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      by Tony Wikrent North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Strategic Political Economy Economist Mariana Mazzucato has demonstrated that the real driver of innovation isn’t lone geniuses but state investment. [Wired, via The Big Picture 10-19-19] ….Mazzucato, an Italian-American economist who had spent decades researching the economics of innovation […]
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Moscow Versailles

Stop me if you’ve heard this one already. Did you know that the Trump Organization was planning to gift a $50,000,000 penthouse to Vladimir Putin in Trump Moscow? This is according to Buzzfeed. Yeah, yeah, old news already. Less than 12 hours old but you know some of us gotta sleep.

Buzzfeed says:

BuzzFeed News first reported in May on the secret dealings of Cohen and his business associate Felix Sater with political and business figures in Moscow.

The two men worked furiously behind the scenes into the summer of 2016 to get the Moscow deal finished — despite public claims that the development was canned in January, before Trump won the Republican nomination. Sater told BuzzFeed News today that he and Cohen thought giving the Trump Tower’s most luxurious apartment, a $50 million penthouse, to Putin would entice other wealthy buyers to purchase their own. “In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin,” Sater told BuzzFeed News. “My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.” A second source confirmed the plan.


According to the criminal information filed against Cohen Thursday, on Jan. 20, 2016, he spoke with a Russian government official, referred to only as Assistant 1, about the Trump Tower Moscow plan for 20 minutes. This person appears to be an assistant to Peskov, a top Kremlin official whom Cohen had attempted to reach by email.

Cohen “requested assistance in moving the project forward, both in securing land to build the proposed tower and financing the construction,” the court document states.

Cohen had previously maintained that he never got a response from the official, but in court on Thursday he acknowledged that was a lie.

Two FBI agents with direct knowledge of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations told BuzzFeed News earlier this year that Cohen was in frequent contact with foreign individuals about the real estate venture — and that some of these individuals had knowledge of or played a role in 2016 election meddling. The identity of those individuals remains unknown.

What quid was going to be exchanged for what pro quo?

Some of it is obvious: Trump gets a shiny new tower in Moscow. Putin and his people would help set up the financing. In exchange for what?

If the Russians helped him win the election what would they get in return other than a nice new Versailles on the Moskva?

What did Putin want from Trump?

Two possible things:

1.) Get rid of the sanctions and the Magnitsky act. After all, what’s the point of being a obscenely wealthy Russian oligarch if there’s nowhere to spend all that filthy lucre? You can’t go to visit your fabulously well appointed penthouses in America.

2.) Just completely ruin the West. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Install some incompetent stooge who owes you big time and will help you dismantle the post-WWII global alliance that kept you in check for 70 years. Oh, sure, global warming might finally give you a passage in the arctic circle for you to menace and maraud your neighbors but why not get rid of as many obstacles as you can before then?

Any other theories? Drop them in the comments. And then hold on to your seats. There are going to be a lot of very nervous people doing a lot of unpredictable things in the near future.

Will Trump serve out his term? I seriously doubt it at this point. When it starts to go down, an avalanche tends to have a momentum of its own and Mueller seems like he’s not going to let some acting AG stand in his way of getting the truth out.

In a way, I’m sympathetic to all of the Trump voters who thought his candidacy was more substantial than the criminal venality that it turned out to be. It’s like waking up to find that someone’s stolen your kidney after that wild party last night.

Cheer up. You can operate quite well with only one. We won’t think less of you for falling for it. It could happen to anyone.



It’s Mueller Time

Get a beer, sit back, try not to get drunk on all the newsy goodness.

The hits just keep coming today. In just the last half hour, we learned that acting AG Matt Whitaker is not supervising Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Rod Rosenstein is. Huh. What’s that all about? It’s got to be something interesting to deflect Trump’s mole from derailing the investigation.

Previous to that, Trump said he had no ties to Russia when he was a candidate and he wasn’t lying about that but so what if he was? He wasn’t president back then so what’s it to you?

Previous to that, the Federales raided the offices of one of Trump’s tax attorneys in Chicago.

At about the same time, they paid a visit to Deutsche Bank, the number one bank globally for money laundering.

And we started the day off with Michael Cohen pleading guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s business projects in Russia. (Interesting side note: I read a tweet somewhere that indicated that some WH staffers were shocked to find out that you could actually get indicted for that. Probably a lot of lawyers getting panicked phone calls this afternoon).

It’s about this time in the movie when Elliot Ness and the G-Men meet the bad guys in some public building in Chicago and the showdown begins complete with baby carriage careening dangerously down a flight of steps.

In this case, the baby has been headed for a meltdown ever since the Midterm elections. His tweets and public pronouncements are going south rapidly.

But let’s not forget that this baby doubles down when he’s being attacked. He’s going to fight this denouement with all he’s got and he’ll take everyone down with him if he can.

Is he dangerous? Um, probably. I’d take away the football and the launch codes if I were the Secret Service. We can’t have babies around dangerous things. He just might use them.


I’ll let Man in the Hoody have the last word here:

On another note: designer babies

You may have missed this story about the Chinese geneticist who has used CRISPR to design 2 HIV resistant twin girls.

Sounds great!


It’s not as impressive as it sounds. Here’s the scoop from Derek Lowe:

The nerdly short summary:

In other words, there’s no telling how this is going to turn out for these two girls. They are human guinea pigs. The scientist who did this gives the rest of us a bad name. Think Simon Barsinister or The Brain. The experiment is badly constructed with unpredictable outcomes.

Not only that but it just adds fuel to the religious right to stop trying more critical designs on a smaller scale, not going all the way to viability.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.


Walk to work music. I’m bundled up and have on a long brown suede skirt with boots. But I’m thinking of warmth.

Legal psychopathy

What we learned yesterday is that there is nothing that Donald Trump won’t do to evade accountability for anything he’s done. Mueller has begun proceedings to sentence Manafort after previously flipping him. Manafort has lied repeatedly about his actions. Jerome Corsi, conspiracist extraordinaire and friend of Nixon dirty trickster Roger Stone, has also reneged on his cooperation agreement. The Washington Post covers the recent turn of events:

Mueller’s team alleged in a Monday night court filing that Manafort, who after months of resistance had agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation, was still lying to them. The revelation came just as conservative author Jerome Corsi, whom Mueller has investigated as part of his examination of possible ties between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign, said publicly he was rejecting a plea offer from the special counsel.


That is not uncommon: The best witnesses to crimes are often criminals themselves. But white-collar defendants can pose unique challenges, analysts said.

“Give me a shameless sociopath over a dissembling fraudster any day,” said James M. Trusty, a former chief of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Section now in private practice at Ifrah Law. “We would have gang members who would just sit down and without a blink of an eye tell us about murders we had no idea about . . . The other side of the spectrum is you get these well-heeled white-collar defendants who have been rationalizing for a long time. Everything becomes a ‘what is is,’ where you have to play chess with them every second to get the truth out.

Ok, yeah, the Trumpsters wouldn’t be the first bunch of assholes to rationalize that playing rough hardball to take out Hillary Clinton was justified. The Obama contingent frequently made that assertion, though I don’t think even they would conspire with a foreign power to interfere with an election.

What doesn’t seem to be mentioned in this article is the fact that Manafort, Corsi and Trump share the same counsel. That is, their lawyers are all working together. On top of that, Trump now has his lackey, Matt Whitaker, as acting AG, potentially feeding the legal team information that he has obtained from internal sources, like demanding the Mueller reports.

Soooo, there’s that…

You’d think that would be illegal. On the other hand, it’s like shining a big, honkin’ spotlight at a group of people who look like they are conspiring together. Hmmm…

It’s really funny the lengths that perfectly innocent people will go to in order to escape any kind of reckoning. In all likelihood, this will not affect the opinions of the die hard Trump fans that think he’s the “pink of perfection” (ok, salmon). We only need to look at the result of the Mississippi runoff election results last night where interim senator and not so subtly dog-whistling Cindy Hyde-Smith beat Mike Espy to demonstrate that. But it should have been a blow out for her and it was most decidedly, um, not.

Who knows, with the economy on a saddle point and more negative news coming, by the end of the year, even Republicans might want some accountability. After all, the New Democratic House won’t be sworn in until January so all the bad stuff will fall on McConnell and House Republicans, a fact that all of the incoming Dems should make a point of loudly and clearly from now until New Years.


Feeling rowdy today. Walk to work music with Twisted Sister:

Nutcracker Season – Snowflakes

A very cold and lovely snowflake dance from Dresden, Germany.


Ecuador. Duh.

Mueller team: What did Paul Manafort and Julian Assange discuss when he came to the embassy in London.

Ecuador: Paul Manafort? {{rifling through logbook}} Paul… Manafort. Nope. Could he have used another name? Pablo? Manoamano? {{staff giggles in background}}

Mueller team: He was the American. Casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt. Visited in March 2016. Stayed about {{checking video on iPhone}} 40 minutes.

Ecuador: {{crickets}}

Mueller team: Take your time.

Chaos and insanity.

Let’s think this through, shall we?

We are going to trap these human beings between a rock and a hard place. If we close the border coming into the US, what makes us think Mexico won’t close its border going out of the US? What about transportation of goods over the border in either direction? What about families who have members working legally in either country who would like to visit? What about tourism?

What will Canada do? Has anyone thought about whether the Canadians will look with horror on how we’re tear gassing poor little Honduran kids in diapers?

What EXACTLY is the problem with processing these people like we used to do or sending aid to their countries to put down lawless insurrections? If we want them to stay in Central America, maybe we should help make Central America more livable for them. Oh, that’s not YOUR problem? Just wait until the borders close.

How about the Russians moving in on Ukraine?

How about Ford planning to close plants and lay-off thousands of Trump voters because of the rising costs of imported steel that we tariffed?

How about the romaine lettuce we can’t eat because the FDA was allowed to relax regulations to appease farmers?

How about the deficit becoming a source of frustration to Trump after he and his party foolishly cut taxes on very wealthy people and corporations?

This is just the beginning of the wheels coming off the country and all because a lot of really snooty white women couldn’t see how they were flim flamming them on social media about Hillary Clinton in 2016.

This is what we will get: political, economic and social instability. It’s going to get worse. And we haven’t even talked about climate change that no one can escape from.

He is what he is- a large, soft, orange colored, ignorant, mean, fool of a crime boss who is using his position to enrich his family. You can tell by their Christmas decorations that they don’t have souls.

The Republican Senators and House members are letting this happen by not holding him accountable. The only protests we should be having right now should be at the Capitol in DC. Let’s see them try to cross our border.