Manafort, Papadopoulos, Trump, Kevin Spacey, and Anthony Rapp

I’ve spent today mulling the stories about Manafort, Papadopoulos, Trump, Kevin Spacey, and Anthony Rapp. And as always, I have a few things I want to say.

Paul Manafort Caricature
Paul Manafort Caricature, by DonkeyHotey

Before I get to politics, let me touch upon the latest accusation out of Hollywood, the one about Kevin Spacey.

I’ve noticed that, when it comes to all the sex scandals going on, Progressives focus their entire and venom energy on the predator. Conservatives focus about 75% of their energy on the predator, and the other 25% of their energy wondering where in the Hell the parents were and what in the Hell they were thinking. I thought of that conservative focus when I read Anthony Rapp’s account of how he ended up the sole 14-year-old boy at an adult party rife with alcohol and drugs (emphasis mine):

Rapp said he encountered Spacey again at one of those post-show functions, when a 17-year-old friend from Joliet was visiting him in New York. “And he was like, ‘Hey! Hi! Come join us!'” Rapp said. Spacey then invited both boys to join him at the popular nightclub Limelight, even though, as Rapp explained, “I looked younger than 14.”

“I don’t know how— We got in through the front door,” Rapp continued. “We didn’t have to show ID. And we sat with him in some VIP area.” Rapp noted that he had no memory of being offered alcohol — “It was just a fun night just talking and hanging out,” he said — and at some point, Spacey invited him to attend a party he was hosting a few days later at his Manhattan apartment.

He went, gladly, and alone. Rapp said he honestly cannot recall what he told his mother — who died from cancer in 1997 — about the party, but he stressed that the idea of him attending a party held by an adult Broadway actor did not seem like a cause for concern. “I imagine that I might be opening my poor late mother up to some criticisms for how she parented, but, you know, it was a different era,” he said. “I went to work by myself. I would walk to the subway, and go to the theater by myself.”

When he arrived at Spacey’s apartment, Rapp quickly realized that he was the only nonadult there — which, again, did not worry him, since he so often had found himself in similar situations as a child actor. The bigger issue: “I didn’t know anyone,” he said. “And I was quickly kind of bored.”

Rapp said he ended up wandering into the bedroom, sitting on the edge of the bed, and watching TV well past midnight.

At some point, Rapp said he turned to see Spacey standing at the bedroom door. And that’s when he first realized that everyone else had left the party. They were alone.

“My memory was that I thought, Oh, everybody’s gone. Well, yeah, I should probably go home,” Rapp said. Spacey, he recalled, “sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk.” Rapp doesn’t remember Spacey saying anything to him. Instead, Rapp said, “He picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then he lays down on top of me.”

“He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp said. “I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”

I appreciate Rapp defending his mother by saying it was a different time then, especially because that’s true. Children had much more room to roam before helicopter parenting became a thing. But there is a difference between allowing your 14-year-old to travel on his own from school to work to home, and being so laissez-faire that it’s perfectly okay with you when your adolescent child goes out partying late after a night’s work.

Too many parents in show business seem to be blinded by the money and the celebrity. I don’t think they deliberately abandon their children to the wolves. But I do think they lie to themselves constantly in order to keep the money rolling in and to enjoy their moments on the red carpet.

Regarding Kevin Spacey, I’m on board with everyone else, gay and straight, who had the good sense to say that Spacey doesn’t get to divert attention from probable pedophilia by announcing, “Hey, look, everyone! I’m gay.”

It is interesting, though, that Spacey thought he could capitalize on the modern zeitgeist holding that being gay is a good excuse for most bad behavior. The problem with his particular announcement is that it emphasized the concern many conservatives have, which is that pedophilia is more prevalent in the gay community than it is in the straight. I’m not saying that’s statistically true (and a friend pointed out to me that priests probably molested boys more than girls simply because they spent time with altar and choir boys, rather than with girls). I’m just saying it’s a stereotype and Spacey just fed it.

Spacey, incidentally, also raises a question about parenting. Unlike Rapp, whose parents were not abusive, although they were surprisingly lax and inattentive, it turns out that Spacey’s father was an monstrous American Nazi. And I’m not using “Nazi” in the hyperbolic sense:

Kevin Spacey was brought up by a Nazi father who raped his brother and brutalized his family so badly that they called him The Creature, his older brother exclusively told the


Thomas Geoffrey Fowler was such an abusive figure that, his oldest son admitted, he avoided having children of his own for fear that they would ‘inherit the sexual predator gene.’


At the time of the interview, Fowler described his brother as an ’empty vessel’ who had never had a real relationship with anyone other than his mother.

He said: ‘Neither of us had a chance growing up with two such damaged parents. I went through three marriages and 40 affairs.’

Their father, Thomas Geoffrey Fowler, joined the American Nazi Party when Spacey and his brother were just boys. He trimmed his mustache to resemble Adolf Hitler and he regularly whipped and raped his eldest son, Randall Fowler.


As a boy Spacey tried to placate his father while Fowler took the brunt of their father’s sadistic abuse. Their elder sister, Julie, also endured beatings at her father’s hands and ran away when she was 18 years old.

In his harrowing account Fowler recalled: ‘There was so much darkness in our home it was beyond belief. It was absolutely miserable.’

He said: ‘Kevin tried to avoid what was going on by wrapping himself in an emotional bubble. He became very sly and smart.

‘He was so determined to try to avoid the whippings that he just minded his Ps and Qs until there was nothing inside. He had no feelings.’

Fowler spoke of a rootless childhood during which their father forced his family to move 10 times – from Colorado where he was born in 1956, to New Jersey where Spacey was born three years later and finally onto Los Angeles.

Wherever they were, he and his siblings were ‘trapped’ he said.

The above doesn’t excuse Spacey, who seems to have a long-standing reputation as one of Hollywood’s pedophiles, but it may go some way towards explaining him. Incidentally, Spacey not the pedophile to whom I was referring in my post the other day. I’m still waiting to see if that guy’s name hits the newspapers. I’m pretty sure that we’ll be hearing a lot more about pedophilia in the wake of the Spacey accusation. The dam is broken.

Okay. Enough about Hollywood. It’s time to visit the show on the other coast.

On Facebook, a few of my Progressive friends are trying to claim that the Manafort indictment implicates Donald Trump’s presidential run. It does not. It speaks to matters that came before Trump ran for president. As a last ditch effort, those Progressives who understand that fact, and those among my conservative friends who are NeverTrumpers, are claiming that the Manafort indictment proves what a terrible judge of character Trump is.

I don’t know about that. I think most of us are pretty darned surprised when we learn that a white collar friend or acquaintance was committing white collar crimes. More often than not, in the wake of an arrest, people say, “I just can’t believe it. He seemed like such a nice, stand-up guy.” They don’t say, “I knew it. I knew that his massive success over the last two decades came about because of tax fraud, rather than his business acumen.” Even if they don’t like a person, they still don’t instantly think “tax fraud.”

I’ve seen this play out first hand, because of the partners in my old law firm turned out to be an embezzler. Those who weren’t working directly under him in the chain of command, and who therefore knew about the padded bills, were absolutely shocked when they learned about Gregor’s malfeasance. (Gregor is not the man’s real name; I’m just assigning it to him in honor of this being the year of the Russians). Gregor was charming, sophisticated, intelligent, and beloved by his clients. They had no way of knowing that he padded his bills to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.

Nor was Gregor my only brush with “I can’t believe it” corruption. Twenty years ago or so, in San Francisco Superior Court, everyone was genuinely shocked to learn that a retired probate judge who had worked as a trustee for multiple estates after his retirement was also embezzling big time. The story only broke when this former judge died and his own estate was probated. Even then, while we suddenly heard stories about his drinking and the way he played favorites in court (something all SF Superior Court judges did), the embezzling part was a shock to all who knew him.

The reality is that we don’t look at people and assume they’re embezzlers. It actually speaks to Trump’s honesty that he didn’t know about Manafort’s criminal side. Trump’s not stupid. What Manafort did, though, wasn’t something you can find by looking for a past criminal record or troubles on past jobs. Had there been a way to know about Manafort’s money laundering, Trump would never have tainted his campaign by hiring him. At most, it seems to me that Trump is guilty of naivete, not malfeasance.

So if there’s a smoking gun, it’s got to be found in the Papadopoulos guilty plea, right? Well, even though there’s a little more there, it’s not consequential. As best as I can tell, Papadopoulos’s “crime” is that he was inaccurate in his testimony to the FBI. He claimed to have met with certain people before his single meeting with Trump when, in fact, he met with them afterwards (or vice verse, or maybe verse vice). Regarding his contacts with the Russians — well, yes, he had them, but there’s not any claim that Trump acted on them. Indeed, Trump’s campaign kept rebuffing Papadopoulos’s efforts.

Keep in mind as you read all of the above that there’s no allegation that any of these Russian connections involved manipulating the American election. That claim, so far, is still reserved for Hillary, who not only thought about getting dirt on Trump from the Russians, but actually did so. In that, she’s gone one better than Trump and his son, who were interested in dirt but never actually took serious steps to get any. (And Trump Jr’s meeting, from which he walked away the moment he realized he’d been had, shouldn’t count.)

What we know now is that Trump did not talk with the Russians, Trump did not pay the Russians, and Trump did not use an intermediary to strike a deal with the Russians whereby they engaged in election fraud on his behalf. Moreover, when it comes to the Russians, we know that they spent $100,000 on social media, playing both sides against the middle in order to increase angry partisanship in America. They also tried to hack a voting machine but failed.

Oh, and one more thing: The Obama administration told Trump in April 2016 that the Russians had gotten Hillary’s emails. To which I say so what? It doesn’t change the fact that Trump did not talk with the Russians, Trump did not pay the Russians, and Trump did not use an intermediary to strike a deal with the Russians whereby they engaged in election fraud on his behalf. What Trump did do was to remind the American voters in a joking way that Hillary had treated potentially classified information so cavalierly that the Russians got hold of it. Even though we’re out of the Cold War and not really in a new Cold War or even a lukewarm war with the Russians, Hillary’s carelessness ought to be the issue here, not Trump’s lack of Russian interaction.

The real scandal here is the way the Mueller inquisition is using indictments in order to press an investigation that’s yielded precisely zero in terms of election manipulation, fraud, or other malfeasance. In the Spanish Inquisition, Torquemada would use torture to break people’s bodies and elicit confessions. In the Mueller Inquisition, Mueller uses the threat of total legal destruction to break people’s lives apart and elicit confessions.

The reality is that, when medieval people were on the rack long enough, they’d break and confess to anything, including dancing with the Devil. It’s reasonable to believe that, here, when middle class people are in the criminal justice system long enough, they too will break and confess to anything, including watching Trump enthusiastically urge on hookers peeing on a bed. This is an unconscionable use of our “justice” system.

So far, though, Manafort is fighting back, something I admire. At this point, it would be easy for him to roll and say anything he can think of to bring Trump down in order to get Mueller off his back. But he’s not doing that:

Manafort statement through attorney re Trump

It also seems that, as is the case with Andrew McCarthy, Manafort’s attorney thinks that the indictment is a terrible overreach. That being the case, this indictment reminds of nothing so much as the overkill an Obama prosecutor used to try to destroy Dinesh D’Souza. D’Souza ended up in prison, but came out stronger than ever and more deeply committed to shrinking a government that no longer believes it safeguards citizens’ rights but believes, instead, that it has the unfettered authority to control and destroy people for the benefit of government insiders.

Photo credit: Paul Manafort – Caricature, by DonkeyHotey. Creative Commons; some rights reserved.


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