Link Roundup, 7/27/2019 The Grifter Edition

From Sen. Joe Manchin: The Chinese are supposedly making an investment in W. Virginia larger than the state’s GDP. Their Senator wants to know why, and can’t get a straight answer. Here’s what appears to be happening.

From the Daily Beast: Rand Paul is working to protect Russia’s investment in a European gas pipeline, against the interests of the US and our European allies.

From Politico: On a related note, Richard Burt, Paul’s main foreign policy advisor, is a registered foreign lobbyist paid to promote the pipeline.

From Politico: Donating money to right-wing causes is like giving money to TV preachers. It’s a well-organized scam.

From the Texas Tribune: The grifters behind the “Build the Wall” GoFundMe last year held a carnival on the border next to their amusement park wall. A kid there was selling $10 Patriot Lemonade.

From Instagram: Brian Kolfage, the guy behind the wall scam, bought a million-dollar yacht. Good for him, I guess.

84 Comments

  1. I love this! Good for this Democratic Socialist and her fellow elected council members.
    I agree that for-profit prisons are an abomination. Obama had begun the process of shutting down this industry but that’s all been reversed.
    I learned how strong Geo Corp is when I joined a group of Montgomery County Tx citizens to protest how immigrants were being treated while detained in the local facility managed by this company. Then we found out that grants had been awarded by ex order from trump, and a second detention facility would be built that was owned and operated by Geo Corp, under a contract for services with federal government. We got a copy of the contract and tried to challenge it but the desk was done. When we Kevin Brady’s office about this, he refused to acknowledge any awareness of how funding had been procured for this facility and contract without any public notice. He was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee at the time and, the money (many millions) went to his congressional district. In short, he refused to accept any accountability or knowledge for this happening in Conroe Tx. That made two detention facilities in this county with a sheriff who signed on to work with ICE.

    It is my opinion, that the plans for large scale detention in many areas of the nation were made early in the trump administration and funded outside the normal appropriations process in order to avoid public scrutiny. Geo corp and core civic were both major donors to trump’s campaign and obviously benefactors of what we are witnessing today in large scale immigration detention operations.

    https://theintercept.com/2019/08/08/private-prisons-contract-denver/

      1. Yes. We did that research before the second facility was built. The per diem for detainees is very high. One of the detainees who spoke to our group was raped by guards. He was not the only one. They were paid $1/ day to work. No win doom JC building. Detainees were not allowing to go outside. We tried to get media attention and had the reporter who broke the original pieces speak but didn’t gain traction except among a small group of already involved people.

      2. I note from Bob’s link that the facility that is closing is operated by SW Key. I may be mistaken but I believe Chris discussed SW Key some months ago. I’ve not researched the subject, but it seems as if SW Key has some ethics and wants to treat the detainees reasonably well.

        GEO Corp on the other hand has no ethics and is only wants to maximize profits. It has a very poor reputation nationally. It runs the NW Detention Center in Tacoma, WA and is constantly in the news – not for positive reasons. As a matter of fact Tacoma is researching the situation to determine if they can find a legal basis for terminating the contract. Bob Ferguson, the WA AG, may be involved as well.

        As was pointed out GEO Corp made major contributions to the Trump campaign. I believe that you are correct that plans were made early Trump’s to build many more detention facilities and for the construction to be done by the private sector and for contracts to be let under emergency provisions. This avoids normal governmental controls and precludes having to follow normal federal standards. It does however allow for quick substandard construction. That is similar to the way the DOD constructed military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Massive funds are routed to private companies and the construction is done poorly. This makes a perfect opportunity for graft and corruption.

        My opinion is that the nation would be far better served and the cost to the public would be far less by having all detention facilities (prisons) constructed under normal federal procedures, and for them to be operated by the federal government. This includes the DHS facilities.

        The same applies to the DOD. The military should construct the bases and operate them. The military has shown numerous times that they can build a temporary base overseas quickly and safely. The problem is that requires putting more men and women in uniform and that in turn makes it more difficult and almost impossible to maintain the current strategy of continuous war.

        THANK YOU DICK CHENEY. He was the one who dreamed up this most effective strategy of enriching the private sector and furthering graft and corruption.

      1. Who made that call, I wonder. The “suicide” risk was as obvious as the flight risk. Epstein’s death saddens me only in the sense that 1) he can’t testify now, and 2) his victims can’t face him in court. As for his sake, he deserved far, far worse than death.

  2. Immigrants and their children will help supercharge the U.S. into a hotbed of innovation and diversity. But those immigrants also need a fair wage and good working conditions in order to properly provide for their children. Just one small piece of that puzzle is making sure those workers don’t get their cars towed and wind up being fined. Amazon failed to provide adequate parking for its workers in Minnesota, many of which are Somali immigrants, and their cars got towed and they got fined. Workers then walked out, and got what they demanded, with fines repayed and promises for more parking and transportation options.

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/08/amazon-faces-growing-labor-unrest-with-minnesota-warehouse-protest/

    Collective action works. I’m excited to see what future organizing Amazon employees will participate in. The question is, how much collective action will Bezos and Amazon put up with? I’m curious as to when Jeff will commit a repeat of the Ludlow Massacre that his 20th Century equivalent, John D. Rockefeller, committed back in 1914. The pieces for that are already falling into place, now that Amazon is working buddy-buddy with the cops:

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/08/police-can-get-your-ring-doorbell-footage-without-a-warrant-report-says/

  3. About that Ill timed immigrant raid in MS yesterday…The optics of this major ICE action on the heels of the two most recent shootings, is appalling. It should reveal trump’s photo op visits for what they were.

    There may be something else going on here other than the obvious distress and inhumanity of doing this on the first day of school, leaving many children parentless and no place to go. Why were business management and ownership not charged?
    Why are they rarely if ever charged? Could this back story tell us anything more?

    https://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2018/08/01/koch-foods-mississippi-pay-3-75-m-settle-discrimination-lawsuits/875688002/

    1. EJ

      I read that story.

      I hesitate to say that it’s a conspiracy, as we are living in a world where it turns out that the “every political leader since the 1980s was part of a secret paedophile ring” conspiracy theorists turned out to be onto something, but I’m not sure we can ascribe that level of competence to ICE.

      I think the first day of school is a bigger motive. The cruelty is, after all, the point.

    2. In so far as this specific incident, I doubt that there was a larger conspiracy per say. It was just ICE being super “humanitarian and compassionate”. The children were all gathered in one place, so the optics were somewhat controlled, the kids were all in centralized locations, so they were easy to handle. Much better than having them spread all over town in the custody of various people and/or day care centers.

      1. I don’t think you are correct about the kids being cared for. I listened to an interview of the Superintendent of Schools in that county and he said they had no notice of the raid. The first inkling they had was when their hispanic studnets started checking out in droves. Obviously, they were getting texts. What happened was that kids went home to empty houses, had heard only their parents were picked up for deportation. Community members stepped up and a gym owner and those children who had noone at home were housed there. Supposedly, 300 of the immigrants detained were released for “humanitarian reasons”, which included young children.

        I am certain this raid due to its size, had been planned for weeks, but with the intervening mass shootings, it does seem potus might have put it off out of respect for the Latino community. He didn’t because he really wants all these people gone.

      2. After further thought, I believe that I am giving ICE too much credit. They probably were not even aware that it was the first day of school. They probably just picked a day from the calendar when the agents could be brought in and the local principals such as PR people, etc., were available. I agree that there was likely no thought given to the kids or to modern communications. Bureaucracies can be hide bound and very easily overlook the various ramifications. That would be particularly true with ICE or any of the similar departments in DHS, since they are only focused on getting fulfilling their mission of getting rid of the undocumented immigrants.

    3. “Why were business management and ownership not charged?
      Why are they rarely if ever charged? “
      It’s just more of that nasty all-American mix of greed, hypocrisy, xenophobia, and short memories about immigration. People want the benefits of a pool of cheap labor, but also like to demonize the laborers while giving a pass to those who hire under the table. Remember former participant JohnGalt’s very astute opinion. that immigration enforcement is just a sham that was never intended to really work? If they were truly serious about stopping illegal hiring, they’d be busting many more employers. No doubt you’ve seen the WaPo story about the hypocrite-in-Chief and the hiring practices of his resorts.

      Some newer bonus hypocrisy- I’ve heard many a righty claim that they aren’t anti-immigration, but rather they are willing to welcome anyone who “follows the rules”. But when the TX Secretary of State tried to push that bogus fraudulent voter list, which incorrectly had the names of many naturalized citizens who were eligible to vote, I don’t recall hearing any outcry from that crowd. LULAC, the ACLU, and other left-leaning groups raised a big stink and and forced the TX GOP to drop it, but nothing but crickets from the right wing. So I’m calling bullshit on that “We’re all for legal immigration” RW crowd. If you won’t stand up for the civil rights of new citizens, you can’t believably claim to be welcoming them.

  4. There were some really interesting happenings today: Andrew McCabe is suing for wrongful termination today, Peter Strzok, two days ago. These suits will be interesting to follow. Then today, the acting DNI chief, Sue Gordon, a 30 year veteran in US intelligence, resigned when trump decided not to appoint her to replace Coats. The brain drain in so many branches of government is severe.

    Russians Possibly Linked to Trump,” by WSJ’s Jean Eaglesham, Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Siobhan Hughes and David Benoit: “Major Wall Street banks have given congressional committees investigating President Trump thousands of pages of documents related to Russians who may have had dealings with Mr. Trump, his family or his business, people familiar with the congressional probes said. Some banks are also giving documents related to Mr. Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, to New York state investigators, people familiar with the New York investigation said.

    There was a bit of good news reported out by the WSJ (I’m paywalled as I bailed on this formerly fine newspaper when Rupert Murdoch bought it.) Here’s a summary of the article:

    “Wall Street firms including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co. have recently provided thousands of financial documents related to Russians who may have had dealings with Mr. Trump or his family or his business to congressional investigators, according to people familiar with the congressional probes.” WSJ

  5. Rusal, a Russian Aluminum company is investing 200 million in a Braidy Industries aluminum plant in Kentucky. Only interesting because the company is run by Oleg Deripaska who was sanctioned by the US government…..but Mitch McConnell took care of that problem and voila!

    Deripaska agreed to decrease his ownership of Rusal…which is tricky since its all his and run in part out of the Kremlin. The Chamber of Commerce is hoping this investment in the plant will add 550 jobs to the local economy. The plant itself is marginal and it is unlikely to generate many jobs but the scariest part is Mitch McConnell’s efforts to secure the clearance for the deal. What got traded in the short term is the lifting of some of the sanctions for Deripaska freeing his money up….long term the Russians own Mitch. He is earning his new moniker. He will likely be re-elected regardless it is Kentucky after all but where is the oversight and disclosure? This is not a healthy democracy or economy.

    Rusal is owned by EN+ Group International and trades on the London market under ENPL:LI
    Their Balance sheet and cash flow reports suggest investment in foreign plants would be a very speculative move. So who wanted the deal and how much of the 200 million are they getting?
    https://www.bloomberg.com/quote/ENPL:LI

    https://themoscowproject.org/dispatch/mitch-mcconnell-russia-sanctions-and-rusals-investment-in-kentucky/

  6. Another day, another mass shooting, this time in El Paso. This one is particularly bad, 20 dead so far, and it could get worse. Scumbag is in custody, unconfirmed reports that he posed xenophobic crap before the shooting.

    But it’s Antifa that’s the big problem!

  7. EJ

    Was Reagan, the man, a product of his country and his age? Yes. But what makes this important isn’t Reagan the man, but Reagan the answer to the question “if Conservatism isn’t the movement of Trump, who is it the movement of?”

    Much as Socialism needs a shining future to motivate its adherents, Conservatism needs a golden past; and in this case the golden past is the time when the Conservative movement could be taken seriously, back before the Neoconfederates and the fundamentalists and the Fox News grifters moved in and ruined everything. In this narrative, there was once a respectable core to the Conservative project, back when grown adults could say the words “Conservative views on gun control” or “Conservative views on immigration” without giggling; and while it may have been lost, it can still be recovered.

    I think this is why this hurts: if Reagan were to become viewed not as St Ronnie but as a flesh and blood man who would have agreed with Trump’s “shithole countries” comment, then the golden age becomes more tenuous. This in turn means that other Conservative ideas, from laissez faire capitalism and the concept of rewarding success, to the place of the family and religion in society, become harder to avoid also being seen as just the views of personally awful people living in an institutionally awful society, and therefore not worthy of being recovered.

    (Apologies if I mangled my English grammar here.)

    1. It’s that and more. It’s about the “shining city on a hill” metaphor, a phase, not coincidentally, invoked by Reagan himself. Americans love to invoke the Founders, and the concept of all men [people] are created equal, and have rights (whether you believe that they are given by a creator or they’re yours by virtue of being human) that the government is not supposed to tamper with is groundbreaking, is powerful, is something to take pride in. But one problem with Americans is that they don’t like to be reminded about how we haven’t completely achieved that yet. There is also the absolute scandal of how appallingly deficient our history education is. Ignorance feeds denial, and denial helps fuel the widening of our cultural divide. We badly need to take a lesson from the Germans and the South Africans in how to deal with our Civil War and what caused it. But that would mean coming to grips with the blemishes in our past and acknowledge that we actually haven’t behaved any better than any other empire in human history. Plenty of people here do not want to hear that.

    2. (Good writing, EJ.)

      If Reagan’s words calls conservatism into question, what do they say about genteel middle-of-the roaders?

      Every time some new truthy tidbit about our government or its leaders is made public those of us with left leanings get more disgusted with what hewing to the center has wrought — it has greatly harmed some people while protecting others.

      Center people choose to overlook unjust policies and immoral words just for the sake of being in the center, as if there’s some value in that alone.

      Well, there isn’t.

      1. Different context perhaps, but better wording:

        “Those are the alibis of timid souls so intent on sounding “balanced” that they turn their eyes from the truth.”

        E.J. Dionne Jr. in today’s Washington Post.

  8. I’m sure all the regulars here know about this bit of news rocking the conservative universe:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/ronald-reagans-racist-conversation-richard-nixon/595102/

    Am I disgusted by it? Yes. Am I in any way shocked? Absolutely not. My memory needed no jogging to remember St. Ronnie’s lines about “welfare queens” and “strapping young bucks”, and reading this article and related ones detailing his racist stances/ statements weren’t shocking either. The official Reagan biographer acting surprised is pathetic (he’s lying or he’s a very bad researcher), and it’s pretty damn obvious why access to this recording was blocked for so long. This fits right into our past discussions about “saying the quiet part out loud.” I think Reagan’s statement is worse than anything even Trump has dared to say in public.

    After the WaPo article on this, there was a link to a older story about how Reagan took a public stand for a Black family being harassed by cross burnings on their yard. Reagan’s defenders will point to things like that to say “See, he wasn’t racist.” I would look at that as proof that racism isn’t such a black and white issue (pun fully intended), and that people are complicated and can be full of all sorts of contradictions. The KKK “I want to start a race war” types would have a full skeleton of racist bones, but that doesn’t preclude others from having smaller percentages of “racist bones in their bodies”. Ronnie absolutely had a few.

    1. From the article:

      “When the National Archives originally released the tape of this conversation, in 2000, the racist portion was apparently withheld to protect Reagan’s privacy.”

      How vaguely the author writes of the omission. Who? When? Why? Did it just happen, an act of spontaneous hesitancy?

      It’s events like this, coupled with things like a 50-year lockdown on Kennedy assassination records (which may still be extended by 45) and the complete omission from from my high school American history book of the Japanese internment camps that leads me to believe there exists a cabal of boosters hoping to steer the national conversation.

      The thing is, the boosters’ smoothed out version of how things were make the truth difficult to accept when finally reviewed. After all, if it wasn’t in our school books, it couldn’t possible be true. So we are more national strife.

      Down with boosters.

    2. EJ

      The last few years have been a good cure for impostor syndrome, but this is a new low.

      Are you bad at your job? To put it differently, are you so bad at your job that you didn’t know that the person you literally wrote the book about, held strong offensive opinions about entire countries?

      1. Here’s the quote from this guy (from a WaPo article:

        I’m kind of taken aback. This is stunning,” said Bob Spitz, author of “Reagan: An American Journey.” Spitz gained access to Reagan’s personal archives for the work and said he found no hint that the president would hold the kinds of views he conveyed to Nixon.

        “In all of my very careful research into his private papers, I never found an instance where I felt that Reagan was racist,” he said. “Generally when someone says, ‘I don’t have a racist bone in my body,’ I’m instantly skeptical, but in this case after all my work I found myself kind of nodding my head. So this is shocking.”

        Now I get that Reagan was very good a projecting a benign, avuncular image, and was mostly very careful with the words he uttered in public. I also get that a lot of people are invested in protecting their shining image of him. But one thing I have learned about politics is if someone blows the dog whistle in public, you should not be shocked if you find proof they said horrible racist things in what they presumed was a private conversation.

        From Patti Davis’ editorial on the subject:

        “All I can do is tell you about my father. That man held a small girl in his lap and answered her question about why people come in different colors. “God made all his creations in different colors,” he said. “It would be pretty boring if we all looked the same.” I can tell you about my father’s father, who wouldn’t let his two sons see “The Birth of a Nation” because it glorified the Ku Klux Klan, and how both Jack and Nelle Reagan drilled into their sons that racism in any form would not be tolerated. I can tell you about a night when my father was in college, on the football team, and the team came to his hometown for a game. They arrived at the local hotel and were told that the black players couldn’t stay there. My father said, “Then I’m not staying here,” and he took them to his parents’ house. When he was governor of California, he was given a membership to a ritzy country club in Los Angeles. He turned it down because the club didn’t allow Jews or African Americans.”

        First of all, I can sympathize with her pain. Parents often are on their best behavior in front of their children. It’s also possible to be outraged on behalf of individuals being treated unfairly, but yet harbor attitudes like “those Africans are too primitive to run their own countries properly”.

      2. EJ

        The children and grandchildren of Lazar Kaganovich were deeply shocked when a document purporting to be his diary surfaced after Kaganovich’s death. The aggressive views contained therein were utterly uncharacteristic of someone so warm and loving as him, they said. He was always caring and forgiving around us, never stern, and if he had a fault it was that he was too indulgent of us.

        Lazar Kaganovich was one of Stalin’s right hand men. He was one of the architects of the 1934 Ukrainian famine, and was particularly noted for his railway purges, in which Kaganovich sent tens of thousands of engineers to the gulags for the crime of insisting of adhering to technical limitations and safety standards. He was widely known as the “wolf of the Kremlin” or “Stalin’s attack dog” for his viciousness, and would reduce his secretaries to tears on a frequent basis.

        Close confidants, and especially family, are often poor sources for what a person’s flaws are. They often confuse “he was nice to me” for “he was nice”, and “I don’t belong to the group he harmed” for “he didn’t wish harm upon anyone.”

        Kaganovich’s diary was almost certainly a forgery. For one thing, they’re written in Yiddish; although Kaganovich was Jewish and was born in a Yiddish-speaking village, he is recorded as having lost the use of the language by adulthood and his children did not learn it at home.

    3. This reminds me of all the “Abraham Lincoln was really a racist” takes, based on isolated statements he made. Before reading this statement, my expectations about Reagan’s views on race were that he was a probably about a middling white racist, which would place him among about 90% of his age cohort. This moves the needle up about 10% or so.

      Find me a white Democrat in 1971 who would have been genuinely bothered by those comments and I’ll adjust that dial a little farther.

      These comments by Reagan don’t say anything about him or about conservatism that they don’t also say about America. Thing is, if you go back far enough, virtually everyone was a virulent, unapologetic racist. And when I say “far enough,” I mean about fifty years. When we talk about systemic racism, we’re referring to the fact that every institution we created up to about yesterday was programmed with ignorant, extortionate racist assumptions in mind.

      Was Reagan a racist? Of course he was. So was everyone else. Was he more racist than average for the time? I’m not so sure about that, and this recording doesn’t necessarily move our understanding unless we place it in a modern context.

      For a little perspective, here’s a Clinton/Gore Confederate Flag campaign pin. http://anderson-auction.com/Clinton_Gore_Confederate_Flag_-ITEM136592.aspx

      1. I’ll add to this, because I think it’s important. The way racism was expressed on the left in that era was in some ways more twisted and disturbing than on the right, a fact expressed with some heat by Malcolm X:

        “The worst enemy that the Negro have is this white man that runs around here drooling at the mouth professing to love Negros and calling himself a liberal, and it is following these white liberals that has perpetuated problems that Negros have. If the Negro wasn’t taken, tricked or deceived by the white liberal, then Negros would get together and solve our own problems. I only cite these things to show you that in America, the history of the white liberal has been nothing but a series of trickery designed to make Negros think that the white liberal was going to solve our problems. Our problems will never be solved by the white man.”

        What was he talking about? Perhaps the best example is the Moynihan Report, which takes all of the racist “welfare queen” rhetoric of the times and dresses it up in academic language and left wing concern trolling. Again, you had to go searching in corners to find a white person fifty years ago who wasn’t a racist. What the left was offering wasn’t a freedom from racism, but a friendlier, paternalistic version that may have been more corrosive.

        https://www.city-journal.org/html/black-family-40-years-lies-12872.html

      2. I can’t disagree with any of that. What is noteworthy to me is not that he said such things or that there was so much racism 50 years ago, but rather that anyone is professing shock about it.

        As someone in the first post-Civil Rights era generation, I can say that while we weren’t afflicted with the old school virulent, unapologetic racism, many of us had blissful ignorance instead (I point to the Ralph Northam college blackface scandal as a prime example), which causes plenty of its own problems. Like the denial noted above.

      3. Chris has it about right. However, I will mention that there were a lot of people who were dismayed by the way the Republican Party and Reagan in particular went about using dog-whistle politics. Even then it was considered to be disgusting, but not enough to generate a national outcry. Like Chris wrote racism was common 50 years ago, but it was largely kept quiet and the nation was largely exclusively white. Today many of the Trumpistas want to return to that period. But that is not the case today and the nation cannot go back.

        Personally, I refused to even consider voting for Reagan. I had witnessed Reaganomics in action in CA and wanted no part of it. I did vote for Ford in 1976 because I felt though the first term was rough, he had gotten a handle on things and he was basically a decent guy. That was the last time, I voted R for President. I also felt pardoning Nixon was the right thing to do. But in light of the Trump administration and the corruption, I wonder if the attitude that he and his cronies can get away with anything and the difficulty of impeachment and indicting a President would not be so pronounced as it is now.

  9. Got to admit, I’m feeling some schadenfreude from seeing McConnell’s feelings hurt over “MoscowMitch”. Of course he deserves far, far worse, so I’m hoping that’s just the appetizer.

    Also laughing at the hypocrisy of the RWNJ crowd who’ve previously claimed that McCarthy was right and justified in his actions.

  10. I know this is liberal apostasy, but I support the West Virginia project. I also supported the keystone Pipeline project. Not every person in America is going to get a job programming computers, or some other nice, cozy, office job. The oil and gas industry is one of the few places a high school educated person can get a middle class job. And as long as we need oil and gas, I’d rather it come from American fields rather than Saudi oil sheiks who use their profits to fund terrorism and wars in Yemen.

    That said, I *don’t* support fracking because the long term environmental costs of that particular method of extraction aren’t being accounted for. But the way to combat fracking is by banning fracking. Not by keeping gas from being transported and used.

    Take the keystone project. Thanks to the lack of adequate pipeline infrastructure, gas is transported by the far more dangerous method of railroad tanker. And because it’s more expensive, it’s simply not worth selling a lot of gas from N. Dakota. So it’s simply flared.

    What’s worse for the environment: a pipeline which *may* spill, or the lack of a pipeline definitely causing massive volumes of gas to be flared every day?

    Similarly, if this project provides massive employment in Appalachia, and this allows hundreds of thousands of people to get out of their current misery and poverty, then I’ll gladly take Chinese money to do it. Unless Amazon is going to put another HQ there, what do you propose instead? Leave them to whither away on a bed of oxycontin pills and heroin needles?

    That said, long term, oil and gas is going to lose to renewal energy and they know it. Thanks to plummeting battery costs, California just signed a deal for combined solar and battery power that’s cheaper than even natural gas. The battery part takes care of fluctuations from intermittent sunshine, which natural gas peaker plants used to do. Forget about coal. In 5 years, gas will be obsolete as an energy source.

    But even if energy from gas goes away due to renewables, petrochemicals will remain a huge industry, and no place in the country needs those jobs more than Appalachia.

    1. Didn’t have time to go into it, but that natural gas export hub isn’t likely what’s at issue in that massive foreign investment. Much more important is what they have been really buying – a state government. I don’t really care whether that project gets built (it won’t) or whether this kind of infrastructure is owned by a foreign company. What’s really happening here is that foreign governments are looking at what the Russians did and recognizing an opportunity. The project is just a shield.

      Same thing happened in Wisconsin with the Foxconn sham. Same thing is happening in Kentucky with that BS investment by the Russians in a worthless aluminum plant. They bought themselves a lot of politicians who they can use for God knows what. In the short term they got some land they don’t seem to actually want, but in the long term they have leverage.

      That natural gas hub isn’t coming. The Chinese aren’t stupid enough to think it’s coming, nor do they care. They are decarbonizing as fast as they can. Their next national advantage is their expanding lead in solar technology. They don’t care about that project.

      What do they intend to do with all the politicians they compromised? I mean, really, what’s the market value of a West Virginia politician? I really don’t know, but they seem to think that’s important and valuable. It may just be the next new think in the spy game. It’s creepy.

      1. Chris, the post above was meant for here. Jobs is all they see, until there children start having cancer, then they play stupid…an the government should pay for that…..but we are not looking for handouts….just give us what we deserve…..welfare . But socialism is bad.

      2. Chris-
        I admit that part escaped me, partly because with large investments like these, I always assume politicians are bought 🙂 but you’re right. Being bought by foreign governments is different than being owned by the Koch Bros.

        But I think the Achilles heel of these authoritian governments is they have no idea what type of half lives politicians have in a democracy. You wrote once that liberal concern about the Koch Bros buying a president was overblown because despite their investment of millions in 2012, Obama was still elected.

        Is point out the same thing about the Foxconn deal: whatever influence it bought China melted away when their pet governor and the Republicans in the assembly were voted out last election. Exactly what influence did China have in Wisconsin now?

        The truth is, the Russians hit the jackpot with Trump. But it was due to a rare set of coincidences that is unlikely to ever be repeated again. First, they’ve been cultivating him for years with money laundering deals. Second, he was a stupid enough money launder to decide to get into politics and risk exposing all his shady deals to public scrutiny. Thirdly, the opposition ran such a poor campaign as to allow a stupid money launderer with no political experience to win. And even then, they barely scratched out a victory in the electoral college.

        That’s not really smart 3 dimensional chess being played by Putin. He happened to be handed a winning lottery ticket, was smart enough to realize what that meant, and then put a few bucks into trying to get it to payout. I actually doubt the Russian success could be repeated. Not to mention there are real consequences to losing: your opponent may decide to punish you after he wins.

      3. I should add, our own government understands this all too well. When it comes to buying foreign governments, our foreign policy always favors autocrats and dictators. Because who’s up and down in a democracy is way too unpredictable. You spend 5 years and a billion dollars stuffed into a democrat’s (note the small d :)) Swiss Bank account buying his loyalty only to have him lose due to some stupid local issue like being found in bed with a dead girl or live boy.

        Far, far better to support a military junta to overthrow that democrat and establish iron control for a good 10-20 years without having to worry about the government falling when you ask it to shoot a few protestors blocking access to an oilfield.

        Heck, even succession is easier: that general only has a few lieutenants. Pick the most pliable and corrupt, give him enough weapons to kill the others, and you’ve renewed your hold on the country for anther 10-15 years at least.

        Democratic governments are a bad investment for people looking for low-risk return on their investments. Voters are too unpredictable. Our local corporations have no choice so they do what they must. But even exxon prefers buying Nigerian generals than American politicians. And foreign governments have a lot of options when they go looking for countries to buy. Ours is not the best one on the market.

        There’s a reason China has been quietly buying up every country in South America and Africa. It’s a far less risky use of their dollars.

      4. Maybe there’s another way. We made our living in the energy sector, but what is happening to our climate and planet has convinced me that alternative energy has to become the dominant source. Attrition in fossil fuel will happen naturally, just not fast enough given what 99% of the scientific community are telling us and what we can see in plain sight. Yet, one environmental policy after another is being scrapped. It’s sickening. Two articles worth considering:

        https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/worlds-largest-nuclear-fusion-experiment-clears-milestone/?

        https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/weather/2019/07/23/arctic-fires-shown-satellite-concerning-scientists/1793530001/?

      5. Mary –
        There is another way. Already, more people are employed by the solar industry in California than all of King Coal. This idea that being environmentally sound costs us jobs is definitely bunk (part of the reason I like AOC’s rhetoric around the Green New Deal). But that said, we will still have an oil and gas industry for the foreseeable future, and I’d rather have those jobs in Appalachia than China or Saudi Arabia. If a hub in Appalachia makes that industry more efficient and competitive, then I’m fine with building it. That said, if renewable energy makes the hub redundant, well I won’t be shedding years for private Chinese companies taking a loss on their investment (as long as they don’t cry for a bailout, which admittedly is a big if)

  11. I do not believe corporatists will ever care about anyone or anything more than their bottom line. You don’t have to look any further than the recent tax cut which any businessman knows will blow up the deficit , principally benefits themselves, and say nothing about the chaos being strewn across the globe by this tyrant in the WH. Zero. Why? They’ve got “theirs”. The rest of us can pound dirt.

    Capitalism is not failing those at the top. It is failing everyone else. Trickledown is a myth as tax cuts morphed into stock buybacks and not benefits improvements for every man.

    Not a believer.

    1. EJ

      This is sadly topical here in the UK too, now that a racist narcissist with trademark silly hair is in charge and is planning enormous tax cuts for the wealthy.

      As has often been said, billionaires already have class consciousness. They understand about how to hijack democracy for the benefit of their class. It’s just that the rest of us haven’t yet.

    1. Bobo, you can respect an enemy, even as you execute that enemy for the greater good.

      Intelligent, moral people are starting to realize the only way to save the biosphere, including humanity, is to remove any sociopath, or anyone willing to accept such sociopathic behavior, from all decision-making. And by any means necessary.

      Capitalism is a total failure in the long run. It is predicated on consuming resources at an ever-increasing rate, forever. Guess what. We live in a closed system, with finite resources. Humanity is a virus. Capitalism is a tool to accelerate our consumption of resources. The virus is now coming into contact with the hard limits of how far it can expand.

      You know the rich are handling the water disaster in Chennai? They are having water trucked into them, with armed guards, because they can afford to. You want to extrapolate that behavior when Global Warming gets REALLY bad? These are the same people with hands on all levers of power.

  12. You posit that gigacorps like Amazon will be the ones to save us from our soon-to-be-defunct democracies. Well, Amazon wants to use facial recognition technology to supercharge cops’ efforts to oppress people. This ended in a dismal failure in Orlando. Of course, Amazon and Bezos won’t stop until they have the world in the palm of their hand, so they’ll probably try something else with the tech soon, offering it to more officers who want to abuse their citizenry.

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190720/22305942622/city-orlando-kicks-amazons-facial-recognition-tech-to-curb.shtml

    1. I also just found this while browsing Twitter. Apparently in Seattle, Microsoft and Amazon employees get expedited check-ins. This made me think about your article on the future and how you think transient tech workers will be one majorly beneficial facet of whatever comes after our current democracy. The reality that’s more likely to take shape is that transient tech workers will be allowed to lead lives of privilege and luxury and far greater mobility, their comfort and convenience taking priority all while being served by an underclass consisting of everyone else.

      https://twitter.com/cagoldberglaw/status/1152666875483975681?s=20

  13. So, 4 hours ago, the tyrant tweets:

    “Consideration is being given to declaring ANTIFA, the gutless Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting (only non-fighters) people over the heads with baseball bats, a major Organization of Terror (along with MS-13 & others). Would make it easier for police to do their job!”

    So any opposition of the tyrant’s regime will be considered a terrorist activity. Yup, you folks keep on believing that a vote, rather than a bullet, will stop this monstrosity.

    1. EJ

      It’s interesting to consider what the consequences of declaring AFA to be a terrorist organisation would be. Since one cannot formally be a member of AFA, it not being an organisation which has membership lists, it may simply come down to the police trying to convince the judge that this person had her hair dyed blue and so must be an antifa supersoldier.

      In a worst case scenario, it could be used to round up the entire radical Left and put them behind bars. It’s hard to see that happening outside of those police forces which are the most infiltrated by Nazis, for example Portland, but it would probably have some severe long-term consequences for the country. Nothing, but nothing, gives a movement legitimacy like imprisoning its leadership. If America really wants a Communist president down the line, this would be the way to go about it.

      On the other extreme, it could be meaningless: just another law thrown out there and not enforced, as a sop to the Fox News crowd to distract them from the pillaging.

      1. EJ, it also legitimizes the armed forces when they start shooting them. If this latest thought spewed out by the madman comes to fruition, you watch, people will be shot.

        And the chilling effect, which was the real purpose, on opposition to this fascist regime, will be achieved.

    2. Yep, and you can keep on believing that a single bullet and one dead president somehow stops an entire movement that’s supported by tens of millions of people.

      But forget them. Do you think pence wouldn’t do the same thing? Maybe you should plan on a bullet for him too. Then what about McConnell? And AG William Barr? Sounds to me like your solution calls for a lot more than one bullet, at which point, it sounds less like an assassination and more like warfare.

      Do you really want to jump to civil war before even trying the vote in 2020?

      1. This times a million. I heard talk about the 2018 election being rigged or canceled or an exercise in futility too. While the House Dems aren’t as aggressive as would suit me, there’s still the matter that much of Trump’s agenda isn’t going to make a through Congress. I don’t buy the talk that 2020 is hopeless and attempting to vote the bums out is futile. Not yet. But it won’t be easy, and even with the best outcome the bigoted Trumpalos will still be here, and we’ll have to maintain constant vigilance.

      2. EJ

        Elections are about organisation, money, mass enthusiasm, and possibly covert foreign support. So are civil wars. If you can’t win an election you almost certainly can’t win a civil war either.

        This isn’t to say that it’s wrong to murder a Nazi or a policeman; but we should be under no illusion that murdering individual fellow citizens will solve a broader social problem.

  14. In reference to donating money to right wing causes, I use to get a lot of solicitations from right wing politicians and organizations. Now I get plenty from progressive candidates and progressive organizations. I really lean a bit traditional conservative but currently the Democratic party is closer to my values. I have been the real deal a swing voter until recently.

    I give to charities regularly and I get those type of solicitations too. With limited resources you have to sift through what is worth it to you and your values. The cheater and con artist like the prostitute and dishonest preacher are always with us. I have been scammed a few times but learned from those time and try not to be an idiot the second time.

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