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b_b  ·  151 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Paul Manafort Convicted in Fraud Trial

$4 million in income that he didn't pay tax on apparently. It's hilarious that these morons, manafort included, never seem to want to pay taxes, even though (a) they would still have a lot of money and (b) they wouldn't go to jail. Is it like part of some special club whose roles are that you can't pay taxes to be a part of it? Good I hope the president hours down for tax evasion, too. Nothing, not even Trump rotting in jail, would make me happier than to see him poor.

kleinbl00  ·  150 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Remind me - do you have an accountant do your taxes?

I do. Have done since 2007. At one point my wife and I had three businesses in two states. Shit gets complicated. And maybe it's because I'm in the entertainment industry, but the basic game of accountants is "we're going to save you every fucking nickel."

I've been through five accountants. The first one I shared with Hans Zimmer. His entire client list got audited because he was doing shit like not declaring foreign holdings. Except me. Apparently I was two poor. The second one had a death in the family and took two years to do one return. The third saddled us with the three businesses in two states (all of which needed to pay taxes). The fourth quit to take care of her kid. ALL of them were about dancing.

Buddy of mine will tell his accountants to be more aggressive. He's been audited three times. Because, as he says, "the worst they can do is make you pay the money you owe." It's a game: how much can you keep? How creative can you be? How many laws can you bend?

The odds of you ending up indicted are infinitesimal. That is, unless you're fronting for Mafiya oligarchs. Then your history of game-playing suddenly hits a new level.

People forget: the Mondale/Ferraro ticket was marred by Geraldine Ferraro hiring a housekeeper without checking her goddamn citizenship papers. In 1979. Shit that people treat as commonplace becomes ZOMG SCANDAL once it's useful.

That doesn't mean Cohen skating on $4m in taxes isn't a crime. But it does mean that we'd never know about it and he'd never pay any consequences if his boss wasn't president.

Every time this stuff comes out it makes me think more and more that Stone must be cooperating with Mueller clandestinely. He's so obviously crooked. Mueller must have come to him more than a year ago to get the goods on everyone else. I wonder if these indictments were dropped because the manafort trial is starting soon, so they'll need to unmask some deep sources to call as witnesses.

am_Unition  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Re: The Timing, perhaps, but I also think this announcement three days before the Prump/Tutin summit in Helsinki was quite intentional.

And apparently there were inklings of this post's headline over a year ago: How Alleged Russian Hacker Teamed Up With Florida GOP Operative

tacocat  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This has been hinted at for months. When I heard it again today I wondered if this wasn't timed purposefully to provide plausible deniability for Trump. Make a public statement using a known grandstander on the day you plan to attack. It's just enough space to create doubt.

I'm definitely not a fine legal mind so I have no doubt this raised suspicion with Mueller and his team. You have to look for the intent of the people handling Trump and they were by all accounts running a campaign based on the assumption of a loss. This creates a wide net that's going to take down plenty of people who are stupid enough to fight the investigation. Hopefully many top tier people still in government. I have a higher level of faith in some random dude I'd never heard of a year or two ago than I do in the brokenness of American democracy. What I'm really dreading is whatever backlash this causes

ButterflyEffect  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Do you think the Manafort trial is where we'll see the house of cards start to fall?

b_b  ·  190 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Depends on two key questions:

(1) will manafort cut a last minute deal?

(2) will Trump pardon him?

Either could easily happen, and I sort of expect that (2) is more likely. If neither of those things happens we'll see some really weird shit though, because evidence at trial has to come through witnesses. There isn't any other way.

The real shame would be if the judge let the trial proceed in secret because of national security or some bullshit.

Depends on two key questions:

(1) will manafort cut a last minute deal?

(2) will Trump pardon him?

Either could easily happen, and I sort of expect that (2) is more likely. If neither of those things happens we'll see some really weird shit though, because evidence at trial has to come through witnesses. There isn't any other way.

The real shame would be if the judge let the trial proceed in secret because of national security or some bullshit.

This is essentially the theory put forth by Luke Harding in the book Collusion that came out last year, which I'm surprised isn't referenced here. The $100,000 newspaper ad is one of the key pieces of evidence in this line of reasoning. The other side may be that Trump is so stupid and easily manipulated that he was just parroting what he heard in the USSR to sound politically astute. Maybe it's my hate speaking, but I think the evidence points more to the former than the latter, because there's only one way to connect all the disparate dots we've seen in the last couple years. I would highly recommend everyone to listen to Preet Bharara's recent interview with Bill Browder to get some insight into Putin's MO. (Bill Browder is the hedge fund manager who hired Sergei Magnitsky to represent him. Magnitsky was tortured to death in a series of Russian prisons for the sin of trying to expose some officials who stole $250,000,000 from the Russian treasury, and for whom the Magnitsky act, which was the subject of the Trump Tower meeting and which Trump has tried to get Congress to repeal, is named.)

kleinbl00  ·  194 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Something the article doesn't discuss is that Trump may not know he's a Russian asset, not the way Manafort probably does. He's a vain and shallow man for whom self-image is tantamount and the idea that he is in some way subservient to a greater power likely never crosses his mind. Any decent handler would work within the confines of the problem and get precisely the behavior they want.

Soviet construction was a big deal in '87. That's about when the whole American Embassy thing came to a head. The KGB's interest in Trump may have been limited to "this guy builds commercial real estate in New York, let's see if he ever comes in handy as a patsy for properties around the UN building where we can get KGB work crews on board."

Meanwhile, Trump in a hotel room doing pervy shit deliberately walked in on by a maid and then reassured by a "It's a good thing this happened in Russia, where you have friends" from a handler would give Trump to the Soviet intelligence apparatus for a decade or more.

It's also worth pointing out that Putin was plucked out of relative obscurity to be an attache and confident of Boris Yeltsin, the one guy who could have handed Russia over to democracy. Putin befriended him and became the "who the hell is this guy" Prime Minister - odds are good that the KGB surrounded Yeltsin with a bunch of reliable operatives and Putin was the one Yeltsin bonded with.

If you want to see how the FSB runs Trump, you need only watch to see how the FSB ran Yeltsin.

b_b  ·  220 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 13, 2018

I have nothing to add but a sigh of sympathy. At least the lack of alcohol meant you could drive home!

Serious question, not making fun. What's with evangelicals and alcohol? Jesus's first miracle was the whole water-into-wine thing at a wedding, because the people wanted to get drunker. Why isn't this taken as a mandate that drinking (at least to celebrate) is ok? Never understood that one. Would love to hear a reformed Christian shed some light, if any of you would care to.

user-inactivated  ·  220 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Neither Christian nor a Historian, but from what I understand the view is quite modern and has roots in American Temperance. Back then, alcohol was seen as both the result and the cause of social ills much like crack cocaine was viewed in the '70s-'90s and opioids are viewed today. It was a social reaction and since the churches were a major cornerstone of society, they were influenced just as much by the reaction as they were able to influence it.

I recommend perusing the wikipedia article, because I very well may be wrong.

As an aside, I once had the chance to purchase a temperance era book full of morality tales. They were stories such as "Jacob was prone to drinking. One night, he commited murder" and "Susan was a lush with loose morals, five kids, and no man will marry her." It was interesting, but ultimately, I didn't feel like it fit in well with my book collection.

PTR  ·  220 days ago  ·  link  ·  


Thomas Welch (the original pioneer of pasteurized grapes) was involved in the Temperance Movement and started producing Welch's grape juice as an alternative to wine.

tacocat  ·  220 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't know that you're wrong but temperance was part of first wave feminism. Women's groups were blaming alcohol for domestic violence.

Very sorry to read about this. Brain injuries are horrible. I spend basically every waking hour that isn't spent taking care of my kid or playing/watching hockey thinking about brain injuries and stroke (well, minus Hubski time). We're developing a drug (that aids recovery) that I hope will be in early phase clinical trials by 2021. I know that's not very comforting for you, but hope is on the horizon.

It's fascinating that your capacity for empathy increased after your injury. This is fairly abnormal for many people. I've known a number of people who have lost their ability to really interact emotionally after their injury in the same way they could before. Not to say you're one of the lucky ones--obviously nothing good about having a subdural hematoma, but I'm just commenting on how mysterious the brain is. One of the frustrating thins about TBI drug development is that recovery is so hard to quantify, due to the range of symptoms people who seemingly have similar injuries can present with, literally anything from face blindness to hearing phantom noises to headaches to increased empathy (I admit I've never come across that one!).

user-inactivated  ·  288 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Maybe empathy is not the right word. Whatever it is is the result of heightened emotions. I try to not worry about it too much and remind myself constantly that I'm actually very lucky, because I live in a relatively stable environment and am surrounded by supportive people. The best advice I've gotten, that's helped, is that I just need to familiarize myself with myself and with that comes control.

It's exciting to hear what you're working on though, in hopes that it will help people down the road. It's probably not the easiest job, but it's good to know there are people out there trying to tackle the problem. It's also good to see over the years the heightened public discourse on brain injuries and how they can affect people. Maybe it'll encourage some to make healthier decisions and take less risks.

b_b  ·  319 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Four Most Likely Outcomes of the Mueller Investigation

Highlighting without further comment:

    Republicans in Congress...are unlikely candidates to decide that laundering money for Kazakh gangsters is the crime that should push Trump out of office.
b_b  ·  375 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "The Decline of Anti-Trumpism" or "My pearls: let me clutch them" by David Brooks

Like with all things Brooks, he kind of has a point and then kind of misses his own point entirely.

For example:

    In every war, nations come to resemble their enemies...

Agreed. You and I were talking about the US/UK targeting civilians just the other day. But they did it in response to the Nazis. One could construct an argument that not targeting civilians would actually be more immoral, because Nazis and Japanese needed to know that there was a cost to doing business that way. But, Brooks being Brooks, he goes on to say:

    Or, are we going to restore the distinction between excellence and mediocrity, truth and a lie? Are we going to insist on the difference between a genuine expert and an ill-informed blow hard? Are we going to restore the distinction between those institutions like the Congressional Budget Office that operate by professional standards and speak with legitimate authority, and the propaganda mills that don’t?

Yes, dipshit. That's exactly what the fuck we're doing. The moral outrage on Twitter can be numbing, but it's normally stuff like "OMG look the administration is taking away health care from children so they can give tax breaks to billionaires, even though they're saying the opposite." The entire anti-Trump movement is about restoring truth to the world. Policy be damned at this point; let's settle for a hint of honesty.

What he's doing here, even though he doesn't realize it, it false equivalence, and that's the whole fucking problem to begin with. Fox has created a world in which it's patently ok to be patently false. The rest of the media are always playing catch up by constantly refuting their lies. Even refuting a lie is engaging with its veracity, and that is a win for the liar. We need some bomb throwing, and I, for one, am ok with some of the casualties that are inevitable.

kleinbl00  ·  375 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I think he finds all this discussion of cheeseburgers and profanity to be distasteful. I think if C-3PO were to become a real boy he'd be David Brooks.

b_b  ·  381 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: In other news, NYMag summarizes the Wolff book *without* focusing on Bannon.

Tons on journalists on Twitter ripping Wolff's work apart with things like, "A 500 word quote from a conversation between Bannon and Ailes? Get real." "Wow, everyone is quick to believe a known bullshitter when it's politically convenient." And so on. Not sure what to make of all that. I don't know much of anything about Wolff, but it would seem pretty goddam irresponsible to just make shit up to sell books (yes, I get the irony that that's what Art of the Deal is). I have to believe that the majority of this is solid, because it fits so damn well with just about everything that's known about Trump. It's not exactly out of left field, even if Trump comes off as possibly even dumber than we imagine him to be. Everyone thought Trump was just doing a media tour. It's not really far fetched to talk to people close to him who now admit the same thing, even if some of the details are not verbatim.

kleinbl00  ·  381 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Tons on journalists on Twitter ripping Wolff's work apart with things like, "A 500 word quote from a conversation between Bannon and Ailes? Get real." "Wow, everyone is quick to believe a known bullshitter when it's politically convenient."

They lack vision. That's okay, they're journalists evaluating the work as a piece of journalism.

It's so much more than that.

    That year, he also wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News, based on more than 50 hours of conversation with Murdoch, and extensive access to his business associates and his family.

    In the 1990s, Bannon ventured into the entertainment and media industry. He became an executive producer in the Hollywood film and media industry. Bannon produced 18 films, from the 1991 Sean Penn drama The Indian Runner to Julie Taymor's 1999 film Titus. Bannon became a partner with entertainment industry executive Jeff Kwatinetz at film and television management company The Firm, Inc. 2002–2003.

    In 2004, Bannon made a documentary about Ronald Reagan titled In the Face of Evil. Through the making and screening of this film, Bannon was introduced to Reagan's War author Peter Schweizer and publisher Andrew Breitbart, who would later describe him as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Tea Party movement.

This isn't a news story, this is a narrative.

    In a 2004 cover story for The New Republic, Michelle Cottle wrote that Wolff was "uninterested in the working press," preferring to focus on "the power players—the moguls" and was "fixated on culture, style, buzz, and money, money, money." She also noted that "the scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created—springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events." Calling his writing "a whirlwind of flourishes and tangents and asides that often stray so far from the central point that you begin to wonder whether there is a central point."


    Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

    Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

(The Guardian)

    The Columbia Journalism Review criticized Wolff in 2010 when he suggested that The New York Times was aggressively covering the breaking News International phone hacking scandal as a way of attacking News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch.



This is Steve Bannon and Rupert Murdoch controlling the narrative. We've been looking for a sign where the establishment Republicans say "okay, enough's enough, out of the pool" and my estimation is this is Rupert Murdoch's play.

Most of the crazy shit is pretty much Steve Bannon's point of view - he saw this, Jared said that. The inside access of the article is pretty clearly Steve Bannon's. Steve Bannon, for his part, has no incentive to tell the truth and Wolff has no incentive to ask "Steve, are you lying right now?"

It doesn't have to be true. It has to be true enough. More importantly, it has to be evocative.

    Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, “We’ll figure it out.”

    “What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.

This is signaling at its finest: the Trump administration is no longer useful to anyone but the Trump administration. Fox and Friends will continue to semaphore to its most important viewer but Shepard Smith still has a job. Brietbart is biting the hand that feeds.

This could very well be the Brutus moment. Rather than anklebiting and nipping at the heels, this might signal the beginning of the feeding frenzy.

b_b  ·  381 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Trump Tower meeting with Russians 'treasonous', Steve Bannon says in explosive book

Now Matt Drudge is taking pot shots at him. It's entirely unsurprising and yet entirely entertaining to watch them eat their own. The Bannon strategy is the political equivalent of "targeting civilians".

kleinbl00  ·  381 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Bannon's a Berzerker, not a Republican. he's just here to kill English.

b_b  ·  449 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: CANADA BANS SOYLENT

Lol. I bet the addition of a Super Size soda to your Double Quarter Pounder and fries averages the meal out so that less than 35% of calories are from fat, so it's healthy. You better drink two just to be safe though.

b_b  ·  487 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech

The thing that WaPo knows is that this type of headline will spark rage shares on Facebook from the left and right, and that the sweet sound of all the clicks will drown out the screams of their conscience. Silence those lambs, Jeff.

I have a fantasy that Mueller will indict Zuckerberg for collusion with the Russians, and that he will get the shit beat out of him in jail.

kleinbl00  ·  487 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I am now officially subscribed to this fantasy.

b_b  ·  487 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Maybe if we all clap our hands...

b_b  ·  488 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Shkreli's voir dire

    And he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.
nowaypablo  ·  488 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Can't nobody in their right mind be an impartial juror for a man who disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.

tacocat  ·  592 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you. I needed to laugh

b_b  ·  592 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Can't you imagine some hack screenwriter pitching a story about villain who steals money from children's cancer research getting laughed out of the room? Yet this is reality, a horribly written caricature of a movie bad guy.

b_b  ·  613 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Should I take the job?

Anyone who is mad that you missed their wedding to pursue a potentially life changing career opportunity is someone whose wedding you'd want to miss anyhow.

There's nothing inherently selfish in pursuing goals, even in the case when it means that you have to sacrifice some previously planned activities that are meaningful to you. The virtue of sacrificing your own interests for the sake of relatively meaningless social engagements is non-existent. I would argue the virtue exists much more in sacrificing for the pursuit of that which is meaningful to you. A well-written and sincere card can allay any negativity between you and your friend.