B.J. Bethel

A view of the world from Ohio

Monthly Archives: July 2016

Putin on the Ritz – How the media finally seized on Trump’s concerning ties with Russia

Waiting for the national media to notice ties between Russia and the Trump campaign was long and frustrating – especially to those concerned over the dire ramifications,  but the grand unveiling of the Trump-Russo romance this week has taken over the media cycle. The DNC has said since June the Russians were responsible for their widely-reported attack on the Democrats email servers, but today the Clinton campaign took the next step and said the hack was done to benefit Donald Trump. This was a connection some took for granted, as Trump’s ties to the Russians are deep and are throughout his staff, and are little surprise to those who have watched the Russians behave on social media platforms. But it was a big step in the campaign of pointing out just who is behind the Trump campaign.

A few reporters have looked at Russia and its involvement in the 2016 election. Chris Zappone of Fairfax Media has regularly wrote and blogged on how Russian trolls and twitter accounts (often bots) had a distinct Trump flavor. How many Trump twitter supporters not only like the Donald, but are strangely up to speed on Russian domestic politics? Too many to not at least be curious, if not flat-out cynical. I’ve written about how this same group has a horrifying anti-Semitic streak.

Most of this was limited to the fantastic reporting of Franlkin Foer, Zappone, and others who picked up on the trends on social media such as myself.

Then the flood gates opened due to one morning TV rant – and an email.


Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s criticism of Donald Trump was light by today’s political standards. You could hardly call Kasich’s statements about Trump a major criticism according to the Donald’s own rhetorical standards

Kasich didn’t like Trump, that was clear. But surely, the Trump camp felt, the Governor would want to speak at the first major party convention in his state in 70 years, so the bait was simple – if you give an endorsement, you speak, probably in prime time, and if negotiated correctly, maybe a keynote. Kasich said no and to make his point more plain,  decided not to attend the convention. He spent the week in Cleveland, but at party functions around the city.

Whether Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort lost his mind on the morning of Monday, July 18, or if he planned a grand strategic maneuver to turn the party and Ohioans against Kasich, and put them in the Trump column, nobody knows but Manafort, Trump and a few others. The result was a morning appearance on MSNBC – of all networks – where he double-barrell blasted Kasich for not giving an endorsement and not appearing at the convention; calling Kasich “petulant”and an embarrassment to his state and party. This was the first negative word Trump’s campaign had said about Kasich since the primaries started – Trump himself spoke better of him than he did of other candidates, usually with respect to the governor, but criticized trade deals Kasich supported. The reason for this more polite approach was quite calculated.

What happened the next three days showed the campaign staff for the Governor of Ohio was smarter than the campaign staff for Donald Trump. More importantly, someone finally called the emperor on his lack of clothing.

Once Manafort took his first swing, Kasich strategist landed what Vladimir Putin, a judo practitioner, would know as an ippon. He left him flat on his back and beat.

“Manafort’s problem, after all those years on the lam with thugs and autocrats, he can’t recognize principle and integrity,” Kasich strategist John Weaver wrote Jonathan Martin of the New York Times. “He has brought great professionalism, direct from Kiev (Ukraine) to Trump world.”

A day later a source on the Kasich staff revealed that Trump and Manafort wanted the Ohio governor as their Vice President. Manafort and Trump’s son Donald Jr. went to Kasich strategist John Weaver with an offer he nor the governor could possibly refuse – to make him the most powerful vice president in history. This led to the now famous line of Don Jr. telling the Kasich strategist, the governor could run foreign and domestic policy, while Trump would be in charge of “making America great again.” Kasich said no.

Trump denied offering Kasich the VP slot in a very short tweet. His campaign then blasted Kasich, saying he was never considered and said his background “read like a dirty novel,” which was interesting since if Trump’s staff didn’t consider him for VP, why were they looking into his background?

Trump’s camp became suddenly bored talking about Kasich’s allegation that he was offered the VP spot after the Columbus Dispatch confirmed with four more sources in the governor’s campaign that the offer had been made.

When Ted Cruz left the RNC stage to boos and yells for not endorsing The Donald, a Trump chief staffer immediately ran to CNN and gave a ranting speech about how if Trump wins, he’s booting both Kasich and Cruz from the GOP.

As the Democratic National Convention starts tomorrow, Kasich told the Philadelphia Inquirer he doubts Trump can win Ohio. He called Trump a divider and said “Ohio was a snapshot of the country and wanted a positive way forward.”

Trump’s response was to say he may start a super-PAC – even as president – to fight Cruz and Kasich in whatever future political endeavors they choose.

Weaver’s comments took new meaning today. When he inferred Manafort had been “on the lam” with autocrats, the first thought was Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who Manafort had worked, before the Putin apparatchik was chased from the country after a rigged election and a popular revolt (Yanukovych now resides in exile under the warm, tender embrace of Putin).

Or Weaver knew what Franklin Foer tweeted and wrote in Slate today: Manafort once lost investment cash from a Russian billionaire oligarch and crime lord, and went into hiding for a sustained period, with some of his former business colleagues asking in cryptic emails if they knew his whereabouts.

If Paul Manafort wasn’t real, Martin Scorcese would have to invent him.

 

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PREDICTIONS: The 2016 Republican National Convention – Read it here first

With a nation on edge and  on the verge of panic after over 40 percent of the new Star Wars movie was ordered re-shot, I’ve accepted the task of calming the hearts and minds by writing what will happen at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland – before it happens. You can read it here, read it now, and freely spend your week enjoying entertainment on your DVR, Betamax collection, or reading your favorite magazine or book.

JULY 18 – DAY ONE

  • The Republican National Convention opens with Roseanne Barr singing the National Anthem. Donald Trump wanted to set the tone for the Convention immediately.
  • Scott Baio, former teen heartthrob, Happy Days star, and reality television star, gives his speech decrying Hillary Clinton. He also answers the important question as to why the younger sister on “Charles in Charge” turned out to be hotter than the older sister.
  • General Michael Flynn takes the stage as a surprise, and is announced as both Secretary of State and Defense. He says it’s time for the United States to begin defending its own interests at home and abroad. He then makes a sudden leave to accept an award from Vladimir Putin at the “Russia Today” awards.
  • Ivanka Trump speaks, and plugs her new clothing line and goes on a tear about how she’s more attractive than all the Kardashian sisters. She thanks her supporters for their anti-Semitic harassment of award-winning journalist Julia Ioffe. She said she’s had a great time in Pittsburgh and can’t wait to come back when your father wins the Presidency.
  • Black Lives Matter’s plans for disruption and protest fall apart when it gets bored.

JULY 19 – DAY TWO

  • Dana White, the face and head of The Ultimate Fighting Championship, takes the podium. He goes on an F-word laden rant because that’s just how he talks. He promises Trump will have the same success combating the heroin and opiate problem in the Midwest as UFC has combatted doping in the UFC.
  • Alex Jones takes to stage to huge applause. He’s proud to announce changes to the Republican party platform – a responsibility he was given personally from Trump in order to make the party more inclusive. Jones promises to double spending on the Star Wars anti-ballistic missile system in order to combat George Pataki, and his hordes of Lizardoid, robotic space-traveling RINOS. Also he believes the the RNC is a false-flag operation, as is his own re-writing of the party platform.
  • Peter Thiel, billionaire, Trump delegate and Silicone Valley businessman takes the stage. He didn’t want to kill Gawker, “but felt he owed it to them.” He goes on a 45 minute rant about the show HBO “Silicone Valley,” and why it can’t get more than a dozen shows a season. He thinks he’s at a TED conference and starts encouraging to drop out of college.
  • Dana White comes back out, and says ESPN is full of crap, but nobody knows what he’s referring to.
  • Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who announced he wouldn’t be at the convention, makes a surprise appearance, which quickly ends after he clears the stage with a baseball bat.
  •  sting.rafter

JULY 20 – DAY 3

  • Former Congressional Head and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks, imploring Trump’s 10-point plan – aka THE 10 POINTS TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Each part has five separate points, broken into seven others, were are then outlines down to four more segments, each available for $150 on blu-ray if you want to watch Newt read it himself. The entire foreign policy section is based on Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn novels, as well as an early 1900s Girl Scout handbook. It’s also available on Powerpoint.
  • Bill Clinton shocks the crowd, walking on stage. He mistakingly thought Cleveland was still having a party from the Cavaliers championship and wanted to hang out with Halle Berry.
  • Alex Jones runs on stage naked and tackles Chris Christie.
  • Some major media are confused after seeing the speaker list: five different Trumps, an El Paso commissioner, etc., and thinks they may be accidentally flew to a Des Moines Tea Party gathering by mistake.
  • It has been announced Thiel has sold all his businesses and will work for a potential Trump administration as MEME CZAR.
  • Marco Rubio is on stage for his speech, but instead kicks the podium over and throws a bottle of Jack Daniels through the Jumbotron.
  • The count on Trump family members to speak has reached 15.
  • Before Mike Pence makes his speech accepting the nomination as VP, a spokesman for Cleveland’s Quicken Arena reminds delegates and convention goers that tickets are on sale for The Black Keys, The Monster Energy Drink Indoor MotoCross challenge; Truck-A-Saurus Rex and the NAPA monster truck nationals; the Greater Cleveland Annual Quilting Spectacular; Bill Goodman’s Gun and Knife Show; Funk 49 – the best James Gang/Joe Walsh/Eagles cover band east of the Mississippi; and a three-day all-night marathon of all seven games of the 2016 Finals as the Cleveland Orchestra plays Beethoven’s Ninth. Former Browns Ernest Byner, Brian Brenneman, Tim Couch, Erik Wilhelm and former coach Chris Palmer will be there signing autographs and posing for photos. Bernie Kosar has been named Mayor.

JULY 21 – DAY 4

  • Matt Foley, motivational speaker, opens the last day’s speaker list
  • LeBron James is spotted walking amongst the crowd, telling people not to “scratch my #$*#$(# floor.”
  • Senator Ted Cruz speaks, says Americans now have an opportunity of a lifetime – they can now get Time Shares through Trump Inc.
  • Cruz talks about the Trump steak he had for lunch and how delicious it was despite the botulism.
  • GOP party head Reince Preibus speaks, giving a delusional speech about supporting Ronald Reagan against Democrat Walter Mondale.
  • Several delegates report seeing visions of Richard Nixon’s ghost trying to fling itself from the top of the arena.
  • Donald Trump takes the stage to accept the nomination. He thanks the press for covering the event, especially since he plans on having them shot immediately after the confetti. He talks about himself for 45 minutes, before going on a strange rant about the toilet paper in the arena and using it to set up jokes about Hillary Clinton.
  • Trump says he will be the first president to also be his own Press Secretary.
  • He’s joined on stage by his family, including three Mexican orphans and four Syrian orphans he adopted just before the night of the last day of the convention.

 

Donald Trump’s other brand – his Anti-Semitic Twitter horde

Emile Zola – author of the most important article in the history of journalism – once wrote optimistically and inevitably, “The truth is on the march and nothing will stop it.”

Zola – whose own march toward truth likely led to his murder – wrote those words in response to the conviction of Alfred Dreyfuss, a French artillery officer, who was falsely convicted of treason based on his Jewish heritage. Dreyfuss was later exonerated after relentless effort from Zola, who brought the case to light in the French paper L’Aurore under the greatest headline written in any language, “J’accuse`”.

Marching loudly and profoundly behind the Donald Trump online is a streak of anti-Semitism that bounces from tweet to tweet.

The truth is out there – and so are the facts, if you are an inquiring journalist – but since Zola died in 1902, it has been buried beneath millions of murdered Jews. The pogroms in Russia and Europe to start the century, Hitler’s genocide four decades later that shaped the rest of the 1900s, and the lie that continues to spin around the world while the truth is too dizzy to put on its pants: whether it’s the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” the Islamist jihadist, the “libertarian” connecting the dots from Hollywood to banking.

Trump’s latest harangue at his presumptive presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, featured a ‘star of David’ symbol in a Twitter meme, which he quickly deleted and refurbished with a circle. As with anything on the internet, there is no deletion, and Trump was caught in a wave of controversy, which entangled his Jewish son-in-law

The controversy came simultaneously with former New Republic editor Franklin Foer’s devastating Slate article on Donald Trump’s connection to Vladimir Putin and other Russian interests. This followed Chris Zappone of Australia’s The Age, putting the pieces together on Russia fronting an information war for Trump in the election.

Much of that information is through Twitter and has two common threads – a relentless pro-Russia position (an obvious sign since the general Trump voter’s interest in Russian politics is most likely non existent) and the worst of anti-Semitism. Neither is coincidence.

Is Trump an anti-Semite himself? Hopefully not, but a presidential campaign doesn’t exist in the vacuum of the individual running for office, but is as much – if not more – about those who seek to have him elected. That Putin – who has been handing cash to France’s Nationalist Front (oh Zola, how we need you now), and running cash and other manpower to far-right campaigns across Europe in Hungary, Germany and other countries in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, should be disconcerting enough. The situation is made worse with Trump, who lacks the self-awareness to even gauge his own mouth, let alone the dirty underpinnings of his own campaign or any bad actors that may hitch their wagon to his possible election.

World War III is happening on the internet to a certain extent, with Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee in search of opposition research on Trump. Nearly a century after Lenin’s death, the Motherland has finally found its perfect useful idiot, and that person is The Donald.
This is one tweet by one Trump fan, but is indicative of the racism that’s regularly on display and has been covered in the press. Scan further and you’ll see Holocaust denial, on top of anti-Semitism.

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In case there is doubt.

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This is the Culture of Trump, whether it’s the Tweets, the pushing and shoving at rallies, the Anti-Semitism from followers, or the odd and strange way his ‘American’ followers overwhelming and intrinsic interest in Russian domestic and international politics.

Julia Ioffe, the Jewish journalist who profiled Melania Trump, is an expert on Russia. After her profile, she began getting constant, random and threatening phone calls, some playing Hitler speeches, other’s somehow worse. This harassment she had experienced before – in Russia. Was the article overly critical? Not at all, but it let out that Melania Trump has a half-brother the family isn’t in contact with.

The attacks on Ioffe are scary, not just because of their Anti-Semitic overtones, the horrible threats she’s endured, but because of her high profile. If a writer who is noted as one of the best experts on a major country, writes for GQ and New York Times is subject to this kind of harassment, what of the little people? Trump has made the elimination of protection against journalists a major campaign point. He spent nearly an hour of his speech in Cincinnati on Wednesday, July 6 ranting against the media, including outlets like CNN which air him constantly and have given him free advertising – handy since his fundraising is nearly nonexistent.

Ioffe isn’t the only reporter to be criminally harassed and the target of the most vile of speech. Jeffrey Goldberg received an email from a Trump supporter, saying The Atlantic report would be “sent to an oven” upon the election of Trump. Ben Shapiro, a hard-right conservative and former writer for Breitbart, has not supported Trump and been the target of numerous anti-Semitic remarks. Jonathan Weismann of the New York Times has spent countless time dealing with the same bigoted remarks and retweeted countless threatening comments made toward him on Twitter.

Bryce Covert of Think Progress published an op-ed in the Times blasting Trump’s agenda, and has received the same anti-Semitic remarks. Covert’s case is surprisingly bad, as Covert never made any Jewish heritage public, and serial harassers had to dig up information on a grandmother to find the lineage.

What are Republicans to do? Their convention is fast approaching, some members of the party establishment – such as Sen. Lamar Alexander – have said Trump won’t necessarily emerge from the convention as the nominee, others have been pushing for the party to support Gary Johnson, a former governor and regular Libertarian candidate for president, who received an astounding 11 percent of the vote according to one poll.