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Monday, May 22, 2017


After refusing subpoenas and threatening to take the Fifth, Michael Flynn finds himself in deepening trouble. The AP says that documentary evidence proves that Flynn lied about Russia to "federal security clearance investigators." (Would that be the Defense Investigative Serivce?) CNN and Elijah Cumming offer evidence that Flynn lied about the sponsors of his trip to Russia.
According to the Report of Investigation, which Cummings refers to in his letter to committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Flynn made false statements to investigators about who funded his foreign trips, including a 2015 trip to Russia where Flynn was paid roughly $45,000 to speak at an event in Moscow. According to the letter released Monday by Democrats on the committee, Flynn claimed that his trips were funded by "US companies."
Meanwhile, Flynn's refusal to turn over subpoenaed documents may result in contempt charges.

Chris Christie is saying that he had warned Trump against Flynn. A couple of days ago, CNN reported that American spies (presumably NSA) intercepted a conversation in which certain unnamed Russians bragged about their control of Flynn.
Sources say Flynn also told Kislyak that the incoming Trump administration would revisit US sanctions on Russia once in office. The US has applied sanctions on Russia since 2014 for its actions in Ukraine.
As ever, Louise Mensch goes further than anyone else: She claims that Flynn has decided to turn on Trump and cooperate with the FBI. This report seems semi-believable at first glance, if only because most normal people would make the same decision. However, Mensch's claim doesn't square with Flynn's refusal to cooperate with those subpoenas. If he really has turned (as Mensch avers) then why would he risk a contempt charge? Why play ball with the Bureau while sneering at Congress? It don't add up.

This is one Louise Mensch story which should be proven false or true within a day or so. 

Weiner case bombshell

The Hill is not the kind of publication which would run a story like this unless it had all of its ducks in a row...
The teenage girl who had exchanged inappropriate text messages with former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) lied about her age and political motivations to harm Hillary Clinton, according to a report by the investigative news site WhoWhatWhy.

In a report published Monday, the web site said the girl who exchanged the messages with Weiner was closer to 17 and not 15, as initial reports said. That also puts her above the age of consent in North Carolina.

In addition, she and her family were also not Clinton supporters, as the girl claimed in a letter published by BuzzFeed, according to social media posts unearthed by the website. The report also says the girl initiated the contact with Weiner, and then sought advice from a GOP figure behind "prior efforts to harm Weiner and other Democrats."

The website suggests this could mean that Weiner was the target of a politically motivated plot.
The "victim" (we are told) is a Trump supporter, as are her parents; the mother has made insulting remarks about the Black Lives Matter movement.

I've long suspected that there was more to this case than met the eye. The initial reporting was very iffy, with right-wing publications making the lion's share of the grand revelations. (The original story was broken by far-right writer Chuck Johnson, writing in The Daily Mail.) The girl's messages, as quoted in those reports (and rarely repeated since) were suspiciously erudite -- far moreso than one would expect from any 15 year-old. 

Most of all, my suspicions were raised by the parallels to the strange case of "Betty and Veronica," which arose during Weiner Scandal 1 (back in 2011), and which too many people have now forgotten.

Betty and Veronica were the pseudonyms given to two teenaged girls who allegedly sexted with Weiner. Mediaite reporter Tommy Christopher interviewed the girls and their mother, becoming very involved in the case, and going to more-than-reasonable lengths to confirm their identities. It was later proven that the entire claim was bogus: The women who communicated with Christopher were actors who provided false identification.

(Think of the fake "Mrs. Mulwray" who sets the plot of Chinatown into motion.)

The fascinating Betty and Veronica angle led some researchers to feel -- as I continue to feel -- that there was an untold story underlying the entire Weiner case. At least one published report maintained that Andrew Breitbart possessed both of the incriminating "dick pics" well before the most famous one was allegedly tweeted by Weiner himself. (I am personally convinced that one of the women sexting with Weiner was a ringer working for Breitbart.)

It now seems quite clear -- to me, at least -- that the real target of "Weinergate" was not Weiner himself but Huma Abedin, and through her, Hillary Clinton.

Back in 2011, one of Breitbarters pursuing Weinergate bragged about his formidable hacking skills. Many of the Weinergate enthusiasts also seemed to know a great deal about hacking. These right-wing cyber-warriors surely understood that using social engineering to get into Weiner's laptop would probably allow access to every computer in that home's network -- including Huma's.

Well after most people had forgotten about the 2011 scandal, a small number of writers on both the right and the left remained engaged in what I called a "twilight war" over Weinergate. They focused on resolving the Betty and Veronica mystery. One formerly-respected writer on the left became so obsessed that he lost his reason.

The Brietbart-friendly "twilight warriors" tried to make the claim that Betty and Veronica were hired by Weiner himself, or by the Clintons, or by Soros, or perhaps the "Globalists." In short, they desperately sought to blame everyone other than the obvious suspects: Right-wing dirty tricksters of the Roger Stone/James O'Keefe school.

Louise, again. Ironically, one writer criticizing and questioning the Hill report is none other than Louise Mensch. I say "ironically" because she had once published a piece which questioned the very existence of the "15 year-old girl" in question. Just a few days ago, Mensch offered an apology for that speculation and conceded that the girl was real.

Mensch now points to court documentation (reproduced below) that the girl was under 16. Mensch may not be aware that knowingly "sexting" the underaged is a crime even if the claimed age is false. Even if the "girl" were actually a 40 year-old man, Weiner would still be guilty if he operated under the belief that he was speaking to someone underaged.

At any rate, it is possible for a case of this sort to go through the court system without anyone discovering that the girl in question has lied about her age.

(My mind goes back to a certain case involving a film director, in which the victim's mother, in an apparent attempt to make the perpetrator seem even worse than he was, hyperbolized the initial report to police. Perhaps realizing that a lie -- even a rather small and arguably immaterial lie -- might catch up with them, the mother and daughter tried to drop the case. By that point, of course, things had gone too far.)

I'm sorry, but the time has come for us to learn the name of the girl accusing Weiner. Once a name is divulged, we should be able to determine her age and the family's political stance.

It's possible that The Hill has made a serious misjudgment, but I don't think so. After the "Betty and Veronica" imbroglio, can anyone blame me for suspecting right-wing trickery?

Nota bene: You needn't send in those painfully obvious "WEINER BAD MAN! WEINER BAD MAN!" comments which you are dying to make. We're talking about something else here. This post is about a possible covert op, not about one man's moral failings -- and I will not publish any comments which address the latter without discussing the former. You have been warned. If you don't like my rules, fuck off.

This reminds me of the DNC email theft. Embarrassing emails are hacked and released. But the question that gets left out is, why make the embarrassing comments in the first place? So even if this was a Republican plot, why be tricked?

What if someone does a Sting, and it fails. Are the stingers not obligated to publicly present their findings? If Stingers only have to report moral failings while never divulging moral strengths, they should be charged with some type of crime in my opinion.

What if Mr. Weiner had been approached before, and refused the advance? If the Stingers, by law, had to publicly report that Mr. Weiner had refused the advance, that would have elevated Mr. Weiner's public stature and be an excellent motivator to not partake in any future advances.

But if we allow stingers to keep stinging and never report when they fail, we set up most politicians to eventually fail.
Well what infuriated me over the years about the Clintons was their undying affection towards anything that put them in bad light. They don't only refuse to defend them properly, they actually immerse themselves more and more in bad situations to be trashed. There is no way to defend that scumbag(I didn't use the b word per instruction) but they kept his wife who continued to use the same computer as he. She can't afford to buy a new one for herself?. At this point I don't see how is this benefits anyone. It's only makes Hillary's choices in staff looks not the best. Someone may argue that was evident from the campaign. At least we don't have to worry about her cabinet choices.
Nah. Never happen. No way.

No way US Attorneys would knowingly perpetrate a fraud upon the court - and how could they NOT know her age?
Do you think Louise would get your three, pointed allusions to "Chinatown"?
Trump told the Israelis that he didn't mention their name when he spilled the beans to the Russians. Please God make it stop.
I have noticed that recently the Hill's been reminding me more and more of the Palmer report. I've stopped reading either of them. My main comment regarding the original story would not be that Weiner's a "bad" man, but that he's so typical that he'd be easy bait for those wishing to sting him.

Post this or not, Joseph. I have no problem with your takes on these stories. I'm just sick of these stories altogether, made possible because of men just like Weiner...tho the smear factory doesn't even need Weiners because they can simply build a juicy fake story like the pizza child sex ring. Believable, because ... men. I once shut down an entire thread of idiots frothing over how "evil" this pizza sex ring was. I told them if they were that concerned about raped kids they should be 24/7 trying to shut down prostitution and the entire sex trade because men everywhere rape underaged kids every day.

That shut them the hell up. It never occurred to them it's the everyday johns who are the evil they seek.

(And before b whines about women who run sex rings...yeah, they take the rapists' money, because they live in a rapists' world. And, as we saw with the DC Madam, they end up dead while the rapists remain in office.)

Without the larger conversation, Weiner's story is just sensationalism. Fake story, real story, conspiracy, trickery, all are made possible only by the everyday disgusting reality they are based on.

Of all the stories that have dropped, this one made my jaw drop as much as any. If true, Louise's Weiner story may have a grain of truth to it after all even though she has already apologized for it! Incredible.

Eric Garland has the best saying for these times. "If it could get weird, it WILL get weird. Because 2017."
Tony Schwartz who co-wrote The Art of the Deal thinks Trump will resign and that having started to scream at Kushner he may soon lash out at Ivanka. Demonstrated incapable of functioning as President, the wacko will run away and claim victory.

A medical "Ezra Pound solution" is possible.

I'd already formed the view that Trump won't be able to cope with an impeachment trial. In the event that he hangs around that long, he will go full-on James Forrester. He probably won't shout "The Russians aren't coming!" In fact I won't be surprised if he lashes out against Putin and Russian intelligence.

(I should register my prediction somewhere that Trump may publicly point the finger at Putin :-) )

Perhaps he'll even fume against "globalists" and Chabad. This could turn out to be the ultimate NYC story.

Schwartz makes it clear that he thinks Trump has been mentally ill for decades. There'll be a denouement. The Kushners will make a fortune and Trump won't last his term. He may leave by summer.
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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Jeez, Louise! (Updated)

Update: The more I look into this, the more possible it seems that Louise Mensch's most-derided "scoop" may actually be true. Or mostly true. What Mensch's critics (and perhaps Mensch herself) fail to understand is that the impeachment process is surprisingly easy to start, and very difficult to fulfill. Nevertheless, it is indeed a provable fact that the impeachment of Donald Trump has been initiated. (The proof is below.) As for the rest: I'm making inquiries. Responses may come slowly, since today is Sunday. I'll let you know soon whether Mensch and Taylor had it right all along.

And now, here is the post as originally published...

A couple of posts down, I chided Louise Mensch for displaying a near-Trumpian inability to apologize for anything. The next day, she apologized for something -- specifically, for a story about Anthony Weiner. We may discuss that matter at another time.

Right now, she is being crucified by both the right and the left for this piece, written in conjunction with Claude Taylor.
Multiple sources close to the intelligence, justice and law enforcement communities say that the House Judiciary Committee is considering Articles of Impeachment against the President of the United States.

Sources further say that the Supreme Court notified Mr. Trump that the formal process of a case of impeachment against him was begun, before he departed the country on Air Force One. The notification was given, as part of the formal process of the matter, in order that Mr. Trump knew he was not able to use his powers of pardon against other suspects in Trump-Russia cases. Sources have confirmed that the Marshal of the Supreme Court spoke to Mr. Trump.
A couple of months ago, when Mensch was much more popular on the left, I contributed a piece to Democratic Underground warning liberals to be chary of her. In response, many angry DU-ers accused me of being a secret agent for Trump.

Now that so many on the left have turned against Mensch, my first instinct is to spring to her defense. Why? Well...heterosexuality, for one thing. (So I find her attractive. Shoot me.) Beyond that, I just like to be contrary. When they give you ruled paper, write the other way; when the villagers go after Frankenstein's monster, write a pro-monster editorial.

So let's see if there's any way to salvage this.

Many people have pointed out that the Supreme Court plays no constitutional role in the impeachment process. In response to a reader who voiced this complaint, Mensch angrily tweeted:
And we don't report that it does ANYWHERE IN THE STORY. We report a NOTIFICATION
Yeah but. Why would the Marshal of the Supreme Court be tasked with notifying Trump about impeachment? Has that happened before?

I've been reading the Congressional Research Service's manual on Impeachment and Removal. It discusses at some length the various precedents, and at no point does it ever refer to the Supreme Court notifying a target that the impeachment process has begun.

I've also been reading up on the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the impeachment process against Richard Nixon (which was aborted by his resignation). As near as I can tell, the Marshal of the Supreme Court never notified either man of...well, of anything.

So if the Marshal notified Trump, the act appears to have no precedent. I'm not saying that such a thing is impossible; I simply cannot find a precedent. Moreover, I doubt that informing the President of anything falls within the Marshal's job description.

Another problem: I don't understand how the initiation of impeachment would affect the president's ability to issue pardons.

The United States Constitution, Article II, section 2, says that the President "shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." But in the aforementioned manual, the Congressional Research Service makes clear (on page 3) that this section "bars the President from using the pardon power to shield individuals from impeachment or removal from office."

The Constitution does not stop the President from pardoning potential witnesses or co-conspirators who may be facing criminal charges. Of course, pardoning a co-conspirator would simply remove that person's ability to plead the Fifth, so I don't see how that move would work in Trump's favor.

Perhaps Mensch is saying that the Judiciary Committee is considering impeachment against not just Trump but against a whole range of Trumpians? (Again, I'm trying to put the most charitable spin on this.) But even then, the Supreme Court would simply declare any pardons null and void when it comes to impeachment. I see no need to warn Trump "Don't do it."

Here's an interesting thought experiment: Could Trump pardon Michael Flynn?

One's first response would be "yes" because Flynn is no longer in government and therefore beyond impeachment. Article 2 would not apply to his case. However, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to impeach a former government official, even though the gesture is a bit like hanging someone who is already dead. In 1876, corrupt Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached after his resignation.

(By this logic, Gerry Ford should not have had the ability to pardon Nixon, since Nixon remained impeachable even after his resignation. I don't recall anyone making this argument at the time. Do you? It's probably the case that Gerry's pardon covered only criminal charges by the DOJ, and would not have prevented the House from impeaching Nixon.)

We're left with what may be the most important question of all: Just when does the impeachment process start? What do we mean by "initiation"?
To answer that poser, let's look at the Nixon case. Most people think that the process started on February 6, 1974 when
The United States House of Representatives passed a resolution, H.Res. 803, giving its Judiciary Committee authority to investigate whether sufficient grounds existed to impeach Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States[1] of high crimes and misdemeanors, primarily related to the Watergate scandal.
Actually, there had been a number of previous "starts" to the impeachment process -- and three of those starts occurred before the Watergate break-in, during his first term.
On May 9, 1972, Representative William Fitts Ryan (D-NY) submitted a resolution, H.Res. 975, to impeach President Nixon. The resolution was referred to the Judiciary Committee.[2] The next day, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) introduced a similar resolution, H.Res. 976.[3] On May 18, 1972, Conyers introduced his second resolution, H.Res. 989, calling for President Nixon's impeachment. The resolutions were referred to the Judiciary Committee, where they did not progress. These actions occurred before the break-in at the Watergate complex.

Representative Robert Drinan of Massachusetts on July 31, 1973 called to introduce a resolution calling for the impeachment of Nixon, though not for the Watergate scandal. Drinan believed that Nixon's secret bombing of Cambodia was illegal, and as such, constituted a "high crime and misdemeanor"
So: Which counts as the "initiation of impeachment" date -- May 9, 1972, or February 6, 1974? I would argue that both dates count. We have to think in terms of multiple impeachment efforts.

As near as I can tell, the Marshal of the Supreme Court never popped in to say "Hi!" to Tricky Dick.

In the present day, the question of "When does impeachment start?" is of enormous interest. One could argue that the impeachment of Donald Trump began three days ago.

Let's look at page 17 of the afore-cited Congressional Research Service document.

Impeachment proceedings may be commenced in the House of Representatives by a Member declaring a charge of impeachment on his or her own initiative, by a Member presenting a memorial listing charges under oath, or by a Member depositing a resolution in the hopper, which is then referred to the appropriate committee. The impeachment process may be triggered by non-Members, such as when the Judicial Conference of the United States suggests that the House may wish to consider impeachment of a federal judge, where an independent counsel advises the House of any substantial and credible information which he or she believes might constitute grounds for impeachment, by message from the President, by a charge from a state or territorial legislature or grand jury, or by petition
If the Mensch/Taylor story is valid, then just which of these parties got the impeachment ball rolling?

You may not have heard about it, but Congressman Al Green of Texas formally asked for impeachment three days ago. According to the guidelines quoted above, Green "initiated" the process.

Is that what Mensch and Taylor are talking about? Did Green make a whole lot of history without anyone noticing? If so, then Mensch has been at least partially vindicated. She said that impeachment proceedings have been initiated, and such is indeed the case.

Is it also possible that a grand jury has initiated impeachment? There is indeed a grand jury which has issued subpoenas against Flynn. But I doubt that any grand jury could -- or would -- formally ask for the impeachment of Trump in secret. What would be the point of secrecy?

The most interesting idea is impeachment-by-petition. There are several petitions to impeach Trump, and they've acquired an enormous number of signatures, although I've seen no guidelines as to how many are required. See here and here and here. Can we say that the impeachment process was "initiated" the moment these petitions were presented to the Judiciary Committee? Were they, in fact, formally presented to the Judiciary Committee?

A final note:  Mensch's blog contains a "Contact and Whistleblowing" page.
We will be setting up a secure drop shortly. You can contact us securely on, or leave us a message via this form.
I know that seasoned spies are always wary of "walk ins." Is Louise Mensch sufficiently wary of the people who use that form? Seems to me that James O'Keefe and his pranksters would love to discredit her.
Keeping my eye on the torrent sites, I've just seen a documentary called "Get Me Roger Stone". Thoughts?
So Mensch is setting up a "secure drop". FFS! Maybe she needs you to call her and look after her best interests, Joe? :)

Mensch is a female version of Milo Yiannopoulos.
The Trump-Kushner monster is in Saudi; then it will go to Israel. I've just been reading the elder family member's speech. Trump's preferred way to praise people is to say they're just like him! His first few sentences contain the following epithet-rich phrases: "extraordinary words", "magnificent Kingdom", "this remarkable place", "incredible hospitality", "treasured home", "great people", "beloved leader", "very, very proud".

One bit that stood out amid all the embarrassing "bigly" crap was this:

"In just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over $3 trillion in new value".

What is he talking about? US GDP is about $18tn per year. He has been in office for four months. The value created during that period will have been about $6tn. What the fuck game are his team playing with the national accounts?

Most of the economy isn't real estate, where (fictitious) "value" can be created by bribing city officials to grant planning permission.
Al Green is getting lynching death threats.
I suspect Trump believes the country's 'value' has increased because his name is attached to it, the whole branding thing. That's been his history. He's great, so therefore the country is Tony-the-Tiger GREAT.

As for Mensch, Taylor, Schindler et al there has been a shift. The pushback you experienced at DU, Joe, has most definitely gone in the other direction. Plenty of warnings about the Left's version of 'fake news' and wishful thinking. I remain a skeptic but that doesn't mean I'm not reading Mensch, nor automatically discrediting her material. To Mensch's credit, she has admitted her wrong calls--the recent Weiner guilty plea, for instance. Material on the Marshal of the Supreme Court informing DT has received all sorts of flack. David Frum dug up a picture on that one, a satirical poke at the theory. Yet, Mensch has been ahead of the curve on other things. Setting up a secure dropbox, however, sounds pretty squirrely to me.

We shall see.

"Now that so many on the left have turned against Mensch, my first instinct is to spring to her defense. Why? Well...heterosexuality, for one thing."

On the Internet, no one knows you're a heterosexual person (or even a person).
Joseph, stating you may be contrarian simply to be contrarian is not a virtue I would brag about. Then stating your position on an issue may relate to the coital position you may fancy a writing member of the opposite sex in, doesn't help your case.

As for pardoning Flynn, if Flynn pardonable at this point in time? What would he be pardoned for?

Is this really Joe who wrote today's article?
Alessandro, I yam what I yam, and yes, I am I. I'm not sure what Flynn would be pardoned for. Gerry Ford pardoned Nixon even though Nixon had been found guilty of no crime.

You needn't say crude things about coital positions. Everyone forms a crush on some media figure or other. How many women go crazy for Benedict Cumberbatch? C'mon, there must be someone out there -- on the tube, on the net, on the big screen -- who has that effect on you.
Nixon's pardon before any charges were brought were for any and all federal criminal offenses iirc. Flynn's could be the same, without specifics, I guess. Or if specifics were given, then for potential violations of the FARA, false statements to federal investigators, and receipt of money from foreign sources without approval, permission, or disclosure.

I don't get the same feeling about Louise, but I do for CNN's Pamela Brown.

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Kushner, Lieberman, Trump, Putin -- and the Chabad cult

The previous post identified Jared Kushner as the FBI investigation's "person of interest." Chris Hayes tweeted the same. Unfortunately, Kushner is well-protected. You need to be aware of two factors:

1. An obscure ethics rule may prevent Robert Mueller from investigating Jared Kushner, who was a client of Mueller's former law firm, WilmerHare. The Justice Department could waive that rule -- but don't expect Jeff Sessions to do the decent thing.

2. The FBI will soon be under Joe Lieberman, who will surely protect Kushner. Both Lieberman and Kushner are very close to Chabad, a cult within Judaism which one may liken to "The Family," the Christian cult studied in Jeff Sharlet's book. The Moonies may provide an even more instructive basis for comparison. 

I realize that the previous paragraph will open me up to charges of anti-Semitism. Before you lob such accusations, I suggest that you read up on the accusations against Chabad levied by many Jewish writers. You should also read the investigative reports that have appeared in mainstream sources. After you've done the research, you'll see right through the lies told by Chabad's apologists, who claim that this is a benign group devoted to helping Jews "connect more strongly with their faith."

That hardly covers it.

Chabad is a racist cult, every bit as inexcusable as the cognate fundamentalist cults which have arisen from the Christian, Islamic and Hindu traditions. The group's strong connections to both Putin and Team Trump demand scrutiny.

Although the Chabad movement traces back more than two centuries, the cult's leader in the modern era was Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), a.k.a. "The Rebbe"). He may be considered the Joseph Smith or L. Ron Hubbard of Chabad. (Those who revere Schneerson will decry any comparison to Hubbard -- just as those who revere Hubbard will decry any comparison to Schneerson.) Many followers of the Rebbe considered him the Messiah. Some still do -- and they express this belief in ways that most people, including most secular Jews, would consider absurd.

(You'd think that Jews would have a more cautious attitude toward Messianic claimants, considering the kind of history made by such notable weirdos as David Reubeni, Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank. And, you know, that other fellow.)

Because I'm pressed for time -- and because this post will probably be buried by this afternoon's Trump-related bombshell news stories -- I can't write the piece I had originally envisioned. Instead, I'll offer a series of links, most of which go to Jewish sources. None of the cited writers can be fairly described as right-wing or anti-Semitic; I have avoided works by conspiracy theorists and other fringe-dwellers.

Our first stop is a Politico article titled "The Happy-Go-Lucky Jewish Group That Connects Trump and Putin".
Starting in 1999, Putin enlisted two of his closest confidants, the oligarchs Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich, who would go on to become Chabad’s biggest patrons worldwide, to create the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia under the leadership of Chabad rabbi Berel Lazar, who would come to be known as “Putin’s rabbi.”

A few years later, Trump would seek out Russian projects and capital by joining forces with a partnership called Bayrock-Sapir, led by Soviet emigres Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater and Tamir Sapir—who maintain close ties to Chabad. The company’s ventures would lead to multiple lawsuits alleging fraud and a criminal investigation of a condo project in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, the links between Trump and Chabad kept piling up...
This article is supremely important, although I disagree with the characterization of Chabad as "happy-go-lucky." The following links provide a corrective.
is a Jewish website warning against the dangers of Chabad. Note this subpage in particular. Also this one. And this one.
The revulsion that non-Orthodox Jews in the Upper Midwest have for the [Chabad] Hasidim of Postville is visceral and undeniable. Over and over, while talking to non-Orthodox Jews in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area - arguably the Jewish community outside of Postville that has the most at stake in this story - I have heard one constant refrain. "How could this have happened?" they ask rhetorically. "I'll tell you...," and then their voices drop a register: "These [Chabad] Hasidim do not think their workers are human beings."
This discussion thread details one family's experience.

So does this well-written blog.

This site by Jews for Jews argues that Chabad is actually an anti-Jewish organization.

This Washington Post story, cited in these pages before, deserves to be re-read in light of Felix Sater's Chabad connection. Sater, in turn, links up with the ultra-powerful Russian mob boss Semyon Mogilevich.

In 2007, Chabad leaders in Israel were arrested for massive financial crimes.  (Also here.)

This piece in The Forward warns about Chabad's growing links to far-right Christian extremists. For example, in 2015 Chabad leaders showed up at a World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City.
Funded by right-wing extremists who make Mike Huckabee look like Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the WCF is an international network of far-right Christians who seek to enshrine their ultra-conservative views in secular law.

Indeed, some of them — Christian Reconstructionists, Dominionists and others — seek to do away with the secular law altogether, one day replacing the United States as we know it with an explicitly Christian nation.
Alexey Komov and Yelena Mizulina, two WCF leaders, are the primary authors of Russia’s anti-gay law, which makes the sharing of this column a criminal offense in that country.
The co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, Rabbi Avremi Zippel, will be providing the invocation for the event that Tuesday morning.
This is not the first time that Chabad has played the role of Jewish Uncle Tom for these specific Christian extremists. In Russia, leading Chabad rabbis are close associates of Vladimir Putin and were present at the signing of the so-called “anti-propaganda law” that has led to widespread increases in violence, as well as to the criminal prosecution of human rights organizations.
Chabad Rabbi Manis Friedman has offered some rather drole commentary on how to conduct war in a "moral" fashion. (Also here.)
I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral.

The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).
This site reprints a 1996 Jewish Week expose of Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh.
“If you have two people drowning, a Jew and a non-Jew, the Torah says you save the Jewish life first,” Rabbi Ginsburgh told The Jewish Week. ”If every single cell in a Jewish body entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of DNA is a part of God. Therefore, something is special about Jewish DNA.”

Later, Rabbi Ginsburgh asked rhetorically, “If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that.

“Jewish life has infinite value,” explained. “There is something infinitely more holy and unique about Jewish life than non-Jewish life.”
Alison Weir offers an extremely important expose of the racism espoused by "Rebbe" Schneerson.
Some of Schneerson’s rarely reported teachings:

“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: “Let us differentiate.” Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of “let us differentiate” between totally different species.”

“This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world … The difference in the inner quality between Jews and non-Jews is “so great that the bodies should be considered as completely different species.”

“An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness.”
“The important things are the Jews, because they do not exist for any [other] aim; they themselves are [the divine] aim.”

“The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews.”
I realize that these words sound like a fabrication concocted by a rabid neo-Nazi intent on slandering Jews. But no-one has ever disputed the accuracy of this quote, and no-one can honestly claim that "context" excuses these sentiments. (It should go without saying that most Jews would find those sentiments as repulsive as I do.)

The Chabad cult is founded on a mystrical book called the Tanya, written by the founder of the movement, Shneur Zalman of Liadi, who died in 1812. Although much of this work seems benign -- and perhaps profound, to those of a mystical turn of mind -- it contains a few very troubling sections. Example:
The souls of the nations of the world (all non-Jews), however, emanate from the other, unclean 'kelipot' which contain no good whatever" (page 5).
(In non-Jewish mystical works, "kelipot" is usually transliterated "qlippoth." Literally, the word means "husks;" figuratively, it means "demon.")

From a piece by Daniel Estrin in The Forward:
The marble-patterned, hardcover book embossed with gold Hebrew letters looks like any other religious commentary you’d find in an Orthodox Judaica bookstore — but reads like a rabbinic instruction manual outlining acceptable scenarios for killing non-Jewish babies, children and adults.

“The prohibition ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’” applies only “to a Jew who kills a Jew,” write Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and attacks on them “curb their evil inclination,” while babies and children of Israel’s enemies may be killed since “it is clear that they will grow to harm us.”

“The King’s Torah (Torat Hamelech), Part One: Laws of Life and Death between Israel and the Nations,” a 230-page compendium of Halacha, or Jewish religious law, published by the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, garnered a front-page exposé in the Israeli tabloid Ma’ariv, which called it the stuff of “Jewish terror.”
The rabbis promoting this "King's Torah" (which arguably belongs on the bookshelf next to the Tanya) belong to Chabad.

Finally, we have a slew of pieces devoted to exposing sexual abuse within Chabad. This Newsweek piece provides an excellent start. It describes an extreme insularity quite familiar to students of non-Jewish cults, and quite unlike the norm in mainstream Judaism:
Set on a leafy stretch of Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, Oholei Torah is one of the most important institutions in the Chabad movement’s global yeshiva network and one of the largest of the dozens of Chabad schools in Brooklyn, with nearly 2,000 students at any given time. But stop any middle-school-age kid in the school’s hallways, and he—there are no female students—will likely know nothing of world history, won’t be able to do long division and will speak only rudimentary English—even though he’s growing up in the biggest city in the United States.

Oholei Torah conducts its seven-plus daily hours of religious lessons mostly in Yiddish. According to more than a dozen former students across three decades, it provides almost no lessons in science, math, English grammar or history. (The school did not respond to queries about its curriculum.) Many of these students go home to an apartment with no television, no Internet, no newspapers and no books except religious texts. Many will not gain the basic knowledge of how to navigate the world until they are married off around age 18, like how to write a check, how to order General Tso’s chicken or even what sex is. When you’re a child in this environment, you don’t question the fact that you can’t identify your own state on a map. And when you are molested, you don’t ask questions about that either.
Many of the scandals which have rocked Catholicism have a strong echo within the Chabad movement. Another Jewish site discusses the sexual abuse within Chabad.
Since Waks first spoke publicly in 2011 about the abuse he suffered, he has helped to expose the centres, and the schools, synagogues and activities attached to them, as communities within which child sex abuse was covered-up, denied or ignored.

The rabbinic law of mesirah – the prohibition of a Jew informing on a fellow Jew to secular authorities – was used by leaders to keep victims silent, the commission heard.
See also  here and here. I was particularly struck by this section (which quotes a now-defunct article in The Jewish Week):
A prominent Orthodox rabbi and psychologist has been intimidated into quitting as head of a just-formed task force dealing with rabbinic sex abuse of minors, organized by Assemblyman Dov Hikind this week. Dr. Benzion Twerski told The Jewish Week Wednesday that he was quitting the task force because "I was prosecuted in the street for daring to join such a venture." "To protect myself, my family, and reputation, I decided to withdraw from this project," he wrote in an e-mail as the paper was going to press with a story announcing Hikind's formation of the task force. "From this point, I am avoiding participation in any forms of public service. Public life is not for me."

Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat who represents Borough Park and Flatbush, deplored Twerski's abrupt departure from his new panel. "He was basically forced to resign," said Hikind. "He was literally put against the wall, and he felt he had no choice. We'll get somebody else who's very respected. But that's not the point. The point is they got to him, they threatened him."
Also see this piece in The Jerusalem Post.
In 2011, when he exposed his story in the Australian press, Manny Wax dropped a figurative bomb in the heart of Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne, where he and his family lived, where he was educated and where he was sexually abused over a period of three years.
His parents, who were still living in the Chabad community, were shunned, ostracized and made to feel that they had transgressed one of the sacrosanct rules of their community: keeping it all inhouse.

Indeed, the title of Waks’s book is a pull-quote from a sermon delivered by leader of Yeshivah Centre, Rabbi Zvi Telsner, shortly after the scandal broke out. During a Shabbat sermon, Telsner addressed Waks’s father, Zephania, thundering: “Who gave you permission to speak to anybody?” It was clearly a rhetorical question, because everyone in the close-knit Chabad fold knows that you don’t snitch on a member of the community to an outsider. To do so, as Waks explains, would render you a moser – a rabbinic term for a Jew who informs on another Jew to secular authorities.
Let me repeat: Most of the pieces cited above come from Jewish writers. Moreover, over the years I have been absolutely consistent in expressing disdain for all forms of religious fundamentalism, including the various strains of reactionary Catholic mania. (Example.) I have distinguished Judaism as a whole from Chabadism; in fact, I tend to be swayed by the opinion of those Jews who see Chabad as a separate religion.

I am also quite willing to concede that there are, no doubt, many wonderful people within the Chabad movement. That said, I've also met some Scientologists -- including one who was quite prominent -- who seemed very nice; their virtues did not blind me to the dangers of Hubbard's lunatic sect.

In short: Only a fool or a zealot would scry anti-Semitism in this post. If you attempt to do so, you will succeed only in amusing me. Strained rationalization is my favorite form of humor.

Fascinatingly, actual anti-Semites have embraced Trumpism and seem to have no problem with the prominent role played by the unelected Jared Kushner, whom historians may one day describe as the acting president, given Trump's basic incompetence. How did this unfathomable situation arise? Don't know. I've been trying to figure out that problem for quite a while now.

Added note: In an earlier piece, I wrote about an anti-Hillary slander which appeared late in the election cycle -- a classic example of "fake news" as originally defined. The Gateway Pundit and many (MANY) other sites published stories claiming "Racist Hillary Trashes African Americans – Calls Them Losers." The allegation was based on an alleged email supposedly found on Hillary's server and published by Wikileaks.

I did some research into the matter, and found that there was a racist email -- but it had nothing to do with either Hillary Clinton or her server. The message was sent by an as-yet unidentified party to various individuals connected to Politico and Media Matters. Of course, the recipients bore no responsibility for the contents of that message, just as I am not responsible for every random piece of crap that some wacko might want to shoot into my own mailbox.

The email contains a long rant which slanders most of the world's peoples and then goes on to praise the marvelous accomplishments of Jews. "One group of people has long outperformed all other Earthlings by such a bizarrely wide margin that it singlehandedly smashes this all-folks-are-equal myth into millions of smithereens." (Until now, I was unaware that smithereens could be counted.)

In my original post, I hinted at my suspicion that the author sprang from a Chabad background. I still suspect so, although I've been unable to trace the author of this diatribe. If you can identify the writer of this text, please share!
Can someone inquire of Louise if any of her sources know Ivanka's and Chelsea's recipes for gefilte fish?
The main trade union organisation in Norway voted earlier this week in favour of a total boycott of Israel. Their decision has been denounced by the ADL. The state of Norway keeps the world's largest sovereign wealth fund, and its divestment would be a red line. Retaliation may follow, perhaps soon.
Ameilie, I hope you're not trying to lump this post in with the more questionable stuff that Mensch has produced recently. I'm not presenting a grand conspiracy theory and I have no secret sources. There are links to all of the articles that have informed my thinking; the reader is encouraged to visit those links and come to his or her own conclusions.
Is Chabad like Opus Dei? Opus Dei had roots in our Supreme Court and in the FBI. The cults are all alike to me. Even Rev Moon got our congress critters to let him use their chambers to "crown" him and throw out the cross. Money and power override adherence to any one of the cults. Thus, Bush and Trump give lip service to Christianity while kissing and holding hands with Saudi royalty, and the Bushes were great friends with the mass-marrying flower-selling Moonie cult leader. Opus Dei was (is?) very powerful and if Chabad is, it's evil, too, but with or without extra power, Hassidic Judaism, fundamentalist Christianity, Islam and Mormon/Latter Day are a blight on earth and a pressing danger to women and to nonbinary humans everywhere.
No, Mr. Cannon. On the contrary, I'm impressed with the post's care to match its boldness. But: You never misspell Louise's name and always misspell mine. Didn't you see the French movie "Amelie"?
@prowlerzee: Cultural anthropologists (and advisers to non-Arabs) know that in Arab culture, kissing and hand-holding are essential because one is not trusted if one cannot smell one.
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Friday, May 19, 2017

Nut job. Plus: Is Jared Kushner under investigation?

Earlier today, this blog predicted that today's first bombshell news story would hit before 2 p.m. It came around 3 p.m.; Cannonfire apologizes for the error. The day's second bombshell hit about an hour later, although it did not fully explode until just a few minutes after I started to write this piece.

Bombshell story #1: The NYT somehow learned the exact wording of what Trump said to his Russian guests in the Oval. No-one disputes the accuracy of this document.
President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”
First: The idea of a wacko like Trump calling Comey or anyone else a "nut job" is hilarious.

Second: We now have absolute confirmation that the sole purpose of the firing was to block the Russia probe. If the claim of collusion had no merit, then why would Trump seek to quash the probe? Why would he brag about what he did to the Russians themselves?

And why on earth would Trump make such a boast on the record? (Obviously, someone kept a record, or the exchange would not be in the NYT.)

Once again, Trump has screwed himself by blurting out what he should keep unspoken. He's the blurter-in-chief. Every new Trumpian blurt reminds me of the restaurant scene in Mad magazine's parody of The Godfather, in which Michael Corleone rises from the table and says: "Excuse me. I have to take a pistol."

I don't know whether Trump's blabbiness indicates a guilty conscience or an imperious disdain for the need to deceive. Obviously, he wants to spill.

Bombshell story #2: Just who is this "person of interest"?
The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.
Just minutes ago, the UK Independent identified this adviser as -- hold onto your hats! -- Jared Kushner, the Trump son-in-law who basically serves as the shadow president, due to The Donald's incompetence.
Yashar Ali, a contributor to New York magazine said on Twitter: “It’s Jared Kushner. Have confirmed this with four people. I’m not speculating.”
We've long known about Jared's Russian links. For example:
When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest.
Why would our "shadow president" secretly meet with the head of a Russian bank, and then lie about the event?

Sergey N. Gorkov, the bank president in question, was graduated from Russia's "spy school." His bank (often referred to as VEB) is widely thought to be have strong links to the FSB.

See this story, which quotes from an official DOJ release alleging that the bank provided cover for Russian spies in the United States. The investigation was headed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was so mysteriously fired by the Trump administration.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “An unregistered intelligence agent, under cover of being a legitimate banker, gathers intelligence on the streets of New York City, trading coded messages with Russian spies who send the clandestinely collected information back to Moscow. This sounds like a plotline for a Cold War-era movie, but in reality, Evgeny Buryakov pled guilty today to a federal crime for his role in just such a scheme.
Beginning in 2012, BURYAKOV worked in the United States as an agent of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, known as the “SVR.” BURYAKOV operated under “non-official cover,” meaning he entered and remained in the United States as a private citizen, posing as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank, Vnesheconombank, also known as “VEB.” SVR agents operating under such non-official cover – sometimes referred to as “NOCs” – typically are subject to less scrutiny by the host government, and, in many cases, are never identified as intelligence agents by the host government. As a result, a NOC is an extremely valuable intelligence asset for the SVR.
Can you imagine the uproar on Fox News if any Democrat had secretly met with Gorka? For more, see here...
A member of the SVR’s Directorate ER, the division tasked with gathering economic intelligence, Buryakov was paid $200,000 to pump his fellow Wall Streeters on information ultimately beneficial to Russia’s GDP, or at least harmful to the nation’s marketplace competitors. His biggest coup, evidently, was helping Rostek, the state-owned defense manufacturer, nearly come away with a handsome contract with Bombardier, the Canadian aerospace firm.
VEB has was sanctioned by both the U.S. Treasury Department and the European Union in 2014 for its role in underwriting the ongoing war in Ukraine, a penalty the bank has said would have “no effect” on its operations.
Now Gorkov finds himself in the national spotlight for having kibitzed with Kushner last year at undisclosed locations, either before or after Kushner also sat with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak — but hey, who hasn’t in Trumpland? All we know about these encounters were that they were perfectly innocent marriages of true minds between two captains of industry. VEB met "with a number of representatives of the largest banks and business establishments of the United States, including Jared Kushner, the head of Kushner Companies,” the bank told Reuters in a written statement.
Before Kushner was identified by The Independent, the WP's bombshell had me flashing on another possibility: Steve Bannon. Don't be surprised if Mueller decides to focus on Steverino.

Bannon played a leading role in Cambridge Analytica, the psychological warfare firm. Louise Mensch and others have claimed that Cambridge Analytica is funded in part by the Russians, although Time Magazine does not go so far. However:
Researchers at the University of Southern California, meanwhile, found that nearly 20% of political tweets in 2016 between Sept. 16 and Oct. 21 were generated by bots of unknown origin; investigators are trying to figure out how many were Russian.

As they dig into the viralizing of such stories, congressional investigations are probing not just Russia's role but whether Moscow had help from the Trump campaign. Sources familiar with the investigations say they are probing two Trump-linked organizations: Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics company hired by the campaign that is partly owned by deep-pocketed Trump backer Robert Mercer; and Breitbart News, the right-wing website formerly run by Trump's top political adviser Stephen Bannon.

The congressional investigators are looking at ties between those companies and right-wing web personalities based in Eastern Europe who the U.S. believes are Russian fronts, a source familiar with the investigations tells TIME. "Nobody can prove it yet," the source says. In March, McClatchy newspapers reported that FBI counterintelligence investigators were probing whether far-right sites like Breitbart News and Infowars had coordinated with Russian botnets to blitz social media with anti-Clinton stories, mixing fact and fiction when Trump was doing poorly in the campaign.
Newsweek published a major piece on Bannon's "ideological ties to Russia" -- ties which have much to do with Alexander Dugin, Putin's mentor and philosopher-king of the new international fascism.
In early April, Bannon was booted off Trump’s National Security Council in a White House coup that was at least partly a scuffle over how to confront a resurgent Russia. Days later, after the Moscow-protected government in Syria killed civilians in a chemical attack, Bannon lost a heated debate with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, over whether to punish the regime in Damascus.
A former banker turned film producer and right-wing polemicist, Bannon has praised not only Russian President Vladimir Putin but also a brand of Russian mystical conservative nationalism known as Eurasianism, which is the closest the Kremlin has to a state ideology. Eurasianism proclaims that Russia’s destiny is to lead all Slavic and Turkic people in a grand empire to resist corrupt Western values. Its main proponent is Alexander Dugin, a Russian political scientist.
Despite their nationalism, Bannon and Dugin have something in common: They both believe global elites have conspired against ordinary people. Their enemies: secularism, multiculturalism, egalitarianism. In both Bannon’s and Dugin’s worldview, the true global ideological struggle is not between Russia and the United States but between culturally homogenous groups founded on Judeo-Christian values practicing humane capitalism on one side and, on the other, an international crony-capitalist network of bankers and big business.
Of course, the Trump/Putin version of capitalism is cronyism, purified and unapologetic. There is nothing humane about it. Dugin is a master of doubletalk: He pretends to decry fascism even as he creates neo-fascism; he claims to oppose "elites" even as he embraces the work of Julius Evola, the ultimate elitist.

Is that it? Any more bombshells...? Honestly, I would not be surprised if yet another blockbuster story has hit while I was engaged in the process of writing this piece. Folks, there's such a thing as too much fun.

Update: The bombshells keep a-comin! Chris Matthews just announced that Kushner is, in fact, the Trump official referenced by the above-mentioned WP report.

MSNBC also reports that Comey will testify in a public session.

CNN says that White House lawyers are gearing up for impeachment, which is still described as "a distant possibility."

And Germans think that Trump is a "laughingstock." That's not really a bombshell bit of news, but I thought I'd mention it anyways.

One last bombshell: 1001 ghosts led a protest march in front of the White House today, demanding the full restoration of their voting rights. "We're citizens too," said spectral media liaison Chester A. Arthur.

(Cannonfire has not yet verified this report.)
Speaking of laughingstocks to the Germans, I'm wondering if amid all the bombshells, Cannonfire caught the local news that Baltimore's odious tax sale process backfired and Germans bought the Ravens stadium over unpaid water bills? Of course, City hall was all aghast and moved quickly to cover for the wealthy deadbeats, as they always do, while elderly homeowners in crumbling neighborhoods lost their family homes, at times over water bills in dispute.
So what? By the time any denouements happen, the wretched damage will have been done. The Cabinet is wretched and tasked with implementing wretchedness, and with a free rein for the next several years. Meanwhile, to quote Marcy Wheeler, it will be "great TV". The overrated "rule of law" is backfiring: hearings, testimony, investigations, etc., will be the worst kind of inadvertent obstructions of justice one can imagine. Right, what rule of law? All the U.S. Attorneys were fired, now there are none. If this were my blog, I'd ask my readers to provide any good reasons for not hoping for a JCOS coup d'etat and installing a junta until the swamp is drained and its residue placed in sealed containers like radioactive waste.
Things have gotten so crazy. Is the Russia scandal real, or is it the noose in which the media and the deep state will hang? Why was Kushner meeting with the chief of a sanctioned Russian bank - Putin's personal piggy bank - on the advice of the Russian ambassador, an alleged spy master who was invited into the Oval Office on Putin's request? To whom Israel's (or Jordan's; there are conflicting reports) most sensitive secrets were spilt? What the eff is going on in this country? We don't know.

I was the one who wrote to you on June 15, 2016, telling you the hack would be bigger than Watergate. I said this:

"Joseph, on an unrelated topic. You saw that "Russian hackers" breached the DNC and took, among other things, Trump oppo research - all of it? I don't necessarily disbelieve they were Russian hackers. But my gut tells me they were acting on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Just research Trump's ties w the Russian mafia and also with an investment firm in Iceland that Putin and his circle have used as a piggy bank. (The firm funded the Trump SoHo, which was a project undertaken with the mafioso.) Look at Paul Manafort - Trump's chief strategist - and his dirty dealings in Russia. The Trump campaign has contacts over there, in the oligarchy and the underworld (not that there's much of a difference), and it has an open ally in Putin.

And Putin, as you may know, is funding the far right across Europe. For example, another of his piggy banks, an investment firm in Moscow, sent millions in loans to the National Front, in France, and to its Hitlerian founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Why wouldn't Putin help Trump, too?

The scale of the hacking is breathtaking - I believe I read that all email traffic was tapped. This is Watergate on a scale that Nixon couldn't have even conceived. And the surface story - Russian hackers hoover up all the DNC's data - doesn't make any sense. Why only target the Democrats? How does Russia benefit? You can't blackmail Trump with oppo research. You can't do much with it at all. It's useless. Unless you pass it to To the Trump campaign so it can anticipate every attack."
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Once again, yesterday's post feels like last year's post. That's how fast things are moving.

Today, I think I'm going to wait until a bombshell or two has already dropped. I'm guessing that the first bombshell of the day should hit by 2 p.m. or so.
Seriously...Reuters is reporting 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians by the Trump camp last year. Lieberman has some conflicts of interest, too, but is being considered for head of FBI? And I haven't even looked at the news for 3 hours, so by now, who knows?
If Julian Assange leaves the embassy, will Britain arrest him and extradite him to the US?

The Swedish authorities' stated reasons for discontinuing their persecution are obviously mendacious: that by remaining in asylum in the embassy he has "evaded" the exercise of the European arrest warrant; that in Sweden a criminal investigation needs to be conducted "as quickly as possible" (actually the statute of limitation doesn't apply until 2020); and that Ecuador probably won't accept a role as Sweden's postman. Which leaves two possible real reasons for the Swedish action: a) they're following US orders, and b) they're telling the US to eat shit. Anyone who wants to investigate should look at whether the Swedish-based weapons manufacturer Bofors got a slice of the action in the recent US-Saudi arms deal.

Britain isn't answering when asked whether they've received a US request for indictment. That suggests that the British authorities are guilty and that the dirty bastards have indeed received a US request. Don't ever trust those fuckers.

Note that while failing to surrender to an English court (aka jumping bail) carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail (if the case is heard on indictment and not summarily), the Sentencing Council's guidance provides that "custody should not be imposed where a community order could provide sufficient restriction on an offender’s liberty (by way of punishment) while addressing the rehabilitation of the offender to prevent future crime".

Now if Sweden had definitively shut the case and said that CIA liar Anna Ardin's testimony against Assange was unreliable, then Julian Assange would have no charges in the offing relating to the arrest warrant that was before the English court and therefore the question of rehabilitation does not arise in relation to any other offence than jumping bail. However, Sweden hasn't done this. They've said they might continue with the case against Assange if he ever turns up in Sweden. Oh fucking dear.

Also recall that Chelsea Manning is now out of jail. "She" is a much smaller fish than Assange. Who has done what deal with whom is unclear. What remains clear is that Albion remains perfidious.

I was possibly the first person on the left to opine that Assange mostly belonged to Russia, which is pretty much common knowledge now, but whether or not he still does has no bearing on the fact that we should oppose a continuation of this man's persecution.
The big news is that a "source" claims that Pence didn't know that Flynn was under investigation while he was running the transition team. Ignoring that the source was Pence, or somebody close to him, it is clear that Pence knows that something serious is coming up and he wants to be somewhere else when the shit hits the fan. I think the shit is that Flynn was Trump's bag man getting money from Russia for his campaign. What Watergate was about was illegal campaign contributions to Nixon's reelection committee, ostensibly from Howard Hughes, and Nixon and his aides were worried the Democrats knew about it.
Don't know if you saw this, Joe. I caught it on my mobile feed but couldn't copy it. However, Democratic Underground was able to lift it for a post. Really made me laugh. A cheat sheet for POTUS from Ted Lieu, member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Thank God for humor. Although in this case, the list is weirdly spot on.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Mueller is no messiah. Plus: Louise Mensch and her "sources"

Things are moving so fast that yesterday's post reads like last year's news. Oh, for the gift of a slow news day!

Ivanka, why not start with your Dad's Russian pals? From Ivanka's twitter feed:
Human trafficking is a pervasive humanitarian epidemic both domestically and abroad. Together we are working to combat this critical issue.
This is infuriatingly hypocritical. The worst human trafficker in history is Semyon Mogilevich, close Putin friend, leader of the Red Mafiya and supplier to terrorists of illegal Russian nukes. His organization uses underaged prostitutes to compromise western leaders and intelligence services. Trump's pal Felix Sater is linked to Mogilevich's group; the FBI has identified Sater's father as a key underboss in that organization.

The ties between Mogilevich and the Trump circle are complex. You may wish to start your research here and here.

Mueller. I'm sure you already know that we now have -- finally -- a special prosecutor: Former FBI head Robert Mueller. Although I am grateful for this development, it is far too soon to proclaim that the Republic has been saved.

The talking heads on teevee applaud this choice because Mueller served under both Republicans and Democrats. They've forgotten about the many campaign-season stories which said -- correctly, I think -- that today's real divide is not so much Republican vs. Democrat as Outsider vs. Establishment.

Mueller is Mr. Establishment. The man who headed the FBI during 9/11 carries much more baggage than the teevee talking heads will admit. If you favor the Establishment, that baggage will be invisible to you. If you hang out with Outsiders, you can see it clearly.

Dunno about you, but I really, really, really don't want to spend the upcoming weeks and months rehashing all of those ancient 9/11 conspiracy theories. Although I haven't yet worked up the courage to check up on the Infowarriors, I suspect that they have already started to demonize Mueller.

(This is a sore spot for me because, for some reason, the so-called truthers always considered me an important "get." Every time a 9/11 nutjob would proclaim that he or she has NEW NEW NEW information -- facts and figures that would surely turn me around, if only I would listen to it with an open mind -- all they ever gave me were the same old conspiracy cliches. You know: The melting temperature of steel; Larry Silverstein saying "pull it." That crap.)

The demonization of Mueller will provide cover for Trump, should he ever seek Mueller's removal. Politically, Trump may be in a position to do so after the mid-terms.

Another likely demonization target: Rod Rosenstein. The "smear Rosenstein" campaign has probably started already. As soon as he has the political space to do so, Trump will replace him with someone willing to replace Mueller.

Not only that. Both the Special Prosecutor's office and the Intelligence Committee inquiries will rely on FBI manpower for the actual work. Soon enough, Trump will appoint Joe Lieberman or some similar fiend to head the FBI, and the whole thing will go to hell. Manpower will be reduced; seasoned agents will be replaced by rookies (or by Giuliani's pals); documents will disappear. That's when the Trumpers will proclaim "Nothing to see here." Then they will do their damnedest to turn the nation's attention to the crimes of Evil Hillary, Evil Obama, Evil Podesta and Evil Susan Rice.

In my last post, I called Trump a wrinkled tomato dying on the vine. Today, I'm thinking that he can stay attached. Dirty tricks won the election; dirty politics can keep him in office.

Do I sound downbeat? Hey, it's me. People come here for the thoughts of a natural-born contrarian; if the Group Mind says "X," I'll say "Not X" just to be a shit about it. The sight of all of those beaming, relieved liberal faces on teevee naturally sent my thoughts in the opposite direction: We're doomed.

Louise Mensch. What are we going to do with her? Malcolm Nance has turned against her, the Jester (whose name I refuse to spell in that idiotic "cute" hacker fashion) has dissed her, her tweets are no longer respected by well-known people, and she has become (shall we say) a very controversial figure on once-friendly terrain like Democratic Underground.

Despite my continuing crush on her, I think that she shares with Donald Trump a crippling psychological disability: A phobic reaction to humility. She cannot admit error. Like many other slap-happy optimists, Mensch feels that saying "I'm sorry" or "Oops" would harsh her buzz. Mensch and Trump both refuse to understand that there can be long-term tactical advantages to self-deprecatory wit and the occasional mea culpa.

I'm certain -- well, 95% certain -- that there is no secret indictment against Trump. I'm 100% certain that Orrin Hatch has not received security briefings to prepare him for his imminent entry into the Oval Office. If Mensch's sources told her such things, her sources lied.

She's starting to remind me of a pre-Alex Jones conspiracy peddler named Sherman Skolnick, a name which some of you will know. Throughout much of the first Bush presidency, Skolnick would tell his listeners that "a group of generals are on their way to Washington to arrest George Bush for treason" -- a word which Skolnick always pronounced TREEEEzun. (Of course, generals don't arrest leaders; they conduct coups.) This went on for months. Skolnick kept assuring us that those generals were "on their way to Washington" -- yet they kept making that wrong turn at Albuquerque, just like Bugs and Daffy.

Skolnick had "sources" for this nonsense. One of them turned out to be a spooky fellow named Gunther Russbacher, best known for telling tall tales about the October Surprise of 1980. Gunther concocted a ridiculous story about George H.W. Bush flying to Paris in an SR71. In the original version of his tale (yes, I've heard the tape), he claimed that Ronald Reagan flew an SR71!

As most of you know, I believe that the October Surprise was one conspiracy theory based on reality. As I've said in a previous post:
The October Surprise thesis has been confirmed by:

* French intelligence chieftain Alexandre de Marenches
* Former Russian prime minister Sergei V. Stepashin
* Israeli secret agent Ari Ben-Menashe
* Former Iranian president Abolhassan Bani-Sadr
* Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
* Former Israeli prime minister Yitshak Shamir.

I doubt that you could ever have gotten those six guys to agree on anything else. They probably would not have agreed that the sun is hot. But they all said that, to their personal knowledge, the October Surprise thesis describes actual events. After a certain point, we have to consider the matter resolved beyond intelligent debate.
Here's the problem: During the brief window when this theory might have had some history-changing political potency, those six men had not yet spoken up in public. At that time, the sourcing was a lot worse -- and some of those sources, like dear old Gunther, turned out to be rats.

A more sophisticated October Surprise "rat" contacted former Reagan White House staffer Barbara Honegger early in her inquiry. (She wrote the first book on the topic.) Identifying himself only as "Razin" -- pronounced Ra-ZEEN -- this source claimed to have insider information about the secret deal between Reagan and the Iranians in 1980. It was all very mysterious and exciting.

It was also bullshit.

"Razin" turned out to be one Oswald LeWinter, who was literally looking at a box of Raisin Bran when he thought up his pseudonym. LeWinter (who died in 2013) was a CIA asset who considered himself a disinformation specialist. This article tells much of the story...
On that occasion LeWinter told Robert Parry how he had undermined the work of the investigative author Barbara Honegger on the alleged plot to delay the release of US hostages in Iran in order to favour the election of Ronald Reagan. It involved using tactics that would recur throughout his career.

“I managed to pass on some information to her which had factual elements in it, but also elements that with a little bit of digging could be discovered to be questionable,” Parry quoted him as saying. “The story would lead some investigators to spend time and effort running into blind alleys, with the result that eventually the whole story would be discredited.”
As you might have guessed, the congressional investigation into the October Surprise was basically the Oswald LeWinter show. When he confessed in public to being a fabricator (but not to being a CIA fabricator), he brought the whole inquiry tumbling down. That's disinfo-tainment!

The above-linked article notes that LeWinter was imprisoned on a drug smuggling charge in 1985. The judge who put him away, oddly enough, was Donald Trump's sister, Marianne Trump Barry.
Saul Bellow wrote her a letter of recommendation on his behalf. “He is personally charming and good-natured, nothing of the criminal psychopath about him. He simply suffers from a serious misunderstanding of what is appropriate in the career of a literary man...”
Boy, did he ever. (Then again, there's precedent.)

LeWinter claimed that he joined the Agency in 1966. Perhaps so; perhaps no. Although I'm pretty sure that he did develop Agency ties, I believe that his career as a rat began more modestly. I used to be on friendly terms with a guy who briefly knew LeWinter at a time when LeWinter was parading around under another alias. (He pretended to be a general.) My friend found out that LeWinter had been a college professor during the heyday of the SDS and the anti-Vietnam protests. Since he was considered one of the "hip" professors, student radicals would hang out with him and share their secrets over wine and reefer. Any interesting tidbits of information were, of course, passed right on to the FBI.

One day, we will all learn the names of Louise's sources. It's inevitable. No matter what she says now, I'm telling you: It's inevitable.

I'm pretty sure that at least one of her sources is the spiritual heir to Oswald LeWinter. For now, let's call him Little Razin.
I'm beginning to want you to lie to us. Can't the dutch documentary stuff save us? Where's that M-Kate follow the dots cartoon?

Lieberman is being dangled in front of us...I heard my mom yelling at the TV, "No, no!" when she saw him.
Special "Council", not Special Prosecutor. Less independent. And overseeing the investigation into the possible election meddling. That's limited...
Mueller's better than nothing and a whole lot better than many. It's most significant that he was FBI chief. It's like Hamlet's father's ghost showed up again. As the 18th-century father advised his daughter when she was to go out into the world: "Horse stealers are not hanged for stealing horses, but that horses may not be stolen". Ergo, no POTUS will ever again outright fire a Director of the FBI.
I don't think Mensch is hard to figure out. She has some solid info with some nonsense which she mixes together to draw overly broad conclusions. She's been right too many times to dismiss entirely, but you have to be very careful before drawing any definitive conclusions. As you say, she also refuses to ever admit a mistake and picks fights with people just for expressing skepticism (I don't have to respond because you're #TeamDeza!).

On another note, Deza has become one of my least favorite words. Though it has a real meaning, it now gets thrown around at arguments people don't like. It's devolved into a lame ad hominem.
Yep, every unthinking person who is led by the nose by what's on their TV screen is a dedicated opponent of "disinformation" nowadays. Or if that's got too many syllables, they might use the alt-right I<3Trump term "fake news". It is extremely hard to get through to such people when they are standing on their heads and they don't have a clue that an understanding of the difference between true and false is something you have to fight to achieve, and to continue to fight for. Any left wing person who uses the term "fake news" really ought to reflect and try to sort their head out.

Imagine posting on Twitter about "deza"! What the fuck is Twitter except part of the new infostructure that is ever more mendacious and schizo?
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Why Trump is a wrinkled tomato dying on the vine

Update: There's a report that Vladimir Putin is now bragging that he has a recording of Trump's meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov. Good Lord. I don't know what to say. For now.

So let's get back to our post as originally published...

I suspect that we're going to see more than one Comey memo. I think that they are gonna keep drip-drip-dripping out.

The one that everyone is talking about arguably reveals an attempt to obstruct justice. It also reveals that Trump had told the FBI Director that the Bureau should imprison reporters who publish leaks. This, from the same man who said "I love Wikileaks" during the campaign, who welcomed any leak that could harm an adversary.

The scandals now plaguing Donald Trump would be survivable if he were more politically adept, if he did not possess the instincts of a crime boss, and if he did not habitually lie about smaller matters, thereby destroying his credibility in a my-word-vs-Comey's situation. Trump is haunted by his past, and by our collective distaste for his impulsive and imperious personality.

In short: If Trump had a different history, he'd have a different future.

Take, for example, the current contretemps over the Comey memo, in which Agent Orange expresses a hope for the end of the investigation into Michael Flynn. I honestly don't think that it ever occurred to Trump that his words could be construed as an obstruction of justice. Being a New York thug by nature, the non-Teflon Don probably thought that he was being polite and statesmanlike in his communications. If Donnie had intended to obstruct justice, his words would have been more along the lines of Do as I say or else.

One could say something similar about Trump's revelation of classified material in his meeting with the Russians. Ronald Reagan could have gotten away with spilling those particular beans, because Reagan was a better politician. Can you imagine Ronald Reagan nervously bragging "I get the best intel"? Of course not. That phrase (and no-one denies that Donnie said it) reinforces the perception of Donald Trump as a swaggering oaf with poor impulse control and a puerile need to impress.

If caught out, Reagan would have found a way to justify revealing code-word intelligence to his adversaries. In somber tones, he would have told the public that a humanitarian need to save lives overwhelmed other considerations. It's easy to imagine how Peggy Noonan would have sold that product -- hell, Reagan's approval numbers probably would have shot up.

I was hardly a fan of Ronald Reagan. But no-one can imagine him tweeting a thuggish threat to a fired FBI Director. If Reagan had a thuggish streak, he kept it hidden. Even during the Iran Contra scandal, Reagan's adversaries usually pictured him as a dolt, not as a conspirator or a crime lord. There was a famous SNL sketch (glimpsed here) in which the public Reagan seems genial and slow-witted, while the behind-the-scenes Reagan becomes a devious, fast-talking mastermind. This sketch got laughs because portraying Reagan as cunning and manipulative struck the audience as funny.

By contrast, nobody considered Nixon a dolt. He always seemed like the sharp lawyer for a crime family who had finagled his way into the Godfather's chair.

Trump has the worst of both worlds: He is seen as both a dolt and a mob boss. He still possesses the ability to fool paranoid rubes; he knows how to talk to gun-totin' Illuminati-spotters who want something done about the cannibalistic Sasquatches prowling our national forests. But that audience is limited, and Trump has lost whatever ability he once possessed to speak to other kinds of people.

For all the non-rubes out there, the truth is pretty plain: Trump wanted -- wants -- to squelch the Flynn probe because such a probe could reveal some serious Trumpian dirt. If the Donald were innocent, he wouldn't act so guilty.

My current TOT (Theory of Trump) is that the relationship between Donnie and the Russian oligarchs tightened around 2005, when he regained control of his Atlantic City casino after coming up with $100 million from...well, somewhere. At that time, Putin and his pals were siphoning billions out of Russia; the money needed cleaning and casinos provide excellent laundry services. Trump, for his part, needed banks who would loan to him. That's when certain Russian-linked banks (Deutsche Bank, the Bank of Cyprus) stepped in.

Why else would even a crooked bank loan to such a poor businessman? Trump must have offered a service which justified the risk.

If I may boast: Toldja it was Israel. As a rule: Whenever the WP or the NYT becomes skittish about revealing the name of a Middle East nation, the correct answer is either Israel or Saudi Arabia.

David Corn had a couple of quotable tweets yesterday.
There's been way too much winning today. Please make it stop.
Spoke to a DOJ lawyer. He said obstruction of justice cases have lower bar than other cases. Not always so hard to prove "corrupt" intent.
A Corn reader offered a filk which I shall slightly improve:

And now, the end is near
And so I face the prosecutin'.
My crime, I'll say it clear,
was when I climbed in bed with Putin

"I honestly don't think that it ever occurred to Trump that his words could be construed as an obstruction of justice. Being a New York thug by nature, the non-Teflon Don probably thought that he was being polite and statesmanlike in his communications. If Donnie had intended to obstruct justice, his words would have been more along the lines of Do as I say or else."

So funny and strikes me as SO true.
Trump has a weird sense of sensibility that I think I understand. No matter what he said to his Russian guests, who was it that leaked it to the world? Was it the Russian media?
Quoted without comment:

Sochi (Russia) (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow could provide a recording of the exchange between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US President Donald Trump, but his aide later suggested he had meant a written transcript.
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Now it's safe to say that any person who didn't vote for Hillary should be stripped out of h/her citizenship.
I was sure impeachment was never on the table but now Rod Rosenstein (Deputy AG) has appointed as special counsel (not prosecutor :-) to the Russian investigation: one Robert Mueller. Wow. Unless there is some unknown falling out with Comey, Trump is burned bread.
Al-Jazeera says the source was Jordan, not Israel. If it was Jordan, it would make sense that there would be an attempt by Israel and Jordan to hide that fact. Jordan is more vulnerable to ISIS attacks than Israel. Furthermore, there are no doubt high level security arrangements between Israel and Jordan.
Sherman Skolnick was quite the man in Illinois in the 1869s. After he got screwed in court, he investigated Supreme Court judges and two wound up resigning. He really didn't clean up the courts, but at least exposed the corruption. Public memory being about two weeks, we forgot and did nothing about it. Skolnick, however, remembered what he had done and became somewhat full of himself. He had a bunch of goofy theories about everything, including the Kennedy assassination.
The Al-Jazeera article, by Ali Younes: "Jordanian spies provided ISIL bomb intel: officials".

"According to several US media reports, Trump's disclosure of sensitive intelligence to the Russians may have endangered an Israeli spy inside Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. ABC News reported on Tuesday 'the life of the spy is now at risk'."

"But several Jordanian sources who spoke on condition of anonymity doubted this assertion. They said they don't believe Israel has any high level spies inside ISIL and depends instead on 'intelligence sharing with Arab spy services partners'."

Poor old Israel, then, eh? If a faction in Daesh did decide it wanted to strike Israeli interests - not necessarily in Israel - then as far as humint goes they're totally reliant on whatever Arab agencies tell them? Seriously?

Note that Al Jazeera reports that unnamed Jordanian officials say that the information came partly from Jordanian agents in Daesh, but they don't dispute that the information was given to the US by Israel. Stuart Winer at the Times of Israel omits to mention that.

I am not at all convinced by the reasoning Ali Younes attributes to one of her informants, a senior Jordanian Salafist sheikh.

"The sheikh who has first-hand knowledge of how groups like ISIL operate said Israel might be able to recruit spies in Gaza, because it has tight control over its lifelines, 'but not in Raqqa or Mosul'."

"Israel has the most sophisticated electronic surveillance collection in the region, however, which gives it the ability to intercept communications throughout the Middle East region."

But militants have gone to Syria from several countries to fight in the Daesh forces. Israel would not need to control all the lines of entry to Raqqa in order to ensure that some of the Daesh militants there are its agents.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The source, the ally, the money and the warrants

The source. Conservative writer Erick Erickson says he knows personally one of the WP's sources for its bombshell story. The source was staunchly pro-Trump but has since become...well, let us say a tad concerned.
But the President will not take any internal criticism, no matter how politely it is given. He does not want advice, cannot be corrected, and is too insecure to see any constructive feedback as anything other than an attack.
Again I ask: What the hell did Fred Trump do to his kid?
I am told that what the President did is actually far worse than what is being reported. The President does not seem to realize or appreciate that his bragging can undermine relationships with our allies and with human intelligence sources. He also does not seem to appreciate that his loose lips can get valuable assets in the field killed.
The implication here is that the Russians may be able to back-engineer the source of the intelligence and thus endanger the life of an asset in the field.

The ally. A few people, including myself, have speculated that Israel is the unnamed allied country referenced in this instantly-famous WP article. Newsweek doesn't come right out and say "It was Israel," but if you enjoy reading between the lines...

The money. Trump's defenders keep saying that he has nothing to do with Russian money. Trump's lawyers have been making that same claim.

However, it is well-known that one of the few banks willing to lend big money to Trump after his bankruptcies was Deutsche Bank, which was fined for a $10 billion money laundering scheme benefiting Russians. The scheme involved something called "mirror trading," described in this fine New Yorker piece.
It worked like this: between 2011 and 2015, related corporate entities in Moscow and London bought and sold identical quantities of the same stock, through Deutsche Bank’s Moscow equities desk. By this alchemy, rubles in Russia were transformed into dollars in London. The process bypassed tax officials, currency regulators, and anti-money-laundering controls.
The head of Deutsche Bank, Josef Ackermann, was forced out by the scandal. Guess where he ended up? That's right: The Bank of Cypus -- the favorite bank of Vladimir Putin and his Russian oligarch pals. He was chosen for that position by Wilbur Ross, the Trump chum who just became our Commerce secretary, and by a billionaire crony of Vladimir Putin's named Viktor Vekselburg. It seems that Putin turned against Vekselburg late last year; they've since kissed and made up.

As it happens, Vekselburg has a partner named Len Blavatnik, worth $20 billion. Although Blavatnik made his money in Russian oil, he has strong American ties -- in fact, he owns Warner Music. He also made a seven figure donation to a Super PAC controlled by Mitch McConnell -- which explains why you should not expect Mitch to show any enthusiasm for any kind of probe (either independent or congressional) which might inconvenience Trump's Russian buddies.

Trump's lawyers did concede that a Russian purchased a Donald Trump property in Florida for $95 million, even though most observers agree that its actual market value was less than half that. Such a purchase is a good way to hide a "donation" or a bribe. (Paul Manafort seems to have benefited from a similar deal, albeit on a smaller scale.)

The man who bought the house was -- as most of you already know -- Dmitry Rybolovlev, who also owns the largest stake in the Bank of Cyprus. Therefore, we may say that he is part of the Putin/Vekselburg/Wilbur Ross "club." Rybolovlev also owns the private jet registered as M-Kate which has mysteriously followed Donald Trump's peregrinations the way my dog would follow me if I were carrying a BLT sandwich.

Another point. People forget that Deutsche Bank and Donald Trump were not always on good terms -- in fact, their conflict gave rise to one of the more bizarre lawsuits of Trump's career. He later got loans not from Deutsche Bank per se but from a subsidiary, which always seems to go unnamed in news accounts. See this Mother Jones investigation from last year:
Trump has four large mortgages with Deutsche Bank, borrowing against three of his most prized possessions: the Doral golf resort in Florida, his Chicago tower, and his brand new Washington luxury hotel. For the Washington hotel, Trump has a $170 million line of credit from Deutsche Bank that was granted in 2015, just as his presidential campaign was kicking off. According to a bank spokeswoman, all four of the loans were obtained from Deutsche's "private bank"—a division that caters exclusively to high-net-worth individuals and that can lend separately from the corporate side of the bank.

The corporate side of Deutsche Bank previously loaned to Trump, but the relationship fell apart around the time of the financial crisis. In 2005, Trump borrowed $640 million from Deutsche Bank and several other lenders for the construction of his Chicago hotel tower. When he failed to pay back the money on time in 2008, the banks, including Deutsche Bank, demanded he pay the $40 million he had personally guaranteed. In response, Trump sued Deutsche Bank for $3 billion, saying the project's financial troubles were the fault of the economic recession, which he claimed the bank had helped cause. He accused Deutsche Bank of undermining the project and his reputation. The lawsuit was eventually settled.
It's not clear if Trump has personally guaranteed any of the loans his businesses have with Deutsche Bank.
If Trump didn't guarantee those loans, then who did?

The warrants. Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor report separately (based on "sources") that the US Marshalls have come up with a plan to serve warrants in relation to the Trump/Russia investigation. Here's Mensch's piece.
Sources say that the extensive plan, multiple pages in length, covered not only the serving of warrants, but logistical arrangements such as the closure of streets, if necessary.

They further report that while timing is uncertain, such plans are normally only presented and approved when arrests are imminent.
Do I believe this? Ummm...not really. Does my crush on Ms. Mensch remain intact? Oh yes.
The US president has the authority to declassify information as he sees fit. But so what? Even if the conveyed information has no security classification, communicating it to a foreign power can still constitute the crime of espionage.

Philip Bump at the Washington Post writes that "Trump can share any non-classified information he wants to and, as president, can generally also share classified information, if he wishes."

I beg to differ. Trump may think he can give whatever information he wants to whoever he wants, but the law says otherwise.

§ 794 of the Espionage Act 1917 refers to the communication of information "relating to the national defense". That information doesn't have to be classified: the disclosure of classified information is covered in another section (§ 798). The criterion in § 794 is that the person must have "intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation."
"Again I ask: What the hell did Fred Trump do to his kid?"

Old man Trump was a narcissist himself(obviously). He likely raised Donny with a combination of spoiling him and shaming him. Thus Donald feels entitled, but carries the shame of knowing he is a failure. Here's Masterson, who was a God in the field of psychotherapy:

According to Dr. James Masterson, it takes root during what’s called the rapprochement subphase of one’s infancy, roughly 15-22 months old. Once a child learns to walk, he comes to know a level of experience henceforth unfathomed. The child’s world is much bigger and more appealing now, but not without the drawback of separation from his mother. Learning that his mother is not at his beck and call—is indeed an entirely separate person—makes the child deal with his new world in a new way. Masterson writes, “the world is not his oyster and … he must cope with it on his own.”

Enter humility. Again Masterson: “In this manner the infantile fantasies of grandiosity and omnipotence are brought into accord with reality.” He learns to live in the real world, where the mother is not there to validate him in every instance.

So, what would happen if something went wrong during this subphase of development? Say, the child never quite establishes his separateness from her mother and continues to expect motherly attention and protection from the world much later in life; indeed, is entitled to it. That, so the theory goes, is a description of someone with NPD.

No one knows why most infants have a successful rapprochement phase and others don’t. Theories range from issues relating to having a manipulative mother to those from having a narcissistic father. The end result is a person who never learns to adjust to a reality where the mother is not in a sort of dual unity with him, and when the world treats him un-glowingly, he’s forced to deny or ignore that aspect of the world. Masterson: “[One with NPD] is compelled to suffer the cost to adaptation that is always involved when large segments of reality must be denied.”

"Large segments of reality." He is not fit for office.
"... carrying a BLT sandwich": "Follow the mayo" -- Mark Felt.
M-Kate!!! Who else is following this? Make it into a connect-the-dots cartoon, Joseph. Plllleeeassssse!

Hate Mitch, grrr.


ANON 4:35 Not fit for office, I think most agree. What happens to NPD toddlers? In my wasband's case, going from being the darling baby of the family to being surplanted by very demanding twins. He never recovered. Extremely charming and talented public-wise, but toxic privately. No one has ever included the gender factor. Men regularly kill women who leave them. So, no, who would hang the blame on mothers...except for, say, male...scientists...? The better question would be are men this toxic (3 women partners a day killed) because of gender genetics? Or simply due to entitlement and privilege that is socially bestowed on every male?

The brilliant Margaret Atwood says, "Men worry women will laugh at them. Women worry that men will kill them."

So again I say: laugh at Trump. Every day. Nonstop.

Bottom line: the Israelis are keeping Trump on the edge of staying in office and falling, as they did with Bill Clinton. Look at the chronology of the last fortnight:

3 May: Trump meets Abbas
4 May: Trump issues tweet saying it was an honour to meet Abbas; then deletes it
9 May: Abbas says ready to meet Netanyahu as part of Trump effort
10 May: Trump sacks head of domestic counterintelligence
10 May: Trump meets Lavrov, passes him intelligence about Daesh
13 May: Times of Israel accuses Trump of "reinvigorating" Abbas, betraying hopes of "Israeli right"; Trump accused of being "on his way to Bethlehem to see his new Palestinian friend again"
(long long experience has shown that nothing is ever enough for the Israelis)
15 May: Trump is accused of being a major security risk, having passed information without "third country" permission, causing danger because Russia might give it to Iran
15 May: Times of Israel reports Israeli fury at Trump plan to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem (on territory occupied in 1967) without being accompanied by Netanyahu

Question: what happens if Donald Trump goes bankrupt? Is a bankrupt allowed to be US president?
@Prowlerzee - Some single mothers strive to bring their boy children up as macho and favouritise them to a vile extent relative to their sisters. I have seen that in my own family. Not only do those sisters often suffer a lot, but it can be that their male children also suffer because of it.
Gee, b, it's almost as if they were poisoned by living in a toxic patriarchal world, isn't it? Thanks for agreeing. The toxic gallery of solo-male gods are the first that need to go.
Oh, and b, let's dump on *single* mothers, because the *absent* fathers are in no way responsible for not only failing to represent "good" manhood to their sons, but actively teaching them the opposite by virtue of their absence. The collective ideal of manhood is not to be shouldered by single mothers, period. But thanks for playing. We have a lot of enlightening to do, and yes, it's going to take all of us.
@Prowlerzee - I'm not dumping on anyone, and I agree with you about the vast majority of absent fathers. (Some may be absent because they're dead.) I come from a long line of working class single mothers. They're certainly not a part of the population whom I would ever dump on. Quite the opposite. For a single mother to bring up children on welfare or doing a shitty job is pretty much one of the most admirable achievements in what passes for "society". All my life I have thought that. I restricted the reference to single mothers because some (a minority) do encourage their boy children to be macho towards other boys and sometimes to be arsey to their sisters too, and they aren't in circumstances where they're too scared of the children's fathers to do otherwise.

Favouritism of boys within families fucks everyone up. Few on the western left (or the west in general) have got their heads around it yet.

"The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world"?
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Monday, May 15, 2017

"But her emails...!" (UPDATED: Is Trump considering resignation?)

During his meeting with the Russians last week -- a meeting much-derided for its poor "optics" -- Trump blabbed incredibly sensitive information about ISIS.
The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.

The partner had not given the United States permission to share the material with Russia, and officials said Trump’s decision to do so endangers cooperation from an ally that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State.
“This is code-word information,” said a U.S. official familiar with the matter, using terminology that refers to one of the highest classification levels used by American spy agencies. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.”
Trump went on to discuss aspects of the threat that the United States learned only through the espionage capabilities of a key partner. He did not reveal the specific intelligence-gathering method, but he described how the Islamic State was pursuing elements of a specific plot and how much harm such an attack could cause under varying circumstances. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.
Buzzfeed tells us that the WP report (quoted above) barely scuffs the veneer.
Two US officials who were briefed on Trump’s disclosures last week confirmed to BuzzFeed News the veracity of the Washington Post report, with one noting that “it’s far worse than what has already been reported.”
Let's put this into perspective. Hillary's alleged "sin" was her use of private email server which -- according to the right-wing media -- discussed classified information in an insecure setting. In reality, the only "sensitive" document found on that server was a piece of piffle about Malawi that never should have had any kind of classification stamp in the first place. Nevertheless, that "sin" caused Paul Ryan to tweet "It's simple: Individuals who are ‘extremely careless’ w/ classified info should be denied further access to it."

And now Trump is blithely spewing code-word information to his Russian pals, placing sensitive assets at risk. Republicans want us to think that a trifling message about Malawi -- a piece of boilerplate containing information available on Wikipedia -- is more important than an ultra-secret source of information on ISIS, a code-word secret.

Has Trump been a witting Putin agent all along?

If you believe that he is not, then let me ask you this: If Trump were an agent, what would he have done differently?

Since he attained office, our moles within the Russian intelligence services have been rounded up and killed. A hidden Windows exploit used by the NSA was revealed to the world by Russian hackers, who used this information to create a computer virus that damaged millions of computers and throttled Britain's National Health Service. Trump's Attorney General and National Security Adviser both have had scandalous Russian links. The FBI Director was fired when he started to investigate the Russian financial ties of Trump and his close associates.

The simplest explanation that covers all the facts is usually the best. Right now, the simplest theory is that Trump has been a witting Russian agent all along. I'm not saying that this theory is proven; I'm saying that it has the virtue of simplicity.

According to the WP, Trump bragged to the Russians: "I get great intel." Of course the President of the United States has great intel! Can this pompous oaf really be so insecure that he feels the need to make such a puerile boast to the Russians? I wouldn't be surprised if he also handed them a map of his electoral college victory.

What the hell did Fred Trump do his kid?

UPDATE: As is his Trumpian wont, Donnie has issued a tweetstorm which confirms the story even as he attempts to portray it as "fake news." He writes: "Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?)." If the basic claim was false, it cannot be given illegally, and it could not come from the intelligence community.

(Incidentally, it is very cute to see Donald Trump accuse others of trafficking in conspiracy theories and blind hatred.)

Louise Mensch says that Trump is considering resignation. The claim was first made by a Twitterer calling herself "Rogue WH Staffer."
BREAKING: Some staffers are saying @realDonaldTrump is considering resignation. Can't take the negativity anymore
I don't know if this person's tweets are legit; for the nonce, it may be safest to suspect that we're dealing with a hoaxer. But her messages are fun. Her bio:
I work in East Wing. Speaking out b/c it is crazy here. Dysfunctional is understatement. I'm a nasty woman and not one to put up with hatefulness.
"Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat."
Does Daesh still hold any cities apart from Raqqa and Mosul?
What did Fred Trump do? Probably leave him alone every weekend, just like Donald is doing while looking hideous in golf clothes while Baron is...home alone?
Oh no, Kushner and Chabad! I didn't know that. I've been onto Chabad for years - they appear in so many connections - and now I think I'm going to go crazy. And 666 Park Avenue.

Top of the list for consideration as the "key US intelligence partner" has got to be Israel. A distant second would be Britain.

What is the nature of the threat that Trump has shared information about with Russia? Isn't Russia an intelligence partner too in the war against Salafist terrorism? This is an amazing story. What if it's a nuclear attack on Moscow? Let it go ahead rather than jeopardise the third country's source? Gotta respect those intellectual property rights! How did the unknown country that helps the US out by giving it intelligence learn that Trump had passed information to the Russians without permission? Did he tell them? Are they the same country whose embassy Bill Clinton thought was tapping his phone when he was president? (Does the bear shit in the woods?)

Perhaps Trump is going to be kept on the edge of being saved and being pushed, as Bill Clinton was. That would increase the already considerable power of whoever is keeping him in that position.
b, initial indications are that the country in question is in fact Israel.
At this point, to believe Trump isn't a witting Russian agent is to be in denial. As shocking as it sounded to believe Trump was a Russian agent during the campaign, it would now be equally shocking if it turned out he wasn't.

I would be almost as equally shocked if Claude Taylor doesn't turn out to be right. If this is how Trump is acting, the evidence against him and his cronies must be overwhelming and would make indictments all but inevitable. It feels like it's more a matter of when than if.
Donald thinks he has a clever sort of "you and I are big people" mutual back-scratching relationship with Vlad. But he's in over his head: Vlad is almost certainly a better chess player.

More importantly, some in the U.S. spook world/deep state aren't happy about it all. Drip, drip, drip. Until he toes the line utterly, or is out on his ear.

On the one hand, the code-word material could be purposeful disinformation. On the other hand, of course Cannonfire will explain that Alan Dershowitz asserted that Trump had not obstructed justice by firing Comey, because ...

(I heard Dershowitz's name, and Trump's, mentioned on a Norwegian headline newscast, but I don't understand Norwegian, so I googled.)
First of all, Israel has reasonably good relations with Russia. If Israel knew of a threat to Russia, it would use that information to extract something from Russia BY TELLING THEM! Second, Russia is closely allied with Syria and Hezbollah, Israel certainly doesn't want its sources and methods going to them. Third, you do not know who the close ally is, it could easily be Jordan, which also is leery of Syria. Finally, you have no idea what Chabad is and the repeated slurs against it sound very much like veiled anti-semitism. Certainly there bad Jews, bad Israelis and bad Chabadniks. But to smear an entire group based on the perceived wrongs of a few is bigotry.
Josh Marshall has formulated the very useful "Trump's Razor:" look for the stupidest explanation of any action taken by Trump. It pretty much always works.

So, to say that he was a witting agent of Putin would require that Trump had some wit, not very believable. It would also require that he would sign on to become some guy's employee. Even though on the brink of utter bankruptcy, not too believable, given his ego needs.

But it is credible, to think that the Putin gang sold Trump on the notion that he was their partner in business.

And Trump is so stupid that he thought, that he's a business partner with the Russian oligarchs. Whereas he was actually an employee of theirs, a guy who worked in real estate, money laundering and PR. Now that he has a new day job, and been exposed as a bumbling, incompetent dolt, his usefulness to them has ended.

It's something to imagine how Trump's bloated ego, his arrogant idiocy affected those using him. He will probably not be around much longer, as the Bosses Putin, Mercer and their majordomos Bannon and Tillerson, Farage and others around the world move on to further consolidation of power. Since a large portion of the GOP finds its backing from the same or allied money interests, they expect smooth sailing.

The bible has some verse about "inherit the wind," but it seems more a whirlwind.
j: If, as I suspect, Israel was the country compromised in this situation, then they certainly are not at fault here. Quite the opposite! You yourself explain why Israel would have to treat Russia somewhat charily on Syria.

As for Chabad: When I write about them, I'll be quoting a lot of Jewish sources, and absolutely no anti-Semitic sources. As you know, many Jews have been saying some extremely harsh things. If there's a split on that topic within the Jewish community -- and there is -- then you can hardly call me an anti-Semite if I prefer one side of that intra-community dispute over the other. (I may also tell of my own run-in with Chabad, which was weird and actually kind of fun.)

Tom: "Trump's razor" answers much. But I think you gravitate toward the correct answer: It's very possible to manipulate a proud person as long as you flatter his pride while filling his wallet. How many times has this happened (for example) on the level of police informants? The cunning way to cultivate an informant is to make him feel like friend, not like an underling.

The Orbis dossier indicated that Putin was already ready to cut his losses regarding Trump.

We still have to define the enemy here. I tend to think that the ultimate problem is an international neo-fascist ideology which we may call Duginism. That term will have to do for now, even though Alexander Dugin himself is not really a leader of any kind -- more of an intellectual figurehead. (If you can think of a better label than "Duginism," I'll adopt it!) I'm not talking about a cabal or conspiracy but a weltanschauung shared by certain powerful people who are not necessarily allies and who sometimes operate at cross purposes. Putin, Mercer, Netanyahu, Le Pen, Erdogan, Malofeev and Bannon all gravitate toward this mind-set.

I've put off writing a book about the hacking of the 2016 election because of the common perception that Trump won't be around long. Besides, book-writin' is hard. The short form is easier, though it doesn't pay.
Tom: Since Trump allegedly watches a lot of TV, maybe he can catch up with this season's Fargo, taking special note of the relationship between Emmit Stussy and V.M. Varga.
My comment was more in response to b than to you. However, not to go too far afield because I largely agree with your point, I would like to BRIEFLY discuss Chabad. While there are some Jews who disagree with Chabad, two Jews-three opinions, the big intrafaith squabble is between Chabad and Satmar. Jonathan Sacks, about as mainstream as you can get, had no problem with Chabad. Chabad views its mission as bringing Jews to a more Jewish life. The result is that they tend to be somewhat removed from the non-Jewish world, though Schneerson did have good relations with some in the outside world, for example Shirley Chisolm. I have serious theological issues with Chabad, bur to view them as somehow evil is ridiculous.
He's the president, he can declassify anything he wants.
As I've said many times, Stephen, Hillary also had the ability to declassify most State Department documents. Yet that argument never applied in her case.

Trump also has the legal authority to nuke Puerto Rico. The argument presented in this post is not based on strict legality.
The "new normal" includes defending DT because he "didn't know" the Israelis were the source of the intel. How is that a positive? PBS actually has experts droning on how since he doesn't care for all these details he will get less intel than other presidents therefor it's all ok --- he won't be getting that much he can spill. How is this acceptable?

I kind of agree with the Nasty Woman in the WH. He will resign because he can't handle the negativity. We can all help by laughing at him. How fat he looks in golf clothes. How you can see his bald head under his thinning gray poof (has he no time to dye it orange these days?). These are the things that matter to the Donald.
Trump can declassify anything he wants, but that doesn't mean he can pass the declassified information to a foreign power. Reason? Not because he'd be breaking an agreement with another foreign power, but because of US law: he can't repeal the Espionage Act of 1917.

Small-j joseph: Chabad are a powerful criminal network of dirty mafia bastards with worldwide reach who cooperate a lot with the official Zionist power structure and whose "religion" is a total fucking sham. ("If you can’t keep all of the commandments, keep as many as you can", to quote a critic cited by Politico in an interesting article about Trump, Putin and Chabad that taught me stuff I didn't know about Jared Kushner.) The Moscow gang sometimes doesn't get on so well with the Kiev gang. Nothing to do with religion.

"Bringing more Jews into Jewish life"? Is that why Chabad run ecstasy? Do they need more bag-carriers or something? They are evil. They are not the oppressed in any way whatsoever. They are as evil as white racists who want to bring more whites into white life. Viewing them for what they are is not in any way attacking anyone other than the Jewish mafia. Many Jews despise them, and not because they're Teitelbaumers. Satmar has nothing like the influence of Chabad.

Neturei Karta, meanwhile, support Hamas. Rightly. Good on them. I'm assuming for the sake of argument that some of them are genuine.

You seem to have little idea what anti-Semitism is. I am not going to get trolled any more on this.
A "Bait Trump" website or (dare I say it) social media effort could be great.

The only reason he wears such long suit jackets is to cover his fat arse.
You are a moron who doesn't know what he is talking about. Hamas is a fascist government and it is clear that you support them. You don't need to be trolled, you need a brain implant.
small-j joseph - Boring! When I said that the Jewish Neturei Karta group supports the Hamas government "rightly" and I praised them for it, the implication is indeed that I morally support the Hamas government. Every decent person should. Similarly there was only one morally good side during the Warsaw ghetto uprising. I don't apply different criteria to different ethnicities. You might. Need I add that Hamas isn't perfect? It's not so easy to have a "perfect" resistance from inside Gaza or any other concentration camp.

So when you say it's "clear" that I "support" the Hamas government, there's no need to shout out your recognition as if it were a great revelation - so great that you wrap it in foamy-mouthed abuse.
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The Dutch documentary embedded above is absolutely outstanding. Even if you think you already know it all, you'll encounter material here which will stun you. This documentary makes absolutely clear that Trump is tied in with an international criminal network. It even offers rare footage of the incident involving the underaged prostitutes linked to Semyon Mogilevich, discussed in an earlier Cannonfire post.

I'll have much more to say about the Chabad connection anon. Before I saw this documentary, I didn't know how close Jared Kushner is to Chabad.

Claude Taylor and Louise Mensch stand by their story that a sealed indictment against Trump has already been granted. Taylor:
Sealed indictments out of Eastern District of Virginia - under Dana Boente. Trump, Manafort and Flynn-among others under sealed indictment.
I'd like to repeat a very basic question: Can anyone tell me the purpose of a SEALED indictment in this situation? Mensch makes clear that there is no possibility of a prosecution outside of impeachment. But impeachment will happen if and when the world learns about the indictment. So why the secrecy? I don't get it.

Boente is a Trump appointee. Here's what the Intercept has to say about him:
Both of Boente’s current roles involve supervising the ongoing investigation into the Russian government’s ties to Trump’s campaign. As discussed by former FBI Director Comey in congressional testimony last week, and reported by CNN, a grand jury is now gathering evidence in the Eastern District of Virginia as part of its investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, for his ties to the Russian government. Comey also described the broader Russia probe as a “counterintelligence investigation,” a category of inquiry overseen by the National Security Division, which Boente headed after the resignation of Mary McCord last month.
Counterintelligence is molehunting. As much as I would love to think that Trump is being viewed as a potential Putin agent, I see no evidence of that. As of this writing, nothing backs up the claim that Trump himself is a target of this investigation.

Putin has denied any involvement with this rather horrific piece of ransomware.
Vladimir Putin has blamed the US for the global cyber attack that has crippled computer systems around the world since Friday.

Putin said Russia had "nothing to do" with the attack and blamed the US for creating the hacking software that affects Microsoft computers.
The denial naturally leads me to think that Putin is involved. After all, the Shadow Brokers is widely thought to be a Russian group. The question is: How did they do it?
The mysterious organisation - called Shadow Brokers - claimed in April it had stolen a ‘cyber weapon’ from an American spying agency that gives unprecedented access to all computers using Microsoft Windows, the world’s most popular computer operating system.

The hacking tool had been developed by the National Security Agency (NSA), America’s powerful military intelligence unit. The NSA had developed its ‘Eternal Blue’ hacking weapon to gain access to computers used by terrorists and enemy states.

But in an astonishing twist, the NSA’s tool was stolen by Shadow Brokers.

The gang in turn ‘dumped’ the computer bug on an obscure website on April 14, just a week after President Donald Trump ordered the US bombing of Syria.

Some experts believe that timing is significant and indicates that Shadow Brokers has links to the Russian government.
Post hoc ergo propter hoc is a classic fallacy, of course. But it's still fascinating that that Shadow Brokers attained this big score right after Trump -- and Flynn -- took office. It's also worth noting that American assets within the Russian intelligence apparat suddenly began to, well, die during this same brief period.

Again: Comey described the Russia probe as a "counterintelligence investigation." As Ian Fleming used to say: Twice is coincidence; three times in enemy action. We're way past three.

We once again come to the old question: Is Shadow Brokers really Russian? Look at this part of their message, delivered just after the Syria airstrikes:
In a statement, the group said in broken English: “Respectfully, what the f*** are you doing? The Shadow Brokers voted for you. The Shadow Brokers supports you. The Shadow Brokers is losing faith in you. Mr Trump helping the Shadow Brokers, helping you. Is appearing you are abandoning ‘your base’, ‘the movement’, and the peoples who getting you elected.”
Russians did not vote for Trump, except in a very poetic sense. I suspect that we are dealing with a multinational force rather than a state actor, although Russia may be the state with which this force is, at the moment, most closely allied.

The existence of a sealed indictment (handed down from a grand jury) is a fact in plain sight. Only its contents are secret, and for the time being they are less important than the terror induced from the fairly obvious inferences. You can bet that the looks on the faces of the most-probable accused, when the indictment went down, have been duly noted. Where can they hide? Furthermore, the indictment might permit intel info already in the wayback databases to become evidence. How such prosecutions succeed is spelled out in last week's New Yorker:

If you want to arouse Louise's jealousy, tell us what you think of former U.S. Attorney, Zainab Ahmad.
Lots of reasons for sealed indictments in criminal conspiracies, RICO, etc. It protects witnesses from intimidation, reduces flight risk by the accused, and protects potential additional subjects from being notified until investigations are completed.

In this case, if there were sealed indictments one thought is that they may want to keep them sealed for some tie to avoid POTUS trying to use his pardon powers on behalf of his allies for the Federal charges until he's out of office and its too late.
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Sunday, May 14, 2017

TAPE! Plus: President Hatch?

One of the many lingering mysteries of Watergate concerns burglar James McCord, the former CIA employee turned CREEP agent who -- some say -- intentionally blew the operation in order to screw Nixon. Back in the 1970s, major publishers offered big bucks for his insider's account of what really happened. Instead of going for the payday, McCord went with an unknown publisher ("Washington Media Services") and produced a small book called A Piece of Tape, which received hardly any publicity or distribution.

I've read it; you haven't. I've never encountered another book (outside the ouvre of A.E. Waite) which managed to be simultaneously so weird and so dull. Without revealing anything interesting about Watergate, McCord keeps repeating TAPE TAPE TAPE in all caps, as though the incantatory power of that word could reveal the mysteries of the parapolitical universe, but only to those few initiates who vibrate on McCord's level. Perhaps this strange book contains a Dan Brownian code. If so, I couldn't find it.

You can guess why that book has been on my mind lately. Stories like this one have me flashing back to McCord and those chants of TAPE...TAPE...TAPE...
A tweet from President Donald Trump on Friday suggesting that he might have taped phone conversations from the White House made waves in Washington, but some former employees and a former associate said it wasn’t a surprise to them that he would mention taped conversations.

As a businessman, Mr. Trump sometimes taped phone conversations with associates and others from his Trump Tower office in New York, according to three people who say they have direct knowledge of the recordings.

Mr. Trump had one or more recording devices that he used to tape his phone calls from his office, the three people said. All are former high-level employees who worked for Mr. Trump over a span of three decades. They said they saw devices in use recording phone calls.

A fourth person said he knew that Mr. Trump had recorded a phone conversation with him because it was later entered into evidence in a lawsuit.
Also see here.

The photo reproduced above made the rounds yesterday. Let's take a closer look at one of the items on Donnie's desk...

That's a digital voice recorder next to the iPhone. I've been trying to identify the model: It resembles my own Olympus (purchased in happier days), although mine has a retractable USB plug in the bottom. Could this be one of those cheap Chinese knock-offs you get on Ebay? If it is, how...Trumpy!

Many people, including some high-level observers, seem to be under the impression that Donald Trump's threatening "tape" tweet refers to a specific conversation which Trump had with Comey on the night when loyalty oaths were allegedly demanded. (I picture the scene as a modern version of this image.)

No. Donald Trump's tweet was not so specific. His precise words:

"James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."

In other words: "If you reveal my secrets I will reveal yours." We have no clue as to what those secrets are or when they were discussed.

To me, the most obvious reading is that they concern Comey's pre-election 11th hour revelation of the emails on the Weiner laptop. We've all heard the reports that Comey went public as a result of ill-defined pressure put on him by a cabal of agents close to Giuliani. The full story remains untold.

Conceivably, the "taped" conversations could help to explain why Comey gave such bizarre testimony just before his firing. As you may recall, he claimed that there were "hundreds or thousands" of emails on that laptop, when such was simply not the case. Note that Trump fired Comey directly after a flurry of stories appeared correcting Comey's mistake. At the time, I wondered if Comey himself might have been a source for those corrections. In other words, I theorize that Comey -- as a condition for keeping his job -- was directed to "misspeak" in such a way as to justify a new Clinton probe, a plan which went south when corrections appeared in the press the next day.

Is that theory too outlandish? Perhaps so. Nevertheless, I am persuaded -- perhaps not convinced, but persuaded -- that the great unspoken issue underlying Trump's tweeted threat to Comey comes out of THAT realm. Trump still hopes to lock her up.

President Orrin Hatch! Claude Taylor and Louise Mensch are spreading an amazing rumor throughout liberal-land. They say that Donald Trump will be brought down soon -- very soon, maybe tomorrow, maybe a little later, but soon soon soon -- and that the scandal will also engulf Mike Pence.

So that means President Paul Ryan, eh? Not so fast.

Mensch and Taylor say that Ryan is on tape admitting that the GOP coffers contain laundered funds. Next in the line of succession would be President pro tempore of the Senate, Orrin Hatch -- who is 83.

Remember when liberals considered Hatch unimaginably far to the right? How things have changed! Nowadays, many Dems would thank God for the chance to say "President Hatch."

As you may have guessed, the only sources for this fantasia are unnamed. Louise Mensch has her own sources, while Claude Taylor has a separate set of sources. Mensch and Taylor say that the Unnamed Ones tell stories that converge.

Mensch goes so far as to say that Orrin Hatch is already receiving security briefings. At this writing, if you type "Orrin Hatch" into Google, the first suggested autocompletion is "president," followed by "security briefings."

This is from Taylor's twitter feed:
@LouiseMensch and I are reporting that a sealed indictment has been issued against Trump by FISA court to serve as the basis of Impeachment.
Now let us look at one of their joint story in Patribotics -- yes, Mensch has actually signed one of her stories!
Separate sources with links to the intelligence and justice communities have stated that a sealed indictment has been granted against Donald Trump.

While it is understood that the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution means that, until Mr. Trump is impeached, he cannot be prosecuted, sources say that the indictment is intended by the FBI and prosecutors in the Justice Department to form the basis of Mr. Trump’s impeachment. The indictment is, perhaps uniquely, not intended or expected to be used for prosecution, sources say, because of the constitutional position of the President.
C'est tout. That's the full story. Dare I ask a logical question? What would be the purpose of a sealed indictment under these circumstances? Impeachment proceedings will occur only when the public demands impeachment, and the public will make that demand if the world learns about the indictment.

Thus, the Mensch/Taylor story of a secret indictment makes no sense. I'm reminded of the Doomsday Device in Dr. Strangelove: The device works only if it is not secret.

Defenders of Mensch and Taylor will quickly point out that they've both been right before -- in fact, at times they have been miles ahead of mainstream journalists. My response: For precisely that reason, they have made themselves likely targets for a disinformation plot designed to discredit everything they've said.

Many years ago, I had lunch with...well, let's just say that he was a writer who thought that he could play the kind of game that Louise Mensch is playing now. Call him Alan. I think he meant well, just as I now think that Louise Mensch means well.

Like Louise, Alan thought -- at first -- that he had been made privy to a wonderful and exciting world of insider information. Over time, Alan realized that his "sources" were using him, playing games with him. In the end, they more or less ruined his life.

Over lunch, Alan told me something I've never forgotten. When someone "on the inside" leaks information (Alan used the example of an Air Force guy leaking Top Seekrit material to Aviation Week), the leaker is usually caught. Often, he is not prosecuted, although he is threatened with prosecution. The leaker is instructed to meet with the same writer and to provide certain information which may be genuine or bogus. Bogus information will eventually be exposed as such, thereby discrediting the writer forever.

In my opinion, that scenario explains a number of mysteries discussed in these very pages over the past thirteen years. To cite an obvious example, consider some of the things that Jason Leopold wrote during the "Fitzmas" season. (Remember this? Another one of those "sealed indictments" that turned out to be hallucinatory. Poor Jason Leopold is still getting shat upon for that one.)

I can guess what Louise Mensch would say in response, were she to read these words: "But Claude Taylor and I have received the exact same information from separate sources!" Right now, I have no pressing reason to doubt that such is the case. But this congruence does not, in and of itself, mean that the "President Hatch" claim is accurate. Coordinated, multi-sourced disinformation is still disinformation. And the naive writer who makes the disinformation public without any maybes or ifs will end up wearing the same expression Princess Leia displays when Grand Moff Tarkin tells her "You're far too trusting."

Incidentally, Mensch's own lawyer doubts this "Hatch" tale. 

I've said it before and I've said it again: Louise Mensch's great error is her refusal to address the many indications that our own spooks played a role in electing Trump, using psy-war tactics honed since the heyday of Paul Linebarger. Cambridge Analytica may have Russian connections, but it also has far stronger wires leading directly to MI6, the CIA and environs. Moreover, Mercer's psywar shop is locatable within the Tory Establishment. Being a Tory herself, Mensch simply cannot accept that this Establishment might be dirty. Her basic framework -- "Heroic western spooks versus Evil Putin and his puppet Trump" -- was always simplistic, even if that construct does contain elements of the truth.

Here's my forecast: Orrin Hatch will not be president.

I'd love to be wrong about that, but I'm probably not. If the last laugh belongs to Mensch and Taylor, I'll be giddy with joy. If the last laugh is mine, I will be as depressed as Eeyore writing his suicide note. In other words, situation normal.

(Actually, Eeyore -- lacking opposable thumbs -- would have to dictate his suicide note. Maybe he can borrow Trump's voice recorder...?)

A final point: What will happen if and when the "Orrin Hatch" claim proves false? Should we assume that all of the claims about Trump's Russian adventures are false?

Of course not. In fact, we should presume the opposite. The presence of disinformation indicates that something real is being protected. As a notable British conservative once said: "In wartime, the truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies."

Added note: For the sake of argument, let's say that Hatch is offered the presidency. If he declines to serve due to age, the next in the line of succession would be Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State.
I, too, read the Mensch/Taylor announcement last night. I remain skeptical until there is more verification. But I do sense that something big is about to hit the fan. The silence from Trump and his inner circle is certainly deafening though I suspect this might change before the end of the day. Is the claim true? We simply don't know yet. But the bureaucratic wheels are slowly grinding into gear. I took notice of a recent Schneiderman tweet: 'when they go low, we go local.' That sounds ominous, particularly with reports of a RICO case being developed against Trump for money laundering, mob connections and racketeering. Follow the money.

Mensch and Taylor are laying it all out with this claim. You're so right. If proven wrong they can kiss their credibility (and following) goodbye. Pressing them both with delicious disinformation would eliminate a big pain in the butt for the Trumpsters. On the other hand if they're right . . .

The other thing I found curious about this last week of craziness is--where have Ivanka and Kushner gone? They've been ever present in the continuing storyline but this week--when all hell breaks loose--they're MIA.

According to Mensch, DT's presidency ended on May 9th, the day he fired Comey. Guess we'll have to stick around to see where this all goes. Either Pulitzer status or the dog pound. Strange times!

When Alexander Butterfield [] talks about TAPE, it is different than when James McCord writes about TAPE.

McCord had to have been obsessing about the piece of tape over the door latch that led to the discovery of the Watergate burglars -- McCord among them.
McCord depended on luck? How could he be certain the security guard would respond perfectly to the re-taping of the door? The guard didn't bust them or even investigate when he saw and removed the first tape. Isn't that the height of incompetence? Yet in a sense he was ultimately praised instead of being humiliated?

Consider that Louise could make chaos come again (as Othello declared to Iago if Desdemona loves him not) by merely explaining and exposing who deceived her. Though, if nothing is made public about her claims, it shouldn't discredit her. Sometimes, when Plan A is exposed, it's discarded and contingency plans kick in.

Why would Senator Hatch refuse the oath when such a refusal would be an admission that he's also not fit to be a senator or President Pro Tempore? Has he stated that he won't seek re-election?
I should clarify: The book "A Piece of TAPE" (if memory serves) does discuss the recording TAPES that were Nixon's undoing as well as the TAPE on the door during the Watergate burglary. But the book also examines every instance of the word TAPE in the Bible. McCord goes out of his way to make TAPE appear to be a quasi-mystical concept.

Mind you, I haven't held a copy in my hands since -- jeez, was it 1990? Earlier? All of that blather about TAPE was so weird that I started to think that the book contained secret messages.
Where is Trump's vault? The one with the documents and recordings that he keeps just in case? Is Melania guarding over it?
I think that " Sometimes, when Plan A is exposed, it's discarded and contingency plans kick in"
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