Monday, September 26, 2016

Let's all try to survive the first presidential debate together!


By Patrick

While some of you will try to survive the debate, I will be sound asleep in good old Europe. But I am very confident that everything will go well.

Especially for the debate, I resurrected some words from the even older good old Europe:

If only all liars would get 
Such a padlock in front of their mouth!
Instead of hatred, slander, black temper, 
Love and Brotherhood would endure. 

Quote from: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "The Magic Flute"

 Thankfully, Bloomberg will fact-check the debate live, which is great! (h/t Linda1961)

WATCH BLOOMBERG HERE (STARTS 8.30 ET).

Also, Andrew Sullivan said on facebook that he will be live-blogging the debate, but the exact link has not been provided yet. It will happen on nymag.com.

Have fun, everybody, if that's possible! ;-)






Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lessons from history - A clown can become the world's worst nightmare, if voters are not careful


By Patrick

Well, this won't be a happy, uplifting post. Because things are starting to become pretty depressing. Hillary Clinton's massive lead begins to shrink dramatically, and we can only pray that things will start to change again after the debates. My fear is that American Democracy is not as strong as people would like it to be.

If he was victorious, Donald Trump would impose a brutal authoritarian rule, with terrible consequences for the USA and the rest of the world. This is not even a secret. Virtually everybody knows that Donald Trump wants to rule as a dictator. The US system would make it far too easy. No "Reichstagsbrand" will be needed. The magic word: "Executive orders".

Newt Gingrich came up with great ideas already several months ago - and there is no doubt that Trump will embrace them:


Despite the threat of an authoritarian rule, many US voters have absolutely no hesitation to vote for Donald Trump. You all know some "Trump-fans." They might be your friends and family members. Not all of them are totally stupid. They are, however, thoroughly manipulated and misguided. Their votes might plunge the world into chaos, with unforeseen consequences. We can just hope that this nightmare vision won't become reality.

Many people see Donald Trump as a clown, However, we should not forget that this hasn't happen before.

See for example this article in the Atlantic from March 2012:


Quote:


This quote in particular just sounds far too familiar:

After the Great Depression hit, suddenly the Nazi Party became a major contender for power. Yet you had Americans meeting Hitler and saying, "This guy is a clown. He's like a caricature of himself." And a lot of them went through this whole litany about how even if Hitler got into a position of power, other German politicians would somehow be able to control him. A lot of German politicians believed this themselves.

Yes, they would be able to control "him." There is no doubt that the GOP has the same thoughts about Donald Trump. However, ruthless maniacs cannot be controlled. The German conservatives who brought Hitler to power did not know what hit them.

Also, while I love a good caricature very much, the sad reality is that caricatures won't necessarily save the world,

Here is how some US and UK caricaturists viewed Adolf Hitler in 1933 (taken from this  German article):

The Nation, New York/USA, early 1933 

The Evening Standard, London/England, June 26, 1933 

The New York Times, New York/USA, April 2, 1933

Finally, this article from March 2016 gives a lot food for thought:




Excerpt from the interview that is included in this article:

So, how much does Donald Trump truly resemble Adolf Hitler?
There are slight similarities between the two. But there is a difference. Germany was in much worse shape economically in the ’20s and ’30s. It was still recovering from WWI, having to pay reparations to the Allies. Hitler was able to tap into the Germans’ frustration by zeroing in on an enemy, the Jews. He claimed the Jews were taking over the country, stealing high-paying jobs. He was able to galvanize the uneducated by saying that Jews had stabbed Germany in the back.

Can you give me more examples?
Sure. Now that America’s minority population is becoming a majority, Trump is able to tap into that same fear among its disenfranchised. Asking his supporters to raise their hand during his rallies while proclaiming their allegiance to him is eerily reminiscent of Hitler’s Nazi salute, which was meant to inspire loyalty and sympathy towards the regime.

There is only way how potential dictators can be defeated: If the population forcefully speaks out against them. Let's hope that US voters will make the right choice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mika vs. Don the Con


By Patrick

Just a short post today:

It is truly fascinating to see that a huge "feud" developed between Mika Brzezinski and Donald Trump. Well, Joe is somehow involved in it as well, but it is mainly about Mika and Donald. He hates to be criticized by women, as he obviously regards them as deeply inferior human beings.

This is an insane and dangerous person, and Mika is calling him out. He does not like it one bit. Yes, Mika and Joe promoted Trump in the beginning, but now things are getting really interesting.

Where is this going to end? It seems to get more serious every day - see also Trumpolini's tweet above. It is only the beginning of September, after all...

The "free press" - this is not Donald Trump's world.

In any case, Donald Trump's world looks more like this, LOL (click to enlarge):


Alternatively, like this:


OK, last one:



Take a look at the following clips from "Morning Joe" - they are well worth watching.

CLIP 1:



CLIP 2:



CLIP 3:








Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Take a look at the healthiest US President ever


By Patrick

Hi everyone, while there was so much discussion about "Donald Trump will be the healthiest president ever - NOT", I thought I should post the above picture, which we found on facebook. It's just so sweet.

This would not be complete without Stephen Colbert:




Well, I don't really know what to talk about right now. It feels a bit boring writing anything about Donaldo Trumpolini, as it is quite tiring how he puts his boundless stupidity on display on a daily basis. America and the world will survive Donald Trump, I am convinced.

We are going to be travelling again for a few days. We won't be online very much during the next days. Can we leave you alone in the meantime? Yes, I think we can! :-)

Don't forget to retweet my tweet with the above picture!

I feel like posting more artworks from Albrecht Dürer. The beauty of art surpasses almost everything (click to enlarge). 

Please talk about everything, and have a good time, everybody!





Finally:

I posted this fascinating little clip in the comments before, featuring American artist Andrew Stein Raftery, who explains how engravings come to life:


 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bye bye "Gawker" - we will miss you!


By Patrick

Gawker, one of the most iconic websites of this young internet age, will close down - because it was murdered.

The announcement today:


Yes, Gawker was sometimes quite outrageous, but it was also a symbol for the "freedom of the press", as the website had no hesitation to expose inconvenient truths, and no hesitation to publish facts or "rumours" that other websites did not dare to touch. "Gawker" was also known for biting commentary and strong opinions. It was always a breath of fresh air and a hugely popular website.

The demise of Gawker is an historical event. An inconvenient news website was deliberately targeted and killed, setting a horrific precedent.

Gawker itself published an excellent article about the background yesterday.


Quote:

Gawker.com is out of business because one wealthy person maliciously set out to destroy it, spending millions of dollars in secret, and succeeded. That is the only reason.

The strange and embarrassing thing about being the target of a conspiracy, an actual conspiracy, is that it undermines one’s own understanding of the world. It is true that Gawker was always a publication that took risks. It had bad manners and sometimes bad judgment. Occasionally, it published things that it would regret—just as, for instance, the New York Times has published things that it regrets.

But every publication gives itself room to make mistakes, and is prepared to absorb the damage when it does make a mistake. The New York Post was so eager for a scoop on the Boston Marathon bombing that it put a photo of two innocent men on its front page, after law enforcement had already declared that they were not suspects. The Post was denounced, as it deserved to be, for callously crossing the line, and it ended up settling a defamation lawsuit.

Lawsuits and settlements happen to everyone, and everyone carries insurance to handle them. In Gawker’s wildest, most buccaneering years, it never came close to paying a million dollars for crossing a line.

What Thiel’s covert campaign against Gawker did was to invisibly change the terms of the risk calculation. The change begins with the post about Thiel’s sexual identity in a homophobic investor culture, the post Thiel now cites as the inspiration for his decision to destroy Gawker. It was solidly protected by media law and the First Amendment, as were the other posts that, as Thiel wrote, “attacked and mocked people”—specifically, his cohort of rising plutocrats in Silicon Valley. Hurting rich people’s feelings is, in principle, not a punishable offense.

So rather than fighting the material that he really objected to, Thiel went looking for pretexts. Over time, he came up with them. Gawker found itself attracting legal threats and lawsuits at an unprecedented rate. Among those was Hulk Hogan’s complaint against Gawker for having written about a sex video he appeared in, and for publishing brief excerpts of that video. This was the kind of case that, in the normal course of things, would have gone away. Hogan’s first two attempts to pursue it, in federal court, went nowhere, with judges ruling that the publication was newsworthy and protected.

Yet the case kept moving. Suddenly the company had exhausted the limits of its insurance and was bleeding money on legal fees. The business model on which it had thrived—writing things that people were interested in reading, and selling ads to reach those readers—was foundering due to a whole new class of expenses.

The natural conclusion, even for people on the inside, was that the company must have taken too many risks. The willingness to publish things too ugly for other outlets to touch—an account of seeing video of the mayor of Toronto smoking crack, domestic-violence accusations against Bill O’Reilly—had gone over to destructive irresponsibility, and we were being punished for it. The business side began to believe the editorial side was heedlessly dragging the company down; the editorial side began to believe the business side was fearfully prepared to undermine its integrity.

Nick Denton himself, having taunted and titillated other journalists for years with the message that Gawker would do what they wouldn’t, found that message turned back on him. He internalized what his critics and his legal bills were telling him—that the site was out of control, that it had grown too reckless and irresponsible for the power it had grown to wield. In a recurring and nigh comical routine, he took to asking his editors and writers over and over again, in slightly different ways for slightly different occasions, to name the best stories they’d done, to remind him over and over of what the mission was that he had come up with years before.

Former Gawker editor Max Read wrote an account of this era for New York magazine, where he now works. It was Read and executive editor Tommy Craggs who resigned from Gawker in the summer of last year, after the strain between the editorial and business departments—and between the two sides of Denton’s mind—broke into an open rupture over the publication of a post about a business executive’s entanglement with an escort, and over the company’s decision to remove that post.

Read’s assessment of that episode is clear-eyed and self-critical, and is probably as good a rendition of the story of that disastrous post as can be written. It does not, however, explain Gawker’s demise. Having worked closely with Craggs and Read, and having lived through the whole thing firsthand, I found Read’s history of the era unsettling: It is a thoughtful, deeply considered, and on certain levels deadly accurate portrait, but it is still inescapably a portrait drawn by gaslight.

The author concludes:


Gawker always said it was in the business of publishing true stories. Here is one last true story: You live in a country where a billionaire can put a publication out of business. A billionaire can pick off an individual writer and leave that person penniless and without legal protection.

If you want to write stories that might anger a billionaire, you need to work for another billionaire yourself, or for a billion-dollar corporation. The law will not protect you. There is no freedom in this world but power and money.

It is only a matter of time until a similar thing will happen to another inconvenient news website - there are lots of right-wing billionaires out there, after all.

Rolling Stone yesterday published an article about the "10 Most Infamous Gawker Stories."


Our old pal Sarah Palin is included in the list as well, and not only that - this sounds very familiar indeed:


Oh yes, we remember! It was not only Gawker, it was also Kathleen and myself at Palingates who in 2010 published pages from Sarah Palin's hilarious upcoming ghostwritten mess "America By Heart", and we received huge attention from the national media. The quotes from the book were just too hilarious to be ignored.

If you fancy to take a trip down memory lane, see here, here and here.

Do you remember that we were even mentioned on national television?


What happened then was not a surprise - we already "knew the drill" from the previous year (2009), when we published pages from Sarah Palin's "masterpiece of lies", her autobiography "Going Rogue": We promptly (again) received a letter from Harper Collins's General Counsel Christopher Goff, and then we immediately removed most of the pages.

Gawker however fought on and went to court, but they got out of the affair without damage in the end, gaining massive publicity. As you can see, even "Rolling Stone" still remembers the case, more than six years later!

For the old "Going Rogue" posts, see for example here, here and here.

We will miss Gawker. They were fearless, which is the most important thing of all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Comrade Donald Trump


By Patrick

Donald Trump soldiers on, and has great success so far on his mission to destroy the GOP. After this election, there won't be much left any more, as the Republicans are quickly falling apart.

So who is the Donald working for? "Many people say" that he is secretly working for the Russians. This might actually be quite close to the truth,

For example, the "New York Times" revealed in an already historic story that his current campaign chief Paul Manafort was deeply involved in the corrupt practices of the former Ukrainian pro-Russian party, which was called "Party of Regions."

Excerpt:

The papers, known in Ukraine as the “black ledger,” are a chicken-scratch of Cyrillic covering about 400 pages taken from books once kept in a third-floor room in the former Party of Regions headquarters on Lipskaya Street in Kiev. The room held two safes stuffed with $100 bills, said Taras V. Chornovil, a former party leader who was also a recipient of the money at times. He said in an interview that he had once received $10,000 in a “wad of cash” for a trip to Europe.

A page from the “black ledger,” released by Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau. This page does not include Mr. Manafort’s name. “This was our cash,” he said, adding that he had left the party in part over concerns about off-the-books activity. “They had it on the table, stacks of money, and they had lists of who to pay.”

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau, which obtained the ledger, said in a statement that Mr. Manafort’s name appeared 22 times in the documents over five years, with payments totaling $12.7 million. The purpose of the payments is not clear. Nor is the outcome, since the handwritten entries cannot be cross-referenced against banking records, and the signatures for receipt have not yet been verified.

“Paul Manafort is among those names on the list of so-called ‘black accounts of the Party of Regions,’ which the detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine are investigating,” the statement said. “We emphasize that the presence of P. Manafort’s name in the list does not mean that he actually got the money, because the signatures that appear in the column of recipients could belong to other people.

The accounting records surfaced this year, when Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who said he had received a partial copy from a source he did not identify, published line items covering six months of outlays in 2012 totaling $66 million. In an interview, Mr. Leshchenko said another source had provided the entire multiyear ledger to Viktor M. Trepak, a former deputy director of the domestic intelligence agency of Ukraine, the S.B.U., who passed it to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

There is actually more shocking revelations contained in this important story by the New York Times:

In a recent interview, Serhiy V. Gorbatyuk, Ukraine’s special prosecutor for high-level corruption cases, pointed to an open file on his desk containing paperwork for one of the shell companies, Milltown Corporate Services Ltd., which played a central role in the state’s purchase of two oil derricks for $785 million, or about double what they were said to be worth.

“This,” he said, “was an offshore used often by Mr. Yanukovych’s entourage.”

The role of the offshore companies in business dealings involving Mr. Manafort came to light because of court filings in the Cayman Islands and in a federal court in Virginia related to an investment fund, Pericles Emerging Markets. Mr. Manafort and several partners started the fund in 2007, and its major backer was Mr. Deripaska, the Russian mogul, to whom the State Department has refused to issue a visa, apparently because of allegations linking him to Russian organized crime, a charge he has denied.

Mr. Deripaska agreed to commit as much as $100 million to Pericles so it could buy assets in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, including a regional cable television and communications company called Black Sea Cable. But corporate records and court filings show that it was hardly a straightforward transaction.

The Black Sea Cable assets were controlled by a rotating cast of offshore companies that led back to the Yanukovych network, including, at various times, Milltown Corporate Services and two other companies well known to law enforcement officials, Monohold A.G. and Intrahold A.G. Those two companies won inflated contracts with a state-run agricultural company, and also acquired a business center in Kiev with a helicopter pad on the roof that would ease Mr. Yanukovych’s commute from his country estate to the presidential offices.

So Paul Manafort can comfortably be linked to organized crime in Russia. Pretty amazing indeed. This is the (current) campaign chief for the presidential candidate of the Republican party. If somebody would write something like this in a novel, it would probably be dismissed as "science fiction."

In any case, Donald Trump is losing really, really badly:



Why? Because Trump is a big fat joke - Stephen Colbert totally nailed it two weeks ago:




But there is more. If you want an even more shocking look at the "real Donald", watch this interview with investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, published five days ago:




Donald Trump will apparently receive his first intelligence briefing tomorrow, and Putin-enemy Garry Kasparov had some stinging comments on twitter:


More from Kasparov on this topic today:


However, absolutely nothing is too bizarre these days!

A Republican candidate who is a fan of infamous conspiray theorist Alex Jones?

Who surrounds himself with Putin-loving people?

Also, bizarrly, Trump advisor Michael T. Flynn now claims to that the Russian propaganda channel "Russia Today (RT)"....




...is just like "CNN", and Flynn also seems to have no idea between the difference of a "state-run-network" like RT and a private channel like CNN:



Quote:
PRIEST: Tell me about the RT [state-run Russian Television] relationship?

FLYNN: I was asked by my speaker’s bureau, LAI. I do public speaking. It was in Russia. It was a paid speaking opportunity. I get paid so much. The speaker’s bureau got paid so much, based on our contract.

PRIEST: Can you tell me how much you got for that?

FLYNN: No.

PRIEST: No? Because you don’t want to get your fees out there?

FLYNN: Yeah, I don’t.

PRIEST: What was the gig?

FLYNN: The gig was to do an interview with [RT correspondent] Sophie Shevardnadze. It was an interview in front of the forum, probably 200 people in the audience. My purpose there was I was asked to talk about radical Islam in the Middle East. They asked me to talk about what was going on in the situation unfolding in the Middle East. … The speaking agreement was done before Russian went into Syria, which was actually more interesting to me because … one of my discussions, I talked about the attacks in France … and the negative role that Iran was playing where I thought Russian could actually have a role. The statement that I made was actually: “Russia ought to get Iran to back out of the proxy wars they are involved in,” to include Syria, so we, the rest of the international community, could settle this situation down.

PRIEST: Have you appeared on RT regularly?

FLYNN: I appear on Al Jazeera, Skye New Arabia, RT. I don’t get paid a dime. I have no media contracts. … [I am interviewed] on CNN, Fox …

PRIEST: Why would you go on RT, they’re state run?

FLYNN: Well, what’s CNN?

PRIEST: Well, it’s not run by the state. You’re rolling your eyes.

FLYNN: Well, what’s MSNBC? I mean, come on … what’s Al Jazeera? What’s Sky News Arabia? I have been asked by multiple organizations to be a [paid] contributor but I don’t want to be.

PRIEST: Because you don’t want to be hamstrung?

FLYNN: That’s right. I want to be able to speak freely about what I believe. There’s a lot of people who would actually like to be able to do that but, for whatever reason, they can’t. … I feel pretty passionate about what’s happening to the country

PRIEST: One more thing about Russia …

FLYNN: A lot of people are making this about Russia. Read my book. You’ll see what I say about Russia.

PRIEST: Let me ask about sitting next to Putin … because that’s the symbol.

FLYNN: Yeah, I know, boring.

PRIEST: But did you think about what the optics would be …

FLYNN: Sure. I didn’t have any problem. What I’m looking for is to make sure, in my view, I see a country that has lost respect for another country and if I have any sort of fiber in my body where I can help out to make sure they understand that we have people in our country who aren’t going to apologize for who we are.

We’re not going to act in a soft way for what we believe needs to be done. I was very adamant about what I said. He knows exactly what I said.

Let's give the last word to Garry Kasparov:


Yep, that sounds just like Donald Trump. Or Putin. They are just very hard to distinguish. These are bizarre times indeed.