Open Thread: Trump Has No Friends, Just (Temporary) Accomplices

For years they ran parallel grifts, and they got along nicely. Then Don (with a little help from his Russian buddies) got a big promotion, and Tom made the mistake of thinking he could draft in his old buddy’s wake. SAD!

If Trump had been able to grasp the concept of social reciprocity as well as your average kindergartner, he wouldn’t have managed to bankrupt more than one casino. Which is probably related to the fact that nobody in Trump’s circle can be trusted alone with more than fifteen cents in cash…

Trump was “really upset” to read reports about Barrack’s role in allegedly making it easy for some foreigners and others to try to spend money to get access to Trump and his inner circle and whether some of the inauguration money was misspent, according to a senior administration official…

… According to the Mueller report, Barrack recommended that Trump hire his old friend Paul Manafort, who was initially brought onto the campaign to smooth Trump’s path at the Republican convention. Manafort went on to assume a larger role in the campaign after the firing of Corey Lewandowski, only to be ousted himself amid media scrutiny of his business dealings in Ukraine — and later to be indicted for those activities.

And as other prosecutors have dug into Barrack’s handling of the inauguration fund, Trump has privately soured on his mentor…

All the money raised for the convention, a record $107 million, was for the specific purpose of covering inauguration costs, but it came from a number of people and companies Barrack couldn’t convince to give money to the campaign or to outside groups when he was raising money for Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to the senior administration official.

“Trump improbably wins and they’re like, ‘Holy crap, I better send a check.’ They send a check to the inauguration and are like, ‘Look at me, six- or seven-figure check, I’m involved, I support your presidency,’” this person said. “But you didn’t support his candidacy three days ago.”…

The harsh spotlight goes well beyond the inauguration as Barrack, a Lebanese-American who is friendly with several Middle East leaders, has been accused of promoting his own business interests in his dealings with the president.

A report recently released by Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee showed that Barrack worked with well-connected UAE businessman Rashid Al-Malik to make suggestions for an energy speech Trump gave in 2016 to be more favorable toward the Middle East and urged Manafort to get Trump to mention Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed…
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Election 2020 Open Thread: Brad Parscale Would Like to Be A Dangerous Person

He is dangerous, but only because — like his purported employer — he’s the idiot catspaw for at least one foreign power. If he were even halfway competent, he’d keep his head down and his mouth shut. But then, who would know what a Big Swingin’ D*ck he is?

In their chilling new documentary, The Great Hack, Academy-Award-nominated filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim follow the personal stories on both sides of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal that exposed the private data of 87 million Facebook users. Through the eyes of Professor David Carroll who sues Cambridge Analytica to release his personal data, Brittany Kaiser, a top Cambridge Analytica executive-turned-whistleblower, and investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr, the film reveals how Cambridge Analytica used the same military-grade tactics of information warfare they employed against populations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Eastern Europe to manipulate national political elections around the world, including the UK Brexit vote and the 2016 US presidential race. As one former Cambridge Analytica employee expressed, “It’s a grossly unethical experiment, playing with the psychology of an entire country without their consent or awareness.”…

Way to panic the rubes, dude. You’ll be lucky Zuckerberg doesn’t… er, that mysterious entities with tons of money and a strong interest in keeping Facebook profitable don’t find it in their interest to make your career go bye-bye, putz.








Ringfenced for Sanitation Debate Recap: The Dark Psychic Forces Promoter

Ooo, shiny! Our Modern Media celebrities have the attention span of an ADD three-year-old on a Red Bull binge. If (when) the American Experiment crashes into Armageddon, its epitaph will be But Think of the Ratings!

(They actually call themselves the #orbgang. No, srsly.)

Anybody remember Lily Tomlin’s Tasteful Lady character from SNL? Mrs. Earbore was from Grosse Pointe, as Ms. Williamson claimed to be, and the Earbore decendents are Marianne’s natural… voters. The packaging has changed, but the absolute removal from normal human experience remains the same.


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Spy vs. Spy Open Thread: Miles Kwok, Once Again

First time I ran across Guo Wengui’s saga, I compared it to “a Trollope novel, as written by John le Carre”. The Trickster God is a lazy scripter in general, but the crossovers by every A-list GOP grifter seems particularly rich here:

Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, who also goes by Miles Kwok, fled to the United States four years ago after learning an associate had been arrested on corruption charges. He is now one of China’s most-wanted, accused of myriad crimes by the Chinese government, including paying bribes and sexual assault. He maintains his innocence, saying the charges are politically motivated.

Guo, who made his money in real estate, has long promoted himself as a dissident being hunted by the Chinese government for his opposition to the ruling Chinese Communist Party. He is currently seeking political asylum in the United States, where he reportedly avoided deportation by the Trump administration after the president learned Guo was a member of Mar-a-Lago.

Now, filings in a civil case, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, suggest Guo may not be the dissident he claims. “Instead, Guo Wengui was, and is, a dissident-hunter, propagandist, and agent in the service of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party,” according to federal court papers filed on Friday.

The Chinese spy allegations against Guo surfaced last week in a contract dispute — rife with international and political intrigue — between a Hong Kong-based company, Eastern Profit Corporation Limited, and an Arlington, Va., research firm, Strategic Vision US, LLC.

Guo denied the allegations through his attorney, saying the claim “utterly lacks credibility.”

“This lawsuit is about a contract between Eastern Profit and Strategic. Strategic is now abusing the litigation privilege to slander Mr. Guo,” wrote Guo’s attorney, Daniel Podhaskie, in a response to the Miami Herald. He claimed the slander was retaliation after Strategic’s counterclaim was dismissed. Podhaskie pointed to Guo’s frozen assets in China as proof that he is not working with the Communist Party…

Strategic Vision, headed by CEO French Wallop, the widow of the late Wyoming GOP Sen. Malcolm Wallop, was fired by Eastern Profit in February 2018 after the research firm provided information that was mostly publicly available on the probe’s targets, the suit says. Eastern Profit demanded the return of its $1 million deposit for the research work, accusing Strategic Vision of breaching their contract.

Strategic filed a counterclaim not only against Eastern Profit but also against Guo, alleging he is actually a Chinese government spy whose “origin story is untrue.”
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Let’s Look at Justice Democrats

As requested in the comments, I took a look at how Justice Democrats spends their money. It ain’t pretty.

In the last cycle, they raised $2.7 million and spent $2.5 mil. Here’s where it went.

That teeny tiny purple slice ($33K) is direct contributions to candidates. The bulk of the money is spent on overhead. I was thinking that “Strategy & Research” might be a category of indirect spending on the part of candidates, but it doesn’t look like it. Almost all of it ($605K) was sent to a PAC called Brand New Congress, which was founded by former Sanders campaign staff. Brand New Congress has a similar financial profile as Justice Democrats — very little of their money goes directly to candidates.

So, if you want to spend money to pay salaries and push money to another PAC, Justice Democrats should get your cash. If not, you might want to contribute directly to candidates via ActBlue. There’s nothing wrong with starting an organization that evaluates and endorses candidates without funding them, and Justice Democrats is clear that the contribution to them benefits them, but it doesn’t take a couple million bucks to do that.