Day 84: “It would please the czar if you would….”

Trump campaign chairman and/or manager Paul Manafort [politico link]:

“The suggestion that I accepted cash payments is unfounded, silly and nonsensical.”

Never a good look, denying one has relations with foreign powers while managing a presidential campaign.  Especially when there’s a handwritten ledger showing more than twelve million dollars in previously undisclosed cash payments.

But now that he’s denied it, what else can we do?  It’s not as if Paul Manafort still works for Putin’s man in Ukraine, or his employment there overlapped with his employment with Trump.  Oh, wait:

His furniture and personal items were still there as recently as May.

This was all predicted back in April, by the way:

Manafort has offered his services to not one but two presidents driven from power through popular revolution — Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. He has lobbied for Saudi Arabia, a Bahamanian president suspected of narco-trafficking and a former Angolan rebel leader accused of torture.

For this work, Manafort has been well-compensated. He told a congressional oversight panel in 1989 that his firm normally accepted only clients who would pay at least $250,000 a year as a retainer.

Spy Magazine reported that his firm received $600,000 one year as compensation for his work for Angolan rebel leader, Jonas Savimbi. The Daily Beast reported that Manafort’s work for the Saudis netted him $250,000 for six months of work in 1984. A Justice Department form filed in 2008 from a subcontractor to Manafort’s firm said the PR work alone on behalf of Ukraine’s government was paid at $35,000 a month.

In 2013, Manafort surfaced in a French influence-peddling scandal involving Edouard Balladur, who was prime minister in the mid-1990s. Manafort acknowledged in a Virginia court that he was paid by an adviser to the Saudi royal court more than $200,000 for advice he provided on security issues. That adviser in turn funneled the profits of an arms sale back into Balladur’s political campaign.

Paul Manafort made the usual, similar disclaimer at that time, back in April:

When asked about his Ukraine lobbying on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, he said that Trump was now his only client.

I suppose today’s “unfounded, silly, and nonsensical” is an improvement, somehow?  But have we evidence that, in fact, Manafort’s only client is Donald Trump?

Who else might be?

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Day 86: Trump’s Lies Since We Started Here

Twitter pal JustJanis (JustJanis on Twitter) compiled a list of Donald Trump’s lies above.

These aren’t all Trump’s lies, of course — for some perspective, these are only his lies since July 30th, when JustJanis began her list.  And, coincidentally, when I re-launched this here blog.

I’ve written about a blog post every other day.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has told a different lie Every.Single.Day.

Quite a list.  Do you think he can keep it up?

I do.

What Voters Are Moved by Negroponte — or Kissinger?

Are any voters in this year’s presidential election saying, “Well if Honduran death-squad enabler John Negroponte endorsed Hillary Clinton, I’m-With-Her!”?    I somehow doubt it.

Is there even *one* undecided voter for whom a Hillary Clinton endorsement from unindicted war criminal and domestic-only traveler Henry Kissinger will tip the balance?  “I couldn’t decide between her and Donald Trump, but if Nobel Peace Prize winner and Nixon late-night prayer-pal Henry the K is for her, I’m-With-Her!”

Nope.

Is there a single voter out there who ponders to her/himself, “Well, I was on the fence a bit, but now that those brutal amoral assholes Kissinger and Negroponte are on board, I trust that Clinton will support enough political violence to make me happy?” Well, I’m sure there are a few, but they all write for the Washington Post op-ed pages.

DC’s a complicated place and I get that strange alliances are formed, but those don’t require wearing your giant sized “Henry Approved!” button.

There’s some controversy abroad in pundit-land whether the Official Campaign pursues these ridiculous endorsements or whether Republicans-for-Clinton pursue them or whether the endorsers have pursued the campaign.

The idea behind the new push is to make Republican voters more comfortable supporting Clinton by showing them examples of leaders in many realms who have chosen to disavow GOP nominee Donald Trump and back Clinton instead.

“Many realms,” Washington Post?  Like that all-important War Crimes Voters realm?  Those voters looking for leadership from the war criminals who, inexplicably, still walk free among us?  Who are those voters?  Can you find and interview one, please?  Just one?  Some regular Jose or Juanita who will say to a reporter, on the record, “It’s John Negroponte’s death-squad enabling that makes his endorsement of Hillary Clinton matter to me when I choose for whom I’ll vote.”

We’re waiting.

Here’s Negroponte’s statement:

“I have personally known Hillary Clinton as First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State,” Negroponte said in a statement. “She will bring to the Presidency the skill, experience and wisdom that is needed in a President and Commander-in-Chief. Having myself served in numerous diplomatic and national security positions starting in 1960, I am convinced that Secretary Clinton has the leadership qualities that far and away qualify her best to be our next President.”

“Numerous diplomatic and national security positions”    !!!!

In the 1980s, he served as the U.S. ambassador to Honduras. In addition to (at best) covering for that country’s murderous autocrats, he also served the Reagan Administration by helping to turn Honduras into a staging area for American-trained death squads in places like El Salvador and Guatemala. (Remember, Eugene Hasenfus was flying out of a base in Honduras when he got shot down over Nicaragua, which is when the Iran-Contra criminal enterprise began to unravel.)

(There’s lots more at that link; Mr Pierce is rather a specialist in not letting this particular chapter of America overseas adventurism slip down the memory hole the GOP conveniently prepares for it quite regularly….)

Look, I understand a candidate can’t really help who might endorse.  Just ask Donald Trump if he’d really rather *not* have David Duke’s unqualified support — or better yet, ask Reince Priebus.  But bragging about an endorsement is something else entirely.  People will support a candidate for their own reasons.

But we don’t know what the hell Hillary was thinking by calling attention to this endorsement. Negroponte’s support isn’t going to bring over that many Republicans, but Clinton’s bragging about it it will piss off — with good reason — plenty of progressives. In terms of how it’ll affect the general election overall, we imagine it won’t have any effect: Most Americans won’t recognize the name “Negroponte” at all, those who do will at most remember he was some foreign policy guy, and a significant portion will simply say “Dur-hurr, he has negro in his name!” And for those who are familiar with Negroponte’s career, a lot of us will just have to drink a double scotch and repeat to ourselves that Hillary doesn’t have to be perfect for us to vote for her. Yes, we understand she wants a big tent. But this guy stinks up the place something awful, and it’s a big goddamn disappointment to see Clinton seeing his endorsement as a coup (another thing he was fine with under Reagan). Just don’t appoint the bastard to anything, OK?

It’s the candidate’s reasons for trumpeting that support that worry me.  And I’m not convinced there are *any* voters who were waiting for John Negroponte’s endorsement before making up their mind.

I’m even less convinced there’s a fence-sitting Kissinger bloc anticipating what he might do.  Let it go, Madame Secretary.  Just let this one go right by.

It won’t help — and it might hurt.  Don’t go looking for trouble, okay?

Day 90: Had enough “otherwise,” RNC?

Rule Number 9 of the Republican National Committee, in its entirety *my bold*

RULE NO. 9

Filling Vacancies in Nominations

(a) The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States or the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States, as nominated by the national convention, or the Republican National Committee may reconvene the national convention for the purpose of filling any such vacancies.

(b) In voting under this rule, the Republican National Committee members representing any state shall be entitled to cast the same number of votes as said state was entitled to cast at the national convention.

(c) In the event that the members of the Republican National Committee from any state shall not be in agreement in the casting of votes hereunder, the votes of such state shall be divided equally, including fractional votes, among the members of the Republican National Committee present or voting by proxy.

(d) No candidate shall be chosen to fill any such vacancy except upon receiving a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the election.

Had enough “otherwise” — especially after today’s Second Amendment travesty, RNC?

Your move.

Day 91: NAMBLA Bot Dogs Trump’s Tax Returns

The North American Man-Boy Love Association: not anything any person wants to be associated with.  Certainly not a group any public figure wants any association with.  And yet — here we are.

“Speaking of tax returns, did you hear Donald Trump is refusing to release them because Donald Trump has donated to NAMBLA? That’s what all the best sources, the most tremendous sources are saying,” said EnoughTrumpSpam’s AutoModerator.

Following a very precise algorithm, mimicking Donald Trump’s own rhetorical “I’m just asking/people are saying/did you hear?” style, the bot’s accusations have migrated to Reddit threads and Twitter.  The bot’s products follow a familiar style.

 Take this, for example:

“Maybe that’s right, maybe that’s wrong, but I don’t know why he doesn’t he release his records. Why doesn’t he release [them]?”

That’s not the bot. That’s Trump trying to cajole President Obama into releasing his birth certificate in 2011.

 

“A lot of people are questioning [them]. There are some major questions here and the press doesn’t wanna cover it. The press just refuses to cover it.”

And so was that, in 2012….

It’s not just a page from the birther playbook. It is the birther playbook.

Remember Googlebombs back in the infancy of the Internet?  Essentially, that’s what happening here, with mentions proliferating and trending on social media as the bot spits out an accusation every time Trump’s tax returns get a mention.  It’s a “bizarre viral hoax” that websites like Inquisitor are debunking.  Because they need to.  Because of this:

“But why doesn’t Trump want to release his? Could it be because he donated a sizable amount of money to NAMBLA and he wants to cover it up? I’m not saying Trump donated money to NAMBLA, but people are saying that. It’s something I’ve heard, but I don’t believe Donald Trump donated several million dollars to NAMBLA over the last several years. Still, if he did that would be a great reason to not release his tax returns. But look, I’m not here to say whether or not Donald Trump donated millions to NAMBLA, I’m just here to let you know that every candidate has released his tax returns over the last 40 years, so there has to be a reason he doesn’t, and several very smart people are saying he contributed millions of dollars to NAMBLA.”

Per Inquisitor: “So far, Trump has offered no response to the hoax.”

Can Trump not respond though?  Can he ignore a viral phenomenon that’s essentially imitating his incredibly successful style?  The bot’s Reddit moderator, Faiz, thinks he might.
There is, after all, only one way to stop it.“The only logical conclusion would really be Trump releasing his tax returns but he would never do that because he’s hiding donations to NAMBLA,” he added. “That’s what I’ve heard from some very smart people anyway.”
Fasten your seat belts.

Day 93: (YesterSaturday) Newt Makes $4.6Million Disappear

Disgraced former Speaker of the House and failed presidential aspirant Newt “Take My Wife, Please!” Gingrich has filed an FEC campaign resolution plan for his abortive-but-successful-at-bookselling 2012 presidential campaign.  You will be unsurprised to learn that the “plan” involves turning $4,600,000 into ZERO DOLLARS.

Because it is owed by Newt to someone else.  Lots of someone elses:

Newt Gingrich apparently has no plans to pay back dozens of small businesses that made yard signs and TV ads for his 2012 presidential campaign. Gingrich filed a document with the Federal Election Commission this week detailing a debt settlement plan to finally terminate his 2012 presidential campaign committee. The document shows that “Newt 2012” plans to stiff 114 businesses and consultants that are altogether owed $4.6 million.

N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of The Civilizing Forces [Charlie Pierce] proposes to make this $4,600,000 disappear.  He’s going to turn it into “zero dollars.”   Isn’t this the fellow who goes on and on about debt rotting our nation?

To whom is this money owed, you might ask?

The Gingrich campaign’s IOU’s are spread across the county and owed to organizations large and small. The biggest chunk of the debt, nearly $1 million, is owed for Gingrich’s use of private jets to fly from event to event through charter travel company Moby Dick Airways. The campaign also owes more than $400,000 for Gingrich’s personal security to the Patriot Group, and $128,000 to the Winston Group, a top Republican polling company based in Washington.

Several other well-known names are also among Gingrich’s creditors, including former Rep. J.C. Watts and Herman Cain for “strategic consulting” and travel, as well as Kellyanne Conway’s The Polling Company, which conducted polls for the Gingrich campaign and is owed more than $20,000.

The campaign’s former manager is still out $27,000 in salary, while the landlord for an office space in Columbia, South Carolinea, is looking for $1,136 in outstanding rent. The last Comcast bill in New Hampshire never got paid, nor did a $718 tab for catering in Sarasota, Florida. Fed-Ex is looking for $33,732 from the campaign, while Twitter was never paid for a $9,000 media buy.

Former Rep. John Sweeney, who is owed more than $24,000 for paying ballot access fees for the campaign, said he still hasn’t been paid and hasn’t heard from the campaign for about six months.

Newt Gingrich must have has decided he’ll never again need political consultants, private planes, Comcast, pollsters, private security, or Black GOPs like Herman Cain and JC Watts.

Because what Trump Cabinet member does?

 

Day 95: Papers Please, Mrs Trump?

America’s immigration system is broken beyond repair, but not in the ways Donald Trump and his right-wing cohorts say.  The way that makes it impossible to navigate:

I don’t much care about parsing the specifics because essentially everyone who has tried to move to the US has had immigration “problems” and sufficient enough violations that the right (or wrong) person in power could chuck you out if they chose to. Try getting a plane ticket/lodging/job start date/Visa all magically timed for the same date when at least one of those things (Visa) tends to appear when the little ball lands on the right number on the wheel.

But apparently, no amount of obeying the rules when later obtaining a green card or citizenship and marriage license can cure an initial visa fraud.  Melania Trump’s self-reporting about her trips home every few months to renew her visa is entirely inconsistent with the type of visa she claimed to have worked here under: (Politico link)

“If Melania was traveling to the U.S. on a B-1 business visa, there is a potential problem,” said a Washington-based partner of a major national immigration law firm. “She would not have been authorized to work in the U.S. while on a B-1 visa. In fact, if a customs agent encounters someone entering the U.S. on a B-1 visa and they know that the individual intends to work for a U.S. employer, the individual will usually be denied admission. In order to avoid being sent back to Slovenia, she may have had to lie about the purpose of her trip.”

Visa fraud would call into question a green card application and subsequent citizenship application, said immigration lawyers — thus raising questions about Melania Trump’s legal status, even today, despite her marriage to a U.S. citizen.

 

“Even today”?  Like, today?

Her husband makes such a big deal — the centerpiece of his campaign, one might even say — about the broken immigration system admitting criminals and rapists and terrorists and aliens who take American jobs, that we deserve to see all of Mrs Trump’s paperwork.

Papers, please, Mrs Trump?  The long form, if you don’t mind.