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The Shearing of Herr Trompf (12)

In the coming constitutional crisis, with dizziness, cramps in the stomach, and pain in the butt, Russiagate and Healthscare might provide the next step in the evolution of political ownership, in which the remnant of sanely conservative Republicans are able to cohere, via anti-Trompf cooperation with Democrats, to create a win-win support of popular causes: lawful regulation of the Trompf Executive, and provision of health care. Let’s hope that the next causes to be advanced (and soon) would be energetic action on climate change, and, as T becomes really desperate, bi-partisan prevention of unconstitutional suppression of civil rights, and/or escalation of military involvement (abroad or at home).

(Sarcasm is not enuff (or snuff, if you prefer to sit corrected); but when it becomes as humorous as the Russian jokes against Soviet oppression, we’ll know that our national mood has taken a decisive turn. Getting there requires a base-line, widely shared, positive vision of a sane and healthy norm to which society can return.)

7-21 Kushner revises to reveal dozens of additional assets. / Sessions talked with Ambassador Kislyak, about campaign-related matters, in April and July 2016.   7-22 T attacks WaPo over its report about Sessions. / Starr-Clinton memo says a sitting president can be indicted. /  But T says everybody agrees that he can pardon himself. / Former top Intelligence chiefs express anger at T’s disparagement of the US Intel Community, such as T’s comparing it to the Nazis.  (So I want to say again, that it is my narratorial position re. this episode in the plot line, that this Russiagate thing is not primarily Rs v. Ds, it’s Hair Trompf v. the bi-partisan and even relatively non-partisan, US Security-Intel-Law Enforcement Establishment.  The Establishment will win.) / Clearly, Hair Trompf is “organizing the White House around defying the rule of law as opposed to running the country.”

7-24 Kushner still in hiding from the public. Here’s Allegra Kirkland at TPM about what we still don’t know about four meetings with Rookies (plus, K’s business contact with a money launderer.) / Trompf looking at replacing AG Sessions.  7-25  T continues to attack Sessions (who, I’m thinking, wants to stay as AG because of what he can accomplish for American racism; and his racism is what most makes him popular with the Trompf base). / Manafort talks privately with Senate Intel Com, and is subpoenaed by Sen Judiciary Com. / Headline says it all: “Trump’s new Justice Department nominee deeply enmeshed with Russian bank linked to the Russia probe.”  Nominated to head the criminal justice division.  Finally a Trompf nominee with experience, and who believes in what he’s responsible for, or guilty of.  /  But now for a heart-warming, or acid indigestion-inducing story:  Only in America (or Russia?):  Two guys who  “have been instrumental in introducing financiers and clients from Russia and the former Soviet bloc to the Trump Organization’s real estate machine” were boyhood friends on Long Island. / Whoa!  And here’s another:  Ivanka and Jared now sharing the same lawyer.  7-26 JM at TPM fills in about those LI guys, collusion, and the history of opportunities for money laundering. / And former Sen. Levin provides docs about Ike Kalveladze and money laundering. / Meanwhile T continues to obstruct justice.  7-26-27  And continues to try to distract from investigation, while playing his base, that trans-gender persons are no longed accepted or allowed for military service.  Blind-sided military leadership says, Whoa, not so.  [Now Hair Trompf is endangering the ability to the Armed Services to fulfill their mission.  I’m adding them to the professionals at the federal level in Law Enforcement, Intel, and National Security, who will take Trump down.]

[Pages (first), and (immediately previous) of this episode.]

The Shearing of Herr Trompf (11)

Senate Republicans join The Resistance (but they’re still not proposing anything positive). Is this the page on which the plot, or the screw, or at least the worm, begins an exquisite turn? I’m thinking this looks like the point where the national Republicans have lost it. Now it be every man for his own self. The rotted center cannot hold, and the Party becomes a herd of rough beasts, slouching off in all directions. It’s spooky and it’s spooked.

Nobody’s afraid of the big bad Trompf anymore, nor of the big bad McTurtle.  (But can the Koch Bros’ reactionaries, represented by a fellow Hoosier, step into the power gap and block a continuing expansion of Medicaid, until it’s Med for All, if the few R women in the Senate continue to be relatively “moderate”?  And will these three “centrists” now form a “swing” power block, at least on some social issues?  And are they, plus male anti-Trompfers incl Graham and McCain, plus the eleven R Governors, the seeds of a renewed “conservative” R Party?  Here’s more on Capito, Collins, and Murkowski on the health care repeal machinations.)

Meanwhile, “a Monmouth University poll released Monday [7-17] found that more people support impeaching Trump now than supported Nixon’s impeachment just as the Watergate scandal began to unfold in the summer of 1973″ (Think Progress).

What upsets T most is anything that diminishes the popularity of his brand, and/or weakens his authoritarian power (Naomi Klein’s pages on Trump branding, in her new book, NO Is Not Enough, are highly informative about this). At the same time, Republicans are seeing him destroy their brand (except among a rabid minority of the electorate, who consider bigotry and authoritarianism to be indispensible to their self-interest).  They can be outvoted, and Republican politicians are beginning to fear that they will be.

Confirmation that Mueller’s team is investigating the Jr/Natalia et al. meeting.  And even a Fox News legal analyst believes Jr (et many of the al.) might have committed a crime.  And yep,  with that 8th man we’re flat-out talking international real estate money laundering (another).  Um, and now we know that at G-20 T had a second, long, meeting with Putin, with no one able to hear the conversation except P’s translator, so that’s all we know.  NYT‘s take on it.  And no useful record or memorialization.   7-19  (In probably related news, The State Dept’s cyber security chief leaves, and the Admin closes the Office of Global Criminal Justice.) / Is Comey prepared to “take T down”? / Some valuable Qs and nuances re. major media reporting of recent “Russiagate” events.  / Trompf attack, about investigation:  disses Sessions, Mueller, Comey, Rosenstein; warns M not to investigate his family’s finances, which means M must be getting warm.  /  Cyprus bank records show that not long before becoming Director of the Trompf campaign, Manafort was deeply in debt, related to his activities with Ukrainians, etc (it’s very complicated).

7-20 Mueller says the hell you say, and continues probe of finances (poss incl Deutsche Bank).  / Interlude:  Trompf as stand up comedian, and he doesn’t know it. / Herr Trompf is working at discrediting Mueller and his team (is this sort of like “obstruction of justice”?); and, asks lawyers to look into his powers to pardon staff, family, even himself.  (Might that be read as evidence that he is worried about the state of his soul?  Or that he considers himself to be godlike?  If I were making this up, I’d narrate it as a practical political consideration on the part of a president who considers himself to have been placed above the law by the members of the electoral college.  When the time comes that pardons are necessary, he will explain that the Russia thing must put into the past, so that it no longer hinders his ability to protect, or at least do good things for, the American people, blah blah blah.)  But what if a pardoned person then lied under oath?  7-21 Mueller orders WH not to destroy anything related to the Jr-V meeting (M shows a sense of humor, beginning the letter, “As you are aware,…”).

(Josh Marshall at TPM reminds us of details of the Starr-Clinton investigation, and contrasts them with Mueller-Trompf.)

[Pages (1) and (10) and (12) of this episode.]

The Shearing of Herr Trompf (10)

At this point it is clear that Jr and other members of the Trompf campaign violated the Campaign Finance Law, at the least. Jr, himself, has chosen self-incrimination by releasing his emails that provide the evidence.  Possibly the T campaign as an organization broke the law.

Now the Q is: What will powerful people do about that? Will our democratic institutions and elite come through for us? I think that the people at the top of law enforcement, and the Intelligence Community, will come through, because they are mostly not fascists, they are conservative Republicans who believe that government does not have to be a wholly-owned subsidiary of a corporate oligarchy in order for capitalism to function well for our plutocrats; rather, they believe that capitalism can adequately serve our plutocrats, and preserve the State, within a democracy that is governed by a well-regulated government, in a federalist system, and a well-regulated citizenry.

When an adequate case has been built, persons will be jailed.

Furthermore, anything that damages Trompf boosts the Koch Bros and their Ilk. When T’s electoral power has been sufficiently dimished, and enough of his base can be swung to Pence as a satisfying altrnative, Republicans will replace the Trompf regime with Pence, who is owned by the KBI, and who has his own, solid electoral base of authoritarian, sexist, racist, fundamentalist Christians. Our problem, then, will be that KBI is also fascist—but with a less flamboyant, smarter style.

I want to say again, because it has emerged as such an important element in the plot, that the Intelligence Community (including GHW Bush) will not allow a Russian victory. For many individuals in that Community, such a Rooskie triumph would be a personal embarrassment on the scale of a nullification of their life’s work, even larger than Herr Trompf’s attempt to nullify the Obama presidency. They may be comfortable with the American plutocracy and its global, imperial hegemony; but they will not be collaborators in the defeat of America by a foreign adversary, and they will not abide collaboration by an American President. (Say, these are materials for some pretty good novels, soon to be made into films. “The Devil to Pay” is a potential title.)

And so, another Q: How long can pro-Pence Republicans allow Trompf to be president, thus risking engulfing P in the T corruption and criminality? My guess is that P is already so guilty, by his own doing, that they will have to move him into the presidency before everybody catches on. To do so, they might have to reach an accomodation with the House of Bush/Saud wing of the Party. That might be difficult for a Party composed of so many self-serving politicians, so many of whom are now owned by KBI.

But onward!

7-12 Russian government officials were discussing Trump associates as early as Spring 2015, and in the Spring of 2016 Europeans warned US Intelligence that Russian money might be flowing into campaigns (WSJ, Kos). / Trompf tells Reuters that Jr was right to attend that meeting.

(More plot and characters coming, as the narrator scrambles to keep up with nonfiction.)

7-14  Known attendance at Jr’s meeting now at 8. Ranik Akhmetshin made it:

“I know of no Russian gun-for-hire who managed to run his campaigns so successfully, running circles around purportedly much more seasoned Washington hands,” veteran reporter Steve LeVine told Radio Free Europe in June 2016.

Akhmetshin confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that he had participated in the now-infamous meeting between President Donald Trump’s eldest son and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, and Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager at the time, also attended. 

The meeting came amid a lobbying campaign against the Magnitsky Act, legislation passed in 2012 that barred several Russian officials accused of human rights abuses from entering the U.S. and infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Just days after the meeting, Akhmetshin hosted a screening of a Russian propaganda film at the Newseum in Washington. The movie was an effort to undermine evidence that the Kremlin had authorized the imprisonment, torture and eventual murder of a Russian lawyer and whistleblower named Sergei Magnitsky, whose death inspired the Magnitsky Act. (the Huff Post article)

And here’s an extensive NYT article on Akhmetshin.  7-15  Coincidental, or evidence of a “Russian intelligence pipeline to the Trump campaign”?  T says it’s all a hoax; but did he get that idea from the new WH lawyer?  Is Herr Trompf trying to keep his base in a state of shock and denial, and is this Mutually Assured Incompetence?  (Here’s an extensive narrative of how Jr’s meeting fit into what was happening in that important moment in the campaign; and here Kerry Eleveld offers the narrative swirl, with emphasis on Kushner.)  7-16 Intelligence expert’s analysis:  The Trompfites got played by the Russians (my wording).  7-17  “A Monmouth University poll released Monday found that more people support impeaching Trump now than supported Nixon’s impeachment just as the Watergate scandal began to unfold in the summer of 1973″ (Think Progress).

[Pages (1) and (previous) and (next) of this episode.]

The Shearing of Hair Trompf (9)

Starting this new page on a hopeful note: these thumbnails (by Allegra Kirkland in TPM) of Mueller’s investigative team suggest a prosecutorial team as well, with lots of experience with organized crime. If I were a criminal in the WH, or anywhere near it, I’d be impressed. I’m thinking that work is well under way on the excavation for below-ground anchoring, and on the skeleton of the floors above ground, with preparation for many stories.  To get to work with a team like this one would be a dream come true.

Mueller has submitted his budget, to the Dept of Justice; but we won’t get a glimpse of what it might tell us until Sept 30, when his expenditures will be made public.  (WaPo)

Also 7-8  On June 9, 2016, shortly after Trompf clinched the nomination, members of his campaign team, including Kushner and Manafort, attended a meeting at Trump Tower, arranged by Donald Jr, with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, who “is best known for mounting a multipronged attack against the Magnitsky Act, an American law that blacklists suspected Russian human rights abusers. The law so enraged Mr. Putin that he retaliated by halting American adoptions of Russian children.”  (NYTimes)  7-9  Hair Trompf suggests special, “impenetrable,” Russo-American Cyber Security Unit.  Just joking?

7-11 So let’s see. It is totally likely that the T campaign committed a crime (violated the Campaign Finance Law), by meeting with a foreign national in connection with the campaign. Here are the grounds for the case that can be made. Jr was informed, before the meeting, that a Russian would offer negative info about Clinton candidacy. For sure, this will be thoroughly investigated [Yep].  Here’s extensive, early (7-9), NYT reporting, and Huff Post.  TPM analysis of this “blockbuster.”  Some Qs that emerge, and more Qs.  Think Progress traces connections to Russian pop stardom and the Miss Universe pageant.  7-10 And the NYT is on that too.  My favorite passage:

The beauty competition put Mr. Trump in contact with influential people in Russia, as he explained in a September 2015 interview on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

“I called it my weekend in Moscow,” said Mr. Trump, who had announced his candidacy for president a few months earlier. He added: “I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top of the government people. I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.”

NYT reports that Jr was told by email that info was being offered that would damage Clinton.  And Whadayaknow?, Jr decides to incriminate himself, by releasing the entire (we think) email exchange.

Rookie big-time lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, appears to be Jr’s main “contact.”  So far, no side-kick, Boris Badenov.  Implications of money laundering.  “Fearsome insider,” who fought Magnitsky sanctions.

And Jr lawyers up.

NV says, “I’m so innocent, but maybe Jr heard what he wanted to hear.  Jr claimed, early, that the meet turned out to be about NV’s interest in American adoptions of Russian children, that had been blocked by Putin in retaliation for US sanctions on Russian oligarchs and officials (the Magnitsky Act) during Obama administration including Clinton as SoS.  Here’s Anne Applebaum on that.

7-12  Why was a Russian money laundering case , involving NV, suddenly dropped by DOJ?  /  Dem Congressional candidates also were targets of Russian hackers.

(It’s hard for a busy narrator to keep up with nonfiction, so i’ve jumped to 7-14 on page (10); but i’ll be filling in what I’ve skipped.)

[Pages (1) and (8) and (10) of this episode.]

Defeating Fascism (American Style) (3)

We must become more conscious in our imagining, and thereby more healthful in our imagining, imagining life more healthfully. The struggle against F(AS) is a struggle for the imagination, by the imagination, in the soul. A healthy imagination, individual and collective, can see that.

But we’re like a group of Plato’s cave dwellers, sitting on the floor, shivering while we entertain ourselves by watching our shadows. We’ve been taught to think that those lumps are the only form that a shadow can take. It doesn’t occur to us to get up and dance. We can’t imagine that.

If an AI person came to Earth from Out Where, on a mission to understand the nature of human beings, the first thing they would want to know (or one of the first) would be what we imagine life to be like. Then, how limited is our imagining, and what is the source of the limitations. From that information, they would know the state of soul in our species of being.

In American politics, when they got to it, they would observe that some of us refuse to “imagine that.” Rick Perry (who once tried to masquerade as a dancer) is a good example: he imagines a God who will not allow His creation to heat up so much that His favorite creatures find it hard to go on living in that environment. Perry’s sick, fundamentalist religious imagination tells him that it would be sinful to imagine such a thing (and his Fossil Fuel Fascist enablers tell him it would be bad for his finances). Fundamentalist and FFF ideology limit his imagination of life, his imagination of his god, and his god’s imagination. It says, Don’t anybody move!

This paralysis of the soul, as if brought about by a fatwa against any act of imagining, is a fundamental prohibition of life.

Extending the Plato thing: we Americans tend to fixate by literalizing and absolutizing our imaginings. In other words, we tell ourselves that we are not imagining. We are thinking, God dammit.

Some people imagine so literally that their imagination is like an eye that has dried in the socket of a skull in the desert. The other eye failed to develop during gestation. (Maybe I heard that from Bly?) They are monomaniacal throughout their lives. Their spines have fused, upright as poles. Their hearts are chunks of sandstone. Their brains are like tattered flags in the wind.

Many Republicans and Libertarians imagine that there is a God who plays favorites, and who wants people who don’t live up to His very highest standards—in His image—to be punished; and so those Rs and Ls, God’s chosen ones—in their image of themselves—abandon their god’s unchosen, forcing them to live in poverty, deserving whatever vile fate they suffer.

Mitch McConnell imagines a Repeal and Replace Medicaid Act that takes billions away from providing Medicaid for recipients in heavily medicaided states such as Nevada and West Virginia, and gives that money to the very richest Americans in the form of tax cuts. And Mike Pence imagines Americans taking “personal responsibility” for their own health care by getting born into one of those rich families.

So it’s not that Americans aren’t imaginative at all. Hair Trompf is an excellent example of someone who is plenty imaginative. But his imagination is so dreadfully sick. It is limited by his personality disorders to what serves his ego, in the form of gold and control of people. Trompf imagines the world as his oyster, in which he is the pearl. Some things are priceless, but exact a high price.

For a brief example of a healthy American imagination, I’ll use Bernie. He can imagine, for instance, an America in which we, each and all, take personal responsibility for our own health and health care, and for each other’s health care, by forming a national community insurance pool, such as Medicaid for All. The result is a healthier national community, with lower costs and lower premiums, and no insurance company billionaires.

Imagine no billionaires. Can America become healthy enough to imagine that? Bernie can; and it was his healthy imagining, his “vision,” that attracted many people to him. In other words, all those people demonstrated the healthy imagination. They were imagining every American as a person, with inherent, high value, and with the ability to imagine their lives richly and healthfully, together.

That’s a large part of why the author of this novel decided to rename it, in this re-vision, “Bernie.” The imagination—its nature (healthy or sick), and its central importance in relation to the soul, is thematically big in this novel, including the imagining of a healthy, workable, anti-hierarchical community.

To defeat F(AS) we will have to effect a profound modification of American culture. To do so requires a healthy American imagination. We must begin, together, a return to good health.

A lot of us are working on that. We can do it!

[Pages (1) and (2) of this episode.]

Defeating Fascism (American Style) (2)

The purpose of Fascist government (AS) is to consolidate wealth, power, and privilege in the hands of a few, to such an extent that their rule cannot be challenged, and they can control and use everyone else for their profit and benefit, or destroy those who are not useful to them.

I’m staring at you, Mitch McConnell, and you, Paul Ryan, as well as the rich folk who keep you in office.

The necessary (but not entirely sufficient) way to defeat those fukkers is to redistribute their wealth among everyone else.

I don’t know if that can be done—short of armed revolt, which I don’t advocate, except as a very last resort, and I don’t know if we’re at that point, or if even that could succeed. We can try taxation, if we can get enough votes to get enough governmental power. If we cannot get enough votes by conventional means, then we must try massive nonviolent resistance, taking a variety of forms that present our vision, demonstrate solidarity, and  disrupt commerce. If we begin to succeed, however, we will have to struggle to keep a system of electoral democracy in place, with which to complete the nonviolent, political revolution.  People will be jailed, beaten, and killed.  (Now, let’s don’t shy back from imagining this; it’s already being done on a smaller scale—see, for example, state-sponsored, state-sanctioned, state-implemented terror against minorities.)

Another dimension of the struggle, which seems already to be taking shape, is an attempt to take control of local and state governments, so that we can at least mitigate the effects of fascist national government on the citizens of those states.  [6-28 And here’s an interesting variation on that theme, bi-partisan resistance by governors.]  But that move also includes the problem of extremely wealthy individual citizens of those states. Many of them use libertarian ideology to mask their self-serving belief that they have intrinsic meaning and transcendent value apart from community and society.

Ultimately, F(AS) must be permanently defeated, if possible, through a healing of our individual and collective imaginations, in the form of profound cultural change. If it is not too late, we must imagine and build a national culture that is not dominated by the psycho-pathologies that have plagued our democracy. The essence of that healthy community, local and national, must be a significant decrease in hierarchical thinking, organization, and governance. We must move to imagine and enact, more perfectly, that egalitarian society that the liberals among our founders made a good start at imagining and describing, and that the best among our leaders and defenders have worked to protect and extend.

In the present novel, some of this imagining is being done by your narrator in the episode about Larks! WA.

6-28  And here’s another angle to think about:  the victims of the psycho-pathologies of our democracy, that form the Republican and Trompf fascii, refuse to continue being victims.  /  And an irony: Republicans who want to govern with their fascii have convinced themselves that government, itself, should be feeble to the point of irrelevance (but of course the Executive branch, the CEO, can appoint a pro-business cabinet and pro-business judges, who will wield power, unchecked even by their own people. / Another perspective:  how Canada countered right-wing populism.

[Page (1) of this episode.]

The Shearing of Hair Trompf (8)

Oh.  Now they tell us.

In political terms, Russia’s interference was the crime of the century, an unprecedented and largely successful destabilizing attack on American democracy. It was a case that took almost no time to solve, traced to the Kremlin through cyber-forensics and intelligence on Putin’s involvement. And yet, because of the divergent ways Obama and Trump have handled the matter, Moscow appears unlikely to face proportionate consequences. (Miller, Nakashima, Entous in WaPo)

My eyes have been bad again, so I haven’t kept up; but this is MUST READ / All Eyes. And in case you missed it, don’t miss this embedded “graphics” time table.

Our democracy and our national sovereignty have come under attack. Who is going to insist that we respond with appropriate seriousness and magnitude?

And if our President is not one of them, is he aiding an enemy nation? Or giving comfort to its ex-KGB leader? At the least, is he so lax in his protection of our nation that he should be replaced—as in, right away? And how might the members of the national Intelligence Community feel about such presidential laxness? Let’s hope that, whatever Trompf is saying, or not saying, publicly, in secret he is taking action in our defense.

Officials described the president’s reaction as grave. Obama “was deeply concerned and wanted as much information as fast as possible,” a former official said. “He wanted the entire intelligence community all over this.”

****But wait just a goll darned minute!  This is not the first time that our democracy, specifically our electoral system, has come under mortal attack.  The Republican Party has been attacking it for decades.****

6-24  Here’s the Trompf response to the situation, so far, at least in public. (But for T the “public,” his audience, is always his base; no one else matters to him.) / WaPo on another part of T’s response to the situation.  / But here’s a thought: How do the Europeans counter Russian weaponized alt-information? 6-25  And now it’s Jared again, and a German bank suspected of money-laundering. / Trompf continues to attack mueller, and a T-support PAC, “Great America Alliance,” begins airing an ad attacking M and the investigation.  6-26  We know that Russia is planning to attack us again.

And yet, in an important segment, NBC News recently reported that the Trump administration has taken “little meaningful action to prevent Russian hacking, leaking and disruption in the next national election in 2018.” NBC News reported on “an urgent warning from government officials and outside experts” that is being telegraphed to the White House that “the U.S. may not be ready to stop Russia” from “interfering in our next election.” Experts quoted by NBC News said the United States needs to better coordinate with tech companies to blunt three expected Russian attacks, which reprise efforts that were made last time: the spreading of fake news; the hacking of embarrassing information about candidates; and attempted cyberattacks on election databases. Yet NBC News reports: “Dozens of state officials told NBC News they have received little direction from Washington about election security.” (Waldman in WaPo)

Is T neglecting to protect us from Russian interference because he expects it to help Republicans?  6-27 What it is (at this point) abt Kushner that investigators find interesting.  6-28  Waldman on how big the investigation could get, and why.  6-30/7-1 There’s more reason to suspect T campaign of nefarious actions to undermine the Clinton candidacy, including possible collusion with Russians; JM helps understand, here, and here, why this is big.  7-3 Flynn, Stone, Kushner, Trompf, Russia. / More on Michael Cohen now toxic to HTrompf.  7-6  “A former business associate of President Donald Trump who has extensive ties to organized crime is cooperating with a money laundering probe that stretches across three continents, the Financial Times reported Thursday” (TPM report).

[Pages (1) and (7) of this episode.]