This post offers in my compressed and distilled style the keys to Russia’s redevelopment as a “mafia state” through the three decades between 1992 and 2022.
“Educate, entertain, and delight” said Aristotle of the purposes of rhetoric, and while I have strove to do that, there is with, well, everything all at once, a lot to unpack–but it’s still good to have the dots and keys arranged, connected, in good order, ready, and available.
I have spent more time posting the above links–or similar in essence–than I have with reading and writing–and that only to be buried beneath the pile no matter what. At the same time, I believe it important to analyze and frame issues accurately, concisely, honestly, and with precision for an American public that has been assaulted by partisan spin and Russian “Active Measures”, efforts intended to destroy our cultural, political, and social coherence as an extraordinary secular democratic republic with a Christian majority and the world’s broadest imaginable and inclusive multicultural assembly in one nation.
Perhaps #ModernAmericans are struggling to become Americans without qualifying adjectives and an increasingly archaic and multi-hyphenated host of identity-related reservations.
To boost notice, of course, I’ve tried to adopt or invent hash tags that signal attitude, statement, and theme at once.
Broadest Frame: #MedievalVModern.
Best discriminator: #ModernAmericans, of course.
Most at risk today: #AmericanCharacterAndIntegrity.
and so it goes.
We may have our own #MafiaState given our indulgences in pleasures / sins that have perhaps too often the hands of the criminal and ruthless in them. We certainly have in our politics the kind of #MaligNarcs and #PolitCrims who preach the virtues while profiting nicely from less virtuous spending.
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.
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.
On January 24, 2020, the Foreign Agents Registration Act unit of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice received from Christopher M. Kise, now the lawyer representing Donald John Trump in his defense in relation to the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s holding documents stamped as Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information (TS/SCI), FARA registration #6787. In the form, Kise had listed as his principle Reinaldo Munoz Pedroza, the Attorney General of Venezuela appointed by the dictator Nicolas Maduro. At that time, Pedrozo had been sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for undermining democracy in Venezuela and related election interference.
News of Kise’s registration as a foreign agent broke two days ago, and as interesting as that may be, the development of public and official interest in both the Conflict of Interest implied and the breathtaking scope of potential national security compromises–all those boxes of TS/SCI data!–appears slow. However, this by Ben Meiselas showed up on YouTube this morning:
For Trump’s base, the idea of achieving patriotic honor in association with his support appears belied and eroded by not only the former president’s authoritarian, belligerent, and obstreperous character but his connections–and one step removed is not far enough–to the tools, literally, so it would seem in the case of Mr. Kise, of at least one dictatorship. While it would seem fair for President (for Life) Maduro to have representation in the United States, the same would seem more than heinous for Trump to share with him the same lawyer.
Should the Kise-Trump story take down almost-candidate-(again) Trump, it would make a nice bookend for Trump’s first big yellow caution flag: Paul Manafort.
To make sense of the president’s pardon of Paul Manafort, it helps to understand the man Trump selected to run his 2016 campaign. On one hand, it seems inconceivable that an American presidential candidate would choose as his campaign manager someone whose last job was political strategist to a dictator in Ukraine who had recently been overthrown in a popular revolution. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. Paul Manafort made a fortune helping tyrants and would-be tyrants appear legitimate. He was the ultimate symbol of the corruption of democratic political systems. His evolution from establishment wonderkid to handmaiden to dictators is a story of how corruption perverts democracies.
With his latest hire in lawyers, Trump has only confirmed what all Americans, much including his base, must now see, i.e., the darkest of fallen real princes by contemporary business and class standards, a man who cannot keep himself separate from America’s enemies, Russian criminals, and assorted (other) dictators.
Note: since publishing this post, Trump has been reported as removing Christopher M. Kise from the leading role in Trump’s defense before related Federal investigation:
Kise is expected to remain on Trump’s legal team but is not leading the work related to the federal government’s investigation into how the former President handled 11,000 documents seized from his Florida home in August following a lengthy effort by the government to retrieve them. The reason for the shift in Kise’s role remains unclear and he may instead focus his efforts on the other investigations Trump is facing, which range from his business practices to the January 6 insurrection.
Feb 16 (Reuters) – A lawyer for former President Donald Trump retained an attorney to represent himself as prosecutors step up their inquiry into the handling of sensitive documents at Trump’s Florida residence, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
Evan Corcoran, who has represented Trump in interactions with the government over presidential records taken to his Mar-a-Lago resort, has turned to Michael Levy, a prominent white-collar lawyer in Washington, according to people familiar with the matter.
Of course, everyone enjoys the money! So better here in America — or with an American, albeit not a very good one as stood beside American ideals and rule of law — than elsewhere and someone else. I’ve been shrugging away these themes for a while for being too large for any one person to address and seek to ameliorate. Those involved are the wealthy of the world, and no matter how they made their money, they’re powerful. 😦
Narcissistic leaders want to create, sustain, and leave for prosperity their own great image; they also want to remain in power without price, and for that, some, as dictators do, become as if forces of nature, heartless, unstoppable, ruthless.
Associated with the Conversation
We had been chatyping about DJT, the inferential references to corruption, money laundering, and Russian connections came to mind, so one look-see on the web and a five minutes later I had a starting overview on that subject, which is here listed below (with additions).
True take: free-wheeling American real estate business rides on ambition, caveat emptor, and wealth with the freedom of the seller’s not having to look too closely at The Money, which is in the end and for everyone involved and beyond . . . just money — but oh such a lot of money!
Call corruption the “Cancer of States” and consider that behind “dirty money”, however laundered, lays not only the wreckage of families, government, and lives but an intense leveraging of business and political power. The term “too big to fail” comes to mind, for the measurement of occult wealth, i.e., the contribution of illegal (at worst) and questionable (at best) “fund raising” seems to me an issue avoided by power itself, not that the subject has gone unnoticed.
The informal economy, also known as the underground economy or the black market, makes up a significant portion of the overall economy. It is estimated to be as much as 36 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of developing nations and 13 percent of developed countries’ GDP.1 However, as an article by Economist Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria in The Regional Economist points out, measuring the informal economy is quite difficult.
For probably all the right ambitious, emotional, and practical reasons, most may shrug off the little bit of grease and leaning — the gifts, the open arms, the warm handshakes; the aggressive marketing or “salesmanship” that nudges with a little bit of caution — that gets business done while facilitating access to new opportunities and relationships — but with too much of the same, the bodies, destroyed businesses and careers, and ruined lives show up visibly everywhere, and that little bit of smarmy activity becomes a tangled and suffocating web.
The matter of observing and measuring atrocious, ruthless, and vicious business behavior and its behavioral, economic, and social effects on societies not accustomed to their own dumb and hapless enslavement through malicious handling would seem another matter, and most certainly a matter of keen interest to economists, ethicists, and the public at large. With that in mind, one might suggest that Moscow’s “Mafia State” and Trump’s egregious approach to those apparently not fit to shine his shoes has set off for general rule the presence of some global and criminal or near-criminal nobility far above the constitutions, interests, and laws of states and their constituencies.
While the Russian mafia is a favorite antagonist of Hollywood screenwriters, it is thought to be all-but-defunct in reality. After all, when was the last time anybody in the U.S. heard about major Russian mafia activity?
The criminal underworld is thriving like never before in Europe. The individuals and groups are not random; they are highly organized, well-funded and responsible for rising levels of cyberterrorism, money laundering and murder. Fortune Magazinelists the Solntsevskaya Bratva, alternately known as the Russian mafia, as the largest organized crime group in the world and it ranks above both the Japanese Yakuza and the Mexican Sinaloa cartel in terms of overall revenue. More interesting than its current standing is how it achieved its status. From a culture that encouraged crime to a government that aided and abetted it, the Russian Federation has become a hotbed for a growing criminal underworld.