When a month's worth of history can happen in 24 hours, a blogger can't take a day off.
I came across an interesting bit of "fake news" vis-a-vis the North Korea situation. The salacious right-wing UK tabloid Daily Express
-- best-known for publicizing conspiracy theories about Princess Di and the McCann family -- says that Kim Jong Un has ordered the evacuation of Pyongyang
. The named source for this report is Pravda
. (Insert traditional Pravda
This claim is, of course, untrue: There was a massive military parade
in Pyongyang not too many hours ago, marking the national celebration of the birth of dynasty founder Kim Il Sung. The parade displayed the new North Korean ICBMS which are at the heart of the current crisis. Chinese air travel to Pyongyang
is continuing as normal, despite earlier reports that air service would be put on hold.
Update: Daily Kos
has also announced the "partial evacuation" of Pyongyang. However, if you trace the source for this article, it goes back to the same announcement in Pravda
. At this writing, I can find no independent verification.
really print a fake news story about Pyongyang? If so, why would the Russians issue such a report?
Note, too, this story
about an important Russian politician who places all blame for the increased tensions at the feet of Donald Trump. In his characteristically hyperbolic fashion, Trump has said that relations with Russia have reached an "all time low." This, from a man old enough to recall the Missile Crisis.
I continue to believe that the Putin/Trump rift is a coup de théâtre
designed to dampen enthusiasm for investigations into Russiagate. Do you agree? Or do you think that a genuine animosity now divides former pals Vladdy and Donnie?
Originally, we were told that the Mother of All Bombs killed 36 ISIS combatants. Today, that number has been raised
past 90. Even the higher number raises questions about the cost of each kill.
Abby Martin pegged the price of the bomb at a staggering $300 million, but that is actually the cost of the entire program; each MOAB costs $16 million. The lower original casualty estimate put the cost-per-corpse at an embarrassing $450,000, which may explain why the figure was raised this morning -- based on God-knows-what evidence. Dividing $16 million by 96 cadavers offers up the delightfully demonic figure of $166,666.66 per kill. (Try it yourself
.) The number still seems wastefully high.
I'm pretty sure now that I did find the actual tunnel entrances via Google Earth, as displayed in the post below. The same river shows up in photos of the blast site. More importantly, we do have confirmation that the tunnels were located near civilian homes, although we are assured that thousands of local families had already fled the area in recent months of fighting.
Is this true? Did all of those people abandon the farms -- probably poppy
farms -- which were their sole source of income? Where did they go and how are they living? It all seems a little hard to believe.
"The enemy had created bunkers, tunnels and extensive mine fields, and this weapon was used to reduce those obstacles so that we could continue our offensive in Nangarhar," General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, said on Friday.
This fine piece
at Covert Book Report argues that the CIA originally built those tunnels during the war against the USSR.
Alt Right Confidential.
The reported rift between Steve Bannon and Trump has led to some fascinating developments. Conspiracy writer Mike Cernovich
, one of the leading Pizzagators, warns that he will reveal many a dirty secret if Bannon is forced to take a hike.
“If they get rid of Bannon, you know what’s gonna happen? The motherlode. If Bannon is removed, there are gonna be divorces, because I know about the mistresses, the sugar babies, the drugs, the pill popping, the orgies. I know everything,” said Cernovich.
“If they go after Bannon, the mother of all stories is gonna drop, and we’re just gonna destroy marriages, relationships—it’s gonna get personal.”
Who are "they"? I dunno. In Conspiracyland, people often speak of an amorphous THEY.
I would love to see Cernovich show his cards. The fact that he is now keeping those cards hidden tells me that either Cernovich is bluffing or he is motivated by ideology rather than the establishment of truth.
Frankly, it's annoying to live in a world in which fringe freaks like Cernovich are taken seriously. What's next -- will Politico be quoting David Icke? Or even, God forbid, me?
has published a Seutonius-like account
of the West Wing civil war. There aren't too many completely new revelations...
Bannon was said to have been persuaded to stay in part at the urging of Rebekah Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor whose family is part owner of Breitbart News, which Bannon had run. She had been instrumental in getting him hired by Trump in the first place, and she urged him, according to Politico, to put aside differences and think about his position in the White House as “a long-term play.” Bannon, who has denied that he ever threatened to resign or that he ever insulted Kushner, has been pushing back. “There is a concerted effort to paint Jared and Ivanka as anti-movement” among the Bannon faction of the staff, said one senior administration official.
But, according to a senior administration official, Bannon’s effort to put himself on the National Security Council, without Trump having been fully briefed, made Ivanka and Jared suspicious of his motives. “This was honestly a dark-of-night operation,” this official told me.
Bannon’s other big mistake has been taking credit for Trump’s own popularity, such as it is. Referring to the Time cover, a senior administration official told me, “He is very talented at making himself seem the hero of the conservatives who elected Donald Trump”—the implication being that if you lose Bannon, you lose them. “It’s a very smart thing to do on his part,” this official added, “but ultimately it’s not a sustainable strategy for him. The president sees through that kind of thing, and he’s aware of what’s happening.” The official went on: “The reality is, if he keeps this up he’s not going to be here.”
The most fascinating of all the "civil war" articles is this Politico piece
, which describes in detail how the alt right will turn its guns on Trump.
I asked friends and foes alike to imagine how, should Bannon get the boot, the pugnacious populist might exact his revenge.
Taken together, their suggestions amount to an epic, Kill Bill-style revenge saga that starts with Bannon leaking personal dirt on his enemies to the tabloids, using the megaphone of Breitbart News to exacerbate divisions inside the administration, and siccing an army of internet trolls on his adversaries to harass and defame them. It ends with Bannon using Cambridge Analytica data to identify and primary their vulnerable allies in Congress, then releasing a “Where Trump Went Wrong” documentary on the eve of the November midterms and finally—in this revenge fantasy’s epic climax—running against Trump himself in 2020.
“He’ll have his minions eviscerate you on Twitter and write articles with fake information. You will be attacked and lied about,” said Republican operative Cheri Jacobus, who was the subject of critical coverage in Breitbart in 2015 after saying Trump was popular with “low-information voters” and who blames Breitbart for a campaign of online harassment she has endured since then.
“Bannon can launch something, and there’s an army of people who are part of the alt-right that will then pick up on it and they know what to do,” Jacobus said. “It’s like a chain reaction.”
Here comes Cernovich again:
Meanwhile, Bannon could launder more salacious hits through the tabloids. “You go National Enquirer on them,” said blogger Mike Cernovich, a self-described student of Bannon’s work who said he has discussed the eventuality of Bannon’s firing with people close to him.
“There’s sex scandals people are sitting on,” Cernovich said. “All the gossip and drama and stuff that might be a little more personal is going to get leaked.”
The big gun, of course, will be Cambridge Analytica, the computer psy-war powerhouse which shapes reality itself for millions and millions of rubes.
“We would see House and Senate races in 2018 to, you know, go after Trump’s agenda,” said internet troll Charles Johnson, an ally of Bannon who worked for him at Breitbart. “Everything would slow down. His presidency would essentially be over. Bannon is more than just a man. He is honestly something of an idea because he represents something that both the establishment and the left-wing media hate.”
"More than a man." Savor that. That's
the kind of 1930s-style ideological mania we're dealing with.
In years past, Bannon produced several political documentaries, an experience that one Breitbart insider suggested he could call on in a scorched-earth campaign against Trump.
“He does have skills, like high-end skills,” said the insider. “One of his high-end skills is he could actually put together a documentary. What if he came out with something before the 2018 midterms, ‘Where Trump Went Wrong’?”
The thing is, producing a documentary isn't a very high-end skill these days. A $500 camera will suffice; hell, you can get perfectly usable B-roll shots with a iPhone and MoviePro. Professional-quality editing can be done on a thousand-dollar computer and Premiere Pro, which can be rented for 20 bucks a month. Of course, you have to find people who know about lighting and capturing good audio, and you have to have some kind of travel budget. Bottom line, you can make a slick documentary for only a few thousand dollars. Distribution
is the real difficulty.
What I find most fascinating about the above-quoted piece is that it gives away the entire game of how Hillary was besmirched in 2016. These people use smears, blackmail, and psychological warfare techniques in order to destroy enemies and acquire power. They will use hidden truths and
The conspiracy buff subculture plays a huge role here. Right-wing paranoia-addicts always think that they are the hippest of the hip. In fact, they are usually naive dullards just begging
to be manipulated by scoundrels like Bannon, who know how to press their buttons.
The poorly-educated proles who read Breitbart and Infowars are correct to suspect that hidden skullduggery plays a massive role in human events. The conspiracy-buff subculture exists to misdirect their inchoate angst and suspicion. Within the Alt Right conspiracy cult, the sheep-like followers are kept in a state of constant fear in order to fulfill the ambitions of the leadership. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The right-wing conspiracy theorists are
Professor Allan Lichtman, basking in glory because he predicted Trump's triumph at a time when nearly everyone else felt assured of a Hillary win, will soon have a book out which predicts that Trump will be impeached
before the year is out.
Lichtman’s list of possible offenses that could get Trump to that point are familiar: charges of treason with Russia, abuse of power and emoluments violations. Lichtman also cites now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a senator, who argued that a president could be impeached for offenses committed before he took office. Among those potential offenses, Lichtman lists Trump’s housing violations, charity problems, potential violations of the Cuba embargo and Trump University.
It’s all part of a brief — designed to be damning — tour through Trump’s history. It includes section headings like “Trump Towers Become Vacant Lots” and “Lying His Way to the Presidency.” It eventually leads Lichtman to the conclusion that Trump might serve himself up for impeachment: “Trump’s disregard for lying in sworn testimony, examined in the context of the Bill Clinton precedent, shows how Trump’s opponents could set an impeachment trap for him through a civil lawsuit.”
That idea has occurred to me as well. Trump has a history of prevaricating during depositions, and his impulsiveness means that he'll continue to do as he has always done, even though his testimony as president will receive the kind of hyper-scrutiny he has never faced before.
But: Where is the lawsuit?
The law is a slow and lumbering beast. If impeachment is to take place before the dawn of New Year's Day, 2018, then now
is the time for someone to bring a serious case against Trump.
Would the new Supreme Court reverse the Paula Jones precedent? Possibly. We know that Trumpers care only about power, not about consistency or principle.
I, too, predicted that Hillary would lose. I also said -- well before Lichtman caught on -- that Putin was involved in bringing Trump to power. Yet I strongly doubt that Donnie will be shown the exit door in 2017.
If events prove me wrong -- fantastic!