Lumpish Trump and Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin

Josh Marshall, who has been on fire during this primary season, IMO, has a must-read piece up at TPM on the ties between Trump and Putin. An excerpt that summarizes the case for closer scrutiny:

To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump’s direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin’s policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He’s the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out ‘what’s going on’ as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.

There is something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Putin or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump’s financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That’s simply not something that can be waved off or ignored.

Marshall explores the strong circumstantial evidence that suggests a Putin-Trump connection, including the fact that Trump owes his recovery from multiple bankruptcies to infusions of cash from Putin-connected oligarchs, Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort’s strong connection to the Kremlin and the fact that the Trump people’s sole involvement in the GOP platform was a pro-Putin intervention.

Marshall is sticking to publicly available facts, so he doesn’t address in depth the suspiciously timed Wikileaks DNC doc dump, which exposed emails that were obtained by a Russia-connected hacker and emphasize Democratic discord that Trump is playing to the hilt. But that’s one of the clearest signs yet that Putin is trying to manipulate the U.S. election, just as he supports right-wing nationalist movements in Europe to weaken the Western alliance that keeps his revanchist ambitions in check.

It remains to be seen whether the hardcore Sandersites will play the useful idiots here; I don’t think there are enough of them to swing the election, but it’s clear that is the aim of the wingnuts who are playing up the “Bernie wuz robbed!” aspect of the Wikileaks story, including Trump, who has been tweeting like a madman about it.

And maybe this is just me being paranoid, but this latest blatant attempt to divide the Democrats and advance Trump’s prospects explains a longer-term trend I used to find puzzling but no longer do: a weird affinity for the autocrat Putin among the fringier left in the U.S. I’ve seen it in the crackpot corners of the web for far longer than Trump has been a credible candidate: a drive to paint Putin as a victim of U.S. aggression. I used to write it off as individual crackpottery, but maybe Putin has been playing a long game.

FWIW, I don’t think Trump is directly taking orders from Putin. I think Trump is a vain and silly man, and Putin is playing him for a fool. But while Trump is certainly a clown, Putin’s interference in U.S. politics is serious shit. It would be swell if the Very Serious Persons in the Beltway would spend 1/100th of the effort they’ve expended on Secretary Clinton’s email server on the ongoing attempts of a hostile foreign government to manipulate a U.S. election.



Late Night “Yup, Still the Wrong Choice” Open Thread

From the NYTimes article:

After declaring that he had unified the party in one of the most “love-filled” conventions in political history, Mr. Trump launched an extended diatribe against Mr. Cruz, who pointedly declined to endorse him during his own convention speech on Wednesday and instead urged people to vote their conscience. The speech embarrassed Mr. Trump and cast a shadow of discord over the convention, which had already been marred by plagiarism in a speech by Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, on Monday.

“I don’t want his endorsement,” Mr. Trump said angrily, in a rambling stream-of-consciousness performance that seemed half stand-up routine, half vengeful rant. “If he gives it, I won’t accept it.”

The remarks were a noteworthy display of lingering tension within the party and Mr. Trump’s inability to let go of grudges.

They also represented a seemingly inevitable reappearance of Mr. Trump’s irrepressible id. Having spoken from a teleprompter for more than an hour on Thursday, the final day of his convention, he seemed almost incapable of restraining himself any longer as the campaign moved into its next phase…

Mr. Trump briefly turned his focus from Mr. Cruz to Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, who will be formally nominated next week at her party’s convention in Philadelphia. Attention is expected to shift to the Democrats in the coming days, but Mr. Trump said that he did not expect to watch Mrs. Clinton’s speech because she is “boring.”…
Read more



Be just, and fear not

Good question, Bernie. I didn’t watch Trump’s speech live, but from viewing the highlights and reading the transcript, Trump’s Mussolini-class confidence in himself as the only cure to the country’s ills struck me too. This isn’t the way a believer in small “d” democracy thinks or behaves.

Of the many stupid and frankly crazy reactions Republicans have had toward President Obama’s public pronouncements, one of my least favorite has been their ransacking of speech transcripts to count the number of times the president said “I” or “me” — to demonstrate how uppity he is, I guess.

Think they’ll parse speeches for “I” and “me” now that they’ve nominated a clinically diagnosable narcissist as their standard-bearer? Nope. Trump is the arsonist selling fire protection. He sows chaos and anger to sell “law and order.”

But as clownish as the GOP convention was, and as dark, dystopian and distorted as Trump’s vision of America is, the Republicans will almost certainly get a bump in the polls from being the focus of a week’s worth of media coverage, much of it undeservedly positive.

Let’s try not to pee down our legs when that happens, okay? Instead, let’s work our asses off to keep Trump, his pack of parasitic kin and his legion of goons and henchmen away from the White House. Let’s keep in mind that we have a much better story to tell — and far better people to tell it.

I happen to think Hillary Clinton will be a great president. In the 25 years or so I’ve followed her career, our views on every issue haven’t always aligned. But she’s running a truly inclusive campaign that will build on the progress the Democratic Party has made under President Obama’s leadership.

And when Clinton speaks on policy, it’s readily apparent there’s a keen mind at work there — even if you don’t agree with a specific proposal. Contrast that with Trump, who possesses only the will to power and the cunning to advance his personal glorification in the handiest manner.

The Republicans told many lies during their convention, but one thing they said was true: This is now a binary choice — Trump or Clinton. After considering the four-day hate-fest in Cleveland, now more than ever, I’m with her.



Late Night RNC Open Thread: Shuck’n’ARRGGH

Ghostwriter for Art of the Deal:



RNC in CLE Open Thread: Your Modern GOP, America!


(What — no hand lotion?)



Triumph of the Vile: RNC in CLE Night #4


(via the Guardian)

And the old Obama hand keeps us from getting too giddy at the confusion of our enemies…

Buckle your seatbelts, it’s gonna be a long night.



He Did Everything Right…

Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist who was trying to help an autistic patient who had wandered away from a group home, did everything right when confronted by cops with guns drawn. He got shot anyway:

Luckily, Mr. Kinsey is expected to make a full recovery. The cops were responding to a 911 call about an agitated, armed man threatening suicide. The man was the group home patient, and the “weapon” was a toy truck. Kinsey said he was more worried about his patient than himself, but Kinsey is the one who ended up shot in the street.

The people who minimize the problem of police violence against unarmed citizens — specifically black male citizens — will point out that the video doesn’t show the shooting. That’s true; it doesn’t.

First it shows Kinsey lying in the street with his hands up, calmly explaining who he is, what he is doing there and stating that neither he nor his patient are armed. Then it shows him handcuffed and bleeding from a gunshot wound.

I guess we’re supposed to believe that Kinsey attempted to ninja the cops during the video break. Such bullshit.