WE MUST PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF RUSSIAN SPIES MEETING POTUS
Most everyone has heard by now that the White House will not be releasing logs of who is coming in for meetings because it costs money to translate them from the original Russian. What does this mean in real terms? POLITICO reports, “Under the Presidential Records Act, a legal expert told POLITICO, the visitor records will be available for release if requested through the Freedom of Information Act, but not until five years after Trump leaves office.” He is 70, so he will be likely be dead given his diet, enormous rear end, penchant for fast food, and total inability to think like a mentally healthy adult. In any case, The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin reminds us there are alternatives to a kamikaze fascist future! Rogin reminds us on Twitter, “In Japan, for one example, nobody gets in to meet with the PM without getting identified or questioned by a reporter on the scene,” so ergo perhaps, also via Twitter, “There should be pool coverage of the WH entrances to track visitors if the WH won’t release the logs.” Josh Rogin for president? I mean if we are basing this all on a Twitter account…. You don’t even need to know anything about him to know he is already better than Trump.
NOW LET’S HEAR FROM ONE OF THE ADULTS IN THE ROOM
National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster told ABC News “This Week” Sunday that “it was time for tough talks with Russia over its support for Syria’s government and its ‘subversive’ actions in Europe.” Of Tillerson’s trip to Moscow last week, McMaster said, “Well, when relations are at the lowest point, there’s nowhere to go but up. So I think the secretary’s visit to Russia was perfectly timed”. And we can say, at least there is dialogue and a voice like McMaster’s at the highest level not parroting or succumbing to the Russian cancer on our state. This is the second Sunday in a row McMaster has been dispatched to do the Sunday morning political shows and offer a shaky American electorate something of a boost of confidence that at least the military is running the big kids part of the show, foreign policy. Longer term the problem lingers of how we wrestle military control back into the hands of competent civilians, but first, we will have to elect those competent civilians so hold on tight, that could be a while if not forever!
CUT IT OUT!
On Friday, foreign ministers from Russia, Syria and Iran met in Moscow and “said any further unilateral action by the U.S. in Syria would be met with ‘grave consequences’ and pose a danger to the entire world,” according to Voice of America. As far as America and its regional interests are concerned, it is fairly safe to interpret that as a threat against Israel, minimally. Also at the Russian Foreign Ministry Friday, The Washington Post reports, “Russia says it has hosted regional consultations on Afghanistan intended to help national reconciliation,” but without the Americans present, only “senior diplomats from Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan and ex-Soviet Central Asian nations.” The U.S. State Department’s acting spokesman Mark Toner said Thursday, the Moscow talks “seemed to be a unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region that we felt wasn’t constructive at this time.” Luckily most all of these countries know Russia is no good at keeping its word and very good at usurping national wealth, so this is likely to pry concessions on a bilateral level from the Americans. Otherwise Russia enough, cut it out?! Russia is poor and in shambles but Putin has a vision of himself as a European monarch of centuries ago, which is more sad and pathetic, but mostly sad for the people of Russia.
KHODORKOVSKY ENDORSES NAVALNY
Just what the Kremlin needed! In America, we would call this piling on; in Russia, it is just another “provokatsiya,” or provocation. Everything in Russian politics that is not pure Putin triumphalism is a provocation. The former Yukos oil CEO, jailed by Putin for his political activism, Mikhail Khodorkovsky has endorsed Alexey Navalny at an Open Russia forum on Saturday. Navalny led the recent demonstrations that spanned across Russia and has put out a call for a new round of demonstrations on June 12, Russia Day which celebrates the reforms that precipitated the demise of the Soviet Union. Putin is not pleased. Too bad.
SERBIA WANTS, NO WAIT NEEDS MISSILES
Russian state-run RT reports in a deadline “Serbia wants to buy S-300 missiles systems,” and is in talks with Russian and Belarus, which by the time you read the first sentence, that desire has already undergone transference into necessity. Serbia needs S-300 missiles! Sure it does?! Bosnia does not have them, Kosovo does not have them, Croatia does not have them, and Montenegro should not even with its ascension to NATO, so where does this necessity come from? Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic met John McCain last week and expressed a desire for cooperation and that Serbia not to become part of any military alliance. Now, while he concedes that he has no information Croatia has operational S-300 missiles, he did spend Easter Sunday visiting a Serbian Army Air Defense unit, according to B92. The Serbian Prime Minister Vucic said, “We have no agreement on the S-300s, but if I may tell you, I mentioned it first in conversation with Putin, and we talked about it. I also mentioned in conversation with (Belarus President) Lukashenko.”
TAX MARCHERS DEMAND TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS
Voice of America reports, “Tens of thousands of people marched through midtown Manhattan and dozens of other U.S. cities Saturday to demand that President Donald Trump release his tax returns and to dispute his claim that the public does not care about the issue.” The protests, “in more than 150 cities across the country… wanted to call attention to Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax history, as his White House predecessors have done for more than 40 years.” April 15 is income tax day in the United States. At the Chicago demonstration, TRUMPISTAN WATCH saw numerous signs pointing to a Russian role in financing our president. A large inflatable “Chicken Don” shared a stage with local politicians including Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Illinois Governor candidate, State Senator Daniel Biss, both of whom later held the banner at the start of the march. Trump’s response? A tweet, naturally, that said, “I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?” And of course he sees malice in the actions of the people he allegedly represents for disobeying his divine will. He followed up that first whiny wah! I’m winning! tweet with a second, “Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!” But the rest of our lives have just begun!
From Voice of America.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY VISITS TREASURE ISLAND
The Daily Beast writes of Rep. Mike Quigley’s trip to Cyprus, aka Treasure Island, this week on the trail of Paul Manafort, Wilbur Ross, and many a Russian oligarch who laundered dirty money through the country. Quigley described the trip as “extraordinarily helpful in understanding how the Russians launder money and why.” Even a few days will tell you why many ordinary Russians who can afford it would choose it over Russia: better weather, better banks, better life, no shameful Putin.
From The Daily Beast.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS: “HIS” IS NOT THE SAME AS “IN HIS CONTROL”
Evidently Trump referred to “his” military, which is disgusting beyond measure. Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta agrees, it is vile. Panetta told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Thursday and The Hill reported Friday he said, “The military belongs to the country. Our defense system belongs to the country. And it’s not the president’s military; it’s the military of the United States of America and he has responsibility as commander in chief to be able to make decisions in regards to our military,” and “if you ask the men and women in uniform who they are responsible to, I think their answer would be that they are responsible to the United States of America.” Beyond that, nobody at the White House “has directly confirmed whether Trump authorized the strike himself” on Afghanistan using the so-called “mother of all bombs” (a very technical name). Counter-point: “conservatives have pushed back on Panetta’s criticism, noting that former President Obama used the same phrase when discussing chemical attacks in Syria in 2013.” What did Trump say this past week? “Everybody knows exactly what happened, so, and what I do is I authorize my military”. And what did Obama say in 2013? “I have not made a final decision about various actions that might be taken to help enforce that norm. But as I’ve already said, I have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options.” So both are not good but two wrongs don’t make a right! And under Obama, even though perhaps we should have feared the impending Russian-backed coup on our state, we didn’t! Word to the wise: neither Trump has nor Obama had a stellar relationship with the military, but Trump truly divides the officer corps from the rank and file as the former sees him as dangerous but acquiescing to their will and the latter energizing and hyper-masculine. Both tests the limits of what it means or does not mean to have civilians in control. None of this is good for the long-term health of the nation or civil-military relations.
From The Hill.
EYES ON ZAPAD 2017
The National Interest reports, “A military exercise with origins in the former Soviet Union is now exacerbating tensions with NATO,” namely, Zapad 2017, a massive Russian military exercise scheduled for September. The biannual exercise has proven revelatory in the past but was last held in 2013. The 2013 incarnation “was deeply illustrative not only of Russia’s strategic goals, but of how it planned to fight future wars, particularly the annexation of Crimea.” This year, the exercise has prompted “Baltic countries to ask NATO and the United States for increased military assistance.” This year, “little is known of the exercise at this early stage, except that it will undoubtedly be a window into new Russian tactical concepts and innovations, including lessons learned in the conflict in Syria. The exercise will also function to once again rattle the NATO Baltic countries and Scandinavia”.
From The National Interest.
PREDICTION FROM THE PRESIDENCY’S ORACLE: TRUMP WILL BE IMPEACHED
American University Professor Allan Lichtman used his “Keys to the White House” to successfully predict every American presidential race since 1984. These keys are largely based on a series of metrics around the party currently in power at the time of the election and the charisma of the two candidates running. While there is no such metric to gauge the probability of impeachment, Lichtman correctly notes, “one out of every 14 American presidents has faced impeachment. You know, gamblers have gotten rich betting much longer odds than that.” Lichtman also wisely notes as any veterans of the Clinton era will recall, “You don’t actually have to commit a crime to be impeached. The House of Representatives basically decides what constitutes impeachment, and it could be any violation of the public trust, whether or not it’s a crime.” Further truth bombs: the Republican held House, which has no particular loyalty to, is “not going to unless the American people demand it.” There is also the possibility the House flips next year to the Democrats if voters get fed up with this nonsense reality show (TRUMPISTAN WATCH predicts real elation with all the villains in our reality TV politics because they enable the worst behaviors of a very ill-behaved American electorate – misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, slovenliness, abusive behaviors, violent tendencies, intellectual laziness). More likely: enough Republicans flip and vote to impeach because they love Mike “down-the-line Christian conservative dream president for the Republicans in Congress” Pence. Lichtman believes, “Trump should be impeached if and when he becomes a serious threat to our constitutional order, to our freedoms and liberties, and to the national security of the United States.” He is not already? Tweeting at wake-up-to-pee-in-the-middle-of-the-night time about North Korea or calling the CIA “Nazis” and seemingly relinquishing control of foreign policy and matters of war to the generals isn’t a national security threat? The parting, warning shot: Trump’s “overriding pattern is Donald Trump first, and nothing else matters nearly as much. And when you’re not president, you can get away with that, you can walk away from things. But as president, you can’t. You are accountable for what you do and for what you say. And what is the ultimate accountability for a president? That accountability is impeachment.” Snap, snap, TRUTH. Lichtman’s book, The Case for Impeachment, is out tomorrow. It’s a Bible already. Hallelujah!
From The Washington Post.
“A THIEF RUNNING THIEVES” IS CALLED A DON, A DEAD MAN IS STILL DEAD
Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw (one could argue the closest thing my generation has along with Peter Jennings to anything resembling a Walter Cronkite figure) spoke to students at Drexel University. Besides very unhelpfully telling them we will be just fine, America (no we won’t, maybe if you are a white male dinosaur in Manhattan media, but not if you venture into the provinces and live among the plebes or non-white America). Brokaw talked about the late Ambassador Vitaly Churkin. Recall Churkin collapsed early one Monday morning in his office at the Russian Mission to the UN and the results of the autopsy remain classified. He is one of the “trail of dead Russians” that former FBI agent Clint Watts referred to in his Congressional testimony a few weeks back. Now we learn from Brokaw some insights into why the Kremlin might have wanted him gone. “Vitaly Churkin looked at me and said ‘Tom, the Obama White House does not get Russia; they don’t know how serious it is there now. And the fact is, that my president, Vladimir Putin’ … is effectively a thief running thieves,” which in the mafia is known as a don. “To hear that from the inside was really quite startling,” which is sort of true if you have never lived in the post-Soviet space or have bought into the Russian propaganda about strong, hyper-masculine in a non-gay sense Vlad, otherwise it is very much par for the course. America has far more true believers in its ranks, more than Europe and Russia combined, they just don’t work in electoral mass politics but in our civil, intelligence and military services. You see the thing about mediocre kleptocrats in charge is they feel that their wealth is threatened by those capable of genuine insight. Even if you are employed in their service, as Ambassador Churkin was, all the more so; read up on who joined Yeltsin on the tanks during the 1993 constitutional crisis in Russia (we might catch a rerun or rather a sequel here or there soon).
From The Triangle, Drexel University publication.
ACTIVE MEASURES WATCH: UKRAINE + REX TILLERSON
The President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass writes in a sadly necessary piece, “Four Good Reasons to Care About Ukraine,” that Russian Order of Friendship medal recipient and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked European foreign ministers at the G7 this week in Lucca, Italy, “Why should U.S. taxpayers be interested in Ukraine?” Why should they be interested in Trump’s taxes? Because you see, Rex, in the plains where the proletariat reside and where money hasn’t been pinched from wild catting around the world, people value certain basic dignities and the struggle Ukraine is facing, despite the kleptocratic oligarchs who remain in charge, is about the freedom to live without fear or famine and in truth, to a certain degree. So what are Haass’ four invaluable reasons? 1) Russia violated Ukraine’s sovereignty by annexing Crimea. 2) “It is important that Putin not conclude that continued use of force is a viable path to make Russia great again. If he does, he will continue to invade, coerce and interfere.” 3) Most importantly, Ukraine was a nuclear power who willingly gave up those weapons in a treaty with the US, UK and Russia in 1994. The message sent to nuclear powers is clear after Ukraine and certainly after Libya, threats to sovereignty and territory will be lessened if you are a nuclear power. 4) The 1994 Budapest Memorandum which led Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons was in exchange for certain security guarantees which have already been overlooked if not outright violated so this last point is already rather moot.
From USA Today.
T REX GETS A DEPUTY WHO SEEMS KIND OF NORMAL
TRUMPISTAN WATCH would like to know if you smell ruski or spot the smell of ruski on the new deputy Rex Tillerson is getting because he sounds entirely normal-ish, given what we are dealing with in this day and age of nuclear reality TV politics. John Sullivan, “a partner at Mayer Brown LLP, a law firm based in Washington, D.C., served as deputy secretary of commerce under former President George W. Bush until 2009. Before that, he served as general counsel from 2005 to 2007.” Where is the freak show in that? By the end of the Bush years, the nation was demoralized but the ideologues were largely gone or rendered not credible by things like the Valerie Plame/Lewis Libby scandal or the fact that the mission was NOT accomplished on May 1, 2003 like Bush said it was, Abu Ghraib, etc, etc, ad nauseum. POLITICO reports, “The White House noted that Sullivan co-chairs Mayer Brown’s national security practice and serves as chairman of the United States-Iraq Business Dialogue, a committee aimed at boosting economic relations between the two countries. As Tillerson’s No. 2 at the State Department, Sullivan will bring substantial federal government experience to the Trump administration, despite never having served for State.” Yet he is qualified as, “Beyond his stints with the Commerce Department, Sullivan also served as general counsel for the Defense Department and as a legal assistant to former Assistant Attorney General Michael Luttig at the Justice Department under former President George H.W. Bush.” Maybe we don’t know enough about how awful all these people are but consider John Bolton got turned down for an administration post allegedly due to his mustache so maybe it’s time we refashion the aesthetics of terrible and concede that those not working for Russia with differing views and politics are much less the enemy than Russia and active measures? Just a thought, modest and insignificant.
FOLLOW THE MONEY: UKRAINE CAPITAL FLIGHT TO TREASURE ISLAND
The Guardian has a long read on capital flight from Ukraine in 2014 and the British government’s failure to properly investigate not transactions but a single transaction through the City of London, and how the effort to do so collapsed within a year. We get a sense of how critical Cyprus was to the entire operation of bleeding Ukraine dry. “Cyprus, rather than Russia, Germany or America, that dominates the Ukrainian economy: an astonishing 92% of Ukraine’s outward investment flowed into the Mediterranean tax haven in 2014,” according to The Guardian. Initially, “The UK government trumpeted the freezing of the $23m for two reasons. First, it was meant to be the initial installment of many billions that would eventually help to rebuild Ukraine. If that sum could be confiscated and returned, perhaps so too could the hundreds of millions stashed in London, Latvia, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and elsewhere. Second, the successful prosecution of a regime insider would send a message to the world’s kleptocrats: your money isn’t safe in London any more.” But guess what? The City is still open! The Ukrainians also accuse one of their own, unnamed officials of accepting a bribe to cancel the request to have the money frozen, citing an unnamed consultant to the Ukrainian government as the source. Get out your umbrella, it’s a shit storm!
From The Guardian.
DISINFO WARS DOOMSDAY DEVICE
“Pizza-gate” conspiracy fabulist Mike Cernovich, whose work has been deemed Pulitzer-worthy by none other than Donald Trump Jr., has threatened to detonate a doomsday device of truth should Chief White Supremacist, er Strategist, Steve Bannon for some reason be let go of, terminated, released back into the sewer. Cernovich is evidently wildly popular among a demographic of white men who have given up on life and decided that hating women might solve their myriad problems (it won’t). Cernovich said he has – “mistresses, the sugar babies, the drugs, the pill popping, the orgies. I know everything”. One thing Cernovich does know so much about is talking to the American people! “I will go TMZ on the globalists. I will go Gossip Girl on the globalists.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH does not even know what it means to “go Gossip Girl” on someone, but it does not sound very manly. But that now makes him a companion of Putin’s in having blackmail on our walking, talking kompromat machine of a lunatic president.
From The Daily Beast.
EVERYTHING IN AMERICA GETS A REALITY SHOW, EVEN THE REALITY SHOWS
The number one way to reach the American people is through the abhorrent medium of reality TV. Obama did it (“Bear Grylls” – seriously, look it up), Trump obviously did with “The Apprentice” and now, the FBI, desperate to restore confidence after failing to investigate for so long until it was way too late in earnest the Russian cancer on our state, is set to! Yay reality TV! Why even expect anything of the American people beyond a semi-vegetative state in front of the television? To do otherwise would be unconscionable. The Daily Mail reports, “Mr Comey said the bureau confused a lot of people and that the reality TV show was an opportunity to cement a sense of confidence in his agents.” Why does TRUMPISTAN WATCH see the potential for this to backfire and expose incompetence? And more importantly, will any of the agents featured have a different haircut than James Comey because from the outside looking in, all FBI agents kind of have that haircut. But in bigger terms, think about what this encourages culturally if this is now the route to mass appeal and the confidence of the American people. Not good things! End of empire watch?
From The Daily Mail.
SHIT DMITRY PESKOV SAYS
Nobody should forget that Chechnya is not a separate country from Russia but actually part of Russia when you read reports of gays there being forced into camps and brutally, sadistically tortured. How depraved is Russia? Well, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, “We do not have any reliable information about any problems in this area.” By contrast, “Novaya Gazeta said in a statement on Friday that it fears for the safety of its journalists after exposing the persecution of gay men in Chechnya, a Muslim-majority republic of Russia.” Meanwhile in Washington, the last real non-puppet government of the United States, “former U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden issued a statement on Friday, condemning the persecution and abuse of gay men in Chechnya.” And the Trump administration? Silent as usual because Trump only cares about himself, his precious Aryan princess Ivanka, his money and newfound power, bombs and other forms of violence he promotes so long as not a hair on his head is perturbed, and keeping a lid on all his dirty, dirty Russian money and mafia state connections. And favorite channel of the puppet president, Fox News, repeated the shit Dmitry Peskov says utterly unchallenged, as is their tendency. Also, TRUMPISTAN WATCH thought Russian security state was so powerful, how does the Kremlin not know this is happening? It must not be, right? Yeah right, that’s what they all say when it’s terribly inconvenient to admit the truth.
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