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Sunday, October 22, 2017

A few brief words about two big lies

I spent part of this morning checking out the tweets and comments on the right. A couple of things leaped out at me...

1. John Kelly's Big Lie. Even though it has been established conclusively that Trump's Chief of Staff lied his ass off, the Trumpers continue to lambaste Democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson. Some have even pretended that she is not actually a friend to the family of La David Johnson, even though the family has defended Wilson's accuracy.

Wilson has behaved in a dignified and honest manner throughout, yet the Trumpers keep referring to her as flaky and "wacky." That's right: Wilson is wacky -- as opposed to, say, Roy Moore or Whatzername-the-alien-abductee-candidate in Florida.

Wilson has become the new person that the right loves to hate. They're fixated on her. Trump tweeted: "Wacky Congresswoman Wilson is the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party, a disaster for Dems."

The incessant attacks on this fine woman go well beyond the controversy over Trump's call to a grieving family. Bigotry is the only explanation for what we're seeing. The Trumpers will never so admit, but there is no other way to interpret their behavior.

My mind keeps flashing back to that classic All in the Family episode from 1972, when Sammy Davis Jr. visits Archie Bunker's home:
Lionel Jefferson [of Archie]: But he's not a bad guy, Mr. Davis. I mean like, he'd never burn a cross on your lawn.

Sammy Davis Jr.: No, but if he saw one burning, he's liable to toast a marshmallow on it.
I used to dismiss Trump as a blundering, Bunker-esque marshmallow-toaster. Now I'm starting to think of him as a cross-burner. (Just like his dear old dad...?)

Things have gotten very ugly very rapidly in this country.

2. JFK. The (welcome) news that Trump will not impede the release of further JFK assassination files has spawned an Alt Right meme: The new files will show that Dems killed Kennedy. That idea keeps coming up with unnerving regularity; it's obviously a programmed talking point.

As some of you know, Trump's pal Roger Stone wrote a terrible book in which he claimed that LBJ masterminded the assassination. (Actually, the Johnson theory is crap.) Stone has claimed that he was asked to reveal the "facts" about the assassination only after the 50 year anniversary had passed. That claim, if true, would make Stone an accomplice in the cover-up -- and if not true, makes Stone a liar. Note that the "facts" in Stone's book contradict an earlier unpublished biographical manuscript.

Quoting once again from an invaluable expose of Stone:
As said at the very beginning of this long piece, I came across what appears to be a memoir of Roger Stone’s on a very public, very legal document sharing site, which displays a voice uncannily like that of Stone’s, and replete with obscure details which would not be easy to pull off by a casual hoaxer. In this memoir, he also gives lengthy space to the assassination, and he does mention Lyndon Johnson as a possible player. The essential, indisputable players, however, the ones to which he gives the majority of his focus, is the mob. He makes no mention of this Lodge anecdote. He makes no mention that Nixon knew Ruby. He does not write at all of Ruby being put on anyone’s payroll, or Johnson knowing Ruby in any way. Though he writes of politicos such as Nixon at great length in other parts of the book, he does not write at all of Nixon, of Lodge, of Ruwe, or of Mitchell clamping down on his pipe and giving fateful suggestion. These episodes that would reverberate through anybody’s life, are not there at all, as if they never took place.

That Stone’s perspective on the assassination in his memoir causes one not simply to question the credibility of the theory he puts forth, but whether he even believes his own allegation, is why I now give lengthy excerpt to the relevant sections in his memoir.
The stuff about Ruby and Lodge later appeared in Stone's JFK book, but did not appear in the earlier work. The Alex Jonesians think that Stone is helping to uncover the Grand Conspiracy; in fact Stone seems to be doing what he has always done -- obscuring the truth for partisan purposes.

All of this has me wondering: What if the upcoming release of assassination-related materials includes a ringer, a fabrication, a false document?

If a document shows up which seems to buttress Stone's "Blame the Dems" theory, examine it very carefully. Fortunately, there are people in the assassination research community who possess expert knowledge of how these documents should be formatted. Don't believe any shocking headlines until you hear from someone like John Newman, a former Army intelligence officer who has a deep expertise in the paperwork produced by the intelligence community in that era.
I interpret Trump's tweet differently. When he says "Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened." I think he means the opposite of how it's commonly read. I think an unpacking would yield "Despite the legal obligation imposed long before I took office to release the JFK files, I will withhold any vital details, citing 'receipt of further information' from the intelligence community that the release would compromise methods and sources.
I feel for you, Joseph. Heard something about JFK on ride home today and wondered how painful it must be for someone so in the know.
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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Lyin' Johnnie, hypocrite extraordinaire

I won't dignify Trump apologist John Kelly with his military title because his shameful smear of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson offended the hell out me. As far as I'm concerned, his disgusting performance erases any previous honors he earned. Henceforward, I'll call that lying bastard "Johnnie" or "Jonnikins."

First: Johnnie's charactization of Frederica Wilson's speech in 2015 was a complete fabrication, as the video evidence proves. Jonnikins said that Wilson spent her time congratulating herself for something she did not actually do, and that she immediately sat down and left everyone appalled. The video proves -- conclusively, without any room for interpretation -- that Johnnie told a deliberate lie.

Did Jonnikins feel free to lie about Wilson because she is female? Becase she is black? Or because she is a Democrat?

Perhaps he has simply become part of the Trumpist culture of lying. Perhaps he inhabits an Alt Right fantasy world in which the past you prefer becomes the past you remember. (That sort of thing is precisely what the Nazis meant by the phrase triumph of the Will.)

I don't know Johnnie's motive for lying. All I know is that he did in fact lie, and that nothing he says henceforward will ever be trustworthy.

Second: Jonnikins maintains that Congresswoman Wilson committed some sort of affront when she listened in to Trump's speakerphone "condolence call" to the family of Sgt. La David Johnson. The call came in while they were en route to a memorial service. The family had a right to invite whomever they pleased to ride with them, and it's not as though they could have asked the president to call back later. Congresswoman Wilson is a longtime friend of the family (the friendship began well before she entered politics) and there is no earthly reason why she should not have been invited along.

The family is not saying that Wilson did anything wrong. They agree with her.

Third: Jonnikins himself was listening in (on Trump's end) without the family's knowledge. Johnnie, you're a damned hypocrite.

Fourth: Johnnie made a plea for the country to show respect for Gold Star families. Really? Tell me, Jonnikins: Why didn't you say one word against Trump's pal Roger Stone when Stone was spreading vicious falsehoods and conspiracy theories about Khizr Khan, the father of slain hero Humayun Khan?

When are you going to lambaste Roger, Jonnikins? Answer that, you damned hypocrite.

Fifth: Johnnie said that the sacredness of the Gold Star families ended during "the convention over the summer." Whose fault was that? Note that Johnnie's smarmy wording was cleverly designed to re-arrange the truth and to replace the actual past with a fantasized past. (The "triumph of the Will" theme reappears.) In reality, the Democrats treated the Khan family with respect bordering on reverence. It was Trump and his partners in paranoia who responded with lies, smears, character assassination and absurd conspiracy theories.

Johnnikins, you no longer have any honor. History will hate you. You cannot escape history.

Do you want to regain your honor, Johnnikins? Do you want historians to speak well of you? Do you want to regain a moral (not just legal) right to the title of General Kelly? Here's what you have to do:

1. Apologize.

2. Quit.

3. Tell everything you know about the Trump White House -- all the damning details.

4. If the Russians have something on you, take your lumps like a man.

Do those four things and you will once again be hailed as a hero. Until then, you're just Lyin' Johnnie, hypocrite extraordinaire.

PS: Yes, I'll go there: Johnnie, your son would be ashamed of you. If I were a member of your family, I'd spit in your lying face. You're a liar and a hypocrite, and your stars cannot protect you from the truth.

PPS: Sarah Hucakbee Sanders said that one must never criticize a general. Didn't Trump say that he "knew better" than the generals? Hasn't he often issued tweets critical of generals?
I'm actually wondering if Kelly didn't hear Wilson's speech the way he said he did. I wonder if these psychos actually believe themselves. If you're a bigot - there is no end to the rationalization for your point of view and your eagerness to feel the hate toward (especially) a woman of color. Kelly may actually believe Democrats are responsible for politicizing the Khan affair last year. I think they may really be that unbalanced.
I can't even, with the sacredness crap. He apparently said "Women used to be sacred." I think it was Wonkette who said he "fucked himself with Trump's sword and the internet is agreeing. Again, glad you have the energy to wield your pen-sword. Those of us with less fortitude are grateful.
He appears to be a fascist playing the old favorite "stab in the back" card. Facts and truth have no value for the fascist because they get in the way of the rhetoric.
"He apparently said "Women used to be sacred."" This, from the Chief of Staff to DONALD TRUMP, a man who admitted on the air that he is a sexual predator.
Ultimately this "sacredness-of-women" idea implies a condemnation of all women who seek independent success in politics, media, entertainment, art or business, or indeed in the military. “Women used to be sacred” = They didn’t use to compete with men. It expresses just banal old-fashioned sexism. It’s quite revealing that a general is touting this as a moral position.

My assessment of the "caretakers" such as Kelly, McMaster, Mattis or Tillerson has changed a lot. I now believe it's an illusion to see them as voices of reason who sacrifice their "reputation" (what is Tillerson's "reputation", pray tell) allegedly to prevent the worst. They are just (either astute or naive) enablers.
My guess is, if asked to choose between being viewed as "sacred" and being able to secure a mortgage, most women will probably choose the latter. I'm old enough to remember 50 years ago, and let me tell you: There was a LOT of disrespect shown toward women.
I am dreading next month. I am afraid of another melt down, another horrible wave of depression is coming.
I have been trying to find that term "empty barrel" used as a racist term, with no success. I'm kind of sorry Congresswoman Wilson did not recognise the term's blatant sexist undertones, twice leveled at her. Compare that also with Puny Paw's original statement, which was outrage that a "woman" (repeated twice) would listen in. As a child of the South, I vividly remember a joke in which "double barrel" explicitly referred to a woman's nether region: meaning PP's pawn Kelly was essentially calling the congresswoman a cvnt.

Alas, Anon 1151 I fear the same in Nov. An anniversary of a traumatic event inevitably dredges up those feelings again.
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Friday, October 20, 2017

Obama criticizes Trump. By what right?

Today, Barack Obama and George W. Bush both offered criticisms of Trumpism without actually naming Trump. In both cases, the criticisms are well-founded. Yet in both cases, I must ask: Do these former presidents have the right to say what they say?

In this post, I'm going to concentrate on Obama:
“But here’s one thing I know: if you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you’re not going to be able to govern them. You won’t be able to unite them later if that’s how you start.”
But that's how you started, Mr. Obama. I will never forget and never forgive what you did to Hillary in 2008.

Trump won using the Obama playbook. Bots and paid trolls commandeered the comments sections of every website, making it impossible for Hillary supporters to speak up online. Whenever anyone said one word in defense of Hillary, the pile-on was brutal. Obama forces relied on the incessant use of conspiracy theories: How many times, in that period, did liberal sites publish phrases like "the Bush-Clinton crime family" and "Vince Foster! Vince Foster! Vince Foster!"? Keith Olbermann, to his later regret, openly called for Hillary Clinton's murder on the air.

In 2008, anyone who offered even the mildest critique of Obama's tactics became the target of weird accusations and absurd conspiracy theories. In that topsy-turvy year, progressives decided that Paul Krugman (who offered a cautious critique of the Obama campaign) was a worse-than-Cheney ultra-conservative monster, while Arianna Huffington, Andrew Sullivan and Markos Moulitsas were all hailed as lifelong lefties. History and common sense were turned upside-down. It was insanity. 

The Daily Kos printed an incessant stream of viciously sexist insults, paranoid accusations and outright lies. Here's just the smallest sample of the kind of bullshit flung at our eyeballs every second of every minute of every hour of every day during the 2008 primary campaign:
Just slit her throat, lock her in a car boot, and drive the car into river in West Virginia. Ain’t gonna let no whore screw with the man

The heinous Hillary hag with a bullseye on her forehead is reason enough to vote for Obama

And a Drive-By Won't Be Out of the Question. What goes around, comes around. The stupid fucking bitch !!

Talk About WHITE TRASH that bitch better keep looking over her shoulder.

The Vince Foster Issue Should Be Investigated Again. Clintons just showed that their ambitions know no limit.

The Clinton death list The following is a partial list of deaths of persons connected to President Clinton during his tenure as Governor of Arkansas and/or while President of the United States and thereafter. Read the list and judge for yourself...
That, times a billion, is what we got without surcease on Huffpo, Kos, TPM and DU -- progressive sites. The Obot attacks were every bit as brutal as anything that happened in 2016. Do you remember those insulting dolls of Hillary in dominatrix costume? If you think that they were created for the right-wing market, you're kidding yourself. The sexism displayed on "liberal" sites throughout 2008 was far more blatant and unashamed than is the racism seen on Brietbart -- or, hell, even Stormfront.

Speaking of racism: Remember the darkened video smear leveled against Hillary -- a smear which was every bit as scurrilous and ginned-up as the email pseudoscandal? When I pointed out the absurdity of this charge, I was called a racist -- even though no-one could mount a technical counter-argument.

Obama won because he gamed the caucuses and flagrantly lied about a number of issues, not least among them being his alleged opposition to NAFTA. The Obots screamed "RACIST!" at anyone who dared to mention that Obama lied about his ties to Tony Rezko, at anyone who dared to point out that Obama often received money from the same shady sources who "donated" to Blagojevich, at anyone who dared to question St. Barack in any way.

I have often voted for black candidates, from Tom Bradley to Jesse Jackson -- in fact, I had favored Obama himself before I learned about his penchant for lying and graft. Nevertheless, I was called racist racist racist every day. I was reminded of a French police siren: RAY-cist RAY-cist RAY-cist RAY-cist. Eventually, one learns to tune out the sound. (You really don't want to live in a country where that alarm is heard so often one learns to tune it out.)

In fact, the "people" sounding those sirens were really bots. On this humble blog, the hate messages came in every damned hour of every damned day. We're talking about literally hundreds of pieces of hate mail every day, including outright death threats -- and most of them emanated from one IP address in Chicago.

Whenever I looked at the stats in the morning, I would smile and say "Mr. CHIGILL has been at it again;" CHIGILL (Chicago, Illinois) was how my IP tracker identified that address. It seemed bizarre for a C-level blog like mine to attract such attention. I later heard from bloggers with much smaller audiences who got hit by a similar tidal wave. When the hate-messages outnumber the actual readers, it's pretty obvious that something funny is going on -- and by "funny," I mean automated.

Mr. CHIGILL, I eventually discovered, was David Axelrod.
Obama's campaign attack dog, David Axelrod, runs a little-known company called ASK, which -- surprise, surprise -- manipulates public opinion through the creation of astroturf (fake grassroots support for a policy, company or candidate). "Persona software" was created for the purpose of astroturfing. You know damned well that a cutting-edge firm like ASK has a copy of that software.

We have discussed ASK in a previous post. One of Axelrod's campaigns involved spreading a completely false revisionist history of the California energy crisis; he did this in order to help a public utility drum up support for a rate hike.

Not only that. In previous posts, I've spoken about the fake communication I received from someone claiming to be Evelyn Pringle, the investigative reporter who did such excellent work on Obama's pattern of corruption in Illinois. I had pushed her work in these cyber-pages, and I had also corresponded with her briefly. The pseudo-Pringle message existed for the purpose of planting malware on my system, forcing me to do a thorough reformat of my C drive.

Only someone in Axelrod's shop would have cared about Pringle enough to use her name in a scheme of this sort.
So please explain to me: By what right does Obama now complain about the 2016 Trump campaign? Exactly how did the Trump 2016 campaign differ from the Obama 2008 campaign?

I guess there's one major difference: Trump had help from St. Petersburg. A glaze of treason makes Trump's crime look extra slimy. But we must then ask the next obvious question: Who was in charge of the United States intelligence community throughout 2016? Whose responsibility was it to reveal foreign interference in our election? Who held onto the intercepts which would have proven the crime?

I have a right to criticize what Team Trump did in 2016, and so do you. But Barack Obama does not.
Thanks for the reminder...and the behind-the-scenes. I don't know where you get the energy but I appreciate it.
I second Prowlerzee. 2008 almost ended my good relationship with my sister, too - just like Trump has ruined me and my brother forever.

And don't bother with the GWB speech - Charlie Pierce does a good job on that.
Thanks for this post. I feel like ice been hunkered down for the past 17 years, waiting for proper leadership in this country. I thought my wait would be over last November. Silly me.
We female Hillary supporters were dry pussy, racist, vagina voters, as I recall. When Bernie's trolls got started, we became dry pussy, anti-semitic, vagina voters.
After being thrown from the side of a car in which the driver had just stolen my camera, I became instantly indoctrinated into the MSNBC led attack on Hillary Clinton in early February of 2008. My discovery of the fix against Hillary Clinton started with MSNBC's February Caucus coverage as I lay on recliner for 10 days recovering from a severely sprained ankle without any pain killers. I found the MSNBC coverage of the Clinton / Obama contest to be far more painful.

It took allowing Illinois to move their contest from the end of March to the beginning of February directly benefiting Obama. Obama, Richardson and Edwards teaming up and taking their name off the ballot in Michigan on the final afternoon of the final day for filing or un filing, then the three blasting Hillary Clinton for keeping her name on the Michigan ballot even though she had no idea of the blindside, then Hillary Clinton was not even allowed to keep the Michigan results even though Obama benefited in other states for blasting her for staying on the ballot in Michigan, not counting Florida because the Florida REPUBLICANS had moved the Florida primary date up, and after losing almost all of the Swing States to Hillary Clinton, Obama relying on his humongous win in Illinois AND a fraudulent 2 to 1 margin of victory in ALL of the caucus contests to scrape out a tiny lead.

To give you how big the ONE State of Illinois victory was for Obama and the fact it was so early in the year, Obama's delegate margin of victory in Illinois netted him as many additional delegates as Hillary Clinton got from winning ELEVEN other states and it being so early in the year followed by a month of February caucuses while thwarting Michigan and Florida going early really made the 2008 race as one sided for Obama as was possible.

Due to the closeness of the race, DNC chair Howard Dean said whomever did better over the final 10 weeks would be the nominee, Clinton won by a 55% to 45% over the final 10 weeks of the campaign, during which Donna Brazile's threat of riots in the streets if Hillary Clinton won because of her lead from the super delegates while MSNBC had been able to pressure super delegates to switch from Clinton to Obama to help nullify the gains that Hillary Clinton was making.

This why I get so mad at the Sanders supporters for crying over NOTHING in 2016 when compared to what Hillary Clinton when through in 2008.

However, in fairness, what really ended up slowing down Hillary Clinton's momentum at the end of the race to 55% to 45% was her infamous comment about sniper fire on the tarmac. She recovered from that comment, but her momentum took a critical step backwards before going forwards again. She probably would have won the final 10 weeks by a 60% to 40% margin without that sniper fire comment and who knows if the fix would still been in against her. We never did find out who the assistant was who reminded her of the sniper fire incident. But it should also be noted that the media ridicule she was put through for only being the President's wife in the White House, as if it had no political benefit, to me was a meme attack her that was worse than her sniper fire comment.
So, going forward to 2016, Obama promises support to Hillary Clinton, but in exchange, Hillary Clinton has to play nice about Obama's legacy. Obama even asked Hillary Clinton to not rebuff Sander's comments against her for the good of the Democrat Party!

So what we ended up with in 2016 was FOUR Men against Hillary Clinton, Trump, Putin, Sanders, AND Obama whose support, which was tremendous, came at the LOSS of the Blue Collar States who were HURT by some of OBAMA's banking policies. Dodd / Frank could have been so much better but it treated ALL Homeowners the same, so if you were a responsible homeowner for the past 20 years, that DID NOT MATTER when it came time to save your home.

Homeowners were put in the position of having to default before they could get some type of government help. That really offended MILLIONS of Homeowners who were not house flippers. When Hillary Clinton said nothing about Obama's legacy, along with Sander's bizarre mish mash of pot for everyone, free school for everyone, and that NAFTA had ruined the country, Pro the earth is warming up and Pro Coal, Hillary Clinton had to remain quiet, only to be blasted for not having more to say when the cards dealt to her required her to be quiet or look like an ingrate for getting Obama's support and then trashing him.

So she lost the trust of millions of supporters who had voted for her in 2008. Although it is probably true that some of that support was based on racism.

On DailyPUMA, I have an RSS column feed devoted to over half a dozen former Clinton supporters from 2008 who magically were against her in 2016. Sure seems suspicious to say the least.
I've always had a love-hate relationship with Hillary, and I ask you, genuinely, how you respond to her 2008 statement about representing “hardworking Americans, white Americans.” Wasn't that racist as hell?
That's NOT what she said, you lying anonymous fuck.

I'll allow you to publish here again only if you give your full name and phone number so I can call and determine that you are an actual American, not a troll in St. Petersburg. You can send the phone number privately, via email.

Under all other circumstances, this blog will publish no more of your lying bullshit.
Well, Anonymous Nosack, you have to admit, that Joseph's response was...genuine.
I checked both of my long comments and now that I look at it again, I left out a few key words, I may delete and repost them. Too bad there is no edit function for comments.
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

THAT condolence call. Plus: Why were those soldiers in Niger? Were they seeking "the Grail"?

(Note: The latter part of this post contains some original research into the Niger incident. I hope readers will pass it along to others.)

As you no doubt know by now, congresswoman Frederica Wilson reported that Donald Trump offered insensitive words to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Sgt. La David T. Johnson. No-one should be surprised: Trump never says the right thing. It's really quite remarkable: Despite being one of the greatest con artists in history, Donald Trump never says the right thing.

Predictably, Trump claims that Congresswoman Wilson lied about the conversation, as did -- apparently -- all other ear-witnesses. (He was on speakerphone.) Trump yells "Liar!" at lots of people: The mainstream media, the former (Republican) director of the FBI, as well as an entire parade of women who accuse him of Weinstein-esque behavior, one of whom has brought suit against him. Why have so many people offered false testimony about Donald Trump? No other president has had to endure a nationwide conspiracy to break the ninth commandment.

One account of this scandal stands out for its surprising lack of bias, considering the source. I had expected Sputnik to offer a Trump-friendly version of these events -- but as it turns out, the Russian site did a decent job.

Billions and billions.
It's useful to remind ourselves of certain basics. From Kurt Eichnewald:
Diff tween what Trump lies he's worth ($10 bill), vs. what Forbes 400 shows hes worth $3.1B, is more than worth of bottom 330 billionaires. Seriously, what kind of billionaire is so insecure that he has to lie that he's worth more than triple his actual worth? Wait...I know...a billionaire who, if he put his inheritance stock mutual fund, would be worth $17 bill more. IOW, Trump's biz "skills" cost him $17b.
One of Eichenwald's readers adds that Paris Hilton is a better capitalist than Donald Trump. I say this in all seriousness: I'd rest a lot easier if Paris were the president right now.

Is "the Grail" in Niger? Last night, Rachel Maddow opined that "condolence-gate" began as Trump's tasteless effort to divert attention away from a key question: Just why were those four soldiers killed in Niger?

We've been told, vaguely, that those four were part of an effort to combat ISIS.
U.S. officials said they believe extremists linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were responsible for the attack about 120 miles north of Niamey...
Odd. I can't find any previous stories indicating that ISIS had a presence in that country. (Granted, my internet searching was cursory, but still.)

Now, there are plenty of stories which speak of Boko Haram in Niger, but Boko Haram is not ISIS.

Niger is also home to a group called AQIM, or Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which uses a black flag similar to the one used by ISIS. AQIM's main goal is the creation of a militant Islamic state in Algeria; one might say that they have transplanted the basic idea of ISIS to another location. Nevertheless, this group has traditionally been considered an offshoot of Al Qaeda, not ISIS. Since several news stories about the Niger disaster have (vaguely) referenced an Al Qaeda tributary, I will presume (until given reason to think otherwise) that AQIM is the true name of the group we're dealing with.

Among the items acquired by AQIM are SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, which the Pentagon refers to as the SA-7 Grail. This AP story indicates that these missiles came from Libyan stores. For more, see here:
The SA-7 GRAIL (Strela-2) is a man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude SAM, with a high explosive warhead and passive infrared homing guidance. The SA-7a has an effective range range from 800 m to 3.2 km and a kill zone between 15 and 1500 meters in altitude, with a speed of about 430 meters per second (Mach 1.4). The SA-7 Grail is able to destroy all aerial targets flying at low altitude such as combat helicopters, low-flying fighter aircraft and UAV.
Back in 2015, there was speculation that these missiles were used to bring down a Russian airliner flying over Egypt. (Remember that story?)

My guess is that those Special Forces operatives had intelligence indicating that "the Grail" was in Niger. Their mission, in effect, would have been to destroy the Grail.

If my guess is right, why would Trump seek to avoid talking about the details? I have a theory about that.

As the Palmer Report pointed out, Niger and Russia signed a military cooperation agreement not long ago; one should also keep in mind that a Russian airliner was attacked in 2015. Therefore, it seems possible that this entire mission was conducted at the behest of Trump's Russian friends. It may even be the case that the Russians -- not the French (as has been reported) -- helped locate the body of Sgt. Johnson.

For obvious reasons, Donald Trump would not want any reports of Russian/American cooperation to appear in the headlines.
You may remember at least one other president who had to deal with a massive conspiracy of liars.

Regarding the Crusade Against the Grail, if it's Libyan blowback, I'mn surprised I haven't seen anyone blaming Clinton.
Very interesting post.

in re: condolence calls. It may be that such calls are the first time in his life that Trump has had to speak in a respectful way to people of color.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Of impeachment and rigged elections

Just a reminder: Donald Trump took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States. Obamacare remains the law. Trump is not upholding it; he has sabotaged it -- deliberately.

This is impeachable. If the House were in the hands of the Democrats, they would need no further evidence or cause: Trump would be impeached for flouting a law and refusing to uphold his oath.

Actually, Gerry Ford had it right when he said that “an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” But a refusal to uphold the law has always been considered impeachable. From a Chicago Tribune piece published last February:
Interestingly, the phrase "high Crimes and Misdemeanors," which was drawn from English law, did not produce much debate; apparently the founders regarded it as a term of art. Crucially, the term "misdemeanor" did not mean a distinct set of crimes (as opposed to felony); it referred instead to bad acts, in the form of exceptionally serious public misconduct.

A "high crime and misdemeanor" could certainly be a crime, but the term could also include acts or omissions that did not amount to a violation of the criminal law. If an official simply refused to do his job for six months, there is a good argument that he would be committing a "misdemeanor." In England, it was even said that serious misconduct, as in a case of committing the nation to an ignominious treaty, was a legitimate basis for impeachment.

The upshot is both simple and clarifying: The Constitution allows impeachment of the president for large-scale abuse of the authority of his office, and also for obtaining his office by corrupt means. Intense policy disagreements and partisan squabbles are never legitimate bases for impeachment. The same is true for purely private misconduct, even if it is genuinely terrible — and for making decisions that end up being struck down in court.
From the WP a few days ago:
What if he won’t or cannot execute his duties and/or cannot preserve, protect and defend the Constitution? The Constitution says the remedy is impeachment.

Within the past 24 hours we’ve seen the president threaten to ignore or violate the First Amendment and threaten a group of Americans with denial of service to which they are legally entitled.
This essay looks into the British origins of the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors":
The convention adopted “high crimes and misdemeanors” with little discussion. Most of the framers knew the phrase well. Since 1386, the English parliament had used “high crimes and misdemeanors” as one of the grounds to impeach officials of the crown. Officials accused of “high crimes and misdemeanors” were accused of offenses as varied as misappropriating government funds, appointing unfit subordinates, not prosecuting cases, not spending money allocated by Parliament, promoting themselves ahead of more deserving candidates, threatening a grand jury, disobeying an order from Parliament, arresting a man to keep him from running for Parliament, losing a ship by neglecting to moor it, helping “suppress petitions to the King to call a Parliament,” granting warrants without cause, and bribery. Some of these charges were crimes. Others were not. The one common denominator in all these accusations was that the official had somehow abused the power of his office and was unfit to serve.
Andrew Johnson was impeached because he thumbed his nose at a law passed by Congress. The law, called the Tenure of Office Act, regulated the President's ability to fire an Executive Branch officer who had previously been approved by Congress. Johnson disputed the constitutionality of this law. In our system, constitutionality is determined by the Supreme Court; nevertheless, Johnson simply decided to ignore a piece of legislation he didn't like. Result: Impeachment.

How does Trump's unilateral decision to toss aside Obamacare differ from Johnson's unilateral decision to toss aside the Tenure of Office Act?

The hidden factor. Impeachment is justified. So how does Trump keep getting away with it? Why isn't Trump acting like a president under threat? Why aren't the Republicans bothered by the possibility of a turnover in the House, followed by the humiliating spectacle of a presidential impeachment?

Under such circumstances, it seems baffling for Steve Bannon to threaten primaries against insufficiently radical Republicans. In other words, he demands a repeat of the Tea Party debacle, when radical right candidates like Sharron Angle and Carl Paladino insured Democratic victories. With stakes so high, why would Bannon insist on running weaker candidates less likely to prevail in general elections? Why doesn't he seem even slightly worried about losing the House, and thus losing the presidency?

There is a hidden factor at play. That hidden factor, in my opinion, comes down to these four words: Election rigging is real.

Since 2004, I've maintained that it is possible to rig elections. That possibility has now been established beyond rational debate: See here and here and here and here. With the Trumpists in charge of the executive branch and compliant (complicit?) Secretaries of State installed across the land, there is no way to impede the hackers from doing their worst.

Remember the scene in Natural Born Killers in which Mallory wistfully asks: "Is there such a thing as a cop-less town? That would be paradise." Behold paradise: Trumpland is a cop-less town.

And yet we continue to act as though vote rigging is a dark fantasy and a baseless conspiracy theory. I say that rigging is real, and that there is no other explanation for Bannon's boldness.

(It suddenly occurs to me: Mallory's idea of paradise is shared by many a libertarian. Hows fitting! Ayn Rand started down her path when she fell in love (from a distance) with a serial killer. She was a born Mallory.)
What ever happened to Beverly Harris (?) and Black Box Voting?
The republicans might be tampering with voting machines but the print and broadcast news media, apathy, and Third Party bots have a greater impact on election outcomes.

Unless Muller uncovers something really lurid on the Great White Dope republicans won't impeach and even then given how they jammed President Obama's SCOTUS appointment maybe not.

The only solution is a massive Democrat voter turnout that ain't gonna happen.
Further indication of rigged elections: the resolute stonewalling of Garland's nomination for Supreme Court. They KNEW there was no risk that Hillary would win and have the opportunity to nominate an even more "liberal" justice than Garland. They could confidently hold out a whole year until the certain "election" of the GOP candidate. The GOP had it in the bag. What they didn't know as they stalled was that the nominee would be Donald Trump. That was the Russia factor intervening and using their own game against them. Russia out-trumped the Republican party.
Interesting angle, Joseph....and good points, Mr. Mike (Hi!) And Anonymous.
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A mysterious murder in Malta may have a link to Trump

On the island of Malta -- a center of offshore banking -- an extraordinary journalist named Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb. Here's how yesterday's Guardian covered the story...
The journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta was killed on Monday in a car bomb near her home.

Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday afternoon when her car, a Peugeot 108, was destroyed by a powerful explosive device which blew the vehicle into several pieces and threw the debris into a nearby field.

A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the Politico website as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”. Her blogs were a thorn in the side of both the establishment and underworld figures that hold sway in Europe’s smallest member state.

Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.
The question is: Just which story prompted the assassination? Two weeks before her death, she told the police that someone had threatened her.

Caruana was most famous for her work on the Panama Papers. Although her reporting targeted important figures in her own country, the Panama Papers scandal also revealed some of the financial skullduggery conducted by Russian oligarchs close to Putin.

There's a Trump connection to this tale. I'm not sure if that connection will prove important or tangential; further investigation seems warranted.

B, a longtime reader of this blog, sent in a long comment about the Caruana murder. I'm going to take the liberty of republishing b's words here, below the asterisks; I'll have more to say afterwards.

*  *  *

Just please don't forget Malta.

Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered yesterday. To stress their point, the killers used a powerful car bomb. She had been investigating state corruption at the highest levels in that mafia-run island country, gambling, money laundering, and the Azerbaijani involvement.

Trump has had many business links with leading figures in Azerbaijan, including with Emin Agalarov (Trump even appears in this video) and the Mammadov family (Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku).

Trump also appears to linked with Malta. At the beginning of last month, it was stated that the FBI's "Trump probe" would investigate the Maltese connection.

If I may be permitted a lengthy quote:

"As the (FBI) delves deeper in its investigation of US President Donald Trump's ties to Russia, it is becoming increasingly likely that the investigation will eventually reach Malta thanks to a web of over a dozen Georgian offshore companies set up in Malta."

"The US Department of Justice has tasked former FBI chief Robert Mueller to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump," as well as "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

"In the midst of this investigation, several companies registered in Malta, linked with a Georgian based company called the Silk Road Group could provide some insight into Trump's connections with Russia."

"The story centres on plans in 2011 to build a Trump Tower in the seaside city of Batumi in the Republic of Georgia. Adam Davidson from The New Yorker reported extensively on this deal, in which Trump was reportedly paid USD1 million, which involved the financial backing of the Silk Road Group."

"The company's indirect links with a Kazakh oligarch, who in turn has direct links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, could provide scope for the probe. Due to the dubious financial dealings related to the company and the direct links to Russia, it is thought that Putin has access to sensitive information related to Trump and the entire deal."

"A licence was granted to approve the building of a Trump Tower in Butami, and it was to be developed and financed by subsidiaries of the Silk Road Group. It is reported that the latter received a US$300 million loan from B.T.A Bank, the largest bank in neighbouring Kazakhstan. B.T.A Bank was placed in Kazakh's sovereign-wealth fund, under the directorship of Kazakh oligarch's Nursultan Nazarbayev's son-in-law Timur Kulibayev(...)"< "The corporate structure of the Silk Road Group, which is a holding company that controls dozens of corporate entities registered around the world, involves several holdings in Malta."

"The complex layers of shell companies registered in various countries made its way to Malta. The New Yorker cites an eight-million-US-dollar loan granted to Batumi Riviera Holding, BV, which is registered in Holland. Batumi Riviera Holding is then owned by Tbilisi Central Plaza, a company registered in Malta, which is owned by Susalike Holding GmbH, which is registered in Germany, to a Silk Road Group subsidiary."

"In addition to this, research carried out by this newspaper reveals that multiple other companies linked with the Silk Road Group are registered in Malta (...)"

"The lawyer of the Trump administration, Jay Sekulow, has been quoted as saying that the US Justice Department investigation must be as specific as possible, and that it would lodge formal complaints should it delve into Trump's business dealings in Georgia. He contends that Georgia is not Russia; however, opponents stress that Russian influence does not stop at Russian borders."

"Malta may yet again have its corporate service provision system come under fire through its links with the Silk Road Group."

Then later last month, Muscat came to New York and met Trump

And now, a few weeks later, guess what? Muscat says he has asked the US FBI to help investigate the Galizia murder.

Looks like the FBI will have an interesting time in Malta!

Click here for murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's blog.

There's a lot there. In May she even wrote about Tony Blair's work for both the Azerbaijani mafia state and the mafia prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat. That was the day after Blair's recorded "testimonial" for Joseph Muscat was played at the Maltese Labour Party's conference.

It's interesting how efforts are being made to damage-limit and control this story by stamping it with the word "Wikileaks", calling Caruana a "one-woman Wikileaks". Fuck Wikileaks!

*  *  *

Cannon here.  Boy, it's hard to recall a time when I was pro-Assange. Things sure have changed, haven't they? The rise of Trump has forced me to rethink all sorts of things.

B writes that Trump has many Azerbaijani connections -- in particular, with Arras and Emin Agalarov. We should not forget that Arras Agalarov and his son Emin (a pop star in Russia) played a key role in setting up the infamous Trump Tower meeting in which Donald Trump Jr. hoped to acquire dirt on Hillary. Remember? It seems quite clear that Agalarov functioned as a Putin go-between.

The Agalarov clan is also involved with a few ultra-mysterious business in New Jersey which I wrote about here. Remember...? "It is Art Company"? That "art company" was obviously a front for something -- but who knows what?

About the crime itself: Apparently, Caruana's muckraking attracted quite a bit of attention. Muscat's main political opponent, Adrian Delia, seems to think that the Powers-That-Be in Malta won't be able to conduct an independent investigation. Delia himself was the target of Caruana's reportage. 

Caruana's blog indicates that she couldn't stand Trump (whom she accused of wearing a toupee), although her feelings are widely shared by other European journalists. I haven't yet found any indication that she had uncovered something new or shocking about the American president. Her final blog entry arrived about half an hour before her car blew up. 

Here's an excerpt from that final post:
Former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil testified in court this morning, as did the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, that crook Keith Schembri, in the case he himself brought against Dr Busuttil for libel damages.

Mr Schembri is claiming that he is not corrupt, despite moving to set up a secret company in Panama along with favourite minister Konrad Mizzi and Mr Egrant just days after Labour won the general election in 2013, sheltering it in a top-secret trust in New Zealand, then hunting round the world for a shady bank that would take them as clients.

(In the end they solved the problem by setting up a shady bank in Malta, hiding in plain sight.)

His government salary is just peanuts to him, Mr Schembri said, because he has retained his companies and his shares and that is where he makes his money. But the way he is using his government influence to benefit his private business in Malta is entirely a separate corruption/trading in influence issue and is not an argument in his defence.
It's quite possible -- perhaps likely -- that the Caruana murder has no link to any persons or scandals outside of Malta. However, her work on "shady" banks and the Panama Papers suggests that she could have been working on a larger story with international implications. Caruana didn't like Trump, didn't like the international far-right resurgence -- and she knew a great deal about Malta's ties to money laundering.

This New Yorker piece on Trump's "foreign deals" offers an intriguing tidbit which relates to the story excerpted by b, above:
The Silk Road Group, which was established in Georgia shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, does not have a conventional corporate structure. It is a holding company that controls dozens of corporate entities registered around the world. In total, B.T.A. loaned the Silk Road Group three hundred million dollars, and these funds were dispersed among its many subsidiaries, making the money trail hard to follow. For example, an eight-million-dollar loan was granted to Batumi Riviera Holding, B.V., which was registered in Holland. Batumi Riviera Holding has reported having a sole asset: a company called Vento, L.L.C., which is registered in Georgia. That registration indicates that its creditor is B.T.A., which made loans valued at seventy-five per cent of the initial investment in the company. Batumi Riviera Holding, in turn, is owned by Tbilisi Central Plaza, a company registered in Malta. Tbilisi Central Plaza is owned by Susalike Holding GmbH, which is registered, in Germany, to a Silk Road Group subsidiary.

Giorgi Rtskhiladze co-owns the Silk Road Transatlantic Alliance, a subsidiary that focusses on business deals involving the U.S. He brokered the Trump relationship.
Companies owning companies owning companies -- and none of them seem to be involved in the actual production of goods. Also see "The Malta connection" within this story.

Russian oligarchs love Malta's banks; see, for example, this story. A little Googling will uncover many similar examples.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A subpoena for Trump -- and it's NOT what we expected

Even as a zillion right-wing propagandists ramp up the campaign to link Hillary Clinton to Harvey Weinstein ("It's all her fault!"), we learn that a woman named Summer Zervos -- formerly a contestant on The Apprentice -- filed suit against Trump a few months ago, accusing him of groping her and of defaming her by calling her a liar. Moreover, she "has subpoenaed all documents from his campaign pertaining to “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately.”"

Here is her subpoena. Here is her original Complaint.

Trump's lawyers are fighting that subpoena. This reaction tells us that not only are there other women making such claims, but that there may well be a substantial documentary record which could prove embarrassing to the president. If no responsive documents existed, there would be no need to contest the subpoena.
Trump's lawyers have sought to have the suit dismissed or at least delayed until he is out of office. His lawyers argued that he is protected from civil lawsuits in state court while in office.
Sorry. Won't wash. The Paula Jones suit established clear precedent. The Republicans who gleefully seized upon that suit as an excuse to rummage through Bill Clinton's entire sexual history cannot now complain. Anyone old enough to remember who Lucianne Goldberg or Linda Tripp were will cackle at the following:
As for the subpoena, they argued that it is "far reaching" and "seeks wholly irrelevant information intended solely to harass the president."
What gropes around, comes around. We cannot tolerate one legal standard for Clinton and a different standard for Trump.

Right now, it seems to me as though Zervos has a better case than Jones did -- and better reason to seek information about other women who may have been harassed or victimized by Donald Trump. Did he offer other women money to keep quiet? Did he hand them NDAs? Did he threaten?

(Incidentally, an NDA is void when a crime is involved. Contracts cover only legal activity, which is why you can't sue a hit man who doesn't kill the mark.)

Remember: Trump has admitted in public that he is, in fact, a sexual predator. Also remember: Somewhere in Los Angeles, there are hours of unaired video footage from Trump's Apprentice days -- and according to credible report, much of that footage is damning. (Larry Flynt recently offered ten million to anyone who offers information leading to Trump's impeachment. I hope that whoever has that footage understands that you can do an awful lot of redecorating for ten million bucks.)

In Double Indemnity, Edward G. Robinson speaks of the "little man" living in his gut who tells him "Pay attention. This is important." Back in 2016, my own little man immediately sensed that the "Katie Johnson" rape accusation against Trump would never amount to anything. By contrast, the moment I learned of the Summer Zervos accusation, my little man began to fidget and shake and emit electric sparks -- and when I saw that subpoena, the voice in my gut tried to out-shriek the Wilhelm scream.

Pay attention. This is important.

That's what my little man is telling me. What is your little man telling you?
Where can I get one of these little men? Love the what gropes around comes around. I will tell you my macro sense is saying the time has come. That Hollywood creep is getting no slack and his honors are being stripped from him. The times are changing and women are tired of being hated and abused. If enough men are on board and it is an issue whose time has come, Puny Paws will not survive this.
Mark Burnett, who was one of the producers on the Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, needs to be subpoenaed as well since he might have knowledge of Trump's behavior on the set and might be the one who is destroyed or hidden video evidence.
In my opinion this all goes back to Sixty Minutes and either the late 80's or early 90's when they aired a story about Hollywood and some of the lurid details involved in getting a part. At the end of the 60 Minutes segment, Joel Thurm, a casting director who is still active to this day, literally stated the following, "One Actress was forced to masturbate in front of (not sure what position of authority he stated) before she got the part".
Now, how could that salacious bit of data be BROADCAST to 20 million people, then nothing was done to find the perp, and that perp might have been Harvey Weinstein 25 years ago!
So because 60 Minutes did not do their due diligence back then, we now potentially have additional enablers like Mark Burnett either hiding or destroying video evidence.
Until 60 Minutes comes clean of their own role in all of this, rock bottom will not be hit. Why did 60 Minutes allow Joel Thurm to make such a provocative statement, yet no one followed up from 60 Minutes or from the local police?
Very interesting, Alessandro, but you are assuming people care about women, rather than just consider that a salacious tidbit.
How many in Hollywood are in a position to expose the sordid without ending their careers?
Same as those in the business world knowing that exposing Trump means being ostracized by the community since you might go on to air some other dirty laundry
How far can one living a good life go on 6 million the amount after taxes.
There are all sorts of sites out there have been predicting The Great White Dope's demise since the inauguration but like the song lyric from Annie, "Tomorrow. Tomorrow, Trump will be indicted tomorrow. And tomorrow is just a day away."
I'm not gonna help or my breath that Trump is going away any time soon.
Don't expect anything from the voters because for most it's like a Vietnamese farmer, no different if the oppression came from Hanoi or Saigon.
I think I'll trust your little man, Joseph. Mine is cursing a blue streak right now.

The question is, will the media get off their "Weinstein joined at the hip with Hillary" horseshit and concentrate on this? We'll see....
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"How many in Hollywood are in a position to expose the sordid without ending their careers?"

Y'know, things do change. Years ago, I lived in L.A. and was kinda sorta on the outskirts (the FAR outskirts) of the Industry. I recall speaking to a friend about an idea I had for a "roman a clef" script based on the life of L. Ron Hubbard. (This was a few years after Hubbard died.) The friend said NO WAY, that there were too many Scientologists in Hollywood. I'm not just talking about Tom Cruise and John Travolta. For a time, Scientology (which used to have a large building on Bollywood Blvd and, I think, still has a beautiful old building not far from that location) was weirdly attractive to a lot of people who worked behind the scenes.

So I shelved that idea. Then Oliver Stone produced a miniseries -- I forget the name -- which featured a Hubbard-like cult leader. A few comics started to make jokes about Scientology, especially after the "Battlefield Earth" debacle. Paul Thomas Anderson made "The Master," which was similar in some ways to the film I had in mind. Right now, few have anything good to say about Hubbardism.

So things change. I have to admit, though, that sometimes the pace of change is glacial.

I'll also say this: I honestly believe that Weinstein was more of an aberration than many people believe. L.A. is filled with beautiful girls ready and willing to throw themselves at any man in a position of power. There's no need to steal that which is given freely.

Besides, the industry is not nearly so depraved as people outside of L.A. want to believe. The real center of "Hollyood" is Burbank -- that's where Disney, Universal and the Warner Brothers lot are located, and it's where many of the behind-the-scenes workers live. You should visit the place. Burbank is a quiet, family-oriented suburb with surprisingly few bars, no strip clubs (at least none that I recall), nice parks, lots of nice houses, lots of pride-of-ownership, and a fair number of churches. It's a lot closer to the "Leave It to Beaver" ideal than are many communities in the red states.
"What gropes around, comes around."

Okay, that made me laugh although I find this whole 'Blame Hillary' thing laughable and sick and way too predictable. Do the Trumpeters really think this tactic will protect The Donald, a self-proclaimed womanizer and groper? Or deflecting to the Left's so-called complicity through the acceptance of Weinstein's money? That should only draw attention to the Donors for Donald, foreign and domestic alike.

Too often these maneuvers are projections, calling out the sinners for the sins they've committed.

That being said if this woman has a case, good one on her. Because I want to see Donald Trump beaten with the same ugly stick he's used on others. He is so-o-o deserving. And if the Republicans object? Well, it's just one more mark in the hypocrite column.

(Part 1 of 2) Just please don't forget Malta.

Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered yesterday. To stress their point, the killers used a powerful car bomb. She had been investigating state corruption at the highest levels in that mafia-run island country, gambling, money laundering, and the Azerbaijani involvement.

Trump has had many business links with leading figures in Azerbaijan, including with Emin Agalarov (Trump even appears in this video) and the Mammadov family (Trump International Hotel and Tower in Baku).

Trump also appears to linked with Malta. At the beginning of last month, it was stated that the FBI's "Trump probe" would investigate the Maltese connection.

If I may be permitted a lengthy quote:

"As the (FBI) delves deeper in its investigation of US President Donald Trump's ties to Russia, it is becoming increasingly likely that the investigation will eventually reach Malta thanks to a web of over a dozen Georgian offshore companies set up in Malta."

"The US Department of Justice has tasked former FBI chief Robert Mueller to investigate "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump," as well as "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation".

"In the midst of this investigation, several companies registered in Malta, linked with a Georgian based company called the Silk Road Group could provide some insight into Trump's connections with Russia."

"The story centres on plans in 2011 to build a Trump Tower in the seaside city of Batumi in the Republic of Georgia. Adam Davidson from The New Yorker reported extensively on this deal, in which Trump was reportedly paid USD1 million, which involved the financial backing of the Silk Road Group."

"The company's indirect links with a Kazakh oligarch, who in turn has direct links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, could provide scope for the probe. Due to the dubious financial dealings related to the company and the direct links to Russia, it is thought that Putin has access to sensitive information related to Trump and the entire deal."

"A licence was granted to approve the building of a Trump Tower in Butami, and it was to be developed and financed by subsidiaries of the Silk Road Group. It is reported that the latter received a US$300 million loan from B.T.A Bank, the largest bank in neighbouring Kazakhstan. B.T.A Bank was placed in Kazakh's sovereign-wealth fund, under the directorship of Kazakh oligarch's Nursultan Nazarbayev's son-in-law Timur Kulibayev(...)"

(part 2 follows)
(part 2 of 2)

"The corporate structure of the Silk Road Group, which is a holding company that controls dozens of corporate entities registered around the world, involves several holdings in Malta."

"The complex layers of shell companies registered in various countries made its way to Malta. The New Yorker cites an eight-million-US-dollar loan granted to Batumi Riviera Holding, BV, which is registered in Holland. Batumi Riviera Holding is then owned by Tbilisi Central Plaza, a company registered in Malta, which is owned by Susalike Holding GmbH, which is registered in Germany, to a Silk Road Group subsidiary."

"In addition to this, research carried out by this newspaper reveals that multiple other companies linked with the Silk Road Group are registered in Malta (...)"

"The lawyer of the Trump administration, Jay Sekulow, has been quoted as saying that the US Justice Department investigation must be as specific as possible, and that it would lodge formal complaints should it delve into Trump's business dealings in Georgia. He contends that Georgia is not Russia; however, opponents stress that Russian influence does not stop at Russian borders."

"Malta may yet again have its corporate service provision system come under fire through its links with the Silk Road Group."

Then later last month, Muscat came to New York and met Trump.

And now, a few weeks later, guess what? Muscat says he has asked the US FBI to help investigate the Galizia murder.

Looks like the FBI will have an interesting time in Malta!
Click here for murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia's blog.

There's a lot there. In May she even wrote about Tony Blair's work for both the Azerbaijani mafia state and the mafia prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat. That was the day after Blair's recorded "testimonial" for Joseph Muscat was played at the Maltese Labour Party's conference.

It's interesting how efforts are being made to damage-limit and control this story by stamping it with the word "Wikileaks", calling Caruana a "one-woman Wikileaks". Fuck Wikileaks!
Joseph, the Hollywood mansion owned by Scientology is the former Chateau Elysee on Franklin Avenue, which was built in 1927. It became the Scientology Celebrity Centre International when the organization bought it in 1973. Our first apartment after moving to L.A. in 1974 was on a side street across from the chateau. Most of the people living in our building were Scientologists. The "officers" wore militaristic uniforms and began military-like drills around 6 am that involved loud whistle blowing. I recall that most of the members I saw chain-smoked Marlboro reds. But they minded their own business as did I. I agree with you about the charming, family friendly quality of Burbank. That surprised me because the only reference I had was Carson's (or Laugh-In's?) pejorative quip about "beautiful downtown Burbank." I was also surprised by the smaller but equally well cared for homes in Watts. Narrative is everything.
JL, I doubt that you'll read this, but thanks. I was trying to remember the name of Franklin Avenue! (But didn't want to fire up Google Earth.) There were some lovely little restaurants on that street, back in the '70s. The Scientology mansion, as you call it, was very grand and good looking, and I was always kind of pissed off to think that it belonged to such a vile organization.

I used to run into Sea Org members at an eatery across the street from the "Big Blue" Scientology HQ not far from Hollywood. They were a scary lot.

I'm glad you agreed with me about Burbank. I used to live not far away, in Noho -- a nickname I coined, believe it or not. Whenever I read some red-stater's fantasy about Hollywood debauchery, I would think: "They should see how Hollywood people ACTUALLY live."
The Franklin Ave. restaurant that stands out in my memory was called Dollar Bill's. I'm delighted to find out that my favorite blogger coined "NoHo!"
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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Nukes! And a couple of fake Renoirs

A recent episode of Rachel Maddow's show included an interesting segment on Trump's statements about nuclear war. Long story short: In a couple of speeches, the president has indicated that America now possesses a nearly-foolproof missile defense system.

True, the precise meaning of his statement was a bit hard to discern, because -- as always -- he spoke with marbles in his mouth. But one got the gist. He really seems persuaded that nuclear war would be survivable for the United States.

Maddow spoke to an expert who offered a very contrary opinion. Our "shield," said this expert, is extremely porous.

Is it?

Here's the thing: If we did have the technology to protect us from incoming missiles, that tech would be the most highly-guarded of America's secrets. As long as that secret remains a secret, as long as other nations could not replicate the trick, we would have a first strike capability.

No-one "in the know" would be willing to reveal such a truth in public. There's only one exception to that rule: Donald Trump himself. As everyone knows, President Blabby has a phobic reaction to the unexpressed thought: Any idea that pops into his cranium must come shooting out of his mouth.

Let us speculate further. As I always say: Speculation is fine as long as it comes clearly marked as such.

Are you among those who couldn't shake the feeling that there was something awfully odd about the rapidity of the Soviet Union's decline? That's certainly how I felt at the time: There's a hidden story here. They're keeping something important from us.

In all the years since, the conventional explanations for the Great Red Fall never made complete sense to me. I've never discussed my unease in public before, because all I had were half-formed thoughts which never congealed into a theory. Although I didn't feel comfortable with the mainstream view of what happened, I couldn't come up with a reasonable alternative.

Instinct told me that the grand finale of the USSR had some relationship to Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, a.k.a. "Star Wars." SDI was directed against space-based weapons systems. Given the enormous amount of money that went into the program, it is fair to presume that the blackest part of that budget could have been spent on...well, anything.

Did the Soviet Union break apart with such brutal rapidity because we had come up with a national missile defense system -- one that actually worked well enough to give us a first strike capability? Is it possible that such a thing could have been kept secret -- by both sides -- for all of these years?

Here's an odd alternative idea: What if an intricate deception operation convinced the USSR that we possessed such a system, even though we did not?

For now, let us posit that a workable missile defense system was, or is, real, and that this ultimate secret was kept hidden from the public until the Orange Oaf started flapping his lips. That scenario goes a long ways toward explaining why Trump seems to desire a nuclear exchange with North Korea.

Also: It's fair to presume that this ultra-secret tech has been transported to Putin's Russia. Learning that secret would be one of the main purposes of putting Donald Trump in office.

One thing's for certain: Even if America survives a nuclear war with North Korea with all of our cities intact, our standing in the world would decrease substantially. We'd be hated by all.

And now, let us shift from weighty speculation to silly pretension.

Renoir. This Vanity Fair piece reveals that Donald Trump used to keep a copy of Renoir's Two Sisters in a private jet. (For all I know, the work is still there.) Astoundingly, Trump insisted to biographer Tim O'Brien that the painting in his possession was the genuine original by Renoir, even though the actual work hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Trump's belief that he owns the original may, in fact, be sincere.
Curious, O’Brien asked Trump about the painting: was it an original Renoir? Trump replied in the affirmative. It was, he said. “No, it’s not Donald,” O’Brien responded. But, once again, Trump protested that it was.

“Donald, it’s not,” O’Brien said adamantly. “I grew up in Chicago, that Renoir is called Two Sisters on the Terrace, and it’s hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago.” He concluded emphatically: “That’s not an original.”

Trump, of course, did not agree, but O’Brien dropped the conversation topic and moved on with his interview. He thought that he had heard the last of the Renoir conversation. But the next day, when they boarded the plane to head back to New York City, Trump again pointed to the painting, and as if the conversation had never happened, he pointed to the fake and proclaimed, “You know, that’s an original Renoir.” O’Brien, chose not to engage, and dropped the conversation.
In a previous post, we discussed another ersatz Renoir hanging in Trump's pad in Trump Tower, as revealed by the photo to your right. It's called both At the Opera and La Loge. The actual painting is still hanging in the Courtauld Gallery in London.

In my post, I said that a man of Trump's wealth should invest in original art. Buying or commissioning a copy of a Renoir (or of anything else) is beneath a man of Trump's station -- both his actual station and his pretended station. There are many living artists of high quality whose works can be purchased for reasonable prices; for example, one can pick up a fine example of Odd Nerdrum's work for around $50,000. Trump should be able to afford that, even if he is worth far less than he claims.

Of course, investing in art requires the acquisition of taste. In Trumpworld, that commodity is elusive.

The Vanity Fair piece increases the probability that Donald Trump tells visitors that he owns the real version of At the Opera. Anyone who knows about art would immediately be onto him: That painting is one of Renoir's most famous works.

Apparently, Trump surrounds himself with people who refuse to burst his illusions -- or who know nothing about culture.
It was common knowledge in the late 1980s in the bits of "proper" academia that were concerned with the USSR and with US-Soviet relations that the US attitude towards the anti-ballistic missile thread of the "game" was as follows:

"we'll each guard one site with ABM - yours is Moscow, and ours is the whole of the contiguous 49 states, right?"

(Dear readers, you will probably be wasting your time if you ask Wikipedia or Google for verification.)

There was no way the USSR was going to survive the info revolution. A few years after its demise, the main successor state couldn't even protect its nuclear facilities against the Chechens.

(But it says a lot that they had the good sense to do a deal, a deal in the true sense of the word and not the Trumpian sense of pushing the other party's face into a cowpat while telling yourself you're the greatest.)

The KGB is a completely different kettle of fish from the USSR-CPSU. The ~KGB is winning in the "fifth domain" of warfare. Morale is much higher in Russia than the US too.

In military PR - an interesting and up-and-coming field - Russia is also superior. Consider the countries' respective actions in Syria. I've also seen some competent play by Sweden. The US? Tell me about it. The mutilated bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons? The "truth doctor" shining a torch into their father's mouth? That's single-studio stuff. It's not like the 200 white Russian trucks going into the Ukraine. And in the terrifying display of brutality the US is far behind Daesh as we all know.
I remember the controversy surrounding SDI aka Star Wars. Articles were written about the cost/benefit ratio for the money Regan was pumping into the Department of Defense.
I was under the impression the USSR went broke trying to keep up while at the same time corruption was eating away the pillars of government.
An unintended consequence of the money spent was the revival of the U.S. economy. Reagan could have put the money into infrastructure rebuilding with the same results. Something President Carter should have done instead of going the "Lower your thermostat" route.
He could be taunted in his own terms as displaying Fake Art! As for the missile shield, it was big news in the Boston area that a tenured professor at MIT tried to spill the beans on how the missile shield was a joke and fraudulent expense. Maybe Cambridge Knitter has a better memory on this than I have.
I don't think it's possible America has a working missile shield against Russia, but against North Korea is a different matter. Korea has only a few warheads, doesn't have real ICBMs, doesn't have MIRVS or jammers or decoys on their missiles, doesn't have bomber submarines to launch them from, and so forth. Easy to take them out, comparatively speaking.

As for Renoirs, how do you know which ones are the real ones? Perhaps captain Blabby is spilling the beans again. There have certainly been rumours over the years of things in the possession of the state going missing, possibly to fund intelligence operations. The gold in Fort Knox being replaced with Tungsten. The Smithsonian dumping OOPArts in the sea. Tamashita's gold. Various Nazi loot, such as the Gold Train. And one occasionally hears tell of rival claimants to the title of real works of art. During the war they buried all the art and replaced it with duplicates. No-one noticed then. Claims are regularly made, mainly by Sheikhs and other nouveau riche types to owning things supposedly elsewhere. So perhaps Trump really does own the real thing, or perhaps some fraudster convinced him that he owns the real thing.
When I was forced to sell my house a while back,* I ended up with a small windfall. At the time I very nearly purchased an original by -- well, I won't mention who, because you'll surely hate the artist -- which at the time would have cost around $60,000. (I'd looked into buying a canvas by, well, another artist you'd hate, but at the time he was presold for 3 years at $120,000 a pop.)

Ultimately, I decided against making such a huge purchase -- but, looking back, I wish I had, because all I did instead was let the money dribble away while I wrestled myself to a standstill.
* In the opening years of this century, I lost my girlfriend/best friend/business partner of 5 years; over the following 12 months, as collateral damage from the break-up, I went on to lose my job, business, career, home, car, life savings, position in the community, and about 1/3 of my social group. Oh, my self-confidence, as well. And, about a month before, in an unrelated loss, my father, who was also one of my closest friends.
"As for Renoirs, how do you know which ones are the real ones?"

Um...turn 'em over?

Okay, you and I can't do that, but the owners of the legit works can do so. There's usually some clue to authentication on the backside. Haven't you ever watched "Fake or Fortune?" (Fiona Bruce has joined my list of crush-worthy women.)

An analysis of the paint would tell us which painting is the real deal, since Renoir used a couple of fugitive colors (Carmine/Cochineal Red and Chrome Yellow) which no artist of the past half-century would use -- in fact, they aren't even sold anymore, although Kremer will sell you the bugs necessary to mull your own Cochineal Red.

(Don't get me started on this stuff. On the Wetcanvas site, I've been known to fob myself off as some sort of expert regarding the technical side of oil painting.)

Actually, I own a very old tube of Cochineal. It's one of my prized possessions. And a few decades ago, I had some Chrome Yellow.

Omigod -- maybe I'M the Renoir forger!

Maz: "well, I won't mention who, because you'll surely hate the artist."

I try not to complain about artists because I know how hard it is to make a living in that game. On the other hand, I HAVE bitched about a couple of contemporary artists in previous posts. Maybe I shouldn't have done that.
By the way, maz, I know what it's like to lose...everything. I've been through it a couple of times. You were lucky to lose only 1/3 of your friends. But losing your dad is a blow that you never forget.
Come sit by me, Maz, and we'll compare the art of losing! I can't post the link to my favorite Elizabeth Bishop poem, One Art, because my computer was recently stolen and it took me forever to even learn how to post from my phone. I am meeting an awesome artist tonight, Peter Max. I don't apologize for liking pop! I can't afford any of the work, but maybe he will sign my Peter Max poster book from back in the day.
Totally signed my 1971 poster book I got as a child! My cuz and I were like well behaved excited children watching all the swells get 10s of thousands worth of framed originals signed and it was over an hour before there was enough of a lull (and no gallery guards) for him to hold his hand out for my book. I know exactly the piece I'd buy if I had 6 k to spare! And yes, preznut puny paws fake art did come up in crowd conversation.
I think they are called MIRV's, one nuclear missile goes up, and then five or 10 nuclear weapons are jettisoned from the main missile, creating 10 targets instead of one.
Now what if MIRV could handle 20 or 30 missiles, but only 10 were real, now one missile could cause those trying to stop the missile to have to destroy thirty targets.
No way to hit everything in the sky.
What if a plane were to launch 300 drones carrying GPS signals, What then? Do we ignore it, or try and hit each one?
Unless the U.S. has already been knocking nukes out of the sky for years but not telling anyone, i don't think its possible to ensure that anything coming towards the U.S. can be disabled in time.
Joseph, the entity you brought to our attention, which bore the description "is art company" is on my mind, now. Wonder what they (he?) sold to whom? This is the sort of comic relief I'm grateful for.

Prowlerzee, very cool getting that book signed. I'm all admiration for your having kept a childhood favorite for all this time.
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Friday, October 13, 2017


I don't know who wrote this -- probably this fellow -- but I agree with every word...
I do know who drew this cartoon, and I agree with every line...

School days. Trump's hilariously obvious insecurity about his intelligence has many people wondering how he really managed to survive the Wharton school. Fortunately, we now have this report from one of his professors, William T. Kelley, who died at the age of 94 six years ago. Kelley's opinion has been relayed to us via a good friend.

Professor Kelley told me 100 times over three decades that “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” I remember his emphasis and inflection — it went like this: “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity, but long before he was considered a political figure. Kelley often referred to Trump’s arrogance when he told the story that Trump came to Wharton thinking he already knew everything.
Kelley’s view seems to be shared by other University of Pennsylvanians. See, from the Daily Pennsylvanian, stating:
Another biographer, Gwenda Blair, wrote in 2001 that Trump was admitted to Wharton on a special favor from a “friendly” admissions officer. The officer had known Trump’s older brother, Freddy.

Trump’s classmates doubt that the real estate mogul was an academic powerhouse.

“He was not in any kind of leadership. I certainly doubt he was the smartest guy in the class,” said Steve Perelman, a 1968 Wharton classmate and a former Daily Pennsylvanian news editor.

Some classmates speculated that Trump skipped class, others that he commuted to New York on weekends. . . .

* * *

1968 Wharton graduate Louis Calomaris recalled that “Don ... was loath to really study much.”

Calomaris said Trump would come to study groups unprepared and did not “seem to care about being prepared.”
Now all we need is a confession from the fellow student who wrote Trump's papers.
A conservative acquaintance of mine emailed me the following. How much of it is true?

No wonder the state wants to be a Sanctuary state and the real reason is, It’s all about economics. Cheap labor! Reminds me of why the south didn’t want to give up slavery……

California - Largest Insane Asylum In The World
Interesting that the LA Times did this. Lou Dobbs reported this on CNN and it cost him his job. The only network we would see this on would be FOX. All the others are staying away from it. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, This should be of great interest to you!
This is only one State... If this doesn't open your eyes, nothing will.
From the L.A. Times.
1. 40% of all workers in LA County (10.2 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants, working without a green card. (Donald Trump was right)
2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.
4. Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal, whose births were paid for by taxpayers.
5. Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals; they are here illegally.
6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.
7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.
8. Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.
9. 21 radio stations in LA are Spanish- speaking.
10. In LA County, 5.1 million people speak English; 3.9 million, speak Spanish. (There are 10.2 million people, in LA County.)
All 10 of the above facts were published in the Los Angeles Times.
Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops but 29% are on welfare. Over 70% of the United States ' annual population growth, (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York), results from immigration. Also, 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens. We are fools for letting this continue.
Send copies of this letter, to at least two other people. 100 would be even better.
This is only one State...If this doesn't open your eyes nothing will and you wonder why Nancy Pelosi wants them to become voters!
If you don't agree, just delete -- if you do pass it on! Where do we get these morons?
Windfall Tax on Retirement Income... Adding a tax to your retirement is simply another way of saying to the American people "you're so darn stupid that we're going to keep doing this until we drain every cent from you". Nancy Pelosi wants a Windfall Tax on Retirement Income. In other words, tax what you have made by investing toward your retirement. This woman is a nut case! You aren't going to believe this
Nancy Pelosi wants to put a Windfall Tax on all stock market profits
(including Retirement fund, 401K and Mutual Funds)!
Alas, it is true - all to help the 12 Million Illegal Immigrants and other unemployed Minorities!
This woman is frightening. She quotes... 'We need to work toward the goal of equalizing income, (didn't Marx say something like this?) in our country; and at the same time limiting the amount the rich can invest. (I'm not rich, are you?)
When asked how these new tax dollars would be spent, she replied: “We need to raise the standard of living of our poor, unemployed and minorities. For example, we have an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in our country who need our help along with millions of unemployed minorities. Stock market windfall profits taxes could go a long way to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as Americans.“
(Read that quote again and again and let it sink in.) 'Lower your retirement; give it to others who have not worked, as you have' for your money. Send this on to your friends. I just did! This lady is out of her mind!

I live in CA and this stuff is not true.
War is being prepared. Iran is a better bet for the badly led rabble of the US armed forces, or at least it will be during the five minutes when the action would mainly consist of cruise missiles fired from the sea (surface vessels or subs), when perhaps some might even get through without the Russians shooting them down.

Iran, unlike North Korea, couldn't strike back militarily.

There may be a lesson for the Iranian leadership here: doing a deal with the US is like thinking that by clenching your arse you'll only get raped halfway.

The idea of Puerto Rico as a new Dubai? Well, it's interesting that the idea of a new Dubai has been mentioned by the British Foreign Secretary (until recently a US citizen) in connection with Sirte in Libya.

Dubai itself is the new Beirut.

There's unlikely to be a new Dubai anywhere, but certainly not while there's still an old Dubai. And it only takes an afternoon of missile attacks or aerial bombing for Dubai to be FINISHED.
@Alessandro Machi

Google is your friend.

A search for "California - Largest Insane Asylum In The World" returns (a) numerous instances of idiots blindly posting this decades-old P.O.S. but also (b) numerous examples of posts debunking it. (I recall spending a couple of hours years ago tracking down the truth about each bullet point, but I have no idea if or where I saved or posted it.)

In addition, while the post first appeared in 2005 or 2006, it was based largely on Congressional testimony from renown cop-stroker and reality-phobe Heather Mac Donald, who cherry-picked random factoids from the previous two decades in support of her widely derided claims. Accordingly, what started out life questionable and largely outdated is completely irrelevant today. (As an example, total illegal immigration peaked around 2006/2007 and has been declining ever since. Looking at Mexico alone, from 2008 through 2014 [at least; can't quickly scare up more-recent data] we saw negative net illegal immigration; that is, more illegal immigrants returned to Mexico each year than came here.)

Finally, the claims that aren't out-of-date are, more often than not, just racist BS. The Snopes debunk is characteristically reserved and to-the-point, but by being fair and balanced misses a chance to address the mentality and assumptions behind the post. A good example would be the handful of claims that feed off the belief that illegal immigrants are notoriously criminal-minded (aside, of course, from having entered the country illegally). The reality is that both legal and illegal immigrants are much less likely to be incarcerated than native-born Americans.

National Academy of Sciences, 2015:
Immigrants are in fact much less likely to commit crime than natives, and the presence of large numbers of immigrants seems to lower crime rates. [...] This disparity also holds for young men most likely to be undocumented immigrants: Mexican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan men.
Today, the belief that immigrants are more likely to commit crimes is perpetuated by ‘issue entrepreneurs’ who promote the immigrant-crime connection in order to drive restrictionist immigration policy.

Cato Institute, March 2017:
Illegal immigrants are 44 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Legal immigrants are 69 percent less likely to be incarcerated than natives. Legal and illegal immigrants are underrepresented in the incarcerated population while natives are overrepresented.

Specifically California-related, a 2008 study from the Public Policy Institute of California found "U.S.-born men are incarcerated in the state at a rate of more than two-and-a-half times greater than that of foreign-born men." (That quote and earlier references all courtesy Politifact.)

So feel free to tell your friend he's at risk of looking like an idiot for being so gullible. Not that it will work, of course; the American right had developed flesh-eating-bacteria levels of resistance to facts and truth...
Maz, thanks for that term "issue entrepreneurs." And a shorter, simple way to debunk crap is if it contains randomly capitalized nouns like State, it's rightwing propaganda.
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Does Trump really want a nearly "tenfold" nuke increase?

Four NBC News reporters aroused Trump's ire with a report bearing this headline: "Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal, Surprising Military." Trump and Mattis denied the claim; moreover, Trump has threatened NBC's license -- a threat which should be neither dismissed nor minimized -- while his followers have targeted the network with the usual Orwellian hate-campaign.

According to NBC, Trump's request for more nukes prompted Tillerson to make that infamous "moron" remark -- which Trump also says is fake news.

The gist of the NBC piece is substantiated by one of Trump's own tweets.

That was in December; NBC spoke of a Pentagon meeting which occurred in July. I don't think that Trump became a peacenik during the intervening months. So the only real question is whether Trump wistfully longed for a tenfold increase. Is the number in the headline justified by the text?
Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.
The president’s comments during the Pentagon meeting in July came in response to a chart shown on the history of the U.S. and Russia’s nuclear capabilities that showed America’s stockpile at its peak in the late 1960s, the officials said. Some officials present said they did not take Trump’s desire for more nuclear weapons to be literally instructing the military to increase the actual numbers.
According to Wikipedia, the number of nuclear warheads in the American arsenal reached a high of 31,139 in 1965 and had been reduced to 7260 as of 2014. But: They are projected to go down to 3620 by 2022.

A 3620 to 31,139 increase would justify the "nearly tenfold" remark.

Is it believable that Trump would look at a chart similar to this one and muse about returning to the 1965 level? In my opinion, yes. He always wants to be at the top of any given mountain.

The article makes clear that Trump did not give an order to that effect, a point reiterated by journalist Courtney Kube (one of the four NBC authors) in this tweet. Apparently, the president made an impulsive, pie-in-the-sky remark which no-one around him took very seriously.

During the campaign, Trump indicated that he could not define the term "nuclear triad." Therefore, I have no difficulty believing that Trump is also unaware of the history of nuclear arms reductions.

Incidentally, the chart reminds us that the USSR's nuclear stockpile reached its highest point not long before the fall of the Soviet Union. Standing at the top of the mountain isn't everything.
Don't know how this will sound but it was immediately crystal clear to me after the train wreck we called an election that trump's occupation of the White House was going to be a nightmare. I've got to admit I actually underestimated just how bad the situation could become.

I agree with something you mentioned a couple of days ago, trump is probably goading North Korea into a first strike, or at least attacking South Korea, so he extend his control over the country.

I read the article, the headline is in the tradition of supermarket tabloid journalism. The print and broadcast news media puts Ad Revenue over journalism. One only has to look back to 2000 and how the news media skunked Al Gore because they knew Bush the Lesser would generate more headlines with the lunacy.
The New York Times, Washington Post, and the TV networks were willing foot soldiers in the war against Hillary Clinton as with Al Gore in the name of increased audience.
Ironic that now Trump wants to pull affiliates' broadcast licenses, pass the popcorn.
Mike, my original reaction was that NBC used an over-the-top headline. In fact, I originally wrote a very different post, or half-post. But then I looked up the history of America's nuclear stockpile and I realized that the headline actually made sense.

Although I think Trump really did say something that roughly approximated what we read about in the NBC report, I don't think that he was speaking seriously or after deep consideration. Trump is impulsive. We all know that. He's one of those guys who can't appreciate the virtue of an unexpressed thought. An idea pops into his noggin, and it shoots out of his mouth before he even realizes that his lips are moving.

I met a lot of guys like that back in the days when I hung out with conspiracy buffs. They just can't help themselves.
I wish Hillary wrote her book before the election, and everyone in America was forced to read it. It's a wishing for a unicorn thing.
Speaking of nuts and nukes, Joseph...H.A. Goodman showing yet again why he's really a fan of Trump:

Good thing I wasn't eating when I read this, because I would have thrown up.
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GOP to Trump: The best defense is a good silence

Rex Tillerson allegedly referred to Trump as a "moron." Senator Bob Corker spoke of Trump as an unruly child who might ignite World War III in a fit of pique.

You know what really impresses me? The response of all the other GOP congressfolk. The way they have rushed to defend their president will be remembered for generations to come.

Pillory Hillary. Trump still has loyalists, and they have decided to defend their God Emperor by beating up a woman. Specifically: They blame Hillary Clinton for the sexual sins of a movie producer named Harvey Weinstein. She made him do it.

During the primary battle, a BernieBot on Democratic Underground posted an instantly-notorious post blaming Hillary Clinton for not ending apartheid while she was the wife of the governor of Arkansas. You won't be able to find that post now because the avalanche of hilarious responses shamed the original poster into removing his inane claim. (A clever Googler can retrieve a cached version of the thread.) The non-Berniebots really got into the spirit of the occasion, blaming Hillary for the JFK assassination and failing to prevent 9/11 and not coming over to do the dishes.

Somewhere along the way, one Hillary defender pointed out that Nelson Mandela greatly admired the Clintons. In response to this news, another BernieBro sneered that Mandela was a sellout corporatist phony who played no role in ending apartheid; true credit for that victory should apparently go to the Messiah from Vermont. All hail Glorious Leader Bernie Sanders, savior of South Africa!

Who writes this nonsense? Are these "bros" actually Russian trolls? I can't say for certain, but I wouldn't hesitate to ask them where to find the best Shaslik in St. Petersburg.

(I presume you've already read this important story.)

Is your antivirus spying on you? Fascinating piece in the NYT: "How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets."
What gave the Russian hacking, detected more than two years ago, such global reach was its improvised search tool — antivirus software made by a Russian company, Kaspersky Lab, that is used by 400 million people worldwide, including by officials at some two dozen American government agencies.

The Israeli officials who had hacked into Kaspersky’s own network alerted the United States to the broad Russian intrusion, which has not been previously reported, leading to a decision just last month to order Kaspersky software removed from government computers.

The Russian operation, described by multiple people who have been briefed on the matter, is known to have stolen classified documents from a National Security Agency employee who had improperly stored them on his home computer, on which Kaspersky’s antivirus software was installed. What additional American secrets the Russian hackers may have gleaned from multiple agencies, by turning the Kaspersky software into a sort of Google search for sensitive information, is not yet publicly known.
The NYT won't ask the obvious question: What about the other vendors of anti-malware apps? Take, for example, ZoneAlarm, the popular free firewall: ZoneAlarm is made by Checkpoint, which is basically an offshoot of Israel's Unit 8200 (their version of the NSA).

One should also note that most pirated versions of expensive apps come from Russian and Chinese sources.

A few years ago, I indulged in some mildly paranoid speculation:
In the 1980s (according to an oft-told story), a gang lord stood accused of being involved with the cocaine trade. The government proved that cash in his possession tested positive for trace evidence of the drug. The defense countered by proving that all folding money contains trace evidence of cocaine.

Similarly, perhaps your computer has kiddie porn imagery nestled somewhere on it. Perhaps most computers do.

We all download freeware programs -- including the firewall ZoneAlarm, which is provided to you gratis by people who are at least rumored to be connected to Israeli intelligence. There are numerous other free apps out there: Video converters, music players, anti-spyware, registry utilities, so on and so-forth.

How do you know -- how can you be 100% certain -- that these apps do not place a tiny illegal image in some deeply hidden folder on your system? Perhaps the program automatically erases the illegal image seconds after placing it on your computer. The image would still be visible to a cop or federal agent doing a forensic analysis of your system.

From the standpoint of a totalitarian ruler, it would be very useful to engineer a society in which nearly everyone can (potentially) be proven in court to be a lawbreaker. Let's posit that the "Occupy Wall Street" movement whelps up an actual leader. To discredit him, the government need merely gin up an accusation of pedophilia -- and lo, the evidence will appear on his system. The forensic computer detective who examines the drive will believe that he has made a legitimate find.
I am considering switching anti-virus software since n certain the company has decided to partner with a credit fraud protection outfit with a less than stellar reputation. Every year at this time I start looking at internet security suite reviews. Now you got me paranoid, can the reviewers be trusted?
The Tax Code seems to serve the same purpose in permitting a prima facie case to be mounted against any citizen for tax violations. Reportedly if you call up the IRS for tax preparation advice, if you ask four people the same question you will get three different answers.

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