Thursday Reads: An Attitude of Gratitude

Good Afternoon!!

I woke up this morning and suddenly realized that today is my anniversary. It has been 36 years since I got sober on May 10, 1982. It has been a long, strange trip. I have a lot to be grateful for today. Everything is crazy in our world today, but I’d rather be dealing with this than dead.

And I have something else to be grateful for too: Michael Avenatti is on the case, and he has blown it wide open. I wonder where he learned how to get so much public attention?

Jack Schaeffer at Politico: Michael Avenatti’s Rules for Radicals. Where Stormy Daniels’ lawyer got his tricks.

Go ahead and joke about TV’s bright lights sunburning his bald head all the way to skin cancer. Avenatti won’t mind. All the world is his court and all the men and women in it merely jurors. Appearing on Anderson Cooper 360° on Tuesday night, where he was as poised as a fat cat taking a limousine to the airport, he explained his method.

“There’s been some criticism about our media strategy and how often I’ve been on CNN and how often I’ve been on your show and other networks,” Avenatti said. “Here’s the bottom line, Anderson. It’s working. OK? It’s working in spades. And one of the reasons, and one of the ways that it’s working, is because we’re so out front on this, people send us information. People want to help our cause. People contact us with information.”

They sure do, as we’ve learned over the past couple of days of wall-to-wall media coverage of Avenatti’s revelations about Michael Cohen selling access to Donald Trump. So what’s Avenatti’s secret?

Although Avenatti grew up in St. Louis and attended college and law school in Washington, D.C., his media politics owe much to the famous teachings of Chicago political organizer Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), who formulated a set of 13 “rules for radicals” that have gained devotees on both the left and right for several generations, including Barack Obama and Rahm Emanuel, for whom Avenatti worked while in college.

Appearing on TV, Avenatti wears down his opponents by deploying Alinsky’s Rule No. 5, one that Trump has long observed in his own battles: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” Avenatti routinely mocks Cohen as a “thug,” “beyond stupid,” legally “radioactive” and “not that bright.” and goes after Cohen’s attorney with an ack-ack of insults and slights. Wherever possible, Avenatti makes personal everything that is legal, perhaps because he figures that a temperamental opponent like Cohen will grow unsettled and erratic in the face of ridicule, unable to muster any real defense.

“Keep the pressure on. Never let up,” Alinsky’s Rule No. 8, has guided Avenatti’s nonstop, inventive TV campaign. Yesterday, for example, he broadened his attack on Cohen by releasing leaked financial documents that documented suspicious cash transfers from corporations to Cohen. What, if anything this new, damning information has to do with liberating Stormy Daniels from her NDA, isn’t readily apparent. But it fills the ditch that Cohen occupies with fast-drying concrete. “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have,” Alinsky’s Rule No. 1, has piloted Avenatti’s moves from the beginning: He teased his Twitter audience by posting a picture of a DVD, implying that it contains smutty pictures of Trump and constantly hints that new, detrimental evidence against Cohen is about to emerge, such as his prediction that new hush payments will be revealed or that the Russians might have covered the $130,000 silence payment to his client. Overstatement is one of his favorite games. Staging media events that please the gallery is another area in which the Avenatti and Alinsky worlds intersect (Rule No. 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.”).

Head over to Politico to read the whole thing. I wonder if Barack Obama is following all this?

At New York Magazine, Frank Rich compares Avenatti to Woodward and Bernstein: Following the Money in Trumpland Leads Ugly Places.

With Michael Avenatti’s revelation that the shell company Michael Cohen used for the Stormy Daniels payoff also received money tied to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg (as well as payments from other companies with government business), it looks like the two main threads of Donald Trump’s legal troubles may be part of the same story. Has Avenatti found the “collusion” that Trump has spent so much energy denying?

Avenatti, whose revelations have since been verified by the Times and others, is doing exactly what Woodward and Bernstein did in Watergate — following the money. By doing so he has unveiled an example of collusion so flagrant that it made Trump and Rudy Giuliani suddenly go mute: a Putin crony’s cash turns out to be an essential component of the racketeering scheme used to silence Stormy Daniels and thus clear Trump’s path to the White House in the final stretch of the 2016 election. Like the Nixon campaign slush fund that Woodward and Bernstein uncovered, this money trail also implicates corporate players hoping to curry favor with a corrupt president. Back then it was the telecommunications giant ITT, then fending off antitrust suits from the government, that got caught red-handed; this time it’s AT&T. Both the Nixon and Trump slush funds were initially set up to illegally manipulate an American presidential election, hush money included. But the Watergate burglars’ dirty tricks, criminal as they were, were homegrown. Even Nixon would have drawn the line at colluding with Russians — or, in those days, the Soviets — to sabotage the Democrats.

I know some accuse Avenatti of being a media whore, but he’s the one media whore I can’t get enough of. He knows what he’s doing, he has the goods, and he is playing high-stakes poker, shrewdly, with what appears to be a winning hand.

I can’t wait to see what Avenatti will do next.

I can’t find any news reports on this yet, but last night Giuliani told USA Today that the Michael Cohen revelations have nothing to do with Donald Trump.

President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that his client is not affected by investigations into payments to longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen from several American companies and a firm tied to a Russian oligarch.

“I don’t see it,” Giuliani told USA TODAY. “This has nothing to do with us.”

If Trump had some kind of legal exposure, Giuliani said, Russia special counsel Robert Mueller would not have passed on the information to federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating Cohen’s business dealings.

Giuliani also scoffed at a suggestion made by Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti that Russian money went to the adult film star to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump.

“I don’t see how that could be the case,” Giuliani said, noting that the entity cited by Avenatti is “not Russian; it’s an American company.”

There’s a lot that Rudy doesn’t see, like how Trump is likely to dump him next. Rick Wilson at The Daily Beast: Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump: This Will End Badly. And Probably Soon.

Like a bloated, portly fake billionaire rolling off a hooker after a hot 45 seconds of passionate sex, Donald Trump’s ardor for Rudy Giuliani seems to have cooled.

If the White House leaks are any barometer, it sounds more and more as if Donald wants Rudy to get his money off the nightstand and the hell out of his room at the No-Tell-Motel. This is what happens when you work for Trump, and Rudy is old enough, crafty enough, and knows Trump well enough to have known better.

Trump’s hiring of my old boss is a triumph of today’s Trump-right media bubble, where nothing matters but the coverage on Fox & FriendsHannity, Sinclair stations’ nightly Two Minutes of Hate, and on the nut-site constellation that comprises conservative “news” sites. Trump didn’t hire Rudy for his skills as a litigator, or as a warrior in the high-speed low-drag social-media world of today. He was hired to break shit and make loud noises, and he’s damn good at it. Unfortunately for Rudy, that probably won’t be enough to save him from the Trump curse.

Trump has been mostly unable to hire and retain top-flight litigators because he destroys everyone around him. His record of stacking former staffers like cordwood as they are either fired, humiliated, shamed, permanently scarred, forced to cut off a finger by the Yakuza, morally compromised, or moved into the Witness Protection Program will go down in presidential history. It’s no secret that he’s a spectacular liar at all times and on all subjects, leaving his legal team constantly wary they have a client who combines a stubborn streak and a self-destructive nature with an endless capacity to lie to them about his marital, financial, and political lies.

Even though he’s a right-winger, Wilson has a way with words. Read the rest at The Daily Beast.

That’s is for me this morning. I may have a few more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following?


56 Comments on “Thursday Reads: An Attitude of Gratitude”

  1. dakinikat says:

    I’m still fascinated by all those corporations that paid Cohen to “lobby” or what ever. Rachel kept asking if big multinationals are really that stupid and the answer is yes. They are and there’s probably more where that came from.

    Great post! You know how I love this Avenetti. Every time I watch him speak it’s an adventure in applied Game theory. He’s got a strategy unlike the bloated orange melanoma killing our rule of law.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I just read the bio at his website. I wonder how Stormy found him, and I wonder if he took the case in hopes of bringing down Trump?

      http://avenatti.com/bio/

    • teele says:

      I am not so sure it’s stupidity; this is how government and business work in large parts of the world (China, Russia, most African and Middle Eastern countries). Government corruption is nothing new to multinational corporations, and these companies simply recognized quickly that the US Government is now open for bribes. They are actually probably smarter than the companies hewing to the old rules.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      Or as we middle aged and beyond women call him Avehottie.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Stat: Novartis paid Trump’s lawyer’s firm far more than any of its actual lobbyists

    The $100,000 monthly fee Novartis paid a company set up by President Trump’s personal attorney to help it better understand “U.S. healthcare policy matters” in the Trump era is almost four times more than it paid any actual outside lobbyist in the same time period.

    None of the contracts for the nearly four dozen external lobbyists Novartis employs to help explain and advocate on health care policy issues came close to the amounts paid Essential Consultants LLC, according to a STAT review of the Swiss drug maker’s 2017 and 2018 filings.

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

    AP (via TPM) reports on Giuliani leaving his day job:

    Giuliani Leaves Manhattan Law Firm To Focus On Serving Trump’s Legal Team.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/giuliani-leaves-manhattan-law-firm-greenbergtraurig

    • bostonboomer says:

      • bostonboomer says:

        From the NYT story:

        Firm partners had chafed over Mr. Giuliani’s public comments about payments that another of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Michael D. Cohen, made to secure the silence of a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump. The president has denied her allegations. In interviews, Mr. Giuliani suggested that such payments were common at his firm.

        “That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do, out of his law firm funds,” he said on Fox News.

        He added, “Michael would take care of things like this like I take care of this with my clients.”

        The New York Times asked Greenberg Traurig several times to explain those remarks over the past week. On Tuesday, a firm spokeswoman asked for more time to provide answers.

        Mr. Giuliani’s colleagues at Greenberg Traurig had bristled in late 2016 when Mr. Giuliani played an aggressive, pit bull-style surrogate role on Mr. Trump’s behalf during the presidential campaign. After Mr. Trump’s inauguration, when it became clear that Mr. Giuliani would not get the job he wanted — secretary of state — he kept a relatively low profile at the request of his colleagues.

  5. Delphyne49 says:

    Congratulations on your anniversary, BB – that’s more than half of your life and should make you proud! ❤️

  6. Mary Luke says:

    First, BB, congratulations on your anniversary.

    Check Avenatti’s Wikipedia bio. He graduated first in his class at GW and was a member of the exclusive legal honor society Order of the Coif.

    Yes he has a trial lawyer’s ego and flamboyant personality. He also has intelligence and professional ethics. He is doing on television and social media what all trial attorneys do every day in conference rooms and the hallways of courthouses. The real battle is outside the courtroom.

  7. Mary Luke says:

    First, BB, congratulations on your anniversary.

    Check Avenatti’s Wikipedia bio. He graduated first in his class at GW and was a member of the exclusive legal honor society Order of the Coif.

    Yes he has a trial lawyer’s ego and flamboyant personality. He also has intelligence and professional ethics. He is doing on television and social media what all trial attorneys do every day in conference rooms and the hallways of courthouses. The real battle is outside the courtroom.

  8. RonStill4Hills says:

    KCB IWIYWI, BB.

    I worry that Avenati may become the enemy of (Ras)Putin. He could get thrown off a roof.

    Not much to fear from Donald “Joffrey” Orangutrump. He is President Badminton, lots of rackets but no balls.

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    George Will on Pence. This is getting interesting.

  11. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      But ….. jobs! jobs! He’s a businessman…he knows business. Uh….

      Too bad for the poor suckers who voted for him, but I pity them not.

  12. bostonboomer says:

  13. bostonboomer says:

    • dakinikat says:

      That’s just sick.

    • NW Luna says:

      “Joke.” No surprise that anyone who’d work for Trump is heartless, but this is revolting.

      Everyone born is on the way to dying. We just don’t know exactly when.

    • RonStill4Hills says:

      Here is what you have to understand about The Troll King, his Troll Minions and the Troll Nation, while this kind of outrage against McCain reveals their worst selves, it also reveals what they ASPIRE to be.

      They want to be and be seen as heartless rat-bastards with the nerve and resolve of Kaiser Sose.

      They think that having the nerve to say something disgusting equates to actual courage. I point to the numerous disgusting examples of Trump showing off his fearless candor when talking about the disabled journalist or the Khan family or even McCain himself.

      Kelly Sadler was emulating their hero. What a pathetic deplorable lot they are.

      • quixote says:

        Good point, about showing what they *aspire* to. It’s hard to remember just how perverted their world is.

        • RonStill4Hills says:

          Reagan flirted with it, but even he recognized limits. The rise of Morton Downey Jr, Rush Limbaugh and Neal Boortz really opened the flood gates. Somehow “nastiness” = “guts” in the minds of these people.

          And their belief that free speech is the “right to be nasty without consequence” is their most cherished delusion.

          I often say, “I don’t care if you are a racist (sexist, homophobe), your beliefs are your business, it is your actions that demand a response.”

          A key responsibility of the resistance is to make these deplorable A-holes own their bad behavior.

  14. Sweet Sue says:

    Congratulations, BB. Do you still attend meetings? Asking for a friend.

    • bostonboomer says:

      No. I did go to AA for about 5 years. I like a lot of the ideas, and use them in my life though.

  15. NW Luna says:

    Happy Anniversary, BB! And many more!

  16. NW Luna says:

    Write a letter, touch off a Middle East, uh, squabble? Only the best statesmanship.

    Iran’s supreme leader reveals private letter Trump sent to Arab allies

    “A couple of days ago, Trump wrote a letter to the leaders of the Arab world. We have that letter,” the ayatollah said. “In the letter, he says I have spent $7 trillion on you, you have to do [what I say]. You spent this money to rule over Iraq and Syria. You couldn’t. To hell with it. He says you should do it and says Iran ‘should’ do it, too.”

    The letter has not been publicly acknowledged by the White House, and a spokesman for the National Security Council said it could not comment on presidential correspondence. However, a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to discuss the matter publicly, said the Trump administration sent a letter to Persian Gulf Arab allies about two weeks ago.

    Trump has said publicly that gulf allies should do more in the region and not rely on the United States as much as they do. He has also brought up the $7 trillion figure multiple times — saying in February, for example, that the United States has spent “$7 trillion in the Middle East,” which he called “a mistake.”

    The dollar figure is inaccurate: Trump is thought to be referring to a study from Brown University that included future costs not only for the wars in Iraq and Syria but also in Afghanistan and such expenses as veterans’ care for nearly 40 more years.

    • quixote says:

      Christ in a keffiyeh. Rulers like the Saudis, who are basically 3rd-generation mob bosses in a shame-based face-saving culture, always take so well to being told, “Hey. I bought you. Asshole.”

      I’m sure that pile of rotting mashed potatoes doesn’t care that he just gave all-out war in the Middle East a big shove. It’d get Michael Cohen off the front page.

  17. Minkoff Minx says:

    This was a great post B.B. just catching up now.