt, affordable college, etc.). Those same policy proposals could have been made by Clinton 2008, Clinton, 2016 -- or Clinton 1996, for that matter. Milquetoast politics for a scorched-earth campaign season. Not impressed so far. If he keeps this up, he could descend even to the depts of Gore 2000 campaign ineptitude.
 
We in some kind of bizarro, MSNBC talking head warning dire consequences of impeachment. Didn't republicans win Senate and White House after impeaching Clinton?
They had the House.
 
When are we gonna get the long-hinted Biden story?
 
Lenny, I've discussed the matter with two people who are, shall we say, politically aware and somewhat well-known, at least within certain circles. Neither one expressed any doubts about my facts. (They may have HAD such doubts, but if they did, they kept them to themselves.) Both advised me not to say anything. If the story comes out through some other means, I'll tell the whole story. Suffice it to say that I found out purely by accident.
 
Obvs, don't know who gave that advice...but if it's true it will come out anyway you'd be doing everyone a favor (including Biden) by getting it out early. Except perhaps yourself, I suppose.
 
I posted sequential comments on your earlier Mueller story, the second of which went astray. Essentially, I pointed to Ken White's Atlantic article on the press conference as further argument Mueller doesn't think he's burying a thing: It's in the report; it's one of the instances of possible obstruction; and it's up to damn Congress to pull out their goddamn thumbs and actually do their jobs.

I still believe wanting Mueller to go beyond his remit and condemn Trump explicitly is foolhardy: Aside from the fact is isn't going to happen, doing so would only feed #realDonaldWimp's already morbidly obese persecution complex. Also in The Atlantic, David Frum argues impeachment, itself, doomed is it inevitably would be, is also a bad idea, politically. Argues less convincingly, perhaps -- although part of that might be ascribed to my reluctance to agree with Frum about anything -- but not without merit.
 
Oops. c/max/maz
 
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Is Mueller compromised?

Has Robert Mueller been compromised in some way? The simplest explanation is usually the best, and the "compromise" theory is the simplest way to explain the bizarre spectacle we just witnessed.

Here is a man who clearly believes that the president committed a crime. His report says as much. He states that he found insufficient evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, but he also says in his report that there was interference in the investigation. If his witnesses had cooperated, he surely would have been able to make the case. There is only one possible explanation as to why Trump openly dangled pardons: He's guilty. An innocent president would not have told Manafort (for example) to keep his mouth shut.

Yet Mueller is not acting the way one would expect him to act. He's not taking action at all.

If you believe that the president is a crook, you do something. You take chances. You make bold moves. You ignore precedent. You have no choice but to try to change history, even if doing so leaves you open to the inevitable charges of grandstanding. (Such things are said of all who try to change history.)

Mueller is not doing anything. A former Marine is now as inert as a barnacle.

I don't think that he has lied on Trump's behalf or that he is Trump's stooge (in the sense that Barr clearly is). Compromise, if it exists, extends only so far. But Mueller has couched his truth in excruciatingly careful verbiage which gives Democrats a glimpse of what really occurred, while at the same time allowing Trump to spin, spin, spin. This verbal parsing lets Trump create an alternative reality for his dim-witted hordes of wrestling fans, Bible-thumpers, Fox Newsers and Alt Rightists.

Mueller understands very well what Barr and Trump are up to, yet Mueller has just made clear that he won't expand or elaborate. He has signaled that, if dragged before Congress, he will remain maddeningly opaque.

Here's a key example of important things left unsaid: Today, we heard nothing -- nothing! -- about the claims relayed in Wolfe's new book that Mueller initially laid out an obstruction indictment. Although I have long had a skeptical attitude toward Wolfe (and had expressed those doubts well before Trump ran for office), I must note that this new claim is apparently buttressed by independent documentation.

How the hell are we supposed to square this with what Muller said today? Why on earth would Mueller refuse to address such an important issue?

He stated that he always felt bound by the Justice Department's opinion that a sitting president cannot be indicted. He even stated that any action contrary to this opinion would be "unconstitutional," which is a clear lie. An opinion is not a clause of the Constitution. What section of the Constitution can Mueller cite?

There are many other questions that need responses, questions not adequately addressed by the report itself: What about the counterintelligence investigation? What about Trump's finances? Did Mueller look at Trump's taxes -- and if not, why not? What about the claim that Obama "spied" on Trump? What about Barr's Stalin-esque threat to besmirch the origins of the probe? What about Barr's gross mischaracterization of the report?

Mueller's refusal to provide answers is not reticence. It's not rectitude. It's not professionalism. It is...something else.

Whatever it is, it's infuriating.

Why is he acting this way? The standard answers to that question no longer satisfy me.

Everyone has a pressure point. Everyone can be compromised or blackmailed or threatened or manipulated. No human being is that saintly -- not even the saints themselves, if you examine their biographies. No human being can achieve high position without hiking through a moral grey area or two.

Moreover, we all have loved ones. Even if you have no failings, you surely love someone who does.

Think of the many forces -- the Russians, the Republicans, Cambridge Analytica, the Israelis, the Saudis, the international fascist movement, and probably a large sector of American intelligence -- which have scoured every molecule of Robert Mueller's existence, looking for any chink in the armor. We know that they wanted to launch a "Me Too" attack, and they were even willing to pay for false claims. Although that attempt came a-cropper, the incident told us that the Trumpists have compiled a list of every female who has ever crossed paths with Robert Mueller.

I'm not saying that there really is a "woman problem." I'm simply saying that the Trumpers put in that kind of effort. The Russians have been trying to intercept the man's private communications ever since he first came to public life. Perhaps they found something. Can you be sure that they didn't?

When you think about it, Mueller has had a relatively easy time of it in the Trumpist media. Sure, the Office of Special Counsel has been attacked by Limbaugh and his cohorts, but the attacks always felt a bit limp and pro-forma to me. They weren't really out for blood. Mueller has not really felt anything like the hate campaigns directed at Andrew McCabe, James Comey, Lisa Page and others.

Why didn't Trump shut down the Mueller probe? Why did Trump's lap dogs on the Hill (I'm thinking, in particular, of Lindsey Graham) continue to support Mueller?

Added note: It is instructive to compare Muller's performance today with Lawrence Walsh's press conference after completion of the Iran-Contra investigation. At the time, everyone derided Walsh as weak and insufficient. But Walsh was a Goliath compared to Mueller.

Congress should drag Robert Mueller and everyone connected with that probe in front of the microphones. Show no deference. Treat 'em as hostile, if need be.
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Comments:
I listened to Mr. Mueller with great interest. I thought it was very odd also. As he stated he was leaving public service, perhaps not wanting to live in fear for himself and especially family, this may be a easier way to leave things. If further action is to taken, it the duty and obligation of Congress to pursue further. Outside of goverment employment is a different unrestrictive life also.
 
Yeah, I got a similar impression. Just the fact that he was saying he wouldn't add anything at all to what the report contains if made to testify before congress, the fact that he is planning to leave government entirely now, it just all seems a bit fishy. Also, as you said, his words lend support to both the left and the right in the case, giving them both talking points that will be true in both cases. In other words, he basically said nothing that will give either side the advantage, and certainly not enough to force congress to act.
 
Can Trump make Mueller's Pension go away?
 
Ironically, the best explanation of Mueller's conference today comes from Ken Star, who argues that Walsh- and Starr-like histrionics are no longer an option. Essentially, Mueller did exactly what Mueller can do and still remain within his DOJ-permitted boundaries.

For once, here's something one can correctly blame on the Clinton Administration....

And, reluctantly, I agree with his deference on the side of caution: No matter how viscerally satisfying it might have been to see him stand up and say, "Trump is as dirty as he's always been," even a toe over the line would be the camel's toe [ahem] under the tent, as far as Lindsay Graham-like vermin go.

Unfortunately, that forces us to place our hopes on Congress, with a clown car-full of Democratic hopefuls chasing the cameras on one side and a whole raft of feckless Republicans who hitched their wagon to Trump's star, only to discover too late it was the reflector on the back of his dung cart,. on the other.
 
Well of course Mueller's compromised! Who in the deep (and not so deep) state isn't, if they want to survive and prosper? Don't you remember what happened just a few days after he settled into Clyde's late "husband's" big comfy chair?

Or are you still suffering from that oh-so-bitter confirmation-bias delusion, from back in the day, that you should have grown out of by now, Joe, after all that's gone down in the uber-bloody intervening years?
 
Maz, Itr's Dose Clintons, it's always dose Clintons who are to blame.
 
Unseemly Presidential conduct -- like failing take significant actions against a foreign power that continues to use active measures to interfere with U.S. democratic elections -- is an impeachable offense and Congress' schtick, not Mueller's or DOJ's.

Mueller has led the life of an exemplary U.S. citizen: there is no possible incentive for him to succumb to the kind of "moral vandalism" that characterized the Trump campaign and continues to plague the GOP, Trump's inner circle, and the President's actions in office. *'moral vandalism' is a Corey Booker term, 5/29/19, MSNBC.

No decoupaged smear campaign can tarnish Mueller's voice, his record of public service in war and peace, or his intimate, experiential knowledge of the price paid by those who willingly made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our nation and its democratic system of Constitutional laws drafted to explicitly protect and serve the interests of the citizens of this country.

It's Congress' Constitutional duty to take action to investigate impeachment after publication of clear evidence establishing dereliction in executing duties of the office of President. Whether Mr. Trump has failed to defend the nation from our enemies, failed to take action to investigate violation of U.S. laws and /or foreign interference in U.S. affairs, overstepped Constitutional powers, used the office for self-dealing, and/or violated his oath of Office, Mueller made clear the U.S. needs to conduct an impeachment inquiry now.

Mueller's words today were a pointed rebuke to AG Barr, but they were an even stronger rebuke to Congress and Speakers Pelosi and McConnell. "We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime...there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. That allegation deserves the attention of every American."

Mueller clearly defined what he could not do as Special Counsel: charge a sitting President with crime. The important point Mueller made today is that the report is the map for a path forward for this nation.

Acting on the findings of the S.C. investigation and report is Congress' job. Evidence in the S.C. report requires Congress to do its duty and serve as a check on the Executive Branch.

Based on Mueller's statement today, Congress has no choice but to take action to open an impeachment inquiry. This was an explicit call for non-judicial action: "...we know our Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system..."(e.g. impeachment)"...We did not, however, make a determination of whether the President did commit a crime..." (which can be prosecuted after the President is out of office).

The role of law enforcement is to gather evidence. The evidence in the S.C.'s report is sufficient to charge Congress with doing their duty to act as a check on the Executive Branch -- regardless of the House and Senate's reluctant members and leaders' craven desires to put Politics above Nation.

Returning from retirement, Mueller has led a disciplined, close-mouthed, by the book, two year DOJ investigation which resulted in many indictments and convictions, concluded with publication of a thorough, well-documented report. He handed off prosecutable criminal evidence to legal jurisdictions where laws were broken. He also explicitly handed Congress evidence for opening an impeachment inquiry.
https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/05/29/watch_live_special_counsel_robert_mueller_to_make_statement.html
dataflo
 
I think we were watching different press conferences. Mueller said quite clearly that Congress should investigate and impeach Trump and Barr. I don't know how much clearer he could have been.
 
What makes any of you think congress is going to do a damn thing? It's quite obvious they are not going to. Certainly Mitch will never allow an impeachment hearing to go forward. I'm not really sure what more Mueller could have done, but as Joe has pointed out, there was no law, no regulation, preventing him from indicting Trump. He knows as well as the rest of us that congress won't do it no matter how much we talk about their duty to do it. It's not going to happen and Mueller's statement will not change that. Obviously, the SHOULD start impeachment hearings, and should have after reading the full report. But Pelosi has taken it off the table and the Republicans will do everything they can to block any congressional action on it.
 
dude, good to see you still fighting the good fight. While I've been incensed at Mueller I never stopped to think it might be cecause he's been compromised. Its definitely food for thought. Meanwhile it look like Iran Contra all over again.
 
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Saturday, May 25, 2019

I have a question or two about Deutsche Bank

Donald Trump's lawyers have been fighting to stave off a House subpoena for financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. That battle has reached a conclusion, of sorts...
Lawyers for President Donald Trump have reached an agreement with the House Intelligence and Financial Services committees to hold off for now on enforcing the subpoenas for Trump's financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, according to a court document and a source familiar with the agreement.

Similar to a deal reached earlier this week with the House Oversight committee, the agreement allows for an expedited appeal schedule.
Basically, the subpoenas are blocked until the appeals court offers a ruling. I have a bad feeling about this.

Let's presume that the subpoenas go through. How do we know that Deutsche Bank will comply fully? What stops them from offering an incomplete and misleading accounting of Donald Trump's dealings with that bank?

Y'see, Deutsche Bank is in trouble -- serious trouble. They've been making lots of cutbacks. They need to raise a whole bunch of emergency capital....

...the kind of capital that Putin and the 'garchs can provide. So it seems likely that DB will do whatever is necessary to make Putin happy.

Here's a reminder of how closely the stories of DB, Russia and Trump are woven together.
According to Trump’s 2015 Federal Election Commission disclosure form, one major bank that did continue to lend money to the Trump Organization—in the hundreds of millions of dollars—was Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest. It was the lead lender on one of the few new real-estate developments that Trump did manage to build after his debt experience of the ’90s: the 92-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, which opened in 2008. But Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas later sued Trump for nonpayment of loans on the project (Trump countersued, and the matter was settled). And here too Russian money may have been involved, though it may not have gone directly to Trump: Federal investigators are looking into whether Deutsche Bank sold some of Trump’s mortgage or other loans to Vnesheconombank, the Russian state development bank, or other Russian banks, Reuters reported in late 2017. Since the 2000s, Deutsche Bank has worked closely with Russian state institutions, and in 2015 the bank’s Russian arm was implicated in a $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme; Deutsche Bank later signed a consent order and agreed to pay $630 million in fines.

Democratic Party lawmakers who are set to take over the House Select Committee on Intelligence in January are expected to investigate the relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank, and between the bank and Russia. “There have long been credible allegations as to the use of Trump properties to launder money by Russian oligarchs, criminals, and regime cronies,” the lawmakers said in a letter to the Department of Justice on March 13.
Those two paragraphs establish the absurdity of the "no collusion" claim. And then there was the "mirror trading" scandal...
It worked like this: between 2011 and 2015, related corporate entities in Moscow and London bought and sold identical quantities of the same stock, through Deutsche Bank’s Moscow equities desk. By this alchemy, rubles in Russia were transformed into dollars in London. The process bypassed tax officials, currency regulators, and anti-money-laundering controls.
Why did DB continue to loan money to Trump even though most financial institutions have learned to treat the guy warily, and even though Trump tried to sue DB for three billion bucks back in 2008? (The basis of that suit was the bullshittiest bullshit in the history of quasi-legalistic bullshit.)

Most people think that Uncle Vladimir is acting as Trump's guarantor. His co-signer, as it were. Nothing else explains why DB treats Trump so well.

There's another important Deutsche Bank story that you might not know about. A few days ago, an investigative piece in the NYT revealed that DB has been using "faulty" software designed to sound the alarm whenever a transaction looked shady. Is Trump involved? But of course!
This week The New York Times reported that anti-money-laundering specialists at the bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crime watchdog.

But Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the entities controlled by Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner, never filed such reports.

In November, prosecutors, federal agents, police officers and tax authorities searched Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt as part of an investigation into whether bank employees had helped customers use offshore tax havens to transfer money obtained illegally.
So again I ask: If the appeals court forces DB to comply with the House subpoenas, can we expect honesty from this bank?

Maybe I'm missing something, but Trump doesn't seem very worried about the DB angle. I think something is up. I think he thinks that he is protected on this front.
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Comments:
Have you looked into Danske Bank? They were featured on 60 Minutes just a week or two ago.
 
My conspiratorial mind is unaffected by this move which simply recognizes that the judge has accepted the Trump right of appeal which will chew up more time before the final granting of these documents for use by the House. In the meantime, Deutsche has turned over the docs and now the House has to say it won't peak until after the appeal is resolved.

Whether or not Deutsche remains functional as a business does not affect the ruling.
 
You miss my point, gadfly. What stops DB from lying, from producing doctored records or a partial record? They answer to no-one. And they are clearly a bad actor.
 
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The case for impeachment

Another Republican has called for Trump's impeachment. Tom Coleman of MO may not be currently in office, but he is well-respected and he served his state for many years.
"I'm calling for impeachment now because the Mueller report is out, and in it (special counsel Robert Mueller) describes 10 obstruction of justice charges that he could not bring because of a Department of Justice rule and regulation that says you can't indict a sitting president -- that's (reason) number one," former Rep. Tom Coleman, who represented Missouri for nearly two decades, told CNN's Erin Burnett on "OutFront."

"Number two, I believe this is an illegitimate President because he welcomed help and influence from the Russians in his campaign," he said. "For example, his (campaign) chairman Paul Manafort met with a Russian intelligence asset in New York and shared with him their polling information and a strategy on how to win the Midwestern states."
Translation: YES on collusion and YES on obstruction.

Pelosi or Biden should have someone make a sign. Maybe a poster: "YES collusion! YES obstruction! Read the actual report for yourself." (URL at the bottom.) Of course, most people won't read it, because most people would rather chew glass than read a hard book. But that's not the point. The point is that we have to hammer home one key fact: The Barr/Breitbart/Fox News summary of the Mueller Report is pure deception.

The current argument seems to be that impeachment will only make Trump stronger, and might well endanger the Democratic hold on the House. The inescapable reference goes to Bill Clinton, whose popularity went up after impeachment. Pelosi seems to think that Trump genuinely wants to be impeached, and that any such action in the House will only aid the president's grand scheme.

Here's one counterargument.
He does not have a sophisticated dastardly plot to do anything, or any other kind of plot. The man is not capable of sophistication, or any but the basest sensation-seeking dastardliness; it’s all he can do to get the fast food from its cardboard container to the appropriate face-hole. He is a big stupid idiot, is what I am saying, and he likes things that feel good and wants them right now and doesn’t like things that don’t feel good and doesn’t want them ever, and that is the extent of him.

Donald Trump has been portraying himself, accurately, as a degenerate, penny-ante dullard for his entire life. When he opens his mouth, when he talks about himself: “I am a degenerate, penny-ante dullard” is the only thing he can say. When he insists he is actually a tremendously smart man, he is saying “I’m a degenerate, penny-ante dullard.” When he says Buy these fabulous mail-order steaks, really truly high-class steaks, many people, fabulous, do we love them, you hear them saying Trump—big guys, tough, they’re saying—you know, Trump, does he have the best steaks or what, he is saying “I’m a degenerate, penny-ante dullard.” When he makes business decisions, when he makes dinner orders, when he attempts to stand up as normal humans do, when he combs his hair: he has made of himself and of his life a monument to the smallness of his perspective and intellect and character. Because he is a soft, breathless, foam-boned inheritance baby with a brain like a wet saltine cracker, because he has been crippled and made monstrous by money and endless permission and therefore cannot conceive of there being any truth or morality beyond what he wants right now, he never knows that this is what he’s doing and also never will. That’s exactly why it’s the only thing he has ever done.

None of this is a part of some scheme. There is never a scheme. He is not sandbagging. He is not playing four-dimensional chess. Donald Trump is not capable of four-dimensional chess.
I apologize for such a lengthy quotation, but I really enjoyed this piece of writing.

Here's my counter-counterargument: I don't consider Trump to be that stupid; he's no intellectual, but he has a rat's survival instinct, and his co-schemers are downright devious. William Barr is now Trump's "hand" (if I may indulge in GOT-speak), and Barr is definitely not a dummy. Trump may genuinely believe that he can replicate the trick that Clinton pulled off.

Perhaps he can. That possibility exists. But I don't think he can do it.

It all comes down to lovability. Deep down, most of us liked Bill Clinton. Pure charm was his all-conquering weapon. Trump is not charming; most of the country detests him.

Perhaps the biggest strategic error made by the Republicans occurred when they insisted on putting Bill Clinton's grand jury testimony on teevee. The GOP thought that Clinton would be humiliated and demolished; instead, we were all reminded of why we liked the guy. More importantly, everyone in the viewing audience asked the same question: "Where's Whitewater?"

For years, the Republicans had insisted that Bill Clinton was a Blofeld-esque supervillain, the mastermind of a million Machiaviellian complots. But after Ken Starr was given free reign to look into every nook and cranny of the man's life, the Republicans finally revealed that they had nothing -- nothing of significance, nothing that resembled the oft-promised litany of horrors. All they had were a few instances of extra-marital fellatio from an infatuated intern, a hilariously human sin which most Americans filed under "Nunna my business."

In short: The Republicans had wildly over-promised. Instead of Blofeld, we got a blowjob.

That's not what's happening here. In fact, what's happening here is the exact opposite.

The Trumpists have mounted a propaganda campaign designed to convince the public that Mueller exonerated Trump. The actual report says no such thing, but the public doesn't know that because -- as Allen Dulles once put it -- "Nobody reads." (Did Roger Stone quote Dulles while offering behind-the-scenes advice to Trump? I wouldn't be surprised.) I don't know what tool will get the truth about the Mueller Report into the American noggin, but that tool almost certainly will be audio-visual.

Impeachment hearings will provide the audio and the visual.

(Mueller's own testimony could accomplish the same trick. I don't understand Mueller's motive in avoiding giving that testimony in public.)

Trump may think that his numbers will see a post-impeachment elevation, but I doubt that he will be so fortunate. Trump is not Clinton, and Russiagate is not Whitewater. Whitewater was bullshit; Trump's obstruction of justice is real and provable.

If the Democrats refuse to pursue impeachment, they will only empower the GOP's "No collusion, no obstruction" propaganda campaign. Pelosi may flatter herself with the belief that she is pursuing a grand strategic vision, but in this instance, she's wrong.

Strategic thinking is important, but strategic overthinking can be deadly. Sometimes, one has no choice but to point the sabre and shout "CHARGE!"
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Comments:
Manafort talked to a Russian, who told him how to beat Hillary Clinton in the MidWest, and therefore Trump should be impeached.

I'm sorry, but this is fall down funny and silly. The idea that Russian instructions equal treason should ONLY MATTER if they involved instruction on committing illegal acts.
 

The ONLY reason I am against impeachment--and removal--of Donald Trump lies in two words: Michael Pence. Pence is the real deal, and it isn't just because he is religious right. He is literally owned by Charles Koch, the most evil man in America in my book. The Koch agenda would be implemented in earnest should the Democrats lose the House in 2020. Getting rid of Trump while keeping Pence in there would not benefit the country at all.
 
Alessandro,

Would theft of emails constitute an illegal act? It most certainly does and Russia not only engaged in that theft, but it was for the benefit of Trump. Furthermore, Russia engaged in fake accounts generated for the sole purpose creating violence between groups in America. If encouraging that behavior is not treason, I don't know what is.
 
On the news that Meuller may not want to testify, I've heard of a caveat. I've heard that Mueller wants to make a public statement and then take questions in private because he doesn't his message to be distorted by a bunch of idiotic Republicans. If true, this thinking makes perfect and shows that Meuller is thinking ahead and not just caving to Trump. I hope this is the truth as our country is rapidly slipping away.
 
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Friday, May 24, 2019

Say it, Dems: "Trump is a drug addict!"

We've come to this. The main topic of discussion: Whether or not the president has lost his marbles.
Trump Devotes Press Conference to Instructing Aides to Explain That He’s Definitely Not Mad

He claims Nancy Pelosi has ‘lost it,’ while he remains an ‘extremely stable genius.’
He actually had his aides attest that he behaved with perfect sanity. No other president would have done something so bizarre.

Then he mounted his counteroffensive. He tweeted what even Fox and Friends admits is a doctored video designed to make Nance Pelosi look bad. Yet even in that crudely edited video, she still seems more coherent than Trump does on his worst days. This administration recently demonstrated that it could not spell the name "Theresa May," yet the Trumpists nevertheless feel that they have a right to critique Nancy Pelosi's communication skills. Now that is impudence.
But that wasn't the only misleading Pelosi video circulating overnight. According to the Washington Post, other distorted, slowed-down videos of Pelosi have spread across social media to make her appear drunk.

One of those videos was tweeted out by the president's own personal attorney, who questioned Pelosi's speech, suggesting something was wrong with her speech pattern was "bizarre." But Giuliani's own speech pattern was questioned when he tweeted an incoherent statement about the Pelosi video Friday morning.
Here's Rudy's tweet:
ivesssapology for a video which is allegedly is a caricature of an otherwise halting speech pattern, she should first stop, and apologize for, saying the President needs an “intervention.” Are
That tweet brought forth these responses:
What the fuck is a ivesssapology?
You put it in your covfefe.
Best enjoyed with a nice hamberder.
What would James Joyce make of the neologism "ivesssapology"? He might point out that this portmanteau word seems to refer to an American composer known for his use of dissonance, combined with feelings of regret, combined with the scientific study of sap. There may even be a sly shout-out to the SS. So what does Charles Ives have to do with Nancy Pelosi? That's the unanswered question.

Say it, Dems! The Democrats are missing an obvious mode of counterattack. Donald Trump is the only president we've had who is a drug addict.

Hope Hicks herself has admitted that Trump once had a problem with diet drugs. My earlier post quotes these words from Kurt Eichenwald:
Hope Hicks, a White House spokeswoman, acknowledged that Trump used them as diet pills for a few days in the early 1980s. However, the medical records contradict the assertion of the length of time Trump used the drugs and photographs of Trump from 1982 show him to be quite slender. In a telephone call from Newsweek, Bornstein, Trump’s current doctor, said he would only answer questions if I could identify the location of Mount Sinai.
Is it fair to note that Bornstein looks like the kind of doctor who would over-prescribe happy pills? Perhaps not. But it is fair to note that Bornstein has been accused of doing such things.
Settled lawsuits alleged Donald Trump’s doctor Harold Bornstein overmedicated his patients—one with Valium and morphine ‘well above therapeutic levels.’

In the complaint, Levin’s husband claimed Bornstein continued to prescribe barbiturates and sedatives “despite full knowledge that these prescriptions were not for the treatment of any known condition and in amounts that were well above therapeutic levels.”

The cocktail of drugs allegedly prescribed to Janet Levin—barbiturates, tranquilizers, and opiates—are all highly addictive and are among the most frequently abused prescription drugs, according to The National Library of Medicine.
Trump's problem with diet pills did not last only "a few days." To prove the point, I must repeat a few paragraphs which originally appeared in an earlier post.

According to Eichenwald, the amphetamine problem began with an endocrinologist named Dr. Joseph Greenburg, who diagnosed Trump as having a "metabolic imbalance" -- an imprecise term that could mean many different things.
The medical records and interviews with former officials with the Trump Organization reveal that Greenberg gave Trump a prescription for amphetamine derivatives in 1982 to treat his metabolic problem; the records show that Trump continued taking the drugs for a number of years and the former officials said that Trump stopped using them in 1990 at the latest.
The amphetamine derivative was Diethylpropion or tenuate dospan (the brand name). This drug quickly becomes addicting. It's hard to believe that Trump could have taken it for years without developing a crippling habit.

Abuse of this drug leads to sleeplessness, paranoia, hyperactivity, delusions, poor impulse control. Sound familiar? I've just offered a pretty fair summary of Trump's whole act.

Dr. Joseph Greenburg was the subject of a Spy magazine expose back in 1992.
Greenberg treated Trump’s nonexistent disease with a hefty prescription of Tenuate Dospan, which is a diet pill known for such side effects as fear or nervousness, false or unusual sense of well-being, severe mental changes, and seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there.
This wasn’t the only mention of Trump’s love for diet pills, aka speed. In the controversial 1993 biography, Lost Tycoon, author Harry Hurt credited amphetamines prescribed by Greenberg for “Donald’s mood swings” and “his fits of distemper.”
On April 19th, 1982, during the period between his license hearing before the Casino Control Commission and the groundbreaking on the Trump Plaza site in Atlantic City, Donald paid a visit to the midtown Manhattan office of Dr. Joseph Greenberg. According to the doctor’s records, Donald had been recommended by his friend Charles Goldstein, an attorney involved in the Penn Central deals. The ostensible purpose of Donald’s visit was to seek assistance in losing weight. He had gone to the right place. Dr. Greenberg was an endocrinologist who specialized in providing patients with drugs to control obesity…

Donald was so delighted with the results that he started recommending Dr. Greenberg’s treatments to his brother Robert, various friends, and celebrity acquaintances such as Diana Ross. The diet drugs, which he took in pill form, not only curbed his appetite but gave him a feeling of euphoria and unlimited energy. The medical literature warned that some potentially dangerous side effects could result from long-term usage; they included anxiety, insomnia, and delusions of grandeur. According to several Trump Organization insiders, Donald exhibited all these ominous symptoms of diet drug usage, and then some.

’The first thing I would do when I got to the office in the morning,” recalled one former vice-president, “was to go see Norma Foerderer and ask her, ‘Is this a Dr. Greenberg day?’ If she said yes, I would do everything I could to stay out of Donald’s way.’”
Why haven't the Democrats attacked Trump for his history of drug usage? This would be an excellent way for one of the less-visible Dem candidates to garner some much-needed attention: In a concerned and solicitous fashion, ask Trump to come clean about his history. Keep pounding home that point until everyone in the country is talking about Bornstein and Greenberg.

We all know Roger Stone's rule: Never defend, always attack. If Stone possessed this kind of ammunition against a Democratic president, would he use it? Of course he would use it. There would be congressional hearings into the president's drug usage. There would be testimony from professionals as to whether drug abuse can permanently affect brain function.

The average person does not comprehend tariffs or energy policy. Sadly, it appears that the average person is not capable of reading the Mueller report (or any other difficult book) -- hence the reliance on misleading summaries. But average people do understand substance abuse issues.

Once the facts become known, the question will shift from "Did Trump abuse drugs?" to "How long did Trump abuse drugs?" and "Did his drug abuse affect his cognitive abilities?"

Democrats would be foolish not to pursue this line of investigation. There is no point in arguing that doing so constitutes taking the low road. With Trump and his supporters, the low road is the only road. That "doctored video" campaign against Pelosi tells us that Team Trump intends to explore a level of lowness that makes the Marianas seem like Everest.

A note about terminology: Is it permissible to refer to Trump as a "drug addict" in the present tense, even if we lack evidence that he takes drugs at the present time? Yes. Attendees at AA meetings call themselves "alcoholics" even if they've been sober for decades.

Previous presidents (Obama, Bush) have used illegal drugs, as have so many other Americans. But youthful experimentation is not addiction. Strong evidence indicates that Donald Trump is the first American president to form an addiction.

Most people are not aware of that fact. Democrats should educate them.

I can't resist ending this essay in the spirit of Rudy Giuliani: Are
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Greenberg treats non-existent diseases. What type of person gets treated for non-existent diseases? A hypochondriac. Is it such a stress that a notorious germaphobe is also a hypochondriac?








 
Apparently Trump must have opened and closed the Drug discussion door during the 2016 Presidential Debate when he challenged Hillary Clinton to a drug test before one of the Debates. I don't recall if it was the Debate where Trump was sniffling every few minutes. Hillary declined, unfortunately.
 

Was Trump Trafficking Cocaine? David Cay Johnston thinks so.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkT_2N6gEm8

chum'sfriend
 
Alessandro,

People beat drug tests all the time. Particularly if they know the test is coming. That Trump wanted to take a drug test is, at least to me, evidence that he was preparing for it and would suggest that he is using and finding ways to beat the test.
 
Didn't JFK take painkillers?
 
As I recall, Trump suggested a drug test before the next debate *after* the debate where he sniffed uncontrollably, in what seems an epic instance of Trump's by-now notorious addiction to projection. Amphetamines are water-soluble and typically undetectable after 4 or 5 days.

I recall a mention during either the Clinton or Bush the Lesser Administration of the fact that during foreign visits, the president was expected to defecate only in secured, government-provided toilets, lest some foreign power obtain significant medical information. I would expect the practice to have continued under the current president -- with the possible modification that said toilets are now gold-plated.... That said, I keep thinking some crafty chambermaid or similar should clean the president's hairbrush and slip the resulting orange thatch to someone willing to spring for follicle testing. Sure, there'd be no chain-of-control or legal validity to the test -- but we're talking politics, not reality.

I don't know enough to be able to ascertain their credibility, but weren't there several former crew members on 'The Apprentice' who claimed Trump was crushing and snorting Adderall on the set?
 
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Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Republican calls for Trump's impeachment

Woah! I was not expecting this.
Michigan GOP Rep. Justin Amash said Saturday he had concluded President Donald Trump committed "impeachable conduct" and accused Attorney General William Barr of intentionally misleading the public.

Amash's comments recommending Congress pursue obstruction of justice charges against Trump were the first instance of a sitting Republican in Congress calling for Trump's impeachment.
Nobody would mistake Amash for a squishy pseudo-con; he features a quotation from F.A. Hayek on his Twitter profile. Although my disagreements with Libertarianism are profound, I do respect those libertarians who demand consistency.

His full Twitter thread is worth quoting. I'll translate it into conventional prose. The words beneath the asterisks are his.

* * *

Here are my principal conclusions:

1. Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller’s report.
2. President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.
3. Partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.
4. Few members of Congress have read the report.

I offer these conclusions only after having read Mueller’s redacted report carefully and completely, having read or watched pertinent statements and testimony, and having discussed this matter with my staff, who thoroughly reviewed materials and provided me with further analysis.

In comparing Barr’s principal conclusions, congressional testimony, and other statements to Mueller’s report, it is clear that Barr intended to mislead the public about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s analysis and findings. Barr’s misrepresentations are significant but often subtle, frequently taking the form of sleight-of-hand qualifications or logical fallacies, which he hopes people will not notice.

Under our Constitution, the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” While “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust. Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.

In fact, Mueller’s report identifies multiple examples of conduct satisfying all the elements of obstruction of justice, and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.

Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct. While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.

Our system of checks and balances relies on each branch’s jealously guarding its powers and upholding its duties under our Constitution. When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles.

We’ve witnessed members of Congress from both parties shift their views 180 degrees—on the importance of character, on the principles of obstruction of justice—depending on whether they’re discussing Bill Clinton or Donald Trump. Few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report; their minds were made up based on partisan affiliation—and it showed, with representatives and senators from both parties issuing definitive statements on the 448-page report’s conclusions within just hours of its release.

America’s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome. Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome; it deserves a government to match it.
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Pelosi fanboys tell us her inaction, failure to schedule a full House contempt vote on Attorney General Barr as some kind of 3D chess. I point out while Nancy dithers Trump is pouring gas on the board while holding a match. The late bartcop had a term, Pink Tutu Democrats.
 
I don't think she's dithering. She's playing Trump like a violin. He's scared to death of her.
 
The guy with the most famous comb-over in the whole world, just announced that he doesn't do cover-ups.

chum'sfriend
 
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Is Bernie Sanders out of his mind?

I thought I hated Bernie before, but this...
Sanders’ new plan would allow school districts to use federal money for busing, drawing a sharp contrast with Joe Biden, who fought against efforts to use busing to desegregate schools in the 1970s.
The plan would try to revive the force of the federal government’s efforts in the 1950s and 1960s to end the separation of students by race, help school districts that are trying to desegregate their own schools, and address funding disparities that mean students of color often end up in schools that have less money and more inexperienced teachers.
I'm all for white and black kids going to schools together. But busing? Doesn't Sanders comprehend how thoroughly busing was hated when it was tried in the 1970s?

Democrats destroyed their own brand when they became linked in the public consciousness with mandatory busing. Remember, this was a time when Watergate and other scandals had the GOP on life support. It can fairly be said that, without mandatory busing, there would have been no Reagan revolution. Busing kept the Republican party alive. Busing created the monster that is modern conservatism.

If the issue of forced busing had not revitalized the Republican brand, this country would have instituted some sort of "single payer" health insurance overhaul in the 1980s. (That topic was widely discussed in the 1970s; the talk ended when Reagan took over.) The busing experiment extracted a heavy price.

Back in the 1970s, I was a high school student in Los Angeles. Freeways were not quite so crowded as today, but they still resembled parking lots during peak travel times. (Last time I drove the Hollywood Freeway, traffic slowed to a complete stop at 1 A.M. -- and no, there had not been an accident. That's just the way L.A. is.) Mandatory busing presented kids with the prospect of rising well before dawn in order to sit through a two-hour ride -- and at the end of the school day there would be a return trip of similar length. After school programs, including athletic events, could be nightmarish.

White parents who objected to this plan were called racist. Reflexively. Constantly.

The parents would say: "We have no problem with black kids coming to our local school. We have no problem with people of different races learning together and socializing. In fact, we like that idea. But we refuse to make our kid spend four hours a day in traffic."

Racist racist racist! came the response.

And that's when the word "racist" lost its sting.

That's when the accusation stopped triggering an automatic guilt complex. That's when life-long liberals -- working class liberals in the San Fernando Valley, Hollywood liberals living "south of the Boulevard" -- warmed to the idea of voting Republican.

If a candidate said "I'm against forced busing," my mom (a JFK-loving liberal) was ready to cast a ballot for that person, even if the candidate was otherwise an odious reactionary creep.

Honestly, I had no problem whatsoever attending a high school alongside youths bused in from Watts and East L.A. They were fine. God knows that our basketball team -- otherwise composed of short Jewish guys -- needed all the help it could get. (The previous sentence may prompt some of you to cry "Racist racist racist!" but it's the absolute goddamned truth.) But I would rather have moved to the USSR than get on that bus, particularly at that time of morning. Even then, I lived like a vampire; the idea of rising at 5 a.m. or earlier evoked true horror. I was never a party animal; I just think better at night. Night was when I read books, made art and listened to classical music. Sunrise has always been my idea of a good time to hit the hay.

Throughout the 1970s, the proponents of forced busing kept referencing Brown vs. The Board of Education, continually pretending that there is no legal difference between de facto and de jure segregation. Guess what? They're still trying to pull off that smarmy trick.

Joe Biden was wiser than an army of owls when he tried to distance the Democratic party from the concept of busing. The party was bleeding from a massive self-inflicted wound; he tried to staunch the flow.

And now Sanders seeks to re-open that wound. He has to be working for Putin. He has to be trying to destroy the Democratic brand. No other explanation will do.

I'm tempted to say the same thing about Buzzfeed. Look at how they've covered this story:
Sanders’ blueprint — called the Thurgood Marshall Education Plan, after the lawyer who argued the Brown case before becoming the first black Supreme Court justice — draws a stark contrast to former Vice President Joe Biden, who fought against desegregating schools in the 1970s. Biden, who is leading Sanders in Democratic polls, sought the support of segregationists in a bitter battle against court-ordered “busing,” or the transportation of students to other schools and districts in order to end racial separation.
"Sought the support of segregationists"? Bullshit. Biden is from Delaware, not Dixie. Busing was unpopular everywhere.

An equation had taken hold in the public's mind -- Democrats equal forced busing -- and Biden sought to erase that perception. Why? Because forced busing advocates kept losing elections.

Democracy is a popularity contest. When will progressives learn that simple lesson?

De jure segregation was and is an absolute evil, one which the federal government ended, and thank God it did. But the only way to combat de facto segregation in our school systems is to combat de facto segregation in the rest of our society. Legislation cannot cure a purely cultural malady.

By the way: Fleets of new buses will pump a lot of extra smog into the air. Aren't we supposed to be concerned about climate change?

Let me add another "by the way": Sanders' proposal comes at a time when "progressive" colleges are instituting segregated dorms, to insure that black students won't have to intermingle with the irredeemable evil known as the white male. See here and here.

You should check out those links. That's the kind of heinous, separatist bullshit that the apostles of Identity politics have foisted on academia: You go over there, and you go over there. Based purely on skin color. Segregation for adults; busing for children. In the postmodernist mind, that kind of insanity is considered woke. Perhaps the progs hope to solve our energy problems by making Martin Luther King spin rapidly enough in his grave to power a city...?

And now these same pomo punks support Sanders, who wants the Democratic party to hop on the bus to SuicideLand.
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Funny how much of the defacto segregation problem can be laid at the feet of Donald Trump's second favorite type, real estate agents. Remember redlining?
Trump's all-time faves are authoritarian tyrants who offer him building sites and financing.
 
Mr. Mike is dead on with redlining. Increased segregation and forced busing? This is how the so called "progressives" want to deal with institutionalized racism? Stupid.
 
"Progressives" who introduce racial segregation for reasons they've told themselves are anti-racist are as insane as Trumpists who genuinely thought the photographs in front of their eyes showed far larger crowds at Trump's inauguration than at Obama's. Formally segregated dorms are in a different category from housing largely segregated in practice and which busing does nothing about. I am assuming here that people are not moving into areas populated mainly by another ethnic group in order to avoid having their offspring sit on buses for hours each day. Formally racially segregated dorms should be illegal.

Meanwhile in Britain the results of Thursday's EU election will be close to 51% for the far right and nationalists, 24% for the centrists, 14% for the left, and 9% for the traditional right. This is a bigger shift to the right than occurred in the US where Hillary Clinton won 48% of the vote. In Scotland it's worse still: the far right and nationalists gained 63%, the traditional right 12%, and the left were down to 9%. And in both cases the "left" means the Labour Party, in case anyone is wondering. The ecofascist "Greens" - whom I'm calling far right because that's what they are - got only slightly fewer votes than Labour.

It's time to emigrate. Where to?
 
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Friday, May 17, 2019

It's happening here

This is the back cover for a paperback reprint of Sinclair Lewis's novel It Can't Happen Here.

Lewis did not foresee that fascism's rise would be abetted by the "progressive" left. My insistence on making that point won't make me popular, but I don't care. Someone has to say it.

While researching this left/right nexus, I came across a particularly enlightening volume: A 2002 book titled Prophets Facing Backwards by Meera Nanda (available for free online). Much of the book focuses on India, but don't let that fact scare you off. Nanda lives in the United States, and many parts of her book prophesy current events in this country. This work offers insight into the international fascist resurgence.

She focuses on the links between postmodernism -- which is hugely influential in Indian intellectual circles -- and  Hindu nationalism. In that nation as elsewhere, the far left aided the rise of the far right. (Nanda might insist on drawing a distinction between hyper-nationalism and fascism, but I don't see much point in doing so.)

A few passages:
This book will tell the story of how these intellectuals, in their despair over the world they found themselves in, have helped deliver the people they profess to love --the non-Western masses, the presumed victims of “Western science” and modernity --to the growing forces of hatred, fascism and religious fanaticism. We will look at how the Hindu nationalist dreams of a “Hindu modernity” have found a respectable home in the theories of “alternative epistemology” and “local knowledge” popular in the social constructivist, feminist and Third-Wordlist trends in the academia. How the vanguard of radical postmodernist thought in the later half of the twentieth century has served as a bridge to reactionary modernist movements darkening the horizons in the twenty-first century is the theme of this book.
Following Jeffrey Herf’s well-known study of a similar phenomenon in Nazi Germany, I will refer to this kind of modernity without liberalism as “reactionary modernism.” Reactionary modernism, is very simply, “embrace of modern technology by those who reject Enlightenment reason” (Herf 1984, 1). I believe that the social conditions that led to this phenomenon in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich --namely, “capitalist industrialization without a successful bourgeois revolution [and] weak traditions of political liberalism and the Enlightenment” (6) -- obtain in many parts of the developing world, including India. In these conditions, the dangers of fascistic nightmares can not be ignored.
The ultimate goal of the Nazis was not “just” to liquidate the Jewish people, but to purge Christianity of the Judaic conception of God. What is often forgotten is that Nazism was a response, among other things, to rapid industrialization, urbanization and a consequent feeling of alienation from nature. In a manner chillingly reminiscent of our own deep ecologists and Hindu nationalists, well-known Nazi ideologues, including Alfred Rosenberg, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler himself, and lesser lights like Savitri Devi and the theosophist, Helena Blavatsky, ascribed the alienation from nature to the Judaic dualism between a transcendent god and life-less nature (see Pois, 1985, Mosse, 1964, 20 Goodrick-Clarke, 1998 for these issues). The Nazis sought a genuine religion of nature that will allow Germans to live in harmony with nature.

In their quest for a non-dualist, immanent conception of God, the Nazis turned to the Vedic monism of ancient India, the supposed home of the “Nordic Aryans” before they got corrupted by “racial pollution” caused by interbreeding with the non-Aryan natives (the “swarthy Sudras,” Alfred Rosenberg calls them). Rosenberg’s Myth of the Twentieth Century, which was considered the manifesto of National Socialist ideology, turns to Varna (the four-fold division of society, the basis of the caste system) and atman doctrines of the Vedic Hindus to find a new myth “suitable for the twentieth century” that can replace the distant, law-giver Judaic God.
Over the last three decades, starting around the 1960s in the West and a decade or so later in many parts of the Third World, influential secular and progressive intellectuals have pointed the finger at one common enemy of human emancipation --the modern age itself. Bringing a radical conservative sensibility to traditional left-wing concerns with alienation, patriarchy, imperialism and ecology, self-described postmodernists have criticized the modern world of industrial capitalism and liberal humanism not for failing to live up to its own ideals, but for upholding and cherishing these ideals as ideals in the first place.
...I will broadly include as postmodernists those intellectuals who have lost faith in the promise of modernity and the (European) Enlightenment. They argue that modern science and modern secular cultures/institutions have lost their liberatory potential, and have turned into sources of subjugation and mental-colonialism of non-Western people, women, cultural minorities. This sentiment gets translated into an opposition to the project of development and modernization in what used to be called the Third World. To varying degrees, postmodernist intellectuals attribute renewed relevance to all that modernity has set aside. Thus, one of their major preoccupations is the preservation and cultivation of “local knowledges” embedded in traditional cosmologies, religions and traditional practices of agriculture; medicine etc. These local knowledges, postmodernists insist, are legitimate sciences in their own right. They cannot and should not be judged the standards of rationality set by modern science. To do that amounts to Western hubris.
Postmodernism challenges the very possibility of knowledge that is not, in the final instance, authenticated by a local cultural tradition. As modern science is the very paradigm of universal knowledge that claims to transcend cultural differences and local traditions, it has become the ultimate target for deconstruction. Postmodernist critics challenge the core assumptions that constitute the self-understanding of modern science as an epistemologically progressive and universal enterprise
The same debauched thinking has overtaken our campuses, where intersectional "feminists" and other postmodern fanatics have worked tirelessly to undermine the values of the Enlightenment. In my eyes, Richard Spencer and bell hooks are brother and sister. Both are devoted to the same project: Undoing science, decrying reason, torching tolerance, unraveling democracy and -- ultimately -- disuniting the United States.
Various feminist, postcolonial and standpoint epistemologists embraced the social constructivist agenda in order to argue for different logics and different background assumptions that would, presumably, lead to “feminist” or “Indian” or “Islamic” sciences. The idea of modern science as the lingua franca of the modern world has been abandoned.
I now define myself as an antifeminist devoted to the concept of sexual equality. I will remain antifeminist as long as feminism remains yoked to the philosophy of postmodernism. Postmodernism and fascism are both beyond redemption; neither the postmodernist nor the fascist are worthy debating partners. One must not engage in dialogue with such people; one must simply oppose them.

One day, someone will write a book about how the postmodern "left" helped pave the way for Trumpism. Right now, the world is not yet ready for such a volume.
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I think Dr. Ruth would agree with you https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/may/12/still-talking-about-sex-dr-ruth-westheimer-interview
 
Neither party really cares about the elderly, this in turn has created mistrust within the heartland. Anytime there is a horrifying story about elder abuse, the Progressives stay silent, and the conservatives only care if the perp was an Undocumented.
 
The pomo "feminists," also called "third wave feminists," are not feminists at all. They are totally anti-feminist.

An outgrowth of postmodernism is queer theory, which is arguably the most evil idea ever concocted in the last fifty years. This trash needs to be banned from all college campuses. It isn't just anti-feminist--it is in fact a real threat to public safety in that it advocates for crimes against children. The dirty secret about queer theory is that its biggest adherents either openly advocate pedophilia or they condone it.

There are limits to "academic freedom," and queer theory, a "philosophy" by and for degenerates and perverts, violates this again and again. Anybody who teaches it needs to be investigated by law enforcement. It undergirds so much of what is wrong with this country today and threatens the rights of protected classes including women, LGBs, and children. This crap is no joke.

A good interview is with Susan Cox by Derrick Jensen, who is highly critical of queer theory. Cox methodically takes it apart and makes it understandable to the lay person:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWXHbrt3kvU


 
Political extremes drive out the middle leaving the fascist right as the victor. Here today in Australia we are getting our version of this process. A corrupt and grossly incompetent Liberal (think Republican) government has been voted back into office, the voters rejecting a moderately socialist yet highly talented Labor Party with clear, costed policy goals. The reason? A combination of fear-and-greed marketing by the hard Right. Lies, all lies from top to bottom. "They've come to steal your homes, raise your taxes, ...." all in lurid posters with a menacing Labor leader. Don't think because Australians are wealthy and Western that we are immune to the siren song of neoliberalism. Every lie, every BS. Frankly, I've thrown up my hands. The political ignorance of our middle class, especially the rural voter, is shocking.

One interesting feature was that the Libs actually lost votes across the nation. But a wealthy, one-man hard Right nut job named Clive Palmer put up $50 million of his own money to back his own party calling for massively lower taxation. He received the national protest vote and his grubby voting preference deal with the Liberals saw them steal back into office. He got no seats at all. The Greens ran holier-than-thou programs in rural seats that pissed off the locals who gritted their teeth and voted Liberal. It's a complete mess. Nothing remotely Left will get in for a decade. Meanwhile the hard Right can loot and pillage.
 
Henry A.Giroux has a great piece on the rise of modern fascism and the learned political helplessness which comes with the decline of cultural literacy. Just as land enclosures privatized property and the commons became unavailable to the public, so the privatization of public culture has destroyed the idea of a political commons, an abiding set of ideas and practices which sustain democracy. If education is just for jobs training then democracy is just a means for getting money. Enter the brown shirts.
 
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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

How the "progressive" left has helped the right undo abortion rights

Should I restart this blog? I am feeling a need to piss people off. Here's my attempt to alienate everyone on all sides of the abortion controversy.

I am, of course, outraged by the recent threat to abortion rights coming out of Alabama. Hell, even Pat Robertson thinks that the state has gone too far. I agree with those observers who suggest that the new law was not written by people who actually have addresses in or near Mobile. This is all part of a national strategy to overturn abortion rights.

That said, I'm also outraged by this sort of talk:
‘A typical male answer’: Only 3 women had a voice in Alabama Senate as 25 men passed abortion ban
To Coleman-Madison, the moment crystallized a problem that has plagued women’s reproductive health debates over the years in Alabama’s legislature and beyond: They are typically dominated by male politicians. On Tuesday, that was in sharp focus. All 25 votes cast in favor of the bill were from white Republican men.
Yes, but who voted for those males? Both women and men cast those votes. There is no evidence of a massive gender divide in the Alabama electorate. The problem is not that those legislators have committed the "crime" of penis-ownership; the problem is that they really do reflect the views of their constituents.

The next paragraph in the above-quoted WP story concedes this point...
Coleman-Madison and Democratic state Sen. Vivian Davis Figures, the only women who spoke during the four-hour debate, acknowledged in interviews with The Washington Post that the divide on the issue is primarily one of ideology rather than gender; the Republican sponsor of the bill in the Alabama House, for example, is a woman, and Republican Gov. Kay Ivey will is expected to sign it.
Precisely.

I am infuriated by the feminist fantasy version of the war against Roe-v-Wade. You see this sort of talk all over Democratic Underground: Those poor, perpetually-blameless women are being battered into submission by a cabal of evil males!

It's a myth. Sorry, but I refuse to go along with a politically-correct hallucination.

Here's an obdurate fact which is sure to annoy reflexive male-haters everywhere: Men and women oppose abortion rights in equal numbers.

From USA Today:
Men and women have similar views on abortion: 60% of women and 57% of men say it should be legal in all or most cases, according to Pew.
That three percent difference is within the margin of error. In fact, some evidence indicates that more men than women favor reproductive rights.
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said on Friday that women are more likely to oppose abortion rights than men.

“Women are much less likely to be pro-choice," Lake, who is the president of Lake Research, told Hill TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking."

"Women are more religious than men, and so women are slightly less pro-choice than men," she continued.
I don't know if the phrase "much less likely" is justified by the numbers, but it is true that women are more likely to be religious, and to ally themselves with the more fundamentalist forms of religion. See here and here.

Yet delusional feminists perpetually pretend to be the victims of an all-male conspiracy. If you scream the truth at them -- You're doing it to yourselves, sisters! -- they will cover their ears and accuse you of verbal violence.

All polls indicate that the majority of Americans -- including the majority of American women -- dislike feminism, even though the vast majority of Americans favor equal rights for both sexes. Those sharply divided numbers prove that feminism has taken a seriously wrong turn.

Since so many people hate what feminism has become, and since feminism is conflated in the public mind with the Democratic Party, it is fair to posit that revulsion against modern feminism helped put Trump in office. Personally, I have no doubt that disgust with both Identity politics and modern radical feminism has helped the GOP maintain a stranglehold on the Deep South.

Modern feminism differs from the old school version in one key respect: Effectiveness.

Before feminism went insane, before "intersectional" became the new buzzword, back when feminism was liberal instead of radical, women's rights were on much firmer ground. Why? Because those fighting for said rights cared about effectiveness. They were more concerned with getting things done -- incrementally, if need be (and I am not among those who disdain that word) -- than with expressing their anti-male rage. When liberal feminism ruled the day, Planned Parenthood was stronger, Roe was the rock-solid law of the land, and an unwed teenaged mother could get an abortion in Alabama.

All of that has either evaporated or will soon vanish.

I blame feminism. And when I say those three words, I'm not blaming the victim: I'm blaming the victimizer.

I blame the monstrous, man-hating aberration that feminism has turned into over the course of the past quarter century, especially on our college campuses. Modern feminists have empowered the far right by making the left look foolish, hyper-judgmental and hate-filled. Modern feminists have empowered the right by presenting segregation, lesbianism and Total Male Obsequiousness as the only acceptable alternatives to "male tyranny."

Postmodernism. Modern feminism is a product of the vile, irredeemable philosophical movement called postmodernism. Postmodernism may fairly be called fascism's twin, since both world-views oppose the values of the Enlightenment. On college campuses across the country, postmodern feminist pseudoscholars denigrate reason itself while celebrating "alternative ways of knowing."

Translation: Let's haul out the tarot cards and the crystals! And if those items are not to your taste, haul out your Bible. And that brings us right back to the fundamentalists of Alabama. How can modern feminists oppose those fundamentalists when both sides hate science and reason?

I strongly urge you to read the above-linked essay. It was written by Helen Pluckrose, one of my new heroes -- or rather, heroines. (In the current radical feminist lexicon, "heroine" is now a verboten word, like "actress." All the more reason to use it.)
Despite all the evidence that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia are at an all-time low in Western societies, Leftist academics and SocJus activists display a fatalistic pessimism, enabled by postmodern interpretative “reading” practices which valorize confirmation bias. The authoritarian power of the postmodern academics and activists seems to be invisible to them whilst being apparent to everyone else. As Andrew Sullivan says of intersectionality:
“It posits a classic orthodoxy through which all of human experience is explained — and through which all speech must be filtered. … Like the Puritanism once familiar in New England, intersectionality controls language and the very terms of discourse.”
Physicists Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont address the same problem from the perspective of science in Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science:
“Who could now seriously deny the ‘grand narrative’ of evolution, except someone in the grip of a far less plausible master narrative such as Creationism? And who would wish to deny the truth of basic physics? The answer was, ‘some postmodernists.’”
and
“There is something very odd indeed in the belief that in looking, say, for causal laws or a unified theory, or in asking whether atoms really do obey the laws of quantum mechanics, the activities of scientists are somehow inherently ‘bourgeois’ or ‘Eurocentric’ or ‘masculinist’, or even ‘militarist.'”
When the organizers of the March for Science tweeted “colonization, racism, immigration, native rights, sexism, ableism, queer-, trans-, intersex-phobia, & econ justice are scientific issues,”[10] many scientists immediately criticized this politicization of science and derailment of the focus on preservation of science to intersectional ideology. In South Africa, the #ScienceMustFall and #DecolonizeScience progressive student movement announced that science was only one way of knowing that people had been taught to accept. They suggested witchcraft as one alternative.
I ask you: How does the postmodernist assault on reason differ from the anti-science beliefs espoused by the fundamentalist Christians who make the laws in Alabama?
It has become commonplace to note that the far-Right is now using identity politics and epistemic relativism in a very similar way to the postmodern-Left. Of course, elements of the far-Right have always been divisive on the grounds of race, gender and sexuality and prone to irrational and anti-science views but postmodernism has produced a culture more widely receptive to this. Kenan Malik describes this shift,
“When I suggested earlier that the idea of ‘alternative facts’ draws upon ‘a set of concepts that in recent decades have been used by radicals’, I was not suggesting that Kellyanne Conway, or Steve Bannon, still less Donald Trump, have been reading up on Foucault or Baudrillard… It is rather that sections of academia and of the left have in recent decades helped create a culture in which relativized views of facts and knowledge seem untroubling, and hence made it easier for the reactionary right not just to re-appropriate but also to promote reactionary ideas.”[12]
Postmodernism should be renamed Premodernism, since the goal appears to be undoing all respect for democracy and science. The neo-fascism of Alexander Dugin (the evil genius behind Putin) has precisely the same goal. The movements are twins.
This “set of concepts” threaten to take us back to a time before the Enlightenment, when “reason” was regarded as not only inferior to faith but as a sin. James K. A. Smith, Reformed theologian and professor of philosophy, has been quick to see the advantages for Christianity and regards postmodernism as “a fresh wind of the Spirit sent to revitalize the dry bones of the church” (p18). In Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church, he says,
“A thoughtful engagement with postmodernism will encourage us to look backward. We will see that much that goes under the banner of postmodern philosophy has one eye on ancient and medieval sources and constitutes a significant recovery of premodern ways of knowing, being, and doing.” (p25)
and
“Postmodernism can be a catalyst for the church to reclaim its faith not as a system of truth dictated by a neutral reason but rather as a story that requires ‘eyes to see and ears to hear.” (p125)
We on the Left should be very afraid of what “our side” has produced.
Let's apply these words to the current situation. What must we do about Alabama?  How do we face the coming nationwide battle over abortion rights?

First, we must resist the feminist insanity of blaming all our ills on the imaginary Great Penismonster Conspiracy. Pluckrose has a better idea:
In order to regain credibility, the Left needs to recover a strong, coherent and reasonable liberalism. To do this, we need to out-discourse the postmodern-Left. We need to meet their oppositions, divisions and hierarchies with universal principles of freedom, equality and justice. There must be a consistency of liberal principles in opposition to all attempts to evaluate or limit people by race, gender or sexuality. We must address concerns about immigration, globalism and authoritarian identity politics currently empowering the far- Right rather than calling people who express them “racist,” “sexist” or “homophobic” and accusing them of wanting to commit verbal violence. We can do this whilst continuing to oppose authoritarian factions of the Right who genuinely are racist, sexist and homophobic, but can now hide behind a façade of reasonable opposition to the postmodern-Left.
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Comments:
If I had the time I would write a book about Sandra Bland and how a newly discovered video she took somehow unearths new intel about her arrest and subsequent suicide in jail. The 39 second video does not show anything new, just a new angle. The original 40 minute video showed these exact same 39 seconds.

The ultra progressives continue to enflame their base, be it Sandra Bland or any issue that they can misuse to prove that white males are evil.
 
There's nothing new in this particular post modern nonsense. I remember twenty years ago hearing about the "Woman's Way of Knowing". You'd think we could have figured out epistemology by now.
 
Your notion of 'pre'modernism is equivalent to the saying "regressive left."

After reading this and a big chunk of Helen's article I had a flash of insight. The reason why the regressive left are so enamored with Islamism/Jihadism is because they are bedfellows - regressives and true enemies of the Enlightenment/modernity, i.e. "the West." It all makes perfect sense now and points the way toward addressing it because we can at least define what "it" is.
 
The term feminist has been co-opted by the Right starting with Rush Limbaugh's Feminazi. Same way they turned the word Liberal into a pejorative. Unless Huffpo asked a series of questions w/o using the word feminist I wouldn't put too much faith in it.
Anyway glad to know you still have a pulse and look forward to subsequent musings.
 
Terry, I have often felt there is a kinship between the Conservatives and Ultra Restrictive Religions. Now you are saying the Progessive left is doing the same thing. That leaves the Moderates who continually are drowned out by both the Progressive left and the Conservative right.
 
I went mad this week with the wall-to-wall, one-way reporting on the Alabama "anti-abortion " law that has not the slightest chance in Hell of surviving a SCOTUS review. Stare decisis rulings are few and far between among the Supremes, even when the constitutional basis for protecting "women's rights" while killing babies is stupid, surpassing even the dumbest Donald Trump thought.

Murder has always been against the law and doctors do not have that right. Anyway the parade of talking head after talking head pro-abortionists on CNN and MSNBC got old with nary a word about Pro-Life supporters, nor murdered babies. Worse, the comments quoted from Alabama representatives did not include words like pro-life or dead babies. Dishonesty is easy to spot and that is why I don't watch Fox, but not everyone is for abortion, so why is the story twisted?
 
Gadfly,
Not pro-life, only pro-birth. Give me a call when any of these sanctimonious bastards gives one shit about children after they're born.
 
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