First, I want to thank everyone who contributed to "the George fund." I'll take down the ad when I've enough energy to re-work the template. I managed to pay back what I owe, though not as rapidly as promised. This leaves me in the doghouse, figuratively, though we still have a dog in the house, literally. And for this I am truly grateful.
From time to time, I wrestle with the notion of closing down shop, and the call beckons now. Forgive me if I seem cryptic.
Last night, I got a blast from the past, a message from someone mad enough to head into the final stretch of his life still operating under the delusion of his own importance. I once had the same fantasy, but was forced to shrug it off years ago. He's a huge failure, but won't admit it. I'm an even greater one, and I have had no choice but to 'fess up.
You see, I grew up in a family of people who assured me that I was destined to be the next Michelangelo, and that if I didn't use this allegedly God-given talent to paint my own reply to the Sistine Chapel, I'd commit the only sin worthy of the label. And now here I am in my late fifties, with no Sistine Chapels on the resume. In fact, whatever small skill I once possessed seems to have evaporated. At this late date, I have retreated to the drawing primers of Andrew Loomis, wondering why the same lessons seemed so easy when I was eighteen and so terrifying now.
Now that, my friends, is failure.
My failures as a writer are even more impressive. If I had committed manslaughter in my twenties I'd have have been released from jail in my early 40s. But write a bad book or choose the wrong companions and the world offers no forgiveness. Nor should it.
Line from a movie: "You may be done with the past, but the past isn't done with you." Facing the past may rob one of one's future. So be it. The future was always a pipe dream anyway, right?
I stayed up all night watching The Iceman Cometh, John Frankenheimer's superb 1973 film of the play, which I'd not seen since the year it came out. If you've never seen it, it's on YouTube, although someone lopped an hour from the online version. The abbreviated version plays well; you won't miss the truncated subplots. Unquestionably, this is the best-acted film ever: Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Frederic March offer performances that make everything else they ever did seem trite. So does a young Jeff Bridges.
I watched the film stone sober. Not recommended. Vodka surely helps.
Only the shallow consider this play a tale about alcoholism. There are many types of addictions. Paranoia, for example. In modern times, fear has become our trendiest, deadliest smack -- America's leading export. Our paranoia addiction made Trump possible; it fuels the very fascism we all claim to abhor.
Our other addiction is hubris. We have become a nation of small men pretending to be giants, of human wrecks posing as citadels. In secret, we spend each day trapped in a straightjacket of humiliation -- the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office. These humiliations make us hate the very idea of speaking humbly -- in other words, we hate the one virtue worthy of the label. Unable to confess either our failures or our insignificance, we lose ourselves in a daydream of hyper-competent manliness and unearned smugness, and we reject anyone who reminds us our ridiculousness.
This addiction to haughtiness is another factor that made Trump popular. He shouts his magnificence without shame, and he'd rather bite off his own nipples than admit to even the slightest failing. These character flaws are the secret of his popularity. Small men (and women) watch Trump perform his bogus billionaire act and they enter into a phantasmagoria of self-confidence and certainty.
So do the anti-Trumpers, in their own self-righteous way.
Fear and pride. Those are our addictions. Those are our pipe dreams.
Iceman is about the pipe dreams that torture us by keeping us alive.
I've never had more empathy for any character in fiction than I had for Robert Ryan at the end of the film: "By God, there’s no hope! I’ll never be a success in the grandstand, or anywhere else. Life is too much for me. I’ll be a weak fool looking with pity at the two sides of everything till the day I die."
Well, good morning, Sunshine! So much for our Sunday light reading!
Nice piece, tho...one I feel every day. I once upon a time had two agents, for two different fields, each one assuring me I was going to be rich. Now all the muggles are congratulating me on getting a job, out of desperation, and every day feels like failure. All one has time for on one's "day off" from slavery is doing the laundry.
It sucks not being the smartest witch of one's generation!
posted by prowlerzee : 8:34 AM
The problem doesn't seem to be the absence of success, but the desire for success.
When I was young, I was also expected to be a success. I was accomplished enough in mathematics that my primary school had to order more advanced textbooks, and I spent some months there doing nothing while everyone else was working, because they had nothing to give me. I was offered free entry into the local private school, which produced a cabinet minister in the last government, because of my merits and poverty. I chose to play truant from the local comprehensive instead, and am very happy with that decision. Hence my greatest achievement is that I have, have had, and desire no lands or wealth or power over any other person.
Do what you love, Joe. It's the only lasting success any of us get. You look (and unfortunately listen) to someone like Trump and all you see and hear is insecurity and neediness. Despite all the material success and notoriety, the man has a dark, ragged hole at his center.
Better yet, snuggle up to George. He'll set you right. Puppies know the heart better than we do.
posted by Anonymous : 1:10 PM
I haven't made a contribution. Some mornings I feel it worse than others.
posted by Anonymous : 1:14 PM
I failed, Gary. Didn't I make that clear? I'm a crummy artist. I told myself for years that I had talent, but now I can't even work through the exercises in Loomis. But don't worry. I'll get what I deserve for letting people down -- almost got it last Christmas, and it was wonderful. I'll stop letting people down soon enough.
I think you are experiencing a bad case of male menopause. With women it is physical, men, emotioal and mental. They question their age and what they have accomplished and it seems to play on the negative, not the positive. The resultstaff I have seen are varied; leaving the family for a "younger model", an expensive "toy", or quitting their job. This happened to me when my husband decision we would live a rural life in an inhospitable environment but he would find honest people and true happiness. He found the exact opposite and our marriage has never been the same. Fortunately, we moved to the Bay area and I have a job and many enjoyable interests but although still married. I miss the pre-menopausal husband I knew.
Please don'the leave us, I look forward to reading you, your intelligent thoughts, words and research....and George needs you. My cats have been a great comfort to me during these often times trying years..but I'must still here and think I see a new beginning.
posted by Anonymous : 4:56 PM
Time for the pity party to be over. You don't have to change everyone or everything, just change one person. Teach one child to paint, help one child express himself through art and your life has been a success. Lots of kids in Baltimore could use a mentor. There is a story in Chess Life last month about Emory Tate, who died recently. He wasn't a superstar chess player and will not be remembered in a hundred years. But he taught inner city kids to play chess. A successful life.
Thanks for the post, Joseph. An interesting take on the hidden nature of human aspiration and failed hopes. We do what we do. I had a complex life(mostly on my own) with many mistakes and I won't bore you with the details. But I learned immensely -- mostly how people think badly, and how they place a ridiculous level of trust in their funny little game plans. Nearing the end of my time I feel a real joy. Largely because whatever bad life decisions I have made I have always chosen what I perceived to be the highest road for me and followed it. So, in that way, no regrets. I found a lot of peace along the way just suited to me. I hope other people can find their own peace in their own way.
Life Commandment 1: stay away from negative people. Life Commandment 2: the best part of yourself was always worth it and will carry you through.
Go easy on yourself, Joseph.
posted by felix : 7:02 PM
My childhood was violent and I don't recall anyone other than my 8th grade science teacher telling me I had any future. (He told me I was doomed to be a teacher. Psychic, that man.) I do recall my 10th grade counselor telling me I was an animal and I would soon be locked in a cage. So I can I count a successful life as one thus far survived, though I have achieved few of my dreams. I plod on. And dream.
That was cold...with a twist of bitters on the side. Understanding ones motives, if they are not your own is not always easy. As you age, you often realize-there is no turning back...you chose your path, so you best embrace it.
posted by Anonymous : 7:14 PM
Yours is a voice I would miss.
posted by OldCoastie : 12:31 AM
I started a film club at Cal State Northridge back in the 80's. One day I happened to ask how many people had also applied to USC and UCLA films schools, EVERYBODY raised their hand. No matter where you are, there are people around you that either were once a big shot, just missed being one, wanted to hang out with big shots, or who are very accomplished but have no avenue in which to express their talents. I think you fall into the final category. If you want to increase your income, based on YOUR EXISTING TALENT, I can show you how to do it for one dollar a day, you just don't want to do it because it involves facebook.
Joseph, I've just been reading your comment at 1:29. Please be clear. Whatever else is going on in your life you are NOT "letting people down." You are not letting anybody down as far as I can see.
Dump everything to one side if you have to. But talk through your ideas with 10 counselors -- if only to prove that they are all wrong and you really have been "letting people down." I'll bet you none of them say that.
Go to a crowded shopping mall, a fair showgrounds or crowded football stadium. Spend a whole day swimming in the noise and personalities of others, be overwhelmed by their presence, and then come back and see how you feel.
A lot of feelings are just mental noise. They don't actually mean anything, even though they insist they do.
Your only responsibility is to yourself, not "the people." Take care and take it easy.
posted by travis : 3:47 AM
Joseph, count me as another person who failed to live up to what others regarded as my early childhood promise. I lacked not only great talent, but the driving determination to achieve my goals no matter what. Along the way I let many people down.
I look back on my life sometimes with regret and melancholy, but while it was not all the things it might have been, it was NOT NOTHING.
I have also done good work, I have stood by friends, I write a blog that is not much in the total scheme of things, but is NOT NOTHING. I perform acts of kindness that partly offset my failures to be kind in earlier parts of my life.
I don't know much about your life, but I feel sure it is NOT NOTHING. You write a blog that I read every day and that adds positively to the sum total of human knowledge and insight. Your dog GEORGE has a truer friend than many humans do.
Regrets and failure are common in all humans experiences. You are somebody you are not nothing. I value you and so a lot of your readers so stop it
posted by Anonymous : 2:01 PM
Reading the comments here almost put me into tears. I never suspected there were so many kind-hearted people frequenting here. You should be thankful Joe that you have people showing you so much love. It's an old fashioned thing these days, it seems, but wow would I like to run off with everyone and do a drum circle or something similarly hippified. Thanks to all you for letting me know a small slice of your selves. And, Joe, hang on bro. (Machi-- thanks for the shout-out. You da man.)
Hey, Joe, in our hearts, most of us are sure that by external standards, we're miserable, shameful failures. Still, some of those other failures love us, and need us. Our pets aren't even failures, and they love and need us. Be there for them until you can be there for you.
Forget the art, unless it's just for fun. You know what a crazy shark-tank the New York fine-art world is, don't you? You want to succeed there? Flip the image upside-down. Just suppose, for a moment, you were an amazing success in the art world. Is that the high-pressure, high-wire life you'd really want? Are you sure about that?
What you really are is a world-class political writer. Sure, it sucks the best writers don't get the cushy gigs at the Atlantic or the New York Times, but we all knew that going in, didn't we? Just like the New York-based world of fine art, you gotta know somebody to become famous.
Don't sell your writing and analytic gifts short. You're really good at this. As a semi-pro writer myself, I admire the sheer amount of work and research you put into your blog. It ain't no small thing, and you've been doing it for quite a while. Respect and honor all that hard work. You've had more influence than you realize.
posted by ColoradoGuy : 9:05 PM
I read your "Sistine Chapel" everyday. It's beautiful!
posted by Anonymous : 9:30 AM
I know I was not alone in terribly missing your voice the last time the blog went on hiatus (a deserved vacation). If memory serves it was also towards the end of an election cycle. Aside from the larger life story-arc issues, these short term negatives do take a toll, and this election is so not redeemable. With the ticker and child stress issues you've had this spring I believe a vacation from your perceived obligation to write for us wouldn't hurt. But for me you will always be the ironman of writers. You've endured regularly creating new content for so long now that few storied newspaper columnists have topped it. Wow.
posted by Arbusto205 : 10:24 AM
Joe, you are a fantastic blogger that I've followed for many years. You've made me think, made me reconsider my positions, made me laugh out loud. I consider that a success (as I know you've done that for many others). Success is overrated anyway, because once you have it, people just expect more and more of it from you. Never give up yourself or life. You've got a lot left to write, and probably more than that.
posted by Gus : 12:31 PM
Btw, Joe. Not to get all pop-psychology on you but . . . major funks/depression are quite common after a major heart event. I've both worked with someone who experienced this and read that these waves of self-doubt are more the norm than the exception. And yes, it does interfere with work and daily life, trying to carry on while pushing through a very heavy, dark cloud. Keep the faith--in your work, your life (as in breathing in and out) and everything/everyone you love. Including George. If the sense of futility and doubt persists, I'd suggest talking to your doctor. Yes, I know this is somewhat embarrassing but there are medications that can get you over the hump. Even natural remedies which might work for you. You can, indeed, get to the other side. I suffered from depression as a teenager and young adult. It's no picnic. But it can be controlled.
posted by Anonymous : 1:46 PM
You're a huge let down to thousands of people, Joe.
posted by Anonymous : 4:24 PM
Try reading Agatha Christie's autobiography -she had a very interesting outlook on life and on careers-I'll let her tell you all about it if you like.
posted by Anonymous : 11:02 PM
Ah c'mon, Joe! At least wait until after the election to retire.
This is all too (almost deliciously) awful to watch! Oh! The posts you could write!
posted by OldCoastie : 6:06 PM
Joseph, was hoping to have your take on the youtube "hoax" videos about the Orlando Shooting.
We can't expect credit for what we've done, especially not when most of what we've done in the last ten years is just--despite a bipartisan agenda opposing us--to make the world a little bit less bad.
Here's an example. A friend signed on for a video project opposing the oil trains running on century-old bridges down canyons feeding vital California water supplies. He was told at the time by a qualified witness in the area that perhaps his presence as a videographer was inhibiting rail traffic in the area. The video never came off. Will my friend get credit for a video that never came off? We also serve, who only stand and wait. Credit is beside the point.
You're important, Joe. I'm impatiently looking forward to the end of the election so you can return to longer-term concerns.
posted by Anonymous : 3:27 PM
Joseph, I've put some thoughts here. If they help, fine. If not feel free to ignore. Cheers.
posted by damien : 2:58 AM
Some of your best writing, Joe—I know it's a mixed blessing when it comes from such a melancholic place.
For some reason, this reminded me of a piece by Malcolm Gladwell (I know...) about Picasso and Cezanne, and the difference in their manners of artistic success. Essentially, Picasso's most "meaningful" works were made before he was 40, and Cezanne's most meaningful were made from his mid-50s on. Also thinking about how Will Eisner said that he was a bad painter and a bad writer, so he made comics... Which reminds me of your recent Bernie comic (which was great (nicely rendered hands))—what was with that Shirley Chisholm reference? I always thought she was pretty righteous.
Eat some veggies. Maybe learn mindfulness meditation. Just... don't let the bastards wear you down, Joe. I don't always agree with you, but I find your presence vital. Please—keep on keepin' on.
posted by quasiblotto : 3:25 AM
as a long time reader I would like to add my voice to the chorus of voices saying how brilliant & important your work is, including your artwork & videography - & especially now that Michael Caputo has joined Roger Stone in the shadows. see, I did read part 10 of Italkyoubored about R Stone & I bet a lot of other people did too. we need you to help the world connect all the dots & defeat the Repugs in November
Hey, Joe's ladyfriend! We all love him here, and we know he's either unwilling or unable to post. We respect that. I for one am not saying "come back and post" and "we need you to post". It would be great if he did, but if he wants to take it easy, for however long, then that's what he should do. Only if posting here again helps him, in all the circumstances, should he do it. Maybe a post a week might help. I dunno. Less analytical energy or care for wit, no problem. As I said, we all love Joe here. It's been the best blog on the internet and we're grateful. Why I'm writing now is to ask for a situation report. How's the old curmudgeon doing?
posted by b : 11:06 AM
Unfortunately the realization of emptiness and powerlessness leads many into lifestyle choices of alcoholism and other addictions.
“I would sue any president that exceeds his or her powers,” Ryan said in a back-and-forth about Trump's claims that he could implement a Muslim ban or build a Mexican border wall without congressional approval.
Unprecedented! No powerful Republican has ever spoken in this fashion about his party's nominee. TPM also reports that Trump has no "ground game" to speak of, and has not been coordinating with the RNC.
Trump seems to have decided he's just not going to have one. Maybe he'll decide that's ridiculous and he wants to build on after all. But you can't just build a campaign operation overnight. And Trump is way, way behind.
Who the hell is advising Trump? I was under the impression that Stone and Manafort knew something about politics...
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has been quietly having conversations with state party leaders to discuss the latest push by convention delegates to nominate anyone other than Donald Trump.
Priebus has spoken with GOP party chairmen in multiple states in recent days in part to get a better sense of how large the anti-Trump faction is among their convention delegations, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
Given the strife, a growing group of anti-Trump delegates is convinced that enough like-minded Republicans will band together in the next month to change party rules and allow delegates to vote for whomever they want at the convention, regardless of who won state caucuses or primaries.
The new push is being run by people who can actually make changes to party rules, rather than by pundits and media figures who have been pining for a Trump alternative. Many of the delegates involved supported Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) in the primary race but say they are not taking cues from any of Trump’s vanquished opponents.
“This literally is an ‘Anybody but Trump’ movement,” said Kendal Unruh, a Republican delegate from Colorado who is leading the campaign.
Many, many factors caused this revolt. But the proximate cause -- the straw with the power to shatter the vertebra of even the mightiest dromedary -- was Trump's reaction to the Orlando massacre.
All he needed to do was sound presidential. All he needed to do was leave his ego at the door for just one damned day.
Just. One. Day.
Hell, even I could have done it. How does this sound?
"This is not a day for politics. This is a day for all Americans, of every party and persuasion, to come together in mourning. It's a day for prayer, a day for grief, a day for tears, a day to console the victims whose pain we all share. Soon, we shall gather as a nation and ask ourselves the necessary questions: How did this happen? How could it have been prevented? How can we unite our efforts and work together to insure our safety without doing injury to the freedoms we cherish...?"
And so on. The speech writes itself.
Yes, a statement of that sort would have been conventional -- even banal. After a tragedy, people want to hear conventional sentiments from our leading political figures; there is solace in the familiar. People do not want to hear narcissistic self-praise, or brutish partisan insults, or anything that smacks of opportunism. The day after the Orlando massacre was not a day for the political hard sell.
If Trump were a man of sound judgment, he would have said the right words. But Trump couldn't stop himself. He combined the egomania of Caligula with the sales pitch of Soapy Smith:
On this tragic day, as on all other days, I am I. Me am me. Me the magnificent. The amazing I. I I I. Me me me. Trump Trump Trump. All others are stupid. All others are criminal. All others are out to get you. Your only salvation is I I I me me me Trump Trump Trump. Everything in your lives will be tremendous and glorious and magnificent if you are led by me me me ME ME ME ME ME.
Trump just can't not be Trump. Not even for one day. And now his own party is saying "Enough is enough."
I've been predicting for severeal weeks (on Twitter) that the GOP will find a way to dump Trump. If you ask me how, I'd say rules change. (New rule: To qualify, nominee must do something Trump would never do, like show his tax returns.) If you ask me who will be his replacement, I'd say Mitt Romney.
I stand by predictions. But here's the thing to worry about: If Trump goes, what will happen in November?
The Dems have been doing their happy dance at the prospect of running against Trump. The anti-Trump ads and speeches write themselves. The message is clear and simple: Elect me if you don't want Trump. Clinton can just bide her time until November practicing her presidential shtick.
But if Trump goes, and he is replaced with a safe, centrist, uncontroversial nominee like Ronmey, then all bets are off. HRC might have to work to earn the job.
Disclaimer: I don't care about Trump or Hillary. I'm likely better off if Hillary wins because of my Obamacare/Income situation. That being said, I hate to see anyone railroaded and words re-written / made-up about anyone...even a blowhard like Trump:
You try to re-write history saying here is Trump's speech:
"On this tragic day, as on all other days, I am I. Me am me. Me the magnificent. The amazing I. I I I. Me me me. Trump Trump Trump. All others are stupid. All others are criminal. All others are out to get you. Your only salvation is I I I me me me Trump Trump Trump. Everything in your lives will be tremendous and glorious and magnificent if you are led by me me me ME ME ME ME ME."
When I just looked at the transcript, I found standard normally expected stuff like this:
"So many people dead, so many people gravely injured, so much carnage, such a disgrace.
The horror is beyond description.
The families of these wonderful people are totally devastated. Likewise, our whole nation, and indeed the whole world, is devastated.
We express our deepest sympathies to the victims, the wounded, and their families.
We mourn, as one people, for our nation’s loss – and pledge our support to any and all who need it.
I would like to ask now that we all observe a moment of silence for the victims of the attack.
Our nation stands together in solidarity with the members of Orlando’s LGBT Community.
This is a very dark moment in America’s history.
A radical Islamic terrorist targeted the nightclub not only because he wanted to kill Americans, but in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation.
It is a strike at the heart and soul of who we are as a nation.
It is an assault on the ability of free people to live their lives, love who they want and express their identity.
It is an attack on the right of every single American to live in peace and safety in their own country.
We need to respond to this attack on America as one united people – with force, purpose and determination."
Was the speech overall a good positive thing? Probably not AND I don't care...I'm just pointing out there is a tremendous slant going on here. Is it possible that some people see the complete slant here and ignore all the good investigative work and other thoughts put into the posts because everything is so obviously constantly slanted and should not be taken as anything but entertainment or one-sided opinion?
Who knows? Do I know a better way to stop the Trump train? Sorry to say, No. I just saw a Live feed on youtube of a Trump rally in Vegas with a packed house at the Treasure Island theater where I saw Mystere and there were also 15,000 people watching on youtube live. The positive comments were going by so fast, you couldn't even read them...a bullet train indeed.
I saw a clip from the show "The View" the other day and it turns out (according to them), Trump is actually working with ISIS to kill us...we certainly cannot support a guy like that. At least I think that is the message I was supposed to get from that revelation.
Some of the people I hear on POTUS channel on XM-radio say Trump has jumped the shark, no money left and nobody wants to fund him, etc...After hearing their commentary, I guess the Trump Train has derailed and become a moot point now.
Russia has been on my mind lately. I think we're in trouble. I think that Russia is covertly working on behalf of Donald Trump.
Arguably, if Putin force-fits Donald Trump in the oval office, the Russian leader will be giving the United States some much-deserved payback. We inflicted Yeltsin on the Russian people, and we inflicted a Nazified nightmare on Ukraine. Turnabout is fair play.
I can see little reason why Putin would not love to see a corrupt, incompetent, dimwitted egomaniac take control in DC. The decline of US power can only aid the rise the BRICS alliance. How better to insure our national decline than to engineer the triumph of Donald Trump?
Please understand that this theory is still in its germinal phase, and that it will go into revision as new facts arrive. Understand as well that I normally don't gravitate toward this kind of idea. I'm not anti-Putin -- in fact, I've written many posts in opposition to the New Cold War. Hell, I was no great fan of the old Cold War.
Nevertheless, an unnerving and unbidden scenario has crept into my consciousness, and the idea refuses to vacate. On a day when most pundits are sneering at Trump, I am predicting a Trump victory -- perhaps even a landslide -- thanks to the Russia Factor.
Background. With Trump, the key name is always Roger Stone, who, years ago, formed an indirect alliance (of sorts) with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Stone engineered the Ukrainian parliamentary election of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an ally of the pro-Putin former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko. There are many who believe that Lytvyn arranged the murder of a journalist named Georgiy Gongadze.
(Roger Stone wrote a popular -- though not particularly credible -- book about the JFK assassination. It's quite ironic that, around the same time, he aided someone widely believed to have masterminded a political killing.)
We don't know, and probably will never know, the full story of the Stone Gang's involvement with the Ukraine elections of 2007. We do know that Stone engineered events while remaining in America. We know that Stone's associate Michael Caputo -- now a key Trump campaign adviser -- was on the scene, and even married a Ukrainian woman. And we know that another key member of this effort was Tad Devine, now the chief strategist for none other than everyone's favorite "progressive," Bernie Sanders.
Then there's Trump's campaign consultant Paul Manafort (another Stone partner), whose ties to the pro-Russia faction in Ukraine have been widely reported -- see here and here. This under-discussed piece appeared a couple of days ago:
Paul Manafort is a “real-world” advisor, with a real-world résumé of working for Ukrainian oligarchs: all-powerful men carrying past criminal charges on their record. One of those is Putin’s puppet Yanukovitch, who was jailed twice in his youth, first for robbery and assault and then for a drunken brawl, but yet made his way up to Ukraine’s Presidency. Another is oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who made his fortune on deals with Russian Gazprom. Back in 2013 he was charged by the U.S for a bribe scheme, arrested in Austria, but then released on a bail of 125 mill euros, the largest in Austria’s history. While Firtash denies the allegations, he is still wanted in the USA. Manafort has worked for both of them.
Known in Ukraine and Russia as a strong pro from the West, Paul Manafort has catered to another Ukrainian oligarch as well – Rinat Akhmetov. Akhmetov is one of the richest men in Ukraine, who the then US Ambassador John Herbst called the “Donetsk clan godfather” and his political Party of Regions “long a haven for Donetsk-based mobsters and oligarchs.”
And it’s not only Manafort on Trump’s team that raises eyebrows among those who know the Kremlin.
Yet another Soviet connection to Donald Trump is Carter Page, as a foreign policy adviser. Page had pitched major deals for Russian Gazprom between 2004-2007 and was an investor in the Kremlin’s state-run gas company. Again, Trump takes his “faith in business” approach over policy-making experience to another level. A Wall Street investment banker as an international affairs expert? Anything is possible, we surmise, if you really aim to make America great again.
Putin has already praised Trump for being “a really brilliant and talented person without any doubt” and “an absolute leader in the presidential race”. Trump has reciprocated this sentiment, as well, his plan to move on to a new, more substantial relationship with Russia should he be elected president. Many wonder if these mutual endorsements are related to Manafort’s and Page’s alarming connections with Ukraine and Russia.
Yes, this passage contains a lot of "new Cold War" argot. Sorry. It's not the sort of verbiage one usually encounters in this blog.
Nevertheless, those paragraphs do much to explain Team Trump's long-standing links to certain powerful associates of Vladimir Putin -- and, ultimately, to Putin himself. It seems counterintuitive, but even as much of the media (both on the right and on the left) has waged a frenzied campaign to demonize the Russian leader, one faction of the GOP has worked for the other team. Trump's closest associates belong to that faction.
Putin knows that if Trump gets in, there will be no further American meddling in Ukraine.
Hackers against Hillary. All of which brings us to the recent Russian hack of the DNC's servers.
Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee and gained access to the entire database of opposition research on GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, according to committee officials and security experts who responded to the breach.
The intruders so thoroughly compromised the DNC’s system that they also were able to read all email and chat traffic, said DNC officials and the security experts.
The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.
I must emphasize that this is unprecedented. Never before has Russian intelligence played this kind of role in an American election.
The DNC said that no financial, donor or personal information appears to have been accessed or taken, suggesting that the breach was traditional espionage, not the work of criminal hackers.
The intrusions are an example of Russia’s interest in the U.S. political system and its desire to understand the policies, strengths and weaknesses of a potential future president — much as American spies gather similar information on foreign candidates and leaders.
Given the demonstrated ties of Team Trump to Vladimir Putin, I think that the Russians have a motive that goes beyond personality assessment. I think that they want to influence the outcome of the election.
In fact, I know it.
(Added note: In what may be his most ridiculous conspiracy theory yet, Donald Trump has accused Hillary herself of staging the DNC hack. Did Nixon ever claim that Liddy worked for McGovern? No; he lacked Trump's audacity. The fact that Trump feels obligated to provide rhetorical cover for the Russians fits into the theory I'm proposing here.)
An online vandal using the name “Guccifer 2.0” has claimed credit for the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers and has provided The Smoking Gun with documents stolen during the illegal operation, including a 237-page opposition research report on Donald Trump.
In an e-mail today, the hacker wrote, “Hi. This is Guccifer 2.0 and this is me who hacked Democratic National Committee.” Claiming that the incursion was “easy, very easy,” the hacker added that, “Guccifer may have been the first one who penetrated Hillary Clinton's and other Democrats' mail servers. But he certainly wasn't the last. No wonder any other hacker could easily get access to the DNC's servers.”
"Guccifer 2.0" pretends to be your friendly neighborhood anarchist -- but that persona is, I am sure, a masquerade. We're dealing with Russian intelligence.
The first document to receive public release is the oppo file on Donald Trump. You may now be asking: If "Guccifer 2" is Russian intel, and if Russia wants Trump to win, why release this material first? Obviously, the intent is to forestall any accusation that "the new Guccifer" favors one candidate over the other.
Think about it: Nothing in this data dump can harm Trump, since the Democrats already had the information. They were going to make use of it anyways. If anything, releasing the document at this time works in Trump's favor.
The main part of the papers, thousands of files and mails, I gave to Wikileaks. They will publish them soon.
I guess CrowdStrike customers should think twice about company’s competence.
Fuck the Illuminati and their conspiracies!!!!!!!!! Fuck CrowdStrike!!!!!!!!!
We are supposed to believe that Guccifer 2 is just another conspiracy nut -- but, like Hamlet, this person is "mad north by northwest." He knows a hack from a handsaw.
The Irvine cybersecurity team Crowdstrike has the DNC account. Here is their response to the Guccifer 2 release:
CrowdStrike stands fully by its analysis and findings identifying two separate Russian intelligence-affiliated adversaries present in the DNC network in May 2016. On June 15, 2016 a blog post to a WordPress site authored by an individual using the moniker Guccifer 2.0 claiming credit for breaching the Democratic National Committee. This blog post presents documents alleged to have originated from the DNC.
Whether or not this posting is part of a Russian Intelligence disinformation campaign, we are exploring the documents’ authenticity and origin. Regardless, these claims do nothing to lessen our findings relating to the Russian government’s involvement, portions of which we have documented for the public and the greater security community.
Crowdstrike does not come right out and say that Guccifer 2 is a persona adopted by Russian intelligence, but the implication is clearly there.
The intrusion was perpetrated by two separate Russian intelligence teams, which Crowdstrike has nicknamed COZY BEAR and FANCY BEAR.
We have identified no collaboration between the two actors, or even an awareness of one by the other. Instead, we observed the two Russian espionage groups compromise the same systems and engage separately in the theft of identical credentials. While you would virtually never see Western intelligence agencies going after the same target without de-confliction for fear of compromising each other’s operations, in Russia this is not an uncommon scenario.
Side note: Is it possible that the first Guccifer -- a Romanian cab driver named Marcel Lazar Lehel (a toon with a penchant for truly insane conspiracy theories) -- was himself a front for a Russian intrusion? The thought never occurred to me previously. However, it has always seemed odd that a hacker noted for his unimpressive skills and disorderly thinking could do what he did.
Given Team Trump's longstanding alliance with Putin, I cannot believe that the DNC intrusion was conducted for the small-potatoes purpose of profiling the players in the 2016 election. Something more is afoot. Julian Assange -- who despises Hillary -- will be used as a puppet in this; it's clear now that Putin's services handed him the emails he has been threatening to release.
(I don't know why so many speak of Assange as though he were a hacker himself; he is nothing of that kind. He simply transmits goods provided to him by other parties -- parties who may be state actors, and who certainly have agendas of their own.)
This DNC intrusion was worse than Watergate. And we all know that Trump's long-time friend Roger Stone was part of the team that gave us Watergate.
Astroturf wars. I now proceed to the most conjectural part of this theory: Has Vladimir Putin been waging an astroturf war against Hillary Clinton?
In order to pursue this idea, I must briefly turn from Team Trump to Team Bernie. As you know, I posit that these two efforts are conjoined twins.
Astroturf is the creation of a false "grassroots" online campaign against a political opponent in order to whip up hysteria, commandeer perceptions, and dominate the national discussion. Astroturf is the most significant weapon in the modern political armory. Astroturf made Barack Obama president.
One of the key figures involved in Obama's 2008 online campaign was Scott Goodstein. He later formed a company called Revolution Messaging, which was hired by the Bernie Sanders campaign to smear Hillary throughout the length and breadth of social media.
In this election cycle, the enormously influential website Reddit has played a key role: Reddit provides the ground on which the astroturf is laid. For months, Reddit's headlines and comments -- particularly on the main political subreddit, r/Politics -- have demonized Hillary and Bill Clinton with a vehemence which we may fairly describe as maniacal.
Suddenly, as of yesterday, some unseen hand flipped a switch. The r/politics subreddit ceased to be a toxic dumping ground for anti-Hillary, pro-Trump propaganda, and returned to something close to normality. The breathtaking rapidity of the shift is discussed here.
Articles that were pro-Sanders and anti-Hillary were consistently and almost automatically upvoted 4k. But the comment sections didn't really reflect that level of engagement - upvotes would max out at like 50, or top comments would be focused on an opposing POV . So it did seem like the front page was manufactured.
Which has a certain irony after all the 'Shill' and CTR accusations.
I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of it was simply due to berniebots creating shitloads of accounts to mass-upvote/downvote & then regular users doing the same...but yea, looking at /r/politics today made me wanna cry tears of joy before realizing how ridiculously suspicious it is for the day after the last primary
"Berniebots creating shitloads of accounts..."? I don't think so.
Creating and using that many accounts takes more effort than you may realize. In order to comment more than once, one must log out of one account and log in with another, a dull and time-consuming process. (Does Reddit check IP numbers? If you know the answer, please share!)
As fanatical as the Sandernistas were and are, most of them do not have the skills, the time or the energy to turn multiple-persona astroturfing into a full-time job. I doubt that young, unpaid political newbies would coordinate their efforts in a highly-disciplined fashion. Young progressives have always been notorious for their inability to work together effectively. They are too disorganized, too emotional, too prone to internal bickering, too easily distracted by pot and pettiness (and a third "P" word which I ought not use here.)
I'm quite sure that paid workers did the job of spamming Reddit, Facebook, and other sites. But who hired those workers?
Most would suggest that Revolution Messaging ran the operation. That's very possible, but from my perspective, this idea has one problem: If RM runs a "boiler room" of astrotrufers on Rhode Island Avenue Northwest in DC, someone will inevitably talk. Workers get fired, beliefs mutate, conscience takes hold -- and mouths start moving.
I would like to propose another possibility.
You may recall this story from 2013. I didn't mention it at the time because I had a phobic reaction to anything that smelled like "new Cold War" agit-prop. But now that we have evidence of Russian interest in manipulating the US election, we need to take a look.
Russian news site the St. Petersburg Times describes the story of one woman, Natalya Lvova, who said she attended a job interview in August at a “posh cottage with glass walls” in a village near St. Petersburg:
“To my question about a technical task—what exactly should be written in the comments—a young guy, a coordinator, told me, briefly and clearly, that they were having busy days at the moment and that yesterday they all wrote in support of [Moscow acting mayor Sergei] Sobyanin, while ‘today we shit on Navalny,’” she wrote on her VKontakte [ed: a Russian social network] page.
According to Lvova, each commenter was to write no less than 100 comments a day, while people in the other room were to write four postings a day, which then went to the other employees whose job was to post them on social networks as widely as possible.
Employees at the company, located at 131 Lakhtinsky Prospekt, were paid 1,180 rubles ($36.50) for a full 8-hour day and received a free lunch, Lvova wrote.
A Russian journalist who visited one such comment-mill, the St. Petersburg Internet Research Agency, met with a coordinator who said the job was not unlike writing copy for a hair dryer: "The only difference is that this hair dryer is a political one."
The coordinator then provided an example of such postings, including several about Alexei Navalny, Russia's main opposition leader. “Navalny is the Hitler of Our Time," one said.
Others targeted the U.S.:
“Friends, wake up! America is not our friend, but really the worst enemy!” one blogger wrote. “Behind America’s smile and handshake, there is only its task of genocide and the complete destruction of our country.”
Paid, pro-government commenters aren't a new phenomenon in Russia, and similar practices are widespread in countless countries. In their Freedom on the Net report released last week, the NGO Freedom House said the strategy has been on the rise over the past two years, and is now rampant in 22 of the 60 countries the group examined. China, Bahrain, and Russia are at the forefront of this practice, Freedom House wrote.
But some Russian opposition journalists point out that this trolling creates a chilling effect on the few independent media outlets that remain in the country. Finding themselves drowned out by paid propagandists, as opposition activist Vladimir Volokhonsky told the St. Petersburg Times, everyday readers stop responding to news articles entirely:
“The effect created by such Internet trolls is not very big, but they manage to make certain forums meaningless because people stop commenting on the articles when these trolls sit there and constantly create an aggressive, hostile atmosphere toward those whom they don’t like. These include commentary systems on the web sites of every major media outlet in the city that the trolls began to occupy a long time ago and react to certain news with torrents of mud and abuse. This makes it meaningless for a reasonable person to comment on anything there.”
"Mud and abuse..." "Everyday readers stop responding to news articles entirely..."
No, I am not arguing that Bernie Sanders was cognizant of this operation. The 2016 astroturf campaign was designed not to make Sanders president but to create fractures within the Democratic party. You may have noticed that the pro-Bernie astroturfers rarely discussed the candidate's ideas in any detail, and rarely quoted him. This is the key distinction between Obama's online operation in 2008 and the Sanders online operation in 2016. In 2008, astroturfed demonization of Clinton was matched by wild overpraise of every thought and observation made by Barack Obama; the online effort was both negative and positive. This year, it was all about Hillary-Hate; Bernie was just the excuse.
Before you say it: Yes, I am quite certain that many other countries, including the US, engage in similar cyberwars. This post is not about the larger phenomenon of internet comment manipulation: Today, we're talking about Russia. We are focusing on the capabilities of that nation.
Bottom line: I think Putin wants Trump to win.
If Hillary faces Trump in a fair fight, she stands a good chance, because Donald Trump is an unlovable fool and a national disgrace. But what if Hillary's true opponent is the intelligence apparat of a formidable foreign power?
"Russia has been on my mind lately. I think we're in trouble. I think that Russia is covertly manipulating the 2016 election to insure a victory for Donald Trump."
No such plot is feasible because the CIA would know about it. In the unlikely event the CIA didn't know, some other Western intelligence agency would have got wind of it and passed the info along. So I think your theory is kinda lame, to put it kindly.
posted by Anonymous : 7:12 AM
Funny, I was thinking about the same theme but came to a different conclusion. So Moon of Alabama had a post about this which is worth considering. Botton line was how would the Russians have known Trump was worth hacking into the DNC a year ago. And not for oppo research of which they can consult the public sources just as well. Also how can you ever know who did a hack unless it was stupidly done or intended to cast suspicion on a third party?
However, there is a wikileaks release which is coming reputedly of the deleted hrc emails. I wonder where wikileaks might have got that from? They might not even know, but I would not be shocked if it's from the Russians. So imagine the Russians think HRC is not their preferred president and they want to get her out. Sensible people might have doubts about Lynch prosecuting even if there was a case. Obama had endorsed etc. So how do you get evidence of any naughtiness into the public domain?
So imagine you are the HRC campaign and you fear the Russians have given wikileaks the deleted emails (by the way it's pretty clear that that email server was not just for the two names you suggested - Slaughter, Jake, and a bunch of State Dept names come up. But clearly these emails are the ones fit for public scrutiny cos they were released. Check it out at wiki leaks.) I suggest that you make it look like the Russians are targeting you, which of course they are, lb so they can't pull that anonymous wikileaks crap. Help diffuse the story which is coming.
And if gives you an excuse to release your oppo research to the press in one big lump.
Harry, of COURSE Wikileaks got that stuff from the Russians. It may not cripple Hillary. If it were catastrophic, she would not be running. Remember, both Hillary and Obama know everything that the Russians could possibly have obtained -- as does much of Congress, by this point.
Assange hates Hillary due to Libya, so he is trying to elect Trump -- who will, of course, make war on Iran. The situations is nuts. But not even Assange is claiming "This will destroy Hillary!" If he had the goods, he'd crow about it.
I must admit that it is very amusing to see Assange of all people attempt to criticize Hillary Clinton on the grounds of her alleged inattention to classification procedures. That's a bit like Charles Manson saying "You know what Sharon Tate's problem was? She used drugs."
I will say that if Assange foists Trump on the world, he's going to be a LOT less popular. I've defended the guy in the past, but no longer.
Obviously, if you are Donald Trump, you want to find out what kind of oppo research the Dems have done in order to learn they have the REAL goods. The Watergate precedent should be obvious.
Anon: You say "No such plot is feasible because the CIA would know about it. In the unlikely event the CIA didn't know, some other Western intelligence agency would have got wind of it and passed the info along."
Let's stipulate your point. What could they DO? Knowing and doing are two different things.
First, there's the Coventry problem: You can't use the intel without blowing your sources. For example, I'm sure that the NSA has scooped up phone calls in which Donald Trump can be heard saying incriminating things. But how can you use that material without confirming everyone's worst fears about the NSA?
Second, there have been plenty of occasions when the CIA manipulated events in a foreign country -- Chile, for example. Allende knew what the CIA was doing. They did it anyways. If Russia wants to help Trump, what can stop them?
Third, I have suggested that the Russians are offering aid in terms of online propaganda, creating an astroturf army. There is also the obvious possibility of money being transferred. Both can be done in ways that difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove.
Fourth, if the Russians aid Trump by releasing damaging information about Hillary Clinton (via Assange or some other party), it doesn't matter if Putin signs his name to the deed. As we've seen, they've tried to hide their involvement by erecting the facade of "Guccifer 2" (and possibly Guccifer the first). Even if that mask is ripped away -- what of it?
Very complicated. I'll just wait and see before I jump into the intelligence debate, but I would like to bring up another point about astroturfing and other nefarious on-line activities. Do we have any laws on the books concerning manipulating on-line behavior in political campaigns? To me, it seems it should be illegal to hire people or even to direct coordinated efforts to affect on-line comments and polls.
Those whom the Russians wish to destroy, first they have elect Donald Trump.
Go is a game where you try to take as much of the board as possible. In chess, all you have to do is take the king.
Mentioning Ukraine reminds me of the chapter in Welcome to Terrorland where Hopsicker talks about a suspicious plane crash in that country involving one of the Florida pilots, which makes me think of that dubious property deal in Florida between Trump and Rybolovlev. Trump and the Russian mafia. Trussia.
Bernie fans would have to log out, of course, to mass upvote things, but professionals like a PR firm would use persona management software to astroturf things, so it needn't be Russia, although that's not to say that it isn't. Americans use Persona Management Software, Russians use cheap labour. Both work.
Assange has said his evidence could get Hillary indicted, although he doesn't think that will happen.
If I was the CIA I would want Hillary as President (and if I was Putin I would not). So why are they the proverbial dog that didn't bark? I don't know. Maybe they are up to something as well. Maybe the neocons neutered the CIA to the point they can't or won't do anything. Time will tell. Perhaps.
Even assuming the correctness of this scenario, Putin, however clever and resourceful he is, does not belong to the 1%.
If you belonged to the 1%, would you rather put control of your Great Global Profit Machine in the hands of:
(1) a calm, seasoned professional
(2) a tribble-haired orange-hued hothead who might start WW3 because he thinks some foreign leader dissed him, who says he wants to stop your source of that sweet, sweet cheap labor (building the wall), who seems to want to start a war on Islam (many Muslims are your customers), etc.
Now, if a sufficient percentage of the 1% are actually stupid enough to want Tribble Hair, then you may have a point.
But if they're smart, they want Clinton.
Putin does not own the U. S. Media (some of which are already turning against Trump, if I understand correctly). The 1% do.
Putin does not control the unaccountable, vote-counting computers. The 1% do.
If a preponderance of the 1% do not want Tribble Hair, then Tribble Hair will not be "elected", and Putin will not be able to do Jack Shinola about it.
Putin is formidable on his own level, but his power within the borders of the USA compares to the power of the 1% as a firecracker compares to a fusion bomb.
Really, this superstitious belief of yours that you MUST publicly predict the worst, in order to prevent it from happening, is starting to look rather silly.
"Creating and using that many accounts takes more effort than you may realize. In order to comment more than once, one must log out of one account and log in with another, a dull and time-consuming process."
But some, if not a major part, of it can be done by software.
Well, I wonder if the "1%" are rational actors. If they were, we'd see a rapid, worldwide conversion to sustainable fuels, if the 1% cared anything about the survival of their grandchildren. But it's not happening. The Chinese one-percenters take climate change seriously, while the US/UK one-percenters don't seem to believe in any future at all. Are the US/UK one-percenters so dominated by short-term thinking they can't see any further than the next quarterly earnings report? Are they really that stupid?
It's possible the 1% (in the West) are disunited, and having an almighty power struggle amongst themselves. Some are comfortable with Murdoch, the rise of fascism, and the outbreak of civil war or even WWIII, while others are more rational and want to damp down the insanity. The 1% don't seem to be pushing back against Murdoch at all, as far as I can tell, and he's the one selling Trump and the more extreme racist faction of Tories in the UK.
Where's the CIA and NSA in all this? Beats me. I'm sure they know all about the machinations of the KGB, but the CIA has always been Republican-friendly, and rather cool to the Democrats.
I am puzzled by the "Burn It All Down" faction of the one-percenters. Do they really think they can ride the tiger of fascism while the world climate gets worse and worse? That's a hell of bet to be making. Maybe more of the 1% are crazy than we imagine, although you'd think a billionaire would want to take all the variables into account when making decisions.
posted by ColoradoGuy : 7:32 PM
If Putin actually would prefer that our country's "nuclear football" go to a thin-skinned bullyboy than to a calm, stable professional, then I will be compelled to lower my estimate of Putin's intellect.
Clinton is a failed non-professional orgiasmistic (at Khaddafi's murder) ex S of S.
Let us say for the purposes of argument, Putin proves to be a world class world stage political chess player and moves the US out of Europe, creates an alliance of peace with Berlin and Paris, and creates openings for Hezbollah and Syria to do quite some damage to the Zionist entity, if not actually free Palestine.
Oh, the horrors! What would the average American have left to live for, it having been established that his/her nation is not Indispensable to the world? Well, perhaps he/she would have that much more opportunity to address the burgeoning class and ethnic divide at home, the government having lost the opportunity to haplessly meddle and create chaos through the Mideast and Ukraine, lying about Saddam's WMDs and Russian perfidy along the way.
posted by Ken Hoop : 12:39 PM
I think Donald is going to quit. I don't know when exactly, but I bet he quits.
Better to be a quitter with a thousand excuses that the worst loser ever in the history of the U.S.
posted by OldCoastie : 1:49 PM
"Dmytro Firtash" sounds like the name of a member of the fictional future society shown in the stories of the Legion of Super-Heroes, maybe a Legionnaire himself, or one of their criminal sparring partners. ^_^
I don't know how or if this relates, but in a synchronistic moment today, I heard from a friend who lives in MT that Russia is buying up ranchers' Black Angus cattle & land there, then restricting the cattle's diet and movement (from more expensive, free range and grass fed to corn fed and penned). At the same time, bull sperm is being sold to the Chinese.
This made me wonder about the global food supply as we go forward into the future, and if maybe ensuring food supply is growing more and more important to countries around the world. True, Trump has made no secret of his admiration for Russia (of course, neither has Sanders!). Maybe it's more $$ for food support/access rather than military aspirations.
posted by Anonymous : 8:14 PM
Scenario: The rightwing splits three ways. GOP runs Romney, Jeb or Rubio. Trump runs independent, Gary Johnson runs Libertarian. The leftwing splits three ways. Jill Stein Green Party, Bernie or Bust write-in, Hillary runs Democratic Party. No one gets 270 electoral votes. Republican Congress picks the president... Clusterfuck, just as Cannonfire predicted.
posted by Anonymous : 12:31 PM
Hi Joe, I'm late to this thread, but I wanted to comment on something you mentioned above. You said, "In order to comment more than once, one must log out of one account and log in with another, a dull and time-consuming process."
Actually, there is a browser add-in you can get to use with Reddit which literally allows you to switch between accounts in less than one second. There is a persistent dropdown menu at the top of every page on Reddit. The dropdown contains a list of all of your accounts. To switch accounts, you simply need to select one of your accounts from the dropdown menu. This takes less than a second, assuming you don't have to move your mouse over to where the dropdown menu is located.
The add-in is called Reddit Enhancement Suite. Just google for something like "reddit enhancement suite account switcher" for all the details.
Reddit does log IP addresses with every post, but it does virtually nothing to limit people to post with a single account. For one thing, doing so is impractical. Tons of college students, for example, share an IP because they live together in an apartment or other dorm-like setting. Same with people on military bases or other communal living arrangements. Reddit cannot presume all posts from the same IP were made by the same person - and even if they did make such a presumption, they do nothing (or virtually nothing) to enforce a one-IP-per-person rule. The only exceptions are with rampant abuse that is reported to Reddit admins by other users.
All seems reasonable to me except the superdelegates thing. I guess the question is how much democracy you want. It's not a digital thing, so you could choose fewer or even more. But how would you feel if say 50% of all delegates were superdelegates? Would you prefer 10%? I think this is a generational problem, and it's common. A bunch of hippies turned up in the 60s and tried to get involved in politics. They are in government now. But eventually you and I are going to get old and die, and these horrible kids will be our future. Locking them out now probably just harms the party in the long term. I mean do you really want to send them to the greens or socialists?
posted by Anonymous : 7:05 PM
Like I said, the supers are necessary to prevent another McGovern debacle.
so, no PUMA for Bernie ? It was only ok for Hillary I guess. Your depiction of Bernie Sanders supporters looks like you're holding a mirror and describing what you see. Hypocrite ?
posted by Anonymous : 12:11 AM
Sanders has condemned his most obnoxious supporters. Just how does a candidate go about "disciplining" his supporters?
I think the Sanders campaign represented a coming together of a lot of disparate movements - Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Fight for Fifteen, the anti-fracking movement, anti-war protesters, mortgage foreclosure protesters, pro-union protesters in Wisconsin and Ohio and others already in existence - who were looking for somebody to unite behind.
If they hadn't found Sanders, they'd have found somebody else.
The question for the Democratic Party is the stand its leaders will take on issues, not its internal procedural rules.
Actually Anonymous (it's always the anonymous ones, isn't it), his depiction of Bernie Sanders supporters is based on......actual Bernie Sanders supporters. Maybe you personally don't fit that depiction, but that doesn't make it any less accurate.
As you know, one of my maxims is: "Always predict the worst and all of your surprises will be happy." For this reason, I have predicted an independent Sanders run. The purpose, of course, would be to elect Trump.
For a brief moment, I allowed myself to contemplate the possibility that we would be granted a happy surprise -- that Bernie Sanders would drop out with grace and attempt to unite the party. But now this...
Bernie Sanders is staying in the Democratic presidential race after meeting with rival Hillary Clinton, the party’s presumptive nominee, for nearly two hours at a Washington, D.C. hotel on Tuesday night.
Sanders and Clinton met at the Capital Hilton just blocks from the White House to plot a way forward after the Democratic primary season came to a close on Tuesday.
Neither took questions from press after the meeting. They were whisked away in black cars behind the protection of legions of security guards and campaign aides.
Still, Sanders has refused to concede the race. He hoped to extract concessions from Clinton on the Democratic platform and other issues during Tuesday's confab, their first face-to-face meeting in months.
Earlier in the day, despite being hours away from losing his ninth contest out of the last 12, Sanders issued a series of demands ahead of the meeting.
He called for a replacement to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman with whom his campaign has often feuded, an end to superdelegates, more open primaries, and the most progressive platform in the party's history.
Sanders said in November that he would run in all future elections as a member of the Democratic Party.
However, when Sanders’ Senate campaign committee renewed its registration with the Federal Election Commission in October, it listed its party affiliation as “independent.”
The FEC continues to list that campaign committee and Sanders himself as independent and not affiliated with the Democratic Party.
The DNC will probably give Bernie what he wants in terms of the platform, as they did with Ted Kennedy in 1980. I certainly hope they do not offer up the head of Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Bernie's main goal seems to be remaking the primary system, with an eye toward allowing the Republicans to rig elections.
Sanders also called for open primaries -- in which independents could vote for Democratic candidates -- and for doing away with superdelegates, the party officials and leaders who are free to vote for the candidate of their choice at the convention. And he argued for same-day voter registration.
All of this is music to the ears of Roger Stone, Karl Rove, and other GOP manipulators.
Given the undeniable fact that Republicans love to tinker with Dem primaries, and given the undeniable fact that Sanders could never prevail in a general election, I'm starting to think that the Bernie campaign offers an argument in favor of the superdelegate system. Yes, I know that just a few days ago, I called for scrapping that system. As Ron Moody sang in Oliver: "I'm reviewing...the situation..."
What's particularly galling here is the hypocrisy of Bernie Sanders -- for he is a superdelegate himself, despite not being a Democrat (his protestations to the contrary notwithstanding). And who made this possible? Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
He says it so well: A Hillary supporter posted the following to Reddit...
To the cult-of-Sanders nutjobs: Thank you for handing the primary to Hillary. You really made her supporters (like me) job easier. You are not only the reason Sanders lost, but so many people ended up ROOTING for Sanders to lose. Congratulations. Your cult-like zealotry, childish immaturity and smug ignorance really destroyed a guy who actually had some pretty noble goals and his campaign. You did close to nothing but weave conspiracy theories, frame lies and distort and bury information. Many of you losers probably didn't even vote, yet you had the loudest and most obnoxious voices. I sincerely hope most of you fedora-wearing, vape pen puffing, wannabe intellectual, wannabe marxist clowns fade back into the rat holes you dwell in, /r/conspiracy and the other shitholes around the world wide web.
Okay, the phrasing is a bit awkward; a rewrite would have helped. Still, I loved that "fedora-wearing, vape pen puffing, wannabe intellectual" remark...
In unrelated news... We have additional indications that Orlando mass-murderer Omar Mateen -- despite his last-minute pretensions -- was not a political terrorist but a lunatic whose rage stemmed from a conflict over sexual identity. He didn't visit Pulse simply to case the joint but was actually a regular there...
A law enforcement source said Omar Mateen's wife, Noor, is telling FBI investigators she tried to stop her husband from committing the attack. Investigators have interviewed her twice and given her a polygraph test. She told them the couple had been to the club at least once before.
Club patron Jim van Horn said Mateen was a regular. "Everybody knew his name. Omar," van Horn said. "He used to come in the bar on the weekends sometimes, he would be there, sometimes he would miss a couple of weeks and then be in again."
The FBI has been speaking with the owners of other clubs in the area, including Michael Bass, who operates the gay club "Revere." He said he received a Facebook friend request from Mateen three days before the shooting.
Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen visited online gay chat rooms despite expressing outrage at the sight of two men kissing and making inflammatory comments about gays, law enforcement officials said.
Investigators don't know whether he visited the chat rooms for personal reasons or for surveillance before carrying out the brutal attack early Sunday at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding more than 50 others.
Oh come on. A future mass murderer visits an online gay chat room for reasons of surveillance? Not bloody likely.
The gunman's first wife, Sitora Yusufiy, said she was not sure about his sexuality.
"It doesn't surprise me that he might be gay. And it doesn't surprise me that he was leading two totally different lives and was in such deep conflict within himself," she told CNN's Don Lemon. "I hope people can truly understand that this is one insane person that did such a tragic thing."
By the way: Am I mistaken, or are the second-amendment fundamentalists unusually quiet? They're not silent -- they never are, nor should they be. But even they must be wondering how a rage-addicted loon like Mateen was able to acquire an automatic rifle, a concealed carry permit, and a job working for a security firm that guards federal facilities. Did you know that G4S runs security for Area 51? Permalink
In my opinion the Middle East is a cauldron of religious dominance that has hindered the development of sports. I believe sports help to channel societal violence and without it, religious dominance creates disciples with suppressed feelings. Allegedly anal intercourse with minors is not considered sex in parts of the Middle East, including male & underage male, yet homosexuality is punishable by death? Get some more team sports to take away the constant monitoring of everyone's individual behavior. The hypocrisy of forcing men to bow in groups in public close enough to each other to smell each other's sweat and body odors seems to be a cruel twisted plot that was never exposed. If a religion is truly against homosexuality, then why force men to smell each other several times a day under the guise of praying, why allow anal intercourse to not be considered sex? The call to 911 to proclaim loyalty to ISIS was an obvious cover-up that this killer was gay and angry he could not be public about it without repercussions from his own countryman.
I am absolutely on board with you. The media is so bias its ridiculous at this point. This morning you've got the WashingtonPost.com saying that Trump claimed Obama had something to do with the shootings, which is absolutely not true. I'm not saying I love Trump, but when you've got websites soliciting poll votes against him (like http://trumpfeedback.com/) you really can't trust anything you read or the statistics. Its depressing. An independent run would be terrible.
posted by John Meyers : 3:10 PM
Hillary Clinton's counter move if Sander's pledges an independent run is to interview Newt Gingrich to be her V.P. and possibly even select him. For the record, Hillary Clinton won 28 primaries and Sanders won 12 primaries. Sanders should have saved about 20 million of his "RECORD" donations and used that money to fund an independent primary for 2020. Suddenly Sanders would see his vote totals go DOWN as Trump and other hi profile characters came forward to dilute the independent vote. Sanders basically enjoyed getting all disenfranchised democrats and younger voters because he had no direct competition. Let him learn how hard it is to keep a base when others come along and simplify offer even more promises they most likely won't be able to keep.
The whole point of the superdelegate system is to prevent another McGovern or Mondale debacle. Of course, Sanders would have lost all 50 states and even have put DC into play had he been the nominee. He is simply a ratfucker now.
I would love to be there at Philadelphia to take part in the convention and watch in person Sanders' shenanigans. I have been selected as an Oregon delegate, but I am finding raising money to go there next to impossible. I will probably have to withdraw in a couple of weeks.
You are indirectly saying HRC does not represent disenfranchised Dems and young voters. That sort of makes sense to me cos her policies won't do much to help the Tom Joads of this world. And I agree it might well be hard to achieve some of the Sanders platform. But I guess for such voters the important thing was to try. Not trying was taken as the politics of the status quo which have done so much to increase inequality in the US and will continue to do so if unchecked. If these voters views and interests are not represented, why should they vote for the Dems? The answer is the lesser evil, right? Well social security is about the only thing standing between 50% of the population and very Dickenson old age. And the sensible people on wall street like druckenmiller etc will tell you that America can't afford it. Unless there is some shift in what are the perceived national priorities and how commitments are funded, they are probably right.
posted by Anonymous : 3:51 PM
Bernie's still saying he'll do everything possible to defeat Trump, and running a third-party campaign would in no shape or form be doing everything possible to defeat Trump. Which makes me wonder why he thinks he has a right to demand anything unless he's threatening a run. I think we absolutely need the superdelegates and closed primaries. Caucuses have to go. Is he demanding that? Ahole.
(1) Presidential candidate 30 April 2015 -- Party affiliation = Democratic Party (2) Sanders' Senate campaign committee registration renewal 15 Oct 2015 -- Party affiliation = Independent
Yet questions remain about his party membership and its legal implications. For those of us who are not up with the technicalities of US party membership registration what effect does point (2) have on Sanders' ability to run as an independent against Hillary? Is he still legally a Democrat? How might this conflict with any 'sore loser' laws?
posted by qwerty : 9:41 PM
My bad and my apologies. That second link is the FEC filing of the group Friends of Bernie Sanders (his Senate team). It is not the official Sanders Presidential campaign team. On June 29 2015 FOBS sent a memo to the FEC (signed by Bernie) saying that neither would be conducting Senate election activities while the Presidential campaign is under way.
There's still those pesky questions however about his legal status as a Democratic Party membership and running as an independent.
posted by qwerty : 10:26 PM
Harry, the the most foundational disenfranchised group in the U.S is the Sandwich generation. Bernie Sanders does not acknowledge them, Hillary Clinton does. Bernie Sanders acknowledges those who live in the basements of the Sandwich Generation households, ironically making the burden of their own parents and their Sandwich Generation travails that much harder to balance.
I was never an Obama fan, but this was a truly great speech. I hope that elementary school students study these words fifty years from now -- and that Donald Trump is remembered solely as the clownish footnote figure who prompted Obama to say what he said.
Let's take another look at Omar Mateen, the Orlando mass murderer.
Despite his much-discussed sympathies for ISIS/Nusra/Hezbollah/whatever, his motives probably were not political, and he almost certainly did not operate at anyone else's behest. Evidence indicates that this man began to lose his grip on reason well before ISIS came into existence.
Whatever your stance on gun control, can we not agree on the need to keep AR-15s out of the hands of lunatics? We'd solve many problems in this country if we spent more money on identifying the seriously unstable. If we can't segregate them from the general population, let's at least make it difficult for them to purchase assault weapons.
On a related note: The security contractor G4S needs to explain how they could have such a man in their employ. Obviously, their screening process is a bad joke. Why didn't they speak to his former wife? A proper psychological evaluation must take into account not just what the subject says of himself but also what others say about him.
It's now clear that Mateen suffered from sexual confusion: See here. Many news stories have reported that he made at least half-a-dozen visits to that nightclub in order to plan his attack, but I think that his patronage had deeper motives. In his brief life, Mateen spent more time in gay bars than I've spent in bars of any kind. Both his anger and his sexual issues may relate to steroid abuse. "Roid rage" is a well-known phenomenon -- and there also seems to be a link between steroid abuse and sexual identity, although the topic is under-researched.
Bottom line: I believe that this man's issues were psychological and pharmacological, not religious or political.
The Telegraph story at the other end of that last link says that Mateen suffered from bipolar disorder. If you research the most mysterious vanishings and murders of recent years -- Elisa Lam, Shannon Gilbert, Michael Cavallari, cases like those -- you'll soon notice that the phrase "bipolar disorder" keeps coming up. I can't help but wonder if tragedy results not from the psychological ailment per se but from the drugs used to treat it. Prescription drugs may interact with OTC medications and with illegal drugs in ways that are hard to predict.
We'll return to that topic soon. Right now, I'd like to publish some heartfelt words written by the best friend this blog ever had. She prefers to remain anonymous, although many of you may guess her identity. She intended these words for her Facebook feed but feared to speak her mind "because of the gun nuts out there. How pathetic is that?"
* * *
Mass shootings. We spew banal and trite sound bites like "Never forget" or "Pray for Peace." Then we move on. We move on too quickly. Mass shootings have become such a part of our news cycle that we are sickened by the message, but we do forget. We pray for the present and forget the future.
Is it because we have become so accustomed to the carnage that happens on a regular basis?
I remember as a kid watching the news and seeing airline after airline being hijacked and sitting on the tarmac awaiting for the demands from the terrorists. After 9/11 what did we do? We passed legislation that made it difficult to carry the weapons which perpetrated the heinous crimes. It took that level of carnage to learn our lesson.
How many more must die before we start to scrutinize our gun regulations policies?
Yes, have a gun for safety. Carry it. You want to shoot an assault rifle? Join the military. You do not need one to help "provide for the common defense."
Just a guess, but I would bet that authoritarian types, often spiced with a dash of crazy, are the ones most likely to want jobs in security and law enforcement. I would expect to find lots of them among the ranks of private security contractors. Hopefully, the screening systems police forces use are better -- but I wouldn't bet my life on it.
To quote myself from another venue: "But, setting aside the empty blather and small-minded xenophobia [evident in Trump's 'Appreciate the congrats' tweeted nonsense], it takes an heroic amount of willful stupidity to call this an act of 'Islamic terrorism.' The idea this was an officially sanctioned act of terror -- that, as its first action on U.S. soil, its keynote strike against the American Satan, ISIS would choose as its target a gay Latino discotheque -- is too dumbfoundingly, absurdly stupid an idea for anyone serious to take seriously."
posted by maz : 6:19 PM
I'm still not counting out Zoolanderesque hypnosis, especially because of the gay Latino club in Florida, but even sans that it would be crazy to rule out religion. Imagine the torment of being gay and Muslim...and then having the drumbeat of how evil gays are....not from the extremists, but from the "normals." The "moderates," the everyday church/mosque-goers.
It was disgusting prayer-circle "normals" (aka imaginary sky daddy cultists) who drove the Columbine massacre. They tormented the shooter.
Yes, the shooters may be mentally fragile and on dubious prescription drugs, but that's exactly who the religious nuts, priding themselves as moderate and normal, ought not to torment.
posted by prowlerzee : 10:06 PM
Joseph, do you have anything specific about Mateen and possible steroid use? I reread that paragraph and maybe I missed it, but is it your speculation and a possible scenario offered as good a guess as anything else?
You may be wondering why I've had no comment on the atrocity in Orlando, FL. I don't know what to say. The words "profoundly depressing" do not suffice.
My original instinct was to write a piece condemning Donald Trump's obnoxious and obvious attempts to politicize the tragedy. But how can I do so without opening myself up to accusations of politicizing the tragedy?
Similarly, I note that the attacker -- whose mental instability began to manifest itself at least eight years ago -- was somehow allowed to work for G4S, the security firm which we may fairly call the latest incarnation of Wackenhut. Back in the 1990s, Wackenhut figured in numerous conspiracy theories. But how can one even begin to research the assailant's employer without strengthening Trump, whose movement is fueled by conspiracy theories?
If you have any suggestions as to how one should handle these paradoxes -- or if you have some other comments to make about this ghastly event -- I am all attention.
At the risk of being way off base I must admit that my thoughts turned, for no particular reason, to hypnosis.
posted by Alice Molloy : 10:30 PM
Politics is the art and act of living together in a society. The opponents of action always cry "politicization" because they know that is their biggest threat. Any response requiring collective action is, by definition, political. Dont shy away from politicizing something when our only recourse for improving the situation is through politics. Otherwise, we surrender the only tool we have to fight back.
Our only recourse for improving the situation is the politics of ensuring Trump doesn't win. Defeating Trump is the overwhelming political need. Any other political concern that detracts from this goal needs to wait five months. This is not the time.
posted by Anonymous : 12:25 AM
As a thousand year old lesbian, it's hard to tell others how important to our very sanity the bars were in the old days. The one place where you could you. It feels like someone came into my house and killed my family. It's that depth of grief.
I'm not on my feet yet. I can't quite catch my balance.
I may be all the ways across the country, but I know those young faces. Bright, kind, creative, courageous... young people with integrity.
Those kids weren't suppose to have to go through the hate we endured. They were supposed to have it better.
posted by OldCoastie : 1:49 AM
This guy was nothing more than an Elliot Rodger nutcase. The media, especially CNN, are so in the tank for Donald Trump, they deliberately pushed the terrorist theme to bolster him. Obvious and disgusting.
Old Coastie, now that we are getting a clearer of picture of Omar Mateen, I think it's pretty clear that this was a man of confused sexuality.
I resisted coming to this conclusion because -- well, frankly, I've become a bit annoyed by the commonly-heard presumption that all violent homophobes must be closeted homosexuals. I don't think this cliche is true, at least not in all cases. People are not that schematic. Nobody argues that Custer massacred the Commanches at the Washita River because he secretly wanted to BE a Commanche.
But in this case, the cliche might actually have some validity. Mateen had used a gay dating app, and he had visited that club on multiple occasions. That guy has visited gay bars more often than I've patronized bars of ANY sort. On CNN earlier today, his former wife answered "I don't know," when she was asked if he was gay. The fact that she did not deny the possibility is telling.
So I don't think we're dealing with an Islamic terrorist; religion is a distraction from the real issue. The man may have dabbled with extremist ideas, but his dabblings should be considered a symptom, not the underlying cause. This man hated the world because he hated himself.
The wife also indicated that steroid use may have played a role in his personality change, which apparently began to manifest itself some eight years ago. There is insufficient research into the link between steroids and violence, although the phenomenon of "roid rage" is well-known.
There is VERY little research into the link between steroids and sexual identity. I just now stumbled across a book extract which presents some interesting research on rats which indicates that early steroid exposure correlates with a lack of interest in rats of the opposite sex.
This isn't the kind of research that makes people comfortable. These days, it's not acceptable to posit that gay people are gay for any reason other than they are born that way. I think that, historically, the "born this way" theory is true in MOST cases. But we are also a society inundated with drugs -- legal and illegal -- and these drugs are changing us in unpredictable, unfathomable, under-researched ways.
Nine-year-old girls are developing sizable breasts. What's CAUSING that? If you research cases involving young women who have mysteriously disappeared (or have killed themselves in bizarre ways, a la Elisa Lam), you'll almost invariably find that they were taking medications to treat manic depression. Many suspect that the Florida "cannibal" attack and similar incidents have a connection to illegal drug usage, although no-one knows which drug might be the culprit.
My point is that we are changing ourselves, physically and mentally. If Mateen's wife was telling the truth in her CNN interview, then I think that the root of his problem was more likely to be pharmacological than religious or cultural.
Very thoughtful answers, and NOVAobserver, yours I will be sharing, as it's that important.
((OldCoastie)) I know. I'm very upset and so worried about friends who are depressed about this. I keep thinking we need to show our solidarity...like blanketing our cities in rainbow flags, or rainbow hearts, or some combo, new symbols, or display.
Joseph, I like your pharmacological theory (I've always wanted someone to uncover a psych drug link between all the shooters...and then make steroids testing mandatory for cops) but you also asked about changing your header back and it might be comforting to those hurting if you came up with a war-torn rainbow flag or some patriotic take on soldiering ahead in solidarity... along the way to returning to your original header.
Alice Molloy, lol, my thoughts, too, a la Zoolander.
Despite my appreciate for NOVAobserver's thoughts on how we need to react politically, the news coverage has been policizing the hell out of this. Joseph, just like in 2000, when they told the entire election narrative from the POV of Bush, this year it's from Trump's POV. One of the questions CNN asked Hillary was "Trump accused Obama of not using the words "extremist Muslim terrorist" ---will you use those words?" I think she made a mistake answering that without calling the reporter out.
posted by prowlerzee : 7:40 AM
Joseph, they have only been recently critical of this guy. They have been consistently in the tank for him for months, giving him 24/7 coverage while marginalizing other candidates. They have been a disgrace covering the Mateen case by irresponsibly peddling the "terrorist" line simply because of his name and his religious background. Mateen appears to be the classic mass murdering nutcase like Elliot Rodger, only Mateen did his crimes on a much grander scale. He was a reject and he lashed out.
"But how can one even begin to research the assailant's employer without strengthening Trump, whose movement is fueled by conspiracy theories?"
Haven't you been fueling Hillary's campaign with the conspiracy theory that Roger Stone is behind Bernie? You of all people should know better than to generalize about "conspiracy theories."
posted by Anonymous : 11:36 AM
Anon, you raise a good point, although my motive was not so much to fuel Hillary's campaign as it was to express my fury at Sanders. Maybe hate is a greater motivator than admiration.
In truth, I was discussing this very dichotomy with a correspondent earlier today. I had planned to write a Big Damn Post outlining all of my reasons for suspecting that Stone is manipulating Bernie. But that is a conspiracy theory. Donald Trump feeds on conspiracy theory. He is the conspiracy candidate. One could argue that by adding another ingredient to the great stew pot of paranoia, I'm simply helping to make it possible for more Trumps to come to the fore.
At some point not making the news when this type of horror occurs would probably dull the motivation for future attackers to do the same thing since they would gain no notoriety.
Might I suggest we begin making up silly names for the terrorists? I don't recall the name of this attacker, but what if it were changed to Butthorse Manure and all reports called him by that name? I would even be for search algorithms that do not allow one to know the real name of the terrorist. Sure would take the glory out of terrorism if the person's real name was never mentioned.
As for an angle, how about the FBI knew about this guy and were watching him. So which is worse, the entire FBI knowing about this terrorist who was still able to give the FBI a WEEKS NOTICE and kill 50 people, or Benghazi? Maybe if the FBI had already finished their research on Benghazi and the emails, they could actually do their jobs. How many FBI agents were literally working on or assigned to Benghazi and emailgate this past week and therefore were unavailable to watch a guy who was already on the FBI watch list.
Philippe Grau, try the search box at the top of the page. I am not completely sure but I think it searches based on title. If you do not recall a portion of the title, then use google, type in cannonfire, plus keywords and see what comes up, and if you recall the year, make the search year sensitive.
(My bête noire Roger Stone and I have one thing in common: Like him, I have not bought clothing retail in many years. And lemme tell ya -- the thrift stores out here on the east coast are much better than the ones in California.)
Sarandon, you will recall, stumped for Nader back in 2000, on the grounds that Gore was an unendurable corporatist. None of the purist progs who hated Gore back then can now recall why they hated him so fervently. Since a vote for Nader was a vote for Dubya -- as was obvious at the time to anyone with a functional brain -- Sarandon bears a certain measure of direct responsibility for the Iraq war.
On Thursday, the 69-year-old actress told The Young Turks that Clinton is scarier because, unlike Trump, she knows what Clinton’s foreign policy is and she feels it’s not good for this country.
Trump is backed by Sheldon Adelson. He counts Walid Phares (the butcher of Lebanon) and the ultra-right-wing Joseph Schmitz among his closest advisers. Trump's best friend over the course of many years is Roger Stone, who has worked on behalf of the bloodiest dictators in history. Trump is praised wildly by the Likud press in Israel. He has referred to the Palestinian leadership as a branch of ISIS. He wants to scuttle the agreement with Iran -- and has made pretty clear that he wants war with Iran. (War would give Trump an excuse institute a dictatorial powers here at home.)
Ignore Trump's words: We all know that Trump says whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear. Look at his crowd. Trump's history and associations tell us all.
Hillary's associates are very wide-ranging. If you are a reactionary intent on portraying her as a far-left acolyte of the dreaded Saul Alinski, you'll find someone in Hillary's background who can be used to prove your point. Same story if you are a BernOut intent on portraying her as a hireling of the oligarchs.
The association that means the most to me is the one she tried to keep secret. Hillary set up that private email server primarily as a way of communicating with two people: 1. Tyler Drumheller, the hero who was kicked out of the CIA because he exposed Bush's fraudulent evidence against Iraq, and 2. Sidney Blumenthal, the father of the world's most effective advocate for Palestinian justice. The emails make clear that Sidney proudly sent Max Blumenthal's books to Hillary and her staff -- and that they read those works.
Hillary links to Drumheller and Blumenthal. Trump links to Stone and Adelson.
Clinton did a lot of things as Secretary of State that I did not like, but -- as I have come to understand while reading HRC (and yes, I know I should have gotten around to that book ages ago), policy really was set by Obama, whom I did not support in 2008.
It is true that she voted for the authorization of military force 2002 -- as did most other congressfolk at the time. Yet we speak of Hillary as though she bears sole responsibility, a fact which says much about the power of misogyny and much more about the power of Clinton Derangement Syndrome. (Some dimwit progs would have you believe that she forced W to go to war.) Everyone forgets that the measure was extremely popular and that she voted the way her constituents wanted her to vote; we have made Hillary Clinton into the scapegoat for our collective sin.
She later expressed regret for that vote -- and when she and Obama served in the Senate, her record was somewhat to the left of his when it came to the war.
Has Susan Sarandon ever expressed regret for supporting Dubya in 2000? Remember: At the time it was crystal clear that a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush.
Can we really take Susan Sarandon seriously as a critic of the one percent when she is of that class and exemplifies their values? More to the point: Can we really take Susan Sarandon seriously as a critic of the one percent when she's telling us to vote for Donald fucking Trump, the High Priest of the Golden Calf?
Very good point, Joe. Anyone that supported Nader in 2000 has nothing to say to us now. They have blood on their hands; they can dance away from it all they like, but a vote for Nader was a real-world vote for President Cheney. In 2016, a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for a real, no-joke psychopath at the top of ticket.
posted by ColoradoGuy : 6:30 PM
That's a little unfair don't you think? If being poor was a necessary condition to criticise the status quo, then HRC would be disqualified too. So you have a nice catch 22. The only persons qualified to criticise the status quo are those too poor to have a voice which carries.
posted by Anonymous : 6:34 PM
The reason Hillary Clinton has an email scandal at all is because she wanted to have out of the box intel without in the box people seeing it. Otherwise, she becomes a corporatist. How can Sarandon not get that?
Those looking to save on the new generic Plavix (clopidogrel) are in luck. We phoned 30 pharmacies around the U.S. and found the price for a month's supply of the 75 milligram (mg) dose varied from less than $15 at several Costco pharmacies to $175 or more at the CVS, Target, and Walgreens stores we contacted
posted by Anonymous : 7:44 PM
I notice that you are spending a great deal of money on insulin. I have extra. Does the dog use lantus, regular or 70/30. I can next day some to wherever you like. I have been assured that modern insulin does not need the refrigeration that is usually mandated. I do keep mine in the fridge, but it should be ok if I send it.
30k emails. I doubt they were all addressed to and from Drumheller and Blumenthal. It seems that Mrs Clinton did not actually have a state department email account. Which suggests that perhaps this email account was more widely used than you suggest. Either way, isnt she obligated to store emails pertaining to her job as Sec of State?
At least with the wiki-leaks publication we will get some insight into her thinking. Maybe we can put these questions to bed.
posted by Anonymous : 10:26 PM
Her power to the people routine would be a tad more truthy if she gave away, say 50%, of her wealth to the poor and downtrodden, but like most revolutionaries, she'll leave the actual fightin' and dyin' and inconvenience and stuff to those other people.
RE: insulin. I'm confused. I saw the banner over to the right about your dog needing insulin and sent in a small donation. I took early retirement this year, there being almost no job prospects for older women, and do not have much extra income. Are you sending this on to other people? I did not want to donate to anyone else.
RE: insulin. I'm confused. I saw the banner over to the right about your dog needing insulin and sent in a small donation. I took early retirement this year, there being almost no job prospects for older women, and do not have much extra income. Are you sending this on to other people? I did not want to donate to anyone else.
Second, if you are hurting, I'd like to repay your generous donation. I never wanted any money from someone who could not afford it.
Third, I have actually been able to repay all or nearly all of what I borrowed to pay for the pooch's diabetes treatment, so I should remove that ad. I had hoped to do so after Sanders formally concedes, as many are saying he will on Tuesday.
When that happens, I'll redesign the site again. Maybe I'll go back to the old image that used to be at the top of the page, maybe I'll do something brand new. Haven't made up my mind.
Thanks again to one and all.
After a very bad scare, George is feeling much better. I had my first experience with hypoglycemia...actually a bounce from one extreme to the other...and it was pretty scary. But we finally have him regularized. He lost a lot of weight during this illness and now seems desperate to put it all back on immediately!
But he still piddles frequently -- woke me up five times last night. Having a diabetic dog is not recommended to anyone who enjoys uninterrupted REM cycles.
Thanks for the update on George's condition - very good to know he's better.
My being unable to care for my beloved cat when I first lost my professional job was one of the very worst parts of that awful time. Thankfully, we made it through, but it's not something anyone should have to endure.
Now back to my regularly scheduled tiny donations - i.e. Hillz (whose team has no hesitation whatsoever about asking for $$ from anyone, anywhere :) )
(apologies in advance if this one posts twice - Blogger hates me, I hate Blogger)
Thanks for the update on George's condition - very good to know he's better.
My being unable to care for my beloved cat when I first lost my professional job was one of the very worst parts of that awful time. Thankfully, we made it through, but it's not something anyone should have to endure.
Now back to my regularly scheduled tiny donations - i.e. Hillz (whose team has no hesitation whatsoever about asking for $$ from anyone, anywhere :) )
For anon 11:11, there are two Josephs here. One uses a capital and the other does not. I believe that might be the source of your confusion.
As for big J, I have a donation story and some Trump Intl info (which unfortunately does not involve Trump) I'll write up in an email for you in the next week. Keep up the good work.
posted by Arbusto205 : 7:11 AM
I know my comment is late to the party but I wanted to address the point about a rich person being unable to question the status quo - of course we are all free to do so; however, for her to turn around and be a shill to fashion industry corporations (L'Oreal, Falconeri) is a bit rich. I'd also be curious to know if Sarandon's wealth is managed without the help of Wall Street investments or brokers.
But a close examination of regulatory reviews, court records and security filings by The New York Times leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump’s casino business was a protracted failure. Though he now says his casinos were overtaken by the same tidal wave that eventually slammed this seaside city’s gambling industry, in reality he was failing in Atlantic City long before Atlantic City itself was failing.
But even as his companies did poorly, Mr. Trump did well. He put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments. The burden of his failures fell on investors and others who had bet on his business acumen.
We have an indication here of what he'll do as president: Donald Trump intends to profit from the country's ruination.
Mr. Trump assembled his casino empire by borrowing money at such high interest rates — after telling regulators he would not — that the businesses had almost no chance to succeed.
His casino companies made four trips to bankruptcy court, each time persuading bondholders to accept less money rather than be wiped out. But the companies repeatedly added more expensive debt and returned to the court for protection from lenders.
After narrowly escaping financial ruin in the early 1990s by delaying payments on his debts, Mr. Trump avoided a second potential crisis by taking his casinos public and shifting the risk to stockholders.
And he never was able to draw in enough gamblers to support all of the borrowing. During a decade when other casinos here thrived, Mr. Trump’s lagged, posting huge losses year after year. Stock and bondholders lost more than $1.5 billion.
All the while, Mr. Trump received copious amounts for himself, with the help of a compliant board. In one instance, The Times found, Mr. Trump pulled more than $1 million from his failing public company, describing the transaction in securities filings in ways that may have been illegal, according to legal experts.
Mr. Trump now says that he left Atlantic City at the perfect time. The record, however, shows that he struggled to hang on to his casinos years after the city had peaked, and failed only because his investors no longer wanted him in a management role.
Had Mr. Trump’s revenues grown at the rate of other Atlantic City casinos, his company could have made its interest payments and possibly registered a profit. But with sagging revenues and high costs, his casinos had too little money for renovations and improvements, which are vital for hotels to attract guests. The public company never logged a profitable year.
“There’s something not right when every single one of your projects doesn’t work out,” said Mr. Roffman, the casino analyst.
In retrospect, David Hanlon, a veteran casino executive who ran Merv Griffin’s Atlantic City operations at the time of the Resorts battle, said, Mr. Trump succeeded in repeatedly convincing investors, bankers and Wall Street that “his name had real value.”
“They were so in love with him that they came back a second, third and fourth time,” Mr. Hanlon said. “They let him strip out assets. It was awful to watch. It was astonishing. I have to give Trump credit for using his celebrity time and time again.”
In 2014, the casino company filed for bankruptcy protection for the fifth time. The chief executive cited the debt level after the 2009 bankruptcy as the primary reason.
For a time, Mr. Trump lent a glamorous sheen to the faded resort city. But some of his former investors no longer see the value.
“People underestimated Donald Trump’s ability to pillage the company,” said Sebastian Pignatello, a private investor who at one time held stock in the Trump casinos worth more than $500,000. “He drove these companies into bankruptcy by his mismanagement, the debt and his pillaging.”
I see in these words the future of the United States. Trump voters have demonstrated that they have no interest in policy: They are buying a name brand, and they have fallen for the promises of a celebrity who will tell them anything they want to hear.
Trump's Atlantic City investors committed those very mistakes. Mitt's right: Trump's a con artist.
Nevertheless, many BernOuts will argue that we would do better to allow Trump to run the country the way he ran his Atlantic City casinos, because Hillary Clinton is just sooooo fucking intolerable. Did you know that, on her infamous private email server, Hillary once discussed a "confidential" condolence message to the President of Malawi -- a breach of security which endangered us all? That's much worse than anything Trump has ever done.
"Bernie Sanders Wins California Landslide But ⅔ of his Votes Aren’t Counted," the Justice Gazette wrote in an eye-popping headline on June 7.
The article added: "In view of the information from polling place workers about Sanders winning by more than a 2 to 1 margin and in view of the removal of 2/3 or more of his votes from the official results, the Justice Gazette declares Bernie Sanders the landslide winner of the 2016 California Primary Election." The Gazette article has been shared widely on Facebook and shows up prominently on web searches about Bernie Sanders and the California primary.
Politifact tears this one to shreds. The actual Justice Gazette story does not even come close to offering any proof for its claims. It's the lowest form of conspiracy theorizing, in which wishful thinking, tenuous maybes, wild assertions and rapid-fire topic-switching compensate for the lack of evidence. Justice Gazette appears to be the personal vehicle for former Congressperson Cynthia McKinney, whose byline appears on most of the articles on the front page.
Come on. Do you really think that a monstrous and widespread election-theft conspiracy could have taken place unnoticed by absolutely everyone except Cynthia McKinney?
That said, there is some chance that Clinton's lead will narrow. It seems that a lot of Bernie's youthful cultists were handed provisional ballots because they had no party affiliation and did not know about this thing called registration. If it were up to me, those provisionals would not be counted, but I'm not the one making that call.
Here's a way to avoid such problems in the future: Keep the primaries closed.
I would also argue in favor of euthanizing our ineducable young, whose nescience has rendered them subhuman. After a gentle gassing, they would provide an excellent source of protein for famine victims -- although we should not overlook the vast possibilities offered by the field of sport hunting. If middle-aged Americans rut like rabbits, we can replenish the population in swift order; I am open to suggestions as to what steps we should take to insure that this "replacement generation" is of higher intelligence. (Obviously, we should keep the newborns well away from mobiles and televisions.) Until we embark upon this modest and sensible program to raise the national IQ, don't trust anyone under thirty.
Added note:This story in the Hill offers an insight into the anti-thinking of the BernOuts, although I suspect that many of the comments are the work of Roger Stone's gang of lovable funsters. One comment in particular -- from someone calling himself or herself "ritualdevice" -- stands out for its idiocy.
Only Sanders supporters found that they had been cut from the voter rosters. There is video documentation of people going into the county clerk's office to find out that their registration had been invalidated by someone prior to the primary, without their notification. If you haven't seen these stories, go look. You should be infuritated too. The fact that no one cared on Hillary's side is one of the most damning aspects of the entire election fraud allegation...
Not one of these nescient ninnies makes the obvious point: A registration list contains nothing but names. It contains no indication of how the named individuals intend to vote. How would anyone know who the Sanders supporters are if they haven't voted yet?
Of course, if you ask a sensible question like that, you'll be derided as a hack and paid shill.
(Theoretically speaking, I can conceive of a scheme to strike out Hispanic-sounding names -- but such a plot would have benefited Bernie, and therefore the Bots will never discuss the idea.)
There was a time when I thought that David Icke's "aristocracy of reptiles" was the stupidest conspiracy theory ever devised. The Sandernistas make Icke seem like the epitome of sweet reason.
Regarding Trump, I think his "supporters" are protest voting. They wish to register their disgust with the ruling elite, and they figure he is an outsider.
With regard to fixing elections, if I wanted to bias the vote against Bernie I would deregister newly register voters or those in college towns etc. You don't need other data. It won't give you a 100% hit rate on only Bernie supporters but 100% hit rate would be caught. Similarly I would just look to close polling venues. Fewer venues affects the guys who had less postal votes. That's Bernie. So if you want to look for potential evidence of "naughtiness" check the turnout numbers.
That said, politics ain't beanbag. I am not questioning the result AT ALL. I'm just saying what I would do if I was advising the HRC team. I think the real issue is the propaganda. Team Clinton announced a very big win. I suspect if you wait a week or so it will turn out to be much narrower. But still a win.
posted by Anonymous : 1:59 PM
Swift wasn't funny.
If you want to solve some problems, look to Logan's Run. There are many people whose best years, or productive years, are behind them. Yet they are allowed to squat on the world's housing supplies, either occupying or renting to those not born early enough to get on the foot of the ladder, and frequently they work to prevent the construction of new abodes. The same goes for work and education. The idea of living with your parents until past thirty and having nothing but entry-levels jobs until past that age even with a good degree is now normal. All because of the demographic bulge of the baby boom. Of course, their meat wouldn't be suitable for eating. Still, it's time to free up some resources.
Stephen, what about the scene where Gulliver puts out a fire in the Lilliputian castle by pissing on it? I smiled at that when I was a kid.
"Logan's Run" doesn't really help your point, since the movie depicts a society entirely composed of airheads. Farrah Fawcett's scene is CLASSIC.
Harry: You think in pretty devious ways, I must admit! I like it, I like it. But you're wrong, of course. When Bernie-ites try to prove their "vote fraud" thesis, they almost invariably cite this story by John Cassidy in the New Yorker...
"What happened in Brooklyn, where a hundred and twenty-six thousand Democratic voters were removed from the polls, was a disgrace that demands a much fuller explanation than the one the city’s Board of Elections has trotted out. Initially, it claimed that staffing issues were to blame. On Wednesday, its executive director, Michael Ryan, insisted that “no one was disenfranchised”—a claim I’d like to see him explain to my wife, a registered Brooklyn Democrat who has voted in the borough in every Presidential election since 1996, and many local elections, too, but who discovered on Tuesday that she had been eliminated from the electoral rolls because she was “inactive.”"
She doesn't fit your paradigm. Moreover,
"Right now, though, there is no evidence that Sanders supporters were singled out for exclusion. The people purged from the polls appear to have been spread across Brooklyn, which Clinton won by almost sixty thousand votes."
So the problem appears to have targeted Hillary, not Bernie. But wait -- is this not Thoughtcrime Most Foul?
Nevertheless, we have seen throughout the election that Bernie has practiced "mirror imaging" -- claiming to be the victim when he was, in fact, the victimiser.
It seems to me that the clearest argument for vote hugger-mugger was Michigan, where Bernie's sizable win was in dramatic contrast to the story told by the polls. Nate Silver's aggregate of polls had Hillary 21 points ahead.
Be honest. If Hillary had won such a victory despite lagging 21 points behind in the polls, wouldn't the BernieBros be SCREAMING about vote fraud? They would need no further evidence. In their minds, it would be a done deal.
Stephen, I had to look it up. Here's the scene from Logan's Run to which I referred...
I saw this movie on opening day at the good old Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. When Farrah Fawcett delivered that line -- "Oh, that's right...!" -- the entire place erupted into HOWLS of laughter. It was the single biggest unintentional laugh any movie ever got, within my experience.
Thanks for inspiring me to me relive that day. Good times.
" It seems that a lot of Bernie's youthful cultists were handed provisional ballots because they had no party affiliation and did not know about this thing called registration. If it were up to me, those provisionals would not be counted, but I'm not the one making that call."
There's a good explanation of what a provisional ballot is and the circumstances in which a prospective voter will be issued a provisional ballot at: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/provisional-voting/
It has nothing to do with whether a voter registered a party preference. More about what happens in that case at:http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/political-parties/no-party-preference/
Why would you wish that provisional ballots cast by registered voters not be counted?
posted by Larry Roberts : 11:57 PM
Well, Mr. Morgan if you try to thin the herd with me... I might just have thin you. Oh and at 69 I'm doing mods for Fallout 4, creating 3d models, and am in the middle of another novel. Pluck out a BernieBro and let's compare.
I think the claim by Greg Palast and others was that California election officials intentionally created problems for independent voters (who were predominantly pro-Sanders)and so left the field open to already-registered Democrats (who were predominantly pro-Clinton).
I'm not sure in my own mind whether this was intentional or just a normal foul-up, due to complications arising from the fact that Republicans have a closed primary and Democrats have an open primary.
This is a separate issue from whether there should be a closed primary. You can make a good argument either way, but if independent voters are by law entitled to vote in a party primary, government should not put obstacles in their way.
Hillary Clinton had a 10-year head start on Bernie Sanders in organizing her campaign, and the support of the big donors, the party establishment and the Washington press corps, so she would have won in any case.
But there are a whole lot of things in the campaign that should be looked into. I'm not going to jump to conclusions, but there are things that should be looked into
The report from Greg Palast was that polling officials were giving instructions that NPP voters should be illegally given provisional ballots, which are far less likely to actually be counted than real ballots. Palast calls them placebo ballots. He also reports NPP voters only being issued with ballots for the primary if they specifically requested such ballots, including meaning that postal voters couldn't get one.
Hopsicker, on the other hand, reports as many uncounted ballots as the total number who voted for Bernie, and the involvement of a convicted election rigger.
I don't think the problem is Clinton rigging the election, that's not happening. The problem is that voter suppression has become a habit. Obviously it's also a problem that the winners or "winners" (Bush &c) like to claim the other side to be bad losers if they draw attention to it.
Phil, all you're giving me is a bunch of nebulous maybes. The only actual evidence of vote fraud shows that HILLARY was targeted.
And when you think about it, it makes sense. I don't think that the BernieBots would have done the job. But the Republicans would -- they have made clear that they would prefer to run against Sanders. (And failing that, they want to see fissures within the Democratic party.)
The GOP would know how to engineer the anti-Clinton trickery that, in my opinion, took place in Michigan, and perhaps in Brooklyn.
Did you know that the Secretary of State in Michigan, Ruth Johnson, is a Republican?
It must always be kept in mind that Tad Devine, Bernie's evil genius, is an old associate of Stone and Manafort.
By the way, everyone has forgotten -- I had forgotten! -- that the Bernie-ites DID commit vote fraud in Puerto Rico, and tried to cover up their deed with baseless accusations against the Clinton camp.
I copied this before I read the comments: "Until we embark upon this modest and sensible program to raise the national IQ, don't trust anyone under thirty."
I got it. And thought it was funny! As were your follow-up comments. And THANK YOU so much for addressing this. I was going to ask you about it, but hated to bother you over fruitless fussery with these deranged t/f-ools who think that they can cherry-pick uncast Dem votes, or make excuses for idiots who don't know how/when to register.
Totally unsurprised by Stephen's remarks but my netcrush on Ivory Bill is...crushed.
Earlier today, I published a piece on emailgate, in answer to some nonsense spewed by Lord HA HA Goodman. My focus was on the Drumheller/Blumenthal angle, because that's the stuff I've written about in the past, and because that was the topic of Lord HA HA's discourse. But those weren't the only emails. Two interesting articles give us a wider view of this pseudoscandal.
Ah. I hear a distant schwing: Did Lord HA HA suddenly become erect? (We've all noted that the BernieBots tend to get very excited about Hill-hate stories published by Fox and other right-wing sources.)
Alas, the body of the article is rather...deflating.
The “C” - which means it was marked classified at the confidential level - is in the left-hand-margin and relates to an April 2012 phone call with Malawi's first female president, Joyce Banda, who took power after the death of President Mutharika in 2012.
"(C) Purpose of Call: to offer condolences on the passing of President Mukharika and congratulate President Banda on her recent swearing in."
Hillary, you...you FIEND! You dared to offer condolences regarding the passing of Malawi's president? That's kind of intel is TOP SEEKRIT ULTRA COSMIC GODHEAD! What's next, Hillary? Are you planning on handing the nuclear launch codes to Vladimir Putin?
Actually, confidential is the absolute lowest classification marking. A letter marked "confidential" can be sent via ordinary mail. Back in the pre-internet days, I had quite a few letters arrive in my mailbox "accidentally" opened (which was an all-too-common scenario among the politically active), so I feel confident in saying that Hillary's server was much safer than snail-mail.
From a distance, it seems possible that Clinton’s messages were more secure on her server than they would have been on the State Department’s servers, even if the latter were protected by a technically superior firewall. The State Department’s systems are reportedly regular targets of hackers. Few knew that Clinton used a personal server for business emails, so hacker attacks may have been far less common if they happened at all. Also hackers often gain access to systems by fooling users into downloading malicious programs or clicking on malicious web sites. Since few people had accounts that accessed Clinton’s servers, the chance that someone might inadvertently open a door to hackers is most likely much less. Finally, after a few months, transactions with Clinton’s servers were reportedly encrypted. Because of the difficulties posed by the need to accommodate different server and computer generations, the government has lagged behind the private sector in encryption.
Americans may rest easy tonight: Our nation's many enemies did not learn about Hillary's polite note to the president of Malawi. Frankly, I have no idea as to how or why a condolence message would receive any kind of classified marking -- the guidelines here indicate that the marking should be reserved for data of more weight.
Sorry, Lord HA HA, but I strongly doubt that Hillary is going to be indicted over a condolence message sent to the leader of Malawi -- a message that never deserved any kind of classification marking.
A more substantive story appeared in the Wall Street Journal. This article is not really about Hillary's private server, although careless readers may leap to that conclusion.
A paywall may prevent you from seeing the full text, so I will put it below the asterisks. But first, I'll give you the gist:
The CIA was droning "terrorists" willy-nilly, which pissed off certain Pakistani officials whose compliance was necessary to the program. So the State Department insisted on having a say in the process. But there was a communications problem: The more secure communication systems did not allow State Department officials outside of DC to talk to the folks at CIA in a timely fashion. (We're talking about a 20-30 minute time frame.) So some folks at State used the "low side" system, a less-secure way of sending messages. Naturally, they spoke in rather vague code words: "Ixnay on the Ombay," "cancel the candygram," that sort of thing.
I see no problem here.
Okay, I do have a fundamental problem with the entire drone program -- but that's a separate issue. I certainly favor having the CIA talk to the State Department before a strike. (And I'm kind of stunned to learn that they don't have a system in place that is both very secure and very rapid.)
As you skim the story below, please note the boldfaced paragraphs. There will be no indictment. They'd have to indict a whole bunch of other people at the DOD and the Justice Department, for they too traversed the low side.
It'll be very amusing to see the BernieBots claim that Hillary deserves indictment because she tried to keep tabs on the CIA. Come to think of it, Bernie's message has been pretty hilarious these past few weeks: "Vote for me, comrades! I'm more trustworthy with classified information! Venceremos!"
And now, here is the WSJ piece...
* * *
At the center of a criminal probe involving Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information is a series of emails between American diplomats in Islamabad and their superiors in Washington about whether to oppose specific drone strikes in Pakistan.
The 2011 and 2012 emails were sent via the “low side’’—government slang for a computer system for unclassified matters—as part of a secret arrangement that gave the State Department more of a voice in whether a Central Intelligence Agency drone strike went ahead, according to congressional and law-enforcement officials briefed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe.
Some of the emails were then forwarded by Mrs. Clinton’s aides to her personal email account, which routed them to a server she kept at her home in suburban New York when she was secretary of state, the officials said. Investigators have raised concerns that Mrs. Clinton’s personal server was less secure than State Department systems.
The vaguely worded messages didn’t mention the “CIA,” “drones” or details about the militant targets, officials said.
The still-secret emails are a key part of the FBI investigation that has long dogged Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, these officials said.
They were written within the often-narrow time frame in which State Department officials had to decide whether or not to object to drone strikes before the CIA pulled the trigger, the officials said.
Law-enforcement and intelligence officials said State Department deliberations about the covert CIA drone program should have been conducted over a more secure government computer system designed to handle classified information.
State Department officials told FBI investigators they communicated via the less-secure system on a few instances, according to congressional and law-enforcement officials. It happened when decisions about imminent strikes had to be relayed fast and the U.S. diplomats in Pakistan or Washington didn’t have ready access to a more-secure system, either because it was night or they were traveling.
Emails sent over the low side sometimes were informal discussions that occurred in addition to more-formal notifications through secure communications, the officials said.
One such exchange came just before Christmas in 2011, when the U.S. ambassador sent a short, cryptic note to his boss indicating a drone strike was planned. That sparked a back-and-forth among Mrs. Clinton’s senior advisers over the next few days, in which it was clear they were having the discussions in part because people were away from their offices for the holiday and didn’t have access to a classified computer, officials said.
The CIA drone campaign, though widely reported in Pakistan, is treated as secret by the U.S. government. Under strict U.S. classification rules, U.S. officials have been barred from discussing strikes publicly and even privately outside of secure communications systems.
The State Department said in January that 22 emails on Mrs. Clinton’s personal server at her home have been judged to contain top-secret information and aren’t being publicly released. Many of them dealt with whether diplomats concurred or not with the CIA drone strikes, congressional and law-enforcement officials said.
Several law-enforcement officials said they don’t expect any criminal charges to be filed as a result of the investigation, although a final review of the evidence will be made only after an expected FBI interview with Mrs. Clinton this summer. One reason is that government workers at several agencies, including the departments of Defense, Justice and State, have occasionally resorted to the low-side system to give each other notice about sensitive but fast-moving events, according to one law-enforcement official.
When Mrs. Clinton has been asked about the possibility of being criminally charged over the email issue, she has repeatedly said “that is not going to happen.’’ She has said it was a mistake to use a personal server for email but it was a decision she made as a matter of convenience.
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said: “If these officials’ descriptions are true, these emails were originated by career diplomats, and the sending of these types of emails was widespread within the government.”
U.S. officials said there is no evidence Pakistani intelligence officials intercepted any of the low-side State Department emails or used them to protect militants.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the agency “is not going to speak to the content of documents, nor would we speak to any ongoing review.’’
The email issue has dogged Mrs. Clinton for more than a year. Despite her success in nailing down the Democratic presidential nomination, polls show many voters continue to doubt her truthfulness and integrity. Her campaign manager has acknowledged the email matter has hurt her.
Republican rival Donald Trump has attacked Mrs. Clinton repeatedly on the issue, calling her “Crooked Hillary,’’ saying what she did was a crime and suggesting the Justice Department would let her off because it is run by Democrats.
Beyond the campaign implications, the investigation exposes the latest chapter in a power struggle that pits the enforcers of strict secrecy, including the FBI and CIA, against some officials at the State Department and other agencies who want a greater voice in the use of covert lethal force around the globe, because of the impact it has on broader U.S. policy goals.
In the case of Pakistan, U.S. diplomats found themselves in a difficult position.
Despite being treated as top secret by the CIA, the drone program has long been in the public domain in Pakistan. Television stations there go live with reports of each strike, undermining U.S. efforts to foster goodwill and cooperation against militants through billions of dollars in American aid.
Pakistani officials, while publicly opposing the drone program, secretly consented to the CIA campaign by clearing airspace in the militant-dense tribal areas along the Afghan border, according to former U.S. and Pakistani officials.
CIA and White House officials credit a sharp ramp-up in drone strikes early in Mr. Obama’s presidency with battering al Qaeda’s leadership in the Pakistani tribal areas and helping protect U.S. forces next door in Afghanistan. Targets have also included some of the Pakistan government’s militant enemies.
In 2011, Pakistani officials began to push back in private against the drone program, raising questions for the U.S. over the extent to which the program still had their consent.
U.S. diplomats warned the CIA and White House they risked losing access to Pakistan’s airspace unless more discretion was shown, said current and former officials. Within the administration, State Department and military officials argued that the CIA needed to be more “judicious” about when strikes were launched. They weren’t challenging the spy agency’s specific choice of targets, but mainly the timing of strikes.
The CIA initially chafed at the idea of giving the State Department more of a voice in the process. Under a compromise reached around the year 2011, CIA officers would notify their embassy counterparts in Islamabad when a strike in Pakistan was planned, so then-U.S. ambassador Cameron Munter or another senior diplomat could decide whether to “concur” or “non-concur.” Mr. Munter declined to comment.
Diplomats in Islamabad would communicate the decision to their superiors in Washington. A main purpose was to give then-Secretary of State Clinton and her top aides a chance to consider whether she wanted to weigh in with the CIA director about a planned strike.
With the compromise, State Department-CIA tensions began to subside. Only once or twice during Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at State did U.S. diplomats object to a planned CIA strike, according to congressional and law-enforcement officials familiar with the emails.
U.S. diplomats in Pakistan and Washington usually relayed and discussed their concur or non-concur decisions via the State Department’s more-secure messaging system. But about a half-dozen times, when they were away from more-secure equipment, they improvised by sending emails on their smartphones about whether they backed an impending strike or not, the officials said.
The time available to the State Department to weigh in on a planned strike varied widely, from several days to as little as 20 or 30 minutes. “If a strike was imminent, it was futile to use the high side, which no one would see for seven hours,” said one official.
Adding to those communications hurdles, U.S. intelligence officials privately objected to the State Department even using its high-side system. They wanted diplomats to use a still-more-secure system called the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Community Systems, or JWICs. State Department officials don’t have ready access to that system, even in Washington. If drone-strike decisions were needed quickly, it wouldn’t be an option, officials said.
Some officials chafed at pressure to send internal deliberations through intelligence channels, since they were discussing whether to push back against the CIA, congressional officials said.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the State Department-CIA tug-of-war over the drone program in 2011.
Under pressure to address critics abroad, Mr. Obama pledged to increase the transparency of drone operations by shifting, as much as possible, control of drone programs around the world to the U.S. military instead of the CIA. An exception was made for Pakistan.
But even in Pakistan, Mr. Obama recently signaled a shift. The drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour last month was conducted by the military, not the CIA, and the outcome was disclosed.
While the CIA still controls drones over the tribal areas of Pakistan near Afghanistan, the pace of strikes has declined dramatically in recent years. U.S. officials say there are fewer al Qaeda targets there now that the CIA can find.
Here's an email I wrote to customer service at the WSJ, which was the only email address I could find on the site:
"RE: Capital Journal Daybreak - http://on.wsj.com/21cyAVt
"THERE IS NO 'CRIMINAL' INVESTIGATION OF HILLARY CLINTON'S EMAILS. When are you people going to get that straight?"
The reply, in part:
"We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you, however, this a known issue and want to assure you that the matter is under active investigation."
The way to get around the pay wall at WSJ is, when you get to the story that is partially behind the wall, to highlight the title and search Google. The gigantic Google link will take you to the full article. Here it is shortened for this article - http://bit.ly/1VSgZ5m.
"Earnest also told Rosen that “the president when discussing this issue in each stage has reiterated his commitment to this principle, that any criminal investigation should be conducted independent of any political interference. "
This seems ambiguous. Is there an authoritative clarification on this?
Call me paranoid. Plus: Those damned emails -- again.
Call me paranoid -- you won't be the first to do so -- but I can't read this story without thinking, once again, of Mars Attacks! Specifically, I'm thinking of the scene when the president of France calls Jack Nicholson to announce that he has signed a peace treaty with the Martians. Nicholson, having finally understood the true nature of the attackers, shouts "Get out of there...!" Too late: ZZZZAP!
Yes, I still think that Bernie will make an independent run. You see, I am the psychological opposite of HA HA Goodman: I tend to think that the the scenario I most fear is the scenario most likely to play out in real life.
Once again, those damned emails: Lord HA HA quotes this AP story to the effect that Hillary's server compromised the names of CIA agents. I question that.
As you read the following, remember: The server was primarily set up to communicate with Clinton's friend Sidney Blumenthal and his business partner, former CIA bigwig Tyler Drumheller...
At least 47 of the emails contain the notation “B3 CIA PERS/ORG,” which indicates the material referred to CIA personnel or matters related to the agency. And because both Clinton’s server and the State Department systems were vulnerable to hacking, the perpetrators could have those original emails, and now the publicly released, redacted versions showing exactly which sections refer to CIA personnel.
First thought: Maybe the "CIA PERS" (person employed by the CIA) was none other than Tyler Drumheller himself. He had previously been employed by the Agency but was "axed" to leave after he exposed Curveball as a fraud, exposed the "yellowcake" documents as forgeries, and exposed the Bush White House as a nest of liars about the WMDs. Drumheller, in short, was a hero.
The fact that Hillary set up this whole system to keep in touch with a straight-shooter like Drumheller makes me like her. That fact should have endeared her to the BernieBot die-hards. Too bad they've been brainwashed.
Second thought: In an earlier post, I suggested that Drumheller may have kept in contact with old Agency friends, and used this informal channel to relay information originating with the former Libyan intelligence chief and diplomat Moussa Kousssa. Turns out I was on the mark.
From a story published last October by Michael Isikoff:
“Tyler spoke to a colleague currently at CIA, who told him the agency had been dependent for intelligence from [redacted due to sources and methods],” the email states, according to Gowdy’s letter.
The redacted information was “the name of a human source,” Gowdy wrote to his Democratic counterpart, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, and was therefore “some of the most protected information in our intelligence community.”
“Armed with that information, Secretary Clinton forwarded the email to a colleague — debunking her claim that she never sent any classified information from her private email address,” wrote Gowdy in a letter to Cummings.
Gowdy is, of course, falsifying the situation by leaving out the most salient details. We'll get to that in a moment.
Right now, let's focus on this confirmation that Drumheller was talking to someone at CIA. We don't know who this person was or is. We do know that this personage would naturally receive the "B3 CIA PERS/ORG" redaction mark in the released version of the emails.
We know from previous articles that the "human source" was Moussa Koussa, formerly of Libyan intelligence. Naturally, this guy knew all sorts of stuff about African affairs. Drumheller gave Koussa's scuttlebutt to Blumenthal, who wrote it up and sent it all to Hillary Clinton.
So, were the emails trafficking in classified information? No.
Here's the key fact that everyone keeps forgetting to mention: Drumheller was not working for CIA at the time.
He was allowed to speak freely, to anyone he pleased, about any matter that came to his attention. True, if he wrote about things that he learned during his mad days with the Agency, his text would be reviewed before publication. But we're talking here about the crazy adventures he got up to after he formally left the Agency.
What about Koussa? As I've noted many times in the past, he was a foreign national, free to talk to whomever he pleased about anything he pleased. The CIA could classify information it received (directly or indirectly) from Koussa, but it did not control Koussa himself. I'm sure that he bellowed all sorts of data to all sorts of people. The United States simply did not control him. (The picture to your left shows Koussa meeting with none other than Hillary Clinton. He's a remarkable fellow whom we should discuss at length in a future post.)
What about Drumheller's pal at CIA? Wasn't that guy's name classified when Blumenthal sent those emails to Clinton?
Sorry, but no.
If you are not taking a CIA paycheck, and a CIA guy named Joe Blow contacts you and asks "What do you know about Moussa Koussa?", you may speak freely. Joe Blow may request you to keep the conversation very hush-hush, but that request does not carry the force of law. You may legally gush to your friends: "Hey, guess what? I got a phone call from a CIA agent named Joe Blow! And here's what he and I chatted about..."
You can say those words to your family. You can write those words in a book. You can spray those words all over the radio and TV. You can even tell the story to Sidney Blumenthal. Blumenthal would, in turn, be free to retell the story in an email to Hillary Clinton.
Security would have been breached only if a currently serving CIA officer spoke out of turn.
The FBI knows this, as do the "experts" interviewed for some of these stories about "emailgate." I believe that Anti-Clinton animus has compelled them to create the impression of a security breach where none existed.
How can I be so certain? Simple: Obama would already know if the FBI had acquired any damning information beyond what I've just outlined. And if Obama were so informed, he would now be taking a very different attitude toward Hillary's candidacy.
I'm afraid that Lord HAHA is basing all of his hopes and dreams on a complete misunderstanding of how classification works. Which is odd, since he has actually worked for one of this government's intelligence agencies. Perhaps it would be closer to the mark to suggest that he is misinforming the public.
By the way: Isn't it cute how the BernieBros -- the same people who claim that they want to "Bern" the whole corrupt system down -- are suddenly so very concerned about national security and proper classification procedures?
Bernie used to quote Che. It's pretty weird for him to start talking like Allen Dulles.
Over half of voters feel Clinton lacks the integrity to serve effectively as president (54 percent), and nearly 6-in-10 have an unfavorable opinion of her (56 percent).
Roughly one third of self-identified Democrats think Clinton is lying about her emails (35 percent) and put national security at risk (32 percent).
Twenty-seven percent of those backing Clinton over Republican Donald Trump in the presidential race think she’s lying about her emails.
These numbers have less to do with the actual story of "emailgate" (the details of which escape most people) than with the way the story has been covered. If the above argument were more widely disseminated, people would understand that "emailgate" is just another scheme to smear the Clintons. There have been so many others...
I'm not asking you to share the above post with all your friends, although that would be nice. A better course of action would be for you to comprehend the important points made here, and to speak up fearlessly in your own conversations and writings.
After three months of arguing with a couple of Cons about emailgate, and me constantly bombarding them with facts, one of them ran up the white flag last night and said, "You win." He won't be voting for Clinton (or tRump he claims), but as least he won't be lying about emails anymore. I will keep this post ready to deploy as weaponized email truth.
There is nothing about emailgate that could possibly benefit US foreign policy opponents more than it could domestic Clinton political opponents, and that's after considering the usual press distortions.
This is a no-win issue for privacy activists. Either a person can ethically maintain a private mail server or they can't. I favor the former whether it's a Clinton or a Bush or a corporate insider-trading/off-shoring prick.
Ultimately private email servers don't really matter. The results of them do. If the resulting communications result in real world fuck-ups, then bash some skulls based on the evidence of those fuck-ups.
posted by Zolodoco : 8:06 PM
I never before appreciated the job that Joan Walsh did as editor in chief of Salon.com. I always had a few quibbles with how she ran the place. But I don't think that she would ever have given Lord HA HA the room to write such twisted calumnies that this twit Daley is.