David Brin is a scientist, tech-consultant and best-selling author. You can keep up with his latest thoughts at his blog, the Contrary Brin Blog.
Courtesy of David Brin
Those mob connections
We all knew there were mob connections. Indeed, the one thing that Trumpists fear most is release of the full swathe of documents from Deutsche Bank, said to prove explicitly that roughly a billion dollars of Russian oligarch-mafia cash rescued the family from their multiple bankruptcies. Still, this piece shows how far back go a depth of mob links that swirl so thick you'd need more than a respirator… more like a spacesuit… not to choke.
Will the Deutsche Bank revelations ever “hit the fan” and save us? The exact correlations to the laundering through the Trump Co. of tens of billions in Russian oligarch cash are already blatantly visible, except for the final dotted “i.” So far, those powers keep the flames concealed by smoke – but oh, so much smoke! In his best-selling book Dark Towers, David Enrich, finance editor at The New York Times, chronicles the complicated history of Deutsche Bank and its entanglement with Donald Trump.
Reviewing Dark Towers, Roger Lowenstein writes:
"Enrich’s most tantalizing nugget is that in the summer of 2016, Jared Kushner’s real estate company (which received lavish financing from Deutsche) was moving money to various Russians. A bank compliance officer filed a “suspicious activity report,” but the report was quashed and she was fired. The suggestion that maybe the money was payback for Russian campaign meddling isn’t one that Enrich can prove. Similarly, we will have to wait to see if Deutsche can recover from years of banking malpractice that destroyed its capital and wiped out 95 percent of its stock price. In the meantime, Enrich has given us a thorough, clearly written and generally levelheaded account of a bank that lost its way."
Alas, the response in once-proud conservative media is to double-down on their open war against all fact-professions — not just on the reputation of the FBI and other law professionals, but all independent civil servants, especially inspectors general.
(Elsewhere I discuss what should be the very first reform passed, day one, by any new Democratic Congress – establishing the independent office of Inspector General of the United States.)
Cyberwar – Cold War
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, here’s scary stuff re cyber warfare: “During the Cold War, opposing military commanders and national leaders spent decades figuring out how to posture and signal to one another so they could resolve disputes without fighting. In nearly every major depiction of an imagined cyberwar, the purpose of the attacks is obvious and usually involves cowing the United States into concessions. In his book “Glass Houses,” for example, former National Security Council inspector general Joel Brenner imagines China using a series of devastating cyber attacks to force the United States to back down in a confrontation over Taiwan.”
The real danger though comes in a second Trump term, when his hollowing out of the so-called "deep state" finally lets him hand over our intel agencies to the Kremlin.
Meanwhile, the pieces fall together. “Putin backs Russian constitutional amendment allowing him to stay in office till 2036.” It's not just that these President-for-Life moves are boringly predictable aspects of despotism. Or that they show why delusional, macho-male leaders ruled so execrably in 99% of human cultures, for 6000 years. On a more fundamental level, these actions by Putin, Xi and others insult their own peoples and nations!
Doesn't the "indispensable man" justification imply the entire nation can't sift a vast pool of talent for one other… or several or many other… leaders just as qualified? What, not even one? So the lesson is that you are a fluke genius, without whom the entire, fragile edifice would collapse? That’s some advertisement for your system.
The never-mentioned silver lining to all of this mess – an oligarchic-confederate putsch that aims to demolish the Enlightenment Experiment? It is that the U.S. has been robust, so far, in the face of the very worst-case scenario, takeover of our executive, legislative and judicial branches by either moronic-maniacs or enemies, or their tools. The very thing that Vlad has aimed to prove – that democracy is a decadent failure – is exactly what we have disproved.
So far. In the short term.
But yes, 6000 years of history shows the odds were always stacked against any effort to rise above oligarchism. Indeed, each generation in this Great Experiment has had to show heroism to some degree. And the magical, almost godlike power of citizenship.
It's our turn.
The great warner
As often the case, George Orwell had insights into what these monsters aim to achieve:
"For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.”
– O’Brien, speaking for the Party in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
Worries and concerns
Yes, added to the long list of “he actually said that”:
“The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again,” Trump said during an appearance on Fox & Friends.
So now it's explicit. Having to support vote-suppression is now a core matter of survival to a Republican Party that has been losing members – especially from the fact-professions – faster than leaves from a dying tree. Since that’s explicit, across the board, the incantation must be that democracy itself is wrongheaded and doomed and that oligarchy is the sole reasonable recourse. Putinism.
And… New at the Evonomics site: “Saving Capitalism from Inequality: Robust middle incomes deliver the demand that businesses need to produce.”
And… “California proposes 3-day backup power for cell towers, communication networks.” A small step toward the kind of systemic resilience I’ve been pushing for decades. Still, towers are the most unreliable piece of infrastructure we’ve got. Vastly better would be to require the cell-cos to turn on the backup peer-to-peer text-passing capability that is already available on Qualcomm chip sets. See other recommendations to make society more robust here… or copied into a chapter of Polemical Judo.
Read also, David Brin's new blog post, How is this "emergency bailout" different from all other bailouts?
David Brin is best-known for shining light — plausibly and entertainingly — on technology, society, and countless challenges confronting our rambunctious civilization. His best-selling novels include The Postman (filmed in 1997) plus explorations of our near-future in Earth and Existence… His short stories explore vividly speculative ideas.
Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the American Library Association's Freedom of Speech Award for exploring 21st Century concerns about security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications.
Top photo was posted by Greg Olear, in Tinker, Tailor, Mobster, Trump, along with these words: "The photo at the top is the Greek, from The Wire—the best show in the history of television."
Picture of George Orwell via Wikipedia.