Janus, the god of the gate looking in and looking out, might suit the passage made by former President Donald John Trump in relation to his appointing as his first campaign manager the world’s most notorious flack for dictators–and then or now–as his legal troubles mount beyond his managing–a lead lawyer for his team (for a short term) with a clientele in Venezuela.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the church received official privileges including the right to import duty-free alcohol and tobacco. In 1995, the Nikolo-Ugreshky Monastery, which is directly subordinated to the patriarchate, earned $350 million from the sale of alcohol. The patriarchate’s department of foreign church relations, which Kirill ran, earned $75 million from the sale of tobacco. But the patriarchate reported an annual budget in 1995-1996 of only $2 million. Kirill’s personal wealth was estimated by the Moscow News in 2006 to be $4 billion.
During this period, the church has been silent about genuine moral issues, such as Russia’s pervasive corruption and the indiscriminate killing of noncombatants in Chechnya. As Kirill begins his reign as patriarch, there is little reason to expect this to change.
In the Feudal-Medieval Mode, there is no potion as toxic as that which couples belief and piety in the common spirit with financial, martial, and political power in an aristocracy of thugs: only in still medieval Russia has Kleptocracy an Emperor and a most loyal (and enriched) Patriarch, both formerly KGB and therefore today criminal FSB.
As has become too much my habit, reference follows, and while I read all that I cite–and have read or perused all that I have cited, and this for age or martinis–little stays with me but principles. For Putin-Kirill as an Infernal Dyad, the two appear to share the deepest relationship in corruption, crime, fascism, malign narcissistic covering, persecution of minorities, especially the LGBTQ set, profit from “sin taxes” on alcohol and tobacco, and God (whose existence each seems to be disproving), only knows what else fills their pockets out of the shadows in which the two actors more authentically reside.
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unfolded, Patriarch Kirill I, the leader of the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church, had an awkward Zoom meeting with Pope Francis.
The two religious leaders had previously worked together to bridge a 1,000-year-old schism between the Christian churches of the East and West. But the meeting, in March, found them on opposing sides of a chasm. Kirill spent 20 minutes reading prepared remarks, echoing the arguments of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that the war in Ukraine was necessary to purge Nazis and oppose NATO expansion.
Either Donald Trump’s associates and followers aren’t readers, or at least not discerning ones, or they’re as greedy and lusting for power as he has been, or, rather like him, they’re equally damaged narcissists with Narcissistic Personality Disorder’s (NPD’s) standard “messianic delusions of grandeur”. Also, I suppose one might suggest that some have been compromised (and blackmailed) or leveraged for want of some aspiration or dream that the Don might make come true through his legion of intimidating and obfuscating lawyers.
Approach the followers (carefully) in any manner that suits, but “missing data” upstairs–alternatively brazen disinformation, innuendo, and rumor–would seem a part of that now benighted bought or weakening, small, and violent constellation of Americans too easily led astray.
America’s moderate Democrats and Republicans have turned against Donald Trump as a candidate for the 2024 elections and beyond as they have perceived his character issues as deep and lifelong, which they are, but what remains with avaricious associates, lesser politicians perhaps hooked on his indulgence with “endorsements” (kiss of death from the inside out for those with integrity) and funding, would seem a profound denial as regards not only the common wisdom but also wisdom questioned and repeatedly corroborated. What follows in addition to telling quotations is a short list of reference associated with the former American president’s autocratic, vicious, and unscrupulous character.
More than 18 months into his presidency, Donald Trump’s modus operandi – and the danger it represents – is clear. His working method is that of the mafia boss and gangland chieftain, daily wielding his power to settle scores, teach lessons and crush dissent. Anyone who’s seen The Sopranos will know the routine: the casual intimidation, the obsession with loyalty, the brutal ostracism meted out to those who dare defy the man at the top.
“My name is Carmine. I don’t know why you’re fucking with Mr. Trump but if you keep fucking with Mr. Trump, we know where you live and we’re going to your house for your wife and kids,” the caller said, according to the account that the attorney, Kristopher Hansen, gave to the Holmdel police department in New Jersey. Hansen speculated that the caller was Trump’s bodyguard.
Many of those who bought the condos, it turns out, did so not to live there but allegedly to launder illicit money – Russian gangster money, drug cartel money, people-smuggling money.
A joint Reuters-NBC News investigation published on Friday alongside a report by the non-profit Global Witness said the skyscraper with Trump’s name had ties to international organised crime.
The reports detailed how the future president gave the project to his daughter Ivanka as a “baby” effort to gain real estate experience, and said it ended up drawing a cast of characters accused of fraud, corruption and kidnapping.
The meeting came just days after Kilimnik met in Moscow with Oleg Deripaska, a powerful oligarch and close ally of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Deripaska had been a major client of Manafort but had sued him over a failed business deal in Ukraine and was seeking to recoup almost $25m.
The Trump administration announced late last year it intended to lift sanctions on Deripaska’s companies, despite strong opposition from Democrats and some Republicans in Congress. The treasury department had imposed the sanctions on Deripaska and several of his companies in tandem with seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies they owned or controlled, and 17 Russian government officials, for “malign activity” which included “attempting to subvert western democracies, and malicious cyber-activities”.
I’ve added to the above reference section articles published before the publication date of this post, Oct. 10, 2022, but thought here to add #DJT pieces bearing down on about the same themes involving the former American President, foremost treason abetted by questionable character and an altogether malign narcissistic psychology.
I know this blog seldom presents first-hand (primary) reporting and that the reference lists I create (drudgery!) hardly represent “writing”, but having gone to the very minor bother of looking up and thinking up names as well as coming up with related articles, what’s an old blogger to do?
Chris Zillizza’s piece for The Point (July 21, 2021) provided some helpful reminders, but I didn’t simply copy and list for not recognizing the names Tom Barrack or Elliott Broidy. I’ve added reference for each. I was also sorry about having to list Michael Cohen in the gallery of rogues although as Trump’s fixer I’m sure he was no picnic either. Nonetheless, as an instantly transformed witness and apparently recovered Trump goon, mention feels like throwing a perfectly good carrot back into a festering stew of rotten vegetables.
If the “festering stew” of Don’s rogues were to take hold and one were to ask about the gelatinous substance holding all of them in the same pot, there might be just the two ingredients: greed and a most American vainglory that would bring all back to the here familiar “Malignant Narcissism“.
I’ve remained loose with BackChannels as regards discipline and style . . . perhaps it’s been an old hippy’s blog…. Nonetheless, the entries are alpha but from time tot time I present one or two (or more) as a quotation with reference. Among the enduring themes to be associated with Donald John Trump in history will be those pertaining to character, criminality, errant political psychology, integrity, loyalty, and trust both in relation to himself and in relation to his country and America’s national character.
Defendants PAUL J. MANAFORT, JR., (MANAFORT) and RICHARD W. GATES Ill (GA TES) served for years as political consultants and lobbyist’i. Between at least 2006 and 2015,MANAFORT and GATES acted as unregistered agents of the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions (a Ukrainian political party whose leader Victor Yanukovych was President from 2010 to 2014), Yanukovych, and the Opposition Bloc (a successor to the Party of Regions that formed in 2014 when Yanukovych fled to Russia). MANAFORT and GATES generated tens of millions of dollars in income as a result of their Ukraine work. 111 order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT and GATES laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts.
Nader has had several run-ins with the law over the years related to sexual abuse of children. He was convicted in the 1990s of transporting child pornography publications, and imprisoned in 2003 for sexually abusing ten boys in the Czech Republic. He pleaded guilty in early 2020 to flying a 14-year-old boy from Europe to the US for sex, and transporting pornography depicting child sexual abuse and bestiality.
From the Awesome Conversation, a comment on greed in America and American domestic and foreign policy —
Greed can and will kill the credibility and promise of the USA if the constituency abandons its Constitutional, ethical, and moral obligations and principles. The state will either evolve forward toward greater achievement and enlightenment or it will simply fall backward to the repeated of lost eras more delightful, if that, in memory then tenable in reality.
Bonbons or bon mots, what do with a nice ring than put it up on the web for a few to contemplate momentarily.
Gecko’s “Greed is good!” speech from the Wall Street film provided the prompt for the response (“FTAC” on this blog) — and the response is true: the three “superpowers”, lumbering sumo that each may be, have each autocrats for chiefs. One appears to seek the renewal of dynasty and empire; another appreciates the glory and grandeur of more vicious imperial days; and the last appears to believe that money is existence and existence money, and that is all we know and all we need to know.
Compared to futurists, science fiction writers, and the advanced of 21st Century political and religious philosophers (well, maybe Thomas Berry), they’re kind of dumb and looking that way even cushioned by muscle and planted in luxury.
How much is enough? Enough to make us feel secure and happy. How much is too much? So much that the more we have of it, the less it fills our own wells made empty by the sense of our own shortcomings and related psychological and spiritual bankruptcy and exhaustion. More than enough becomes never enough.
Two days ago on the web, BackChannels listened to the pleas of a young man in Morocco for relief from lowest-wage labor and daily uncertain employment ($7 per day if it could be found) and exposure to illness and injury and related distress without access to local basic health services. The acquaintance told the story of friends, two among five who for sleep shared a room in a house. One had been stricken with severe stomach pain and the other with a leg injured in a fall, and there followed the story of getting to a hospital, being initially refused emergency care, and persisting in insisting on being seen.
Being seen — eventually the two were, the one with the leg injury being sent home, and the other with severe stomach pain remained in the hospital.
Being made visible – that’s why this post is here.
With online research, it doesn’t take long to connect the absence of simple human decency in the distribution of Moroccan health care in its public facet to the social cancer of pervasive corruption. In fact, corruption appears to BackChannels the chief impediment to the firm establishment and distribution of basic medical services in the state.
There appears in numerous reports the petite corruption of patients bribing the doctors to rush the que.
However, of greater concern may be the business to privileged business way of doing business, i.e., what is referred to as institutional or “grand corruption”, and that appears suppressed: nonetheless, one picks up from the literature notes associated with bribery, nepotism, profiteering, skimming, and stealing — all the many possibilities available to the feudal and ruthless.
Who diverted money budgeted for facilities maintenance and how was it really spent?
Who took the medicine or failed to protect it in storage?
Equipment or medicine damaged or stolen would seem the same thing — i.e., useless — to doctors and their patients.
Where is the money going?
Who is getting it?
What are they doing with it?
BackChannels has no idea although reading Gulain P. Denoeux’s 1999 or 2000 report may raise awareness of the tension between a feudal systems of absolute power — and lenience and patronage — and a modern rule-of-law system engaged in independent investigation, administrative and judicial oversight, and associated regulation with corrective measures and penalties specified.
This blogger’s impression, which could change with the next reference piece, is that both external forces and internal pressures have made corruption a major theme in Moroccan governance, and while related policies and laws have been developed to address issues, they have yet to be vigorously implemented by King Mohammed VI who needs must balance the legacy relationships of powerful families and institutions in situ with the state and its quest for a political modernity that cares for, enfranchises, and empowers a broadening swath of the less visible Moroccan population.
In the manner of kings, Mohammed VI this past summer shifted culpability for the death of a fishmonger trying to recover a swordfish — caught out of season — from the garbage truck (in which police had by implication thrown it) to local political authority while pressuring the same to do their work:
“If the King of Morocco is not convinced by the way political activity is conducted and if he does not trust a number of politicians, what are the citizens left with?” Mohammed VI said during a televised speech commemorating the 18th anniversary of his ascension to the throne.
“To all those concerned I say: ‘Enough is enough!’ Fear God in what you are perpetrating against your homeland. Either carry out your duties fully or withdraw from public life.”
Often in the feudal mode, appearance may be made to suffice for performance.
In the modern world, that’s not enough: the conditions of things, the states of affairs come out in open observation and statistics, and today that observation is global.
To get public health distributed as needed — as deserved and as befits the humanity and image of the state — Morocco needs greater economic development supported by rule of law and capable of sustaining revenues within the state and seeing a greater part of that confidently distributed in the public interest.
One may paint the hospital’s new oncology wing to avoid a king’s ire while also making him look good, but one may not paint over the misery of suffering alone in pain and uncertainty without recourse to accessible basic clinic services staffed by personnel educated and trained for the purpose.
It was a makeover fit for a king, Mohammed VI, whose visit, to inaugurate a new oncology wing, was later broadcast on national television. But it did not do much to mask the reality of health care in Morocco, where even Health Minister Houssaine Louardi has conceded that standards of care for the country’s 33 million people are far from adequate.
Public hospitals are decrepit and lack doctors, equipment and medicine, and fewer than 30 percent of Moroccans have health insurance coverage.
A broadly worded article in the Moroccan penal code criminalizes receiving support from foreign organizations with the purpose of “harming the integrity, sovereignty or independence of the Kingdom, or shaking the loyalty that citizens owe to the state.” This article can be used to penalize a wide range of legitimate forms of expression and association and to curtail the right of Moroccan civil society to seek funding freely as guaranteed by the international human rights conventions to which Morocco is party
Blocked pipes, mouldy walls, wet blankets and a shortage of supplies: this is what users of Morocco’s public health system have to deal with. Dozens of photos published on Facebook have shed light on the grime reality of the country’s public hospitals. According to our Observer, it reveals a disastrous state of affairs that the government’s privatisation plan won’t be able to fix.
The Suharto regime allows no space for a democratic opposition to emerge. So what the pro-democracy, pro-clean-government forces are relying on is not a revolution from below, not a revolution from above, but a revolution from beyond.
Their strategy is to do everything they can to integrate Indonesia into the global economy on the conviction that the more Indonesia is tied into the global system, the more its government will be exposed to the rules, standards, laws, pressures, scrutiny and regulations of global institutions, and the less arbitrary, corrupt and autocratic it will be able to be.
Corruption represents a problem for businesses in Morocco. Almost all sectors suffer from rampant corruption. Cultures of patronage, nepotism and wasta (the use of connections) exist, and inefficient government bureaucracy and excessive red tape deter investors. The legal framework concerning corruption, transparency and integrity is in place, and the regulatory system is becoming increasingly transparent. Under the Moroccan Criminal Code, active and passive bribery, extortion, influence peddling and abuse of office are illegal. Anti-corruption laws are reportedly not enforced effectively by the government. Prosecutions of corruption cases have been accused of targeting only petty corruption, and, allegedly, companies owned by highly influential persons are rarely disciplined. Facilitation payments and giving and receiving gifts are criminalized under Moroccan law, but businesses indicate the likelihood of encountering these practices is high.
The report goes on to comment on Morocco’s judicial system, police, public services, land administration, tax administration, customs administration, public procurement, natural resources, legislation, and civil society.
What are Morocco’s expectations for the 6th session of the UNCAC Conference of States Parties (COSP)?
It’s a UN process. All UN processes are slow because you need consensus and you cannot force governments to agree to anything. Still it’s worth noting that more and more countries accept evaluation, country visits, publication of full review reports. It’s less and less comfortable for the countries that oppose transparency. Morocco will work to help to make progress in the review process at the next COSP session, although I remain sceptical about reaching quick achievements
What is Morocco’s position on holding a discussion of grand corruption at the UNCAC Conference of States Parties (COSP)?
I think the UNCAC COSP can discuss grand corruption. Transparency International should elaborate instruments for this. The Corruption Perceptions Index is biased towards petty corruption—it does not point out grand corruption or institutionalised corruption.
Official Russia today has something greater today than a Navalny issue as regards whatever pretenses to moral clarity and virtue it may have sustained despite the barbarism displayed in Syria and poker-faced dishonesty exhibited throughout the ordeal it has imposed on Ukraine. The Russian State has been hammered for years by capital flight, reduced oil revenues, and reliance on rule-of-law western banking for what it has left of its diminishing cash reserves (and for the “oligarchs” pricey western real estate for parking wealth).
As the truth comes out (and perhaps gets passed around at light speed), the centralized control of information also may be lost to the greater efforts of the less greed ridden and more tenacious and virtuous of the world.
If you’re reading this post . . . that could be you.
However — wait just a minute — what happens where the wealthy, and by whatever means, control the whole of the state far at the expense of those not in the club?
At this time — and as the above video has been viewed more than seven million times — BackChannels may suggest the official response might be a giant narcissistic shrug on the part of the Powers of the State — a big . . . so what?
We’re not through the elections yet, but when we are, we’ll have been treated to possibly the slimiest mud fest in American election history. As much cannot be what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they set out the lofty ideals on which we have thrived. With that said, a look back at the Civil War, which reminders are all around my neighborhood, tells that we’re a rough people and we make deals behind closed doors — or perhaps over drinks — for both private and public purpose.
In retrospect, how should one feel about the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the “black budgeted” “Charlie Wilson’s War” developed to enable the indigenous of the region to halt and eject Russia’s military advance?
Rather than take a strong partisan position — especially with this election! — I’ve chosen observation from the sidelines. Clearly, Moscow has renewed Russia’s identification as a “mafia state” or centralized “security state” — a state run by secret police. And then one looks at Moscow’s shaping of the Syrian Conflict and what it has done to that state and, possibly, how it has used terrorism to create unstable conditions in our own politics (Brown vs Red-Green x large portions of the Republican and Democratic Parties’ makeup respectively).
Is today’s Moscow the same as that with which we encouraged cooperation 25 years ago?
I don’t think it is.
The more recent “Trump-Manafort-Yanukovych-Putin” arc in relationship has bothered me more than the much earlier “Uranium One” deal, but with both, too much in the way of mixed personal and business and political behaviors seems indeed disheartening.
My fellow Americans — and those just visiting from elsewhere — the system may be broken and corrupt, and we can’t fix it right away. However, we know the difference between bunkum and plain good responsible and responsive government — so God help us should we ever have another election season like the one that will be over (and God willing on that too) in two days.