Friday, February 14, 2020

Bloomberg and Stone and the GOP's "original sin"

I'll vote -- very reluctantly -- for Michael Bloomberg if he secures the nomination. Whatever else one may say about him, he stands a chance of defeating Trump. Bernie Sanders does not.

Imagine the difference between a Bloomberg replacement for Ginsberg versus a Trump replacement for Ginsberg. Need one say more?

I won't vote for Bernie if he is the nominee. Again: He stands no chance of winning in November. Why make myself vomit if no good can come of it?

That said, I don't like Bloomberg and I hope that Dems find some way to block his attempt to buy the nomination. The guy has enough baggage to fill Samsonite's warehouse.

Consider the recent controversy over his 2015 comments about the 2007-08 real estate crash. Bloomberg claimed that the mega-recession was created by Clinton-era laws against redlining. In other words, he sounded a familiar theme: "Blame the blacks."

This analysis was totally false.

Nothing in those anti-redlining laws sanctioned or encouraged home loans to unqualified applicants. Nothing in those laws forced the banks to give massive loans to anyone (white, black, brown, green) who walked into a bank and said "Gimme." Nothing in those laws encouraged Credit Default Swaps and the mis-labeling of sub-prime mortgages and all of the other eldritch financial chicanery that nearly tanked western civilization.

Bloomberg now claims that he is sorry for what he said in 2015. Well, at least the man knows how to apologize, a concession to civilization which puts him several cuts above Trump. But we have to keep in mind that he made his egregious statement a full seven years after the recession hit, at a time when the sordid truth was no mystery. Many documentaries, books and articles told the whole awful story of the financial crisis.

Bloomberg ignored this mountain of evidence -- ignored the truth. Instead, he promulgated a big, big, big lie -- one of the biggest lies libertarians have ever told.

Contrary to libertarian myth, regulation did not cause the recession. The lack of regulation invited disaster.

I have another big problem with Bloomberg: I don't like his fervently hawkish, Likudnik attitudes toward Israel and Iran. Bloombergism could well lead to war.

The following comes from a piece in Jewish Currents.
Time and again, Bloomberg’s unquestioning devotion to Israel has led him to defend immoral and disastrous policies. In 2004, he told an AIPAC reception that on “the one issue that matters . . . standing up for Israel, which I think is like standing up for America, George Bush has been there.” In fact, Bush’s invasion of Iraq—which Bloomberg supported—damaged both Israeli and American security by creating a power vacuum that empowered Iran and enabled the rise of the Islamic State.

Bloomberg has also lauded Benjamin Netanyahu; in 2014, he called the Israeli prime minister a “great leader and friend.” And despite Netanyahu’s demonization of his own Palestinian citizens and relentless opposition to a viable Palestinian state, the former mayor repeatedly sided with him over Barack Obama. Michael Oren, who interacted with Bloomberg frequently while serving as Israel’s ambassador in Washington, last year told The Jerusalem Post that Bloomberg “is not a progressive. He has a deep tribal connection to Israel” that made him “very upset about the [Obama] administration’s treatment of us.”

Bloomberg broke with Obama on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which he opposed. He also parted ways with Obama on Israel’s 2014 war in Gaza. In July of that year, when the Obama administration called Israel’s bombing of a United Nations school “totally indefensible,” Bloomberg objected. Repeatedly referring to the Israeli government as “us,” the former mayor insisted, “Nobody is attacking schools or hospitals, we’re attacking Hamas,” adding that “if Hamas hides among the innocent, the innocent are going to get killed.”
Speaking as someone who considers the Iran deal a laudable accomplishment (which has been unfairly smeared by opportunistic Trumpists), Bloomberg's hawkish stance worries me. Would a President Bloomberg hire John Bolton? I fear so.

Roger Stone. Barr's corrupt intrusion into the Stone case baffles me. Why did Barr bother?

Everyone knows that Trump will pardon Stone. Trump has admitted as much. Alex Jones says so as well, based on info he got from a White House source, who may well be Trump himself.

Since the fix is in, what does Barr hope to accomplish? Judge Amy Berman-Jackson may now go harder on Stone than she might have done otherwise.

Yes, Barr gave an interview in which he dared to tell our Twitter-addicted President to lay off the tweets. Many Republicans have offered that same sentiment, privately and in public, but Barr may be the only one who can say such words and make them stick. Trump needs Barr.

The truly important takeaway from the Barr interview was his unwillingness to explain why he thumbed his nose at the sentencing guidelines.

Writing in Rolling Stone, Rick Wilson says what so many are thinking and too few are saying aloud:
Roger Stone Knows Trump’s Secrets. That’s Why He’ll Avoid Prison
Horseshit. The sentence Stone faced was appropriate because his actions weren’t simply a criminal — and criminally stupid — defense of the president. They were just one part of a wider assault from the transparently corrupt Trump-Barr kleptocracy on the entire administration of justice in the United States.
Of course, Stone likely won’t serve his full hitch, because Trump and Barr know that without a pardon Stone will squeal like a rat in a blender, proving that Trump lied to Mueller and about the details of the Trump-Stone-WikiLeaks connections. Stone sure as hell deserves his time in the graybar hotel for reasons of both ordinary and moral justice, and Judge Berman-Jackson has also likely had enough of Stone’s weapons-grade bullshit and may treat the revised DOJ sentencing letter as the political trash it is.
Pay attention to this next bit...
In the late 1990s, I once asked the famous (or infamous, depending on your perspective) New York political operator Ray Harding about Stone. Harding was a man who knew where all the bodies — literal and metaphorical — were buried. He looked across his desk from behind a cloud of unfiltered-Camel smoke and said to me, “Roger parlayed one line of bullshit into a career. The only person who buys his bullshit is that moron Trump.”
I go back and forth on the mystery of whether Donald Trump believes his own BS. Much evidence suggests that Trump possesses the ability to pull the wool over his own eyes.

Wilson believes that Stone's true punishment will come in the form of "penury" and legal bills. How naive! If Stone really does know Trump's darkest secrets -- and he does -- then his "penury" cannot last for long. Trump (or his oligarch pals) will have to find some way to make Roger Stone prosperous and content.

What secret might Stone be hiding?

Stone was found guilty of intimidating witness Randy Credico, a gadfly radio humorist whom Stone wanted to finger as the "go-between" passing messages between Stone and Julian Assange. But why would Stone go to such lengths -- even threatening Credico's dog -- in order to create this false impression?

The only theory that makes sense to me is that Stone had some other means of contacting Assange. As noted in this earlier post, evidence indicates that Sean Hannity played a role.

During the period in question, Assange contacted a puckish Twitter user who had created a parody account, pretending to be the real Sean Hannity. Thinking that he was in contact with the real McCoy, Assange offered the dirt on a Democratic bigwig -- dirt which would be delivered via "other channels."

In other words, there was a secret, secure means of communication.

Stone sent a revealing text to a key Trump supporter (probably Erik Prince):
On or about October 3, 2016, STONE wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign, “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.”
The next day (October 4, 2016), Stone and this supporter had another text exchange:
...the supporter involved with the Trump Campaign asked STONE via text message if he had “hear[d] anymore from London.” STONE replied, “Yes - want to talk on a secure line - got Whatsapp?”
What does this exchange prove? It proves that the "dirty tricks" arm of the Trump campaign had devised a means of secret communication. Stone -- and, I feel certain, others -- used this channel to speak directly to Assange -- and, I feel certain, others.

If he spoke to Assange, then he could speak to Bog-knows-who-else. 

If Stone were to divulge the existence of this communication system, the revelation could harm even the seemingly-invulnerable Trump. Such a revelation would be akin to Alexander Butterfield divulging the existence of the Watergate tapes.

Here's another other deep, dark secret: Election rigging. I am quite sure that the Republicans have been doing it for decades, "nudging" the results a few points in various close elections. For obvious reasons, they have used this tool subtly and only when absolutely necessary.

Stone surely knows all about it. He must know. The ultimate dirty trickster cannot be ignorant of the ultimate dirty trick. Although it is now trendy to dismiss Stone as a blowhard, I was never one for trends and I refuse to underestimate the man's expertise in scumbaggery.

If Stone goes down, Trump goes down. And if Trump goes down, that whole filthy history of election rigging will come out. If Trump goes down, he'll bring the whole damned GOP with him.

No other theory explains how Trump has gained complete control over the party. This theory explains why so many people who once hated Trump -- Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Paul Ryan, Susan Collins, and even Mitch McConnell (who once returned a donation from Trump) -- have abased themselves so thoroughly.

I doubt that Stone will ever see the inside of a prison. If he does go in, his stay will be brief -- just long enough for the right-wing propagandists to concoct a "martyr" narrative. In the end, he'll be a free man with millions in the bank.

The money will probably be laundered through a book deal. The usual mechanism.

Meanwhile, Reality Winner is still in prison. Her crime? Leaking the truth about Russian interference in our elections. Specifically, she leaked
...an intelligence report about Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections to the news website The Intercept. The report suggested that Russian hackers had tried to access voter registration rolls in the U.S.
Election rigging is the secret. Computerized vote fraud is the original sin that has forced so many Republicans to swear fealty to a man they detest.
Comments:
I think you are correct about the big secret that the Repbulicans are so willing to bow before Trump over. I've suspected election rigging for decades, so your investigation seems to confirm something I've always suspected. I think you are spot on regarding Stone as well.

As to Bloomberg, I think he would be worse than Trump in some ways. I really don't expect he would make much different of a choice for the supreme court than the Republicans would. He's a Republican in Dem clothing after all. Still, I would vote for anyone who gets the Dem nomination at this point, even Bernie (though I understand why you wouldn't be able to do that).
 
Bloomberg and baggage: after Trump baggage has lost it's effect. What matters is how shameless one is. A normal Democrat will try to apologize or worse withdraw in the face of a controversy. A Republican will dig in and defend the indefensible. Bloomberg will follow the republican play book.
The big secret: I totally agree about election rigging being the ultimate must keep secret.
BTW, I just started reading Wilson's new book.
 
Is Stone shrewd enough to have arranged for any damaging information which he knows to come out if he "has an accident" or "commits suicide"?

If not, then his stay in prison might be brief indeed--like Jeffrey Epstein's.
 
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