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Thursday, March 30, 2017

A quick jaunt through apocalyptic times: Calexit and Obama's perfidy

This Maddow segment is one of the most important she has ever broadcast.

For a while now, I've been convinced that the CalExit virus spreading throughout my home state -- a virus that has affected people I know -- is another Putin ploy. Just look at the background of Louis J. Marinelli, the head of the Yes, California movement: He is a Republican Trump supporter who lives in Yekaterinburg, Russia. (At this point, I wouldn't mind a "Yekaterinburg" solution to the world's Putin problem.)
In 2009, Marinelli relocated to Saint Petersburg, Russia where he began working for another private language school as an English teacher and became a student himself at Saint Petersburg State University, the alma mater of Russian presidents Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. Although he initially considered giving up his U.S. citizenship to remain in Russia permanently, citing disillusionment with the United States government and political system, Marinelli came back to live in California in the summer of 2011.
I think you get the picture.

There is an alternative to the Yes, California movement which, I am sorry to say, has received positive exposure from a number of left-wing sites, including Brad Friedman's. It's called the California National Party. They claim to have nothing, nothing, nothing to do with Marinelli, the guy who reeks of vodka and treason.

Oh yeah?
On January 6, 2016, the California Secretary of State's office sent a memorandum to all 58 county Registrar of Voters acknowledging the establishment of the California National Party and asked that each county "track all registrations and inform this office of the number of voters registered with the California National Party for all future reports of registration."[15] Marinelli was subsequently listed on the California Secretary of State's website as the interim chairman of this party.
Again: I think you get the picture.

CNP spokespersons may tell you that they have no current link to Marinelli. So what? That whole line of argument should be immaterial to any thinking person.

The existence of Marinelli's movement proves that Putin wants to dismember the United States while re-assembling the USSR. Thus, we need no further proof that the CNP -- or any other secessionist movement -- is doing Putin's will. Maybe the people running the CNP are witting agents in Putin's employ; maybe they are innocents, acting for reasons of their own. Either way, the end result is the same: They are doing Putin's will. They are giving him what he wants.

And now Nigel Farage is getting into the act. That guy might as well be wearing a Putin t-shirt.
Farage and fellow Brexiteer Arron Banks (together they’re known as “the bad boys of ‘Brexit’”) just returned from a trip to California during which they reportedly raised $1 million for a campaign to set up a “Calexit” style referendum in the state for 2018, according to The Times of London.

Their “Calexit” plan isn’t like the one that’s been in the news since President Donald Trump took over the White House. Farage doesn’t want to see the state break off from the United States entirely as San Diego-based Yes California advocates (with little hope of actually accomplishing it.)

Instead, the Farage plan is to split the state into two new regions, with one being more eastern and rural and one being full of the more liberal, coastal cities.

Here’s a map of what the split could look like.

“It would be portrayed as the Hollywood elites versus the people, breaking up the bad government,” Banks said. “It's the world's sixth largest economy and it's very badly run.”

The Daily Mail reports that it’s actually polling expert Gerry Gunster and Republican Scott Baugh, a former member of the California state assembly, who are behind the concept.
If Farage gets his way, not only will California secede from the union, it will be split in twain, thereby reducing further any potential threat to a resurgent -- and fascist -- Russia.

Always keep in mind that Putin, the king of the kleptocrats, has nearly unlimited wealth. 

Did Obama screw over Hillary Clinton? Looks like he did, and not for the first time.

My interpretation of this important story owes much to my unhappy memories of the 2008 campaign (a bloody shirt I will never tire of waving).
FBI Director James Comey attempted to go public as early as the summer of 2016 with information on Russia’s campaign to influence the U.S. presidential election, but Obama administration officials blocked him from doing so, two sources with knowledge of the matter tell Newsweek.

Well before the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence accused the Russian government of tampering with the U.S. election in an October 7 statement, Comey pitched the idea of writing an op-ed about the Russian campaign during a meeting in the White House’s situation room in June or July.

“He had a draft of it or an outline. He held up a piece of paper in a meeting and said, ‘I want to go forward, what do people think of this?’” says a source with knowledge of the meeting, which included Secretary of State John Kerry, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson and the national security adviser Susan Rice.

The other national security officials didn’t like the idea, and White House officials thought the announcement should be a coordinated message backed by multiple agencies, the source says. “An op-ed doesn’t have the same stature, it comes from one person.”

The op-ed would not have mentioned whether the FBI was investigating Donald Trump’s campaign workers or others close to him for links to the Russians’ interference in the election, a second source with knowledge of the request tells Newsweek. Comey would likely have tried to publish the op-ed in The New York Times, and it would have included much of the same information as the bombshell declassified intelligence report released January 6, which said Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to influence the presidential election, the source said.
From this, we may fairly posit that Comey must have had a similar meeting in the White House before he announced the existence of those duplicate emails on the Weiner/Abedin laptop. That pseudoscandal handed the election to Trump.

Team Trump told the nation that a vote for Hillary was unthinkable because she was under FBI investigation. We now know that Trump himself was under FBI investigation for something much, much more disturbing. The Trump/Putin link is an infinitely more serious matter than was a Clinton aide's improper handling of a "classified" but inconsequential email about the new president of Malawi.

Obama made sure that the FBI's investigation of Trump was kept secret while the FBI's investigation of Hillary was out in the open. Liberals are refusing to acknowledge the implications of this Newsweek story. Lefties will quickly toss mud at Comey, at Kerry, at Rice -- at anyone other than St. Barack Obama.

Yet if this new report is accurate, Obama was the one who made the call to keep Comey muzzled on Trump and un-muzzled on Hillary. The former president's actions can only be described as perfidious.

Yeah. All of sudden, I can recall very vividly why I felt such passion during the 2008 campaign.

Newsweek doesn't tell you the full story: As Paul Wood points out, Comey was -- at this same time -- taking the Orbis dossier (often called the Steele dossier) very seriously. He must have been discussing the Steele allegations with Obama, Kerry and Rice.
The roadmap for the investigation, publicly acknowledged now for the first time, comes from Christopher Steele, once of Britain's secret intelligence service MI6.

He wrote a series of reports for political opponents of Donald Trump about Trump and Russia.

Steele's "dossier", as the material came to be known, contains a number of highly contested claims.

At one point he wrote: "A leading Russian diplomat, Mikhail KULAGIN, had been withdrawn from Washington at short notice because Moscow feared his heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation… would be exposed in the media there."

There was no diplomat called Kulagin in the Russian embassy; there was a Kalugin.
Yes, yes, yes: There are a couple of misspellings in the dossier. So what? It was not intended for public consumption. By contrast, Trump's "tapp" tweet was meant for public eyes. Misspelling Kalugin is a lot more understandable than misspelling the word tap.
But sources I know and trust have told me the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy.

It is not clear if the American intelligence agencies already believed this when they got Steele's report on the "diplomat", as early as May 2016.

But it is a judgment they made using their own methods, outside the dossier.

A retired member of a US intelligence agency told me that Kalugin was being kept under surveillance before he left the US.
Once more, the Steele report is verified.
But last June, Steele began sending pages of what would later be called his dossier.

In light of his earlier work, the US intelligence community saw him as "credible" (their highest praise).

The FBI thought the same; they had worked with Steele going back to his days in MI6.

He flew to Rome in August to talk to the FBI.

Then in early October, he came to the US and was extensively debriefed by them, over a week.

He gave the FBI the names of some of his informants, the so-called "key" to the dossier.
If we conflate the Newsweek story with Paul Wood's piece, what do we get? A scenario in which Barack Obama deliberately prevented Comey from publicizing what the Bureau had on Trump -- including the claims made in the dossier.

Steele himself expected his report to sway the election. He became angry at the FBI when they did nothing with his work. He should have directed his anger at the man running the show.

Obama really is a bad or sick guy. He elected Trump.
What would be his motive? I attribute his reluctance to his knowing how media would handle it. Even with multiple sources the fact that he had anything to do with releasing that story would have created a firestorm and would have done more harm to Hillary in the end. Remember, anything Obama or Clinton did was bad. Anything Sanders or Rethuglicans did was great because they bashed Obama and Clinton. I think Obama handled a bad situation correctly considering the media dynamics and Hillary hate.
um, whoa. [and, an aside: will the public at large PLEASE spell this word correctly?? there is no such word as woah!!! thank u]

where was i? oh yeah. whoa. but first, thx for all the exit stuff; could not agree more. just curious; given how mensch effused over brexit during maher's show, how's your crush doing with that?

now, to your final matters here, your assessment of the comey offer to write an op-ed on the russian dossier stuff being obama's fault and proof he tanked hillary. again. first of all, comey presented this offer to a broad group of folks, nsa and justice and state and the whole shebang weighing in. the decision on all that was that an op-ed was not appropriate because it was just one guy with an opinion, on a topic that was not large in the public mind. that response makes sense to me; you have to consider what will happen to your actions and statements before you take/make them. in contrast, comey's statements on clinton's emails were following up on ongoing investigations since before the campaign.

now mind you, i found the timing of his clinton statements scary and questionable, but given the apparent rampant infighting and trump faction pressures within the agency, i can see where he wanted to ward off any leaks by loose cannons. he was damned if he said anything, and damned if he remained silent. (plus, marcy wheeler shared a compelling analysis of the timing of that second statement re: weiner's laptop, and found the drop in support for hillary started at the point the news of skyrocketing obamacare premiums came out. which, interestingly, had been cleverly timed to kick in at that moment by the risk-corridor provision rubio snuck in a spending bill at the end of 2015.)

not that comey's decision to go public with clinton stuff was a-ok; evidently lynch objected, which i assume suggests obama did too. comey's agenda appears to me to be more elliott ness than anything else, which is of course grandiose, but if that's his hero and model, more power to him. from all accounts, he's so hell-bent on being squeaky clean he's not likely to last much longer due to his trump/russia investigation. we'll see.

but your perspective that obama had some agenda to tank hillary's campaign? there's frankly too much evidence to the contrary. and why would he do that?? and you think that this meeting's outcome is proof positive that obama alone pulled that plug? sorry; that's just a leap too far, good buddy. maybe time to launder that bloody shirt? just a thought.
I too won't forget '08, and I wrote in Hillary, but what would be his motivation for something like that? I can't see it.
Can't disagree with you. It looks like there was a fair amount of intelligence that had been gathered on Herr Drumpf of which Obama was aware and did nothing. That's taking Hillary hatred to the next level

this _exit thang is quickly becoming a hot topic:
I always suspected that. He wasn't convincing even when he was campaigning for her. Screw me once shame on know the rest.
He also did not push through a Supreme Court choice. We all knew he's an ass. Well, I mean, those of us who knew. High road? Please.
Anon 9:34 -- I apologize for misspelling "whoa" for many years, but when one is surrounded by error, one becomes suffused by it. I feel that the Democrats were surrounded and suffused by error in 2008, when Obama-mania supplanted reason. The wounds inflicted then were deep; the blood stains cannot be washed out.

When all is said and done, if Obama wanted Comey to write his piece on Trump, it would have been written. The stop sign was in Obama's hand. We can argue about the role played by the Weiner computer revelation -- I go back and forth in my own mind on that point -- but I believe that Comey would have said nothing unless Obama had held up a "GO" sign.

"and why would he do that??"

I'm not entirely sure, but I know that the intelligence community did not like Bill Clinton. The same community must have feared a Hillary presidency: The smear campaign against her over the years went far beyond the confines of the right-wing media. You should read about the CIA smear campaign against Allende in Chile. Same thing happened to Hillary.

Yes, I still think that Obama and his mother were CIA. I confess that can't prove it. But back in 2008 I amassed enough evidence, over a series of posts, to lift that seemingly-absurd theory out of the realm of Alex Jonesian absurdity. Or so I like to think.

Today, my operative mega-theory is that many within the intelligence community detested Hillary so thoroughly (for whatever reason) that they preferred a Trump win followed by a quick Trump impeachment. Again: I cannot offer proof, and I freely admit that I could be wrong. All I can do is sit back, observe, gather evidence, and hope to see my "mega-theory" either borne out or disproven.

The "spooks against Trump" movement on Twitter fits in with my mega-theory. Smitten as I am with Ms. Mensch, she does not disconfirm my narrative.
I'm dubious of any Obama conspiracy. If he wanted to sabotage Hillary, he wouldn't have asked leaders of Congress to join him in telling the public about Russian interference to give it bipartisan support. He wouldn't have authorized the IC to release their statement on October 7th saying there was Russian interference. He would've told Loretta Lynch not to warn Comey about releasing his letter.

And if Comey is the good guy stifled by Obama, how do you explain the below story? When the IC released its statement on Russian interference, Comey decided not to include the FBI because he thought it was too close to the election. It makes no sense for Obama to authorize everyone except the FBI to release this if he was trying to sabotage Clinton.

The Newsweek story looks like Comey trying repair his damaged reputation by creating a narrative that says he was trying to do the right thing but was stopped by everyone around him. But the currently available public facts do not back that story up.
joe, anon 9:34 here. first off, honestly did not direct that whoa thang in your direction! that was just from the fact i was using the term, properly spelled, and i had to barf that out. and yeah, terms - like myths - and even pronunciations and spellings get shifted with use, decree, and, well, a combo of these two. think cotillion spanish.

as for the rest, i remain unconvinced. plenty of reservations about obama to go around, but none in my mind that dovetail with your spy story. don't think i read all your posts on the matter, but not one of the points i've seen was compelling enough to stitch them together. but, more largely than that, the reservations i have about obama are then inflated in HRC; in other words, he did the drones, where she wanted to no-fly zone syria. he resisted action in libya, and she pushed (with a bad outcome). he resisted netanyahu and she practically licked his toes at the aipac conference last spring. given all this, your position that the IC was against her is pretty hard to square. these very points about her positions as SOS i held strongly against her this time around.

i could go on, but please know, i ended up voting for her, and for obama before that, with all my reservations on both sides. that said, russia has been more afraid of her more bellicose stance, explaining not so much putin's agenda as his strategy; his agenda is pretty transparent. but i'm not so sure bellicose is our best attitude; on this count, i highly favor obama's tendency toward calm and careful in the face of conflict. and another c word in there describes him: caution. as a black man, he spent his entire presidency having to play uncle tom to the public, wooing for their approval at every turn. the uncle tom offered before negotiations started, virtually never asserting himself emotionally. he was actively campaigning for hillary, so any anti-trump position from the supposedly neutral IC would be taken out to the shed and summarily lynched. he knew that; he's been watching it all his life, but especially the past 9 years.

back to the points at hand here and now, that obama would nix this very risky and questionable (in terms of predictable outcome) offer of comey's to pen an op-ed is entirely consistent with his historical behavior and manner. the notion that this somehow supports the idea he wanted her to lose is, to my mind, stretching it, to put it mildly. if that was obama's agenda, he had plenty other ways to get to that goal, none of which he appears to have tried. and it's still not at all clear why he would want that goal. hillary when compared to trump? predictably watch all his legacy shot to hell? and with the history between those two guys? i mean, c'mon; this is where the logic just goes poof.

you might want to ponder mensch's response to squaring her love for brexit with her disdain for trump; just because they both might like dogs (trump doesn't, but let's say bread instead), does not make for a conspiratorial connection. the fbi hated king too, and jfk, and rfk. and, i've long suspected, obama. all those wonky dems who want some form of oversight.

as for your bloodied shirt, that it remains so is your choice. but the chinese have a saying for that kind of bitterness: dig two graves.
If you favor a world where Clintons cannot destroy Serbia with neocons assistance and Bushes cannot destroy Iraq with Clintons neolibs assistance, you vote for Trump and hope his impulses against Russophobia and globalism lead to a multipolar world...or that his inconsistencies and lack of talent lead to chaos with the same result.

Those whose vote went to Clinton, assuming their best intentions and I don't, but for the sake of charity....they were taking the cowardly way out, Sarandon was right.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Devin's Gate

A couple of days ago, Devin Nunes dismissed Democratic calls for him to recuse himself. He said that the Democrats oppose him because he is so "effective." If he were an effective investigator of Donald Trump, no-one would object to his work. Instead, he has been -- almost by his own admission -- an effective Trump protector.

Astonishingly, even National Review is asking Devin Nunes to step down.
Nunes isn’t Donald Trump’s lawyer. He’s not Trump’s spokesperson. It’s not his job to clean up Trump’s Twitter mess. The House Intelligence Committee faces the challenge of conducting an investigation that has at least some degree of bipartisan credibility. It’s not “success” for Nunes to produce a report that plays great on Fox News while his Democratic counterpart, Adam Schiff, writes a dissenting document for Rachel Maddow.
That paragraph is the best thing to come out of the National Review since they stopped publishing John Simon's hilariously bitchy film criticism. (Simon is still writing: "One morning, Lord Byron woke up and found himself famous. One more recent morning, we awoke and found ourselves infamous: Donald J. Trump had been elected President. Only an atom bomb would be a worse alarm clock.")

I have a few points to make about the Nunes sub-scandal -- call it "Devin's Gate" -- that no-one else seems eager to make. But before we get to all of that, we must talk about Louise Mensch, on whom I've been crushing for a while now.

She noticed me! At least, she seems to have noticed something I wrote.

(Nobody call me: I want to keep the line free. Yes, I know: Play it cool; don't seem too anxious. Should I buy Tic-Tacs, or has the Groper-in-Chief spoiled that move for all time?)

In this piece on Boris Ephsteyn, she writes:
I cannot confirm whether Mr. Epshteyn is, as has been speculated about, ‘Source E’ in the Steele dossier, but he fits the description given of that source. What I can report is that sources stated Epshteyn was named to the FISA court in July as a target, but – and I re-emphasize this point – that application was denied by the court.
These words made my heart go all a-flutter, and not just because the speculation started here, in a piece written by Modesty Forbids. In her twitter feed, Mensch has hinted that Christopher Steele -- the former MI6 agent who compiled the Orbis dossier -- recorded conversations with his sources. If my "Ephsteyn = E" argument was wide of the mark, Mensch probably would have said so.

I suspect, but cannot prove, that she has heard those recordings. Call it a gut instinct. Even if she hasn't, she seems to be on friendly terms with Steele.

(Seth Abramson also says that Ephsteyn is Source E -- a conclusion he reached two-and-a-half months after I did. Since I do not have a crush on Seth Abramson, I will simply give you this link and leave it at that.)

Mensch notes that in TV interviews, Devin Nunes said that "only one person" working in the White House was still under intelligence surveillance. That person, in all likelihood, was Ephsteyn. Why did Nunes make that cryptic remark during a televised interview? His comment offered a signal to that "one person": Escape while you can. Ephsteyn vamoosed just a short while later.

In a follow-up article, Mensch looks at the White House contact who led Nunes unto that sooper-seekrit SCIF in the Executive Office Building, where the House Intel Chair saw computer files of intercepted communications. Everyone has been wondering: Just who was the contact person?

Louise Mensch has an idea:
...I can exclusively report that sources with links to Congress state that staffers working on the Russia investigations believe that lawyers connected to the White House are illegally sharing information with Nunes – and illegally pressing him to leak it.

While sources are not yet definite as to which lawyer or lawyers they suspect of repeatedly breaking the law on leaks and obstruction of justice, several have named Michael Ellis, of the White House General Counsel’s office for National Security, as one they suspect.

Mr. Ellis previous job was the General Counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, working for Mr. Nunes directly. Sources indicate that Nunes recommended Ellis for the White House national security post.

Yesterday it was reported that Nunes’ friend Mr. Ellis, described as his “close aide”, only started working for the White House this month, when leaks started.

If indeed Mr. Ellis did pass on information about the FISA evidence on money laundering, possibly involving Epshteyn, to Nunes, asking him to leak it to the press or allowing him to do so, it would be highly illegal conduct.
Michael Isikoff has gone down the same investigative trail...
The Schiff statement came as panel staffers speculated on the possible identity of Nunes’ White House source, focusing on Michael Ellis, a lawyer who worked for Nunes on the intelligence panel and who was recently hired to work on national security matters at the White House counsel’s office. A White House official and spokesman for Nunes declined to comment on whether Ellis was involved in providing information to Nunes, as did a spokesman for Schiff.
Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker notes that Nunes refuses to confirm or deny that identification.
This interview with Nunes contains the only clues he has given as to the source's identity:
"We don't have networked access to these kinds of reports in Congress," Nunes said. He added that his source was not a White House staffer and was an intelligence official.

Nunes, it should be said, has a history of cultivating independent sources inside the intelligence community. He made contact, for example, with the U.S. intelligence contractors who ended up saving most of the Americans stuck in the Benghazi outpost when it was attacked on Sept. 11, 2012. More recently, Nunes has reached out to his network of whistleblowers to learn about pressure inside the military's Central Command on analysts to write positive reports on the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State.
If Ellis is the guy, doesn't a White House counsel count as a White House staffer? Nunes says that his source is an intelligence official, not a lawyer working on national security matters. Just who is Michael Ellis?

I'll tell you this much: He's no easy google. This official announcement of new Trump administration hires aroused my interest; although the actual page has gone all 404 on us, we still have the Google cache version.
Most recently, Mr. Ellis served as General Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence... Earlier in his career, Mr. Ellis served as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives. Mr. Ellis is also an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve.
If Ellis really is the man, then the problem facing us today isn't just Putin. The problem is also our own covert realm. In the past, I have argued that the most eldritch secret of Trump's ascension is not the help he received from Russia but the help he got from our own intelligence community. That community is not monolithic. There are factions. There are always factions.

(And I say that as the very first writer to argue in public that Putin was rigging the election for Trump.)

Spy scandals always come in layers, and spies manipulate their media assets to make sure that we don't get to the deepest layers. It's not enough to prove Dreyfuss innocent: You must also prove Esterhazy guilty. It's not enough to prove that Nixon orchestrated a cover-up; you must also ask why McCord intentionally blew the break-in. It's not enough to prove that Oswald didn't fire the kill shot; you must also show that Jim Angleton got on the phone and said "Boris, I have a job for you."

As we ponder the question of "What makes Devin run?" we have to ask questions that few seem interested in pursuing: How did a feck-impaired former dairyman end up heading the House Intelligence Committee? Why did sources in Spyworld glom onto him even before he received his current assignment?

The "spooks against Trump" brigade won't tell you that the CIA has been manipulating the House and Senate Intelligence Committees from the beginning.

From an earlier post:
You may recall the evidence that came out earlier that the NSA has been spying on members of Congress. Russell Tice:
Okay. They went after–and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things–they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial.
Remember the Duke Cunningham bribery scandal? Remember the really juicy stuff that came out toward the end -- the revelations about former CIA Director Porter Goss and the parties at the Watergate and the Westin, about the prostitutes used to collect what we now call "kompromat" on politicians?

Devin Nunes entered Congress while Porter Goss and Dusty Foggo were still holding those "poker parties." As LBJ once said: "I never trust a man until I got his pecker in my pocket." Perhaps the dairyman's pecker was pocketed back then.

Or perhaps the pocketing happened years later -- for example, on a yacht in San Francisco Bay.

My dear Louise Mensch: I hope that by some chance you are reading this message. I confess to being smitten, but I can never be an uncritical admirer. (Of anyone.) (Except her.) You've mentioned Cambridge Analytica, and you've noted their connection to Breitbart, but you won't talk about that firm's ties to the British and American intelligence systems. You've offered an interesting theory as to how Steve Bannon came to power -- the same idea popped into my own cranium -- but you won't talk about the hidden history of Breitbart's links to Aaron Barr, H.B. Gary, Mantech, and MZM -- which brings us, by a commodius vicus of recirculation, back to the Cunningham scandal and environs.

Yeah, Russia is important. The Russia connection will, I hope, bring down Trump.

But that's not the deepest layer. You begin to explore the deepest layer when you ask: Which people within our own intelligence community wanted to make Trump president? And why?
I suppose Mensch can trust you, then.
"My dear Louise Mensch: I hope that by some chance you are reading this message." It would appear that you beg the quest, son.
So, like, it's all over for Syrian Girl??
Syrian Girl broke my heart. Gamergate. Alex Jones. David Duke, fer chrissakes. When she used the term "cuckservative" unironically, it was the final straw. She's just another Alt Right Duginist pretending to be the modern Joan of Arc.

I hope the former Ms. Bagshawe doesn't disappoint me in a similar fashion.

My real-world ladyfriend hasn't complained about my various media crushes. It's not as though I complained when she was mooning over that Cumberbatch fellow.
I must have missed this linked piece on Bernadette. My belated bravo on your magisterial essay, for both style and points made. Just superb.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Donald Trump is beyond left and right

The headline deserves expansion: Although Trump himself is locatable on the far, far right, opposition to him includes both left and right. As a result, bedfellows have never been stranger. Examples follow.

USA Today is generally considered a center-right publication -- one not known for its in-depth investigative reporting. Yet this piece is a blockbuster, even though some of the material is familiar:
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 partner in 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.

Trump's Russian connections are of heightened interest because of an FBI investigation into possible collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and Russian operatives to interfere in last fall's election. What’s more, Trump and his companies have had business dealings with Russians that go back decades, raising questions about whether his policies would be influenced by business considerations.

Trump told reporters in February: "I have no dealings with Russia. I have no deals that could happen in Russia, because we’ve stayed away. And I have no loans with Russia. I have no loans with Russia at all."

Yet in 2013, after Trump addressed potential investors in Moscow, he bragged to Real Estate Weekly about his access to Russia's rich and powerful. “I have a great relationship with many Russians, and almost all of the oligarchs were in the room,” Trump said, referring to Russians who made fortunes when former Soviet state enterprises were sold to private investors.
Of course, much of this fruit was ripe for the plucking during the actual campaign. Instead, the media wasted time on nonsense allegations about the (entirely laudable) Clinton Foundation and Hillary's private email server (which was completely mis-reported).


Congressman Walter Jones, a Republican from North Carolina, has asked Devin Nunes to step down from the Trump investigation. I believe that Jones is the first Republican to do so.
"How can you be chairman of a major committee and do all these things behind the scenes and keep your credibility? You can't keep your credibility," Jones said just off the House floor.

Former CIA Director John McLaughlin
says that Russia did intervene in our election on behalf of Trump, and that this project was Russia's "most effective covert operation in decades." Is he saying that there was an even more effective covert operation twenty or thirty years ago? When? Where? What? How can such a thing even be possible?

McLaughlin offered an interesting reaction to some of the claims heard concerning the Nunes affair:
"He could have gotten this access on Capitol Hill, actually. We don't know who provided it. There is an intelligence staff at the national security council usually headed by an intelligence officer who's been detailed there. Sheer speculation that it could have been that person, it could have been someone who traveled down to the complex to meet with him. We just don't know that."
Many talking heads on teevee have said that Capitol Hill did not have the proper facilities. McLaughlin says otherwise, and he should know.

With all due respect to "The Magician," the idea that Nunes was invited to this strange meeting by that one lowly intelligence officer strikes me as faintly ridiculous. Do you really think that a surprise text message from that guy could make Nunes leap out of his Uber ride? Could that guy arrange access without the knowledge of anyone else in the White House? Not likely.

The most important take-away from this affair is that it proves a point I've been making for a long, long time: There is a pro-Trump faction within our intelligence community. Putin helped Trump get where he is, but so did our own spooks. You won't hear that should-be-obvious point made by the "spooks against Trump" on Twitter.

As I keep telling the world, Breitbart has been a very "spooky" outfit for a long, long time. Maybe if I repeat those words long enough, people will start to look at the evidence.

I can't cite chapter and verse at the moment, but I've seen commentary on cable news indicating that Nunes has been dealing with (manipulated by?) his own intelligence contacts for years -- well before he became the head of the intel committee. Thus, it is fair to posit that the "Breitbart" faction within the intelligence community recruited Devin Nunes a long time ago.

Or perhaps they acquired kompromat on him...?


Dick Cheney. Good lord, whoever thought we'd live long enough to see Dick Goddamn Cheney say something that makes perfect sense to liberals?
"There was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic, fundamental democratic processes," Cheney said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "In some quarters that would be considered an act of war."
THANK YOU, Mr. Vice President. Mind you, this doesn't mean that we've forgiven, y'know, that whole Iraq war thing...

Slowly, surely, Republicans are turning against Antipresident Trump. When will Ryan crack? 

And on the other side: On the left-wing Consortium site -- which I've lauded in many previous posts -- Ray McGovern and Bill Binney offer up excuses for Donald Trump and Devin Nunes

I just want the world to make sense again.
cheney's concerns are raised when US supremacy - and thus his own money interests - are threatened.

as for the the mcgovern input, it sure seems he's the one making a red herring of wiretapping. i mean, to claim that someone revealed to nunes that everyone is surveilled just begs credulity; we all know - and nunes is not so dumb he's any exception - what snowden exposed years ago. that is simply no news snewz.

my sense of mcgovern has been mixed; he often questions the most questionable in these IC roles, but it's hard to sense where his allegiances truly lie. most often it appears it's with the IC source he most recently relied on.
wrt mclaughlin's comment on the 'most successful covert russian operation in decades,' the missile crisis comes to mind. they set up all those missiles in cuba pointing right at us, right at our doorstep, under our noses. opportunistic, diabolical, and exceedingly dangerous, all true. but still, mighty slick.

which should alert us to the likelihood they're in the midst of something even more destructive as we fret.
What are we to make of the pro-Trump "spook" faction? I have no doubt it exists, but it seems like they can't exert enough influence to stop the investigations. If they had real power, I'd think the story wouldn't have gotten this far already. Seems like all they can do is delay and obfuscate which won't be enough.
"One not known for its in-depth investigative reporting"

USA Today - the newspaper for people who find television too difficult.
The problem with Cheney's comment is its implication: the only proportionate response to an act of war is, well, war. That's what the term "act of war" means. Is he seriously suggesting the US go to war with Russia over thus far unproven allegations made by anonymous sources?
Cheney's support for the Russian interference in the election story makes me question its validity. Just a reflexive reaction. What does he gain by pushing this? I suspect he's on of those Republicans (well, neo-cons) that wants Pence as President. I don't think that would be a good thing, but I suppose at least we'd have someone who could assemble a decent sentence and who probably has the intelligence and desire to understand what the job of President entails. But if it means war with Russia, I'd say that is the one area where I'd rather have Trump. Of course, Trump really isn't lessening tensions with Russia like he said he would do. Also, only Dick Cheney could make me feel like maybe Trump isn't so bad, when he clearly is. I just wonder if getting Pence in was the plan all along, with Trump just acting as cover to make the Republicans seem reasonable in comparison. Nobody else could have done that.
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Oh my GOD! They "double bubbled" Devin Nunes!

Oh. My. God.

I never expected this -- and yet it makes a lot of sense.

After all, Devin Nunes is a former dairy farmer heading up the House intelligence community. The poor guy is in way over his head. He seems to have fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book.

The fun started the day before Nunes made his instantly-infamous press conference, when (says the Daily Beast) he got a sooper-seekrit text message while riding around in an Uber with a chief aide. Nunes suddenly left the car and, we now know, popped on over to the White House -- or rather, another building technically located on White House grounds. There, someone ushered him into a special sooper-seekrit room where he was plopped in front of a computer and allowed to look at sooper-seekrit classified documents.
Nunes went to the building because he needed a secure area to view the information, he told CNN. He said he didn't believe the President nor any of his West Wing team were aware he was there, and the White House said Monday it learned of Nunes' visit through media reports and directed any questions to the congressman.

A former government intelligence official told CNN on Monday that members of Congress, like the general public, must be cleared and escorted into facilities on White House grounds.

"Every non-White House staffer must be cleared in by a current White House staffer," the official said. "So it's just not possible that the White House was unaware or uninvolved."
Nunes said he was there for additional meetings "to confirm what I already knew" but said he wouldn't comment further so as to not "compromise sources and methods." A spokesman for Nunes said he "met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source."

A government official said Nunes was seen Tuesday night at the National Security Council offices of the Eisenhower building which, other than the White House Situation Room, is the main area on the complex to view classified information in a secure room.

The official said Nunes arrived and left alone.
What a rube. What a rube.

Although, to be fair, the idea of the White House pulling this trick on a sitting congressman is quite unusual. Perhaps unprecedented. Usually, spooks use this ploy on journalists -- if the journalists are really, really naive.

The Brits used to call this gambit the double bubble. The CIA has another name for it which I've run into in the course of my readings, but which I've forgotten. (Perhaps a reader can refresh my memory.) Basically, it's the old "You may look, but you may not copy" trick, in which the mark is granted rare access to an impressively secret and secure room where he is allowed to look at classified documents. Sort of like that scene in Citizen Kane, Donald Trump's favorite movie.

Are the documents real? Or are they a cunning mixture of real and fake?

The mark doesn't know. He presumes that they are real because he's caught up in a James Bond fantasy world. It's all so sooper-seekrit, and he is just soooooooo special because these bigwigs trust him and him alone with all of this sooper-seekrit classified material.

"I'm in on it! Nobody else. Just ME! I must be really important because they chose ME!"

The double bubble proved very effective in the 1970s, when it was used on American journalists covering "the troubles" in Northern Ireland. The marks were allowed to see sooper-seekrit documents which "proved" that the IRA was funded by the USSR. This was not the case: In reality, the IRA received much of its funding from Irish-Americans, who would not have donated if they believed that the IRA was a Soviet front organization.

That's why selected American journalists were led into a very secure compound controlled by the British Army and left alone with documents that seemed very real. You may look, they were told, but you may not copy.

The trick worked. The disinformation about the IRA spread throughout the world.

Are you old enough to recall when imprisoned IRA fighter Bobby Sands went on a hunger strike back in 1981? I am. When I told my friends that I admired the guy, one of my college pals -- and we're talking about a rather left-wing guy -- became furious with me. "Don't you know that the IRA is a front for the Soviet Union?"

The double bubble has been tried on many other occasions; turn here for a tale involving British journalist Con Coughlin. For reasons which no outsider can fathom, it has been used to spread some very strange rumors. As in: STRANGE.

The weirdest occurrence was in 1988, when a gullible newswoman named Linda Moulton Howe was invited into Kirtland Air Force Base and allowed to read (without copying) a document about aliens, allegedly produced in the 1950s to brief Ike. It was all pure bullshit, of course. If the Air Force really wanted to reveal that kind of secret, they would have chosen someone more important than Linda Moulton Howe.

The obvious question: Why did they bullshit her? That's the mystery a lot of people are still trying to answer.

A lot of people -- but not me. At least not here and now. I don't want this blog to be associated with all of that silliness, so I beg readers not to fill the comments section with their own ideas as to why Howe was hornswoggled. I'll say only that I do not believe in aliens -- and if you believe otherwise, feel free to argue your case somewhere else. It's a big damn internet and this is just one small blog. I mention the Howe case in this context only because it offers such a perfect demonstration of how the double bubble works.

(If you want to do further research, check out a book called Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington.)

Linda Moulton Howe is still working, bless her heart; I heard her voice the last time I caught a bit of the George Snore-y show, some years ago. I wonder what she thought when she heard the latest news about Congressman Devin Nunes? I imagine that she smiled, nodded, and thought: "Welcome to the club, fella. Same thing happened to me."

So: Those documents that Devin saw. Real or fake? Think about it: If they were totally real, they would have been shared with the rest of the committee, or at least with the leadership. But they probably were not completely bogus. Good disinformation mixes genuine stuff in with the horsecrap.

Louise Mensch has her own views as to what the "genuine stuff" might be. See here. In a coming post, I may deal at greater length with what she has to say.

(Has Louise Mensch herself been double bubbled? I wouldn't doubt it. She is mixed up with spooks whom she trusts completely. Her chick-lit books must have offered a wealth of material to the MI6 or MI5 agent tasked with writing up her psychological profile -- and you know damned well that there is such a profile, because the spooks profile everyone. All of her sexual fantasies and personal issues are right out there for anyone to see. It would be very easy for the right sort of "alpha male" to manipulate her.)

(Nevertheless, my crush on her remains as profound as ever.)

Getting back to dairyman Devin: I suspect that he was brought into that sooper-seekrit room because the Trumpers sized him up as naive and easily manipulated. Sort of a male version of Linda Moulton Howe.

In the past, one purpose of the double bubble was to expose the fake information as fake and thereby discredit the mark, who has no way to prove that he saw what he saw. The public tends to blame the messenger, as long as the tricksters retain plausible deniability. (That's why it's called a double bubble.)

However, I don't think that this scenario explains the strange case of Devin Nunes. Something else is going on, although I'm not sure what that "something" is. It may be that Donald Trump simply wanted a news cycle in which he could claim vindication, even a partial vindication. Remember, he's playing to an audience of "redpilled" repugnants who live within an alternative news universe.

It must also be understood that Nunes was told about those documents long before he was allowed to see them. 
Look, it's been pretty obvious that he got this information from the White House since Trump himself telegraphed over a week ago that "something" was coming:
Trump told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that despite all the denials from every institution and person in a position to know, “You’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.”
He always tips his hand. He can't help himself.
Trump's "wink and nudge" act is one of the reasons why I was convinced all along that Trump was going to gin up evidence against Obama. This may still happen. The tabloids (which always offer a fascinating view of the reality that the Trumpers want us to accept) keep telling us that Obama and Hillary are going to be tried and convicted. When -- if -- Trump solidifies power, he may be in a position to convene Kangaroo Court.

By the way: This interview with Nunes proves what I've been saying all along: There is a pro-Trump faction within our intelligence community. The "spooks-vs-Trump" narrative that has been shoved down our throats is simplistic at best and deceptive at worst.

On an unrelated note: A reader named Paul privately sent me a note which explained the "Google" oddity mentioned in the post below. Apparently, the phrase "the one identifying Boris Epshteyn as "Source E"" was contained in another post linking to the story in question. Until now, I did not know that Google worked that way. Please forgive my ignorance. Live an' lurn an' shit!
"A lie, Mr. Mulder, is best told between two truths"
- deep throat, season 1 "x-files"
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Can you explain this Google oddity?

Here's an oddity. A few minutes ago, I googled epshteyn "source e" to see who else favored the same theory which I had publicized in January. Here's the result (and yes, I know that I slightly misspelled the man's name):

I expected to see an entry pointing to my original post. But the title of that post is "Watersportsgate: Did Trump's inauguration czar "leak" Donnie's dirty secret?" Not: "the one identifying Boris Epshteyn as "Source E" - Cannonfire - blogger"

At no point did I ever type those words. That is, I never typed those words before composing this post.

In all of the other "hits," the header of the Google listing reflects the actual title of the piece.

I'm not saying that something sinister is going on; I'm simply curious. Is this how Google usually works? Have you ever seen anything of this sort before? I have not.

Obviously, an artificial intelligence did not write the words "the one identifying Boris Epshteyn as "Source E" - Cannonfire - blogger." A human being must have done so. Who did it, and for what purpose?
Skynet has been watching Friends a lot recently?

The alternative is that someone manually typed in a label describing the contents of your post, either as an aide de memoire or for the attention of someone else. Presumably it wasn't actually meant to be published to google.
Addendum: Almost all other search results pointing to Cannonfire only have the title "Cannonfire" or "Cannonfire - blogger", rather than the title of the post, on both Google and DuckDuckGo (which doesn't find the result you're pointing out at all).
Crawl error. "the one identifying Boris Epshteyn as "Source E"" string is the first few words in the post immediately after the watersports one, and it probably is how Google found the latter during its crawl. Similar title errors occur in wordpress powered sites during daily crawls as well. They usually get corrected the next few crawls though.
The key is that the string itself is a link; that's how the title got mixed up.
Joseph, This is off topic. You have mentioned Jefferson Morley before in an article from 2012. out
It's hard to keep up with all the excitement:

A few notes about the "wife" that works at Google. Since we are living a spy novel here, she's got to be a quite beautiful, fully qualified Russian agent. She doesn't have to hold a position that high in Google, she just has to sleep with people who do. How many affairs are going on as we speak? After all, he "husband" is--rather was--quite busy with his position in the administration. (I bet the corporation was planning on promoting her based on her "husband's" connections. Similar happened with Michelle Obama at U of C when Obama was senator.)

Another noteworthy posting this AM from Palmer Report. (The blog makes great reading!) This AM Palmer claims that the FISA court approved "tapps" on four individuals, one of whom was--is--Trump. This comes to us by Louise Mensch. It makes perfect sense. Per her, the initial FISA warrant was turned down. This, as far as we the people know, never happens in a FISA court. But in this instance the FISA court must have been very reluctant to approve a tap on a Presidential candidate (and potential future president.) That they may have eventually approved said "tapp" hints strongly that the evidence just kept piling up.

One caution about Palmer's Report. He suggests that recent threats by the Russians to release damaging information means they are threatening to release a tape recording Trump's sexual indiscretions. I doubt that, since it would only confirm the veracity of the "dodgy dossier". I think that it's effectiveness has been completely neutralized. What I believe the Russians are threatening to do is release hacked information from the NSA and CIA. (The later agency was not publicly known to have been hacked until Trump's slip of the lips.) I've said this all along, Trump is not being blackmailed so much as America is being blackmailed. And funny thing, Wikileaks just struck again this last week to aid in proving my point.

Lastly, I suspect I know what Mensch's game is. I believe she is a patriot but her motives are mixed (as all patriots are) and you are right to reserve judgement. Piecing together info from the Palmer Report, it appears that not just Trump but Pence and Ryan have all been compromised by the Russians. This puts us in a position where, if we rid ourselves of Trump, we have a deeply compromised Pence and if Pence is gone, we have another Russian agent in Ryan. But these bits of information are not as publicly obvious (purposely) as Trump's widely publicized connections with the Russians. If Trump is gone, we would have a more stable government with Pence (who I doubt could be more crazy.) But he could be blackmailed not just by the Russians but by our own intelligence agencies. (Remember who's been "tapping" all those phone calls--legally.) Depose Trump and Pence would have just had the shining example of a beheaded traitor. I doubt he would want to go lose his own head to make the Russians happy. If he wants to pardon Trump, he better check with his handlers or he could land in jail right beside his predecessor. And so who is governing? The intelligence community.

The Russians could try to release their own compromising info on Pence but I'm sure we have a plan for that. So if Mensch is representing the intelligence industry her preference for Pence makes perfect sense. Pence is screwed, America lives on.
A Google search for "the one identifying Boris Epshteyn as "Source E"" (in quotes) points to this previous Cannonfire post:
Something's coming - Cannonfire
That result also appears further down in Joseph’s search for [epshteyn "source e"], if you scroll to the end and click on the “repeat the search” link:
In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 9 already displayed.
If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.
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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Boris Ephsteyn, Michael Flynn and Google: Just how compromised ARE we?

As noted a couple of posts down, Boris Ephsteyn -- the formerly-ubiquitous Trump surrogate and inauguration planner -- has suddenly left his White House gig, for reasons unknown. As I noted in a previous post (which is belatedly getting much attention, thanks to the Palmer Report), Epshteyn is the likeliest candidate for Source E in the Orbis dossier, otherwise known as the Steele dossier.

Source E is the primary source for the most infamous claim in that dossier -- the "watersports" business.

Ephsteyn is the only person who fits the description in the dossier. He's a Russian national close to Trump, with extensive knowledge of Russian business. He knows Moscow well. He is close to Trump's son Eric.

The dossier does not explicitly say that Source E is, in fact, a Putin operative. However, that reading is a fair one, since he certainly seems to have deep knowledge of what Russian intelligence has been up to. Read for yourself; come to your own conclusions.

Every time I've written about Ephsteyn, I've reminded readers that his wife, the former Lauren Tanick, is an executive at Google. She is fairly young; I don't know how high she has risen in the Google hierarchy. Nevertheless, there may be some reason to worry about her position within that company.

Last night, thanks to YouTube, I finally caught up with Malcolm Nance's most recent appearance on A.M. Joy. He discussed the Devin Nunes situation. Nance briefly mentioned Intelink and other classified "internets" used by the American intelligence community. Repeatedly, Nance said that Nunes could have "googled" certain names.

Is he speaking literally? I wondered. Does Google power our classified systems?

Yes it does.
• SIPRNet is the military's Secret Internet Protocol Router Network

• Intelink is a SIPRNet search engine powered by Google

• Google infrastructure powering Intelink is largest outside Google

Google has long been considered a monopoly with close ties to the U.S. government.

Now it is learned the U.S. military's powerful classified intranet is not being processed through government servers, but is being powered by Google.
We must be cautious before jumping to conclusions. As I've said: Lauren Tanick Ephsteyn may not have risen that far within her company. I've seen no evidence that she has been made privy to anything having to do with SIPRNet. Still, the linkage does worry me -- at least to a degree.

The Michael Flynn situation is far more worrying, since SIPRNet is a project of the DIA, the agency which Flynn once headed. Worse, the DIA oversees the most highly classified of our secret communications systems, the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS, pronounced "Jay-Wicks").

Flynn's ties to Russia are known. Even Team Trump is now calling Flynn a "Russian mole."

Flynn at DIA. Ephsteyn in the White House. Just how compromised are we? Do we have any secrets left?

When I think of all the nonsense that people believed about Hillary's emails...!
Flynn, who broke rules to install his own internet connection to his Pentagon office? LOL
Boris Ephsteyn is very likely being interviewed by the FBI right now. He won't be allowed to leave the country.
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A response to the Kossacks

Because the Palmer Report cited my work on Boris Ephsteyn (even though I'm right about him), I was smeared today in a comment published in Daily Kos:
Be wary of any story that uses Joseph Cannon as a source. He was one of the idiots pushing the “Whitey tape” nonsense in 2008. He also claimed Barack Obama was a CIA agent.
Kos won't allow me to respond to this smear. (Maybe it was the insulting cartoons I did of Markos Moulitsas? I kinda made his lips look like bananas.) Here's the response that they would not publish:

* * *

Am I allowed to defend myself against this smear? I took Larry Effing Johnson (the source for that "Whitey" claim) seriously — for a while — for two reasons: 1. He was a regular writer for Daily Kos. 2. He was a friend to Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. When Johnson pointed to a specific speech at which Michelle Obama supposedly uttered that smear, I spent many (as in many) hours trying to track down someone who was in that room on that occasion. When I found out that Johnson lied, I understood, belatedly, his snake-in-the-grass nature, and we’ve been enemies ever since.

So it is fairer to say that I exposed the lie. I also learned not to trust someone's liberal bona fides simply because he or she wrote for Kos.

Yes, I still believe that Obama was working for the American intelligence community when he made that mysterious trip to Pakistan in 1981. If the evidence here is not enough to make the idea seem at least possible, then we must disagree.

But if you want to talk about weird, “out there” claims, may I remind you that during this same period (the 2008 campaign) Daily Kos published a fake news story — endorsed by Moulitsas himself — which claimed that Hillary doctored a video to make Obama’s face look darker? I was hardly the only writer to expose that particular lie.

May I also remind you of another incident from 2008? Austan Goolsbee (at Obama’s behest) visited Canada to tell officials privately that Obama was fibbing about his anti-NAFTA stance. After Goolsbee was exposed, a Daily Kos writer published a fake news story claiming that it was Hillary who did what Obama actually did. This fake Kos story led to a official Canadian investigation which exonerated Hillary. Remember that?

May I remind you that Kos was an absolute cesspool of anti-Clinton hatred and prevarication at that time? May I remind you that Kos published actual, serious death threats against Hillary Clinton (as I documented in many articles — hell, the original Kos pages are probably still up)?

May I remind you that throughout 2008, the pages of Daily Kos were filled with every inane anti-Clinton conspiracy theory imaginable?

2008 was a difficult year, but I’ll happily match my record against that of the Daily Kos. Kos writers simply have no moral right to accuse me of writing over-the-top material. The way Kossacks acted throughout that period was worse than shameful: It was downright abominable. An unthinking, paranoid mob mentality overtook the entire site.

Also, may I remind you that I was THE first writer to discuss the Trump/Russia connection in a long piece that name-checked Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Carter Page? The piece predicted that the “Russia factor” would lead to a Trump victory. This was published on June 16, 2016 — months before Manafort left the Trump campaign, more than a month before other writers (not to mention the FBI) began to pay attention. At the time, most Kos readers would have pooh-poohed the notion.
Posted here:
You've been doing great work. Keep it up. Screw them.
Thanks for the reminder about D Kos's unforgivable vicious scorched earth attacks on HRC and their refusal to allow anyone to defend her. To this day I won't go on that site.
Thanks, Carolyn. Struck a nerve, I see.
I often do.
What everyone else said: screw them. Bravo, you!
Caro, the reply to your posting Joseph's response made me laugh out loud. What a bunch of tools over at that site.
I can remember very well events leading up to the 200 campaign for President and The Daily Kos' damage inflicted on HRC. I keep getting emails pertinent to the goings on today with the Trump Administration from them. I'm sorry, I can't for the life of me support their site monetarily or by reading any of their articles. The damage they inflicted upon HRC reverberates today resulting in the fiasco we are dealing with now.
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Out like Flynn, part 2 (Plus: Louise Mensch)

Seriously, you do get the headline, don't you? My favorite Errol Flynn movies are Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood, both starring the Olivia de Havilland, the classiest star of that era, and one of my all-time great crushes. She's still with us.

I wish I could devote the rest of this post to listing all of the crush-worthy screen goddesses of yesteryear, but we have a president to impeach. So let's get down to business.

There are signs that Trump Dam is a-fixin' to crumble, and the little boy with his finger in the hole is named Michael Flynn. Or maybe I should say that Flynn is being used as a battering ram. I'm not sure which analogy to employ because the stories don't quite coalesce; at this point, all we can do is summarize the many reports.

CNN analyst Juliette Kayyam says that Michael Flynn has flipped. (And no, she doesn't mean "flipped" in the sense that I once flipped over Olivia de Havilland.) Allow me, once again, to translate Seth Abramson's twitter stream into standard prose:
First, as an attorney I want to make clear that, if this @CNN analyst's sources are correct, the #Russiagate scandal is blown wide open. FBI flips witnesses, turning them into cooperating individuals, only when they can help secure conviction of a bigger "target." Michael Flynn was the National Security Adviser for the President of the United States. The only bigger target is Donald J. Trump.

But Flynn also held a clandestine meeting with Russian ambassador/spy Sergey Kislyak and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner in December '16. And Flynn coordinated with infamous Iran-Contra figure and Russian oil/gas pipeline advocate Bud McFarlane in hiring Trump's Deputy NSA. And of course Flynn had the highest possible clearance and greatest possible access to POTUS in discussing matters of national security.

Flynn's hire as NSA was controversial -- even suspicious -- when it was made due to Flynn's absolutely terrible reputation in Washington. This suggests the hire wasn't based on merit, but rather the fact that Flynn is known to have ties (in-person ties) to Vladimir Putin.

We should conclude from the foregoing that Flynn was in the best position of anyone involved in #Russiagate to see all its contours. Given all of the above, we can say that if any one person could bring down Trump due to #Russiagate, it's the man the FBI may now have.
I'll add this: As noted in a previous post, someone seems to have revealed to Putin the names of American moles within the Russian intelligence system. As a result, a growing number of Russians have ended up dead or disappeared.

Which highly-placed American went blabby? Was his name Michael, by any chance?

Now let us turn to former CIA officer Tony Schaffer. Remember him? The Able Danger guy? Correct me if I'm mis-recalling, but didn't the stories published at that time refrain from identifying him as CIA?

He says that there is basic truth behind Trump's "tapp" tweet, although he admits that Obama didn't order the "tapp" -- which was not a tap, and which was not targeted against Trump. As you read the following, keep in mind that it comes from a FOX news story, and is clearly designed for the Fox audience.
He said that Trump was not physically wiretapped, with a wire into his phone, and it may not have physically been Trump Tower, but his campaign apparatus instead.

Shaffer said that due to the simplicity required to "mask" an American's name during an incidental wiretap, that the leak of Gen. Michael Flynn's name was "accidental on purpose."

"Clearly they were after gossip because it was political," Shaffer said, maintaining that the alleged wiretap had nothing to do with Russia.

The "political appointees" in the intelligence community knew exactly what they were surveilling for, Shaffer said, adding that the case is "much worse than Watergate by an order of magnitude."

He said that even if the surveillance was done legally, the "unmasking" of Americans' names and the leaking of the information are felones.

Shaffer added that Trump's references to battling the "intelligence community" likely meant those political appointees involved in the alleged surveillance, and not the CIA or NSA writ large.
Schaffer is not telling you that Flynn was recorded speaking to the Russian ambassador, who is always a legitimate target for surveillance. The ambassador did not operate out of Trump Tower. Frankly, I see nothing in Schaffer's statement that justifies those tweets.

Although I would place this interview with Schaffer somewhere between problematic and propagandistic, the man does raise a good point: Someone made a conscious decision to reveal Flynn's name.

Looking at the matter from an ethical viewpoint, one has to ask: Is Schaffer suggesting that the name should have remained hidden? If the National Security Adviser speaks covertly with the Russian ambassador -- on a line that both men think is secure, but isn't -- and if the conversation comes very close to an infraction of the Logan Act, and if Flynn neglects to tell the truth about this interaction, isn't that something which the intelligence community ought to reveal?

Woolsey. You probably already know about James Woolsey's claim that Michael Flynn, now known to be a paid agent of the corrupt Erdogan regime in Turkey, discussed the kidnapping of a Turkish national whom Erodgan considers an enemy.
As a representative of his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, Flynn met with senior representatives of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in September 2016, Woolsey said. Woolsey was a Trump campaign adviser at the time and attended the meeting, but said he arrived after it was already well underway.

Woolsey claims that those present discussed sending Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim leader who Erdogan has accused of being behind a failed military coup to overthrow him, back to Turkey to face charges -- possibly outside the legal US extradition system.

"What I saw and heard was sort of the end of the conversation -- it's not entirely clear what transpired because of that," Woolsey said on "CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon. "But it looks as if there was at least some strong suggestion by one or more of the Americans present at the meeting that we would be able, the United States would be able, through them, to be able to get hold of Gulen, the rival for Turkey's political situation."

A spokesman for Flynn flatly denied Woolsey's characterization of the meeting.
Woolsey is an arch-neocon and a former pro-Trumper, so he's hardly my favorite person in the world. Nevertheless, it's hard to believe that a guy like Woolsey would simply make up a tale like this.

According to this DU thread...
Malcolm Nance just said with CONFIDENCE on AM Joy that 1st one to break will be Mike Flynn!
Nance said that James Woolsey has dropped the 'dime' on him.

Flynn is in deep shit for (allegedly) discussing how to kidnap Erdogan foe Fethullah Gulen and fly him back to Turkey.
I did not see the broadcast and cannot confirm that Nance actually said those words. From Nance's Twitter feed:
This is going to send Flynn to jail& force him to talk to see if Trump approved. Completely illegal to even discuss abduction of Americans.
Flynn and Nunes. Several sources have noted that, after Woolsey left Team Trump, there was another meeting between Flynn and Turkish officials at Donald Trump's hotel. And guess who was with him? Devin Nunes. This meeting was mentioned in the Turkish press but ignored by the American media.

Now let's turn to some non-Flynn news...

Blackmail? Palmer also reports that Russia is threatening to reveal some important secrets if the American government doesn't stop leaking information about what Russia is up to in Ukraine. Ooh! Does this mean that we might get a chance to see the watersports footage?
The lengthy briefing posted to Russian government website was conducted by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova, who speaks on behalf of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, and in turn speaks on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin briefing page is titled “The assassination of former Duma deputy Denis Voronenkov,” in reference to the former Russian politician-turned-dissident who fled to Ukraine, only to be gunned down earlier this week.

As Palmer Report has pointed out, Voronenkov would have been a star witness in the trial that the government of Ukraine is currently trying to assemble against former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Voronenkov was murdered just one day after proof finally surfaced of the longstanding assertion that Manafort had taken tens of millions of dollars from the Kremlin. It’s widely believed that Vladimir Putin had former Kremlin insider Voronenkov murdered in order to prevent him from exposing Kremlin secrets during any Manafort trial.

But the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson seems to be blaming the entire sequence of events on leaks from the United States government. In her briefing (source: she goes on to make the following claim, along with a rather dire threat: “I would like to say that if the practice of leaking information that concerns not just the United States but also Russia, which has become a tradition in Washington in the past few years, continues, there will come a day when the media will publish leaks about the things that Washington asked us to keep secret, for example, things that happened during President Obama’s terms in office. Believe me, this could be very interesting information.”
Are we to believe that the current Russian government and the current American government are protecting Obama? Doubtful. If Putin had dirt on Obama, Trump would know. More than that: Trump would tell. I'm fairly certain that any such material would have been all over our computer and teevee screens during the 2016 election.

Bye-bye Boris. This brand-new NYT report made me smile...
Boris Epshteyn, an official in the White House press office who had a contentious relationship with television producers and was once a frequent presence on TV himself, is leaving his job, according to three people with knowledge of the move.

The departure was treated with some mystery. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would not comment on the reason Mr. Epshteyn, an old friend of President Trump’s son Eric, was expected to depart the post.
As readers will recall, this humble blog tentatively identified Epshteyn as a likely source for certain claims made in the Steele dossier.
Writers for the Washington Post -- who have apparently seen an unredacted version of the dossier -- identified Source E as a Russian emigre who is very close to Donald Trump. But so far, no-one has given you a name.

Until now.

An anonymous informant tells me that Source E is Boris Epshteyn, the man who is running Trump's inauguration.
Everything fits. EVERYTHING.

He's a Russian emigre. He knows Moscow very well. (Source E knew Source F, who works at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.) He's extremely close to Trump. He got "in" with the campaign via a relationship with Trump's son.
Here is the follow-up piece. If my informant was on the level -- if Boris really is "Source E" -- then he may be considering a move back to Moscow, now that the Russiagate scandal is starting to whirl out of control. The FBI may want to speak with him. A special prosecutor surely would seek an interview, given the man's expert knowledge of investment in Russia.

I'd also like to know just what it is that Ephsteyns' wife does at Google.

Finally: Did you catch Louise Mensch on Bill Maher's show last night? All of the guests were perfect, but she was plus‐que‐parfait. Russian propaganda outlets have launched an insane smear campaign against her which only gives her more credibility.

Yet I still don't trust her. Not completely. She's too close to the intelligence community.

All of our current "spooks against Trump" remind me of the role played by Bob Woodward in Watergate.

In 1973-75, liberals considered Woodward an unassailable hero because he helped to take down Nixon. Back then, everyone assumed that only a die-hard supporter of the Trickster would dare to suggest that Woodward had a covert side.

Only later did we learn (via Jim Hougan's book Secret Agenda) that Woodward had been a former intelligence briefer who got an important journalism gig at the Post despite a complete lack of experience or writing ability. In his Watergate coverage, he seems to have made a deal with CIA representatives to keep the Agency out of the WP's Watergate coverage. (See the Lukowski memo, published as an addendum in Secret Agenda. Also see what Hougan has to say here and here.)

Cut to: The current day.

Mensch, Schindler, and The Jester may be "pulling a Woodward." They are keeping everyone focused on the Putin connection while making sure that we all ignore the American intelligence community's role in Trump's election.

I'm simply asking you to keep Schindler's work in mind as you read this article in The Guardian, which reveals the important links between the Breitbart empire (funded by Robert Mercer) and Cambridge Analytica, a subsidiary of SCL Group, a company with strong ties to both the Trump campaign and (as we know from other sources) the American and British intelligence communities. Also see this interesting discussion of Breitbartiana.

Most of the "spooks against Trump" never talk about that stuff. With them, it's all Russia, all the time. They offer very few references to Cambridge Analytica or SCL Group, even though Mercer's firm specializes in propaganda and perception management.

The exception has been Louise Mensch, who has mentioned Cambridge Analytica: See here and here and here and here.

On Maher's show, Mensch did make the important point -- which too many have forgotten -- that Trump was (and is) protected by a coterie of FBI agents in New York. These agents may have been the ones who allowed Nunes to see those intercepts. In the course of her Twitter feed, Mensch has toyed with the notion that these FBI agents are Russian moles, a suggestion I consider silly. Still, we must never forget that this faction exists.

Beyond all of that: I may not trust Mensch completely, but I have developed a serious crush on her. She's just so damned brilliant and beautiful.

Kinda reminds me of Olivia de Havilland.
Seth Abramson article at HuffPo attempts to explain Comey's pre-election behavior...
Beyond all of that: I may not trust Mensch completely, but I have developed a serious crush on her. She's just so damned brilliant and beautiful.

Agree with you on this 100%. Beauty and brains...a lovely combination. :)
so joe, was it here i read about the mysterious connections between eric's wife lara yunaska and her NC roots, that being the 'location' of much of the cyber work behind the alleged weiner underage 'cyber-victim'? didn't she spill some revealing tweets or such around that time?

also, thx to p.leigh for that link; exceptional panorama provided there. mensch did note she believes comey is a good guy in a very messy agency, which abramson's piece also suggests. since (at the very least) 9/11, the rift/rivalry between the fbi and cia/etc has been quite suspect, without any public resolution. but perhaps worse than this would be a rift internal to the fbi, i'd guess between old school/hooverites and younger, more um, constitutionally motivated souls. the suggestions in that abramson piece, echoed by mensch, support this problem. and, i suppose, help explain the tightrope comey must be navigating. he may be the person most aware of the enormous powder keg he and the country are faced with now.

which leads to the question that's been nagging me since 11/9: namely, with all this control over our government, almost in toto, by the GOP/trumpsters, who would actually arrest them? i mean, it might be hard enough for comey to land an indictment, then get it thru DOJ (ha!), but then, who would take these suckers away?

dare we rely on the 'shame' of public exposure on the TV and twitter machines? might they simply mock us to our shocked faces? as they march us all off to our version of the gulag....

"I wish I could devote the rest of this post to listing all of the crush-worthy screen goddesses of yesteryear, but we have a president to impeach. So let's get down to business." haha!

There is another headline out there "In and Out like Flynn." In Like Flint and Our Man Flint are my kinda movies so I got confused. It's OK because I have no clue about what's going on, either. Explain away....going back in to read the rest...the best I can.

Whilst I find most of Mensch's postulations viable, the one that has always stuck out (as being "spooky") for me is that she thinks that Pence has no involvement in any naughty Russia stuff and will be the next POTUS. How could she know this? Is she being fed by a pro-Pence faction of the IC?
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Out like Flynn

God, I love that headline. Wonder if younger readers will get the joke?

I'd like to direct your attention to this opinion piece in the Palmer Report. Yes, I am aware that some have (incorrectly) castigated the Palmer Report as a left-wing example of "fake news." I disagree with that characterization. I certainly would not apply it to this specific piece, which is clearly labeled opinion. We should have no objection to speculation as long as it comes clearly labeled as such, and as long as "casa conjecture" rests on a foundation of facts.

Palmer's thesis is that Michael Flynn has turned talker. He's either looking to cut a deal, or he has cut one already. That's why the Trumpers have decided to lay the blame for Russiagate on Flynn and Flynn alone.
Of the four Trump campaign advisers widely reported to be under FBI investigation, three of them – Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone – have suddenly volunteered to testify before the House Intelligence Committee (source: CNN and Washington Post). Their choice of the House, and not the Senate, seems obvious enough: the House Intel Committee is run by Trump-loyal stooge Devin Nunes. They’re probably hoping to team up with Nunes to run interference in front of the television cameras. But only one of the four Trump campaign advisers under investigation is remaining out of the dog any pony show: Michael Flynn.

Congressional hearings are essentially show-trials. The various Congressmen on the committee are each trying to make one case or another to the public. The witnesses who volunteer to testify are trying to convince the public that the scandal is not their fault. If you’re running to a committee to testify in front of the cameras, it means you’re merely playing games of appearances, and you’re not running to the FBI to offer real testimony. If Michael Flynn were running to one of these committees right now, I would assume he hasn’t cut a deal. But he’s been curiously quiet about it. In fact he’s been curiously quiet about everything throughout this scandal. And yet he’s been making definitive moves behind the scenes.
Interpreting someone’s silence is tricky business. But Flynn has been speaking, just not with words. Two weeks ago Flynn retroactively registered with the U.S. government as a foreign agent. In so doing, he essentially confessed to a past crime in an attempt to get back onto the right side of the law. If Flynn was deluded enough to think that he can beat the rap on all the felonies he’s apparently committed, the last thing he would be doing is officially admitting to one of his most severe crimes on government paperwork. Instead this is the behavior of someone who’s actively trying to come clean.

And there’s only one reason for Michael Flynn to come clean about the crimes he’s committed in relationship to the Donald Trump campaign: so the FBI can use his admitted crimes as a legal excuse to pursue the involvement of other Trump campaign members in those crimes. I’ve strongly suspected Flynn had already cut a deal with the FBI from the minute the story broke about him registering as a foreign agent. It was probably fairly easy for the FBI to convince him to go along with it, as they already have him nailed on the felony of lying to them about Russia several months ago (source: Washington Post).
I would add the following: The National Enquirer and its sister publications have functioned as a propaganda arm of the Trumpers. Each week, Trump's message is dumbed down -- way down -- in order to appeal to the naive ninnies who think that professional wrestling is real, that Alex Jones sells magic pills which can cure polonium poisoning, and that Breitbart publishes too many big words.

As Rachel Maddow noted at the end of last night's show, the National Enquirer is now pushing an absurd storyline in which Donald Trump -- that mighty He-Man -- personally uncovered the Russian spy in his midst. The name of that spy: Michael Flynn. Nobody else is at fault. Just Flynn. Blame it all on him.

Flynn is now Trump's official Judas.

Why would they Judas-ize Flynn now? Palmer's theory offers a tidy explanation. It makes more sense than anything else I can come up with.

By the way: I found a temporary patch for my computer problem. I'll have to come up with a permanent fix fairly soon. If I'm suddenly tossed offline again, you'll know the reason.
Be careful about a patch. If you ever purchase a new computer and try to migrate all your data over, the patch that worked on the old computer may not work on the new computer. And because the prior computer is old, there may not be any diagnostics available to fix the original problem.
DailyPUMA warned last year well before the election that the constant faux headlines on both the National Enquirer and the Globe would over time damage Hillary Clinton's presidential election chances.
Mr. Cannon, the top rated DC Market station posted a story of Alex Jones apologizing for his role in the PizzaGate conspiracy. I think this is the first time I heard the rather conservative WTOP mention Alex Jones, so it seems rather strange to have them feature this as a front page story, especially for as long as they have. Thoughts?

I don't know anything about WTOP. I feel certain that Jones apologized only because he feared a lawsuit; I'm sure that he still believes that the Democratic party is run by child rapists.
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Friday, March 24, 2017

Spooks for Trump: Why Stone and Manafort are now eager to testify

My computer is malfunctioning so I must be brief. I've heard what Adam Schiff has had to say, and I've been giving a lot of thought to the actions of Devin Nunes. It is clear to all now that Nunes is as loyal to Trump as is, say, Kellyanne Conway (and maybe more loyal than Bannon or Melania). Everyone understands this.

What we must also understand is that these events make sense only when viewed in the light of my theory that there is a pro-Trump faction within the intel community.

The NSA showed intercepts to Nunes that were not shared with Schiff or any non-loyalist to Trump. Nunes immediately shared what he learned with Trump and no-one else.

Suddenly, Manafort and Stone and Page want to testify in open hearings. 

Think about it. The great trap inherent in such testimony is perjury. What if those three men give testimony which does not conform to information on an NSA intercept? Manafort, Stone and Page would naturally prefer to testify after learning what the NSA had overheard.

Finding out what the NSA had obtained was Nunes' purpose. Now that he has completed that task, the Trumpers know how to game the proceedings. They know what they may safely say -- and leave out -- without fear of a perjury trap.

In all likelihood, Trump loyalists in NSA helped Nunes screw us over.
Disagree. I think its the other way around. The WH tells/shows NSA incidental collection stuff to Nunes to get him to voice their distraction/chaff theories about unmasking. Then Nunes may be running back to them with info on the status of the committee investigation.

The others now want to testify in open hearings because they can smell someone turning witness on them. Flynn? About 8 shoes have dropped on him already (illegal op on US soil to extradite Gullen? WTF), and he's out of public sight. Also, they offer to testify in hearings but I suspect not under oath. That's the key distinction.

They can't back down if requested to testify under oath. Your theory doesn't explain the willingness, the eagerness to testify despite the potential perjury trap.

Clearly the offer was an "interview" in closed hearing, not testimony and not in the open. Some criminal liability applies but not like court.

I think they know they are pretty screwed, and looking for ways to mitigate/cut deals. Might even get so far as personal safety issue for Manafort and Page, who put himself all over tv interviews a couple of weeks ago. Their business partners/contacts/knowledge of dirt are in the life threatening category if they were in Europe and who knows how safe they feel even in the US.

Also, 3 guys eager and silence from Flynn. Hmmmm.

According to (was linked there through a Skydancing comment), the National Enquirer has come right out and branded Flynn a "Russian spy." They surely didn't do that because there were no more aliens-having-sex-with-top-Dem-official stories to flog. They didn't do it without permission from the White House. So they are throwing Flynn to the wolves, and I would think Manafort, at least, got the message they are sending. What he plans to do, whether spill the beans and go down fighting, or try and navigate the minefield, remains to be seen. If I were him, I wouldn't go above the first floor of any building for a while.

Hey Joseph:

Does this sound plausible to you?

"It’s not a secret that most Republicans in Congress, including Speaker Paul Ryan, view themselves as being more closely aligned with establishment Republican Mike Pence than with erratic outsider Donald Trump. So if Nunes came across evidence of Pence on a wiretap, it might explain why his first move was to panic and run to Ryan for advice. It would also explain why Nunes was of the belief that Trump himself might not have been aware of it, and felt compelled to take it to him."
Could Nunes have made his visit to the White House any more obvious? Couldn't he have used a back door or maybe thrown a brick through the window with a note attached? The public nature of this whole episode makes me wonder if there is less here than meets the eye--perhaps Nunes saw tomorrow's weather report, paraded over to the White House with the news that Trump was totally "tapped", Trump declares himself "mostly vindicated" and quicker than you can say Bob's your uncle, it is "truth".

Grant Stern -- "Trump Russia Dossier Decoded: Yes, There Really Was A Massive Oil Deal."

86 paths to Putin.

Devin Nunes has financial ties to Russia. Most of his money is invested in Alpha Omega Winery which has links to a major Russian alcohol distributor, one Swiss company, and no other EU outlets at all.
Kat: That is fascinating! You think it's possible?

Teller: when I saw that on the Maddow show I nearly died laughing.

Gavin: thanks and I will read those links.

Re: Devin Nunes has financial ties to Russia.
I would be a little cautious about this Alpha Omega Winery thing. Looks like the investment is about $100,000 (from which he derives 4-5K a year). Hardly high finance. And said company having wine distributer in Russia, (albeit one that sent Putin a lovely birthday message recently) hardly makes Nunes out as a Russian stooge.

Geesh, I can't believe I'm defending the guy.
My take is Ryan is using Nunes as leverage on Trump. Nunes is a political hack, he knows what this looks like, and he wouldn't be doing it so openly without support from the only guy who matters. And that is Ryan. In Don Corleone terms, Nunes is a pimp, it was Ryan all along. The problem is, Trump is such a back row child in politics class that he isn't playing ball. His antics on AHCA for example. With Nunes broadcasting he will slow walk this, or turn it to Trump's advantage, the decision on a special commission is up to Ryan. Can no one imagine Ryan telling Trump "Nice little presidency you got here, shame if something should happen to it...."
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Questions of evidence

Yesterday, Representative Adam Schiff spoke of new evidence of collusion between Team Trump and Russia:
Rep. Adam Schiff told CNN Thursday that he had seen additional evidence, but would not specify what it was.

"We continue to get new information that, I think, paints a more complete picture of at least what we know at the outset of our investigation," Schiff said.

Asked to explain his comments earlier in the week when he said there was more than just "circumstantial evidence of collusion," Schiff said, "I do think that it's appropriate to say that it's the kind of evidence that you would submit to a grand jury at the beginning of an investigation.

"It's not the kind of evidence that you take to a trial jury when you're trying to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt. But we're at the beginning of an investigation, and given the gravity of the subject matter, I think that the evidence certainly warrants us doing a thorough investigation."
It's difficult to know what to make of all this until we can see this evidence for ourselves.

Meanwhile, the Fox Newsers are now claiming that the as-yet-unseen evidence described by Devin Nunes proves that Obama was using foreign surveillance as a "cover" for spying on the Trumpers. That's a ridiculous presumption. The truth is, we do not as yet even have any indication that anyone on Team Trump was directly recorded.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, R-Calif., does not know "for sure" whether President Donald Trump or members of his transition team were even on the phone calls or other communications now being cited as partial vindication for the president’s wiretapping claims against the Obama administration, according to a spokesperson.

"He said he'll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure," a spokesperson for Nunes said Thursday. Nunes was a member of the Trump transition team executive committee.

At a press conference yesterday, Nunes announced he obtained "dozens of reports" showing the U.S. intelligence community -- through its "normal foreign surveillance" -- "incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition."

But Nunes never said Trump or any of the president's associates personally participated in the communications that were intercepted.
In other words, the Trump associates may have been simply mentioned in the course of intercepted communications. We already know from the Flynn affair that the NSA had found a way to eavesdrop on Ambassador Kislyak, even though he spoke on a line he considered secure. We know that Flynn himself was recorded during that monitoring. Kislyak may have talked about other Trumpers.

I cannot see how any of this justifies Trump's tweets or the misleading Fox News report.

Seth Abramson, of HuffPo and the Dallas Morning News, claims to have Russiagate all figured out. Here's his Twitter feed, and here's a Daily Kos story which places the tweets in some sort of order. I will try to turn his tweets into normal prose. (Twitter is not really the right medium for a story like this). Everything between the asterisks was written by Abramson:

* * *

Per @NYMag, Paul Manafort took over the Trump campaign on April 16, just 72 hours before Trump mathematically eliminated his competition. The timing was intentional: Manafort, hired in March, was slated to become the campaign's key player as soon as Trump became the nominee.

On April 21, 48 hours after clinching, Trump announced the first major foreign policy address of his life. It was scheduled for April 27. The speech, arranged by Jared Kushner in mid-March, was to be hosted by the Center for the National Interest, a conservative think tank. The Center is _widely_ known to have "ties to the Russian regime of President Vladimir Putin," per Politico.

The speech was slated to be at the National Press Club, an august venue with a _long_ history of staging secure events with large crowds. Less than 24 hours before the speech, it was cancelled. The Trump campaign (i.e., Manafort) declared the venue was too small and unsafe.

So Manafort moved the event to the Mayflower Hotel: a smaller, less secure site. The decision confirmed the campaign's excuses were lies. The two things the Mayflower had that the NPC didn't were (a) 581 private rooms for private meetings, and (b) restricted, VIP-only areas. The latter was important because Manafort wanted Trump to hold an intimate, 24-person cocktail hour in the Mayflower's VIP Senate Room.

Among the 24 at the event: Trump, CNI event coordinator Heilbrunn, Jeff Sessions, Kushner, Lewandowski, Manafort, and four ambassadors. Another VIP at the event was Iran-Contra figure Bud McFarlane, one of America's chief advocates for a bargain with Russia on oil access.

The four ambassadors were the only four ambassadors in the world (out of 195 total) that the Putin-linked CNI had invited to the event.

The biggest oil deal in Russia's history occurred in December of 2016. It involved the coordination of entities from three countries. Individuals from those three countries -- RUSSIA, ITALY, and SINGAPORE -- negotiated the sale of 19.5% of Russia's state oil company, Rosneft. The #Russiagate scandal involves claims Trump was given 0.5% of Rosneft and aid in getting elected in exchange for lifting US sanctions.

The Rosneft deal closed Dec. 5-7. During that time McFarlane visited Trump Tower. It's believed Russian ambassador/spy Kislyak did too.

WSJ wrote in April 2016 that Trump met separately with the ambassadors at the Mayflower and was effusive. “Trump met at a VIP reception with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. He warmly greeted Kislyak and 3 other ambassadors." The ambassadors at the Mayflower: RUSSIA! ITALY! SINGAPORE! And the Philippines -- which is routinely cited as a Rosneft expansion target.

So Trump warmly, privately chatted with the 3 Rosneft-deal nations at a cocktail hour right before his first big foreign-policy event. In his speech Trump called for a Russian detente: "We desire to live peacefully and in friendship with Russia...we are not bound to be adversaries. We should seek common ground based on shared easing of tensions and improved relations with Russia is possible. [I hope to] make a deal under my administration that’s great for America but also good for Russia."

Richard Burt, CNI and Russian Alfa Bank adviser, crafted the speech. He was also Putin's pipeline lobbyist.

The only Kislyak meeting Sessions never disclosed to Congress, even after accusations of perjury, was the meeting at the Mayflower. But per the organizer of the Mayflower Hotel event, Jacob Heilbrunn of the CNI, a third Sessions-Kislyak meeting definitely occurred.

Heilbrunn on the VIP event: "At a reception in the Senate Room of the Mayflower, a number of politicians and Trump advisers, such as Senator Jeff Sessions and ambassadors [from Russia and the other nations] congregated before the event." The VIP event wasn't just a receiving line as Trump claimed. It was a "cocktail meet-and-greet" -- a full event.

That Sessions would feel the need to hide his contact with Kislyak at the Mayflower event after accusations of perjury raises red flags. The White House saying it has “no recollection” of any of the VIPs at Trump's biggest-ever foreign policy event is also a red flag.

When Kislyak was asked if he’d met Trump or members of his team during the campaign he replied, "What do you consider a campaign?" Kislyak went on to fail to disclose his meeting with Trump at the Mayflower, citing only a meeting at the RNC.

We know Manafort and Kislyak would have known each other, as Manafort indirectly worked for Putin for years. We know Manafort set up the Mayflower event and was available for meetings at it -- as was Kushner, who later met secretly with Kislyak. Congress must investigate any Mayflower meetings between Sessions, Manafort, Kushner, Kislyak and the Italian/Singaporean ambassadors.

We know the White House lied about Mayflower. We know Sessions has. We know Kislyak has. And we know the Rosneft players were present. We know there was ample time/space for "sidelines" meetings. And we know Walid Phares was also there, and Trump Jr., and Stephen Miller. So other than the RNC and suspicious Trump Tower meetings in December, the Mayflower Speech should get the most attention in Congress.

* * *

Cannon here: Much of this is new and, I think, significant. The Rosneft deal still has not received the attention it deserves.

Bud McFarlane? My god. Has that man wandered into another scandal? Iran-Contra nearly killed him -- and I speak literally.

And in an alternate universe: Did you catch the tabloids this week? As you know, they are all owned by the same company, and they are all deep in the tank for Trump. I was surprised to see that they were both still in campaign mode. In tabloid-land, Trump is in no danger of impeachment, while Obama and Clinton are this close to jail. The upcoming Obama trial will be the Trial of the Century.

The Globe offers no named sources for its cover-story claim that Hillary Clinton used the Obama White House as an ATM machine. Yeah, that allegation makes no sense to me either. But it does fit the wider pattern of mirror imaging: Trump is almost always guilty of the very accusations which he and his foot soldiers levy against the Clintons.

The National Enquirer's cover story is all about the "tapp" tweets, which -- we are told -- have been completely validated. Now, this story does name sources. First and foremost is, of course, David Nunes. As noted above, his evidence does not validate those tweets -- at least, that's the way the evidence stands right now.

The Enquirer story also references Edward Snowden -- glowingly.

It also cites Larry fucking Johnson, about whom I wrote a long diatribe a few days ago. It's odd to see Johnson show up in the Nat Enq, since he seems to have evaporated from the internet in recent days. He excised his Twitter feed and No Quarter has disappeared.

The National Enquirer also named NSA whistleblower William Binney, who is quoted at some length. I don't have the paper in front of me right now, but trust me: That quotation is robustly pro-Trump.

About five days ago, many news reports talked about Binney. He said that Trump was indeed monitored -- but only in the sense that everyone is monitored by the NSA. As I've said in previous posts, I believe that the NSA scoops up pretty much everything; data is not considered intercepted until human eyes look at it.
But Binney told Sean Hannity's radio show earlier Monday, "I think the FISA court's basically totally irrelevant."

The judges on the FISA court are "not even concerned, nor are they involved in any way with the Executive Order 12333 collection," Binney said during the radio interview. "That's all done outside of the courts. And outside of the Congress."

Binney told Fox the laws that fall under the FISA court's jurisdiction are "simply out there for show" and "trying to show that the government is following the law, and being looked at and overseen by the Senate and House intelligence committees and the courts."

"That's not the main collection program for NSA," Binney said.
Executive Order 12333 lays out the roles played by various services within the American intelligence establishment; here is the Thing-In-Itself. Wikipedia thus summarizes the issues involved:
Executive Order 12333 has been regarded by the American intelligence community as a fundamental document authorizing the expansion of data collection activities.[9] The document has been employed by the National Security Agency as legal authorization for its collection of unencrypted information flowing through the data centers of internet communications giants Google and Yahoo!.[9]

In July 2014 chairman David Medine and two other members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a government oversight agency, indicated a desire to review Executive Order 12333 in the near future, according to a report by journalist Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian.[9]
We will have to leave for another time the question of whether Binney is right about all of this. Marcy Wheeler has been having a complicated discussion of these issues in her blog and twitter feed.

Right now, I'd like to step back and note the strangeness of this post-Trump universe. Not long ago, William Binney got respectful attention only from lefty places like Democracy Now and oddball blogs like the one you're reading at this very moment. Now, Binney receives huzzahs from Breitbart, Hannity, and the National Enquirer. And conservatives shower equal love on Larry Johnson, William Binney and Ed Snowden -- the man Trump thinks should be tried and executed.

I just want the world to make sense again.

Are you feeling the Trump fatigue? I sure am. I can't tear myself away from the news, even though I often hate reading it. At least three times a day, I think: "Gotta write a post about this!" But by the time that post is written -- or half-composed in my mind -- some new Trumpy tale has captured the world's attention.

In fact, when I sat down to write this very post, my intent was to talk about several completely separate Trump-related news stories. 

Many years ago, Crocker Bank in California advertised itself with this slogan: "The bank you don't have to think about." The idea was that people thought about their bank only when the institution did something wrong. I long for a government that I don't have to think about.
I noticed the Philippines were mentioned. Didn't the U.S. have some type of friction with the Philippines during Obama's administration. Makes one wonder if a country or two were not encouraged to dis the Obama administraiton as a pre–emptive strike by the Republican National Party.
Please don't get too fatigued! And yet...they are counting on fatigue. I believe it's another reason wages are so low, so that more people have to work longer just to stay nose above water. Of course, then there's the corporate class. Some are making enough to buy the hideous McMansions cropping up all over Northern VA.

My hotspot seems to allow me better access to the internet these days (I quit Comcast. No TV, no high-speed internet)....but I don't know yet how much my smart phone company's gonna gouge me. If I could go completely off-grid, I would. I don't know how you keep up...please take care!
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stone notes: "face/body/meat"

The Smoking Gun has a remarkably good rundown of all the known antics of Roger Stone since Trump announced. Some of this material was news even to me. You probably already knew about the "swingers" ad which forced him to resign from the 1996 Dole campaign -- but were you aware of the repeat?
Undaunted by the Dole disaster, the Stones continued swinging. In a December 2006 post on the Dark Cavern web site, the couple advertised for a male partner who “must be 22-40, lean, muscular and hung like a horse.” The ad, which included Stone’s Hotmail address, offered a graphic description of Nydia’s body and the notation that “Obidient husband shares her cunt.” Respondents were directed to “Contact me/us with a photo of face/body/meat.” The Stone ad was found on a meetup page for Florida swingers.

Dark Cavern (motto: “We unite black and white”) is dedicated to facilitating and chronicling sexual encounters between “black studs” and white women (usually while the husband looks on). The site offers recaps from couples about “going black” and has a section where “wives and studs” can suggest “new ways to humiliate the wimp hubbies.”

The news that one of their beloved “Deplorables” once advertised for “huge hung black Cock” might not go over well in alt-right circles, where masculinity, virility, and racial prominence are prized. In fact, there is a favorite pejorative used by Breitbartians when they sense that someone is weak, effeminate, or a supporter of someone other than Trump. If only Pepe & Co. knew there was a real-life cuck in their midst.
I don't care about what people do with their wee-wees. As long as all parties are consenting adults, I don't care about the mental or physical games they play in private, even if those games involve feces or "furry" suits or blood drinking or Charlie Chaplin costumes or coital seppuku. In other words -- and I say this sincerely -- I'm glad that Roger and his wife are having fun.

What bothers me is not the libertine attitude of Roger Stone but the hypocrisy of the right, or at least of the Alt-Right. They would never tolerate "cuck" roleplaying games if practiced by a liberal, a moderate, or even someone they deem a RINO. They would never have tolerated Milo if he were even slightly more liberal-ish. The rule seems to be this: Once you say the magic words "I like Trump," then all is permitted.

Who makes these rules?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Told ya

Did I call the shot or what?

For a while now, I've been mentally preparing an apology for my repeated claim that Trump would not have asked Congress to investigate his "tapp" allegation unless he knew from the get-go that doing so would work to his political advantage. Nobody agreed with my scenario. Everyone said that Trump was simply a fool who would not let go of a conspiracy theory.

Finally, last night, I myself became converted to the theory that Trump was simply a bullheaded, paranoid ignoramus.

And then Devin Nunes -- clearly functioning as either a dupe or willing partner of Trump's conspiracy -- provided evidence that my original read might turn out to be the correct one.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes went to the White House on Wednesday afternoon to personally brief President Trump about intelligence he says he has seen regarding surveillance of foreign nationals during the presidential transition.

The surveillance could have inadvertently picked up the president or members of his transition team, the chairman said.

“What I’ve read seems to me to be some level of surveillance activity, perhaps legal. I don’t know that it’s right,” Nunes said to reporters outside the White House. “I don’t know that the American people would be comfortable with what I’ve read.”
Trump is now saying that his tweets were vindicated.
Before heading to the White House, Nunes said he briefed House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on what he learned, and he also spoke with reporters. He said that U.S. intelligence agencies may have picked up communications involving Trump as part of court-approved surveillance of foreign intelligence targets in the period between Trump’s election and his inauguration.

Nunes did not, however, brief his ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), about the contents of what Schiff said were intercepts.
He gave Schiff short shrift? This indicates that the Nunes "investigation" was part of a partisan hit all along. I don't yet know what Nunes saw, but I'm fairly confident, right now, that Trump knew all along that the events of this day would happen.

Also see here and here.

Nunes viewed those documents at the originating agency. Right now, we do not know which agency. NSA? Seems as good a guess as any.

I keep telling you people -- not that anyone has listened -- that Breitbart is and always has been seriously tied to the intelligence community. Here, let me put in boldface:

Breitbart is and always has been seriously tied to the intelligence community.

You doubt my word? You want a few links that will help you start to investigate this claim? Okay.

Here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here.

Everyone keeps talking "Russia Russia Russia." Russia is important, but the matter isn't so simple as many think.

Remember, the Russians hired people like Manafort and Stone and Devine to tell them how to rig elections in their own part of the world.

Did you ever see this film? Do you really think that the Russians would know how to rig an American election? Do you really think they "know the territory" (as they say in The Music Man)? Do you really think that the FSB has a subtle enough grasp of our politics to understand (for example) how to transform Bernie supporters into virulent Clinton-haters?

No. It may be more accurate to posit that Putin provided some plausibly deniable manpower. He was hired muscle.

People like Mensch and Schindler keep pushing a simplistic narrative of "virtuous spooks versus the Trump/Putin conspiracy."

For weeks now, I've been telling you: NO. That's not it. It's a partial truth at best.

I don't have a clear counter-narrative formulated yet. All I know is that the Mensch/Schindler "Virtuous spooks vs. Evil Trumpers" scenario won't suffice, because that scenario completely ignores the truth about Breitbart. I'm not saying that Mensch is operating in bad faith: I'm saying that her deference (allegiance?) to the intelligence community means that she is giving you a woefully incomplete picture.

Breitbart did more than Putin did to put Trump in power. And Breitbart is spooked up. Schindler and Mensch and "The Jester" won't tell you that.

I don't know what is in those documents provided to Nunes. But I feel certain that the same spooks who have been in bed with Breitbart for many years knew all about those documents before Trump issued those tweets.

Added note: Since everyone seems to be referencing Watergate these days, let me tell you about a Watergate-era Jack Anderson column that few people now remember. I don't have the clip to hand, but some of my older readers may recall seeing it. In this column, Anderson interviewed Gordon Novel, a bizarre figure who always tended to pop in these scandals.

Novel revealed that the Nixonites had a tentative plan -- never enacted -- to undermine the Watergate investigation. It was a simple trick: Nixon's men would use actors to concoct a fake tape in which Nixon says incriminating things on the phone to E. Howard Hunt. The media would be subtly manipulated to insure that the entire Watergate controversy centered on the question of the legitimacy of that tape. Eventually, analysis would reveal the tape to be a hoax -- at which point, Nixon would look like the victim of a conspiracy, not the perpetrator of one.

Again: That scheme was never enacted. It was just an idea, a bit of spitballing. Nevertheless, I think that we should always keep this idea in the back of our minds as our current White House melodrama unfolds.
Put in as hired muscle. Manafort ' s role. Listening. Thanks.
The Nunes/Trump show was about as dumb as it gets. Weak. We will see about Breitbart. What if the spooks are double agents for Russia?

I have to say Watergate still is a bit bewildering to me and I am just old enough to remember the drip, drip, drip of the daily reveal front-paged on the old Seattle Post Intelligencer. (I also remember one of the few times my father, an extremely mild mannered man, whose only other moment of public rage involved a woman dumping a litter of kittens by the side of the road, tearing downtown in a rage to send a Western Union telegram after Nixon fired Elliot Richardson.)

I've read a few "alternative" histories of Watergate and I have to say I find Woodward's connection to military intelligence quite persuasive. However, to create this almost Rube Goldberg scenario in order to take down, elect, prop up or otherwise manipulate major elections including presidential ones * seems to violate what I assume is a fundamental rule of covert action: the more bells and whistles, the more elaborate an action, the more likely something could go very wrong. Why elect someone only to watch him be stripped of all credibility in the first two months of his presidency? What's the point? What's the agenda?

And if Trump thinks his current problems are going to go away by some Sunday morning tweetfest, I've got some property in Atlantic City he might want to consider.

* (excepting, of course, simple election fraud--that is manipulating the vote count--the most direct way to ensure the candidate of one's choosing wins)
Dear Louise Mensch is getting her due:

And this from "The Observer", which also publishes her twin John Schindler:

Ignoring -- for the moment -- whether Breitbart is spooked up, Jane Mayer's New Yorker article on billionaire Robert Mercer's support of Breitbart and Trump is informative.
I agree with you Joseph. I'm sure Russia is culpable in thesr matters but something tells me some of it is a smokescreen but I'm clueless about the subtext. A Breitbart connection makes sense but who is behind that? I definitely feel something else is going on. But then I've followed JFK murder for over 50 years.

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