trout in the milk

Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk. —Henry David Thoreau

I was struck by a remark in an earlier comment thread which basically suggested that Trump is a narcissistic boor and con man and a few other things, but that, at least so far, the accusations of collusion with Russia to get a leg up in the election, along with other malfeasance concerning money laundering and mob connections are not supported by the evidence at hand, and for that needle to be moved significantly it will be necessary for Mueller’s investigation to come up with something incontrovertible.

Even a moderate effort toward fair-mindedness and adherence to the principle of innocent until proven guilty must result  in an acknowledgment of that.  But that does not mean the evidence already available is trivial or unpersuasive.

Yes, it’s circumstantial, but when all that evidence is documented in one place, as a timeline, it’s extremely difficult to propose scenarios which align with that evidence and don’t involve both illegalities and seriously deep financial entanglements with Russian oligarchs. And nobody in their right mind believes that it’s possible to be entangled with Russian oligarchs without being entangled with Vladimir Putin and the Russian state.

Happily, Steven Harper over at Bill Moyers’ place has done exactly that with a constantly updated timeline of All Things Trump going back  to 1979 when he first met Roger Stone right up to the present day.

It’s a big piece of work, but fascinating reading. Trump’s history with Russia dealings goes back a long way, especially for someone who insisted throughout his campaign and to the present day that “he has nothing to do with Russia”. Here’s a brief cherry-picked single narrative thread from Harper’s piece. It’s just one among many, many others;

1984: David Bogatin, a 38-year-old former Soviet Army pilot and Russian émigré who arrived in America seven years earlier with just $3 in his pocket, pays $6 million for five condominium units in a luxurious new Manhattan high-rise, Trump Tower. At the time, Russian mobsters were beginning to invest in high-end US real estate as a way to launder money from their criminal enterprises. Three years later, Bogatin — eventually revealed to be a leading figure in the Russian mob in New York — pleads guilty to a money laundering scheme. According to prosecutors, the scheme involved a network of Russian and Eastern European immigrants acting with Michael Franzese, an admitted captain of the Colombo organized-crime family. (In 1986, Franzese pleads guilty and receives a 10-year sentence for the scheme.) In 2003, Bogatin’s brother, Jacob, is indicted for allegedly running a $150 million stock scam and money-laundering scheme with Semion Mogilevich, whom the FBIconsiders the “boss of bosses” of Russian organized crime.

August 1998:Russia defaults on its debt and its stock market collapses. As the value of the ruble plummets, Russian millionaires scramble to get money out of their country and into New York City, where real estate provides a safe haven for overseas investors.

October 1998: Demolition of a vacant office building near the United Nations headquarters is making way for Trump World Tower. Donald Trump begins selling units in the skyscraper, which is scheduled to open in 2001 and becomes a prominent depository of Russian money. By 2004, one-third of the units sold on the 76th through 83rd floors of Trump World Tower involve people or limited liability companies connected to Russia or neighboring states. Assisting Trump’s sales effort is Ukrainian immigrant Semyon “Sam” Kislin, who issues mortgages to buyers of multimillion-dollar Trump World Tower apartments. In the late 1970s, Kislin had co-owned an appliance store with Georgian immigrant Tamir Sapir, and they had sold 200 television sets to Donald Trump on credit. By the early 1990s, Kislin had become a wealthy commodities trader and campaign fundraiser for Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who in 1996 appoints him to the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Meanwhile, Sapir makes a fortune as a New York City real estate developer.

2002: Efforts to sell Russians apartments in Trump World Tower, Trump’s West Side condominiums, and Trump’s building on Columbus Circle expand with presentations in Moscow involving Sotheby’s International Realty and a Russian realty firm. In addition to buying units in Trump World Tower, Russians and Russian-Americans flood into another Trump-backed project in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. In South Florida alone, members of the Russian elite invest more than $98 million in seven Trump-branded luxury towers.

July 2008: As the Florida real estate market began to crash, Trump sells a Florida residence to a Russian oligarch for $95 million, believed to be the biggest single-family home sale in US history. The Russian oligarch never lived in the house and, since then, it has been demolished. Three years earlier, Trump had bought the home at auction for $41 million.

Read the piece, it’s meticulously researched and when all the details are presented as a timeline—details like the Kushners’ visit to Moscow and being squired around, upon Donald Trump’s request, by people he later claimed “not to know, not really”—it comes together in a way which induces fair-mindedness to wonder if we’re not just dealing with a trout in the milk, but an entire school of fish.

One last comment about fair-mindedness.  Trump and people like him don’t respect fair-mindedness and they don’t regard it as an essential ingredient, or even a valuable ingredient, in a civil society. They regard it as a weakness to be exploited.

120 Responses to trout in the milk

  1. Expat says:

    Wow, Expat, those prices are cheap.

    That’s what I said – but not free.

  2. Expat says:

    Glasses have limited coverage in the UK too. When I was growing up NHS Specs were the simple round lenses with wire rims and wire legs that hooked behind the ears. Wearing glasses was reason enough to taunt for some of the crueler kids bit NHS ones made it worse. I assume that is why JK Rowling made them part of her underdog Harry Potter character.

  3. StillBernie says:

    I just don’t get that. I used to wear wire rim glasses for a little while as a kid in grade school, but i thought they were cool, i wanted to look like John Lennon. And i still would never be able to wear contacts, the thought of having something aginst my eyeball gives me the heebie jeebies. So imagine it will still be specs for me in my dotage. I still have a big thing for guys in glasses. This is so my type –

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMTI2NDQ2OTY4M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNTYyNjc4._V1_UY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_.jpg

  4. Expat says:

    SB – It was the assumption that you couldn’t afford other ones. Children can be cruel. I guess Lennon, and then Harry Potter made them cool.

  5. StillBernie says:

    Ah. We didn’t have that issue here. I think you’re the same age as i am, Let it Be came out in ’70 with Lennon in specs on the cover. And earlier than that was Janis Joplin and Paul Kantner (another one who was just my type). Called them granny glasses back in the hippie days i think.

    Don’t you have to get a vision test for a driver’s licence? If you flunk it, i reckon that you have no choice but to get glasses or contacts. Which must be hard these days if you’re poor and uncovered.

  6. Expat says:

    SB – When I took my car and then motorcycle tests in the UK the eye test was the examiner pointing to the number plate on a parked car at the approximately correct distance and asking you to read it. Years later in Vermont they had a machine that you put your head in.

    As I have gotten older my shortsightedness has diminished and the requirement for me to wear glasses for driving has been removed from my license – one less thing to get a ticket for if stopped without them. However growing old brings on long sightedness and the need for longer arms or dollar store cheaters.

  7. Expat says:

    …..meanwhile skinny repeal goes down and Whitehouse incompetence accelerates. Kevin’s administration collapse by chronic doofusness theory is more plausible than than the inevitable collapse of the republic.

  8. StillBernie says:

    Yeah, McConnell needs to do a Boehner. He’s failed across the board.

  9. KevinNevada says:

    Morning after the big-showdown vote, all the drama, the hype, the seven years of stupid posturing, and they failed because Johnny Mac had time to lay in a hospital bed and think things over, and two female Senators brought a different point of view to their votes.

    And Mitch McConnell found there really is a limit to how far he can go, to trash the procedural rules of the Senate. The shoddy manner in which this almost-secret bill was foisted on the members, didn’t deserve even the 49 Yeas it did get.

    And here in Nevada we see, for certain, that Dean Heller does not have the balls needed to confront the bully in the Oval Office. He can be cowed into line. So, he is toast, will be gone after the 2018 election.

  10. KevinNevada says:

    And I’m sure you’ve all read this, but just in case,

    here is the New Yorker piece with the first-hand account of the rantings of the “Mooch”.

    Behold the verbal spewings of the O.H.’s chosen “communications director”.

    He really is the Perfect Appointment for the SCROTUS. Really, perfect!!

  11. I went to sleep rather that torture myself watching the Senate’s gyrations in real time, but fully expected the assurance to send the piece of shit bill to committee in the House to tip the scales.
    McCain’s track record is, after all, one of expressing deep, very deep, even very very deep, concern, then voting party line.

    So good for him. No doubt he’ll be the hero, but let’s tip a hat here to two steadfast women Senators without whom McCain’s “blind pig finally finding a truffle” act would have been for nought.

  12. StillBernie says:

    Collins and Murkowsky are both ace. Both would be great potus material (certainly better than what the Dems hacked up twice), and wouldn’t have a snowball’s chance of getting the nomination from their own party.

  13. KevinNevada says:

    Murkowski, remember, failed to get nominated seven years ago, ran for re-election as an independent, won, then re-caucused with the GOP. She’s flipped the bird to the Teepers ever since, and the O.H. cannot threaten her either.

    That path to Senatorial survival is also wide open for Sue Collins.

  14. bluthner says:

    These are the specs I’ve been wearing for the last 40 years: https://www.framesdirect.com/product_elarge_images/artcraft-eye-100ast-gold-48-angle.jpg

  15. Expat says:

    I must be feeling nostalgic about the old country but I found this on NHS Specs

    The National Health Service range of glasses was an historical phenomenon peculiar to the United Kingdom between 1948 and 1985. Almost universally loathed at home because of the social stigma attached to state-subsidised medical appliances, they were admired abroad, but were ‘popular’ only in the literal sense that overwhelming numbers of people chose to wear them. This is proof, if ever it were needed, that price rather than fashion was the main factor influencing British consumer choice in the third quarter of the twentieth century. The high quality of NHS spectacles has meant, however, that many frames have survived to the present day and they have now taken on a new identity… as desirable retro-chic eyewear.

    ….desirable retro-chic eyewear SB and Bluth

  16. StillBernie says:

    Bluth –

    Hello, sailor.

    Are they these? Hmm, it’s been nearly 40 years now…

    http://nypost.com/2015/05/06/you-can-buy-john-lennons-iconic-eyeglasses-at-auction/

    (suspected to have actually sold for around $1 mill)

  17. StillBernie says:

    And i’m guessing that cheaters means non-prescription? That has to be the most popular item at the dollar store, everybody uses them. Ther’re like $20 at CVS, and even at Job Lot they’re 3 or 4 bucks.

  18. Expat says:

    I always took cheaters to be referring to cheating old age SB. But it could be non-prescription. Mine are per the diopters prescribed by my eye doctor but bought off the rack at the Dollar Store. I have pairs scattered all over the house, office and workshop. Don’t need them for reading yet, only for close up hand work.

  19. bluthner says:

    SB, not quite but near as dammit (I mean the specs, not the price). I guess fingerbones of early Christian saints went for very prices, and the Virgin Mary’s girdle (kept under lock and key in Prato and displayed I think just once a year) is priceless beyone value, so why not a million for J.L.’s specs. Think of what you could see through them! (if you dropped enough acid.)

  20. StillBernie says:

    Yeah, but even saints’ relics generally came in some sort of precious metal box set with gemstones that you could sell for scrap if you had to raise an army or something pronto.

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