Monday, August 15, 2016

Last Call For Through The Looking Glass

We're totally off the map where There Be Dragons on the American political front as we've now witnessed "America's Mayor", Rudi "A Noun, A Verb, And 9/11" Giuliani actually forget that 9/11 happened.

Speaking in Youngstown, Ohio ahead of Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, who was the mayor of New York City on 9/11, declared that Islamic extremists hadn't carried out any terror attacks on American soil before Barack Obama's presidency.

"Under those 8 years, before Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the US," Giuliani told the crowd. "They all started when Clinton and Obama came into office."

It's not the first time Giuliani has made remarks that seemed to gloss over the terror attacks that left nearly 3,000 dead and that defined him in the eyes of many Americans. While suggesting in 2010 that Obama could stand to take some cues from George W. Bush, the former mayor claimed, "We had no domestic attacks under Bush."

We've finally reached the fact-free portion of the 2016 campaign where the scores don't matter and the points are just made up.

But for Rudy Giuliani, the man who was mayor of goddamn New York City when 9/11 happened, to willfully pitch the event from his mind in order to attack our current president?  That's just insanity. Calculated insanity, but insanity nonetheless.

Then again of course this was going to happen during this campaign.  We already have a majority of Trump voters believing Obama is a Muslim traitor anyway, so what the hell do facts and issues have to do with anything coming out of the GOP anymore?

The Long Rhode To Gunmerica

Kim Rhode is an Olympic legend that most of us haven't heard of, and last week in Rio she became the first woman in history to win medals in six consecutive Olympic summer games.  That's a massive accomplishment for sure, a testament to her skill and longevity in the world of sport.

The issue is that Rhode's sport is skeet shooting, and her views on gun control are not very accommodating to say the least.

US Olympic Gold Medal shooter Kim Rhode is wading into the gun control debate and defended the Second Amendment ahead of her competition in Brazil. 
"We should have the right to keep and bear arms, to protect ourselves and our family," the skeet shooter said in an interview Wednesday with Time Magazine in Rio de Janeiro. "The Second Amendment was put in there not just so we can go shoot skeet or go shoot trap. It was put in so we could defend our First Amendment, the freedom of speech, and also to defend ourselves against our own government."

It's weird to see any Olympic athlete admit that her sport should be used to kill people, but sure.

The California native said that she hopes to pass shooting along to her three-year-old son "when he becomes of age." 
"I started when I was like 7 or 8 years old, and it was something that was a big deal in my family, to gain that rite of passage," she said. 
The skeet shooter also criticized gun control measures that were passed in California following the December 2015 San Bernardino terror attack that left 14 dead.

And if you're wondering why Rhode sounds like a walking billboard for the NRA and the firearms industry, it's because she is one.

Yet if the best form of compensation is colored green, there’s no need to feel sorry for Rhode. On her webpage—“Kim Rhode, just a girl shooting guns and stuff”—she provides a list of sponsors that include a firearms retailer, a hunters’ conservation group, and manufacturers of guns, ammunition and gun-cleaning equipment. A wife and mother, she is her family’s primary breadwinner, she says. “Compared with other sports, we have a massive industry behind us,” says Rhode, a 37-year-old skeet shooter.
An estimated 20 million Americans hunt, and more yet compete at shooting ranges, so Olympic medalists can serve as compelling faces of the firearms industry. After winning a gold medal in London, Rhode made an appearance at a hunting trade show on behalf of a sponsor, Otis Technology, a maker of gun-cleaning kits based in Lyons Falls, N.Y. “The line stretched way down the hallway with people wanting her autograph,” says Heather Bennett, marketing manager for Otis, which also sponsors sharpshooting biathletes in the Winter Games. 
TruckVault, a maker of secure in-vehicle storage lockers, began sponsoring Rhode after she became a customer, following the theft of a shotgun from her vehicle. “Part of the responsibility of owning a gun is securing your weapons,” said Don Fenton, sales marketing director for TruckVault, based in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. He calls Rhode “a great young athlete deserving of manufacturers’ dollars.”
Safari Club International, a hunters’ conservation group based in Tucson, Ariz., sponsors Rhode and two other female U.S. Olympic shooters because it “strongly supports women in the shooting sports,” says Phil DeLone, chief executive officer, adding that the Olympians are a big hit at the organization’s annual convention.

So yeah, Kim Rhode is certainly one hell of an athlete, setting a record for consistency and skill that spans two decades and five continents, an achievement that definitely puts Usain Bolt's track accomplishments and Michael Phelps's mastery of the water in perspective.

Rhode also is paid very well by the gun industry for doing what she does.  It's one thing to pitch Nike or Gatorade or Wheaties as an Olympian.  It's another to sell guns.

The Con Man's Con Man

What makes Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort uniquely qualified to run the con job of a campaign that he's running today? Apparently, the answer is that Manafort is a master grifter who helped loot millions and buy elections in Ukraine at his previous job for Victor Yanukovich.

Handwritten ledgers show $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments designated for Mr. Manafort from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian political party from 2007 to 2012, according to Ukraine’s newly formed National Anti-Corruption Bureau. Investigators assert that the disbursements were part of an illegal off-the-books system whose recipients also included election officials.

In addition, criminal prosecutors are investigating a group of offshore shell companies that helped members of Mr. Yanukovych’s inner circle finance their lavish lifestyles, including a palatial presidential residencewith a private zoo, golf course and tennis court. Among the hundreds of murky transactions these companies engaged in was an $18 million deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership put together by Mr. Manafort and a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

Mr. Manafort’s involvement with moneyed interests in Russia and Ukraine had previously come to light. But as American relationships there become a rising issue in the presidential campaign — from Mr. Trump’s favorable statements about Mr. Putin and his annexation of Crimea to the suspected Russian hacking of Democrats’ emails — an examination of Mr. Manafort’s activities offers new details of how he mixed politics and business out of public view and benefited from powerful interests now under scrutiny by the new government in Kiev.

Anti-corruption officials there say the payments earmarked for Mr. Manafort, previously unreported, are a focus of their investigation, though they have yet to determine if he actually received the cash. While Mr. Manafort is not a target in the separate inquiry of offshore activities, prosecutors say he must have realized the implications of his financial dealings.

“He understood what was happening in Ukraine,” said Vitaliy Kasko, a former senior official with the general prosecutor’s office in Kiev. “It would have to be clear to any reasonable person that the Yanukovych clan, when it came to power, was engaged in corruption.”

Mr. Kasko added, “It’s impossible to imagine a person would look at this and think, ‘Everything is all right.’”

Paul Manafort definitely has a history of helping pro-Putin dictators win elections by cleaning up their messes and influencing the vote and apparently he was paid very handsomely to do it, far more than was previously reported.

Now he's helping Donald Trump, who loves him some Vlad the Dudesplainer.  In other words, the guy screaming about rigged elections has a campaign manager that rigs elections.

So where's the $12 million, Paul? And how much are you taking from Putin now?  Suddenly several news outlets are focusing on Manafort and with good reason.  Supposedly more stories on Trump's campaign manager and his dealings with Putin are on the way, folks.

Buckle up.  It's about to get nasty.


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