Sunday, April 22, 2018

The case for pessimism

Sorry for the lack of posts. After my last little health scare, I considered myself entitled to a brief respite from the news.

Truth be told, most of you won't like what I have to say. I disagree with current liberal presumption that Michael Cohen will soon flip, thereby insuring Donald Trump's rapid doom. Think again.

How the hell can Cohen flip? Did you see the recent articles linking him to Russian mobsters? The Eye-talians look downright kindhearted and cuddly when compared to the Russians.

Pundits keep comparing Cohen to that most famed of flippers, Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, the hitman/consigliere who brought down John Gotti. (Example.) Here's what they're not telling you: Gravano joined the Witness Protection Program and lived in Arizona under an assumed name. He eventually went semi-public and issued a blood-curling warning to anyone who might try to kill him. Perhaps he believed that his fearsome rep would suffice to deter aggression -- or perhaps he had been secretly assured that his "sin" against the mob was forgiven. Perhaps he did the Gambino family a favor when he removed Gotti, whose flamboyant antics did not endear him to other mobsters.

I just don't see how the Gravano precedent applies to Michael Cohen. Unlike Gravano, Cohen is not capable of intimidating a professional assassin. Cohen has crossed paths with more than one Russian oligarch, which means that he has multiple potential enemies.

Any talk of the Witness Protection Program is a joke. Did you know that hackers compromised the UK equivalent of the program? Do you think that the US program is impenetrable? How can the federal government offer protection when Donald Trump is the freakin' president?

I can guess what some of you want to say at this point: "Whacking Cohen would be too obvious."

Obvious-ness is a feature, not a bug. After a certain point, tyranny must drop the petticoat and show what lies beneath. The attack on the Skripals was also pretty damned obvious -- hell, Vladimir Satanovich practically signed the painting. Before those poisonings occurred, nobody would have predicted such an event.

Between the Skripal poisoning and the Scooter Libby pardon, Cohen finds himself inhabiting Eddie Izzard's famous "Cake or death" routine. I think he'll choose the cake, even if he has to eat it during a brief stint in prison.

Sure, it has been grimly hilarious to see everyone -- even Trump himself -- concede that Cohen has the power to incriminate the president. If Trump were an honest man, he'd have nothing to worry about. But he is not an honest man -- and for precisely that reason, Cohen will be the puppy who stays loyal to Master even after Master kicks him in the ribs.

Such is my prediction. Only one thing makes me uncertain of this forecast: Trump offered a tweet which was unhinged even by his standards.
“The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use non-existent “sources” and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!”
In the real world, Haberman has been no friend to Hillary. Nearly everything else in this text is similarly surreal -- so much so as to force one to ask that familiar question: Does Trump actually believe what he's saying?

This tweet reminded me of that moment during the campaign when Trump stood before the cameras and pretended that his long-gone steak company was still in business. That look in his eyes...! He really seemed caught up in his own hallucinations, just as he now seems genuinely convinced by the nonsensical things he says about Haberman, Cohen and that "drugged up loser."  

(He also seems to believes his own frequently-told lie that the electoral college favors Democrats. Good Lord. Does that twit even know how the electoral college works?)

Who is the loser? You probably already know that Haberman has identified the "drugged up loser" as Sam Nunberg, even though his former pal Roger Stone is the one who admitted in public that Trump often speaks of Cohen disparagingly. One of these days, we'll learn the truth about what these people think about each other -- and about which ones have done which drugs.

State of play. For months, I've been hoping that New York state charges will checkmate Trump's pardon power. Unfortunately, a loophole in New York law prevents NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from prosecuting those whom Trump has pardoned at the federal level. The current attempt to close that loophole may not succeed.
The New York legislation may have good chances. Democrats hold a healthy majority in the state Assembly. In the state Senate, one Democrat caucuses with Republicans, giving the GOP a one-seat majority.
"Good chances"? This situation doesn't sound so good to me. Perhaps a reader more conversant with NY state politics can tell me whether this gambit will succeed.

Look, I'm not saying that all is lost and Resistance is futile. We still have a chance to defeat Trump -- and even if we did not, we must fight the good fight for existentialist reasons. Who knows? Maybe New York's state legislators will choose the path of honor -- and even if they do not, we may discover other paths to justice. This amusing story gives me some hope for the midterms, although I cannot forget that the Russians (and others) probably possess the ability to hack into the vote tabulators. Giuliani's decision to join Trump's legal team should not make anyone feel more secure.

Whenever rah-rah optimism becomes de rigeur in liberal circles, my cynicism hardens. Remember, nearly everyone predicted a Clinton win in 2016. I did not. Don't ask me to pretend that the glass is half-full when I see only a couple of good swigs left.

Remember when Salon regularly published Lord H.A. H.A.?  Here's a recent tweet from Goodman Acres:
Vote #Trump2020 and vote #GOP in 2018. Makes sure the #BlueWave stays in the toilet, along with turds like #Clinton. By the way, she might run again from jail, because indictments on the horizon. #McCabe going to sing like #CelineDion. #Comey still has #Memos left in SCIF
I enjoyed this response:
Hey, HA HA, I've asked a lot of MAGAts & so far have only been met with crickets or blocked: When is that red pill, #qbert, Storm supposed to start? I was told the Roy Moore loss was supposed to trigger it. Then when Hillary was indicted. And how do I get Soros to pay me?
I too have been accused of taking Soros money. If so, why do I have to order my "heart attack specials" off the value menu at McDonalds? And why am I still using a computer built in 2010?

Added noted: Above, I intimated that the FBI's Witness Protection Program records were hackable. This WP article from 2006 just now came to my attention...
A government consultant, using computer programs easily found on the Internet, managed to crack the FBI's classified computer system and gain the passwords of 38,000 employees, including that of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III.

The break-ins, which occurred four times in 2004, gave the consultant access to records in the Witness Protection Program and details on counterespionage activity, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Washington.
The consultant who hacked Mueller was Joseph Thomas Colon, a young employee of BAE Systems, a sizable defense firm in Illinois. He was let off with a slap on the wrist.
Very good write-up. I certainly appreciate this
website. Thanks!
Dead men wear plaid or don't tell tales or something like that. Mikey Cohen is truly boned. If he keeps shut the Great White Dope might pardon him but Vlad's boys won't. If he does time he might not make it out alive. His best bet might be witness protection.

My concern is the DNC snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Should it not be obvious by now that Cohen is wholly owned by the mob?

Robert I Fridman in “The Red Mafiya” describes the origins and rise of the New York Russian mafia out of Brighton Beach, which had then been Genovese turf, and the pact they made - and still have - with the Genoveses.

The question is whether Cohen will rat on the mob, not Trump. That is what would make the “Sammy the Bull” comparison fit. But the difference is, Sammy didn’t also have dirt on the President of the USA. The mob can use him to blackmail Trump into obstructing the very dangerous SDNY investigation.

Now remember it was not the pundits who first compared Cohen to Sammy the Bull, it was Jay Goldberg. It made me wonder, not at the comparison, but at the fact of bringing up the mob in the first place. But then it turns out that Goldberg has been trial lawyer for the Genovese bosses for decades!

So I read Goldberg’s message in the WSJ as the mob confirming that their man Cohen is 100% ready to bring Trump down unless he fires Rosenstein, which is the necessary first step for obstructing SDNY.

Be that as it may, in any case Fridman’s book is essential reading if you really want to understand Cohen’s background.

I wish you all the best!

Bloomberg has 2013 Moscow flight records. "Jet landed on a Friday, left pre-dawn Sunday after pageant".

"Trump doesn’t actually deny he engaged in some kind of golden showers event. Rather, he denies there were prostitutes. He’s only denying he paid for sex."

Are you all right, my friend? Give me a call.
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