Debunking This Syria Conspiracy Stupidity (and saying goodbye to the tinfoil hat brigade)

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Back when all my friends were going bonkers over “Star Wars” in the late 1970’s, I was obsessed with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind“. I even wanted to become a “ufologist” like Dr. J. Allen Hynek. I bought/read dozens of books and was absolutely convinced UFO’s and alien hijackings were real.

Then I grew up.

Once I started asking questions, the stories started to fall apart. Nothing stood up to scrutiny. Have I mentioned lately that I used to be a Republican? I stopped believing what Republicans were telling me for the same reason. Nothing I was told ever stood up to even the lightest of scrutiny (not to mention frequently steeped in racism and religious dogma.) Asking questions saved me (and my sanity.)

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows two things about me: 1) I DESPISE “conspiracy theories” (note my thorough debunking of “The Four Basic 9/11 Conspiracy Myths” written nearly ten years ago), and 2) I don’t suffer fools well. If you are going to attack me and demand (additional) “Proof!” that something I tell you is true, you had better be on firmer ground than I with “proof!” of your own at the ready. And if your idea of “legitimate trustworthy journalism” is a pro-Russian blogger in Minsk, while calling The New York Times and Washington Post “fake news”, your opinion carries all the weight of a mouse fart as far as I’m concerned.

The VERY ELECTION of Donald Trump seems to have birthed an entire legion of tinfoil hat wearing “Conspiracy Theory” paranoids. Hey, I get it. I supported Bernie, and the fact Cheetolini occupies the White House today still defies belief. But there was no “conspiracy” against Sanders and the Media didn’t decide the Primaries OR the General Election winners. The Super Delegates & Electoral College did. If you read some of the vitriol I see on my Facebook pageSTILLsix months after the election… towards Hillary Clinton, it’s difficult to understand how so many of these same Troglodytes foaming at the mouth over their hatred for Hillary could believe Trump needed “The Media’s” assistance to win, or how they made Hillary popular enough to defeat Bernie.

Like others have said: if you could reason with zealots, there wouldn’t BE any zealots.

And now, with this counter-attack on a Syrian airfield in response to their use of chemical weapons… and let’s not gloss over that detail as we grow numb to the words. Chem-i-cal Wea-pons“. Death by chemical weapons is beyond horrific… burning eyes & skin, choking to death as your lungs are scorched by acid, people/CHILDREN writhing in agony, vomiting blood till death is a welcome relief… the tinfoil hat wearing crowd… with all the expertise as a 9/11 armchair physicist… appear to be more than eager to defend Syrian President Assad… a brutal dictator (like his father before him) who has been bombing entire cities full of people who’ve dared oppose him for the last seven years… on the grounds that suddenly… after seven years of slaughtering 400,000 “of his own people”… are asking, “Why would he use chemical weapons on his own people? Especially when he was so close to winning?” Instead they seem incredibly quick & willing to believe that in fact their OWN country… the United States (admittedly no angels ourselves)… is actually framing poor innocent Assad. (Note, in the April 4th attack, not only did Syrian fighter jets drop chemical weapons, they also bombed grain silos with the goal of starving the rebels… whom we know aren’t simply “ISIS fighters”, but entire cities that include women & children.

Seriously? Okay, let’s pause for a moment and use some common sense here.

What is more likely?

a) A man who has been bombing & starving rebel critics of his administration for seven years and has all but turned Aleppo to dust saw an opportunity to wipe out his opponents once & for all after Trump & Tillerson gave him the “regime change is no longer our policy” greenlight, by using chemical weapons we KNOW he had as of 2014…

OR

b) Less than 24 hours after Trump referred to Assad’s presidency as “acknowledging [a] political realit[y]”, he then disguises American fighter jets as Syrian S22’s and orders them to fly in and drop chemical weapons we DON’T have on Syrian children in an attack that all but destroys the friendly relationship he was building with Putin making Trump look like a naive fool? And in a massive conspiracy not seen since Roswell, not a single pilot with a guilty conscience over dropping chemical weapons on children to come forward and say, “No, it wasn’t Syria. It was me.”

…because those are your options.

Some disbelievers claim this was a distraction from the salacious approval of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court via the “nuclear option”. Hardly. Republicans acting like Republicans isn’t a catastrophe worthy of committing secret war crimes by dropping chemical weapons on children that would result in the Trump Administration being tried in The Hague for War Crimes should the truth ever come out. The “risk/benefit” ratio is wildly off there.

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve bumped heads with these past few days demanding “Proof!”, then respond to me by posting links to unverifiable videos on YouTube that are impossible to verify and without attribution, or links to websites that look like they coded it in their mother’s basement, citing questionable sources, produced by people they know absolutely nothing about who could FAR more easily be producing complete fiction to cloud the evidence to protect the guilty. They simply accept these questionable sources as fact because they confirm what they already believe to be true. One of the most popular video “proofs” I repeatedly get are links to a “reporter” named “Eva Bartlett” “demolishing” critics that dare suggest Assad is the aggressor and the rebels are anything but devious terrorists. But Bartlett is NOT a “reporter”. She works for no news agency and isn’t on the ground in Syria. She’s a Canadian blogger that works for “Russia Today” and has dedicated herself to defending Assad (one popular video is of her responding to another Canadian reporter at a conference… hosted by the Syrian government and invited to speak at their behest… where she makes a number of claims, including a popular one among the pro-Assad crowd, that one girl… the same girl… can be seen being rescued in three separate videos. It’s not true of course [ibid], but as Mark Twain reminded us, “A lie makes it halfway around the world before the truth gets its shoes on.”

They are wildly untrusting of Western Media, yet readily accepting of what documented vicious tyrants like Assad & Putin tell them. I just don’t get that. Once you reach THAT level of mistrust of your own government, it’s time for you to go… another country or a padded cell. It’s your choice.

Now a bit of history…

Following the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979-80, our greatest enemy was Iran. And when the Reagan Administration took over in 1981, they decided “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, so they befriended Saddam Hussein (who had been at war with Iran for years.) And they gave (conventional) arms (and money) to Saddam (and… as we discovered later… to Iran too as part of the “Arms for Hostages” deal they secretly brokered). As the Iran/Iraq War escalated, Saddam used chemical weapons on Iran and we did nothing about it.

Then, at the very end of the Reagan Administration, Saddam used chemical weapons yet again… this time on his own people. Iraq has always been a nation of three violently opposite religious sects: The Shia, The Sunni’s and The Kurds. The Kurds despised Saddam and wanted him gone. And apparently the feeling was mutual as Saddam actually dispatched agents to assassinate Kurds that dare leave Iraq to live in London or Germany. Sounds completely counter-intuitive, right? Why would Saddam want to murder the people he hated for moving away? Because that’s just the kind of guy he was. He couldn’t make their lives miserable living abroad. He wanted them in Iraq where he could make them suffer.

In March of 1988, Saddam attacked the Kurdish occupied town of Halabja with chemical weapons. Again, we turned a blind eye (until Bush Jr used it as an excuse to invade Iraq in 2003.) “Why would he attack his own people” some of you might ask? (As you are asking of Assad today.) Because, as I already pointed out, they hated Saddam, launching attacks trying to assassinate him (and years later, a Kurdish ex-pat named Ahmed Chalibi would convince a gullible George W. Bush to take Saddam out for him by claiming the existence of “stockpiles of WMD’s” that no one had seen or could prove the existence of), and the feeling was mutual.

In 1990, President George Herbert Walker Bush’s “Ambassador to Iraq” was a woman named April Glaspie. That July, Saddam delivered a message to President Bush that he wished for “friendship” between Iraq and the United States, then… just one month later… invaded the neighboring kingdom of Kuwait. The month after that (September), Glaspie personally visited Saddam, shook his hand, and gave him the greenlight, telling him: “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait.” [ibid] (Kuwait had been accused of “slant-drilling” on the Iraqi border to steal Iraqi oil, and Saddam… still an American ally at the time… they felt was well within his rights to attack Kuwait over it.)

But the war in Kuwait dragged on… and on… and on… into 1991. The Kuwati’s had hardly no military to speak of (nothing to compare to Saddam’s “fourth largest army on the face of the earth” after the U.S., China, and Russia) offered little in the way of resistance. Then, news of “atrocities” (same real, some fake) begin to reach the U.S. Media, literally embarrassing the Bush Administration into responding.

And by late February 1991, Saddam had been kicked out of Kuwait and was now our sworn enemy.

Are you noticing the parallels yet? In December, then President-elect Trump appeared to side with Russia over the Syrian conflict and stated his opposition for any further support of the rebels, leading to the fall of Aleppo before he even took office. The result was the ratcheting up of an already ongoing war, yet four months later, rebel forces continued to hang on and Assad’s frustration continued to grow. The second largest city in rebellion against Assad, Idlib, became the new rebel stronghold.

And just as Saddam was told we wouldn’t interfere in 1990, Trump & Tillerson told Assad on April 4th that “regime change in Syria” was going to be left “up to the Syrian people” and that we would just have to live with Assad’s presidency as a fact of life. Given the green light of a new American president… friendly with their ally Russia… promising a non-interventionist policy regarding Syria, a frustrated Assad… who had a history of using chemical weapons (map)… even against his own people… leapt at the chance to crush the rebellion once and for all.

And this is where the doubters ask for “proof!” despite the fact there is nothing unusual or out-of-character for him here. “Assad would be “crazy” they proclaim to do this now “when he’s so close to victory”. That’s quite an assumption there. “So close to victory?” Says who? The fighting has been going on for seven years, and Aleppo fell four months ago, yet Assad’s opponents continue to fight.

First off, this was an aerial bombing. And launched just hours after Trump said we wouldn’t pursue regime change in Syria. Russia freely admits that. Russia (and Assad’s) defense against the accusation that Syria dropped “chemical weapons” (a war crime that, if true,… that would not only land Assad in the Hague, but Putin as well for being complicit in that crime. Russia actually has officers stationed at that Syrian base from which those planes were launched) on the rebels is that the rebel warehouses they bombed… unbeknownst to them… contained huge caches of chemical weapons that filled the air when they were bombed (in self defense.) So: “attack by air and by Assad”… not in dispute. Confirmed by Russia. And the very next day, Assad launched a SECOND aerial attack upon “Khan Shaykhun” from the very airstrip Trump ordered bombed the day before. ISIS doesn’t have an air force. Neither do the rebels. And if bombing the rebels “less than 24-hours” after Trump & Tillerson made their non-interventionist remarks made “no sense” to you before, then why are Syria & Russia admitting they did indeed do just that… launch an aerial strike against the rebels just hours later? (And I remind you that Russia & Assad are claiming they DID NOT KNOW there were supposedly chemical weapons in those warehouses they bombed, so they can’t use their presence as an excuse for why then went after them that day.)

Second question: Is it possible they are telling the truth about the chemical weapons released in the attack as belonging to the rebels, only to aerosol when bombed and carried away by the smoke? There are a number of problems with that scenario: One, the dispersal area is just too large to have come from individual warehouses being blown up and having the chemicals either rain down or spread by smoke. If this were the case, the chemicals would have dispersed downwind of the areas targeted, not localized at the point of impact. Yet maps of the areas that suffered chemical exposure are all localized with almost no drift:
 

WMD affected areas, Idlib Syria
WMD affected areas, Idlib Syria

 

It is impossible to verify whether of not every location where chemical weapon exposure occurred had a hidden cache of chemical weapons within it, but (Two) try to imagine the extraordinary stroke of good (bad?) luck required of all those Syrian fighter pilots to have stuck SO many hidden caches of deadly (and apparently wildly unstable) chemical weapons spread across Idlib province. They freely admit they had no idea they were there, and yet somehow they just happened to locate a dozen such caches precisely where they bombed? Assad needs to stock up on lottery tickets before his luck runs out.

Three, “Transporting” such dangerous chemical weapons for miles across Idlib Province would be incredibly dangerous with a high risk of accidental exposure that could kill thousands should an accident occur. So if the rebels produced those weapons, they didn’t move them around. They would have had to of been made locally… or more precisely at the very site that was bombed. Why? What use are they to them there?

Four, the ability to make such weapons is not a common skill, and not something you learn quickly. This would mean a merry band of wandering minstrels chemical bomb makers traveling from town to town to make a cache of chemical weapons for storage “right there” and then moving on. That seems unlikely… not impossible, but highly improbable.

And five, now we must ask, “How did they intend to use them?” As I’ve already pointed out, they don’t have an air force, and transporting large quantities of the weapons by ground is too dangerous. You’re not going to use them locally and risk exposing your own people, so that pretty much leaves one option: suicide bomber. Drive to Damascus some 300-350KM (4 hours) away in a vehicle loaded with deadly chemicals, pray you don’t hit any bumps along the way or get stopped by the Syrian police, and blow yourself up when you arrive. Sounds doable. So we check…

Number of suicide bombings in Syria over the past seven years that involved chemical weapons? ZERO.

Defenders of Assad keep asking “Why now when he was so close to victory?” So then, couldn’t we ask: If the rebels were “so close to defeat”, why would they sit on these huge stockpiles of chemical weapons and not use them? That makes even less sense.

Another popular question: “I thought Assad gave up all his chemical weapons in 2014?” That’s a fair question. Problem is, we just don’t know. According to their ally Russia, Syria turned over 1,300 tons of chemical weapons to them claiming it was their entire stockpile. It was also the job of Russia to close down all of Syria’s chemical weapons production facilities. Russia admits they were only able to shutdown 21 of 23 facilities because two of them were in warzones they could not safely enter.

As I’ve pointed out in other op/eds recently, the seething out & out boiling vitriol I read from Hillary haters on a daily basis now almost defies comprehension. I mean, I’m no fan of the woman and didn’t vote for her last November, but you’d think Hillary personally dropped by their house and boiled their bunny just to hurt them personally. I seriously think there are a few million alarmingly immature people out there in desperate need of psychotherapy… emphasis on the word “psycho”… driven to irrationality by the 2016 election.

It is now “a given” and forlorn “fact” to them that “Hillary Clinton gave those chemical weapons to the rebels” when she was secretary of state. So you ask simple questions like “How?”, “Where did she get them (since we don’t make them)?” and “How did she transport them to the rebels in Syria?” Often what I get in return are unrelated links to claims of what an evil person she secretly is, links to unrelated & debunked clams she sold 20% of our uranium stockpiles to Russia (not true, and has nothing to do with WMD’s or Syria), and inevitably childish name calling.

They like to compare the “false claims Saddam had WMD’s” to these claims against Assad, but when I point to the fact that both Saddam and Assad used chemical weapons against “their own people” numerous times before, they don’t see a connection. And while Saddam was only “accused” of having WMD’s, we have evidence here in this very attack in Syria that they actually exist (Russia and Assad admit it, claiming they belonged to the rebels but do not deny their existence)… only their “ownership” is in dispute.

During “Meet the Press” yesterday, Trump’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley pointed out that Russia’s first reaction upon hearing the news of chemical weapons turning up in the attack was to defend Assad, not express horror or concern over victims of a chemical weapons attack. That seems quite disquieting in its own right. You hear civilians… including women and children… were exposed to chemical weapons, and your first reaction isn’t shock or questioning, but to defend someone THEY KNOW (remember, they admit to the bombing AND have troops stationed at that airfield) just dropped the bombs resulting in that chemical exposure? Lesson One in trying to convince people you’re not a cold-blooded killer: show a moment of sympathy for the exposed children and make a few calls before you rush to defend the bombers.

And on a personal note, people bashing “The Media” as “an enemy of the American people” is an anathema to the 1st Amendment and a greater threat to Democracy than anything these Conspiracy Theorists seem to think is actually going on.

People tend to not to ask questions about what they see/hear/read when that something tells them what they already want to believe to be true, is. Fox “news” has built an entire media empire on that very concept… and now I see people claiming to be “Progressives” doing it too. Fox viewers are repeatedly rated as the least well informed consumers of news in the country. Some polls have even shown that people who consume NO news at all are often better informed than Fox viewers because they come to a conclusion first, then look for a source to “confirm” it. And anyone who tells them differently is either “a liar”, “badly misinformed” because they don’t get their news from the “right” sources (like they do), or just don’t know what they’re talking about. “Facts be damned” and there’s no point in trying to present them with evidence to refute those beliefs.

And a greater question: In light of these recent brutal attacks, will Trump now recognize what the Refugees are fleeing from and show more sympathy towards letting them in? (If we go by Nikki Haley, that answer is “No”, calling for “even more” stringent background checks before even considering giving these people safe harbor. What have we become?)

Postscript: The past weeks insanity led me to do something I’ve never done before and delete nearly four dozen of my so-called “Facebook friends” who devolved into insult spewing, Conspiracy babbling, children. I just couldn’t take it any more. The head-pounding STUPIDITY was making my teeth hurt. But in return, I picked up about three dozen new “Facebook friends” and a couple hundred likes from people who agreed with me over the recent heightened level of insanity and coarseness of discourse. So to all my new friends, thank you and welcome.

Next weekend, M.R.S. will be on Easter hiatus, but I promise to return two weeks from now with more insights and history. See you then!
 


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April 10, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: fake scandals, Middle East, mystery, myth busting, National Security, Rants, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, Terrorism, War

GOP Leads in ‘Unprecedented’ Behavior re: SCOTUS Nomination

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You have to go back to 1991 for the last time a Supreme Court vacancy was filed when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. The nominee was “Clarence Thomas“, and his nomination went down in history as one of the most controversial picks ever after a former subordinate of his at the EEoC, Law Professor Anita Hill, testified that she had been subjected to years of sexual harassment by her boss, Mr. Thomas. And while Democrats won the White House in 1992, Republicans have controlled either the House, the Senate, or both TEN of the last twelve congresses (27 of the last 31 years.) So it is only by an incredible stroke of luck that the Supreme Court doesn’t have more Conservatives on it that it already does. (Two weeks ago, my weekly Op/Ed was an acknowledgement that fighting the Gorsuch nomination… an even swap of one far-Right judge for another… was not worth distracting from the FAR more serious effort to investigate the Trump Administrations dealings with Russia during the campaign. I ended up DELETING that Op/Ed when I learned that Gorsuch endorsed the appointment of prominent voter suppression activist Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission.) So right now, I couldn’t care less how “offended” Republicans are that Democrats might break with tradition and filibuster his nomination. Republicans are whining that “NO Supreme Court nominee has EVER been filibustered in the 200+ year history of our nation.” Yes, but that’s ONLY because the GOP controlled all of Congress when President Obama nominated Republican judge Merrick Garland (widely regarded another neutral vote like Kennedy) to fill the current vacancy (not that I’m shedding any tears over that lost nomination.) Don’t think for ONE moment they wouldn’t do EXACTLY what Democrats are now threatening to do now if THEY had been in the minority.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted exactly that during “Meet the Press” yesterday, claiming Democrats would likewise have held the SCOTUS seat open for 13 months if the roles had been reversed. Chuck Todd asked McConnell the obvious follow-up, “Do we now pass a rule: No Supreme Court nominations in even-numbered (election) years?” McConnell simply laughed and dismissed the question, but it is a valid point. If no president should be allowed to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year where “the will of the voters” is about to be determined at the ballot-box, then you have JUST (in effect) made EVERY OTHER even numbered year “off limits” for appointing & filling Supreme Court vacancies. And other than the vote for President, just as many members of Congress are replaced every mid-term election. Don’t they too decide “the will of the voters”? It’s a legitimate question as a result of “unprecedented obstruction never before seen in our 200+ year history as a nation.” Sorry Republicans, you don’t now get to point fingers and accuse Democrats of extreme partisanship by doing something “never before done by either side of Congress.”

But Democrats requiring a 60 vote “Super Majority” before a vote can be held on a nominee wouldn’t be the only ones breaking with “200+ years of precedent”. Should the GOP decide to use “the nuclear option” and change the Senate Rules, that too would be “unprecedented”.

And it’s not as simple as Republicans simply saying, “We hereby pass a new rule that says it now takes only 51 votes for a SCOTUS nominee to be brought up for a vote.” No. Because changing the Senate Rules ALSO requires a “Super Majority”, so to honestly change a long standing rule against requiring a “Super Majority”, they would likewise need a “Super Majority”. Catch-22.

To get around this, Republican will have to creatively reinterpret Senate rules such as to claim that rendering SCOTUS nominations immune to the filibuster, they aren’t “changing” an existing rule. Noooo. They’re “creating a NEW rule.” Setting precedent. And THAT only requires FIFTY-ONE votes! Nothing funny going on there!

If that sounds a little smarmy to you, you’re not alone. The GOP absolutely does not have the high road on this, and for them to act like innocent victims who would simply be taking advantage of a clearly defined “right” they are entitled to if Democrats engage in “unprecedented” behavior, by my count, they’ll lead the “unprecedented” olympics two scuzzy deeds to one.
 


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April 3, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Civil Rights, myth busting, Party of Life, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy

Trump Voters Are Discovering a Wish List is Not a Plan

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“TrumpCare” went down in flames last week. Trump’s promise to “repeal ObamaCare on Day One” fell a bit short (by 61 days if not indefinitely)… because what we’ve ALL known all along is that the GOP didn’t have a “secret” alternate plan ready to go like they’ve been suggesting for years. On the campaign trail, Trump offered less than nothing when it came to specifics, only that “his (secret) plan” to replace “ObamaCare” (which he called “bad insurance” when it’s not even insurance at all) wold be “better, cheaper and cover more people.” In the end, what we got was a hastily drawn up GOP wish list that… once scored by the GAO… covered 25 MILLION FEWER people and would result in costs skyrocking for the majority of the poor. Trump turned up the heat on this turkey of a bill and it came out exactly as you’d expect when you threaten to cook a turkey with a flamethrower.

But it recent weeks, we also saw his Muslim Ban “plan” go down in flames for the second time after being told his “revised” version was just as unconstitutional as the first, with Trump responding that he should have just “stuck with the first” (unconstitutional/illegal/prohibited) “plan.”

And before that, it was the recognition that he really had no “plan” to get Mexico to pay for that Wall of his, and just as critics had been warning all along, Trump wants the American Taxpayer to foot the bill until he can think of a way to force Mexico to reimburse us. And his big idea on that? To charge AMERICANS an import tax on good coming in from Mexico.

The only “secret plan” Trump hasn’t tried & failed to enact yet is his “plan” to defeat ISIS (in his first 30 days in office.) But don’t expect any miracles there either.

Just as when Trump miraculously discovered (and apparently no one else was aware of) that “Reforming health care is more complicated than anyone realized” (and by “anyone”, he means “himself”), Trump is repeatedly caught completely unprepared to make good on his promises. (Remember last January when Republicans were caught on tape panicking about having to come up with a “replacement” for ObamaCare after claiming to have a replacement after 7 years?) We (Democrats) decided to let him try doing it with ZERO support from the opposing party. But the bill wasn’t yanked at the last second because of “Democrats” (despite him blaming them), but because he couldn’t get enough REPUBLICANS to support his bill. And THAT opposition was split between those who wanted to make the bill better so it covered more people, and the Tea Party Anarchists that think covering anyone it a bad thing.

It should be clear to anyone paying attention at this point that Trump was under the impression he could legislate with GOP votes alone (despite not having anything close to a Super Majority.) He didn’t know because he didn’t (doesn’t?) understand how the legislative process works.

So blame Democrats. GOP can’t organize a two clown-car parade, but “blame Democrats.”

Remember President Obama’s first year when he had to repeatedly point out to Republicans the enormity of the shit-storm handed him by his predecessor, and Republicans ridiculed him as the “blamer-in-chief”? They’d say things like “Reagan never blamed Carter” (which isn’t true, but when did reality ever stop a Republican from saying something untrue?) How many times has Trump talked about how bad the economy is doing and how desperately we need to “create jobs” WHILE taking bows for a great February jobs-report after being in office for only 11-days when February started? And taking victory laps for “creating jobs” that were merely promised (many of which were in the planning stage for more than a year) but have yet to actually be created/filled?

If you believe “promises = plans” and in taking credit (or casting blame) for the work of others, then it all makes perfect sense.

But at some point, Trump is going to have to actually legislate, and if he is suddenly in danger of looking like a failure, he’ll reach out to Democrats looking for a lifeline in hopes they’ll bail him out. He’d sellout the GOP faster than Mexico sells out of Trump pinatas if he thought it would help him save face. But don’t take the bait Democrats. You’ll get played like a cat plays with a toy mouse as Trump lavishes himself with praise for “reaching across the isle” to “get things done” in his quest to “serve the American people.” But like the fable of the toad who gave a scorpion a ride across the river only to get stung so they both drowned, you knew who he was when you met him. A dangerous clown. A carnival barker whose loyalty lies only to himself. You rehabilitate him and he runs back to the GOP’s welcoming arms as he makes to them as well.

“Wish Lists” are not “plans” any more than believing one had “the largest inaugural crowd in history” makes that so as well. Like the rest of the GOP, Trump does not have any “plans” he drew up in the middle of the night while on the campaign trail. I’m not entirely convinced he’s ever written anything that couldn’t be expressed in a 140 character tweet. All he has are “things he wants to do”, and suffers from the child-like delusion that every problem has a “simple” solution (Tired? Nap. Hungry? Eat.) His “secret plan” to “fix healthcare” I assure you is every bit as well thought out as his “secret plan to defeat ISIS” both “quickly & completely” (ie: drop a bomb on them), or his unconstitutional “Muslim Ban” or his sure-fire “plan to make Mexico pay for his wall”, or bring back jobs (by building pipelines across the country and deregulating our environment within an inch of OUR lives.)
 


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March 27, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Healthcare, myth busting, Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity

The (In)Complete (and growing) List of Trump’s Russia Ties

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(LAST UPDATE: 7/19/17)
 
I‘ve stated more times than I dare count that I abhor Conspiracy Theories. Claims that “9/11 was an inside job” belong in the same rubbish bin as Sasquatch and Elvis sightings. But the evidence of links between the Trump campaign/White House and Russia (for whatever reason) are documented fact (often by photograph and peoples’ own admission) and continue to grow so fast, it is getting harder & harder to keep track of them all. So I’ve decided to start a list of people & events linking people connected to Trump (including the man himself) to Russia (and US/Russia policy.) I’m not positing “why” any of these people chose to come in contact with whatever Russian official/billionaire/oligarch for whatever reason, nor do i wish to draw any nefarious conclusions (not this post anyway) as to their goal. This is simply a list. Make of it what you will. It’s mere existence and length should raise eyebrows if not concern.
 

“I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away.” – Donald Trump press conference, January 11, 2017.

 

I keep hearing from so many Trumptonians who get a huge asinine belly laugh from any suggestion that Russia may be meddling in our Democracy (“My PopTart is stale! Blame Russia! Har! Har!”) Unless someone truly adores Russia and/or Putin, I can’t fathom for the life of me why anyone would rush to defend him/them, belittling any suggestion that Russia is anything but an innocent victim being targeted for character assassination by our “evil” Media. The closest I can fathom is some revulsion that… if true… it somehow benefits Hillary and/or could somehow miraculously make her president. I understand why you despise Hillary (okay, maybe not to your insane degree, but I did after-all write-in Bernie rather than vote for her), but this head-in-the-sand ridiculousness of dismissing evidence sight unseen that a dangerous & corrupt foreign power led by a brutal power-mad former KGB agent that has his critics locked up and/or murdered, may be… not just meddling but actually SHAPING U.S. policy to our detriment for their own personal gain… astounds me. After being accused of being a “traitor” during the eight years of the Bush Administration for not supporting his dangerous policies and corrupt government, I have no stomach for ridiculous borderline-traitorous fools who can’t set aside their hatred of Hillary… now extending to disdain for our own Free Press and First Amendment… long enough to examine mounting evidence that another country is manipulating the U.S. government from INSIDE the Oval Office!

I’m just curious what part of “the Russian thing” don’t they believe? Trump’s inexplicable fanboy love of Putin (even criticizing the U.S. to defend him)? The fact Trump appointed a man whom he had never met (Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson), someone who has had a friendly working relationship with Putin since 1999 and received Russia’s highest civilian honor, the “Medal of Friendship”, from Pootie himself… to be our Secretary of State… running a department whose primary job it is to aide/develop U.S. allies around the world and make life miserable for dictatorships like Russia/China/North Korea (and whose budget Trump now wants to cut by 37%), after not even being on Trump’s initial short list of nominees? And the list goes on (continued below.)

The List

Beside Russian “Medal of Friendship” winner Rex Tillerson mentioned above, we have:

Starting from the very beginning, Trump’s first campaign manager Paul Manafort, was forced to resign when it was discovered that he lied about having worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Russian government in Ukraine and was paid millions of dollars at a time the United States was vociferously condemning Russia’s attempts to annex Ukraine. After his resignation, it was discovered that Manafort has also met with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Kiev-based operative with suspected ties to Russian intelligence, in April of that year (as well as at the Convention in July). Kilimnik revealed that Manafort was instrumental in… (next paragraph.)

(UPDATE 3/22/17: As early as 2005, Manafort was already offering his services on how he could “greatly benefit the Putin Government”. AP reports Manafort was paid “$10 Million dollars a year” through at least mid-2009.)

(UPDATE: 6/28/17: Why choose someone like Manafort… with NO experience running political campaigns… to run your campaign for president? Perhaps because of his connections to vast sums of Russian money? Like his business ties to Russian oligarchs such as Dmytro Firtash, a major Party of Regions backer who in 2008 partnered with Manafort in an $850 million plan to redevelop the famous Drake hotel in New York City? “Firtash, who acknowledged to the U.S. ambassador that he got his start in business with the permission of a Russian crime lord […] is under federal indictment in the Northern District of Illinois for bribery. He is [presently] under arrest in Austria pending his extradition to the U.S..” – NBC News

A Washington Post investigation revealed that the Trump campaign demanded the removal of any pro-Ukrainian plank from the GOP’s Convention platform. Former Trump campaign official J.D. Gorden said it was Trump himself (at the urging of Manafort) who personally demanded support for Ukraine be expunged from the GOP platform. Before the Convention, Republicans were VERY pro-Ukraine, with some even demanding we arm the Ukrainian rebels against Russian forces (particularly after Russia provided SAMs (Surface-to-Air-Missiles) to pro-Russian Ukrainian rebels who then shot down a Dutch passenger jet killing all 298 people on board. No explanation for Trump’s request was ever given. Instead, the Russians MAY have been assured that sanctions imposed upon them for these activities might be lifted under a Trump Administration.

In 2008, John McCain declared, “We’re all Georgians now” after Russia invaded the former Soviet nation of Georgia. In 2014, the GOP took the side of Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea, even calling for the U.S. to arm the anti-Russian rebels. Now suddenly, we are chummy with Putin and Russia’s is behaving as if we might lift those sanctions on Russia.

And just who might have made such a suggestion to Russia? Trump’s first (and ever so brief) National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn, who twice denied any communication with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, actually met with the ambassador IN TRUMP TOWER (and we are to believe Trump himself wasn’t present? He denied knowing of the meeting and fired Flynn for “lying to him”.) Flynn met with the Russian ambassador the very same day President Obama announced new sanctions on Russia (after SEVENTEEN intelligence agencies found evidence they were behind the hacking of DNC & RNC servers). In addition, Flynn not only spoke to the Russian Ambassador, he actually flew to Moscow (ibid) the year before for “Russia Today’s” 10th anniversary celebration where he was literally seated at Putin’s right-hand-side (at the same table with 2012/2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein… make of that what you will):
 

RT 10th Anniversary Dinner
Flynn & Stein at Putin’s table at RT Anniversary Dinner 2015

(Update 3/17: State owned RT paid Flynn $33,750 to fly to Russia to attend this dinner. This does not include airfare for him and his son and accommodations at a 5-star hotel. There is no evidence Flynn sought an exemption from the U.S. military to accept what would be an illegal payment from a foreign entity.)

(Update 7/11/17: GOP operative Peter W. Smith contacted Trump campaign advisor [and future National Security Advisor] Michael Flynn regarding his efforts to obtain “Hillary’s stolen emails” from Russian officials. Flynn agreed but there is no evidenced the followed through on it. This story broke on July 3, 2017, but I did not mention it earlier because Smith was not part of the Trump campaign and it’s not clear if anything came of it. But with the revelation yesterday that Donald Trump Jr. was also contacted by Russia attempting to shop the stolen emails, it adds more credibility to the claim and highlights the extent of Russian efforts.)
 

And Flynn didn’t meet the Russian ambassador alone. Traveling WITH Flynn to Trump Tower was Trump’s son-in-law and now “political adviser” Jared Kushner (ibid: NYT link) to join him in the meeting Flynn lied about (and when Flynn denied meeting Kislyak, Kushner never spoke up to set the record straight.)

More recently, we have the case of former Senator turned Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who volunteered during his confirmation hearing that he had not spoken to anyone in the Russian Government while he was associated with the Trump campaign. In fact, Sessions HAD indeed met with the Russian ambassador twice during that time. He first stated that his meeting Ambassador Kislyak was so brief and inconsequential, it simply slipped his mind (not a quote). And maybe it was a brief encounter or simply part of his duties as a member of the Armed Services Committee, but he could simply said he never met with anyone “on behalf of the Trump campaign” or “only as part of my duties as Senator”. But he didn’t. He simply denied having ever spoken to “anyone” working for Russia. And it IS interesting how many contacts Kislyak was making inside the Trump campaign. He was one busy bee.

Another Russian connection: Why did Trump try to appoint American oil industry consultant, real estate mogul and former reality TV star Carter Page from Merrill Lynch’s Moscow office to be a National Security Consultant to his campaign? Page not only criticized U.S. and NATO policy towards Russia, he did so from Moscow. The “Dixie Chicks” gotta be feeling the sting of that one.

In one of the more bizarre (and IMHO, significant) Trump/Russia connections was Trump’s sale of a $41 Million dollar Palm Beach mansion to Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev sight unseen for $95 Million dollars (nearly 2.5x its worth, and never once used) only to then have it bulldozed four days after the election to build a $60 Million dollar home to sell at a $40 Million dollar loss. The Trump campaign vehemently denies ever “meeting” Rybolovlev, yet this same billionaire appeared at multiple Trump campaign events AND the RNC Convention in Cleveland… yet they’ve “never met”? (I find this connection most intriguing because I believe Bankrupt Trump needed money to finance his “self-funded” campaign, and this highly dubious $100 Million dollar windfall came at just the right time.)
 


 

(Addendum: Not only can Rybolovlev’s plane be seen at the same airport as Trump’s at multiple events, his yacht was also spotted docked near Trump’s biggest financial supporter and Breitbart News moneyman, Robert Mercer.)

Ever hear of Wilbur Ross before he was appointed to run of the Department of Commerce? Ross is a billionaire investor with close ties to Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. Ross was the Vice-Chairman of “The Bank of (the nation of) Cyprus”, a now Russian-owned bank thanks to Ross and Rybolovlev, to which Trump owed $600 Million dollars. Ross’ Russian connection is a bit complicated (as is everything in the financial industry), so once again, I’ll let Rachel (who is quickly becoming the go-to source on the Trump/Russia nexus) pound out the details:
 


 

While no reported human or financial tie to Russia (yet), Trump’s Svengali, Steve Bannon, former head of Alt-Right racist conspiracy rag “Breitbart.com” who became Trump’s campaign manager and is now his Chief Political Strategist, is a self-described Leninist. In an interview with The Daily Beast, Bannon proudly claimed, “I’m a Leninist.” “Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Trump’s got his Putin man-crush. Bannon has Lenin.

Felix Sater, a Russian-born businessman with Mafia connections and served time in jail for stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a margarita glass, approached Trump with a plan to license his name to build skyscrapers (including “a Trump tower on the site of an old pencil factory along the Moscow River”) across former Soviet-bloc nations, a few inside Russia, and in several U.S. cities with Trump’s name on them. The deal fell through but Trump and Sater remained friends. The Trump campaign denied knowing anything about Sater’s criminal past.

Also part of the Trump/Sater scam, Tevfik Arif, another Russian real-estate mogul who served a 17-year career in the Soviet Ministry of Commerce and Trade. In 2005, Trump entered into an agreement with Russian financial group “Bayrock” to build “Trump Tower Moscow”. The deal failed, but his partner, Arif, moved into Trump Tower NY and took office two floors below The Trump Organization.

Yet another Russian born real-estate mogul and business partner of Donald Trump is Alex Shnaider who partnered with Trump to build “Trump International Hotel and Tower” in Toronto. It may or may not be significant that Shnaider’s father-in-law, Boris J. Birshtein, is close friends with one of the heads of the Russian Mob [ibid “Soviet Ministry”.].

You may remember that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus… though not tied to Russia himself, did violate ethics rules by personally requesting the FBI “knock down” any reports linking anyone in the Trump Administration to Russia. The FBI refused and the ethical breach was deemed nothing more than a “momentary” embarrassment for the Trump White House (on par with Kelly-Ann Conway endorsing Ivanka Trump’s wares during a TV interview while representing the President of the United States.)

Former British MI6 intelligence officer Christopher Steele was forced into hiding recently after publishing a dossier detailing a number of Trump/Russia ties as compiled by the British Secret Service. Steele finally surfaced two weeks ago after many of the accusations made in the dossier have since panned out:
 


 

Among things Steele points out: It was barely 3 weeks after Paul Manafort took over running the Trump campaign in March of 2016 that Trump started trashing NATO (an alliance of Western nations to defend against Soviet/Russian expansion/militarism.) Russia has despised NATO and sought to destroy it since it was formed over a half century ago.

(UPDATE #1: Not even 12 hours and we have our first update. Remember Trump’s pledge that the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines would be made exclusively using “American-made steel”? Well, scratch that. We have our first exemption and I’ll give you one guess who it benefits: 40% of the steel will now come from a Russian owned steel subsidiary operating in Canada.

(UPDATE #2: After refusing to resign, Trump fires Federal Prosecutor Preet Bharara, a 40 year career Federal prosecutor for Manhattan/Wall St whom Trump himself personally assured he’d be staying on (along with 45 other Federal prosecutors) who just happened to be investigating a multi-BILLION dollar money laundering scheme of Russian money through “DeutscheBank”. Trump owes DeutscheBank hundreds of millions of dollars… their single biggest debtor.)

(UPDATE #2b: Deutsche Bank is under investigation as the largest known Russian money launderer obscuring the source of TEN BILLION DOLLARS in Russian funds. Deutsche Bank also loaned Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner hundreds of millions of dollars. Kushner was loaned $285 Million dollars by Deutsche Bank one month before the election.)

(UPDATE #3: 3/20/17: Secretary of State Tillerson announces he will be skipping an announced NATO summit to visit Moscow instead.)

(UPDATE #4: 3/21/17: There is no question Russia was actively supporting Trump via a sophisticated online “bot” based propaganda campaign.)

…whether or not the Trump campaign actively participated is still being investigated.

(UPDATE #5: 3/27/17: It was revealed today that not only did Trump’s son-in-law and close WH adviser Jared Kushner meet with Russian Ambassador Kislyak twice with Michael Flynn, he… along with another unnamed “top WH adviser”… also met with executives of Russian state-owned development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB), a Russian bank under Western economic sanctions over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. More details on VEB as the bank Putin uses to funnel billions into his personal projects and their connections to trump can be seen here.)

(UPDATE 5b: 6/27/17: The Rachel Maddow Show reports that “VEB”, the bank Kushner met with, ISN’T A BANK. They have “No banking license”, “No cash”, and their entire board is made up of Russian government officials. The head of VEB, Sergey Gorkov, is not a banker but was trained at a “school” that trained KGB agents.)

(UPDATE #6: 3/28/17: A USA Today investigation into the origins of Trump’s wealth find ties to at least TEN wealthy Russian businessmen with ties to the Russian mob & organized crime. This is made more significant by the fact Trump denied having “any dealings with Russia” during the campaign.)

(UPDATE #7: 4/4/17: Buzzfeed reports that the man Trump appointed as his “Foreign Policy adviser & Counter-terrorism expert”, Carter Page, was recruited as a Russian spy in 2013. Their confirming source? Carter Page. More detail here.)

(UPDATE #7b: 4/4/17: In the above revelation about Carter Page, we also learn that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner… whom Trump seems to have tasked with EVERYTHING from building his border wall to achieving peace in the Middle East… met with one of the spies who recruited Page… Evgeny Buryakov, an employee of Russian-owned Vnesheconombank in Manhattan… in April 2016 (one month before he was sentenced.). Vnesheconombank paid $45,000 for Burykov’s legal defense while his compatriots fled back to Russia. One wonders what vetting… IF ANY… the Trump transition team performed after appointing people like Page & Flynn to such high-level classified Intelligence positions within their administration. PS: Page is still there.)

(UPDATE #8: 4/4/17: The Washington Post has revealed that the UAE (United Arab Emirates) arranged a meeting in Seychelles between Erik Prince… founder/owner of “Blackwater“, the largest private mercenary army in the word that rose to infamy during the Bush Administration for corruption, violence and violations of International law… and an unidentified Russian “close to President Vladi­mir Putin”, to discuss the lifting of sanctions last January. Prince is an avid supporter of Trump, raised a quarter-million dollars for his campaign, and has many connections inside of the government including (now) his sister Betsy DeVos (whom Trump appointed his Secretary of Education.)

(UPDATE #9: 4/11/17: More on Carter Page. It was leaked to the Washington Post today that he was the subject of a FISA Warrant requested by the FBI for suspected communication with the Russians during the presidential campaign. This is significant for several reasons: 1) This is the first report that a member of the Trump campaign themselves were the subject of an investigation and not merely “overheard” as we listened in on the Russians, 2) because FISA warrants are not easy to get and, 3) as the WaPo points out, is “the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents.”

(UPDATE #10a: 4/13/17: “UK Intelligence” (GCHQ) reports that they first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents. This is the earliest recorded report of interactions between the Trump Campaign and people working on behalf of the Russian government… before the Primaries even began.)

(UPDATE #10b: 4/14/17: So concerned was the director of GCHQ, that he *personally* contacted the head of the CIA… John Brennan… in the Summer of 2016. And so concerned was Brennan, that he contacts “eight top members of Congress” to report those findings.)

(UPDATE #11: 4/25/17: Evidence emerging that Russia may be using the same hackers/strategy to hack the computers of French presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron. Macron’s opponent is White Nationalist Marine Le Pen, who has previously received millions from Russia, and has publicly met with Putin in Moscow to criticize French sanctions on Russia (just as Trump did.) Le Pen is virulently anti-immigrant and has been called “France’s Donald Trump.”)

(UPDATE #12a: 4/26/17: As noted in #11, Russian meddling extends well beyond the election of Trump and promoting Le Pen in France. There is also suspicion Russia aided “Brexit“, Great Britain’s vote to leave the European Union [also a goal of Le Pen], and MAY have helped Turkish dictator Erdogan… who ALSO wants Turkey out of NATO… to win a recent crucial vote to give him even more power, but also the ridiculous… yet well funded… “#CalExit” movement to have California succeed from the United States to becomes it’s own country… which opened it’s very first [fake] embassy in Moscow [no, I’m not kidding.])

(UPDATE #12b: 4/26/17: [ibid 12a link] Politico now reports that the more than half-million dollars paid to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn to lobby on behalf of the Turkish government apparently did not come from the Turkish government but in fact Russia. Like the wealthy Russian Fertilizer Magnate mentioned in this report that bought a Trump mansion sight unseen for 2-1/2 times its cost, Russia uses wealthy Russian industrialists… made wealthy via being handed control of entire formerly Soviet industries… to funnel money to various political projects. And one of those wealthy industrialists… the head of the “Siberian Energy Group”… is the man who paid Flynn nearly $600,000 to lobby the U.S. on behalf of the Turkish government. Additional information here.)

(UPDATE #13: 5/7/17: While not directly connected to the 2016 race, Trump’s son Eric told a WBUR reporter in 2014 that Russia was behind a $100 Million loan so his father could build a new golf course when U.S. banks were reluctant to fund such a project following The Great Recession of ’08. This contradicts Trump’s denials on the campaign trail he had no business dealings with Russia. It also establishes an existing lucrative relationship between him and Russia.)

(UPDATE #14: 5/5/17: The Washington Post and The AP report that the Trump Transition Team themselves warned Mike Flynn that the U.S. government may be monitoring his contacts with Russia. THEY KNEW yet they hired him anyway. The Obama Administration was so concerned about the Trump Campaign’s coziness with Russia that they waited until just four hours before informing them of their intention to expel all Russian diplomats from the Russian embassy in retaliation for meddling in the election, because they feared “someone” inside the Trump transition team might warn Moscow of what was coming, giving them time to destroy any evidence [either of election meddling or connections to the Trump campaign.])

(UPDATE #15: 5/10/17: Donald Trump fires FBI Director James Comey one day after former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee that she had been investigating connections between the Trump Campaign, Trump’s business interests, and Russia, and one week after Comey testified he had inadvertently “overstated” the number of emails Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisor Huma Abadeen has forwarded to her husband Anthony Weiner in his infamous October 28th announcement he was reopening the investigation into her emails. Comey was not told in advance he was to be fired, only learning of his dismissal *while he was delivering a speech before FBI employees*. The New York Times reports that just days before his own firing, Comey requested additional resources to investigate possible Russian interference in our election. Last March, Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI was indeed investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russian government.)

(UPDATE #16: 5/16/17: In the midst of his controversial firing of FBI Director Comey, Trump invites Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Kislyak to the Oval Office where he (inadvertently?) revealed Top Secret “code-word level intelligence.” American media was banned from the meeting in the Oval Office, while Russian media… with their cameras and electronic equipment… were not.)
 

Trump revealed classified info to Russians

 
(UPDATE #17: 5/18/17: Reuters reports finding evidence of 18 additional instances of contacts between Russia and the Trump Campaign, including Putin’s “fixer”, a former Soviet “lawyer” named Medvedchuk.)

(UPDATE #18: 5/24/17: The lawyer Trump hired, Marc E. Kasowitz, to defend him against allegations of collusion with Russia is also the lead attorney in a federal civil lawsuit against “OJSC Sberbank”, which is majority-owned by the Russian government. Kasowitz is Trump’s longtime lawyer, who defended him in a failed libel case against the NYTimes, and against women claiming Trump sexually assaulted him (which was eventually settled), as well as assisting in the “Trump University” fraud case [ibid] which was also settled without admitting guilt.)

(UPDATE #19: 5/25/17: The NYTimes is reporting that in the Summer of 2016, American spies investigating possible Russian interference in our election caught Russian officials “discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers [Flynn & Manafort]“. The information “was considered credible enough for intelligence agencies to pass [along] to the F.B.I. […] and open a counterintelligence investigation.”

(UPDATE #20: 6/08/17: Former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony under oath corroborates most all reporting to date regarding Russian interference in the November 2016 election. Comey agrees to only testify regarding possible Trump Campaign connections in closed/private session.)

(UPDATE #21: 6/15/17: Following their joint testimony before the Senate two weeks earlier, Trump asked the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and to Adm. Mike Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, to publicly refute the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey and deny the existence of any evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign & Russia during the 2016 election. Both declined.)

(UPDATE #22: 6/20/17: Bloomberg is reporting that a Russian Mobster who swindled millions from investors, Felix Sater, became a business partner with Trump as a New York real estate developer specifically for his access to funds from Putin. More details here & here.)
 

Easy access to Putin cash

 

UPDATE #23: 7/8/17: Donald Trump Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and campaign manager Paul Manafort all met with Natallia Veselnitskaya, a Russian “adoption” lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, during campaign at Trump Tower in June of 2016. It seems unlikely the meeting with Veselnitskaya was arranged simply because she’s an “adoption” lawyer or why THREE high-profile members of the Trump campaign would concern themselves with “Russian/American adoptions” in the middle of a presidential campaign, but regardless, it’s just one more example of the Trump campaign denying contact with the Russians during the campaign that proves they were lying. This wasn’t an “accidental” encounter at a random event. This was in Trump Tower, and if it had anything to do with “adoption”, do you think they’d forget about it and not want to share that information?

UPDATE #23b: 7/10/17: “Uday Bevis Donald Trump Jr, after claiming last March he never participated in any campaign-related meetings with Russian nationals, now admits he met with Veselnitskaya but claims it was to discuss “Adoption”. The New York Times is reporting Trump Jr. agreed to the meeting because he was promised “damaging information on Clinton” from Moscow. Agreeing to meet with a hostile foreign adversary to obtain information on your opponent is perhaps the VERY DEFINITION OF COLLUSION, and it is inconceivable Trump Sr was not aware of what his son, son-in-law and campaign manager were doing in Trump Tower one or two floors beneath his office.

UPDATE #23c: 7/10/17: The likely REAL purpose of the meeting with Veselnitskaya? She is “best known for mounting a multipronged attack against the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers.” The law… passed under Bush and continued under Obama… infuriates Putin and wants it repealed. Russia’s response to the law was to halt Russian/American adoptions. But to lift that, we would have to repeal the Magnitsky Act.
 


 

UPDATE #23d: 7/14/17: The number of people on the Russia-side of the table in the meeting between Donald Trump Jr and Russian lawyer Veselnitskaya has grown to FOUR FIVE, including (Russian-born?) Russian/American (dual-citizenship) lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin, British music publicist Rob Goldstone, former Russian counterintelligence officer “Anatoli Samachomov“, and now known Russian money-launderer “Ike Kaveladze“. Akhmetshin says Veselnitskaya invited him along because a client of hers was concerned that an American hedge fund which “seemed to be linked to the [Democratic National Committee] was violating Russian tax and securities law.” Clearly, “Russian/American adoption” was not the sole purpose Natallia arranged the meeting.

UPDATE #23e: 7/18/17: Newly revealed eighth person present as the secret meeting between Trump Jr and former Russian Prosecutor Veselnitskya was notorious Russian money launderer “Ike Kaveladze” (like Samachomov, a Russian born naturalized American citizen.) in the late 90’s, Kaveladze created a company called “International Business Creations” that established 2,000 U.S. corporations and bank accounts that moved $1.4 Billion through American banks. Why was a known Russian money launderer present at a meeting that *supposedly* was all about Russian/American adoption? As the saying goes: “Follow the [laundered] money.”

Addendum: In 2008, Veselnitskya defended a man named Denis Katsyv, who was accused of laundering $230 Million dollars in Russia and ended up paying “Millions” in fines. So the presence of Kaveladze… with his own history on money laundering… at this meeting raises even more questions.
 

The Fredo 8
The Fredo 8

 
UPDATE #24: 7/13/17: May 2015, the NSA notices a spike in Russian chatter regarding Trump just before he announces his candidacy. May 2016, U.S. surveillance suggests Russian funds flowing to Trump campaign.

UPDATE #25: Trump’s scheduled private meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 in Hamburg was scheduled for only 20 minutes but ended up lasting over an hour. Today we learn that later during dinner (with a hundred other people present), Trump sat next to Putin and had a SECOND private chant with him that last *another* hour. Trump did not invite his own translator, relying on Putin’s own translator. When news of the second private meeting was revealed, ONLY THE RUSSIANS spoke to the Press to describe the meeting and what was discussed.
 
So our list now:

  • Trump
  • Tillerson
  • Manafort
  • Flynn
  • Kushner
  • Sessions
  • Page
  • Trump’s $100 Million dollar sweetheart deal selling a $40 Million dollar mansion to a Russian fertilizer billionaire who never even visited it only to later have it bulldozed for a $40 million dollar loss.
  • Ross
  • Bannon
  • Arif – multiple real estate deals including a failed attempt to build “Trump Tower Moscow” with Sater.
  • Shnaider
  • Priebus trying to bully the FBI into silencing reports linking Trump to Russia
  • The MI6/Steele Dossier.
  • Carving out an exemption for Russian-owned pipeline manufacturer EVRAZ to provide pipe for the KXL and DAPL pipelines.
  • The firing of Federal Prosecutor Preet Bharara who was investigating Russian money laundering.
  • Blackwater’s Erik Prince
  • Trump’s personal lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz
  • Russian Mobster turned CIA informant, Felix Sater
  • Deutsche Bank – under investigation as the worlds largest money launderer for Russia, loaned both Trump & Kushner hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Donald Trump Jr.
  • …more?

I intend/expect to update this list frequently so bookmark it and return often. And if you know of any Trump/Russia contacts/associations I may have missed, I encourage you to please list them in the Comments.
 

Where there's smoke...

 


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March 13, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · One Comment - Add
Posted in: Crime, Election, mystery, myth busting, National Security, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Scandals

Trump is getting his intel from Right-Wing conspiracy theorists (and that should worry us all.)

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Right after the election, as the Returns continued to be counted and we learned Trump actually lost the Popular Vote by nearly “three million”, the president-elect declared that he would have won the Popular Vote too had it not been for THREE TO FIVE MILLION people voting illegally (supposedly all illegal immigrants) in support of Hillary Clinton. And his source for this insane claim? A FAR Right conspiracy radio show & website called InfoWars (which also claims, among other things, that the Newtown massacre was a hoax.) Remember, this is the same election where Right-Wing poll watchers said they’d be monitoring the polls for that very possibility. And yet somehow, as many as five million illegal immigrants snuck past their watchful eyes undetected. Many claims Trump made on the campaign trail (and continues to assert today)… like claims of ISIS being behind recent terrorist attacks in San Bernadino and a Miami nightclub… Trump gets from Right-Wing websites and Fox… while calling The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN “fake news”. And let’s not forget the biggest conspiracy theory of all… the one that launched Trump into politics: “Birtherism”… the idea Obama was actually born in Kenya and was part of a massive cover up that would come crashing down around him if only we could get a peek at his “long form birth certificate”.

Just over a week ago, The Boy King cited “chaos in Sweden. Sweden! Who would be believe this?” based on a slanted and questionable report he heard on Fox “news” regarding a supposed rise in violent crime since they allowed in Muslim refugees. On Friday, #ToddlerTrump asserted (again, without evidence) that he believed former President Obama is behind the public protests and efforts to sabotage his presidency (Trump’s massive ego refuses to believe he’s not just beloved but adored by the vast majority of American people… yet Obama commands enough popularity to mobilize tens of thousands through sheer will). This quickly evolved into his latest outrage Saturday claiming President Obama had tapped his phone in Trump Tower last December as part of his “witch hunt” to tie him to Russia. Trump’s source? The CIA that answers to him and is just a phone-call away? No. The NSA that answers to him and is just a phone-call away? No. The FBI that answers to him and is just a phone-call away? No. Of course not. This time, his trusted source was Right-Wing conspiracy “news” website Breitbart.com (whose former head, Bannon, he appointed to run his campaign and is now his Chief Strategist.) And just who was Breitbart’s source for the claim? Right-wing hate-talk radio conspiracy theorist Mark Levin.

And to put Trump’s “outrage” over this incredibly serious accusation into context, his very next tweet was to mock Arnold Schwarzenegger’s firing from “The Apprentice” for low ratings. The fact our government has been hijacked by a man-child with the attention span of a thirteen year old girl is bad enough. But he is getting his “intelligence” from Right-Wing conspiracy websites like “Breitbart” and “InfoWars”. Couple that with the fact he isn’t attending intelligence briefings on a regular basis, and it gets worse. Couple THAT with the fact he doesn’t bother to double-check these absurd claims with any of the multitude of intelligence agencies at his disposal before retweeting them (with all the weight and gravitas associated with being President of the United States), and it’s even more troubling still (like any Twitter-addicted 13 year old girl, he reads something and instantly retweets it, simply assuming what he reads is absolute fact because it comes from a source he trusts.)

Now ask yourself WHY he doesn’t bother to confirm anything he reads on the Internet before repeating it, and it becomes clear that it is because he doesn’t trust his own intelligence agencies… run by his own appointees. So just how much can we trust him to trust them when they try to warn him of an impending attack or how a newly announced policy/agenda of his might result in chaos/disaster/war?

In addition, just what credibility will Trump hold on the world stage? Will our allies believe a word this conspiracy theorist says should he ask for their help if & when he finally gets around to launching his “secret plan” to defeat ISIS (or needs their help in combating a new threat?) Will other countries enter into agreements with the United States knowing his promises are worth their weight in steam and likely to change the moment he reads something he doesn’t like on “Bob’s Conspiracy Bunker”?

But the next thing to watch out for… and we’re already seeing signs of this… is for him to start setting policy based on these absurd conspiracy theories.

BREAKING (as of this writing): FBI Director Comey asked Justice officials to refute Trump’s unproved wiretapping claim.

Tom Friedman of The New York Times predicted yesterday: “Expect an effort to take away his football… the nuclear football” as concern grows over Trump’s mental stability.

We still see news stories regarding the Trump Administration with the “First 100 Days” chyron. The first 100 days refers to the “Honeymoon” period during which a newly inaugurated president has the support of the majority of Americans to get their agenda passed. If THIS is Trump’s “honeymoon” phase, just what will the next 3-1/2 years look like?

The wheels are already coming off this clown car. The big concern is that when it does, he doesn’t take a hard right into the crowd and kill us all.
 


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March 6, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: myth busting, National Security, Politics, Rants, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity, Scandals, Seems Obvious to Me

We All Know Why Trump is Demonizing the Press

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Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski (who’s strategy of “let Trump be Trump” got him fired for failing to adequately respond to the “Access Hollywood” scandal) claimed during Fox “news” Sunday yesterday that Trump was right to whitewash the Press as “fake news” after getting it so wrong when “they” (Time Magazine) incorrectly claimed the bust of Martin Luther King had been removed from the Oval Office on Trump’s first day in office (it was there, just obstructed from view by a Secret Service agent and a door.) The story was quickly retracted within hours of being printed online when they discovered their mistake, but that didn’t stop the screaming Mimi’s supporting Trump from whining about “The biased Media” for days afterwards. But Donald Trump’s little temper tantrum towards “The Media” has nothing to do with a mistaken report back on January 21st that was quickly retracted. No. More than a month after his inauguration, and nearly four months since the election itself, Trumplethinskin is STILL stewing about the size (or lack thereof) of his election victory… which is being made all the more uncertain now that SEVENTEEN Intelligence Agencies (both civilian & military) have all confirmed that Russia directly meddled in our elections with the specific intent of helping Donald Trump win… a massive insult to Trump’s massive ego. So inside The Trump Bubble, the “fake news” has “falsely” reported that he lost the Popular vote, his inauguration crowds were smaller than Obama’s, he removed the bust of MLK, his White House is in disarray (following the Flynn resignation, his choice for Labor Secretary withdrawing and the courts knocking down his “Muslim Ban” not once, but twice) and now claims that Russia may have played a part in his victory (placing an asterisk forever next to his name.) He doesn’t have a satisfactory explanation, so all he can do is try to make you question the source and dismiss them as “fake news”.

During ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders cited the FBI as having declared the Russian hacking claim to be “B.S.” and therefore not worthy of an investigation.

I scoured the news feeds and found no evidence the FBI declared the Russian hacking claims to be “B.S.”. What she is likely referring to is a joint FBI & DHS report detailing what the Russians did and how, where the FBI criticized recent reports as “a restatement of already known public information.” That’s a FAR cry from dismissing the entire hacking claim as “B.S.” as she so eloquently put it and therefore unworthy of an investigation by a Special Prosecutor. My response was, “If the claims are all completely wrong, why not allow an investigation to clear your name and remove the cloud of illegitimacy hovering over Trump’s entire presidency?”

But let’s take a step back. As one of my readers pointed out: if the ENTIRE intelligence apparatus got something of this magnitude SO wrong, doesn’t that BEG for an investigation in the name of National Security? I mean, the last time the entire intelligence community got something this wrong, we went to war in Iraq over nonexistent “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” It would seem a matter of National Security to determine just how SO many private and public security agencies… most of whom provide intelligence reports directly to the president himself upon which he makes life & death decisions, could ALL be so wrong. (I’d like to point out at this point that our intelligence agencies did NOT get it wrong on Iraq… because they kept telling Bush that Saddam did NOT have WMD’s. So he kept firing/replacing the heads of the CIA/DIA and various Generals until he found people who’d tell him what he wanted to hear.)

Of course, the Trump Administration KNOWS it can’t allow an investigation they claim would vindicate him because deep in their hearts they know the reports are right. Trump and his minions are SO paranoid that everyone is out to get him that they believe a Special Prosecutor would likely manufacture false evidence to discredit his “massive” election victory (and who knows how deep he’s in this. It could even lead to his impeachment & conviction if it were discovered Trump was actually in contact with Russia during his campaign and knowingly colluded with them.) So all they can do is repeatedly attack the critics, accuse them of bias, and create an aire of mistrust regarding their intentions. If you can’t discredit the message, discredit the messenger.

Hey, it’s working for Climate Change deniers!
 


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February 27, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Election, myth busting, National Security, Partisanship, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity, Scandals

This is the Way Bad Presidencies END

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It was an amazing statement coming from a Conservative reporter. January 21, Trump had been in the White House for only 30 hours when his Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the White House Press Corp away from their families on a Saturday night for the very first Press Conference of the Trump Administration just to (angrily) accuse them of lying about the size of the crowd that attended his bosses inauguration the day before. The next day, on “Meet the Press”, Conservative radio host Hugh Hewlitt (a Trump supporter) compared the Trump White House to the Nixon Administration, saying that declaring war on the Press “is the way BAD presidencies END.” That was “Day 1”. Trump has since taken it up a notch. In a tweet (natch), Trump called the same Media that showered him with MILLIONS of dollars worth of free positive coverage for months during the campaign, “FAKE NEWS” (in ALL CAPS… natch because our new president is a 13-year old girl) and not (just) his enemy but an “enemy of the American people!” (exclamation point… again, because our new president is a 13-year old girl.) Just as Trump refused to believe reality when PHOTOGRAPHS proved his crowd were monumentally smaller than Obama’s and refuses to believe he lost the Popular Vote as well by citing (with no evidence) that “millions voted illegally for Hillary”… which if true, would be a serious threat to our democracy, yet he doesn’t feel compelled to call for an investigation that would prove it (yet will continue to sign legislation to battle this fictitious threat without regard for the consequence… or perhaps BECAUSE of them.) This is an Administration that has clearly lost touch with reality… not that it was ever really IN-touch with reality to begin with seeing as how this was a man whose first foray into politics was to claim he had “PROOF” Obama’s birth certificate wasn’t real (yet couldn’t produce it) launched his presidential campaign claiming crime by illegal immigrants was “out of control” (when it was actually down), that unemployment was up (when it was near 5% and falling), and that he opposed the Iraq War (even AFTER audio tape of him supporting the invasion surfaced.)

I was too young to remember the Nixon presidency in any detail. My earliest political memory was being the only kid in class that voted for Ford over Carter (I was very empathetic even back then). But I’ve watched “All the Presidents Men” enough times to know most of the details of how the Nixon Administration went into “crisis mode” and began attacking the Media for using “off-the-record sources” as Nixon created an “enemies list” of people & organizations he saw as “out to get him.” This is all sounding very familiar.

In response to Trump calling the Media “evil” and an “enemy of the American People”, John McCain remarked on yesterday’s “Meet the Press”: “That’s how dictatorships get started.”

Let me do you one better, John. Trump also reportedly suggested “activating the National Guard” last week to aid in his door-to-door search of illegal aliens living in the United States. That’s just shy of imposing MARTIAL LAW, and if Barack Obama had done it, the Teabaggers would be marching in the streets, armed to the teeth, calling him a “dictator” that was going to “round them up and throw then in FEMA camps”… oh wait, they DID do that, didn’t they? So you KNOW when Trump threatened to use the U.S. Military to patrol our streets, the teanuts were out in force to protest this un-American un-Constitutional dictator-wannabee? Right?

Of course not.

Trump isn’t just at war with The Media. He’s also at war with his own Intelligence Community. First it was the investigation (PDF) by NINE intelligence agencies all confirming that Russia actively meddled in our election with the explicit intent of helping Donald Trump win (to which Rush Limbaugh yesterday defiantly demanded “proof” that anything Russia did changed the outcome of the election… a safe meaningless challenge because nothing short of sliding into a parallel universe could anyone “prove” what the outcome “might have been” if only they hadn’t.) But now Trump is accusing the intelligence community of “leaking” unflattering details of what’s going on inside his administration. But some of the information “leaked”… like his testy phone call with the Prime Minister of Australia… isn’t exactly the kind of “classified information” the intelligence community concerns itself with.

Sometimes I think Trump lives by the credo from Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22”:

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!”

 

Trump is living in a perfect bubble, surrounded by hand-picked Yes Men all telling him exactly what he wants to hear: “It’s not your fault! Everyone’s out to get you! The Democrats are just sore-LOSERS, and The Media is in bed with them! That’s why they said for months she was beating you in the polls (despite the fact she DID actually win the largest poll: the Election Day popular vote.) And your National Security Advisor Flynn didn’t commit a crime when he lied to your face about whether or not he may have committed TREASON” (and yes, it does indeed fit the definition of treason… someone who has pledged fealty to the United States “giving aid and comfort to our enemies”. Telling Russia not to worry about the sanctions because Trump will rescind them… certainly qualifies as “comforting” our enemies while undermining the sitting president.)

Saturday, Trump defends his Muslim ban by telling an audience: “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” Nothing happened in Sweden the night before. One guess where he heard about those false claims of violence? You guessed it: Fox “news”… one of the NON-“fake news” outlets he omitted from his enemies list. Unsurprisingly, Fox “news” Sunday failed to mention anything about Sweden yesterday or Trump citing them as the source of his misinformation.

Meanwhile, we are currently at war without an official National Security Advisor (with two suggested replacements turning him down); even Republicans couldn’t defend his pick for Labor Secretary, Fast Food mogul Andy Puzder; a Federal Court halted Trump’s illegal & unconstitutional “Muslim Ban”… to which Trump told the judge “See you in court!” (duh, where else would you see him?)… only to lose on appeal as well, forcing the WH to announce they would write “an alternate plan” (because they clearly had no Plan-B); and our Commander-in-Chief was busy whining on Twitter about fashion retailer Nordstrom’s dropping his daughters clothing line… DURING HIS NATIONAL SECURITY BRIEFING (link). Doesn’t THAT make it easier to sleep at night!

Donald Trump doesn’t see “chaos in his administration” (but does see it everywhere else: Obama’s WH, Sweden, etc) because this IS his everyday life. Reality is whatever he decides it to be. Everyone adores him (just not The Media that helped get him elected), and he won the electoral vote by “historic margins” not seen since ReaganBush-41Bill ClintonBush-43Barack Obama… his own election.

He’s still whining about the size of his election victory, what mean thing Hollywood is saying about him now, the ratings of his former TV show, and his belief the Media is conspiring to keep from the public just how beloved he is.

Think of all the things Republicans attacked Barack Obama for that apparently they have no qualms with now that a Republican is in the White House: “the presidency is not an Entry Level position!”; the “perpetual campaign” they derided Obama for as he continued to hold rallies even after becoming president; all the golfing; the trips; “Illegal” Executive Orders by “King” Obama; claiming Obama had “an Enemies List” (like Nixon); claims Obama had contempt for the United States (Trump: “You think WE’RE so innocent?”); all as the 6’2″ Obama “bowed” before (5’2″) Asian leaders (rather than curtsy?) to shake their hands.

“Who’s gonna pay for the wall? YOU’RE gonna pay for the wall!… until Mexico reimburses us” by taxing *Americans* on the goods Mexico exports to the U.S.. “Completely repeal every last word of ObamaCare… except the parts we like about “no preexisting conditions” and “allowing kids up to 26 to stay on their parents insurance while they are trying to get through college.” (meanwhile, Rand Paul argued again yesterday on ABC’s “ThisWeek” (full video) that insurance companies SHOULD be allowed to deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions because they are too costly. Sorry infant born with birth defects against the mother’s will because we’ve outlawed abortion, your teenage rape-victim mother should have been more responsible.)

Now the $64 question: If this is how Trump reacts in the relative calm of simply getting his White House in order, how is he going to react in an actual crisis? One day that bubble he’s living in is going to burst and we’re going to be left to clean up the mess.
 


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February 20, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Civil Rights, Partisanship, Politics, Rants, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity

(Hiatus)

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Sorry folks. I know I punked out last week following Super Bowl Sunday, but my father went in for Triple-Bypass surgery this week (he’s okay. Surgery was a success) so I’ve been a bit too distracted this week to write my regular weekly Op/Ed.

I hope to return to my regular duties next Monday. Sorry for the interruption. I had plenty to say this week too.

Thanks.
 


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February 13, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: General

Pence: The President is Apparently Unable to Handle Criticism from The Media

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Too busy watching the Super Bowl to crank out an incisive Op/Ed today, so instead I share with you this stunning video from Meet the Press yesterday:
 

“This president has shown an unusual interest in commenting on his critics” (0:45)
Sen Mike Pence on President Obama, June 15, 2010

 

I wish I could say I was surprised, but we KNOW there are a dozen more comments like this one out there.
 


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February 6, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: Partisanship, Politics, Right-Wing Hypocrisy

Trump Has Been Great for Advancing Progressivism

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They say you never appreciate what you’ve got until someone tries to take it away. One day after Donald J Trump was sworn into office, a massive GLOBAL protest took place condemning the new Commander-in-Chief on Women’s Rights. And just this past weekend, tens of thousands of protesters rallied to oppose Trump’s ill-conceived (and likely unconstitutional) “Muslim Ban” that singles out travelers from any of seven “red flagged” Middle Eastern nations, yet incredibly, excludes five nations, most with known links to terrorism inside the United States including Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia… where 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers came from, and Turkey, a close ally of the U.S. but where ISIS committed a brutal attack on the Istanbul Airport just last June (the fifth nation being the UAE, also linked to 9/11.) Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bloomberg pointed out Friday that the five exempted majority-Muslim nations all just happen to be countries in which Trump has business interests. Hmmm.

More people are talking about the potential negative consequences of enacting Trump’s extremist Conservative agenda in just the past week than have stood up and defended Progressive ideals in the past 30 years. When Obama took office in 2009, just WHO did we see taking to the street in massive protests? Teabagging idiots, carrying semi-automatic weapons, waving racist misspelled signs demanding: “keep your government hands off my Medicare!” If Hillary or (and it pains me to say this) even Bernie had won the election, just WHO would we see protesting in the streets today? The same racist teabagging idiots demanding we “build the wall”, take away their own health care, and “lock up” Hillary Clinton for something, something, BenghaziTM.

But instead, we see people flooding the streets demanding the protection of women’s rights, demanding fair treatment of non-Christian immigrants, welcoming refugees and pointing out all the problems with Trump’s ridiculous border wall with Mexico. Columnist Tom Friedman on “Meet the Press” yesterday pointed out that “Every time someone on the terrorist watch list flies into Mexico, the United States is notified. Just how willing will they be to continue such cooperation if Trump builds his wall?” And one of the proposed means of raising money to pay for the wall would be to “place a 20% import tax” on all goods entering the United States from Mexico. Well, who then pays that tax? YOU DO, not Mexico (of course, you could boycott all Mexican imports, but then YOU’RE STILL stuck with the bill since they’re not waiting for Mexico to pay for the wall before they start building it at YOUR expense.)

And because of all this Conservative stupidity, I’ve seen more Progressives on my TV in the last 8 days than I’ve seen in the last 8 YEARS.

On the flip side, there is one issue in which Progressives and Trump agree, and that’s the issue of “Free Trade”… or more precisely, OPPOSITION to it. Progressives have long railed against the nonsense of “Free Trade” while Conservatives have long championed it. In the 1990’s, President Clinton passed NAFTA with mostly Conservative votes. Republicans told us how “great” it would be for American business while Ross Perot warned of “a giant sucking sound” as American companies rushed to move their factories to Mexico for the cheap labor and then reimport it back into the US for sale. Trump’s opposition to NAFTA (or more precisely, Mexico since he never talks about “Free Trade” with Canada) and the TPP are driving Republicans nuts. Suddenly, they are forced to agree with their Party Leader that perhaps “Free Trade” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and Progressives were right all along.

So while Trump is ranting about “US sovereignty” and railing against foreign countries taking advantage of us only to sell their goods back in the U.S. without benefiting a single American worker, he then signs an Executive Order granting permission to two Canadian oil companies to build a pipeline through the U.S. to produce “oil” that very little of which we can even use. As part of the deal, Trump is demanding the pipeline “be built using American steel”, thus “creating American jobs”, but as I pointed out [ibid], most of that pipe has already been purchased and there is no requirement they scrap all that leaky Chinese pipe and purchase all new American steel pipe. As such, the number of jobs created from providing steel pipe will be minimal.

In addition to Keystone, Trump also restored the controversial “Dakota Access Pipeline” (DAPL) that had hundreds of protesters… including veterans… protesting in the freezing cold of Northern North Dakota a few months back against the building of a pipeline from Canada through native American land and endangering their water supply. President Obama, who initially supported the plan, relented to protesters and shelved the project. Enter Donald Trump who reignited the controversy by allowing the project to resume, promising it will create more temporary jobs over several years than the U.S. economy needs EVERY WEEK just to keep up with population growth.

Also announced last week, hundreds of thousands of scientists are planning their own “@ScienceMarchInDC” in April to protest the Trump Administration’s anti-science policies, not just their disbelief in Climate Change that leads them to believe they can build those pipelines without consequence and go ahead with plans to reduce regulations on coal production. But in addition to Climate Change, they are also protesting “slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public“, calling it “absurd.”

For six years, Republicans railed against “ObamaCare” and vaguely promised to “repeal & replace” it with “something better”. During the presidential campaign, Trump said he was “working on a plan” for a replacement to “ObamaCare” that would still “cover everyone”, continue to prohibit exclusions for “preexisting conditions”, all without a mandate or possibly causing you to lose your doctor. And every time people asked Trump or Republicans about “their plan” to replace “ObamaCare”, they always assured us they were “working on it” but it would be great. Trust us. Barely two weeks ago, just as Obama was preparing to leave office, the new Congress made voting to “repeal ObamaCare” (for the 66th time) one of their very first acts. The big cowards passed the bill before Obama left because they knew he’d veto it. But they don’t DARE pass it again NOW, forcing Trump to sign it before they have a plan to replace it.

So then, just this past Wednesday/Thursday, at a “retreat” in Philadelphia, Republican lawmakers got together to discuss what to replace “ObamaCare” with now that they finally have a president that’ll sign whatever they pass. Audio of the meeting (93 minutes) was described as Republicans “freaking out” over the fact they HAVE NO replacement, no plan, no clear ideas, no agreement regarding what to “replace” it with, and that coming up with their own plan is going to be a matter of months not “weeks” as they had hoped, was leaked to the Washington Post.

This is what Democrats have been saying all along. “They have no plan!” They “can’t keep just the parts they like and get rid of the parts that help pay for it!” Conservatives are irresponsible children and they appointed a reckless Toddler promising them candy for dinner, only to wake up with tummy aches. Conservatives are just starting to realize how empty those promises have been all along.

Trump ran for office on being a successful businessman who was adept at finding “the best people” to run the government. Then he nominates people like Rick “Oops” Perry to run a department he was forced to admit in his confirmation hearing that he didn’t realize everything the department did when he proposed shutting it down four+ years ago, and Ben “Sleepytime” Carson (a surgeon) who has been tapped to run the office of “Housing and Urban Development” (NOT Surgeon General) whose sole experience is that he “once lived in Public Housing” (by that logic, I should be flying jumbo jets around the globe.) And in case you were wondering (as I was), No, Trump has not yet picked a Surgeon General… someone he could use as the GOP hashes out their “ObamaCare” replacement.

Even Republicans are expressive concern now that Trump’s Travel Ban “wasn’t properly vetted” before it was enacted and they clearly did not think things through. McCain & Graham, who have openly criticized their new Party leader before, are expressing concern that the backlash from this travel ban could actually do more to harm national security than help it as we anger the few allies we have left in the Middle East and leave interpreters & guides wondering why they should help a country that views them as “the enemy” simply for their religion?
 

Global protest supporting women's rights
Global Anti-Trump protest in support of women’s rights – 1/21/2017

 

Global protest supporting women's rights
Global Anti-Trump protest in support of women’s rights – 1/21/2017

 

Travel ban protests across country
Tens of thousands protesting Trump’s Muslim Ban across the country – 1/28/2017

 

People are starting to realize the emperor has no clothes, and Progressives are the ones pointing it out. Ignored once, but rapidly organizing & growing. And it took electing an incompetent, racist man-child to mobilize them.
 


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January 30, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · One Comment - Add
Posted in: Abortion rights, Civil Rights, Economy, Environment, Global Warming, Greed, Healthcare, Immigration Reform, Infrastructure, myth busting, National Security, Partisanship, Racism, Religion, Right-wing Facism, Right-Wing Hypocrisy, Right-Wing Insanity, Seems Obvious to Me, Terrorism, Unconstitutional

First Official Act of Trump Press Secretary is to Lie About an Easily Disprovable Fact?

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“Going to war with the Media is how BAD presidencies END.” I couldn’t believe I was agreeing with Conservative radio host Hugh Hewlitt during yesterday’s “Meet the Press”. Shades of Nixon’s Press Secretary “Ron Ziegler” complaining about “shabby journalism” during Watergate. Trump’s pick for Press Secretary, Sean Spicer… who has been critical of the coverage of Trump for weeks… wrapped up his first full day on the job to call a late Saturday Evening Press conference to lie about the viewership of Trump’s inauguration:

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration… PERIOD [emphasis his] both in person and around the globe.”
Later claiming “1.5 Million people were in attendance” Friday.
– Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 1/21/17

You’re not doing yourself any favors by calling a late Saturday Press conference… usually reserved for major breaking events, dragging reporters away from their families and back to work on the weekend just to hear you… not just whine about coverage of the inauguration… but to assert an easily disprovable fiction as FACT and then bitch about a “biased” Media to their faces.

Not only was this NOT the largest attendance of a presidential inauguration, it also was not the “most viewed”, that honor going to Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural in 1981 (41 million viewers), followed closely by Obama again in 2009, then Jimmy Carter in 1976. Trump comes in a distant fourth at “30.6 million viewers” according to Nielsen (unless you’re a Trump supporter working for “Entertainment Weekly”. Then it was “the second highest rated inauguration in 36 years… conveniently omitting both Carter & Reagan’s first, yet still falling short of Obama 2009.)

Fact is, Obama had a (MUCH) larger crowd. There’s a reason they call Spicer’s boss “TrumpleThinSkin“. The knowledge that Obama’s inauguration crowd dwarfed his must be killing him because he just can’t fathom that he’s not more beloved than Obama.

Hell, even Fox freaking “news” wasn’t buying it. Fox “news” Sunday host Chris Wallace went hard after new Chief of Staff Reince Priebus yesterday for making such a ridiculous “easily disprovable” claim. Priebus didn’t help matters any by trying to claim the photo of the smaller crowd at the Trump inauguration was taken “hours before” Trump’s speech. (I guess one million attendees were on a bathroom break.) Wallace corrected him that “both photos were taken at roughly the same time”. I’ll spend just a few seconds debunking this idiotic claim that photos of the smaller 2017 Inauguration crowd were “taken hours earlier” because that’s all this stupidity is worth:

ABC News provided these time-stamped photos from their own coverage of Obama’s inauguration in 2009 compared to Trump’s inauguration Friday taken by the same camera at essentially the same time, just at the start of the swearing in of both presidents:
 

Timestamped inauguration comparisons

 

First, it is easy to understand why Trump might find it hard to believe the crowd wasn’t bigger because the view from the dais during the speech really does make it look like the crowd goes on forever (no one ever claimed 500,000 people packed into a confined space doesn’t look like a ton of people.) But pan back a bit and we find these gaps and open areas in the crowd (I grabbed these shots myself off the TV and added arrows to draw your attention to the empty spaces. As you can see from the time-stamp, they are precisely during the swearing in:
 

Trump crowd from dais
(You can’t see these gaps from up front.)

 

Here is the photo in question showing a smallish crowd for Trump’s inauguration:
 

Closeup photo of 2017 crowd
(Trump supporters are claiming this photo was taken hours earlier.)

 

The whole ridiculous claim is easily disproven simply by looking at shadows in the disputed photo. Inaugurations take place at Noon EST when the sun is almost directly overhead. The skies were quite overcast in DC Friday, but you can still see from the lack of shadow on the Capitol Dome, the sun is almost directly overhead, not “hours earlier” when the sun would be low and the shadows longer.
 

It was a bit overcast that Friday making shadows less distinct, but if we zoom in:
 

Tree shadow directly beneath
Same photo taken of the smallish crowd.
Note the tree shadows are directly beneath the tree.
(Just as they should be at High Noon.)

 

Capitol via Google Maps
The backside of the Capitol where the inauguration takes place faces due East.

 

Capitol Building during inauguration
Closeup of capitol from same photo.
No shadows on building face if the sun were rising from behind.)

 

Trump inauguration morning
Here is what the Capitol looked like hours earlier that same morning.
Spotlights needed to illuminate the Capitol.

 

Hopefully that’s all enough to debunk the idiotic claim “the photo is from hours earlier.”

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

No, what I want to talk about is this ridiculous need for Trump and his Administration to convince everyone of their greatness. And their absurd willingness… yea NEED… to LIE about STUPID stuff… easily disprovable stuff. Donald Trump was caught on tape in an interview with Howard Stern in 2002 saying:
 

Trump on Iraq 2002

 

Yet when the audio came out, he STILL denied supporting the invasion of Iraq before we went in. And his proof?private (not recorded, not on TV) chat he had with Sean Hannity months AFTER the invasion when people started asking “Where are the WMD’s?”

Early in his campaign, Trump insisted he “saw on TV hundreds of Muslims on rooftops in New Jersey cheering as the [Twin] Towers fell.” Never happened. No such footage has ever been found. No reporter has come forward to say they witnessed such a thing. But Trump is positive it took place. So positive in fact that many of his supporters insist “they saw it too!” on TV. Of course, not one of them can provide a single detail of where or when.

Then came the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape of him bragging about his proficiency as a sexual predator. He had no choice but to admit it this time, but dismissed it as “locker-room talk”… basically claiming he was “lying” about his sexual proclivities to impress his interviewer/host “Billy Bush” (because in Trumpworld, committing sexual assault is something you brag about.) But when dozens of women started turning up to say, “Yeah. He actually did do that that to me”, suddenly they were all “liars” and a “creation of the dishonest Press.”

I remember during the 1992 campaign, then President Bush (Senior) called Bill Clinton a “congenital liar” who lies even when there’s no good reason to do so. Big Dog successfully turned it into “an attack on my mother” since “congenital” means it’s genetic, but the point of someone feeling the bizarre need to lie even about tiny things that don’t matter is painfully evident with Trump. He couldn’t simply claim he had a “HUUUGE” crowd (something nonspecific), it had to be “The biggest inaugural crowd in history!” (a claim PolitiFact rated “Pants on Fire!” Saturday.) Comedian Bill Maher pointed out that every time Toddler Trump gets defensive about something, it’s not enough to say the claim is not true, he has to be “The Best/Most/Greatest Ever”. “No one has more respect for women than me!” He doesn’t just claim to have a good memory, he must have “The worlds greatest memory” (another ridiculous and easily disprovable claim just by the fact he uses a teleprompter.) “My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it!” Followed up last week by the (again) ridiculous claim his cabinet has “the highest IQ of any cabinet in history by far.” And his proof of this? Did he subject every living former cabinet member to an IQ test? Of course not. It’s his own personal belief once again stated as “fact” with nothing more to support it than the personal fortunes of his cabinet picks. For that I have just two words: Rick Perry. Number of Nobel Prize winners among them? Zero. (Another great Maher observation Friday: “Note to Conservatives: As Trump walked Obama to the helicopter, the one with five kids by three different wives was the white guy.”)

And now, he didn’t just have a huge crowd, but it had to be “the largest in history”. And his reason for believing that? Did he research it? Of course not. He believes something to be true, ergo, it must be true. And that’s all the proof he needs. That’s all the proof ANY Republican needs to believe something is true. If you’re a Republican, unemployment is up, the Deficit is up, crime is up, and illegal immigration is up. None of those beliefs are true by the way, but it’s just not possible for those things to not be true after eight years of Obama.

When he was told he “lost the popular vote to Hillary”, that must be a lie too. “I won the popular vote too if you don’t count the millions of illegal aliens who voted for Hillary.” A recent WaPo investigation found just 31 credible cases of potential in-person voter fraud in the last 16 years. To believe 3.5 million voting illegally in a single election could have gone unnoticed… especially in this hyper-partisan age of Conservative “poll watchers” out to make sure no one voted “illegally”, and all the Southern states with strict voter suppression laws in place… stretches the imagination.

So why is it Trump… and now his Administration… feels this compulsive need to lie about things that just don’t matter? And what are we to believe when they start talking to us about the things that DO matter (like war, or the inevitable accusations of criminal wrongdoing inside his administration?)

His spokesperson Kellyann Conartist Conway made news herself yesterday arguing on “Meet the Press” that there are “alternative facts” to support their (false) claims about crowd size and TV ratings. A stunned Chuck Todd audibly laughed (off camera) in response to the term “alternative facts”. He responded, “alternative facts aren’t ‘facts’. They’re lies!” I told my Conservative parents that Obama is leaving office with “high approval ratings”, and their natural reaction was to question “Who’s doing the polling?” That has been the greatest achievement of the Trump Administration so far: getting their supporters to distrust and question every claim that doesn’t support what they already believe to be true. There are “facts” and now there are “alternative facts” that “the Media” simply isn’t telling you. “Why” isn’t exactly clear, but for whatever reason, we have a White House and a Commander-in-Chief who have openly declared that their Administration is “at war with The Media.”

“The is what happens at the END of a BAD presidency.” Maybe we already ARE seeing “the end” of a bad presidency? One can only hope.
 


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January 23, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: fake scandals, General, myth busting, rewriting history, Right-Wing Insanity

Let’s Remember What “Fake News” REALLY Was

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I‘ve seen it every time control of the White House changes hands. The people who only just started paying attention as of the most recent election are “shocked, shocked!” to discover something terrible about the outgoing administration or politics at large that previous administrations were FAR more guilty of, but they didn’t pay attention to it back then because “their guy” was in the White House doing it. And now that they’ve started to pay attention, suddenly it’s an outrage!

Case in point: This new term “fake news”. Suddenly, everything is “fake news”. And just what constitutes “fake news”? Apparently, it’s any news source that reports something the reader doesn’t like. After months of whiny Tweets about “fake news”, Trump sidelined a CNN reporter last week, telling him his organization is “fake news” before calling on someone from the online Right-wing tabloid “Brietbart.com”. During the primaries, Trump had praised “The National Enquirer” for their report claiming Ted Cruz’s father may be connected to the JFK assassination. In the first days of Trump launching his campaign, he falsely claimed to have “seen on TV” “thousands of Muslims on rooftops in New Jersey cheering” on 9/11 as the towers fell. Never happened, and his claims that it did ARE “fake news”.

But the birth of modern “fake news” really goes back to the George W Bush Administration.

Before the invasion of Iraq, almost no one in the mainstream news seriously questioned claims coming out of the White House that Iraq was: amassing “stockpiles of chemical weapons”, developing “pilotless drones” and the existence of “mobile weapons labs” all being amassed with the intent of “attacking the United States”. And when people like Ambassador Joe Wilson dared claim what we were being told wasn’t true, reporters friendly with the Bush Administration, like the WaPo’s Robert Novak, attacked him, exposing his CIA agent wife’s (Valery Plame) secret identity. And then there was NYTimes reporter “Judith Miller“, who was spoon fed false information by none-other than Vice President Dick Cheney himself regarding Iraq’s WMD program, who then cited Miller’s reporting on shows like “Meet the Press” to bolster his own claims of the existence of WMD’s. But despite doing so, she never called him out for it, choosing instead to uncritically continue helping the Bush White House sell the war. Everything the Bush Administration said about Iraq being an imminent threat, even alluding to the possibility they may have been involved in 9/11, was not true and their critics were destroyed with the help of fellow members of the Press terrified of being labeled “on the side of the terrorists” after 9/11. No one asked the hard questions until it was too late. And suddenly, in a prime example of locking the barn door after the horse escapes, The Press suddenly became hyper-vigilant and critical of the Bush Administration, determined not to be embarrassed once again.

With a now adversarial Press questioning their every move, the Bush Administration reached out to friendly right-wing reporters and welcomed them into the White House. Most notorious of these was a “reporter” going by the name “Jeff Gannon” from a hard-right online-only “news” source called “Talon News”. Gannon was called on at almost every WH Press conference. The moment the questioning became too adversarial for Press Secretary Scotty McClellan, he’d call on Gannon to toss him a softball question. Among his more ridiculous [ibid]:
 

“Senate Democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the U.S. economy. [Minority Leader] Harry Reid was talking about soup lines, and Hillary Clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. Yet, in the same breath, they say that Social Security is rock solid and there’s no crisis there. How are you going to work — you said you’re going to reach out to these people — how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?”

 

Yes. That really happened.
 

Interestingly, no one in the Bush White House ever looked very hard (or really cared) into just who this fawning “Gannon” character was that they had granted access to the White House in a time of war… not just to the Press Briefing room, but even President Bush himself. For if they had, they would have discovered: 1) His name wasn’t “Jeff Gannon” but in fact “James Guckert” and 2) that he secretly moonlighted as a gay prostitute for men in the military. A serious potential blackmail threat. But the Bush Administration didn’t care as long as they had a friendly face in the Press gaggle fawning over them.

Oh, but it didn’t end there boys & girls. Because the major news outlets were now highly critical of the Bush White House, the Bush Administration starting producing THEIR OWN fake news… using fake reporters (actual actors) with fake names… claiming to be reporting on recent successes coming out of the Bush Administration. The video was then distributed to small market, low budget news stations across the country that were desperate for content to fill their newscasts. But those stations never told their viewers where the content came from, and never revealed that the “reporters” in those newscasts didn’t actually work for them.

From grateful Iraqis thanking Bush for the overthrow of Saddam, to tales of advances in airport security put in place by the Bush Administration…. ie: anything the White House felt they deserved praise for but weren’t getting. And by no coincidence, small-market TV stations typically fell in rural areas that tended to vote Republican, so “feel-good news” that pushed back against much of the negativity local viewers were hearing from other sources helped the Bush Administration shore up its flagging base, create confusion, and sow distrust of other news outlets reporting critically of them.

As their success with “fake news” grew, the Bush Administration got cocky, expanding their “in-house fake news” distribution to major markets like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta, attracting attention that led to exposure of the entire program and its shutdown.

But like the TV commercial says: “But wait! There’s more!”

While producing “fake news” segments with paid actors posing as reporters, the Bush Administration also tapped friendly “established” (I hesitate to call them “real”) Conservative reporters to report favorably on their activities. I already mentioned Novak & Miller above, but another was Conservative African-American columnist Armstrong Williams, who was paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars to promote “No Child Left Behind” [ibid]… the failed education policy that led to years of incessant testing and schools wasting all their time “teaching to the test” rather than teach children how to solve problems or learn anything new. But according to Williams, the program was a resounding success.

So when I now hear Donald Trump and his supporters criticize legitimate news organizations that fact check their stories before reporting on them as “fake news”, while directing others to Right-wing troll sites repeating ridiculous unsubstantiated and/or debunked stories like “PizzaGate” and “Jade Helm” that are unable to link to a single source to substantiate their claims, it makes me furious. (Note: I ALWAYS provide links to back up any questionable claim.)

And now Donald Trump is doing it. I swear to God, this country has just elected a 13-year old girl as president of the United States. I KNOW his iPhone is covered in Rhinestones. I just KNOW IT.
 

Postscript: Sadly, next week will be our first post under a new Commander in Chief. I STILL can’t bring myself to say the words “President Trump”. It’s still an unfathomable thought. And I’m someone who has insisted George W Bush be called “President Bush” in his first reference in any column simply out of respect for the office regardless of my feelings towards him. I’m just not prepared to make that same commitment to Donald J Trump.
 


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January 16, 2017 · Admin Mugsy · No Comments - Add
Posted in: fake scandals, myth busting, Politics, rewriting history, Right-Wing Hypocrisy