“Trump, eternally the great mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.”
A Master of Evasion
“So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post. Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!”
This is the petty, vindictive little playground bully at his finest, the half-fuckwit, half-fatberg America inadvertently elected as its President in 2016. (The funniest insult of it being to call the putrid, conspiracy-theory-mongering supermarket gossip-sheet The National Enquirer a “competitor” to the internationally respected Post!) The tweet needs to be read with that slimy, slug-trail voice and a hint of narcissistic triumphalism.
The story of the feud between Trump and the enviably far richer Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and “world’s richest man” (if you don’t count Vladimir Putin, who may be at least twice as rich), is ably told by Washington reporter Ben Jacobs in today’s Guardian (8 Feb.)
Essentially, Mr Bezos owns the Post, a newspaper Mr Trump has happily co-operated with – and vice versa – in the past, but which now aggrieves him by doing snippy little things like enumerating the times he has outright lied to the American people – currently around 8,300 since he first assured everyone his inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s – on the basis of checkable facts; and criticizing his cackhanded mismanagement of the Oval Office.
The Post‘s heyday was, of course, in the mid 1970s when its dogged investigative team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played a large part in bringing down the corrupt but otherwise quite good President Richard M Nixon over the series of burglaries at the Watergate Complex he taped himself authorizing, to steal ‘dirt’ on his then-Democrat opponent, the hawkish Barry Goldwater.
Subsequently impeached for obstruction of justice, abuse of power, criminal cover-up and several violations of the Constitution, Nixon resigned with a full pardon in 1975. He was succeeded by Vice-President Gerald Ford, a man of whom it was said he was so dumb, he couldn’t shit and chew gum at the same time; and subsequently by the other halfway decent President, the Democrat Jimmy Carter.
There are gobsmackingly obvious parallels with the situation today facing Mr Trump, into whom there are now some 18 separate investigations ongoing alleging conspiracy with a foreign power to steal the 2016 election, misuse of campaign funds, obstruction of justice, money-laundering, tax fraud – and several (to put it mildly) violations of the constitution; notably the emoluments clause, in ignorance of which he continues to create any opportunity to enrich himself at the nation’s expense.
(It’s said that for his inauguration ceremonies, his Washington post-office hotel was charging foreign dignitaries $175,000 a night….)
We just haven’t quite got to the resignation speech yet.
Sadly, no Woodward and Bernstein today can contend with Mr Trump’s relentless campaign of character assassination against both the media and his own law-enforcement agencies, and his first-rate skills at blowing out dense clouds of purple smoke to distract the public attention whenever it looks like any further embarrassing revelations are about to emerge. He plays the media like a fiddle, as they say.
If the legion of investigative journalists and their many books and articles are to be believed, as no doubt they should be, mostly, Mr Trump is guilty of all those crimes and many more. But he is a master of evasion – and not just fiscally. The fingerprints have been wiped; finding the DNA, let alone a smoking gun, is taking the Special Counsel a frustratingly long time.
The Bezos affair is classic Trump.
For many years, Mr Trump’s friend, David Pecker, Editor-in-Chief of the salacious supermarket rag, The National Enquirer, had protected him by buying up as exclusives, any bad stories about him and then locking them away in a safe. It’s known in the yellow trade as ‘catch and kill’. Under guarantee of immunity, Mr Pecker has been spilling his guts to the FBI about it all, and specifically about the role played by Mr Trump’s personal bagman, Michael Cohen, shortly due to surrender himself to the prison authorities to start a three-year stretch.
Mr Trump’s vendetta against the Post appears to have extended recently to doing work on behalf of his Saudi paymasters. In his action against the Enquirer, that he has now launched alleging, among other things, blackmail, Mr Bezos’ lawyers are pointing to a special glossy supplement on Saudi Barbaria that Mr Pecker published last year, totally against the scandal sheet’s normal editorial policy, praising the repressive and atavistic desert regime to the skies.
For three months, despite the assessments of his own intel community and the views of Republican senators in Congress – even that egregious little Trumpsucker, Sen. Graham – Mr Trump has been assiduously creating doubt and uncertainty over the role of Saudi Crown Prince bin-Salman in the brutal assassination of critic, Jamal Khashoggi… a special contributor to, as it happens, the Washington Post.
And then in January, an exclusive story appeared in the Enquirer about Mr Bezos and an affair with a former TV anchor, Lauren Sanchez – a report based on hacked text messages. Mrs Bezos is duly divorcing him and a settlement somewhere in the mid-billions is eagerly anticipated by those who get excited by such important news.
Bezos immediately launched an investigation into how the Enquirer and its parent company, AMI, had gotten hold of the story. He claims that his attempts to find the source of the hacked material to determine whether it and other Enquirer pieces in recent months had been politically motivated had led to threats from AMI to expose even more intimate photos the couple had exchanged.
In other words, blackmail – and foolishly offered in an email for all to read.
Instead of cowing down and paying up, Bezos went public and published full details of everything in the Post. Even people who loathe Amazon and its rapacious business model have had to admit, that was brave. Bezos’ implied assertion was that the intelligence service must have been involved – which could mean only one thing: the order came from the Very Top.
Is petty blackmail something you’re really going to try with the “world’s richest man”, involved in a long-running feud with the political motivator himself, President Donald Trump?
The obvious inference, amply reinforced by that sickening tweet, its triumphal crowing utterly demeaning of the sacred office of the President of the United States, for now – a monstrous spoiled, whining, devious, self-exonerating 9-year-old brat, of squalid habits and early-onset dementia trapped in the lumbering body of a man who cheats at golf, as well as on his wives – is that this was Pecker’s way of saying sorry to his “friend”.
We doubt it’ll get him off the hook. Trump, eternally the made-for-TV mob boss, never forgets nor forgives.
Postscriptum: And in a small but intensely interesting sidelight on the Bezos affair, we have belatedly learned, the Daily Beast reported on 31 Jan. that Lauren Sanchez’ showbiz agent brother Michael is a known “business” associate of…. Roger Stone, another of Trump’s henchmen now under indictment, and has frequently tweeted political support for the President.
The question then becomes, has this whole affair been a honeytrap setup, the kind of exploit Mr Pecker’s safe is no doubt full of? Was any foreign agency involved in hacking Bezos/Sanchez’ texts and photos? Was this a politically motivated Kompromat operation against a hated enemy, that now threatens to blow up in the President’s curiously mottled orange face? (I’m wondering if it might be skin cancer?)
Sanchez and others, including AMI, the publisher of the Enquirer, are denying everything; the problem facing AMI group being that only last year they signed an agreement with the Mueller investigation that if they gave evidence against Michael Cohen they wouldn’t face prosecution – unless any further crime was committed within the next three years, in which case the FBI would throw the book at them.
So this is an existential matter for the publishers.
One further question remains. There being no fool like a staggeringly rich fool, may we ask: why oh why was Bezos, who is no longer 14 years old, stupid enough to post dick-pix to his girlfriend over social media?
(The Pumpkin has been itching to make this joke and so will risk it here: Why would anyone want to wake up to Bezos’ scrawny old head on the pillow? For a moment, they might wonder which way up he was sleeping… Sorry!)
Her justice rewards
Along with now-retired Senator Jeff Flake, “moderate” Senator Susan Collins from the moderate east coast lobster-fishing state of Maine was an outstanding holdout on the committee to confirm Trump-pick, Brett Kavanaugh as a job-for-life Supreme Court justice.
Kavanaugh, who allegedly assured Trump no sitting President could be indicted for crimes committed while in office. Kavanaugh, who dramatically defended himself against the sober testimony of women accusing him of gross improprieties while a college student.
Kavanaugh, whose emotionally overwrought self-defence was said by many witnesses never called to testify to have been a pack of lies; and who boasted of liking beer when the evidence suggested, he likes it a bit too much.
Kavanaugh, the subject of strong criticism from Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts; and of a warning letter to Congress, signed by over a thousand lawyers and professors of law who knew Kavanaugh’s record and judged it wanting.
Kavanaugh, who just last week fulfilled the dire warnings of the liberal establishment by recording a dissenting opinion in a Louisiana case, where the court ruled 5-4 to overturn a complicated new law that would have meant only one doctor being available in the entire state licensed to perform abortions.
In a dramatic turnround, however, when it came to the vote, Flake and Collins (see previous Posts) threw principle to the wind and voted with their fellow Retardicans to rubber-stamp Kavanaugh’s lifelong appointment to the court. The question remained: why?
Sen. Collins has now filed accounts, regarding her 2020 re-election campaign donations. To date, her PAC has benefited from $1.8 million dollars in funding. Since the day she changed her voting on Kavanaugh, a million dollars of that has been sent in from out-of-state donors, whom she does not even represent. (TYT/Ring of Fire, from Time Magazine reporting)
GW: Up and down on the great weather rollercoaster
World: “The start of 2019 has been marked by high impact weather in many parts of the world, including dangerous and extreme cold in North America, record heat, wildfires and rainfall in Australia, record temperatures and rainfall in parts of South America, and heavy snowfall in the Alps and Himalayas.
“Globally, temperatures were a little over 0.4°C warmer than the average January from 1981-2010.”
With an adjusted “realistic” baseline of 1750 AD (rather than NASA/IPCC’s 1951) when industrialization began; with allowances for ‘blank’ areas of the Arctic where no measurements were available, La Niña cooling, etc., and without even adding in potential feedbacks such as rapidly rising methane release, Arctic News’ “Sam Carana” (7 Feb.) estimates that global warming has already crossed the lower 1.5C “Paris” target. It was “1.73°C warmer than preindustrial in 2018. The (graph) also shows that it could become 1.85°C warmer in 2019.” Projections of the increase in global temperature cease by 2030 as 5C is considered terminal.
WMO – public.wmo.int/en/media/news/2019-starts-extreme-high-impact-weather
USA: “At least 1 person (later 2) has died in flash flooding in Tennessee (and Ohio) after a storm system (Lucian) brought record-breaking rain to the Nashville area. Nashville recorded 4 in./ 101.6mm of rain on 6 Feb. This breaks the daily rainfall record for 06 February, 1.73 in./ 43.94mm set in 1884. It also exceeds the normal monthly rainfall for February, which is 3.94 inches / 100 mm. (from Floodlist). Indiana University, Bloomington was underwater, 8 Feb, and there was flooding in Indianapolis. Rivers are still rising as the frontal system has stalled and continues to dump impressive amounts of rain at the boundary, bringing warm air over the midwest ahead of another polar deep-freeze. (From Wunderground)
Update from The Weather Channel: “Winter Storm Maya will bring another round of snow to the Pacific Northwest to start the weekend, just days after Winter Storm Lucian (23 dead) snarled travel in both Seattle and Portland, Oregon, and this will kick off yet another expansive wintry mess of snow and ice across the Plains, Midwest and East into next week.” – weather.com/safety/winter/news/2019-02-07-winter-storm-maya-seattle-portland-midwest-east-snow-ice-forecast?cm_ven=wu_videos?cm_ven=hp-slot-1 Monday 11 Feb, Accuweather reports, Seattle had another 10-in. of snow over the weekend, its worst February total in decades.
Hawaii: “An intense winter storm will approach Hawaii from the north this weekend—an unusual trajectory that could bring a variety of destructive impacts to the 50th State. The angle of approach will push very strong northwest to north winds across the islands. Extremely high surf (waves up to 60 ft!) can be expected, especially along north- and west-facing coastlines and harbors, where the National Weather Service is warning that coastal flooding could be “unprecedented.” (Wunderground)
S America: “At least 16 people have died in landslides in La Paz Department, Bolivia. Heavy rain from 2 Feb. caused landslides along the Yolosita-Caranavi highway in Caranavi Province, burying several vehicles. Local authorities said another 53 were injured.” (from Floodlist)
“Southern Argentina broke a number of high temperature records on 4 February. The temperature in Perito Moreno (Patagonia) reached 38.2°C. Northeast Argentina, and the adjacent parts of Uruguay and Brazil have been hit with extensive flooding, with well above the long-term expected average rainfall. On January 8, the Argentine city of Resistencia recorded 224mm rainfall. This is a new 24-hour rainfall record, much higher than the previous highest of 206mm recorded in January 1994.” (From World Meteorological Association global report.)
Indonesia: The death toll in floods in Sulawesi towards the end of January is reported to be in the dozens. (BBC News) Homes and roads were washed away.
New Zealand: “Strong winds are expected to fan forest fires that have been burning for a week through New Zealand’s South Island, forcing thousands of people from their homes. Early on Sunday, 155 firefighters were battling the blaze on the ground with air support from 23 helicopters and 3 fixed wing planes … The Pigeon Valley fire covers 2,300 hectares (5,700 acres).” (Guardian) – and may according to subsequent reports go on burning for “weeks”.
Australia: as record flooding in Queensland slowly abates, farmers who originally celebrated the end of a seven-year drought are left counting the cost, confronted by a landscape strewn with up to half a million dead cattle they have no way of disposing of, polluting waterways.
Europe: Snow melt and heavy rain caused rivers in Bosnia to overflow from 5 Feb. Bridges, roads, homes and farm land have been damaged. Temperatures rose from sub-zero last week to around 15C. Some areas also saw heavy rain.” (From Floodlist). “A very deep cyclone (Storm Erik – “quite windy” BBC) will affect the UK and Ireland on 8 and 9 Feb. It will produce storm to potentially hurricane force winds, and locally quite significant rainfall totals. This is a potentially dangerous system. (Update: 3 dead.) Winds gusting above 100 km/h are expected across much of Ireland, Scotland, southwest and north England and Wales.” The same front has brought damaging wind gusts up to hurricane-force 160k/h and unseasonally warm conditions again to Iceland. (Severe-weather.eu)
India: The “capital Delhi was hit by a strong hailstorm on Thursday, turning the city white and leaving people stunned and delighted. Pictures and videos posted on social media show cherry-sized ice balls and streets covered in white.” – Normally lethal air quality temporarily improving as a result. “Parts of northern India have experienced heavy snowfall over the past days”… leading to avalanche warnings. (From BBC Weather)
Yellowstone: continuous small earthquakes and ground uplift ongoing in the Lake area. The live webcam at Old Faithful geyser is still down. “Deep low-frequency earthquake” signatures are showing up in the seismograph record all over the park, a type associated with rising magma. (Mary Greeley)
The panic begins: “I don’t know what everyone else is doing but my wife and I are moving to our off grid home up near Algonquin park in northern Ontario. GL to everyone we wish you the best. We are prepared with food and supplies and weapons that I have stock piled now for the past 4 years. Thank you Mary for the heads up and we will continue to watch your program from our off grid site. Much love and respect from Canada.” – Comment post, Mary Greeley website.