Autumn in Griftopia

“Greed is alright, by the way. Greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

-Ivan Boesky, 1986

It’s an inspirational story tailor-made for our time. An airman working the night shift at Balad Air Base in Iraq is severely wounded in a rocket attack, losing both legs and an arm. Surviving his terrible injuries and learning to use prosthetics, he returns to the US and completes a university degree. Tempered in the fires of adversity, he finds success in private life…as a fake news entrepreneur.

You’ve heard of the Wounded Warrior Project, right? Yea, well that’s not him. He’s the guy who bought WoundedAmericanWarrior.com and turned it into a spam/conspiracy site, along with RightWingNews and several others. When Facebook banned his operation he leveraged his service and his injuries to earn headlines as a “free speech” martyr.

Kolfage’s story might have been over when his lucrative fake news operation was banned from social media, but that’s an ending for a loser. A quitter might have sulked for a few days, then settled for a straight job, working every day for a few dollars until he died. That’s not our America. That’s not now. If you’re a hustler, a baller, a player, the kind of badass, never quit all-American who puts a sticker like this on his wheelchair, when your fraud is exposed you just go find a bigger hustle and a richer mark.

Faced once again with adversity, Brian Kolfage dug deep, searched his heart, and never gave up. Now he’s hit the grifter jackpot. Kolfage launched a GoFundMe project to raise private money to build Trump’s border wall. Unlike the half-a-dozen or so other scams already in motion to fleece border wall money from Trumpkins*, Kolfage was working with some unique advantages. First, he enjoyed a small measure of rightwing celebrity after his previous scams were exposed. As he explains in the money-quote on his GoFundMe page, “I’ve been on Fox News many times, you can see I’m credible and a real person.”

To add some additional padding, he’s legitimately a wounded veteran so he’s above polite criticism. Finally, the timing was just right, as Congress and the President are at a standoff over the subject. These factors came together into the feel-good story of our time.

Four days into this grift and Kolfage is sitting on $11m and counting. That’s a lot, but only a loser would quit there. He intends to raise $1bn. Why the hell not? All he needs now is a way to launder it.

A loser, mired in un-American negative thinking, might ask, “How the f&^% would you expect that any of this money would ever end up paying for a wall?” Kolfage has an answer. Again, from his GoFundMe, “We have contacted the Trump Administration to secure a point of contact where all the funds will go upon completion.” No names, just a “contact.”

People in this administration haven’t demonstrated a lot of success at, well, almost anything. But you can be sure Trump’s minions know a thing or two about money laundering, wire fraud, setting up fake companies, pretending to build things, and siphoning money from charities. Trump’s own family charity was shut down by the State of New York this week for fraud. The Trumps pocketed money donated to children’s cancer and veterans in broad daylight without facing any punishment whatsoever. If I was sitting on millions of dollars in money donated for an idiotic cause, those are the people I’d be looking to for advice.

Turns out, it was only a short hop from “greed is good” to “One Nation Under the Hustle.” There is nothing left of the American right but a Matryoshka doll of interlocking scams. Mike Huckabee sells Biblical cancer cures while his daughter makes a living crafting lies for a criminal. Trump’s shady re-election operation has taken control of the RNC, merging their operations. Paul Ryan pretends to dignity while crushing opposition to Trump at the Republican Convention and selling his soul. This is the endgame for the Republican Party. The Party of Lincoln gave birth to Griftopia, a country where people could feel OK investing their inherited millions to buy patents for life-saving medications then jacking up the prices so people die.

There is a sick symmetry to Kolfage’s scam. Fourteen years ago he was literally blown to pieces in a war that was, itself, a trillion-dollar con. Dick Cheney earned tens of millions from his investments in Halliburton thanks to his work as Vice President. The engineers of the Iraq War told Kolfage he’d be greeted as a liberator. None of them were ever held accountable for a fraud that Kolfage and tens of thousands of other servicemen paid for with broken bodies and minds.

If Kolfage pulls this off without landing in jail, then a severely wounded veteran of a fraudulent war will have pocketed millions from what amounts to little more than a tax on racists. Here in Griftopia, that’s as close to a happy ending as anyone can expect. Please forward his powerful GoFundMe appeal to your bigot uncle, and all those MAGA friends and relatives who’ve been ruining your holidays and cramming your Facebook feed with fake news. Brian Kolfage is the hero they truly deserve.

*Just for a fun, here are a few of the other, less successful efforts to raise private money for Trump’s wall.

Fundly effort

Fund The Wall

Build The Wall PAC

42 Comments

  1. One really can’t talk about grifting in modern times without talking about the long con that was Gamergate. Trying to rope people, particularly young white guys, into some crusade for “ethics in games journalism” when it was really an attempt to rope people into a new far right political cohort. It started with “ethics in games journalism” where they *said* they wanted journalists to disclose their relations with developers/publishers, quit blatant editorializing or axe-grinding about a game or genre of games, and what-not, but moved on into broader culture war fights soon after. This was intentional, as professional grifters and provocateurs saw the opportunity and leapt at it.

    https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/josephbernstein/heres-how-breitbart-and-milo-smuggled-white-nationalism

    I fell for the initial ploy of Gamergate, the “ethics in game journalism” part, hook line and sinker. This was mainly because I had been browsing 4chan for ages and because I had seen multiple instances of the games press actively denigrating consumers and fans or insulting their intelligence. The issues surrounding Mass Effect 3 where the press defended EA and BioWare despite the conclusion to the trilogy being a massive disappointment. Games press defending poor reboots like DmC: Devil May Cry and acting buddy-buddy with its developer Ninja Theory, which managed to get away with homophobic jokes about the old version of the main character because the press never called them out on it. There was also BioShock: Infinite, a mediocre game in pretty much all respects and a significant downgrade from the previous games both in mechanics and story, also rife with bugs and repetitive environments. The games press latched onto it for some reason or another with numerous outlets declaring it their game of the year, claiming that people who didn’t like it and its “deep” story just didn’t understand it. They quietly walked their glowing opinions back over time, realizing that Infinite was a slap in the face to fans of BioShock and fans of good games in general, but I and many others still remember them trying to paint the thing as a masterpiece.

    So yeah, there were some genuine reasons for me to dislike game journalism at the time and to see them get some sort of payback. There was no way for me to know at the outset of Gamergate that it would, sometime around early-to-mid-2015, spiral out into a gateway movement for younger people to start getting into far-right politics and white nationalism. I saw what had happened around that time and knew that I had to leave it or else become an insufferable nutjob. I also started to question the credulity of the initial Zoe Quinn blog post that started it all, and nowadays it’s clear that it was a lie. I’m really glad I dropped out of that horror story of a movement when I did.

    Nowadays, the original talking heads of Gamergate are the definition of grifters, spewing alt-right talking points while getting money from gullible suckers. At the very least, it’s satisfying to know that people like Milo are deep in debt and the YouTube grifters like Sargon of Akkad and more have gotten the boot from sites like Patreon.

    In conclusion, it’s not just old people who get suckered into hatred and far-right lunacy. Pay attention to what younger folks are watching and reading online and work to counteract the bogus claims of Sargon, Jordan Peterson, PragerU, and others like them.

    1. EJ

      I’m glad you got out.

      I was active on the opposite side to you during the initial peak of #GG, and it was genuinely puzzling to see the sheer hate with which your side were hurling themselves at people as innocuous as Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu. Looking back at it now, I can’t help but think that Watson was right when she called it a “dress rehearsal for the alt-Right.” As you point out, many of the faces were the same, and the tactics and rhetoric were too.

      Too many never got out, or are too afraid to admit to themselves that their cause was wrong all along, or are too isolated and radicalised by endless propaganda. I’m glad you got out.

    1. How I feel.

      Chaos at home, fear abroad: Trump unleashed puts western world on edge | US news | The Guardian
      No check of any kind by anyone with authority on this mentally ill, vindictive, irrational man who is endowed with exceptional executive power under the US Constitution. Anyone who is not deeply worried is part of the problem.
      Bolton advocating bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities? Russia poised on the Ukraine border to take what’s left? A single phone call by dictator Erdogen and America abandons the Kurds? Immigrants not allowed to lodge asylum requests? Cancellation of health coverage for almost 20 million people with no viable alternative? Savings of working men and women being drained as financial markets react to the incredible volatility being wreaked by scores of irrational decisions? No one left surrounding trump to protect us? Appointments made that will shut down legitimate and critically important investigations of Russian intrusion into Americas elections and the corruption of the man most responsible? And, worse, not a single republican standing who will take substantive action to rein in this man when it is painfully, frighteningly obvious to all sane people throughout the world that trump has come unglued ?

      1. No Dins. I don’t. As much as I’d love trump to choke on a Big Mac, I am far too much of an institutionalist to yield to the very tactics of Miller et al. It’s heartbreaking to watch and frightening as well but somehow I still believe forces of good will succeed.

      2. Well Mary, here is a little scenario for you.

        Spring 2019: Putin decides to roll the tanks into Ukraine, which is not a member of NATO, though Ukraine desperately wants to be. The puppet tyrant stands by and says “not our problem”, and the rest of Europe does not have the conventional firepower to do anything, and does not want to go down the path of nuclear war for a non-NATO member, so Putin gains a country.

        Putin also starts up the disinformation / guerrilla tactics in Lativa or Estonia that he used so effectively in Ukraine 2 years ago. The puppet tyrant does nothing, but the rest of NATO goes on high alert, because those ARE NATO countries.

        Spring 2020: Putin see that the puppet tyrant has a decent chance of losing the fall 2020 election (I know the Senate will remain in the hands of the fascists). So Putin sees his window closing, and after cutting a deal with the puppet tyrant, or just simply guessing that the coward madman will do nothing, Putin rolls the tanks into Latvia or Estonia. NATO this time has no choice but defend, but the puppet tyrant decides to abrogate the treaty that the U.S. signed in 1949.

        Now the rest of NATO has no choice but to use battlefield size nuclear weapons to stop the conventional armor of Russia , primarily because of no American airpower to check the Russians. Then things get insane. BTW, using tactical nukes on Russian armor has been part of the NATO playbook for at least the last 40 years, likely longer.

        I would say there is at least 50% chance of something like this happening. But you keep on believing in institutional processes and the forces of good that have been utterly ineffective so far. Remember, that Guardian article stated that Mattis talked the madman out of leaving NATO. That alone would have justified the puppet tyrant’s instant execution.

        One last thing: If the madman met a bullet tomorrow, the markets would open 500 points higher on the next trading day, maybe a 1000 points.

      3. Dins, you really need to chill on this assassination talk. Something like that would just add to the damage to our republic, especially when we still have legal and civilized means for resisting. Shooting people is the worst way out of this.

      4. EJ

        If Putin rolls his tanks into Ukraine then it’ll be a huge miscalculation. I think he does not understand the extent to which Europe is currently looking for an external enemy to unite against. I mean, we’re giving the UK a well-deserved kicking over the whole Brexit thing, but that’s milktoast stuff. Russia has a very big army and lots of shiny toys, but they don’t have the deep pockets to match it.

        To my mind, here are two more worrying scenarios:

        Firstly, what if America simply doesn’t end the government shutdown at all? The military is still fully funded, and they’re the only part that Trump cares about. He’s been acting dangerously paranoid, getting rid of all the advisors who’ve previously been able to control him. Now that there are no adults in the room any longer, what happens if he simply concludes that “not having a government isn’t so bad” and refuses to sign anything? How long before people conclude that there is no longer any meaningful American Republic?

        Secondly, it’s been a decade since the last financial crash, and the markets aren’t looking good. Last decade, capitalism was quite literally saved from self-annihilation by swift and coordinated action by the governments of Germany, France, Japan, the UK and the US, all putting national self-interest aside to ensure that the financial world survived. Alas, times have changed. The UK and US are no longer run by adults, and only Germany and Japan on that list have a stable enough government to be able to do unpopular but necessary things. If this financial collapse is as big as the last one, who will prevent it? Will we see capitalism end within the next few years?

    2. I absolutely concur. These are scary times. I thought I’d share a couple of diaries from KOS that I’ve found interesting and pointing-towards Trump’s early exit:

      https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/12/21/1820773/-Mattis-s-resignation-was-strategic-toward-removing-Trump-And-it-s-working

      https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/12/22/1821088/-Robert-Reich-The-End-of-Trump-Is-Near

      I’m personally beginning to think that impeachment is likely to happen and desirable once the facts are on the table. But regarding confirmation by the Senate, I still consider that ify. However, maybe the R’s are getting pissed enough per Reich’s article they’ll go along. The worst part of it is the likely Pence pardon. Still there are the state crimes, that’ll probably lock him up .We would still have to deal with Pence however. His actual election would be unlikely given the turmoil.

      There’s still time for the unscheduled departure of the gold 757 from Reagan National???

      1. I like the article on Mattis very much and hope it’s 100% true. What ought to happen after Mueller reports, is that 100% of the House votes to impeach, and 100% of the Senate votes guilty. The more GOPers on board, the better for our republic. But some will sell out. If it actually comes to impeachment, rather than the midnight plane to Moscow, I propose a betting pool on how various Senators vote.

  2. The phrase you can’t cheat an honest man comes to mind.

    As for the wall, why not enforce the laws against hiring undocumented immigrants. When you find the workers, don’t just round up the workers, arrest the business owners. There are fines and jail time already on the books, just enforce the damn law! Folks see folks they know going to jail, all the sudden the jobs will go away. The border wall BS will go with them.

    As for the caravans, run PSAs in the areas that state that you must apply for asylum at the consulate in your country or your application will not be considered.

    1. Unfortunately, what you suggest is a little, or a lot, like fighting “the war on drugs”, which has been a colossal failure. As long as there is demand for cheap labor, there will be a supply, legal or otherwise.

      And the capitalist system runs on cheap labor, or at least, much of the american model. No, that is not true. The american version is just reacting to globalization, where developed nations are dealing with countries like china that use slave labor.

      1. The percentage I have seen attributed to wage increases by corporations after their major cut on taxes is approximately 6%. Mostly, investors have been rewarded. A little karma of late as the NYSE lost 9% this week which is putting a pretty hefty dent in investment rewards.

      2. The american version is just reacting to globalization, where developed nations are dealing with countries like china that use slave labor.

        A good theory but it’s WRONG – just look at Germany for example

        The USA rushed to globalise NOT because it saved money – most of the time it COST more – but because it broke the Unions

        Most of the time that companies “offshored” a small number of executives and people in the new country made out like bandits but the actual company LOST money

        Story time!
        I worked for a big US Company in the UK (and later at company headquarters)
        I got fed up with the Americans badmouthing my plant (Darlington Engine Plant) as being the most expensive
        So I ran all the numbers
        My shop floor guys were paid close to twice as much as the Americans at CDC and CMEP – but the total costs were LOWER
        My “Before In Service” and Warranty costs were so much lower that we were cheaper than the US plants
        Talk about a fart in a spacesuit! I nearly got the sack for that – my boss managed to shred the evidence

        The lowest labour cost DOES NOT MEAN the lowest overall cost – and the costs of having your production plant in another country to your development operation are HUGE

      3. @ Mike Brady: There are close to million people, mostly young black men, who are in prison for pot possession that would take issue with you re: going after the demand will work.

        @Duncan Cairncross: “The USA rushed to globalise NOT because it saved money – most of the time it COST more – but because it broke the Unions” And why did they break unions? Because in the long run, the capitalists and their psychopathic executives figure it would save on labor costs. It is irrelevant if they were wrong, and your plant is just another example of that. The key is that they think it will, hence we have the Wisconsin’s and North Carolina’s et al.

  3. On a more serious note, I wanted to say something about Mattis’s resignation. While I respected the man, and he was probably the best of Trump’s nominees, that doesn’t make him a great SecDef.

    But here is what really troubles me: we have basically lost civilian control of the military. Whether it was Trump’s instructions to ban transgenders from serving, various ways he blew up against our allies, etc. etc. Mattis essentially went around overruling Trump, and blatantly disregarding his instructions. Now, I don’t blame Mattis for this, and indeed, most of us are thankful he did so. But it sets a dangerous precedent. What’s to keep future military leaders, once that Rubicon has been crossed, to decide other civilian mandates should also be disregarded? Mattis, you’ll recall, had such a monomaniacal focus on Iran that he basically was insubordinate to Obama regarding the nuclear deal we made with them, which is what led to his firing from central command.

    While we’ve been at risk of this before, the Generals involved have been punished swiftly. Mattis himself was fired when he began publicly opposing the Iranian nuclear deal and Obama’s military policy in the middle east. And General MacArthur was summarily relieved of his duties when he started making noises against Truman. The lack of this condemnation, or even any real recognition of Mattis’s actions, is troubling.

    We have to recall that most military takeovers of society begin with the civil society *welcoming* the military to takeover because the civil government is so blatantly corrupt and/or ineffective. It’s only afterwards that the shootings and bloody juntas start. Also, ironically, the greatest risk of a military takeover is after a major military *loss*. One would think that after a victory, basking in the glow of glory, would be the time of greatest risk. But that’s not true. In many instances, it’s after the military loses a war and seeking to blame someone for their loss, sets their sights on the “weak” civilian leadership that set them up for failure. Their way is made easier since the civilian government is usually weakened after losing a major war. This is, for example, how Pakistan faced military coups as a result of their humiliating losses in their wars against India.

    While we’re still in very early stages, I’m worried that the stage has potentially been set: a weak, ineffectual civilian government; a military seething after two grueling, pointless wars which they’ve lost against much smaller, weaker opponents, and looking for reasons / excuses for their humiliation; and a SecDef who has shown that “small” insubordinations against the civilian commander-in-chief “for the good of the country” don’t lead to negative consequences and indeed, lead to adoration by the civilian populace. It doesn’t take a Julius Caesar to put two and two together and decide to roll the dice. Pray that we don’t have one among our general staff.

    1. All good points – as I recall Obama had to relieve at least three generals, Flynn, Mattis and McChrystal. All were insubordinate in some way, perhaps because they perceived Obama to be weak, due to his reluctance to use military force as the first option.

      I would say however that the particular President at this time is extraordinarily incompetent and unwilling to think things through. The current withdrawal from Syria is a case in point. Per a current MSNBC report – https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/white-house-says-erdogan-promised-trump-he-d-finish-isis-n951296 Trump decided to withdraw based on a promise by Erdogan. The report shows very clearly that Trump does not know what is happening in Syria and how incompetent he is. This is from the White House, itself.

      Also, part of the problem is that the U.S. has not had a cohesive foreign policy ever since the end of the Cold War. Every action has been adhoc, to meet the demands of the moment. The closest we came to a cohesive foreign policy was the Project for a New American Century, which was sort of the template for the Bush 43 foreign policy, but that utterly failed.

      That being said I feel the U.S. is overextended and needs to retrench in Syria, Afghanistan and some other areas. See my comment and reply to you in Chris’ previous blog, The Trump Scandal B List.

      1. I’m torn about this Mattis issue as well. I’ve always said I’d rather support a bad decision from the civilian command than a good decision from the military because military control of a country always ends up in misery and bloodshed. But Trump is so bad that this may truly be an exception to that general edict. FWIW, I’m glad that Mattis and the rest of the generals disobeyed most of Trump’s commands. And it’s true that doesn’t mean they’ve come completely unglued from civilian control: I’d bet good money that Mattis quietly consulted with cooler heads in Congress like the various committee chairmen before proceeding. But it makes me a little uneasy that this is the bargain we’re making, simply because I know of no country in the modern era that made a similar bargain that they didn’t end up regretting a few years / decades later.

        WRT Syria: while I feel badly about the humanitarian crisis there, I firmly believe that our intervention has made things worse. The generals are wrong about this: our presence there has been a net negative to the situation. Believe it or not, I’m not a pacifist. I strongly supported invading Afghanistan, since that’s where OBL was hiding and the Taliban were partly responsible for 9/11. Here is our strategy in Syria as best as I can make it: we want to topple Assad, so we support Sunni separatists, but when our support causes the main Sunni separatist group, ISIS, to become too powerful, we don’t want that either, so we support ISIS’s enemies namely Al-Qaeda to battle ISIS. But when they win against ISIS, Assad gains power, so then we support the Kurds because they’ll fight both the Sunnis like Al-Qaeda and ISIS *and* alawites like Assad. But then, we don’t want the Kurds to get too powerful because that upsets our ally Turkey which has its own sizeable Kurdish population that is agitating for freedom. So at the end of the day, all we’ve done is indiscriminately pour gasoline on a smoldering fire, while thinking we’re the firefighters.

        As much as it pains me to say this, Russia has done more to stabilize Syria than we have, because their objectives are clear: they support Assad. Which means they have no problem destroying ISIS, al-Nusra (i.e. al-Qaeda in Syria) and, unfortunately, the Kurds. But that means that the country will at least be stable again. Our policy is so internally inconsistent that it seems our main goal is to ensure that everyone battles each other, with no one becoming powerful enough to actually control the entire country, because we can’t decide who we actually support (not Assad, not ISIS, not Al-Qaeda, and not even the Kurds because Turkey will eject us from our Turkish bases like Incirlik if we do). With such a mess, I really do believe the best thing we can do for the Syrians is to leave them alone.

      2. 1. I remember thinking at the very beginning that intervening in Syria would be a terrible mistake. Obama’s initial inclination was to stay out. But then ISIS started their campaign of assassination of various Western hostages and other outrageous acts. The media and particularly the right wing portion, started playing it up as if ISIS was and existential threat to the U.S. and the people started getting excited. This led to a lot of political pressure in Congress and elsewhere to intervene. Obama then intervened in the minimal possible way, But mission creep always occurs.

        This is a perfect example of reaching for the military option when there are other options available. But, unfortunately the State Department and other avenues of non-military influence have been starved of funds for decades now. That is one of the consequences of Dush 43 generally following the neo-con’s program. Even during Obama’s administration the State Department was poorly funded since the R’s controlled the House.

        2. I mentioned that we have not had a cohesive foreign policy since the end of the cold war. The major reason for this seems to be that the people want to retrench some and focus on domestic issues. Every president since H.W. Bush, has largely been elected on a domestic platform and none have them have had any real experience in foreign affairs, but foreign issues have always interjected themselves, and then the presidents reach for the military option.

        As Elizabeth Warren in an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine points out, we need to stop trying to separate foreign issues from domestic issues. A cohesive foreign and domestic policy needs to be adopted. However to do that we need to get past the partisanship in the U.S. How to do that is the question.

      3. I think that’s excusing GWB and Obama a little too much. We actually did have a coherent foreign policy with GHWB and Clinton. It centered around protecting fledgling post-communist democracies (e.g. central & eastern europe), countering nuclear proliferation (GHWB managed to convince every post-soviet Republic e.g. Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons stockpile with a combination of promises of closer economic and security ties and lots of foreign aid. It was an astounding feat. No country has ever given up its nuclear weapons before or since), and fighting terrorism in the proper way (legal means to cut off financing, low-level covert and intelligence operations to break up their networks). We also managed to renegotiate the overall goals and purposes of NATO and our extensive Pacific Rim bilateral ties to reposition and reassure our allies for a post-Cold War world, while ensuring continued American leadership. GHWB and Clinton managed to resolve northern Ireland, the Balkans, and nearly resolved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (until Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated). These were all done primarily by diplomacy run by the State Dept, not the military (except for the Balkans, which needed both). Even as a yellow dog democrat, I have to give Bush I a ton of credit for managing the post-cold war era (his domestic policy was more tone deaf). He deserved a Nobel Peace Prize far more than Obama or Gore.

        Our foreign policy only went to pieces after 9/11, when GWB and his neocon cabal went berserk rather than deal with things in a calm fashion. It worsened when Obama essentially cemented GWB’s policies as bipartisan bedrock rather than provide a reasoned alternative. We no longer debate what are incredibly controversial and bad foreign policy choices, which continue to drive our global efforts and are rapidly reinforcing the world’s view of America as the foremost rogue state.

        We shouldn’t excuse Obama’s poor performance in this regard due to meanie Republicans not funding the State Dept. It was never a question of funding. It was always a question of willpower. Obama had no foreign policy ideas of his own, and was too weak to formulate one among the competing theories. It wasn’t for lack of expertise in his advisors. Joe Biden is one of the Democrats’ braintrust on foreign affairs. He actually had a rational, reasoned approach to the Middle East. For that matter, foreign policy was still viewed as nonpartisan in those days so he could have easily consulted Colin Powell and other Republicans with deep expertise. His inability to craft a response to the default neocon approach meant the default was allowed to continue. That’s entirely on him, not a weakened State Dept. or lack of House appropriations.

      4. This is a real deep-in-the-weeds analysis of how Western media got it so wrong on Syria:

        https://palladiummag.com/2018/11/14/how-blindness-on-syria-reveals-cracks-in-media-epistemology/

        The bottomline is that in the era of reduced budgets, tighter deadlines, and more competition from other sources, news of all stripes has become vulnerable to fake news. While we might laugh at the blatant stuff peddled on Fox News or InfoWars, much of “mainstream” reporting is also highly susceptible to willful deception and lack of standard journalistic integrity.

        We went into Syria without a good understanding of the source of the conflict, the relevant players, the strategic facts on the ground, or even our goals. Syria is not a success. And it will not magically become one the longer we stay. We don’t even know what we’re fighting for. And it’s not just an idiot like Trump who hasn’t figured it out. Obama, Mattis, a multitude of Sec. of States from Clinton and Kerry through the current bunch, Congressional committees, the Pentagon’s joint chiefs of staff, academic think tanks, no one has been able to articulate our objectives, or even, quite frankly, a good understanding of what the Syrian conflict is really about. Do you really think making our soldiers march around aimlessly while getting blown up by IEDs will improve the situation? What’s the old saying? If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s unlikely you’ll end up there.

  4. Thanks for a heartwarming story this time of year, Chris. It just warms the cockles of my heart knowing that the racist swamp has been drained of 11m and potentially 1bln. Knowing how deranged these people are, I actually think Kolfage won’t keep most of the cash. There are plenty of shady people willing to strip him of it, and he’s probably too inexperienced to know how to deal with them. I’m betting the vast majority will be eaten by whatever unethical lawyers he hires to help him figure out how to get this money to the Feds.

    I’m so tempted to start my own gofundme page. I just need to think up of a cause more ridiculous than this one. Perhaps something to “fund” the FBI into continuing the pizzagate investigation?

    I got it: we should raise money to pay the NY state AG to investigate the Clinton Foundation. When they shut down the Trump charities, all I heard on the wingnut forums was “But, but, but, what about the Clinton Foundation? When are they going to investigate that???” Now they can put their money where their mouths are. I’ll take the money and donate it to her re-election campaign (keeping 50% as my administrative overhead) as long as she “promises” to “maybe” look into the Clintons. What’s that? She’s a Democrat who’s hellbent on pursuing Trump? Regrettable collateral damage…

  5. Today’s NY Times article mirrors yours Chris, and added that the plan to “donate” the funds to the Dept of Homeland Security (as proposed) is not currently an option. Congress would have to pass a law to allow for such a transfer. He cites he is working with a “law firm” which goes un-named to create a non-profit that could work with them to funnel the funds to the project.

    They might as well as go behind their trailers and burn their money.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/21/us/gofundme-wall-border-border-mexico.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage&login=smartlock&auth=login-smartlock

    1. What makes you think there will be “judgement” of any kind? What political and legal mechanisms will finally grind into gear to arrest and execute the innumerable traitors, but not before stripping their families of all assets? That includes mcconnel et al for protecting this monster.

      The puppet tyrant and his entire family just were found guilty off ripping off untold millions through their “charity” and what did the NY AG do? “OK, you can’t do that anymore.”

      You think there will be some other legal entity that will demand reparations for what this regime has done, even if Mueller exposes the worst possible actions by this crew? At best, this puppet tyrant loses in 2020, and then screams “I was robbed” for the rest of his life, all the while racking up the highest Secret Service costs of any ex-president, ever. Or, more likely, starts a civil war.

      This guy will start his own right-wing nut bar trump tv channel, and grift more billions out of the idiots.

      If you waiting around for some form of justice, you are not going to see it. Lastly, you do realize that mcconnel has likely done as much lasting damage, quite possibly more, to the country and planet than the madman, and that senator from Kentucky is not going anywhere.

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