Is Political Venting Cathartic?

20707937_10159130953575721_4272019695270707812_n

Outrage is expressed across the internet at the (Friday, August 11, 2017) white nationalist march on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. A gathering that is described as one of the largest of its kind in recent memory. The Democratic Party is, once again, tearing itself apart. With Berniecrats and centrists accusing each other of latent racism.

Is this the beginning of the end? Or the end of a beginning?

I do not like racism. I don’t like any –ism. I don’t condone any behavior which is driven by mindless posturing. Without any recourse to reflection and temperance. Especially if it leads to violence. And frankly, that includes much of the behavior of organizations like the AltRight – and BlackLivesMatter. If you care about an issue – especially what you might regard as targeted deaths. Do something about it. Don’t just respond to hate with more hate. And certainly not with violence.

But that appears to be the political order of the day in our world at the moment. What is important is not what is done. Not what is accomplished. Not what is real. Not the hard work, that takes years, and is most often done most effectively behind closed doors, away from photo ops. No. What is most important is what can end up in a Tweet. On Facebook. On Instagram. What gives us the fifteen minutes of attention to which we all now feel we are naturally entitled. What satisfies our immediate feelings. Regardless of consequence.

Deep in the heart of the CNN article about the most recent spat in the Democratic Party is the use of the phrase ‘tone police.’ And that sums it all up. The spat, as with so much in politics at the moment, is not about substance. It is about ‘tone.’ And to be brutally honest, much of that comes back to political posturing. Political profile. Political positioning.

I have no time for the Trigger Brigade or Call-Out Culture. Words are words. Yes, they can hurt. But they are not batons. They are not rubber hoses. They are not attack dogs. Whatever else may be happening in US society today. Whether we are happy or not with our President. Our Democratic leadership. The seeming whiteness of the Berniecrats. The apparent intolerance of BlackLivesMatter. Matched by the seething intolerance of the AltRight. Whether we like a statue or not. The name of a student hall. Indeed, whether or not we like the Trigger Brigade or Call-Out Culture. Whatever is happening. None of this is taking us back to the Fifties and before. None of it is violent revolution. The only ‘revolution’ using that moniker publicly, at the moment, is led by a peaceful 75-year old from Vermont. That is the context. Put it all in perspective.

But should we?

It would be easy to say, hey, just calm down. Stop playing to your gallery. Tone it down – on the subject of ‘tone police.’ Take a deep breath. Find common ground. But, you know. Whenever I’ve been in a facilitation, the first thing a moderator does is say, take five, vent, get it out. Leech the poison. Then, we can get down to business.

I’ve been as ‘guilty’ as anyone of encouraging more fruitful discussion. But maybe I’m wrong? Maybe all this venting is good? Needed? In which case, folks. Take a deep breath. Put it in perspective. There were no lynchings in Charlottesville. No white people have been shot at a BlackLivesMatter protest. The petition-bearers at the DNC weren’t sent to segregated bathrooms. A statue is just a statue. And words are still just words.

So. Vent away. Maybe all this polarizing and demonizing is a good thing? Maybe we need a President who is a demonizer-in-chief? If only for a while? Maybe, our society has been building up so many different heads of steam for so long now, that they all need to blow off for a while? Maybe we could all do with a period during which the poison is leeched?

Provided we keep it to just that. Provided we constantly self-monitor (so as to keep it all in perspective). Provided it does not lead to more hate and to violence. Provided we do admit, if only to ourselves, that more often than not it is just political manipulation. Political posturing. Provided we realize that, at some point, it can become harmful, if, as with facilitation, we do not eventually sit down, and start to engage meaningfully. To look for solutions. To undertake the hard work of substantive progress.

So. Be appalled. All you like. But then. Roll up sleeves. And begin to be grown up …

(Facebook comments are here.)

(This is the first of a batch of posts I wrote about the incidents in Charlottesville, and the following ‘debates’ about racial hatred in the US, the Confederate South and Trump’s behavior in respect of the same. I took the view that the ‘batch’ had about it the air of a series. So, I created a new blog for these posts, called Hate No-one.)

Advertisements
Published in: on August 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Trump: Harmless Buffoon, or Dangerous Demagogue?

RTS161MEcropped

Slightly more than half of Republicans say they would support postponing the 2020 presidential election if President Trump proposed it to make sure only eligible American citizens can vote, according to a new Washington Post poll.

Now can we accept that this man is dangerous, and not merely a buffoon? And that what is required is considered opposition, not just self-gratifying Facebook screaming?

We need focus on a realistic path to potential impeachment. Without losing sight of how difficult this might be within the current Washington construct. A construct of widespread corruption, or at least irrelevance, which makes the pool of ordinary working Americans such a captive market for Trump’s toxic demagoguery. Which, in turn, demands rigid discipline when it comes to choosing metrics with which to encourage those potential swing Trump supporters to abandon him. All the while being painfully aware that the Democratic brand is not selling. And that it needs dramatic updating.

If we pretend to ourselves that Trump will simply implode on his own. That none of this is intentional. That his supporters will wake up on their own. That the ubiquitous demonstration of anti-Washington feeling does not include everyone in Washington, including Senators Sanders, Warren and Harris. That anti-elitism embraces any and all social engineering exercises which emanate from out-of-touch think tanks (whatever their political hue), as opposed to real-life solutions coming from the mouths of ordinary working folk. If we convince ourselves that we can offer trendy-sounding prescriptions from the past, when there is no evidence of widespread political support among those voters Democrats need to capture. If we think that dusting down old-style candidates will do the job. Then frankly, we are as bad as the 50% of Republicans who want a postponement of the 2020 election. And here’s the worst part. I might support them. If it gives Democrats more time to grow the f**k up.

(Facebook comments here.)

Published in: on August 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Putingate: The Entirety of Washington Corrupted?

20638877_10159109446405721_6753321569678425472_n

Another piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Why Republicans seem so reluctant to condemn Trump for his Russian connections. They have ’em, too.

The above attached link again specifically references the Russian oil trading company Rosneft. Which I believe forms an essential element of Trump’s corruption.

However, as I have been writing recently, Rosneft of itself may not lead to impeachment, since it predated Trump’s Presidency.

But, what puzzled me, as I was learning about the Trump-Rosneft deal, was why, since the deal occurred during the Republican Primary, none of the other Republican candidates (notwithstanding the fact that the Rosneft deal was revealed in the notorious Buzzfeed Dossier, which several of those candidates are alleged to have commissioned), none of them called Trump out on the Rosneft deal in any of the debates. Preferring instead to make fun of his hand-size. Now we know why.

But. Here’s the thing. Russian largesse was not limited to the Republicans. There is increasing evidence that Putin targeted Democrats, too. We already know about strange links between the Russians, oil and the Clinton Foundation. But it may be that the Buzzfeed Dossier was offered to the Clinton campaign, as well as to Republican Presidential candidates.

I know a thing or two about a national body politic so thoroughly corrupted with illicit largesse or the passive knowledge of it that it is paralyzed into inaction. I believe that is precisely what I face with my allegations of wholesale and longstanding corruption of the British body politic with arms kickbacks.

I suspect we may be witnessing much the same with Washington and Russian dirty money. In which case, the unwelcome irony is that Trump, far from being the ultimate outsider, is, in fact, the ringleader of the insiders.

(My thanks to twinnise Maggi Gilson for the original linked article.)

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 9:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Putingate Never Vacations

20620886_10159105360240721_7269688946827110572_n

If this wasn’t so serious, it would be hilarious. Both the Democrats and the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee are falling over themselves to try to sub-poena the former British MI6 agent who compiled the notorious Buzzfeed Dossier on Trump.

The Democrats want to find out what is the substance behind the allegations in the Dossier. The Republicans want to know who commissioned the Dossier (we already know it was, first, other Republican Primary candidates, and then, the Clinton campaign). The Republicans are going to take the view that whoever commissioned the Dossier is as ‘guilty’ of colluding with the Russians as Trump.

Earlier this year, I spelled out why the information in that Dossier, and where it leads, is so important. Since then, I’ve also indicated how the information in that Dossier is unlikely enough to lead to impeachment. Why. And how the road to impeachment most probably lies through Trump’s money-laundering for the Russians, specifically, by way of the Magnitsky Act.

But, here’s the thing. By all means, let’s focus heavily. And concern ourselves primarily. With what actually might impeach Trump. Which will not include, of itself, whatever he did during the 2016 US Presidential election campaign. Precisely because he can’t be impeached as President for crimes committed when he was not yet President.

But, let’s not lose sight of the truly distressing nature of what it is Trump did, and is likely still doing, as a consequence of his thirty-year relationship with Russian crooks.

Several of you, over the past few days, have been taking note of a link I posted months ago about the impact of digital psyops in the 2016 US Presidential campaign and the UK Brexit referendum, also of 2016.

That link is actually the primary reason for this post this Sunday evening. Please read the Guardian article. And then find the time to scan through the entirety of the attached commentary thread.

What emerges is a picture that goes something like this. And as fantastic as it sounds, it is not fantasy.

Trump had crooked dealings with the Russians going back thirty years. Whoever made the first move, at some point in the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential election, Putin, Trump, et al decided that having someone in the White House would be useful in achieving the repeal of the Magnitsky Act (if you think this outlandish, think of the plot of the Denzel Washington movie The Pelican Brief).

No-one knew for certain that any one thing would be the definitive lever or catalyst in this regard. So, everything and his uncle was thrown at everyone and his auntie. Classic intelligence modus operandum.

All the Republican Primary candidates were likely approached. Congresspeople were approached. The Clinton campaign was approached. Trump proved to be more responsive than most. And so. Discussions were held with his Presidential campaign as to what could be done to maximize the chances of his success.

And this is where the link becomes important. The most important element for the mechanics of collusion became the apparent melding of Trump’s digital data operation with the Russian state effort. Voter data obtained by the Russians through hacking US voting machines was given to the Trump campaign. Voter data obtained through Cambridge Analytica was shared with the Russians. The two camps then co-ordinated in targeting relevant voters with fake news, fake election information, whatever, whether through Russian state agencies or Breitbart, the National Enquirer, Facebook, and the like.

(Think I’m hallucinating? Try reading my comment to that link entitled: “**TRUMP, RUSSIA, DIRTY MONEY, PSYOPS – UPDATE**. The bloke to keep an eye on is one Brad Parscale.)

As frightening as this revelation may seem, what is even more scary is that the effort did not end with Trump’s election. Why exactly do you think Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is so keen to lay its hands on state voter data?

Wherever Putingate ends up, specifically as it relates to impeachment and prosecution, we must not allow the necessarily narrow focus of that strictly legal process to distract us from the much wider implications of the incredible extension of the surveillance society that Trump is engendering.

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  

A Tale of Two Stories?

20525239_10159085250350721_7666561478870626312_n

Is it really a co-incidence that, in the same week, we have two headline Trump stories, both weird and whacko, both with almost identical structures?

1) Don Jr. meeting in June 2016. A year later, after much conspiracy nonsense. We have the story this week that Trump Sr. colluded in preparing a fake press release. Which is more real? The story behind the meeting? Or, the fake press release getting this week’s headlines?

2) Seth Rich’s death in July 2016. A year later, after much conspiracy nonsense. We have the story this week that Trump colluded in preparing a fake news story. Which is more real? The story behind the death? Or, the fake news story getting this week’s headlines?

(By the by, my take on Seth’s death.)

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 10:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Seth Rich

20479561_10159083824795721_5079330418659851346_n

I normally take great care to upload my posts at times I think are heavy-ish in traffic on Facebook. Just because I’m reasonably altruistic about my motives for advocacy doesn’t mean I’m completely unaware of PR. However. I’m penning this note at completely the wrong time. Partly because my antibiotics have me awake. And partly because this story just pisses me off.

I’ve been trying to avoid it for a year. And then, yesterday, we got news that the White House may have ‘colluded’ in fake news about it. Personally. When Trump is no longer President. I’m going to write to the Oxford English Dictionary, and beg that they remove the word ‘collude’ from the English language forever. I’m sick of it.

Anyways, once again. While the land of my adoption is tearing itself apart over matters of substance. Trying to ensure its citizens receive proper health care. Feel safe within their own identity. Don’t get dragged into another war. Our headlines are hijacked by another bathroom fart from the aging stand-up comedian in the White House.

Sigh. Is any of it real? What might be the true story? The purpose? Is this one more mindless false trail we all have to follow, while being gratuitously distracted from the business of making peoples’ lives better for them? Double sigh.

And so. I awake in pain. And discomfort. But awake. Unable to sleep. I drag myself to my computer. Where, in quite separate, lower body discomfort (the reason for my outstanding application for disability, quite unconnected to the recent attack of diverticulitis – yes, my body is the physiological equivalent of the West Wing (nope, no chaos here!)). I set about researching all the nonsense on Seth Rich.

Totally aware, as I do so, that, at the heart of this research, is the tragic death of a human being. Whose family grieve. Doubly so. Because their personal tragedy has now become the latest episode in the ugly soap opera into which the occupant of the White House has transformed our national civic conversation.

Right. That deals with my many levels of anguish. To the story itself. Once again, the media are looking in the wrong direction. Paying way too much attention to the rabbit in the magician’s hand. And way too little to the hat itself. The press are running screaming headlines about Trump colluding with Fox (for which read ‘Murdoch,’ by the way). I want to find out more about Seth Rich.

Well. Not strictly speaking true. I did append a comment about the screaming headlines to an earlier impeachment story of mine. I include that comment below. But then. I did research on Seth’s death. And the best I could come up with was a timeline from the LATimes.

At which point, I got really itchy (for the relevance of itch, it is a continuation of a theme in aforementioned comment). Why the itch? Triple sigh:

1) Seth did die. That much is real. It occurred during a period which is becoming increasingly important in the Trump-Russia saga: June/July 2016. Right after the Republican convention. Just before the Democratic convention. The Don Jr. meeting was in June 2016. It was murder. There are no leads. Seth was a DNC staffer.

2) Julian Assange of WikiLeaks made his tendentious remarks about Seth in the possible context of source barely a month after Seth’s death. Not a year later. Not when Fox and Trump colluded. Just a month after Seth’s death. If I’ve learned anything from investigating weird deaths, it is to pay attention to what is said at the time. Before the spin doctors move in. I can say nothing more about Assange other than that. But, what he said back then got my attention.

3) Do I think Hillary assassinated Seth? Not going to dignify that question with an answer. Does Putin kill people to hide his footsteps? Yes.

4) Is there any evidence about whether or not Seth supported Hillary? No. Could he have been a source for WikiLeaks? The only person who definitively knows the answer to that question is dead. Could he have been approached by someone acting for Putin? Ditto. Is it likely Seth might have betrayed his employers? It is now a well-known fact that a senior staffer of President Carter’s National Security Council leaked information to the Reagan campaign in 1980, which information was invaluable in Reagan’s victory in the one and only debate of their Presidential contest. Political skullduggery in Presidential elections is not unknown. Does such skullduggery ever lead to death? Well. Has such potential skullduggery ever involved a man like Putin?

5) Seth Rich was the DNC Voter-Expansion Data Director. It is suggested (no more than that) that he might have been undertaking an investigation into alleged voter fraud during the Democratic Primary. The DNC Chair was forced to resign over allegations that the DNC favored Clinton over Sanders during the Primary. Could Seth have become disillusioned with Clinton/the DNC? We do not know. Could Seth have been an interesting source of voter data, whether voluntarily or involuntarily (I mean, he was robbed)? We do not know. Is any of this worth a row of beans? We do not know. Do we disregard it because we can’t prove it? Because the police et al dismiss the conspiracy theories? I spent 29 years investigating a weird death. When all around me were rubbishing what I was doing. Including the police. I’m the last person to ask that question. Do we dismiss the conspiracy theories merely because they are being advanced by supporters of Trump? I have a vague suspicion that is what Trump wants. The ol’ double-take two-step. Someone deliberately makes themselves a source of such low credibility that they become the perfect platform for discrediting the truth.

And. At this point. I stop. We know little more about Seth Rich. His beliefs. His motives. His actions. And his death. Than this. I only write this much. Because. My first reaction to the Trump-Murdoch collusion was: yeah, right, ok, ok, I’ll look. I look. And. Dang. I have questions about Seth’s death. Not the bloody collusion. Like, who cares? But the death? Major itch. And that’s where I’ll leave that.

Meanwhile, I promised my comment from yesterday about that bloody collusion:

“I attach the following for no reason other than the fact that my interest in Hermitage began by my reading what appeared to be a news item unrelated to anything else, but which made me itch:

(Three articles on Trump-Fox collusion over fake news story in May 2017 about Seth Rich death: http://wapo.st/2w5mIMvhttp://bit.ly/2wl2qOd; and http://cnnmon.ie/2vfdiAo.)

This story makes me itch. No more. No less. Just itch. Why? Those two bloody months of June/July 2016. Right after Trump became the Republican nominee. When he became a realistic target for further corruption. When he had a vested interest in beginning to hide connections and trails.

More than this. Once again. We have this monumental distraction. About nothing. And once again. I’m way less interested in the story. Than in questions about agenda, secret purpose, source.

I just feel there is so much behind all of this that we know nothing about. For example. Let’s say I’m right about Hermitage. Then, the following is true:

A) In January of this year, the world turned on its head when four heads of US intelligence agencies appended to a national intelligence briefing to then President Obama a two-page summary alleging that the Russians had information they might use to blackmail incoming President Trump.

B) That story became: the evidence for Trump-Russia collusion; intelligence leaks up the wazoo; Comey; Mueller; and finally the Don Jr. meeting. Before morphing into …

C) This could all be about thirty years of money-laundering by Trump for Russia. And specifically …

D) The Hermitage money-laundering pipeline.

Now. If this trail eventually proves to be true. Who would have known it, merely reading stories about that two-page briefing back in January?

From the very moment there was even a hint of Trump folk meeting with Russians, this whole fandango has had about it the sense that the entire American nation was dropped into the middle of a long-running, secret soap opera. Where we, the public, have been denied the script, the plot, the pilot episode, and the Cliff Notes. And instead, we’ve been offered trailers, by way of leak, only months after the episodes have been released to us. Out of order.

And so. I feel there might be something here. But who knows what? Who knows if it is real, or distraction? And where it might fit in? Is the story Wheeler, or is it Rich? I have no clue, other than the fact that it is likely one more piece of the puzzle to watch, to see what develops. Sigh.”

Is any of this impeachable? Likely not. The death occurred before Trump was President. Besides. If Seth’s murder was anything other than a tragic but ordinary street crime, it was likely the Russians. And we’ll never be able to prove it. Plus, faking a news story is not a high crime.

One last point. Is it really a co-incidence that, in the same week, we have two headline stories, both weird and whacko, both with almost identical structures?

I) Don Jr. meeting in June 2016. A year later, after much conspiracy nonsense. We have the story this week that Trump colluded in preparing a fake press release. Which is more real? The story behind the meeting? Or, the fake press release getting this week’s headlines?

II) Seth Rich’s death in July 2016. A year later, after much conspiracy nonsense. We have the story this week that Trump colluded in preparing a fake news story. Which is more real? The story behind the death? Or, the fake news story getting this week’s headlines?

And so. I need to go lie down again. Not sure I’ll sleep. But, what the hey. Meanwhile. I have given this story the attention it deserves. Posting it at 6.00am my time. Dead time.

Seth deserves more attention. As do his family. But not this story. Which means. Since the universe is driving me to pay any attention at all. That it will likely become the story of the century. I will be so glad when this Presidency is over. Quadruple sigh.

Facebook comments here.

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 10:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Putingate: Are we being fed a Tale of Stitch-Up?

20414280_10159075933480721_1145795870550446054_o

Following the testimony of #HermitageCapital CEO, Bill Browder, this past week, there is some suggestion that the same firm of Washington lobbyists (#FusionGPS) may have been behind both the infamous #BuzzfeedDossier and the equally-notorious Don Jr. meeting. And that behind them are much the same Russians.

In other words, the Russians weren’t merely trying to ensnare Trump in the 2016 US Presidential election. They were playing all sides. Something I’ve mentioned before. Even in somewhat signature, Geoff, tongue-in-cheek style.

I offer this not as distraction. But to add to the picture. Which increasingly looks like a Washington game of musical chairs. Where the truth is hidden. Because it might spoil too many well-heeled cappuccino’s. On both sides of the political aisle. While the rest of us are fed a very watered-down tale of stitch-up.

Now granted, the suggestion is coming from less than salubrious sources. But behind the sources still lies the testimony of #BillBrowder, who is certainly no Trump crony. So. Take a look at the linked articles below. Make up your own mind. It’s not as if my instincts have been that out-of-whack so far:

1) Fusion GPS behind Buzzfeed dossier. Russians behind Fusion GPS.

2) Fusion GPS says it complied with law.

3) Democratic and Russian collusion, too.

4) Democrats –vs- Browder.

5) Fusion GPS heavyweight global players.

6) Who is actually full of crap: Browder or Fusion GPS?

Here’s the thing. The IsraeIi Intelligence source for my book is regularly vilified and his credibility attacked. And yet. Governments, intelligence agencies and power groups around the world still use him. He may be a sleazebag, out to make money, who lies like we breathe. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know his stuff.

As always, keep your ears and eyes open. Gather information from wherever. And then make your own judgment call. You aren’t going to find truly sensitive information in the obvious places. You’re going to find a lot of it hiding in the gutter. Bear that in mind.

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 10:05 am  Leave a Comment  

When Left-Wing Sensitivity Becomes Right-Wing Intolerance

20507065_10159071399570721_5905156953239813932_o

I’m always fascinated by things I do not understand. One of these is the thin green line between strident left-wing politics and intolerant right-wing advocacy. An article in yesterday’s London Guardian helps to explain how the line can be breached.

How a lady, once admired as an aggressive British Labour Party activist, fighting against the treatment of British Muslim women as second-class citizens. Turned a corner. And became an ugly, latent, right-wing fascist.

I have seen some of this upfront for myself. My sense of it is this. Liberals, progressives and the like tend to be passionate. I said this of the British Labour party in the UK General Election this year.

It is sometimes difficult to determine the quantitative impact of some left-wing politics. Because the left tends to be noisier than the right or the center. That passion can be further aroused when under attack.

I observed this specifically when I was living in Carrboro, NC, where a significant number of those who are politically active perceive their municipality as a bastion of progressive ‘common sense,’ surrounded by an ocean of right-wing nutjobs.

The problem is that this sense of isolation, of constant assault, can lead to over-reaction. A need to build the walls high. Keep out intruders. Maintain the purity of the flame.

Eventually the paranoia can lead to precisely the sort of totalitarian righteousness that liberals normally condemn.

So. As I say. I can bear witness. I’ve seen it in action. But it remains fascinating for me to read someone else describing it. Not least for its help in understanding why so many working Americans are attracted to Trump.

(Facebook comments are here.)

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Putin, Trump, Hermitage, Dirty Money – Finally, the Impeachable Offense?

20294189_10159062123640721_8297351099082287807_n

So. You stayed up all night to watch the US Senate vote to nowhere on Obamacare skinny repeal. You’ve followed the headlines all week. Dominated as they have been by the Boy Scout speech, the foul-mouthed rant, the transgender ban and the continued sniping at the Attorney General. And you think you’re totally up to scratch on Trumponian maneuverings? Think again.

What if this was all distraction? Again. I mean, did any of you see any kind of meaningful article on the testimony given to the Senate Judiciary Committee by one Bill Browder? Of course not. And you think that is a co-incidence? Hmm.

Look. I dragged myself out of my sick-bed just to bring attention to this story. You can take it from here. Do your own homework. I wrote the serious post (well, several of them). You follow the links. I even wrote a fairy story. And did the radio interview on The Opperman Report.

Bottom line? If your name is Vladimir Putin. And you’ve made some $200 billion. By taking 50% of the funds that Russian oligarchs, corrupt government officials and the mob have been laundering overseas. And those funds are banked in the West. And could become subject to US economic sanctions and asset freeze. Then. For sure. You’re likely going to do all you can to co-opt the US Presidency. And get those sanctions lifted.

And if your name is Donald Trump. And you’ve been in bed with Russian dirty money for thirty years. Why not make friends with a Russian with $200 billion to launder?

But, why are Hermitage Capital and Bill Browder so important? I mean, heck, $230 million is peanuts, when set aside $200 billion. Well. Of course it is.

The point isn’t the amount of money. The point is that the Hermitage theft leads back directly to Putin. Which would make him subject to the Magnitsky Act (which you will recall has been an especial target during all the Trump-Russia meetings. Which would lead to Putin being sanctioned, and his assets in the West being frozen. Without the need for further US legislation.

Huh. So, I get Hermitage is important to Putin. But, if it is that important, and Trump is so closely connected to Russian dirty money, wouldn’t we expect Trump to have done something about Hermitage? Well. Um. Yes.

In March of this year, Trump fired the Manhattan US Attorney (Preet Bhrara) who initiated the New York civil action against the US end of the Hermitage theft. And there is some suggestion that the reason for the premature ending of that action was ‘political’ arm-twisting.

All of which raises a new and interesting question in my mind. Who exactly is wearing the trousers in the Putin-Trump relationship at the moment?

The inference so far has been that Putin is on top. He knows where the skeletons are buried. He has dirt which could bring down Trump. And he may have been behind some of the potentially more dangerous revelations about Trump’s dealings with Russia. Plus, Putin is roughly 50 times richer than Trump. Surely Trump needs Putin, more than the reverse?

Not so fast. Putin is only rich if he gets to keep the money. And he only gets to keep the money if a US President finds a way around those sanctions and Magnistsky. Putin is never going to do better than Trump. So. Maybe the center of gravity has shifted?

Granted. Trump is having trouble lifting sanctions. And Putin does still have access to his money. But, I would say the situation remains fluid. Lots of mental arm-wrestling going on at the moment.

In the meantime, frighten yourself silly with this thought. Let’s say that, when all the testosterone clears, Putin realizes he needs Trump more than Trump needs him. Trump may never be able to lift sanctions. But he can probably veto any attempt personally to sanction Putin. Leaving the latter unfettered access to his pot of gold.

If that were to be the case, what do you think history would say. Heck. What do you think Anderson Cooper would say. If. It came to pass. That the most productive period in US-Russian relations began with the ability of a crook occupying the White House personally to blackmail the Russian President?

But, here’s the thing. Trump can’t blackmail Putin if his ability to do so is obvious. So, Trump needs to get rid of all those pesky investigations into his racketeering with the Russians, and the election misdeeds of 2016.

Now, I’m not saying for one moment that Trump’s actions are solely altruistic. He wants everyone and his uncle just to stop looking at 2016. Make that all go away. So that he and his family face no retribution. Either for 2016, or for the thirty years of criminal activity before 2016.

But. If it did go away. He would be left free and clear to blackmail Putin. And remake the political world order. Stomach-churning, right? But, that’s realpolitik for you. And even though I raise that possibility, I’m still pretty sure this is not the sole, ultimate ambition of The Donald.

Whether it is a consequence of blackmail, power-play, or genuine friendship, if Trump allows Putin to hang onto his money, don’t you think Putin is going to look favorably on brand Trump, post-The Trump Presidency? Trump isn’t just about cleaning up his past. Or doing favors for the rest of the world. He wants to secure a credit line for the future.

So. Shudder at this image. Trump leaves office. Having remade the world order. To the astonishment of everyone. His brand polished. And now underwritten for the next three generations. Ain’t perspective a b***h?

But. Yup. Time for another ‘but.’ But. Get this. Trump can only do any of this if he can regain control over his own Department of Justice, Congress and the Senate.

More to the point. He can only do this if he isn’t impeached. And, as difficult as it may be actually to define Articles of Impeachment that might stick. If Mueller can offer prima facie evidence that Trump sought to gain financial benefit from Russia, in return for ‘interfering’ as President in the New York Hermitage case, that might well constitute the smoking gun in any impeachment process.

Hmm. So. What should we expect next? I think The Donald will have to sign off on the new Russian sanctions. Buy some time. Putin won’t be affected personally. Sessions is history. So is Rosenstein. So is Mueller. Then again, maybe Trump will just ignore Mueller.

The White House staff is going to get right royally shook up whatever else happens. Reince Priebus is another soon-to-be departure. And expect Trump to use his considerable fund-raising talents in 2018 to target those Republican legislators who are not openly backing him (for example, on health care reform), along with those Republican legislators saying he can’t fire Sessions and Mueller.

Trump is no-one’s fool. He hasn’t been Tweeting about Sessions and Mueller and wayward Republicans for the hell of it. He hasn’t been reshuffling his legal and media teams, and gathering advice on pardons, because it’s a fun summer hobby. He’s building steam to change the nature of the chessboard during the coming summer recess.

For the rest, make your own predictions. But this much is true. We are getting closer to the heart of the story: Hermitage and Magnitsky. Just bear in mind how many of the Russians at that meeting with Don Jr. were there specifically because of their concerns about the Magnitsky Act.

Now. Back to bed …

(Oh. And by the by. Since I’m a published author myself. I bought Browder’s book, Red Notice, several years ago. I wasn’t aware of its import then. To be honest, I just liked his jacket language. I don’t think too many other folks were aware of its import, either. Bearing in mind I bought my copy on the Barnes & Noble $5 Clearance table. Then. Times change. As of today. Red Notice is #89 on Amazon’s Bestseller List.

I’m viewing this as a sign from the universe. Take me to the book. Buy it. Keep it. Wake up one day. To discover its contents are suddenly uber-topical. And it takes off. Just as Maggie’s Hammer will do. When the world discovers that I’m right about massive arms corruption within the British political elite. Hey. You have to believe!!)

(Facebook comments are here.)

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 9:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Trading Places, The Sequel: The People Trump The Democrats

20246381_10159045300935721_558479061855777434_n

Pelham, PELHAM!! What is that noise? That rumbling? That shaking of the earth?

Why Ashburton, I do believe it is a thundering herd of swing voters rushing pell-mell, topsy-turvy, headlong, in frantic joy, towards the Democratic Party.

Thank you, Charles. Thank you, Nancy. Thank you, Tom. For finally coming up with a set of policies that tugs at the very heartstrings of the beating kidneys of ordinary working Americans everywhere. Thank yo …

Hang on. This wouldn’t be the same Democratic Party that didn’t think to implement policies attractive to working folk while in power, would it? In fact, isn’t this much the same warmed-over platform that was promised, but never delivered back then?

**Cue sound effect of stampeding herd of rhino’s, played backwards**

(Or, do I need to wash my mouth again, while taking my medication? I mean, I hate to be crass, but, in among all the photo ops, did anyone see a Democratic leader wearing a pair of jeans? Just sayin’ … )

(Facebook comments here.)

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 9:29 am  Leave a Comment