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Thursday, September 21, 2017

If the Cassidy-Graham health care bill passes, blame Bernie

I have come to loathe Bernie Sanders, even though he ostensibly favors many policies which I also favor. In fact, I suspect him of being a secret operative of the GOP.

Consider the Cassidy-Graham health care bill, the last-ditch attempt to pass Obamacare repeal while it is still politically possible to do so. Timing is all: The Republicans need a simple 50-vote majority if they get a bill passed in the Senate this month. Next month, we're back to the 60-vote hurdle.

From yesterday's Washington Post:
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) sounded downright giddy. His own legislation to curtail the Affordable Care Act, and block grant Medicaid, was released just a few hours before Sanders’s, to a smaller but just as skeptical group of reporters.

“You’re skipping Bernie for this?” he joked. Before he got to the substance of the Cassidy-Graham bill, the senator framed it as an alternative to the Sanders bill, a way to stop an inevitable lurch toward European-style universal coverage: “Hell no to Berniecare!”

The momentum for Graham’s bill, and the surprise reanimation of a repeal effort that has been declared dead twice before, has sparked one of the Capitol’s most cherished traditions: panicky Democrats taking shots at each other. Egged on by Graham, and by a snarky Republican National Committee, a few liberal analysts and Democratic pols have asked whether Sanders bears some responsibility for the 11th hour repeal fight.
You bet your ass he does.
More baffling to Democrats was Graham’s Sanders-focused selling point: That if his bill passed, a federal Medicare for All program would become impossible. By block-granting Medicaid, Republicans would prevent Democrats from going back to the well when they next controlled Congress, because states would have set up their own insurance systems.

“Bernie, this ends your dream,” Graham said last week.
I'm not saying that Bernie should never have submitted a "Medicare for all" proposal. I'm just pointing out that doing so in September spurred the Republicans into action. Once again, Bernie Sanders "inadvertently" helped Trump, as he always tends to do.

Because he acted prematurely -- because he refused to wait until Trumpcare's corpse was autopsied, embalmed and buried -- Sanders single-handedly revived the effort to repeal Obamacare. He put the fear of God into the hearts of Republicans who don't like single-payer.

I have no doubt that most Republicans in Congress would have preferred to let the month of September slide by without giving one further thought to the health care battle. Frankly, most of them would have preferred to forget that a health care debate even exists.

If Bernie Sanders was serious about his single payer proposal, he would contented himself with being Mr. October. And I'm not the only person who comprehends this. Here's a tweet from Ezra Klein:
Never understood why Sanders didn't wait till after the 9/30 reconciliation deadline to release his bill.
You should read what the BernieBros have to say in response to this point. Their affected obtuseness -- their pretended inability to comprehend the wait-for-October argument -- is nothing short of infuriating.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski was one of the three GOP senators who gave the previous incarnation of Trumpcare her thumb's down, so now they are making her an offer difficult to refuse:
According to the aide, here is a summary of what the new draft of the bill entails:

"This draft includes 3 separate provisions benefitting Alaska.

Alaska (along with Hawaii) will continue to receive Obamacare’s premium tax credits while they are repealed for all other states. It appears this exemption will not affect Alaska receiving its state allotment under the new block grant in addition to the premium tax credits.

Delays implementation of the Medicaid per capita caps for Alaska and Hawaii for years in which the policy would reduce their funding below what they would have received in 2020 plus CPI-M [Consumer Price Index for Medical Care].

Provides for an increased federal Medicaid matching rate (FMAP) for both Alaska and Hawaii."

The changes aren't final, and it remains to be seen whether they'll be enough to win Murkowski's vote.
Will she go with her party this time? They've offered her a lot, but she previously made clear that she thinks her constituents don't want to return to a system in which premiums go up for those with preexisting conditions. Most people think that Cassidy-Graham will undo the part of O-care that most Americans like best.

If Murkowski makes the switch, blame Bernie. If not for him, there wouldn't be a Cassidy-Graham bill. By choosing to introduce his legislation in September rather than October, Bernie is either complicit or an idiot.

If this isn't bad enough, don't forget that Bernie is doing a speech promoting Medicare-for-all TOMORROW! (

And if that's not bad enough, he has agreed to debate Graham and Cassidy on healthcare on Monday on CNN. There is a 1000% chance that this will devolve into single payer vs. Graham-Cassidy which common sense dictates is absolutely NOT the fight the Democrats should be having to save Obamacare.

At this point, I hope Mueller is checking Manafort's emails to see if he ever contacted his buddy Tad Devine during the campaign or since. Bernie is getting really suspicious lately.

Even if Bernie is merely a narcissistic old fool, this is probably all triggered by Hillary's book tour being orders of magnitude more popular than his.
Forgot to add, I make no predictions, but I have a bad feeling about this one. McCain is Graham's buddy so it's no hard to him supporting it. And with Bernie's sabotage, I could easily see that putting it over the top. Phone calls and prayer.
REALLY sorry for the triple post, but I have to add that if anyone needs convincing that this debate is a bad idea, there is a 0% chance Graham and Cassidy do it if Bernie isn't involved. I only had to say that because that's the latest Bernie Bro spin that because Amy Klobuchar is tagging along (no doubt to babysit Bernie), then that means Democrats are also trying to sabotage Obamacare. Reasoning with Bernie Bros is as pointless as reasoning with Trump cultists.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Paul Manafort and Oleg Deripaska

Sorry I've been away; I've not been feeling well.

Let me begin by posing one simple question: How is the anti-Trumpist cause aided by the revelation that Paul Manafort's communications have been under surveillance since 2014?

Sure, we "Russiagate" junkies love to learn these details, but we also have to think about the broader ramifications. Publication of this information has drawbacks. For one thing, Manafort is now able to do the "martyrella" routine (as one of my old girlfriends liked to put it).
"If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged," Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement released Tuesday. "The U.S Department of Justice's Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration's effort to surveil a political opponent. Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ – there is nothing there."
From a prosecutorial viewpoint, the revelation of these warrants may mean that Mueller can no longer pursue a "perjury trap" strategy. Arguably, Manafort was more likely to lie when he didn't know that those intercepts existed.

Not only that. Manafort was Roger Stone's partner. Stone now understands that his own private phone conversations with Manafort are "on the record," as are conversations in which Russians and Ukrainians discuss Stone. Thus, Stone too may now be harder to catch in a perjury trap.

(By the way: Minimization is supposed to excise the names of Stone and Trump from the Manafort intercepts. Studying the transcripts should allow for fairly easy contextual identification. One of these days, we'll probably have access to those transcripts.)

Revealing the FISA surveillance of Paul Manafort has given Trump apologists an excuse to insist that the Orange Oaf was right all along when tweeted that Obama "tapped" Trump Tower. (Example.) Of course, the first FISA warrant against Manafort was issued back in 2014, well before the Trump campaign began; no one can reasonably claim that Obama was targeting Trump for political reasons. At any rate, that warrant did not come at the behest of Barack Obama. It was issued by a judge, who felt that there was reasonable cause to suspect that Manafort had committed a crime.

Mere logic, of course, doesn't matter to the Trumpers. They will seize upon any excuse, however flimsy, to proclaim that Il Duce is always right.

Deripaska. Although I question the wisdom of releasing this new information about Manafort, I must admit that we are learning some fascinating stuff. Consider the latest from the WP:
Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.
The email exchanges add to an already perilous legal situation for Manafort, whose real estate dealings and overseas bank accounts are of intense interest for Mueller and congressional investigators as part of their examination of Russia’s 2016 efforts. People close to Manafort believe Mueller’s goal is to force the former campaign chairman to flip on his former Trump associates and provide information.
Here's the problem: Unless Mueller can work with the New York prosecutor to bring state charges against Manafort, Trump can simply use the power of the pardon to insure that Manafort keeps his mouth shut. I see no state charges here.

About Deripaska: A writer called Polly Sigh (get it?) has offered some very informative tweets.
Motivation Cyprus records show: before 2016 campaign Manafort was 'in debt' to Deripaska >> stick & carrot #maddow
^ Recall- Manafort's NY racketeering scam w/oligarch Firtash & 🇷🇺mob boss Mogilevich also included Deripaska
Mogilevich is one extremely evil SOB. Basically, his organization runs a prostitution ring which specializes in underaged girls from Eastern Europe, who are used to "honeytrap" western politicians and business figures. (The target may not know the girl's true age.)
Drip drip Jul 19 NYT story: Before Campaign, Manafort Was in Debt to Russian oligarch Deripaska via $17M lawsuit
Private jet owned by Manafort financier Deripaska [BANNED from US] was parked 25 min from Trump's NJ golf course the past 2 days
A private jet belonging to Russian oligarch/mobster Deripaska [paid Manafort] was in NJ Aug 18-19, 2017
In addition to Putin & Kushners, Abramovich is also friends w/ Paul Manafort pal, Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
Manafort's protégé ex-FSB Kilimnik who partnered w/him on Deripaska deal was also UNDER FBI SCRUTINY
^ Notes btwn Manafort & his protégé ex-FSB Kilimnik re Deripaska were vague BUT they met twice in NY in 2016
Here is the July 19 NYT story to which Polly Sigh refers.
Financial records filed last year in the secretive tax haven of Cyprus, where Paul J. Manafort kept bank accounts during his years working in Ukraine and investing with a Russian oligarch, indicate that he had been in debt to pro-Russia interests by as much as $17 million before he joined Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign in March 2016.
Comey's FBI knew this, or should have known it. It would have been nice if Comey had told us this stuff before the election. He was certainly willing to discuss Hillary's silly emails..
The records, which include details for numerous loans, were certified as accurate by an accounting firm as of December 2015, several months before Mr. Manafort joined the Trump campaign, and were filed with Cyprus government authorities in 2016. The notion of indebtedness on the part of Mr. Manafort also aligns with assertions made in a court complaint filed in Virginia in 2015 by the Russian oligarch, Oleg V. Deripaska, who claimed Mr. Manafort and his partners owed him $19 million related to a failed investment in a Ukrainian cable television business.
Mr. Deripaska appears to have stopped pursuing his court action against Mr. Manafort and his former investment partners, Rick Gates and Rick Davis, in late 2015. In addition to the $19 million he said he had invested with Mr. Manafort, Mr. Deripaska claimed he paid Mr. Manafort an additional $7.3 million in management fees.
Huh. So, looks to me as though there was bad blood between Deripaska and Manafort over a dispute concerning more than twenty-five million dollars. Suddenly, once Donald Trump started his run for the presidency, the dispute went away: Deripaska said, in essence, "All is forgiven."

Why? What do you think caused the sudden onset of this Era of Good Feelings?

Do you think Deripaska's sudden change of heart had any link to the private info about Trump that Manafort was passing along?
Some view that Deripaska's lawsuit about money PM supposedly owed Deripaska as a potential form of money laundering. I.e. not real debt. PM's quotes suggest he thought HE was owed money, and wanted to look for ways to be "made whole".

I make no claims, and again, not a great publication, but there is some justification to at least consider this.
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

"This is huge news": Facebook and the Mueller probe. Plus: A comedian's brilliant response to the Cult of Bernie

I put a lot of work into the previous post (which was mostly about Cambridge Analytica) and thus had hoped not to write another piece today. Alas, events compel.

Is he or is he not rethinking the Paris Accords? The WSJ says that Trump has basically reversed course: Now he's staying in the Paris deal. If you're stymied by the WSJ paywall, visit Mother Jones:
The shift from President Donald Trump’s decision in June to renegotiate the landmark accord or craft a new deal came during a meeting of more than 30 ministers led by Canada, China and the European Union in Montreal.

“The U.S. has stated that they will not renegotiate the Paris accord, but they will try to review the terms on which they could be engaged under this agreement,” European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said.
Possibility 1: Ivanka has finally managed to knock some sense into her dad's thick, tangerine-hued cranium.

Possibility 2: Trump realizes that the hurricanes have transformed climate change denialism into an unbearable political burden.

Possibility 3: Trump needs a big win. He now knows that political victories will occur only if he works with the Dems. Edging toward sanity on the issue of global warming may help him when it comes to negotiations on infrastructure spending, which is the one Big Trumpian Idea that liberals actually like (in principle).

Of course, the White House immediately denied any change vis-a-vis the Paris accords. By this point, everyone knows that Trump worships the great god Janus.

Facebook and Mueller. A reader directed my attention to this important tweetstorm issued by former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. I've decided to translate his thoughts into conventional prose, a task which requires some editing for style. The words after the asterisks were written by Mariotti; I shall return when he has finished.

* * *

Why news that Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid.

Last night, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller obtained info from Facebook via search warrant. The WSJ talks about some of the info Mueller obtained [see text to your right]. Mueller could not obtain content of an account without a warrant.

I was initially wary about discussing implications of this story because I worried that the WSJ may have presumed a warrant that didn't exist. But CNN has confirmed that Mueller obtained content via search warrant, including ads, account details, targeting.

That is huge news. It means that Mueller has concluded that specific foreign individuals committed a crime by making a "contribution" in connection with an election. It also means that he has evidence of that crime that convinced a federal magistrate judge of two things. First: That there was good reason to believe that the foreign individual committed the crime. Second: That evidence of the crime existed on Facebook.

Why is that big news? Until now, Mueller's efforts to obtain information about Russian interference in the election could be seen as an effort to gain counterintelligence or to investigate a matter unlikely to result in charges. Now we know he believes that he's close to charging specific foreign people with a crime. Can he do that? Yes, if they committed a crime in the United States. For example, my former boss indicted Osama Bin Laden for the first World Trade Center bombing.

So what does this mean for Trump and his associates? This news also has large implications for them. It is a crime to know that a crime is taking place and to help it succeed. That's aiding and abetting. If any Trump associate knew about the foreign contributions that Mueller's search warrant focused on and helped that effort in a tangible way, they could be charged. In addition, anyone who agreed to be part of this effort in any way could be charged with criminal conspiracy. They wouldn't need to be involved in the whole operation or know everyone involved but they would have to agree to be part of some piece of it.

One thing I should note is that this particular violation of the law preventing foreign contributions in connection with an election is far stronger than earlier speculation that Donald Trump Jr. violated the same law by accepting information from the Russian attorney.

One hurdle is that to violate the statute criminally, you have to do so knowingly and willfully. Here, Mueller has evidence that the foreigner(s) had that intent, and it is far more difficult for an American to claim that he/she didn't know that a massive Russian influence operation was against the law than it would be to claim that about hearing talk at a meeting. Jurors would be inclined to convict anyone who was part of or aided a Russian effort to subvert our election.

If I represented someone who was caught up in this part of the investigation, I'd be very worried.

ADDENDUM: In case you're curious, here's the statute I discuss in this thread.

*  *  *

Cannon here. I have to admit that I didn't comprehend the full import of the Facebook angle until Mariotti turned on the lights. I'll be following his work from now on.

Berniegate. My distaste for Bernie Sanders should be well-known by now: See here and here and here.

A Cannonfire reader who goes by the name "nemdam" directs our attention to this tweetstorm by comedian Jen Kirkman. I love what she has to say; her thoughts expand upon points I've been making for a long, long time.

I've taken the liberty of offering an edited version of her words here.

As I did with Mariotti's tweets, I've translated Kirkman's "Twitterese" into conventional prose, smoothing out the style and removing some chit-chatty interactions with readers. Keep in mind that her original text was written "in hot blood" for a twitter audience. I'm sure that if she would have worded some sections more carefully if she had prepared her piece for formal publication in Slate, Vox or some similar venue.

(I hope she likes what I've done here. If she doesn't, I'll offer deep apologies and excise this section of this post.)

You'll be particularly interested by her personal experiences, which she discusses in the second half of this piece. Having lost friends to the Bernie Cult, I know precisely what she is talking about.

The words beneath the asterisks are hers.

* * *

On June 9, Don Jr, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort meet a Russian lawyer for Clinton oppo. That same day, Bernie -- managed by Tad Devine, a former partner of Manafort -- meets with Obama. Bernie won't concede, and does a solo press conference about taking it to the convention.

This happened two days before June 9th...

That same night Trump, makes a speech. Even though he's an opponent, he praises Bernie and claims that he's a victim of a rigged system.

According to Politico, Tad Devine was hired to "engineer" a "protest candidacy." The article doesn't say why he would want to do so. Or why that paid well.

Devine made about $10 million working for the campaign. The story is that it was all unprecedented grass roots donations.

Oh wait. The Feds are here. They're like: "Ummm...$10 million isn't accounted for. It's unnamed. Care to share?"

They don't.

I'm implying that we should be curious about behaviors dates and patterns. What I'm NOT doing is making up facts.

This is separate, BUT it shows the possible character of people who are now lawyered up...

One of my points is that there are no pure saints in politics. Yet Bernie's supporters consider anything but "purity" to be blasphemy.

I personally experienced this in September of 2016. Within minutes, hundreds of non-followers all tweeted roughly same thing to me -- that I support Hillary who kills "brown people." Jokes of mine from 2015 were screenshot. Within minutes, hundreds of people posted misconstrued jokes. These people threatened the clubs I was working for. They wouldn't stop.

Way too many to be random. I figured it came from some dude on Reddit telling people to attack. Didn't know about paid Russian bots dividing the Left yet.

It happened to me. Still does. But now I know what it is.

Sanders knows that this is being done IN HIS NAME. He knows that people are pretending to be his supporters. These bots harass with threats. It's the disgusting Kremlin tactic of trying to make the receiver feel insane. And Sanders doesn't care. He won't say ANYTHING to the media, even as he prepares to run in 2020. He doesn't say anything about these Russian bots who are weirdly on his side, and who make his "revolution" look really bad.

He doesn't care about that? Interesting.

The bots have been vicious lately. A fun thing to do is to watch the news cycle and notice when these attacks flare up. There was a big flare after the Facebook news.

Keep in mind: I'm just a comedian. I don't claim to have inside info, just a curiosity. I'm using my voice as a citizen to say: "In my spare time I'm trying to wrap my head around this." I'm Danny Noonan at end of Caddyshack watching that golf ball...

So. To continue. THIS happened this summer as you may recall...

Even people on Trump's side started running for zee hills when Junior "released" his emails to the NY Times. Junior was on the ropes. He had to release some emails before NY Times did. Conclusions weren't jumped to. Don had to hand over those emails cuz he was screwed.

So why did Bernie say that?

His followers argue that he's busy with issues like healthcare, and thus has no time to comment on Russia stuff. Well, it takes as much time to say "Hot damn, those emails are indicting" as it does to say, "Let's not jump to conclusions."

His supporters have been well-trained NOT to care about Russia tampering with our democracy.

This isn't about Hillary and a lost election. This is HUGE. The foundation of America -- democracy -- is at stake. Neither Bernie nor his followers seem to praise democracy too much. They don't realize this issue isn't going away. Russia will continue to infiltrate and to conduct cyberwar.

We can't push healthcare through if we have no democracy.

There seems to be a hateful notion that having Republicans in office may HELP Bernie's "revolution."  That's shortsighted. You can't befriend Russia because it helps you emerge as the savior of a movement.

You say you want revolution but you don't care that our democracy is being dismantled? You can't have it both ways.

Also: The whole "it's no great secret" thing? It is a great secret. To many.

It just isn't a good look, in my opinion, to seem reluctant to discuss Russia's aid in riling up Bernie's base. It says, "I like the help." Perhaps his base will say: "Well, we don't want democracy! It doesn't work!" Maybe he feels the same way? And if he does, why is it so hard to believe that he would be in business with another nation, working against our democracy?

To those diehards of his who don't follow me but call me a moderate: I'm a flaming feminist liberal progressive. This notion that one cannot be a progressive unless one is on the Bernie bus is bizarre. Believing that one man is the progressive movement, believing that my distrust of him disqualifies my decades of work as a progressive: That is the definition of brainwashed cult behavior. It's not reasoned. It speaks of a need to not be wrong. It's dangerous.

It seems as though some people have mixed their ideals with pumped-up notions of their victimhood. This leads to feelings of futility, to an attitude of "Let's blow it up. Let's take out anyone who doesn't want what we want."

America was never about one man's ideas.

I can't get the Bernie cultists to see it my way. That's not my aim. My aim is making up for my silence last year. Something is wrong.

I've been silent about my belief since the primary that Bernie is compromised. THAT particular silence is done. I was harassed by self-proclaimed feminist men. I no longer care that bros are boycotting or threatening harassment at my shows. I feel disgusted by my fear to speak. That's over.

Listen to women. Being on front lines of attacks gave us supersonic intuition. So thanks in a way for helping create a superpower.
Great post, Joseph. And yes, it does look like the search warrant for Facebook content really is going to be a big deal. And while I do not step into the conspiracy theory swamp, Kirkman's tweet have made me seriously question just what the hell Bernie and company really knew about Russian interference in the election.

And never forget that many of the "Bernie Bros" like H.A. Goodman have always poo-poohed the Trump/Russia scandal, calling it a nothingburger and running to the Seth Rich story as proof that the whole thing was really a plot by the DNC and Hillary.

Jesus wept.
There could be a strange twist to all of this where Russia is exonerated as being the actual leaker and instead it's Sander's supporters inside the Hillary Clinton campaign who did the leaking. So the power to brainwash may have been Russian funded, but the actual acts of leaking could have been done by brainwashed Sander's supporters, technically leaving Russia off the hook, except for those nasty bots.
Elisabeth Warren needs to see this post!
@Alessandro Machi I believe that while the Russians are bad actors and are involved, this coup was initiated right here in the good old US of A, who outsourced the dirty deeds to Russia. As it is a mistake to consider Trump a cause rather than a symptom, it's dangerous to lay all blame on Russia. Both tendencies obfuscate the currents that run through people and orgs here who have wanted to destroy democracy and people since country was founded.
Marcy Wheeler ( argues that Mueller may not have obtained a search warrant because he didn't need one to get the Facebook info details. She says WSJ and CNN only inferred that Mueller obtained a warrant, which contradicts Mariotti's claim that CNN reported that he obtained a warrant (I have no first-hand idea what CNN reported).
I agree. This is best looked at as a joint venture, with several partners involved for differing reasons but with a commonality of near-term goals.

Who had the lead role, like the slightly different question of who had the key operational role, may perhaps be unknowable without confessions.

I wouldn't discount the role of the Christian Dominionist movement with its billionaire supporters and cadres in the military academies and among some top brass. (Mercers, cough.)

Joseph often mentions the likely participation of some in the IC, which seems correct. However, and this goes under the radar, what about the MSM? Surprisingly, given the apparent establishment credentials of Hillary Clinton, some of the flagship allegedly liberal papers like the NYT and WaPost have had an abiding animus toward her (and Bill, earlier). And the networks join in. What establishment do they threaten, and if they do, as it appears, how many onion layers need to be peeled back to find it?

And by 'it, do I mean a small Middle Eastern country? No, you didn't hear that from me.


Glad I could help!

As Hillary says in her book and on her book tour, she doesn't believe there wasn't somebody in America to help the Russians weaponize their hacks. It was too sophisticated for it to be handled by foreigners. While Russia is the catalyst, there's no way their operation could work without help from Americans, both on a micro level in that some individuals helped them with the disruption campaign and on a macro level in that our country is so divided and has so many fault lines.

FYI, Jen Kirkman has stated she will add to her tweetstorm as she sees fit.

Of course, Bernie goes on Meet the Press to talk about Medicare-for-all when Obamacare is on life support...
Vincent Tchenguiz, the reported owner of Cambridge Analytica, was waist-deep in the Icelandic banking scandal. It's an important point because Trump's mid-2000s developer partner, Bayrock, was too. And there is evidence that pre-crisis Icelandic banks were money laundries for Russia.

I think we have every right to be deeply suspicious of Tchenguiz.
Thank YOU nem. I hope that Kirkman won't be angry with me if she sees what I've done. I've actually done some professional editing, and I know that there is a fine line between editing and rewriting -- and that I have a bad habit of crossing that line. But some of her tweets were obviously written in anger, or at least in a state of high emotion, so they needed tweaking in order to make basic sense.

At this point, we can't know how much of what hit us was Russian in origin. There are some cases where the Russian origin of the online propaganda is obvious, thanks to the insecure English and the unbridled hatred of America. But other instances are less clear. For example, the original Pizzagate stories -- the ones published before the election -- are written convincingly and were probably composed by an American.
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Ukraine, Manafort, Stone, Cambridge Analytica: What will the intercepts tell us?

If you're following the Mueller investigation, take note: Mueller has hired a prosecutor named Kyle Freeny. (Despite the name, the article uses the pronoun "she.") She was, until quite recently, involved with a prosecution against the producers of The Wolf of Wall Street, a film allegedly financed with money looted from Malaysia.

(I enjoyed that movie, although the debauchery became tiresome after the first hour. Considering the subject matter, the behind-the-scenes scandal seems appropriate.)
The Justice Department billed the "Wolf of Wall Street" case as a product of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, an effort to pursue the proceeds of foreign corruption and return such monies to the public in the affected countries.

Justice Department officials including former Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the same kleptocracy project is probing the transfer of assets overseas by Ukrainian officials, including former President Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort served as a consultant to Yanukovych and his Party of Regions — work that has triggered suspicions about the former Trump campaign chief because of Yanukovych's warm relationship with Moscow.
In other words, Freeny's "beat" is uncovering laundered money stolen from kleptocratic states. We all know that Putin is the world's foremost kleptocrat.

Now let's look at yesterday's Chicago Tribune:
The U.S. government has "thousands of intercepts" that can be used as evidence against Ukrainian billionaire oligarch Dmitry Firtash, federal prosecutors told a judge Friday as the fight over his extradition to Chicago rumbled on.

But lawyers for Firtash — who has ties to President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort — walked back their recent claim that Firtash could be brought from Austria to the U.S. "within weeks."

Firtash, who has links to Russian President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin, has been fighting extradition from Vienna since 2014
Cambridge Analytic and the Russian connection. There is much to say about Firtash -- but right now, I'd like to focus on his links to Cambridge Analytica, the UK firm which employs many Tory-leaning "former" spooks, and which did so much to rig the election. Many articles have claimed that CA (as I'll call it from time to time) is owned by Robert Mercer, the financier and tech wizard who also pumps money in Breitbart. That claim is not quite accurate, as we will see.

A number of published articles have also alleged that the firm was run or advised (accounts differ) by Steve Bannon and Michael Flynn. We may fairly conclude that CA and Breitbart are intimately linked, and that Flynn played a key role.

How does Firtash -- a notorious Ukrainian gangster linked to both Putin and Paul Manafort -- tie into the firm? To be honest, we can't be sure. We know that a CA/Firtash link exists (doubters need only google Firtash Cambridge Analytica), but we don't know its precise nature.

However, we may soon have more details, thanks to the attempts to extradite Firtash.
Adding to his revelation earlier this week that the U.S. secretly recorded a phone call in which Firtash discussed a co-defendant's trip to Chicago to meet with Boeing executives, Bhachu said the government has "tens of thousands" of documents and "thousands of intercepts" that can be used against Firtash.
We've known for a while that intercepts exist, and that they involve discussions of efforts to deep six Hillary, but the scope has not been revealed until now. I hope that at least some of those intercepts will involve Manafort and Cambridge Analytica.

More about Firtash and Cambridge Analytica. By now, most of you have read about the role CA played in the 2016 election. Despite all the recent talk about Facebook's role in the election (Mueller recently subpoenaed data from Facebook), many have forgotten that CA used data from those ubiquitous and iniquitous Facebook quizzes to create exquisitely-detailed voter profiles.

As noted above, the oft-heard claim that Mercer owns CA is oversimplified. The ownership of SLC -- a "private" psychological warfare group which functions as the parent firm of Cambridge Analytica -- is an absolute tangle. In fact, the ownership of this firm, or constellation of firms, has become so thoroughly convoluted that I suspect that someone has made a deliberate attempt to confuse.

This article tries to unravel the knot; this piece does an even better job of it...
Many articles have reported that the U.S. billionaire Robert Mercer is the owner of Cambridge, but some basic Googling would have shown that this isn’t true. The Daily Beast got it right; Cambridge Analytica’s press releases refer to it as “the U.S. subsidiary of SCL Group.” But the relationship between Cambridge Analytica and SCL is far from easy to decipher.

The privately-held SCL Group Ltd. (UK co. #05514098) has a half-dozen subsidiaries, with an overlapping group of directors. One subsidiary is SCL Elections. Cambridge Analytica’s website in December 2015 listed its New York address as Suite 2703 in the News Corp. building, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, the same New York address formerly listed on SCL Elections’ website as its New York office. (Both websites have since been updated, with new addresses.) SCL Elections is entirely owned by executive Alexander Nix.
Nix? Wasn't that the name of the bad guy in Lord of Illusions? His goal was to destroy the entire universe and become The Only Thing Left, which makes him the most ambitious villain in the history of fiction. I wonder if Alexander ever formulated a similar goal?

British real estate tycoon Vincent Tchenguiz -- a heavy contributor to the Tory party -- is, one could argue, the British Trump. Until fairly recently, he was the major owner of SCL, and some say he still is, though not directly. (At this point, things get fuzzy.)

I mention Tchenguiz because he is the one financially involved with Dimitry Firtash -- the criminal oligarch who forms a direct bridge between Manafort and Putin.
Tchenguiz remained involved in SCL Group for 10 years, despite its lack of financial returns. Vincent Tchenguiz is mainly known as a real estate investor; his reasons for acquiring shares in SCL in the first place are as opaque as his reason for divesting them. From the outside, it seems an odd, unprofitable sideline.
Fascinating! So why was Tchenguiz involved in this concern? It was outside his area of specialization, and it doesn't seem to have been a cash cow -- quite the opposite, in fact. As another blogger likes to say: "If it doesn't make business sense, it's gotta make some other kind of sense."

It may be worthwhile to note here that Russian oligarchs love to park their money -- or launder it -- in real estate located in western countries.

When we consider the histories of Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, an obvious pattern emerges: Some real estate tycoons make huge gambles which can easily go wrong. (See, for example, Kushner's overpriced skyscraper on 666 Fifth Avenue.) These problem properties require massive infusions of cash from investors who do not necessarily expect to see a profit, and may even be willing to take a loss.

Where does one find these financial angels? They tend to hail from the land of snow and borscht. 

I don't know enough about Tchenguiz to speculate as to whether he ever found himself in that sort of predicament. I simply ask you to consider certain possibilities. (Perhaps my British readers can enlighten us further...?)

Cambridge Analytica does very sensitive work for the western intelligence services, despite the financial links to Russia. This may be the ghastliest security hole in the history of intelligence. In order to create such a hole, the Russians would have needed to recruit western moneymen to act as fronts.

Maybe we'll have a better grasp of what this company is up to once Mueller issues a report. I do hope that those intercepts prove illuminating.

The Stone connection. Although Roger Stone likes to keep a certain distance between himself and the actual doers of dirty work (one of Stone's rules: "Always use a cut-out"), we should never forget that Stone and Manafort were partners, and that Stone himself was involved in the Ukraine campaign. In fact, Stone has bragged about being the father of the political yard sign in Ukraine. From a 2007 profile in The Weekly Standard:
I arrange to see Stone in Manhattan, where he spends roughly one day each week, and Miami, where he lives. But beforehand, he threatens to take me to Ukraine, where the local press has outed him as being involved in the parliamentary campaign of Volodymyr Lytvyn, an Orange Revolutionary alum who's been mentioned as a future president. Like many American political consultants, Stone does the odd election overseas, though he likes to keep it quiet, since it often causes a local furor because "Americans are now hated everywhere in the world--thank you, George W. Bush."

"I don't particularly want to go," he says. "Our lives will be in danger. We will have bodyguards. Plus, the food sucks." On the upside, he says, we'll have a buxom translator named Svetlana, and "We can stop over in Amsterdam on the way home, for all the obvious reasons." But, it turns out we don't need to go; his guys on the ground have it covered. But it's a constant struggle, he says: "The Russians love intrigue." As though he doesn't.

He is in perpetual dispute with Lytvyn's local advisers, who he calls the Politburo. They deliberately mistranslate his ads to reflect their own clunky slogans, and he resents their interference, since what could they know about winning free and fair elections, being recently converted Commies and all. The atmosphere is charged enough that he has now taken to sending secret messages directly to the candidate, nicknamed "Mister." Since his team assumes all their communications are monitored, they use code names such as "Buckwheat" and "Beetle." Stone's is "Mr. Pajamas," the same one used by ur-Nixon Dirty Trickster Murray Chotiner, one of his personal heroes and mentors. (Lytvyn's party was successful in the elections.)
Well well well. One wonders if "Mr. Pajamas" will show up in those thousands of Ukrainian intercepts now being studied by Robert Mueller. (Stone also fancies the name "Jason Ranier.")

Elsewhere: The tweet of the day...
Hillary Clinton could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and do nothing, and they would say she shot somebody.
Donald Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and people would blame Hillary.
You're back! :)

Somehow I befriended a journalist on FB who posted this very thing (about the hiring, not all the linked histories).

"Donald Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and people would blame Hillary."


Sanders, too. Please someone connect his Russian-connected campaign manager up with all these other bad actors.
She posted a link to this. Wonder if you're following on your intrepid foray into Twitterverse:

Renato Mariotti‏

THREAD: Why news that Mueller obtained a search warrant for Facebook content may be the biggest news in the case since the Manafort raid.
If you want some Bernie-Russia fix, check out the Twitter thread below. It's from a comedian, but all the facts are public, and she uses no "inside info" like certain other Twitter personalities. Note that she was anti-Bernie from early in the primary and received voluminous harassment during the primary (and on) like many other anti-Bernie folks. Let's just say, I'm now convinced that Mueller is making a mistake if he doesn't have at least one person looking at this.

And if that's not enough, ponder that Bernie pushed this week single payer the same week that Republicans are reviving a stealth Obamacare repeal. So much for his commitment to healthcare.
Another good one:

Trump could shoot someone & nobody would care. Hillary could say "He just shot someone" and they would blame her for not going to Wisconsin
"Donald Trump could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and people would blame Hillary."'re pretty close, Joseph. After Rep. Steven Scalise was shot, H.A. Goodman actually blamed Hillary Clinton for it.

I wish I were kidding, but I'm not.
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Normalization? Or a wise hesitatation?

As most of you know, Trump doubled down on his anti-Antifa attacks, vis-a-vis Charlottesville. David Corn offered this response:
Notice how less intense the outrage is about Trump's latest both-sides-bad comment re #Charlottesville? His conduct becomes normalized.
I can't agree.

Although we have persuasive reports that Antifa members behaved admirably in Charlottesville, many Democrats are having second, third and fourth thoughts about the group. The Antifa movement is largely composed of anarchists who hate the Democratic party as much as (or more than) they hate the Trumpers. One simply cannot trust such people. One certainly does not want to hop into bed with them.

Antifa has earned a reputation for being violence-prone. I agree with this Vox writer:
But one reason Trump could draw up this false equivalence in the first place is because antifa protesters have been carrying out violence against right-wing groups for months now. As Peter Beinart reported in the Atlantic, antifa activists have violently protested right-wing speakers like Milo Yiannopoulos and conservative political scientist Charles Murray. In the Yiannopoulos protests in particular, antifa activists even threw explosive Molotov cocktails and other objects at police.

When far-left protesters act violently, it gives Trump and other conservatives more ammunition to draw equivalencies between the far left and far right — even if it is a false equivalence, given that America has a long history of racist violence and very little, by comparison, of left-wing violence.
Antifa makes no secret of their disdain for the First Amendment, as the image to your left proves. Many members of Antifa have expressed a distaste for all forms of government -- which means that they will inevitably make that all-too-familiar slide into Ayn Randism, and from there into the GOP. That slide usually takes about ten years.

My biggest problem with Antifa is that the movement recruits among the young -- the arrogant, ineducable young. Never trust anyone under thirty.

For these people, history does not exist -- which means that they are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. The anti-war protests of the 1960s were heavily ratfucked by the FBI's COINTELPRO and by the CIA's Project CHAOS. (Operation MERRIMAC was the infiltration program under CHAOS.) I've seen no evidence that anyone connected with Antifa recognizes the need to protect against agents provocateurs. The movement will also become vulnerable to a crippling paranoia once members finally understand that agents provocateurs are in their midst. (That paranoia pretty much destroyed the SDS, or so I've been told by former members.)

Today, many who romanticize the Vietnam-era protests ignore the fact that many anti-war leaders were...well, assholes. They were young hotheads who arrogantly refused to admit the obvious when their actions proved self-defeating. They become infatuated with the idea of revolution despite the utter lack of public support for such a revolution. Their rhetorical and actual violence, coupled with boorish behavior and an uncompromising attitude, repulsed the majority of Americans.

Their "revolution" created a backlash. Result: Nixon. Another result: The "Jesus freak" movement, which, as the 70s progressed, became subsumed into a newly-empowered Fundamentalism.

I'm convinced that Hubert Humphrey -- an Establishment Dem detested by the "revolutionary" left (in much the same way Hillary is detested by the BernieBros) -- would have pulled out of Vietnam within two or three years. Nixon kept the war going until 1975. Thus, we may fairly argue that the antiwar protestors prolonged the war.

I'm old enough to recall those years. History, I fear, is being repeated.

Liberals have to proceed with a certain degree of caution when dealing with Antifa and their confreres. Obviously, we must denounce the Alt Rightists and the Richard Spencerians with all due vehemence. We must also denounce Trump's "both sides were to blame" narrative.

But we must do all this without making heroes of Antifa. Mark my words: Even though members of that movement behaved laudably in Charlottesville, they are likely to stab us in the back.
Not only does common sense state that Antifa has been infiltrated, I ask if Antifa was actually created by the alt-right. They fit every objective of the Trump administration. They are left wing radicals who resort to violence making them the ideal target to build up as representative of the left to "both sides" any deplorable thing Trump does. Just like Infowars fulfilled the right's goals a bit too neatly to be merely a coincidence, the same seems to be true with Antifa. RVAwonk ( has done good work showing how Russia has been promoting Antifa. I follow left wing politics pretty closely, but the only time I hear about Antifa is from the alt-right. The whole thing has screamed "ratfucking operation" from the start as opposed to an organic movement that has been infiltrated. And, seriously, how often have true anarchists been even a blip on the radar of American politics? Basically only around the turn of the 20th century? Certainly not since the rise of communism.

Either way it's
A Bigfootnote citing would include Mario Savio (no anarchist, he) and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, circa 1964-1965. A series of images I recall seeing on the nightly news: women and men students who were 'sitting in', obeying passive resistance inside some building, were being dragged down stairs, by policemen (campus or city, I forget) who were pulling them by their long hair (early Beatles-length, not hippie long). Yeah, nationally we got Nixon, but Reagan came first as backlash, in 1966, as California's fascist governor.

I have another image, from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago: Chicago Gauleiter Richard Daley standing and screaming when Senator Ribicoff at the podium described the brutality taking place outside (later deemed a police riot), and everyone could read Daley's lips saying "Get that globalist bastard off the podium!"
Either way it's ratfucked.

But things are probably somewhat complicated. Some of these folks give every appearance of being trained soldiers (IDF Intervention to check the far right? Just guessing, based on videos of West Coast protests, But suddenly organized groups that come from no previously known origin? Lots of opportunists out there. But very few opportunistic leftists. As usual.

The problem is that what the enemy has is money, astronomical amounts of money, That plus the hopelessly worthless and incompetent FBI, etc. Nearly everyone has a price, even if it is the avoidance of prison on unrelated charges.

It is therefore clear that infiltration is a given in current circumstances.

Caution is an important element of any approach we might take.

On this topic, there is one enormous advantage the left took away from the Sixties, and that is a commitment to anti violence.
Amelie: Gauleiter Daley, priceless!

Joseph, agree on HHH. Gore, too. A long list of possibilities denied by right wing machinations.
nemdam: "...the only time I hear about Antifa is from the alt-right." True for me, also! That screaming head, Alex Jones(?), recently punched a Trump effigy in the head (and then removed the head to show a skull) and declared himself an ipso-facto antifa affiliate. Except for that and the MSM, I never hear this group mentioned. Well, maybe only because I don't frequent Twitter.

Following that Antifa link Joseph provided (the Vox link appears broken) I was more interested in an Anonymous post down thread showing the "racism" of the anarchists. What it actually showed were two young men, one white one black, nose to nose each threatening to pummel the other. Without knowing what sparked the chest-thumping, and seeing that some in the group were POC, it's hard to conclude racism, or even violence. Looked like young testosterone to me.

I've been worried about Anonymous. That post did little to allay those fears.

Antifa aside, let's be clear about what was so heinous about Trump's remarks in the first place. He said that there were "many fine people" at the neo-Nazi rally, which was nothing /but/ a neo-Nazi rally. He even said he'd seen their nighttime torch rally and saw fine people in that mix.

I'm disappointed you're not reminding readers of that, and instead focussing on antifa.
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Another Trump flip flop

Two hours ago, Trump tweeted the image above, along with these words: "NEVER forget our HEROES held prisoner or who have gone missing in action while serving their country."

Wait wait wait WAIT. I thought Trump was the guy who only liked soldiers who weren't captured?

The DACA flip was more comprehensible than this one, if ya asks me...

He needs McCain's support, this looks like a quid pro quo to me.
Oh boy.

- --- .-. - ..- .-. .

("torture" spelled out in morse, without eye blinking due to eyes being closed and hidden by hand.)
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Thursday, September 14, 2017

The moment I turned against Black Lives Matter

I cheered the Freddie Gray uprising on the morning it erupted here in Baltimore, and ever since I have always applauded the Black Lives Matter movement. No more. Clearly, they've been infiltrated. Clearly, they are working for Putin's plan to divide America. Alexander Dugin specifically recommended using African American protest movements for this purpose.

My decision against BLM is irrevocable. No argument you can mount -- no matter who you are -- will ever change my mind. Do you disagree? I giveth not Shit One for your thoughts.
BLM represents several things. It is a statement black lives matter too. It is a movement to bring attention to systematic discrimination against blacks. It is an anarchist movement that can be infiltrated by enimies.
The picture doesn't fairly represent the article if I read it right. A passing reference was made that the protest included Black Lives Matter supporters. The bloom on Jefferson's rose faded a long time ago. Putin? Maybe he hasn't forgotten that Jefferson helped Napoleon. I can still see Putin's poker-face when the cameras showed him just after Yulia Lipnitskaya fell during her finals skating performance at Sochi in 2014. Was he hiding his sadness? Did he suspect a plot since it's nearly impossible for someone as tiny as Yulia, barely taller than an ant, to lose her balance. Ah, the Olympics: 1960 and Cassius Clay; 1968 and those raised gloved fists; 1972 and those murders; 1980 and Carter's boycott over Afghanistan; 2016 and the revival of golf. It's only a matter of time till blogging becomes an Olympic event. The judges will consider the blog along with the real-time comments.
This isn't really about Putin, Amelie. It's about fascism.

International fascism has always -- from the very beginning -- exploited the legitimate grievances of minority groups in America. John Roy Carlson talks about this in his books. Every pro-fascist rally in America during the 1930s featured American Indians on stage. Look up the REAL history of the Nation of Islam.

Fascists have made a particular target of Jefferson. They hate democracy, hate the country, and thus have always sought to demonize Jefferson, as a way of de-legitimizing the entire ideal. This is why fascists have long pushed the myth of the Illuminati: If you look closely, they have been particularly eager to push the idea that Jefferson was an Illuminatus. (If I recall correctly, George Johnson talks about this in his book "Architects of Fear," which I consider mandatory reading.)
The way the Russian government is portrayed in the US is continuing to change. There's absolutely no implication in this piece in the Washington Post that Putin's support for Assad - today expressed with cruise missiles - is anything other than a good thing in the fight against Daesh.

Meanwhile the fuckwit-market media in Britain is practically saying that the Russian military might in the course of its ongoing exercises in Belarus suddenly make a move to cut off the Baltic states. My view that WW3 is coming doesn't stop me from regarding the Daily Express as a daily version of the Watchtower!
The way the Russian government is portrayed in the US is continuing to change. There's absolutely no implication in this piece in the Washington Post that Putin's support for Assad - today expressed with cruise missiles - is anything other than a good thing in the fight against Daesh.

Meanwhile the fuckwit-market media in Britain is practically saying that the Russian military might in the course of its ongoing exercises in Belarus suddenly make a move to cut off the Baltic states. My view that WW3 is coming doesn't stop me from regarding the Daily Express as a daily version of the Watchtower!
Just so you know: no one can agree on the pronunciation of 'irrevocable'.
It's not BLM, Joseph. It's the entire generation, and the white millennials are worse. They tried to tarnish David Bowie, after he died, as a "child rapist" even though the woman involved kept saying she was not a victim and remained friends with Bowie for years. The way they tried to seize her own history and opine how she should define her own experience was vicious and abusive. I remember the sexual freedom of the early seventies. I thought the entire world was going to change and move forever forward. Still, without my own perspective of having lived through that time period, I don't know how
I would view it, especially since sexual freedom did not lead to gender "equality."

The prism the millennials look through is different and intolerant of dissent. I will always applaud the *rise* of Occupy and BLM, regardless of how they devolve/d, but we all know where roads built on good intentions invariably lead.

It's important to remember that the black population have an entire history mainly hidden/downplayed/dismissed from the "mainstream" which means "white people." For years, the African American community have passed down that Jefferson was a rapist. Can a slave give (or more importantly withhold) consent?

Without honest dialog, we have no way to reframe our shared history and BLM is rage that we have not even tried. I can't even imagine how I would feel living amongst people who used to throw my babies to alligators...and even exchange cutesy postcards about the practice. The closest I can come is rage how women were left out of the formation of our Union: and ridiculed when they proposed equality. Well, that's nutshelling it.

On the pronunciation of 'irrevocable': Accent on the second syllable.

Argument settled. Rome has spoken.
I suppose if I argued that Rome means 'stress' when Rome says "accent" Rome would consider it to be harassment (or harassment).
Somewhat on point, is our comrades. A friend posted a lookup: the +7 dialing code for the contact number is Russia and has been for many years. Many years in this case isn't very long. Anarchists marched among us as far back as I can remember and I am old!
Thank you Prowler Zee for saying many things very well here.
Tom, I almost thought I lost my beloved desktop again this morning when the power briefly cut off, but somehow I found my way in again. I think of these things all the time, and how it's almost impossible to convey what needs to be discussed.

Besides the babies as alligator bait, there was something else I read today that's been made into "humorous" postcards, but it's slipped my mind for the moment. What hasn't slipped my mind is how white teens in NH tried to lynch an 8 y/o biracial boy and the police chief sided with the teens, not the child roped and pushed off a table. I woke up today puzzling over how to write this. They say our genes carry past abuse forward. Does that work on both sides of the abuse? We're wired to believe black lives don't matter? The police chief's reaction, and the utter lack of push-back, is the most horrifying aspect.

And how do the juggalos, rallying in DC today to not be classified as a "gang," fit in?? The "reality" we live in has gone haywire. Why even try to rewrite it?

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned...

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The argument AGAINST Medicare-for-all

Added note: Apparently, this is one of those posts designed to test reading comprehension skills. Some people glance at the headline, skim the first few paragraphs, and presume that my argument is something other than it actually is. It is written in the Book of Proverbs: "The wise man readeth a blog post before he replieth, lest he be accused of jumping the gun like a silly-billy."

Believe me, no household in America could benefit more than mine from a single-payer system. I haven't visited the doctor since my heart attack because I can't afford to do so. My ladyfriend, who has insurance, tends to "tough it out" rather than visiting a doctor because the deductibles are so terrifying.

Part of me hopes that a single-payer plan succeeds -- but I also recognize that there are potential problems, from a let's-win-the-election standpoint. Bill Scher in Politico gives a pretty balanced assessment:
Note that I didn’t say single-payer is electoral suicide. I would have said so a year ago, but today I can’t say that with certainty. As any single-payer devotee will eagerly tell you, a July Quinnipiac poll found 51 percent of voters support such a system. When characterized as Medicare for All, a June Kaiser Health Tracking poll registered support at 57 percent. In the current era of polarized politics, where centrist voters are increasingly elusive, single-player would certainly energize progressive voters and could help Democrats woo back some economic populist Trump voters.

But single-payer hardly comes with an Election Day guarantee. More than 90 percent of voters support requiring background checks for gun buyers. More than 60 percent oppose a border wall. Fifty-six percent say America should “discourage the use of coal.” And yet, we have a president on the opposite side of all those issues.

Moreover, the top-line numbers don’t ensure that support can withstand attack. Kaiser’s poll analysts concluded: “The public’s attitudes on single-payer are quite malleable, and some people could be convinced to change their position after hearing typical pro and con arguments.”

For example, upon hearing the startling news that single-payer might “give the government too much control over health care,” support plummets to 40 percent. The revelation that the plan would “require many Americans to pay more in taxes” did the same. Maybe, just maybe, a Republican will give these talking points a try.
Precisely. The single-payer poll numbers are deceptive. The idea has polled over 50 percent in times past -- and then plummeted well below that point. Basically, Americans want health insurance without paying for it. Like it or not, there are many white Americans who feel like vomiting when they think about their tax dollars potentially helping to pay for a non-white person's health insurance. (People won't admit to feeling that way, but that's how they feel.)

My preferred solution: Not Medicare-for-all, but something like Obamacare with a public option.

Which, as you may recall, was the original Obamacare idea.

What I like best about this notion is that it puts to the test -- a brutally fair test -- two competing economic visions. Think of it as Milton Friedman vs. FDR. Are you a libertarian who really and truly believes in Friedman's vision? Then you should love to see this vision confirmed by experiment.

If you genuinely accept as an article of faith that Big Gummint never operates efficiently, then you should welcome the "battle" that I propose. You should feel secure in the expectation that private insurance would wallop the public option.

When O-care was a-borning, I said pretty much the same thing in various blog posts. A libertarian reader sneered that that the deck was stacked against the private insurer. I asked this reader: How? Just how was the deck stacked? At that time, everything was in flux; the details of the proposed law were not yet known. The libertarian simply assumed that the fight was unfair, that the rules were rigged against him. He couldn't cite any facts to support his presumption.

Let us have a truly even battlefield between the two counterpoised ideologies. If the apostles of Ayn are proven right -- if, in honest competition, the private plan always delivers better health care for less money -- then so be it! I will accept those results happily. I am much more committed to efficiency than I am to any ideology.

But when the public option was proposed before, Republicans insisted that the idea was unthinkable. They knew that was no way that private insurance could compete with a public option.

In essence, conservatives admitted that their most dearly-held beliefs were wrong. As I wrote back in 2011:
The health care debate had one virtue: It forced the Republicans to admit that libertarian theology is a sham. They came right out and admitted that private industry could not offer the citizenry a better deal than the (soon-discarded) public option. Why would they say such a thing? Why did they fear competition from the gummint, if the gummint always does everything wrong? Didn't Milton Friedman tell us that private industry is always more efficient?

Gosh -- could it be that the Friedmanites lied?

You think maybe that's why your credit card bills are sent to you via the post office, and not via Federal Express?
Libertarians do not want to have their ideology put to a fair test because they know in their hearts that all private insurance plans will be more expensive.

Thus, right now, I say no to Medicare-for-all.

If we are given a single-payer system, the Apostles of Ayn will shriek "WE TOLD YOU SO!" every single time the system has a hiccup. No, it is better to have a public option competing with the various private options. Let the best weltanschauung win! If the public option succeeds, then the Randroids will have no basis for complaint; they will simply go to their corner and sulk, unable to pretend that theirs was a noble, untried ideal.
Med-Care for all from birth to death that pays 100% of all cost. Then for those that will whine about how about end the endless wars. People and this Nation first to hell with the merchants of death and their friends.
You missed my point, Jo. If Med for All becomes law, then every single time a problem occurs...and even you must admit that problems are inevitable...the Libertarians will insist that capitalism is always better, that capitalism remains an untried idea.

So do what Robert Reich pushed for: Have private plans go head to head against a public option.

If the public option wins in a fair fight, the Libertarians won't have a leg to stand on.
Am I mistaken in my belief that Medicare is a national insurance program, the government contracts with dozens of private insurance companies for the administration of insurance coverage, and neither Medicare nor the government is a health-care provider?

Lucky you, you get to ride the wave of willful idiocy that will now be raining down on everyone.

Medicare, per se, is not a Cyclops. It's an option for those who are eligible. Many subscribers also buy supplemental insurance from private insurance companies for claims or services not covered or paid sufficiently for by Medicare insurance. Medicare also includes a prescription drug option with private insurance companies.

That excerpt from Politico proves that day-writers who earn their living by reporting have to write something even if it's anything. Let's start the poll-numbers game with this question: Which one issue matters more to you: your own health care, coverage, and costs; background checks on other people for gun ownership; building a border wall; or coal burning plants? Take your time before answering.

Don't forget about the NASA-Teflon-Tang spinoff benefits. As the aging population comprises increasingly large numbers of people, there were not and never would be enough ophthalmologists to provide care and treatment. Not all that long ago, many diagnostic and examination procedures that were only performed by ophthalmologists are now performed by optometrists. First-tier care, second-tier costs. Similarly, most pharmacies have certified and licensed practitioners who can provide vaccinations, paid by one's insurance including Medicare.

Unlike the 1930's or the 1990's, at this hour many, many more people know about the benefits of health insurance in general and Medicare in particular. The economy (i.e., what used to be known as the society) happens to be ripe for a windfall to families and individuals of at least $10K per year. If meager wages can't go up, ungodly expenses can be eliminated.
Amelie, it's true that there are about 50 or so private companies involved in the Medicare system. But the fact that it is administered by the Gummint makes it indistinguishable from Marxism, at least in the eyes of yer average Ayn Randroid.
These discussions/debates are going on all over the blogs today since Sanders delivered up his symbolic bill. Symbolic because it doesn't stand a chance in hell in our current political climate. Sanders knows this himself. I have no problem in strategizing how we get to universal care but pretending that Sanders' stab is remotely realistic makes me want to scream. Because it's more a vanity project than anything else. Also a litmus test for sitting Democratic members to prove themselves worthy.

You're so right about the polling numbers, Joe. Pew did a poll/analyses in June and the total support for single-payer clocked in at 33% with another 25% supporting a private/public hybrid. Liberals, however, poll at 65% approval. The fly in the ointment, of course, is how we pay for it and Bernie's 'suggestions' including astronomical taxes on the rich will never get off the ground.

I like the idea of offering a public option against private plans. Let people choose and see where the fur lands. Or expanding Medicare (which is not free, btw) to the 50-55 year old demographic and see how that works out. None of this is going to be easy or fast and nothing, zip, zero will happen unless the Democrats win in 2018 & 2020.

The present healthcare debate always reminds me of a semi-educated redneck I knew back during the time I was a community college student.

While stereotypes are generally bad "Bob" was every bit the hard right-wing, vaguely racist, Bible thumper who hated government and felt ANYONE on welfare were lazy bums ripping off folks who worked. That is until the loaded shotgun Bob had stored underneath the seat of his truck went off after hitting a bump in the road. The blast shredded his left leg leaving it barely attached. Unable to work his low skilled construction job Bob had to use Medicaid to get healthcare and feed his family with welfare money. He spent weeks in the hospital and months after in rehab.

Yes, Bob's experiences changed his perspective on government assistance. He was still a full-fledged dick but it did at least let him understand the government isn't the antichrist. Long story short, while some polls say a majority of Americans are pen to single payer, it will probably take a multitude of loaded shotguns to really convince them.
The average person on Medicare pays about 300_400 dollars/ month for supplement insurance s how is that free. If a person has any kind of income, he wouldn't qualify for Medicaid assistance with the premiums. I believe go with Hillary plan of tweaking Ocare
The private insurance vs single payer is what Hillary proposed and tried to get passed as First Lady 1993-4. Guess who voted against it- Bernie.

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"Like a death rattle from an insane clown dying in the night..."

Remember that song Cher used to sing? "Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good..."

There's something almost endearing about con artistry when it's really, really obvious. Think of Madame Blavatsky playing "post office" with the Ascended Master Koot Hoomi, or Florence Cook dressing up as super-ghost Katie King for the benefit of esteemed scientist Sir William Crookes. L. Ron Hubbard, on the other hand, was never endearing because his innate repulsiveness made him unlovable.

Some would say that Alex Jones deserves to be ranked alongside the Master Consters of yore.

Alex has noticed that the behavior of his "God Emperor," Donald Trump, is a Jones has an explanation: He blames the Globalists.

No, NOT the Jews. No no no. Never accuse Alex of talking about powerful Jews. He's talking about nameless scheming Globalists. The ones who control all the banks. The ones who run Hollywood. The ones who eat at Globalist delis and wear their little Globalist beanies and have neurotic relationships with their Globalist mothers and who go to Globalist church on Friday nights but don't call it church and who don't celebrate Christmas because they have their own Globalist holiday and who are definitely not Jews. They're Globalists.

Anyways, these Globalists are drugging Donald Trump's Diet Coke. Or so says Alex Jones.

Question: Doesn't Diet Coke usually come sealed in a can or a bottle? How does one drug a sealed container? Gaw-DANG it, but these Globalists are right sneaky bastards!

More here:
Now I’m risking my life, by the way, to tell you all this. I was physically sick before I went on air. Because I’m smart.
Most smart people become sick after Jones starts his broadcast.

Jones believes that all other presidents of modern times have been drugged, and that Reagan was given a "cold blood" transfusion with the intent of causing brain damage. How would Alex Jones know this? I'm not sure, but I bow to his expertise on the topic of brain damage.

Jones claims that he learned about Diet Coke conspiracy from people who speak to Trump regularly. Yesterday, it became clear that one of his sources (perhaps his only source) is Roger Stone. This piece -- which is obviously the work of an insidious pro-Globalist propagandist -- has a full rundown on the Stone/Jones relationship, plus a transcript.

Here is Jones on drugs:
But I’ve talked to people, multiple ones, and they believe that they are putting a slow sedative that they’re building up that’s also addictive in his Diet Cokes and in his iced tea and that the president by 6 or 7 at night is basically slurring his words and is drugged. Now first they had to isolate him to do that. But yes, ladies and gentleman, I’ve talked to people that talk to the president now at 9 at night, he is slurring his words. And I’m going to leave it at that. I’ve talked to folks that have talked to him directly.

So notice, “Oh, he’s mentally ill. Oh, he’s got Alzheimer’s.” They isolate him then you start slowly building up the dose, but instead of titrating it like poison, like venom of a cobra, or a rattlesnake, or a water moccasin where you build it up slowly so that you get a immunity to it, you’re building it slowly so the person doesn’t notice it. First it’s almost zero, just a tiny bit and then a little more and then your brain subconsciously becomes addicted to it and wants it and so as the dose gets bigger and bigger you get more comfortable in it. The president’s about two months into being covertly drugged.
My question: Who's the real con artist here?

Is it Alex Jones? Or is it whoever is feeding this stuff to Jones? (By "whoever" I mean a guy named Roger.)

What does it mean when Roger or Alex feel obligated to push ridiculous tales of this sort? Is "drugged Diet Coke" going to be the all-purpose excuse for Trump's eventual fall -- or perhaps for the administration's perceived "betrayal" of the Alt Right?

Finally, is this the kind of con artistry we can consider endearing, in the way that Blavatsky and Florence Cook were endearing? Or do we place Stone and Jones in the same category as detestable rascals like Hubbard?

Speaking of Globalists...

Another conspiracy wacko. As most of you know, Bibi Netanyahu's son Yair delighted David Duke and other Nazis by publishing a bizarre anti-Semitic image (reproduced above) depicting George Soros as the secret ruler of the universe. What to make of this? Two reactions:

1. The Israeli right really has gone fascist. When you go fascist, you start pushing anti-Semitic conspiracy memes -- even if you happen to be Jewish.

2. The world is mad.

Is there a precedent for this? In the early 1970s (if memory serves), a prominent rabbi defended the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, arguing that it was a real document which revealed a plot against Jews. That rabbi was a little nuts; Yair is far, far nuttier.

Most people don't understand that Yair's graphic was adapted from one created by an apparent follower of Daivd Icke, the famed British fruitcake who thinks that our world is secretly controlled by Evil Lizard People from outer space. The Times of Israel identified the following as the original cartoon:

When Icke first came to prominence in the mid-1990s, hipper people understood that he was peddling refurbished versions of familiar anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Instead of Jews, he targeted "reptilians." For more than a hundred years, paranoid fringe literature has used "the serpent race" as a code term for Jews, and it seemed fair to presume that Icke was using this familiar ploy. Then Jon Ronson made a documentary which argues that Icke is not an anti-Semite: He's simply a very strange man who truly believes in conspiratorial extraterrestrial reptiles.

Icke was hardly the first to blame the world's problems on lizards. Circa 1988, I shared a meal -- IHOP omelettes, if memory serves -- with a man who, like Icke, felt a desperate need to warn the world about the threat posed by Space Lizards. This same person also believed in Richard Shaver's theory of an underground civilization run by "deros" (detrimental robots) who use electronic rays to control the thoughts of surface dwellers. This theory is due for a resurrection on the Alex Jonesian right.

Why did I have lunch with that curious personage? Back in '88, my great fear was that life had become routine and dull; therefore, I sought out individuals with unusual points of view. I no longer care to hear from such people.

Let us here pause to savor the spectacle: The wackos who believe in this kind of thing now sit on the proximity of power. In the words of Richard Shaver:

"Life is a scream in the face of a bright madness, then! Life is a silly sound like a death rattle from an insane clown dying in the night, then."

(Ya gotta love his repeated use of the word "then." That's the inimitable sign of a true schiz.)
Thanks...I needed this laugh to keep from crying!
While his Reptoids from dimension X thoery is laughable (check out videos of alleged Reptoid sightings and they are either obvious fakes or in the cases of people turning into lizards as Icke and others suggests, merely video flaws), his research into some areas is quite good. His hypothesis is nonsense but his research in some areas exposing government conspiracies is accurate. Just ignore his end result of iguanas invading the Earth.

The Reptoids are from the lower fourth dimension, according to Icke, not Dimension X.

Icke earned himself some points by being right about Jimmy Saville and company. Although people might have listened earlier if it wasn't associated with lizard-man stuff.

I've read the Ronson book, and seen the accompanying documentary. There's a lot going on now which reminds me of it. The anti-fascists throwing a pie at Icke. Missing. Hitting some children's literature. Obviously his adventure with a young Alex Jones, before he was famous. Ronson seems to have gone mainstream now, most recently being a producer on Channing Tatum's Comrade Detective.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Funniest video of the century

I hope it isn't because I'd hate to think we'd peaked so soon. That said, it's mighty funny.
O.M.G. I've been following Uncle Vicente's videos and to tell the truth--I think I'm in love. Funny, funny funny. Who knew the former Mexican Prez had such a sense of humor? Or comedic presence? Of course with the Trumpster in the WH it's not that hard.

I may be reading too much into these clips but although Vicente dumps all over the Umber Emperor, he seems to have genuine affection for Americans. As in: what the Hell were you people thinking????

Anyway, good laugh, good medicine in trying times.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Good news, slightly bad news

First, North Carolina moved away from paper-free voting systems. Now this...
The Virginia State Board of Elections voted Friday to discontinue use of all touch-screen voting machines throughout the state because of potential security vulnerabilities, forcing 22 cities and counties to scramble to find new equipment just weeks before voting begins for the November gubernatorial election.

Behind closed doors at an emergency meeting in Richmond on Friday afternoon, the board heard about specific vulnerabilities identified after a cybersecurity conference this summer in Las Vegas, where hackers showed they could break into voting machines with relative ease.
Bravo! I would add: Any state official -- anywhere in the country -- who argues against following Virginia's lead should be considered complicit in election fraud.

One small problem:
Most Virginia localities — including the city of Richmond and Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover counties — have already transitioned to optical-scan systems, in which voters fill out bubbles on a paper ballot that is fed into a scanner.
Tabulators can be rigged. As long as the results are within a certain range, no-one will recount the actual paper ballots. We need a new understanding: Election results are official only if the ballots are counted BY HAND and IN THE OPEN. The names and addresses of the counters should be known to all. Ideally, the counting should be done twice.

I've no objection to the use of tabulating machines as long as the public understands that the first and fastest results are unofficial.

Meanwhile: Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State heading up Trump's bogus election integrity commission, turns out to be obviously corrupt...
A conservative firebrand promoting Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud oversees a Kansas election system that threw out at least three times as many ballots as any similarly sized state did, fueling concerns about massive voter suppression should its practices become the national standard.
Kobach has claimed that out-of-state voters prevented a Republican candidate from winning a senatorial race in New Hampshire. This assertion is, almost needless to say, a complete lie.

There are legitimate reasons for a voter to hold an out-of-state driver's license, as when someone attends a college in a neighboring state. Kobach's notion that voting should be restricted only to people drive cars is rather monstrous.

This is the real reason why I have no hope that the Dems will win the House in 2018: The system is rigged in ways that are subtle but effective, and the Republicans are making sure that the foxes are guarding the hen houses. I also believe that election rigging was the deciding factor in Trump's electoral college win in 2016.
More here.
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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Water, water everywhere: Analysis of the "pee-pee tape" claim

This is it: The day Irma makes landfall.

Some media sources say that the hurricane has been reduced to category 3 status, while others insist that the monster has regained its muscles. We'll know soon.

The wisest reaction is evacuation. The stupidest reaction is to fire indiscriminately into the storm, knowing full well that the winds might hurtle bullets back. This is just what some idiots propose to do, on the theory that the storm will "turn around" when proud Second Amendment People show that they mean business. They may have already started to fire.

(Added note: Snopes has confirmed that this idea began as a joke which some took seriously. Quoth the joke's originator: “I’ve learned that about 50 percent of the world could not understand sarcasm to save their lives. Carry on.” I learned the same lesson after my post of April 1, 2006.)

We now turn our attention to another story involving madness and moisture.

"The Steele dossier" has become the accepted nomenclature for a notorious document which I still prefer to call the Orbis dossier. (The text has multiple authors; Orbis is the name of Christopher Steele's private intelligence company.) A week ago, Paul Wood of the BBC claimed to have confirmed the "watersports" claim, which is the only part of the document that most people care about.
“There are, though, reports of witnesses in the hotel who corroborate Steele’s reporting. These include an American who’s said to have seen a row with the hotel security over whether the hookers would be allowed up to Trump’s suite. The dossier’s account of hookers in a Moscow hotel room was the subject of gossip among politicians and intelligence people for months before it was published.”
Now claims are circulating of more tapes showing more extreme behavior. Expect these allegations to emerge in due course,” Wood continued.
This post will explore the theory that the pee-pee claims have diverted us from other, more important allegations made in that dossier.

Steele's team claims that Trump made a deal with the Russians: He'd get a large cut of Rosneft oil production profits in exchange for (in essence) selling out the United States. Unfortunately, that remarkable claim has disappeared from our national conversation. Americans are very predictable: Since most of us don't understand the world of Big Money, we don't feel comfortable discussing high-level financial chicanery -- but weird sex will always grab our attention.

Wood reports that Putin has blackmail tapes of even more extreme sexual activity involving Donald Trump. As many forget, this claim was first sounded in the Steele dossier itself, which says that sexual kompromat was also obtained on Trump in St. Petersburg.

A couple of days ago, Mother Jones published a piece emphasizing a point which I've made in previous posts: Rightwingers pretend that all of Russiagate stems from the Steele Dossier -- and that even a partial disproof of Steele's work will exonerate Trump. That scenario simply is not true. If the dossier had never existed, we'd still have quite the scandal.
It may seem odd that Republicans believe going after the Steele memos, which included salacious allegations about Trump, is a way to help the president. But they appear to have two goals: to suggest the Steele memos were actually cooked up by the Russian government—and thus are proof that Moscow did not favor Trump in 2016—and to undercut the FBI’s Russia investigation by linking its origins to the Steele memos.

Nunes’ demands mirror prior requests from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to the Justice Department and FBI. Grassley’s letters demanded information while also implying misconduct by the FBI related to the Steele dossier, an effort that hit some political pay dirt. A hearing Grassley convened in July covered the previously reported fact that Fusion GPS, the firm that retained Steele to dig up information on Trump’s Russia ties, also worked for a law firm representing Prevezon Holdings, a company owned by the son of a senior Russian official that faced a federal lawsuit over fraud and money laundering.

The White House has seized on the Grassley-publicized connection between Fusion GPS and Prevezon to suggest that the Steele dossier was actually the result of a Russian operation—which would suggest Trump is not a Kremlin favorite but a victim. “The Democrat-linked firm Fusion GPS actually took money from the Russian government while it created the phony dossier that’s been the basis for all of the Russia scandal fake news,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said after Grassley’s hearing.

Trump, in a July 29 tweet, went further. Citing a breathless Fox News report on the committee hearing, the president asserted, contrary to the consensus of the US intelligence community, that “Russia was against Trump in the 2016 Election.”
Calling Fusion a "Democrat-linked" firm is both true and ridiculous: The company is a hired gun that does oppo research for both parties. The Steele dossier originated as an oppo effort by one of Trump's Republican rivals (probably Jeb Bush, son of the man after whom CIA headquarters was named).

Nevertheless, it is indeed the case that Fusion links up with Prevezon, Veselnitskaya, and the Russian government's efforts to undo the Magnitsky act. Fox News has gone to great lengths to emphasize this link and to imply all sorts of ominous possibilities. These Fox stories are little more than attempts to muddy the waters; all evidence indicates that Russia strongly favored Trump over Clinton. Nevertheless, I must concede that when Fusion took on Russian clients hoping to overturn Magnitsky, the firm became involved with a very dubious and devious enterprise.

It's time to ask a basic question: Who originated the "pee pee" allegation?

As we've seen in previous posts, the only figure who seems to fit the dossier's description of "Source E" is Boris Epshteyn, the Trump insider who planned the inauguration. (Previous posts have misspelled that name more than once, and in more than one way. Apologies). A former White House Press Officer turned analyst for the vile Sinclair Broadcast Group, Epshteyn is a familiar  presence on our television screens. I am told that he has denied being Source E. Perhaps this denial is accurate and perhaps it isn't; by this point, only a fool would trust the veracity of anyone on Team Trump.
Epshteyn never had a clearly defined role in the Donald Trump campaign, leading to the question of why he was really there. He was regularly used as a campaign surrogate on television, despite being so ill suited at it that other pundits would make fun of his ineptness to his face. He listed himself as a “Senior Adviser” to the Trump campaign on his own social media pages, despite seemingly not being in charge of anything.
This Washington Monthly piece claims that Epshteyn may have been Source D, not E. The same piece also tells us everything we can know at this point about the rest of the "pee pee" sourcing...
Steele went to some effort to corroborate this explosive story. The part I just related was provided by Source D who was described as “a close associate of Trump who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow.” Quite a few people suspect that Source D was Boris Epshteyn who was just forced out of the White House for unspecified reasons and took a job as the “chief political analyst” for the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. That has not been confirmed.

Steele also had a Source E who told him that some Ritz Carlton staff were aware of the Trump/Golden Shower story at the time. Source E introduced a Russian intelligence operative to Source F, a female employee at the hotel. Source F also corroborated the story. Finally (as stated at the top) Source B, who was a former high level Russian intelligence office still active in the Kremlin’s inner circles, confirmed that the government had collected enough material on Trump during his visits that they could blackmail him. Specifically, Trump had engaged in questionable sexual activity that was “arranged/monitored” by the FSB.
I published an OCR transcript of the dossier here. Let's look again at the actual paragraphs which have created so much "yellow" journalism:
3. However, there were other aspects to TRUMP's engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable 'kompromat' [compromising material] on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP's (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and OBAMA {whom he hated] had stayed on one other official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a 'golden showers' (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSB control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

4. The Moscow Ritz Carlton episode involving TRUMP reported above was confirmed by Source E, [REDACTED] who said that s/he and several of the staff were aware of it at time and subsequently. S/he believed it had happened in 2013. Source provided an introduction for a company ethnic Russian operative to Source F, a female staffer at the hotel when TRUMP had stayed there, who also confirmed the story. Speaking separately in June 2016, Source B (the former top level Russian intelligence officer) asserted that unorthodox behavior in Russia over the years had provided the authorities there with enough embarrassing material on the now Republican presidential candidate to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.
Whenever I think about these paragraphs, one question haunts me: Why would these sources reveal such matters to Steele's private spooks?

It's fair to presume that Steele's operatives used false identities and "legends." People in their profession do not saunter into a Moscow hotel and say "Hi! We're former British intelligence agents and we'd like some information!" But what possible tactic or disguise could have caused those sources to become so blabby about such a shocking story?

As most of you know, Stephen Colbert visited the same hotel and even stayed in the same suite. The resultant comedy bit turned out to be more unnerving than amusing; Colbert told his audience that he was spied upon by the Russians and by the Americans. He also indicated that everyone working for that hotel seemed to be enveloped in a fog of paranoia.

While watching Colbert's segment for the first time, my mind flashed back to that female staffer, "Source F." Either the "fog of paranoia" was a lot less oppressive in 2013 (a distinct possibility) or one of the James Bonds working for Orbis found a way to ingratiate himself with that female staffer.

It's also possible that Steele found out about the "pee-pee" story because he was supposed to.

In previous posts, we've talked about what I call "the McAlpine Gambit," a ploy described by Margaret Thatcher's late friend, Lord Alistair McAlpine. In his words:
First, create a situation where you are wrongly accused. Then, at a convenient moment, arrange for the false accusation to be shown to be false beyond all doubt. Those who have made accusations against both the company and its management become discredited. Further accusations will then be treated with great suspicion.
(Toward the end of his life, McAlpine himself was on the receiving end of some rather brutal allegations involving illegal sex. Readers will have to come to their own conclusions about the credibility of those allegations.)

Perhaps the claim of a "pee pee" tape has always been a McAlpine Gambit -- that is, a red herring. (Or in this case, a yellow herring.) What would be the purpose of this diversion? What might those sources have hoped to divert us from?

From Wikipedia's entry on the dossier:
On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB/FSB general, was found dead in his car in Moscow. Erovinkin was a key liaison between Igor Sechin, head of state-owned oil company Rosneft, and President Putin. Steele claimed much of the information came from a source close to Sechin. According to Christo Grozev, a journalist at Risk Management Lab, a think-tank based in Bulgaria, the circumstances of Erovinkin's death were "mysterious". Grozev suspected Erovinkin helped Steele compile the dossier on Trump and suggests the hypothesis that the death may have been part of a cover-up by the Russian government.[42][43] Mark Galeotti, senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, who specializes in Russian history and security, rejected Grozev's hypothesis.
I've been following Grozev's work, which continues to impress. Let us therefore pause to note the disparity of treatment accorded to these two claimed sources: Boris Epshteyn has prospered, while Oleg Erovinkin has not. Epshteyn seems to be in marvelous health, while Erovinkin has taken a turn for the worse.

Again: I've never claimed that Epshteyn definitely is one of Steele's sources; I've said merely that he fits the description. For the sake of argument, let us temporarily posit that he is, in fact, Source E. Is it not telling that he has never left Trump's good graces?

I'm reminded of the noir classic Kiss Me Deadly. Remember Mike Hammer's reaction when the mechanic finds a bomb in his car? "That's the one they wanted us to find!"

Speaking of Hollywood (and of piss):

Bannon the screenwriter. This piece offers a look at Steve Bannon's unproduced screenplay based on Coriolanus. I'll be honest: That's one work by Shakespeare which I've neither read nor seen produced. The original can't possibly be this awful...
Marcius, Marcius, you speak divinely cuz. Each word unweeds my heart, uproots our ancient envy. Shall I wrap my arms around you hotly, as I did in battle? Like with that bitch I married — (loading gun) when we first got it on. Now my heart’s dancing rapt, as when I lay bestride her threshold. Man, you are seducing me. We been down together many night — times in my dreams. And when I woke...
From what I've read of MI6, the way they get people to be blabby is either hot asian girls or sacks of cash. Assuming the person they want information from isn't an old school tie public school boy. They seem quite resentful of the CIA's greater budget for this very reason. They also seem highly dubious of their own sources for the same reason.
I'm working through the post, but I wanted to mention something right away. Take a close look at IC Expert Development. That's the Russian company that Trump partnered with on Trump Tower Moscow in late 2015. Trump and ICED signed a letter of intent.

My guess is that the letter of intent was a cover for a more nefarious relationship that had very little to do with towers.

There are Russian-language links that say ICED was involved in some way with a vicious pedophile ring in Russia that captured vertical power throughout the Russian state with use of kompromat.

Things get even more interesting at the site of a pencil factory where Trump signed a different letter of intent, in 2005 or 2006, also guided by Sater. The pencil factory was supposed to be knocked down for a Trump tower. One of the men involved with that property fled to Spain because he was said to have kompromat on Russian politicians.

There is an even stranger business connection between Trump and Russia, but it's not something I'm going to share.
Correction: IC Expert Investment, not Development.
Anon: I've been checking and no English language site speaks of a link between IC and kompromat and pedophilia. However, the idea makes some sense when we think of Sater's background with Mogilevich, who runs a ring of underaged "escorts." So...color me interested.

Can I trouble you for a link to any Russian-language articles -- or anything in any other language -- that would help me out here?

Here's your link on IC Expert Investment.

Please heed the following disclaimer: I haven't verified any of this information, and since the source is a self-publishing author on Medium, its credibility is automatically shot until proven otherwise.

The article says Alexander Khodyrev, the head of a Moscow region called Korolyov -- the cradle of the Russian space program and familiar to WWII buffs as Kaliningrad -- was (is?) a 25 percent owner of IC Expert Investment, and has a taste for young
women and girls, including beauty pageant contestants. You can see Khodyrev here reviewing a new science park for children with Prime Minister Medvedev, with Khodyrev to the left and behind Medvedev:

The article claims Khodyrev has an enormous fortune and manipulates power structures with kompromat from a pedophile ring. Quoting from a Google translation of the article:

"On the possible question: 'Why Khodyrev is still in his post', the answer is given in the same video by Derevsky - pedophile services turned out to be for higher leadership, and the patrons at Khodyrev along the whole vertical and its branches are huge.' "

Again, I have to emphasize how unsubstantiated all of this is. And if you choose to write about this, please credit Anon for the info.
(Anon being me.)
Source E sounds like an intelligence officer to me, probably FSB:

"(The episode was) confirmed by Source E, [REDACTED] who said that s/he and several of the staff were aware of it at time and subsequently. S/he believed it had happened in 2013. Source provided an introduction for a company ethnic Russian operative to Source F, a female staffer at the hotel."

This isn't a mere "agent". This is someone who knows, or has found out, what several staff were aware of at the time and subsequently, and who found an asset for Steele's organisation.

"E" could be Oleg Erovinkin.

Hotel security and hooker agency both run by the FSB would be my guess.

The British role in the affair is hard even to hypothesise about.

Might it be relevant that British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who was parachuted into the job with zero experience of either government at national level or foreign policy (which hasn't happened for more than 150 years), is a) a US citizen, and b) a man who for a short time was accused of being a Putin helper?

It seemed for a moment that Tony Blair was going to set up a British arm of the Trump operation, which may yet happen.

The manipulation of the Euro-Brexit story is highly controlled. And the tabloid-reading Brexiteer base is being conditioned to believe that large-scale war is coming. Those who don't keep up with the Daily Express and who don't read between the lines of what's put out by the BBC and the Sun may not be aware of that. The uses of xenophobia.

Another angle: it's unlikely that the roughly 10% of the British voter base who over time went from Labour to UKIP are going to be left untroubled where they now are, having returned to Labour led by Jeremy Corbyn in this year's election.
underaged "escorts." So...color me interested.

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