by John Walters
The cheap-suit mob boss persona of President Trump has truly come to light this week, what with the “I would like you to do us a favor” followed by “You know what we used to do with spies in the old days?”
Meanwhile, it’s a little odd that more folks aren’t drawing a direct line to the money Paul Manafort made from the Ukraine that sort of started all this. To wit:
From 2004 to 2014, Manafort had advised President Viktor Yanukovych, who advocated that his country sever ties with the United States and other Western nations, and align itself more closely with Vladimir Putin’s Russia. After Yanukovych fled the country in disgrace in 2014, a ledger was recovered from the burned-out ruins of his Party of Regions. Its records showed that Yanukovych and his political allies had madesome $12.7 million in secret cash payments to Manafort. The disclosure led directly to Manafort’s resignation in August 2016 as chairman of the Trump presidential campaign.
So you have Manafort advising the Ukraine to fall in step with Mother Russia. You have the candidate he was advising somewhat doing that very thing—severing ties with the West and becoming friendly with Russia—and so the question is who is behind all of this (Hi, Vlad!) and why. Oh, and then there’s that whole Rex Tillerson-Exxon-Russia’s oil sanctions dealio.
So you have Paul Manafort and Rudy Giuliani in the Ukraine, you have Trump being overpaid for real estate by Russian oligarchs, and now you have a democratically elected president in the Ukraine feeling the squeeze between helping Trump investigate the Bidens or else losing military funding it badly needs to repel Russia. Donald Trump is truly the best friend Russia ever had.
By the way, if you are looking for a connection between this moment and Watergate, you may recall that Watergate began when Nixon hired a few goobs to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in attempt to dig up some dirt on his 1972 reelection campaign rivals. And then spent the next year denying any connection to it. So that’s almost a 1:1 comparison.
Trump In The Land Of Trumpy (Bob)
It’s a month old or so, but if you have a moment give a read to Matt Taibbi‘s piece in Rolling Stone on attending a Trump campaign rally in Cincinnati last summer. Taibbi is a gifted wordsmith, but he also possesses the insight to explain why the left has to this point failed to understand how to combat MAGAland. These are mostly cultists who’d respond better to fart noises than to a logical argument that illuminates their hypocrisy.
Still, the gold in any Taibbi piece are the unforgettable lines:
— His hair has visibly yellowed since 2016. It’s an amazing, unnatural color, like he was electrocuted in French’s mustard
—He then reflects on his 2016 run, when hordes of people turned out to send him to D.C., from places he, Trump, would never have visited, except maybe by plane crash.
And finally, this…
—Throughout Trump’s speech, spectators came down to taunt the libs. It got tense enough that a row of helmeted cops showed up, stringing patrol bicycles end to end in the middle of the street to create an ad-hoc barricade.
“He’s a fucking con man,” the would-be Ortega on the other side is chanting now. “Don the con . . . All power to the working class!”
“We are the working class, buddy!” an older man shouts. More laughs.
“No more hate!” the protesters chant.
“Four more years, bitch!” comes the reply.
The road is only four lanes wide, but it might as well be a continent. Two groups of people, calling each other assholes across a barricade. Welcome to America in the Donald Trump era.
Wag The Dog
If you’re wondering exactly how far down the rabbit hole we’ve gone, Fox News, the network that once worked itself into a tizzy daily about Hillary Clinton and her private email servers, yesterday came out in defense of President Trump using “special computers” to hide the transcript of his phone call to the president of the Ukraine.
Nothing Trump does matters to Fox News or the cult. If Trump does it, by definition it is okay. That’s a cult.
Wild About Harry
Also in that same issue of Rolling Stone, Rob Sheffield‘s man-crush profile of former One Direction band member Harry Styles. The two spend a week together in Los Angeles and London—Styles had actually originally contacted Sheffield to tell him that he loved his book, Love Is A Mixtape.
Anyway, the ardor is strong in this profile but it’s pretty difficult to come away not liking the 25 year-old Brit. He comes off as a true gent, a good friend and a better son. A bit of an old soul and something of an introvert. A good bloke.
We like Harry because when RS asked him to list five influences, he went with Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks; Crosby, Stills and Nash; Wings; Pulp Fiction; and Joni Mitchell. Solid list for a millennial.
The Worlds (world track and field championships), a biannual event, begin today in Dotha, Qatar. One of the people to watch is 19 year-old Jakob Ingebritsen of Norway, who as you can see from above looks like he was taken directly off the beach from Chariots of Fire.
Ingebritsen is the favorite to win the men’s 5-K, a race that hasn’t been too well-represented by Europeans at least not since the days of Lasse Viren (1976). Keep an eye on him.
We stole this suggestion from Styles above (maybe we have a man-crush!), who said about this C,S&N tune that, “If I had three minutes to live, it’s one of my one-more-time-before-I-go songs.” From 1969, a year that was flush with incredible music.
Penn State at Maryland
8 p.m. FS1
Both Big Ten schools coming off a bye week. The Nittany Lions think they’re a Top 15 school and the Terps are gonna be stoked about a Friday night game in College Park. Methinks SVP will be watching.