Yesterday I wrote about how Vladimir Putin would have been the ideal Republican Party candidate except for his Russian citizenship.  Since Vlad of course couldn’t run in our election it seems he is settling for the next best option and covertly supporting a candidate who admires him and who he feels he can work with to achieve his geopolitical aims.  Donald Trumps is that candidate and indeed he closely resembles Putin in some details,  though realistically Putin is the far more formidable political leader.  Someone doesn’t rise from the ranks of the KGB in Communist Russia without being in possession of a ruthless personality,  dogged tenaciousness and a sharp analytical mind.

Trump, in contrast inherited a real estate empire in New York City and the political connections created by his father,  to establish an essentially false “brand” as a creative businessman,  fitting to the needs of a narcissistic blowhard like himself.  As the DNC E Mail scandal is evolving it is becoming clearer and clearer that the source of the Wikileaks information is Russian Intelligence personnel.  Fantastical as that might seem, there are quite logical reasons for us to suspect that through this series of leaks,  with more promised to come, the Russians are trying to fix this election for Donald Trump as we shall show:

From a Slate.com story Putin’s Puppet, whose premise is that “If the Russian president could design a candidate to undermine American interests—and advance his own—he’d look a lot like Donald Trump.” Comes the following surmise:

“Donald Trump told the New York Times that he would not necessarily come to the aid of NATO states threatened by Russia and would make his decision to defend them from an attack after reviewing whether they “have fulfilled their obligations to us.” It was the latest statement from Trump that was likely greeted with delight in the Kremlin. Earlier this month, Franklin Foer wrote on the frightening ways in which Trump seems to be playing right into Vladimir Putin’s plans for destabilizing the West.

Vladimir Putin has a plan for destroying the West—and that plan looks a lot like Donald Trump. Over the past decade, Russia has boosted right-wing populists across Europe. It loaned money to Marine Le Pen in France, well-documented transfusions of cash to keep her presidential campaign alive. Such largesse also wended its way to the former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, who profited “personally and handsomely” from Russian energy deals, as an American ambassador to Rome once put it. (Berlusconi also shared a 240-year-old bottle of Crimean wine with Putin and apparently makes ample use of a bed gifted to him by the Russian president.)

There’s a clear pattern: Putin runs stealth efforts on behalf of politicians who rail against the European Union and want to push away from NATO. He’s been a patron of Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, and Jobbik in Hungary. Joe Biden warned about this effort last year in a speech at the Brookings Institution: “President Putin sees such political forces as useful tools to be manipulated, to create cracks in the European body politic which he can then exploit.” Ruptures that will likely multiply after Brexit—a campaign Russia’s many propaganda organs bombastically promoted.

The destruction of Europe is a grandiose objective; so is the weakening of the United States. Until recently, Putin has only focused glancing attention on American elections. Then along came the presumptive Republican nominee.

Donald Trump is like the Kremlin’s favored candidates, only more so. He celebrated the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. He denounces NATO with feeling. He is also a great admirer of Vladimir Putin. Trump’s devotion to the Russian president has been portrayed as buffoonish enthusiasm for a fellow macho strongman. But Trump’s statements of praise amount to something closer to slavish devotion. In 2007, he praised Putin for “rebuilding Russia.” A year later he added, “He does his work well. Much better than our Bush.” When Putin ripped American exceptionalism in a New York Times op-ed in 2013, Trump called it “a masterpiece.” Despite ample evidence, Trump denies that Putin has assassinated his opponents: “In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that.” In the event that such killings have transpired, they can be forgiven: “At least he’s a leader.” And not just any old head of state: “I will tell you that, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an A.”

If you follow the rest of the article you will see that Trump has had long term ties to Russia and for decades has dreamed of doing business there and at the same time Trump is looked favorably upon by the Russia Oligarchs and mainstream media.

As the Trump campaign saw the light at the end of the nomination tunnel they brought in the heavy-hitter Paul Manafort to put the Trump campaign over the top at the convention and Manafort did just that.  Paul Manafort is a political operative that generally eschews the public limelight,  making him a perfect match to work for a narcissistic candidate who of course craves the spotlight.  Here is some of Manafort’s background which makes him someone distinguished in Republican circles:

“Manafort was an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Republicans Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, and John McCain, and is currently the national chairman of the presidential campaign of in trying toDonald Trump, as well as being a senior partner in the firm Davis, Manafort, and Freedman. Manafort is also known for his successful lobbying efforts on behalf of political leaders like Jonas Savimbi and Viktor Yanukovych and foreign dictators such as Ferdinand Marcos and Mobutu Sese Seko.”

We see Manafort as a close advisor to all the Republican Presidential candidates prior to Mitt Romney.  We also see that Manafort has served some of the world’s worst dictators in working to maintain their power and trying to put the most positive spin possible on their regimes. His support of Ukranian Viktor Yanukovych was in line with the desires of Vladimir Putin:”

“He [Manafort] also worked as an adviser on the Ukrainian presidential campaign of Viktor Yanukovych (and his Party of Regions during the same time span) from December 2004 until the February 2010 Ukrainian presidential election[22][23] even as the U.S. government (and McCain) opposed Yanukovych because of his ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.[10] Manafort was hired to advise Yanukovych months after massive street demonstrations known as the Orange Revolution overturned Yanukovych’s victory in the 2004 presidential race.[24] Borys Kolesnikov, Yanukovich’s campaign manager, said the party hired Manafort after identifying organizational and other problems in the 2004 elections, in which it was advised by Russian strategists.[23] Manafort rebuffed U.S. Ambassador William Taylor when the latter complained he was undermining U.S. interests in Ukraine.[14] According to a 2008 U.S. Justice Department annual report, Manafort’s company received $63,750 from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions over a six-month period ending on March 31, 2008, for consulting services.[25] In 2010, under Manafort’s tutelage, the opposition leader put the Orange Revolution on trial, campaigning against its leaders’ management of a weak economy. Returns from the presidential election gave Yanukovych a narrow win over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a leader of the 2004 demonstrations. Yanukovych owed his comeback in Ukraine’s presidential election to a drastic makeover of his political persona and, people in his party say, that makeover was engineered in part by his American consultant, Manafort.[23]

In February 2014, Yanukovych was overthrown by the Euromaidan protests, during the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, and a Parliamentary vote, and then fled to Russia.[26]

In hiring Manafort,  Trump was getting a Republican establishment intimate,  who also has an affinity for working for foreign dictators and one most particularly with close ties to Putin, who is today living in Moscow,  as Putin maneuvers to re-install him in the Ukraine.

The Slate article The Quiet American states “Paul Manafort made a career out of stealthily reinventing the world’s nastiest tyrants as noble defenders of freedom. Getting Donald Trump elected will be a cinch.”  With that introduction it goes on about Paul Manafort,  the Trump campaign manager.

“Ukrainians use the term “political technologist” as a favored synonym for electoral consultant. Trump turned to Manafort for what seemed at first a technical task: Manafort knows how to bullwhip and wheedle delegates at a contested convention. He’s done it before, assisting Gerald Ford in stifling Ronald Reagan’s insurgency at the GOP’s summer classic of 1976. In the conventions that followed, the Republican Party often handed Manafort control of the program and instructed him to stage-manage the show. He produced the morning-in-America convention of 1984 and the Bob Dole nostalgia-thon of 1996.”

In hiring Manafort,  Trump has snared someone who is possibly the most masterful and connected Republican political operatives,

 “Some saw the hiring of Manafort as desperate, as Trump reaching for a relic from the distant past in the belated hope of compensating for a haphazard campaign infrastructure. In fact, securing Manafort was a coup. He is among the most significant political operatives of the past 40 years, and one of the most effective. He has revolutionized lobbying several times over, though he self-consciously refrains from broadcasting his influence. Unlike his old business partners, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, you would never describe Manafort as flamboyant. He stays in luxury hotels, but orders room service and churns out memos. When he does venture from his suite for dinner with a group, he’ll sit at the end of the table and say next to nothing, giving the impression that he reserves his expensive opinions for private conversations with his clients. “Manafort is a person who doesn’t necessarily show himself. There’s nothing egotistical about him,” says the economist Anders Aslund, who advised the Ukrainian government. The late Washington Post columnist Mary McGrory described him as having a “smooth, noncommittal manner, ” though she also noted his “aggrieved brown eyes.” Despite his decades of amassing influence in Washington and other global capitals, he’s never been the subject of a full magazine profile. He distributes quotes to the press at the time and place of his choosing, which prior to his arrival on the Trump campaign, was almost never.”

The link for the “Quiet American” takes you to what probably is the most detaile account of Manafort’s career ever written.  As shown in the quote above Manafort maintains a profile as low as possible for someone in his position and therefore has escaped much press inquisition to his rather shabby career as a defender of dictators,  wealth and power.  The frightening thing about him is that he is so damned effective in working to empower some of the worst, most savage and oppressive, political leaders in the world.

Returning though to Donald Trump’s connection to the Russian oligarchy we return to “Putin’s Puppet”:

“If Manafort were the only Kremlin connection in the Trump campaign, his presence might signify nothing. But he’s hardly isolated. Many pundits have scoffed at the idea that Trump has a circle of foreign policy advisers given that his initial list of gurus emerged abruptly in March and included names unknown to most experts. Yet the list suggests certain tendencies. One of the supposed Trump whisperers was an investment banker named Carter Page. During a stint in Moscow in the 2000s, he advised the state-controlled natural gas giant, Gazprom and helped it attract Western investors.  (In March, Page told Bloomberg that he continues to own shares in the company.) Page has defended Russia with relish. He wrote a column explicitly comparing the Obama administration’s Russia policy to chattel slavery in the American South. His reasoning: “Numerous quotes from the February 2015 National Security Strategy closely parallel an 1850 publication that offered guidance to slaveholders on how to produce the ‘ideal slave.’ ”

Also on the list of advisers is Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Eighteen months after he departed government, he journeyed to Moscow and sat two chairs away from Putin at the 10th anniversary gala celebrating Russia Today. In Politico, an anonymous Obama official harshly criticized Flynn: “It’s not usually to America’s benefit when our intelligence officers—current or former—seek refuge in Moscow.”

More recently, Richard Burt, a Reagan administration official, has begun advising Trump on foreign policy. His criticisms of NATO and pleas for greater cooperation with Putin grow from a deeply felt realism. Yet his ideological positions jibe with his financial interests. Burt is on the boards of AlfaBank, the largest commercial bank in Russia, and an investment fund with a large position  in Gazprom.

Trump’s advisers have stakes in businesses where the health of the Russian state is the health of the firm—where, in fact, the state and the firm are deeply entangled. The campaign isn’t just one man with an aesthetic affinity for Putin and commercial interests in Russia; his sentiments are reinforced and amplified by an organization rife with financial ties to the Kremlin.”

While I’ve been closely observing the Trump phenomenon for years I was never really aware of the extent of Trump’s connection to Russia.  While it is true that I look at American foreign policy with a jaundiced eye,  I certainly see Putin and Russia as a negative influence on world affairs.  That Putin and Trump seem part of a mutual admiration society becomes brightening when the Trump talk of retreating from NATO dovetails closely with the aims of Putin’s foreign policy.

“Is Putin already meddling in this campaign? In his chilly way, he has signaled his rooting interest. He praised Trump as “very talented.” His mouthpieces are more effusive. Vladimir Yakunin, the former chairman of Russian Railways, has said of Trump, “He is addressing some internal failings of the American people.” The Kremlin doesn’t seem much bothered to disguise its help. Soon after the discovery of Russian intelligence hacking into Clinton servers, documents suddenly materialized on the web: a PDF of the DNC’s opposition research file and a trove of spreadsheets, including a list of donors to the Clinton Foundation.”

We are seeing more proof emerge that Putin is meddling in our politics in an attempt to get Trump elected and this is his reasoning:

“Donald Trump’s ego compounds his naïveté. He’s vulnerable to flattery; his confidence in himself exceeds his intellectual capacities. All of this makes him particularly susceptible to exploitation, an easy mark. For this reason, dubious figures have always gravitated to him. (Please read David Cay Johnston’s persuasive account of Trump’s long ties to organized crime.) It seems the Russian president has noticed this, too. To quote Trump on Putin, “A guy calls me a genius and they want me to renounce him? I’m not going to renounce him.”

In the end, we only have circumstantial evidence about the Russian efforts to shape this election—a series of disparate data points and a history of past interference in similar contests. But the pattern is troubling, and so is the premise. If Putin wanted to concoct the ideal candidate to serve his purposes, his laboratory creation would look like Donald Trump. The Republican nominee wants to shatter our military alliances in Europe; he cheers the destruction of the European Union; he favors ratcheting down tensions with Russia over Ukraine and Syria, both as a matter of foreign policy and in service of his own pecuniary interests. A Trump presidency would weaken Putin’s greatest geo-strategic competitor. By stoking racial hatred,  Trump will shred the fabric of American society. He advertises his willingness to dismantle constitutional limits on executive power. In his desire to renegotiate debt payments, he would ruin the full faith and credit of the United States. One pro-Kremlin blogger summed up his government’s interest in this election with clarifying bluntness: “Trump will smash America as we know it, we’ve got nothing to lose.”  (Franklin Foer is a Slate contributing editor. He is writing a book about the dark side of Silicon Valley)

As this campaign continues on that circumstantial evidence against Russian meddling is beginning to take on substance.  Then again it is helped on by quotes from Donald Trump himself as he said to reporters yesterday:

The Republican presidential nominee was referring to the widely held suspicion that Russia is responsible for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s servers, resulting in the leak of tens of thousands of emails just days before the party’s nominating convention in Philadelphia.

Trump said that he hoped the hackers had also accessed Clinton’s private email servers. “They probably have her 33,000 emails that she lost and deleted.”

Trump then addressed the rogue nation directly, saying “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

By actively hoping that American servers were hacked by another nation, Trump broke an unwritten but cardinal rule of American public office: You don’t root against the United States, even when your political opponent is in power.” Here.

Here’s the thing,  if on one hand you feel that Hillary Clinton harmed our national interest by using private E mail servers to transmit classified information,  then by your rooting for that classified information to fall into foreign hands what are you saying about yourself?  If that information is damaging to our country,  then you are in the position of rooting for a foreign (and hostile) power to obtain and release information harmful to the United States.  With this statement Donald Trump proves that he is not only unfit to be President but that he is a grasping, narcissistic opportunist in the process.  If this is who you want to see as President of our country then as the execrable Ted Cruz has said: “Vote your conscience”.

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_3Putin_with_flag_of_Russia

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