Thursday, October 17, 2019

If Trump wins, should we blame a "Catholic conspiracy"?

For the second time in recent memory, I must break my "no eulogies" rule. The heroic Elijah Cummings, one of the finest sons of my adopted city, has left us. I wish he had lived long enough to see the end of Trump's reign of error.

Speaking of which, we must address a very basic question: Hope. Is there any?

I'm not the man to go to for slap-happy optimism. For that, you want Bill Palmer. I'm a different sort of person -- a born cynic who, in the first grade, refused to take part in a school-wide "good posture" competition on the grounds that all human endeavor is pointless. (My dad had recently informed me that the sun will burn out in five billion years.)

So I can't give you much hope. That said, we have some good news.

Gordon Sondland is testifying as I write, and to judge from his opening statement and preliminary reports, he's telling some of, though not all of, the truth. It's not the full bus-toss we might have hoped for. In fact, as Marcy's analysis proves, his statement includes "grade A bullshit," particularly in regard to his "call me" comment, which historians will file next to James G. Blaine's famous postscript "Kindly burn this letter."

Sondland has to protect himself. That's understood. But in the end, his testimony will probably leave a few tire tracks marring the president's yard-and-a-half of red polyester neckwear -- and that's the best outcome we can reasonably hope for.

I've said it before: Trump's idea of "loyalty" amounts to "die for me." He asks too much of his cronies.

They're nuttier than a jar of Peter Pan! There's also the matter of Trump's increasingly obvious signs of...well, madness. There's no other word to describe his bizarre letter to Erdogan, which everyone is mocking -- even the Russians. (Check out this dramatic reading, in which a feisty grey cat plays the role of Erdogan. Priceless.)

Even more bizarre was Trump's recent encounter with Nancy Pelosi, in which Trump apparently claimed that ISIS fighters (or was it the Kurds?) are "communists," and that the Democrats are communists as well. Obviously, Trump has been reading fascist websites: The disciples of Hans-Hermann Hoppe habitually apply the "communist" label to anything and anyone they don't like. They also think that all "communists" deserve to be murdered.

Giuliani is another citizen of Wackyworld:
When Rudy Giuliani logs into Twitter, he’s presented with a world where the recent California power outages were staged by military operatives rooting out cannibal-pedophiles deep in their underground bunkers.

It’s a place where President Donald Trump only betrayed the Kurds because they were running black sites for a global deep-state cabal; where former Trump Russia adviser Fiona Hill ran an anti-Trump spy ring out of the White House; where former Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta eats children; and where the pope is about to seize world power, and maybe already has.

It is the worst that the right-wing internet fever swamp has to offer, and it is all right there, waiting for Giuliani to consume.
That's who's telling Trump and Giuliani how the world works: TwitterNazis.

As heavily propagandized as our populace has been and will continue to be, most Americans are not quite ready to accept the TwitterNazi view of reality. When most Americans hear this stuff, they flash on that famous scene of General Jack D. Ripper blathering on about his precious bodily fluids. (At least, older American will flash on that image. Take another look at Dr. Strangelove: Compared to Giuliani and Trump, Sterling-Hayden-as-General-Ripper seems calm and rational.)

Even Rick Perry can't quite bring himself to believe in the "General Ripper" version of reality.
In an exclusive interview with the WSJ, Perry said he obliged Trump’s directive in order to better orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Zelensky. He told the WSJ that Giuliani expressed several concerns he and Trump had about the Ukrainian government’s alleged pro-Hillary Clinton interference in the 2016 election, including the conservative conspiracy theory that a trove of Clinton’s deleted emails are hidden somewhere in Ukraine. None of these allegations have been substantiate
Nevertheless, Trump will win. So why do I remain a pessimist? Why do I think that Trump will probably succeed? It all comes down to two men:

1. Attorney General Bill Barr. He's spooky. He's a pro. He's not an idiot. He knows what he's doing.

2. DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. For months now -- probably more than a year -- I've been warning anyone who will listen that the guy is dirty. Right now, you probably don't believe me. You will. You will. 

Together, Barr and Horowitz -- along with Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, about whom I know almost nothing -- have been working on a report which will allegedly expose the truth about the origin of what Trump calls "the Russia hoax." Recently, Trump -- who always blabs more than he should -- expressed foreknowledge of this report's conclusion. He even suggested -- in tones reminiscent of a boy anticipating Christmas -- that the report will finger Obama as an evil conspirator.

Maybe it will. The report will certainly target James Comey; word has it that George Soros may get a mention. This reeky concoction will be used to justify much of the conspiracy blather we've heard from QAnon and other far-right sewer-swimmers.

In short and in sum: I expect this report to be the most outrageous hoax since the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It may well be just as effective.

I don't know what form the pseudoevidence will take. But advance indicators suggest that this "investigation" will focus on Joseph Mifsud, the strange Maltese professor linked to George Papadopoulos. Mifsud is often described as a key link between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.

Here's a glimpse of the sort of dude we're dealing with:
The Italian intelligence community had Mifsud on its radar for some years before he got involved in the Trump campaign’s troubles. His affiliations with both the Link University of Rome and London Center of International Law Practice—both often affiliated with Western diplomacy and foreign intelligence agencies—made him an easy target. So did the slew of apartments he owned in Malta that are allegedly tied to a racket involving Russians buying Maltese passports for cheap.
In recent times, he has gone missing. For a while, people thought he was dead, until he was spotted in Rome last April. Quite the man of mystery, Mr. Mifsud is.

My "Spidey sense" tells me that he may be lodging with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a.k.a. the Knights of Malta, a fascistic quasi-religious order. SMOM owns a building in Rome that claims the status of an independent country, even though this "nation" has only two or three residents. Leonard Leo, the power behind the Federalist Society -- which has chosen most of Trump's judicial appointments, including Brett Kavanaugh -- is a member of SMOM.

Bill Barr made a secret trip to Italy, where he probably met Mifsud, although the Daily Beast says that he went there to hear a secret recording of Mifsud. Barr himself is heavily involved with the weird world of the Catholic extreme right, as this must-read new article details.
The buttoned-down, establishment-seeming Barr is actually neck-deep in a web of extremist conservative Catholic institutions, and he has been for the last three decades.

Barr disclosed on a questionnaire submitted during his Senate confirmation process that he’s been an active leader of several far-right Catholic and Christian groups. As recently as 2017, he was on the board of directors of the DC-based Catholic Information Center, led by the ultraright and secretive group Opus Dei. He’s not alone in being tied to that center. Its board includes the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone is a former board member.
When the history of this era is written, people will understand that Trump was manipulated in large part not by Putin, but by extreme-right Catholics -- many of whom despise the current Pope. If Michael Wolff's most recent book is correct (as I believe it is), Trump himself is quite aware of this.

Let's get back to Mifsud.

I wish I could tell you who that man really is or what kind of game he is playing. I know this much: He is the historian's nightmare -- a professional double-dealer. Like George Nader, he's a furtive, spooky fellow whose ultimate loyalties are difficult to determine.

If you read more than a dozen books in the literature of parapolitics, you'll encounter a number of similar operatives. For example, Aleister Crowley played on both sides during the first World War: He wrote propaganda for the Germans while funneling information to Brits. No matter which side won, he won. One might also mention British historian Christopher Andrew, usually linked to MI5, although some believe that he has veered a little too close to the Russians in recent years.

There's an elaborate right-wing fantasia -- no doubt spread by the lads in St. Petersburg -- about Mifsud and the role he played in the origin of the Russia scandal. I don't claim to understand this narrative fully. Since I'd like to keep my lunch down, I refuse to visit the right-wing websites in order to learn their current TOM (Theory of Mifsud). But I do know that they want the world to believe that Mifsud was an FBI agent, not a Putin agent, at the time he contacted Papadopoulos.

To illustrate the point, here's a brand-new tweet from Mr. P:
With the new info coming out from Flynn’s lawyers regarding Mifsud working for the FBI, I hope either the @washingtonpost demands an apology from Comey for spreading propaganda in its paper, or to remove his op-Ed where he characterized me working with a “Russian agent” (Mifsud).
Horowitz and Barr are going to argue that Mifsud was working for Comey. It's gonna be a "blame Comey" theory.

Here's the thing: I have no doubt that Mifsud did have some sort of contact with the FBI. He'll probably be able to produce evidence to that effect. (Apparently, we already have evidence of contact with the FBI years before the 2016 election.) Remember what I said about him being a professional double dealer? Remember what I said about Aleister Crowley working for both the Germans and the Brits during WWI?

The bottom line is that Mifsud, if alive, will tell whatever story Team Trump wants him to tell.

It gets worse. Whatever garbage story these guys (Mifsud, Barr, Horowitz) manage to concoct, it'll be backstopped by "evidence." This evidence will be bogus, but it'll look damned good. Remember, the Trumpers have Spookworld's finest working for them: The FSB, the right-wing faction within American intelligence, the right-wing faction within British intelligence, the Italians, maybe the Israelis. These guys are pros. They can come up with fake documents, fake voice recordings, even fake videos.

So color me pessimistic. Trump will win. His bogus reality will become...reality.
Gordon Sondland got hit is his wallet by boycotts to his Washington state and Oregon hotels, hence his willingness to throw Trump under the bus. Big enough to buy an ambassadorship but not Koch Bros big.
The Schmitz brothers had some murky crossings into the lives of George and Simona Papadopoulos. Knight of Malta Joseph, seated next to George in a famous photo, was "looking for" Hillary Clinton's "missing" emails on the dark web with Erik Prince, and Simona said she once worked for his brother John, and even tried to hire him as George's lawyer.

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