Browsing the archives for the Trump Maladministration category.


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environment, Trump Maladministration

Glacier National Park is on fire. It caught fire on Saturday, a day on which the temperature in the park reached 100 degrees F. That was the hottest day in recorded history for the park. It was partly evacuated and closed.

It’s clear that Montana is already becoming a vastly different place. In recent decades, warmer winters have helped mountain pine beetles thrive, turning mountains red with dead pines. In 1850, there were 150 glaciers in the area now known as Glacier National Park. Today there are 26. They’ve been there for 7,000 years — but in just a few decades, the glaciers of Glacier National Park will almost surely be gone. By then the park will need a new name. Glacier Memorial Park doesn’t have the same ring to it.

And, of course, the maladministration is in denial about it.

After a tour of wildfire-ravaged California on Sunday, Montana-born Ryan Zinke, President Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, proposed a more controversial cause: The reason there are too many fires is because there are too many trees.

“It doesn’t matter whether you believe or don’t believe in climate change. What is important is we manage our forests,” Zinke said, adding a shot against environmental groups that have curtailed logging on public lands. While forest management is important, Zinke’s comments made some worry that the Trump administration was hoping to use fires as an excuse to open more public lands for logging.

I suppose it’s true that if one cuts down all the forests there will be fewer wildfires. You might still have prairie fires and grass fires, however, until the dry conditions turn the entire West into a desert. So much winning!

In other environmental news, do enjoy the sight of migratory birds while you can.

 For the past 100 years, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) has, among other things, incentivized industries to avoid the intentional or unintentional slaughter of North America’s native birds, primarily using fines. But now, President Trump’s Interior Department has announced that it will no longer enforce prohibitions on “incidental takes” — the unintended, though still perhaps foreseen, killing of birds, as in open waste pits, uncovered oil spills, lit communication towers and low-visibility power lines.

It’s a bizarre, novel interpretation of the law, as the Audubon Society has pointed out, but it was well-received only by those who stand to benefit financially. The American Petroleum Institute, for instance, praised the decision for providing regulatory “certainty,” which it no doubt does for those eager for one less troublesome chore per toxic waste pit. Where companies would have previously been expected to place nets over poisonous waste pits to discourage birds from landing in their deadly waters, the Trump administration’s decision removes any penalties for failure to do so. Some firms might still bother; others probably won’t.

Whooping cranes, Texas

This is what happens when you allow industry, rather than science, to make environmental law.  Keep in mind that industry doesn’t need a lot of extra poor people around, either.

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Just Read This

Trump Maladministration

Trump struggles to grasp the concept of “times zones.” And “maps.”

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This Made Me Laugh

Trump Maladministration

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Building Trust to Win Votes

Trump Maladministration

There’s a mostly good article at Washington Monthly about the problems Democrats have with white working class voters. Andrew Levison writes that if Democrats are going to win WWC votes, they have to earn WWC trust.

WWC voters see three interest-group blocks that they say they don’t trust. One is politicians, who are seen as utterly corrupt parasites. This may account why they don’t learn from voting for Republicans.

Two is “Wall Street financial elite that makes decisions in faraway office towers that destroy local community jobs and mom-and-pop businesses.” And three is the “liberal elite.”

The third group is the “liberal” elite—the heterogeneous group of college professors and students, Hollywood actors and producers, music and fashion producers, and TV, newspaper, and magazine columnists and commentators. They are not seen as a financial ruling class but rather a social group that dominates and controls the culture …. This power to impose their “liberal” agenda on ordinary Americans is obtained through a cynical alliance with minorities who are bribed to vote for Democrats by various kinds of “handouts,” special government programs, or preferential treatment.

There is a big urban versus rural component this, also. If you live in a city, you are more likely to accept diversity because you can’t very well avoid it. Small towns and suburbs are more homogenous.

This “class consciousness” and “class resentment” is a complex perspective that cannot be easily tracked by standard opinion polls. For this reason, it is often overlooked in the discussion of Democratic political strategy. But it is vividly evident in focus groups with white working-class Americans, in the discussions that occur during progressive campaigns of door to door canvassing in white working-class neighborhoods, and in the interviews conducted during ethnographic field studies. Its centrality is revealed in the very titles of the major sociological studies of white working-class Americans that have appeared in the last several years: Katherine Cramer’s The Politics of Resentment, Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land, and Justin Gest’s The New Minority.

Essentially, a decades-long campaign by conservatives has succeeded in creating among the broad majority of white working class and small town/red state Americans a deeply embedded view of Democrats as the party of the educated urban elite who impose their liberal agenda through a cynical alliance with minorities.

Further, in “red” states most voters simply never hear Democratic messages. Levison describes a “three-level conservative ideological cocoon” that shuts out everything but right-wing messages. The Fox News and similar national media; “local” media, often dominated by Sinclair TV stations and regional talk radio; and personal relationships. What’s happened in vast parts of the United States is that these three levels have formed a perfect echo chamber/feedback loop exclusively for right-wing messages. Nothing else can get through. I’ve been pretty much saying the same thing for years.

Levison does a good job describing the problem. The question is, what’s to be done about it? Levison’s prescriptions are weak, seems to me. Yeah, okay, be Jon Tester and go out and fix a tractor now and then.  But I disagree with Levison that campaigning on issues is not the way to win back voters.

Part of the problem with Democrats is that they believe they campaign on issues when they really don’t.  This was my gripe with Hillary Clinton’s campaign. She did not campaign on issues. Clinton supporters disagree with that and complain up and down that she did too; she had a whole website full of policy proposals. Yeah, and the only way to find out about them was to go to her website. By watching her television ads and seeing her on the teevee news, you wouldn’t have had a clue what she was running on other than her resume.

The recent right-to-work vote in Missouri proves that voters can turn out for issues. The Washington Post had a fascinating vote analysis that showed some of the same areas that went big for Trump in 2016 also went big against right-to-work this week.

From Washington Post

The two highlighted counties are the ones with the biggest difference in votes. By some coincidence, where I am living now is adjacent to those counties. The Washington County line is about a twenty-minute walk from here. It is rural, white, poor as dirt. The biggest employers, I’m guessing, are county government and WalMart.

Right-to-work is a signature Republican issue in these parts, and it failed with Republican voters.

Of course, the opposition didn’t run oppo ads saying that right-to-work is a corrupt politician who is friends with Nancy Pelosi.

Josh Hawley, who is running against Claire McCaskill for senator, says in his ads that he represents Missouri values, but McCaskill doesn’t. What values would those be? The value of busting unions and underpaying workers? Of closing rural hospitals to force laboring women to travel for two hours to a hospital? Of laying off workers because of Trump’s tariffs? Which values, exactly? There is an unspoken assumption that Democrats are off-the-charts amoral and corrupt, but what the bleep? Republicans aren’t?

McCaskill is running on how she is going to take on the drug companies to lower prices. Okay, but too small bore. We’re going to fix health care, dammit. Don’t be afraid to make big promises. But then, of course, you can’t just disappear into a government office building, not to be heard from until the next campaign. Levison says,

[If] Democrats can regain a majority in the House of Representatives this November, it will provide them with the opportunity to show white working-class Americans the real sources of their economic problems and who is their genuine advocate. .. Revealing the hidden history of deindustrialization and the impoverishment of large sectors of small town and rural America can indeed contribute significantly to showing these voters that Democrats are actually “on their side” and “understand their problems”

The “hidden history” is how people and communities who have been left behind by the global economy were tossed aside by corporations and the local business communities. Levison provides examples. But Democrats have to be aggressive, and as nasty as they need to be. No more gentility.

Anyway, do read the whole Levison article. He does make some good points.

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The Contemptible Jeff Sessions

Trump Maladministration

This is disgusting:

A federal judge slammed the Trump administration on Thursday for trying to deport a mother and daughter to El Salvador while their case is still being heard in court and threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt.

“This is pretty outrageous,” Judge Emmet Sullivan of Washington said on Thursday, according to the Washington Post. “That someone seeking justice in US court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?” Sullivan issued an emergency stay from the bench preventing the deportation of the family and six other people. But the mother and daughter were already on a plane bound for El Salvador, prompting Sullivan to order the government to turn the plane around.

This comes from a lawsuit filed by  the ACLU that seeks to keep the Trump Administration from deporting people in danger of gang and domestic violence. The government had agreed to not deport the mother before Thursday midnight, but then they put the mother and daughter on a plane Thursday morning. The ACLU lawyers spent the day trying to find out what had happened to them, and then getting them back. The plane was turned around and returned to the U.S.

This is just out of control. See also ‘There Was No Crash’: ICE Lied About Crash Involving Van Full Of Detained Mothers.

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Election Results in Missouri (Unions Rule)

Trump Maladministration

First off, the right-to-work referendum didn’t just fail; it went down in flames. voters nixed right-to-work by 67.5 percent to 32.5 percent. Unions rules, righties drool.

Right-to-work was an issue dearly beloved by departed Gov. Eric Greitens and the right-wing extremist state  legislature, which passed a right-to-work law in February 2017. But unions gathered signatures and got a referendum on the ballot challenging the law, blocking it from going into effect. The referendum originally was going to be on the November ballot, but the legislature put it on the midterm ballot in hopes that a lower turnout would keep right to work alive.  But the voters said no, big time, and the right-to-work law is now dead.

The legislature had said that they will next try to pass a constitutional amendment putting right-to-work in the state constitution, but that would have to be ratified by voters also. I wonder if they’ll bother now.

As expected, Sen. Clair McCaskill won her primary (by 82 percent of the vote) and will be challenged in November by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (who won by 58 percent of his vote, but he had more challengers).

The more interesting results were in St. Louis. Robert McCulloch, who had been St. Louis County prosecutor for 28 years, lost the Democratic primary to Wesley Bell, a Ferguson City Council member who ran on criminal justice reform. Bell will be unopposed in November, so this is effectively a general election win.

McColloch had earned noteriety for his “handling” of the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson in 2014. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

This was the first time McCulloch had faced a challenger since the Ferguson protests that erupted over the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer in August 2014. Protesters criticized his office for its handling of the grand jury inquiry into the killing of Brown. The grand jury brought no charges against Officer Darren Wilson.

McCulloch, 67, of Kirkwood, faced challengers in just three prior primary and general races. …

… Political observers gave Bell little chance, saying that McCulloch’s 28 years in office and fundraising advantage made it nearly impossible for Bell to win.

“I’m in total disbelief,” St. Louis University political science professor Ken Warren said late Tuesday. Warren had predicted McCulloch would cruise to an eighth straight term, given his tenure.

“Obviously Ferguson defined this election,” Warren said. “Bell made his name through Ferguson, and (McCulloch) tarnished his name through his handling of Ferguson.”

And I’m pleased to say the vote wasn’t even that close; Bell won 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent.

Ferguson Council Member Wesley Bell, who will be St. Louis County’s next prosecutor.

The Riverfront Times:

There are plenty of people who are tired of McCulloch. Critics say his decision to conduct the investigation into Michael Brown’s fatal shooting using the grand jury was intentionally designed to produce a no-bill. McCulloch, 66, has also thrown the book at protesters, including those arrested as part of the recent demonstrations following the Jason Stockley “not guilty” verdict in St. Louis. Then there’s this: In his 27-year career in public office, McCulloch has never prosecuted an officer-involved shooting to the point of an actual indictment.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger won a close primary challenge. This was an interesting race because the challenger, retired businessman Mark Mantovani, ran a slick and well-funded campaign in which he talked about jobs jobs jobs. Stenger’s ads tied Mantovani to Eric Greitens and Donald Trump; Stenger also framed himself as a defender of unions and an opponent of right-to-work. So an appeal to union support and flat-out partisanship carried the day.

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Today’s Atrocities

Trump Maladministration

While we’re waiting on primary returns —

Julia Ainsley of NBC News reports,

The Trump administration is expected to issue a proposal in coming weeks that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards if they have ever used a range of popular public welfare programs, including Obamacare, four sources with knowledge of the plan told NBC News.

The move, which would not need congressional approval, is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.

Stephen Miller is an evil little Nazi toad. He’s also only a third generation Jewish American evil little Nazi toad. WTF?

At the Daily Beast, Sam Stein writes that 43% of Republicans Want to Give Trump the Power to Shut Down Media. Because freedom, I’m sure. Watch them show up at the Shut Down Media rallies wearing their Minuteman costumes.

Forbes has a staff-written expose of Wilbur Ross that you must read.

Here in Missouri, people are going to the polls to vote on Prop A, a right-to-work referendum. A “no” vote is a vote against right-to-work. The unions have run some effective (seems to me) television ads, and about every other lawn has a “Note NO on Prop A” sign out in front. Word is there is high turnout in the state, although there are thunderstorm hereabouts. I’ve got my fingers crossed that Prop A goes down in flames. Even if it does, the whackadoodle state legislature has vowed to pass right-to-work anyway. But that would give state Democrats a damn good issue to run on, seems to me.

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The Midterms Will Be a Referendum on Trump

Trump Maladministration

At least, that’s what Trump seems to want — he wants the midterms to be all about him. I suspect Democrats agree. Republicans, maybe not so much.

President Donald Trump‘s strategy of becoming aggressively involved in the midterm elections is prompting concern among some Republicans who worry he’s complicating the political calculus for GOP candidates trying to outrun his popularity.

Those Republicans worry their statewide candidates may rise or fall based on Trump’s standing, muddling their path to maintain control of Congress.

But Trump has no plans to step out of the spotlight. …

The president is casting himself as the star of the midterms, eagerly inserting himself into hotly contested primaries, headlining rallies in pivotal swing states and increasing his fundraising efforts for Republicans. Last week, Trump agreed to donate a portion of his reelection fund to 100 GOP candidates running in competitive House and Senate races.

He’s expected to be even more aggressive in the fall. White House officials say he’s reserving time on his schedule for midterm travel and fundraising likely to surpass that of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“This is now about Donald Trump,” said Al Cardenas, a former Florida Republican chairman. “It’s a high-risk, high-stakes proposition.”

There’s a special election for a U.S. congressional seat in Ohio on Tuesday that may give us another clue how the midterms will go. It’s in a district that’s been reliably Republican for a long time, and even more so since it was gerrymandered into a mostly white exurban district in 2010. Trump won the district in 2016 by 11 points. But Monmouth says the special election is a toss-up between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor.

Trump just held one of his signature unhinged rallies in a high school auditorium  — with no air conditioning; someone on the staff will be in trouble —  about 17 miles north of Columbus. It appears this was arranged on Trump’s initiative, not Balderson’s.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said Sunday that an Ohio House candidate did not invite President Trump to appear at his campaign rally on Saturday.

The governor and former GOP presidential candidate, who has been critical of Trump, told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” that GOP hopeful Troy Balderson told him that he didn’t have anything to do with inviting Trump.

“I asked him the other day ‘Why are you bringing Trump in,’ he said ‘well, I don’t have anything to do with it,’ ” Kasich said, referring to Balderson, who is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Danny O’Connor in a district Trump won by double digits.

“I think Donald Trump decides where he wants to go, and I think they think they’re firing up the base,” Kasich added.

It’s also possible that Trump’s appearance in Ohio fired up the other base.

Ahead of the Saturday evening rally, some party strategists worried that it would do more harm than good for Balderson, who has campaigned as a mainstream figure. Their concerns were illustrated by a Monmouth University survey released earlier this week showing Trump’s approval at just 46 percent in Ohio’s 12th District, which stretches from the traditionally moderate Columbus suburbs to more conservative rural areas.

Indeed, at many points at Saturday, Trump seemed more focused on revisiting his greatest hits than on Tuesday’s special election. He slashed the media (“MSNBC is so corrupt, is so disgusting”), went after political rivals (recently ousted South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford, he joked, “likes flamingo [sic] dancers from Argentina”), and ripped the Russia investigation.

Well, we’ll see on Tuesday how it turns out.

Some other factors that could impact the midterms:

Brent Budowsky, writing for The Hill, predicts that there will be an “obstruction of justice bombshell” before the midterms. “… odds are very high that Mueller will offer a declarative public statement before the midterm elections, and very likely before Labor Day, that the president is guilty of obstruction of justice,” says Budowsky.

The gender gap is huge and possibly historic, according to the nerds at fivethirtyeight.

See Jennie Neufeld at Vox: Republicans have begun to sever ties with the Koch brothers. It isn’t just Trump and Steve Bannon; the RNC itself is souring on the Kochs. “Republicans have won more elections at every governmental level than they have since the 1920s partly due to the Kochs’ immense support,” Neufeld writes. “The Kochs were going to donate $400 million to various GOP campaigns in the midterm elections; it’s unclear if this feud will change those plans.”

For your reading pleasure, see David Atkins, Does Trump Even Understand What He Did Wrong?

Even the briefest observation of Donald Trump is adequate to confirm that he is not a man of profound intellect. He certainly possesses his share of social intelligence, a knack for salesmanship and an obsessive drive to dominate and humiliate others stemming from a yawning maw of overlapping insecurities. But in terms of how we traditionally measure intelligence in the modern developed world–the acquisition of knowledge over time and the ability to process, digest and act cogently in response to complex information–Trump probably doesn’t even reach the 50th percentile of Americans. And that is being generous.

This basic fact is difficult to keep in mind when assessing his decisions because we have never had a president like this. Society tends to dramatically overestimate the talent and intelligence of those fortunate enough to be rich and powerful, but rarely are they as objectively ignorant and lacking in basic competency as Trump. Far too often we look for a schema or strategy behind Trump’s actions, only to discover that his decisions were precipitated by the dumbest of reasons: because he saw a Fox News segment that made him angry, or because he heard that Barack Obama had originated a policy, because some extraneous person mentioned some falsehood to him that he was credulous enough to believe, or because he was openly bribed. This principle has become known as “Trump’s Razor“: when seeking to understand the president’s behavior, look for the stupidest possible reason.

Atkins argues that “it’s entirely possible that at a moral level and, crucially, at a legal one, he simply isn’t smart enough to grasp the enormity of the crimes he and his associates seem to have committed.” If so, we can count on Trump continuing to make one blunder after another to “defend” himself.

Update: See also emptywheel on why Trump’s conspiracy trial is going to be awesome.

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Fashion in the Age of Trump

Trump Maladministration

Has a single garment ever gotten so much press commentary than Paul Manafort’s ostrich skin jacket? (Update: Yeah, okay, Monica’s blue dress.)

The jacket is infamous for costing $15,000 and still being ugly. I’m having a hard time visualizing Manafort wearing it, although I guess all the photos I’ve seen of him show him wearing a suit that looks like just about every other suit any man wears.

People have pointed out that the $15,000 pales in comparison to a $51,000 Dolce & Gabbana jacket worn by Melania awhile back.

To me, that looks like what might happen if the Etsy website got stomach flu. Yes, everybody says it’s a $51,000 jacket. No, I don’t know what kind of markup over cost is involved, but I suspect a lot. It has also been noted that Melania very rarely uses jacket sleeves. I assume the thing in her hand is a clutch of some sort and not some alien being expelled by the jacket.

Back to the ostrich jacket. Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhan wrote,

Where to begin in the dumbfounding tale of Paul Manafort and his fashion habit? The gluttony. The indulgence. The preening bad taste.

The pathetic pretentiousness of it all.

His is the story of a man’s inexorable slide into a nauseating spectacle of insatiable consumption — a parable, or perhaps, a farce that included salivating merchants flying across the country to cater to his appetites. There are so many enticing, beguiling entry points in this story of unbridled decadence: the use of wire transfers from foreign bank accounts to pay his clothing bills, the capacity to spend more than $929,000 on suits in a five-year period, a perplexing fixation on plaid sport jackets.  But ultimately, the one thing that most folks will remember from the first week of Manafort’s trial on bank and tax fraud charges is his $15,000 ostrich-leather bomber jacket.

Well, why not? The Manafort saga has a distinctively freak show quality to it. How does a man stash $30 million in offshore bank accounts and still go broke?

Mueller has alleged a years-long scheme of astonishing scope: that Manafort first laundered $30 million from a web of undeclared offshore accounts into the US without paying taxes on it, and then (after the Ukrainian money stopped coming in) defrauded several US banks to get more than $20 million in loans. Manafort has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

The man owns a lot of real estate, including a condo in Trump tower, another condo in Manhattan’s SoHo district, a brownstone in Brooklyn, an estate in the Hamptons, an unremarkable single-family home in Arlington, Virginia, and a home in Palm Beach, Florida. I understand that if he’s convicted, all those homes will be forfeited.

The man is 69 years old. He could have announced his retirement, sold some of that real estate to cover debt and still live more than comfortably for the rest of his life. Instead, he talked himself into the Trump campaign as a way back into the lobbying game. That’s how he got his start, years ago; he turned a mid-level position in the Reagan campaign into a big-ticket lobbying career.

The trial that began this past week was all about the money he earned working for Viktor Yanukovych, one-time president of the Ukraine, and several Russian oligarchs.

The first set of charges, which Mueller calls “the tax scheme,” relate to Manafort’s flush years, when the Ukrainian money was pouring in to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Mueller says Manafort set up a complex web of offshore shell companies and then spent $30 million of that offshore cash in the US between 2008 and 2014.

About $12 million of that cash was allegedly spent on “personal items” for Manafort and his family, spread across more than 200 different transactions. This included about $5.4 million to a home improvement company in the Hamptons, $1.3 million tied to an antique rug store in Virginia, $849,000 or so to a men’s clothing store in New York, $819,000 on landscaping, and payments related to several Range Rovers and a Mercedes-Benz.

Then another $6.4 million was allegedly wired from offshore for three real estate payments: $1.5 million for a condo in New York City, $3 million for a brownstone in Brooklyn, and $1.9 million for a house in Virginia. On top of that, Manafort allegedly sent another $13 million as “loans” to US companies he controlled — but the government calls these loans “shams” designed to fraudulently reduce his taxable income.

There are allegations that he was wiring money from a bank in Cypress for “home improvements” that he didn’t actually buy. Money laundering?

The New York Times reports that Manafort wasted no time trying to monetize the Trump campaign gig, for which he was not paid:

In April 2016, just days after becoming a Trump campaign strategist, he tried to use his positive news media coverage as leverage in a debt dispute with a Russian oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska.

“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right?” Mr. Manafort wrote in an email to a business partner.

“Absolutely,” the partner, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, responded. “Every article.”

“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort asked. The emails were reported by The Washington Post and The Atlantic.

Later, Mr. Manafort suggested providing campaign briefings to Mr. Deripaska. No evidence has emerged that such briefings occurred.

In short, no sensible person would have let Manafort anywhere near a presidential campaign. Apparently Trump was the one who hired him.

As Mr. Manafort ascended to one of the premier jobs in American politics, prosecutors now say, his career was privately in shambles. In early 2016, his accountant testified, he worked to mortgage some of his seven or eight homes. Prosecutors said he had become accustomed to a lavish lifestyle and was preoccupied with clinging to it.

Back to Robin Givhan and the ostrich jacket:

Prosecutors argued that the luxurious nature of Manafort’s purchases was important because it offered the jury insight into it their case. That Manafort “had an expensive lifestyle that required lots of money to maintain is important proof as to why he would commit the bank frauds,” prosecutors wrote. Manafort had grown accustomed to Bijan, ostrich and python and when his income declined “he resorted to bank fraud as a means to maintain his lifestyle.”

Perhaps. But prosecutors missed a more significant argument. The fashion industry has long recognized and exploited the fact that its customers are not just buying accoutrements to a lifestyle. They are buying the building blocks to a public identity.

And when those blocks elevate a man to the tippy-top of the pyramid, he might do just about anything to prevent a perilous fall.

Apparently, the yawning emptiness that is Paul Manafort required a lot of accoutrements to maintain an identity.

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Q-razy

Trump Maladministration

To me, the most bizarre belief of the QAnon hoax is that the military chose Trump to be president. This is from a fascinating interview with a real-life QAnon believer in the Washington Post.

The Clintons, he said, “subverted” Barack Obama, whose presidency, according to QAnon, caused mounting dissatisfaction in the military, where Burton has been led to believe the seed of “Q” was planted.

“Apparently military brass in the Pentagon got sick and tired of it, and they found a candidate that they could discuss everything with,” Burton said. “And apparently they went to Trump and asked Trump to run.”

I asked him why these renegades chose Trump. “They probably thought he would win,” he said.

Or, maybe it’s this part:

The Russia investigation is a sham. It’s actually a cover story for special counsel Robert Mueller and Donald Trump working together to expose thousands of pedophiles hidden in plain sight — including Hillary Clinton (and Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama), who will soon be under arrest. (Or perhaps already have been and are on their way to Guantanamo Bay.)

Another theory is that the Clintons and Obamas are under a weird house arrest, even though they travel a lot, and must wear ankle bracelets. Also, too:

The GOP lost the Alabama special election for Jeff Sessions’s Senate seat on purpose — a plan devised years ago to reveal the use of fraudulent voting machines and, ultimately, take down none other than George Soros. Or the Rothschilds. Or the Illuminati.

Conspiracy theories about George Soros are a whole genre in themselves, of course. A few months ago I started seeing references to the Rothschilds in social media posts and thought I was hallucinating. But no, we don’t have enough curren craziness but must resurrect 19th century conspiracy theories. And who knows how old the hoaxes about the Illuminati have been in circulation.

But talk about crazy —

And there’s no White House chaos at all; in fact, despite legal scandals and special counsel investigations and bile-laden tweets, everything, absolutely everything, is going just as Donald Trump intended it. …

… [QAnon] has one overarching — and, if you’re a Trump supporter, hopeful — message: Donald Trump is in complete control. Of everything.

Which begs the question — if he has all this control, why evey play games? Why not just use executive power to smite his deep state enemies?

It doesn’t seem to matter that Q’s prophecies don’t come  true.

In a posting on November 1, 2017, Q said that on November 3 and 4, John Podesta, chair of Clinton’s 2016 campaign, would be arrested, military control would take hold, and “public riots would be organized in serious numbers to prevent the arrest and capture of more senior public officials.”

And who is Q? Maybe Trump himself. Or, maybe John F. Kennedy, Jr., faked his own death in order to establish himself as Q. Yeah, that makes sense.

Richard Hofstadter wrote in 1964:

The spokesmen of those earlier movements felt that they stood for causes and personal types that were still in possession of their country—that they were fending off threats to a still established way of life. But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots, having as their most powerful agents not merely outsiders and foreigners as of old but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power. Their predecessors had discovered conspiracies; the modern radical right finds conspiracy to be betrayal from on high.

Now we’ve evolved to a new level in which the government is still evil (except for the military part), but Trump is some kind of messiah figure come to save it. I have noticed that in the theorists’ addled brains Trump is not part of “the government.” If anyone tries to reason with any of them, they often retort something along the lines of “Oh, you believe THE GOVERNMENT story, huh?” If you point out to them that Trump is part of THE GOVERNMENT, and in fact is in charge of it, that visibly disorients them.

The Hofstadter article reminds us that the extreme right has believed since the end of World War II that the U.S. government has been infiltrated by evil people trying to undermine America, and so in some ways the “deep state” isn’t anything new.  It used to be Communists, of course. I’m not sure all the conspiracists agree who the deep state serves. Many put Them — whether liberals, radical jihadists, homosexuals, whatever — all in the same camp, as illogical as that may be.

Is it worse now than it used to be? The crazies used to believe that Dwight Eisenhower was working for the Communists. But now we have social media, which tends to act as a feedback loop that drivess people further and further into the fever swamp.

Hofstadter:

The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millennialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date fort the apocalypse. (“Time is running out,” said Welch in 1951. “Evidence is piling up on many sides and from many sources that October 1952 is the fatal month when Stalin will attack.”)

As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated—if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.

Let’s just say that this all bears watching. If something happens that forces them to face reality — Bob Mueller exposes Trump as a traitor, say — they could get very dangerous.

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