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Mar 08 2019

The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Actually a pretty good flick, “Written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry. It follows an estranged couple who have erased each other from their memories, then re-met and started dating again.”

Starring Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, and Tom Wilkinson!

My secret.? I’m always angry.

An otherwise blameless life?

The ‘Otherwise Blameless Life’ of Paul Manafort
Franklin Foer, The Atlantic
3/12/19

“He has lived an otherwise blameless life,” said Judge T.S. Ellis, as he sentenced Paul Manafort to just 47 months in prison on Thursday.

In an otherwise blameless life, Paul Manafort lobbied on behalf of the tobacco industry and wangled millions in tax breaks for corporations.

In an otherwise blameless life, he helped the Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos bolster his image in Washington after he assassinated his primary political opponent.

In an otherwise blameless life, he worked to keep arms flowing to the Angolan generalissimo Jonas Savimbi, a monstrous leader bankrolled by the apartheid government in South Africa. While Manafort helped portray his client as an anti-communist “freedom fighter,” Savimbi’s army planted millions of landmines in peasant fields, resulting in 15,000 amputees.

In an otherwise blameless life, Manafort was kicked out of the lobbying firm he co-founded, accused of inflating his expenses and cutting his partners out of deals.

In an otherwise blameless life, he spent a decade as the chief political adviser to a clique of former gangsters in Ukraine. This clique hoped to capture control of the state, so that it could enrich itself with government contracts and privatization agreements. This was a group closely allied with the Kremlin, and Manafort masterminded its rise to power—thereby enabling Ukraine’s slide into Vladimir Putin’s orbit.

In otherwise blameless life, Manafort came to adopt the lifestyle and corrupt practices of his Ukrainian clients as his own.

In otherwise blameless life, he produced a public-relations campaign to convince Washington that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was acting within his democratic rights and duties when he imprisoned his most compelling rival for power.

In an otherwise blameless life, he stood mute as Yanukovych’s police killed 130 protesters in the Maidan.

In an otherwise blameless life, he found himself nearly $20 million in debt to a Russian oligarch, Instead of honestly accounting for the money, he simply stopped responding to the oligarch messages.

In an otherwise blameless life, he tried to use his perch atop the Trump campaign to help salvage his sorry financial situation. He installed one of his proteges as the head of the pro-Trump super-PAC, Rebuilding America. His friend allegedly funnelled $125,000 from the super-PAC to pay off one of Manafort’s nagging debts.

In an otherwise blameless life, Manafort was found guilty of tax evasion on an industrial scale. Rather than paying his fair share to help fund national defense and public health, he kept his cash in Cyprus and wired it home to buy over $1 million in bespoke clothing.

In an otherwise blameless life, he disguised his income as loans, so that he could bamboozle banks into lending him money.

In an otherwise blameless life, he attempted to phone a potential witness in his trial, so that they could align their stories.

In an otherwise blameless life, he systematically lied to Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, after he promised them his full cooperation.

In an otherwise blameless life, he acted with impunity, as if the laws never applied to him. When presented with a chance to show remorse to the court, he couldn’t find that sentiment within his being. And with Ellis’s featherweight punishment, which deviated sharply downward from the sentencing guidelines, Manafort managed to bring his life’s project to a strange completion. He had devoted his career to normalizing corruption in Washington. By the time he was caught, his extraordinary avarice had become so commonplace, that not even a federal judge could blame him for it.

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