Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Why Trump and Putin are alike, not just aligned, and therefore dangerous

From Raw Story: Street graffiti depicting Donald Trump
passionately locking lips with Russian President Vladimir Putin
went viral on social media in Lithuania Friday,
appearing to show concern over the US White House hopeful’s
attitude toward Moscow.
The artwork in the capital Vilnius alludes to a famous 1979 photograph
of then Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev
kissing communist East German president and ally Erich Honecker.
Vlad Putin is notorious for not only his corruption in association with Russian oligarchs and mobsters, but for taking revenge on those who oppose him. Nothing short of their destruction suffices his petty vengeance seeking and ambition.  Further, Puti has gone a long way towards wrecking the Russian economy, and towards a redistribution of wealth to the rich that is among the worst in the world. His track record with a free press is nothing to brag about either.  Putin is an old style Stalin-esque dictator, with Stalin being one of his heroes he hopes to sanitize and reinstall as a national hero.

The sad thing is that every one of the same characteristics typify Donald J. Drumpf. The best that might be said of Trump is that he is "Putin light"; as in he’d be worse if he could get away with it in the US of A.

The New York Times summed it up in January 2016:
GOING into 2016, Vladimir V. Putin is a very different politician from the one he was a year ago. His most significant changes have little to do with what he has done in the last 12 months. Instead they were wrought by the justice systems of two foreign countries — Britain and Spain — and a slew of Russian and Western journalists and activists. Thanks to all these disparate efforts, there has emerged a vivid, comprehensive and, most important, public picture of allegations of corruption and connections to organized crime that in the past had been the province of rumors or maverick investigations publishers wouldn’t dare to print.
In May, Spanish prosecutors petitioned a Madrid court for permission to charge 27 people with money laundering, after a giant decade-long investigation that implicated, among others, highly placed Russian officials, some of whom have business or property in Spain. The 488-page complaint names a sitting member of the Russian Parliament, a former prime minister and a former defense minister. It draws numerous connections between the presumed ringleader, Gennady Petrov, an influential figure in St. Petersburg, and Mr. Putin’s inner circle.
Another corruption probe that unfolded during 2015 implicates Mr. Putin’s own family. Early in the year, the Russian business publication RBC released an investigation into a vast university expansion project, undertaken on a giant section of land that belongs partly to Moscow State University and partly to the Russian state. The report meticulously documented the sheer scale and scope of the project, and the involvement of many of Russia’s most prominent state and private business managers. But it gingerly stepped around identifying the woman in charge, who had declined to be interviewed. RBC would say only that she was called Katerina Tikhonova — a very common Russian name — and that she had been seen in public with Kirill Shamalov, the son of a close friend of Mr. Putin’s.
 Yet another investigation released last month revealed apparent links between the Russian prosecutor general and the country’s most notorious organized crime family. Such allegations have become so prominent in the public conversation lately, even in Russia, that they were raised with Mr. Putin on Dec. 17, during his highly scripted annual news conference.
But that Mr. Putin had to face such accusations at all shows that a new understanding about Russia is taking hold: Russia is a mafia state — not only because it is run like the mafia, but also because it is run by organized crime.
The following day the journalist Oleg Kashin posted on his blog a piece titled, “It’s Her.” Katerina Tikhonova, he wrote, was Mr. Putin’s daughter. The president’s press secretary, Dmitri S. Peskov, responded with a non-denial denial. “I don’t know who that is,” he said. “Many girls have been passed off as Putin’s daughters.” Then Reuters, in a large investigation of Russian corruption it published at the end of the year, reported that Ms. Tikhonova, 29, was indeed Mr. Putin’s daughter, that Mr. Shamalov was her husband and that both were billionaires.
Putin is reputed to have amassed a fortune in the range of $40 billion; he has begun to invest some of that ill-gotten gain in Trump properties.  And in return, Trump is proposing to clear NATO out of the way for Putin.  Trump has reportedly sought out Russian mob money from Putin, because his businesses, far from being successful, are no longer welcomed by American banks.  Putin is reported to use the Russian security and intelligence services to control the mafia for the advantage of himself, family and associates, something that we might expect from Trump, should he become president.
Trump in his own right is reported to have close ties with the US mafia for decades.  He is reputed to have only succeeded to the extent he has in the building and casino sectors by paying off politicians not to look to closely.   As Politico reported in May:
Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?
In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.
…In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. 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. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”
I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.
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. 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 in 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.
This can’t have been news to the GOP when they allowed Trump to be first a candidate and then nominee for president.  It should get interesting as the post-convention candidate oppo-advertising picks up.  It will remain to be seen if Trump proceeds to sue, or at the very least to seek an injunction.  I would speculate that not even the worst of the right wing judiciary would be amenable to earning a reputation for giving mobsters legal cover.

Sadly, unlike the rest of the world, too many US citizens are blithely oblivious to any knowledge of world leaders or other countries.  I am consistently shocked at how few people can correctly identify key American figures – like being able to name the members of the U.S. Supreme Court, or even know how many Justices sit on it.  It is therefore less surprising to me that so many people in the US are unable to name the head of government in Canada to our north or Mexico to our south.  I consider it a plus if they reliably know where those two countries are, given how few people know where most of the states in the US go on a map.  So it should come as no surprise that Putin’s reputation for mob activities is ignored or unknown by the likes of Faux News and other right wing media.  We can sit back to wait for their feigned surprise or fake outrage that will eventually come after their robust denials become unsustainable.

The GOP should be writhing in shame; I doubt they have the collective conscience to do so.  It should be particularly fun to watch the Evangelicals scramble to address their claims of how religious Trump is, how god fearing moral.  I guess we no longer need wonder why Trump goes to the former Soviet Union eastern bloc to find two of his three wives…

Trump claims that he could shoot someone on 5th avenue and his supporters would still be enthusiastically behind him.  Let’s put it to the test how well they like a mobbed up candidate for president.  Let’s begin that re-education of the right, right here.  When it becomes undeniable that he is dirty, will he quit before the election — and then what?

I doubt any current polls are taking into consideration this kind of news coverage affecting the election in November.

No comments:

Post a Comment