Saturday Report 8/13/22 - What starts in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic...
The Best of the Rest of the News
— Did America have a true “Manchurian Candidate” in the White House for four years? A literal agent for one or more foreign governments and/or international organized crime figures? According to numerous reporters and authors, Donald Trump had gone from doing business with the American Mafia in the 70s and 80s to laundering money for Russian oligarchs in the 90s and early 2000s. Reporter Tim Robbins’ A Brief History of Donald Trump and the Mafia published in 2016 by Vice News gives insight into Trump’s mobbed-up early years, and Jeff Stein’s 2019 Donald Trump's Mafia Connections: Decades Later, Is He Still Linked to the Mob? for Newsweek raises even more questions, leading into his laundering money for Russian oligarchs and other international organized crime figures.
As David Cay Johnston wrote for Politico, “[H]e’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn…”
Johnston adds, “Within a few years Donald J. Trump had made friends with the city’s most notorious fixer, lawyer Roy Cohn... Among other things Cohn was now a mob consigliere, with clients including ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, the most powerful Mafia group in New York, and Paul Castellano, head of what was said to be the second largest family, the Gambinos.” (all emphasis mine)
After his multiple bankruptcies and the failure of his casinos in the late 1990s, some reports indicate Trump was largely bailed out by Russian oligarchs running money through his real estate operation, and today the government of Scotland is looking into possible secret and illegal Russian money-laundered financing of one of his golf courses there.
The Mueller Report documented both the multiple ways Putin and his government worked to get Trump elected president, and identifies ten specific instances of Trump himself committing the federal crime of “obstruction of justice” while trying to cover up his involvement with the Russians.
Now we find that he left the White House with documents that could be worth billions to foreign governments and, just a few months later, the government of Saudi Arabia gifted $2 billion to the Trump family (and nobody is saying how many millions or even billions they gave Trump himself to use Bedminister to feature their sportswashing LIV golf tournament).
Yesterday we learned that the FBI is investigating Trump for possible violations of the Espionage Act, which could land him in prison for decades. Watch this space.
— Are death threats now a normal tool of politics for Republicans? Prior to Donald Trump’s arrival on the political scene in the 2015 Republican primary, threats of political violence were largely confined to the fringes of rightwing conspiracy fever swamps and among white supremacists like members of the Klan and radicals like Tim McVeigh. But one of the hallmarks of fascist politics is the use of violence and threats of violence to intimidate political opposition and cow the public, and, in this regard, Trump has delivered in spades. From telling ralliers that he’ll pay their lawyer fees when they assault protestors, to telling police to be “rough” with suspects, to now provoking threats against a judge and an attack on the FBI office in Cincinnati, violence has followed Trump throughout his political career.
With fascist politicians, this is normal. When Hitler began his political career he was accompanied by violent brawler gangs who eventually came together under the umbrella of the civilian volunteer Brownshirts; Mussolini had his own militia groups who he whipped together into his volunteer civilian Blackshirts; Orbán’s Hungarian partisans regularly threaten violence against Roma people and refugees; Bolsonaro’s thugs gleefully beat up Lula supporters in Brazil; Duterte bragged about his rogue Philippine police loyalists murdering thousands of “criminals” and opposition figures; Pinochet’s goons threw liberals out of helicopters. Trump is running the same playbook with Trump-aligned white supremacist gangs like the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, Oathkeepers, etc. The big question today is whether political violence will continue after Trump leaves the political scene, or if the Republican Party will come to its senses and return to simply shilling for billionaire tax cuts and more air and water pollution. Can the political violence genie be put back in the bottle? Listening to this guy isn’t encouraging:
— There’re YUGE pro-democracy protests happening in Brazil: will Bolsonaro survive the backlash against the authoritarian dictatorship he tried to set up? Brazilian strongman Jair Bolsonaro had tried to reinvent Brazilian politics along the violent, fascist lines pioneered in South America by Chile’s CIA-supported dictator General Augusto Pinochet. But citizens of that country, having been led prior to Bolsonaro’s reign by progressive President Lula, aren’t having it. Protests have erupted across the nation, and with presidential elections coming up in October Bolsonaro is running far behind Lula in the polls. Thus, in true Trump fashion, he’s claiming that if (when) he loses the election it’ll be because of “voter fraud” and electronic voting machines, and that he will refuse to recognize the will of the voters. Governments across South and Central America are bracing for a coming political explosion.
— Republican politicians who openly and enthusiastically reject democracy are winning primaries in the most important swing states, setting up a very dangerous 2024 if they can carry 2022 elections. In Minnesota, Big Lie enthusiast and antisemite Kim Crockett will be the GOP candidate to become that state’s top election official, Secretary of State (SOS). In Arizona, the GOP SOS candidate is Mark Finchem, who not only claims the election of 2020 was stolen from Trump but marched on the Capitol on January 6th. Amy Loudenbeck, another Trump-humper, is the Republican candidate for SOS in Wisconsin, and the top candidate for SOS in Michigan is Kristina Karamo, who claims Dominion voting machines handed Biden his victory in that state. In Nevada, Jim Marchant — who wants sheriffs to show up to suppress the vote at polling places in minority neighborhoods — is running for SOS, and in Pennsylvania the candidate for Governor, Doug Mastriano, promises to appoint an SOS who would have handed that state’s vote to Trump in 2020. These are major threats to democracy in America and every American should be very, very alarmed. And registered to vote!
— How “Christian” is it to expel a 5-year-old orphaned girl from school because the aunt who adopted her when her parents died is lesbian? This tragic behavior by a so-called Christian school in Louisiana does not reflect the Christianity I grew up with and learned when I was trained and ordained in 1972. Apparently the people running this school have never bothered to read the Sermon on the Mount or the Parable of the Goats and the Sheep, which most Christians believe are at the core of Jesus’ teachings. And to add insult to injury, these hypocrites are demanding that we pay their property taxes for them!
— Geeky Science! What starts in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic... In 2019, the IPCC reported that the Arctic is warming about twice the rate of mid-latitudes like where most Americans live. New research, though, published this past week finds that the Arctic is warming as much as 4 times faster, radically speeding up problematic weather changes ranging from droughts to floods to violent storms. Keep an eye on this research: this will affect all of us and determine the habitability of the planet we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren. Along the same lines, thankfully Congress was able to pass major legislation this week to reduce emissions here in the United States. This is a big deal, given that we are the world’s largest emitter of CO2. Sadly, not one single Republican in the House or Senate voted to save our planet.
— Crazy Alert! Trump is calling the Qanon crowd to his side. When Trump announced the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago on his Nazi-infested social media platform “Truth Social,” he put the video over a music bed of the Qanon theme song. It’s a sign of desperation, but also a dangerous shout-out to this fringe and often violent cult.
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