gravity

The Art of the Swamp (Smile Through)

#DrainTheSwamp | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Michael D. Cohen in New York City, 13 April 2018. (Detail of photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

The setup, via Jonathan Chait:

Viktor Vekselberg. (Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images)Earlier this month, when Michael Avenatti reported that Michael Cohen’s Delaware shell company received half a million dollars from a firm linked to a Russian oligarch, it looked quite shady. But the firm, Columbus Nova, quickly asserted the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, had only a tangential relationship to it, and had not used it as a conduit to pay Cohen. Columbus Nova released a statement insisting it was “owned and controlled by Americans and not Vekselberg, and denied that Vekselberg had ever owned the company or used it as a conduit for payments.” So maybe it wasn’t a Russian bribe. Maybe it was just an investment firm, which happened to have a large Russian client, looking to get influence with the administration the way many businesses do.

As more information has dribbled out, the innocent explanation has looked less and less plausible.

And the punch line, from the New York Times:

Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting.

In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg. The men also arranged to see one another during the inauguration festivities, the second of their three meetings, Mr. Intrater said.

Days after the inauguration, Mr. Intrater’s private equity firm, Columbus Nova, awarded Mr. Cohen a $1 million consulting contract, a deal that has drawn the attention of federal authorities investigating Mr. Cohen, according to people briefed on the inquiry.

(Rashbaum, Protess, and McIntire)

Such as it is, something about gravity goes here. There is a certain point at which it is not so much the notion of everything going downhill from there, but, rather, the appearance of trying to smile through a screaming, flaming plummet into a cursed abyss. No, really, there is even a clown car taxi joke in there having to do with a “series of coincidences” that really does sound like a its own manner of comedic setup about how there they all were minding their own business when all of a sudden . . . .

Something, something, #WhatTheyVotedFor.

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Image notes: Top — Michael D. Cohen in New York City, 13 April 2018. (Detail of photo by Jeenah Moon/Reuters)  Right Viktor Vekselberg. (Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images)

Chait, Jonathan. “Did a Russian Oligarch Funnel Money From Russia to Michael Cohen?” New York. 25 May 2018.

Rashbaum, William K., Ben Protess, and Mike McIntire. “At Trump Tower, Michael Cohen and Oligarch Discussed Russian Relations”. The New York Times. 25 May 2018.

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Probably Not Helpful (#trumpstyle)

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump): "I will not be attending the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!" [via Twitter, 25 February 2017]

Frankly, this just won’t help. Meanwhile, The Hill reports on deteriorating relations between White House and press:

Bloomberg L.P., which hosts a high-profile after-party for the dinner, had pulled the plug on the event. Vanity Fair, which usually partners with Bloomberg in throwing the party, announced earlier this month that it would not participate.

The New Yorker, the magazine that hosts a kickoff party before the dinner, cancelled its event earlier this month, while CNN and MSNBC are also reportedly deliberating whether they will pull out of the annual dinner.

Trump’s announcement comes a day after his administration’s latest clash with the media.

(more…)

The Panacea

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 28 December 2015.In truth, my advice is to not actually try to figure out just what it is you’re looking at. Better to just blame Adam, which in turn really ought to be a t-shirt slogan of its own.

No, really; imagine the possibilities. Blame Adam. There is not a bug in your martini that couldn’t be justified on a shirt alongside the obvious slogan.

Bad memory? Blame Adam. Fretting over Nazi bikini girls? Blame Adam. Gendertyping in the twenty-first century got you down? Or maybe Great-Grandpa’s ball gag? Blame Adam, though admittedly I didn’t for that latter, instead somehow finding that it had nothing at all to do with Adam. Oh, wait. Forgot to carry the two. No, wait again. Wrong joke. It was attraction that has nothing to with Adam. What? Oh, right. Gravity. Never mind. Adam has nothing to do with gravity.

Hmph. That’s still wrong.

Right. Blame Adam.

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Image note: Detail of Bug Martini by Adam Huber, 28 December 2015.

The Dominant Force

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 9 November 2015.And with a setup like that ....

Something about gravity goes here, but we must caution against potential confusion. Gravity is an attractive force in general; that it happens to be what makes things go downhill has exactly nothing to do with Adam.

Or his great-grandpa.

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Huber, Adam. “Ball or Nothing”. Bug Martini. 9 November 2015.