Sunday, September 29, 2019


Reuters published an article quoting a former Ukrainian official who spouts the anti-Biden line:
Ukraine must investigate the activities of Joe Biden’s son to establish whether his role in a Ukrainian gas company complied with the country’s laws, Mykola Azarov, Ukraine’s former prime minister, said in an interview.
And now, for the part that Reuters did not tell you...
The person quoted is wanted for abuse of power and defected to Russia long before Hunter Biden got a job in Ukraine. WTF with quoting an irrelevant, uninformed indictee with an axe to grind? Why not quote Yanukovich?
Another contributor to this thread says that Azarov has also made bizarre accusations against Mikhail Gorbachev. Is he a nut? I don't think so. I think he's trying very hard to please his new Russian masters.

Needless to say, the Ukrainians did investigate; they found nothing against Hunter Biden (who appears to have been hired for a do-nothing gig simply for the prestige of his name). That Ukrainian prosecutor Joe Biden wanted removed was despised by everyone in the world, precisely because he refused to look into corruption.

If there were anything to the charges against Biden, we'd hear about it endlessly from Joy Reid and other "more progressive than thou" voices.

Who's the source? A lot of people -- but not enough people -- have pointed out a strange dichotomy: If Trump's call to Zelensky was as beautiful and innocent as he claims, why did he (contrary to common practice) hide the transcript in the most secure computer system available, the one that is usually reserved for incredibly secret covert operations?

Most of you are probably already aware of the CNN story which revealed that conversations with Putin and MBS were also given the same "Secret Squirrel" treatment. What interests me right now right now is the sourcing. CNN attributes their information to "people familiar with the matter."
In the case of Trump's call with bin Salman, officials who ordinarily would have been given access to a rough transcript of the conversation never saw one, according to one of the sources. Instead, a transcript was never circulated at all, which the source said was highly unusual, particularly after a high-profile conversation.

The call — which the person said contained no especially sensitive national security secrets — came as the White House was confronting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which US intelligence assessments said came at the hand of the Saudi government.
Who is this "person"? The first thought that popped into my noggin was John Bolton or one of his aides. Wouldn't that be a kick? Most of us have loathed the old warmonger for ages. It would be both galling and gratifying if Mr. Mustache were to help bring down this lawless administration.

There are other suspects, of course.

Impeachment: Narrow or wide? I strongly advocate that Dems draw up a wide list of charges. That doesn't mean that there should be further investigation of those charges: It's better to strike while the iron is hot, and the Republicans will commandeer any hearings.

Besides, there is no need to re-investigate what has already been investigated by Bob Mueller and others. The Mueller report laid out at least ten clear instances of obstruction of justice, each of which is as damning as was the "smoking gun" tape that brought down Nixon.

"But none of Trump's obstruction efforts were successful!" sayeth the Trumpers. Well, the obstruction effort discussed in the smoking gun tape was not successful either. Nixon wanted CIA head Richard Helms to interfere with the FBI's investigation of the burglary. Helms didn't do as requested; nevertheless, the request was illegal in and of itself.

The Mueller report is the smoking gun tape times ten.

If the Dems do not cite Mueller's work, the dimwitted public will buy into the Trumpian narrative that Mueller didn't lay a glove on him. Psychologically, giving Trump a pass on obstruction would be the worst possible maneuver. Here's an example of what I'm talking about.

Marcy Wheeler says that obstruction is not the only non-Ukraine item that belongs in the list of charges. She's concerned with the abuse of the pardon power:
Until Congress makes reining in the abuse of executive clemency a priority, the claim that no one is above the law will be a pathetic joke. Plus, there are at least allegations that Trump’s effort to dig up Ukrainian dirt stemmed from an effort to make pardoning Paul Manafort easier. And the Ukraine corruption involves someone — Rudy — who was intimately involving in bribing witnesses with pardons in the past.

More generally, any decision to narrowly craft impeachment would be catastrophically stupid, not least because other impeachable acts — such as Trump’s treatment of migrants — will be far more motivating to Democratic voters than Ukraine. But to leave off Trump’s abuse of the pardon power would be a historic failure.
Trump's playbook has always been to lock up his base -- about 40 percent -- and to eke out a win by smearing the other guy. This Axios piece does a good job of explaining how he does it:
Ask questions, raising the specter of wrongdoing.
Be vague and broad with accusations — specifics can be proven wrong.
Never seek finality. Once it's over, the innuendo is gone and the attack becomes stale.
The suspicions of wrongdoing are always more titillating than the real story.

This is how Trump has worked for years — and not just when there's an election opponent to beat:
These are the tools of the conspiracy theorist. We need a long, long national discussion about the use of conspiracy theory for political purposes.

As readers know, I was -- to my shame -- part of the conspiracy buff community back in the 1990s. Back then, that subculture had a left-wing sector (mostly JFK assassination buffs), which was, more or less, the place I called home. Nearly everyone I knew in that milieu is now ancient, exhausted or co-opted by the Alex Jonesian right.

When you're in the conspiracy buff fringe -- any part of it -- you get a pretty good look at how the other fringe-dwellers operate. You rub shoulders with some very unlikely people. I actually spoke to and argued with Holocaust revisionists and Southern Baptist Satanism-spotters. I met people I never thought I would be in the same room with.

Here's the main lesson I learned: Right-wing conspiracy buffs deliberately use paranoia as a weapon. They are not out to establish truth. They seek to rewrite objective reality itself, to create a new truth -- a truth they prefer. The tactics ascribed to Trump above are tactics that the conspiratorial right has employed since the 19th century.

The big question: Do they really believe in what they are saying?

Did Trump really believe that Obama was born in Kenya, or was he simply manipulating his audience?

Does Alex Jones really believe in the absurdities he spews, or is he just injecting ever-stronger junk into the arms of conspiracy addicts?

Before Alex, there was a guy named Milton "Bill" Cooper. Some of you may recall him; he spoke to massive audiences throughout the 1990s. I never could tell if that guy sincerely believed the lies he told. (Basically, he warned about evil aliens who had gained control of the banking system and the media. His rap was a sci-fi re-imagining of the Great Jewish Conspiracy Theory.)

I could make a decent argument that the publication of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion converted Hitler to belief in the Great Jewish Conspiracy Theory. I've read several Hitler bios, and they gave me the impression that he simply was not that anti-Semitic before 1920, which was the year when the Protocols hoax appeared in Germany. As I recall, Hitler -- after attaining power -- was eventually informed by someone he trusted that the Protocols were a forgery. (Did I read that in Waite's book? I think so, though my memory may be imperfect.) Yet he genuinely believed in the theory even after his main piece of documentary evidence was upended.

So it is indeed possible for someone to be a corrupt manipulator and a true believer at the same time. Trump may be the same sort of person.

Roger Stone is one conspiracy theorist who, I am convinced, is purely disingenuous. He knows full well what he is doing. Trump may be naive enough to buy into his own bullshit, but not Roger.
Joseph, some of the key propagandists probably dont believe their lies but, at some point dealers in agitprop (like drugs) start to get high on their own supply. Conservatives thanks to Hate Radio, Faux News, and the Fascist Social Media live in a bubble of self hypnosis and incestuous amplification.
Trump is a conman, a grifter. I've known conmen, hell, I've represented conmen. Some of them know it's just a con, but the really good ones, particularly the salesmen believe their con. A good salesman has to believe in his product.
tpm has a new twist. Currently Dmitry Firtash, Manafort's business partner, is in Austria fighting extradition to the US to face bribery charges. As part of his effort to avoid extradition he asked Victor Shokin to swear out the affidavit in which Shokin accuses Biden of getting him fired to protect his son Hunter. This affidavit has been seized upon and promoted by Rudolph Guiliani, who has two lawyer sidekicks helping him pressure Ukraine to get the dirt on Biden, a husband and wife team of Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing. And who else do diGenova and Toensing have as a client? Well none other than Dimtry Firtash. Hey, hey the gang's all here!
Why hide the phone calls? For the most logical of reasons that it pains me to have to explain it to the Progressive Fascism that first uncoiled during the George Stephanopoulos interview with Donald Trump and keeps sprouting it's fascist head.

If Trump requests an investigation, he can't then say someone is under investigation during the investigation because that would hurt the standing of the person being investigated. Once the investigation is done, he then releases the info even if it exonerates the person being investigated. It's really that simple.
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