Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really a Thing



Could there possibly be a “bromance connection” between Donald Trump and Russian leaders?  (ks)


I’ll list off some facts.

1. All the other discussions of Trump’s finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin. Here’s a good overview from The Washington Post, with one morsel for illustration …

Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

3. One example of this is the Trump Soho development in Manhattan, one of Trump’s largest recent endeavors. The project was the hit with a series of lawsuits in response to some typically Trumpian efforts to defraud investors by making fraudulent claims about the financial health of the project. Emerging out of that litigation however was news about secret financing for the project from Russia and Kazakhstan. Most attention about the project has focused on the presence of a twice imprisoned Russian immigrant with extensive ties to the Russian criminal underworld. But that’s not the most salient part of the story. As the Times put it,

“Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt.”

Another suit alleged the project “occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia.”

Sounds completely legit.

Read both articles: After his bankruptcy and business failures roughly a decade ago Trump has had an increasingly difficult time finding sources of capital for new investments. As I noted above, Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major US presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s tax returns would likely clarify the depth of his connections to and dependence on Russian capital aligned with Putin. And in case you’re keeping score at home: no, that’s not reassuring.

4. Then there’s Paul Manafort, Trump’s nominal ‘campaign chair’ who now functions as campaign manager and top advisor. Manafort spent most of the last decade as top campaign and communications advisor for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian Prime Minister and then President whose ouster in 2014 led to the on-going crisis and proxy war in Ukraine. Yanukovych was and remains a close Putin ally. Manafort is running Trump’s campaign.

5. Trump’s foreign policy advisor on Russia and Europe is Carter Page, a man whose entire professional career has revolved around investments in Russia and who has deep and continuing financial and employment ties to Gazprom. If you’re not familiar with Gazprom, imagine if most or all of the US energy industry were rolled up into a single company and it were personally controlled by the US President who used it as a source of revenue and patronage. That is Gazprom’s role in the Russian political and economic system. It is no exaggeration to say that you cannot be involved with Gazprom at the very high level which Page has been without being wholly in alignment with Putin’s policies. Those ties also allow Putin to put Page out of business at any time.

6. Over the course of the last year, Putin has aligned all Russian state controlled media behind Trump. As Frank Foer explains here, this fits a pattern with how Putin has sought to prop up rightist/nationalist politicians across Europe, often with direct or covert infusions of money. In some cases this is because they support Russia-backed policies; in others it is simply because they sow discord in Western aligned states. Of course, Trump has repeatedly praised Putin, not only in the abstract but often for the authoritarian policies and patterns of government which have most soured his reputation around the world.

7. Here’s where it gets more interesting. This is one of a handful of developments that tipped me from seeing all this as just a part of Trump’s larger shadiness to something more specific and ominous about the relationship between Putin and Trump. As TPM’s Tierney Sneed explained in this article, one of the most enduring dynamics of GOP conventions (there’s a comparable dynamic on the Dem side) is more mainstream nominees battling conservative activists over the party platform, with activists trying to check all the hardline ideological boxes and the nominees trying to soften most or all of those edges. This is one thing that made the Trump convention very different. The Trump Camp was totally indifferent to the platform. So party activists were able to write one of the most conservative platforms in history. Not with Trump’s backing but because he simply didn’t care. With one big exception: Trump’s team mobilized the nominee’s traditional mix of cajoling and strong-arming on one point: changing the party platform on assistance to Ukraine against Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. For what it’s worth (and it’s not worth much) I am quite skeptical of most Republicans call for aggressively arming Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. But the single-mindedness of this focus on this one issue – in the context of total indifference to everything else in the platform – speaks volumes.

This does not mean Trump is controlled by or in the pay of Russia or Putin. It can just as easily be explained by having many of his top advisors having spent years working in Putin’s orbit and being aligned with his thinking and agenda. But it is certainly no coincidence. Again, in the context of near total indifference to the platform and willingness to let party activists write it in any way they want, his team zeroed in on one fairly obscure plank to exert maximum force and it just happens to be the one most important to Putin in terms of US policy.

Add to this that his most conspicuous foreign policy statements track not only with Putin’s positions but those in which Putin is most intensely interested. Aside from Ukraine, Trump’s suggestion that the US and thus NATO might not come to the defense of NATO member states in the Baltics in the case of a Russian invasion is a case in point.

There are many other things people are alleging about hacking and all manner of other mysteries. But those points are highly speculative, some verging on conspiratorial in their thinking. I ignore them here because I’ve wanted to focus on unimpeachable, undisputed and publicly known facts. These alone paint a stark and highly troubling picture.

To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump’s direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin’s policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He’s the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out ‘what’s going on’ as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.

There is something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Putin or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump’s financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That’s simply not something that can be waved off or ignored.

Josh Marshall

Russian Hackers Altered Emails Before Release to Wikileaks – Updated


Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty Images


By IAmRightYouAreWrong

The headline jumped out at me and I thought it a good idea to post it here. The original story was posted by Tim Peacock at Peacock Panache. They source the following article on Motherboard by Thomas Rid: All Signs Point to Russia Being Behind the DNC Hack.

I think by now, it’s a foregone conclusion that the bad actors that Wikileaks is releasing information from are state-sponsored and are from Russia. Putin has made no secret of his political love for Trump™ and Republicans have used the occasion to make great hay over the DNC and it’s terse relationship with Bernie. . . .not out of true concern for Sanders, of course, but because they have had to embrace a very undesirable candidate as their standard-bearer.

The big takeaway from the Motherboard article is the following:

The metadata in the leaked documents are perhaps most revealing: one dumped document was modified using Russian language settings, by a user named “Феликс Эдмундович,” a code name referring to the founder of the Soviet Secret Police, the Cheka, memorialised in a 15-ton iron statue in front of the old KGB headquarters during Soviet times. The original intruders made other errors: one leaked document included hyperlink error messages in Cyrillic, the result of editing the file on a computer with Russian language settings. After this mistake became public, the intruders removed the Cyrillic information from the metadata in the next dump and carefully used made-up user names from different world regions, thereby confirming they had made a mistake in the first round.

Then there is the language issue. “I hate being attributed to Russia,” the Guccifer 2.0 account told Motherboard, probably accurately. The person at the keyboard then claimed in a chat with Motherboard’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai that Guccifer 2.0 was from Romania, like the original Guccifer, a well-known hacker. But when asked to explain his hack in Romanian, he was unable to respond colloquially and without errors. Guccifer 2.0’s English initially was also weak, but in subsequent posts the quality improved sharply, albeit only on political subjects, not in technical matters—an indication of a team of operators at work behind the scenes.

Rid went on to add:

The metadata show that the Russian operators apparently edited some documents, and in some cases created new documents after the intruders were already expunged from the DNC network on June 11. A file called donors.xls, for instance, was created more than a day after the story came out, on June 15, most likely by copy-pasting an existing list into a clean document. Although so far the actual content of the leaked documents appears not to have been tampered with, manipulation would fit an established pattern of operational behaviour in other contexts, such as troll farms or planting fake media stories. Subtle (or not so subtle) manipulation of content may be in the interest of the adversary in the future. Documents that were leaked by or through an intelligence operation should be handled with great care, and journalists should not simply treat them as reliable sources.

Tim at Peacock Panache expands on this further and in spectacular fashion:

Adding context to why Putin and the Russian government would go to so much trouble to influence the U.S. presidential elections, NPR reported:

The security firm the party brought in last month to deal with the data breach immediately pointed fingers toward what it called “Russian espionage groups.”

“If [it’s a coincidence] it’s a really great coincidence,” said Russia expert Fiona Hill, who directs the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution. “The Russians have a word — ne sluchaino. It means, not accidental. Not by chance.”

Hill said the Russian hackers may not be taking orders directly from Putin, but that they are clearly working with Russian foreign policy interests in mind.

“They don’t have to be run directly by the Kremlin. They can just be encouraged,” Hill said. “They [Russian security services] are very good at knowing how to play our media. We are making this email leak into a huge story, as they knew we would.”

On a personal level, Trump said last fall that he and Putin “would probably get along … very well.” He has repeatedly praised Putin’s strength, particularly when it comes to military intervention in Syria.

Add to that Trump’s fondness for Putin (both as a man and as a hardline leader):

“He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know unlike what we have in this country,” Trump told MSNBC in December.

During his annual end-of-year marathon news conference in December, Putin returned the compliment, calling Trump “a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt.”

“He says that he wants to move to a different level of relations, to a closer, deeper one, with Russia,” Putin said. “How can we not welcome that?”

Slate added:

In 2007, he praised Putin for “rebuilding Russia.” A year later he added, “He does his work well. Much better than our Bush.” When Putin ripped American exceptionalism in a New York Times op-ed in 2013, Trump called it “a masterpiece.” Despite ample evidence, Trump denies that Putin has assassinated his opponents: “In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that.” In the event that such killings have transpired, they can be forgiven: “At least he’s a leader.” And not just any old head of state: “I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A.”

Additionally, several of Trump’s close advisers have Russian ties:

And several advisers in Trump’s orbit have close ties to Russia and Russian interests. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who advises Trump on foreign policy, raised eyebrows in Washington by sitting at a table with Putin during a gala for the state-run English language news channel Russia Today last year. And Trump’s top adviser, Manafort, has done political consulting work for Ukrainian politicians viewed as allies to Russia.

Even Trump’s vaguely stated policy ideals align with the idea of his collusion with Russia right down to his abhorrence of NATO:

More consequential for Moscow: Trump’s repeated skepticism about the value and strength of the NATO alliance, which formed the pillar of Western Europe and North America’s opposition to the Soviet Union over the past half century.

A central tenet of the North Atlantic treaty is that member states view an attack against one of them as an attack against the entire alliance.

Speaking on the NATO alliance with the New York Times last week, Trump attacked NATO saying:

Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

“If they fulfill their obligations to us,” he added, “the answer is yes.”

In essence, Trump wouldn’t live up to the obligations contained in NATO’s charter. While he didn’t explicitly link this reluctance to his relationship with Putin, the writing is on the wall.

That wasn’t the only occasion in which Trump attacked NATO either. “We pay so much disproportionately more for NATO,” Trump said in March. “We are getting ripped off by every country in NATO, where they pay virtually nothing, most of them. And we’re paying the majority of the costs.”

Trump’s anti-NATO remarks and general isolationist stance would benefit Putin’s agenda at large:

The NATO skepticism plays into a much broader isolationist view that Trump has taken during his campaign, a view that would undoubtedly benefit internationally proactive countries like Russia, if it were carried out by a President Trump.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents is that our plan will put America first,” Trump said Thursday night during his convention speech. “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

Which is to say, Americans should regard any “leaks” published by Wikileaks in the coming weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential elections with a grain of salt. After all, Putin has a puppet in his pocket named Trump and a globe full of hackers, spies and allies all aimed at installing that puppet into the White House.

Instead of fighting Assange about releasing the material, it should be pointed out that not only is Assange using the Wikileaks platform in a personal vendetta against Hillary Clinton, he’s doing so with information that may have been altered and is therefore not trustworthy. First rule of real journalism: Make sure your sources can be trusted.

Edit: Made the Recommended List. . .First time ever! Thanks, Kossacks!

Update: This from the New York Times —

“American intelligence agencies have told the White House they now have “high confidence” that the Russian government was behind the theft of emails and documents from the Democratic National Committee, according to federal officials who have been briefed on the evidence.

But intelligence officials have cautioned that they are uncertain whether the electronic break-in at the committee’s computer systems was intended as fairly routine cyberespionage — of the kind the United States also conducts around the world — or as part of an effort to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.

The emails were released by WikiLeaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, has made it clear that he hoped to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency. It is unclear how the documents made their way to the group. But a large sampling was published before the WikiLeaks release by several news organizations and someone who called himself “Guccifer 2.0,” who investigators now believe was an agent of the G.R.U., Russia’s military intelligence service.

Such a public accusation could result in a further deterioration of the already icy relationship between Washington and Moscow, at a moment when the administration is trying to reach an accord with Mr. Putin on a cease-fire in Syria and on other issues. It could also doom any effort to reach some kind of agreement about acceptable behavior in cyberspace, of the kind the United States has been discussing with China.

In an interview with Savannah Guthrie of NBC News on Tuesday, President Obama stopped short of accusing Russian agencies from seeking to manipulate the election but said “Anything’s possible.”

He noted that “on a regular basis, they try to influence elections in Europe.”

The rest of the article can be found here:…

Even The Dad Of Pro-Trump Act ‘USA Freedom Kids’ Plans To Sue Campaign

Even The Dad Of Pro-Trump Act ‘USA Freedom Kids’ Plans To Sue Campaign

Via screen capture


The U.S.A. Freedom Kids performed at a rally for Donald Trump in Florida last January and played a song containing  lyrics which were terrifying — unless you’re pro-war.  After that, the kids were a hit, featured at media appearances, with the three pre-teen girls even telling Inside Edition that Donald told them that he planned to listen to their CD all night long. However, that cozy relationship has changed since then.

The father of one of the Freedom Kids, Jeff Popick, who authored “Freedom’s Call,”  told The Washington Post Monday that he is planning to file a lawsuit against the Trump campaign for violating its agreement with the group.

“This is not a billion-dollar lawsuit,” Popick told the Post. “I’m doing this because I think they have to do the right thing. And if this means having to go through the court system to enforce them doing the right thing, then that’s what I have to do. I’m not looking to do battle with the Trump campaign, but I have to show my girls that this is the right thing.”

Popick said that promises were made by various agents of the Trump campaign.

It started in Pensacola. When Popick first reached out to the Trump campaign about performing, he spoke with various people including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. His understanding from the campaign was that the Kids would make two appearances in Florida, where Popick lives. The first event didn’t come to fruition, and Popick says he asked for $2,500 in payment for the second performance, in Pensacola. The campaign made a counter-offer: How about a table where the group could presell albums? Popick took the deal.

After arriving at the venue, the group found that there was no table, and he said it ended in “complete chaos,”  adding, “They clearly had made no provisions for that.”

Afterward, Popick attempted to contact the Trump campaign to no avail. Popick said money was spent on promotional material for the table, which never existed. In addition, Popick said he lost several promotional opportunities over the confusion with his relationship with the campaign.

After Donald opted not to be featured during the Fox News debate due to friction with the network, a Trump campaign representative called Popick to see if the Freedom Kids might perform. Popick – tell me if this sounds familiar – was promised that there would be “huge” exposure for the kids from the event, so an agreement was made.

The Freedom Kids and their parents flew out to Iowa only to find a message from the campaign saying there was a change of plan. The performers attended the rally but were told not to talk to the media.

“They just were constantly coming over, wanting pictures,” Popick said of the news media. “They wanted to take pictures, they wanted to ask questions — and I had to be a real jerk.” In the end, the trip, flights, rental car and hotel were all paid by Popick.

After that, he kept reaching out “again and again and again and again,” without luck. He was passed around between staffers; calls went unreturned even after calls were promised. Emails Popick sent to the campaign (which he shared with The Post) detail the interaction between himself and the campaign and his ultimate request. “We are now asking and DEMANDING for what has been promised to us and is now long-overdue (and has been rightly earned by us); that is, a performance at the convention,” an email dated July 9 reads. “Or, be made whole.”

“These are guys that insist they’re straight shooters,” Popick said. “I’ve invested a lot of time, effort, money,” he continued, “and it’s just been complete silence.”

Popick has consulted with an attorney who believes that he has a very strong case.

Popick was a fan of the reality show star-turned GOP nominee but he’s not so sure anymore.

“At this point, my position is that I have no position, really,” Popick said. “What he’s done to my group or what he’s not done for my group doesn’t necessarily make him the best candidate, it doesn’t make him the worst candidate. I still have to mull that over. He might still be the best candidate as president of the United States — or not.”

This whole story sounds familiar. It sounds like the Trump ‘University’ scam. We’re not sure what Mr. Popick has to mull over. If a person is ripping off your kid, then you wouldn’t normally cast a vote for them but we’re not going to tell the father of the Freedom Kids how to freedom.

Stand in line, Mr. Popick. Donald has been involved in 3,500 lawsuits.

By Conover Kennard

Warren to go on attack for Clinton

Getty Images


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is relishing her role as one of Hillary Clinton’s most effective attack dogs against Donald Trump.

Warren’s criticism of Trump in tweets and speeches has gotten under the Republican presidential nominee’s skin, provoking angry outbursts from the billionaire businessman.

She’s has shown a talent for irking Trump — mainly on Twitter — and moving him off message, which is something Trump’s GOP primary foes struggled to do.

Scott Ferson, a Boston-based Democratic strategist who voted for Clinton in the primary, said Warren’s attacks were effective because she knows where to aim and has the credibility to back it up.

“She knows how to hit Trump where he lives,” said Ferson. “I would have hated to be Elizabeth Warren’s younger brother.”

The liberal stalwart homed in on Trump’s business background and derogatory comments about women, labeling him a con artist who’s bilked his way into striking distance of the White House.

Soon after Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, Warren tweeted that the duo was a perfect match: “Two small, insecure, weak men who use hate & fear to divide our country & our people.”

Trump changed the subject and countered that Warren was a “fraud” who lied about having Native American ancestry. Warren shot back with comments about the lawsuits he faces over Trump University while defending her own credentials.

“It might blow your mind that a woman worked hard & earned a good job on her own,” she tweeted, “but it’s not the 1800s. It happens.”

Warren also joined a chorus of Democrats calling for Trump to publicly release his tax returns, implying that the real estate mogul is hiding a bombshell.

“Maybe he’s just a lousy businessman who doesn’t want you to find out he’s worth a whole lot less than he claims. We really can’t know for sure,” Warren said in a video for progressive nonprofit

And when Warren campaigned with Clinton for the first time, on June 27, she used the stage to knock Trump’s ethics.

“What kind of a man roots for people to lose their jobs, lose their homes, lose their life savings? I’ll tell you what kind of a man: a small, insecure money-grubber who fights for no one other than himself,” she said. “What kind of a man? A nasty man who will never become president of the United States.”

Democratic strategist Craig Varoga said Warren “expresses well thought-out plans in pithy sound bites.”

Trump has trouble with people attacking him, “especially a well-educated, forceful woman,” Varoga added.

Warren, a former law professor, has spent her career advocating for and proposing economic policies aimed at reining in Wall Street and big corporations and helping the middle class and the poor.

Her authenticity and credibility on economic issues could help energize people who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the Democratic primary and persuade undecided voters to vote for Clinton.

“She’s uniquely suited to talk about economic solutions to the problems that both Trump and Sanders have identified and talked about so far,” such as bad trade deals and the struggles of the middle class, Varoga said.

Warren targeted Trump even before endorsing Clinton, and she continued as the presumptive nominee deliberated about choosing a running mate.

But Warren is unlikely to stop attacking Trump and pushing her economic message just because she won’t be the vice presidential nominee, say allies on the left.

“She’s motivated by a policy agenda she believes in,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “She’s not motivated by a desire to audition for a title.”

Ferson agreed, noting Warren’s past tension with Clinton gives her no reason to stick her neck out.

“She is really, really afraid of what Donald Trump will do if he becomes president,” said Ferson. “Elizabeth Warren has no reason from a personal standpoint to help Hillary Clinton.”

Warren energizes progressives and Democrats as a whole because “she is fearlessly willing to speak truth to power,” said Neil Sroka, communications director at Democracy for America. His group and MoveOn had partnered on the “Run Warren Run” campaign from December 2014 to June 2015 to encourage the senator to run for president.

Warren’s comments resonate with progressives and people across the political spectrum because she has a plain, easy-to-understand way of speaking and “her integrity is self-evident,” said MoveOn Communications Director Nick Berning.

She can also appeal to undecided voters who may be attracted to Trump’s economic message because she provides more substance, experts said.

Warren’s progressive credentials give Clinton a much-needed bridge to the left wing of her party.

Though Warren criticized Clinton’s economic stances long before she joined the Senate in 2013 and held out on an endorsement in 2016 until the former first lady had clinched the nomination, she’s insisted Clinton is the best person to fight for middle- and working-class families.

“For 25 years … the right wing has been throwing everything they possibly can at her. What she’s done is she gets back up, and she gets back in the fight,” Warren told MSNBC upon endorsing Clinton on June 9.

“You also have to be willing to throw a punch, and there are a lot of things people say about Hillary Clinton, but nobody says she doesn’t know how to throw a punch,” she said.

Warren is the “best person to raise money, excite the base and maximize turnout for the base,” said Ferson. “There’s no one who provides that excitement in the way that Elizabeth Warren does.”

By Naomi Jagoda and Sylvan Lane

Donald Trump reminds me of Vladimir Putin — and that is terrifying

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi | (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press)

THE WASHINGTON POST – By Garry Kasparov (Opinion)

Garry Kasparov is chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and author of “Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped.”

Donald Trump’s dark and frightening speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday had pundits and historians making comparisons ranging from George Wallace in the 1960s to Benito Mussolini in the 1930s. As suitable as those comparisons may be, the chill that ran down my spine was not because of Trump’s echoes of old newsreel footage. Instead, I saw an Americanized version of the brutally effective propaganda of fear and hatred that Vladimir Putin blankets Russia with today.

This isn’t to say Trump plagiarized Putin verbatim. The language and tone were comparable the way that the Russian and American flags make different designs with the same red, white and blue. Nor was it merely the character of the text; Trump’s mannerisms and body language — toned down from his usual histrionics — were startlingly similar to the sneering and boastful delivery Russians know all too well after Putin’s 16 years in power.


(Deirdra O’Regan/The Washington Post)

In both cases, the intent of the speaker is to elicit the visceral emotions of fear and disgust before relieving them with a cleansing anger that overwhelms everything else. Only the leader can make the fear and disgust go away. The leader will channel your hatred and frustration and make everything better. How, exactly? Well, that’s not important right now.

The demagogic candidate must paint a bleak picture of the status quo, citing every catastrophe and failure before presenting the even darker future ahead if he isn’t granted the power to act, and act now. You might believe a campaigning politician would prefer to evoke positive emotions in prospective voters, but this does not fit the profile of the strongman. Instead of telling people what he will do if they elect him, he threatens them with what will happen if they don’t. The democratic leader needs the people. The tyrant, and the would-be tyrant, insists that the people need him.

Putin, long in power, must downplay Russia’s crisis. Trump, the outsider, must exaggerate the United States’. Trump has focused on terrorism and divisive domestic issues such as illegal immigration to populate his enemies list. He has also joined Putin’s crusade against NATO, a bizarre stance for an American presidential candidate if he actually considers global terrorism to be a serious threat. Strategic cooperation in the free world is more important now than ever. I am writing this from Tallinn, Estonia, which, without NATO, would indeed soon be in the “suburbs of St. Petersburg,” as Trump admirer Newt Gingrich recently put it.

Terrorism is a serious and scary problem, and the United States should be leading a serious international conversation about how to deal with it. Instead, Trump does his best to make sure people are as terrified as the murderers hope they will be. It mirrors Putin’s bombastic rhetoric as he produces his own deadly reality show in Syria, where Russian forces are carrying out massacres that will create millions more refugees and inspire another generation of jihadists.

Garry Kasparov, a Russian pro-democracy activist and former world chess champion, is the chairman of the Human Rights Foundation based in New York City.  Follow @Kasparov63


New Clinton Ad Shows All The Wonderful Things Trump Has Said About Hillary

New Clinton Ad Shows All The Wonderful Things Trump Has Said About Hillary


Donald Trump thought Hillary Clinton would make a “great president” before he was running against her.

Donald Trump has been hammering Hillary Clinton quite a bit since they became political opponents, but a new Clinton campaign ad serves as a reminder that the Republican nominee thought pretty highly of Clinton before she became his political opponent.

One could say that Trump was for Hillary before he was against her.


The GOP nominee may like to call Clinton childish nicknames and accuse her of being a criminal now that he’s trying to beat her in an election, but he seemed to admire her (and Bill Clinton) in the past.

“Hillary is smart, tough, and a very nice person,” Trump said in 2008, the video noted. “I know her very well, and I know her husband very well, and I like them both.”

The video also shows footage of Trump calling the Clintons “just really terrific people.”

The alleged billionaire also went as far as saying that “[Hillary] works really hard” and “she’d make a great president.”

The campaign ad concluded with the caption, “Donald Trump: occasionally right.”


This Speech Expert Thinks Trump Has A Disorder – Here’s Why (VIDEO)

This article seemed interesting, simply by it’s title.  Once I read further, I realized I should share and everyone can draw their own conclusion.

No doubt Pro-Trump folks on TFC will cry “foul! This person is simply a quack who hates Trump”  Anti-Trump folks might  believe everything she has written in this article.  

My point is, in everything we read and hear on TV, Radio and every other form of media…is designed to sell you an ideology or a product.  The following article may…or may not be guilty of the same.

I believe TFC folks are smart and savvy and will look to other sources that either confirm or deny this report.(ks)


By Karen Shiebler:

For nearly 30 years, I was a licensed, certified speech/language pathologist. I spent hours analyzing the expressive language of my patients. I’m retired now, without a license, but I haven’t forgotten what I did every day.

I haven’t examined Donald Trump (R-N.Y.), but let me explain why I think Trump has either a language disorder, or another neurological problem.

1. Word Finding; Misusing Words

The first thing I’ve noticed with Trump is that he tends to slightly misuse words. In speech/language pathology, this is a word finding issue. In the current speech, Trump began by calling the Convention as a beautiful event. He complimented the speakers, saying:

“So many of the speakers were so amazing and really ground setting. Just ground setting.”

Clearly he meant “ground breaking,” but he didn’t notice.

Later he said that former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) people “swamped” Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.). He seemed to mean that they mistreated him, which isn’t what “swamped” means.

2. Word Finding; Empty Words

People with word finding deficits rely on words with little meaning. They use phrases like “by the way,” or “believe me.” They depend heavily on empty words like “really” and “very,” and use a restricted list of adjectives.  Trump uses the words “tremendous,””amazing,” and “nice,” none of which tells us anything.

People with this disorder repeat themselves a lot.

A small sample from today:

“Thank you very much. We had an amazing convention. It was one of the best. […] Ivanka was incredible last night.[…] It has been just an incredible four days.[…] Tiffany was amazing.”

“So, I will tell you, I think we’re gonna get a lot of his voters. Because of the trade issue. Because they understand. Because of the trade issue, I think we’re gonna get a lot of his voters.”

3. Expressive Language Organization

To speech/language pathologists, this means expressing one thought. It means beginning a thought and getting to the end. Trump speaks in sentence fragments. He begins a thought, but drops it and simply jumps ahead.

For example:

“Honestly, he should have done it. Because….nobody cares. And he would have been in better shape for four years from now if he’s … I don’t think … I don’t see him winning frankly anyway.

4. Maintaining The Topic

Many people with this issue often have attentional issues. If you know anyone with ADHD you’ve experienced this problem.

Every phrase Trump utters reminds him of something else. He jumps off his current track and follows another.

Here just one example:

“If I don’t win, meaning that final stage,  we beat 17 people, it was actually 17 because there’s one that we don’t even talk about, who joined who left very quickly. One statement, he was gone, OK? And then don’t forget, Hillary had a couple of guys that dropped out and then Bernie ran a good campaign…”

I’m not qualified to address whether Donald Trump has narcissistic personality disorder, but I can address the circularity of his language. No matter what he starts with, Trump manages to turn the topic in two ways. He always brings it back to self-praise. Equally worrisome is that he also consistently turns it back to his rivals or perceived enemies.

For example:

“First of all the Secret Service is unbelievable.[…] Let me tell you, these guys are fantastic. I’m the best thing that ever happened to the Secret Service.”

“Thanks, Brian! What a job you’ve done, Brian! […] Hillary’s trying to pick her Vice President as fast as possible because she wants to take away some of the success we’ve had.”

Watch this video, and keep the language and attention issues in mind.

This is a scary situation.

GOP – Trump – Convention


United for a night, Republicans nominated Donald Trump as their presidential standard-bearer, capping the billionaire businessman’s stunning takeover of the GOP and propelling him into a November faceoff with Democrat Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump’s “We Are the Champions” RNC Entrance Betrays a Cruel Irony

Donald Trump's

Image Credit: Getty Images


Onstage at Monday night’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Donald Trump made an unforgettable entrance to an equally unforgettable song:  Queen’s “We Are the Champions.”

But there’s an irony that went unaddressed. Freddie Mercury, the band’s lead singer, was a gay man who died from complications of HIV/AIDS in 1991 amid the epidemic of that disease that ravaged the 1980s and early 1990s.

Trump’s running mate in this election is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a rock-ribbed social conservative who opposes LGBTQ equality and once said “societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.” When he was running for Congress in 2000, BuzzFeed reported Thursday, Pence’s website advocated diverting funds from programs designed to help LGBTQ people living with the disease to groups working to eradicate their lifestyles entirely.

At the time, Pence’s website said Congress should only pass the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program following “an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

In other words, Trump’s running mate sought to take money from HIV/AIDS programs and give it to conversion therapy programs.

Conversion therapy is not actually a form of treatment condoned by the mainstream medical community, but a form of alternative treatment widely considered a human rights violation. Instead of providing medical or psychiatric help to LGBTQ people, conversion therapy attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation through a variety of sometimes forcible techniques. The state of California banned the practice in 2012.

Here’s the text of Pence’s website in 2000, as transcribed by BuzzFeed:

Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.

Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s as a “discreet and insular minority” entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.

Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.

One can only wonder, then, what Mercury would think of his music being used to prop up candidates whose work served to knock him — and others like him — down.

By Tom McKay

Republican Convention 2016: RNC speakers, schedule, platform, and what to expect

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

VOX Policy & Politics

After four months of primary voting, and one year after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States, the Republican National Committee’s convention has arrived. The theme: Make America Great Again.

For four days, from July 18 to 21, Republican politicians, journalists, protesters, and the like will descend on Cleveland to make Trump the official presidential candidate for the Republican Party, with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate.

The schedule:

Where: Quicken Loans Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Monday’s theme: Make America Safe Again

Headlining speakers: Melania Trump; Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn; US Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Jason Beardsley, advisor for Concerned Veterans of America; US Rep. Ryan Zinke, Montana

Tuesday’s theme: Make America Work Again

Headlining speakers: Tiffany Trump; Kerry Woolard, general manager of Trump Winery; Donald Trump Jr.; Dr. Ben Carson; US Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia; Kimberlin Brown, soap opera actress

Wednesday’s theme: Make America First Again

Speakers will begin at 7 pm eastern time

Headlining speakers: Lynne Patton, vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s vice presidential pick

Thursday’s theme: Make America One Again

Speakers will begin at 7:30 pm eastern time

Headlining speakers: Peter Thiel, Paypal founder; Tom Barrack, founder and executive chair of Colony Capital; Ivanka Trump; Donald Trump

The platform:

Going into the convention, the Republican Party’s platform — while not final or binding — provides good insight into the direction the GOP is looking to take. As Vox’s MattYglesias notes, this is particularly illuminating since Trump has been rather mum on policy issues on the campaign trail.

It follows Trump on trade:

The Republican Party seems to have taken a few lines from Trump’s campaign speeches on trade, calling for “better negotiated trade agreements that put America first” in the party’s draft platform.

While the GOP has previously been a vigorous supporter of free trade, the drafted platform says, “Republican president will insist on parity in trade and will stand willing to implement countervailing duties if other countries don’t cooperate.”

The draft does not follow Trump in calling for an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement or in specifically upholding increased tariffs on Chinese imports, two policy points Trump has actively appealed for on the stump.

It isn’t really that Trump-y on a lot of other things:

On social issues like same-sex marriage and women’s issues, the party’s platform seems to stick to its long-established language: It opposes the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage and states that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman but does not call for a constitutional amendment to that end and advocates for limiting bathroom usage by biological sex.

On education, the platform — in line with Trump — “congratulates” states that have opted out of Common Core curriculum standards and also says the Bible should be taught as part of “American history.” The platform also opposes the current administration’s alleged “distortion of Title IX to micromanage” how higher education institutions handle sexual assault investigations.

On foreign policy, the platform sees the Iran nuclear deal as a “non-binding” agreement for the next president. The draft calls for legislation to “protect the national grid,” pushing states to take action against the Chinese and Russian threat of electromagnetic pulse weapons, seeing an electromagnetic pulse as “no longer a theoretical concern.” (As Yglesias notes, scientists don’t think this threat is real.)

On domestic political institutions, the platform calls for an “audit” of the Federal Reserve. It also maintains support for the Electoral College system and rebuffs a move to assign a president based on the popular vote.

The speakers:

The first released list of RNC convention speakers, as Vox’s Libby Nelson pointed out, looked more like a season of Celebrity Apprentice than a political event. But alas, despite speculation, quarterback Tim Tebow will not be in attendance, nor will a lot of other prominent governors, members of Congress, and prominent Republicans.

Here’s who’s slated to speak (this list is tentative):

Congressional leaders:

  • Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan
  • Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell
  • House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy

Members of Congress:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas
  • Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama
  • Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa
  • Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia
  • Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin
  • Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida
  • Rep. Ryan Zinke, Montana
  • Rep. Michael McCaul, Texas
  • Rep. Sean Duffy, Wisconsin
  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee

Republican Party members and former officials

  • Reince Priebus, RNC chair
  • Sharon Day, RNC co-chair
  • Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House
  • Dr. Ben Carson, former presidential candidate
  • Chris Cox, former Securities and Exchange Commission chair
  • Michael Mukasey, former US attorney general
  • Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor
  • Darryl Glenn, US Senate candidate in Colorado and the GOP’s only African-American Senate candidate this year
  • Lisa Shin, a Republican delegate from New Mexico
  • Kentucky State Sen. Ralph Alvarado Jr.
  • Laura Ingraham, conservative talk radio host


  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott
  • Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Trump’s family and business associates:

  • Melania Trump, wife
  • Eric Trump, son
  • Ivanka Trump, daughter
  • Donald J. Trump Jr., son
  • Tiffany Trump, daughter
  • Lynne Patton, vice president of the Eric Trump Foundation
  • Kerry Woolard, general manager of Trump Winery

State attorneys general:

  • Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas
  • Pam Bondi, Florida

Members of the military and political activists

  • Mark Geist and John Tiegen, two members of the Benghazi security team
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a critic of the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Karen Vaughn, anti-Obama activist whose son, a Navy SEAL, was killed in action
  • Marc Luttrell, a retired US Navy SEAL and the subject of the movie Lone Survivor
  • Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, rumored to be among Trump’s possible vice presidential picks
  • Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, who was killed in the Benghazi attacks
  • Jason Beardsley, advisor for Concerned Veterans of America
  • Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis, from The Brian Terry Foundation in honor of their brother Brian Terry, a border patrol agent who died on duty
  • Mary Ann Mendoza, immigration reform advocate whose son died in a car accident involving an undocumented immigrant
  • Sabine Durden, immigration reform advocate whose son died in a car accident involving an undocumented immigrant
  • Jamiel Shaw, immigration reform advocate whose son was killed in a gang shooting involving an undocumented immigrant

Business leaders

  • Peter Thiel, PayPal founder
  • Phil Ruffin, Las Vegas casino owner
  • Harold Hamm, oil and gas executive developing the Bakken shale in North Dakota
  • Tom Barrack, founder and executive chair of Colony Capital
  • Michelle Van Etten, marketing vice president at Florida startup Youngevity
  • Andy Wist, founder of Standard Waterproofing, a company in the Bronx

Athletes, religious leaders, and celebrities

  • Darrell Scott, a Cleveland pastor and prominent African-American Trump supporter
  • Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the evangelical Liberty University
  • Willie Robertson, star of A&E show Duck Dynasty
  • Kimberlin Brown, soap opera actress
  • Dana White, president of UFC
  • Natalie Gulbis, professional golfer
  • Antonio Sabato Jr., former General Hospital actor
  • Eileen Collins, astronaut
  • Brock Mealer, a man paralyzed in a car accident who learned to walk again with the University of Michigan football team
  • Scott Baio, actor and TV producer, most prominently known for playing in the sitcomHappy Days

What to expect

There is no question that Trump remains a contentious figure in the Republican Party. The speaker list is notably thin for a presidential convention: Big names in the Republic Party like South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who delivered the State of the Union response this year, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and governors who won in blue states are not on the roster. Former candidates for the Republican nomination Sens. John McCain, Rand Paul, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are also absent.

Throughout the primaries, Trump’s biggest Republican critics floated the convention as a possible platform to oust Trump as the leader of the party — a process that would have required a fundamental change to convention rules and resulted in the ultimate breakdown of democracy. But the rules committee shot down all hopes of a NeverTrump coup in Cleveland, voting down proposals that would have allowed convention delegates to vote for whomever they wanted.

While there won’t be a fight on the convention floor, multiple activist groups are looking to protest the event, keeping Cleveland police on their toes. According to the New York Times, “Cleveland is bringing in roughly 2,500 law enforcement officers from as far away as California, Florida and Texas to bolster its convention-dedicated force of about 500.”

Political conventions are often the time for the next generation of party leaders to make a name for themselves, but it’s hard to imagine the 2016 convention being anything other than four days of Donald Trump.

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