If ever a photo spoke volumes, it was the one taken as Donald Trump emerged from his sit-down with Vlad Putin in Oslo. The two men emerged from their meeting (no one on our side took notes) to speak to the press. They needn’t have said a word; their body language spoke every single truth they were about to deny. Donald Trump was and remains Vladimir Putin’s bitch. It’s that simple. Compromising greedy shitheads is “Intelligence Agency 101” type stuff. Whether it’s a honey pot or just plain old money, you dangle, they take and you own them. And then you own them MORE. Putin may have had his hooks set into Trump as early as the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow. From that point on — whenever it was — a project like Donald Trump is a long play. Putin didn’t know when he “recruited” Trump if this particular gamble would pay off but Trump could be useful to Putin in myriad other ways.
Except, with Donald Trump, Putin not only got lucky, he found a Trojan Horse — a guy with political ambitions who could be weaponized like few others because he already thought like a criminal. What caused Fusion GPS to sub-contract the Russian part of their oppo research on Trump (regardless of who was paying them at the time — as both sides did) to a Chris Steele (a man with a solid rep and great contacts inside Russia) — was the suspicion that Trump had used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to KNOWINGLY launder Russian mob money. Russian money has been there all along, backing Trump, cash flowing him. Hey, remember that wacky real estate deal where some “dumb Russian guy” paid Trump $95 for a house in Palm Beach he bought for $40? You don’t suppose “that” was dirty, do ya?
Putin, meanwhile, had infiltrated the Republican Party at pretty much every level — covering every angle they could. Russian money poured into the GOP via the NRA and by way of Russian emigres now living in America as Americans whose retirement checks got strange bumps that they paid forward — as if by design — to various Republican politicians. If you don’t look too closely, you’d never see the crime. That doesn’t mean it’s not a crime.
We know for a fact that Putin dreams of restoring Greater Russia to the world stage as a “playeh!” His problem, outside of oil and corruption, Russia doesn’t export anything of value. Unfortunately for them, both oil and corruption are facing difficult market headwinds. But, Putin’s quite good at playing a crap hand to maximum advantage — in large part because, being an intelligence officer by training, he doesn’t play at war with conventional rules. Being a spy, his idea of warfare is entirely asymmetrical.
Asymmetrical warfare relies on the two sides thinking of war differently.
One side waits for bombs and bullets to start flying before finally declaring war on the guy who’s attacking them. Except, what if one country declares war on another — with the very same intentions and goals — but plans to accomplish them without ever firing a shot? Does that mean it’s NOT warfare? Does that mean if one country figures out how to “trick” another country into losing a war then what the first country does is okie-dokie? Is that what we’re saying here? It better not be. Any country that thinks only bombs and bullets can win wars will lose every war it ever fights going forward. It doesn’t matter how big your army is or how large your stockpile of munitions if, while the other side celebrates, you — the loser — find yourself stumbling around in the dark, your power supply cut, your food chain disrupted and your sanitation suddenly backing up on you because the ransomware guys took the money and then screwed you over. If Russia hacked into our power grid & shut it down, we’d sue for peace tomorrow.
Total cost to Russia for the same desired result as a long, protracted, bloody land, air and sea war? Almost nothing beyond the care and feeding of a bunch of computer nerds. This is where we are now: you don’t have to physically bomb people into submission to make them submit.
If you’re the news media — stuck in past definitions like what “war” is — you’re going to be late to the party. Imagine for a moment if FDR had been a little more cautious after Pearl Harbor. Consider the advantage Japan had as they attacked under cover of dawn and surprise. They knew they were at war with us months before. The fact that we didn’t know it doesn’t change the fact that a state of war existed. The citizens, airmen, sailors and soldiers at Pearl Harbor died regardless of whether an actual “state of war” had been declared. The element of surprise made a huge difference.
Let’s do a little thought experiment. What if, after attacking Pearl Harbor — recognizing the advantage surprise played at Pearl Harbor and how they might improve on that advantage — the Japanese, instead of openly declaring war, went the opposite way. What if Japanese Prime Minister Tojo — before FDR gave his “Day of Infamy” speech before Congress on December 8, 1941 and declared war on Japan — got on the horn to FDR and said “We are soooooo sorry about this, Mr. President! Admiral Yamamoto went a little nuts and pulled a ‘Doctor Strangelove! Our bad! We swear it won’t happen again. We good now?” And what if FDR, not wanting to cause a world war or anything, said “Yeah, okay, Japan, but you better be damned careful from now on that such a thing never happens again!”
And what if Japan said “Promise!” but was lying because they were already in the process of surprise attacking The Philippines, Guam, Wake Islands, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong and everywhere else the Imperial Fleet attacked that day and in the days and weeks that followed? And what if — each and every time, just like the first — FDR would threaten to declare war on Japan but Tojo would talk FDR from the ledge? Imagine if FDR had kept giving Japan the benefit of the doubt because they never formally declared war on us.
Our news media would run endlessly with this. It’s a rabbit hole they understand. If a state of war was never declared then how could it be “war”? Certainly, we wouldn’t call something “war” if it wasn’t, would we? See? Just like that, a state of war is normalized.
Watching the news conference taking place right now in Brussels as President Biden completes his first sit down with the other members of NATO, it’s shocking to think that none of the “journalists” in that room can imagine a framing where Donald Trump is a traitor and that’s why he behaved the way he did for four years. Not a hyperbolic traitor, a real one. They can switch from a story about Trump letting Vlad Putin humiliate him in public to a story about Trump running for POTUS again in 2024 as if those two events had nothing to do with each other. They can do a story about Republicans actively working to destroy every bit of our democratic system — starting with voting — then wonder aloud why Democrats won’t be all kumbaya-bi-partisan with the same people — as if, suddenly, their authoritarian stink was acceptable and their attempts to force permanent minority rule down the majority’s throat is just another “policy” they’re hawking.
What if this whole time, not only have we been under attack in a cyber war but the guy attacking us is getting copious help and assistance from one of our two political parties. And what if the big money behind this party KNEW for a fact what their political arm was doing — allying with a hostile foreign government despite the fact that it’s HIGHLY ILLEGAL? And what if that money did it anyway because their goal — an entirely white electorate — aligned with Putin’s goal — an America that won’t bother it while it finishes slitting democracy’s throat?
Our news media perceives that Putin is reacting differently to Biden than he did to Trump. Their explanations do everything but satisfy. They’re like a bunch of blind guys trying to make sense of an elephant for the first time when they’re neither blind nor unfamiliar with elephants. If the news media would just read its own reporting, it might be miles ahead of the story curve. That’s more painful than anything; it’s not that our news media haven’t reported this story — reported Trumpian treachery — it’s that they have but refuse to aggregate their own reporting into an ongoing, evolving, cohesive narrative that explains the story.
Look at Donald Trump and the Republican Party’s strange devotion to him (institutional Republicans) with a purely political lens — as our news media does — and all you can see is a bunch of politicians not wanting to lose elections. But see Trump and the GOP through a treason lens and suddenly the picture gets both more complex and more clear. If Republicans knew early on that Trump was compromised by Putin — and they knew what Putin was doing (even vaguely!) then they face very real legal jeopardy. They’re dictionary definition traitors.
If America doesn’t punish Trump and the GOP’s treason to the very fullest extent the law allows then we can start counting down to the moment Trumpism rises again and, this time, goes straight for democracy’s jugular. Down deep, every Republican knows the line they crossed. They know they’ve committed treason. They know there’s no going back now. The evidence is all around us as it always has been. It won’t be a matter of digging for it but accepting it for what it is.
Trumpian and Republican treason is as plain as the vagina on Donald Trump’s neck or the orange cast to his skin. Not only is this not normal, it’s not political either; Trump and the republicans have committed criminal acts for political purposes. America, in reacting to it, is NOT acting politically. We The People are the victims of a crime perpetrated upon us by the Republican Party. The relief we seek is both criminal in the short term — and we can’t do anything else until we stop this crime from continuing — but political in the long term: we need to legislate every way necessary to make sure that such a thing never happens again.
The GOP is terrified of being outed as traitors because they know what that’ll do to corporate money (even Chik-Fil-A can’t lie down with traitors). Even more, they’re terrified of going to prison. I bet more than a few of the upper tier of the GOP still thinks they can’t possibly be made to pay for what they’ve done. Getting away with things is a way of life. Putin also has counted on getting away with everything. With Trump, his asset, in the White House, America wasn’t going to lift a finger to stop Putin.
That’s all changed now. A skilled diplomat is now POTUS. A man with considerable foreign policy experience. A man with a conscience and a soul and who’s actually put skin in the patriotism game. That’s what worries Putin — and make no mistake he is worried.
Putin runs a glorified third world country. If not for his nuclear weapons, he’d be Kim Jong Il with borscht breath. He’s not a “head of state” the way we think of democratically elected heads of state. He’s a glorified mobster with a government at his corrupt disposal. He cares about power more than anything. Holding on to power demands having lots of money which means being super corrupt and super corrupting with that money. But Putin and his oligarch pals can’t bank their dirty money in Russia because they can’t trust the banks (which they own) because those banks are all corrupt. Consequently, Putin and his pals must do their banking here in the West.
That makes Putin incredibly vulnerable. Imagine if we went after every oligarch EXCEPT Putin. What if we made their lives a living hell by taking every asset they own? Before too long, these guys would all turn to Putin and demand he do something. If he can’t stop them from getting crushed, they will turn on Putin — just like that. Don’t think Putin knows it? Don’t think he doesn’t fear it?
Putin knows he’ll exit the world stage violently because that’s the only option corrupt leaders ever leave people. He fears that attack will come out of nowhere — like a surprise in the middle of the night.
Or on a quiet Sunday morning.