Thursday, October 03, 2019

"China, if you're listening..."

We all just heard Trump call upon China to investigate the Bidens -- and this request came in the context of upcoming meetings and trade negotiations. Trump himself connected the two concepts. The message was obvious: China, if you want a good deal, you got it. But I want something from you, though.

Speaking of prodigal sons: Didn't Jared Kushner have a big problem paying the note on that hideously overpriced building at 666 Fifth Avenue? Didn't he seek investment from Qatar and from China, both of whom wanted certain things from this administration? And just why did a development company called Brookfield invest in a building which everyone else considered laughably overpriced?

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick's document dump consisted primarily of weird conspiratorial materials which Rudy Giuliani mailed to people at State. Doesn't this stuff damage Rudy's claim that he did what he did in Ukraine at the behest of State? In other words, it looks to me as though State is dancing to Rudy's tune.

(Do you think Rudy included copies of Behold a Pale Horse or Trace-Formation of America or other conspiracy classics? Maybe in the next tranche...)

Here's the question I want answered: Where did Rudy get that material? Who is compiling this rubbish?

I'm belatedly reading The Road to Unfreedom, a book I heartily recommend even though I disagree with certain sections. From what I've read so far, the fake conspiracy theories in Rudy's trove of paranoia bear a strong morphic resemblance to the ones which Putin would use against his enemies.

Most people don't know that Rudy himself has strong ties to certain unsavory Russians and to equally unsavory Ukrainians. We've already mentioned the strange TriGlobal mystery...
The website of the consulting firm that forged business contacts for Rudy Giuliani in Ukraine and Russia for more than a decade vanished suddenly after his communications were subpoenaed.
Also see here:
Such is the swamp of corruption in Ukraine that Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, in their many dealings with its businessmen, have been only one degree of separation from what’s generally called the Russian Mob. Or maybe less. And that’s not new. It goes back decades, to Trump’s years as a real-estate developer and Giuliani’s campaigns for mayor of New York City.
One of the central figures in the Trump-Giuliani-Ukraine nexus is Sam Kislin, a businessman and philanthropist often identified with the Russian émigré community of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn—and with alleged mob connections.
Kislin was not immediately available for comment.

Giuliani responded to a text message: "You are investigating people who may or may not have contributed to me 20 years ago." In fact, the contributions to his campaigns are a matter of public record. Giuliani suggested this line of inquiry is in itself some kind of coverup. "Why not focus on Biden’s shocking pay to play scheme, not how I uncovered it," he asked.
Oh, fer chrissakes. There was no "pay to play" scheme. Hell, that's not even the allegation being made by the right-wing conspiracy nuts.

With or without Rudy's permission, I think we must concentrate on how he "uncovered" this stuff, because Rudy is clearly not capable of writing those texts himself. We've all seen the guy on teevee. Can you really visualize him sitting down in front of a computer to compose a long document of any sort? He may have been a hotshot lawyer at one time, but -- judging from his recent interviews -- more than a few synapses have fried since then.

You really should hit this link. The portrayal of Rudy's buddy Kislin is pretty vivid.
In at least one instance, Kislin helped newly minted billionaires from the defunct USSR find useful places to put their money. Not in commodities but in luxury apartments.

Real estate was a favorite safe haven for fugitive Russian monies since they could convert mountains of cash into opulent residential addresses with few reporting requirements.

Nobody understood that better than Donald Trump, who had been cultivating Russian and other ex-Soviet clients from the beginning.
The 1990s also saw the flowering of Kislin’s relationship with Rudy Giuliani. As a matter of public record, when Giuliani ran for mayor in 1993 and then for re-election in 1997, Kislin, his family and companies contributed $46,250 to Giuliani’s campaign and organized fundraisers that garnered much more. Giuliani then appointed Kislin to the mayor’s Council of Economic Advisors, a position that Kislin still brags about.
In 1999, as Giuliani was about to launch his campaign against Hillary Clinton for the U.S. Senate in the 2000 election, Kislin reportedly co-chaired a fundraiser for him that racked up $2.1 million in contributions. But just then an investigation by the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity made headlines: “Rudy Donor Linked To Russian Mob,” bannered the New York Post. Even The Moscow Times ran the Associated Press version of the story.

The Center for Public Integrity report noted that Kislin acknowledged “a business history with a reputed Soviet Bloc crime figure and a notorious arms dealer.” It cited a 1996 Interpol report that claimed Kislin’s Trans Commodities was “used by two reputed mobsters from Uzbekistan, Lev and Mikhail Chernoy, for fraud and embezzlement.” It stated that “a confidential 1994 FBI intelligence report on the Brooklyn, N.Y., mob organization headed by Vyacheslav Ivankov, the imprisoned godfather of Russian organized crime in the United States, lists Kislin as a ‘member/associate’ of Ivankov’s gang. It claims that his company co-sponsored a Russian crime boss and contract killer for a U.S. visa and asserts that he was a ‘close associate’ of the late notorious arms smuggler Babeck Seroush, who later settled in Russia.”
It goes on and on like that. My point is this: I really, really want to know where Rudy is getting this shit. I am not saying that he gets it from Kislin; I'm saying that Rudy has ties to the Russian underworld, which is intertwined with Russian intelligence. There's every chance that one of these Russian contacts is using Rudy as a go-between.

Or maybe he's getting the stuff from one of those right-wing conspiracy hacks. John Solomon's name has come up in connection with Rudy's bucket-of-conspiracy-shit. Schweizer, Solomon: Those guys should be investigated for ties to Russia, Cambridge Analytica and the Alt Right.

The fact that Rudy told us "Don't look there" means: Look there.

By the way, here's a podcast which details Rudy's mysterious trips to Russia. Haven't heard it yet, but it looks juicy.

Health: Nobody wants to say the words, but Bernie Sanders suffered a heart attack. I know because I underwent the same "procedure." Sanders should drop out now: Health issues of this sort are a genuine concern. Yes, FDR ran for a fourth term even though he had heart issues (which he hid from the public), but World War II was an emergency situation.

By the way, Hillary looks great as she does the talk show rounds, and her mind seems sharper than ever (which no-one would say of Deranged Donnie). Didn't Roger Stone and his cronies assure us that she was dying of "five fatal diseases" back in 2016? I mean, shouldn't she have joined the Choir Invisible by this point? Or -- forbidden thought! -- is it possible that Roger and the Twitterbots and the crew at the National Enquirer were lying their asses off?

(That "five fatal diseases" line comes from a great old movie. Anyone recognize it?) 

A final word about Bernie. Even if his health were perfect, he should drop out. The stubborn fact is that he has done great harm to the party -- a party he refuses to join.

The man calls himself a socialist. Socialism remains unpopular. Democracy is a popularity contest. Sorry, but facts are facts.

If Dems want to win elections, they cannot have the S-word associated with the party. Elizabeth Warren espouses a number of policies similar to Bernie's, but she rejects the label -- in fact, she calls herself "capitalist to the core." That's the better approach.

The majority of American people support certain ideas and policies which a die-hard libertarian would damn as socialism, and I'm in that majority. But the word itself will always carry a stigma.

And before you say it: Yes, of course I understand that socialism does not necessarily mean government control of the means of production. Even F.A. Hayek, the O.G. libertarian, carefully made that distinction when he wrote that when he opposed "socialism," he was talking about "state control of the economy, as in Nazi Germany—not a welfare state." (Believe it or not, there was a time when Hayek grudgingly tolerated the idea of a welfare state.)

Here's the thing: Hayek can make that distinction, I can make that distinction, you can make that distinction, and your college-educated pals can make that distinction. But the average slobs working behind the counter at 7-Eleven will not make that distinction. To them, "socialism" will always conjure up images of the USSR and the gulags.

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