Two recent entries on Trump & Russia from the author’s journal.
If Hyman Roth Could See Us Now
How to understand Putin? And Trump? Look to the movies; look to Godfather II.
Hyman Roth: “Just one small step, looking for a man who wants to be President of the United States, and having the cash to make it possible. Michael, we’re bigger than U.S. Steel. … What I am saying is, we have now what we have always needed, real partnership with the government.”
Tell me how this is not the way Putin and Trump are thinking?
“Public interest” and “public service” – what do these terms mean, to them? You can imagine the cynical smirk, the sideways look, the knowing “are you serious?” rejoinder. It could be Coppola, it could be Tarantino, but it sure isn’t Billy Wilder.
A government is something to get hold of, something to manipulate, something to shake down, something to pervert. There is only one law, the law of the jungle, the Hobbesian world. People are scum to be exploited and manipulated, to be lied to.
If you think of the men in Hyman Roth’s world, if they ran Russia, and if they were trying to run the United States, what we have now is exactly what they would be doing. Putin is reportedly now the richest man in the world. Trump’s scorecard has only dollar signs on it, and perhaps applause and pussies, who knows. That’s where we are now. Dystopia. All we can do is to hope it’s temporary, and work for that. It’s going to be hard.
Yesterday we had a small get together with our neighbors. Our street is one block long, and since we sit right on top of the Hayward Fault, it’s prudent for us to be organized in case of an earthquake. We had our drill, walking up the street, divided into three sectors, checking to see that everyone was OK, as though there had been an earthquake, hanging out a white towel at each house to signal all is OK. Then we repaired to Norman and Ellie’s house for a short talk running through the basics again, and then the hors d’oeuvres and soup. It was a nice day so we were on their long sloping lawn in front of the house, sitting on some wooden chairs in a couple of circles, or wandering. Sitting next to me there was a lady with two kids who was new to the block, and as the conversation turned to the Gorsuch nomination and what could be done, law professor David Levine being in attendance – my dear next door neighbor – who comments regularly on local TV stations on court proceedings, he opined that there wasn’t really much the Democrats can do because the Republicans have the votes. I opined, “Resist.” Do everything possible, make a show of it, bring the message. This young lady opined that the Democrats should show the Republicans what true good governmental behavior is, and treat Gorsuch as they wish Garland had been treated.
My response was, that reminds me of my mother and what I called her Boy Scout approach. What that leads to, I said, was losing. Far from getting the respect of the country, what you show yourself to be is gutless (dare I say “a pussy?”), and you’ll never win. I suppose this young lady never played sports. What do you do when the other team is stronger? You still play your hearts out.
We are a courteous and good hearted neighborhood, so the conversation then turned to reputable contractors, electricians, and plumbers. I let it lie, obviously. But why I bring this up is, with sentiment like this young lady’s, it’s going to be a rough time countering these friends of Hyman Roth. She’s not even bringing a knife to a gun fight, she’s bringing cupcakes
“Lawyer for Russian Whistleblower’s Family Falls Out of Window”
Per The Wall Street Journal (March 23rd)
It seems impossible to understand Russia without referring back to The Godfather, doesn’t it? It is government by The Mob, over and out. Don’t need to think more deeply than that. Push into Crimea, into Ukraine? “Because we can. It used to belong to us, anyway.”
Cyber crime? “Why not? It’s better than drugs, isn’t it, I mean, we’re not taking health away from these people. They should be grateful we’re not doing that. We could, if we wanted.”
Interfering with elections in US? “She hit us first. Did you see what she was doing in 2011, inciting people to go into our streets? OUR streets! And did you hear that broad from the State Department, Victoria Nuland, manipulating the Ukrainian coup? This is disrespect. This cannot be ignored.”
And then listen to their representative in the US, Paul Manafort, Mr. Ten Million to further their interests. If he doesn’t sound like a hood, no one does. “Hey! Hey! I’m standin’ here!”
Michael Corleone: “My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.”
Kay Adams: “Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don’t have men killed!”
Michael Corleone: “Oh. Who’s being naive, Kay?”
Interference with elections? “Mossadegh, Arbenz. Who are they to talk?”
Their English speaking representatives lie, lie, lie like they believe what they are saying. Criminal lawyers don’t make any money unless they represent the very guilty, and these guys do a very good job.
One definition of sovereignty is when the state has a monopoly on violence. The nature of the regime simply rests on how the monopoly is expressed. The Russian example shows how the Mob acts when it has the monopoly. The Western examples show how our traditional leaders act, bound by agreements made centuries ago, or even millennia. Culture and history is a powerful thing. The Russian history is much different. I’ve always thought, the Russians have much to contribute in the arts and in science. In government, not much at all.
Generally, we get angry when people don’t act “the way they should.” Anger represents a reaction to violation of norms. We can get angry at Putin, but not as angry as we get at Trump and his minions; Putin doesn’t act according to international norms, but he’s Russian and his own tradition is different. Hate him, yes; angry at him, that’s a little different. With Trump, we can be both to equal degree, because he is violating both international and national norms. And both, of course, are violating Judeo-Christian norms.
Putin can say that international norms are rigged against Russia. The Mob suggested that they were discriminated against, and given a chance, they would welcome entry of their sons to the ranks of the passanovante, but in the meantime, they would do what they had to do. How different are they in how they feel excluded, discriminated against? Hard to say.
They say cops and robbers play the same game, they’re just on different sides. Down the line, at the bottom of the org chart of the CIA, ties to the Mafia are known to have existed. Same game, different sides, but maybe some cooperation. You keep order in your neighborhood, we don’t bother you. Can you lend us a hit man? It’s the violent nature of man. The question is, how much is this contained to that level, and how much seeps up. With Watergate, it seeped up pretty high. That’s the problem, too, with the Trump-Russian connection. Seeping up pretty high.
It seems to me that Trump is a poseur. He would like to be tough, he thinks he’s tough, but at heart, he’s a rich man’s son who just hung out at the construction yard. He never really made his bones, his brothers and sisters and friends weren’t kidnapped and killed. The only thing that made him fearsome to others now is his polling numbers. If they drop, if he can’t ride into town and primary a recalcitrant Republican politician, he’s got nothing. That’s not such a bad thing, though, actually. He acts like a hood, and he’s playing politics like a hood, but I doubt he would get violent. That’s his shtick, that’s all. In the end, he could be seen as the pitiful specimen that he is, and damage can be undone.
That’s the hope, anyway.