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Better late than never? Or better never?

by Dog Gone on July 27, 2016 · 0 comments

That Trump is a con artist, deadbeat businessman, and now apparently it is news he made his money by mob connections is not new. It’s been known in the business world for a long time.
So Mitt — good on you for calling out Trump, but WHY did you pal around with him as a prominent supporter LAST election cycle? Isn’t that something you knew then, all those bad things you are saying about him now? Mitts on our Money should never have sought or accepted the Trump announcement in the first place.  This simply underlines how the right makes deals with the Devil, and then whine when payment is due.


women__s_rights_chalk_by_luckyduck2-d3jfdlvActually, as a pathological narcissist he considers everyone except Donald Trump to be that. But especially women. Yet a lot of women, and not just the hopelessly cognitively rigid, intend to vote for him. What’s to be done?
I don’t consider myself well-qualified to provide good insight on this. What I’ve done instead is find articles by some who are.

In the case of a Trump supporter, you could start off with emotionally charged issues close to his or her heart. If your Trump-supporting friend or family member is a woman who believes in reproductive health rights, explain that Trump supports defunding Planned Parenthood and holds lots of retrograde opinions about women. If it’s a friend whose house was once foreclosed on, perhaps show them a video of Trump saying he cheered for the housing collapse of 2008. If it’s a small business owner who employs immigrants, show them how disruptive Trump’s immigration policies would be to their work.



from Raw Story: Street graffiti depicting Donald Trump passionately locking lips with Russian President Vladimir Putin went viral on social media in Lithuania Friday, appearing to show concern over the US White House hopeful’s attitude toward Moscow. The artwork in the capital Vilnius alludes to a famous 1979 photograph of then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kissing communist East German president and ally Erich Honecker.

Vlad Putin is notorious for not only his corruption in association with Russian oligarchs and mobsters, but for taking revenge on those who oppose him. Nothing short of their destruction suffices his petty vengeance seeking and ambition.  Further, Puti has gone a long way towards wrecking the Russian economy, and towards a redistribution of wealth to the rich that is among the worst in the world. His track record with a free press is nothing to brag about either.  Putin is an old style Stalin-esque dictator, with Stalin being one of his heroes he hopes to sanitize and reinstall as a national hero.


The sad thing is that every one of the same characteristics typify Donald J. Drumpf. The best that might be said of Trump is that he is Putin light; as in he’d be worse if he could get away with it in the US of A.


The New York Times summed it up in January 2016:

GOING into 2016, Vladimir V. Putin is a very different politician from the one he was a year ago. His most significant changes have little to do with what he has done in the last 12 months. Instead they were wrought by the justice systems of two foreign countries — Britain and Spain — and a slew of Russian and Western journalists and activists. Thanks to all these disparate efforts, there has emerged a vivid, comprehensive and, most important, public picture of allegations of corruption and connections to organized crime that in the past had been the province of rumors or maverick investigations publishers wouldn’t dare to print.
In May, Spanish prosecutors petitioned a Madrid court for permission to charge 27 people with money laundering, after a giant decade-long investigation that implicated, among others, highly placed Russian officials, some of whom have business or property in Spain. The 488-page complaint names a sitting member of the Russian Parliament, a former prime minister and a former defense minister. It draws numerous connections between the presumed ringleader, Gennady Petrov, an influential figure in St. Petersburg, and Mr. Putin’s inner circle.

Another corruption probe that unfolded during 2015 implicates Mr. Putin’s own family. Early in the year, the Russian business publication RBC released an investigation into a vast university expansion project, undertaken on a giant section of land that belongs partly to Moscow State University and partly to the Russian state. The report meticulously documented the sheer scale and scope of the project, and the involvement of many of Russia’s most prominent state and private business managers. But it gingerly stepped around identifying the woman in charge, who had declined to be interviewed. RBC would say only that she was called Katerina Tikhonova — a very common Russian name — and that she had been seen in public with Kirill Shamalov, the son of a close friend of Mr. Putin’s.

 Yet another investigation released last month revealed apparent links between the Russian prosecutor general and the country’s most notorious organized crime family. Such allegations have become so prominent in the public conversation lately, even in Russia, that they were raised with Mr. Putin on Dec. 17, during his highly scripted annual news conference.

But that Mr. Putin had to face such accusations at all shows that a new understanding about Russia is taking hold: Russia is a mafia state — not only because it is run like the mafia, but also because it is run by organized crime.

The following day the journalist Oleg Kashin posted on his blog a piece titled, “It’s Her.” Katerina Tikhonova, he wrote, was Mr. Putin’s daughter. The president’s press secretary, Dmitri S. Peskov, responded with a non-denial denial. “I don’t know who that is,” he said. “Many girls have been passed off as Putin’s daughters.” Then Reuters, in a large investigation of Russian corruption it published at the end of the year, reported that Ms. Tikhonova, 29, was indeed Mr. Putin’s daughter, that Mr. Shamalov was her husband and that both were billionaires.

Putin is reputed to have amassed a fortune in the range of $40 billion; he has begun to invest some of that ill-gotten gain in Trump properties.  And in return, Trump is proposing to clear NATO out of the way for Putin.  Trump has reportedly sought out Russian mob money from Putin, because his businesses, far from being successful, are no longer welcomed by American banks.  Putin is reported to use the Russian security and intelligence services to control the mafia for the advantage of himself, family and associates, something that we might expect from Trump, should he become president.

Trump in his own right is reported to have close ties with the US mafia for decades.  He is reputed to have only succeeded to the extent he has in the building and casino sectors by paying off politicians not to look to closely.   As Politico reported in May:
Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?

In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.

…In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”

I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.

No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.


This can’t have been news to the GOP when they allowed Trump to be first a candidate and then nominee for president.  It should get interesting as the post-convention candidate oppo-advertising picks up.  It will remain to be seen if Trump proceeds to sue, or at the very least to seek an injunction.  I would speculate that not even the worst of the right wing judiciary would be amenable to earning a reputation for giving mobsters legal cover.


Sadly, unlike the rest of the world, too many US citizens are blithely oblivious to any knowledge of world leaders or other countries.  I am consistently shocked at how few people can correctly identify key American figures – like being able to name the members of the U.S. Supreme Court, or even know how many Justices sit on it.  It is therefore less surprising to me that so many people in the US are unable to name the head of government in Canada to our north or Mexico to our south.  I consider it a plus if they reliably know where those two countries are, given how few people know where most of the states in the US go on a map.  So it should come as no surprise that Putin’s reputation for mob activities is ignored or unknown by the likes of Faux News and other right wing media.  We can sit back to wait for their feigned surprise or fake outrage that will eventually come after their robust denials become unsustainable.


The GOP should be writhing in shame; I doubt they have the collective conscience to do so.  It should be particularly fun to watch the Evangelicals scramble to address their claims of how religious Trump is, how god fearing moral.  I guess we no longer need wonder why Trump goes to the former Soviet Union eastern bloc to find two of his three wives…


Trump claims that he could shoot someone on 5th avenue and his supporters would still be enthusiastically behind him.  Let’s put it to the test how well they like a mobbed up candidate for president.  Let’s begin that re-education of the right, right here.  When it becomes undeniable that he is dirty, will he quit before the election — and then what?


I doubt any current polls are taking into consideration this kind of news coverage affecting the election in November.


Fort Myers, Florida aka the Gunshine State, just had another mass shooting.  The last one was a little over a month ago, in Orlando, resulting in 50 dead, 53 wounded.


Germany has had a series of terrorist attacks in 2016, 3 knife attacks, one guy with an axe, one with a bomb, and one non-terrorist attack with a gun.   Each of the terrorist attacks resulted in only 1 dead. Of the stabbings and axe attacks, the knife attacks each left one injured, a third knife attack left 3 injured, and the axe attack left 5 injured.  The suicide bombing left 12 injured.


Only the shooter in Germany, tentatively associated with right wing terrorist Anders Breivik, was successful in accomplishing a mass killing, 9 dead, 16 more wounded.


This proves the point that strict gun laws work; Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.  Most of the illegal guns are from areas in and near the EU which have experienced civil wars like Bosnia.  Eastern European states often have more lax gun laws; for example, the January 2015 shooting in Paris involved firearms legally bought in Slovakia. The number of dead in that attack, on the magazine Charlie Hebdo, was 12.


Right wing gun-huggers would tell you that if there is restrictive gun regulation, only the bad guys will have guns.


That is not true.  For example, Germany has the 4th largest legal gun ownership in the world, after the US, Finland and Switzerland.  People can still own guns under gun regulation, the so-called good guys.


Right wing gun-huggers will claim – wrongly – that gun regulation and gun restriction means that ONLY the bad guys will have guns.  Bad guys encompass terrorists, both Islamic and right wing terrorists, and criminals; that is also not true.  Rather we see terrorists, both right and left, and criminals, and domestic abusers as well, all find it too easy to get guns in the United States, and far too easy to use them against innocent victims.


Germany has a very low level of criminal acts involving guns, giving the lie to the claim that with gun regulation ONLY the criminals will have guns.


NationMaster makes comparisons between countries easy, including regarding firearms and crime.


For example:

Gemany ranks 77th in crime (per capita)  the United states ranks 30th (per capita); the US has more than twice the rate of crime of the USA

Germany ranks 24th for rape; the US ranked 9th with 3 times more rape than the US (per capita)

Germany ranks 15th for violent gun crime; the US ranks 1st with 3 times more than Germany

Germany ranks 43rd for intentional homicide with a rate of 0.81 per 100,000; the US ranked 7th, with 6 times the homicides per 100,000 of Germany with 5 per 100,000.

There are a variety of other metrics; all of them come out with Germany as safer than the US, usually by a very very large margin.


We can continue listing, but the bottom line is that Germany, with their stricter gun laws continues to make legal gun ownership available for qualifying citizens while making their country broadly safer from violence, particularly gun violence.


The right wing gun huggers, as they do with every subject that doesn’t suit how they wish the world to be, simply deny inconvenient facts, be it gun control, Brexit being a disasterous vote, or the science of global warming.


We can’t let those who are willfully disconnected from reality endanger the rest of us.  We need comprehensive gun control in EVERY part of the United States.  It is increasingly clear that it is not merely correlation but causation, more guns means more gun violence, not greater safety.


When, WHEN will we have enough of killing and injuring people because of ridiculous but well-funded right wing myths and propaganda?


stewartheadbandTwo items. This first one does require some context. Rich candidates in both major parties often loan their own campaigns money. Win or lose, they usually do get it back, with interest. But the practice is often seen as an acknowledgment that anticipated funding sources aren’t coming through as hoped.

Federal Election Commission filings for the second quarter show the Mills campaign’s principal committee, Friends of Stewart Mills, took in $794,001 compared to the Nolan for Congress Volunteer Committee’s $428,178. However, Mills loaned his own campaign $500,000, the first time he has loaned the committee money so far this election cycle. Mills also had less than a fourth of Nolan’s cash on hand going into the third quarter, and had spent about five times as much.
(Brainerd Dispatch)

This next one gets no softening “context.” If one campaign manager after another isn’t willing to stay aboard…

The campaign of Stewart Mills III recently had John Eloranta take over the helm as manager.
Originally, Charlie Szold was announced as the manager in March for Mills’ GOP campaign to unseat Democrat U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District. In May, Szold left the Mills campaign to instead manage the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. David Young, R-Iowa. Szold was replaced by Mike Lukach, who previously served as Mills’ campaign manager during his 2014 bid for the 8th District.
(Brainerd Dispatch)

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Donald_TrumpThat cooked “scandals” about e-mail are being treated as far more important than the likes of this, says it all about the degraded nadir to which American corporate “journalism” has fallen. Hillary Clinton will likely wipe her bottom with Donald Trump anyway, come Election Day, but it still sucks.

And in all honesty a big factor in how pissed off I continually am about this is my own sense of helplessness. I cannot for the life of me figure out an effective way to force c. media to shape up. People have been showing for decades now what bulls*it it is. Many millions nonetheless still watch/read/listen, and believe the plutocratic, war pig propaganda that they are shamelessly fed.

This article is comprehensive, brutal, and undeniable. Click and read.

Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin’s increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there’s quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.

Additional material, from DKos this morning, here.


trump silhouette

Trump spokesman John Miller speaks on condition of anonymity.

Minneapolis, MN ~ Sources inside the Trump for President campaign have confirmed in an exclusive interview with Minnesota Progressive Project that the newly-minted GOP nominee for president has acquired the power to disappear people.


“Look, he’s already disappeared hundreds and hundreds of people, that I can tell you, okay?” confirmed Trump campaign spokesman John Miller, speaking on the condition that his name not be used and his remarks be kept strictly off the record. “These were bad people, really bad guys that nobody wants around. I mean, look around you. Try to find any of the people he’s disappeared. They’re nowhere to be seen, right? Gone! He disappeared them.”


Miller was asked how Mr. Trump acquired the amazing power to disappear people. “Mr. Trump has never revealed the source of his amazing power,” Miller said. “But I can tell you that he knows, and has working for him in secret laboratories funded by the Trump organization, hundreds maybe thousands of the top scientists in the world. These are the top guys you can find anywhere in the world, the greatest scientists in the world, believe me. It was probably them who developed the power to disappear people. Sort of like cold fusion or something.”


When asked what Mr. Trump intended to do with the power to disappear people, spokesman Miller explained. “Oh, that should be obvious. He’ll use the power to disappear people to solve America’s problems both here and around the world. He’ll disappear the illegal aliens who are living in our country illegally. He’ll disappear suspected Muslims and Latino’s — basically anybody who’s skin tone is darker than Beyonce’s will go first. He’ll disappear all of ISIS. Assad, Putin and the Ayatollah Khameineh all will be disappeared.


“He’ll disappear flat-chested women and flamboyant gay men. Criminals also will get disappeared. Think of the tax savings if we no longer have to maintain prisons! Teenage girls with acne. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, of course. Ariana Huffington will get disappeared; her first, maybe. And jobless people! He’ll disappear jobless people, because the unemployment rate will plummet and his numbers will look great. Basically, Trump is gonna solve all of our problems by disappearing our enemies and people who aren’t real Americans or aren’t with the program in some way. Poof! Gone! Think of it!”


The Brexit recession begins

by Dog Gone on July 23, 2016 · 0 comments

It has been one month since the UK voted to ‘Brexit’, Britain exiting the European Union.


The results are not good.  The numbers reflect a severe contraction of historic proportions; the definition of a recession is two quarters of contraction.  The numbers from the first month makes it likely there will be a recession, with continuing contraction.


The UK was previously the country which had made the most economic gains after joining the EU.  Prior to joining the EU the UK economy was somewhat anemic at best.


As noted in this article from the BBC news, this is a disaster brought on the Brits entirely by their own actions.  Brexit was a stupid mistake by the same conservative crowd that ignores informed opinion in rejecting anthropogenic global warming.


Brexit causes dramatic drop in UK economy, data suggests

Britain’s decision to leave the EU
has led to a “dramatic deterioration” in economic activity, not seen
since the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Data from IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, or PMI, shows a fall to 47.7 in July, the lowest level since April in 2009. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
Both manufacturing and service sectors saw a decline in output and orders.
…The report surveyed more than 650 services companies, from sectors including transport, business services, computing and restaurants.
It asked them: “Is the level of business activity at your company higher, the same or lower than one month ago?”
It also asked manufacturers whether production had gone up or down.
The PMI is the first significant set of data measuring business reaction to the result of the UK referendum.
…”The only other times we have seen this index fall to these low levels, was the global financial crisis in 2008/9, the bursting of the dot com bubble, and the 1998 Asian financial crisis,” Mr Williamson told the BBC.
“The difference this time is that it is entirely home-grown, which suggest the impact could be greater on the UK economy than before. “
“This is exactly what most economists were saying would happen.”
‘Heading for recession’
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the figures provided the “first major evidence that the UK is entering a sharp downturn”.

Neil Wilson, markets analyst at ETX Capital, said he thought the UK was “heading for a recession again”, and that the data would almost certainly prompt the Bank of England to roll out further stimulus.

While IHS Markit’s reading on the UK economy was worse than most analysts expected, its verdict on the wider eurozone economy was more cheery.
Although business confidence dropped to an 18-month low, the overall pace of economic growth was in line with pre-Brexit trends, and employment across the eurozone rose.

Conservative voters voted against their economic interests, including voting where their jobs were going to be lost, over the issue of hatred and fear of immigrants.  This continues to be the propaganda manipulation of conservative low-information / emotional thinking potential voters.  They vote stupidly.  Then they suffer.  Then they blame other people.


The agreement among economists about Brexit being a disaster is similar to the consensus about global warming among other scientists.


A Crooked Family Affair?

by Dog Gone on July 23, 2016 · 0 comments

Trump and his immediate family appear to be a bunch of bad apples, although that cannot necessarily be said of his siblings. It does appear to be true that his paternal grandfather ran a brothel. Behaving badly seems to be more of a nuclear family affair, rather than an extended one.


We know that Donald Trump used a fake identity to deal with PR issues, a character he named John Barron. His son with Melania Trump is now named Barron William, same spelling. I suppose it is a measure of some small impulse of originality that the son is not named Barron John. At least Trump appears to have been aware that Prince William was a name and title that were already taken.


A conspiracy theory circulated briefly that the woman who took the fall for Melania Trump was a fake, like the John Barron persona; good investigating by Snopes shows that to be incorrect. The woman, is real, but there is no independent verification that she was really responsible for the plagiarism, given an absence of evidence for that as a pattern of behavior. She appears more competent than that. However the original speech, per investigation by NBC, did not include the plagiarized paragraphs. Those appear to be inserted by the campaign; McIver is not part of the campaign. If she did contribute to the speech, as a paid corporate employee, that would be an inappropriate use of corporate resources by the campaign. Which is to say that there may be an investigation into what she did and did not do in terms of the plagiarism at some future point.


In the same vein, daughter Ivanka, aka Yael (the name she took upon converting to Judaism) has been sued for theft of shoe designs. (The suit is for one design, but the allegations are that she stole an entire line of shoe designs.) This is on top of the recall of 20,000 of her scarves for violating the US Federal Flammability Standard earlier this year. No surprise that daddy dearest wants to undo regulation; they don’t give a damn if the customers are burned by the products they sell.  They can make them on the cheap, put people at risk, and illegally profit from it.


Throughout the convention and at the opening of his campaign, Trump has been plagued by artists who are appalled at the use and abuse of their music to sell Trump, whom they appear to pretty universally despise and with whom they deeply disagree. It began with Neil Young, and continued with the opening night use of We are the Champions by Queen and throughout the convention. The George Harrison estate objects to Ivanka Trump using Here Comes the Sun without permission, although they indicated they would hve approved Beware the Darkness for Trump. Apparently there are no conservative song writers and musicians with music worth playing. Given the accusation of child rape against Trump, although more plausible as a claim against a friend of Trump, Cat Scratch Fever would have had a certain appeal, and no doubt Ted Nugent would be agreeable.


It does not bode well for the GOP that they have nominated a crook, married to another dishonest person, with dishonest offspring. But good on the so-called liberal media, like the Huff Po, that they quickly and effectively debunked a conspiracy theory about the alleged plagiarist.


Vikings stadium ribbon-cutting today

by Dan Burns on July 22, 2016 · 0 comments

minneapolis-aerial-530I have a couple of items to pass along, to mark the, uh, joyous occasion.

About $20 million annually was used to breath life anew into Minneapolis neighborhoods. Today, that program struggles to cobble together around $4 million.

That’s because payments on the city’s spending bender are now coming due.
According to the city Finance Department, Minneapolis is on the hook for about $1.6 billion in debt and operational costs for the convention center, the Vikings stadium, and the Timberwolves arena over the next 20 years.
Broken down, that’s an annual three checks adding up to $80 million, money that’s off the table for paving East Franklin Avenue, fixing swings at Kenwood Park, or financing low-interest business loans on West Broadway.
(City Pages)

If you’re a member of Minneapolis’ creative industry, you helped contribute $4.5 billion to the local economy last year.
That’s the finding of a report into the value of the city’s arts and culture workers released (in June). It shows creative jobs grew by 10.4 percent in 2015 – ahead of the 7.2 percent rise seen across all jobs in Minneapolis.
And despite Minneapolis being home to the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and Lynx, the $4.5 billion revenue generated by the creative sector dwarfs that made by the sports industry by eight times.
(Bring Me The News)