Rat in Mi Kitchen
By Skip Kaltenheuser
the as yet unverified and unsubstantiated report on Russian spies with
Trump scandals in their pockets turns out to be even half true, Ill
be gobsmacked. It would be hard to comprehend that when Trump
a global traveler with insights into the underworld and anything-goes
weasels like Roy
Cohn was traveling in Russia he didnt quickly grasp
that many hotels, loaded with hookers with mobster supervisors, would
have rooms wired for surveillance. That could only be ignored by someone
with no control over his appetites and/or is a risk-adrenaline junkie
and/or is an exhibitionist on an unimagined scale.
Many years ago I stayed in the Cosmos, originally built
for the 1980 Moscow Olympics, legendary for KGB surveillance targeting
guests throughout the massive 1,777 room hotel. No idea if anyone there
now watches the lives of others, but when I was there my jaw dropped
at hookers stunning, roped in from Slavic regions, the Ukraine,
Georgia, the Balkans, etc... parading back and forth on a narrow
path along the sides of the huge lobby and up on to a balcony walkway
and around and back down to a lobby bar to linger for a tea and conversation
before their reverse migration up and around and to a different bar.
They werent allowed to traverse the main area of the lobby so
guests wouldnt panic. Elevators were watched by guys in suits
with long scars on their face who kept tabs on their temptresses and
watched the clock to make sure that after their original mission they
didnt linger upstairs for a freelance quickie girls still
tried, adding new context to "elevator pitches." The Chinese
are more subtle, but they pull those stunts, too. Perhaps they share
a lending library with the Russians. Nothing new here, friends in China
swear to me that the Chinese have the goods on a Nixon dalliance from
when he passed through Hong Kong. Nothing would surprise.
But Ive been skeptical about Putins hack/leaks
involvement, been hard to fully embrace it. Now were all parsing
offering, which left me in danger of drifting from my anchor of
healthy skepticism. Keep reminding oneself that as of this writing,
the reports are still not verified and authenticated. I trust legions
of journalists are now taking that on, I hope with more success avoiding
echo-chambers that trapped them during the election season. Consider
this bright yellow caution in the New York Review of Books, Russia,
Trump & Flawed Intelligence by Masha Gessen. And
this essay by Scott Ritter, Exposing the Man Behind the Curtain,
in the Huffington Post.
Listening now to Trumps press conference, the
denials came across as spirited and initially somewhat nimble, though
parts of the conference were retreats into retreads from campaign speeches.
But there seems to be a time limit or pressure point after which Mr.
Hyde surfaces, as when Trump jumped down a CNN reporters throat.
He dodged questions on contacts between his associates and Russia, then
concluded the press conference when that question circled back.
Trumps legal eagles make initially plausible-sounding
defenses of non-divestment trust strategies for family business interests.
They were stepped on by Trump's claim that if he had to he had the ability
to ably run both his company and his country, and no doubt several alternate
Earths as well. But some of that defense amounted to throwing everything
into a ball of confusion and implying well, whats a wild and free-roaming
mogul to do? I look forward to seeing conflict-of-interest experts tackle
it. The longer one reflects that Trumps apples dont bounce
far from his tree, the more the inadequacy of his separation from his
business interests, putting two of his sons in charge, comes into view.
points made by Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer
under George W. Bush, from 2005 to 2007.
some WaPo fact-checking on Trumps press conference.
And heres the NY
Times fact-check take. Heres the transcript
and video if you want to try your hand.
Back to hack, I cant help but observe that recently
Trump often wears an expression like hes been kissed by a Russian
caviar sturgeon. Still, I could round up other usual suspects, from
Chinese moguls Howie has detailed here some of whom might
catch a good deal if Trump suddenly had to do a major divestment; to
Likud sympathizers/ operatives thrilled at the prospect of a
US ambassador as extremist and whacky as they are; to Wall Streeters
with indictable histories who feared the pressure Sanders and
Warren might put on Hillary; to a DNC or Clinton Foundation insider
who couldnt stomach what was going on, going rogue. And theres
always the fall back on ?
and the Mysterians. But if it can be demonstrated that theres
a big whoopsie going on within the Kremlin, that scenario will intrigue.
Until then, this writer will continue to have it both ways.
But why a whoopsie in the Kremlin? Putin ought to be
thrilled as revelations pour forth. Credibility of both Hillary and
Trump is aflame. Both major parties are hamstrung and weakened, much
of mainstream media has been shamed, and the US political establishment
is revealed to be as flaky, corrupt and hypocritical as anyone imagined.
I hear China is letting in more news reports as cautions against corrupt
Win-Win for Putin.
Unless Putin fears retaliation of a different
sort than continued sanctions and a time-out. A few years ago I asked
a former ambassador to the Balkans why the US didnt take the obvious
path to undermine Putin and start pushing a Gatling gun of items onto
the Internet, in Russian, detailing how much Putin and his cronies stole
from their countrymen while Russian life expectancies plummeted, particularly
for depressed men. Include how the Putin crowd stole it and where they
stashed it. And put up Russian translations of books like Putins
Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia, by Karen Dawisha. The ambassador
thought it a swell idea. That it hasnt happened makes me wonder
if there is some sort of Mexican standoff with US intelligence. Or if
theres fear of a wounded Putin bear with nothing to lose. Maybe
now a steady stream of revelations on a kleptocrat without peer will
become unavoidable. Perhaps Putin's recipe for radioactive soup.
Meanwhile, Im intrigued at the prospect of Foreign
Corrupt Practices Act violations in Russia by Trumps outfits,
though again that asparagus whiff is in the unverified, unauthenticated
leak in Buzzfeed. But if its there, and investigators can crack
open the shells, there might be lurking dynamite to launch Trumpster
to the dumpster. Maybe the Demos will eventually again cheer the
Comey cha-cha. But consider Trumps nominee to run the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission, Walter Clayton, from a law firm of Goldman
Sachs minions, a lawyer who worked on the public
offering of Chinas Alibaba Group Holding Company, which was
reported to be undergoing an SEC look-see. Clayton has argued for damping
down FCPA enforcement.
With some irony, I note that Trump has again been handed
a timely distraction from very critical issues his cabinet nominees
from the Goldman Sachs and Koch networks of revolving doors, for instance
that will now get less scrutiny as we become transfixed on every
morsel of uncertain origin tumbling from Russia.
Hey, have you ever seen the art of Mark Lombardi? Really
sorry hes not with us now, could sure use him as Washingtons
artist-in-residence for narrative structures that chronicle the incoming
titans of influence, connecting the dots in their tangential shadow
worlds. If you have some time, sit down and watch this amazing, mind-blowing
documentary about Lombardi, Death-Defying
Acts Of Art And Conspiracy.
Is it too soon to bring back UB40s "Rat
in Mi Kitchen," written for Margaret Thatcher, to become the
theme song for the incoming Trumpocalypse? Heres a version that
dropped a lyric but throws in a Herb Albert trumpet solo thatll
put you right. I see anthem potential. Good for marching with pitchforks
and torches. And for Trump voters turning on a dime once they feel betrayed,
just as many did with the Clintons.
Attraction Postcards from Washington, DC: Musings on an Election When
It Might Finally Hit the Fan; Campaign
Pain: 2016; The
Impossible Happened: Its Time to Get to Work