Fusion GPS, Propaganda, and Don Trump Jr.

Okay, so we have a supposed smoking gun, finally located by the press, who have been on a witch hunt for nine months. (Congratulations, you’ve given birth!)

Except…not. Check out this incredible article, in which some real sleuthing has taken place: http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/07/well-lookie-russian-lawyer-veselnitskaya-pictured-obama-ambassador-russia-8-days-trump-jr-mtg/

In this blog post, I am merely sharing, and re-organizing information they have gathered, along with information gathered from various news sites. Check them out.

First, here are the key players:

1. Donald Trump Jr., son to the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Trump Jr took an active part in the Presidential campaign, but has since gone back to the business world, and does not actively participate at the White House.

2. Emin Agalarov, a Russian pop star.

3. Goldstone; Agalarov’s PR guy. He is a citizen of the United Kingdom. He worked with the Trumps to set up a performance for Emin Agalarov at the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.

4. A Russian lawyer, Veselnitskaya, whose father is purportedly a friend of Vladmir Putin himself.

5. Fusion GPS; an unspoken player here, since Veselnitskaya has connections to this organization. These are the people who ordered the “Russian dossier” with the fake story about “golden showers”, in which Trump (in someone’s fevered imagination and not in reality) hired prostitutes to pee on a bed in a fancy hotel that the Obamas slept in, in Russia. (Yes, that sounds absurd because it is, but that didn’t stop the story from being published and touted by half a dozen *sitting* congressmen as real.) This story is so fake that the person who gathered the “data” from Russian officials (and these are real Russian government officials, by the way, which is also telling as to their Presidential preferences), is being sued by two separate companies for libel. Libel is when you print lies about someone. The dossier, in addition to making up lewd stories about Trump, also accused specific companies of illegal wrongdoing, which has since been proven completely false…which is why they’re suing.

Next, let’s lay out what happened in this latest sensational collusion-esque story. Trump Jr has been incredibly transparent, which makes this pretty easy to do.

1. Goldstone emails Trump Jr. in the summer of 2016. Here’s the entire email , for you to read:

 

2. Trump Jr. Replies. Here’s his reply:

 

3. They go back and forth via email, Trump Jr. originally prefers a phone call, that doesn’t happen, despite his preference, but the lawyer is conveniently able to meet in person at Trump Tower in New York, instead.

4. The meeting takes place; Trump Jr, Manafort, and Jared Kushner are there. Strangely, the lawyer behaves as if the meeting was about Russian adoptions, and a USA law that resulted in Putin stopping those adoptions. This is confusing to Trump Jr., but he is polite enough to hear the lawyer out for about twenty minutes, and then they close the meeting.

5. There has been no follow-up, according to Trump Jr, given that the entire thing was a bizarre waste of time.

Okay. So let’s look at Donald Trump Jr. He’s the guy who, some sitting members of congress have already stated, could be facing a charge of *treason*. (That’s just a *little* over the top, methinks.)

I’d like to state the obvious:

You can’t presume to know what he would have done, if there *had* been damaging information. Period. Therefore, you can’t say he committed collusion of any sort. You can’t even argue, when you look at the way the Trumps communicate habitually, that he even had the intent to collude. Essentially, Trump Jr. got an email stating that a foreign national supposedly had government documents provided by somebody maybe in, or connected to, that foreign government, and that those documents showed criminal activity in regard to Clinton’s “dealings” with that government. The email doesn’t say the “incriminating” activities were designed to get her into the White House. Trump Jr asserted later that he was thinking it might refer to one of the many things which had been mentioned or alluded to in the news, over the prior months and years, in regard to the Clintons. (An obvious example springs to mind: the kick-back to the Clinton foundation, on the order of millions of dollars, apparently received in connection to the Uranium deal with the Russians, along with the subsequent doubling of Bill Clinton’s speaking fees in Russia.) So, Trump Jr. sees a note stating someone from that country has real proof of wrongdoing on Hillary Clinton’s part, and he decides he needs to check it out himself, just to see what’s there.

I chose “foreign national” rather than “Russian” above, initially, to bring us back to Earth. There was no “Russian this, Russian that” in the news at the time, other than in regard to some of Hillary Clinton’s dealings with the Russians. So why would the offer of damaging information, when provided by someone Trump Jr. trusted, raise warning bells for him? Maybe this is too obvious to state, but what nationality would you *expect* his acquaintance Agalarov to have connections with?

All right, so let’s ask a hypothetical question (everybody else is, after all). If, in that meeting, the Russian lawyer had come out and confirmed what the email seemed to imply, that they were indirectly (or directly) representing the Kremlin, and had detailed documents showing collusion of some sort between the Hillary campaign (or Hillary Clinton in her role as Secretary of State), then what next? “Aha!” the media says. “Trump Jr’s willingness to even have a look is criminal on his part!” Really? What should he have done? *Not* looked into this? Also, Trump Jr. Has said that he would have immediately handed that information over to the proper authorities, if there had been any to share. Presumably that information would also have made its way eventually to the news outlets which, potentially, could have aided his father’s campaign. But seriously, what *should* Don Trump Jr. have done? *Not* shared the information? *Not* followed up?

It’s inane. A classic catch-22. Only someone who is out of touch with the wily, shifty, spy thriller mentality in Washington D.C. would walk into this as trustingly and openly as Trump Jr. has done. And what does that really say about him?

He’s not an insider. He’s closer, in mentality, to the *rest* of us- the rest of America. I doubt I would have behaved much differently. If you put yourself in his shoes and walk through things, what he did at the time was common sense. He got an email from a trusted person asserting somebody might have proof of criminality on the part of the Clintons. He agreed to check it out, and in so doing, he used a generalized, positive statement of interest, obviously withholding judgement in regard to the veracity of the source.

With all the news swirling about Clinton’s corrupt activities, it’s a no-brainer that, when presented with potential *real* evidence, you’d look into it. But many people seem to be incapable of placing themselves in the situation in that point in time, from Mr. Trump Jr’s perspective.

From my point of view (and I’ll bet from a legal point of view) if everyone was being honest and straight forward and clear headed, there would be no wrong doing here by any standard. Only the political witch hunt mentality that has built up over months of time even makes this appear to hold water.

And there’s another much more important aspect to this. Something that only a press hellbent on destroying one specific group of people (the Trumps and their allies) could overlook.

This seems to be a bold faced set-up, meant to take Trump Jr. down once a media storm had been generated about Russia (which now clearly it has, for months on end.) Why was it a set-up? Because that same Russian lawyer and President Obama’s Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, sat together in a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing eight days after meeting with Trump Jr in Trump Tower. So, a week out. And on top of that, guess who was sitting right next to Veselnitskaya, with Michael McFaul? Emin Agalarov. (Keep in mind that Trump Tower is in New York, while this meeting took place in Washington DC, but somehow an in-person meeting worked better for Veselnitskaya than a phone call?) You add in the fact that Veselnitskaya has connections to Fusion GPS, and clearly this needs a closer look.

I’m sorry, Don Trump Jr, but it looks like you got stabbed in the back. I think Mr. Agalarov might not really be your friend. To put it another way, these guys played your political naiveté like a finely tuned violin.

Here’s another interesting twist here, something to chew on. The FBI, CIA, and possibly other intelligence organizations will use this type of trick to take down criminals; AKA, stage a fake meeting, see if the person they’re trying to trap will bite. But here’s the thing: Donald Trump Jr only agreed to meet. He didn’t actually state anything that confirmed he believed or trusted what was said in the initial email. He was simply willing to gather information, and see where it led. (Much like our vaunted intelligence organizations do, ironically.) You cannot assert anything here, but if you dig a little deeper, it *does* appear that some very wily people attempted, as a group, to destroy Don Trump Jr. and by proxy, his father.

Also, when you add in the fact that the words in the initial email are so blunt, so obvious, so completely in line with the media’s Trump-Russia collusion go-to phrasing, I’m left flabbergasted that more people don’t immediately see the blatant attempt at propaganda. Here’s the obvious question, and the “tell” that this was a set-up:

How, if the Russian lawyer never mentioned or intended to talk about Hillary and her criminal ties with Russia, did the message arrive in email form that this is why she wanted to meet? (And why, if the media is “unbiased”, hasn’t anyone pointed this out?)

Let’s step back again. What is propaganda? It is a lie or series of lies meant to look real, to influence public opinion. Something to bite into is usually obtained; a sound byte taken out of context, an email taken out of context, etc. A bad photo in bad light. An ugly look. Putin is an ex-KGB operative. This was what he *did*. And still does. This is also what the Clintons did and still do. But the truth is (I would bet money on this) that they are the ones (Fusion GPS anyone?) who provided the talking points in that email.

Again, at the end of the day, Trump Jr. never stated “oh yay, the Russians are colluding with me, this is awesome!” After receiving that email, all he sent back was a generic reply that any businessperson who wants to keep an upbeat, positive outlook might have sent. (Aka, “I love this if it’s true”, in regard to the Hillary-Russia collusion possibility).

It’s naive on his part. It’s not criminal. What Fusion GPS has done previously arguably is criminal, since they are already being sued for libel by two separate companies, in regard to the Russian “dossier”. It’s not any stretch at all to see them as behind this too, given that Veselnitskaya is connected to them, and given the special seat she was given at a meeting with Obama’s ambassador to Russia along with Emin Agalarov, only a week out from the meeting with Don Trump Jr.

Here’s the ultimate irony: If Agalarov and this lawyer Veselnitskaya, along with Fusion GPS, planned this as a covert sneak-attack on Trump Jr, then we have something real, finally. This lawyer, despite her denials, is connected closely to the Kremlin. Her father is purportedly a friend of Vladmir Putin. If anything, this solidifies for me that the Russians *were* colluding to influence the election, using their usual bag of propaganda tricks…but not with the Trumps.

We finally found a real conspiracy here, but somehow everyone has turned 180 degrees around in their seats to look at the victim of the conspirators, rather than at the real perpetrators.

 

On a potentially related note…

For what it’s worth, I became interested in Russia maybe a decade back, and spent time trying to understand the culture more. I was particularly interested in the conspiracies swirling around Putin, and what the frame of mind was there. I remember, in particular, watching a professorial type talk about a second North American civil war that was sure to break out within the next few years (a prediction that didn’t come to be, thankfully). He went through showing how our country would end up divided into around five different countries, if memory serves.  He had mapped it out, and had even given names to the new “countries”.  His entire presentation was aired by Russia Today, which for those who don’t know, is a state sponsored propaganda tool of the Kremlin.

It makes you think, doesn’t it? People are yacking about how Russia hates the USA. I don’t know that this is accurate (any statement that starts with asserting the attitude of an *entire country* rarely is). But what I can say is there is an interest in protecting their own turf, and seeing a long term enemy take a fall. I think a good number of people in power in Russia, in particular, would enjoy seeing the USA become weaker. What is a great way to accomplish that? Create a conflict within our own country, tear us apart from the inside. This is a strategy the USSR employed boldly and unapologetically for decades, and it’s naive to think that the current Russian president, Vladmir Putin, who is ex-KGB, wouldn’t be aware of those tactics and potentially continue to employ them.

Common Decency

So I saw a story today about a guy who got punched in the face half a dozen times, after going out of his way to do the right thing. Why, you ask? I don’t want to rehash the entire story, so instead, here are a few links detailing out how things went down. I’m including multiple articles, because I found it interesting to compare the portrayal provided in each one, and you might too:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/06/27/accused-florida-kidnapper-was-actually-helping-lost-child-police-say.html

http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/region-polk/lakeland-father-beats-up-good-samaritan

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4643834/Good-Samaritan-falsely-dubbed-child-predator-flees-town.html

http://www.theledger.com/news/20170626/lpd-lakeland-man-helping-lost-2-year-old-find-her-parents-attacked-by-girls-father-2-others

(FYI, if you want to check out just one version of the story, the Daily Mail link has the most complete information.)

So! This is a blog, right? With that in mind, here are my two cents on this story:

About Mr. Strickland:

Strickland is twenty-two years old, and has proven himself to be more immature than most people are at that age. Mr. Strickland is pretending as if, because the man with his daughter *might* have been up to no good, he was completely within his rights to repeatdly punch him in the face. But wait a second…let’s take a closer look, because it’s even worse than that. First up, Mr. Strickland had two friends with him, so that makes it three full grown men against one. Second, they came up to Mr. Patel from behind, snatched the toddler away from him, then, without pausing to communicate, attacked Mr. Patel.

Yikes.

Let’s assume the worst case scenario, and that it was a child molester making off with Mr. Strickland’s kid. So, he and his two friends get the child away from him quickly, coming up from behind. Fine, I can see things that far along. But then, they start attacking the “offender”. At that point, they’re taking the law into their own hands.

Isn’t one of the best things about the USA the concept that we *don’t* sink to the level of our enemies? Mr. Strickland, even if he had been correct in his assumption, still had no right, under the law, to take it upon himself to beat Mr. Patel black and blue. If there hadn’t been a crowd there, which made these three men back off, who knows how far things would have gone? What we do know is that Mr. Patel took at least six punches straight to the face. Even assuming his worst fears were correct, Mr. Strickland would still have been in the wrong to violently attack Mr. Patel.

Mr. Strickland found out, pretty quickly, that his assumptions were completely off base. Mr. Patel had come there with a friend who (thank his lucky stars!) was in the police force. Also, at least one eye witness reported seeing Mr. Patel escorting the toddler while asking around in order to find her parents. Ultimately, the local police also took it upon themselves to post a no nonsense statement on their own Facebook page, making clear that Mr. Patel was acting as a good samaritan.

After all the facts were laid out, however, what did Mr. Strickland have to say for himself? He declared he was in the right to have attacked Mr. Patel, and would do it again. His rational? He blames Mr. Patel for, essentially, walking around with his daughter in his arms.

Most rational people would have admitted they were wrong when faced with the truth, and apologized to (as well as thanked) the person who has gone out of their way to keep their child safe. Perhaps, deep down, Strickland feels guilty for letting his daughter wander off (and perhaps is worried that child protective services might take notice), so he’s pre-emptively (and protectively) deflecting attention away from his own failure as a parent. If Mr. Strickland were to admit he was wrong to attack, that might segue into other areas of improvement. Leaving it as he has, he probably thinks that he has shown the world how protective of his daughter he is, above all else.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is his first child. Most parents learn at some point that toddlers, despite their size and clumsiness, can really move fast sometimes. I doubt anybody would declare child endangerment over this situation, but perhaps Mr. Strickland thinks it’s a legitimate possibility.

Whatever the case, hopefully Mr. Strickland will grow up a bit, before his daughter is old enough to start picking up his immature habits. As he is now, I’d hate to have this guy as a neighbor. Who knows what other false, judgemental assumptions he makes on a regular basis? And how often, based on those false assumptions, does he act? People can justify all sorts of ugly things, in much the same way Mr. Strickland has done, by presuming that Mr. Patel *might* have been a bad guy.

About Mr. Patel:

Imagine back to those films and shows from the 1950s, just for a minute. Imagine that you don’t have child predators, and people thoughtlessly spreading lies on Facebook. There were jerks in the 1950s, too, but I’m talking about the way modern Americans (modern for the 1950s) were portrayed in television and film. Heck, skip forward to the 1970s, and picture Mr. Rogers from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, or keep going to the present day and picture, say…one of the Avengers. Captain America seems especially fitting. Let’s say that Captain America sees a toddler wandering on their own, going toward a city street (which was the case when Mr. Patel spotted the little girl). What does Captain America do? Why, he’d go over, kneel down, and ask the kid where their parents are. If they don’t know, he’d probably take them by the hand, and help them find their parents. He might even pick the toddler up, and carry them as he looked. Visually, that would be a winning move; in fact, it feels like a scene waiting to be written.

That’s exactly what Mr. Patel did. Most of the articles linked above have pointed out that he held her hand, and walked around asking people if they were her parents. Eventually, he picked the toddler up as he continued to look. Given her age, I don’t count picking her up as anything inappropriate to do – in fact, it was safer for her, given that there was a moderate crowd. (On a side note, this seems to indicate the little girl was missing for at least several minutes, if not longer.)

Interestingly, some people, in the comment sections of some of these articles, have jumped to saying that Mr. Patel wasn’t being “smart”. They say he should have sought out a public address system, or called 911, or child protection services. Some have said he shouldn’t have touched the little girl at all.

Really? I think it says more about the degradation of our own society that, after reading this story, the initial reaction of some is to crtique Mr. Patel. But one thing’s clear: he wasn’t thinking “how can I protect myself?” Instead, he was thinking “There’s a toddler wandering around on her own! I’d better help her find her parents.”

I suppose Mr. Patel could have thought about seeking someone with a microphone to make an announcement about the missing toddler (and the same could be said for Mr. Strickland), but can you really blame him for not thinking that far ahead? And the people suggesting he should have kept his distance probably don’t have much experience with kids. The child was hardly a rabid dog, for goodness sake – she was a little toddler. It’s the most natural thing in the world to go up to a kid who looks lost. And the most efficient way to find out what’s going on is to ask them! Once you know they’re lost, naturally you’d stick with them. Frankly, Mr. Strickland should be grateful someone nice stayed with his daughter, because his little girl might have gotten into *serious* trouble, otherwise.

My solution:

At this point, Mr. Strickland is clearly in the wrong, and if he had a shred of decency, he’d reach out to Mr. Patel, treat him to dinner, take photos with him, make posts on Facebook stating he’s a great guy, and generally take steps to do everything he can to undo the damage perpetrated by thoughtless “do gooders” on the rumor mill known as Facebook. The only person to be physically assaulted here was Mr. Patel, and it was three full grown men against one. They came up from behind, snatched the little girl away, and then started pummeling him. Essentially, they decided to become judge, jury, and executioner, foregoing a conversation in favor of jumping to conclusions, after the father knew full well he’d failed to pay attention and lost track of his own child. It’s incredible when you think of the fact that Mr. Patel has declined to press charges; perhaps he’s Christian and beleives in turning the other cheek. Perhaps he’s Hindu and believes that it was karmic, and accepting it gracefully and empathetically is best. Or perhaps he’s just a very, very kind person who can empathise with someone even after being wrongfully harmed by them.

Whatever the case, Mr. Patel felt compelled to leave the city with his wife and two children for a while, for their safety, after their information and location was shared online via Facebook, with the smear of “child molester” falling on Mr. Patel’s shoulders.

Think about that for a minute. What if you were in Mr. Patel’s shoes?

Mr. Strickland, after making that over-the-top comment about how he doesn’t regret punching Mr. Patel in the face, might at *least* find it within himself to realize he’s helped to put another man’s children in danger. Perhaps that, given his recent experience, is something he can empathize with?

Given Mr. Patel’s situation, Mr. Strickland should offer a thoughtful, heartfelt apology, showcasing his gratitude, in both written and video format. He can post it to Facebook. It should include something like this:

“This has taught me to be more vigilant with my daughter, who is the most precious thing in the world to me. I’m grateful to Mr. Patel, and want to post this to undo any damage I have done through jumping to conclusions about him. I think the world is better for the good samaritans in it, and that includes Mr. Patel. I would hate for my actions to discourage other good doers from stepping up when the situation calls for it. Thank you, Mr. Patel! Everybody, please share this around.”