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Alleged Crimes are Not the Worst Thing About the Former Guy

It’s time for us to accept what the mainstream media refuses to acknowledge: that Donald Trump is a Russian asset and, as such, a grave security risk to the nation. Witting or not. Criminal or not. Whether he’s a master spy or a useful idiot, it doesn’t matter how he got there. Trump is a longtime front man, money launderer, and generally shady operator for both the criminal organizations and intelligence communities of eastern Europe. And while the details may never be fully revealed, the big picture couldn’t be clearer. This is neither supposition nor revelation. There is a rich and eye-popping literature of Trump corruption, chronicling his deep business ties to one mob boss or another, both here and abroad. Yet for some reason, the press goes out of its way to avoid the subject. We can only hope the justice system is more on top of it. Because there’s a mountain of evidence, and it goes back forty years. Whether that evidence rises to the level of crimina
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The Trump-Putin Bromance is Getting Another Look

The arrest last week of Charles McGonigal, former head of counterintelligence for the FBI, may or may not prove to be a watershed moment in our understanding of the Trump-Putin conspiracy. It’s still early, and the depths of the story have yet to be plumbed. So I’m not going to weigh in on that (you can read about it here ), except to note that people who’ve been watching the Trump-Russia show for over a decade are now going back to their notes and timelines, looking at old events in light of new information. And the more we all look, the more the miasma of Russian subterfuge stinks up every narrative. If a murderous oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, could actually recruit the FBI agent who’d investigated him — which the McGonigal affair will apparently show — who knows what else was going on? There is, I think, the need for some sort of “unified field theory” of the Trump-Putin relationship. There is much that we’re missing on at least three separate tracks of that bizarre bromance: Tru

Another Rousing Comeback for Antisemitism

I was in my late twenties in the late seventies, a single man sitting in a piano bar on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and I was in friendly conversation with an older Irish couple, there to celebrate their history. He wore a green tie, she a green blouse. Alcohol was involved. The conversation was free flowing, as random encounters with amiable strangers can be. When the talk turned to history, which can happen on St. Patrick’s Day, I put forth the notion — stolen, I think, from a Leon Uris novel I’d recently read — that the Irish and the Jews had much in common, that their shared history of oppression bonded them, that their experience of suffering and privation was deeply imbued in both their cultures. Not an especially profound insight, but the husband — to the surprise not just of me, but of his wife as well — was having none of it. In his sloshed but strident state, he insisted that the suffering of Jews couldn’t possibly be compared to what the I

Ukraine is Fighting our Battles, So We Don’t Have to

If there is one thing Republicans have always believed — one rock-solid conviction you could absolutely take to the bank, no matter how much they otherwise distorted facts, history, and reality itself — it’s that Russia is an existential threat to the world in general, and the United States in particular. But now that they’ve been proven unassailably correct in this, now that Russia has sunk to depths of barbarity unique in human history, how strange is it to watch Republicans develop a middle-school crush on a bloodthirsty tyrant. No, it’s not all Republicans. But a significant number — especially in the new House majority — have shown an unhealthy attraction to Putin, and an uncharacteristic willingness to throw Ukraine under the bus. As with everything these clowns do, we never know how much is theater and how much is strategy — or whether the theater is, in fact, the strategy. And we don’t know which pieces of their bonkers agenda they think might have a realistic chance of c

Elise Stefanik Wants to be Your President

It isn’t often that The New York Times and The Washington Post do lengthy features on the same politician in the same week. So when Elise Stefanik was given several thousand words in two major papers, my curiosity was duly piqued. The two pieces ( here and here ) are similar profiles of Stefanik, age 38, and her remarkable transformation from Harvard-educated “moderate” Republican, to ultra-MAGA ideologue. The subhead of the Times article states the theme of both: To rise through the Trump-era G.O.P., a young congresswoman gave up her friends, her mentors and her ideals. So how does a double feature like this happen, especially when there’s no immediate news driving it? Stefanik was not in the spotlight, though it was clear she would soon be taking a leading role in the new GOP House majority. So it could just be the coincidence of two reporters intuitively seizing on the same story. It happens. But it could also be that Stefanik herself, working with a clever publicist, set o

The Death of Disgrace and the Culture of Impunity

One of Trump’s favorite words is ‘disgrace.’ He applies it indiscriminately to animal, vegetable, and mineral alike — with frequent reference to anyone who takes issue with his innate infallibility. As usual with Trump, the word projects his own psyche. I’m guessing his late father screams “You’re a disgrace Donald” into his brain for much of Donald’s day. But as we continue to track Trump's toxic legacy, the death of disgrace is one of his more lasting successes. Disgrace isn’t what it used to be. Once was a time when politicians of both parties were expected to “resign in disgrace” over misdeeds, actual or perceived. The mere discovery of ethical violations — to say nothing of alleged criminal acts — was usually more than enough to prompt censure, or even expulsion, from most legislative bodies. Al Franken was forced out of his Senate seat over allegations that seem laughably trivial now. Back then, we didn’t fully understand — though we did suspect — that ethical rules

The Dumbing Down of Russia Looks Painfully Familiar

I had hoped to write something new for today, but the holidays have a way of intruding on one’s plans, so I’m returning to a post from last March, when Putin’s atrocities were still fresh and Republicans were envious of his absolute power. As it happens, little has changed since I first posted this, though the tanking of Roe v. Wade was not yet a fait accompli at the time. Which means things have only gotten worse.   On one hand, we have Putin, perfectly content to obliterate anyone in his path, with a special emphasis on pregnant women, children, and babies. On the other hand, we have the Republican right, perfectly content to obliterate anyone in its path, with a special emphasis on pregnant women, children, and babies. The difference is one of degree. Putin can make obliteration depressingly literal — he kills and maims indiscriminately, and with impunity. Republicans are — for the moment anyway — more subtle. They’re more about u