Thursday, November 29, 2018

Charles Pierce and Jonathan Chait on Today's Developments in the Russia Election Meddling Conspiracy Investigation -OR- Mueller's Trump Crime Family Gambino-Style Rollup Rolls On

**Updated 5:01 p.m. 11/30/2018: See bottom of entry.** 

For this entry, I'd like to post some excerpts of two pieces -- one by the inestimable Charles Pierce and the other by Jonathan Chait, two political writers who are my daily must-reads in this Time of Trump, half-dystopian and half-American reality freak show farce that it is.

The pieces -- linked below -- were prompted by the dramatic developments today involving Trump's former attorney and long-time "fixer" in the Russia election meddling / Trump collusion probe.

This refers to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation -- accurately analogized by Chait as a Gambino crime syndicate-style roll up -- into the (successful) conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to sway the 2016 election.

It is an investigation that naturally exposes the decades-long Trump family criminal enterprise and the money laundering nexus between said enterprise and the Russian government.

Nebraska's Chimney Rock, a natural landmark along the three major 19th Century American westward migration trails -- Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails.


The entry is broken up by a set of images that were taken from this MSN photo-montage (link embedded): The one 'tourist trap' that's actually worth visiting in every state.

Most of these are natural wonders while some are made by people. With a few exceptions, I'm not captioning the images, so if you are interested in any of them, either click on/download the images and see the file name or, alternatively, scroll through the photo-montage article linked directly above.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve


I'm leading this entry with the South Dakota must-see tourist trap -- one that is appropriate for this entry since it draws such a counterpoint to the grotesquely unfit, deeply deranged, and morally and physically rotting human being who presently occupies the position of President of the United States.



Trump Can't Control the Process Anymore. It's Unraveling on Him.

Source here

It always was about the money. The president* always defined himself by it. It was the comforting myth of his public existence, the fairytale he told himself so he could sleep at night through all the failure and bankruptcy and the whoring after cash, dirty or laundered, all over the world.

Take away the money -- or, more accurately, the perception of the money -- and there simply is nothing left of the man. Take away the money, and he can't see himself in the mirror. So he would do anything, including imperil his presidency and, therefore, the country, to save himself from the horrible realization that the money was all there was to him and there wasn't any money anymore.

What the hell? What was the presidency to him but another mirror in which he still could see a man made of money?

So comes now Michael Cohen to talk about the money, and to lie to Congress about the money, and now to tell the Court, and Robert Mueller, the truth about the money. And we discover that Robert Mueller is no fool, and that he has known, all along, that it was about the money and that it always was about the money.

The story began to move very fast. The president*, on his way to the G7 in Argentina to meet with, among other people, Vladimir Putin, blew some smoke from the White House driveway, inadvertently (perhaps) admitting that he lied during the campaign about the business he and the weak person, Cohen, were doing in Russia. But events are beginning to rhyme on him, and he can't control the process now.

At the same time that Cohen was copping his plea, over in Frankfort, German authorities were raiding the headquarters of Deutsche Bank, the one remaining financial institution willing to lend the president* money.

Alcatraz Island, Calif., seems an appropriate image …


The actions were taken in response to the latest revelations from the Panama Papers project, the massive leak of financial data that revealed precisely how governments and government officials clean their dirty money and stash it offshore all over the world.

Has Deutsche Bank been connected to laundering Russian money? Why, yes, it has.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park


This, remember, is one of the only banks in the world that's been willing to do business with the president*. And Michael Cohen today pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his -- and the president*'s -- involvement in a proposal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. It is about the money. It's always been about the money.

Grotto of the Redemption, West Bend, Iowa


Michael Cohen Admits Lying on Trump's Behalf About Russia Deals

Source here.

The latest iterative step in Robert Mueller's Gambino-style rollup of the Trump campaign is Michael Cohen's statement in federal court that he lied to Congress about his dealings with Russia. Cohen had been negotiating with Russia during the campaign on Trump's behalf.

The most immediate and unsurprising thing this tells us is that Trump has mislead the public about this topic for a long time …

The House on the Rock, Spring Green, Wisc.


If this part is confirmed -- and Cohen's confession adds to its credibility -- then it will show direct cooperation during the campaign between Trump’s lawyer and Russians involved in the covert campaign to help elect him. This is yet another possible channel for collusion.

Dollywood, Tennessee. What more need be said??


Trump deflected the latest setback by using his customary mobster lingo. "He's a weak person," Trump said, "and by being weak, unlike other people that you watch, he is a weak person and what he's trying to do is get a reduced sentence."

Trump is almost literally a mob boss, but it’s not clear if the public is going to be enthusiastic about reelecting a president who publicly expresses his view that cooperating with the government is weakness and respecting omerta a form of strength.


Updated 5:01 p.m. 11/30/2018

OK, I wanted to repost this headline and image from the online Washington Post

This is taken from Greg Sargent's The Plum Line blog featured on the Washington Post's website, specifically, from this piece (link embedded): Trumpism is rotten to its core. And the stench of corruption and failure is everywhere.

I adjusted the headline text positioning and lead image a little bit to go better with my blog's formatting.

Among the comments is this one by HollyMartins2:

The whole story has been obvious from the start.

The Reality Show Con Artist was never running for President; he was running for ATTENTION. He was only in it for money and vanity and never (and doesn't) wanted the job. He was as surprised as anyone that his "poorly educated voters" actually bought his schtick. He would be much happier bilking the rubes with his own TV Network.

But he is only the Orange pus that signals the infection in this country.

We have 40 percent of the public that is either too stupid, too biased and/or too intimidated they are okay with having a fraud as President.

And we have a whole political party, the treasonous Vichy GOP, that is propping up this charade even though they all know he is unfit and a Russian and Saudi dupe.

This country is a big ship and no one man, even the grifter in chief, can sink it. But the weight of the cowards in the Vichy GOP and the rubes have this ship listing.

Well put.

End of Update and of Entry.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Recap of a Pleasant November Fall Weekend Trip to Atlanta to Visit a Friend: Photo-Essay Review

The Atlanta skyline on a fall day as seen in Piedmont Park with Lake Clara Meer in the foreground.

This entry contains the bulk of my Atlanta trip pictures to visit my friend Chris T. It also contains three additional pictures that he took about a week later at two of the places we went -- namely, Blake's on the Park and the Café Intermezzo in Midtown.

Also, and it goes without saying, that the lead image is not one that I took. I found it on this site.


The pictures are posted more or less chronologically below except for a set of four that Chris sent me on Nov 19th (a week after my visit there).

Blakes on the Park, fall night, Atlanta, Ga., Nov 19, 2018

This is one of the pictures that Chris took on a pleasant fall night about a week after my visit.

Blake's -- which has endless foul-mouthed drag shows -- has a men's room with a weird semi-one-way mirror facing onto the main bar level. I say semi-one-way because in the dark, it is possible to sorta see through the mirror into the bathroom …


View of downtown Washington, D.C., moments after an upriver takeoff from Reagan Washington National Airport, 2:12 p.m. Nov 8, 2018

On these upriver departures, I can make out my apartment building at 16th and U Streets and New Hampshire Ave NW. I have to say that New Hampshire Ave really stands out prominently on its run from the Watergate up to the corner of Meridian Hill Park.


The Whistle Stop Café, Juliette, Ga.., 1:17 p.m. Nov 9, 2018

Chris and I rode the 50 miles or so -- Chris drove -- to Juliette to see this spot made famous by the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. There were showery heavy downpours part of the way as a strong frontal system approach with a low pressure moving across northern Georgia enhancing the rainfall from Metro Atlanta northward.


Rainy, gloomy, cool evening overlooking Piedmont Park from Chris's place, Nov 9, 2018 

Chris took this picture, so I don't have a specific time although it was taken on Friday evening. We went out that night to nearby Blake's. Actually, we went first to what appeared to me to be a 1940s-themed hotel bar in the recently-renovated Clermont Hotel, which also houses a tawdry strip club called the Clermont Lounge (where we did not go).


Another view of a rainy, gloomy, cool evening from Chris's place, Midtown neighborhood, Atlanta, Ga., Nov 9, 2018.

Just fyi, KATL recorded 0.15" and 0.77" on Nov 8th and 9th, respectively, in that system while KFTY received 0.01" and 0.48" on Nov 8th and 9th, respectively. (The Nov 9th totals seem to contradict my assertion above that the main area of rain was from Atlanta northward.)

This followed three days of rain on the 5th, 6th, and 7th at KATL totaling 0.12", 0.35", and 0.69" and at KFTY totaling 0.24", 0.26", and 0.52".

The five-day totals were thus 2.08" and 1.51", but I think these were from at least two weather systems.


Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., 11:31 a.m. Nov 10, 2018

The next day dawned brilliantly sunny and chilly -- temps around 42F under a sun-flooded cerulean sky. I'm really glad that Chris suggested this walk in the park to catch the tail end of the Saturday "Green Market" morning event with chocolates, dried fruit, pastries, and other such items.


Golf cart next to a tree in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., 11:43 a.m. Nov 10, 2018

It was such a stunningly love, chilly fall day -- and all the better after the rain.


Trees and a walkway on a fall morning in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., 11:45 a.m. Nov 10, 2018


The condos that fringe the southwestern edge of Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., 11:47 a.m. Nov 10, 2018


A nice tree growing in the southwest section of Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., 11:48 a.m. Nov 10, 2018

The tree foliage was beginning to turn in earnest. Now I think that early-to-mid November is more or less average for the turnover in this part of Georgia. However, the farther north one went this autumn, the steadily later the turnover was from normal.

Just a week earlier on my work trip to the Detroit area, I noted that the trees' fall foliage display was peaking there -- certainly weeks behind schedule.


The condos along 10th St NE at the southwestern edge of Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., 11:51 a.m. Nov 10, 2018


Corner of 10th St NE and Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, Ga., 11:55 a.m. Nov 10, 2018

This is the heart of Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood -- equivalent, I guess, to 17th and P Street NW or maybe just Dupont Circle itself in Washington, D.C.

Of course, it seems to me that the now-late-stage, viciously hateful gay mafia that D.C. long possessed but that is now well past its sell-by date and is being replaced by the next generation of annoying people.


The view from Piedmont Ave and 11th St NE, Atlanta, Ga., 11:59 a.m. Nov 10, 2018

The large building is, I think, the Loews Atlanta Hotel. But there are also random 40-story residential condominiums in this part of Atlanta.


Piedmont Arbors, 1050 Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, Ga., 12:01 p.m. Nov 10, 2018

This building has -- as Chris noted -- a "beachy feel," architecturally speaking.


Outside the Lofts at the Park II condo building, Piedmont Ave NE, Atlanta, Ga., 12:01 pm. Nov 10, 2018


We then drove to the nearby Ponce City Market that is housed in the historic Sears, Roebuck & Co. building in Atlanta.

Exterior of the Ponce City Market, Atlanta, Ga., 12:57 p.m. Nov 10, 2018

This is a vibrant, busy, multifaceted marketplace. Atlanta combines what is good about a prosperous city -- diverse, energetic, so much to experience -- with what is nice about the American South -- people tend to be friendlier to strangers -- without the obvious ugliness of the same region of the country (at least on the surface).


Interior of the Ponce City Market, Atlanta, Ga., 12:59 p.m. Nov 10, 2018

This market seemed to embody that which is good. We do not have anything like that in D.C. proper. Not that I'm aware of. The only slightly bad experience on the entire trip was the rude bartenderess at the wine bar in there.

No, my shitty cellphone camera does not do it justice. That being the case, here are two better pictures I found online:

An online picture of the Ponce City Market, Atlanta, Ga.


Interior of the Ponce City Market, Atlanta, Ga.

I was really happy that Chris took me to this place.


Two toddlers, Ponce City Market, Atlanta, Ga., 1:02 p.m. Nov 10, 2018

I'm no fan of young, drooly, sticky, poopy, shrieking children -- whatsoever -- but these two were cute.


Street view along Piedmont Ave NE, Midtown neighborhood, Atlanta, Ga., 3:01 p.m. Nov 10, 2018

There are some really lovely houses along this avenue -- in a neighborhood that seems to me to combine all that is good about Dupont Circle and 17th St with the residential side street pleasantness of Friendship Heights, but with friendlier people (and the occasional 40 or 50-story condominium).


A large house along Piedmont Ave NE near 5th Street NE, Atlanta, Ga., 3:01 p.m. Nov 10, 2018

I think this house has an address in the 700s even though it is near 5th Street NE. More generally, the street addresses along Piedmont Ave NE do not follow the cross numbered streets. This indicates that Atlanta's grid system is not a "rigorous" as is that of D.C. based upon the (0,0) origin of the U.S. Capitol -- even with the directional quadrants that both cities use.

Here is a better Google street view from Oct 2017:

Google street view, Piedmont Ave near 5th St NE Oct 2017


Later that evening, Chris and I went to Café Intermezzo to meet someone I knew way back in high school. His name is also Chris and he lives in Metro Atlanta with his wife and young son.

As a backstory, this Chris -- Chris C. -- and I were not friends but instead only in one or two classes together over the years. (I think he was at Corkran Jr. High (now Middle School) in 7th grade but then went elsewhere before going to the same high school (Glen Burnie High School).

The bar, Café Intermezzo restaurant, Midtown area, Atlanta, Ga., 5:07 p.m. Nov 10, 2018


Fast forward half a lifetime to this past summer, and when I went to the 30th high school reunion with Lynda (at the Ferndale Fire Station), and Chris C. was there with his wife. We hit it off and exchanged phone numbers. He also told me that he lived in Atlanta, and I told him I was going to visit there over the Veterans Day weekend.

Bar area, Café Intermezzo, Atlanta, Ga., Nov 19, 2018 (first of three pics that Chris took and sent me on Nov 19, 2018)


We followed through on the plans to meet and did so at the bar at Café Intermezzo. My friend, Chris T., also joined us. This worked out well as I talked to Chris C. and Chris T. talked to his wife. We had a great time.

Bar at Café Intermezzo, Atlanta, Ga., Nov 19, 2018 (second of three pics that Chris took and sent me on Nov 19, 2018)


One odd item about Chris C. and me: Having last saw him 30+ years ago back in 1988 when we graduated from Glen Burn Out, er, Burnie High School, and because we were not friends, and because I threw away my high school yearbook years ago (after having defaced and then torn out most of the pages), I had forgotten his surname.

Or rather, I "misremembered" it, and because it is similar -- but NOT the same as -- the westernmost county in Oklahoma, I started to believe it was his last name.

Bar Café Intermezzo, Atlanta, Ga., Nov 19, 2018 (third of three pics that Chris took and sent me on Nov 19, 2018)


It was Chris T. who exchanged numbers with Chris C's wife, and this is how I first realized I was wrong on his last name -- although it took me a couple weeks to realize it definitively.

Funny how memory works.

Sunlight reflected off a new high-rise building in Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood, 1:36 p.m. Nov 11, 2018

This was taken on my final full day in Atlanta.


Yours truly in the Midtown Atlanta, 1:37 p.m. Nov 11, 2018

This was on Sunday. We ended up going to first to Blake's, but it was nearly empty, so we went to the bar / restaurant called The Nook that we had visited on Friday night. On this Sunday night, I met this Australian guy presently living in Atlanta who is some sort of world travelling adventurer who has been to the North Pole proper multiple times and who is authoring a book I confirmed exists online.


Yours truly in the Midtown Atlanta, 1:38 p.m. Nov 11, 2018


However, I've gotten ahead of myself. Backing up a bit, on Sunday afternoon, Chris and I took Finn for a walk in Piedmont Park.

Piedmont Park is an interesting urban park with a variety of features including walkways / biking routes, hiking paths; Lake Clara Meer; various dedicated sports fields; tennis courts; a swimming pool; playgrounds; a large enclosed dog park; and forested areas. The park hosts numerous events through the years -- both recurring (such as the Green Market) and special (to include any number of concerts).

A cluster of Sable palms growing in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., 1:54 p.m. Nov 11, 2018

Yes, there are some Sable palms in Piedmont Park despite a climate that in the winter is really too cold for them, although that may very well change in the next 10 to 20 years.


Blurry picture of a portion of the Atlanta skyline as seen from Piedmont Park, 1:56 p.m. Nov 11, 2018

Here are two better images with Lake Clara Meer in the foreground:

Atlanta skyline on a summer day rising above Piedmont Park's Lake Clara Meer

Atlanta skyline on a pleasant evening rising above Piedmont Park's Lake Clara Meer


Back to the pictures I took …

Bald cypress trees along Lake Clara Meer, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., 1:59 p.m. Nov 11, 2018

Piedmont Park is home to numerous species of trees including a series of bald cypress that line part of Lake Clara Meer. Bald cypress are, somewhat conceptually confusingly, deciduous coniferous trees. That is, bald cypress are coniferous but they are not evergreens …


Finn in Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., Nov 11, 2018


I already posted the pics of myself with a most adorable basket, er, basset hound named "Milo" taken in the park's dog enclosure. Here is one of those pics:

Yours truly with a wonderful basset hound named Milo and Chris's dog, Finn, in the dog field enclosure, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga., Nov 11, 2018

Like I said in that entry, I could totally get used to a dog such as Milo.


And my final picture is, somewhat underwhelmingly, a random Baptist Church located at the northern edge of Midtown -- a neighborhood called Piedmont Heights.

A (blurry) picture of Morningside Baptist Church as seen from Piedmont Ave, Atlanta, Ga., 4:09 p.m. Nov 11, 2018

We were going to a gay sports bar north of Midtown called Woofs. Yes, Woofs.


I departed the next day (Nov 12th) to return to D.C. I walked to the Midtown MARTA station to go to Hartsfield Airport in a DELUGE of rain that dropped over 2 inches of rain Metro Atlanta-wide.

This included 2.33" at KATL and 2.76" at KFTY. These totals were part of a four-day total (again, from at least two separate weather systems) that dropped 4.08" and 4.62", respectively.

The month-to-date totals for these two airport stations is 7.25" (KATL) and 6.99" (KFTY) -- both of which are below our area's totals this very wet year to include 7.56" (KDCA), 8.14" (KBWI), 7.67" (KIAD), and 7.81" (KDMH).

And that, dear reader, wraps up my Atlanta pics.