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The Donald Trump/John Paulson/Russia/HSBC/James Comey connections

Here's a not-at-all-exhaustive list of connections between Donald Trump, James Comey, the bank HSBC, the Russian government, oligarchs, and (in all likelihood) organized crime, and ultra-wealthy hedge fund manager John Paulson.

The Comey-HSBC connection:

He was also appointed to the board of directors of the London-based financial institution HSBC Holdings, to improve the company's compliance program after its $1.9 billion settlement with the Justice Department for failing to comply with basic due diligence requirements for money laundering regarding Mexican drug cartels and terrorism financing.


The HSBC-Russia connection

Highlighted in the disclosures are “the bank’s dealings with clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behavior, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities,” as ICIJ reported on Sunday.

There’s a prominent Russian aspect to the story as one of the named depositors is billionaire oligarch (and personal friend of Vladimir Putin) Gennady Timchenko, who was sanctioned by the United States in March 2014 for his role in providing “material or other support to” Russian government officials. (There’s a rumor that sometime in the 1990s, Putin and Timchenko, who holds Finnish citizenship, were arrested in Helsinki for drunk and disorderly conduct; a rap sheet is said to exist with the two men’s mug shots.)

Timchenko’s designation carried the blockbuster revelation that Gunvor, the Swiss commodities trader he co-founded, was itself a vehicle for Putin’s personal self-enrichment: “Putin has investments in Gunvor,” the U.S. Treasury notice stated, “and may have access to Gunvor funds.” Not long before the sanctions were announced, Timchenko, who is worth an estimated $14.1 billion, was said to have divested his stake in Gunvor. Then, in November 2014, it was announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, helped by the Justice Department, was investigating Timchenko for money laundering.

In 2013, Reuters disclosed that Timchenko had hired lobby firm Patton Boggs to persuade the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the export credit agency of the U.S. government, to finance his purchase of up to 11 Gulfstream luxury jets—a deal that was eyebrow-raising at the time and is now rendered illegal by sanctions.

Timchenko wasn’t the only Russian keeping accounts with HSBC, however. As reported by the newspaper Vedomosti, Yury Kosarev, the former chairman of the Fund for Social Insurance and the deputy head of the Federal Health Care Agency, kept $2.5 million in the Swiss bank between 2006 and 2007. Pyotr Nizdelsky, Russia’s former deputy energy minister, placed deposits in the bank in 2004, the same year he quit government service. Along with his wife Lidiya Nidzelskaya, he held $11 million between 2006 and 2007, the leaked documents reveal.


The Paulson-Trump connection

...there is one thing that’s turned out unexpectedly well for the guy and that’s the bet he made on Donald Trump,when it seemed like rooting for the candidate was going to go down as one of his worst investments yet. Per Bloomberg:

With Trump’s victory, Paulson—a political donor and economic adviser to the president-elect—is already seeing a payoff. His funds have a stake in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, once virtually worthless, whose common-class shares soared more than 80 percent since Election Day.


The Paulson-Russia connection

The temptation of Russia, it's just too great, regardless of how often folks get burned there.

John Paulson is reportedly a "cornerstone" investor in Rusal, the Russian aluminum giant that's set to IPO in Hong Kong next month.


What the hell is going on here?!

Donald Trump, the Republican Party, and the imminent acceleration of the War on Public Education

A couple of poignant articles below:

The War on Public Schools

On November 8, 2016, the man who vowed to be “the nation’s biggest cheerleader for school choice” won the presidential contest. About two weeks later he announced that Betsy DeVos, a billionaire Republican donor who has aggressively lobbied for private-school vouchers, online education, and for-profit charter schools, would serve as his education secretary. In early December, Jeb Bush told an audience of more than 1,000 education reformers in Washington, D.C., that he hoped “there’s an earthquake” in the next few years with respect to education funding and policy. “Be big, be bold, or go home,” he urged the crowd.

To say education conservatives are ecstatic about their new political opportunities would be an understatement. With Republicans controlling the House and Senate, a politically savvy conservative ideologue leading the federal education department, a vice president who earned notoriety in his home state for expanding vouchers, charters, and battling teacher unions, not to mention a president-elect who initially asked creationist Jerry Falwell Jr. to head up his Department of Education, the stars have aligned for market-driven education advocates.

Donald Trump neither prioritized education on the campaign trail, nor unveiled detailed policy proposals, but the ideas he did put forth, in addition to his selection of Betsy DeVos, make clear where public education may be headed on his watch. And with a GOP Congress freed from a Democratic presidential veto, conservative lawmakers have already begun eyeing new legislation that just a few months ago seemed like political pipe-dreams.

Many aspects of education policy are handled at the state and local level, of course, but Republicans will govern in 33 states, and Trump will have substantial latitude to influence their agenda. The next few years may well bring about radical change to education.


Inside Donald Trump's Extremist Education Agenda

After his election, experienced education journalists at Education Week predicted Trump would embrace conservative Beltway think tanks and state education policy leaders who had bristled under the rule of Obama’s education department, and he would reject the influence of teachers unions, civil rights groups, and politically centrist education “reform” groups.

Many who pointed out “personnel is policy,” speculated Trump would pick an Education Secretary from the ranks of his transition advisers who came mostly from the above mentioned DC-based circles and state government centers. Other knowledgeable sources predicted Trump might draw education policy knowhow from “outsider” sources, such as the military, big business, or the charter school industry.

No one – not a single source I can find – anticipated Trump would look for education expertise in the deep, dark well he repeatedly seems to draw from – the extremist, rightwing evangelical community.

“Those who know DeVos say her goals are not sinister,” Politico reporters caution, “though they acknowledge the policies she’s likely to advance would benefit Christian schools. In fact, Trump’s $20 billion school choice program that would allow low-income students to select private or charter schools was devised with the help of the advocacy group DeVos headed until recently.”

Despite the strong evidence Trump’s education agenda may be driven by rightwing evangelicals, advocates for charter schools in the Democratic Party keep looking for reasons to believe Betsy DeVos is not going to be the extremist she is often being portrayed as in media reports.

Emma Brown, the education reporter for the Washington Post, notes many advocates for charter schools “worry” Trump’s embrace of charter schools may be identified with his “rhetoric about immigrants, inner cities, and women,” but still hope some kind of “strong accountability” will be in the new administration’s charter school governance, even though those accountability measures have proven to be easily gamed by the savviest charter operators.

“Playing the politics of niceness has never been so convenient for the Dems of education reform,” writes college professor and former charter school leader-turned reform critic Andre Perry. “DeVos’s belief in limited state oversight, for-profit charter management, and vouchers didn’t give Democrat proponents of charter schools any pause in the past. And for many it doesn’t now.”

If Perry is correct, that’s a shame, because anyone who strives for a clear-eyed view of the Trump administration’s oncoming education agenda will find there is no evidence – zero – of anything other than the most extreme (cynically and ruthlessly right-wing) policy agenda for the nation’s public schools.


How Dwindling Union Power Helped Usher In Trump

Informative (if short) article regarding how the rise of deeply illiberal, right-wing/reactionary populism among not insignificant numbers of working-class white voters is directly correlated to the horrifying decline of unionization among this very demographic.

Donald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016 stunned the nation in part because white, working-class voters helped him crack open the Democratic blue wall of Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Trump succeeded in these states and among the white workers in them because we live not in a post-truth world, but in a post-union one. Strong unions would have helped convince white workers to turn out and vote for Democrats, and would have offered them an alternative to Trump’s narrative that blacks and immigrants are to blame for stagnant wages. But Trump capitalized on declining union strength in key Midwestern states that had previously been dependably Democratic.

All this matters because of the powerful role unions play in politically mobilizing and educating their members. Unions articulate and transmit social democratic values and a sense of class solidarity to their members. And the more unions deliver at the bargaining table, the more their members are willing to accept political direction from them.

The rise of Trumpism would not have been possible without the dismantling of the labor movement that preceded it. Unions are among the few organizations with the institutional means to transmit progressive values to workers, and workers view political socialization by unions as legitimate because they defend their interests at work. But with the demise of the labor movement, their signal is weaker, and a smaller percentage of the workforce is organized to receive it.


A majority of working class whites still voted Democratic for most (or even all) offices for decades

"We haven't had them in the Dem Party to any great extent since Nixon, when he used racist code to get their support."

No. Those were affluent, middle-to-upper-middle class suburban white voters who voted for Nixon. You know, those more "educated" and "tolerant" voters. In 1968, Hubert Humphrey won a significant majority of working class white voters outside the Deep South (where George Wallace, of course, got a lot of white support). Research the election results if you don't want to take my word for it. In 1972, Nixon obviously won in a massive landslide, and yes, he won a lot of working class white voters - but remember that Jimmy Carter won back a lot of those Southern working class whites who had defected to Wallace. And in both 1972 and especially 1976, the Republican presidential nominee did significantly better among wealthier voters (most of whom were/are white, of course). As is tradition.

And no, most working class white dudes did not vote for Reagan. Well, OK, a lot of them did in 1984 - in a 49-state, 59%-41% landslide. And once again, the wealthier whites did a lot better. The "Reagan Democrats" (a painfully overused and pretty much irrelevant term - most of those people are dead, and they either became loyal Republican voters or returned to the Democratic Party) tended to be more affluent suburban white voters. But again, take a look at the election results for 1984. Walter Mondale actually beat Reagan not just in his home state of Minnesota, but in many working-class white locales and counties in much of the Rust Belt - again, in an election in which much of the rest of the country, and wealthier voters in particular, voted for Reagan. You know, those same working-class white areas that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump this year by scandalously large margins.. Same is even more true for 1988 (take a look at the electoral map that year in Iowa, for example - a state which Trump won this year by several points.

And remember....most of these places sent Democrats to Congress up until the "Republican Revolution" of the 1990s (and many of them even after that - especially outside the South). Which coincidentally, happened in the wake of NAFTA and the rise of "Third Way" Democratic politics with Bill Clinton and co. deciding that the future of the Democratic Party lied in pandering to those same affluent, suburban middle class white voters on everything from crime and taxes to "fiscal conservatism" and corporate deregulation. And all of this, of course, was done at the expense of working class voters of ALL demographic backgrounds - not just white men. And yet, a significant number of working class white men outside the South continued to vote for Democrats at most levels of government - and yes, many at the presidential level as well. And even as the Democratic Party was starting to decrease in strength among this group, a lot of working class whites outside the South (including white men) still voted for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and yes, Barack Obama. Hell, a lot of them voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential primaries. And yet, as we are all now painfully aware, there's substantial overlap between these voters (well, the ones who are still alive) and Trump voters - especially in the states which proved to be decisive for Trump's Electoral College win. Which, as far as I know, is still how a candidate wins the Presidency of the United States.

All of this is a long way of saying: You're wrong.

PS: Red-baiting doesn't really do you any favors in a political argument. Especially since there aren't many Reds left to bait, even among Bernie voters (of whom I wasn't one, for the record).

Luzerne County, Pennsylvania vs. Loudoun County, VA

Luzerne County, PA

Median household income: $45,897

Obama: 53.3%
McCain: 44.9%

Obama: 51.5%
Romney: 47.2%

Trump: 57.9%
Clinton: 38.6%

Clinton's performance in Luzerne was 19 percentage points less than Obama's was in 2012.

By contrast:

Loudoun County, VA

Median household income: $115,574

Obama: 53.7%
McCain: 45.4%

Obama: 51.5%
Romney: 47.1%

Clinton: 55.1%
Trump: 38.2%

Clinton's performance in Loudoun was 3-4 points more than Obama's was in 2012.

Many of the wealthiest areas in the country moved toward the Democrats in this presidential election, while many of the poorest areas in the country moved toward the Republicans. However, many of those same wealthy areas that voted for Clinton still voted for Republicans down-ballot, while conversely, many of those same poor areas that voted for Trump voted for Democrats down-ballot.

The Democrats have always distinguished themselves - to one extent or another - as being the party of the poor and working classes against the Republicans, who are the party of the rich and well-connected. Something is very, very wrong with the picture that has emerged from the Clinton vs. Trump election results this year.

This isn't the first time white, right-wing evangelical Protestants have chosen power over values.

One of these men is a white evangelical Protestant from the South and a devout Christian. The other won the votes of white evangelical Protestants despite being a divorced washed-up Hollywood actor who rarely went to church and who preached a secular Gospel of Wealth and Avarice. Guess who belonged to which party.

Forgot to add: The power of unions - organized working class politics - to push wages/incomes up...

...and to make all workers both more likely to vote Democratic, and more likely to vote, period - especially working class white men in the private sector, whom have trended sharply Republican over the last few decades - cannot be overstated.

Organized labor is critical to both the ability and willingness of Democrats to staunchly support and successfully advance a political program that would make the lives of working people, and people other than the wealthy and well-connected in general, better and richer and more hopeful overall.

A strong majority of whites without Bachelor's degrees voted for Trump. "Working class?"

Percentage of those aged 25 and over in selected occupations without Bachelors' degrees:

Top executives: 31.4%
Advertising and promotions managers: 21.6%
Marketing and sales managers: 30.6%
Administrative services managers: 59.3%
Financial managers: 37.3%
Industrial production managers: 46.2%
Transportation, storage, and distribution managers: 71%
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers: 76.9%
Construction managers: 65.9%
Property, real estate, and community association managers: 58.1%

(You get the idea.)

Source: https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_111.htm

Total employment in management occupations, 2014: Over 9.1 million

Source: https://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_102.htm

Note that these numbers/percentages are for workers whom are currently employed. There are also a lot of retired managers (numbering about a few million, I suspect) who entered the workforce at least nearly a half-century ago, in an era in which management occupations didn't need a Bachelor's degree nearly as often as they do today. And those retirees are disproportionately white men. Retired white guys in 2016 seem like a very liberal group of voters overall, if you ask me!

Furthermore, workers - of any occupation - without Bachelor's degrees are disproportionately located outside of major metropolitan areas, in the South or the "heartland", etc. - you know, those bastions of liberal Democratic political strength in 2016. And regarding income, keep in mind that salaries for all occupations - including management ones - tend to be lower outside the major metros, in rural areas, the South, Appalachia, the rural Rust Belt (and most rural areas in general), "right-to-work" states...see what I mean?

And none of this is even getting into the self-employed, or the military, or local law enforcement, or workers in anti-environmental, anti-regulation extraction industries, or uncredentialed white evangelical/fundamentalist pastors in the South or Midwest or wherever, or religiously conservative white women (particularly older white women) whom are married to men who tend to have higher incomes (or are the sole breadwinners) and higher educational attainment than their wives...

Admittedly a lot of these demographics overlap with one another, but the broader point remains: When speaking of white voters without Bachelor's degrees who voted for Trump, the relationship to class is far from straightforward.

"How DARE you call us deplorable!"

Texas electors face threats for defecting: ‘Vote for Trump or we rape your wife and daughters’

Delegates face death threats from Trump supporters

Trump Supporters Threaten To Assassinate Hillary Clinton, Overthrow Government

Trump Supporters Are Now Sending Death Threats to Jewish Journalists

Trump Supporters Vandalize Openly Gay Candidate’s Home With Death Threat

Donald Trump supporters 'threaten children of Carrier union boss' after he exposed false claim by President-elect

‘You should die’: Trump supporters threaten Utah delegate, she says, at Republican National Convention

Trump supporters are threatening to kill me over this tweet

Trump supporters threaten to send actress Emmy Rossum to 'gas chambers'

Trump Supporters Release Home Addresses Of GOP State Leaders, Issue Death Threats

Donald Trump Supporters Heckle NDTV Reporter, Threaten To Knock Her Mic Down

Vile Trump supporters threaten the kids of Newsweek reporter who exposed his shady business dealings

My problem with the "we shouldn't normalize white supremacy!" argument...

...is that white supremacy is already normalized here in the United States of America, the so-called Land of the Free. And this has been the case ever since many human beings - men, women, and children - from various, diverse peoples who live in Africa were brought here against their will to be cruelly, viciously, violently, and sadistically exploited - economically, sexually, culturally. This has also been the case ever since the indigenous peoples who were here long before European colonists arrived and then savagely and brutally took over much of this continent by stealing the land, (human) labor, and other resources and claiming them as their own - and that which was not claimed for a particular Crown or Empire was claimed by (male) colonists as their "private" property - and all of this was done in the name of "Civilization." And the American racial hierarchy that has enslaved - and continues to enslave - all persons of color is the consequence of the slavery, colonialism, and imperialism that people of color were subjugated to by those who benefited from slavery, colonialism, and imperialism.

This racial hierarchy, in other words, was constructed by white people for their own benefit, to legitimize their subjugation, exploitation, oppression, enslavement, even murder of everyone else. It didn't matter to the white colonists that the "everyone else" category was, in fact, an extremely heterogeneous mix of rich, complex peoples, cultures, and societies, with their own particular histories, economies, and religious, spiritual, and folk traditions. Everyone else was seen - seemingly paradoxically - as both inferior to White Civilization, and threatening to White Civilization. This contradiction is soon resolved, however, by recognizing that the Other ("everyone else" who were excluded from the conception and ideology of White Civilization, in one way or another) had to be inferior for white supremacy to exist. In other words, white supremacy - by definition - is threatened by any acknowledgment of the fundamental equality of all people, and all peoples. The only solution, then, is to treat "the Other" (which also includes women and LGBTQ persons in addition to persons of color) as inferior to, as less than, as fundamentally sub-human.

All of this is how rich white men who owned slaves and were fundamentally afraid of democracy itself - true, authentic democracy, for all people (and peoples) from all walks of life - could write such beautiful phrases like, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them include Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Only by excluding all women outright and denying the humanity and human agency of men who were not white, were not rich, did not own property, and/or were property themselves (black slaves) could the United States of America - and the corresponding ideology of "Americanism" - ever exist in the first place.

I posted a thread a little while back that pertains to this very topic:

27 of the 55 delegates to the 1787 US Constitutional Convention were slaveowners - in other words, just about half. These are their names:

Richard Bassett (DE)
Jacob Broom (DE)
John Dickinson (DE)
George Read (DE)
William Houstoun (GA)
William Few (GA)
William Samuel Johnson (CT)
Daniel Carroll (MD)
Luther Martin (MD)
John Francis Mercer (MD)
Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer (MD)
William Livingston (NJ)
William Blount (NC)
William Richardson Davie (NC)
Alexander Martin (NC)
Richard Dobbs Spaight (NC)
Pierce Butler (SC)
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (SC)
Charles Pinckney (SC)
John Rutledge (SC)
John Blair (VA)
James Madison (VA)
George Mason (VA)
Edmund Randolph (VA)
George Washington (VA)
George Wythe (VA)
Robert Morris (PA) (though he didn't actually own any slaves, he owned a slave ship and was heavily invested in the slave trade, so for all intents and purposes...

In addition, 12 of the 43 men who have served as President of the United States owned slaves, eight of whom owned slaves while serving as POTUS:

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant (mostly through his wife)

Additionally, James Buchanan was somewhat of a borderline case since his brother-in-law owned two slaves whom Buchanan bought and then hired as indentured servants.

Of those 12, only two (Washington and Jefferson) were delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. So that's 10 other Presidents who owned slaves.

Just remember: the current President of the United States could very well have been owned by any one of the men listed above, had he lived within one and half to two or so centuries ago. And his successor as the Democratic presidential nominee, and likely (fingers crossed) successor as President of the United States, would also have been considered the property of her husband on the account of the fact that she is a she.

I don't think a lot of people - even a lot of Democrats/liberals/progressives/left-wingers - realize the significance of all of this. Really puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

The reality is that white supremacy is normalized in the USA, and extremely so. And the reasons for it are very, very deeply embedded into the entire history and conception of "America" and what that even means - all of which is history that continues to be made in this very moment, this present time: Right. Fucking. Now.

We'd be much better off, IMHO, by, rather than advocating against the normalization of white supremacy, instead advocating for the de-normalization - and eventual destruction - of white supremacy.
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