If you have the feeling that the entire country has been sucked into some cosmic black hole and we’re being devoured by mysterious dark forces over which we have no control, welcome to the club!   Now, I don’t “trend” towards paranoia or incipient insanity, but every morning when I remove the New York Times from its blue colored plastic sleeve (great for use as a dog pooper scooper – the sleeve, not the paper!), spread open the front section, I’m on edge because I’m afraid of seeing a Breaking News Headline like:  “Vladimir Putin Secretly Elected President of the U.S” or “Trump White House Mysteriously Sheathed In Gold Leaf Overnight” or something equally jarring front page headline.  Frankly, I worry that the shock of seeing either of these two headlines  or let's say that the Head of the House Select Committee on Intelligence runs to the White House to confirm that the President was indeed mentioned in a surveillance operation,  could spark a heart attack or stroke given my advancing age. 

But I joke.  Well, all right, not totally but mainly.  But the latest “Breaking News Headlines” out of cable news land, is that Paul Manafort, former mastermind of the Trump Presidential campaign or maybe just a figment of our collective imaginations depending on if you’re getting your news from Sean Spicer or you still have some small bit of memory capacity remaining after all the Trump “shaking things up” and “draining the swamp” and “cheap healthcare for everyone that you’re gonna’ love” shocks to your system lately, you might have just the vaguest glimmer of a year ago when Paul Manafort was hailed by your President as a really smart guy who was running his Presidential campaign in a truly yuge and masterful way.  If you don’t remember, it’s okay.     There’s so much Sean Spicer doesn’t want us to remember it can be difficult figuring out just which of the several realities the White House dabbles in daily to pick from.  Pick the wrong one and you’ve just missed the biggest news of the day.
Rumors have been floating around for some time about Paul Manafort’s Russian connections (hotly denied by Sean Spicer and Rust Belters) and business dealings but there is no evidence that he has colluded, conspired, or cooperated with Vlad in any way shape or form to influence the Presidential election.   This part, for the moment, is true.  Pretty much, anyway, although maybe tomorrow’s Breaking News Headlines will tell us something different.  We do know that Manafort was a paid consultant to Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych assisting Yanukovych in attempting to stave off his eventual flight to Moscow as year long street protests against his strongman rule grew too much for him to handle.   So here’s one example of Manafort helping with a dictator’s public relations campaign that didn’t quite turn out as expected despite Trump’s praise that he “was the best” of the bestest.  

Now, let’s all jog what’s left of our collective memories to remember that Paul Manafort was in no way involved in Trump’s Presidential campaign, only once stopping by Trump Tower for a Krups latte and Danish pastry one random Friday morning for ten minutes.  In fact, it was Ivanka, not The Donald who served him, so there could have been no wiretapped conversation between Trump and Manafort for the FBI or the NSA to overhear and record. .See?  Nothing, nada, zip, undo to see here.           
Well, while none of us can trust any of the ultra liberal, lying Fake News outlets (especially that evil CNN who should be locked up) it appears, although there is nada, zip, undo “evidence” provided by NSA and the FBI, that Paul Manafort, non-Trump campaign non-manager, had one more very small, slight, nothing to see here association, very minor, fleeting, unproven association with some vague Russian connection guys.  But here’s the latest fake Breaking News Headline: 

Manafort confirmed that he worked for Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, but rejected an Associated Press report alleging that work was aimed at furthering the political interests of Putin's government.

"I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments.  My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russian political interests," Manafort said in a statement his spokesman provided to CNN.

Here’s what the AP article says:

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire [Oleg Deripaska] to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, The Associated Press has learned. The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests.

Deripaska became one of Russia's wealthiest men under Putin, buying assets abroad in ways widely perceived to benefit the Kremlin's interests. U.S. diplomatic cables from 2006 described Deripaska as "among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis" and "a more-or-less permanent fixture on Putin's trips abroad." In response to questions about Manafort's consulting firm, a spokesman for Deripaska in 2008 — at least three years after they began working together — said Deripaska had never hired the firm. Another Deripaska spokesman in Moscow last week declined to answer AP's questions.

Again, nothing to see here.  But what’s even more “not interesting,” is that Manafort has worked to promote Russian interests not just for two or three years, but for decades, in fact since 1980 through the law firm of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly.  Note, as a non-important, nothing to see here, aside, the “Stone,” in Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly is none other than Guciffer/Julian Assange contacting Roger J. Stone, another of the Trump Team’s political advisors.  Now I’m no mathematical genius, but it seems like Manafort has been pushing Russian interests around the world for about 37 years.  Not rock, solid hard evidence since it does not come straight from the FBI Director’s mouth since Comey does not comment on on-going investigations except if they involve Hillary Clinton's e-mails, so Breitbart, Rush and Alex can still castigate the biased liberal media for trying to undermine Mr. orange-haired-dashboard-bobble-headed-doll President.  At least for now.  But stay tuned! 

Me? Let’s just say that I’m just slightly suspicious of someone who after nearly 40 years of working to promote the interests of vile, bloody, brutal dictators around the world like Ferdinand Marcos of the Phillipines, dictator Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, and Jonas Savimbi of Angola, and Russian interests around the globe, is suddenly now not-at-all, never has, won’t ever, denies forty years of promoting Russian interests.  Really?  By the way, both Angola and Zaire went through decades long, bloody civil wars that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in both nations.   The latest “nothing to see here” Manafort non-revelations are only the latest “drip” of the Watergate style drip, drip, drip of leaks that eventually forced Nixon to resign. 

It’s not necessarily horrible that Manafort worked to bolster the images of bloody dictators since even dictators have a perfect right to hire public relations guys with money they’ve ripped off the states they rule.   Nor is it a crime for American consulting companies to work on behalf of our known enemies to accomplish the same “burnishing of image” that Manafrot and his companies have done for nearly forty years.  No.  That too is perfectly legal as is representing Russian multi-billionaires who are close associates of Vladimir Putin.  All perfectly legal.   But I have to say that the one thing that really makes me suspicious are the numerous failings of memory, the forgotten meetings and the subsequent lying such discussions, meetings and contacts more or less in the spirit that none of these folks would even know where to point on a globe to the Russian nation.   Sure, the old adage “Where’s There’s Smoke, There’s Fire” doesn't always apply, but when there is so much smoke that an entire nation begins to by suffocated by it, I have a feeling that this time the old adage is right on target. 

Here’s the AP article that has exposed the latest Manafort Russian connections:


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