16 August 2016

The Troubling Case of Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort is a lobbyest. In some more honest moments Manafort will admit that "influence peddler" is, at least, a somewhat apt description of what he does. He is currently the chairman of Donald Trump's imploding presidential campaign. This week the New York Times published a story about Manafort that can only be damaging to the Trump campaign mired as it is in links to Putin's Moscow.

In the Times article Manafort's name appeared, along with names of companies he sought business with, in a secret ledger used by the ousted President Victor Yanokovych. If the handwritten ledger is to be believed, Manafort received 12.7 million dollars in undisclosed cash payments between 2007-2012. The special investigators trying to untangle the web of corruption that characterized Yanukovych's Putin friendly, administration are quick to point out that the ledger doesn't constitute direct evidence that Manafort actually received these payments. Unsurprisingly, Manafort denies ever receiving off the books cash payments. For me though, the cash payments are the very least of my concerns. That Yanokovych would be corrupt and make illegal payments to people whom he wanted to influence, or have influence others is hardly surprising. Corrupt folks do corrupt things. Interestingly, Manafort's shady business in the Ukraine was why McCain chose not to hire him in 2008.

Whether Manafort received unreported cash or not, the story produces some more troubling links to Putin's Russia as well as a willingness on the part of people of power and influence close to Trump, and whose opinions Trump values, to be deal with some awful, awful people. Manafort and his firm have represented some reprehensible people and regimes over the years. Prior to his firm's work advising Yanokovyvh and helping him win election, Manafort and his firm also represented Philippine dictator, and all around piece of shit Ferdinand Marcos. But representing less than savory characters, and trying to win influence for them is a big part of what Manafort does. This is part of the problem of course.

But Manafort's close association with Putin friendly oligarchs and presidents coupled with his association with Trump cast many of Trumps own pro-Putin, pro-Russia comments in a harsher light. Trump's financial ties to Russia are significant in their own right. What conclusions can we draw from Manafort's close ties Russia with the fact that the Trump campaign forced the GOP to soften its platform on the annexation of Crimea? Or onn Trump's less than supportive ideas about NATO? What of the growing consensus that Russia hacked the DNC to benefit Donald Trump? We probably can't say anything too concrete, but surely Trump's associations must fail to inspire confidence.

It may be premature to suggest this but I suspect a Trump administration might ape the Yanokovych Administration. State coffers would be raided, and funneled into private hands, and those hands are likely to be Russian ones.


At 2:55 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also had and have doubts. But I have come to slightly prefer a ban. But I don't think it's that important.

What I am surprised about is the general hysteria about it which seems to come from a misunderstanding of the motivation behind it.

1) it's not anti woman or trying to tell women what to wear. French people don't care about cloths so long as they are fashionable. And that's just as true of Muslims.

2) This is not Islamophobia. There are laws allowing family reunification and openness to Muslim countries that are as open as anywhere. There is some descrimination but muslims are present in all kinds of business. Certainly all Muslims are protected as citizens. There are more muslims and Jews in france then any other European country. Not a sign of and Muslim policies.

3) France has had over 300 people killed in the last 2 years. The latest on the beachfront in Nice. All Jewish buildings and schools are protected by usually 3 or 4 gun toting army personnel with over a year.
A few years ago an islamist broke into a Jewish junior school and killed several kids. Running after and catching and shooting at point blank on 8 year old.
It's clear that no level of security will protect people. In a few weeks schools will open and now all schools will have to do 4 repetitions of a terrorist attack before end of rirst trimester.

4) France is a secular country so we are not familiar with in your face religiosity for about 100 years. French secularism is more about freedom FROM religion.

So you can imagine the people in the French riviera like Cannes and Nice after only a few weeks after the terrorist attack make a connection between Daech the attack and the religious extremism.
But most of all they expect people specifically french muslims to understand that. And they do. Because they all know muslims. Muslims children were killed in the attack in Nice.
So they assume the people who turn up in a burkini are not muslims but are islamist provocateurs.
And they react badly to this.

And I am not surprised. Take a look at the pictures of the attack. Look at this from an atheist or secular perspective.

A recent serious poll asked about support for the local mayoral burkini ban on the beach ( it's not a national ban)

64% favour a the bans
30% are indifferent
6% are against the ban
This I hope shows that people look at things through a different lens then "clothes ban bad" or "freedom of clothes" Value beats all other values.

Remember in any society each value works like an absolute Exigence. Eg everyone has freedom of conscience and movement.
But there are multiple values - equality fraternity security etc.or even outdated ideas of morals eg nudity.
These values are weighed up and one or other wins depending on the situation.
This happens everywhere in local or central government. We accept this when no-one can walk down the street or go to the beach naked. There is no international outcry when this happens. When the local golf association imposed a dress code or the public park or the public health authorities impose a rule we just accept it.there is no international outcry.
But when it touches something that is at once claimed to Muslim and not Muslim it is immediately an international issue.

The bottom line is that this ban is understandable given people's sensitivity from recent terror events. Whether you agree or not to a mayoral decree one can understand.

What is strange is the international hysteria about it.


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