Sunday, July 24, 2016

Bernie is not Going to be Nader 2016

Look, you know my preference. I've been critical of Bernie and he's deserved it.

But he's not rising to the bait over this DNC leaks thing that is transparently a case of Putin trying to damage the Democrats' chances.

Yes. Bernie did demand Ms. Wasserman-Schultz step down. This is besides the point as she's done in January anyway.

But I think Bernie is doing this in part to placate the Bernie or Busters. But he clearly wants to pivot back to Dem unity and defeating Donald Trump.

"Sorry folks, but Bernie Sanders is exhausted, just can't go on any longer. He is trying to dismiss the new e-mails and DNC disrespect. SAD!"

Bernie has been clear from day one he didn't want to be the spoiler which is why he ran as a Dem. Ok, it also gives him much better publicity as he admitted.

Still, Bernie has had little time for Nader since 2000. He never takes his phone calls.

For more on the Trump-Putin connection, Josh Marshall:

1. All the other discussions of Trump's finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin. Here's a good overview from The Washington Post, with one morsel for illustration ...

"Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world."

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

3. One example of this is the Trump Soho development in Manhattan, one of Trump's largest recent endeavors. The project was the hit with a series of lawsuits in response to some typically Trumpian efforts to defraud investors by making fraudulent claims about the financial health of the project. Emerging out of that litigation however was news about secret financing for the project from Russia and Kazakhstan. Most attention about the project has focused on the presence of a twice imprisoned Russian immigrant with extensive ties to the Russian criminal underworld. But that's not the most salient part of the story."

As the Times put it, "Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt."

Another suit alleged the project "occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia."

"Sounds completely legit."

"Read both articles: After his bankruptcy and business failures roughly a decade ago Trump has had an increasingly difficult time finding sources of capital for new investments. As I noted above, Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major US presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin."

"Trump's tax returns would likely clarify the depth of his connections to and dependence on Russian capital aligned with Putin. And in case you're keeping score at home: no, that's not reassuring."

4. Then there's Paul Manafort, Trump's nominal 'campaign chair' who now functions as campaign manager and top advisor. Manafort spent most of the last decade as top campaign and communications advisor for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian Prime Minister and then President whose ouster in 2014 led to the on-going crisis and proxy war in Ukraine. Yanukovych was and remains a close Putin ally. Manafort is running Trump's campaign.

5. Trump's foreign policy advisor on Russia and Europe is Carter Page, a man whose entire professional career has revolved around investments in Russia and who has deep and continuing financial and employment ties to Gazprom. If you're not familiar with Gazprom, imagine if most or all of the US energy industry were rolled up into a single company and it were personally controlled by the US President who used it as a source of revenue and patronage. That is Gazprom's role in the Russian political and economic system. It is no exaggeration to say that you cannot be involved with Gazprom at the very high level which Page has been without being wholly in alignment with Putin's policies. Those ties also allow Putin to put Page out of business at any time.

6. Over the course of the last year, Putin has aligned all Russian state controlled media behind Trump. As Frank Foer explains here, this fits a pattern with how Putin has sought to prop up rightist/nationalist politicians across Europe, often with direct or covert infusions of money. In some cases this is because they support Russia-backed policies; in others it is simply because they sow discord in Western aligned states. Of course, Trump has repeatedly praised Putin, not only in the abstract but often for the authoritarian policies and patterns of government which have most soured his reputation around the world.

7. Here's where it gets more interesting. This is one of a handful of developments that tipped me from seeing all this as just a part of Trump's larger shadiness to something more specific and ominous about the relationship between Putin and Trump. As TPM's Tierney Sneed explained in this article, one of the most enduring dynamics of GOP conventions (there's a comparable dynamic on the Dem side) is more mainstream nominees battling conservative activists over the party platform, with activists trying to check all the hardline ideological boxes and the nominees trying to soften most or all of those edges. This is one thing that made the Trump convention very different. The Trump Camp was totally indifferent to the platform. So party activists were able to write one of the most conservative platforms in history. Not with Trump's backing but because he simply didn't care. With one big exception: Trump's team mobilized the nominee's traditional mix of cajoling and strong-arming on one point: changing the party platform on assistance to Ukraine against Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. For what it's worth (and it's not worth much) I am quite skeptical of most Republicans call for aggressively arming Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. But the single-mindedness of this focus on this one issue - in the context of total indifference to everything else in the platform - speaks volumes.

"This does not mean Trump is controlled by or in the pay of Russia or Putin. It can just as easily be explained by having many of his top advisors having spent years working in Putin's orbit and being aligned with his thinking and agenda. But it is certainly no coincidence. Again, in the context of near total indifference to the platform and willingness to let party activists write it in any way they want, his team zeroed in on one fairly obscure plank to exert maximum force and it just happens to be the one most important to Putin in terms of US policy."

"Add to this that his most conspicuous foreign policy statements track not only with Putin's positions but those in which Putin is most intensely interested. Aside from Ukraine, Trump's suggestion that the US and thus NATO might not come to the defense of NATO member states in the Baltics in the case of a Russian invasion is a case in point."

"There are many other things people are alleging about hacking and all manner of other mysteries. But those points are highly speculative, some verging on conspiratorial in their thinking. I ignore them here because I've wanted to focus on unimpeachable, undisputed and publicly known facts. These alone paint a stark and highly troubling picture."

"To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump's direction, combined withthis much solicitousness of Putin's policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He's the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out 'what's going on' as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher."

"There is something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Putin or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump's financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That's simply not something that can be waved off or ignored."

And the GOP used to tell us President Obama was the Manchurian candidate. 


  1. Mike, I don't know if you noticed the Gary Kasparov tweets I shared with you last week about Trump's convention speech, the best of which said something like:

    I've heard this speech many times before, and it doesn't sound any better in Russian

    Well I saw this headline in the WaPo:

    Donald Trump reminds me of Vladimir Putin — and that is terrifying

    And sure enough the story is written by Gary Kasparov!!

    Isn't the irony thick here??? The right wing media-entertainment-industrial complex and neocons and anti-Putin forces in the GOP have been colluding with the rest of the GOPs effort to dumb down the GOP electorate and lay waste to their critical thinking skills... and now this same mechanism is being used by one of their greatest foreign adversary's to dismantle the US anti-Russia and anti-Putin efforts!!!

    And to further sadden the story most of the cogs in this great wheel are too fucking stupid to even realize what master they're serving. Or if they do realize it, they are so fucking cynical, they don't care.

    Can you imagine the GRU feeding Limbaugh information directly to influence the race? Do you think that Limbaugh would think twice about using that information?

    These guys have lots of high minded blather about freedom, liberty, limited government and strict constitutionalism, but scrape the surface a little and you find a freedom hating authoritarian thug, who only thirsts for government power over those they see as "internal enemies."

    Glenn Beck ought to be going ape shit!!! If Alex Jones wasn't already in the tank for Trump, he should likewise be having heart palpitations! WND, Breitbart, Drudge and Mark Levin too.

    Such sickening hypocrisy! Such utter tools!

    1. Even RedState is ultimately acting like a tool for this to some extent.

      Ted Cruz realized too late that having a shameless lying right wing media propaganda machine and dozens of billionaire funded astro-turf organizations (e.g. Tea Party groups) out actively dumbing down their electorate (to the greatest extent possible) and filling their bowl-of-mush heads with garbage isn't necessarily a good thing when it finally comes time for the mouth breathing masses to rub two brain cells together to massage a thought out.

    2. I would think the Bush family would be freaking out right now. If Jeb had been the nominee do you think his people would have insisted that anti-Russian planks be removed from the GOP party platform?

      And the imagine keeps popping in my mind of Trump playing chess with Putin. Putin could run rings around Trump, but he's too smart for that: he'd let the big dumb orange gas bag win and then lavish him with bombastic praise... all the while lifting his wallet and taking his car keys.

  2. You know when Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960, Nixon probably knew there was something up with the vote in Chicago. He could have raised a giant stink about it, but he chose not to... probably not to undermine the public's confidence in the system.

    Sanders finds himself in a similar situation today, except that he has no choice: the information is out there and available to everyone.

    Still if Sanders loves this country, he needs to do his best to AVOID making a stink out of this and focus people's attention on the Trump-Putin axis of evil.

    He shouldn't publicly be calling for DWS's firing. In **private** meetings with Clinton and her team: sure, twist the fucking knife if he wants, but he needs to keep his shit together for a united front, or he'll just make himself into an anti-American tool like the rest.

    But let's briefly revisit this idea that the RedState commenters broached: What if the RNC emails had been stolen.... WTF kind of corrupt BS do you think we would have found??? I bet you the GRU has those too... but they're sitting on them because they'd rather put their thumb on the Trump side of the scale.

    1. Yes. I'd rather he not do that either. But maybe he feels this is the way to keep the Bernie or Busters from going off the rails

    2. Very true about the RNC. Little of it would be PG rated

    3. It should really be called the "PUTIN-trump Axis of Evil" to emphasize that one is the alpha and the other is the beta.

      Because there's **NO EFFING WAY** Trump would ever in a billion years win a chess game against Putin.

    4. Better yet the [[[PUTIN]]]-trump Axis of Evil. Alt-rightists and anti-Semites use square brackets around the names of white race saviors (as opposed to the round brackets around the names of Jews). (I learned that from Harding... and the ADL... no shit, I emailed the ADL because I saw Harding using the square brackets in one of his posts... and the ADL had just added the round brackets to their library of hate symbols... they emailed me back after doing a little research and let me know that's how hate groups signify their heroes).

    5. ... I left a comment asking Harding directly what it meant, and he responded with a link to another guy's post using the [[[]]] signal. Sure enough, it was consistent with the ADL's description, so we exchanged another couple of emails wherein I pointed that out and they thanked me for the reference. It was pretty cool because they didn't know about the [[[]]] thing (nor did I) before I initiated that email exchange.

  3. ... do you like my explosion of conspiritard thinking?? Lol... of course we don't know there's a "Trump-Putin axis of evil" (Trump is the Jr. Partner because he's too stupid to know what's actually going on, or it doesn't concern him)... so all this is based on *speculation* of course.

    What are the chances that this is all just a master stroke by Trump and it's Putin who's actually being played... so that when Trump is prez, he's unleash the rest of his plot, and shazzam! it's Putin who's pinned to the mat against his will, and it's all just a HUGE political victory for Trump and America, sealing Trump's place in the pantheon of our greatest presidents!

    Bwhahahahaha... it's hard to imagine, isn't it? Except is Trump ends up a dictator and he just says he's our greatest president ever and has his face carved on Mt. Rushmore (four times over: they just chisel down the existing sculptures to make all four of them look like Trump).

  4. You know at some point it becomes incumbent upon the Libertarian party to avoid a Trump presidency because he represents potential authoritarianism and utter destruction of our constitution on a scale not yet imagined by prior generations of Americans (except maybe the founders when they wrote the constitution explicitly to avoid an Orange Supremacist like Trump taking over).

    So *really* when you think about it, at some point it's incumbent upon the Libertarian party to ***BACK CLINTON***... if they really love liberty, small government and the constitution as much as they say they do! Any new program Clinton gets through will be through the normal legislative process and it will be reverse able. Not so for president-for-life Trump's changes!!!... and when Trump dies and one of his sons inherits the throne (Uday or Qusay: I assume there'll be a power struggle) take over, it'll just continue on after that!

    1. I don't expect the Libertarians to back Clinton just yet... only if it becomes clear that they really have zero chance. How could a true Libertarian even consider letting Trump win this thing?

      Same goes for "constitutional conservatives" like Ted Cruz, Ron Paul and Rand Paul. If he (Ted) really is what he says he is, then the choice is crystal clear: normal presidency with reverseable legislation passed by a 1 or 2 term normal constitutionally restrained Clinton presidency... or (better yet, from Ted's perspective) gridlock and "holding the line." .... OR, president-for-life Trump. Does Ted really think he and his family will survive for long once Trump enacts emergency powers, suspends the next election, dissolves congress and has the supreme court justices arrested and replaced with his sycophants? Trump never forgets a slight... they'll be headed for GITMO and who knows what horrors await them there (mere waterboarding will be the GOOD days!).

      Haha... does that sound alarmist enough for you Mike? A bit of a flight of fancy.

      Trouble is Cruz is a snake... he'd worm his way into the admin and backstab all his supporters... but that's not going to work for long. Trump will never trust him, and that's a death sentence.

    2. Cruz for all we know does vote for HIllary.

      Not that he likes her at all. But he wants Trump to lose so he can run again ini 2020.

      Cruz either votes libertarian or Hillary. Definitely not Trump

    3. Sure, I'd expect Cruz to vote Hillary, but to somehow offer her public support (probably by sounding the alarm about the PUTIN-trump Axis of Evil, or otherwise tearing down Trump) would be the real key. If he thinks he can survive that politically, then he needs to do it.

      But again, it's more than just political survival. President-for-life Trump will be sure to exact terrible revenge on Cruz and his family. He needs to pull out all the stops. Too bad for him he gave up his Canadian citizenship.

    4. Cruz cant and shouldn't endorse her publicly as he loses credibility with a lot of conservatives.

      But maybe in the booth he'd be tempted to...

    5. Yes, I know he can't endorse her, but the next best thing is the say he's going to vote for Johnson or the constitution party, or write in Mike Lee, and then keep up the attacks on Trump.

  5. Agree about that. Some of those polls with the libertarians seem to split not the GOP vote but the anti Trump vote