Saturday, July 30, 2016

trump is a goon

I have a very vivid memory of being a young person and having my first exposure to the spectacle that is Trump. 

Note: When I am using the term spectacle, I am loosely referring to the premise behind the 1967 work of Guy Debord. In his book titled, The Society of the Spectacle, he reviews all the ways humans fall victim to mass media and the "image" which seems to define Trump's popularity. This is not to say that I buy into all of Debord's propaganda. I just think it is a useful base to refer to.

I remember, in the mid eighties, Trump being a joke. Literally, a joke. People made fun of his hair. They made fun of his tchotchke-liberace facade. We laughed when he lost money and his wives. And yet the man hasn't changed. It seems to me it is the public that has changed.

What troubles me is how people cannot see how awful he is. He is a liar, a bigot, and all around terrible person. I could spend months collecting every abhorrent thing he has said and done. However, I am trying to keep this focused on what people aren't talking about. Because, I think if people knew more about him and his past, they'd cringe.

The truth is, he has connections to some very bad people. This is well documented. 

He respects these people and chooses to make dirty deals with them. I mean, one of his role models (and very close friends) was a man by the name of Roy Cohn. Who was a notoriously sleazy mob lawyer (consigliere) that had his hands in a lot of shady places. But, I will get back to that in a moment. First, let's look at Trump's relationship to the mob.

Trump and the Mob

Recently, Politico had an excellent story on the history of Trump and the mob. David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist reviews Trump's beginning just out of college in 1968. The piece touches on Trump's aforementioned relationship with Roy Cohn as it does many other business dealings in Trump's "early days".

If you want to read this particular article in it's full glory here is the link:

For those of us that want a Cliff Notes version here's a list of Trump's 5 Most Damning Details brought to you by the Wrap.
1. Trump reportedly used “mobbed-up” concrete
Trump allegedly bought “ostensibly overpriced” concrete from a company controlled by mafia leaders Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano,” according to Politico.
The concrete used to build Trump Tower was allegedly made from materials that Trump purchased for inflated prices from “Fat Tony” and Castellano, in exchange for union cooperation. 
2. After 27 years covering Trump, Johnston is convinced he has mob ties
“I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime,” Johnston wrote. “Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory.”
3. Trump allegedly had links to Gambino Family associate John Cody
A friend of Cody supposedly purchased three Trump Tower apartments using a Trump-assisted $3 million mortgage without filling out a loan application or showing financials. Cody, who controlled the flow of concrete trucks during the building’s construction, reportedly stayed at the apartments and even invested $500,000. Eventually, Cody was convicted of racketeering, imprisoned and lost control of the union. 
4. Trump reportedly underpaid non-union workers
According to the report, in 1979 Trump hired a demolition contractor to take down a department store to make way for Trump Tower. For the job, he reportedly hired as many as 200 non-union laborers, mostly illegal Polish immigrants paid $4 to $6 per hour with no benefits. They reportedly worked long days, wore improper gear and slept on the construction site. 
5. Johnston thinks Trump is the shadiest candidate ever
“No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers and other crooks,” he writes. “Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal for which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.”
Trump and Wayne Barrett

This is NOT the first time Trump has been connected to dirty dealings by a well respected reporter. 

In the Politico story by Johnston the name Wayne Barrett appeared. This is because Barrett is known as the,"go-to Trump authority".

Barrett, wrote a book in 1991 called, Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, and the Downfall that was republished in 2016 as Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Deals, the Downfall, the Reinvention.

This book has one of the most detailed versions of Trump's beginnings. It covers every step Trump makes in New York, his interaction with Roy Cohn and other miscreants, his divorces, his dirty dealings, his failures, and his MANY brushes with the law.

In a recent interview with Democracy Now, Barrett expresses how he feels about Trump.
He’s really not qualified to run the Trump Organization. He’s not fit to run the Trump Organization. So he’s certainly not fit to run America,” Barrett said. "I think he represents not just a danger to America, but because we are such an influence in the world, it’s really a shocking threat to the world
To understand how much information is included in this book (and somehow left out in mainstream media) I will share with you an excerpt taken from the book's forward.
Trump Tower itself is a monument to the mob. Sweetheart deals with a mob Teamsters local that delivered the concrete, and mob contractors that supplied and built the tallest reinforced concrete job in the country, were choices Donald made, provoking the interest of federal prosecutors at the time. Now, as he lays claim to the White House, he is announcing an even larger concrete project, a thousand-mile wall to protect us from drug and trafficking cartels. 
The Trump Tower apartments, and some of the offices above the atrium, had long been magnets for criminals. A half dozen felons, including the head of the Gambino-tied concrete-drivers union, owned part or all of over two dozen units in the tower in its first decade. Trump’s cluelessness on foreign policy, apparent even in his opening speech, extended to the tower’s apartment and office occupants—a disturbing collection of international rogues. 
Baby Doc Duvalier bought a $2.5 million apartment there before the tower opened and before the president-for-life was driven from power in Haiti. Chuck Blazer, the 450-pound, now-convicted, wheeler-dealer at the center of the vast FIFA soccer scandal, wallowed between two different tower apartments and a tower office where his branch of the soccer federation was headquartered. Another FIFA potentate, Brazilian Jose Maria Marin, who was once caught on videotape pocketing a gold medal that was supposed to be presented to a member of a championship team, is under house arrest on racketeering charges in his $3.5 million Trump Tower apartment. 
Bayrock, a developer that joined Trump in New York and Fort Lauderdale projects, was headquartered at the Tower and one of its partners, Tamir Sapir, a Russian billionaire who Trump called “a great friend,” had a $5 million apartment there. Sapir’s top aide pled guilty to participating in a 13-year racketeering conspiracy with the Gambino crime family, with some of those years overlapping with his involvement in running Sapir’s construction operations. Felix Sater, who owned a 50 percent “executive membership” in the Bayrock entities set up for the Trump projects, pled guilty in a $40 million mob stock swindle and cooperated with federal prosecutors. Sater, the son of a Russian mobster, appeared in photos with Trump and was identified as a senior adviser on a Trump Organization card. Sater also did prison time for plunging the stem of a wine glass into a commodity broker’s face. 
While Candidate Trump contends that Saudi Arabia was behind the 9/11 attacks, a top Saudi government minister at the time of the attack, Prince Mutaib bin Abdulaziz, owns a full floor in the tower. In fact, although Trump would soon argue that “we should stop supporting the Saudi dictatorship,” as well as stop buying their oil, he said in his announcement, “I love the Saudis; many are in this building.” 
Two other Trump Towers, one in Istanbul and one in Philadelphia, involved convicted cocaine traffickers, but not as residents. Trump’s initial partner in the twin towers in Istanbul—one residential and one office/commercial building—was Engin Yesil, who was sentenced to six years in prison for trafficking 20 years earlier. He later said that he assigned his earnings on the Trump project to Dogan Holdings, a giant Turkish developer that was fined $2.5 billion by the Turkish government for dodging corporate taxes for years. The Dogan firm was alarmed when Candidate Trump made his strongest anti-Muslim statements a few months after his announcement and threatened publicly to separate Trump from the project. 
The Philadelphia tower was never built after Trump’s local partner Raoul Goldberg disappeared and the development firm went bankrupt. Sentenced to 46 months in prison in 2000 on cocaine charges, Goldberg was on probation when he brought the deal to Trump in 2005. Under a licensing and management contract with Goldberg’s firm, Trump was so involved he did the video pitch for it, and his company got the permits and cut the spa and restaurant deals, with daughter Ivanka and son Donald Jr. working on the ground.
If you would like to read more of this forward here is a link: 

Trump and Russia

I find it very disheartening that Trump has the memory of a tsetse fly. Either he needs to be checked for brain damage (because of the memory loss) or he is a manipulative person who says whatever he thinks will get what he wants. I'm going to go with the latter.

But...let's get to the point. Trump has been very supportive of Putin's choices. In an interview with Anderson Cooper Trump said, "I think that I would [at the same time] get along very well with him. He does not like Obama at all. He doesn't respect Obama at all. And I'm sure that Obama doesn't like him very much, But I think that I would probably get along with him very well. And I don't think you'd be having the kind of problems that you're having right now."

Trump does not however mention what horrifying things Putin has been up to. He's jailed opponents, journalists, and activists. He's sold weapons to Al-Assad.(who by the way has connections to ISIL and thereby ISIS). He is pretty much putting Ukraine through hell (with annexation of Crimea, military presence, the cut off of energy through gas supply, etc). 

When Trump was asked about this, he again suddenly suffered from what I am now dubbing, "Trumpnesia".

In a CBS News article Trump is quoted;
"I spoke indirectly and directly with President Putin, who could not have been nicer," This happened during a National Press Club luncheon in May 2014. 
Nearly three years later, Trump changed his tune. 
"I've never met Putin. I don't know who Putin is," Trump said Wednesday during a recent campaign event in Florida.
The question for me is why suddenly change your tune? 

Wondering more about Trump's connections to Russia, I stumbled on an article by reporter Franklin Foer. Though the article at times seems speculative, a lot of the content shows a definitive link between Trump and the Kremlin. Even including a quote from Donald Trump Jr., where he explains where Trump's investments are. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” Jr. states.

I won't get into the Kremlin's political technique of meddling and counter intelligence. I won't focus on how it benefits the Kremlin and ex-KGB members to undermine US democracy. I won't get into that Donald Trump stands to be either a well funded patsy for outside interests or the totalitarian dictator of a political coup. I will share Foer's outline the many Trump connections to Russia and the Kremlin. Just to allow the public to come up with their own conclusion.
Donald Trump’s interest in Russia dates back to Soviet times. In fact, there’s extraordinary footage of him shaking hands with Mikhail Gorbachev. It comes from 1988, the peak of perestroika and Gorbachev’s efforts to charm the American public. On his legendary trip to Washington and New York, the Soviet in chief left the confines of his limousine and security cordon to glad-hand with the American people. Donald Trump suggested to reporters that the Soviet leader would be making his way to Trump Tower, a crucial station on his journey to capitalism. This was, in fact, a self-aggrandizing fabrication that Trump himself planted in the tabloids, but it was a convincing lie. A year earlier, Trump had traveled to Russia at the invitation of the Soviets. They wanted Trump to develop luxury hotels in Moscow and Leningrad to feed the regime’s new appetite for Western business. “The idea of building two monuments in the U.S.S.R. has captured his imagination,” Newsweek reported.
It was merely the first instance of Trump carelessly sucking up to Russian power in the hopes of securing business. Those Soviet hotel projects never went anywhere. But over the years, Trump has returned to the idea of building in Russia again and again. Effective real estate developers are genuine seers; they can conjure mental images of glorious structures and vibrant neighborhoods where other mortals see mere blight. Trump had the brashness to imagine developing hotels in Moscow when that was a fatal enterprise. In 1996, a Kalashnikov sprayed the American hotelier Paul Tatum, who had the temerity to complain about the Chechen mafia and the less-than-scrupulous business culture he endured. Yet it wasn’t hard to see the appeal of Russia, to both the bottom line and the ego. An article in the Moscow Times described Trump as the city’s first grand builder since Stalin. Indeed, he later planned a development on the site where Stalin once hoped to construct the Palace of Soviet Congresses.
Five separate times Trump attempted Russian projects, hotels, apartments, and retail on the grandest scale. In one iteration, he promised an ice rink, a “members club,” and a spa, for “the finest residences in Moscow.” Another project he described as “the largest hotel in the world.” His gaudy style appealed to Russian nouveau riche, and he knew it. “The Russian market is attracted to me,” he once boasted. He registered his name as a trademark in Moscow and even licensed it to a liquor company, which sold Trump Super Premium Vodka. Government officials claimed that they wanted to do business with Trump because they also considered him super premium. In the mid-’90s, the general-turned-politician Alexander Lebed told him, “If Trump goes to Moscow, I think America will follow.”
Let’s begin at the top. Trump’s campaign manager is a wizened operative named Paul Manafort. It’s true that Manafort is a mercenary by trade. His old Washington consulting firm pioneered the practice of representing the dictators of the world, no matter their grim record. (I profiled his authoritarian ambit earlier this year.) Late in his career, however, Manafort dedicated himself to working on behalf of clients close to the Kremlin. His grand achievement was reviving the doomed career of the anti-charismatic politician Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort’s image-crafting and shrewd strategy culminated in Yanukovych’s election to Ukraine’s presidency in 2010. Thanks to Manafort’s handiwork, Ukraine pulled into Putin’s sphere of influence. Unlike other American consultants who flitted in and out of Kiev, Manafort set up camp there. He became an essential adviser to the president—his tennis partner even.

If Manafort were the only Kremlin connection in the Trump campaign, his presence might signify nothing. But he’s hardly isolated. Many pundits have scoffed at the idea that Trump has a circle of foreign policy advisers given that his initial list of gurus emerged abruptly in March and included names unknown to most experts. Yet the list suggests certain tendencies. One of the supposed Trump whisperers was an investment banker named Carter Page. During a stint in Moscow in the 2000s, he advised the state-controlled natural gas giant, Gazprom and helped it attract Western investors. (In March, Page told Bloomberg that he continues to own shares in the company.) Page has defended Russia with relish. He wrote a column explicitly comparing the Obama administration’s Russia policy to chattel slavery in the American South. His reasoning: “Numerous quotes from the February 2015 National Security Strategy closely parallel an 1850 publication that offered guidance to slaveholders on how to produce the ‘ideal slave.’ ” 
Also on the list of advisers is Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Eighteen months after he departed government, he journeyed to Moscow and sat two chairs away from Putin at the 10th anniversary gala celebratingRussia Today. In Politico, an anonymous Obama official harshly criticized Flynn: “It’s not usually to America’s benefit when our intelligence officers—current or former—seek refuge in Moscow.”

To read more here is the full story:

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