Can You Imagine A President With Ties To Organized Crime?

Well, yes. JFK. And the Bush family had some extremely shady connections, and — without making this a litany, it’s likely few get into the White House without unsavory associations.

Given this, it’s no shock Donald Trump has connections to the Russian mafia, or as he lovingly refereed to them in 2013, “the oligarchs”.

The president and his companies have been linked to at least 10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering.

Among them:

• A member of the firm that developed the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York is a twice-convicted felon who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia.

•  An investor in the SoHo project was accused by Belgian authorities in 2011 in a $55 million money-laundering scheme.

• Three owners of Trump condos in Florida and Manhattan were accused in federal indictments of belonging to a Russian-American organized crime group and working for a major international crime boss based in Russia.

•  A former mayor from Kazakhstan was accused in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles in 2014 of hiding millions of dollars looted from his city, some of which was spent on three Trump SoHo units.

•  A Ukrainian owner of two Trump condos in Florida was indicted in a money-laundering scheme involving a former prime minister of Ukraine.

We all probably know a few people who have broken the law (whether we know they’ve done this is a different story), but they’re by and large small fish. It’s appalling that Trump is hording so many of the world’s big fish. What about us plebes, Donald? How are we supposed to make connections with shady yet influential and unimaginably wealthy businessmen if you’re taking up so much of their time?

Frankly, I’m jealous. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to make good money. Where’s an alleged crimelord when you need one?

(Year Zero/Day Seventy-One)

Happy Trans Day of Visibility

The transgender community has made some progress in recent years, but there is still a long way to go.  As wonderful as it is to have a day of visibility, knowing that there is a day of the year where all the trans community is asking for is to be seen should be a sign of how much further we all have to go.

Visibility is indeed growing, but the danger of simply existing and being trans at the same time is still very real.  The data might have updated recently, but as of ten years ago the average time between a trans murder was three days.

Laverne Cox, arguably the most visible trans person that isn’t related to a certain “E!” family, has done many interviews and appearances as she’s become more successful.  And as trans rights and visibility grows she makes more appearances in support of her brothers and sisters.  But more than once during an interview she’s basically had to ask either her interviewer or a rival interviewee to stop talking about trans sexy bits.

We’re not there yet, but there is some progress in visibility.  Alex Newell was Unique on Glee.  The aforementioned Cox is both Sophia Burset  on Orange is the New Black and Cameron Wirth in Doubt.  Jamie Clayton is Nomi Marks on Sense8.  There are also a handful of films that have a trans character, some even played by trans actors, so the progress is happening.

To close on an optimistic note I’d like to share a video that GLAAD put together over on their instragram.  “Visibility is a collective thing,” Says Jacob Tobia.  “We’ve gotta support each other.”

No, I Wasn’t Locked Up By The Secret Police

Nor was I assassinated by the GSB, brainwashed by fascists, initiated into the sacred mysteries of a secret society or sent to Intergalactic Space Prison by the Reptilians.

But due to unforeseen health issues (isn’t that usually how it goes?), it may have seemed that way for the last week. Since I am editor-in-chief – or something – of Rise of the Lizard People, everything ground to a halt in my absence. Mea culpa. Mea culpa maxima.

Welcome back, me.

 

Queercore: Movement of the Soul or Movement of the Sole?

Recently, Gucci released a cool new line of shoe wear.  The line is called “Queercore“, borrowing the name from the queer-focused movement that emerged from the punk scene in the early 1980s.  The main theme is totally hot, consisting of a smattering of buckles, chunky charms, lace, and black.  Like a ton of black.

One would assume that Gucci was paying tribute to the movement that inspired the name, and if that was the case then Gucci might deserve a little praise.  The problem with the name is that Gucci’s new shoewear line, while fabulous, used the name without asking anybody.

The name Queercore was first penned by G.B. Jones and Bruce LaBruce and can be traced back to their zine, J.D’s.  According to Jones, the term Queercore was taken without being asked.  “They stole it, plain and simple,” Says Jones.  “It’s theft.”  Shady, Gucci.  Shady indeed.

Ten Fun Facts: The Democratic Party

As we experience the consolidation of power by fascist forces, it’s tempting to want another Obama moment – to believe once again that change is possible, that this country isn’t just a racist, prison-happy exploiter (spoiler alert: it is). But maybe we should give pause to hoping for that liberal electoral savior:

1.The Democrats are just as willing as the Republicans to employ patriotic hysteria to unify their base.

The Marine General John Allen (retired) gave a speech that would be the envy of any nationalist leader, stating “with [Hillary Clinton] as our commander-in-chief, America will continue to lead in this volatile world… Our armed forces will be stronger. They will have the finest weapons and equipment. They will have the support of the American people, and the American military will continue to be THE shining example of America at our very best.”

So this dude is a former commander of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a central player in wars that have been defined by torture chambers like Abu Ghraib prison, terror in the form of “night raids” and random murder of innocent civilians, rape of women, bombs and drone strikes that keep millions of people living in a state of constant fear. Hillary Clinton personally picked Allen to be the speaker that introduced her acceptance speech.

USA, USA! Chant the Republi…I mean Democratic Party.

2. The Democratic Party is Cool with Attacking Non-Believers

Remember Bernie? Remember Debbie Wasserman-Schultz? Yeah, Debbie and the right-wing Dems thought it was cool to attack Bernie for being an atheist. Even though the obvious manipulative behavior of Wasserman-Schultz and other corporate Democrats was exposed, they’ve faced no real accountability from their own party, even while publicly admitting that they chose Clinton long before the primaries had begun. Though Senator Sanders did call for their resignation, we’re still waiting for those resignations at the time of publication.

3. Hillary Clinton and her neoliberal buddies not just voted for the invasion of Iraq, they campaigned for it inside the Democratic Party. Oh yeah – they also supported those messy Bush era policies that led to the atrocities at Abu Ghraib.

4. Institutional Democrats have increasingly become hawkish. I bet you didn’t know imperialism can be intersectional as well! It’s important to note that the institutional Democrats can be every bit as pro-war as the most right-wing zealot.

5. Democratic pundits like Van Jones have and will continue to legitimize Trump. Fuck Van Jones. In case you missed it, Van Jones pointed out that because Trump is capable of demonstrating human emotions he is now a valid president. “He did something tonight that you cannot take away from him. He became president of the United States.” Van (the one time radical leftist turned corporate democrat) now seeks to find common ground with the Trump administration. Let us know how that works out for you, Van.

6. The Democrats have no fucking clue how to fight the fascist coup that has taken place. They have offered some clever opinion pieces, but beyond rhetoric, they’re willing to work with this new president as though he was just another president. Sad.

7. Rachel Maddow’s fun rants and softball interviews with democrats can be entertaining sometimes, but her latest ratings stunt promoting her tax exposing “gotchya!” moment for Trump that turned out to be boring as fuuuuuuuck is not a real strategy for taking down the bloated white guy club that is running the White House.

8. The Democrats, specifically the Clinton’s and the “New Democrats”, are the primary originators of mass incarceration. Think mandatory “three-strikes-you’re-out” laws which resulted in American becoming the largest prison population in the entire world.

9. Chelsea Clinton is getting Variety’s lifetime achievement award for her heroic lifetime work of being a Clinton. Because this is probably a move designed to move her closer to public office, we’re going to assume the Democrats also love political dynasties.

10. Thomas Jefferson was one of the founders of the Democratic Party. He was also was into capturing and enslaving human beings. So progressive and far-sighted! And while not participating in crimes of historic proportions, he also pontificated on the intricacies of miscegenation laws. So that’s creepy.