Guardian: Miss Universe May Be Key to Trump/Moscow Connection



Image result for miss universe 2013

This televised appraisal of overly-tall brunettes will be in history books. 


It’s just too perfect

The 2013 pageant has become a focal point for the simultaneous investigations, led by special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees, into whether associates of Trump colluded with Russian officials to help them win the 2016 US presidential election.

Investigators are examining closely efforts apparently made by the Russian government to pass Trump’s team damaging information on Hillary Clinton, using Trump’s politically-connected Miss Universe business partners as couriers.

They are also looking into the $20m fee that Trump collected for putting on the pageant from those same business partners – along with extraordinary allegations about Trump’s private conduct behind closed doors at the Ritz-Carlton hotel during his 2013 stay in Moscow.

The Guardian has learned of additional, previously unreported, connections between Trump’s business partners on the pageant and Russia’s government. The ties are likely to attract further scrutiny by investigators who are already biting at the heels of Trump associates.

This administration, and the entire political career of the ridiculous Current Occupant, have been defined by a few things: racism, ignorance, corruption, bluster, bullying, cowardice, empty machismo, vainglorious self-assurance, petty feuding, and no-skinned narcissism. But, aside from horrible destructive policies, what might best define the Trump era is just how fucking tacky it is.

Everything about Trump has always been tacky and vulgar. The gilded bravado, the phony TV persona, the desperate striving for approval masked as condescending confidence. The constant boasts about money, often to people who had much, much more (though always to people who had much, much less).

It’s not just that Trump has always been defined by tackiness; it’s that he has helped define it, from the bloated decadence of the 80s to the phony-conflict fake-strongman nausea of the reality show 2000s, his gross imprint has been a weight on our culture. He’s not solely responsible, but he did help create, and clearly thrived in, the worship of wealth, the addiction to ginned-up drama, and the deference toward TV ringmasters that paved the way to his Presidency.

So it is fitting that his true political career may have been partially launched by the glittery tackiness of Miss Universe, where, according to The Guardian he really became more entangled with the middle rings of Putinism, who used flattery and access to impress the world’s easiest mark.

Most people in the story, including the ridiculous Rob Goldstone, are present at the now-key Don Jr. meeting with a bunch of Russian insiders. The Miss Universe pagent is the nexus at which the key players start to gain influence in the Trump inner circle, access that eventually led to them working to put Trump in the White House.

That last sentence, by the way, ought to be the lead line in the obituary for our idiot times.

Anyway, read the whole piece. It points to where Mueller will be looking, the whole cast of characters that through “friendship” and money sought to manipulate, use, and support the Trump family in an attempt to both undermine our democracy and make more money. That it worked shows volumes about the emptiness of America’s worst family, but it wouldn’t have worked without the rest of our dumb, and essentially tacky, culture playing along.

Miss Universe! That’s where this all really got started. It’s almost too perfect.

(By the way, there is one mitigating factor for Trump in this, in a part that is painted as evidence of more collusion.

It is not known whether Trump met any associates of Putin in lieu of the president himself, but he certainly claimed to have.

“I was with the top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the-government people,” he said in a radio interview in 2015. “I can’t go further than that, but I will tell you that I met the top people, and the relationship was extraordinary.”

When Trump brags about meeting the best people because he’s the best, but says he can’t tell you more, he’s lying. He’s a terrible con man, and this is his obvious tell. He’s so desperate for approval. That’s the hardest part about this: it’s impossible to use anything Trump says as evidence, because he is simply always, always lying.)

Talking Election Day Blues: Something Better To Look At


Image result for ohio meets mississippi river

Where the Ohio meets the Mississippi, in race-burnt Cairo, IL. If it’s a metaphor, it ain’t a positive one. 

It’s election day, so let’s talk about rivers. 


It’s going to be sort of a strange election day for me, personally. I’ll be traveling for work this afternoon and have early meetings tomorrow. Not sure if I’ll be able to be liveblogging tonight. Who knows, maybe it is for the best. I expect Hillary to win, of course, but am still torn by that nagging fear that we’re finally living in that movie, that one where everything goes to hell, and this is the opening montage.

Can’t you see it? The flickering TV in the background, the snatches of newscaster voices “In a surprising upset, billionaire outsider Donald Trump has…”, followed by staticky shots of liberated militias whooping and hollering, riot police in the streets, jackbooting protestors, decrees of new laws, rivers of jagged-glass partisans facing off in the streets, fires in the streets…terrible, obscene images. A new pornography of terror, brought in by millions of people in ecstatic grade school libraries.

That’s why I’d rather focus on this. It’s a few months old, but I just saw it yesterday- it’s a representation, based on satellite imagery, of all the rivers that flow to create the Mississippi. It’s 21 seconds, and it is beautiful.

(From NASA Scientific Visualization Studio. H/T

Watch it start at the headwaters of the Missouri, just east of the Rockies, picking up steam through hundreds of tributaries. Watch the main branch start from seemingly out of nowhere in Minnesota, where tiny streams and small rivers from Canada begin to cut a path, as it twists and turns slowly before straightening.

It’s just as amazing to look at the major river systems of the east, and see how they all eventually pay homage. The wild and barely-tamed Tennessee, which runs itself north and south, around great bends and wild shoals toward the Ohio. The Ohio, which starts in Pittsburgh as the confluence of two other great rivers, the Allegheny and the Monongahela, which themselves receive tribute from a series of rivers and streams stretching to the border of the Great Lakes basin.

It is an enormity. It’s wonderful and beautiful to think that headwaters from a Pennsylvania farmers field or a stream near the Adirondacks or lazy mosquito-ridden swamps in a Minnesota summer and waters barely trickling through the badlands can all converge. The whole great middle of the country is, in ways that we can’t tell from our small experience, tilted that way. Every drop of water spilled in the whole vastness of the basin, if left untouched, will eventually end up in the Mississippi, and then spill out into the Gulf.

Please don’t think this as a metaphor for how we’re all united. We’re not united, and that water doesn’t go untouched. We’re all trying to figure out how to live in this vast land, which we often think we’ve tamed, but which constantly reminds us we haven’t. There’s an uncontrollable and raring wildness in the earth, which follows a system of which we’re barely a part.

It’s that system–the tiniest gradations of elevation, the slightest tilt of sea level, that determined these rivers, which determined our politics. It determined where cities are built and why. They opened up communities to the world or cut them off. They formed classes and parties. They helped create cultures, which through the tiniest of changes, piece by piece and year by year, led us to where we are today. Our music, our literature, our ideas about ourselves. They flowed through the years, and we flowed along with them. They created this country.

When you reflect on how deeply divided and perhaps, ultimately ungovernable we are as a country, look at this map. It certainly isn’t the only reason, but the sheer size and inhuman majesty of these systems put lie to any claims to greatness. At best we can hope for a measure of grace, something that can rise above. We’ve somehow had that for eight years. Let’s not just throw even the smallest kindnesses away.