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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Tweet it, Donald! TWEET! TWEET! TWEET!

For the first time, liberals are encouraging Donald Trump to tweet out the latest inane conspiracy theory circulating in fringe circles. The kook right's response to the kids in Parkland has been so insane and repellent that -- from a purely political point of view -- Dems want the kooks to keep kooking it up. We also want the Very Stable Genius to hop aboard the Nut Train and take it all the way to Nutland.

See Charles Pierce's fine essay here.
An entire generation has grown up within this wingnut terrarium, which has its own private history, volumes of its own private conjuring words, and, in the case of the climate crisis, its own physical laws.

Those people are now in positions of influence, inside the government and out. One survivor, David Hogg, has been specifically targeted by the Gateway Pundit site, which is owned and operated by Jim Hoft, aka The Dumbest Man On The Internet (copyright, Wonkette LLC.). These clucks have White House press credentials. They shouldn’t be allowed any closer to the White House than the nearest locked ward. But Donald Trump, Jr. thinks their coverage has been just swell.
Also here: one has ever really gone wrong underestimating his interest in intellectual consistency or overestimating his willingness to get involved in petty, self-defeating feuds with people who have the moral high ground. Should be fun!
Do it, Donald. DO IT. You know you want to. You need to. It's up to you to inform the world that the shooter was programmed by subliminal Satanic messages and chemicals in the drinking water! Nobody was actually shot at that high school. They were all CRISIS ACTORS! None of those kids actually died because none of them actually lived. And those students on TV, the ones asking for stricter gun laws...? They were all paid by George Soros and Hillary Clinton! They're all part of the FBI conspiracy against Donald Trump!

Tweet it, Donald! Everyone will love you if you do. The spirit of your father will look down on you and say "Son, I'm sorry I sent you to military school. I am SO proud of you right now. You're a much better man than I ever was." Only you can tell the world the truth, Donald! TWEET IT NOW!
Will Democrats do a Pelosi and FUBAR the opportunity handed them by lunatic Trumptards?
Unless I missed it there haven't been any calls from Democratic Party congress members for republicans to disavow the Conservative media. Remember republicans chastising President Obama every time a Black community leader stepped in it?
The NRA is a very much different beast now than it was when I was a kid taking my hunter safety course. The NRA paid to promote their new video several weeks ago playing with the other advertisements on YouTube. It showed many film cuts of individual white people, young and old, taking aim with their rifles from a standing position, while the narrator droned on about protecting rights and freedoms. Basically it's about preparing their base for civil war. The NRA has become an extremist right wing, Russian funded advocate for armed insurrection. What could go wrong?
The silence form most Democrats is deeply troubling.
I hope Trump kooks out on this too. Insulting the parents of massacred children by calling them "crisis actors" is so obscene that if this crazed president joins those who are doing it, who knows, it could be a pivotal time. That's if there are still grounds for retaining hope. It could lead to a peaceful "everyone block the streets or stay at home for a few hours and then rejoice when Trump gets straitjacketed and Mike Pence invokes the 25th amendment" moment.

Meanwhile in Britain Jacob Rees-Mogg may be about to click his fingers and trigger a Tory leadership election. He's practically running a parliamentary party within the parliamentary Tory party already. Two of his sisters have been supportive of the Rudolf Steiner organisation and so was their father William, editor of the Times.
The NRA, pre-1977-78, was a sane organization that actually supported some gun control legislation. Then you had a convicted murderer (later pardoned, I think) and certified whack job Harlon Carter and his goons taking over with their idiotic misinterpretation of the second amendment. It has been downhill ever since.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Who is "Person A"? I think I know -- and it's a hell of a story.

Unfortunately, I was busy yesterday when the Alex Van Der Zwaan indictment went down. This Atlantic piece is your hippest, quickest look at the affair, although I think we need to take things a bit further.

Basically, Manafort's Russian-backed autocrat in Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, had tossed his rival Yulia Tymoshenko in the pokey on snakey charges. (He really did lock her up.) The Skadden law firm was asked to write a report designed to convince the international community that everything about this process was hunkey-dory. The job went to Van Der Zwaan, son-in-law of a Russian oligarch.
One month later, Mueller’s team accused Manafort and Gates of using “one of their offshore accounts to funnel $4 million to pay secretly” for the 300-page Tymoshenko report.
Hey, do you remember Alfa Bank? Guess what...
Van Der Zwaan’s father-in-law, Khan, owns Russia’s Alfa Bank along with Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven. The three billionaires sued BuzzFeed News last year over its decision to publish a dossier written by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele that alleged, among other things, Alfa Bank’s involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
And do you remember that ultra-weird server in Trump Tower? It was "talking" to Alfa Bank. Nobody knows why. All innocent explanations for that situation have failed to convince.
Skadden has represented Alfa in several disputes over the years, according to descriptions of attorneys’ work available on its website. Manafort’s daughter, Andrea, was hired as an associate at Skadden in October 2012—one month after the firm completed the Tymoshenko report. She left Skadden in October 2016, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Ah, Andrea! I like her. The Atlantic piece doesn't mention that Andrea Manafort Shand has serious Daddy issues and may be willing to rat him out. Whenever I think about her, I flash on Ina Balin's character in The Commancheros.

(Ever see that one? Fun movie. Basically, it's a James Bond flick in the Old West.)

Andrea's text messages revealed that Manafort kept close to Trump even after Manafort was officially axed from the campaign. See here:
She said that Trump and her father shared many similarities.

‘This is pure sport. He is a power hungry egomaniac. Yes. He is loving it,’ Andrea Manafort Shand writes of her father.

‘Conclusively. Him and Trump are perfect allies for this agenda. It’s so weird he is my dad.’
‘He is very manipulative,’ Andrea Manafort Shand texts to her friend.

‘I did inherit that ability. But I don’t exploit it like he does. I know all his tactics. They aren’t that brilliant but they do work.’
‘It’s confidence. When you say something unwaveringly, people start to believe it.’
Here's my favorite bit -- the one that goes a long ways toward explaining why Andrea has gone the Ina Balin route:
‘My dad is a psycho!!! At least Trump let his wives leave him,’ Andrea Manafort Shand texted.

‘Plus, Trump has been a good father.’
In the past, we've already discussed the most famous text from Andrea:
"Don’t fool yourself,” Andrea wrote to her sister, according to the texts. “That money we have is blood money.” “You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly,” she continued, according to the reviewed texts. “As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine. Remember when there were all those deaths taking place. A while back. About a year ago. Revolts and what not. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered."
Can't wait for her book. I wonder who will play her in the movie? (If all of this had happened fifty years ago, Ina Balin would have been the perfect choice. A definite resemblance.)

The big mystery of the day is: Who is "Person A" in the indictment? Basically, contact with A is the reason Van Der Zwaan was indicted. The guy said to prosecutors that he had not communicated with A since 2014 "when VAN DER ZWAAN and Person A discussed Person A's family." This turned out to be a big fat lie. It's not nice to lie to Robert Mueller.

At first, everyone presumed that Manafort is A. A few have suggested Trump himself. But Ari Melber says that this is not so:
New Mueller filing describes Person A as a “longtime business associate of Manafort and Gates in Ukraine.”
My first thought, of course, was Roger Stone. To the best of my knowledge, nobody else has mentioned Roger Stone as an A candidate, but he and Manafort have been partners for ages, and they worked together in Ukraine.

My second thought was Tad Devine. Wouldn't that be scumptious?

But journalist Dan Friedman seems to have the real answer:
Person A in this case seems to be Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort’s longtime Ukrainian business associate, per Andrew Weissman’s statements in federal court this afternoon.
Van der Zwaan communicated with Kilimnik via an encryption program and, according to prosecutors, shared details of Skadden’s supposedly independent report with him without the permission of the senior partner overseeing the work. That would be former Obama WH counsel Greg Craig.
Weissman made clear in court that “Person A” is not Manafort and that’s it’s a person who worked with Gates who lives primarily in Ukraine.
Oh dear. Lives in Ukraine? Then we're not talking about Stone or Devine. Ah, well.

Actually, Kilimnik (an Oleg Deripaska associate discussed in a couple of previous posts) may be even more scandalous. He's widely thought to be GRU -- Russian intelligence. He denies it, but few believe that denial.

From a 2016 piece by Kenneth Vogel:
A Russian Army-trained linguist who has told a previous employer of a background with Russian intelligence, Kilimnik started working for Manafort in 2005 when Manafort was representing Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, a gig that morphed into a long-term contract with Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin-aligned hard-liner who became president of Ukraine.

Kilimnik eventually became “Manafort’s Manafort” in Kiev, and he continued to lead Manafort’s office there after Yanukovych fled the country for Russia in 2014, according to Ukrainian business records and interviews with several political operatives who have worked in Ukraine’s capital.
All the while, Kilimnik has told people that he remains in touch with his old mentor. He told several people that he traveled to the United States and met with Manafort this spring. The trip and alleged meeting came at a time when Manafort was immersed in helping guide Trump’s campaign through the bitter Republican presidential primaries, and was trying to distance himself from his work in Ukraine.
Let that sink in. When Manafort was guiding the Trump campaign, he met with a Russian intelligence officer.

What's more, this GRU officer came for a briefing on the Trump campaign.
This is the same Kilimnik who Manafort had emailed during the 2016 election about giving a Russian oligarch a private campaign briefing.

Manafort wanted to set up a private Trump campaign briefing with a Russian oligarch through Kilimnik who was GRU trained and who had wired him $53,000 dollars back in 2013.

Yet ‘There’s absolutely no evidence of collusion’ we keep hearing.

Here’s how Kilimnik-who Manafort may have helped launder stolen Ukrainian money after the fall of Yanukovych in 2014 describes his and Manafort’s emails in 2016:

“Paul Manafort’s longtime employee, Russian-Ukrainian political operative Konstantin Kilimnik, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that he and Manafort emailed each other “about Trump and everything” during the campaign.”

“Kilimnik’s comments came a day after The Washington Post reported that Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, sent Kilimnik an email in July 2016 asking him to offer Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska “private briefings” about the campaign.”

“There were millions of emails,” Kilimnik told RFERL in a text message. “We worked for 11 years. And we discussed a lot of issues, from Putin to women.”

“Of course we discussed Trump and everything,” he said in another message. “A lot of things.”
I know we say this every day, but let's say it again: Just imagine the reaction from the right if a Democratic campaign manager secretly met with a Russian intelligence officer.

This would explain why Van Der Zwaan -- a lawyer who knows better -- would lie to investigators about talking to Kilimnik. Kilimnik is as radioactive as Chernobyl right after the meltdown.

Seth Abramson says that if Manafort flips, Trump goes down soon after. Abramson wrote the text after the asterisks; afterward, I'll be back with a parting thought.

*  *  *

Per NBC, Trump has told friends he'd be in trouble if Paul Manafort "flipped" on him—clearly signaling that Manafort can incriminate him and get him impeached. By that measure, today's events have brought Trump closer than ever to impeachment. Hope you'll read and share.

Three weeks ago, NBC all but reported that Trump has incriminated himself in private calls to friends. I've no idea why this reporting didn't become major national news—frankly, I expect whoever dimed him out thought it would be. And it still should be.

In common and legal parlance, to "flip" on someone is to agree to testify against them in a criminal case. A current defendant like Paul Manafort would only flip on someone if they had sufficient incriminating evidence to offer their prosecutor that they could cut a plea deal.

So when NBC reported—3 weeks ago—that "Trump is telling friends and aides in private that things are going great for him [because] he's decided a key witness in the Russia probe, Paul Manafort, isn't going to flip and sell him out," they were saying he's incriminated himself.

NBC put the word "flip" in quotes—meaning Trump confidants say that's the word he's using. That's not a word Trump or anyone would use for the only other possible fear that Trump could have been referring to with Paul Manafort—that Manafort will make up an incriminating story.

While one could use a phrase like "stab me in the back" to describe a criminal defendant who makes up a story about someone else to save themselves, to "flip" is to make a "proffer" to the prosecutor to the effect that you can offer evidence to incriminate and convict another.

Keep in mind two things about Trump and Manafort: 1. They knew each other for years before Trump made Manafort his Campaign Manager. (They lived in the same building—Trump Tower—for years.) 2. The two kept speaking by phone for at least six months after Trump fired Manafort.

Let's focus on the second item. It means Trump kept up a clandestine relationship with Manafort for half a year after he publicly disavowed him. It also means that he was speaking to Manafort long after it had become clear that Manafort would be a witness in the Mueller probe.

Indeed, because Manafort worked for Trump for six months (not the three Trump claims) for *free*, it's not at all clear that his role in Trump's life changed much after he was fired in late summer 2016: he was an unpaid advisor to Trump both before and after his sudden firing.

My point is that there's every reason to believe—as Trump has done this with *other* Mueller witnesses—that a) Trump believes Manafort can incriminate him, and b) he's found ways to stay in contact with Manafort, so that Manafort understands he can expect a pardon from Trump.

If you doubt this, look at the question via a different angle: what *public* information could Trump *possibly* be looking at to so smugly—with such certitude—be telling confidants there's *no* chance that Manafort will flip on him? *All* the *public* evidence says otherwise.

As for the public evidence in the Manafort case, here's what we know: with the superseding indictments Mueller plans to bring soon, Manafort's *easily* looking at spending the rest of his life in a federal prison and running out of money to pay his attorneys long before then.

His main co-conspirator—his deputy, Rick Gates—will soon get a plea deal, meaning that he's already told Mueller and his agents, in *detail*, of *every single criminal act he ever saw Manafort engage in*. Gates' assistance appears to have led to another charge and plea today.

He (Manafort) is facing the most talented team of federal criminal prosecutors assembled for the purpose a single criminal investigation in the last half-century. Also, not for nothing, Manafort is—as Manafort knows—100% and unalterably guilty of everything he's charged with.

Manafort also knows that Mueller can basically flip any witness he wants (assuming they're Americans currently on U.S. soil; foreigners are harder for Mueller to access). So it's not clear what in the *world* would make Trump or Manafort optimistic about Manafort's chances.

Trump has only two cards to play on Manafort: 1. Pardon him. 2. Fire Mueller (and then, likely, get impeached). Manafort has only *one* card to play, based on public information: 1. Wait for Trump to pardon him. And we know this: 1. Trump's confident Manafort won't flip.

Add to those facts Trump's long relationship with Manafort, prior clandestine contacts with him, and demonstrated willingness to tamper with witnesses in a federal criminal investigation, and I'm telling you anyone in Mueller's shoes would assume Trump has contacted Manafort.

But there's another thing: if Manafort knows Trump, he knows Trump can't be trusted. He *certainly* knows he can't trust Trump with his *life*. And he *also* knows he's a primary Mueller target—so he can't "flip" for a deal unless and until he can *deliver Trump to Mueller*.

So a reasonable "theory of the case" from the standpoint of a seasoned CJS professional would include these facts: 1. There's a good chance Trump is tampering with Manafort. 2. Trump thinks Manafort can incriminate him. 3. Manafort doesn't trust Trump. 4. Manafort will flip.

If you assume—and you should—Mueller is working from these four very reasonable and basic assumptions, you can (a) understand everything Mueller is doing right now, and (b) see just how close Mueller is getting to nailing Trump and referring impeachable offenses to DOJ.

*  *  *

Cannon here. I agree with most of what Abramson has said, but I'm far from persuaded that Manafort will not bet on the pardon. Too much of the writing about this case has been marred by optimism. For this reason, I hope to God that Mueller has also found some state-level charges to bring against Manafort. There's gotta be something.

(And so there is. Also see here.)

There's another point which "polite" writers like Abramson refuse to address. I keep running into indications that Trump manipulates people not just with the carrot but with the stick. As in: Hiring very tough guys to do certain dirty jobs.

Even if Trump balks at such tactics, his Russian pals certainly do not. (Molly Bloom now says that Italian mobsters beat her up, but the original story was different.)

I ask you merely to keep that concept in mind as you decide whether or not Manafort will rat.
That quote from Andrea is beyond strange. Manafort was working for the Ukrainian governing group, not the opposition, so why would he be organising "Revolts and what not"? And who did he send out to get slaughtered? I suppose there were some police killed too, but she seems to be talking about the Maidan protestors. She seems to think his motive was getting "focus" on Ukraine. That certainly wasn't the motive of his paymasters, who just wnated to maintain the status quo.

Of course, what she said is exactly what happened: people were killed, the global eye fell on the Ukraine, that's what happened. And, predictably, global outrage about murdering protestors led to the fall of the government. So really, what's going on?

Also, I keep hearing about Manafort being scared because he was in hock to some big fellahs in the Ukraine, people you don't want to be owing, but then he was also laundering millions of payments from them to himself, the proximate cause of his current difficulties with the US taxman.

These facts, related to Manafort, are logically inconsistent.

Manafort's options are not good. The way I see them:

A) He waits for a Trump pardon. This will accelerate the impeachment of Trump, and Manafort can still be tried for state charges. It's also possible Manafort could still be indicted when Trump leaves office depending on the nature of the pardon.
B) He goes to trial or pleads guilty and spends his life in jail.
C) He pleads guilty and makes a deal to turn against Trump for a light sentence. However, I have to imagine he will then have to fear being killed by the Russians. And I'm sure most of his wealth will still be gone.

So his options are basically to spend the rest of his life in jail or fear for his life from the Russians without any of his money. No good options for Manafort. If he does flip, he better demand a hell of a witness protection program.
Does this article make you more or less confident in the honesty of the 2016 election?
Joe, What a great piece -- it's like a crazy quilt. As President Trump and his bot-ies point fingers every which way, we must be sure to examine what he is trying to keep us from seeing.

Pres. Trump's Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, is completely unremarked at this moment. So let’s consider the following Guardian articles. Could Ross be teed up by the Mueller investigation as the next Cabinet-level shoe to drop?

After Ross acquired an interest in Navigator, including 2 seats on the Board, he concealed the investment when he joined the Trump Admin by delegating to his deputy, who is now his right hand at the Commerce Dept. Ross fudged the asset in his disclosure statement:
Navigator is intimately tied to Russian oil/gas transport interests in Ukraine and thus, to Putin.

Ross' interest in Navigator could inspire a parlor game. Name the Oligarch working with Wilbur Ross on a deal to score. Ross is the arrow on the "Navigator" game board spinner. Deals w/ Putin cronies are spaced out across a board like Candyland.

1. Ross paid $1 bil. to acquire the controlling interest in Bank of Cyprus from its biggest shareholder, the oligarch who bought Pres. Trump's disheveled Palm Beach manse for an absurd sum (ttl $95mil) over Trump’s price (or market value). If you guessed Rybolovlev, you’ve earned 1% commission.

2. The world's biggest collector of Faberge eggs joined Ross in the takeover of Bank of Cypress. This oligarch also attended the 10th anniversary dinner for Russia Today (RT) in December 2015, where General Flynn was seated next to President Putin who sat opposite Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein. The head of the oligarch's American subsidiary pumped $285k into Trump's inaugural celebration fund. If you guessed oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, you’ve won a golden egg.

3. As Co-Chair of the Bank of Cyprus, Ross sold off BOC’s Russian based businesses to an oligarch with ties to Russia's largest bank, Sberbank. At the time of the sale, Sberbank was under U.S. and EU Russian sanctions -- following Russia's annexation of Crimea. BOC's Russian assets weren’t sanctioned at the time. Deutsche Bank London acted as financial adviser to this deal, which isn’t believed to have violated US or EU sanctions. If you guessed the Sberbank principal who acquired Uniastrum assets from BoC was Artem Avetisyam,take a jar of black caviar.;

4. Q. Ross gave which Russian bank a 4 year extension to repay an EU 1 mil loan used to buy Bank of Cyprus' Ukrainian assets? A. Alfa Bank. Vekselberg (see 2 above) is business partner w/Alfa Bank's chair, oligarch Mikhail Fridman, another Putin oligarch crony. Alfa Bank was uncovered in surveillance of for. Agents pinging a Trump organization computer. Pay yourself a bonus.

Ross and Trump go way back: he has been a Trump ally since his failing Atlantic City casino days. There's more to the Ross & the Russian financiers trivia game, and, I hope, some recoverable money for the U.S. Treasury:

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Bernie and Russia

A tweet from FBI counterintelligence expert Asha Rangappa, replying to Bernie Sanders:
The indictment makes clear that they were pushing you, too, @SenSanders. And it's interesting that you also were very quick to claim that our processes were "rigged" as long as you were losing. Coincidence?
Just so!

A BernieBro came to Sanders' defense:
You act as if Bernie was working WITH the Russians. He was not. He is against all that they stand for. Being a pawn in their game doesn't reflect badly on him. He has acknowledged and denounced Russian interference in our election. We're still waiting on POTUS to do the same.
Ah, those fucking Bros. They do it every time.

Who gives a damn about what Bernie SAYS? Yeah, sure: When the occasion demands, he'll say the right words. But so what? What he says is not nearly as important as what he does -- not to mention what the bad guys have done on his behalf.

The fact is that Tad Devine, Bernie's chosen campaign manager, is basically interchangeable with Paul Manafort. No actual progressive would stay within twenty feet of Devine.

The fact is that Manafort's partner, Roger Stone, specializes in propping up "spoiler" Dems like Bernie.

The fact is that Bernie's campaign was a cesspool of misogyny. And I'm talking about real woman-hate, truly vicious stuff. I'm not talking about the iffy claims made by those hyper-sensitive Me-Tooers who accused Al Franken of committing rape because he put his hand on a woman's waist as a photo was snapped. (Isn't it strange how "Me Too" standards differ when we start talking about Moscow-approved politicians?)

Bernie said absolutely nothing about the misogyny pervading his campaign until forced to do so. And even when he finally, belatedly, offered a pro-forma denunciation, nothing in his campaign changed. To the end, his campaign was marked by rage, lies, smears, paranoia, fanaticism, cultishness, Messiah-worship, threats, hyper-emotionalism and hatred of all things female. Compared to the BernieBros, the Bolsheviks were the apostles of sweetness and reason.

Bernie Sanders never denounced the filthy games played by his leading acolytes, such as Cassandra Fairbanks (pal to Roger Stone) and H.A. Goodman, a faux "progressive" now exposed as a fanatical MAGA-boy. Heretofore, I've referred to the latter as Lord H.A. H.A. -- but after the Mueller indictment, I think his new name shall be H.A. Horoshoman. Or maybe (with a nod to Anthony Burgess) H.A. Horrorshowman.

Yeah, I know that Bernie offered lukewarm support to Hillary in the general. He had to do so in order to be in a position to help Trump in the next election. Bernie's masters want him to say whatever he needs to say in order to secure the Democratic nomination in 2020.

You can depend on the BernieBros to weaken anyone who would be a better candidate in 2020. The scurrilous attacks on Kamala Harris were very telling, and bore the signature of the Internet Research Agency.

The important thing to understand is this: Bernie Sanders cannot win in the general. Kurt Eichenwald has proved that point beyond rational debate.
I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans for Sanders, and it was brutal. The Republicans would have torn him apart. And while Sanders supporters might delude themselves into believing that they could have defended him against all of this, there is a name for politicians who play defense all the time: losers.
Worst of all, the Republicans also had video of Sanders at a 1985 rally thrown by the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua where half a million people chanted, “Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die,’’ while President Daniel Ortega condemned “state terrorism” by America. Sanders said, on camera, supporting the Sandinistas was “patriotic.”

The Republicans had at least four other damning Sanders videos (I don’t know what they showed), and the opposition research folder was almost 2-feet thick. (The section calling him a communist with connections to Castro alone would have cost him Florida.)
Eichenwald found much more. Also see my own post explaining why Sanders would lose all 50 states, including Vermont.

Think about it. If Sanders were on the level, if he were not a witting agent of the Trump forces, then he would talk about that Sandinista video right now. He knows what's in that oppo file; it's no secret. When you have a skeleton of that sort in your closet, your only hope is to break the news yourself, offering your own spin and mea culpas. The time to do so would be NOW, not in the middle of a campaign.

Has Sanders done that? No. Will he do that? Of course not.

He knows that he is not meant to be the first octogenarian to win the presidency. He knows that his job is to insure a Trump win. As I've argued in several previous posts, we have good reason to believe that there is kompromat on Bernie Sanders, or at least on Jane.

Sanders cannot win. Anyone who argues that Sanders can win in 2020 is a witting or unwitting agent of the Russians and/or the Alt Right.

That's why the Russians are pushing Sanders. From the indictment:
43.By 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators used their fictitious online personas to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.
On or about February 10, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators internally circulated an outline of themes for future content to be posted to ORGANIZATION-controlled social media accounts. Specialists were instructed to post content that focused on “politics in the USA” and to “use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest (except Sanders and Trump—we support them).”
That's the fact, Jack.

"But...but...Bernie says things that I like to hear!"

Fuck you. It's just words. Words don't count as much as actions. The only thing Bernie Sanders has done in his life is help elect Donald Trump.

"But...but...Hillary's emails!"

DOUBLE-fuck you.
It's worse than this.

Don't forget that Bernie was slow to denounce Russia. He only did it long after it was proven beyond a non-Trump doubt that they were interfering. His initial response was the Kremlin-like "It's a distraction from the real issues!" talking point. His most vocal supporters are also the loudest to denounce the Russian investigation (Greenwald). His primary campaign got more divisive, more closely echoed Russian talking points, and got more Russian support the longer and more hopeless the campaign went on.

He never released his taxes. His campaign finances were sketchy. He made no effort to reign in his worst supporters at the DNC after the hacked emails were released. He went on Ari Melber's show and said "And of course we knew that they [Russia] were trying to cause divisiveness within the Democratic Party. That's no great secret." in response to what he knew about the DNC hacks at the time. He went on Chuck Todd's show on Sunday and did some Whataboutism when asked about Russia's support. (He seriously compared it to Russia's BLM support.) He was one of 5 members of Congress to vote against Russian sanctions and gave a complete horseshit excuse that they would somehow jeopardize the Iran deal. He voted against the Magnitsky Act.

And between the constant lies and smears he effortlessly uses in his campaigns and the fact he and his wife are under FBI investigation, he certainly has the character to do what we are questioning him of doing.

I was always very skeptical that Bernie knew he was getting Russian assistance during his campaign. But the way he is dodging responsibility and accountability for the very real questions people have about his connections is giving me the same vibe Trump gave very early in the Russian scandal. I mean this in that he is doing nothing to dissuade those who think this is a problem from believing it and only inflaming the questions by being so defensive whenever asked about them. I'm calling it now. There's something sketchy between Bernie and Russia we don't yet know. I don't know the nature of it, but there's something there. He is not acting like a completely innocent man. I hope we someday find the truth.

Oh well. At least it will soon by Jill Stein's time in the barrel. That I am confident of.
How far back does Russian interference go. 2016 posts on Facebook and Twitter eerily echo the O-bots flooding DailyKos about Hillary 2008. Did the Russians miscalculate the support a Black candidate would get from voters?
Then there's the Birther attacks, more Russian rat tucking by Trump?
Were the republican party attempts to make Obama a one term president home grown racism or Russian orchestrated?
Quite the rabbit hole.
From the files cot Democrats Get Played (Again):
Gillibrand, willing dupe or active participation?
The United States is now the target of an ongoing very widespread and complex international intelligence operation.

"White nationalist provocateurs, a pair of fake news sites, an army of Twitter bots and other cyber tricks helped derail Democratic Senator Al Franken last year, new research shows."
Your hatred of Bernie is palpable...

and tiresome.
Hey Michael, we copped the Bernie phenomenon even here in Australia. All of the certain "facts" about Hillary, the primary process, the desire for Americans everywhere to jump on a Liberal bandwagon and head for Woodstock, and Bernie's political moral purity (ie crap and conspiracy propaganda) were all in evidence in our local blogs and media outlets. I will never forget the hostility and BS arguments I received when I tried to politely debate with some of them on-line. Never again. Moderators were missing in action and it was an exercise in vicious personal put downs and BS only found with religious cult nut jobs. The Bernie phenomenon was a perfect union of ignorance and conceit looking for some heads to kick. Scumbags the lot of them.
I join the Burn Bernie chorus, though I am singing from the choir.

"Your hatred of Bernie is palpable..."

and with very good reason. Fixed it for you. Perhaps you need to dig a little deeper into your hero and his past, particularly his behavior in the last election.

Just want to say your new banner is AWESOME!
Oooooo. That banner is going to provoke the Bernie Bros, Joe :0). Maybe some more Bots, as well. Btw, if you had Russian trolls on your tail, you should take a bow. Means you're doing something right.

As for Saint Bernard, there are many loose ends--the whole Tad Devine connection, the unexplained campaign money dumps (yeah, I know all $27 donations. Hah!), the data breach into Clinton's HQ, the refusal to release tax forms, etc. Will we get the answers? I don't know. What I do know is that Bernie would be killed in 2020 because Hillary's campaign did not release the ugly side of their opposition research on Sanders, something the GOP Trumpsters would have no trouble broadcasting. Bernie's past is not exactly spotless and Eichenwald laid it out very nicely--the anti-American skeletons in the closet.

Saint Bernard would be sliced and diced, death by a thousand cuts.

That should be the end of the story. But, of course, it isn't because this afternoon I picked up the recent Our Revolution endorsement of Dennis Kucinich for Governor of Ohio. Kucinich has always been far left, considered a progressive firebrand. But he's also a Trumpster apologist, appearing on Fox News, sounding suspiciously like an Alt-right defender, claiming the Trump Administration is being attacked by the Deep State.

Yes, the Trumpster, the innocent lamb stalked by the Big Bad Wolf.

Sorry, for me that taints any progressive cred a candidate might have. No Trumpeter-Hugging allowed!

Not sure why Nina Turner and her group felt their endorsement was a good idea, beyond hating on Richard Cordray as an establishment candidate and/or wanting to split the Democratic vote. Again.

With friends like this, who needs enemies???

So many dupes so little time.

Saw on Ari Melber a brief mention of "Woke Blacks" being a group formed by Russian social engineers.

Melber on Tuesday 20- Feb had a segment on a Russian led return to Jim Crow by suppressing black voters.
The hatred of Bernie on this site is palpable... Tiresome.. And divisive.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

"Armed drones at every school" -- and more

Rightwing nutjob Wayne Allyn Root, still high from a "magical" night at Mar-A-Lago with the Very Stable Genius, has a solution for the problem of school shootings: Armed drones at every school.

Response 1: Imagine the right's response if Barack Obama or any other Democrat had made the exact same proposal. I know we say those words a lot, but seriously: Imagine.

Response 2: We know that the NRA and the gun manufacturers no longer focus on protecting the rights of hunters. Nowadays, the target (so to speak) of their propaganda is the conspiracy nut community. The pitch: "We need guns to protect us from the gummint!"

Very well. But hasn't Wayne Allyn Root just revealed that the gummint possesses the technology to overpower anyone wielding an AR-15? Even if we legalized private ownership of machine guns, can't drones easily take out any Second Amendment stalwart who seek to defy the hated gummint?

Response 3 (an offshoot of Response1): Does Root really want an armed drone infrastructure hovering over every American city, town and village? Does Root want Democratic governors and Democratic presidents to have that infrastructure at their command? Does Root believe that the Democratic party will never exercise any power in this country ever again?

Speaking of which...

The generic ballot. The news is horrible. On the Democratic sites, people keep kidding themselves. Stop it. Those wool sunglasses do nothing to improve your vision; they just make you look stupid. Face facts: The news is horrible.

Trump appeared to be referring to a poll released last week by McLaughlin & Associates that shows Democrats with a 3 percentage point lead on Republicans on a 2018 generic ballot for Congress.

The firm’s January poll showed a similar result, with 45 percent of those surveyed favoring Democrats and 42 percent choosing Republicans.

Most polling shows Republicans trailing Democrats in a generic congressional vote. A Real Clear Politics average shows Democrats ahead by nearly 7 points.

Republicans retook the lead on the generic ballot last week in a Politico-Morning Consult poll, which showed 39 percent of likely voters would support a GOP candidate compared to 38 percent who would support a Democrat. Another 23 percent in that poll were undecided.
The situation was quite different last December, which was not long ago. Even then, I was privately saying that the Republicans are going to gain seats in the 2018 election, and now I'm making that prediction in public.

Why is this happening? Here's why:


Conspiracy theory dominates the radio, Fox News, Facebook, Twitter, and much of the internet. Conspiracy theory erases the reality that is and replaces it with a reality preferred by fascists and financiers.

The addiction model is the best way to understand the psychological stranglehold that conspiracy theory has on the public. If Americans were not already addicted to conspiracy theories, Russian efforts in 2016 would have found no purchase.

Big Money pushes only those conspiracy theories which demonize Democrats. The popularity of conspiracy theory is the reason why Donald Trump is president. The popularity of conspiracy theory is the reason why the Republicans will win in 2018.

Conspiracy culture is monolithic and magnificently resistant to independent thought. It's controlled by a small group of people -- a "Con-intern," in you will -- which demands total obedience to the party line. The adherents of that party line think that they are the hippest of the hip, when in fact they are the ones who truly deserve to be called sheeple.

America's conspiracy buff subculture is, in and of itself, a conspiracy. I've said it many times in the past and I'll say it many times in the future: Some conspiracies are real. The right-wing conspiracy peddlers ARE the conspiracy.  
Joseph, you ask, "Does Root believe that the Democratic party will never exercise any power in this country ever again?" Of the GOP and the right wing in general, the same rhetorical question might well be asked. The answer would be, Yes, they believe that the Democrats will not hold power in any meaningful way.

Since the W. Bush days, the GOP has acted with total confidence in its power and electability. Karl Rove spoke openly about building a "permanent Rrepublican majority." When a Democrat won the presidential, they tried to nullify his ability to do anything.

Fifteen years ago, I noticed this excess of confidence and thought it was part of their schtick. But over the years, I've come think that they know that the Democrats are at a true and deep disadvantage that will be very hard to overcome.

So, it would be fair to conclude that they've got plenty of tricks, fixed polls, rigged voting machines, lots of fake news and other propaganda and psychological operations.
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Trump, Russia, Q-anon and conspiracy theory

What to say about the Mueller indictments? I'll try to be brief, though I expect to fail.

The American friend. A few talking heads on teevee were bold enough to note that the events described in this indictment could not possibly have occurred without American aid and guidance. I draw your attention to paragraph 53, which mentions a fictitious Muslim group created to smear Hillary by association. An American was hired to hold a sign saying "I think Sharia Law will be a powerful new direction of freedom."

That move is classic Roger Stone. In 1972, he created a fake group called "Gays for McGovern" in order to smear the Democratic candidate. (It was a different time.)

So far, nobody has linked Stone to the St. Petersburg project. One of his rules is "Always use a cut-out." If his partner Paul Manafort really has turned, that rule may not save him.

Inside man? Malcolm Nance has suggested that some of the information in this indictment must have come from an FBI "inside man" within either the Russian operation or the Trump team. There is some independent evidence for this suggestion. However, it is possible that Nance, an intelligence veteran, hopes to psych out the Alt Right by arousing internal suspicions. 

Misdirection. Spend half an hour on the right side of the web, as I did, and you'll find enough material to stay enraged for the rest of the day. During that half-hour of exploration (all I could tolerate), I discovered that the rightists are using several contradictory arguments to minimize the damage done by this indictment

Argument the First: They claim that Mueller is part of the Clinton/Soros/Deep State/Illuminati conspiracy. This one is obvious and predictable.

Argument the Second: "Blame Obama." This argument is more clever, and actually has some merit. Historians will spend the next few centuries asking why No-Drama Obama didn't do more to protect the country from Trump. Although that question is legitimate, it does not excuse the right-wing hallucination that John Kerry deliberately allowed Russian agents into the country -- agents who (in this view) helped Hillary, not Trump. In the real world, the indictment clearly shows that Putin did everything he could to destroy Hillary.

Argument the Third:  Mischaracterization. The Alt Rightists know that few within their audience will actually read the indictment -- after all, it's more than thirty pages long! As a result, they have much freedom for mischief. Some have suggested that the indictment portrays the Russians as attacking Hillary, Bernie and Trump in relatively equal measures.

Surreal. Absolutely surreal.

Conspiracy. The surrealism of the right will, I think, win the day. As Bill Maher pointed out in his last show, Trump's numbers are rising, as are the poll numbers for the Republican party as a whole.

How can this be? We've heard many suggestions, but I think that the main culprit is the stranglehold of conspiracy theory on the American imagination.

In many parts of this country, conspiracy news is just...The News. Similarly, conspiracy history is the only history many Americans ever learn. (For example, more people can recognize the name Colonel House than can recognize the name Adam Clayton Powell.) Younger people think that their favorite conspiracy cliches are new and hip, when in fact they are familiar and trite. Even though these memes are (almost literally) a factory product, right-wing conspiracism is considered "woke." I guess woke is the new word for trance.

In a previous post, we discussed The Storm conspiracy theory, which holds that Mueller is actually investigating Hillary Clinton, not Trump. The promulgator of this nonsense calls himself Q or Q-anon, sometimes spelled Qanon. He claims to have top-level sources who are feeding him all sorts of juicy inside dope.

Newsweek has a good expose of this stormy madness, as does the Southern Poverty Law Center. Are the Russians behind Q? Perhaps not. Still, they are clearly Q-friendly.

From the SPLC:
“What we have come up with is a possible coup,” explained conspiracy theorist David Zublick in a late-November video, “not against Donald Trump, but by Donald Trump, working with Robert Mueller to bring down the Clintons, the Democrat Party, and the entire U.S. government involved in pedophilia and child sex trafficking.”
However, in the new expanded version of the theory, the pedophilia ring has gone global, drawing in alleged participants from all around the nation, and occurring in locations ranging from Hollywood to Europe. (One version of the pedophilia theory entertained by Jones claimed that the child victims were being secretly shipped to a colony on Mars.)

“QAnon” and the conspiracy theorists who piled on at 4chan, 8chan, and on Twitter claimed that contrary to the running story in mainstream media, this pedophilia ring is the real focus of Mueller’s investigation. The general conclusion, spread through the #qanon hashtag on social media, was that a wave of arrests – including Clinton, Obama, Podesta, Soros, Sen. John McCain, and a number of leading Hollywood figures and Democrats was about to happen.
Here's what I found when I looked for Q-anon stuff on Twitter. Basically, tweets with that hashtag are the Lazarus Pool for kaput conspiracy theories. In conspiracy-land, formerly-dead hoaxes gain immortality.

(Remember Alex Jones' loopy reference to a "colony on Mars"? That came from an outrageous leg-pull called Alternative Three, which was exposed ages ago. No matter how many times we stake that vampire, it keeps coming back.)

The Storm-peddlers have revived this chestnut...

Do you recall this obviously-fake medical diagnosis of Hillary's alleged "dementia"? Cannonfire spoofed the whole affair -- and offered proof of the hoax -- in the summer of 2016.

(The star of that satirical post is my late dog George, whom I still miss terribly.)

Here's another one, which apparently traces back to Q himself:

Q wants us to be believe that the mythical "Orion" mind control process was used to engineer the recent horrors in Florida. The book Behold a Pale Horse was written by the notorious "conspiracy salesman" Milton William Cooper, with whom I had a few run-ins before he became famous. He claimed to learn about Orion -- and many other things -- from a Top Seekrit "book of wonders" he was mysteriously asked to read during the Vietnam War, the contents of which he "recalled" under hypnosis.

According to Cooper, this document stated that the earth was being visited by two alien races, one evil, one good. The bad aliens were greedy materialists who controlled Hollywood and the banks, and who were notable for their large noses. The good aliens were tall blonde "Nordics." The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (reprinted in full in this volume) supposedly exposes the conspiracies perpetrated by the bad aliens. I think you get the picture.

Cooper later revised his memories and told audiences that aliens have never visited this planet, and that space travel is impossible. What about the moon landings, you ask? Faked, of course. Duh.

Circa 1989, I asked Cooper if he could cite a source for this "Orion" claim, a feature of even his earliest lectures (which he delivered with the aid of cheap vino). He angrily cited that mythical Top Seekrit document, as if that settled that. He also suggested that anyone who questioned his word must be part of The Conspiracy. Nevertheless, I'm sure that Cooper stole the "Orion" riff from someone else: His whole shtick was repackaging other people's hogwash and claiming it as his own.

Let us move on to another zombie conspiracy theory which the Q-anon Twitterverse has re-animated...

This nonsense has been exposed many times. Once again, I must ask: If Trump disapproves of a Russian company owning a uranium mine in Wyoming, why hasn't he forced (or even politely requested) a divestiture? He certainly has the power to do so.

A final example:

It's weird. Many participants in the Q-anon Twitterverse think that Adolf was a sweetie-pie, yet they also promote the "Hitler the Rothschild" myth. (And a myth it is: See here and here.)

Enter Russia. It is abundantly clear that the Russians have joined forces with the American conspiracy subculture. How did that happen? When did it all start?

One could devote a massive book to answering that question. The Russians have been a paranoid lot for a long, long time -- at least since the Decembrist revolution, which was largely plotted in Freemasonic circles. One could probably find a much earlier origin point.

Believe it or not, a large segment of the American neo-Nazi underground became pro-Russian in the 1950s -- yes, during the height of McCarthyite hysteria, and not many years after the Battle of Stalingrad. Although American anti-Semites have always despised Communism, they began to develop warm feelings toward Joseph Stalin when they learned that, just before his death, he signaled his intention to launch a massive pogrom.

Kevin Coogan's important book Dreamer of Day documents at exhaustive length the pro-Russian strain within American post-war fascism. The key theoretical writings were done within a group called the National Renaissance Party. The writer was a fascist mastermind named Francis Parker Yockey, who went on to produce a racist magnum opus called Imperium

Yockey was associated with Willis Carto. In a previous post on "The Storm," I've outlined my theory that the author of the Q material is a notorious forger formerly associated with Carto's organization. I can't prove this theory at present -- so for now, let's classify it as an "educated hunch."

(Another National Renaissance Party alum was Eustace Mullins, a protege of Ezra Pound. In the 1990s, Mullins' writings became weirdly ubiquitous on both the right and the left. I was located somewhere on the left, yet whenever I went to politically-tinged gathering in L.A., I would run into someone -- usually an ever-so-hip alleged progressive -- who wanted to convert me to the Gospel According to Eustace Fucking Mullins. It was infuriating! After a point, mere mention of that name would elicit a "Niagara Falls" reaction from me: Slowly I turned, step by step...)

In an important, widely-discussed recent piece, James Risen identifies what may be another key point of convergence.
The most infamous and dangerously effective KGB disinformation campaign of the Cold War was known as Operation Infektion. It was a secret effort to convince people in developing countries that the United States had created the HIV/AIDS virus.

In 1983, a newspaper in India printed what purported to be a letter from an American scientist saying the virus had been developed by the Pentagon. The letter went on to suggest that the U.S. was moving its experiments to Pakistan, India’s archenemy. Meanwhile, the KGB got an East German scientist to spread misinformation supporting the Moscow-backed conspiracy theory that the U.S. was behind the virus.

While these lies never penetrated the U.S. mainstream, they nonetheless spread insidiously through much of the world.

Vladimir Putin was a KGB officer during the 1980s when the KGB was conducting this disinformation campaign. He was stationed in East Germany in the late 1980s, and there is a good chance he knew about the East German component of Operation Infektion.
Risen doesn't tell you the rest of the story: In America, a few years after "Operation Infektion," both the John Birchite right and the "progressive" paranoids glommed onto the theory that the Reagan administration created AIDS. I'm sure -- well, fairly sure -- that the KGB did not mastermind this development. But the Russians surely took note of how quickly the idea spread throughout various American subcultures. Fear is a powerful form of junk, and many Americans first became addicted to the rush at that time.

And now here we are. What was once a subculture is now THE culture.
Quite a post! A lot to dig through.

Jill Stein certainly deserves some attention. She made and appearance on AM Joy on Sunday. She's a sociopath.

Very studied evasion and deflection and a cool smile throughout. Not the sort of skills good doctors pick up in med school or medical practice, where the bad ones at least learn to act as if they care.
No, no, very sorry. Not AM Joy.

Stein was on the following show, MSNBC Live with Alex Witt. Sorry.

Worth seeing the video if it becomes available.
The dominant narrative at the moment, at least the one I am most frequently insulted for not accepting, seems to be that the Russians weren't interested in Trump winning, but only in spreading division.

The mention of the HIV thing might be the first time I've ever heard a claim of a succesful disinformation operation by the Soviets, who are generally reported to have been rank incompetents at such things, and at assassination and most other intelligence matters. Of course there were those defectors who may have been false defectors, but then certain people would have reasons not to accept those as Soviet victories.

It does bring to mind, however, the old conspiracy theory that the Soviets were behind global terrorism, which was of course put about by the CIA, only for the CIA to end up being run by one of the useful idiots who refused to believe this theory was untrue, even when those who devised it told him so. Now that's blowback. And now the president is a former guest on Infowars. Not that I'm saying Infowars works for the CIA, of course. Rather, para Nixon, everyone's a conspiracy theorist now.
Back in 1986, while working in a bookstore in Harvard Square, a customer with excellent bu notably accented English asked for a book, and while leading him to the location I made conversation and found that he was from Russia and a mathematician. I asked what he was working on and was told, "the prediction of human behavior."

I, who find even my own behavior rather unpredictable at times, replied that I doubed such predictability.

He said very firmly words to the effect that human behavior is undoubtedly predictable.

Words that have been on my mind quite a bit recently.
Don't worry about Trump's slight uptick in his poll numbers. It's all coming from consolidation among Republicans. He isn't winning any new converts. I mean, it's still frightening, but it's not as frightening as actually winning over new people.
Looks to me like this Russian LLC was not interested in influencing the election, just creating clickbait content for commercial reasons.

Most of small spend was after the election (52%). The Russian conspiracy thing is dead. The conspiracy is the creation of the Russian conspiracy narrative.
Matt: Yawn.

Yoou might sell that old stuff elsewhere, but it's doubtful.
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Friday, February 16, 2018

Why would Russia screw with THIS blog?

No doubt you are concerned by, or fascinated with, today's announcement that a grand jury has indicted a baker's dozen of Russians involved with election meddling. I'll have more to say about that as soon as I've scooped up and processed every morsel of relevant news. Right now, let's look at a "meddling" story that hits a bit closer to home.

Before we go further, let's get one thing straight: I have no illusions about this humble blog.

At one time, the readership was pretty sizable, but the days when Cannonfire could attract 70 thousand (sometimes a hundred thousand) pageviews are long past. About ten years ago, I privately determined a number below which this blog would shut down. We're way, way, way below that now -- in part because I refuse to touch social media, in larger part because I'm an ornery, unlovable recluse who disdains all groups and movements. Hell, all people.

So why go on? For a number of reasons. In part because a core readership remains. In part because of blind habit. In part because of what we might call "the Feynman principle."

Physicist Richard Feynman used to say that the best way to learn something -- to remember something -- is to teach it, even if your "student" is a figment of your imagination. You gain much when you try to explain a complex idea to someone who is not a specialist in your field.

In Big Bang Theory terms, picture Sheldon teaching string theory to Penny and making a conceptual breakthrough in the process. Right now, I'm Sheldon and you're Penny. In the comments, I'm Penny and you're Sheldon. If Cannonfire ended, both Penny and Sheldon would leave the stage and I'd be Stuart. A terrifying prospect. Thus, the-blog-that-should-die shambles on.

That's a humbling but necessary preamble to the problem I'd like to present here.

For a period of about a week, this blog became very difficult to access. One had to hit "Refresh" about four or five times to see the front page. This problem -- which didn't bother me overmuch -- ended a few days ago.

Mysteriously, Blogger's internal stats insisted that the readership had dramatically shot up. Even when I took a vacay from writing (around the time the Nunes memo came out), the numbers rocketed. Yet those pageview numbers had to be deceptive, since the number of comments had not increased in a commensurate fashion (as had been the case previously).

Moreover, traffic was coming from bizarre websites, such as a site for real estate in Montana. These sites did not link to any Cannonfire stories.

Blogger has a graph which reveals where the readers are located. In the past, the vast majority of hits came from the US (naturally), plus a smattering of views from other English-speaking nations, primarily the UK. Of late, I've been receiving thousands of views each day from Russia. Although I won't reveal exact numbers, the traffic from Russia has been positively freakish.

Cannonfire has also received a freakishly-large amount of traffic from such non-English-speaking countries as France, Poland and South Korea. Nothing of that sort has ever happened before.

I brought this matter to the attention of someone more technically savvy than I, who said that this issue sounds like "a standard DDOS can order them from Black Hat web sites or the Dark Web for not very much money nowadays."

"But why ME?" I asked, admitting that traffic for this site is far lower than was once the case.

The response: "All it takes is one guy willing to pay about $50/day to over-saturate your allocated bandwidth. It's that easy nowadays."

Me: "Jeez, why don't they just pay me 40 bucks a day NOT to write? I'll take it!"

Now, I don't think that it is quite so easy to pull off a DDOS attack on a Blogspot site, since the whole thing is owned by Google and Google is no pushover. My first suspicion was that someone from Russia had engineered this outbreak of oddness, since so many of the Mystery Pageviews come from that country. However, it is true that -- technically speaking -- a DDOS attack could come from anywhere.

Seriously, though: Why this site? To repeat: I have no illusions about the importance of anything going on here. Throughout most of the past year, I've mostly offered my two cents (or one Penny?) on the same news stories that everyone else has yammered about. I've not broken any new ground. Behind the scenes, I've been "kinda, sorta" working on a story that may break new ground, but I honestly don't know if that line of research will prove worthwhile.

So...what the hell is going on?

Fair offer: If anyone out there wants Cannonfire not to publish a story on any given day, just hit the the PayPal button. For the low, low price of forty bucks, you will buy complete silence from Joseph Cannon for a full 24 hour period. Open to negotiation. For the price of one of those Chinese knockoffs of the Cintiq graphic monitor, I'll stop writing for three weeks. (Not one of those really small monitors, mind you: even I have certain standards.)

It's legal and it's cheaper than hiring a DDOS guy.
What will domestic trolls do now the Russians have pretty much shoved them to oblivion?
I'm thinking back to 2008 and the Kossaks regurgitating republican canards about Bill&Hill.
Think noquarter got duped?
Thechdude a Russian?
So much for Larry Johnson's CIA chops.
Why your blog? You were the first one on the internet to call out the fact that Russia was actively interfering with the 2016 election. Of course you're the object of attention.
Geez, that wasn't investigative reporting. It was just an inborn sense of always-say-die pessimism, mixed in with a little paranoia.
Just don’t stop writing.
They think you're helping Mueller. Today's indictment called out the Russian Bernie bots. You were the first to call that.
Well that difficulty in access tweren't much.

Between your insights, reporting and editorial sense, plus the commenters, I've learned a lot here. A lot that was not obvious at the time.

A lot of operators don't like such activity.

Badge of honor.
I saw that exact thing here in the past few days.

I wondered what was going on. And kept refreshing, which got me through after a few times.

That seems like a very low grade blocking attempt, if a few refreshes gets through. So that is also odd, just as whatever was going on is odd. Your site forensic data is helpful additional information.


As I recall, your ability to think like Roger Stone was the keystone -- once on the right track,the subsequent pieces of the puzzle almost fell into place on their own.
Anyone who tells the truth these days will end up being someones target. There's no way to convey (when I can afford it, I'll try harder) how much I appreciate your blog. I've learned so much Master Joseph! Many thanks!!
You might consider that it’s Bitcoin blockchain mining.
@ AnAdmirer

Yeah, Joseph noticed that the same people who had worked Victor Yanukovych's campaign for the 2010 election in Ukraine, were working for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in 2017... WTF? An obvious red flag if you already know the history of the people involved. But you've got to know that stuff already to make the connections.
I had that problem last week too but it seemed to be wider than this blog, affecting Somerby's Daily Howler too. Also, are you aware that your blog is being blocked by software used by organizations to limit access to the web. It comes up as adult content/porn when I try to access it from places like Kaiser Permanente's open WiFi or my car dealership's wifi. So does Daily Howler. I assumed it was because someone didn't like your politics. The problem of being unable to load your webpages from the bookmark has gone away but you are still blocked various places.
I've noticed for a long time that if I visit a jew-hating website to try to keep up with their latest bullshit, Firefox puts a link-tile up on my splash screen. But after consistent visits,you never get featured by Firefox.

I remember significant work you did about Khashoggi and Bandar and Turki, and I wish that instead of vibrating to every transitory breeze you would engage in deeper work. Get back in touch with Hopsicker.

You never reviewed "The Post", for instance. It puts out there quite prominently the mysterious death of the Washington Post publisher a few months before JFK's assassination.

I guess the story goes that in a public event he started babbling about the influence of Mary Meyer on JFK, and he was shipped off back east in a straight jacket.

I would hope that you have assembled a competent research team by this time. I would encourage you to investigate more long-term stories. What we have today is all just distraction.

"I remember significant work you did about Khashoggi and Bandar and Turki, and I wish that instead of vibrating to every transitory breeze you would engage in deeper work. Get back in touch with Hopsicker."

In other words, you want me to strengthen the party of Trump.

I've been checking out the Qanon feed this morning. Saw a picture of Trump surrounded by JFK and RFK -- our martyred saints. Also lots and lots and LOTS of bullshit about MKULTRA.

There is no conspiracy theory the neo-Nazis can't put to their own uses. Their dupes don't care about what is true or what is false. They are fear-junkies who just want their rush.

That's something I have to come to grips with, as I head into the final stretch. I've wasted much of my life. I inadvertently helped, in my own small way, to create the monster that I am now, in my even smaller way, trying to slay.

Did I ever tell you that I knew John Judge, though not well? He didn't like me, of course: Nobody does. Last thing I ever said to him was that I thought his intentions were of the best, but that he was the warm-up to the very fascism he despises.

Those words pissed him off. I'm not sure he understood my meaning. The thing is, the same words apply to myself.
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The Alex Jones disinformation machine. Plus: Bannon

Who the hell is Kit Daniels?

This Infowars author hasn't really been on my radar until now, although previous posts have discussed his work without mentioning his name. Daniels appears to be the prevaricator behind those false stories about Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock. According to Daniels (and no-one else), Paddock's lair was immersed in "Antifa literature," while Paddock himself had converted to Islam and was working for ISIS. Also, former CIA Director John Brennan converted to Wahhabism.

Good lord. Where does one begin with such absurdities?

Antifa has nothing to do with Islam or with ISIS. To the best of my knowledge, that group doesn't produce "literature." (Does any group? This isn't the 20th century; political organizations no longer pass out pamphlets.) No-one who knew Paddock confirms that he favored Antifa. Even if one were to stipulate, for the sake of argument, that he did admire Antifa, we have to ask: Why would the killer implicate the group by spreading "Antifa literature" all over that hotel room? Come to think of it, why would any mass murderer decorate his lair in such a fashion? Why does all other reporting on Paddock indicate that he was a very different sort of man?

As for that John Brennan remark: Daniels "proves" this with a link to a story by the notoriously unreliable Wayne Madsen -- whose actual piece does not say or imply that Brennan converted to anything.

In short: The Daniels report on the Vegas massacre made no sense whatsoever.

Now we have Kit on the recent Florida tragedy. Wonkette and a Twitter used named "Respected Lawyer" have done some excellent work exposing Kit Daniels as a deliberate liar.

Daniels published a piece featuring a picture which he says depicts accused killer Nikolas Cruz wearing a "communist" t-shirt.

In fact, that's a picture of a completely different young man, wearing a joke t-shirt. (Karl Marx wearing a lampshade at a communist "party" -- get it?)

Neither Kit Daniels nor Alex Jones can claim that they made an innocent error. This is deliberate lying.

Daniels said that Cruz was "Inspired by ISIS -- Allahu Akbar." In fact, Cruz hates Muslims and had used that phrase mockingly, in a tweet disparaging that religion.

Daniels also said that Cruz wears "ISIS" style garb in his Instagram photos, even though photos actually show him wearing MAGA and United States Army caps.

We've seen these kinds of lies before. Some of you may recall that, on the morning after the "Dark Knight" massacre in Colorado, right-wing disinformationists spread the false story -- based on no evidence whatsoever -- that killer James Holmes was a "member" of Occupy Wall Street, an amorphous group which has no real membership and which had no known link to Holmes. (This accusation was first mooted by one Bill Warner, who offered as "proof" the fact that that Holmes was "white and all fits." On the right, that kind of argument is considered conclusive.) When neo-Nazi Wade Michael Page shot up a Sikh temple in 2012, the conspiracy-addled right immediately painted him as a liberal Democrat associated with Occupy Wall Street.

Not many years ago, that sort of smear campaign was relegated to comments and tweets. Daniels is paid to provide what he calls journalism. He cites "FBI sources" who, I am quite sure, do not exist.

Here's another example of the wit and wisdom of Kit Daniels:

Was Prince killed by the chemtrails he and Haggard spoke out against?

The artist known as Prince has died suddenly of a mysterious illness, just like Merle Haggard, and both men previously spoke out against chemtrails many have suggested are responsible for a surge in respiratory illnesses.

“The singer — full name Prince Rogers Nelson — had a medical emergency on April 15th that forced his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois, but he appeared at a concert the next day to assure his fans he was okay,” TMZ reported April 21. “His people told TMZ he was battling the flu.”

A mysterious illness has been spreading across the U.S., coinciding with massive chemtrail spraying – and it’s possible the two are linked.
Oh, those clever, clever chemtrails! They targeted two enemies who lived in the midst of thousands of people. Heretofore, I did not know that chemtrails were capable of pinpoint accuracy.

Kit promoted that "Jade Helm" nonsense. Remember that?

During the election, Kit heavily promoted all of that "Hillary is dying" nonsense. Remember that?

Kit was one of the main promulgators of the fake "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory. Sample headline, from just before the election:
Law Enforcement Begs World: Read Hillary Emails to Find Child Rape Evidence
Hillary linked to child sex ring, emails suggest
Yet after Alex Jones was forced to apologize under the threat of a lawsuit, Daniels -- in an unbelievably brazen lie -- pretended that Infowars never promoted the Pizzagate story.

Kit promoted the Great Yogurt Conspiracy. Remember that?  "...Twin Falls, Idaho – the city where a 5-year-old was raped by Syrian migrants in 2016." Didn't happen. There are no Syrian refugees in that city, and the "rape" turned out to be something else entirely. The whole story was a total lie, as I discuss in detail here. Kit never apologized for this exercise in bullshit.

Actually, I have more respect for bullshit than I have for Kit Daniels and Alex Jones.

Speaking of bullshit...
You find it on the left as well. Last night, Lawrence O'Donnell's broadcast revealed that the Mueller probe had no interest in Steve Bannon until the book Fire and Fury came out. Is my memory playing tricks on me? I seem to recall that "Bannon has flipped" stories popped up on various left-wing sites about fifteen minutes after the Mueller probe began.

Actually, it's a little hard to believe the claim that Mueller became intrigued by Bannon only very recently. We  have good reason to believe that Mueller is looking into the Peter W. Smith angle, and Smith claimed to have ties to Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

Bannon's refusal to answer questions from congressional investigators pretty much disproves all of those "Bannon has flipped" stories. I don't know what carrot or what stick has compelled Bannon (who is otherwise nobody's serf) to maintain total loyalty to Trump, the kind of loyalty that brings to mind Asimov's three laws of robotics. I hope I live long enough to learn the full story, although I fear I may not.

Right now, I'm betting that Congress won't cite Bannon for contempt, although clearly his capacious ass would be in jail if he were a Democrat or even the "wrong" kind of Republican.

God DAMMIT. This continual double standard is infuriating.

Bill Palmer's explanation for Bannon's behavior is ridiculous. As I said, there's bullshit on both sides. On the left, it's patchy; if you slip in it, it's pretty easy to right yourself and keep walking. Infowars is Bullshit Mountain, which dominates Bullshit Island, which sits in the middle of the Bullshit Ocean -- and above it all, even the air has become a gaseous form of bullshit.
The writer at Wonkette has made an offer to that Contain guy. If he decides to sue for defamation they'll chip in on legal costs. Don't know what's worse, Infowars or the chilling effect such a suit would have on robust speech. Sortta like the Mann v Styen lawsuit.
On the other event that precipitated the Kit lies, we need to figure a campaign to shame AR-15 buyers, to ostracize them from sane society. Trying to ban the sales of assault rifles won't work. What we need is a campaign that equates AR-15 ownership with child molestation or like that.
Mike, how about the Lysistrata gambit? No sex for assault rifle owners.
Did you hear the story about Bannon being questioned by Mueller for 20 hours over 2 days? And that he answered every question? That lends credence to the "Bannon has flipped" theory. I don't know the answer. But my guess is Bannon has flipped, and he either on his own or by instruction treated the House investigation as the farce it is and not cooperate as all it would do at this point is tip Mueller's hand. But I don't know. We are getting contradictory signals. Oh well. At least we have this:
US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reportedly says that US officials intend to seek extradition of the Russian citizens, living in Russia, who have been charged with interfering in the 2016 US election.

He should go back to law school. No country extradites a person on a charge that they carried out an action that under that country's own jurisdiction is not a crime. I'm assuming here that interfering in a US election is not a crime under Russian law even it's not part of your work for the FSB, SVR, or GRU. If it is part of such work, it's obviously not a crime. If the target person is a citizen of the requesting country the country that receives the request may possibly bundle him on a plane and deport him - which is what the US authorities unsuccessfully tried to subject Bobby Fischer to in Japan - but they won't extradite him. (In Fischer's case, playing chess for money in Yugoslavia was not unlawful in Japan.) As for if the targeted person is a citizen of the country that has received the request, let's do ourselves a favour, shall we? The Mueller investigation looks no threat whatsoever to Trump.

It is utterly crap psywar for a government to whinge like crybabies about being bested by the other side's psywar effort.

I am sorry to say so, but Trump appears far securer in office that we would all like to believe.
To keep an international perspective...

The newspaper Bild is accusing Kevin Kuhnert, poster boy for the movement that is urging SPD members to reject a coalition with the CDU, of receiving help from Russia. Sound familiar? I don't think this has been reported in the English-language press yet.

Bild have published emails which supposedly incriminate Kuhnert. The "Jusos" - the SPD's youth wing that he leads - are calling them fake.

The importance of this is in connection with the ongoing vote among nearly 500,000 SPD members on whether or not to support a coalition with Angela Merkel's CDU and its sister party the Bavarian CSU. The vote is by post and its result is expected to be announced on 4 March. More than 20000 new people have joined the party in recent weeks, paying their three euros to sign up, probably so that they can vote "No".

Martin Schulz who resigned recently as SPD leader but looked set to become the new foreign minister in the event that the coalition happens, has now mysteriously rejected that office too. Both he and Angela Merkel have been giving the distinct impression of bobbing about like puppets on a string.

Merkel is in a far more precarious position than many believe. I don't mean on the scale of years. It's widely recognised that she won't be chancellor after 2022. I mean on the scale of days and weeks. She could be out very soon. When the Bundestag next votes for a chancellor - probably within the next two or three months - I don't expect it to be her.

Meanwhile, astute analysts will have noticed how the western media have been saying that Cape Town could be the "first" big city in the world to run out of water. Well something similar is happening with the reporting of political opinion polls in Germany. Commentators are salivating at the idea that support for the SPD is falling and falling, on its inexorable way to being overtaken by support for the far-right AfD. One recent poll put the gap at 1.5%. If there's a CDU-CSU-SPD coalition, the AfD will become the largest opposition party in the Bundestag regardless of what any polls say.

Then in Britain there's the story of Jeremy Corbyn and the Czechoslovak guy. This is a non-story insofar as numerous British politicians, journalists and academics at that time had regular lunches with those whom they knew to be working for East European intelligence services, often for the Czechoslovak STB. But why this is being said now and for what reason is of interest. Corbyn is not exactly a threat to anyone. Defence secretary Gavin Williamson could be draping himself in the "I denounce communist traitors" flag in readiness for a Tory leadership bid. Also known as "I've got rabies", that could go down like a gin and tonic with much of the Tory "Help for Heroes" demographic. More likely, he could be doing it in readiness for gathering a crew around himself during a leadership contest which can then be put at another candidate's disposal. That candidate could well be Jacob Rees-Mogg. Never mind that Williamson backed "Remain" during the Brexit referendum.

Whingeing about how western psywar guys, fresh from orchestrating "Springtime in Arabia" in what is now the distant past, are having their arses kicked all over the place by their Russian opposite numbers, seems to be a fad. Essentially they're saying "We're crap".
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Guns and bots and the assault on democracy (Updated)

What an astonishing period we live in.

Yesterday, I didn't know what to write about the terrifying school shooting in Florida. When an alienated boy goes mad, grabs an AR-15 and starts shooting, the only thing left to discuss is the ease with which such a weapon can be obtained by the young and the unstable. I have nothing new to add to that debate -- and neither, I'm guessing, do you. It's like the debate over abortion: What can one say that hasn't been said a million times?

Now we learn that Nikolas Cruz was a MAGA maniac who hated Antifa -- because (sayeth Cruz) they're too violent. The situation would be hilarious if it weren't so hideous. Cruz fell in with a group of neo-Nazis in Florida, a gang of potato-shaped talk-talk-talkers who couldn't get laid if they handed Stormy Daniels a suitcase full of C-notes, and who probably never expected anyone in their little group to create such havoc.

Update: Although the Cruz/Nazi linkage has appeared on many major news sites, HuffPo sounds a note of caution. Always remember that the Pals of Pepe are a puerile bunch who will mislead the media for giggles.  

We know full well what the right would be saying right now if Cruz had been a Clinton supporter. So when they bewail the politicization of tragedy, our response should be: Fuck you. You want us to hold back? YOU hold back.

How are they going to blame this tragedy on liberals? Haven't checked out Infowars, but I imagine that they're screaming nonsense about MKULTRA. Whenever right-wingers want to evade responsibility or to divert attention or to inject a little more craziness into the body politic, MKULTRA (a very real CIA mind control program shut down in 1963) is their knee-jerk, all-purpose excuse. In today's world, fear of MKULTRA brainwashes more people than MKULTRA ever did.

How predictable these people are. Don't the aficionados of Alex Jones ever get tired of these "conspiracy cliches"?

The Russian response is what interests me at the moment. A strong surge of Russian bot activity on Twitter and elsewhere has tried to sow confusion.
Meanwhile, some accounts with large bot followings are already spreading misinformation about the shooter's ties to far-left group Antifa, even though the Associated Press reported that he was a member of a local white nationalist group. The Twitter account Education4Libs, which RoBhat Labs shows is one among the top accounts tweeted at by bots, is among the prominent disseminators of that idea:
From the aforementioned Twitter account:
The shooter was a registered Democrat and a member of Antifa. Why does this not shock me at all? Maybe because you have to be a total piece of shit to belong to either of those groups. Rot in hell, loser.
Yes. And Hillary rapes children in a basement beneath a pizza restaurant. And an artist painted a hidden spermatozoa on Obama's face because, uh, Satanism.

I would not be even slightly surprised to learn that Russian bots are working the other side of the aisle as well. In 2015, in order to stoke racial tensions at the University of Missouri, Russian bots posed as black students.
Frustration with pervasive racism on Mizzou's campus came to a head in fall 2015 with student protests, a hunger strike, a football team strike, boycotts and other activism, which culminated in the resignation of university President Tim Wolfe on November 9, 2015.

Two days later, with #PrayForMizzou trending on Twitter, a tweet from user "@Fanfan1911" said the Ku Klux Klan was on campus.

“The cops are marching with the KKK! They beat up my little brother! Watch out!” the tweet said. It included a picture of a black child with a severely bruised face.

Reaction to the unconfirmed tweet was immediate. Student government President Payton Head posted on Facebook that "KKK members were confirmed on campus." National news networks halted coverage to revert to local camera feeds in search of violence, and news anchors read tweets that claimed there were shootings, stabbings and cross burnings.
And then the bot switched sides...
The same bot later began tweeting in German and spreading rumors about Syrian refugees, the report said. By spring 2016, it had morphed into an account touting messages from right-wing news organizations such as Breitbart. The account is now suspended on Twitter.
The question. We have to ask anew a question I've been posing for more than a year: How much of this is really Russian? These paranoia-producing bots and trolls usually write colloquial English very well, and they seem to know American pop culture even better than I do.

My strong suspicion is that the Russians are simply being used as muscle. The real power behind this assault is an international fascist movement.

In a recent interview -- on the Stephanie Miller show, if memory serves -- Malcolm Nance talked about his upcoming book, due out in April. It seems that he has a chapter on Alexander Dugin, the intellectual mastermind behind...behind everything.

Finally, someone has decided to talk about the real enemy. I've been thinking about writing such a book myself. Better for Nance to do it.

Dugin, like his philosophical forebear Julius Evola, wants to eradicate what he calls "liberalism." One does not have to read very far into Dugin's writings to comprehend that when he uses that word, he does not mean what most Americans would presume that he means. In Dugin-speak, "liberalism" means democracy. (And "traditionalism" means feudalism.)

That's it. That's the goal. They want an end to democracy.

Whenever you see comments from alleged progressives and bogus "intellectuals" assuring us that both parties are the same, that Democrats and Republicans are equally corrupt, that nothing in the media can be trusted except for those reports which flatter your preconceptions, you are hearing the voice of Dugin and his dupes.

Whenever you hear from the no-compromise exponents of the politics of identity, you are hearing the voice of Dugin and his dupes.

Whenever you hear from white nationalists AND black nationalists, you are hearing the voice of Dugin and his dupes.

Whenever you hear from he-man woman-haters on the right AND from mindless, man-hating MeToo-ers on the left, you are hearing from Dugin and his dupes.

Whenever you hear from Chabadnik Nutballs-for-Netanyahu AND from the many pals of Pepe who push the Protocols, you are hearing the voice of Dugin and his dupes.

Understand that.

Are you ready for a nation and a world in which democracy is considered obscene? Do you want that?
The gang of usual suspects includes Alex Jones at Info-wars. One of the writers a Wonkette rips them a new one.
There is a lot of fury over the Parkland murder spree now. Will it last until November?
The Russians, if they're actually Russian Russians, are likely just guns for hire. Russian organised crime is big into computers and financial mischief, this would just be an outgrowth.

Stormy Daniels is not a prostitute, she's alleged to have taken money to keep quiet, not for the sex. The reason for the sex is still bafflingly unknowable.

I just saw some other blog talking about an MK ULTRA conspiracy theory. I think it was the Las Vegas shooter being reported to have said the government "hacked his brain".
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Meet the mystery man who gave us Donald Trump's hair and Michael Jackson's nose

Meet Dr. Steven Hoefflin, the plastic surgeon to the stars.

He's the guy responsible for both Michael Jackson's really weird face and Donald Trump's really weird hair. As we shall see, Hoefflin's degree of responsibility is a matter of debate, but he was definitely involved.

When you see that infamous video of Trump's hair flying up, revealing that the back of his head is as hairless as a baby's bum, you're seeing the result of a procedure involving Dr. Hoefflin. The words "STEVE WAS HERE" might as well be imprinted on the skin.

Yet although everyone talks about Trump's hair, almost nobody writes about Hoefflin in connection with Donald Trump. If you look at the doctor's Wikipedia page -- which shows every indication of being written by the man himself, or by those friendly to him -- you'll see no reference to the current occupant of the Oval Office. Ivana gets a mention, but not Donald.

Yet we know that Hoefflin worked on the Very Stable Genius. Even though this blog published these words just a short while ago, we need to present them again here. (The excerpts come from a HuffPo article.)
In a 1990 divorce deposition, under oath, Ivana Trump swore that in a fit of rage, Donald raped her because of the pain he was suffering resulting from his scalp reduction surgery in 1989.

Donald’s scalp reduction, also known as alopecia reduction (AR), is most successfully performed on patients with balding on the crown on the head, according to “The procedure, which essentially cuts out the patient’s bald spot, follows these steps: Under anesthesia, the surgeon cuts away the balding area of the scalp. Usually a portion somewhere between the crown and the vertex transitional point is removed. The remaining skin (which is able to grow hair) is sewn back together.”
According to Ivana’s sworn statements, her plastic surgeon, Dr. Steven Hoefflin, who had performed Donald’s waist and chin liposuction procedures, also performed his scalp reduction surgery. Hurt wrote in the Lost Tycoon that the recovery was painful and Donald suffered “nagging headaches caused by the shrinking of the scalp, and the pain of the initial incision.”

In pain, and not satisfy with the immediate coloration associated with the process, on an irate phone call, Donald told the Dr. Hoefflin, “I’m going to kill you!” He then threatened to sue the doctor, not pay for the procedure and work to destroy his practice. (Vintage Donald Trump)
If the report is accurate, Donald Trump issued a death threat to Hoefflin. That's...odd.

Odder still: We have no indication that Trump, a litigious individual, ever took any punitive action against Hoefflin.

For more background on this incident, see this New Yorker piece, which discusses Harry Hurt III, author of a Trump bio called The Lost Tycoon. Hurt found the Ivana Trump deposition at the heart of this story.
Hurt decided to scan the book and reissue it himself online. When a reporter for the Daily Beast began making calls about the rape allegation, Michael Cohen, a Trump lawyer, told him, “You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it and the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up . . . for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet.” After that, Hurt said, CNN booked him four times, but kept cancelling. The only TV host to have him on the air to talk about the rape allegation was Megyn Kelly, at Fox News.
That would be the same Michael Cohen who says that he personally paid Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money with no reimbursement or promise of reimbursement from Donald Trump, because that's what lawyers do.

Very believable guy. Very credible. Very.

So here's my question. If Team Trump is willing to employ such heavy-handed tactics against Harry Hurt III, author of perhaps the least-successful of the Trump bios, why didn't we see a Trump-versus-Hoefflin lawsuit? At the very least, one would expect a major media scuffle. An angry statement in front of a camera. Something.

But no. Hoefflin, it seems, is invulnerable.

Hoefflin and the Jackson case. Curious to learn how he acquired this imperviousness, I decided to look into the doctor's history. He gained notoriety in connection with his work with -- and on -- Michael Jackson.

This situation places me at something of a disadvantage. I love classical music; Jackson's most passionate fans may not understand my relative indifference to his art. Those fans should understand that I never had any reason to bear the man any ill will. As noted in this 2009 post, Jackson and I were pretty much the same age and lived not far from each other; I often passed by his mansion on Havenhurst. (The old mansion, which I coveted, and which he tore down and replaced.) His eccentricities were then mostly a matter of amusing local gossip. In later years, I refused to believe the reports about his pedophilia until the evidence became overwhelming.

I say all of this because I am about to cite a story by Diane Dimond, a despised figure among Jackson fans, who sometimes call her "Diane Demon." On Amazon, an apparent organized smear campaign insured that her book on Jackson was downgraded and dismissed. On many websites, she received pretty much the same over-the-top treatment that Hillary Clinton received in 2016. It is an article of faith among die-hard Jackson defenders that Powerful Forces paid Dimond untold millions to assail their hero.

Dimond makes a very good impression in this interview. At the risk of arousing the ire of those devoted to Dimond-hate, she strikes me as reasonable, diligent and smart.

(That said, I'm not usually inclined to forgive anyone who has ever been associated with Fox News. And I cannot abide Nancy Grace, whom Dimond calls her friend.)

In 2009, Dimond did some research into Jackson's plastic surgeon, Dr. Steven Hoefflin. Her report, published in The Daily Beast, is astounding. Yet, until today, nobody has mentioned "the Dimond report" on Hoefflin in connection with Donald Trump. Here's the summary:
The plastic surgeon who built Michael's noses may be the most dubious character in the entire Jackson saga. Diane Dimond on the doctor whose bizarre behavior—like providing goodie bags of syringes filled with Demerol for celebrity patients; climbing a tree with a pellet gun; claiming to work undercover for the DEA and the Secret Service; and filing as a candidate for president—has attracted police attention, including a mental evaluation by the LAPD last year. But that hasn't stopped him from serving as the Jackson family's authorized medical representative, advising them on how to handle lawsuits, doctors, insurance, and the singer's promoter, AEG.
I'm not sure that "built" is the right verb for that first sentence.

Let me stop here to note an important area of contention. Just how much responsibility does this doctor bear for the unsettling "death's head" condition of Michael Jackson's face? Hoefflin has said that the last time he worked on Jackson was in 1998, yet the doctor was a close Jackson associate until the very end. Is it likely that, after 1998, Jackson had work done by someone other than his close friend, the world's most famous plastic surgeon? That scenario is possible, I guess. But is it likely?

Jackson was notoriously eccentric. So is his former doctor. 
Since last year, and continuing through Jackson’s death, Hoefflin, the immediate past president of the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons, has engaged in a pattern of behavior so “delusional,” as a Los Angeles Police Department report terms it, that the LAPD’s Threat Assessment Unit has been monitoring him. Two police sources familiar with Hoefflin say the LAPD took him into custody for a mental evaluation following a 2008 incident in which officers observed him in a tree, clutching a pellet gun and babbling about assassination attempts.

Other incidents include various written statements from Hoefflin that he’s either an agent for, or a target of, the FBI, the CIA, the KGB and the Secret Service. He says he has received death threats from those tied to John McCain’s presidential campaign, apparently due to Hoefflin’s decision to run for president, a campaign that he thought he would win.
Dimond goes on to reveal that Hoefflin is the one who repaired Jackson's scalp after the singer was badly burned filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984. As we shall see, the procedure may bear some resemblance to what Hoefflin later did for (or to) Donald Trump.

Arguably, Hoefflin's behavior resembles Trump's behavior. Example:
When I asked him about his recent bizarre behavior, however, his response at three different points was: “I have a genius IQ."
And a Very Stable Genius he is. Hoefflin claims that, after coming up with a plan to stop the Mexican drug trade, he received a mysterious call "demanding he stop the drug talk or he would be killed."
In May 2008, a report from the Los Angeles Police Department shows an officer responded to a call from Dr. Hoefflin’s L.A. home complaining of “criminal threats.” The officer’s report dryly states that, “Vict-Hoefflin, Steven stated that he is involved as an undercover agent for the FBI, DEA, CIA, Secret Service, and many other agencies. Vict is also an independent presidential candidate for 2008.”
Hoefflin, speaking to Dimond, denied being an agent, but stipulated the rest.

The LAPD visited again after Hoefflin sent threatening letters to a neighbor.
The last paragraph of the report reads, chillingly: “It should be noted that the suspect is in need of mental-health evaluation via personal doctor. Subject is delusional and thinks he’s being followed by KGB, CIA, FBI and CORRUPT LAPD.”
I'll skip over some bizarre interactions with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Schriver and others. Here's the juiciest part:
Less than a week after firing off the long-winded email to the LAPD, the department’s special Threat Assessment Unit responded to a call in Hoefflin’s neighborhood. According to two officers with knowledge of the incident, unit officers found a man up in a tree, clutching a pellet gun and babbling incoherently to invisible people. It was Steven Hoefflin, according to police reports. Sources knowledgeable about the incident say he kept repeating there was a conspiracy to assassinate him. He was taken into custody on a 5150 mental-evaluation hold, and the discussion at the scene with police centered around whether the doctor was "off his meds," these sources said.

“That gun looked just like our standard-issue Berettas,” one officer told me, “Right down to the texture on the gun handle. He’s lucky because if he’d pointed it at any of the responding officers they would have shot him dead.” Two LAPD sources tell me Dr. Hoefflin was held at UCLA Medical Center for at least 72 hours. In his car, police found a stack of disjointed and disturbing handwritten notes, including one in which he claimed “…a police helicopter is following me. Call my wife. I am a witness due to dirty cops in L.A.” In others he writes about foreign governments, nuclear bombs, and al Qaeda.
Hoefflin even got into a contretemps with the lawyer for Katherine Jackson, one Londell MacMillan:
He ominously warns McMillan, “If you don’t take me seriously in my desire to protect the best interests of Katherine and the children, then please immediately step into the ring with me.” He again mentions his “well-known genius IQ” and says, “I would just love to litigate with you, both in court and in the public media.”
Finally, Hoefflin had a very Trumpian message for Diane Dimond herself:
“My investigational (sic) team will use an electron microscope to examine every second and every millimeter of your life,” Hoefflin’s letter continued. “When something tangible, important, involving torts, or criminal activities is found, it will be reported to the authorities investigating you and will then be added to my book."
The book has yet to appear. I'd love to read it. (While you're waiting, check out Hoefflin's 1997 volume on Ethnic Rhinoplasty.)

The drug question. Drugs killed Michael Jackson. Everyone knows that he was using and abusing. What we don't know with precision is who was supplying.

At least one person has suggested that Hoefflin supplied Jackson with dangerous drugs -- a suggestion which Hoefflin firmly denies, as the Dimond interview makes clear.

To pursue this line of inquiry, we must note an odd paragraph in Hoefflin's Wikipedia page: "False allegations of professional misconduct."
During a salary dispute in 1997, Hoefflin was accused by four former colleagues (Kim Moore-Mestas, Lidia Benjamin, Barbara Maywood and Donna Burton) of unprofessional conduct towards celebrity clients. The Medical Board of California found no evidence of wrong-doing by Hoefflin.[3] The four former staffers of Hoefflin signed a letter stating that the suit was a working draft that was "inadvertently filled" and that its allegations "were without sufficient factual or legal basis." The letter also expressed regret for "any inconvenience or embarrassment the filing of the complaint has caused." [4] According to Hoefflin, in August 2001, the four former employees who originally made the allegations issued apology letters to Hoefflin and paid a cash settlement.
Dimond uncovered evidence that Hoefflin actually paid them. This WP story says that Hoefflin was the one who paid, and that the women signed a confidentiality agreement. Incidentally, the Wikipedia entry neglects to inform readers that the women sued Hoefflin for sexual harassment.

I would also remind you of the threat that Hoefflin made to Dimond. If Dimond has reported accurately, this threat establishes that Hoefflin is a vindictive person.

Having looked into the case to some degree, I am convinced that the lawsuit was not in any way "inadvertant." One does not sue a famous doctor by accident. For the other side of the story, see here and here and here and especially here.

The suit included the charge that Hoefflin's favored clients would receive "goodie bags" (Dimond's term) of Demorol, and that Hoefflin “began to exhibit huge character and mood swings because of drug abuse and the effects of his lifestyle choices.”

The women maintained that Hoefflin was weirdly fixated on the genitalia of celebrity patients under anesthesia. One of his patients was Don Johnson; supposedly, Hoefflin indicated his private parts and made a comment about how Melanie Griffith could do better. The suit said that Hoefflin would bill patients for procedures never performed, and that the assistants (who did not have medical degrees) would be required to do tasks which best done by a doctor.

They also said that Michael Jackson was misled into believing that a procedure which lasted minutes actually required several hours.

The most startling tale told by the four women concerns Sylvester Stallone, who was dating model Angie Everhart.
Ms Maywood said of Sylvester Stallone that he entered the operating theatre while Angie Everhart was under anaesthetic, and was ushered out for "not wearing proper surgical attire".
Everhart had requested that her breasts be kept fairly small, in keeping with her established look. While she was unconscious, Stallone insisted that they be made large but perky. Everhart eventually had the implants removed and she stopped seeing Stallone.

To the best of my knowledge, neither Stallone nor Everhart has ever questioned this account. This fact is difficult (if not impossible) to square with Hoefflin's assertion that his former employees filed the suit accidentally.

If we concede that the report about Stallone and Everhart is accurate, it becomes harder to dismiss the lawsuit's claim that Hoefflin supplied his friends with drugs. The doctor's bizarre behavior and delusional beliefs inevitably raise the possibility of drug abuse.

In this piece, we learn that one of the his nurses "claimed medical-strength cocaine was constantly going missing during her time at the clinic."
Carrie, who introduced Hoefflin to Hollywood, said: "I once trusted Steve and regarded him as a close friend but he is a changed man and deserves to be found out."

"The man you see now is not the man I used to know. He thinks he is God," she said.
"Carrie" is former Playboy model Carrie Leigh. I cannot conceive of any reason why she would lie.

Leigh also reports that Hoefflin "boasted how he was taking a steroid which would allow him to live to 200." A steroid...?

Hoefflin's former partner, James S. Hurvitz, has accused Hoefflin of drug abuse. This L.A. Times story says that he was accused of abusing cocaine. According to this story,
In the 1997 concert in Honolulu, Hawaii (first Leg of History Tour) Klein chased Steven Hoefflin out of Jackson room who appeared high on Cocaine...
Although the wording is a bit unclear, I think that the writer meant that Hoefflin, not Jackson, was the one alleged to have been high on cocaine. "Klein" is Dr. Arnold Klein, who plays a large role in the Jackson affair. Now go here, for a story about Michael Jackson's wife, former nurse Debbie Rowe.
Debbie testified in the Jackson family's wrongful death lawsuit against concert promoters AEG Live in Los Angeles on Wednesday (14.08.13) that her former employer, Dr Arnie Klein, and Dr Steven Hoefflin, held a "p***ing match" to see who could supply the 'Thriller' hitmaker with "better" drugs, according to the MailOnline website.
Michael allegedly trusted them to prescribe him with medication but they did not act in his best interest as they consistently tried to outdo each other by giving him stronger doses of painkillers, such as Diprivan and Demerol.
It seems to me that the testimony of a former nurse carries special weight.

Which brings us back to Donald Trump. The primary purpose of this post is to investigate the mystery of Donald Trump refusal to sue Dr. Hoefflin. Trump obviously is a very vain man when it comes to his hair. Even his most zealous admirers will admit as much. Trump blamed Hoefflin for the ruination of his hair. Yet there was no suit, no public kerfluffle, no harsh words said in front of any microphone.


By way of contrast, Trump once launched a truly surreal suit against Deutsche Bank -- his creditor -- on the grounds that the bank had caused the 2008 financial crisis. Trump is well-known for stiffing contractors and for vindictive acts against any who displease him. You will recall the threat made to Harry Hurt III. Yet nothing happened to Hoefflin, against whom Trump had what would appear to be a legitimate complaint.


I would like to remind the reader of Trump's absurd behavior during the October 9 debate with Hillary Clinton. Not only were his antics bizarre, many were shocked by his incredibly loud and constant sniffling -- the kind of sniffling that could indicate cocaine abuse.

Asked about this possibility, actress Carrie Fisher (known for her battles with addiction) tweeted "I'm an expert & ABSOLUTELY."

Trump denies using drugs. Of course, he has demonstrably lied about a good many things. If he has used cocaine or other controlled substances, the question becomes: Who is his supplier?

In the opinion of many -- laypersons and professionals -- Trump suffers from an obvious personality disorder. I would suggest that his delusions -- of grandeur, of persecution -- resemble the delusions which Diane Dimond's article ascribes to Dr. Hoefflin. Is it outside the boundaries of permissible thought to suggest that similar delusions might have a similar cause?

I freely admit that there may be other reasons why Trump did not seek any kind of revenge on Hoefflin. Who knows? Perhaps Hoefflin has convinced his wealthy friends that he really does possess a "steroid" which can allow one to live 200 years.

The death of Michael Jackson. I hesitate to address this topic, since -- as stated -- I never was a Jackson fan and thus did not follow the controversy as it unfolded. In other words, I'm a newcomer to this field of research. "Jackology" requires a lifetime commitment, like joining a monastery or sitting down to read Alan Moore's Jerusalem -- and frankly, I'm not willing to commit.

Nevertheless, I can't let this post end without noting that one of Jackson's other doctors suggested that Hoefflin played a role in Jackson's death.

Jackson officially died of a propofol overdose in June of 2009. Propofol (or Diprivan) is a very effective form of anaesthesia often used by surgeons; it has also been used recreationally. Another Jackson doctor, Dr. Conrad Murphy, was accused of administering propofol to Jackson and served two years for involuntary manslaughter. He admitted that he had administered 25 mg of propofol (normally not a lethal amount) for insomnia on the night of Jackson's death.

Murray insists that he did not kill Jackson. He says that he had no knowledge of the massive amounts of drugs given Jackson by his other doctors. (He also denies that Jackson died from a propofol overdose.)

All agree that the late Dr. Klein supplied Jackson with dangerous amounts of Demerol. Klein, however, strongly hinted that Dr. Steven Hoefflin was -- in essence -- the man who killed Michael Jackson.

This site, maintained by a religious crank, preserves the transcript of an otherwise hard-to-find interview between Klein and Larry King. Interestingly, he speaks of the work done Dr. Hoefflin on Jackson's scalp at the time of the Pepsi commercial accident.
KING: Did he have hair?

KLEIN: He had lost a great deal of it. You forget this first fire...

KING: That was the Pepsi fire, right?

KLEIN: Yes. But then what happened is he used a great deal of what are called tissue expanders in his scalp, which are balloons that grow up — blow up the scalp. And then what they do is they try to cut out the scar. Well, because he had lupus, what happened is every time they would do it, the bald spot would keep enlarging. So, I mean, he went through a lot of painful procedures with these tissue expanders until I put a stop to it. I said no more tissue expanders, because he had to wear a hat all the time and it was really painful for him.

KING: So what would his — without the hat, what would he look like?

KLEIN: Well, he had a big raised ball on the top of his head because of this device. It would expand the tissue, which you cut out. But would you — (INAUDIBLE) too much stretch back in the scar, you understand?

KING: Did you see him one other time?

KLEIN: Of course I did. But he would have a stretch back on the scar. I mean the scar would get worse after they removed it. And I had to put a stop to it. So I told Michael, we have to stop this. And that’s when I fired this plastic surgeon altogether.
That surgeon was Hoefflin, who remained close to Jackson until the end.

On Facebook, Klein leveled further claims against Hoefflin.
“Steven Hoefflin was(1) Dr Propofol, the white wizard,(2)who sedated Michael every night while he was on tour. No wonder Hoefflin toured with him! Michael paid him a lot. He bought Hoefflin cars and aesthesia machines, but what Hoefflin never ever knew was that Michael had never trusted him.
Michael began going over Hoefflin’s office to nap on Propofol and soon he could not sleep without the drug. It was his greatest fear but by the mid 90’s Michael was a drug addict... The Elvis Presley of Propofol."
Theoretically, if Hoefflin had given Jackson propofol before Dr. Murphy gave his injection, the overdose is neatly explained.

Hoefflin turned the tables and accused Klein of giving propofol to Michael Jackson. Klein sued Hoefflin for libel. They also fought a media battle which was as weird as it was vitriolic.

Shortly before his death, Klein stated that he was the biological father of Prince Jackson, Michael's son, and that he (Klein) had had sex with Jackson.

Being new to this controversy, I'm not sure how to weigh these claims and counter-claims. I am sure that Klein was one of the few individuals who might prove a match for Steven Hoefflin in a Weird Doctors competition.

Which brings us to a point which should be very obvious. The main players in this story -- Hoefflin, Klein, Jackson -- are responsible for many statements and actions which one may fairly call freakish. I can state in public without much fear of contradiction that all three men were/are strange people.

I can not state that this avalanche of strangeness resulted from drug abuse. But if you are looking for a single explanatory scenario, the drug angle seems worthy of consideration.

I can also state, without much fear of contradiction, that Donald Trump's history presents us with another avalanche of strangeness. Consider its origins. I will say no more.
Two things stand out, were Hoefflin the same shade as Jackson before the skin bleach he would have been shot out of that tree. Second, how did he manage to keep his medical practitioner's license?
Are you planning on writing anything on the procedure that resulted in Trump's strange hair line?
Well, the odd hours that Donald has sent out incoherent tweets, do say something about his sleeping habits, and about his state of mind during these times when he should be asleep. Wasn't there some issue during the campaign about the Commander In Chief's ability to cope with that 3:00 AM phone call?
Not "how did he manage to keep his medical practitioner's license", but how did he become president of the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Testosterone, I tell you, Testosterone. But something else, you have given Trump the nickname Very Stable Genius. Everybody needs a nickname, Very Stable Genius may be too subtle. I suggest #donnysmallhands. Note the small d, I have been known here as small j joseph. I imagine that to be a pejorative, but at my age it is probably accurate rather than insulting and I don't care, but #donnysmallhands does care. The thing is that #donnysmallhands is a narcissist. Narcissists don't love themselves, they love the image of themselves, an image which they know to be untrue. Religions teach us to love our neighbors as ourselves, therefore the first rule is to love oneself. It is only by loving oneself that one can love others. #donnysmallhands doesn't love himself and therefore doesn't really love anyone else. Everybody is simply a prop for his fantasized image of himself.
Breaking News. Bill Clinton taken to hospital for breathing difficulties related to uncontrollable laughing.
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