Friday, October 04, 2019

The weed of corruption

The Ukraine scandal. Well, it is now established beyond rational doubt that Trump demanded a quid pro quo: See here and here. As you read, don't forget that Sonderland gave a cool million to Trump's notoriously corrupt inauguration. These guys are filthy -- yet they're talking smack about Joe Biden, famed as the only senator who still lives a middle class lifestyle.

The hell of it is, Biden may not win the nomination. Things are starting to look grim for him. (Also see here.) He still has an excellent shot, but he doesn't have momentum and his followers don't have the kind of enthusiasm seen in Camp Warren.

It's 1972 all over again, isn't it? Nixon's burglars resorted to illegal means to defeat George McGovern, who probably would have been just as easily defeated if Team Nixon had played it perfectly fair. (The real ratfucking in 1972 occurred before McGovern secured the nomination.)

Trump now faces impeachment because he used dirty tactics to besmirch Biden -- a "frontrunner" whose position was always less secure than it seemed. If anything, Trump's ratfuckery forced his Democratic rivals to leap to Biden's defense.

There must be a word for this kind of situation. "Irony" doesn't cover it.

To serve man. Trevor Noah had some fun with the inability of Fox News talking heads to use the word "server." But the Fox Newsers may have it right. A "server" is defined as a computer that provides data to other computers over a network. If you want to keep your data as secret as possible, you don't allow your computer to "talk" to other machines.  No wires; no wi-fi.

Obviously, there must be some sort of input mechanism -- a USB, a keyboard, a mouse. But a "virgin" computer with a USB port is not a server. As I understand it, penetrating these "virgin" systems is considered the most difficult challenge in the world of hacking.

Transcript. There has been much speculation that the "transcript" of the Zelensky/Trump call is incomplete. See here and here and here. Although I'm unsure about this theory, I tend to favor it.

Trump -- who always reveals more than he intends -- bragged about the accuracy of the word-for-word transcript, even though the document itself bears a label indicating that it is not verbatim. He made that boast for no reason. Obviously, a proper word-for-word transcript must exist somewhere, probably on that server-which-is-not-a-server.

Maybe that's why he keeps calling the transcript "beautiful" and "perfect." To him, it is perfect. The real shit was censored.

That's Trump's act, isn't it? He doesn't exactly let the cat out of the bag, but he does hold up the bag in front of the widest possible audience, allowing everyone to hear poor Tabby as he yowls and hisses and tries to claw his way out.

Finally, someone hacked the Russians! This Daily Beast piece by Nico Hines is important.
The identity of the U.S. government’s star witness in a high-profile trial—who subsequently fell out of a fifth-story Moscow window—was compromised in the course of a pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign run by Natalia Veselnitskaya, according to leaked emails.

The Russian lawyer who took part in the infamous Trump Tower meeting with senior Trump campaign officials was part of a secretive campaign on American soil that—according to the emails—may also have involved contempt of court and the violation of lobbying laws. She already has been indicted by the Southern District of New York on obstruction of justice charges.
The incriminating emails were obtained by a brave group of anti-Putin Russians based in London. They call themselves the Dossier Center, and they deserve your attention. Unfortunately, their main site is in Russian.

I truly admire the bravery of these heroes. We all know that Putin is a vile, vengeful pig.

The emails concern a company called Prevezon, owned by Denis Katsyv, a Russian/Israeli businessman. The company did a lot of business in the United States -- and by "business," I mean money laundering. Hundreds of millions of dollars, and most of it was as dirty as lucre gets. The money was sunk into luxury properties in New York and elsewhere.

Trump properties...? Well, he has a history of attracting dirty Russian money.

(Read that piece and you'll scream the next time you hear Trump accuse the Bidens of corruption.)

Prevezon's money laundering ended up in a big court case, which the Russians tried to win using their usual filthy methods. Let's return to the Nico Hines article.
Other emails suggest another court order was violated when the testimony given by a Russian witness leaked, endangering his life before he was due to return to New York to give evidence at the trial.

It was later reported in the Russian media that the witness—Nikolai Gorokhov—had fallen five floors from an apartment building in Moscow. He survived with a fractured skull. He said his fall was no accident, but could not remember exactly what happened.
As I said: Putin is a vile, vengeful pig. So are all of his oligarchs.

How much of this is our fault? We think of the plot against democracy as a foreign incursion. But the plot would not be so successful if our democracy were healthy and strong. The rot set in decades ago. This section from the afore-cited Hines article speaks for itself:
Cristy Phillips, a former U.S. government prosecutor with the Southern District of New York (SDNY) who worked on the case, said she fears that the emails shared with The Daily Beast indicate deep corruption hidden within the American legal system.

“The integrity of our judicial system depends on lawyers upholding their obligations as officers of the court. Most fundamentally, if a court issues an order, lawyers have to follow it and make sure that others on their side follow it. There were numerous senior lawyers on these emails and they all clearly violated a Second Circuit court order. And these were not inexperienced lawyers, several of them are former Department of Justice attorneys,” she told The Daily Beast.

“We’re talking about a case where witnesses had died and other witnesses’ lives and safety had been threatened. These were not low-stakes decisions.”
And now let's look again at one of the other articles cited above. These words were written by the extraordinary Craig Unger:
That’s because the problem behind this assault on the nation’s sovereignty far transcends the criminal arena. I’m no fan of Putin’s, but he was right about one thing: Swaths of American society are corrupt. If we want to protect our most precious institutions, we should examine new regulations in a wide range of sectors. The House Intelligence Committee, the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee have geared up for hearings and investigations. They had better move fast. We have a president who has a long, tangled history with figures connected to Russian organized crime — all of it, apparently, perfectly legal.
We are lurching toward a fascist dictatorship. Yes, Russia bears much blame. So does the burgeoning international fascist movement.

But the deeper truth is that we should not point to any outside force. It's too easy to blame The Eternal Other; the hardest step is to blame oneself. And when I say "blame oneself," I do not mean "blame the rich" or "blame the poor" or "blame the system" or "blame white privilege" or "blame the patriarchy" or "blame inner city blacks" or "blame immigrants" or "blame the fundamentalists" of "blame the Muslims" or "blame the godless" or "blame the socialists" or "blame the libertarians" or "blame the Nazis" or "blame the bourgeois" or "blame the complacent" or "blame the uneducated" or "blame those people down the street" or blame whatever your particular bug-a-boo happens to be. Blame the person you see in the mirror, because that person is as fallible and weak and compromised as any -- and if you tell yourself otherwise, you're just too pigheaded to admit the most difficult truths. The hatred you direct at others is an unconvincing substitute for the hatred you secretly bear for yourself.

The weed of corruption cannot overwhelm the land if you do not allow it soil and water. We all failed in our duty to prevent that weed from taking root. We're all guilty.
A couple of things:
1. Nice Twilight Zone reference.
2. Trump isn't the problem, he is a symptom of the problem. The problem is the dissatisfaction that people have with their condition, read Future Shock for the underlying cause. They blame their general unhappiness on immigrants, minorities or any other handy scapegoat.
3. The real cause for unhappiness is narcissism, as exemplified by our lunatic in chief. The solution is to start caring about others, those same immigrants, minorities and other handy scapegoats that people tend to think is the cause of their unhappiness.
4. Monica Zelinsky is in a terrible position. He may or may not be Putin's stooge, but the Steinmeier Agreement that he signed was pushed by Western Europe. Not only that but Trump directed him to make a deal with Russia. He says that the vote will not be under the barrel of a gun, but that is what the agreement calls for. He says that Russia has to leave before any referendum but the Kyiv Post says they will not and everybody will be back to square one. I don't know what the resolution will be, but it would help if we had a real leader of the Western World.
"That's Trump's act, isn't it? He doesn't exactly let the cat out of the bag, but he does hold up the bag in front of the widest possible audience, allowing everyone to hear poor Tabby as he yowls and hisses and tries to claw his way out."

One of the greatest paragraphs ever, Joseph. Posting it everywhere. Keep 'em coming.
Chrome browser does a pretty good job of translating the Russian Dossier site.
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