‘Never offend an enemy in a small way.’ –Gore Vidal


{ Border wall prototypes in San Diego | Richard Serra’s ‘East-West/West-East’ in Qatar }

Dom Dom Dombdomb

I am Mr Trump’s longtime special counsel and I have proudly served in that role for more than a decade. In a private transaction in 2016, I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms Stephanie Clifford. [Note the ambiguous phrasing: “facilitate a payment.” This doesn’t necessarily mean Cohen ultimately funded the 130k payment to Clifford, just that he made it happen.] Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly. [The fact that the Trump Organization and campaign didn’t reimburse Cohen doesn’t mean that members of the Trump family or campaign (or indeed anyone else) didn’t reimburse him, or give him the funds before he made the payment.] The payment to Ms Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone. [Note that Cohen doesn’t say whether or not Trump knew about the payment.]

{ Michael Cohen, annotated by Quartz | Continue reading }

We are advised the waxy is at the present in the Sweeps hospital and that he may never come out!


Nine months after the Ukrainian revolution, Manafort’s family life also went into crisis. The nature of his home life can be observed in detail because Andrea’s text messages were obtained last year by a “hacktivist collective”—most likely Ukrainians furious with Manafort’s meddling in their country—which posted the purloined material on the dark web. The texts extend over four years (2012–16) and 6 million words. Manafort has previously confirmed that his daughter’s phone was hacked and acknowledged the authenticity of some texts. […]

When he called home in tears or threatened suicide in the spring of 2015, he was pleading for his marriage. The previous November, as the cache of texts shows, his daughters had caught him in an affair with a woman more than 30 years his junior. It was an expensive relationship. According to the text messages, Manafort had rented his mistress a $9,000-a-month apartment in Manhattan and a house in the Hamptons, not far from his own. He had handed her an American Express card, which she’d used to good effect. “I only go to luxury restaurants,” she once declared on a friend’s fledgling podcast, speaking expansively about her photo posts on social media: caviar, lobster, haute cuisine.

The affair had been an unexpected revelation. Manafort had nursed his wife after a horseback-riding accident had nearly killed her in 1997. “I always marveled at how patient and devoted he was with her during that time,” an old friend of Manafort’s told me. But after the exposure of his infidelity, his wife had begun to confess simmering marital issues to her daughters. Manafort had committed to couples therapy but, the texts reveal, that hadn’t prevented him from continuing his affair. Because he clumsily obscured his infidelity—and because his mistress posted about their travels on Instagram—his family caught him again, six months later. He entered the clinic in Arizona soon after, according to Andrea’s texts. […]

By the early months of 2016, Manafort was back in greater Washington, his main residence and the place where he’d begun his career as a political consultant and lobbyist. But his attempts at rehabilitation—of his family life, his career, his sense of self-worth—continued. He began to make a different set of calls. As he watched the U.S. presidential campaign take an unlikely turn, he saw an opportunity, and he badly wanted in. He wrote Donald Trump a crisp memo listing all the reasons he would be an ideal campaign consigliere—and then implored mutual friends to tout his skills to the ascendant candidate. […]

In 2006, Rick Gates, who’d begun as a wheel man at the old firm, arrived in Kiev. (Gates did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this article.) Manafort placed him at the helm of a new private-equity firm he’d created called Pericles. He intended to raise $200 million to bankroll investments in Ukraine and Russia. […]

Manafort had always intended to rely on financing from Oleg Deripaska to fund Pericles. In 2007, Manafort persuaded him to commit $100 million to the project, a sum that would have hardly made a dent in the oligarch’s fortune. On the eve of the 2008 global financial crisis, he was worth $28 billion.

Deripaska handed his money to Paul Manafort because he trusted him. […] Manafort used Deripaska’s money to buy a telecommunications firm in Odessa called Chorne More (“Black Seas,” in English) at a cost of $18.9 million. He also charged a staggering $7.35 million in management fees for overseeing the venture.

But months after the Chorne More purchase, the 2008 financial crisis hit, gutting Deripaska’s net worth. It plummeted so far that he needed a $4.5 billion bailout from the Russian state bank to survive. The loan included an interest payment in the form of abject humiliation: Putin traveled to one of Deripaska’s factories and berated him on television.

As Deripaska’s world came crashing down, his representatives asked Manafort to liquidate Pericles and give him back his fair share. Manafort had little choice but to agree. But that promise never translated to action. An audit of Chorne More that Rick Gates said was under way likewise never materialized. Then, in 2011, Manafort stopped responding to Deripaska’s investment team altogether. […]

The FBI investigation into Yanukovych’s finances came to cover Manafort’s own dealings. Soon after the feds took an interest, interviewing Manafort in July 2014, the repatriations ceased. Meanwhile, Manafort struggled to collect the money owed him by Yanukovych’s cronies. To finance his expensive life, he began taking out loans against his real estate—some $15 million over two years, his indictment says. This is not an uncommon tactic among money launderers—a bank loan allows the launderer to extract clean cash from property purchased with dirty money. But according to the indictment, some of Manafort’s loans were made on the basis of false information supplied to the bank in order to inflate the sums available to him, suggesting the severity of his cash-flow problems. All of these loans would need to be paid back, of course. And one way or another, he would need to settle Deripaska’s bill. […]

The Reagan administration had remade the contours of the Cold War, stepping up the fight against communism worldwide by funding and training guerrilla armies and right-wing military forces, such as the Nicaraguan contras and the Afghan mujahideen. This strategy of military outsourcing—the Reagan Doctrine—aimed to overload the Soviet Union with confrontations that it couldn’t sustain.

All of the money Congress began spending on anti-communist proxies represented a vast opportunity. Iron-fisted dictators and scruffy commandants around the world hoped for a share of the largesse. To get it, they needed help refining their image, so that Congress wouldn’t look too hard at their less-than-liberal tendencies. Other lobbyists sought out authoritarian clients, but none did so with the focused intensity of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. The firm would arrange for image-buffing interviews on American news programs; it would enlist allies in Congress to unleash money. Back home, it would help regimes acquire the whiff of democratic legitimacy that would bolster their standing in Washington.

{ The Atlantic | Continue reading }

Oil on linen { Suzan Frecon, lantern, 2017 }

Dumbest movie ever with a predictable dumb plot, bad acting, worse script, straight up ridiculous


…America’s system of government. The bureaucracy is so understaffed that it is relying on industry hacks to draft policy. They have shaped deregulation and written clauses into the tax bill that pass costs from shareholders to society.

{ Economist | Continue reading }

graphite pencil, crayon and collage on paper { Jasper Johns, Green Flag, 1956 }

Loading the BRICKS from my FRONT YARD into a DUMPSTER because my neighbor TODD is a FUCKHEAD


…the “Trump Carousel” in New York’s Central Park.

The problem there: “It was never named Trump Carousel,” said Crystal Howard of the New York City parks department.

She said the Trump Organization — which had a contract to operate the attraction, whose name is the Friedsam Memorial Carousel — had simply put up a sign that renamed it “Trump Carousel.” The sign seems to have been up for months, but the city only learned of it in April 2017. Officials ordered the sign taken down that day.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

To flame in you. Ardor vigor forders order.


America’s largest city, 8.5 million strong, is taking decisive action on two separate fronts. We are demanding compensation from those who profit from climate change. And we plan to withdraw our formidable investment portfolio from an economic system that is harmful to our people, our property and the city we love and invest it in more productive ways. This week, the City of New York filed a lawsuit in federal court against the five investor-owned fossil fuel companies: Exxon, BP, ConocoPhillips, Shell and Chevron. We are seeking billions of dollars in damages from these giants because they are central actors in this crisis. We’re proud to join cities like San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Cruz in taking on Big Oil in court.

{ Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City | Washington Post }

latex, rope, string, and wire { Eva Hesse, no title, 1969–70 }

What majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time


{ This Brooklyn Heights fake townhouse is actually a subway emergency exit }

News is what somebody does not want you to print. All the rest is advertising.


On January 4, 2012 an explosion killed a man in an apartment in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. Police arrested another occupant. One month later, on February 4, a second man was arrested in connection with the explosion. On February 27—six days before the March 4 Russian presidential election—Russian state controlled television station Channel One broke the story that the two detainees had been part of a plot to assassinate Russian Prime Minister, and presidential candidate, Vladimir Putin. “Channel One said it received information about the assassination attempt 10 days [earlier] but did not explain why it did not release the news sooner.”

Two points of this anecdote are noteworthy. First, information about the alleged plot was not released as soon as it was available. Instead, state television dropped the bomb- shell at a later, strategically-chosen time. Second, voters drew inferences from the timing of the release.

In this paper we analyze a Sender-Receiver game which connects the timing of information release with voters’ beliefs prior to elections. Early release of information is more credible, in that it signals that Sender has nothing to hide. On the other hand, such early release exposes the information to scrutiny for a longer period of time—possibly leading to the information being discovered to be false. […]

We show that fabricated scandals are only released sufficiently close to the election. […] Perhaps more importantly, we make predictions about the time pattern of campaign events. We show that for a broad range of parameters the probability of release of scandals (authentic or fabricated) is U-shaped, with scandals concentrated towards the beginning and the end of an electoral campaign.

{ When to Drop a Bombshell, 2016 | PDF }

The concentration of scandals in the last months of the 2016 campaign is far from an exception. Such October surprises are commonplace in US presidential elections. […] Political commentators argue that such bombshells may be strategically dropped close to elections so that voters have not enough time to tell real from fake news. Yet, if all fake news were released just before an election, then voters may rationally discount October surprises as fake. Voters may not do so fully, however, since while some bombshells may be strategically timed, others are simply discovered close to the election.

Therefore, the strategic decision of when to drop a bombshell is driven by a tradeoff between credibility and scrutiny. […]

This credibility-scrutiny tradeoff also drives the timing of announcements about candidacy, running mates, cabinet members, and details of policy platforms. An early announcement exposes the background of the candidate or her team to more scrutiny, but boosts credibility. The same tradeoff is likely to drive the timing of information release in other contexts outside the political sphere. For instance, a firm going public can provide a longer or shorter time for the market to evaluate its prospectus before the firm’s shares are traded.

{ When to Drop a Bombshell, 2017 | PDF }

‘The past is always attractive because it is drained of fear.’ –Thomas Carlyle


{ The American Museum of Natural History window and New York Philharmonic window at Bergdorf Goodman | More: 2017 Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows }

‘I do NOT recommend this place to my friends at all.’ –Dr. Takeshi Yamada and Seara (sea rabbit)




{ continue reading | more reviews | Thanks Tim }

Ones propsperups treed, now stohong baroque


The cost of building the world’s skinniest skyscraper has ballooned so enormously that the 111 W. 57th St. project is facing imminent foreclosure while it’s less than one-quarter complete.

The 82-story skyscraper has risen fewer than 20 stories and is $50 million over budget.


“Apparently they omitted some very significant items in their budget including cranes, which are very expensive in New York and can run into the millions of dollars”

{ NY Post | Continue reading }

A choir of six hundred voices, conducted by Mr Vincent O’Brien

National Security Council officials have strategically included Trump’s name in “as many paragraphs as we can because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned,” according to one source, who relayed conversations he had with NSC officials.

{ Reuters | Continue reading }

related { How Trump gets his fake news }