Sunday, May 13, 2018

The bottom of the swamp.

Image result for michael cohen corruption imagesThe following article is from one of my favorite columnists, Will Bunch, who writes for my hometown paper.

"Novartis is a global pharmaceutical giant that’s headquartered in Switzerland, employs 126,000 people, and pulls in $50 billion a year making newfangled drugs, including the medication that ought to be handed out like candy to the American media in the hyperactive age of Donald Trump: Ritalin. But this icon of Big Pharma prefers to deal with politicians the old-fashioned way.
It buys them.

At least that’s the knock on Novartis in places like Greece — when a decade-long bribery scheme that involved two prime ministers and several cabinet members was described by a government official there as “the biggest scandal since the creation of the Greek state” — or China, where Novartis has been accused of paying doctors to prescribe its drugs, or Turkey, where Novartis is linked to a consulting firm that may have kicked back money to government officials.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should, because there’s growing evidence that Novartis used the same heavy-handed tactics to gain access and influence with the despotic ruler of a backwater banana republic called the United States of America.

It was revealed last week, in a bizarre fashion, that Novartis had paid President Trump’s lawyer and self-described “consigliere,” Michael Cohen, some $1.2 million over the course of 2017 in order to pick the brains of Cohen — taxi-medallion king, phone-threatener extraordinaire, and graduate of America’s Worst Law School™ — for high-level strategy on complex issues like drug-pricing policy.
Or maybe it was because Cohen is one of a handful of people who can speed dial Trump’s personal cellphone. If so, it was slightly depressing to learn that the White House can be bought so cheaply. AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications firm, paid just $600,000 over roughly the same period of time for Cohen’s deep insights into the button-down mind of our current president, while Korean Aerospace cited the New York attorney’s skill in accounting as why it sent him a $150,000 check last fall, right after the Pentagon delayed a massive Air Force jet-trainer contract the firm is up for. You can draw your own conclusion about the $500,000 linked to a Russian oligarch

Those of us rooted in Philadelphia know that pay-to-pay politics is nothing new in America, and in fact our lawmakers and judges have worked hard to ensure that much of it is legal. Still, there’s something especially crass and unseemly about the way Team Trump does it. Big cash payments to an unskilled and sometimes thuggish  “fixer” so close to the president himself — an autocratic ruler who continues to profit from his own business while he runs the country and puts his daughter and son-in-law in a position of great power — is the kind of thing you used to read about in some laughable central Asian dictatorship, Whereverstan, but not the formerly exceptional  U.S. of A. The only thing we’re missing is a glorious military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue…wait, what?
Still, Cohen — and by extension, Trump — have managed to place a uniquely American stamp on our presidential corruption, by making the whole thing look like the lost episode of The Sopranos.

When the FBI recently raided Cohen’s office, home and hotel room, Cohen — who has a long history of family and personal ties to suspected Russian organized-crime figures — put on a wild-patterned sports jacket that looked off the rack from Martin Scorsese’s prop room, and met his associates outside on the street while paparazzi snapped photos that looked like government surveillance shots. It was reported that — in addition to the big-name clients he did land — Cohen was rebuffed by at least one, Ford Motor Co., and one can only imagine his pitch to the executives in Detroit. “Hey, that’s a nice Explorer you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.”

Welcome to the Bada Bing‘s new location on K Street.

The comic possibilities of Cohen’s racket shouldn’t obscure the fact that this is potentially a huge story, with Watergate-size implications. “Potentially” because there are still so many questions about the president’s lawyer and his consulting business, not least of which being how confidential business records ended up in the hands of Cohen’s worst enemy — attorney Michael Avenatti, representing purported Trump mistress and adult-film star Stormy Daniels.

But since Avenatti’s surprising scoop has been largely confirmed, there are now two important ways to look at this.

The most immediate concern is, quite simply: What did the president know about Essential Consultants LLC, a Delaware corporation, and when did he know it? Because consider some things we do know about the business of this shell company formed just as Trump was getting elected 45th president of the United States. Its cash inflows included more than a couple million dollars from powerful corporations seeking influence with the U.S. government. At other times, the cash outflows included the $130,000 intended to silence (and doing so quite badly) Stormy Daniels about her alleged Trump liaison, as well as a $1.6 million payout to a former Playboy model which everyone involved insists had nothing to do with the president, even as some pundits ask some very interesting questions.

Did Trump know which companies were hiring Cohen to influence him? Were monies from these influence-seekers somehow connected to the funds that seem to have directly benefited Trump, by solving problems in his personal life? If not, where did the money that paid off Stormy Daniels come from? The powers that be have made it almost impossible to prove the crime of political bribery in modern America. The wrong answers to these questions, though, could make the impossible suddenly seem possible, and raise serious doubts about the survival of Trump’s presidency.

But what if the dollars from Novartis, AT&T, et al, didn’t benefit Trump in any illegal way? What if Michael Cohen simply sold these large corporations a bill of goods, winning huge contracts for high-level access and insights that he then didn’t deliver. There’s a valid argument that what Cohen did after Trump’s surprise victory in November 2016 is no different from how other Trump insiders cashed in — what, for example, is the deal with Qatar paying Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski $500,000 a month? — and what close associates of both Democratic and Republican presidents or top Capitol Hill lawmakers have been doing for many decades. Under this scenario, the work of Essential Consultants is about as shocking as gambling in the back room of a Casablanca nightclub.
Politico’s Playbook, not surprisingly, spoke for the corrupt and contented classes the other day when it published this:


— YES, guys like Michael Cohen routinely get paid amounts like $1.2 million to offer insights about their boss or former boss. Yeah, it’s crazy. But many readers of this newsletter would not have their McMansion in McLean, their BMW, their membership at Army Navy, second homes in Delaware, cigar lockers and endless glasses of Pinot Noir at BLT Steak and Tosca if that kind of stuff didn’t happen. Newsflash: $1.2 million is not even a rounding error for massive corporations. (The smart companies route these deals through law firms.)

 First of all, why are wealthy fixers buying houses in Delaware, of all places? Second of all, both the cynicism expressed here, and the fact that few people are shocked by it, are in and of themselves … shocking. If what Michael Cohen did here is business as usual, and it may well have been, then why must Americans accept a level of business as usual that would look familiar to an Uzbek tinhorn dictator? Especially when it leads to outcomes that hurt everyday Americans.

How so? It’s hard not to notice the companies that hired Cohen got outcomes that were good for them and not for the public. Novartis hired Trump’s lawyer with a goal of keeping prices for prescription drugs artificially high, which is just what happened the other day when Trump broke his campaign promise for Medicare to negotiate with Big Phama. The AT&T lobbyist who hired Cohen got a private dinner with Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai just a month later — and not long before Pai announced the commission was scrapping net neutrality, a cherished goal of Big Telecom.

If America wants to become an exceptional nation, let’s pass some exceptional laws that restrict this kind of influence peddling. Let’s pass a bill to make it clear that the “strategic consulting” performed by Cohen and his ilk is really just old-fashioned lobbying, that needs to be disclosed to the public. And when the new Congress takes its seats next January, it needs to launch an all-out war on big money in politics, including the unwinding of the Citizens United case, even if that requires a constitutional amendment. We don’t know yet what this scandal means for Trump, but we can do some things to prevent the Michael Cohens of the future. Bada bing, bada boom!" [Source]

Mr. Mueller, please hurry. The Sopranos was great on television and we loved it. I am just not true that we are quite ready for the real live version, Washington style. 

*Image from slate.com

27 comments:

The Ministry of Truth said...

I took a massive shit this morning. It looked like Yisheng and smelled like LilacPR.

Lance Cockstrong said...

This is what happens when the White House and Capitol Hill are full of micro dick white boys. Notice how things were so much better when Barack and Michelle were in Washington? It's not a coincidence. Butt Trumpet and his whore wife are fouling up this country something awful.

Sam Horowitz said...

As a Jew I can run circles around your people's oppression. Get over yourselves.

Dave Zirin said...

Blacks are a big reason why Trump is in the White House. People were/are just sick of your shit.

dinthebeast said...

Part of this is the result of electing a Fox-watching moron who believed all of the lies about Obama's behavior in office he saw on the goddamn teevee machine, and thus didn't see why he shouldn't base his own standards of corruption on the lies he'd been consuming for the previous eight years.

There's a thingie called the Office of Government Ethics whose job it is to ride herd on these kind of shenanigans, and their director, Walter Shaub, resigned in July of 2017, saying he didn't have strong enough tools to rein in the scale of corruption that had infested the white house along with Fergus and his felons.

Another part of it is what the media called the "culture of corruption" when it was being practiced by Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed, Michael Scanlon, Bob Ney, and their cohort of goddamn Republicans who responded to ethics rules by complaining that they were "trying to criminalize politics" while they pulled the same kind of high-dollar influence peddling and campaign finance law avoidance money laundering that several of them were convicted of and now surrounds Fergus and his felons like a garland of poison turds.
You know, Republican shit.

Maybe we should get some stronger, more specific, ethics laws passed now that denial that Republicans would ever flout the norms and traditions of ethical behavior in government any fucking way they are allowed to has become untenable.
Although I'm not sure what stronger than specifically spelled out in the fucking constitution's emoluments clause would look like, or why we would believe the goddamn Republicans would follow them when they won't obey the constitution itself, but perhaps now that they are standing on their own dicks, it might be a good time to at least try to point that out.

So what is the only way that will ever happen? I'll tell you: If the Democrats win. Sweep all three branches, with majorities in both houses of congress, and the next two retiring supreme court justices replaced by smart, experienced, liberals, preferably in their forties.

Otherwise, forget it. Mitch McConnell will never allow any rules that constrain his thievery to happen anywhere in government if he has any approach to scuttling them, and he has no shame at very public, utterly wrong, displays of his power to get his way by any means he can pull off.

You elected these fucks, this is what you fucking get until we remove enough of them to stop it.

Make no mistake, we are doing just that even as I type this.

-Doug in Oakland

Dave Zirin is kinda stupid said...

Blacks are a big reason why Trump is in the White House. People were/are just sick of your shit.
------------
Yes Dave, we know trump supporters are racist. Next you'll be telling us water is wet.

PilotX said...

This isn't a problem for trump followers because they don't know anything about these charges. Fox news and other conservative outlets keep their viewers in the dark so none of this is an issue. All they get is a steady diet of how great trump is. Sad but true.

Puerto Rican food looks, smells, and tastes like shit said...

A swamp is a more desirable place to be than anywhere near tr**p or his minions.

Cray said...

I hate white people more than anything else in this world.

Kinky Con said...

MAGA!!!!!Trump continues to handle business and break the left.

These kinda stories are nothing more than distractions.

Anonymous said...

obamacrimes.com

PilotX said...

"MAGA!!!!!Trump continues to handle business and break the left.

These kinda stories are nothing more than distractions."

Exhibit A.

PilotX said...

obamacrimes.com"

The dumbest website ever. They're still on some birther shit. Oh yeah, 8 years and no indictments but trump less than two years 23. Yeah yeah I know, they're coming. 4,000 sealed indictments, any day now.

Yisheng = nigger, lilac = cunt said...

Trump supporters deserve to drown in a swamp.

Anonymous said...

https://action.needtoimpeach.com

mike from iowa said...

Trump gripes that he needs better "TV lawyers" to defend him on cable news and is impatient to halt the "witch hunt" that he says undermines his legitimacy as President.

Drumpfuck's precedency will never be legit, never was. He will be judged the worst phony fucker ever. And he whines about Mueller 20X a day.

PilotX said...

Violence in Gaza. Shocking huh, and here I thought Jared was going to bring peace to the region.

field negro said...

Clearly we should not have gone TO Jared.

Sam, my Jamaican cousin is more Jewish than you are. Stop lying. You are a trump supporter posting from his Mother's basement in Alabama.

dinthebeast said...

"A swamp is a more desirable place to be than anywhere near tr**p or his minions."

Can you imagine Fergus or any of his felons in an actual swamp?

"Well I wonder where the Louisiana sheriff went to?
Well you can sure get lost in the Louisiana bayou..."

According to Al Jazeera, 41 dead and 1,700 injured so far.

And whose brilliant idea was it to have Robert "Jews can't be saved, Islam is evil and Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell" Jeffress deliver a "blessing"?

I will concede that Fergus is good at pissing people off, but who, exactly is he trying to piss off this time? Even given the naked pander to the (William Barber says don't call them Evangelicals, call them) extreme right wing religionists, I fail to believe the who will this piss off factor played no part in his decision.
And Jeffress? Jews and Mormons and Muslims are too evil for him, so where does Fergus fall on his scale of spiritual evil?
Or could it be that he knows that it's all bullshit and propaganda and will throw in with whoever he thinks will get him what he wants?
But even that doesn't really make sense, so perhaps it's a mistake to try and make sense out of any of it?

Meanwhile life goes on, and the noose of justice draws ever tighter around Fergus' crime family, so he should have some serious trouble to contend with when we finally run him out of there, and the real question is will the Democrats let him skate like they did Reagan and W?

-Doug in Oakland

disman said...

As a Chinese-American I feel that "drain the swamp" is also applicable to blacks, as in get rid of the undesirable aspects of your communities, which are numerous. Drugs, single mothers, gang bangers, lack of education and personal responsibility, love of BLM, etc.


See more at:
bigwowo.com
reddit.com/r/aznidentity

Datman said...

As a Japanese-American I feel that "drain the swamp" is also applicable to whites, as in get rid of the undesirable aspects of your communities, which are numerous. Drugs, single mothers, incest, lack of education and personal responsibility, love of the klan, etc.

mike from iowa said...

Dems have to take back the house and Senate this year. They have to stop the religious extremists from stacking the judiciary and they need subpoena power to uncover all of Drumpfuck's, dumbass dubya's, Hitler Weasel's, Raygun's, Ford and Nixon's crimes against America.

And not to mention Ryan, Nunes, McCTurtle, Grassley and every other stoopid fucking wasicu wastey wingnut pol in cahoots with Drumpf to destroy the country.

Then korporate taxes go back to 90% and anyone caught trying to shelter money off shore is shot on sight and their millions and billions confiscated.

Disanddatman said...

As a pure, European white man, I feel that “drain the swamp” is ONLY applicable to American whites, as in get rid of the undesirable aspects of your communities, which are numerous. Opioid addicted soccer moms, meth addicted red neck women, low literacy in towns with populations under 500K, love of civil war losers, alt-right, ect.

Anonymous said...

Moron from idiotville burps...

"Then korporate taxes go back to 90% and anyone caught trying to shelter money off shore is shot on sight and their millions and billions confiscated."

This type of comment is what you get on this blog. Free from anything related to the real world and absolutely no cogent thought. I should also note the Moron is an advocate for murder.

Flying Junior said...

Somos Judeos.

Anonymous said...

Wolf......Wolf...….Wolf......

dinthebeast said...

Anon@ 2:22 PM: Arga warga. Look it up.

-Doug in Oakland