As you might imagine, we've been away from home-sweet-hotplate for a while. I've also been away from my computer. To tell you the truth, it has been rather pleasant not to feel obligated to keep up with every quiver and quaver of the ongoing battle against the cheatin' Cheeto.
Your incredibly kind help has literally brought tears to our eyes. After the money traveled from PayPal to the bank, we were able to purchase a new AC unit -- the installation of which proved quite a task. Lugging a thing like that up to the attic and somehow threading it into a small and awkward space reminded me of an unpleasant truth: You are no longer young.
If you still feel generous, I urge you find someone to help in the blazing west. It appears that California is having a thoroughly miserable time of it.
As soon as I find the password to my old Yahoo account -- for some reason, it's not stored on this browser -- I'll thank you all individually. For right now, George thanks you, my ladyfriend thanks you, and I feel truly grateful and truly humbled. You've once again taught a captious old curmudgeon that human beings are capable of incredible grace.
If you follow the news too carefully for too long, cynicism becomes your default mode. Cynicism has its uses, but it can also blind you to the fact that people can be pretty damned wonderful.
Thank you so much. I'll resume blogging when I feel I've gotten ahead of the news curve.
One last note: It was very pleasant to spend a couple of days reading books written years ago. We all need a reminder that there once was a pre-Trump age. We can find our way back.
NEW INFO: A strange "Poker Venture" run out of Trump Tower
First: A plea for help. I rarely run fundraisers on this site, but an emergency just hit. After spending my meager savings on frivolities like medicine and a new video card, MY BLOODY AIR CONDITIONER DIED. I live in a very hot attic in a very humid part of the country. When the outside temperature turns hellish, it becomes even hellisher up here -- for me, for my ladyfriend, and for my poor diabetic doggiefriend George.
Yes, I'm brash enough to mention the effects of global (or at least local) warming on my canine companion. He pants and pants but won't leave my side for the cooler climes of downstairs. The loyalty of a dog is touching, astounding, and a bit unnerving. (Would it tug at your heartstrings if I showed you his picture? Mine is the shamelessness born of desperation.)
If you "ding" the PayPal button to your left (you may have to scroll down), your generous contribution will go straight to the air conditioner fund. We don't need a big 'un. Our gratitude will be beyond words.
Before we get to our main investigative piece, we need to look at a couple of other stories...
Witnesses said he 'deliberately' drove onto the pavement outside north London's Muslim Welfare House - yards from the Finsbury Park Mosque - and jumped out of the cab shouting 'I'm going to kill all Muslims - I did my bit'.
A 17-year-old Muslim girl identified as Nabra was kidnapped and beaten to death early Sunday morning in Sterling, Virginia. She was reported as missing at roughly 4 a.m. and now police believe they have found her body in a pond.
So far, Donald Trump's twitter feed has mentioned neither of these outrages.
Roger Stone. The Roger Stone/Alex Jones team-up has been absolutely boggling. After building a formidable rep as a conspiratorial-mastermind-for-hire, Stone now pretends to be the victim of dark and evil forces. It's a surreal situation: Roger Stone is one of the original Watergaters and the king of the dirty tricksters, yet our modern paranoia addicts consider him an apostle of fair play and decency. What's next? Will the Infowarriors proclaim Pablo Escobar to be the saint of non-violence?
Stone's name came up an NBC News story published yesterday: "NBC News Exclusive: Memo Shows Watergate Prosecutors Had Evidence Nixon White House Plotted Violence." In 1972, Nixonians planned to use bullyboys from YAF (Young Americans for Freedom, a notorious right-wing group of the time) to mount a violent physical attack against Daniel Ellsberg as he spoke -- along with William Kunstler and other notables -- at an anti-war rally on the Capitol steps. The Watergate Committee investigated the incident and outlined their findings in a memo that has remained unreleased until now.
"Carl Rove"? Is that Turdblossom back when he was a young turd? Must be! Stone now seems to despise Rove, calling him a "political profiteer" -- unlike Stone himself, who always does what he does for the purest of motives, just like Jesus or Barry Allen. Also see here.
Ivanka, Donald and their "Poker Venture." Just after I had announced to the world that I was so over Louise Mensch, she publishes a truly fascinating bit of research which relies on open-source material instead of nameless informants. Okay, okay: The Nameless Ones do pop up in a couple of paragraphs. Readers of her piece should mentally excise those bits and double-check the rest.
Ivanka has been linked to eleven companies in the Trump financial disclosures. Her status has been put to “Inactive” on several odd holding companies...
Those touring “Corporation Wiki” will be surprised to see that “Poker Venture Managing Member Corp by: Donald J Trump” lists itself as an officer of inactive “Poker Venture”, yet when one clicks on the gray icon, one is taken to the same active company.
All very strange.
I'll say! Beyond the fact that Trump allegedly divested himself of his business interests, isn't it a little unseemly for the President of the United States to be listed as the owner of a company called Poker Venture Managing Member Corp, which filed in Nevada?
This company is related to another enterprise called simply Poker Ventures, whose listed address is 725 5th Avenue, New York, NY -- Trump Tower. Mensch seems to have missed that part, although she thinks that this "Poker" business somehow links up to the botnet which she believes is run out of Trump Tower. (I see no evidence for this beyond the inscrutable pronouncements of The Nameless Ones.)
I'll tell you something else that Louise Mensch seems to have missed: This Poker Venture business appears to link up to some scandalous doings outlined in one of my previous posts (of which I happen to be quite proud). It's hard to summarize that complicated piece, but I'll try.
A Russian "Godfather" named Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov ran a shady operation out of Trump Tower -- specifically, unit 63A, not far below Trump's own living quarters. It was so shady that the FBI had bugged the joint. (We're talking money laundering.)
Tokhtakhounov -- known as "Little Taiwan" or "Taiwanchik" because he looks Asian -- is the guy who linked Donald Trump up with the world of beauty contests in Russia. Taiwanchik has his fingers in all sorts of interesting deals -- for example, he was once arrested for rigging an Olympic figure skating competition.
Tokhtakhounov had partners in his New York enterprise -- Vadim Trincher and Anatoly Golubchik. (Trincher was the 2009 world poker champion.) They were tried and convicted. Guess who put 'em away? Preet Bharara.
That's right: The U.S. attorney famously fired by Donald Trump secured convictions against two guys running a criminal enterprise right below Trump's feet in Trump Tower.
Dirty money must needs be laundered, right? One great way to launder money is via the world of art. Banks won't ask too many questions if you tell 'em that someone just paid twenty million for a Picasso.
Enter Helly Nahmad, who used to run a tony art gallery in Manhattan. His family is worth some $3 billion...
Mr. Nahmad, a night-life fixture known for his showy extravagance and celebrity crowd — a $21 million Trump Tower apartment and friendships with people like Gisele Bündchen and Leonardo DiCaprio — was charged in April in a racketeering indictment brought by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. He was accused of being part financier, part money launderer and part bookmaker in a network that organized poker games and sports betting operations and drew hundred-thousand-dollar wagers from celebrities and billionaires.
The feds knew his secrets because they were listening in on Nahmad's cellphone chats.
But Helly’s interest in gambling led to trouble. The high-stakes poker and sports-betting ring that he is accused of helping to lead — with activity stretching from New York and Los Angeles — ultimately came to the attention of federal authorities who were investigating Russian organized crime figures.
Mr. Nahmad helped not only to bankroll the operation, according to prosecutors, but was also personally involved in taking sports bets. In all, 34 people were indicted in the case. The lead defendant is Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, whom authorities identify as a high-ranking Russian gangster known by his nickname, Taiwanchik.
All of this has to do with the world of high-stakes poker. These people linked up with a coast-to-coast gambling operation which attracted a number of Hollywood celebrities, including Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire.
My original post has many more details -- and by "many" I mean MANY. (Check out the Cyprus connection, which takes in Nahmad, Taiwanchik and Trump himself.) But right now, I want you to focus on "the holy game of poker."
1. Donald and Ivanka run something called "Poker Venture," headquartered in Trump Tower but incorporated in Nevada.
2. Directly below Trump's living quarters was a crooked enterprise run by Russian crime lord Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, whose links to Trump himself are beyond dispute. Tokhtakhounov got away; he is now in Russia.
3. Helly Nahmad, who also had a Trump Tower address, was involved with a nationwide (actually international) high-stakes poker ring.
4. Nahmad and Tokhtakhounov deny knowing each other, even though Preet Bahrara named them both as co-defendants when he made a case against this money laundering/gambling operation. They also both link up with Trincher and the other defendants.
The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization is a nationwide criminal enterprise with strong ties to Russia and Ukraine. The leadership of the organization ran an international sportsbook that catered primarily to Russian oligarchs living in Russia and Ukraine and throughout the world. The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization laundered tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from the gambling operation from Russia and the Ukraine through shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus, and from Cyprus into the U.S. Once the money arrived in the U.S, it was either laundered through additional shell companies or invested in seemingly legitimate investments, such as hedge funds or real estate.
Speaking of which: Many people have wondered who helped Jared Kushner purchase that ridiculously overpriced skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue. (I'm not claiming to have proof of a connection. I'm just sayin'.) For that matter, quite a few people have asked wondered why anyone would invest in Donald Trump's various properties, given the rather odd way he does business.
Let's get back to that press release:
The Nahmad-Trincher Organization is a nationwide criminal enterprise with leadership in Los Angeles, California, and New York City. The organization ran a high-stakes illegal gambling business that catered primarily to multi-millionaire and billionaire clients. The organization utilized several online gambling websites that operated illegally in the U.S. Debts owed to the Nahmad-Trincher Organization sometimes reached hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “The subjects in this case ran high-stakes illegal poker games and online gambling, proceeds from which are alleged to have been funneled to organized crime overseas. The one thing they didn't bet on was the New York City police and federal investigators’ attention. I commend the NYPD Organized Crime Investigations Division and their partners in the FBI and U.S. Attorney Bharara's office for identifying and bringing the members of this organization to justice.”
Well, we know what Trump did to Bharara. No good deed goes unpunished.
The question before us is this: Is the "Poker Ventures" that lists Donald and Ivanka as owners -- and which lists Trump Tower as its address -- part of the very real "poker venture" run by criminals living right below Donald's feet in that very same building?
I can't prove it. But the nomenclature sure as hell makes the idea seem inescapable.
Nomenclature isn't all we have to go on. Let's return to Louise Mensch's article (stressing, once again, that this piece -- unlike much of her recent work -- derives from open sources, all properly cited)...
Equally odd is that the state of New Jersey – (Ivanka Trump has a New Jersey address listed as one of her business records, associated with Poker Ventures) – has added to its newly published list of “Internet Gaming Ancillary Companies” both Poker Ventures LLC, which was already listed, but also “Novacorp Net Ltd”, “VidMob Inc” and “Reblaze Technologies”.
So: Poker Ventures has to do with online gambling. (The legality of online gaming is a matter of some dispute.) Remember: The crooked Nahmad/Trincher operation also involvedonline gambling.
And Poker Ventures LLC does indeed appear on that list compiled by the state of New Jersey. See for yourself.
Mensch goes on to connect Poker Ventures up with some other notable names on that list, shady concerns which have definite connections to both Russians and Israelis. One of these enterprises, Reblaze Technologies, seems to have little to do with gambling and much to do with hacking:
Fascinating stuff. That "protect your website" scam reminds me of the hoary "watch your car" racket illustrated in those old Dead End Kid movies. You should hit those links; they take you into very odd places.
Unfortunately, we don't yet have any proof (beyond the word of Mensch's Nameless Ones) that this Reblaze business is tied up with Trump's Poker Ventures. Pity that: The possibilities are very intriguing.
For that matter, I must reiterate that I cannot prove that Donald and Ivanka's weird foray into the worlds of poker and online gaming is part-and-parcel of the poker and online gaming operation run by Helly Mahmad and his Russian gangster associates. But come on: It's hard not to conclude that we're dealing with two ingredients from the same stew-pot. These poker-related ventures form a Venn diagram in which the two circles seem nearly congruent. You can't fairly accuse me of leaping to wild conclusions: This ain't the kind of hazy guff you get from Alex Jones.
Louise Mensch, if you're reading these words: Thanks for returning to the world of real investigative writing. In the future, I hope you stop relying on the private sources who have provided you with so many dubious scoops. You'll have much more impact if you continue to provide stories that can be verified.
I strongly urge you to look into the possible links between "Poker Ventures" and the real-world poker venture in Trump Tower.
And please: Next time you feel tempted to accuse a perceived adversary of being a Russian spy, bite your tongue until it bleeds. A little more caution in your rhetoric will help you in the long run.
Finally: If these words have proven intriguing or enlightening to you, please consider dinging that PayPal account. It's already infernally muggy in here -- several degrees hotter than the temps outside. I feel like I'm melting.
Not meaning to give you an alternative solution, but I just found an amazing fan at Costco for $39.95. Has multiple settings for determining how long it runs, what temperature it shuts off, it can rotate, or not, and it's Whisper quiet. I found the lowest speed setting ideal. Basically it can be set to shut off once the room reaches a certain temperature or a certain amount of time has elapsed. I think the energy consumption is super low because of the lightweight design. Might as well score a utilitarian first step via this fan while you battle the air conditioning issue. The fan is made by Lasko and has U.S. customer support via an 800 number.
Is there a secret tape of Newt saying shocking things about Trump and Russia?
This is a long-ish post about anonymous sources.
Many respected mainstream writers have used them. Lately, though, non-mainstream writers have made some very startling claims based (they say) on information from unnamed insiders. And that's a problem.
Consider, for example, the case of Watergate's Deep Throat, the most famous anonymous source of all time. Everyone knows that Throat turned out to be FBI man Mark Felt, who "came out" a few years before his death in 2008. There are solid reasons to suspect that Woodward cultivated other sources whom he has never identified -- sources who worked for a Certain Interesting Agency. (See here, here and here.) Woodward's description of Throat -- a lanky, chain-smoking, hard-drinking "former military man with intellectual proclivities" -- describes Jim Angleton one hell of a lot better than it describes Mark Felt.
The tale of Throat exemplifies one of the main problems with anonymous sourcing: Even after the story has reached a resolution, mysteries may linger. After the Big Reveal, nobody subjected Felt to some much-needed intensive questioning because he was quite elderly.
Still, Woodward and Bernstein were not indulging in "fake news" when they wrote their Throat-based stories (even though Nixon might have used that term if it was in circulation at the time). The famous duo's reportage turned out to be accurate, even if they did keep the Agency in the shadows. They revealed the name of their source to their editor, Ben Bradlee, and reportedly to a few other people (including the remarkable J. Stanley Pottinger).
Most importantly: Woodward and Bernstein worked for a reputable journalistic institution which has never been inclined to publish anything likely to result in a libel case. The WP must be careful because it has sufficiently deep pockets to justify a lawsuit.
The same cannot be said of some of today's storytellers.
Take, for example, this remarkable headline in The Palmer Report, a repository for all of the wilder Trumpgate claims made on any given day:
Report: FBI has recordings of Newt Gingrich setting up Trump-Russia meetings during campaign
A headline like that would raise the eyebrows of anyone not named Mona Lisa. But what is the basis for this claim? It traces back to a writer who goes by the handle Puesto Loco, which, according to Google Translate, means "put out crazy." Not a pseudonym likely to inspire confidence.
Sources tell me there's enough House GOPers who've pledged that if Trump fires Mueller & Ryan interferes rehiring him, Ryan will be ousted.
This assertion also comes with a photo montage:
I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that the Germans "have something" on Trump. But I do have a simple question: What is Merkel's motive for keeping the secrets of Ryan, McConnell and Trump at this stage of the game?
Here's an even better question: Why would we be learning this tidbit from a little-known tweeter who calls himself Puesto Loco? Why would an insider divulge such important material to that guy, and not to the Washington Post or the NYT or even Buzzfeed? It just don't add up!
Here's how Mr. Loco describes himself:
Military Anchor Baby - My Mom never saw the irony in calling me a Son-of-a-Bitch. GOP fascism is destroying my country.
He gives his location as "Florida Central West Coast." (Incidentally, CIA personnel often retire to Central Florida, though usually on the east coast.) Mr. Loco offers another photo montage which bears on the very problem under discussion in this post:
While I'm hardly in a position to dismiss all conspiracy theories, the problems on display here should be obvious:
1. Someone displaying this level of concern about credibility should not have chosen "Puesto Loco" as his nomme-de-net.
2. Although I remain fascinated by her, Louise Mensch has so thoroughly damaged her reputation by this point that even the Palmer Report won't link to her anymore. You can't blame spooks for that situation; she did it to herself. Besides, Mensch loves spooks. She's a spook fangirl.
3. I've read a lot about Allen Dulles. Maybe I'm forgetting something, but I'm pretty sure that he never said anything about demonizing the term "conspiracy theory." However: As any student of the JFK assassination knows, Dulles' CIA pioneered the technique of using sensationalized claims to hide the truth. It is legitimate to suspect that this technique is still in use.
About a week ago, Puesto Loco and Louise Mensch separately offered the same scoop -- a claimed linkage between Paul Ryan and Wikileaks. (I've seen no evidence to back this scenario.) As we've seen, Mr. Loco has risen to the defense of Louise Mensch. And yet, just yesterday, Mensch accused Mr. Loco of being...
Oh hell. Do I even need to say it? This is Louise Mensch we're talking about...
For example puesto loco tweets many true things but is also Russian intelligence.
As are so, so many others. Louise, since you are very free with paranoid accusations, how about one for little ol' me?
Look, I'll help you out. Here's the incontrovertible proof of my perfidy: I've read War and Peace. I like Tarkovsky's films. As a teen, I once traveled 40 miles by bus in the rain to see a double bill of Potemkin and October. I've met Marina Oswald Porter. I picked up a few Russian words from A Clockwork Orange. I occasionally drink vodka. When it comes to heavy metal, I'll take Khatchaturian's Third Symphony over Metallica any day.
(Betcha didn't know that Aram Khatchaturian invented heavy metal in 1947. Someone should re-score that piece for electric guitar instead of organ.)
And yet I don't think that Mensch is a disinformation agent, at least not a witting one.
True, there's a lot of evidence against her: Her friendship with the vile Milo Yiannopoulos, her work for the even viler Rupert Murdoch, her pre-election paranoid fantasias directed at Hillary Clinton, her vaguely pro-Trump pre-election tweets (issued under the name Louise Bagshawe), her membership in the same Tory party that supplies Cambridge Analytica with so many top employees, her generally divisive behavior, and -- of course -- her many unlikely scoops based on intel from nameless insiders who, for some unfathomable reason, would rather talk to her than to (say) Michael Isikoff or Kurt Eichenwald.
One could also cite her propensity to spook-bait fellow anti-Trumpers. Yet this is precisely the factor which inclines me to think that she is sincere: A professional disinformationist would make a greater effort to maintain credibility -- and would strive to be liked.
Hm. I suppose that a similar argument could be made in favor of Puesto Loco. Wouldn't a witting agent be more likely to call himself "Muy cuerdo" or something like that?
And then there's John Schindler, perhaps the best-known of the "spooks against Trump." Surprisingly few people recall this remarkable piece from May 26, in which Schindler discusses a secret meeting between NSA Director Mike Rogers and key employees:
This week’s town hall event, which was broadcast to agency facilities worldwide, was therefore met with surprise and anticipation by the NSA workforce, and Rogers did not disappoint. I have spoken with several NSA officials who witnessed the director’s talk and I’m reporting their firsthand accounts, which corroborate each other, on condition of anonymity.
In his town hall talk, Rogers reportedly admitted that President Trump asked him to discredit the FBI and James Comey, which the admiral flatly refused to do. As Rogers explained, he informed the commander in chief, “I know you won’t like it, but I have to tell what I have seen”—a probable reference to specific intelligence establishing collusion between the Kremlin and Team Trump.
Rogers then added that such SIGINT exists, and it is damning. He stated, “There is no question that we [meaning NSA] have evidence of election involvement and questionable contacts with the Russians.” Although Rogers did not cite the specific intelligence he was referring to, agency officials with direct knowledge have informed me that DIRNSA was obviously referring to a series of SIGINT reports from 2016 based on intercepts of communications between known Russian intelligence officials and key members of Trump’s campaign, in which they discussed methods of damaging Hillary Clinton.
NSA employees walked out of the town hall impressed by the director’s forthright discussion of his interactions with the Trump administration, particularly with how Rogers insisted that he had no desire to “politicize” the situation beyond what the president has already done. America’s spies are unaccustomed to playing partisan politics as Trump has apparently asked them to do, and it appears that the White House’s ham-fisted effort to get NSA to attack the FBI and its credibility was a serious mistake.
It’s therefore high time for the House and Senate intelligence committees to invite Admiral Rogers to talk to them about what transpired with the White House. It’s evident that DIRNSA has something important to say.
Here's the thing: Since Schindler wrote those words, Rogers has testified to Congress. And he played Johnny Tightlips, at least in the open session. If, in the closed session, he had said anything this startling and damning, we probably would have received some indication by now.
I mean, what would be the purpose of continued secrecy? And why the hell would Comey (who supposedly has all of the NSA's juiciest material) keep these SIGINT reports under wraps?
Schindler wants us to believe that a whole bunch of NSA guys and a whole bunch of congressfolk (of both parties) and the former FBI Director have absolutely damning evidence that Trump conspired with Russians. Yet instead of using this evidence, they all prefer to let Trump continue to hang on to the nuclear launch codes.
Does that make sense to you?
Reality Winner revealed that the NSA possesses evidence of Russian interference with our voting systems. We didn't get that from Admiral Rogers. Why not? Keeping a thing like that secret from the American public is, in and of itself, an act of collusion with Russia.
Yes, the NSA is traditionally the most secretive of agencies, and Rogers is no doubt an extremely circumspect individual. I know all that. But I don't care. If Russia has hacked our vote, then we need to know. Period. No excuses. On rare occasions, secrecy is tantamount to complicity.
Here's a more sensible theory: NSA chieftain Mike Rogers, like former DIA chieftain Michael Flynn, is on Team Trump -- which explains why the NSA keeps Trump's dirty secrets.
Maddow began her conspiratorial suggestion by first noting how highly publicized Trump’s transition was, specifically when it came to who was coming in and out of the golden elevators. But she noted that nine days after the election, a serving Obama administration official made a surprise visit to Trump Tower. It was Admiral Mike Rogers.
She pointed to an NBC News report that showed Rogers “took a personal day” to visit the president-elect and to an NPR report that Rogers never told the sitting president (aka President Obama) that he was going to meet with Trump. Maddow then seemed to agree with The Wall Street Journal‘s report that Rogers was seeking a promotion to become the Director of National Intelligence (a job that ultimately went to Dan Coats).
Maddow was relishing a WaPo report that came out days later that then-DNI James Clapper and then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter urged then-President Obama to fire Rogers from the NSA.
Before moving on to Rogers’s testimony, Maddow concluded by saying that this was a “very strange story.”
Indeed! Please note: Maddow's story cannot be reconciled with Schindler's tale, at least not easily.
So: Did Schindler's sources tell him the truth about what Rogers said? What about Mr. Loco's sources? Ms. Mensch's?
The best way to hide a Hershey's Kiss is in a pile of horseshit.
Google translation misled you. Puesto is the past participle of the verb poner, which means to put. So puesto loco likely means made crazy, or driven crazy, which would fit well for a Twitter handle. - http://bit.ly/2spDh4e
Another meaning of Puesto, depending on the country from where the writer comes from, is Post. Which would translate Crazy Post.
posted by Anonymous : 6:24 PM
I don't think anyone would accuse Rachael Maddow of being "disinformation" yet I was surprised to learn about her warm relationship with...Roger Ailes...
The twitter paranoids are an internecine bunch that periodically seem to collapse into infighting of the "who else would give a fuck" kind. It does give there rest of us an opportunity to experience the world of counter-intelligence--who to trust, who not--without our day-to-day lives depending on it. We helpless onlookers....
As many of you already know, the House Intel Committee wants to question Brad Parscale, the "digital director" for the Trump campaign. Republican strategist Rick Wilson, a columnist for the Daily Beast, offered the following tweet:
A little bird tells me that a certain White House staff member whose name rhymes with Beeve Stannon is crapping diamonds over Parscale.
Remember: A White House staffer whose name rhymes with Beeve Stannon used to be in charge of Cambridge Analytica.
Is Georgia on your mind? Forget it. The race is already over. Ossof is ahead, but not to a sufficient degree.
Those who accept the reality of election hacking understand that it would be too suspicious to manipulate the results if the spread is larger than three percent (roughly speaking). In the much-ballyhooed race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, Ossof is now ahead by a mere 1.5 points. He's well within the margin of error. The error always favors the GOP in important races. Funny how that happens.
Sorry, but Ossoff will lose. There will be plenty of "blame the Dems" handwringing afterward, and a whole bunch of Trumpian triumphalism. This shit will continue until responsible people in the media start to admit that our concerns about computerized vote-rigging are legit.
Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Foundation, which sued the state last month to prevent it from using the voting machines in the upcoming runoff, says Americans have reason to be concerned about the integrity of Georgia’s election system—and the state’s puzzling lack of interest in addressing its vulnerabilities. “The security weaknesses recently exposed would be a welcome mat for bad actors.”
The story focuses on a cybersecurity specialist named Logan Lamb who almost accidentally hacked into the state's voting system.
Within the mother lode Lamb found on the center’s website was a database containing registration records for the state’s 6.7 million voters; multiple PDFs with instructions and passwords for election workers to sign in to a central server on Election Day; and software files for the state’s ExpressPoll pollbooks — electronic devices used by pollworkers to verify that a voter is registered before allowing them to cast a ballot. There also appeared to be databases for the so-called GEMS servers. These Global Election Management Systems are used to prepare paper and electronic ballots, tabulate votes and produce summaries of vote totals.
The files were supposed to be behind a password-protected firewall, but the center had misconfigured its server so they were accessible to anyone, according to Lamb. “You could just go to the root of where they were hosting all the files and just download everything without logging in,” Lamb says.
And there was another problem: The site was also using a years-old version of Drupal — content management software — that had a critical software vulnerability long known to security researchers.
Lamb was concerned that hackers might already have penetrated the center’s site, a scenario that wasn’t improbable given news reports of intruders probing voter registration systems and election websites; if they had breached the center’s network, they could potentially have planted malware on the server to infect the computers of county election workers who accessed it, thereby giving attackers a backdoor into election offices throughout the state; or they could possibly have altered software files the center distributed to Georgia counties prior to the presidential election, depending on where those files were kept.
The center has played a critical role in the state’s elections for more than a decade, not only by testing the touch-screen voting machines used throughout the state and maintaining the software that’s used in the machines, but also by providing support for the GEMS servers that tabulate votes and creating and distributing the electronic ballot definition files that go into each voting machine before elections. These files tell the machines which candidate should receive a vote based on where a voter touches the screen. If someone were to alter the files, machines could be made to record votes for the wrong candidate.
Still think Ossoff has a chance? If you talk about the Georgia election purely in terms of Russian hacking, you're missing the point. Even if we leave Russia out of this, we have quite the scandal here.
After Lamb discovered the initial problems last August, he notified Merle King, executive director at the center, who thanked Lamb and said he would get the server fixed. It was months before the presidential election, and King pressed Lamb not to talk about the issue with anyone, especially the media.
“He said, It would be best if you were to drop this now,” Lamb recalls. King also said that if Lamb did talk, “the people downtown, the politicians … would crush” Lamb.
Exclusive: White House Officials Push For Widening War in Syria Over Pentagon Objections
A pair of top White House officials is pushing to broaden the war in Syria, viewing it as an opportunity to confront Iran and its proxy forces on the ground there, according to two sources familiar with the debate inside the Donald Trump administration.
Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the U.S. military has taken a handful of defensive actions against Iranian-backed forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Thank god Hillary didn't win. She's such a warmonger, you know.
Paul Ryan. Why did this former Trump critic become Trump's catamite? $20 million may have had something to do with it.
The swamp needs to be fire-bombed. The MSM are useless.
posted by prowlerzee : 12:23 PM
Thank you for this. Lamb brought out an excellent point that I hadn't thought through, which is once system is hacked all sort of perfidy is possible. While I'm not in denial that hacking and most probably vote rigging are occurring, I can't bring myself to think of all of the repercussions.
Also excellent point that Russians can't be blamed 100%. Rethugs have been tampering with voting registration records since at least 2000. My concern is that the focus on the Russians, while important, diverts concern from those in US who most probably initiated these activities and found a willing ally in Russia.
I had merely been assuming that the Grody Old Perverts did not want to investigate the Russian interference story because Russian interference had benefitted their party. However, they would have extra motive to bury the story if investigation of Russian meddling in our election processes could bring Rethuglican meddling in our election processes to light.
You were right, Ossoff lost by about 4 or 5%. However, that was a huge reduction in margin of victory from prior races in that district, so perhaps it's a pyrrhic victory for both sides of the political realm.
I was tempted to begin this post with the words "The shit has hit the fan." But we say that every day, don't we? Our national life has become a ceaseless hurricane of shit hitting a Great Wall of fans. Today, however, some particularly weird shit hit the fans.
The UK: Before we get to that weirdness, let me offer these words from regular reader b on the situation in Britain, where a concatenation of events makes a Corbyn government possible.
Listen - the British government is now exceptionally weak and unpopular. I don't just mean it's incompetent and many have a low opinion of it. A mood is rising in London in connection with the terrible fire in North Kensington, which everyone knows resulted from many years of housing policy and the deliberate degradation of people's living conditions. This mood may bring down the Tory government within days.
A petition is urging Jeremy Corbyn to table a motion of no confidence in the government "and its housing policy that caused the Grenfell Tower fire". Please can people help circulate it.
It could happen that when Parliament officially reopens next Wednesday there are 100,000 people on the street outside, expressing "no confidence" in the government.
That has not happened before in living memory. Everyone who isn't a total shit wants Jeremy Corbyn to take over as prime minister. And it's possible, seriously possible, that we will get what we want very soon.
In your fucking ugly face, Donald Trump!
Speaking of whom...
Donnie vs. Roddie. When I went to sleep this morning (yes, I'm on a bizarre schedule), the big news was the Mystery Message which Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein issued -- a message which had Trump's tiny fingerprints all over it. Rosenstein seemed to be carrying water on Trump's behalf. This worrisome spectacle had many wondering about the fate of the Mueller investigation, since Rosenstein has the power to fire Mueller.
Ten hours later, everything had changed. We had entered a new sector of Crazyland.
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
This reads as though Trump is blaming Rosenstein for the Comey firing, even though Trump admitted to Lester Holt that he had decided to do so beforehand and that he used Rosenstein's anti-Comey argument as a kind of cover.
(That interview was the equivalent of Jack Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth" outburst in A Few Good Men -- except Holt had not placed Trump under any discernible pressure.)
Yesterday, Trump attacked Mueller. Now, he is attacking the guy who chose Mueller. It's all very unnerving. Once again, I'm predicting that Trump will fire Robert Mueller. When faced with a choice between doing the Crazy Thing and doing the Non-Crazy Thing, Trump will always choose the former.
“He’s furious at Rosenstein, but the list of his people who enrage him is ever-growing,” a longtime Trump confidant, who recently spoke to the president, told The Daily Beast. “He has no qualms about throwing [Rosenstein] under a bus.”
That single tweet threatens to upend the administration’s legal and public-relations strategies surrounding an FBI probe into alleged Russian election-meddling that has expanded in recent months to include an obstruction investigation and a probe of the finances of Trump aides and associates.
A frustrated senior Trump administration official quipped in response to the tweet, “Has anyone read him his Miranda rights?” The implication being that Trump would do well to remain silent on the issue of his own criminal investigation.
I suspect that the "longtime Trump confidant" is Roger Stone, who has recently broadcast his own desires to see Mueller and Rosenstein fired. Amusingly, on the day Rosenstein issued his argument against Comey, Stone agree with Rosenstein's basic premise -- that is, he agreed that Comey had treated Hillary very unfairly.
What Comey did to Hillary was disgraceful. I'm glad Trump fired him over it.
Later, Stone wrote that Comey was a Clinton co-conspirator. Well, which is it? Was Comey horrid to Hillary or was he in cahoots with her? I'm tempted to say "Get your story straight, Roger." But this is Stone we're talking about: His "story" changes daily, depending on the situation and on the necessities of propaganda. The dimwitted Alex Jonesians who follow his guff never notice the contradictions.
It gets crazier. Congressman Ted Lieu (a lawyer) argues that Trump's barrage of Freaky Tweets is erasing his ability to claim Executive Privilege.
I agree with you @realDonaldTrump. Please don't stop tweeting about the witch hunt. Thank you for waiving executive privilege w/ your tweets
Most commentators have failed to notice that Trump's tweet confuses the roles played by Mueller and Rosenstein. The Orange Oaf said that he is being investigated by Rod Rosenstein, even though Rosenstein is not the Special Counsel. In other words, we're playing Crazy Chess here: Each piece gains new powers and a new position with every move.
Rod Rosenstein is now talking about recusing himself. Why? I'm not sure. This course of action seems to be based on the fact that he was insulted in a tweet issued by the object of Mueller's investigation. The lesson: If ever you are under investigation, all you need to do is issue a tweet in which you complain about the guy who hired the investigator, and that will make all of your tormentors go away. Because that's how the justice system works these days -- if your name is Trump.
Getting rid of Rosenstein would put matters into the hands of Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, whose political inclinations are perhaps best illustrated by the donations she made to Ted Cruz. Her initials will resonate with those who appreciate the many Watergate parallels: Rachel Brand would be the distaff version of Robert Bork.
Bannon battery? Claude Taylor says that Steve Bannon physically assaulted White House staffers and is now being investigated for obstruction of justice. Yes, yes, I know: Taylor is not the most credible of sources. I won't believe this particular claim until I hear it from people I consider more trustworthy. But...c'mon. Be honest. Can't you just see Bannon losing his temper in this fashion?
I'm reminded of the story of the Massacre of the Innocents: There's no historical evidence that Herod actually did such a thing, but the report does fit what we know of the man's character.
Journalists: Open hearing on unsealing files that may show Trump Russian ties, Mon, 13:00, Federal Courthouse Brooklyn, Judge Pamela K. Chen
These files concern Felix Sater, the Russian crook with strong Trump ties. This angle may explain why so many Trumpers have lawyered up -- hell, even Michael Cohen, Trump's lawyer, has hired a lawyer.
Some of you may appreciate a refresher course.
In this story (which drew from this bombshell investigation) we looked at Trump's links to the Bayrock Group, an organization run by shadowy Russian-Americans and eastern Europeans. Another Bayrocker is Tarik Arif, who has been credibly linked to underaged prostitutes, which have been used to obtain kompromat on various politicians and businessmen.
I've decided to republish some words which originally appeared in a February 20, 2017 Cannonfire post:
* * *
Sater, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and the Putin government have been hammering out a Ukraine peace plan, which Sater gave to General Flynn just before his resignation. Why is this shocking? Because -- as indicated above -- Sater is a shady, sleazy character, and Trump has been trying to pretend that he has no real links to the guy.
Having spent some time studying the matter, the biggest red flags about Donald Trump's ties to Russia and businessmen around Vladimir Putin have always been tied to the Trump SoHo building project in Lower Manhattan, from the first decade of this century. I base my knowledge of this on this rather cursory but still quite good April 2016 article from the Times and my own limited snooping around the Outer Boroughs Russian and Ukrainian emigre press. (I summarized the most salient details of the earlier Times article in Item #3 of this post.) This was a key project, perhaps the key project in the post-bankruptcy era in which Trump appeared heavily reliant on Russian funds to finance his projects. Sater was at the center of that project. The details only came to light after the project got bogged down in a complicated series of lawsuits.
After the lawyers got involved, Trump said he barely knew who Sater was. But there is voluminous evidence that Sater, a Russian emigrant, was key to channeling Russian capital to Trump for years. Sater is also a multiple felon and at least a one-time FBI informant. Bayrock Capital, where he worked was located in Trump Tower and he himself worked as a special advisor to Trump. Again, read the Times article to get a flavor of his ties to Trump, the Trump SoHo project and Russia. For my money there's no better place to start to understand the Trump/Russia issue.
On its own, Trump's relationship with Sater might be written off (albeit not terribly plausibly) as simply a sleazy relationship Trump entered into to get access to capital he needed to finance his projects. Whatever shadowy ties Sater might have and whatever his criminal background, Trump has long since washed his hands of him. (Again, we're talking about most generous reads here.)
But now we learn that Sater is still very much in the Trump orbit and acting as a go-between linking Trump and a pro-Putin Ukrainian parliamentarian pitching 'peace plans' for settling the dispute between Russia and Ukraine.
Now with the collapse of the posh Trump resort, lawyers are fighting to expose the background of the 46-year-old man who they allege stole millions from investors while he was given sweeping protections by prosecutors.
Sater is accused in a civil racketeering case of helping to hide millions from the failed Fort Lauderdale project — while paying $1.5 million to a former Mafia associate for his role in the deal.
Sater has dodged the legal repercussions of his acts by functioning as an informant for both the FBI and CIA.
Whatever Felix Sater has been up to recently, the key point is that by 2002, at the latest,19 Tevfik Arif decided to hire him as Bayrock’s COO and managing director. This was despite the fact that by then Felix had already compiled an astonishing track record as a professional criminal, with multiple felony pleas and convictions, extensive connections to organized crime, and—the ultimate prize—a virtual “get out of jail free card,” based on an informant relationship with the FBI and the CIA that is vaguely reminiscent of Whitey Bulger.
By then  young Felix Sater was already well on his way to a career as a prototypical Russian-American mobster. In 1991 he stabbed a commodity trader in the face with a margarita glass stem in a Manhattan bar, severing a nerve. He was convicted of a felony and sent to prison. As Trump tells it, Sater simply “got into a barroom fight, which a lot of people do.” The sentence for this felony conviction could not have been very long, because, by 1993, 27-year-old Felix was already a trader in a brand new Brooklyn-based commodity firm called “White Rock Partners,” an innovative joint venture among four New York crime families and the Russian mob aimed at bringing state-of-the art financial fraud to Wall Street.
Five years later, in 1998, Felix Sater pled guilty to stock racketeering, as one of 19 U.S.-and Russian mob-connected traders who participated in a $40 million “pump and dump” securities fraud scheme. Facing twenty years in Federal prison, Sater and Gennady Klotsman, a fellow Russian-American who’d been with him on the night of the Manhattan bar fight, turned “snitch” and helped the Department of Justice prosecute their co-conspirators.22 Reportedly, so did Salvatore Lauria, another “trader” involved in the scheme. According to the Jody Kriss lawsuit, Lauria later joined Bayrock as an off-the-books paid “consultant.” Initially their cooperation, which lasted from 1998 until at least late 2001, was kept secret, until it was inadvertently revealed in a March 2000 press release by U.S. Attorney Lynch.
Unfortunately for Sater, about the same time the NYPD also reportedly discovered that he had been running a money-laundering scheme and illicit gun sales out of a Manhattan storage locker. He and Klotsman fled to Russia. However, according to the New York Times, which cited Klotsman and Lauria, soon after the events of September 11, 2001, the ever-creative Sater succeeded in brokering information about the black market for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to the CIA and the FBI. According to Klotsman, this strategy “bought Felix his freedom,” allowing him to return to Brooklyn. It is still not clear precisely what information Sater actually provided, but in 2015 U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch publicly commended him for sharing information that she described as “crucial to national security.”
Remember, the Orbis dossier said that election shennanigans were being covertly funded by Russia via a network of Russian emigres in New York. Sater and Arif are Russian emigres.
Are you like me? Whenever I do "normal stuff" -- say, listening this amazing performance of the "Ode to Joy" -- I feel guilty. We're in the thick of a great political fight, and contrary to common liberal belief, our side has small hope of success. I felt as though I had shirked an important duty simply because I took a twenty-minute vacation from Trump research in order to reacquaint myself with the sublime.
You probably feel the same guilt pangs on occasion. And so we spend every spare minute researching and reading and listening to cable news reportage. This fight is necessary, but war kills the soul. Trump grew up with a love of fighting, and if this conflict goes on too long, we too may learn to love it. That's the danger. The battle against Trump threatens to turn us into Trump.
Nevertheless, another day has dawned, and we must enter the fray again. We have no choice.
The great mystery facing us this morning concerns a cryptic statement issued under the name of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:
Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials,’ particularly when they do not identify the country – let alone the branch of agency of government – with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations. The Department of Justice has a long established policy to neither confirm nor deny such allegations.
Bizarre. Unprecedented. I can't recall ever seeing a similar warning issued by any previous administration.
Many people have wondered if Trump wrote these words and issued them under Rosenstein's name. I cannot accept that theory: Trump is incapable of composing a text of this length without committing serious errors of grammar or spelling.
Then again: The phrase "the branch of agency of government" does have a certain Trumpian inelegance, don't you think?
It seems likely that Rosenstein wrote this statement, but that he did so at Trump's behest. If so, then we may have new reason to worry about the Russia investigation. Rosenstein has the power to fire Mueller. If asked to do so, would Rod Rosenstein demonstrate the decency and courage of Elliot Richardson?
Let us now examine several theories as to what this Dan Brownian Mystery Message is all about:
Theory 1: Pee! Some believe that a foreign government (perhaps the UK, though some say Australia) will soon announce the reality of the much-storied pee-pee tape. It's a fun idea without any evidence to back it. The Palmer Report offers the fullest version of this theory:
But what stands out is the intel community chatter that picked up roughly three hours before the press release went out.
For instance political insider Claude Taylor – whose inside sources have correctly predicted Trump Russia grand juries and other events – posted the following: “A lot of us are hearing similar chatter-that a certain US ally has a ‘compromising’ tape of Trump and is debating if/when/how to release it.” (link). Taylor posted this at 6:46pm eastern time, hours before Trump’s DOJ sent the press release.
So it’s not as if this sudden online buzz around the mythical “Pee Pee Tape” is mere speculation as a result of the DOJ press release. Instead, intel community chatter about the compromising tape surfaced online first, and only then did Trump’s camp put out the statement begging the public to ignore any foreign leaks to the U.S. media. So it sounds a lot like the Trump administration heard the same foreign intel community buzz that political insiders heard, and believes that something is indeed about to be leaked.
Claude Taylor did, in fact, release such a statement about 12 hours ago. Minutes ago, he signed onto the idea that the Rosenstein message must be in response to the, uh, forthcoming urination release.
Personally, I find this notion hard to credit. Taylor is tied in with Louise Mensch, who has pretty thoroughly trashed her reputation by this point. Just which sources would still be talking to those two -- and why? Why leak to writers whom few consider credible?
I cannot comprehend why Vladimir Putin would allow this tape "into the wild" (presuming that it exists). Moreover, the Taylor theory does not coincide with what Rosenstein actually said. The mystery message spoke of a forthcoming statement -- mere words. A video recording is not a statement. A video can be challenged on forensic grounds, but the Rosenstein memo makes no reference to that sort of challenge.
It just don't add up!
Theory 2: Pence, not pee.Louise Mensch, Taylor's sometime writing partner, has a very different theory:
Mike Pence illegally leaked to @washingtonpost the lie that @GenFlynn was not under investigation. Rosenstein shot was at Pence
No no no. That won't do either. The mystery memo, though not as clearly-worded as one might hope, seems to refer to information involving a foreign source.
Repeat: Information...from a foreign source.
The Taylor theory falls apart because it involves something other than verbal information, while the Mensch theory falls apart because the source is domestic. At least Taylor had the decency to admit that his theory is indeed a theory; I'm more than a little annoyed by the Menschian tendency to proclaim speculation as fact.
(Will she now accuse me of being a toiler on behalf of "Team Deza"? Maybe, but only if she notices me. These days, paranoid slander is pretty much her way of saying "Hi.")
Theory 3: Ego. Although columnist/NYU professor Ian Bremmer has not directly addressed our mystery message, he did offer a tweet which may explain it all:
Heard from Defense Min of a US ally: Mattis & Tillerson said they make relevant policy decisions & ignore Trump because he’s not in charge.
This covers everything, doesn't it? The source is an unnamed foreign official, and the allegation that Trump "is not in charge" seems designed to inflict a serious wound to the ego of Dorito Mussolini. One can easily visualize Trump directing Rosenstein: "I want you to issue a statement telling everyone this is bullshit. I'm the one who's in charge here. Nobody else!"
Time and again, Trump has proved that he really, really wants "underlings" to issue statements praising his awesomeness and exonerating him from any allegations of non-awesomeness. Why would Rosenstein go along with this inanity? I think that, rather than lose his job over the matter, he simply decided to apply a small bandage to Donnie's injured ego.
Which of the three theories makes the most sense to you? Do you have theory of your own?
Comeback of the week. As most of you know, yesterday Donnie gifted the world with this sage observation:
Why is that Hillary Clintons family and Dems dealings with Russia are not looked at, but my non-dealings are?
Yep, I do have a naive optimistic theory before we sink back into the realism of current American gloom and madness:
There is a conspirational effort going on to save the Republic from Trump. The leading conspirators include Comey, Mueller, Rosenstein, Yates, McMaster, perhaps Tillerson and Mattis. They have many allies in the IC and in the judicial branch. It became clear to me that McMaster was an inside man the moment he stood before the cameras to pathetically defend and trivialize the “back channel”. A McMaster would never sacrifice his dignity for a Trump in this way unless a higher objective was at stake. Obviously McMaster has agreed to submit to Trump’s caprices in order to remain undercover. Same for Rosenstein. He had to humiliate himself with the “fire Comey” recommendation in order to keep the door open for slipping Mueller in later in the game.
The action begins in the first week of the presidency. On Tuesday Jan 24, Comey grills and fully nails Flynn. On Wednesday, the conspirators decide to send Yates to the White House to tell them the FBI got Flynn, but withhold the specifics. So on Thursday Yates goes to brief McGahn, who briefs Trump. On Friday lunchtime Trump summons Comey to dinner that same night. There, he demands “loyalty” but (seemingly odd, given the above-mentioned sequence of events) asks no questions whatsoever about the FBI’s evidence on Flynn. This means Trump already knows everything about it, i.e. it’s proof to the conspirators that Trump himself is deeply implicated.
Next, the conspirators use leaks to bounce Flynn from his post. When Trump reacts, by explicitly asking Comey to bury the Flynn investigation, all doubt is removed and they resolve to go straight for Trump’s jugular. Comey starts “leaking” his memos of the Trump conversations, which he says was intended to provoke the appointment of a special counsel but was in fact intended to make it look as if Rosenstein had no other choice. The conspirators’ plan to deploy Mueller (including his top-notch legal death squad) must already have been in place since Feb 14 at the latest. They only had to wait for Comey’s expected firing, which duly arrived on 9 May. Then Rosenstein carried out the Mueller coup swiftly.
Rosenstein is also the person Trump would have to ask to fire Mueller. That is his lever. His task is to stay put until then, and then refuse to carry out Trump’s order, which would open a whole barrel of legal worms working for the conspirators. That’s why he continues willingly taking shit for statements Trump forces him to issue, for now.
And so on. I'm not claiming more than two cents for this. Hope it made you smile.
posted by Anonymous : 9:43 AM
Waterbed-Gate adds a whole new meaning to "Leaks". Perhaps they are referring to the Orbis Doc and MI-6 re; "foreign".
I envy people who witness all this shot and don't care one bit. I think I already had two mini_strokes since the election. I wish I could stop thinking about something else. I definitely need a lobotomy. If anyone have an idea to stop please let me know
posted by Anonymous : 11:22 AM
Even if there is a pee pee tape, The Conservative Religious Right has convinced itself that Trump as president matters much much less than the fact that he has the power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court for at least the next four years.
Therefore, Trump on his worst day is still better than a democrat because of his ability to appoint the next Supreme Court nominee.
Listen - the British government is now exceptionally weak and unpopular. I don't just mean it's incompetent and many have a low opinion of it. A mood is rising in London in connection with the terrible fire in North Kensington, which everyone knows resulted from many years of housing policy and the deliberate degradation of people's living conditions. This mood may bring down the Tory government within days.
It could happen that when Parliament officially reopens next Wednesday there are 100,000 people on the street outside, expressing "no confidence" in the government.
That has not happened before in living memory. Everyone who isn't a total shit wants Jeremy Corbyn to take over as prime minister. And it's possible, seriously possible, that we will get what we want very soon.
In your fucking ugly face, Donald Trump!
posted by b : 5:01 PM
b, if next Wednesday is the day, maybe we can have people in the streets here in sympathy...I could pass it on to Indivisible.
posted by prowlerzee : 8:00 PM
Anonymous 11:22. I do not recommend stuffing your face with the new salted caramel thins from Oreo. Yes, the sugar rush dulls the brain, and the cookies are good, but not salty or caramelly. I should've opted for the new coconut thins instead.
Well, I started early adjusting to President Puny Paws. I adopted a mantra "Fury Free." I repeat it as necessary. Also, never watching tv works. As well as not understanding half of what Joseph painstakingly researches. The new post above is bewildering, but I'm glad he posted what b said. i think we should stand in solidarity with the Brits if they take to the streets.
Mostly I think we should work on annoying the Orange Oaf. It rankles him so.
How quickly things move! Around the time I sent out the preceding post, a politically-motivated madman named James Hodgkinson opened fire on congressmen in a public park, severely wounding Republican Congressman Steve Scalise, along with four others, before being shot to death himself.
In normal times, such an event would dominate the news cycle for a week or more. Yet before day's end, many people had switched their attention to the news that Mueller was investigating Trump for obstruction of justice. The special counsel is also looking into Trump's shady finances. Oh, this should be good.
From the standpoint of hundred-years-hence history, yesterday's Trump bombshell will no doubt be considered the more significant development. Still, let us not be too quick to ignore the atrocity in that Virginia park. When the world learned that Hodgkinson was a die-hard Bernie-or-buster who hated both Trump and Clinton, we heard a very predictable set of reactions:
1. Moderate television pundits decried the partisan acrimony which has divided this country.
2. Reactionary propagandists argued that investigations of Donald Trump triggered this event. (Example.) For the right, moderation of speech is something that only Democrats must practice. The right may, of course, continue to indulge in exterminationist speech, as it has done for decades.
3. As always happens after a massacre, rightists speak as though such acts are characteristically perpetrated by liberals. You may recall that the right pretended that James Holmes, the "Dark Knight" killer, was somehow connected to the Occupy Wall Street movement. (He wasn't.) From Timothy McVeigh to Jeremy Joseph Christian (another Hillary-hating fan of Bernie, incidentally), most political killers enter from stage right.
4. Since the shooter was an anti-Trumper, much of the news coverage refused to differentiate between the BernieBots and Democrats. The two groups are not the same.
5. Bernie Sanders offered a pro-forma denunciation of violence.
Most of the left has accepted this statement at face value. Most people would be appalled by the suggestion that Bernie Sanders bears personal responsibility for this outrage.
I think he does.
As most of you know, I offered Sanders positive coverage when he began his campaign. (I was also quite disenchanted with Hillary.) Although I still support many of the things that the "Feel the Bern" crowd claims to stand for, I turned against the Sanders movement when I saw that it had degenerated into the worst kind of political cult. The followers of that cult became the mirror image of the Trumpers: Intolerant, intemperate, rabid, unthinking, rage-filled, ill-informed, deceptive, mendacious and simply vile.
It was clear to me that Sanders' purpose was not to win the election (he would have lost all 50 states, including Vermont) or even the nomination. Wittingly or otherwise, he was part of a classic Roger Stone-ian conspiracy to split the party, and to drive the Democrats so far to the left that the party would have no appeal to purple states or purple counties.
Some of his loudest, most obnoxious supporters on YouTube became (or perhaps always were) Trump operatives -- see, for example, Cassandra Fairbanks, as shifty as she is curvy. Russia supported Bernie, just as it supported Trump. After laudably stating that "nobody cares" about the pseudo-scandal involving Hillary's emails, Sanders began to spread the Big Lie as viciously as any Republican.
Sanders showed his true colors when he hired Tad Devine, a stenchy operative previously best known for his work on behalf of a Putin-linked politician who had literally poisoned his opponent. (Devine also worked for Ehud Barak and Monsanto. Imagine the outcry if Hillary had hired such a creature!) Bernie's refusal to release his taxes was every bit as suspect as Trump's refusal to release his tax information.
The BernieBot troll army inundated left-wing sites with smears and slanders against Hillary Clinton and all other perceived enemies. The Bots obtained Hillary's voter data in an underhanded fashion, no doubt with the aid of Russia. Sanders surged by gaming caucuses, which are inherently much less democratic than primaries. The Michigan primary vote was, in my opinion, transparently fraudulent. The FEC accused the Bernie Sanders campaign of financial impropriety.
Throughout the Democratic primary, the Sanders campaign was cited for FEC violations on three separate occasions including a mysterious $10 million donation from a single address in Washington, DC. Despite consistent calls for financial transparency on the campaign trail, the Sanders campaign was exceedingly secretive when it came to its own finances. After twice filing for extensions from the FEC, the Sanders campaign ultimately decided to forgo its final financial disclosure statement in June citing the fact that campaign was no longer active. This decision was accompanied by the news that Sanders himself had purchased a $575,000 home in August, much to the dismay of his loyal followers. The home would be the third residence for Sanders, someone who railed against a system that increasingly favored the millionaires and billionaires of our country.
Yet these financial gains for both Devine and Sanders would never have been possible had it not been for the millions of campaign contributions that came their way. And the only way to get campaign contributions is to convince your supporters you might actually have a chance to win. Luckily for Devine and Sanders, they had some foreign friends who were willing to step in. As reported by Rachel Maddow late on Tuesday, there existed an army of Russian bots who were weaponized to influence our election. Many of them took to various social media sites to discredit and disrupt Hillary Clinton's campaign and thus, energize potential Bernie Sanders supporters. Knowing that Clinton had been a target of right-wing media smears for a quarter-century, all the bots had to do was plant this seed to potential Sanders supporters, many of whom had no experience in politics, to get them onboard with the Sanders campaign. By doing this, Sanders and Devine were able to successfully pocket millions of dollars all while pretending to be champions of the common man.
Bernie's eventual pro-forma endorsement of Hillary was simply a tactic by which he could continue to foist his despicable cult of personality on a party that desperately needs to appeal to moderates in order to win back the House in 2018. If not for Bernie, a Democratic victory in 2018 would seem quite possible, perhaps likely. The Bernie Factor makes such an outcome nearly impossible.
What I find hardest to forgive is the fact that Bernie Sanders transformed a political campaign into a political cult. Just as Bernie Sanders himself is personally disliked in DC, the BernieBullies soon became loathed by Democrats, by moderates, by anyone outside the sect.
Bernie Sanders has never denounced scuzzy operatives like Cassandra Fairbanks and the notorious H.A. Goodman. At no point did he ever do anything to dissuade the BernieBros from erecting a cult of personality. At no point did he denounce the innumerable fake news stories that flooded Bernieland. At no point has Bernie Sanders denounced the bizarre and intemperate statements made by his followers online.
Except when circumstances absolutely require him to do so, Bernie Sanders refuses to behave like a statesman. He does not advocate moderation or concession or cooperation or compromise. Instead, he keeps goading his cultists into a frenzy.
During the campaign, Nevada campaign chair Roberta Lange committed the "sin" of not allowing the Bernie cultists to break the agreed-upon rules. They wanted to rig the system; she would not allow it. As a result, Bernie's army of fanatics barraged her with messages like these:
Lange's voicemail included a number of death threats. Berniebots sent her images of guillotines and other implements of death. What they inflicted upon her and her family was nothing less than terrorism.
After the BernieBros lapsed into violence in Vegas, Sanders refused to apologize to Lange. The man was a complete coward who could not accept responsibility for the behavior of his crazed acolytes. He has never offered even the slightest criticism of his followers, no matter how bad their behavior. He has steadfastly refused to address the issue of Russian involvement in his own campaign, just as he refuses to discuss the irregularities of his finances.
Do you think that Roberta Lange was even slightly surprised to learn that yesterday's shootings were the work of a BernieBro?
Bernie Sanders created James Hodgkinson. Bernie Sanders is every bit as responsible as Hodgkinson is for the bullets that were fired yesterday.
Suppose someone living down the street were to give a dog rabies deliberately and then let the creature loose in your neighborhood. If the dog kills someone in your family, which party deserves your blame? You can't blame the animal: It was diseased. You blame the fool who created such a dangerous situation.
I hold Bernie Sanders personally responsible the shooting of Representative Scalise and four others. I also hold Sanders at least partially responsible for the murders committed by Jeremy Joseph Christian.
Not only that. I consider the late James Hodgkinson and Jeremy Christian to be (in a sense) the victims of Bernie Sanders, just as I consider Patricia Krenwinkle and Susan Atkins to be (in a sense) the victims of Charles Manson. Although a cult follower who commits an act of violence cannot escape personal culpability, the leader of that cult bears the ultimate responsibility.
I don't go as far as you to put the bulk of the blame on Bernie for the shootings. But I'm sorry. Those who think Bernie had nothing to do with this is straight up gaslighting. Bernie ran a campaign based on anger and hostility at a "rigged" system. When you claim that everything is rigged and that you are the savior to fix everything, when you then lose an election, it is only logical for your supporters to go outside the political system to express themselves. Despite countless incidents of supporters committing harassment and making violent threats in his name, he not only did virtually nothing do dissuade them, he often validated their grievances. Did Bernie ever personally advocate violence like Trump? No. But he created an environment and advocated a message where violence is a logical answer to the problems he talked about.
The way I see it, there are two groups of Bernie supporters.
(1) The cultists. You know who these are and they include both yesterday's and the Portland shooter. (2) Those who are not cultists but want to move the party in a leftward direction and support Bernie as an effective advocate.
I obviously have no patience for (1) and gave up on them long ago. But I'm almost at the point where I can no longer respect (2). To support Bernie Sanders is to support someone that he reaches out to cultists that engage in harassment, lies, and have a desire to destroy the Democratic Party. How can you simultaneously think Bernie can be an effective advocate to move the Democratic Party to left while at the same he appeals to those who engage in deplorable behavior including wanting to destroy the party that these people want to move to the left? You can't square the two which is why those in (2) often pretend that (1) either doesn't exist or that every politician has these kinds of supporters and it's no big deal. This is obviously not true to deny the toxic elements at the core of Bernie Sanders's movement, which at best Bernie does nothing to control, is to engage in either willful naivete or gaslighting.
As someone who worked as a pollster in the last election, and a Bernie supporter, I have to tell you, a lot of this is dead wrong. I don't know where you are getting you are information, but the facts remain that had Bernie been the candidate, he would have won overwhelmingly and most likely would have took back the House and Senate. We also know that Hillary and the DNC cheated their asses off to prevent Bernie from winning. Be careful what you accept as truth in today's world. Most of what you hear now are utter lies. Hillary ran the worst campaign and deserved to lose. Sorry to break it to you, but Bernie and his supporters, of which I know many, are not fire breathing morons wanting communism to come back. I have been involved in politics since I was little and people like Warren and Sanders are far better than Trump or Hillary, and history proves that. Stop with the garbage that Sanders is crooked and working for the Russians. I know Bernie. I've met him several times. He is not this corrupt loser like Hillary was. I fail to understand why you degrade Sanders but hold Hillary up to this high standard she so doesn't deserve. The Clintons are corrupt beyond all rhyme or reason and has she won we'd be barely better off then we are now, unless the TPP was something you approved of not to mention the same level of Congressional oversight trying to impeach her. We had two choices in the last election, classic fascism or the corporate brand. Hardly a choice. Why do you think that Hillary would have been better than Bernie when all signs point to her being terrible too. By the way, I predicted all of this five years ago and even called the shooting this week 48 hours previous. We are headed for a civil war. Had Bernie been elected, and try to tell me he wasn't cheated out of the nomination by Hillary, we would be in a far better place then we are now regardless of what you think. Facts say we are really screwed now because Hillary was the nominee and not Sanders.
Thanx I used to like Sanders. Then 2016 happened. Now I loathe the man. His phoney socialism couldn't be more apparent than when some people would say they can't decide between trump or Sanders and that didn't bothered him not one bit. Any self respecting leftist would have gone berserk over it. Not him though. Forget about his crazy followers, his own wife was urging the FBI to lock Hillary up. So I wish the DNC would grow something and deal with the menace.
posted by Anonymous : 2:41 PM
Thanks for including the berniebot for an example of willful ignorance.
posted by prowlerzee : 5:40 PM
I thought he'd amuse you, zee. Especially the bit about Sanders winning the election. There's video of him, which the Republicans obtained, with the Sandanistas as they chant "Death to America!" Yeah. The electorate would have LOVED that.
The rest of that nut's commentary was equally loopy.
It just amazes me the twisted logic those Burned apply to come up with Bernie would have won. He won the state's where it's easier to cheat(caucuses). Still he came up short. Now they wanted the DNC which they have been savaged and accused to be be dishonest to force the super delegates to switch to him. The super delegates they were trying to rid of all along. Then when he won the nomination they expected all those Hillary's supporter to be quite and obedient. Just how juvenile and retarded at that to come up with that scenario.
posted by Anonymous : 11:05 PM
Bernie sure did add weight to the evidence he's tied to Putin this week. (probably not just via Tad Devine, but directly- note his refusal, like Trump, to release even one full tax return) Bernie and Rand Paul (interesting development there, has Putin business buddies been donating to Rand lately?) were the only 2 senators who voted against sanctions on Russia. (Even the other Republicans we already know are getting paid by Russian businessmen voted for the sanctions)
I will be back with (I hope) a fairly major piece later today, but right now, I'd like to offer a quick note about the testimony offered by Jeff Sessions. It all comes down to one basic question: How the hell does he get away with it?
The dimwits who frequent rightwing sites like Gateway Pundit seem to be under the impression that every conversation with Donald Trump is automatically classified -- at least, that was their argument against Comey. Although one has come to expect such idiocy from the rightists, our Congressfolk should know better. And yet they allowed our law-breaking Attorney General to refuse to divulge any of his private conversations with Donald Trump.
The A.G. made no claim that the material under discussion was classified. There was no claim of executive privilege. Sessions, when asked to reveal what he said to the "Predisent," simply fell into an imitation of Bartleby the Scrivener: "I prefer not to."
Apparently, Trump is Sacred. Those who come face-to-face with the Sacred One in private are like the ancient High Priests of Israel who made offerings in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur. No one must ever know what transpires in the secret places of God.
As everyone has heard by now, Sessions lied during his confirmation hearings about meeting with Russians. Sessions lamely tried to excuse that lie by claiming that Al Franken's "rambling" question had confused him. Oh really? Franken had spoken with his characteristic lucidity, and Sessions did not ask for a clarification. Besides, Trump himself is such a classic rambler that his horn goes beep beep beep.
Here's the really damning part: Sessions had offered the exact same denial in writing.
So during his confirmation, Sessions lied to Franken and he lied to Senator Leahy. Later, he lied when he said that he was confused by Franken's question.
But it gets worse. I am quite sure that he lied when he said that he was following longstanding Justice Department policy in not disclosing what he said to Donald Trump. I'd love to see proof that such a "historic policy" exists.
(Can you imagine the howls of outrage from Republicans if Hillary Clinton, during the Benghazi hearings, had refused to divulge any discussions she had had with Barack Obama? We never would have heard the end of it!)
Janet Reno never referred to such a "historic" policy of silence when -- giving testimony before Congress -- she detailed her conversations with Bill Clinton. Eric Holder never referred to such a "historic" policy when he was questioned during the Obama years.
Holder was cited for Contempt for allegedly lying about Fox News reporter James Rosen -- an alleged infraction which was far less weighty than the almost daily outrages we've seen from Trump's team. A look back at that case offers a compelling view of the double standards on display here. Holder had testified that he had never been involved in the prosecution of a reporter. Desperate for any excuse to scream "Liar!", the Republicans proved that Holder, as part of a leak investigation, had signed off on a search warrant of Rosen (who was never indicted). Holder's counterargument was simplicity itself: There's a difference between a prosecution and an investigation.
And that was it. That was the so-called "lie" which had the Republicans screaming bloody murder. These same Republicans are now giving Jeff Sessions a free pass, even though he has clearly fibbed under oath on multiple occasions.
Sessions even tried to revive the debunked claim -- debunked by Trump himself! -- that FBI Director James Comey had been fired because the so-called "Comey letter" (the one about emails on the Wiener laptop) was "inappropriate." During the campaign, Sessions had lavishly praised Comey for that very deed.
The hypocrisy on display here is beyond outrageous.
So why does Congress allow Sessions to get away it? He clearly merits a charge of contempt.
A member of the House of Representatives should begin the official process of impeaching Jeff Sessions. Even iIf the attempt is unsuccessful, it will demonstrate that this nation has not completely forsaken morality and the rule of law.
By the way: I was surprised by the large number of "I don't recall" answers offered by Jeff Sessions. Why is his memory so bad? Has he been smoking pot?
Kamala Harris certainly rattled the AG's cage. And was called on it, once again. Sessions, poor dear, was made nervous by an aggressive woman. How impolite and unfair!
Sessions took the amnesia route and Carter Page strategy: I cannot recall. I really don't remember. I have wracked my brain. Then again, there may have been a conversation but even if a meeting, conversation took place, nothing inappropriate was discussed.
Really? The CYA approach to the nth degree.
Sessions appeared to shrink in stature and presentation during the course of the hearing. The Incredible Shrinking Man routine did not play well for the cameras.
posted by Anonymous : 10:05 AM
Someone should ask him (and others) if he had signed a non-disclosure agreement in order to accept his position. It is, after all, Trump's modus operandi.
posted by Anonymous : 1:43 PM
I think the best analogy here is spousal privilege. Sessions was in effect asserting that all Executive branch employees are the spouses of the President and hence cannot be forced to give testimony against him. Never mind that spouses can waive that privilege if they choose. No, Sessions asserts -- we are all Brides of Trump.
As for me, I never knew that menu rules apply before a Congressional Inquiry. "I'll answer those questions and none of the others." The Committee Members may as well go home if that's the standard. They should have knocked this garbage on the head from the outset.
posted by travis : 2:57 PM
I think he's cute and has an adorable accent, which more than compensate for his innumerable gross inadequacies and criminal tendencies. (In American Southern English 'Jeff' has two syllables, as 'jay-eff'.)
posted by Amelie D'bunquerre : 2:59 PM
off-topic in that this is re the next brou-haha story, the shooting. Just wanted to note how comical I found President Puny Paws suddenly calling on us to remember we're all Americans. He was stammering through the catch-phrase stolen from Hillary "we're all stronger...." Stronger Together, Nimrod? "stronger....when we're united " ?Imagine how proud the asswipe was who rephrased Hillary's slogan for the Loser in Chief.
posted by prowlerzee : 4:14 PM
Report from Britain.
The British state may postpone the government's presentation of its legislative programme to parliament, known ridiculously as the "queen's speech". Why?
The first reason given was that talks between Tories and Ulster loyalists caused some delay. As if the state isn't prepared for a hung parliament after an election! The second was that the landowning billionaire queen needs to read it on special goatskin parchment on which the ink takes several days to dry. Funny nobody thought of telling the bitch to read it on a bit of ordinary white A4, or of using blotting paper. Then a fire in a block of flats in London was cited as a reason for delaying the conclusion of the oh-so-inevitable agreement between the Tories and the DUP. As if! Maybe there will be a car crash on a motorway tomorrow and they can delay it some more. Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MPs will meet Theresa May tomorrow.
Ever get the feeling you're being lied to?
Fuck knows what's really going on.
Maybe the monarch wanting to attend a gambling and horseracing event where women from the social elite like to wear fancy hats ("Royal Ascot") - as they rub shoulders with billionaire Russian gang bosses - has something to do with the delay. That's probably not the only reason though.
Let's not call Orangemen gay, OK? They're just middle-aged men who enjoy stomping along the street in unison, all wearing the same clothes. Yes, they like to wear orange scarves, always with both ends pointing toward their cocks. Yes, they like to wear insignia covering their left and right nipples. And of course they are known for "playing the flute". But never mind that there aren't any "Orangewomen". Orangemen only prefer male company for reasons of tradition :)
OT notice on a matter previously written about here. I heard a teaser on WBUR (a Boston NPR station) this morning that their 3:00 public affairs show, Radio Boston, would be reporting on whether Tamerlan Tsarnaev had had previous dealings with the FBI as a paid informant. It seems to be posted already at http://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2017/06/15/tsarnaev-mcphee-fbi.
Yesterday, I said that the Republican psy-op specialists would begin their campaign against Mueller "any day now." It began that very afternoon. By this afternoon, we heard reliable reports that Trump is likely to fire the special counsel.
I can't write fast enough to keep up with events. Who knows what will happen by the time I hit "publish"?
Adam Schiff has responded by saying that Congress will quickly reinstate Mueller as a Special Prosecutor. That can't happen without Republican acquiescence. Where's the evidence that any GOP members of Congress will do the right thing? Schiff is having a wonderful dream -- and if Inception tech were real, I'd love to join him in his dreamworld. Alas, you and I are stuck with reality.
If you visit the big Democratic sites, you'll hear a lot of brave whistling in the dark. The truth is, Trump can do this and will do this -- and he'll get away with it. Many have spent this day recounting the tale of the firing of Archibald Cox -- an event which took place in a different political universe. In this universe, the Republicans control Congress, and they care much more about money and libertarian ideology than about honesty, democracy, morality or appearances.
But no matter the pretext, the firing of Mueller — who was appointed by Trump’s own hand-picked deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein less than a month ago — would have seismic implications. It would essentially be a declaration by President Trump that he is willing to fire anyone who dares to investigate him or people close to him. And it would make very clear that he is terrified about just what Mueller might have uncovered.
Putin would never have allowed an honest investigation of the apartment bombings that cemented his hold on power. And he got away with it. What can stop Trump from doing likewise?
It would also mean Republicans in Congress would have to face a choice: are they willing to defy the president and pass legislation to ensure that the Russia scandal is investigated and the rule of law is protected in America?
Or will they choose to become knowing participants what would then unmistakably be a presidential cover-up?
They will aid and abet the cover-up. Those who are insufficiently compelled by ideology are motivated by either pay-offs or kompromat. Remember what former NSA man Russell Tice said about the blackmail material collected by No Such Agency:
Okay. They went after–and I know this because I had my hands literally on the paperwork for these sort of things–they went after high-ranking military officers; they went after members of Congress, both Senate and the House, especially on the intelligence committees and on the armed services committees and some of the–and judicial. But they went after other ones, too. They went after lawyers and law firms. All kinds of–heaps of lawyers and law firms. They went after judges. One of the judges is now sitting on the Supreme Court that I had his wiretap information in my hand. Two are former FISA court judges. They went after State Department officials. They went after people in the executive service that were part of the White House–their own people.
Am I the only writer on the entire damned internet who believes that Tice knew what he was talking about, and that the things he discussed in 2005 are still going on today? Why, in order to retain quote "credibility" unquote, must I pretend that Tice never said these words, or that he got everything wrong? Is it not the case that our current predicament makes a lot more sense if we presume that this warning (and Tice was hardly the only person to sound such a warning) accurately describes how the world works?
Consider, for example, the otherwise inexplicable behavior of Paul Ryan.
All is not lost. Congress will not do the right thing if left to its own devices. But mass protest could change the situation. By "mass protest" I mean something terrifying, something that would make the post-inauguration "Women's March" seem like a romp through the daisies.
We need Tahrir Square on the Washington Mall.
We need a million people screaming bloodcurdling things. A million people may chant that which a single person may not say, for the simple reason that there are not enough jail cells to house a million. I do not advocate violence -- but I do advocate fear. A million voices can instill fear. Fear can be our ally. As a wise man once said: People should not fear their government; the government should fear the people.
I do not want our entire society to snap apart, but we can convey the impression that everything could snap, that everything may be on the verge of snapping, that our fury is held by tethers stretched to the limits of their elasticity. Even our blackmailed or purchased Congressfolk will do the right thing if they fear the mob, if they understand that they face a choice between Mueller or chaos.
That could do the trick.
Don't bet on a blue wave in 2018. The Trumpists are employing their secret weapon against the possibility of a blue wave -- a weapon named Bernie Sanders.
More and more people are coming around to my long-held view that Bernie Sanders is a Trump operative. We know that Bernie is a man with deep secrets. We know that the Russians were behind him, just as they were behind Trump.
The possibility of Mueller's firing prompted this twitter exchange:
One thing and one thing alone fixes this: A blue wave in '18 like no one has ever seen before...
So Abbie Hoffman was right to call the US "just another Latin dictatorship". What kind of regime is it where the concept of "conflict of interest" doesn't apply to El Presidente?
Why is there any acceptance in any circle that Twitler (or any other person!) has the right to sack a public investigator who may bring charges against him?
posted by b : 6:06 AM
A DUP agreement to support a Tory minority government? I'll believe it when I see it. I am very sceptical about its chances.
How on earth will Theresa May persuade her own MPs to support a soft Brexit just because that's what the DUP want?
The elite in this country are often totally out of touch with what ordinary people want. There was no chance of the vast majority of Labour-to-UKIP switchers backing the Tories. I don't care how many people told pollsters otherwise. And in any case, a number of polling organisations are Tory-connected. Why was there little chance of a Labour-to-UKIP-to-Tory stampede? Because the reason former Labour supporters voted UKIP was because of immigration. It wasn't because they love right-wing inherited-wealth bourgeois arseholes telling them what to do. Many despise the Tories as much as they ever did.
The Tories called this election ostensibly to get a bigger majority so they could implement a hard Brexit. The simple fact is that a majority of MPs now OPPOSE a hard Brexit.
If I were advising the Tories, I would say call another election and go MASSIVE on xenophobia and immigration. That could well happen.
Here's the question: which will Tory MPs prefer out of the following three options?
1) Agree a deal with the DUP, keeping the Tories in office on condition that they implement the Labour policy of a soft Brexit.
2) Call another general election. In the campaign, go even further out to the racist right, which - let's face it - is where most Tory motherfuckers' real feelings are anyway. Perhaps with Saudi help they can even water the election with more blood than the last one.
3) Hand over to Jeremy Corbyn without a general election. Corbyn's response will be to form a minority government. I should have thought he would win the support of the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Green. That would still leave him with a minority, but it would be up to the Tories to vote against the queen's speech and trigger a new general election, in which case they might as well go for 2) right away.
Remember that any deal with the DUP must get past the 1922 committee. Option 1) requires 1922 committee support. Option 2) doesn't. Option 3) only does if the aim is to keep a weak Labour government in power, which could be done even if say 200 Tory MPs vote against the queen's speech and the rest abstain. A full-scale split in the Tory party seems unlikely. Tories are like lumps of excrement and when they need to they will stick together.
Bottom line: Tory Brexit policy is completely fucked, and so is Theresa May. Talking with some sash-wearing Orange crooks from Northern Ireland, even if they've got a lot in common and can swap tips on white hoods, is unlikely to help them much.
posted by b : 8:34 AM
For the sake of the country's, Hillary's supporters should stop this shyness and timidness. They should be bold and defiant. They made the right choice and now they need to defend it. Don't let that old goat take over. Any candidate endorsed by him or his surrogates are out. The democratic party for democrats only, say it loud and often.
posted by Anonymous : 9:45 AM
Well, to be precise, Sanders is not a Trump operative; Sanders and Trump are both Putin operatives.
Three flipped Senate Republicans will help more than a million frightening protesters. It will flip the committees, which will engender significant hearings, and more important, it might save your dog from suffering any further horrible hyperbole.
posted by Amelie D'bunquerre : 11:47 AM
One of the surest ways to eliminate the possibility of a "Blue Wave" in 2018 is to further alienate the 40+% of Democrats who supported Bernie. It's a recipe for permanent minority status. Great job keeping the Democratic tradition of the circular firing squad alive, Joseph!
posted by Propertius : 3:46 PM
THE surest way to destroy the Blue Wave is to insist that purple or red-tinged districts be forced to choose between a more-or-less reasonable-sounding Republican or a far-left Bernie-approved candidate.
Bernie-ism = Trumpism. Bernie is a creation straight out of the Roger Stone handbook. If Bernie did not exist Stone would have had to invent him.
What's the plan then for Hillary 2020? How can she turn round the (often crazy) widespread dislike of her? Calling Bernie a mole doesn't answer that question.
On an optimistic note, the Labour party in Britain now has its finest leader since Clement Attlee. In fact I might even put Corbyn above Attlee and nominate him as the greatest Labour party leader in British history.
Attlee undoubtedly achieved a very great deal and he is obviously head and shoulders above "Labour in name only" types such as MacDonald, Blair and Brown, and above shitters such as Callaghan and Kinnock too. But nonetheless it was fairly easy for him to get elected in 1945. Corbyn's task has been MUCH harder. And developing British nukes will forever be a stain on Attlee's record.
Jeremy Corbyn has
* increased Labour's voteshare from 30% to 40%
* won over the parliamentary party, supported by the majority of party activists (anyone who doesn't understand how difficult that has been doesn't understand what has happened)
* unified the party around a left-wing platform - which hasn't been done before in the entire history of the party (in 1945 the party wasn't divided in the first place; in 1983 the platform was good but it didn't bring unity)
* made a lot of ground in the face of a sustained and vicious campaign against him by the Tory media (including the BBC and most of the newspapers), who called him a traitor, pro-terrorist, and in particular, pro-jihadist, a few days after jihadists had carried out a horrendous attack in London
* successfully fought the election how he wanted and not how the Tories wanted, i.e. not on Brexit
* moved to only a short step away from becoming prime minister
I dearly hope that left-wing US Democrats can find someone of similar calibre!
posted by b : 7:44 AM
The widespread dislike of Hillary is a weird concept considering she always ends up winning the popular votes. If you remember 2008 she had more votes than Obama. She lost the nomination only after the DNC took delegates from her and gave them to Obam. The MSM kept telling people about this widespread dislike and she was losing and to their dismay she kept winning till they it made clear they meant business, and she had to withdraw. Again 2016 primaries was a rerun of 2008 primaries. Her fault was that she didn't change her tactics to counteract the assault. As for the general election you know. The Anti Clinton propaganda rely heavily on their talking points are repeated often without scrutiny.
A "Five Star" mystery: Saudi Arabia, Brexit, Trump and election fraud. Plus: The Comey "tape"
This investigation in the Irish Times examines a very strange affair involving Northern Ireland and Saudi Arabia. The author of that piece, Fintan O'Toole, probably doesn't know that his research links up to a mystery which captured my attention some twelve years ago, when this humble blog focused on the possibility of fraud in the 2004 presidential election.
Before we get to the US connection, we must summarize the Irish Times story.
In recent days, you may have read about the far-right Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland, because that's the group with which Theresa May must strike a deal if she wants to stay in power. (Her chances are starting to look bleak.) The DUP is pretty obnoxious, as this site makes clear: They are pro-creationism, anti-abortion, and very anti-gay.
The DUP is also also very, very pro-Brexit. In fact, they funded a pricey ad campaign in favor of Brexit. Strangely, those ads appeared in publications outside of Northern Ireland.
That campaign cost a lot of money, leading Fintan O'Toole to ask: Where did the DUP get the funds?
It turns out that the money came from a strange Scottish group called the Constitutional Research Council, headed by one Richard Cook. But that organization seems to have been a cut-out (as was the DUP itself).
The real funders were Saudis.
What they found is that Richard Cook has a history of involvement with a very senior and powerful member of the Saudi royal family, who also happens to have been a former director of the Saudi intelligence agency. In April 2013, Cook jointly founded a company called Five Star Investments with Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz al Saud. The prince, whose address is given as a royal palace in Jeddah, is listed on the company’s initial registration as the holder of 75 per cent of the shares.
Prince Nawwaf, who died in 2015, was no casual investor. He had been Saudi minister for finance, government spokesman and diplomatic fixer before becoming head of intelligence. His son, Mohammed bin Nawwaf, has, moreover, been the Saudi ambassador to both the UK and Ireland since 2005. When Five Star was set up in 2013, Prince Nawwaf was 80, had suffered a stroke and used a wheelchair. It seems rather remarkable that he was going into business with a very minor and obscure Scottish conservative activist.
"Five Star"...! That name rang a bell. Where had I heard it before? Suddenly, it all came back...
2004 and all that. Unless you've been reading this blog for a very long time, you may not know that I was once transfixed by the allegations of election fraud in the 2004 election. Like many others, I became convinced that electoral hugger-mugger occurred in Ohio.
In a series of posts published in late 2004 and early 2005, I looked into some rather bizarre claims concerning an entity called "Five Star Trust," which allegedly played a role in swinging the election to Dubya. The Trust, it was said, was funded by the Saudis, who (as most people know) had deep connections to Bush.
I'll soon give links to those old pieces on the Five Star Trust. First, a word of warning: My posts linked to the work of a writer named Wayne Madsen, toward whom I once had a very naive and trusting attitude. In 2004, his reputation was not so reeky as it later became; Madsen was a former NSA employee who had appeared on ABC's Nightline, Marketplace and 60 Minutes. Why shouldn't I quote a man with such an impressive resume?
Unfortunately, Madsen made increasingly wild accusations without bothering to cite evidence. Behind the scenes, Madsen proved to be an opaque and bizarre individual.
Fellow blogger Brad Friedman (who has led the fight against computerized voting) was also intrigued -- for a very brief period -- by Madsen's "Five Star" claims. Brad soon became so infuriated with the way Madsen did business that he decided never to say another good word about the man. Other semi-mainstream publications developed a similar "hands off" attitude.
For years, my standard line on Madsen was this: "He's right about half the time, and I'm never sure which half is which." After a while, even that assessment began to seem too generous.
In 2008, I wrote a series of posts which argued (based on public sources) that Barack Obama may have been on "Company" business during his mysterious 1981 trip to Pakistan. (Here, here and here.) Madsen pilfered my work without crediting me. He then sensationalized the evidence and jammed it into a rather terrible book called The Manufacturing of a President, 90 percent of which is paranoid flotsam and jetsam unrelated to the work's ostensible subject.
As you might imagine, I now have little reason to speak well of Wayne Madsen, whose claims have grown ever more inane: He says that Obama is both gay and Kenyan-born, and that Israel attacked the USS Cole. Naturally, he has found a home on Alex Jones's radio show. From ABC News to Infowars: A sad trajectory indeed.
(A sudden thought just hit me. Do you think that former NSA man Wayne Madsen could be one of Louise Mensch's "sources" within the intelligence community? Boy, that would explain a lot.)
Have I given enough caveats and apologies? I believe I have. Here, then, are the links to my previous "Five Star" posts dealing with the mysteries of the 2004 election. Start here, then go here, then go here. Although my posts quote Madsen, I also offer some original research.
From the first post (November 26, 2004):
Madsen goes on to say that money for the operations was funneled through a Saudi-linked financial entity based in Houston called Five Star Trust, which was also apparently used to fund both Bush and Bin Laden.
Other monies came from carefully-hidden Enron loot stashed away in the Cook Islands...
I've tried some preliminary Googling on Five Star Trust (which is also spelled "5 Star Trust"). One citation goes to a court case listed here, involving one Marion Horn, Jr., a.k.a. "J.R. Horn," a one-time Republican candidate in Kentucky later convicted of wire fraud. (Also see here and here.) From what I can tell, the guy received a ridiculously attentuated sentence -- 18 months -- for a serious crime (one commentator mentioned the figure of "$1B") committed while on parole for a similar offense.
Much of the above information came by way of the Diligizer Board, which seems to be a clearinghouse for information about shady operators in the financial world. On one page they take a brief look at an accused security fraudster named Howard E. Liner -- and just look at what pops up:
He claims to be directly involved with VP Chaney and running actually the FED program. Mr. Liner pretends to be a former JAG and Military attorney. They are connected to Noir Intertrade, who shall be the commitment holder! They also mentioned the 5-Star Trust, the worlds richest trust with TRILLIONS (sorry forgot to ask the currency!!) on the account in Credit Suisse and UBS.
Hmm. Did he just say trillions? It that's true, the allegation of Saudi involvement may well have substance.
By the time I wrote my final post in this series (January 4, 2005), I had already become disenchanted with Madsen. He connected the Five Star Trust to a DC-based Christian cult called The Fellowship, the subject of a famous book by Jeffrey Sharlet. The "Fellowship" angle has no discernible evidence to back it.
That said, I can't help but wonder what happened to Marion Horn. His 2004 connection to the Five Star Trust parallels, in some ways, the later linkage between Scotland's Richard Cook and the current incarnation of Five Star.
While traipsing through my earlier pieces, I stumbled across this 2005 post, which quotes some work done by Daniel Hopsicker on a firm called Triad, which was run by Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi (whose recent death I should have noted in these pages.) The following quotation from the Hopsicker story may seem to take us far from the Five Star mystery, but bear with me: I promise to bring us back on course.
Was Adnan Khashoggi a principal in a company which has been counting the votes of American servicemen overseas? Answer: highly likely.
Both Election.com, and Triad, the election company cited for causing most of the problems in Ohio, should receive close scrutiny for evidence of Khashoggi involvement.
While there has been no suggestion of it anywhere in the media, the name "Triad" was used extensively by Khashoggi at exactly the same time (the early 80's) and in exactly the same place (Palm Beach, Florida) as the "Triad Governmental Systems" involved in Ohio's current election "difficulties."
There's much of else of interest in that 2005 piece. For current purposes, let's focus on the following:
Election.com should be examined for the invisible hand of the Saudi financier and CIA “fixer.”
News reports stated Election.com was owned by an offshore Saudi front company in Bermuda consisting of five unnamed Saudi billionaires, until scrutiny forced a sale to Accenture, the remnants of the disgraced and disbanded Arthur Anderson, the accounting firm which made Enron possible.
Five unnamed Saudi billionaires...?
Could that be the origin of the "Five Star" nomenclature? I can't prove it, but the idea makes a lot of sense.
The obvious questions: Why would five Saudi billionaires surreptitiously involve themselves with the 2004 American election (and perhaps earlier elections)? Why would the same Saudi interests care about promoting Brexit in 2016? What's in it for them?
The Prince. The Irish Times story quoted above connects the current "Five Star Investments" to Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, the former head of Saudi intelligence. That name has appeared in these pages before. From a post published on August 26, 2016:
Saudi princes: Prince Mutaib bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a former minister in the Saudi government, and member of the Saudi royal family, reportedly lives in a floor-through Trump Tower apartment. Other former Trump property tenants include Prince Nawaf bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, a Saudi royal family member who owned a 10,500 sq. foot (975 sq. meter) condo at the Heritage at Trump Place that went on sale this year for $48.5 million.
Trump has long had strong connections to Saudi Arabia. Most people forget that the Saudis were the ones who bailed out Donald Trump when he nearly went under.
Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal said he twice saved US presidential candidate Donald Trump from bankruptcy, describing him as a “bad and ungrateful person”.
In an interview with Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, the prince said he bought Trump’s hotels after they were acquired by the banks which demanded he repay his debts.
The yacht he used to come to Antalya, southwest of Turkey, is one he bought from Trump when he was threatened with bankruptcy.
That yacht, by the way, is the one made famous by previous owner Adnan Khashoggi, and by the movie Never Say Never Again.
This latest tweet battle with Trump refers to the Prince’s investments in troubled Trump properties. The first of these transactions took place in 1991, when, according to Businessweek, bin Talal bought Trump’s huge yacht the Trump Princess from creditors, for eighteen million dollars. At the time, Trump’s Atlantic City casinos were heavily indebted; he also put his airline, the Trump Shuttle, up for sale.
The second deal came in 1995, when bin Talal and a partner, a Singapore hotels company, paid hundreds of millions of dollars to take control of The Plaza, on Fifth Avenue, from Trump. A Times story at the time said that the buyers had agreed to “pay part, or all, of Mr. Trump’s $300 million mortgage on the hotel, guarantee interest payments on Mr. Trump’s Plaza debt and spend $28 million to renovate part of the hotel.” Trump, the article said, was “under heavy pressure because of more than $115 million of guarantees he has given on the Trump Organization’s debt, and because of his recently announced attempt to raise $250 million to expand his casino investments.”
The prince is not just any Saudi oligarch: He was the finance minister of that nation and is rumored to represent other Saudi business interests. He is the second biggest investor in Fox News.
Interestingly, Saudi princes were investing in Trump at the same time they were (allegedly) throwing money at a fellow named Osama Bin Laden. Why were the Saudis dealing with a guy like Trump? And why did they treat him as a demi-deity during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia?
Here's the final paragraph from my 2016 post:
Yes, Saudis have donated to the Clinton Foundation -- but the Foundation is a charity, from which the Clintons derive no profit. Trump's hotels in Jeddah are serious business. Talk about a conflict of interest! Most Americans are not even aware that Trump has substantial investments in Saudi Arabia. You know damned well that if the Clintons had made such investments, our news media would remind you of that fact every single day.
Congress and the mainstream media have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to uncover Trump's strange relationship with Putin's Russia -- and properly so. On June 16, 2016, this humble blog was the first online publication to outline a "Putin-Trump" theory.
But Russia is not the full story. We also have to look at Saudi Arabia. Evidence suggests that Saudis have meddled in Brexit. Moreover, evidence suggests a consortium of five Saudi billionaires have played a very covert role in certain American elections -- and they may even have started as early as the 1980s. Strangest of all, they came to the rescue of Donald J. Trump in the 1990s. Why? You got me!
You can't dismiss this post as a "conspiracy theory," for one simple reason: I don't pretend to have anything like a proper theory. At this stage, I'm just trying to formulate the right questions.
Elsewhere: In previous posts, I have sided with those who argue that Trump probably does have "tapes" of his conversations with James Comey. My argument is based on a photo of Trump in the Oval Office with a digital voice recorder on his desk, and on the fact that Trump has been known to record surreptitiously his business meetings. Besides, NSA head Mike Rogers is clearly in Trump's corner, and the NSA scoops up everything.
“He’s said this over the years to reporters when they go into the Trump organization, ‘I just want to let you know that I’m taping you right now,'” O’Brien noted. “And he said it multiple times during my interviews with him. He said that into my own tape recorder when I recorded our interviews.”
“But when he sat down for the deposition, my attorney said, ‘Mr. Trump, do you have a taping system?'” he recalled. “And he said no. And [my attorney] said, ‘Why did you say this to Mr. O’Brien.’ And he essentially said, ‘I wanted to intimidate him.'”
Perhaps. But one should also keep in mind that Trump may have been in a state in which it is illegal to tape someone without his permission.
Things are getting rather interesting with the Democratic Unionist Party. The Tories need at least four non-Tory MPs to get anything done. 326 is a majority, but then the Speaker can't v ote and Sinn Fein don't take their seats, so 322 is an effective majority, with the Tories being on 318.
The DUP have 10. The problem is that they are far less right-wing than the Tories. Yes, they hate gays, and catholics, and abortion, and they don't believe in evolution or global warming. However they oppose pension cuts the Tories have been pushing, generally favour higher benefits and want a softer Brexit. Admittedly, they are very closely linked to the UDA, who were gunning people down in public less than a month before the election, too.
There's also the problem of Scotland. The Tories have 12 MPs from Scotland, which they obviously can't afford to lose. Their Scottish leader is a lesbian engaged to a Catholic.
For those who wanted America to have a female president, the Tory leader, the Scottish Tory leader, and the DUP leader are all female.
3) When the anti-corruption candidate Nicholas Wilson, who stood against Amber Rudd in the recent election, started talking too much about Theresa May's involvement in weapons sales to Saudi, Rudd shut him up. (Click that link to watch how she did it.) In particular, he was speaking about the line to Saudi that goes through the bank HSBC. This is important, because Philip May, Theresa May's husband, is a senior guy at the Capital Group which works closely with HSBC.
He also links, through the pro-free market Tory propaganda agency ("think tank") called "Think Scotland", to businessman Robert Kilgour, who has made millions running care homes and cutting property deals in London and NYC. In the early 1990s, when the mafia took over practically everything in Russia that had any value, Kilgour opened an office in Siberia. He describes it has having "arranged a number of sporting and business exchanges between Russia and Scotland". Doubtless he too is as pure as the driven snow.
posted by b : 7:19 PM
And there's more. Richard Kilgour is not just a businessman who owns care homes. He founded what is now the biggest "provider" of care homes in Britain. It is care homes that the Tories want elderly people to sell their houses to pay for.
Could it be that the Daesh-backing Salafists of Saudi helped Leave, while the al-Jazeera-owning Shard-owning Salafists of Qatar supported Remain?
posted by b : 7:35 PM
Interesting article on the DUP's strong support for Israel. They don't just wave Zionazi flags on their marches. They also actively support Zionist objectives in the British parliament. Ian Paisley (junior) has said that the call to dismantle Zionist settlements was "cover for more aggression" against Jews.
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