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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Told ya

Did I call the shot or what?

For a while now, I've been mentally preparing an apology for my repeated claim that Trump would not have asked Congress to investigate his "tapp" allegation unless he knew from the get-go that doing so would work to his political advantage. Nobody agreed with my scenario. Everyone said that Trump was simply a fool who would not let go of a conspiracy theory.

Finally, last night, I myself became converted to the theory that Trump was simply a bullheaded, paranoid ignoramus.

And then Devin Nunes -- clearly functioning as either a dupe or willing partner of Trump's conspiracy -- provided evidence that my original read might turn out to be the correct one.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes went to the White House on Wednesday afternoon to personally brief President Trump about intelligence he says he has seen regarding surveillance of foreign nationals during the presidential transition.

The surveillance could have inadvertently picked up the president or members of his transition team, the chairman said.

“What I’ve read seems to me to be some level of surveillance activity, perhaps legal. I don’t know that it’s right,” Nunes said to reporters outside the White House. “I don’t know that the American people would be comfortable with what I’ve read.”
Trump is now saying that his tweets were vindicated.
Before heading to the White House, Nunes said he briefed House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on what he learned, and he also spoke with reporters. He said that U.S. intelligence agencies may have picked up communications involving Trump as part of court-approved surveillance of foreign intelligence targets in the period between Trump’s election and his inauguration.

Nunes did not, however, brief his ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), about the contents of what Schiff said were intercepts.
He gave Schiff short shrift? This indicates that the Nunes "investigation" was part of a partisan hit all along. I don't yet know what Nunes saw, but I'm fairly confident, right now, that Trump knew all along that the events of this day would happen.

Also see here and here.

Nunes viewed those documents at the originating agency. Right now, we do not know which agency. NSA? Seems as good a guess as any.

I keep telling you people -- not that anyone has listened -- that Breitbart is and always has been seriously tied to the intelligence community. Here, let me put in boldface:

Breitbart is and always has been seriously tied to the intelligence community.

You doubt my word? You want a few links that will help you start to investigate this claim? Okay.

Here. And here. And here. And here. And here. And here.

Everyone keeps talking "Russia Russia Russia." Russia is important, but the matter isn't so simple as many think.

Remember, the Russians hired people like Manafort and Stone and Devine to tell them how to rig elections in their own part of the world.

Did you ever see this film? Do you really think that the Russians would know how to rig an American election? Do you really think they "know the territory" (as they say in The Music Man)? Do you really think that the FSB has a subtle enough grasp of our politics to understand (for example) how to transform Bernie supporters into virulent Clinton-haters?

No. It may be more accurate to posit that Putin provided some plausibly deniable manpower. He was hired muscle.

People like Mensch and Schindler keep pushing a simplistic narrative of "virtuous spooks versus the Trump/Putin conspiracy."

For weeks now, I've been telling you: NO. That's not it. It's a partial truth at best.

I don't have a clear counter-narrative formulated yet. All I know is that the Mensch/Schindler "Virtuous spooks vs. Evil Trumpers" scenario won't suffice, because that scenario completely ignores the truth about Breitbart. I'm not saying that Mensch is operating in bad faith: I'm saying that her deference (allegiance?) to the intelligence community means that she is giving you a woefully incomplete picture.

Breitbart did more than Putin did to put Trump in power. And Breitbart is spooked up. Schindler and Mensch and "The Jester" won't tell you that.

I don't know what is in those documents provided to Nunes. But I feel certain that the same spooks who have been in bed with Breitbart for many years knew all about those documents before Trump issued those tweets.

Added note: Since everyone seems to be referencing Watergate these days, let me tell you about a Watergate-era Jack Anderson column that few people now remember. I don't have the clip to hand, but some of my older readers may recall seeing it. In this column, Anderson interviewed Gordon Novel, a bizarre figure who always tended to pop in these scandals.

Novel revealed that the Nixonites had a tentative plan -- never enacted -- to undermine the Watergate investigation. It was a simple trick: Nixon's men would use actors to concoct a fake tape in which Nixon says incriminating things on the phone to E. Howard Hunt. The media would be subtly manipulated to insure that the entire Watergate controversy centered on the question of the legitimacy of that tape. Eventually, analysis would reveal the tape to be a hoax -- at which point, Nixon would look like the victim of a conspiracy, not the perpetrator of one.

Again: That scheme was never enacted. It was just an idea, a bit of spitballing. Nevertheless, I think that we should always keep this idea in the back of our minds as our current White House melodrama unfolds.
Put in as hired muscle. Manafort ' s role. Listening. Thanks.
The Nunes/Trump show was about as dumb as it gets. Weak. We will see about Breitbart. What if the spooks are double agents for Russia?

I have to say Watergate still is a bit bewildering to me and I am just old enough to remember the drip, drip, drip of the daily reveal front-paged on the old Seattle Post Intelligencer. (I also remember one of the few times my father, an extremely mild mannered man, whose only other moment of public rage involved a woman dumping a litter of kittens by the side of the road, tearing downtown in a rage to send a Western Union telegram after Nixon fired Elliot Richardson.)

I've read a few "alternative" histories of Watergate and I have to say I find Woodward's connection to military intelligence quite persuasive. However, to create this almost Rube Goldberg scenario in order to take down, elect, prop up or otherwise manipulate major elections including presidential ones * seems to violate what I assume is a fundamental rule of covert action: the more bells and whistles, the more elaborate an action, the more likely something could go very wrong. Why elect someone only to watch him be stripped of all credibility in the first two months of his presidency? What's the point? What's the agenda?

And if Trump thinks his current problems are going to go away by some Sunday morning tweetfest, I've got some property in Atlantic City he might want to consider.

* (excepting, of course, simple election fraud--that is manipulating the vote count--the most direct way to ensure the candidate of one's choosing wins)
Dear Louise Mensch is getting her due:

And this from "The Observer", which also publishes her twin John Schindler:

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How Batman and Spider-Man could bring down Trump

You never see my best posts, because I compose them in my mind while researching a complex matter. At the end of the day, the actual writing seems like too much of a chore, so I put it off for mañana

I don't want this line of inquiry to end up on my "to do" list. Today I've been piecing together an incredibly complicated chain of events involving criminal activity in Trump Tower, directly below Trump's own domicile. Lots of writers have given us large pieces of the story, but nobody has put the whole narrative together.

I can't either. At present, the best I can do is to jot down a few notes, offer some key quotes, and hand you some links. Follow the trail, if you are of a mind to.

First, this piece by Brian Ross. (You can always trust Ross to dig only so deep into anything even remotely spooky.)
There, indeed, was an FBI wiretap involving Russians at Trump Tower.

But it was not placed at the behest of Barack Obama and the target was not the Trump campaign of 2016. For two years ending in 2013, the FBI had a court-approved warrant to eavesdrop on a sophisticated Russian organized crime money laundering network that operated out of unit 63A in Trump Tower.

The FBI investigation led to a federal grand jury indictment of more than 30 people, including one of the world’s most notorious Russian mafia bosses, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Known as the “Little Taiwanese,” Tokhtakhounov was the only target to slip away, and he remains a fugitive from American justice.

Five months after the April 2013 indictment and after Interpol issued a “red notice” for Tokhtakhounov, the fugitive appeared near Donald Trump in the VIP section of the Moscow Miss Universe pageant. Trump had sold the Russian rights for Miss Universe to a billionaire Russian shopping mall developer.

“He is a major player,” said Mike Gaeta, the FBI agent who led the 2013 FBI investigation of Tokhtakhounov and his alleged mafia money laundering and gambling ring, in a 2014 interview with ABC News. “He is prominent, he has extremely good connections in the business world as well as the criminal world, overseas, in Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, other countries.”
The "Taiwanchik" nickname stems from the fact that Tokhtakhounov...

...and the name is a stumbling block, isn't it? Oh fer chrissakes, it's not that difficult: "Tock ta KOON off."

Anyways, he looks Asian, so that's why they call him "little Taiwan" or Taiwanchik. He's a vor. In the Russian mafia, "vor" means "Godfather." Mr. Big.

David Corn wrote a very good piece about all of this back in September, back when everyone was transfixed by Hillary's emails. In order to tie Tokhtakhounov to Trump, Corn fixes on the beauty contest, which is indeed important, because it looks like Tokhtakhounov helped to make that happen.

But there's more.

Tokhtakhounov ran a high-stakes gambling operation which catered to Hollywood celebrities, Wall Streeters and other VIPs. He was also involved with the Olympics cheating scandalHere is a rather full bio of the guy, with all the known salacious details. A brief sample:
In 1998 French foreign intelligence service reported that Taivanchik was "ringleader of a criminal organization," "mediator for high-profile projects." Tokhtakhunov was mentioned in the Interpol report in April 2001. He was suspected of trafficking drug, weapons and stolen cars.

Source: Komok, 30 September 2002

On August 1, 2002 Tokhtakhounov was arrested in Italy on charges of rigging the competition in figure skating at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.

American intelligence agencies asserted that he organized a mutually beneficial exchange so that the French judge Marie-Reine Le Gun voted for the Russian skaters in the pairs figure skating (Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze), and Russia voted for the French (Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat) in ice dancing.
Premiere anti-Trump investigator Adam Kahn published the following in his twitter stream. We will soon get to some of these other names:

Side note: When I first saw Khan's marginal note, I was immediately reminded of the prostitution/poker ring that former CIA head Porter Goss was linked to. It was run out of the Watergate, and it was used to acquire what we would now call kompromat on important people. We learned about that sleazy business in the wake of the Duke Cunningham bribery scandal. This ring was tied in with both of the parties that bribed Cunningham. One of those firms was MZM, which later became Mantech, which has strange links to Breitbart. (For some reason, Breitbart would publish Mantech press releases, even though Breitbart readers probably couldn't have cared less.)

Is that sordid history linked in any way to our present story? Dunno. For now, just remember that Putin is not the only guy who collects kompromat.

Back to our main story: Tokhtakhounov has 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, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that ANATOLY GOLUBCHIK was sentenced yesterday in Manhattan federal court to five years in prison, and VADIM TRINCHER was also sentenced today to five years in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy in connection with their roles as members of a Russian-American organized crime enterprise. GOLUBCHIK and TRINCHER were also each ordered to forfeit more than $20 million in cash, investments, and real property. They were charged in April 2013 along with 32 other alleged members and associates of two Russian-American organized crime enterprises in an indictment that included racketeering, money laundering, extortion, and various gambling offenses. GOLUBCHIK and TRINCHER were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The sentences meted out to Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher are just and appropriate penalties for the roles the defendants played in this far-reaching, Russian-American organized crime ring. I’d like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the New York City Police Department, and the Internal Revenue Service for their tireless efforts in working to ensure that the members of this underground enterprise were held to account for their crimes.”

According to the indictment, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at various proceedings in this case, including today’s sentencing:

The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization (the “Organization”) was a criminal enterprise with strong ties to Russia and Ukraine. The enterprise operated a high-stakes, illegal sports gambling business out of New York City that catered primarily to Russian oligarchs living in Ukraine and Russia. GOLUBCHIK and TRINCHER were U.S.-based participants in the enterprise. GOLUBCHIK and TRINCHER booked sports bets that reached into the millions of dollars and laundered the proceeds of the Organization’s international sportsbook. Between 2006 and April 2012, the enterprise laundered approximately $100 million in proceeds from their gambling operation in Russia and Ukraine through shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus; and of this $100 million, approximately $50 million was subsequently sent from Cyprus into the United States. Once the money had been transferred to the United States, it was either laundered through additional shell companies or invested in legitimate investments, such as hedge funds and real estate.
That's right: Preet Bharara -- 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.

Moreover, the 51st floor was occupied by another key figure in this scheme. He's the next on our list of persons of interest.

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...
Little known outside the art market but a pivotal force within it, the family, whose worth is estimated at $3 billion, has amassed one of the largest collections of Impressionist and Modernist art in the world, including one of the largest holdings of Picasso in private hands. They did it with a purchasing style that has never been subtle: they chase as many as a third of the works offered in an evening and then warehouse them for years until it is the right time to sell.

With a mix of jealousy and skepticism, competitors have often marveled at how the Nahmads have pulled this off. “They are an entity unto themselves,” said James Roundell, a former director of Christie’s Impressionist and modern art department in London and a longtime dealer. “They do it their way. And it’s different from how other people do it or how other people are financially able to do it.”
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.
Continue reading the main story

But the case, in which investigators listened to Mr. Nahmad’s cellphone conversations over a period of months, also raises questions about how he conducted himself as an art dealer.
Yep, there really was at least one "tapp" in that Tower. Preet was monitoring Trump's tenant, who lived a few floors down in the same building. Was this little-known fact connected in any way to Trump's shocking firing of the nation's most famously incorruptible U.S. Attorney? You tell me.

(I hope I have the geography right. As near as I can tell, Donald, Melania and Barron live on floors 56-58 of the tower; "Taiwanchik" had his gambling ring on floor 55, and Nahmad -- the art dealer/money launderer -- had floor 51. I don't know who owned floors 52-54, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were somehow connected to all of this. Trump is known to invite cronies to live in his properties. Adding to our difficulty is the fact that Trump likes to pretend that his Tower is taller than it really is, so his numbers don't correspond to the actual numbers.)

Anways, Nahmad had a gambling problem. This problem led him into the world of Tokhtakhounov and Trincher.
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. He is accused of directing an operation to launder money generated by a huge sports-betting operation in Russia and has been a fugitive since he was accused by United States authorities in 2002 of being part of a scheme to rig figure skating and ice dancing competitions at the Winter Olympics.
By now, I'm sure you are wondering: Why the hell does the headline refer to Batman and Spider-Man?

Well, as noted above, this coast-to-coast gambling operation (which I suspect also involved prostitution and blackmail) attracted some Hollywood heavy-hitters. To accomplish this, the Russian crime lord used the services of one Molly Bloom -- yes he did yes he did yes he did yes.

(I have no doubt that she is sick and tired of that joke, but I still couldn't resist making it.)
She made her name as the glamorous organiser of secret high-stakes poker games for a string of Hollywood's biggest stars.

But now some of Tinsletown's best-known celebrities are bracing themselves for potentially embarrassing revelations in her tell-all memoir.

Notorious poker madam Molly Bloom - who hosted card parties for celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Matt Damon - was arrested in Los Angeles as part of an investigation into an illegal big-money poker ring.
Tobey Maguire was, of course, the amazing Spider-Man. The ring also attracted the respectful attentions of Ben Affleck, a.k.a. Batman -- a role he seems to be just barely hanging onto. (Side note: I've always liked Affleck's work, even when others had turned against him for reasons I could never comprehend.) In fact, there is talk that Affleck's gambling issues led to the problems which have beset his marriage (which, in turn, seem to have affected his career).
But no one knew of Affleck’s $50,000 buy-in for that big game 10 years ago at the Beverly Hills Hotel until last year, when former “poker princess” Molly Bloom detailed it in her tell-all, Molly’s Game.
Bloom went from being a 26-year-old cocktail waitress in Los Angeles to masterminding Hollywood’s high-stakes, hush-hush poker games, to being hunted by the feds. Her book documents the apex of Hollywood’s long love affair with poker and gambling, when “every cardplayer in Hollywood wanted to come to the game, and everyone’s friends wanted to come and watch.” The Olsen twins showed up to the spectacle one night.
The women in their lives—wives and serious girlfriends—are largely absent from Bloom’s book, just as they are from the game. She writes about one regular player who misses his wife’s birthday because he can’t step away from the table, only to end up losing $500,000 in one night. Bloom keeps “their high turnover of girlfriends happy” and tends to their boys’ club atmosphere, which she describes like a scene in The Wolf of Wall Street. On a trip to Miami with her boss and his friends, they spend the day on “a fully functional floating mansion equipped with a formal living and dining room, a gym, even a helicopter...The women were waifish, impossibly glamorous models and socialites.” Bloom also hires attractive women “as decoration” to help her serve drinks during games.
Miami. Models. We suddenly seem to be in Trump territory, eh wot?

And that's how the actors who played Batman, Spider-Man, Jason Bourne and John Edgar Hoover could help uncover the sordid truth about Donald Trump. Although the gambling ring was coast-to-coast, the New York base appears to be Trump Tower. Given the celebrities and women involved, its hard to believe that The Donald himself would not stop by to see what was going on directly beneath his feet.

What we are looking for is simple: Eyewitness accounts of Donald Trump interacting with Tokhtakhounov, Trincher, Golubchik, Nahmad, and Bloom. (Tokhtakhounov has been in Russia for more than a decade, so I doubt that any American celebrity will place him in the same room with Trump. Then again, who knows?)

In this light, the following may be of interest:
Add Ben Affleck to the long list of public personas who can’t or won’t hide their distaste for Donald Trump. During an interview with The Guardian, Affleck shared his experience with the president-elect. “I met him once at a Fashion Week event in Milan,” Affleck said. “You knew you were at a cheesy party if Donald Trump was there. He would kind of trawl around them.”
Was that the only occasion? By any chance, Mr. Affleck, did you also see Mr. Cheesy in the company of Nahmad, Bloom, or those Russian gangsters?

As always, there's a difference between what we can prove what we suspect. I suspect that this operation was used to collect kompromat on America's rich and powerful. But right now, I can't prove it.

There's another link: Cyprus. When you follow the money trail, it always goes through Cyprus.

I'm an artist (in my own small way), so whenever I see that place-name, I always flash on the fact that Cyprus is where the best umber comes from. And you can score some primo-quality Cyprus Umber from Vasari, located right across the street from Trump Tower. Now that is a coincidence, although my inner Alex Jones wants to turn it into something diabolical.

But Cyprus is best known as the place where the Russian mob -- and, almost certainly, Putin himself -- stashes and launders money.

Google Tokhtakhounov and Cyprus and here's what you get:
In the other operation, Mr. Tokhtakhounov is accused of funneling Russian oligarchs’ losses to shell companies in Cyprus, disguised as phony loans. The scheme, prosecutors say, laundered more than $50 million.
Google Nahmad and Cyprus, and here is what you get:
The defendant was among more than 30 people charged earlier this year with having roles in the scheme to launder at least $100 million in illegal gambling proceeds through hundreds of bank accounts and shell companies in Cyprus and the United States.

The gambling ring catered mostly to super-rich bettors in Russia. But it also had tentacles in New York City, where it ran illegal card games that attracted professional athletes, film stars and business executives, prosecutors said. Some of the defendants are professional poker players.
Google Trump and Cyprus and -- well, you get a LOT. Here, for example.
The Democratic Coalition uncovered two Trump companies registered in Cyprus, the tax haven and money laundering center serving Vladimir Putin and Russian oligarchs.
Cyprus is notorious for being an often bailed out, off-shore banking center, who is also a member state of the European Union and part of the common currency.

Trump Cabinet nominee Wilbur Ross is the Vice Chairman of the island’s largest institution, the Bank of Cyprus.

This morning Mother Jones released a report detailing Trump cabinet pick Wilbur Ross’ deep ties to Cyprus, its largest bank and his big gamble on the ability to extract the island’s off-shore natural gas reserves.

Wilbur Ross invested $500 million into the once-failed Bank of Cyprus and which bank has been run by an ex-KGB friend of Putin.
In fact, the Bank of Cyprus released a formal congratulations statement to Ross the day Trump named him as his nominee for Commerce Secretary.

It was at Wilber Ross’ suggestion, that Josef Ackermann - the former Chairman of Deutsche Bank - one of Trump’s major creditors, who is facing a massive DoJ settlement for misdeeds in 2008 - was named as Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus.

Deutsche Bank has been accused of making over $10 billion dollars in transactions to assist Russian money laundering, and is trying to clawback Ackermann’s compensation for misdeeds on his watch - though it will probably be too late.

Former Royal Bank of Scotland CEO John Hourican was also brought in by Ross’ management. He resigned from RBS after being implicated in the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal is the CEO of Ross’ Bank of Cyprus, which sold its Russian operations and is going public on the London Stock Exchange shortly.
Cyprus is, in essence, a vassal state of Russia. (You may also want to check out this WBUR investigation, which hit just yesterday.)

So the question is: Just how tight is Donald Trump with the folks downstairs? Why didn't he perform any "extreme vetting" of the sleazeballs living directly below him in his own building? Did these Russian gangsters obtain kompromat on America's rich and powerful? Was Donald Trump a witting part of the operation? Are these gangsters the ones who introduced Trump to the magic of Cyprus-based finance?
This is going to be off-topic, but here goes.

Tonight, Rachel Maddow did a segment on the Russian "nuclear" cyber attack on the US. Her theory is that the ugly, anti-Hilary stuff that Bernie Bros posted last year (that earned your visceral hatred) were actually part of the Russian cyber war to affect our election. Bernie's campaign had nothing to do with them. They were Russian bots. Or rather, Macedonian bots at the direction of the Russians.

Video of Maddow's piece will be posted tomorrow (or repeated tonight in certain time zones).

Credit for digging this stuff up mainly goes to McClatchy. Details here:
"Was this little-known fact connected in any way to Trump's shocking firing of the nation's most famously incorruptible U.S. Attorney?"

Famously incorruptible? He's an ass. (To Balko's comments I'd add he also had no problem overstepping his boundaries to gain indictments while looking the other way at poor behavior in his own shop.) He wasn't fired because he's incorruptible; he was fired because he got his widdle feelings hurt because Donny pwomised he could stay. Another egotistical, self-righteous knowitall. Don't we have enough of those in the Federal government?
Excellent post, Joseph. It is all very strange.

OT - Eric Garland is putting together the fishy threads between DT and Nunes.

How could DT survive the level of surveillance brought to bear on his property without being swept up and indited himself?

Based on the circumstances you have outlines DT could have been either a confidential informant and/or aiding security services in a sting operation. The floor above the suspects would be a great place to monitor old school bugs and/or newer types of surveillance that are undetectable, but require close proximity to the subject. DT could have been aware and cooperating with one or more agencies in a sting operation, but unaware of other surveillance operations conducted by other three-letter agencies.

If DT did agree to aid in a sting operation, it would have come with certain guarantees, confidentiality agreements, cover stories, and security arrangements that both he and the security agency would want to protect in perpetuity.

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Jail for Jones? JOY! JOY! JOY!

Okay, the FBI's probe of Alex Jones almost certainly will not result in the imprisonment of Porky Paranoid. But a man can dream, can he not?
The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division is looking into the role far-right news sites including Breitbart, InfoWars and the Kremlin-backed RT might have played in Russia’s influence campaign during the U.S. presidential election, McClatchy reported Monday.

Automated computer bots strategically deployed unabashedly pro-Trump articles, which often contained falsehoods, from those sites on social media at moments when Trump’s campaign was flagging, anonymous FBI sources told McClatchy. The probe reportedly is looking at whether those publications willingly coordinated with Russian operatives in promoting their stories.
Would Russian trolls have any reason to communicate directly with Alex Jones? I doubt it -- unless AJ were paid by foreign sources, and no-one has made that suggestion. Maybe Vladimir Putin bought a lifetime supply of AJ's super-studliness pills?

Here's a more interesting hypothetical: Let us suppose that a Russian really did communicate with AJ, giving him directives as to what sort of stories to run. What laws have been broken?

Christo Grozev just tweeted:
As i've said before, i never understood why breitbart had Russian search engine tags in its code.
It did? (Does?) First I've heard of it. I can't find that claim anywhere else on the internet.

Ivanka and Wendi. Here's an interesting thought: What if those girly-girl get-togethers between Ivanka and Wendi Deng (who denies being Putin's girlfriend, even though many people continue to say that she is) were a cover for Trump-Putin coordination?
Just because he's paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get him.
From source of current front page:

<meta name='yandex-verification' content='48776dffe0b99888' />

Perhaps that's what he means.
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Monday, March 20, 2017


I don't know how your news covered the hearings, but the Fox affiliate here in Bawlmer pretended that the whole thing was a huge nothingburger. They wanted us to think that the hearings completely exonerated Team Trump.

Sorry, Fox. I know what nothingburger tastes like, and it sure doesn't taste anything like what we were served today. Today we learned that the FBI has been investigating the Trump/Russia link since "late July" -- and that ain't nothin'. Josh Marshall adds:
Let's now look at the reference to the investigation starting in "late July." This is highly significant since it appears to have well predated much of the public discussion of the Trump/Russia issue. Indeed, it came only weeks after Comey's extraordinary public statement on the end of the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails.

Back on July 23, I published a lengthy post on Trump and Russia ("Trump & Putin. Yes, It's Really a Thing"), my first on the subject as far as I can remember. No, you can relax. I'm not going to claim my post triggered anything. What I do believe is that there were a series of developments coming together at right around that time which built up to a critical mass of intriguing and suspicious evidence that something was afoot.
(Dare I mention it again? Yes: The election of Trump taught us that this country likes immodesty.)

I wrote about the Trump/Putin connection on June 16, 2016, in a piece that name-checked Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Michael Caputo and Carter Page. I got there more than a month before Josh Marshall did. More than a month before the FBI decided that something weird was going on.

(Yee-OWTCH! Felt a twinge while patting myself on the back just now. An old rotator cuff injury. Never quite healed.)

David Corn says that Devin Nunes "just told me he's never heard of Carter Page or Roger Stone. And he's in charge of the investigation?" Obviously, Nunes should have been reading Cannonfire.

(OW! There it goes again. Time to stop congratulating myself.)

Did we lose a war? Yale professor Timothy Snyder's NY Daily News piece argues that psy-war can be just as powerful and decisive as boom-boom war -- which means that Americans lost a war in 2016 without quite understanding that they were in a fight.
In 2011, a Russian information war manual concluded that operations in what Russians like to call the "psychosphere" were more important than conventional military engagements. The chief of staff of the Russian armed forces concurred in 2013. The basic aim of war, he averred, was to get inside the national mind of the enemy, reconfiguring habits of mind and frames of discourse so that Americans would do what the Russian leadership wanted.
The information manual very well describes the experience of being an American citizen in 2016: "the population doesn't even feel it is being acted upon. So the state doesn't switch on its self-defense mechanisms." Even though many American citizens had a vague sense that something was uncanny about the presidential campaign, and those who read the newspaper knew that Russia was interfering, few realized the scale of the operation or its significance.
Still more important was the unexpected advantage Trump displayed over Hillary Clinton in social media. The Trump staff did not exhibit much technical expertise. And yet, somehow, the generators and distributors of fake news were, as if magically, on his side. The Clinton "ground game" was crushed by the Trump meme game. The bots worked 24/7 for Trump.

We know that hackers tried to steal data about registered voters from more than 20 states, and succeeded in at least four cases. The FBI and CIA issued official reports blaming Russia. Last week, the Justice Department issued indictments for two Russian secret policemen, accused of harvesting data from hundreds of millions of Yahoo accounts. Big political data allows fake news to be targeted to the right demographic, thereby changing political discourse.
During the campaign, I called it a Facebook war. Every time Hillary pulled ahead -- and there were several occasions when her lead seemed insurmountable -- the bots, the trolls, the fake newsers and the social engineers made her numbers evaporate.
In campaigns that received less media attention than they deserved, Russia used the internet to export alternative reality to Estonia, Poland, Ukraine, France and Germany. The 2016 Russian cyberwar against America, like these previous ones, aimed at very real weaknesses — just like a sniper aims for the head or the lungs.
Actually, I think that the Russians got a lot of their  best ideas from us. Y'see, there were similar theorists here in America back in the 1990s, writing for the Army War College. They called it "The Revolution in Military Affairs." It's possible that Team Putin read their work put some of those ideas into practice.

Russiagate and the British connection. The Guardian is running a series which I have not yet read, although it looks very promising. Start here, then go here.
Contrary to what Hollywood wants us to believe when or how many times did we ever won over Russia. I count Afghanistan. They wouldn't have attacked us at home( and I consider what happened to us in 2016 an attack) unless they a history of winnings against us. Democrats are cowards. If it was Repblicans war would be going on now
@Anonymous: I don't know what kind of BS you were spewing out there...but it stinks.

@Joseph: Yep, you did warn us about this way back in July of 2016, Joseph--plus you gave us the goods on Roger Stone, who up until that time I had never heard of.

Still, it was extremely frustrating to see Trump and company (including the Bernie-Bros and the Stein fans) constantly give Putin and Wikileaks verbal fellatio while the media looked on...and yawned...and went back to whining about Hillary's emails.

Some things sadly have not changed--H.A. Goodman is melting down on Twitter, clinging to the short reeds by claiming that the Trump/Russia connection is a DNC distraction--a "Jedi mind trick" to prevent us from seeing the real truth that we are all ignoring the most important thing ever--Bernie Sanders' revolution!!

Ditto the nonsense from Greenwald and the "Justice Democrats" who are too busy pursuing actual Democrats to primary and insult instead of going after Republicans.

A foreign power helped get a corrupt gang into the highest office in the land, and some people insist on running after the small fry instead of the big fish. Ugh.
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Hey, Roger! You see that bus? It's coming right for you! (Updated)

Update: Melissa has officially declared that Paul Manafort "played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time" on the Trump campaign. Really? I was under the impression that Manafort ran the Trump campaign. Of course, we must never forget that Paul Manafort is Roger Stone's long-term business partner.

And now back to our original post...

Although the major media are focusing on Trump's wiretapping claim (which has NOT been verified) the big news is that Comey has confirmed the FBI's investigation of the Russia-Trump connection.

And guess whose name kept coming up?
Much of the questioning focused on the Trump confidante Roger J. Stone Jr. and his public bragging that he was in contact with the hacker Guccifer 2.0, believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials. Mr. Comey would not confirm or deny the subject of the F.B.I.’s investigation, but Mr. Stone, never a shrinking violet, did speak up on Twitter.
Roger's twitter feed has indeed become quite entertaining. He's following Stone's Rules to the end: Always attack, never apologize, proceed with the jackass self-assurance that you can lie and smear your way out of anything. Anyone who acts this way might as well be wearing a "GUILTY" t-shirt.

Jon Cooper, Chairman of The Democratic Coalition, just tweeted: "Based on FBI Director Comey's testimony so far, I'd say @RogerJStoneJr is pretty much fucked."

Update: Roger Stone has responded, calling Adam Schiff's statement an example of "McCarthyism." That's pretty funny coming from him. Roger Stone learned about politics from Roy Cohn, Joe McCarthy's partner-in-perfidy.
"I had no contacts with Russians. This one has been manufactured by the intelligence service with a nice assist from [billionaire philanthropist George] Soros and [David] Brock..."
Oh, right. Evil Soros and Evil Brock. Their fingerprints are all over this. Surrrrrrrrrrre.

Hey Rog -- maybe next time you can also toss in a reference to the Illuminati? That'll make AJ's penisette shoot up to its full three-inch glory.

And now, back to our original post...

A similar odor of desperation perfumes Trump's twitter feed. The man is swimming in fear-sweat, as the examples below demonstrate. His insane attempt to "mirror image" the Russia accusation against the Democrats is being furthered by David Nunes and other congressional Republicans:
“If this committee or anyone else for that matter, someone from the public, comes with information to you about the Hillary Clinton campaign, or their associates, or someone from the Clinton Foundation, will you add that to your investigation?” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) asked FBI Director James Comey. “If they have ties to Russian intelligence services, Russian agents, would that be something of interest to you?”
This is Clinton Derangement Syndrome at its most absurd. But the apparent coordination between Trump and Nunes tells me that the Republicans have a plan of counterattack. I've said all along that they are going to gin up evidence against their foes in order to distract from the real evidence against Trump. What other play is left to the Trumpers?

Republicans are also claiming that the mainstream journalists are getting their information from insidious Russian secret agents posing as government officials. I wonder when they're going to bring in David Icke's "reptilian overlord" theory?

Things are looking bad for the GOP: Democratic Representative Jackie Speier has predicted that this investigation will be "bigger than Watergate." I've embedded Adam Schiff's statement above. (Roger Stone feels that Schiff "defamed" him and wants "hearings NOW." Apparently, he means hearings on Schiff.)

Hillary's former campaign manager, Robby Mook, wants treason charges brought against Trump aides who colluded with Russia...
Mook warned that if Russian interference is proved true, it sets a dangerous precedent for other nations to meddle in U.S. affairs.

"If we allow this practice to continue, Russia and other foreign nations could have a dangerously powerful influence on our legislative and executive branches," he said.
Comey said that the Russians released hacked data to Wikileaks using a cut-out. This confirms what I've been saying all along.

Man those swiftboats! Meanwhile, over on Alex Jones' site "Putinwars," Jerome Corsi -- the original swiftboater -- is trying to turn the guns around: have obtained credible information from law enforcement sources regarding individual records of U.S. citizens under National Security Agency (NSA) electronic surveillance in the years 2004 through 2010 – a database that suggests both Donald J. Trump and Alex Jones were under illegal, unauthorized government monitoring during those years.
And where does this information come from...?
Michael Zullo, formerly the commander and chief investigator of the Cold Case Posse (CCP), a special investigative group created in 2006 in the office of Joseph M. Arpaio...
Oh, of course. Joe Arpaio, America's most beloved sheriff, the man who still thinks that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery. Zullo was his lead investigator on that front as well. Can you name a more trustworthy source? I mean, aside from every other human being, dog, cat, hamster and talking parrot in America...

The new laptop of death. Here's a story that I should have mentioned earlier. Right now, I'm not sure what to make of it -- but as Francois Truffaut says in Close Encounters: "Ziss means something. Ziss is important."
Authorities are frantically searching for a Secret Service-issued laptop — containing floor plans for Trump Tower, information about the Hillary Clinton email investigation and other national security information — that was stolen from an agent’s car in Brooklyn, police sources told the Daily News Friday.

The computer was lifted Thursday morning and officials are trying to determine if Agent Marie Argentieri was targeted or if the robbery was random.

NYPD cops are assisting in the investigation, sources said.

“It’s a very big deal,” a police source said. “There’s data on there that’s highly sensitive. They’re scrambling like mad.”

Sources and neighbors said the thief stepped out of a dark-colored sedan, possibly an Uber, and darted into Argentieri’s Bath Beach driveway about 3 a.m.

He grabbed the computer, a backpack, and other goods and walked away, sources said.

The crook, dressed in black, didn’t get back in the car he arrived in. He was seen on surveillance video strolling away from the brick home wearing a backpack and holding a laptop, sources said.
Other items stolen include “sensitive” documents, an access keycard, coins, a black zippered bag with the Secret Service insignia on it and lapel pins from various assignments — including ones involving President Trump, the Clinton campaign, the United Nations General Assembly and the Pope’s visit to New York, sources said.
I've read various ideas as to what it all means; none of the scenarios have made much sense to me. But this was no random robbery; I'm sure of that much.

A final note of caution. So far, the hearings look promising for our team. Huzzah and hurrah and all that -- but please proceed with caution. I'm old enough to recall the HSCA hearings as they were broadcast live. The first few days gave the appearance that we were seeing a real investigation, and that the "lone nut" theory would be tossed on the rubbish heap of history. Things changed, alas; the fix was in. 
Can someone some where just disconnect the Russians internet service? I mean wtf?
Re: Jimmy's grandpa's comment: Well, remember that the internet (DARPA?) was invented to forestall just such a circumstance (i.e. disruption of communications in time of war). Talk about blowback.
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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Of spies and snakes

The story of those infamous Trump tweets -- the ones which claim that Obama tapped the phones at Trump Tower -- keeps getting stranger. Nearly every mainstream and liberal writer believes that Trump's claim has no basis in reality. Texas congressman Will Hurd -- a former CIA employee -- has advised the president to apologize

This WP story summarizes the situation:
Meanwhile, Trump will not let go of his claim that former president Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower during the election, despite no supporting evidence. The president has been offered numerous exit ramps to put this self-created controversy behind him. Instead, he remains stubbornly defiant, perpetuating rather than closing a damaging chapter in his presidency that in the past few days became an international embarrassment.
The story recounts how Trump, in his joint appearance with Angela Merkel, rather cloddishly reminded the world that the NSA under Obama had eavesdropped on her.

Allow me to raise two points:

1. Why hasn't Trump taken any of those exit ramps? If his tweets were based on nothing more than a paranoid fantasy, he should welcome any excuse to change the topic.

2. Trump's implied argument was sound: If the previous administration had spied on Merkel -- and it did -- why wouldn't Obama seek to learn more about the Russians who were communicating with Team Trump? Personally, I believe that Obama would have been remiss in his duties not to do so. A presidential candidate with ties to a hostile foreign power is a legitimate national security concern. We are not talking about using the power of the state to conduct partisan oppo research. .

Much of the nation scoffed when Sean Spicer quoted a Fox News "analyst" who suggested that Obama asked Britain's GCHQ (their version of the NSA) to monitor Trump. Northwest Research and Covert Book Report has published a piece which explores that very suggestion.

Northwest Research notes that John Schindler -- one of those "spooks against Trump" who has attracted so much recent attention -- derides the idea that the United States could ask the Brits to report on an American citizen. Yet for many years, respectable writers -- not Alex Jonesian conspiracy cranks -- have reported that the NSA and GCHQ have a reciprocal agreement. This arrangement (the origins of which trace all the way back the to wartime BRUSA agreement to share codebreaking information) has allowed the Americans to use the UK as a "cut out" in order to sidestep laws against spying on American citizens.

If you research this arrangement, you'll soon find that the writer most commonly cited is John Loftus, formerly of Army intelligence. Loftus deserves a post of his own: His ties to the Israelis are such that I sometimes call him the first Irish-American sayan. But that's a topic for another time.

If memory serves, Loftus first discussed this NSA/GCHQ agreement in The Secret War Against the Jews, published in 1994. Even then, his claim wasn't really new, at least not to me. I had read about it in the 1980s, though I can't quite recall where. (A newspaper op ed? Probably.) I don't believe that James Bamford ever offered an explicit discussion of the "You spy on mine and I'll spy on yours" arrangement in The Puzzle Palace, but he did provide this vivid account of the close relations between the two spy agencies.

All the way back in 1967, the government censored David Kahn seminal 1967 book The Codebreakers, the first book to describe "No Such Agency" at any length. The censored passages concerned the very sensitive NSA/GCHQ relationship. Naturally, the censorship only made that material more famous.

A lengthy segment of Loftus' Secret War Against the Jews appears on this rather quirky (but dense with data) site, which deserves to be read in full...
Here is how the game is played. The British liaison officer at Fort Meade types the target list of "suspects" into the American computer. The NSA sorts through its wiretaps and gives the British officer the recording of any American citizen he wants.

Since it is technically a British target of surveillance, no American search warrant is necessary. The British officer then simply hands the results over to his American liaison officer.

Of course, the Americans provide the same service to the British in return. All international and domestic telephone calls in Great Britain are run through the NSA's station in the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Menwith Hill, which allows the American liaison officer to spy on any British citizen without a warrant.

According to our sources, this duplicitous, reciprocal arrangement disguises the most massive, and illegal, domestic espionage apparatus in the world. Not even the Soviets could touch the U.K.-U.S. intercept technology.

Through this charade, the intelligence services of each country can claim they are not targeting their own citizens.
Does all of this buttress the claim made by Judge Andrew Napolitano on Fox News? Yes and no. Loftus speaks purely in terms of NSA-GCHQ teamwork; he says nothing about any American president making a direct request of the British. I can't think of a precedent for such a request. Of course, I am restricted to the published literature, which hardly tells the whole story.

Then came Johnson. Napolitano's main source has been known for a few days -- and every time I see the name of that source, I grimace: Former CIA man Larry Johnson

As longtime readers know, I've had my own run-ins with this creep. Throughout 2007 and 2008, he posed as a left-leaning supporter of Hillary Clinton, and he seemed to have impressive credentials as a progressive. He wrote regularly for Daily Kos, he advised (I am told) General Wesley Clark, and he befriended Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame/Wilson, the targets of Dick Cheney's scurrilous attack.

(I don't know if the Wilsons remain on friendly terms with Johnson. If so, we must rethink the Plame affair.)

Johnson glommed onto the PUMA movement, pretending to be Hillary's bravest defender. I confess that -- for a while -- he suckered me into accepting his "No Quarter" blog at face value. The best PUMA writers (Riverdaughter and Dakinkat led the movement) were brighter than I, and treated him with greater caution. Que je suis bête!

I didn't understand at the time that the PUMA movement really was infiltrated -- not controlled; infiltrated -- by Republican ratfuckers.

You'll get a very skewed version of this history from Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. The regular readers of those sites have yet to come to grips with how thoroughly they themselves fell under the sway of an online smear/troll operation. I believe that this operation was headed by David Axelrod, a far more devious individual than most comprehend. (That belief comes backed by evidence.)

Kos 2008 was every bit as monstrous as 4chan or Brietbart: The great "progressive" network became an insane asylum filled with raving, psychotic Clinton-haters. No, I am not exaggerating: See here and here and here. Moulitsas never apologized for publishing actual, serious death threats against Hillary Clinton.

Don't get me started on 2008! I will never get over it, I'll always be ready to re-fight those battles, and I refuse to let Kossack revisionists minimize the evils they committed. I remain quite proud of my part in that political battle...

...except for the brief period when I was fooled by Larry fucking Johnson. To whom we now return.

In those days, I made a daily stop at Johnson's blog for the same reason I now take a daily gander at Louise Mensch's twitter feed: Johnson had "connections" and he always seemed to be the firstest with the mostest. You want to know the real reason why I'm now wary of Mensch? Why I'm very wary of John Schindler? Why I'm incredibly wary of "The Jester"? The answer is simple: Larry fucking Johnson, the original spook-who-told-Clinton-supporters-what-they-wanted-to-hear.

Once a snake in the grass bites your ankle, you don't wander into the meadow without first donning a pair of calf-high boots.

Evidence of the man's inherent snakiness soon became difficult to ignore. Most of Johnson's compatriots were wretched right-wingers like the vile "Texas Darlin," and the ultra-mega-hyper-vile Pamela Geller. He stopped offering a left-wing critique of Obama and began parroting reactionary propaganda.

Most egregiously, he spread the smear that Michelle Obama had used the insulting term "whitey" in a speech. At one point, Johnson had pinpointed a specific speech. I spent quite a few hours tracking down someone who was in that room on that day -- and when I finally did, Johnson stood revealed as a liar.

Even then, I foolishly gave Johnson the benefit of the doubt: Maybe he was simply misinformed. But then he discovered birtherism.

As few now recall, Johnson was the first to push the "birth certificate" conspiracy theory in a public way, although the meme had apparently received some behind-the-scenes circulation for months beforehand. I played no small role in debunking the bullshit analysis published on Johnson's site.

Afterward, no amount of vegetation could disguise that man's serpentine nature.

Johnson eventually dropped the pretenses. He became a rabid Hillary-hater, a maniacal Trump advocate, and a welcome talking head on both Fox and RT. The former rattler-in-the-weeds had ascended to his Nāga-hide throne.

All of which brings us back to the Obama-bugged-Trump claim, and Johnson's important role in the spreading of that meme. The current progressive-approved narrative is threefold: 1) Johnson is a crank, 2) Napolitano was an idiot to believe a crank like Johnson, and 3) Team Trump was foolish to take Napolitano seriously.

I don't buy into that narrative. Why? Because I know Larry fucking Johnson of old. The bite wound on my ankle still aches on cold days.

Johnson is no mere crank. He's an operative.

Something is up.
Please don't malign snakes (the actual reptiles). It's not their fault people are assholes and their niche in nature is valuable.

On DailyPUMA there is a list of former Hillary Clinton blog supporters from 2008 who turned rabidly against her. Rather than simply be happy if either Clinton or Trump won, they suddenly hated Clinton. After the 2016 election results I had to lower their placement on DailyPUMA, aka draining the swamp.
The list of fraudulent Clinton bloggers is actually much longer than those who have remained Clinton loyalists from 2008. (they are listed on the left on DailyPUMA, but down on the page). Even female supporters who I thought would never leave Clinton totally went for Trump. Betty Jean turning Trump was probably the biggest shock to me. She actually picketed David Letterman once and demanded he resign for comments he made about Hillary Clinton. if anyone wants to check out the fake PUMA bloggers they can be found on below the archive links on the left side of the column.
I see the Clintons as having failed for believing they could maintain their grip and influence in politics through their speeches. At some point, they needed to get into video and make videos that tell their story from the 90's and all the weirdos they had to deal with. What has happened instead is the weirdos went video and like a thousand small bites, have continued to smear the Clinton legacy, even as Hillary Clinton keeps giving speeches, gasp.
he [Larry Johnson] befriended Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame/Wilson

My hazy recollection is that Plame and Johnson have known each other since they were CIA trainees. I believe they were in the same class at The Farm. It's been awhile, so I might be misremembering that.
I failed to understand that seemingly intelligent people as the Clintons not grasping the idea that the media will not allow them to win. For decades they allow this to happen. No one knows why. They have money to do something but they didn't. They had the chance in 2016 to tell the story the media wasn't telling the public but they couldn't. Because they hired the most incompetent and laziest strategists they could find. They just slapped whatever they wanted people to know on a website and told people to go read if they want to. You wouldn't do that in presidential election even if you're in the best place to begin with. But of all the people Hillary did that with all the hurdles on her way. I wish I could say she did it to herself. No she did it to all of us in America and the world. Anything that thing in the WH does to the poor and disenfranchised is a result of that mistake. I just couldn't for the life of me get what she was doing. A runner for Miss congenialialty would have gone with tougher campaign. Having said that I still in my gut believe some off happened to the machines
With all due respect to snakes, I have a request for anybody.

Trump loved to tell the story about the snake who was taken in, shown kindness, and then killed the host (I suppose-- I never watched the whole thing). He was captured on video at least once I saw, maybe more times, reciting it in whole or in part.

What I want to see is a brief clip from that tape, where in his own voice, Trump more or less shouts 'You knew I was a snake when you took me in!'

It would obviously be entirely out of context, yet such a fitting sound and video byte. I am surprised I havent' seen it anywhere so far.

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

How WILL the Deep State kill Roger Stone?

The "Deep State" has tried to kill Roger Stone again! He was in a car that was hit by a small sedan. Although he escaped with no injuries -- at least, nothing that prompted a trip to the hospital -- Stone remains certain that the dreaded Republican/Democrat Bush/Clinton conspiracy is trying to eliminate him.

You may recall Stone's previous bout with "polonium poisoning," which left him with none of the symptoms that affected all previous victims. Although this condition is usually fatal, Stone claims to have experienced a miracle cure, thanks to those better-than-Lourdes super-duper vitality pills sold by his buddy Alex Jones.

Strangely, we've seen no documented medical proof of either the poisoning or the cure. You'd think that the peer-reviewed medical journals would be all over this remarkable case. Nope.

(If Stone hates the Bush family so much, why did he go to such lengths to stop the Florida recount in 2000?)

Our Deep Staters are not what they used to be if they cannot accomplish so simple a thing as the murder of Roger Stone. In the words of Captain Kirk, "You've managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target!"

Nevertheless, the Deep State is not likely to give up -- which means that Roger Stone might as well shop for his tombstone. Perhaps his grave marker should be engraved with a selection of Stone's Rules.

"Politics isn't theater. It's performance art. Sometimes, for its own sake."

“Nothing is on the level.”

"Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack."

“Attack, attack, attack, never defend.”

"Unless you can fake sincerity, you'll get nowhere in this business”

His headstone may even have enough room for these words from his Wikipedia entry, presented as unassailable fact (not opinion):
Stone has promoted a number of falsehoods and conspiracy theories.
The "Predict how Roger Stone will be killed" contest! There are only two ways to interpret this man's claims: Either Roger Stone is telling porkies, or the Deep State really does want him rubbed out but keeps flubbing the mission. Since option one is absolutely unthinkable, let us ponder the implications of option two.

The question before us today: How will the Deep State finally achieve its goal of murdering Roger Stone?

Nota bene: I do not condone violence, and I neither advocate nor welcome Roger Stone's upcoming assassination. I am simply taking Roger Stone at his word when he says that he is a marked man. No doubt he has resigned himself to his fate with admirable stoicism: When your number is up, it's up.

In this post, I am simply trying to predict future events based on Stone's solemn assertions, which I would not dare to question. How will the Deep State finally manage to commit this heinous and unforgivable deed? Here are a few possible methods:

Hey Deep State! You can kill Roger Stone by...taking electronic control of his Mercedes and forcing him to do the Michael Hastings Race to Glory.

Hey Deep State! You can kill Roger Stone by...painting a pellet of ricin blue and tossing it in with his Viagra stash.

Hey Deep State! You can kill Roger Stone by...hypno-programming Alex "I like to EAT!" Jones into believing that his pal Roger is a plate of nachos.

Hey Deep State! You can kill Roger Stone by...having a hunter "mistake him for a deer" as he walks through the woods of New Hampshire.

Hey Deep State! You can kill Roger Stone by...forcing him to swallow a bottle of Proloid and then leaving a typed suicide note by the body. The coroner will conclude that he died of natural causes.

Hey Deep State! You can kill Roger Stone by...following the historical precedent outlined here:
Uesugi Kenshin, a powerful medieval Japanese daimyo (warlord) was supposedly murdered in his lavatory by a ninja who had concealed himself in the sewage pit, and who thrust a spear up Kenshin's anus at the crucial moment.
Hey Deep State! You can kill Roger Stone by...hypno-programming Alex Jones to coat the head of his penisette with cyanide.

And now, dear reader, it's your turn. How would you complete this sentence? Hey Deep State! You can kill Roger Stone by...

A final word to the Deep State: My birthday is coming up pretty soon. Hint hint.
arrange for his mobile phone to be obviously, visually electrified - charging, let's say, and immersed -- but by seeming chance simultaneously the lock screen fails to engage, and the browser fails to cease or desist displaying real time social media of the sort to which he has historically found it maddeningly impossible not to respond...
Joseph, this is so cruel! So heartless! damned awesome of you to do! :)

Hmmm...I don't know how the DS will kill Roger Stone, but maybe they will expose enough dirt on him to kill his reputation--to really make him "radioactive" that he could never show his face in public again.

It's so funny to see Stone pull these claims out of his ass--first the poisoning, now this. Still, I remain cautious--this asshole still gets on TV, and Lord knows that the Alex Jones/Infowars crowd thinks he's some kind of saint.

That said, Stone--and the rest of Ol' Yellow Stain's gang--would do well to heed the words of one William Adama: "Sooner or later, the day comes...when you can no longer hide from what you've done anymore."

Thanks for the warnings about Stone--I admit that up until last year I had no idea who he was, but thanks to you, I do. He's truly a disgusting human being.
No point in killing him before the hearings. Then they can Breitbart him. Better if they targeted the Prez first, however. Pence is a lying liar but he's not Trump.
have him go hunting with Dick Cheney. . .
becksterc: When you speak of targeting Trump, I do hope that you mean targeting him via the hearings. I do not wish any physical harm to come to any of our politicians.
Of course. I wish them only the best Unicorns and Rainbows forever. And laser sights on their foreheads...
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Of spies and taxes

Sorry I've been away. Had a bit of a personal crisis which diverted me from blog duties as well as some important "real world" duties. Let's blast through a couple of recent developments...

GCHQ. Trump keeps doubling, tripling and quadrupling down on his claim that Obama ordered spying on Trump Tower -- and his behavior tells me that Donald may have had an ace up his sleeve all along. Either he knows something or his aides have concocted something.

I seem to be the only one (at least on the left) who considers this theory possible. Before you scoff, a reminder: I was the very first blogger (June 16, 2016) to speak of the Trump/Putin link, in a post that name-dropped Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone. I was also one of the few to predict that Trump would win the presidency.

Sean Spicer stunned everyone by repeating a Fox News suggestion that Britain's GCHQ did the actual spying -- not a foolish theory, since NSA and GCHQ have long had an informal "you spy on mine and I'll spy on yours" arrangement. I've made the same suggestion in these pages. Still, it is unheard-of for a White House press spokesperson to blurt out such a suggestion based on nothing more than an unverified Fox News report.

That report, we are told, was based on three unnamed sources. Nice to know that Trump has gotten over his phobic reaction to anonymous sourcing. Maybe the operative principle is Fox May Do What Others May Not.

GCHQ ridiculed Spicer's suggestion that it spied on Trump at Obama's behest. The White House had to apologize.

Meanwhile, Louise Mensch -- a de facto (paid?) spokesperson for British intelligence -- has been strongly intimating that GCHQ was spying on the Russians, as it damned well ought to, and that information on Trump was collected incidentally.
Tapes, FROM @GCHQ, including Team Traitor, talking to Russians. The target would have been THE RUSSIANS.
#ProTip If you don't want to be on tape talking to Russian targets of @GCHQ surveillance, ***don't talk to those Russians***
This scenario makes sense. Nevertheless, the Trumpers insists that Obama personally requested the interceptions, and I consider this display of certainty downright unnerving. Trump is a poker player with many tells, and -- as noted above -- those tells currently indicate a hidden ace.

Here are some interesting questions for you to ponder: If Obama did indeed make the ask, how would Trump know? How can Mensch be so damned sure that Obama did not make the ask? (I would have, if I had been in Obama's position. You probably would have as well.) Why is Mensch so sure that her sources tell her everything? Even if Obama did not request assistance from GCHQ, is there any way for Trump to gin up evidence against him? Remember, FSB can offer its considerable professional help in such matters.

Let's wander a bit further down that fork in the trail. If said ginned-up evidence were made public, how could it be debunked? The debunkers themselves can be easily debunked, because the only people who could expose the fake evidence would be spies. Would our conspiracy-crazed populace believe what a bunch of spies said even if they were telling the truth? Nearly 50 years ago, Richard Helms said "You've just got to trust us; we are honorable men" -- and the world still hasn't stopped laughing.

It's an open question as to whether anyone in our intel community would try to expose Trump as a liar. Never forget that American spy agencies are now headed by Trump's pick, Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana. Despite his strongly anti-gay stances, Coats is said to be a moderate Republican, insofar as such a thing is possible these days. Nevertheless, he was a Dan Quayle loyalist for many years, and he became Trump loyalist rather early in the campaign, if I recall aright. I can't see Coats saying or doing anything that could harm Trump.

Taxes. Although the world has moved on from the Trump tax return imbroglio, we have additional reasons to believe that Trump himself leaked those pages to David Cay Johnston.

Fair warning: The argument comes to us by way of The Jester, whom I consider the most unnerving of the anti-Trump spy-types. We're talking about an anonymous egomaniac (yes, one can be both things at once) who feels comfortable using Breitbartisms like "SJW" to denigrate liberals. In short: The dude's an asshole. But a good argument is a good argument even when an asshole makes it, which is why your Logic 101 teacher taught you that ad hominem is a fallacy.

The most interesting discovery: The envelope that popped into David Cay Johnston's mailbox bore a Westchester, NY postmark. As it happens, the Trump family owns an estate in Westchester, and members of the family were staying there at the appropriate time.

(Hey, isn't Professor Xavier's School For Gifted Students located in Westchester? Maybe Kitty Pryde or Nightcrawler snatched the documents.)

The Jester also notes that the "leaked" pages stem from 2005, the year Donnie married Melania, who was not yet a citizen. In order for her to obtain her citizenship -- which she acquired in 2006 -- Melania had to show her 2005 tax returns. Those returns had to be (as the Jester puts it) "squeaky clean." The document leaked to David Cay Johnston is a joint filing, which means that it was no doubt prepared with Melania's citizenship issue in mind.

Beyond all of that are the points you've probably already heard before: 1. The two pages given to Johnston do not include much information about sources of income, which is, of course, the stuff we really want. 2. The document is a "CLIENT COPY," indicating that the leak came either from Trump or Melania. (Perhaps his lawyer or his accountant? Nah. That's ridiculous.) 3. Trump -- a.k.a. "John Barron" -- has a long history of leaking information about himself.

Barring an actual confession -- which we probably will never get -- I'd say that we have all the evidence we can reasonably expect. I am personally convinced that Trump leaked those documents.
Very simple, DJT is aware he and/or his circle will turn up in recorded in monitoring of the Russians by the UK, Dutch, and Estonian services. He/his circle will turn up in incidental collection by NSA.

He doesn't have a card, this is his pre-butal for the day this is released. Which is coming.
DailyPUMA's premise is that the FBI, CIA and or Department of Justice had every right to spy on Donald Trump during the campaign. Trump may have funded his entire presidential campaign with income tax evasion money, and that needed to be vetted, although I am not sure it was.
Secondly, Trump and his cronies could have been on international phone calls when the other party was the one being wiretapped.
Alessandro, I agree. It should be noted that Americans who show up in monitored foreign communications are supposed to be subject to "minimization" -- that is, their identities are stripped out of the transcript. But I never could see how minimization could take place without SOMEONE knowing who was who. Besides, context should reveal a lot.
I've lost the link dammit but Trump did say a few days ago that people should expect surprising revelations to emerge on the 'wiretapping' scandal in the next few weeks. So, something is in the wind.

He also had a photo shoot with Angela Merkel during her recent visit and photographers suggested they should shake hands. Merkel looked to Trump and asked whether he wanted that. Trump just looked straight ahead and smirked. This narcissistic asshole never, simply never, misses an opportunity to gratuitously belittle and degrade anyone he deals with if he can get away with it. The country's a train wreck until this nut job gets the boot.

Finally, there is further evidence on Russian oligarchs and Trump Tower.
I'm working up an article on GCHQ also, will probably end up as a flaming bag of dogshit on John Shindler's doorstep.
I am questioning his CYA over GCHQ and his NSA fraternity.
Dear Louise already blocked me.
John, I would love to read what you have to say. I'm very chary of Schindler. Louise...okay, I'm chary of her too, but there's an added factor: I find her attractive. I've learned the hard way not to trust a blonde who could make a bishop kick in a stained glass window. Dames...! They'll double-cross you faster than Ben Turpin performing an exorcism.

Yes, I've been watching a lot of film noir lately. I also just found some tequila.
The worrisome thing about Ms. Mensch is that she seems to be rooting for a Pence presidency. This may be leaping out of the proverbial frying pan into the proverbial fire--especially once Trump has positioned his "people" into the bureaucratic apparatus. Also she is pushing that self-help guru--the one with weirdly tall forehead--and to me that's a total nonstarter.

Also, the first hint of the future was given by Senator Diane Feinstein...did you catch that?
off topic but related:
I keep wondering about Comey and his refusal to let Congress know what is going on. Is it that he has so much and it's so tangled? Is it that something illegal happened and they are trying to conceal? it's all very strange.
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Yet another NEW email address

As you may have noted, I'm a bit peeved at Mr. Putin these days -- so much so that I have decided to wean myself away from Yandex email, a service based in Russia. In many ways, Yandex remains the best email provider in the world: It's free, it's unlimited, they don't ask for a phone number, they offer 10 gigs of free hard drive space, and they let you open messages in a new tab via a right click. For some reason, that's a rare feature these days.

No, I'm not worried that Putin is spying on my communications. I would never recommend using Yandex or any other conventional email service for anything truly sensitive; Protonmail or Tutanota are better for those who feel the need to play secret squirrel. Still, under the circumstances, the idea of routing my blog-related missives through Russia just doesn't seem right.

Finding a replacement was damned difficult, but I've discovered a winner: VIVALDI MAIL, at They are located in Iceland, which is very cool (literally and figuratively). Although this is not a service that encrypts messages -- for that, you'll want Protonmail or Tutanota -- Iceland does have some of the strictest secrecy laws on the planet. So there is some extra protection. 

The free account gives you five gigs, which may be enough for a decade or so of reasonably heavy usage. The maximum attachment size is 25 mb. You can open messages in multiple tabs, though not so easily as with Yandex. Message formatting is easy. Viewing the headers is easy. You can choose whether or not to see inline images. The interface is clean and attractive. The ultra-easy drag-and-drop attachment system is a huge plus. And they do NOT require a phone number.

For a classical music aficionado, there's really no other choice.

(Check out the performance embedded above. Fabio Biondi. Again: There's really no other choice.)

Although I've never tried the Vivaldi browser, I'm now tempted to check it out. I'll continue to keep tabs on my Yandex account for some time to come, but basically it's da svidahnia Yandex -- and Halló Vivaldi!
At the risk of asking the obvious stupid question, why not GMail if you don't care about security?
I have one. It's convenient for me to use it for non-blog-related purposes. For example, earning-a-living stuff. I don't want to miss a gig because someone doesn't like my politics.
Call me old-fashioned, but I don't understand how anyone can discuss 'privacy,' 'security,' and 'webmail' in the same breath. If it's on someone else's hard-drive, it's vulnerable — to seizure, to being hacked, to disappearing arbitrarily. I run my own server, but even if I didn't I'd still use my mail provider as a POP server, a brief way-station for email on its way from the sender to my own PC.

Of course, as I learned a few years ago, offline storage on one's own personal machine doesn't mean the FBI can't simply waltz in and seize it arbitrarily* — but at least that requires an actual, non-hush-hush, search warrant to do so legally. I'd also like to think I'd have a far better chance of noticing someone sneaking through my bedroom on his way to my office than I would of catching the NSA/GSHQ/FSB in the act of mirroring a Gmail server. What I should be doing differently is backing up important data religiously, with a reasonably fresh copy stored offsite, and running Bitlocker or similar whole-drive encryption — if for no other reason than to make it more of a pain in the ass for the feds next time around.**

While I suspect truly private communication is impossible, it is probably approachable among a circumscribed group using common encryption and content encoding. That said, as regards governmental intrusions, the vast majority of email users enjoy what is essentially complete privacy simply by not doing anything of interest to those with the desire and capability to snoop. This may change as AI-driven dragnet programs make it possible to sieve millions of needles out of billions of haystacks, but at the moment the intelligence agencies seemingly can't manage even to monitor the communications of known persons of interest with any sort of dependability.

Unfortunately, the threshold of interesting things is far lower for financially or criminally inspired hacking than for the politically inspired kind — and the barrier to entry provided by most webmail services is orders of magnitude less daunting than the challenge of intercepting or mirroring messages captured in transit. Whether in search of Visa accounts or plans for building a dirty bomb, an experienced hacker will first target one's most vulnerable spot — and in my experience that will almost always be a remotely hosted webmail account.

* In my case, a carbon paper failure — yes, the FBI's seized evidence form still relies on the agent remembering to insert a sheet of carbon paper right-way up — meant I went 90 days without knowing exactly what had been taken. To this date I still don't know exactly why my hardware was taken or in what condition it will be returned — assuming it actually is returned some day.

** Encryption, of course, offers meaningful protection only if the machine in question is not unencrypted when seized. If you leave your PC running, logged in, when you get up to see who on earth could be pounding on your door and shouting so early in the morning, you might as well leave it unencrypted. And I can assure you a Glock pointed between the eyes quickly drowns out any thoughts one may have of running back to shutdown the PC.
I see Schindler calling BS on GSHQ tapping Trumpets.
I'm calling BS on NSA boy Schindler because we know from John Loftus that 5 eyes spy for each other to get around the rules.
I am waiting for a post about why liberals are so stupid. I value your opinion.
Anonymous at 5:16 should probably just give up now. You are terrible at trolling (though, here I am responding to you.....don't worry, it won't happen again).

Implying liberals are stupid, what an impressive insult! What cleverness, what guile! Dare I say, what stupidity. ;-)
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Those taxes

Provisionally, I tend toward the view that Trump himself sent his 2005 taxes to David Cay Johnson. Who else would have access?

The release does little or no damage to Trump, and serves as a marvelous diversion from Russiagate. As a bonus, Trump gets to proclaim that "the dishonest media" stole the documents -- which, of course, they did not -- and that publication was illegal -- which, of course, it was not.
The purported tax documents, which were aired live on MSNBC, bore a stamp that read “Client copy.” Johnston said the documents were sent to him, but said he did not know where they came from. At one point, as he spoke to Maddow, Johnston seemed to imply that Trump himself may have sent him the returns.

"It's entirely possible Donald (Trump) sent this to me," he added. "Donald has a long history of leaking material himself."
A sound theory. Also see here:
Whoever has access to "client copy" of Trump's 2005 tax returns likely has access to others. So why only leak that year's. I smell a rat…
Also, Trump refused to confirm the negative 1995 taxes published by the NYTimes. BUT, they confirmed these favorable taxes in hours. #fishy
Trump is not a stupid man, despite appearances.

It's late and I'm too tired to dig up the links, but we've seen these taxes before. He was being sued around that time and had to provide the tax returns in discovery. The STATE version leaked during the campaign. A considerable amount of blogger and media energy was expended analyzing these sparse tidbits, finally reaching the conclusion that:

- He used a tax gimmick (since made illegal) to create a $900M+ Net Operating loss
- He "probably" used the carry-forward to offset 18 years of taxable income (at $50M/year)

The only new tidbits here are (a) the amount of Federal taxeas paid (The earlier leak was his State return), and (b) the Alternative Minimum Tax angle.

I'm amazed that Rachel was able to generate a whole hour of hullabaloo over these slim pickings.

(No I'm not. That's her specialty - dragging every story out to the nth degree.)
Yes, Trump is not stupid. His whole Twitter persona (the misspelled words, the multiple exclamation marks, the random all-caps exclamations) is a careful put-on, in my opinion. He knows how to sell himself to the kind of people who read supermarket tabloids. It's no accident that he gets the most positive coverage from the National Enquirer. Its readers are his true constituency.

No doubt, he is just dumb enough to authentically inhabit the role. But I've been telling liberals I know for more than a year that there is a deeply cunning man behind the mask.

The cunning is in understanding what Hitler said in My New Order, one of the few books Trump is said to have read: all propaganda, or what we today call "messaging," must be tailored not just to the lowest common denominator but to the lowest, period. These are the lumpenproletariat - the masses that Marx said were hopeless, could never be organized. Well, they can be, especially in times of crisis and by celebrity, and they are far more numerous than democracies acknowledge.
A Sunday morning TV news show I'd watch (I can't recall ever watching any) would have seated at a table like authors or movie directors: Rachel, Marcy, Louise, Naomi, and Naomi. Maybe the best journalists, reporters, and opinion writers would always join them. As likely as not one or another would quote Cannonfire once in a blue moon, which is nothing to sneer at.
I agree - I think he leaked them himself also.

While I don't find Trump brilliant, he's smart enough. My prayer is that he's had his fingers in so many dirty pies, eventually something will break.

I don't think he's smart enough to handle it all at the same time. My hope anyway.
What We Can All Learn from Maddow's Trump Taxes Broadcast
If it was indeed a White House distraction, it's up to us not to be distracted.
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Monday, March 13, 2017

Mensch, murder and Manafort

I want to direct your attention to the interview with Louise Mensch at the beginning of this video. It's fascinating, yet her basic point does not make a whole lot of sense.

She claims that when Donald Trump tweeted about "wiretapping," he was really talking about an approved FBI investigation of a foreign bank. The tweets, says Mensch, revealed the presence of this investigation, and thus constitute "obstruction of justice" -- an impeachable offense.

Say what?

In the first place: Like it or not (and I like it not), Donald Trump has the authority to declassify anything he likes. (Such as Lee Harvey Oswald's long-hidden tax returns, which may reveal that he was getting money from a CIA source. Just throwin' that one out there....)

In the second place: The semi-official story on those tweets is that Trump reacted in his usual blowhard fashion after reading a Breitbart article by a conspiracy theorist. That piece was itself based in part, um...the reportage of Louise Mensch. Seems to me that you can't accuse the president of obstructing justice if he has simply offered his opinion on a published news item.

(As readers know, I believe that those tweets were actually part of an elaborate trick. Perhaps I'm wrong; perhaps I'm right. We shall soon see.)

Mensch's twitter feed is addictive, yet something about her bothers me..

The elevation of Trump has changed my views on many things, but I'm still an old (liberal) dog and I don't care for some of these new tricks. The same progressives who, not long ago, idolized Ed Snowden have suddenly decided to idolize Mensch, who considers Snowden a malefic Putin puppet. Does she offer proof for her Theory of Snowden? No, she does not. Like Alex Jones, Mensch considers her conspiracy theories "proven" simply by asserting that it is so.

Steve Bannon, the acid king. Everyone's talking about Bannon's acid-drenched hot tub...
And then shit gets weird. The Post obtained a February 2015 email from Bannon's former landlord that read: "[E]ntire Jacuzzi bathtub seems to have been covered in acid."


The landlord also noticed that padlocks had been installed on interior doors (creepy), while other doors were totally removed (also creepy).
Some have mused that Bannon used acid to dispose of a body, a scenario which apparently figured in an episode of the television series Breaking Bad. (I've never seen that show.) Mythbusters demonstrated that -- contrary to the Breaking Bad depiction -- hydrochloric acid cannot do the job. My very preliminary research indicates that sulfuric acid would work better. Perhaps one of my more chemically-inclined readers can address this topic with greater expertise?

(If you speak from personal experience, perhaps you should hold your tongue altogether.)

I'm sure that many people would agree that Bannon looks like the kind of guy who might, y'know, keep a few sex slaves behind padlocked doors, and maybe, y'know, dissolve the occasional corpse in sulfuric acid. Please understand: I'm not saying that he has actually done such things. No no no no. By no means am I stating or implying that this man has ever broken any local, state or federal laws. I'm simply saying...

...well, there's no need to for me say anything, is there? Just LOOK at him!

Manafort the murderer? I'm sure you recall Paul Manafort, the Roger Stone partner who played a prominent role in the Trump campaign until he was undone by the Russian connection. Paul Manafort's own daughter (in some "liberated" emails) has accused her father of arranging murders during his hijinks in Ukraine...
Last month, an anonymous hacker website published roughly 300,000 text messages that were supposedly sent between Manafort's daughters, Andrea and Jessica, and the accusations in the apparent conversations are harsh.

"You know he has killed people in Ukraine? Knowingly," Andrea Manafort apparently wrote to her sister in March 2015, referring to their father's alleged role in the February 2014 police shootings in Kiev that killed over 100 pro-Western protesters in the weeks leading up to Yanukovych's escape.
In another text to her sister, Andrea Manafort supposedly claimed that their father was behind the "strategy" that Yanukovych allegedly implemented in order to have his security forces kill dozens of protesters in Kiev's Independence Square.

"Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that, to send those people out and get them slaughtered," Andrea Manafort supposedly wrote to her sister, referring to their father.

"He has no moral or legal compass," she added.
If this is true -- and I have no reason to doubt it, at present -- then nearly everything I wrote about the event at the time demands revision. More here:
In the same 2015 conversation with her sister, Andrea allegedly suggests to Jessica that their father used covert methods to send messages to Ukraine.

"I was there when it happened. I saw him on his shady email," she allegedly wrote. "They don't write emails. They log on and write in the drafts So it's never transmitted over any servers."

In another alleged exchange with Jessica, in June 2016, Andrea plays down her father's involvement in the hacks of the Democratic Party emails.

"Pretty crazy about all the email hacking huh?" the texts read. "Dad must be over the moon."

"Oh i saw." is the reply. "The russians."

"Well it wasn't dad's doing. It was hackers," Andrea allegedly writes back. "No clue who the hackers were. Fbi is looking into it."
The "draft messages" trick is one that I've read about before. David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell used a similar method, as you may recall. The trick has even been used to transmit malware. Journalists employ the same gambit.

For more background on Manafort's shady dealings in Ukraine, see this Fusion story from August 17, 2016:
Selling Yanukovych was no small feat. As a young man, he had served two terms in prison for street robberies and other crimes; he later robbed the country blind during a three-year stint as prime minister, when in the name of state “privatizations” he’d turned the economy over to Akhmetov and other oligarchs. “This guy was a street gangster, but Manafort gave him fashion advice and bought him nice suits,” an American political consultant with experience in Ukraine told Fusion. “Manafort had to take a criminal and make him look presidential.”
I was about to say that something similar happened in this country -- but did it? Republicans would deny that Donald Trump ever engaged in criminality, while Democrats would deny that Trump ever looked presidential.

So: Trump's closest adviser kept padlocks on interior doors and acid in his tub. Trump's former campaign manager (and partner to his best friend) stands accused of murder -- by his own daughter. Trump has been linked to any number of wise guys, including Felix Sater and Tevfik Arif, who has been accused of running underaged prostitutes. Trump's pal Jeffrey Epstein was convicted of raping underaged girls. Trump, while serving as president, is allowing his name to be used on a line of escorts and massage parlors.

Remember when the Republicans wanted us to think that Whitewater was a big effing deal...?
Canadian academic Ivan Katchanovski has done a study on the Maidan shootings. His conclusion was that the shootings were primarily from buldings controlled by Right Sector and Svoboda forces. See also here.
travis, this was my belief as well. But (presuming those emails to be genuine, a presumption that seems reasonable at this point) an insider's "confession" from Manafort's daughter takes precedence over an academic study. Remember, she was not speaking for public consumption here.

There was a time I might not have scoffed at Spunik as a source. That time was before Putin backed Trump, Wilders and Le Pen.
Regarding acid, the scene in Breaking Bad has him using hydrofluoric acid, which melts through the bath altogether. Did a good job on the body, though. Not sure how accurate to real life.

Manafort's daughters' text messages (not e-mails), 300,000 is alot. Even by young girl standards, that seems like a lot. Too many.

But I don't think the messages say what they seem. They don't say how she knows these things, so she could just as easily have heard that her dad's boss was behind it on the news as from him. She also says that his strategy was to "to send those people out and get them slaughtered". So that implies he was behind the victims who were killed, although of course people on both sides were shot, not behind the killers. Otherwise it would be "send those people out and get them to slaughter".
I do not believe the Maidan deaths were false flag.

On the Bannon acid wash, my impression is that this third wife spent more time at that house than Bannon (read the recent WP piece). She was caught smuggling drugs and a phone into prison to a boyfriend, and sounds like she had a bit of a drug problem herself so I wondered if the bath was related to drug production? No idea if plausible, outside my area of expertise.
You just have to ignore anything Louise says on impeachment. That's her big fixation: Finding evidence of a crime that will support an impeachment. Only she has a half-baked understanding of what impeachment really is. (Actually, an impeachable offense is anything that 218 House members agree it to be; it doesn't even have to be a crime.)
Presidents may declassify anything at their discretion.

The claim I've heard now is that it requires he issue an EO ahead of that declassification. I haven't confirmed that is true, but various natsec bloggers loosely associated with Mensch seem to agree.

Trump may not know about this at all, and the circumstances of that spontaneous tweeting on the weekend make it almost certain he didn't execute an EO ahead of time.

I doubt that his ignoring this technicality, even if it is an actual requirement, is a viable cause for impeachment. It might even be fixable with a retroactive EO.

Remember when the Republicans wanted us to think that Whitewater was a big effing deal...?

Oh yeah. And they investigated the s*&! out of it, and turned up nothing. Funny about that...

But Joseph, at least you remember--because it seems a lot of people have forgotten, including many on the Left. Hell, some of them were claiming that Hillary had Vince Foster killed!
Le Pen? What a joke from the typical faux neo lib American who believes Clinton was acceptably "progressive."

Fact is, old line French socialists are asserting, if Leon Blum were alive he'd vote Le Pen who has more socialism in her platform than the mannequin "liberal" rival.

Check out Hopsicker's reporting on Bannon's penny stock activity in Florida.
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