For the first year of this Trump presidency, I loudly proclaimed the path of “pay attention to what they do, not what they say.”
Today’s world is full of mendacious distractions and entertaining smokescreens that have allowed, shall we say, a certain agenda to grow deep tentacles into the soul of democracy. And if you don’t think that Trump and his puppeteers have tremendously large tentacles, perhaps the largest ever dangled in the face of human decency, think again. Sad.
My embroilment, often tense, sometimes cynical, has often contradicted the advice of several competent counselors—colleagues, friends, and family. However, trying not to dwell on the dark side, while an arguably good defense for mental health, did and does not for me seem a recipe for ultimate success four our dream culture, not to mention the survival of the species.
As the holidays approached, the secretive federal budget passed, ushering in a new era of austerity replete with stone age assaults on social benefits. According to the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, the scorekeeper that informs congressional budget policy, it will deliver a whopping $1.5 trillion addition to the deficit over the next decade.
The tax bill spewed outrageous financial benefits and tax cuts for the likes of Chris Collins, Donald Trump, the Mercers, the Kochs, and the other global .01% oligarchs. Not so much for the rest of us. And the bill opens up the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration.
Within minutes of the bill’s passage, Republican leaders announced that they will begin to look at “reforms to the social safety nets” so that they can reduce the deficit predictions. They will now open a new war on social security, medicare, and health insurance. The tax/budget bill is clearly a rout by the so-called right.
Through New Year’s day I was not expressing a whole lot of holiday cheer. The Ministry of Love was settling in for a long and cold winter’s night. “Watching what they do” brought the concept of this column, and its title “Done and Dunner” to the forefront. The chilling reality of the raging Republican war on America has gelled.
Happy New Year! The First Five Days in January!
And then came the New Year, and oh boy, the last six days have been energized by glistening distractions and revelations. I am not just talking about the Buffalo Bills here. I mean, hail and salute and all, and I too will long remember the numbing almost two decades since the so-called and damnable Music City mud pie, just as I will long remember Bucky f*king Dent in my lifelong run in the Red Sox Nation. Go Bills! But I digress.
It has been a wild and wacky five days of political rock-and-rolling.
It appears by many accounts that the Republican smoke-and-mirror machines are still vulnerable to the transparency of the First Amendment. And, this is more than disturbing, and full of pathos, the life and times of Donald J. Trump are shaking that bowl of jelly.
Tuesday, 2 January, 2018
Late in the evening of January 2, The New York Times published an opinion piece “The Republican’s Fake Investigations” by Glen R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch. These two gentlemen are the principles in the firm Fusion GPS which broke significant news. This the company that compiled the Steele (or Trump) Dossier.
The dossier is the controversial opposition research intelligence file linking Donald Trump to Russian influence, also known as money. As in less then ethical deals that link to money laundering. The Dossier also contains salacious allegations of how the Russians have Trump by his gigantic (longest) short hairs (in the world and in history) because of video taped sexual escapades allegedly produced during Trump’s Miss Universe Pageant that was held in Moscow in 2013. He is alleged to have been, ahem, grabbing some unsolicited and unwelcome body parts. You probably knew that about him, even back in 2013, but its good to be reminded of the quality of the character of this person that currently resides in our White House.
In any case the Democrat and Republican funded dossier, which is widely regarded as accurate in the global intelligence community, makes a good case that Donald Trump could be blackmailed by certain characters that have a, shall we call it a “nouveau peristroika” approach to reordering the world.
Fusion GPS hired the former British Intelligence (MI6) operative, Christopher Steele. Steele ran MI6’s Russia Desk during between 2006 and 2009. He started his own private intelligence firm in 2009. The file was commissioned with funding from both Democrat and Republican opposition research funds.
“Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm that Produced Dossier” NYTimes 27 October 2017
You may know that Fusion GPS’s Glen R. Simpson and Peter Fritsch were called to testify before three Congressional Committee’s this past summer. They provided 21 hours of recorded testimony. In the NY Times piece, they reveal some of their testimony that helps to describe how the dossier came to be, who paid for it, and what the research shows. It apparently shows substantive links to money laundering, bank statements, and the corrupt Deutsche Bank, and a decade of Trump properties benefiting from sketchy sources. Possibly criminal sources.
From the article:
“We suggested investigators look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump’s businesses. Congress appears uninterested in that tip.”
“We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering.”
“The intelligence committees have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign. Yet lawmakers in the thrall of the president continue to wage a cynical campaign to portray us as the unwitting victims of Kremlin disinformation.”
You may not know that company that created the Steele/Trump Dossier have testified under oath about these things. You may not know because the Republican controlled committees, The House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, have refused to release any transcripts. This is why the firms principles authored the New York Times piece.
The article’s title “The Republican’s Fake Investigations” puts a laser beam on the republican disinformation strategy that seems to be the Russian way. The question is are the republicans chasing rabbits as the article suggests, or like so many malcontents, are they the radicals that your father may have warned you about? Jeese, whatever happed to glasnost?
The Fusion GPS representatives ask that their full testimony be released. They want you to know what they have said. Under oath.
Wha s’up with this?
Another huge news story broke this week when New York Magazine ran excerpts from Michael Wolf’s new book Fire and Fury.
You probably heard about the book, and it’s fulsome broadsides against Trump, his West Wing Cast and Crew, and his family, -by individuals once inside, or still inside the West Wing. Comments and profiles come from Trump’s onetime right-hand man Steve Bannon and many others. Wolf had access to the West Wing and it’s denizens for much of the first year of the administration.
The New York Magazine article “Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President- The plan to lose, and the administration’s shocked first days” roiled the political and media landscape with comments and quotes from and about Bannon, Donald Trump Jr., Roger Ailes, Ivanka, Melania, Rupert Murdock, Kelly Anne Conway, Reince Priebus, Ann Coulter, Jarrod Kushner, Katie Walsh, and so many others. The comments and quotes are astonishingly revelatory, portray Donald Trump as a nearly illiterate child, eating a constant diet of MacDonalds cheeseburgers because he is afraid of being poisoned, and provides an insider look and the near insanity that has overwhelmed the Oval Office the White House and our government. Staffers that have had to negotiate some profoundly disturbing circumstances.
That Same Day The Guardian ran a story about the book that included statements from Bannon that included characterizing the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jarad Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Russian operatives “treasonous.” He also is quoted as saying that the investigation by the FBI into Russian collusion will focus on money laundering and said “They are going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”
The White House responded that day with a detailed statement, allegedly written by Trump that started with the sentence “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency.” “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, but he lost his mind.”
On January 4, The Hollywood Reporter ran an article by Michael Wolfe, about his new book: “You Can’t Make This Shit Up: My Year Inside Trump’s Insane White House.” In this piece he talks about “the feuds, the fights, and the alarming chaos” he witnessed while writing the book.
On that same day Trump’s attorneys sent “cease and desist” letters to Bannon, Wolfe, and the publishers of the book, ordering them to stop talking and to not publish the book, or….well I guess the President would sue them. That day the publishers announced that they were moving up the publication of the book to the next day, rather than next week as originally planned. It was released for sale on Friday January 5. Wolfe went on a media tour and thanked the President for making his book popular. This is real Trump TV!
Saturday January 6
—Fire and Fury is one of Amazon’s Best Sellers. Shortages are reported, but he publisher promises to restock.
—Donad Trump starts the day with this tweet:
“Now that Russian collusion, after one year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence…..
….Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star…..
….to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”
Back to “what they are doing”: the flame is burning hotter
In addition to the upcoming and ongoing austerity strategies that flavor the the republican trickle down dreams, there continues to be the Paul Ryan/Mitch McConnell pretense of shrinking governement and making America great. It is so clearly transparent who they are fronting for.
What they are doing both inside the White House and in the Republican driven Congress is continuing to dismantal federal agencies, eviscerating the FBI by pushing out long time professionals that are working on the Mueller investigation; appoint new federal prosecutors, for instance in Manhattan, which is where Preet Bahara once served and is the home base of the Trump money laundering investigation; change policy so that off-shore drilling, along both the west and east coasts will not face scruitiny (even some republican elected officials in Congress and notably Florida Governor Rick Scott are oppossed to much of this deregulation; creating more difficulty’s for states that have liberal Marijuana laws; and there is that whole DACA/Wall thing.
Net Neutrality: in your face
The Republicans have some help with their prescriptions for change. Apparently, public comments solicited by many federal agencies on radical policy changes such as the Net Neutrality change by the FCC, are widely out of proportion in support of elected republican representatives policy changes.
For instance, polling regarding the Net Neutrality law that was recently changed, showed that and overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans-83%, and incuding75% of registered republicans -were not in favor of changing the rules. And yet, the public comments posted to the agency were almost exactly the opposite. And of course, the widely unpopular but profitable for the few changes, were adopted by the republican controlled FCC On December 14. In a controversial action, the FCC voted 3-2 to change the rules to eliminate neutrality in favor of big business profit.
Now the public comment submissions have been revealed to have been mostly phoney, and hacked. The FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rule-making public comments site recieved 22 million comments. Thats an enormous amount of public comments. Most were anti-neutrality. The names of fake people, dead people, and hacked accounts of living people were used. Millions of the comments were sent from Russian accounts.
It appears that bots, or automatic programs that spread disinformation through social media and now with comments are being used to influence policy making by interfering and falsifying public comments. These are not just social media influencing strategies. These are actual stolen identities, false identities and faudulent comments by forces that are invested in changing American democratic policies.
The New York Attorney General has opened an investigation into this sabotage of the lawmaking process, but the FCC is obstructing justice, refusing to comply with requests that would help the AG get to the bottom of things.
Do these comments influence decision making? many will say that they do, most often. At the veery least these public comments can be used to justify political and policy decisions.
See the Rachel Maddow report on hacked comments.
According to reporting by the Wall Street Journal-the comments hack is ongoing and effects many other public comment opportunities involving federal agencies. These agencies include the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission. Does this include public comments for the EPA? All agencies considering rule change that can effect peoples lives, American policy, American democracy? This is an ongoing and growing threat to a free society. It is happening right now.
It was just a year ago the Director of National Intelligence released the assessment that Russia interfered in our presidential election to help Trump and hurt Clinton. This included hacking our information and social media systems. They are not done with us. And they appear to have collaborators.
Tracking the bad guys
There is an organization called the Alliance for Securing Democracy that hosts a website that tracks twitter accounts that come from Kremlin sources that post messages that are widely circulated in social media. The most recent update covers the period between December 9, and December 31 2017. The overview of this period states:
“Between December 9 and December 31, we examined 182 unique articles that were among the top URLs shared by Kremlin-oriented accounts on Twitter. Twenty-nine of those articles (16% of all URLs) attempted to discredit the FBI, the DOJ, the Mueller investigation, or some other element of the so-called “deep state. Attacks on Robert Mueller and his team were featured in roughly half of those articles (48%). Sexual misconduct was the primary theme in 10% of examined articles; all of those articles either attacked accused Democrats or attempted to discredit the accusers of Roy Moore or President Trump. Media bias, “fake news,” or other allegations against the “mainstream” media were the primary themes in 7% of the examined URLs. While Democrats/liberals were the most prominent targets (23% of all URLs), Republican opponents of the president (most notably John McCain) were targeted in 7 articles (4%). Syria was again the most prominent geopolitical topic (12% of all URLs). Of the 21 articles that featured Syria, 11 promoted an anti-U.S. narrative (52%), 5 portrayed Russia as a victor/savior (24%), and 4 attacked the White Helmets (19%). Pro-Kremlin views on Iran (6% of all URLs), Ukraine (2%), and the Olympic doping scandal (2%) were among the other most prominent geopolitical themes. Europe was the focus of eight articles (4%)—all of those articles featured stories about migrant crime and/or applauded the countries that have refused to accept migrants under the EU’s quota system.
Some forces are faking our political processes to fake our politics. They mostly remain as hidden hands. If we are lucky, we will get to the bottom of this conspiracy. If not we will still have the golden haired jiggling objects to laugh at. Sad. This is happening right now. This is what they are doing. Aren’t you worried?
GreenWatch Sunday Morning Video: Supersize Me by Morgan Spurlock
(or how a steady diet of MacDonald Cheeseburgers makes us sick, overweight and mentally unstable.) thats my subtitle, but if the shoe fits…..