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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Back soon

It's hard to be a political blogger when  you wake up every day thinking "I just can't stand the sound of that man's voice." Others tell me they feel the same way. What we feel is not "Trump fatigue" but a longing to escape, mentally if not physically.

But then again, there were probably a lot of Marines who didn't want to be at Iwo Jima. And they had no way to escape.

So when you look at it that way...
Feel free to post about other things. It's not like people don't get enough Trump coverage. Did you ever watch Game of Thrones?
Glad you're still hanging in there Joseph. I came here this morning to post about Al Franken. It's become obvious that both Roger Stone and Sean Hannity were/are active players in the 2016 election violations and the resulting cover-up. If the rule of law prevails, both are going to prison for their actions. And both of these shysters were right in the middle of the Al Franken hit job. Hannity and Stone conspired to remove from office, the Senate's strongest advocate for the Russian conspiracy investigation. Mueller must be looking into this successful attempt to obstruct justice.
It's cable news 24/7 Trump coverage almost makes me wish a blonde cheerleader goes missing.
Whenever you are ready Joseph, no hurry. I avoid the news as much as possible these days for similar reasons. Still, your posts are missed and I for one would love to see more of them. Take care of yourself first though, obviously.
I think a few of us were worried about you

..and talking of Iwo Jima, it's time to refresh your knowledge with a listen the "The Ballard Of Ira Hayes". Sung here in a great version by aspiring politician Kinky Friedman.
The problem with nut jobs is that they often present as mostly 'normal'. Bizarre, perhaps, in a range of behaviours, but still eligible for social acceptance. People mistakenly believe that they can work with the person and exert influence upon them. They try hard to 'make sense' of their behaviour because the alternative -- and terrifying -- conclusion is that they are trapped in a room with a certifiable psycho and no way out. This is where the world is at. Trump said it: "I could shoot people in the street and get away with it." Until this psycho is driven from office no-one and nothing is safe. And this will only occur after some major calamity forces the public to admit that this is the only way to deal with psycho Trump.
Glad you're doing OK, Joseph. Cannonfire is the best blog around.
I was starting to worry. I second Stephen, feel free to write about other things, your posts that are non-political or at least not about current events are usually as interesting as the current affairs stuff if not moreso.

Haven't commented for a while but I've always kept reading.

It's hard to be a political blogger when you wake up every day thinking "I just can't stand the sound of that man's voice."

I wholly understand, Joseph. And I don't blame you.

But wake up and continue the fight we must. Take your time--we'll be here when you're ready to return.

(Hope this might help--remember that this Friday is the day that Manafort may be manafucked by going to prison)
Sending hope and prayers ...cause isn't this all we have left in this surreal trumpft environs? Even Vonnegut wouldn't been able to keep up.

We Are Doomed ?
N.Korea was kabuki and many media played along.
How do we find our center and get a grip on the truth? I feel despair.

Thanks for the update, I've been missing you. But Dear God yes. I cannot fucking stand the sound of that man's voice. I hate CNN for a lot of reasons, but one thing that makes them totally unwatchable is that they unfailing play 2 minutes of Trump speaking every time they mention his name. It's not enough for them to just tell us what the fuck he did that day; they actually have to play video of him saying it. I'm sorry, CNN, but I am not going to spent even 3 seconds listening to that monster speak.
Glad to hear something from you. Like many here, was getting worried about you healthwise, and happy to know it was just the disgust we're all feeling these days... and that voice! The timbre! Especially when he starts getting all phlegmy in his throat. It's just too much sometimes. But tarry on, by jingo. We need your voice on all this We have to shoo away the insouciance, avarice and obstinance. But if you're not up to it, take your time. Or feel free to teach us the finer details in Mahler and Shostakovitch. Heck, I'd even take your take on Schoenberg and Berg! Or David!! Dang how great you write about Jacques-Louis David.

So feel free to take your time. Or fee free to fill us all up with the stuff that sometimes makes life worthwhile!
The Clinton rules of journalism are alive and well for Claire McCaskill. Her sin is using her private plane for parts of her RV Missouri Veterans tour, the worst scandal since Hillary's Scooby Van. Once again, the print and broadcast news media is not our friend.
Why is it so difficult to listen to Trump? When Trump speaks he speaks in fiction not fact. He can say anything because there are no lies in fiction.
Trump is removing children from their parents. He needs some place to put them so he is setting up camps. Camps with concentration (Keith Obermann Oct 12, 2016)
This is why I haven't posted too many political posts on my blog these days. If I think about what he is doing or what he is proposing, my blood pressure goes up. There are other things in the world going on, plus there are many things to do away from the computer.
1. Replying to @FLOTUS @HHSGov @CMSGov
If you don't protect children from abusive policies implemented by your husband & AG Sessions in April ("zero tolerance") that separate asylum seeking children & parents, you are a child abuser, too. No one can take your bullying message seriously now.

2. Replying to @IvankaTrump
Your concern about policy on childcare is hypocritical. Support all mothers.

@morningmika @KatyTurNBC @MELANIATRUMP
I'm beginning to think the rule of law may actually prevail. Mueller is picking them off one by one and the press is finally doing it's job. The New York FBI cabal is starting to become the story. The rats are scurrying to escape the bright lights but the lights keep getting brighter. Trump's people are starting to make mistakes under the pressure and are turning on one another. I think Donald is going to break under pressure on national television for all to see.

If these people had actually been somewhat competent... if Trump had been prepared for winning the presidency, and had entered the White House with a real plan of action to consolidate power instead of spinning his wheels, he would have pulled it off. It ain't over yet though... by a long shot. We will never get over this.
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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I am Roseanne

Sorry to take a couple of days off. In times like these, two days AFI (Away From Internet) means missing out on a month's worth of news.

A word about the cancellation of Roseanne's show: I was never a Roseanne fan, and never sat through a full episode of the original run of that series. Yet, being a contrarian, I'm now tempted to say a few words in...well, I was about to say "in her defense," but let's not take things that far.

Nevertheless, I sympathize with her. Unlike many other liberals, I can understand what happened to her.

As readers know, I stupidly spent part of the 1980s and much of the 1990s immersed in the world of High Paranoia. The online company Roseanne keeps is familiar to me. That is: I may not know the current dramatis personae, but I certainly know the mind-set. I know what being in that milieu can do to a person.

Although I was never on the right, I did gain a taste for the extremes. If a text was not outlandish, it wasn't intriguing. One can start out as someone interested in the JFK assassination and soon find oneself collecting literature produced by the kind of right-wing fearmongers who detested JFK while he was alive.

Here's the most important thing you have to know about conspiracy buffs: They continually bait each other, continually test each other, continually force each other to adopt ever more extreme positions. They disdain anyone who maintains a reasonably high standard of proof. When you demand better evidence, you harsh their buzz. Evidence is for losers -- for the mundanes. Or, to employ current terminology, the normies.

One buff says: JFK was killed because he was about to reveal the truth about Roswell -- and if you disagree, then obviously THEY got to you too. Buff 2 responds: JFK was killed because he was about to expose the Rothschild conspiracy -- and if you disagree, then obviously THEY got to you too.

And so on and on, as all parties spin into an ever-increasing delirium. The conspiracy-buff culture is the place where formerly-normal people try to out-insane each other. It's more than a social milieu -- it's a machine designed to create psychopathology. And I say this as someone who still does not accept, and never will accept, the conclusions of the Warren Commission.

I always had a puckish interest in the most unhinged writings to come out of the JFK assassination subculture. Mark Lane and Sylvia Meagher were for newbies and squares; I sought more unusual fare. Not many people would travel a hundred miles just to photocopy Revilo P. Oliver's article "Marxmanship in Dallas." Not many people would seek out a bonkers volume like Treason for my Daily Bread, written by someone calling himself Mikhail Lebedev. (If memory serves, this book claims that Martin Bormann ordered the Dallas hit.) Not many people spent as much time as I did collecting obscure variants of the dreaded Torbitt Document.

You probably don't recognize the names of those works. You don't need to; they were all garbage. My point is this: I hobnobbed with folks who not only read such documents but considered themselves connoisseurs. In that pre-internet world, Weird Literature was considered collectable, like fine wines. My personal stash contained some true rarities -- documents perfumed with pathology. I would hold them up to my nostrils, get a good whiff of The Crazy, and think: "Ah! Exquisite!"

I sought out these scriptures not because I thought that they would get me closer to THE TRUTH but because they transported readers to the edge of the edge. In my mind's eye, those texts bore an invisible legend: "Welcome to the extremes. Enter at the risk of your reason." Mere possession of these artifacts seemed dangerous and exciting. One of my correspondents, in those pre-internet days, literally stamped the word "PSYCHOTOXIN" on the front page of such documents. Yes, he created an actual rubber stamp.

I may even have produced some psychotoxic material myself, back in the day.

Why? Because addiction to outlandish conspiracy theories is like involvement in the BDSM subculture, where developing a taste for a little spanky-spanky can give rise to the sort of practices that require sutures -- and may even get one fired from an important job (such as, oh, say, New York prosecutor).

Here's a better (albeit more predictable) metaphor: It's like drugs. For some people, grass really does lead to H.

So, yeah: I feel sorry for Roseanne Barr, even though I know that many people will hate me for speaking about her as though she is a fellow human being. I sympathize with her in the same sense that I can sympathize with any other addict. She got hooked. So did I. A long time ago, she fell in with people who kept urging her to inject ever-stronger forbidden substances into her arm.

(In my case, I decided that I just could no longer tolerate being around the people who inhabit that world. They seemed to keep everyone around them perpetually angry, and I came to hate being angry. All I really wanted was a girlfriend and a dog.)

Roseanne probably is not a genuine racist in her heart of hearts. So why did she use the term "Planet of the Apes" to describe a person of color?

For the same reason a certain now-deceased small-press publisher went through a phase when he would sign his name with a swastika. The guy was Jewish. He was not, in my opinion, a self-hating Jew or a Nazi sympathizer. He was simply addicted to shock -- to the transgressive.

When you enter the world of right-wing conspiracism, when you rationalize nonsense like Pizzagate, when you convince yourself that Q-anon's ravings have some relationship to reality, you find yourself constantly searching for a stronger high. You're always playing a game of "Can you top this?" Person A says something hateful, forcing Person B to offer 2XHateful, which forces Person A to come up with 3XHateful. And so on.

Then your show gets canceled, and all sorts of people who depended on you are now out of work.

Has Roseanne hit rock bottom? No. She won't admit that she has a problem. Some people learn to love the endorphin rush they get from the transgressive. Some addicts die with a needle in the arm.
I agree with much of your argument.

At first introduction, the Conspiracy Theory view of life is comforting. In part that's because the Conspiracy Theory view creates appropriately Big Causes for Big Events, an almost-omnipotent They who Manufacture the turmoil in our world. And in part it's the tempting fruit of the Arcane, of accessing Hidden Knowledge which is still 'hidden' even when it's all over the internet. This marks the believer as Enlightened -- Red-Pilled -- unlike the Sheeple who gullibly believe the Official Story.

Never mind the study that found people who subscribe to the Conspiracy Theory view often walk themselves into logically impossible corners, such as simultaneously believing that Princess Di was murdered and also that Princess Di is alive and in hiding. They believe these mutually-exclusive tales despite the utter absence of evidence for either, and as a matter of logic there could not be conclusive evidence for both. Instead, the study authors found, people believe both tales -- Alternative Facts -- because both tales reject the Official Story … which is, by definition, mind-numbing Propaganda pushed by Them.

And yes, you can twist yourself into those pretzels for only so long before you have to invent ever-more-elaborate Plots and ever-more-omnipotent Plotters to explain the gaping holes in the evidence. To the point that the absence of evidence is itself proof, because it proves the Coverup!

Conversely, the Cockup Theory is anything but comforting. It offers unnervingly Trivial Causes for Big Events. In the Cockup Theory, mundane mistakes and ordinary human flaws can unleash tragedy or even global catastrophe. That doesn't feel right or fair.

And of course the Cockup Theory doesn't offer any enticing Arcana. Where's the sense of Enlightenment in reading that JFK's parade route took that tight turn onto Elm Street in front of the Book Depository because … someone didn't study a street map closely enough?

So yes, I agree with all of that. Here's the part with which I disagree:

Rosanne Bar has repeatedly made vile, racist comments. I don't know or need to know what's "in her heart of hearts." In fact, I don't care what's "in her heart of hearts."

She says and does racist things … therefore she is a racist.

It really is that simple.

What Crissie B said and what ABC knew, Roseanne is a Red State racist. Too bad for the rest of the cast and crew she couldn't keep a lid on her psychosis. ABC is going to lose a boatload of bucks and that makes me smile. The get to suffer the consequences of corporate greed.
Well said, all around.

But then there's the Ambien, which adds new levels of strangeness.

The wonderful journalist Murray Kempton admitted to feeling sympathy for Nixon as Watergate deepened because he always sympathized with the underdog.

The true depravities of Nixon-Kissinger, Cheney-Bush etc have cured me of any such feelings for the bosses of these operations.

About Roseann, what Joseph said and what Crissie B said are not mutually exclusive. She can go further down the insane path because she needs the high of getting a reaction and she can actually believe that is a good road. While some conspiracies are obviously true, that is different than being a conspiratorialist. I believe conspiratorialist are that way because it gives them a sense of self-importance, knowing something that others do not.
As we all hopefully are aware, conspiracies are very real and take place on a daily basis, both big and small. There is now almost no question that the official story of JFK's assassination is not the story of what actually happened (though parts of it probably are true). I mean, the Vietnam war was started by an event that never actually took place, but people believed it did for many years.

All that said, I agree with you about conspiracy theorists. It starts with a desire to learn more about the world we live in, about REAL history (which as we all know, isn't what we are taught in school, mostly). However, like you say, it's like a buzz feeling you are "in the know" about things no one else knows about (or not the majority, anyway). It's so easy from there to get deeper and deeper into the conspiracy theory world and loose objectivity and critical thinking. It happened to me during the Bush administration. It wasn't hard to believe that people like Dick Cheney could be evil enough to orchestrate something like 9/11/01 (and the official investigation was rather perfunctory not very thorough for such a major even..but I digress). It was actually this very blog that helped bring me out of the conspiracy thinking fever swamp.

I still think it's good practice to question everything, especially authority. I still think too many people accept unquestioningly the words of authority and government. I also think too many people take that stance way too far and go over the deep end with Illuminati and 4th dimensional aliens and similar "controllers" that are nearly omnipotent and completely control huge numbers of people.

This is a minor point, but "grass" isn't the gateway to heroin. We all know what the REAL gateway drug is, and it is perfectly legal and a huge part of American, and much of the worlds, culture and daily life.
Roseanne wasn't fired for the Muslim Brotherhood part of her tweet but for calling an African American person an ape. That's racist, not conspiratorial. Unless you are suggesting she believes the Planet of the Apes really exists somewhere and infiltrated Obama's government.

I don't buy your argument about being extreme and trying to shock others. For one thing, her remark wasn't shocking -- it was just sickening. It is run-of-the-mill racism. For another thing, there are a lot of ways to be extreme and shocking that don't involve racism. The reason for avoiding racist remarks is that they gratuitously hurt other people, just by being uttered. Comments about JFK, not so much. Further, as the manufacturers of Ambien have noted, racism is not a side effect. She brought that to the party. She has the right to tweet whatever she wants (within the Twitter rules), but she doesn't have the right to a TV show that hopes to appeal to a broad audience, including both people of color and those who are offended by racism.
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them." - Maya Angelou
I'm not so sure that Angelou is correct on this point. As another great American poet once said: "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." If I am many, how can you be so sure about what you see at any given time? I don't know who you are, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, but I refuse to believe YOUR worst self (yes, you have one) is your truest self.

Much of David Lynch's work addresses this conundrum.
I think there were other solutions. Once again, we rely on "punishment" as the solution when it is not.
I don't see the cancellation of her show as punishment. ABC seems to be cutting its losses in anticipation of boycotts and loss of sponsors as angry viewers react.
Since Lord Mouse (h/t Gore Vidal) owns both ABC and Star Wars, I have this image in my head:

Mickey, in emperor's robes, speaks in his high-pitched voice, "She has failed me for the last time!", and then Force-chokes Roseanne.
Where Trump points to spies, hold up a mirror. Jump down entertainment, porn, & sports rabbit holes to keep a focus on divisive issues. If you don't think that bait snares you, keep whistling Dixie.
* * *
A lot is flying under the radar. Keep ignoring how tech developed to classify strings of dolphin or human vocalizations in Miss. and blockchain is used. Don’t examine why AG Sessions was sent to negotiate terms of Nat Sec data exchanges w/EU member Bulgaria.

BILOXI, MISS., 3/23/18 "The Israeli delegation featured companies specializing in security technology...(there) to expand into the U.S. market and introduce themselves to LOCAL officials and PRIVATE companies."

" …far from any Jewish population center… representatives of 16 Israeli companies…with a delegation from its Defense Ministry and arms industry…Bryant credited a national security conference he spoke at in Israel in 2016 as the inspiration for this one."

Miss. is using:"Magal Security Systems…a border security sensor system that’s used on Israel’s northern and southern frontiers... (already used) in the United States securing the perimeters of prisons, power plants and Secret Service sites…(and) securing 80 percent of Israel’s borders…(and) some borders in Europe."

Why isn’t every threat to 2nd Amendment rights opposed by the NRA?: "...Beeper…a surveillance system…deployed by the Israeli military and police…in Baltimore and Houston — that can pinpoint where a gun is fired and instantly take video of who fired the weapon."
Why send DOJ AG Sessions to Bulgaria to negotiate terms for Nat Sec data Xchange unless it violates US and EU privacy laws/rights and/or he had a covert agenda? Data exchange is a matter for Sec of State, Dirs of CIA & FBI, not AG, right?
"...the Cloud Act...(passed 3/18, makes)…EU-US agreement on law enforcement access to digital evidence...almost certain...The EU is separately moving ahead with…“E-Evidence” Regulation...(to) streamline law enforcement access to data among its 28 member states...the CLOUD Act authorizes the U.S. to enter into EXECUTIVE AGREEMENTS with foreign governments…to better facilitate law enforcement access to data across borders...”

Data ops in Colombia & Mexico implicated when "Kaiser…(said) Banks set up a MI company called Big Data Dolphins, (which was) working with a data science team at… (UMiss) after he ceased negotiations with Cambridge Analytica….(Was) data of British citizens “was sent abroad, specifically to Mississippi” for processing by Big Data Dolphins." ;

"Using the same technique that Facebook and Google use to estimate relationships between people or web pages, the team developed an unsupervised learning strategy to identify dominant click types…based on (audio)…spectral shape and...interval distributions. The process...identified distinct, recurrent click types… to develop an algorithm to automatically classify (sounds) in the test dataset."

Who has capacity & incentive to hack 21 states voter reg networks+RNC+DNC? Cloudmasters hold keys to data, but who screens & controls gatekeepers? “Being able to control the users allowed on a blockchain network reduces the risk of malicious action while increasing control." ;
The thesis here seems extreme, contrarian, provocative. Roseanne Barr should be out of a job. The same goes for Ilie Nastase after what he said about Serena Williams's unborn child. Not all cases are equally bad, for sure. Perhaps with support she'll get cured of racism. I hope she seeks it and does. But there is no excuse whatsoever for her sick action. And in fact she doesn't seem anywhere near wanting to recover, to judge from the wording of her apology and how she used a fucking "tweet" to issue it: "I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks." Her comment was WAY beyond a bad joke about a person's looks; she assumes Valerie Jarrett subscribes to the same cesspool that she herself uses to advertise her brand; and as for "all Americans", that includes the American Nazi Party, then, and the KKK (not to mention white-skinned Argentinians)? She doesn't get it. She doesn't get fuck. Like all racists, she's a bonehead.
"I came to hate being angry. All I really wanted was a girlfriend and a dog."

This is a great line. I know that feeling very well.
I didn't like Rosanne then and I cringed when I heard she was back.
The show was always about people that are somehow proud and unapologetic about being lazy, uneducated, bad parents, bad communicators, bad planners and generally not good at much.
I understand that some shows strive to showcase what ails a community, but there needs to be some effort in including some "teachable moments".
Way back then, "All in the Family" was such a show.
I suspect that Rosanne the person has always reaped what she has sowen.
Does someone know

* where exactly in Washington DC the letter from Kim Jong-un will be handed by Kim Yong-chol to Donald Trump or to whoever receives it on his behalf (which exact room or other location);

* at what exact time the handover will occur;

* whether the handover will be publicly shown on film?
The thing is, those who need adulation "play to the room" rather than operating by any internal compass—different audiences, different versions of the self exposed & expressed.

The filter is whether the adoring crowd is expected to respond fabourably, and human nature is such that we tend to osmose the beliefs & opinions of those who we believe will love and validate us. Feeling connected to your tribe, or the current audience, by collectively hating on "the other" is a feedback loop/mob mentality (further bolstered by the one-upmanship that tends to happen when people are competing for love & attention, as referenced in your post).
Answer: the handover took place in the Oval Office. I haven't worked out the asymmetric arrangement of hands on the apparently unsealed envelope. Trump's way of spitting at the other side was to tell reporters the letter was "very nice" but that he hadn't opened it yet. (Can anybody remember the last time a head of government at an international meeting was so ill-mannered?) A "foreign government official" (Israeli?) who had been briefed by US officials told the Wall Street Journal the letter didn't make any noteworthy threats. (Note that the North Korean regime, unlike the US one, appears able to speak for itelf.) The WSJ also slagged off Kim Yong-chol, calling him sarcastic and referring to sources saying he is insufficiently deferential to superiors, overbearing, and dozed off at a meeting. Perhaps he doesn't wash himself often enough too. If the US goes any further down this road, Trump and his officials will drop their trousers and fart in Kim Jong-un's face in Singapore, while telling him he's "fired". They may be in for a fucking big surprise. Negotiating with opponents is one thing; negotiating with mentally ill opponents who suffer from inferiority complexes is another.
The Daily Mirror reports that some kind of US populist techno-god called "Social Media" has written that the North Korean envelope was big so as to show Trump's hands as tiny. They quote some idiot who has posted to its Twitter account saying "Here's the letter. It came in a big envelope so Kim Jong un could make fun of Trump's small hands. I bet he's cracking up in North Korea."

That's utter bullshit. Nobody in Korea cares a crap about the size of Trump's hands. Korea is a different PR market from US smartphone addicts gabbling about what they saw on TV and thinking they're cynical. Lord "Social Media" is correct to observe that that picture does totally "own" Trump. He just doesn't know how it does.

I have made significant decoding progress but I won't post about it here. One entry point lies in the shit-eating grin that Trump is wearing, as if he has just crapped his pants in the bankruptcy court. And there's a key in the shape marked out by the flap of the envelope.

It's remarkable how people think they can comment usefully on the symbolism without knowing a damned thing about Korean symbolism and culture, and about how games are played in Korea.

My prediction: North Korea and South Korea will have meet successfully with one or more other countries before Kim Jong-un meets with Donald Trump (if he does) on 12 June. Most importantly, they will meet successfully with each other. It's clear that if a Korean peace is announced, the mentally ill crook from New York who keeps saying how "great" he is won't even be in the room. I'm now saying that he won't even be depicted as a helper (except perhaps by himself). Russian leaders may be. So may Chinese leaders. The NK-US track in peninsula affairs will be short-circuited.
Mr Cannon; I don't know if u heard or not, but Dump declared himself above the law. What do we do now, I hereby declare you our leader.
The reply to my Roseanne comment is the stuff that drives me nuts. So now, the number one ABC show was rightfully canceled by ABC because of the massive boycotts that were going to occur. Oh, ok. And everyone laughed when NFL ratings dropped by 20% because of conservative boycotts.
So only progressive boycotts work. The sht has not only hit the fan, it's so interwoven all that is left is a shtty fan.
Anon: "Leader"?

I am, at present, mentally living in an alternate reality where none of these horrors are taking place.
Added note: On the bright side, I think I've solved (partially) the mystery of Etta Place, paramour of the Sundance Kid (played by Katherine Ross in the movie). You may not have known that she is considered one of the great mysteries of the old west.
The Etta Place story sounds worth posting.

Something good to read while waiting for the next dozen shoes to fall.

Joseph, enjoy your vacation in the Wild West. Alessandro M, please share links to sources of statistics. If Starbucks shut down to train staff after calling police on people of color, should ABC just send execs and staff to undoing racism training ( Roseanne’s twitter acct normalized indefensible lies. Why give boneheads endless chances if NFL players are denied free speech rights enjoyed by evangelical bakers and trigger-happy twitterati?

Punishment is 1) separating children from parents as young as 18mos, then 2) locking them up in warehouse-style mass detention centers after the dehumanizing experience of being caged for more than 72 hrs, 3) deprived of the security of parental care, and 4) brought in front of the court to state their case without parent, guardian, or attorney as young as 53 weeks.

Trauma compounds when authorities don't speak children’s (often indigenous) languages. These kids receive not one simple comfort: no toy, blankie, mattress. Even alleged criminals & minors in disputed custody matters have a right to legal representation and no cruel or unusual punishment. The youngest refugees can’t communicate basic needs, let alone plead their court case. A parent's first job is to keep their child safe from the violence of crime, poverty, injustice, exploitation, and corruption. Escaping a house on fire, who expects ‘firemen’ to jail children? They come for refuge to the land of the “free” seeking “liberty and justice for all”.

Separating a minor from a parent is an unjust, irresponsible fiscal and humanitarian policy. The U.S. lacks adequate detention facilities for the volume of asylum-seekers with children. Increasingly limited tax dollars may build more detention centers and a wall, or fix U.S. infrastructure, but not both.

Cheap alternatives to new ‘zero tolerance’ policies which "punish" parents and children: ankle monitors have supporters & detractors . It's clear the US would save taxpayer $$ by housing digitally monitored undocumented persons w/legally present family & friends prior to court dates. Legal challenges to ankle monitors are unresolved (e.g. unconstitutional invasions of privacy), but the foster care system is already maxed.

"The US government...can’t blame families for the needless cruelty it has chosen to subject them to…families being pulled apart by the new “zero tolerance"...(Asylum-seekers)...have every right to (apply for asylum) under US and international law—(but they often) have their children taken away from them…the government holds far too many asylum seekers in immigration detention while their claims are being processed. So these parents, who are following the law… are nevertheless torn apart from their children, potentially for months..."

"… families being pulled apart by the new “zero tolerance” push are (also those who) claim asylum—something they have every right to do under US and international law—sometimes also have their children taken away from them…the government holds far too many asylum seekers in immigration detention while their claims are being processed. So these parents, who are following the law and trying to do everything right, are nevertheless torn apart from their children, potentially for months on end."

Roseanne’s Hx of vituperative, “off-color” remarks fans Trump’s base, keeping serious issues out of sight & Congress in Trump’s corner. Thousands died avoidable deaths after the hurricane in Puerto Rico because our gaze was elsewhere, shielding Trump & Congress from timely accountability. “God bless us, everyone.” (Dickens’ Tiny Tim, “A Christmas Carol”) dataflo
Well Joseph, it's looking like Putin is doing what he can to make this Korea summit succeed. The left leaning press is selling this as a big set up for Kim to embarrass Trump on the world stage. There's a bigger game at play here with Russia and China. Kim will feel really important and thrilled to be part of this plot to neuter the United Sates. Kim's now a member of the Big Boys Club. He'll be happy to make Trump look good if it ultimately results in the realignment of world power structure to N Korea's benefit.
@Anon 9.08 - You are completely right about Russia and China, but I don't think Kim Jong-un is interested in the world stage. He's interested in the Korean stage, which Donald Trump doesn't understand. Trump got made a fool of in that photo holding the envelope. He tried to outsmart the other party but failed. I mean from the viewpoint of the Korean market.

There is absolutely no chance of a Bill Clinton-Yasser Arafat-Yitzhak Rabin type of photo in Singapore.

I hope this finds you well this Saturday morning, June 9. If not, you are near one of the premier medical centers here in the Big PX.
Today after stinking up the joint at the G7-1 the Great White Dope flies off to his summit with Kim Hong Un, will Putin broker a settlement to dampen any Blue gains come November?
To your West a new natural gas pipeline failed spectacularly, I wonder what country made the steel?
To anonymous. I watched the ER kill my mother by refusing to treat her wheezing, a condition that she normally didn't have and that was treatable. We were forcibly removed by the ER. Why the panic by the ER, too many people to take care of might have been the excuse, so the elderly were the first to not be treated. And I've discovered that E.M.T.A.L.A. does not even protect the elderly if they were living in their own home. So they have no fear in the ER if the senior came from their own home. So the bleeding hearts for the immigrants at the expense of people who have live in this country for 50 years and paid their taxes doesn't cut it for me. I am devastated at how my mother was treated like garbage by nurses of all people. And we were forcibly removed from the ER by a security guard after he forcibly erased my video that I had take to document their evil actions.
You can't have both, you worry about the immigration issue, you are saying screw you to the elderly who have lived here for many decades. This is why I believe both sides suck.
Joseph, Hope you are feeling ok in the historic Wild West, because it's not ok in the new "Mad Man" West, where the only policy is disrupting healthy relationships and replacing them with political sturm und drang (or porn and golf, depending on where Commander Bone Spur is combing his mane).

At least a few patriots left behind by the GOP are willing to give their political lives to bring this country to its senses. They are sending independent messages of conciliation to allies on our near borders and other members of the G7 (this too shall pass, the President was not elected by the majority of Americans...).

Mueller continues teasing out NRA-Russia U.S. campaign funding, beginning in 2015, aided by findings in the Spanish money laundering investigation.
"Torshin has drawn focus in part because he was implicated in a years-long investigation by Spanish authorities (no highlighter!) into money-laundering by the Russian mob. Spanish prosecutor Jose Grinda, who has led that investigation, was in Washington late last month and met with FBI officials for several hours, a well-placed source said."

"A photograph taken during a 2015 trip to Russia by leaders of the powerful group showed them meeting with Torshin, Rogozin and Rudov, and a source knowledgeable about the visit confirmed the gathering. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid damaging relationships."

I take heart from this: "NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said, however, that the FBI has not contacted the group." Assuming any GOP ally is believable is a stretch, but if I'm not mistaken, those who haven't been contacted are possible subjects and/or even targets of an investigation.;

"The NRA, Trump’s biggest financial backer, spent more than $30 million to boost his upstart candidacy; that's more than double what it laid out for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, and the NRA money started flowing much earlier in the cycle for Trump." (damn, no highlighter!)

"Trump to NRA: ‘I will never ever let you down’"

"Last month on Capitol Hill, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who examined Russian interactions with the NRA reached a preliminary conclusion that “the Kremlin may also have used the NRA to secretly fund Mr. Trump’s campaign.”

"Citing that finding, Lieu and Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., asked FBI Director Christopher Wray in a May 24 letter to expand the inquiry to also explore whether Kremlin money flowed illegally to the NRA for use in influencing House and Senate races."

"The NRA reported spending $24.4 million to back Republican candidates for Congress in 2016."

"“Illegal campaign contributions by a foreign nation, especially one whose interests stand in stark contrast to those of the United States, threaten the very underpinnings of our democracy and cannot remain unchallenged,” Lieu and Rice wrote."
dataflo cites McClatchy
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Sunday, May 27, 2018

The time has come to talk of many things...

Trump's lies have become particularly outrageous in recent days.

1. He accused the NYT of concocting a source who turned out to be a White House official. Many reporters from different organizations heard him speak.

(Why is Trump the first president in history bedeviled by conspiracies to concoct "fake" sources? For as long as I've been alive, everyone has complained about the media, often for good reason -- but nobody in politics ever made the absurd claims that Trump has made.)

2. Trump claimed in a tweet that former DNI James Clapper revealed that the FBI spied on his campaign. Clapper said the precise opposite, and he told Rachel Maddow that the election of 2016 was, in essence, illegitimate.

(Clapper also seemed to lurch toward the view that Russia changed the vote tallies. Not too long ago, people used to scoff when I made that suggestion.)

3. In a tweet, Trump asked: If Russian infiltration was real, why didn't the FBI warn him? In fact, they did. Trump knows this full well.

4. Trump told Annapolis graduates that his administration gave the military its first pay raise in ten years. In fact, pay goes up every year -- and Congress controls the power of the purse. In 2017, Congress gave troops a 2.1 percent raise, compared to 3.9 percent in 2009, when Democrats had total control of Congress. Trump's original budget asked for a number lower than 2.1%. 

5. This headline says it all: "Trump Blames Dems For His Own Policy Of Separating Families At The Border." A Trump tweet:
Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.
Less than a month ago, Sessions proudly announced that illegals would lose their children.

Don't be surprised if Trump blames Democrats for poisoning wells and for using the blood of Republican babies to make unleavened bread. Don't be surprised if Trump tweets that Dems sent Melania to the hospital.

(By the way, I'm baffled by the recent Melania mysteries. If anyone out there has a theory, please share.)

Why didn't they spy on on Trump? I think that leading Dems have done us a disservice by turning Trump's "Spygate" claims into an argument over semantics -- i.e., "spy" vs. "informant." I even heard Joy Reid say words to this effect: "This wasn't spying; it was a counterintelligence operation." As if Jim Angleton didn't work for the CIA.

Yes, there are distinctions to be made. And yes, nobody planted a mole in Trump's campaign (that we yet know of). But abstruse arguments over terminology confuse the public and hide Trump's true sin.

Everyone with any sense knows what Trump is really doing here: He's following Roger Stone's dictum -- always attack; never defend. He's trying to turn his campaign's foulest crime into a weapon against his foes.

Dems would do better, I think, to argue that Trump's campaign was the first in history that needed to be spied upon. Our FBI and intelligence community failed us not by targeting Trump but by permitting the impermissible. The so-called "deep state" did not protect the country from a foreign attack.

I could write a book outlining the many reasons why the FBI should have known that something terrifying was afoot in 2016. Here are just five of those reasons:

1. By 2016, the Russians had established a pattern of interfering in foreign elections.

2. The American intelligence community, as well as allied foreign services, believed that the Russians were attempting to help Trump win.

3. Trump's main national security adviser, former DIA chief Michael Flynn, had become involved with a Russian woman named Svetlana Lokhova. Although she insists that she is not a Russian spy, her history suggests otherwise. From the point of view of a counterintelligence officer, she might as well have the initials FSB stamped on her forehead. The Flynn/Lokhova relationship (which was close, though probably not sexual) had all the earmarks of a classic honeytrap, and explains why Flynn was "axed" to leave the DIA.

4. Another Trump adviser, Carter Page, had been targeted for FSB recruitment years before. We know this because American intelligence overheard the communications of an FSB spy ring in this country. I have seen no proof that Page conclusively rebuffed their recruitment efforts. In the middle of the campaign, Page made a bizarre trip to to Moscow and met with Russian officials.

5. Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chair, had basically functioned as a Putin hireling in Ukraine.

I could go on -- and on -- but those five points will do. Reason 4 is particularly compelling, since Page was the guy Stefan Halper met. Halper was also very concerned by the interaction between Flynn and Lokhova.

Please note that none of this had anything to do with the Steele Dossier, despite what you may have read on the right-wing sites. (One of the big lies Trump has successfully sold is "It all comes down to Steele.") Halper and Carter Page first met in June 2016, before the Steele Dossier was compiled.

The big question is not "Why did the FBI spy on the Trump campaign?" but "Why didn't the FBI spy on Trump?" In 2016, Halper was already in his 70s; he's not exactly James Bond. He did not infiltrate the organization; he met Page for drinks.

In my opinion, there should have been infiltration and eavesdropping galore.

Would I be of the same opinion if reasons 1-5 applied to a Democratic campaign? Damn right I would!

Look, I've spent much of life drawing attention to abuses by the intelligence services. I'm the original "Don't trust the spooks" guy. I've drunk saki with the publisher of Covert Action Information Bulletin, I've made no secret of my belief that JFK was killed by CIA counterintelligence chief Jim Angleton -- and since 2004, I've maintained a blog which discusses the darker secrets of Spooksville.

But...come on. Come on. Look at the Flynn/Lokhova interaction.

Look at Manafort's whole shady history.

Look at Carter Page and the Russians.

These are precisely the sorts of things that should ring alarm bells within our intelligence agencies. Investigating such matters is what spooks are for.

We know that the FBI was genuinely concerned by what they found, because they gave Team Trump a head's up. We know that Trump was a witting participant in the conspiracy because he ignored that head's up. And now he pretends he never received the warning -- a pretense which is, in and of itself, quite telling.

The question we should be asking is not "Why did they spy on Trump?" but "Why didn't they do much more?" Perhaps even: "Why did our intelligence community protect and enable Trump?" At another time, I will argue that the "deep state" was itself infiltrated by factions hostile to the very concept of democracy, and that this infiltration traces back to World War II. Perhaps earlier.

Side note: It's fascinating to see how the FBI is being used as the "fall guy" in these current scenarios. The "Halper as FBI agent" narrative doesn't make much sense and doesn't square with the man's history.

Why do the Trumpists continually squawk about the FBI? Because they want to undermine the Mueller probe and because they want to transform the DOJ into the sort of totalitarian persecution machine that Beria might have recommended. Similarly, the Trumpers have settled on the "deep state" euphemism because they fear to utter the dreaded initials "CIA."

Until Jim Hougan published Secret Agenda in 1984, we didn't grasp the CIA's true role in Watergate (although very close students of the case had an idea). We may have to wait a longer time to learn the truth about Trump, Russia and the Agency.

Was Trump an FBI asset? Josh Marshall has pursued the theory that Donald Trump (like his pal Felix Sater) functioned as an FBI informant, thereby earning a pass for his many crimes. Marshall makes his argument in two tweets.
When you lie a lot, weird things can happen. Prez Trump has been railing about an FBI informant who he calls a “spy”. So what’s DJT’s relationship to the FBI? Not this year or last year but over decades? What if he was also an informant? If he had been, what did he get a pass on?

Would he have been a “spy”. Do we need complete transparency? It’s already public knowledge that one of his closest business associates was an FBI informant for more than a decade. But I’m talking about Trump. If he was an informant, who was his handler?
Welcome to the party, Josh -- but you're a little late. Allow me to quote from a Cannonfire post published in May, 2017:
Was Donald Trump an FBI asset? Such was the claim made by someone in the comments section of this very blog, just a few days ago. Unfortunately, the commenter couldn't back up his words with evidence. (Some parapolitical theorists have reached such a heightened level of cosmic awareness that they have transcended the need for "evidence" and "proof" and "citation of sources" and similar mundane trifles.)

Yet the allegation has a certain attraction. As all readers of Wayne Barret and David Cay Johnston know, Donald Trump has gotten away with all sorts of legally dubious crap over the years. It makes sense that Donnie would protect his interests by making various deals with the feds.

You may have noticed that Trump Tower has a history of renting to high-level crooks, and that the feds always found it easy to "tapp" those particular suites. (Apparently, there has been a lot of bugging in that building.) One example would be Felix Sater, a former Trump Tower tenant who himself functioned as an FBI informant.
If the "Trump as FBI asset" theory pans out, Josh Marshall will probably get credit, even though I published more than a year earlier -- and frankly, I made a stronger case. Similarly, most people credit Paul Campos for publicizing the theory that Shera Bechard aborted Trump's child, not Broidy's -- even though I was the first person to make that argument.

Should I insist on getting credit for these things? Maybe not. Giu la testa, as Sergio Leone might have put it.
A couple more observations on Korea...

In his "calling off" speech - in which he again threatened North Korea, as he had done even as he was trying to wriggle out of the Bolton "Libya" reference - Trump claimed to have spoken not only to Japan (which would be bad enough) but also to South Korea, saying they had promised to help pay for a US-led war.

Basically he's saying "whomsoever I can't pussy, I will smash".

What South Korean leader Moon Jae-in then did - he rushed to a meeting with Kim Jong-un on the north side of the border - shows how Trump was lying. South Korea clearly had not promised to pay Trump to attack North Korea. AND THEY WERE LETTING EVERYONE KNOW. By "everyone", I mean everyone in the Far East, and competent analysts in every country where they exist. I don't mean passive consumers of the western media.

The BBC tell us that the Kim-Moon meeting was mainly about saving the US summit. They seriously do not understand. When Kim and Moon meet each other, their main topic will not be how best to assuage the maniacal Sun god from far off New York whose reign (even if he wins a second term) will be so pathetically short. They have greater horizons. I'm thinking here of the Bechdel test, where when two women talk with each other in a US film, they're usually talking about a man.

Later when backtracking, "glass jaw" Trump said "everybody plays games".

What media organ in the world is making the point that narcissists make absolutely crap negotiators and "deal" doers.

Trump is crap. Trump went bankrupt several times and he is headed for a similar event again, but bigger. (Or has he changed? Really?) It's easy to throw your weight around if your dad was a big scumbag landlord and you were always mates with a mobbed-up lawyer. That doesn't make you a "great" deal-doer. It makes you a thug. So the one who crossed the bridge into Manhattan and scooped the Empire State Building happened to be Jack Trump's deranged son. Let's not fall for survivorship bias.

It's easy to become US president if you've been picked by Adelman and the Kushners. Which is not to say they would pick at random. Trump's only brilliance is in presenting himself live in front of cameras or an audience, even a small audience, using skills he has developed in several years of appearances on "The Apprentice" and in televised wrestling, the two theatres in which this mentally ill man has been allowed to build the "Donald Trump" character.

Trump's style of "negotiation" is to threaten the other side and squeeze their balls until they do what you want. Idi Amin's was the same.

Then when the other guy does what you want, call his wife "beautiful" (because you're too boorish to know any other compliment to pay a woman), call yourself "great" (as always), and say your "gonna" do "great" business with the guy you've just forced to sign an agreement. Trump must have enemies all over the place, people who are going to celebrate like never before in their lives when they watch the motherfucker fall.

But that's enough about Trump. Hardly any commentator is saying ANYTHING about HOW MOON JAE-IN CAME TO POWER. (How many even know his religious denomination?) While Trump was winning the US presidency, things were happening in Seoul. Moon's predecessor as president, Park Geun-hye, was falling from grace in a "shamanic"-financial scandal. That was happening in October, November, December 2016.

I would like to suggest that certain power interests not based in South Korea (or the US) were exerting their influence over these matters.
Wikileaks were involved in the fall of Moon Jae-in's predecessor Park Geun-hye, publishing a number of damaging US diplomatic cables. That may well be a fruitful line of inquiry for those researching a Russian angle.

And I've just learnt that Moon Jae-in plays heavily to the "386 generation". In the north the preference is for odd numbers.

That "3" is derived from the even number "30", meaning some of those who were in their 30s in the 1990s.

I am only touching the surface here. This is what people have to look at if they want to understand Korean politics: north Korean, south Korean, and just Korean.

I doubt a Kim-Trump summit will happen, either next month or at any other time. But if it does happen, Trump will get "AMOGged" like he's never been AMOGged before.
The Kim-Trump summit was (or is) arranged for 12 June 2018: 12,6,18.

That's three multiples of 6. It's 6,6,6 times 2,1,3, and 2+1+3=6. In China, 6 means good fortune.

But we're talking Korea. The Kim dynasty is more fond of 9. The date 12 June 18 can be read as 1+2+6=9, followed by 1+8=9. That's a double 9.

There's precedent for that kind of reading. Kim Jong-il was born on 16 February (1+6+2) and appointed to the highest military post on 24 December (2+4+1+2=9). Kim Jong-un got his first public post, as an army general, on 27 September (double 9), and he was appointed first secretary of the KWP on 11 April 2012 (1+1+4+1+2=9).

What number does Moon Jae-in use? I mean other than 386. Taking three numbers like that is greedy. (It's obeisant to Intel too.) What's his main number? I'll take a wild guess. Is it 6?
Melania emotionally battered by Hookergate hospitalized for a painful kidney ailment. The Camel's straw?
Not a complete breakdown but enough distress she can't function as FLOTUS.

As to Trump da snitch, the mob had it's fingers in every thing New York and Jersey. Doing business in both venues meant doing business with mob owned entities so why not a bit of payback dropping a dime to the FBI. Specially if you win a "Get out of jail" card. Monopoly, not just a game but a primer on doing business in America.
Semi-crazed actor Tom Arnold claims to have a #MelaniaElevatorTape that shows trump roughing up his wife:
Joseph, are you going to have anything on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of RFK? I would suspect that at one time you had an opinion on the subject.
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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Prediction fulfilled

On May 11, I predicted that the Republicans were going to "Me Too" Michael Avenatti within the month. Prediction fulfilled. The story on the other end is just the beginning, as Avenatti himself seems to know, based on some rather cryptic remarks he has made. He probably thinks that he can handle what's about to wallop him. That's what Al Franken thought. All men have a breaking point, no matter how tough they seem.

I'm sorry to be a downer, but decent people cannot combat utter ruthlessness backed by massive resources.
In lieu of missing blonde cheerleaders the cable news outlets will glom onto the latest juicy bit to feed the gaping 24/7 maw. Remember this is the same print and broadcast news media that trashed Al Gore with lies and distortions giving Bush the Lesser the White House and us 911.
The BBC have described the second meeting between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in as "Hollywood".

Isn't "Hollywood" part of that brand new settler city with the Spanish name in North America, home to some newish means of communication or other?

Does anyone at the BBC have a clue about what is actually going on in these images of top-level intra-Korean meetings? Start with the mountains - do they have any fucking idea of the significance of mountains?

Do they have any appreciation of what Korean unification, or even only a peace treaty, might look like? Instead we get the regurgitation of phrases like "denuclearisation" and "reduction of tensions". It kind of interests me how the British foreign policy establishment abounds in Arabists, has some serious Russianists, and they love China to bits (maybe they have done since Britain modelled its civil service on the Chinese one in the 1870s?), but as for Korea, a country of similar age to China - and which kicks arse in various fields - their understanding seems woefully superficial. Whatever happened to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London :-) No demand from the FCO and SIS Korea desks or what?

As for Trump, when he called off the Singapore summit he said (in his announcement but not in his letter) that he'd got Japan onside. Apparently Japan's going to help pay for the US to whack Korea if it needs to. Did they plot out how that boast would be received in Korea?

If Trump's main goal is to stand behind Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in as if he were Bill Clinton behind Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin, THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
I can't believe you are taking seriously the wife's claims in a fault divorce filing.
Michael, what on earth makes you say that? Your words have nothing to do with what I wrote.
Wives complain of spousal abuse in divorce filings all the time. ALL the time. It is standard operating procedure, designed to give her the advantage in the eventual settlement. The claims may be true at some level, but Lacking serious corroborative evidence, nobody actually believes these claims.

IOW, this is a typical divorce, not a #metoo claim. It would be laughable for the Trumpies to to try and "trump" this up into something else.
Jesus fucking Christ, Michael. Comments like yours make me despair. I feel as though it is impossible to compose a sentence that cannot be misconstrued. WHERE did I say that I personally believed that Avenatti was guilty of spousal abuse? What on earth made you think that I wanted my readers to come to that conclusion?

I see no point in writing further. To anyone. About anything.
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Stone and Jones (updated)

In previous posts, I have argued that the Trumpers use death threats to keep people from talking -- which is why I remain at least semi-convinced that neither Paul Manafort nor Michael Cohen will turn. Want evidence that potential squealers are under threat? Start here.

Yeah, I know that Roger Stone loves to talk like a film noir tough guy. No, I don't think that he is personally going to do harm to anyone. Neither do I think that he would hire a hit man.

But ask yourself: Does he need to take action personally? The Russians certainly have the means to take out enemies.

Stone's excuse -- that his comment referred to a cancer which Credico allegedly has -- is transparently false. Credico says that he does not have cancer, and Stone's words clearly do not reference disease.
Credico also claims that around the time Stone was interviewed by the House Intelligence Committee in September, Stone told him to “just go along with” his story.

Last November, the committee subpoenaed Credico, but he asserted his Fifth Amendment rights and was excused from testifying. This year, though, Credico began speaking out. In interviews with the Daily Beast, Mother Jones, and Yahoo News and for David Corn and Michael Isikoff’s Russian Roulette, Credico openly contradicted Stone’s claims that he was a source of information on Assange for Stone. These reports drew Stone’s ire.

“You are a rat,” reads one undated missive that Credico says Stone sent him. “A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying to Rip you to shreds[.]”
The message is obvious: The leaders of this conspiracy expect underlings to go along with the agreed-upon lies, or there will be serious repercussions. When Credico took the Fifth, he did so not because he feared jail; he feared something else.

Stone's threat is, arguably, a criminal act in and of itself. But it also indicates a deeper criminality: The innocent do not accuse former friends of being rats and stoolies.

Update: Julian Assange reportedly wants to speak with Adam Schiff -- not to any of the Republicans: To Schiff -- to prove that there was no collusion. The source for this story: Randy Credico. Strange that Assange would be in contact with Credico at the height of the Credico/Stone tiff.

Needless to say, nothing Assange says can be trusted. He'll probably proffer some bullshit about receiving information from a Clinton insider. If that were the case, we'd have had proof ages ago.

Update II. I just caught Credico talking about this to Ari Melber. Now I'm starting to think that the tiff between Stone and Credico is staged. As most of you know, Trump and Stone staged what I consider a fake "argument" as the campaign got underway, giving Trump some distance and plausible deniability as Stone went off to do his thing.

Alex Jones says that he is being investigated for espionage. Jones, a secret agent? Doesn't seem likely: He hasn't infiltrated any organizations, and I can't visualize him hiding microfilm in a dead drop. He sure as hell isn't going to bait any honeytraps.

More here, from the publication I will always lovingly call the Moonie Times...
The Federal Election Commission is expected to discuss Thursday whether to investigate if Russia colluded with far-right websites in order to boost President Trump’s 2016 campaign after news reports accused sites including Breitbart and InfoWars of receiving Russian support.

“We are witnessing the greatest witch hunt in U.S. history. The most transparent, the most fraudulent, the most upside-down, the most twisted compendium of fraud that I have ever seen in modern history,” Mr. Jones said at the start of the broadcast.

“I get up this morning and I learn from Ellen L Weintraub, commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, what I already knew from four months ago — I am under criminal espionage investigation by the FBI for taking money from Russians or Russian-owned companies,” Mr. Jones added.
I draw your attention to this Observer piece from last September. The headline: "InfoWars’ Alex Jones Stole Over 1,000 Articles From Kremlin-Backed Russia Today."
As reported by Buzzfeed News, InfoWars re-published over 1,000 RT articles within the past three years without the Kremlin-backed outlet’s permission. InfoWars’ plagiarism is evidenced by data from Buzzsumo, a social tracking website that monitors content as it is shared online. Although InfoWars included credits in the articles’ bylines, a representative from RT told Buzzfeed that they did not receive permission to perpetuate such content.
When Adam Schiff mentioned the Infowars/RT connection, Jones offered a memorable response.
“You want to sit here and say that I’m a goddamn, f*cking Russian. You get in my face with that I’ll beat your goddamn ass, you son of a b*tch. You piece of sh*t. You f*cking goddamn f*cker. Listen f*ckhead, you have f*cking crossed a line. Get that through your goddamn f*cking head. Stop pushing your sh*t.”
Jones, who considers himself a Christian, truly knows how to capture the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount.

Jones has staunchly defended the integrity of the recent Russian election.
I’m not a Russophile. I’m not an Anglophile. I’m an Americana guy. But I see Russia going in the direction of 1776, I see us going in the opposite direction.
Accuracy in Media -- nobody's idea of a left-wing organization -- argued back in 2014 that Jones was pushing Putin-friendly conspiracy scenarios. AIM called AJ "a reliable outlet for pro-Russian propaganda."

Let's take this deeper.
By his own admission, Jones communicated with the future head of RT America around the time of Paul’s 2008 run — at the same time his show was pushing for Paul and Anderson was flying Paul banners in the sky. More recently, Jones was interviewed on Russian TV by Alexander Dugin, a political analyst with close ties to the Kremlin.
Dugin is a stone-cold fascist. You should look at the comments on Dugin-friendly sites: His followers truly hate America and all Americans. They want this country to end.

Why would an "Americana" guy spend time with Dugin?

(The story at the other end of that link deserves your full attention; much of it looks into the links between Russian nationalists and the Ron Paul movement.)

More on the Jones/Dugin connection here...
The far right's crusade against national security adviser H.R. McMaster reached new heights last week, intensifying as Infowars founder Alex Jones invited an ultranationalist Russian political philosopher on his radio show to discuss "globalist" threats to US President Donald Trump's agenda.

Jones interviewed Aleksandr Dugin — who has been linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has close ties to Russian fascists and nationalists — as part of a segment attacking McMaster, who has come under fire from Trump's nationalist base for firing three National Security Council officials appointed by Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser.

"He is purging anybody who does not want to have, basically, a war with Russia," Jones said of McMaster.

Dugin agreed. "Globalists" like McMaster have made Russia "enemy No. 1," he said, because they need a battle to distract the public while they pursue their "satanic" plans and "destroy humanity."
The most important thing to understand about Dugin is that he a lover of the apocalypse. You can't instill fear in an opponent who welcomes the End of All Things.

(For much more on Dugin, see here.)

Jones has bragged about receiving praise from "Top Putin advisers." How would he know what Putin's top advisers are saying?

And then there's this...
Radio host and prominent Donald Trump ally Alex Jones was told by an RT host that Russian President Vladimir Putin asked him to "say hi to Alex.” Jones has claimed that he was told years ago that "Putin’s a big listener" and was previously informed that the “Russian government listens to" his show and the Kremlin partially “modeled” RT off of his Infowars network.
Jones recently appeared on Tsargrad TV, which was founded by Putin ally Konstantin Malofeev. The Russian tycoon is reportedly “one of Vladimir Putin’s favorite businessmen” and has “close ties to the Kremlin elite.” During the appearance, Tsargrad TV editorial director Alexander Dugin praised Jones as “a hero of this campaign” because he “told the truth while everyone else lied.” Dugin has been widely referred to as “Putin's Rasputin” because of his ties to and influence on the Russian president and his political apparatus. Jones himself bragged about appearing on “Vladimir Putin’s favorite TV show” and with “top Putin advisers.”

Jones has also recently claimed that he’s been praised by Putin himself. On his December 8 program, Jones hosted RT broadcaster Max Keiser. Slate profiled Keiser in 2013 and wrote that he’s “become an eccentric hero of a certain ultralibertarian, 9/11-conspiracy-espousing, gold-bug-loving corner of alternative media.”

Keiser and Jones spent time discussing Putin’s interest in Jones, with Keiser stating: “Vladimir Putin says to say hello, by the way.” Jones responded, “Wow,” and claimed that he was “told by the head of RT America, before they even launched it, like eight, nine years ago, Putin’s a big listener.” Jones then added that “years ago” he was told by unnamed people that “Putin wants to come on” and talk about hunting (the appearance appears to have not materialized).
Back in 2008, this anti-Jones blogger called AJ "Putin's meat puppet."
His latest escapade is to volunteer to become a wide-eyed apologist for Russian imperialism. His ingrained hatred of the Bush administration has led him to take the maxim “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” to a dangerous extreme. Instead of applying the same suspicion to others which he applies to Bush and the Neocons, he naively assumes that anyone who is out to get Bush and his cronies must be a good guy. The problem is that your enemy’s enemy can still be an evil bastard, and that’s the truth he’s failed to recognize about Vladimir Putin and his expansionist Russian administration. He has apparently missed one of the big lessons which came out of World War II, that being opposed to the Nazis did not make Stalinist Russia any less evil.

It’s truly bizarre that Jones questions everything to come out of Washington or the Bush administration, but is willing to swallow every bit of Russian disinformation whole and basically let himself be hollowed out and welcome Putin’s controlling hand up his backside and let Putin’s lies spew from his mouth. The height of his irresponsibility came when he decided it was a great idea to appear on Russian propaganda TV to praise Putin and denigrate the United States, reinforcing and lending legitimacy to the Russian administration’s blatant lies about the Georgian conflict.
Does all of this add up to espionage? Dunno. But it adds up to something.

This much is certain: During the Cold War, anyone with similar Russian ties would have been entirely exorcised from all civilized gatherings.
I won't deny I want the apocalpyse too.

Dugin says "All is dead with Modernity. So it should end. We are going to end it." Those last six words were also spoken by Trump during his election campaign - quite a few times, I think. They were like a mantra.

In other news, the British Justice Secretary has promised to use prison labour to bring in the harvest, given that there will be fewer seasonal workers in the country who come from Poland and other East European EU countries. He says he will use prison labour to bring in the harvest. Is there a precedent for that in any country? Kampuchea maybe?
This is a great round-up. I'm using it as an object lesson for one of my Trumpist naive informants ...
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Friday, May 25, 2018

North Korea

I should be back later today with a longish piece about Roger Stone, Russiagate, and related matters. In the meantime, a brief note about North Korea: I am quite certain that talks will resume -- and that there will be a breakthrough.

But it will happen closer to election time.

Donald Trump wants to brag that his party gained seats in the mid-terms. And yes, I really do think that the "blue wave" is actually going to be a red victory parade.

According to this story, the summit ended because Kim Jong Un said insulting things about Mike Pence. The tale is more complex than that, of course, but in the end, the deal-breaker came when Pence's feelings were hurt. But if Trump was willing to forgive being called a "dotard," he surely could have forgiven a gratuitous remark about Pence being "ignorant and stupid."

And why on earth did Kim make such a gratuitous remark, anyways? I think that someone told him to do so.

It should never be forgotten that North Korea's program is, in a very real sense, of Russian origin. You may recall this post from October of 2017, in which I linked to some important background information.
North Korea's rapid advance in nuclear development owes much to Russian aid. See here:
Elleman has analyzed North Korean medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles of the Hwasong 12 and 14 types, whose extended range holds the potential to hit the United States. He concluded that the surprisingly fast development in the last two years has only been possible with the help of foreign suppliers, meaning countries from the former Soviet Union. Even the German missile expert Robert Schmucker from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) agreed with Elleman's analysis, although he avoided any explicit accusations.

Experts believe that the one-chamber engine used in the latest Hwasong missiles is reminiscent of the Soviet RD-250 rocket engine, which had two chambers and was developed in the 1960s.

It is difficult to prove whether the RD-250 was also manufactured by Yuzhmash. Vitaly Zushtchevski said that they received these engines from Russia, where they were "produced in low quantities." Elleman suggested that they were also made in Ukraine. In his IISS study, he wrote that "hundreds, if not more" RD-250 engines have remained in Russia, as well as in Ukraine, adding it is also possible that Moscow is Pyongyang's supplier.
Also here:
After intensive study, Elleman, a former consultant at the Pentagon, and other specialists would report that they had detected multiple design features in the new North Korean missile engine that echo those of a 1960s-era Soviet workhorse called the RD-250.

There is no record of Pyongyang's obtaining blueprints for the Russian missile engine, and experts disagree on whether it ever did so. But the discovery of similarities has focused new attention on a question that has dogged US analysts for at least the past two years: how has North Korea managed to make surprisingly rapid gains in its missile programme, despite economic sanctions and a near-universal ban on exports of military technology to the impoverished communist state?

Many weapons experts say North Korea's startling display of missile prowess is a reflection of the country's growing mastery of weapons technology, as well its leader's fierce determination to take the country into the nuclear club.

But others see continuing evidence of an outsize role by foreigners, including Russian scientists who provided designs and know-how years ago, and the Chinese vendors who supply the electronics needed for modern missile-guidance systems.
When I first posted these words, I was thinking in terms of Russia engineering a nuclear exchange between North Korea and the United States. Perhaps that particular theory was a little too apocalyptic. But it is not unreasonable to suggest  that Russia pressured Kim and Trump to hold off on the summit.

A successful summit now would certainly help the GOP's chances in the fall, but a successful summit in September would have much greater impact. If Trump can pull off a last-minute coup, his party will gain a windfall in the election.

The current "spygate" canard should also be seen purely in terms of the mid-term elections. Do not think for one minute that Trump truly believes the nonsense he has been spewing.

This administration is all about the manipulation of democracy, and Putin is helping.

Not only rapid advances in missile technology, but they suddenly had a miniaturized hydrogen bomb to outfit the missiles! And don't forget Kim's recent trip to China. In the photos he looked like a humbled little boy standing next to Xi Jinping. Xi has as much power over Kim as does Putin. And Xi and Putin are working together in opposition to the United States.

In all of this we should remember that a stand-off between the North and South Koreas has been the United States' justification for having nuclear warheads in the Southeast Asian theater (for actual use against Russia or China) for the last 65 years. There is an element in the US power structure that doesn't want to lose that strategic advantage. This long time arrangement has now changed.

By acting like a maniac, Trump drove the Koreas to join together in a mutual effort to avoid nuclear annihilation at the hands of the US. It's a whole new ballgame.
Thanks Joseph for the reminder of the Russian contribution to the Korean situation.

I think Putin's aim is destabilization and weakening of the US. Actual nuclear war? Let's hope not. At this point there's not much reason for hope, but Putin's long term goals include his survival as president for life.

And Anonymous 12:19 calls attention to salient details. To restate a few things, "There is [a most powerful military & intelligence] element in the US power structure that [requires] that strategic advantage. This long time arrangement has now [been challenged].

This entire situation reminds me of the Cuban Missile Crisis, only instead of having another Cuba in American Waters, this time a small county was picked that is near both China and Russia.
Please explain
Where does china fit in considering a change in the balance of power (cold war Dynamics vs multi power poles).
I am not sure that I see a parallel once you intruduce China into the mix or figure in the EU or Japan.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Shera and the narcissist: Is she giving us a covert confession?

Last night, I published a long-ish piece about Trumpian sexual sleaze. The post included the latest developments on the Shera Bechard front. She's the former Playboy model who got a big pay-off (via Michael Cohen) after terminating a pregnancy which resulted from an affair with RNC bigwig and Trump cohort Eliot Broidy. Or so we have been told.

Most forget that Broidy was careful to imply that he was the father without making the claim directly.

Many have now warmed to the theory that the child was actually sired by Donald Trump, a.k.a. David Dennison, infamous bareback rider. Major publications now take the idea quite seriously: Example. Example. Although the theory is primarily associated with New York Magazine writer Paul Campos, it all began here, in this humble blog.

If Trump paid for an abortion, his fundamentalist followers will find their powers of rationalization put to the ultimate test. (We already have the beginnings of rebellion against pro-Trump evangelical leaders.)

We now have further evidence that the "Trump diddit" theory deserves serious attention. Shera Brechard may have signed an NDA, but nothing stops her from retweeting some very notable material. For example, she recently retweeted Ronan Farrow...
The whistleblower who leaked Michael Cohen’s financial records is stepping forward to say why: records of bigger, potentially more sensitive, swaths of suspicious transactions appeared to be missing from a government database. My @newyorker investigation:
The link goes, of course, to this important story concerning Cohen files that should have appeared in  the FINCEN database but which seem to have gone missing.

Shera, what are you trying to tell us? Her usual tweets are more personal and quotidian -- cute pictures of her dogs, that sort of thing. 

Here's her next tweet -- or rather, retweet:

Shera, what are you trying to tell us?

Scrolling down, one soon discovers that this woman seems particularly interested in the topic of narcissism. The following message (retweeted by Shera Bechard) comes from a group or person called Narcissist Sociopath Awareness.

Here's another retweeted message from the same source:
Covert narcissists are often described initially as “sweet, kind & loving” but theirs is the worst kind of betrayal. You’ll never see it coming & no one will believe you when it does.
Why is this woman so compelled to draw our attention to this psychological malady? Most of the messages concern the superficial charm of the narcissist.

Trump is, of course, the world's most famous narcissist. I've never heard anyone use that particular "N-word" to describe Broidy. So far, we have no indication that Shera Bechard is concerned about some other narcissist -- some other person who first "love bombed" her then betrayed her.

Shera's readers are now inundating her with requests to confirm or deny Trump's responsibility for the pregnancy. She has not denied having an affair with Trump. I cannot see how such a denial would violate her NDA -- if Broidy were the father.

Heather Digby Parton has written a longish piece for Salon on the "Trump diddit" theory. I swore never again to link to any story published by the creeps who gave us Lord H.A. H.A., but...what the hell.
Broidy's company, Circinus LLC, did make a bundle in 2017 off federal government contracts, however. The Daily Beast reports:
Prior to 2017, Circinus had been paid a total of just $7,501 for its work on various defense contracts. Then, in August 2017 it finally received $3.9 million for a contract it had begun bidding on in 2013 with the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM). The INSCOM contract — which is for unidentified intelligence services — nearly doubled the company’s income for the year. The following month, Circinus received $242,011 from the Defense Security Service for a separate contract.
Broidy had an important meeting with the president at Mar-a-Lago on Dec. 2, 2017, at which this Qatar business was apparently discussed. Just two days before that, Broidy had wired the first of what were to be eight payments of $200,000 apiece to an attorney representing Shera Bechard, the onetime Playboy Playmate with whom Broidy supposedly had an affair. But the contract for these payoffs was in the name of "David Dennison," the same pseudonym that Donald Trump had used in his hush-money contract with Stormy Daniels. A few days after the Mar-a-Lago meeting, Broidy got word that $600 million in "consulting" contracts had come through.
For more Trumpian sleaze, scroll down to the previous story. And if you are kind of heart, tell a friend: The "Trump diddit" theory first appeared in this humble blog, not in New York Magazine.

(Then again, maybe I shouldn't insist on recognition. Don't want to be accused of narcissism.)

Stormy Day. The other woman who received money from Cohen after an affair with "David Dennison" has received a surprising honor: West Hollywood has declared today to be Stormy Daniels Day. She will receive the key to the city.

For those unfamiliar with the cultural geography of Los Angeles, West Hollywood is usually associated with...well, let's just say that we're talking about guys who are not often considered part of Stormy's target audience.
Officials of the city, bordering Beverly Hills and considered a prominent LGBT community, said in a release they chose to recognize Daniels because in "these politically tumultuous times," she has "proven herself to be a profile in courage by speaking truth to power even under threats to her safety and extreme intimidation."
I stopped spending time in that part of town when they closed down the Tower Records Classical Annex. Nice to know that West Hollywood still appreciates the finer things.
Great work on this story Joseph. Good to see it's getting aired in the MSM. I would say that the odds that Trump isn't the father are vanishingly small. However, I wonder if we'll ever really know? I can imagine he and his people will go to great lengths (as they already have) to keep this from being confirmed. We'll see.
Shera Brechard's tweets regarding "the narcissist", make it pretty plain that she lost herself in what she thought was a warm loving relationship with Donald. Then she told him she was pregnant. She was needing and hoping for support from Trump but he treated her like she was radioactive. After that, Shera found herself dealing with Michael Cohen.

Half our population doesn't care that Trump's a career criminal in the employ of the Russian State... or they're incapable of comprehending the situation. Maybe this will get their attention? Or will we have to wait for evidence of trafficking underage eastern European girls?
Over at Palmer Report, Bill is claiming that Trump has totally lost it, while I view it as Donald preparing his base for civil war. But there's a new writer named Daniel Cotter who's good at seeing things.

In 2009, Elliot Broidy pled guilty to financial crimes in New York. Cotter found these tidbits in the press release regarding the plea announcement;

"Broidy paid over $90,000 to the girlfriend of a high ranking OSC official.... Broidy also covered the girlfriend's hospital bills."

Very interesting look st malignant narcissism.

And Trump keeps getting away with his disgusting sadistic act and destructive actions.

Those bribes, that blackmail must really be strong stuff.

Joseph, most spellings are Bechard.
"Say hello to Elliott Briody" - below is just segment from a Briody timeline listed in an English language translation of a Romanian publication which started investigating Briody after Circerus did a Romanian arms deal with curious features and Briody started legal actions against the publication -- sometime after Briody started appearing in U.S. news coverage...
"Al Jazeera revealed on March 9 that the Prosecutor General of Ukraine has launched an investigation on Elliott Broidy. “The Prosecutor General of Ukraine has launched an investigation into claims surrounding an alleged multi-million dollar lobbying contract that names one of US President Donald Trump’s most influential fundraisers, Elliott Broidy. The 12-page document, which appears to have been signed by Broidy, outlines his role as providing “political advocacy” on behalf of a now sanctioned Russian bank, VTB. The deal was apparently dated June 12, 2014, just weeks before VTB Bank was blacklisted by the United States and European Union as a key Kremlin asset following Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin is guest of honour at VTB Bank’s investor conference every year. The document raises serious questions about whether Broidy is in breach of the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)...”
Briody sues Qatar over hacked emails. "Jassim Al-Thani, a spokesman at Qatar’s embassy in Washington, described the lawsuit as an attempt by Broidy to divert attention from media scrutiny on his activities.

“It is Mr. Broidy, not Qatar, who orchestrated nefarious activities designed to influence Congress and American foreign policy,” Al-Thani said in a statement.

Broidy, a vocal critic of Qatar, met with Trump in September and tried to set up an informal meeting between the president and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of the UAE, according to a person familiar with the matter."
"Broidy claims Al Jazeera published an article on March 8 based on falsified documents accusing him of entering into a lobbying contract in 2014 with a Russian bank under U.S. sanctions."

I cannot believe I misspelled Shera Bechard's name in the original version of this post. My humblest apologies to all.

Actually, she spells her name with an accent over the e, but those diacritical marks are difficult to accomplish on this keyboard.
Billionaire Roman Abramovich is having difficulty getting his British visa renewed and he seems to be about to run to Israel. Like the Kushners he is connected with Chabad.

OT, but in re: earlier remarks about Devin Nunes, those escapades on the yacht, in which he may well not have taken part, have resurfaced in the past day or so:

From Huffpo:
"The Los Angeles Times said Nunes has three main assets: stakes in two wineries (Phase 2 Cellars and Alpha Omega Winery LLC) and a Bank of America savings account. The three are worth a combined $101,000, the outlet noted."

The summit meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un has now been cancelled as I predicted. (I tried to get a bookmaker to quote me odds on that outcome, but to no avail!) The relationship between North Korea and the United States is of far more significance than most observers have any clue about.

Much more minor but confirmatory contingent considerations included the NK statement that they didn't want any US investment, and the choreographic near-impossibility of staging a meeting between the two heads of state. Can you imagine Trump picking dandruff off Kim's shoulder the way he did to Emmanuel Macron? Or Kim taking Trump's hand and "AMOG-ing" him the way he did Moon Jae-in in the demilitarised zone? Then wonder what message Israel would prefer to go out about Korea.

Where next for our world? (Click there to find out.)
Talking of narcissism, Donald Trump's letter to Kim Jong-un contains 13 sentences, 11 of which contain superlatives or intensifiers:

1) greatly appreciate, long sought
2) totally irrelevant
3) very much looking forward
4) tremendous anger, open hostility, long-planned
5) (none, but the words "to the detriment of the world" are included)
6) massive and powerful nuclear capabilities
7) wonderful dialogue
8) look very much forward
9) (none)
10) beautiful gesture, very much appreciated
11) most important summit
12) great opportunity, great prosperity and wealth
13) truly sad moment
A now for a different kind of sleaze...
""Shortly after the Ukrainian president returned home, his country's anti-corruption agency stopped its investigation into Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort."" adding...

"Michael Cohen received a secret payment of at least $400,000 (w/ sources saying it was up to $600k) to fix talks between the Ukrainian president and Trump, sources in Kiev tell the BBC."

"Cohen was not registered as a representative of Ukraine as required by" U.S. law.
@kylegriffin1 5/23/18

In return for dropping the Manafort investigation, Trump claims he has a deal to sell US coal to Ukraine and 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles, a departure from the U.S. refusing to sell arms to Ukraine in the past.

"Ukraine's domestic intelligence service, the SBU, did their own - secret - report on Mr Manafort."

"It found that there was not one "black ledger" but three and that Mr Manafort had been paid millions of dollars more from Ukraine than had been made public. (Mr Manafort has denied any wrongdoing.)"

"This information was given to me by a very senior police officer who saw the report. He said it had not been passed to the Americans."
b: Thanks for the breakdown. Rhetoric is important.

Those are some the best descriptions of narcissism I have ever read. Whatever their purpose, the narcissism quotes are educational.
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

SLEAZE! Trump, pedophilia, assault and abortion...

(Update: There are surprising new developments in the tale of Shera Brechard, whose recent tweets have been quite...interesting. See my latest.)

Hold your nose. We're diving into the sleaze.

The pedo praetorians. A tweet from the invaluable Sarah Kendzior:
Nader is the fifth pedophile tied to Trump. Others are men to which Trump had closer ties: Roy Cohn, John Casablancas, Jeffrey Epstein, and Tevfik Arif.
A pattern emerges, does it not?

Arif is the Trump business partner linked to that notorious boat loaded with underaged whores raided in the Mediterranean. That operation was all about gathering kompromat on VIPs. I suspect that a similar operation netted a certain American congressman.

The tale of Trump and Casablancas has been told many times -- for example, here and here.

There was a smear story linking Epstein and Bill Clinton that made the rounds during the election; this story traced back to a falsified version of the Virginia Roberts deposition. In fact, the links between Trump and Epstein are far, far stronger than any link between Epstein and Clinton.

Virginia met Epstein when she was working at the Mar-A-Lago. At the time, she was all of 15 years old -- and she worked as a masseuse.
In the late 1990s, Roberts was recruited to perform a massage for Epstein while working as a $9-per-hour locker room attendant at Mar-A-Lago. Roberts' father also worked at Mar-A-Lago, which is located about 3 miles away from Epstein's estate, as a maintenance manager.
Let's repeat the salient points: Virginia Roberts was working as a masseuse. At the age of fifteen. Her employer was Donald Trump, now sitting in the White House. And someone at Mar-A-Lago "recruited" her to massage a man who was Trump's friend, a man whom Trump knew to be interested in young girls.

I'm amazed that these facts have not received greater publicity.

Abortion. Paul Campos of New York Magazine has written a fascinating new article which adds further weight to his previous argument that Playboy model Shera Bechard aborted Trump's child, not Eliot Broidy's.

Before proceeding, an uncharacteristic immodesty compels me to note that -- before Campos got involved -- I published two posts devoted to this theory. See here and here. In the first post (published the day after we first learned about the payment to Brechard), I noted Broidy's relationship with the mysterious George Nader -- a link which now seems very important.

In my second post, I noted that Bechard physically resembles Ivanka. Trump rather ickily told both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal that they reminded him of his daughter.

If "the Campos theory" proves valid, perhaps a few people will recall that it was originally "the Cannon theory." I have just enough residual vanity to request that small bit of recognition.

None of this is meant to take away from the excellent work done by Campos, who reveals something about Broidy which I did not previously know:
Trump, I pointed out, is exactly the kind of man who has affairs with women like Shera Bechard, while Broidy has a history of bribing public officials to further his business interests — indeed, he had even made payments to the mistress of a politician he was bribing. And it was clear Broidy had spent much of 2017 touting his connections to Trump to various foreign officials.
So: In order to grease his way through the world, Broidy has previously demonstrated a willingness to handle "girl problems" for his rich associates. Good to know.
The AP exposé only strengthens the evidence for my hypothesis: The first payment from Broidy came two days before the meeting that apparently helped him ink a nine-figure deal with a foreign country — a deal based in no small part on his access to, and influence on, Trump. If it’s difficult to imagine Broidy being willing to take the fall for Trump’s affair with Bechard and then paying her a seven-figure sum, it’s much simpler to imagine it simply as a perfectly timed and fantastically profitable bribe.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the only hard evidence for Broidy’s claim that his payoff to Bechard wasn’t actually a straight-up bribe of the president of the United States continues to be Broidy’s own assertions.
Not quite. There was also the "person familiar with the matter" who provided information to the Wall Street Journal. It seems quite possible that this person was Broidy's lawyer (his real lawyer, not Cohen), although we cannot be sure.

Let's get back to the deal which made so much money for Broidy:
Here is some additional context that now seems especially noteworthy: Just two days before that meeting, on November 30, Broidy wired $200,000 from his Bank of America account to Real Estate Attorneys’ Group, a California firm. On December 5, REAG transferred that money to attorney Keith Davidson. Davidson was at the time supposedly representing the legal interests of Shera Bechard, a Playboy model with whom Broidy now claims to have had an affair. (Bechard fired Davidson shortly afterward, when she became convinced that Davidson was actually working in concert with Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal attorney, to protect Cohen’s client’s interests rather than hers.)
Methinks we will hear more about this REAG.

Tellingly, we have not heard from Bechard. She received money to keep quiet about her supposed affair with Broidy -- yet Broidy himself has de-bagged that particular cat, thereby effectively rendering her NDA pointless. Stormy has talked, and so has McDougal. So why no word from Bechard?

Perhaps her continued silence stems from the fact that a more important cat remains hidden in the bag.

Assault. And then there's Summer Zervos, the former Apprentice participant who says that Trump assaulted her.
A New York appeals court Thursday denied Trump's attempt to pause the case as his lawyers sought to get the suit dismissed. Sorry not sorry.
Trump had sought to stay the case while he pursued his appeal but, without explanation, the judges said, “The motion is denied.”
It gets better. Trump may well be deposed in the case, and soon. I wonder if the Republicans are starting to regret setting the Paula Jones precedent?

Better still:
Lawyers for Zervos already subpoenaed The Apprentice tapes earlier this month, which reportedly contain jaw-droppingly racist quotes from Trump.
For ages, we've heard that those tapes contain recordings of Trump using "the N word" (a childish euphemism which I usually avoid).

Two reasons for optimism -- and one big reason for pessimism

People don't come here for optimism. My basic message was set to music by Gustav Mahler: Dunkel ist das Leben, ist der Tod. But even I, the gloomiest Gus on the bus, can see two small rationales for a positive attitude.

Reason 1. Roger Stone has signaled that Trump won't run again in 2020.
“I could see him saying ‘You know what? I don’t need this anymore. I’ve made America great again. I have kept my promises to the American people. I’m heading off to the golf course,’” Stone said of Trump to the online web show "Howley Reports."
In an old Simpsons episode, Poppy Bush writes: "Having accomplished everything I wanted in my first term, there was no need for a second."

Reason 2. Near as I can tell, the Republicans in the Senate have made no genuine moves to get rid of the filibuster. In other words, they see the possibility of losing power.

I keep saying that election fraud is real, that the fix is in, that the "blue wave" will become a red victory parade. If the Republican leadership mounts a serious anti-filibuster campaign, you'll know that the fix is in. Change will then be as impossible in the U.S. as it is in Russia.

Here comes the pessimism! The controversy over Stefan Halper's surveillance of the Trump campaign has directed attention to the Inspector General of the Justice Department, Michael Horowitz. Basically, Horowitz will run an investigation of the FBI concerning the FISA smear and the Halper smear.

The talking heads on MSNBC keep telling us that Horowitz is a stand-up guy. That was his reputation.

Throughout 2017, Horowitz was the target of a smear campaign which played out on various far-right websites, including those out-of-nowhere "news" sites which might as well have the words "Made in St. Petersburg" embedded into the HTML code. Suddenly, the smear campaign stopped -- and Horowitz began making decisions helpful to Trump.

For example, Horowitz is the reason why those emails between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok went public and became a boon to Republican propagandists. And we never did learn just why McCabe had to be fired in such a way as to assure the loss of his pension. The whole tale of McCabe's dismissal still seems pretty damned fishy to me.

And I'm quite convinced that Horowitz is responsible for the release of the emails which provide the basis for this lovely bit of agit-prop concerning the "infamous" Steele dossier. The right keeps pretending that the Steele dossier was classified, even though it was no more "classified" than are the words you're reading right now. The dossier was written by a foreign national, who was free to share his work with anyone he pleased. Similarly, anyone in our government was free to field questions about the thing from journalists, just as anyone in our government is free to discuss this very blog post, should they have a mind to do so.

In preceding posts, I've speculated that someone got to Horowitz. Does Mr. Clean have a secret which renders him open to kompromat? I don't know. All I know is that his behavior has suddenly become very Trump-friendly.

Turns out I'm not the only one who believes that something odd is up with Horowitz. Although I may still be the only one irresponsible enough to give voice to such thoughts in public, certain notable people behind the scenes have started to ponder the same "forbidden" idea.

(How do I know this? A little birdy. Maybe two birdies.)

Everyone -- at least, everyone on the left -- has forgotten about the upcoming IG report on the FBI's handling of Hillary's emails. Given Horowitz' recent behavior, I expect the worst -- and I'm not the only one with dire forebodings.
Of all the politically charged reports accusing law enforcement of misconduct since President Donald Trump took office, this one from the Inspector General's office -- now 17 months in the making -- has the potential to deliver the stiffest blow for officials who formerly occupied the highest positions within the FBI and Justice Department.

"It's not going to be good, it's just a question of how bad it's going to be," said one former Justice Department official.
Of course, it's possible that Horowitz could tell us what really happened concerning that clique of FBI agents loyal to Giuliani. At the time, much reporting suggested that this clique played a role in the exposure of the Anthony Wiener laptop.

But I don't think we're going to get the truth about that. I think that this report will be a propaganda bonanza for the GOP. I think we're going to be inundated with more Comey-bashing, more Hillary-bashing, and definitely more Rosenstein-bashing. Further attacks on Rosenstein could be truly disastrous, as Asha Rangappa details here.

Just look at the advance peeks we received yesterday. Here's Fox:
There are suspicions about whether there was an effort to delay pursuing those Clinton files. The Washington Post first reported in January that Horowitz was investigating whether McCabe wanted to avoid taking action on the laptop findings until after the presidential election.
Horowitz’s investigation has looked at a variety of allegations, including whether it was improper for Comey to make a public announcement about not recommending prosecution over the Clinton email arrangement.

Horowitz’s review has already put McCabe in legal jeopardy. The Justice Department’s internal watchdog sent a criminal referral for McCabe in April to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington.

That was in response to Horowitz’s finding that McCabe leaked information to the press about the investigation and later lied about it to Comey and federal investigators, prompting Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire him in March.

The report is also expected to criticize two FBI officials who exchanged derogatory text messages about Trump while they worked on the Clinton investigation.
Here's The Hill:
The report, which will be released next month, according to the AP, will fault Comey and other top FBI officials for not acting more quickly on reviewing the emails. Some officials reportedly knew weeks earlier about the emails, but delayed obtaining a warrant to investigate them.

The inspector general report on the Clinton emails, which is also expected to criticize the two FBI agents who exchanged anti-Trump text messages, is the result of an investigation launched in early 2017, according to the AP.
All of this is designed to buttress Trump's argument that the FBI was party to a pro-Democratic conspiracy. The charge is bullshit, of course. (If the FBI was pro-Hillary, why didn't the Bureau reveal that it was investigating Trump?) But with Horowitz now in the Trump camp, as he seems to be, the propaganda will gain formidable sticking power.

Folks, we're about to get punched. It'll be the kind of punch that can make your face explode in blood.

As I said: People don't come here for optimism.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Mueller is doomed

The anti-Mueller propaganda machine is in overdrive. Example. Example. Example. Example. Many of the claims made in these propaganda pieces are false; unfortunately, mere falsity does not render propaganda ineffective.

Repetition is key. Why does the public believe that the Mueller investigation arises from the Steele document, even though it does not? Because the Trumpers keep repeating that claim. Worse, the public believes that the Steele dossier has been disproven, even though nothing in it is demonstrably wrong and much has been verified.

Trump has won the war on the dossier simply by shouting "FAKE FAKE FAKE" ad infinitum. He has never cited examples to prove his point. He doesn't need to.

Unfortunately, Democrats don't do the "tape loop" thing. Democrats annoy other Democrats if a phrase or idea becomes too familiar, so they keep trying to surprise each other.

On the other side of the aisle, conservatives love familiar messages. They're comforting. They're like tunes you recall from childhood. Conservatives remind me of Lenny in Of Mice and Men:

"Tell me about the rabbits again, George."

"C'mon, Lenny. I already told you a million times."

"But I like the way you say it, George. Tell me about the rabbits again, George."

As ever, liberals stay in their own world, talking only to themselves, a generation of Georges who refuse to engage with the Lennys. Anti-Trumpers do not realize that, across America, they are losing the fight. It's 2016 all over again: Trump ominously rises in the polls while Clinton supporters bicker over the color of the new drapes for the Oval Office.

As a corrective, I suggest this CNN analysis, which reminds us of how brazenly Trump and his supporters have lied.
When Russian officials claimed their "experts" and "specialists on the US" had been in contact with people from both the Trump and Clinton camps, former Trump spokeswoman and erstwhile White House communications director Hope Hicks rejected the reports outright.

"It never happened," she told the Associated Press. "There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign."
Even after it was revealed that his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had misled the White House about his post-election contacts with the Russian ambassador, Trump at a press conference told reporters, "I have nothing to do with Russia," adding: "To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does."
One could cite a zillion other examples of outright lying. So why aren't the Dems mounting a LIAR LIAR campaign? Why aren't the Dems using Trumpian tactics to fight Trump?

Simplify the message to two, three, four words. Then repeat and repeat and repeat. Repeat until even Philip Glass screams "ENOUGH ALREADY!" Then keep repeating it. On a routine basis, buttress the message with longer articles which mount intellectually respectable arguments -- but keep returning to those simple phrases.

Repetition is key. I've already said that, haven't I? And that's the point.

Unless the anti-Trump forces learn how to wage an information war, Mueller is doomed.
Repetition IS key and the democrats have done a great job with Russia, Russia, Russia, but its just not getting enough traction. Russia fatigue?
Unfortunately, Democrats don't do the "tape loop" thing. Democrats annoy other Democrats if a phrase or idea becomes too familiar, so they keep trying to surprise each other.

On the other side of the aisle, conservatives love familiar messages. They're comforting. They're like tunes you recall from childhood. Conservatives remind me of Lenny in Of Mice and Men:

This is all to do with the personality difference between liberals and conservatives. Conservatives have a strong "us vs them" mentality, so they like having clear, simple directives repeated. OTOH, liberals like to challenge authority and constantly seek out other viewpoints so they bristle at a simple, repeated message. It's the old Bill Clinton (I think) line about how liberals have to fall in love but conservatives just fall in line.
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How to counter Trump's latest scheme? I give you the "Dr. Strange" option... (Updated)

Roger Stone says that he is "prepared" for a Mueller indictment.

Oddly enough, so am I. I, too, feel a zen-like calm whenever I contemplate a Mueller indictment of Roger Stone.

Not that I expect Stone to do time. Trump controls the pardon power. The Republicans also control a formidable media empire which can spin any event to Trump's advantage.

Will Rosenstein and Sessions resign? The current GOP propaganda line is that Obama ordered the FBI to investigate the Trump campaign. Trump has declared that he will order an investigation which, he believes, will prove this conspiracy theory.
The president tweeted, “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”
Trump's theory is absurd for a number of reasons.

Reason 1: The FBI hierarchy heavily skews Republican, and I doubt that those Republicans would have kept quiet about political interference from Obama. If this conspiracy were real, we'd have heard something about it already.

Reason 2: FBI Director Comey publicized the investigation into Clinton but hid the investigation into Trump. If this was an anti-Trump conspiracy, Comey chose one hell of a strange way to implement it.

Reason 3: The Obama administration, presuming that Hillary was a lock, bent over backwards to hide any appearance of bias. Not only did they not order a political hit, the Obama-ites actively hid the abundant evidence that the Trump campaign received help from Russia.

Reason 4: There is no evidence that Obama exerted undue control over the Justice Department on any matter.

Reason 5: A FISA court had to approve certain important actions, such as eavesdropping on Carter Page's communications with Russians. That approval required the presentation of evidence.

I could go on, but the point is made. If this GOP conspiracy theory had any validity, why is Trump president? Why didn't we learn of the FBI investigation into Trump before the election?

Benjamin Wittes believes that if Trump forces the Justice Department to conduct this investigation, Sessions and Rosenstein will resign.
There is also no doubt in my mind that neither the attorney general (who is recused anyway) nor the deputy attorney general nor the FBI director can in good conscience comply with such an order. And I don’t believe they will.
Yet if they don't, Trump will have the outcome he desires. Begone, Sessions; begone; Rosenstein; begone, Mueller.

If you don't like that outcome, I have a better proposal: Christopher Wray personally spearheads an investigation, which he keeps under very tight wraps for security reasons. (For God's sake, make sure that the team doesn't include any Nunes-esque mischief-makers.) Wray's people call up some former Obama officials and ask: "Did you order the FBI to investigate Trump for political reasons?" They say no. The investigators search for an incriminating document, which does not exist. End result: A report appears and another GOP conspiracy theory falls apart. Sessions stays; Rosenstein stays; Mueller stays.

Later in his Twitter thread, Wittes writes:
As Quinta and I wrote yesterday, “Don’t underestimate this episode. It will have a long tail and big consequences—all of them terrible.” Those consequences, if you believe the President, may start tomorrow.
We can avoid those dire consequences if everyone just follows my plan. It's like the Dr. Strange plan in the latest Avengers movie: Yeah, it sucks -- but it's still better than the other 14 million scenarios.

Russian Roulette. Let's return to the absurd conspiracy theory that Trump has promoted in his recent tweets. The following excerpt from the Corn/Isikoff book Russian Roulette offers a counter-narrative which I consider far more persuasive:
At the first principals meeting, Brennan had serious news for his colleagues: The most recent intelligence indicated that Putin had ordered or was overseeing the Russian cyber operations targeting the U.S. election. And the IC was now certain that the Russian operation entailed more than spy services gathering information. It now viewed the Russian action as a full-scale active measure.

This intelligence was so sensitive it had not been put in the President’s Daily Brief. Brennan had informed Obama personally about this, but he did not want this information circulating throughout the national security system.

The other principals were surprised to hear that Putin had a direct hand in the operation and that he would be so bold. It was one thing for Russian intelligence to see what it could get away with; it was quite another for these attacks to be part of a concerted effort from the top of the Kremlin hierarchy.

But the secret source in the Kremlin, who two years earlier had regularly provided information to an American official in the U.S. embassy, had warned that a massive operation targeting Western democracies was being planned. The development of the Gerasimov doctrine was another indication that full-scale information warfare against the United States was a possibility. And there had been the intelligence report in May noting that a GRU officer had bragged of a payback operation that would be Putin’s revenge on Clinton. But these few clues had not led to a consensus at senior government levels that a major Putin-led attack was on the way.

At this point, Obama’s top national security officials were uncertain how to respond. As they would later explain it, any steps they might take—calling out the Russians, imposing sanctions, raising alarms about the penetrations of state systems—could draw greater attention to the issue and maybe even help cause the disorder the Kremlin sought. A high-profile U.S. government reaction, they worried, could amplify the psychological effects of the Russian attack and help Moscow achieve its end. “There was a concern if we did too much to spin this up into an Obama-Putin face-off, it would help the Russians achieve their objectives,” a participant in the principals meeting later noted. “It would create chaos, help Trump, and hurt Clinton. We had to figure out how to do this in a way so we wouldn’t create an own-goal. We had a strong sense of the Hippocratic Oath: Do no harm.”

A parallel concern for them was how the Obama administration could respond to the Russian attack without appearing too partisan. Obama was actively campaigning for Clinton. Would a tough and vocal reaction be seen as a White House attempt to assist Clinton and stick it to Trump? They worried that if a White House effort to counter Russian meddling came across as a political maneuver, that could compromise the ability of DHS to work with state and local election officials to make sure the voting system was sound. (Was Obama too worried about being perceived as prejudicial or conniving? “Perhaps there was some overcompensation,” a top Obama aide said later.)
Gee. Ya think?

Trump's proposed investigation could well uncover that "secret source" in the Kremlin. Maybe that's the point.

Update. From the invaluable Asha Ragnappa:
I keep getting bombarded with emails/comments/FB posts that if the FBI wasn't out to "get Trump" they would have warned him about the Russian threat when they discovered it. THEY DID. In July 2016
She links to this article from last December, titled "FBI warned Trump in 2016 Russians would try to infiltrate his campaign."

A later tweet from Rangappa:
Given that POTUS was made aware -- DURING HIS CAMPAIGN -- that the FBI was watching out for Russians who may be making contact or trying to infiltrate his campaign, why is he accusing the FBI of being "politically motivated"? He knew they were investigating this the whole time!
You think the IC guys would have had a friend of a friend put a bee in Mark Zuckerberg's that his social media platform was being used for rat fuckery.
Or did they and he decided he didn't like Hillary as much as the ad money?
"I could go on, but the point is made. If this GOP conspiracy theory had any validity, why is Trump president? Why didn't we learn of the FBI investigation into Trump before the election?" -end quote.

The endgame for the 2016 race came down to, Hillary Clinton was investigated, Trump was clean by comparison because he was not investigated, and some DNC emails were deemed an embarrassment, but there were no RNC emails to compare them to.

Those are two pretty big hurdles to overcome.

However, Hillary Clinton was is such a strong person I think her own people were afraid to encourage her to be more physically fit. I happened to end reading American Thinker recently and they continuously bash Hillary Clinton over her ongoing health issues. Apparently Hillary Clinton is now wearing a back brace. However, so did John F Kennedy.

I think our generation really set women back by creating a social norm of wearing heels. It's a form of psychological warfare that strips women of the freedom of being able to run (Physically run) when necessary and when they want to, eventually the idea of physically running when one is always seen in public in heels or less comfortable shoes eventually de prioritizes the entire concept of physical fitness.

The biggest FU Hillary Clinton could muster these days is to how a physical fitness revival, it would inspire all women and it might give Hillary Clinton additional perspectives she doesn't presently have. There are famous, inspirational, successful women both younger and older than Hillary Clinton who are also known for their physical fitness, meanwhile I get no such sense from anything Hillary Clinton has done other than her walks in the woods, which we found out about after the election, not before.
Mr Mike;
I think he hates America not Hillary, though the two are not mutually exclusive.
He isn't alone, it seems like a lot of that going around,but 2016 finally gave them voice.
Guiseppe Conte, a law professor "close" to the Five Star cult, looks set to become the new Italian prime minister. He works at LUISS, the Guido Carli Free International University of Social Studies, a private university.

According to its marketing material, "what distinguishes LUISS is its privileged relationship with the business world."

"This orientation and educational service facilitate the placement of degree candidates and new graduates in the business world with internships and training at companies and at public and private institutions. It also sets up recurring meetings and presentations with major multinationals, investment banks, and public and private organizations and institutions.

Guido Carli after whom the university is named was a banker and Christian Democrat, the son of Filippo Carli, the fascist sociologist and theorist of the "corporate state". One cannot rightly blame a son for what a father does, but it might be argued that LUISS continues Filippo's work.
So you are saying that people voted for a very physically unfit man over a marginally unfit woman?
I suppose fitness or lack of could be used as a sexist tool, but if it was a factor, no one I ever read or heard or talked to mentioned it except for you.


Before the election the internet was flooded with posts (many YouTube) speculating upon Hillary's many health problems. The classic was the digitally altered photo showing a large tongue lesion.
Of course, we also saw many photos of Trumps copious back side and waist line (though one of the most used was him playing golf, which isn't exactly physically demanding but does require a little bit of fitness I suppose). The idea that physical fitness had anything to do with the vote, especially if you think Russia "interfered" in whatever fashion, is completely ludicrous. I've also never seen this discussed anywhere but here. The speculation about Hillary's health problems were not focused on her lack of physical fitness but on her age and recent issues (like her flu and some other issue a year or more before the election). Trump, being no spring chicken himself and arguably in much worse physical shape than Clinton, had similar health issues discussed on line, though not to the extent they were with Clinton.
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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Trumpism, conspiracism, fascism and capitalism

This revelation is simultaneously weird, upsetting and hilarious...
President Donald Trump shouldn’t agree to talk with special counsel Robert Mueller without knowing more about a man said to have approached Trump campaign aides in 2016 as part of the U.S. investigation into Russian election interference, his lawyer said Saturday.

Rudy Giuliani said Mr. Trump could be “walking into a trap” unless federal prosecutors make clear the role played by the suspected informant and whether the person compiled any “incriminating information” about Mr. Trump’s associates.
Where to begin?

This statement -- from Trump's own lawyer -- rests on the foundation that the Trump campaign really is guilty of something. Just as there would have been no surveillance without cause, there would be no possibility of a "trap" without an actual crime.

Whatever that "something" is, it must be big. Everyone knows that you can't trap the President of the United States (or his associates) on an inconsequential or highly technical matter -- not if you hope to make the charge stick. Any such exercise would be pointless.

Republican propagandists want us to think that Mueller is somehow responsible for actions taken by the FBI long before the Mueller probe got underway. Unfortunately, the kind of people who vote for Trump tend to have difficulties with chronology. We're talking about the  same people who once were convinced that the Branch Davidian siege in Waco began under Bill Clinton. (I've seen guys become purple-faced furious when I told that the Bush administration ordered the raid -- and this was back when memories of the event were quite fresh.)

Hell, there are people out there who can't recall the date when 9/11 happened. I doubt that the poor dears could tell you whether BC or AD came first.

Conspiracy. The propagandists have been absolutely masterful in portraying the FBI's probe as itself criminal. If the Bureau was out to get Trump for political reasons, why didn't they mention before the election that they were investigating the guy? Trump's victory owes a lot to James Comey's selective revelations.

The "deep state" conspiracy theory -- once considered a paranoid fantasia -- has become Trump's sole defense. Trump has forced the rest of the Republican party to embrace that theory, even though many of them seem embarrassed by it. Someone once said that the myth of the Illuminati was a "scarecrow to frighten the gullible." That scarecrow -- or at least his brother -- now guards the White House.

How can we convince the populace that the scarecrow is just a scarecrow? I'm not sure that we can.

Scarecrows can be surprisingly formidable.

Adolf Hitler's power, like Trump's, was founded on conspiracy theory. The Reich Chancellery was also guarded by a scarecrow. All of fascism requires conspiracism, for the defining characteristic of the fascist is the desire to subordinate reality to the all-conquering Will, and conspiracy theory is the only weapon which can accomplish that goal.

Any "fact" which contradicts what I want to believe is a deception created by a band of malign schemers, and any person who stands in my way is part of the plot.

That statement is the quintessence of fascism. Everything else is a mere detail.

Fascism and religious fundamentalism are linked by their mutual reliance on conspiracy theory. Here in America, we've tolerated a massive network of "madrassas" -- fundamentalist Christian schools -- which taught millions of children that evolution is a hoax perpetrated by a worldwide conspiracy of Jesus-hating scientists. Although many of those children later fell away from religion, I doubt that they fell away from belief in baseless conspiracy theories. The worms of paranoia burrowed tunnels in their brains, and anything can now fill those voids; if you grew up believing in a Darwinian conspiracy, you'll probably get suckered into accepting a global warming conspiracy.

You're also more likely to believe in an Evil Clinton Conspiracy (or perhaps an Evil Soros Conspiracy) capable of controlling the FBI. Never mind the clear evidence to the contrary: As I've argued in previous posts, elements of the FBI and the intelligence community actually helped Trump rise to power.

The "Clinton controlled the FBI" conspiracy theory -- which few took seriously a mere year ago -- has spread like the flu after WWI. The people who buy into this nonsensical scenario never seem to notice that the very same propaganda organs spreading this story once assured them that Saddam Hussein perpetrated the 9/11 attacks. Did the New York Times or the Washington Post create that false impression? No. Fox News did. Right-wing media did.

As I've said on many previous occasions: Some conspiracies are real -- and the conspiracy theorists are the conspirators.

Fascism and capitalism. In saner times, Trump's attempt to use his office to destroy Jeff Bezos would would lead to impeachment. Trump maintains a firm hold on power even though he has alienated the world's richest man (Bezos) as well as the world's second richest, Bill Gates.

Those who consider capital to be the all-powerful factor must now ask themselves: Why is Trump still in office if the world's wealthiest men disdain him?

Zoom out for a wider angle. Let us consider the larger topic of the relationship between fascism and capitalism.

Back in the day, the USSR party line on fascism was simple: Fascism is the final stage of capitalism. Hitler, said the Marxists, was a puppet of the large capitalists. Nazism was created for the purpose of attacking the Soviet Union.

A generation of lefties, including a great many non-communists, took this claim as gospel. I recall hearing this same analysis in a speech given in the early 1990s. For a while, I was among the seduced.

Unfortunately, this claim never had much historical merit. Most of the big capitalists in Germany supported center-right parties until very late in the game. They never really trusted Hitler; he was too uncontrollable, too ideological.

In recent times, a myth has arisen that Hitler was funded by the Bush family. Not true: The Bushes invested in the Weimar system which Hitler overthrew. In fact, the early Nazi party received much funding from American anti-Semite Henry Ford, publisher of the Protocols and later the darling of the John Birchers. (Never forget that Alex Jones arose out of the Birch milieu.) This American money was laundered by figures within the German military who were sympathetic to Nazi idelogy.

So, yes, some elements of Big Money supported the Nazi takeover. You can't accomplish anything without money. But for a good long time, the largest donations came from foreign sources.

As the saying goes, history may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Today, some lefties consider Trump to be just another puppet of Big Capital. If so, why is he willing to annoy both Bezos and Gates? Are there any bigger capitalists than those two?

As in the 1920s, so too today. The Big Money funding American fascism seems to be foreign. And fascism is once again proving that it can conquer capitalism, with a little covert help from the so-called "deep state" that Trump pretends to despise.

History does rhyme.
Joseph, Masterful. "Some conspiracies are real -- and the conspiracy theorists are the conspirators." “Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?” Lady MacBeth, Act V, Scene 1

Online post allege 2 payments made by DOD’s Off of Net Assessment (ONA) to a subcontracting agent (SCA) on 9/27/16 and 7/26/16 conveniently fit the timeline for a GOP narrative alleging the SCA was an FBI ‘mole’ who infiltrated the Trump campaign (not an informant) to aid Democrats.

A Jones and R Stone, notorious consp. theorist & loosy-goosy oppo researcher, have blabbed about an FBI "mole" in the Trump campaign. The hardly credible Sam Nunberg downplayed Stone's 2nd betrayal of the U.S. covert agent in 2 yrs. DOD/DCS/DIA/ONA own any legal issues: the SCA contract isn't w/DOJ/FBI. Is the GOP narrative a Plame-out: who is motivated to discredit in one fell swoop the SCA, DOJ/FBI, & DOD/DCS/DIA/ONA?

The GOP’s narrative, w/Dems & FBI conspiring to run ops that spied on the Trump campaign (“worse than Watergate”), it ignores key facts. Why was the ONA contract w/a CIA operative? Why didn't DOJ own the contract and payment? Why would Comey reopen a damaging Clinton investigation 2 weeks before the election? Why are early Dutch intel tips not factors? DOD/DIA typically share foreign intel w/ CIA & State Dept, but ONA routinely lacks intel contract details. Which sr leaders authorized or knew about a DOD op to explore links between members of Trump’s campaign and foreign agents from July to Aug '16?

Historically, DOD HUMINT has no great love for CIA. Sharing info across agencies creates risk if well-positioned political actors use other agencies’ intel to stack the deck: suppressing investigations, discrediting the free press, and reducing gov. transparency.

This looks like a bloodless internal coup crafted to discredit DOJ, tar the DOD, and eviscerate the FBI, the agency that is the biggest threat to investigations of corrupt actors, breaches of Nat Sec, violations of democratic processes (e.g. voting), money laundering, tax fraud, human trafficking, etc. GOP leaders have already gone to extraordinary lengths to concoct stories based on incomplete facts in hopes of fatally wounding the Mueller investigation and shutting down info on foreign interference w/ the election. The GOP's conspiracy-covert op narrative begs a question: are there precedents for these ops in other elections, such as Ukraine,…?

Extending most favored nation status to investors in leaders’ political and personal business interests violates a primary duty to serve the people and the law. The rise of a "professional" political class, whose collective ignorance, cupidity, and fund-raising ability are pre-requisites for campaign viability, have inexorably diminished our democracy.

Stink emanates from places eager to bury the Mueller investigation. After DOJ shakeups, was Pompeo’s sudden Xfer from Dir CIA to SoS needed to suppress facts that would expose a fake GOP "narrative", sinking “proof” of a “deep state” conspiracy, the pretext for fascist exorcisms of “corrupt” partisan “enemies” in State, DOD, DOJ, and FBI. Rosenstein is unlikely to identify the informant, increasing pressure on him to resign even if the CSA’s name is all over the internet.
dataflo ; ; ; 5/19/18

FBI probably had informants (spies) within the Clinton campaign as well. No matter who gets elected you always want to make sure your budget gets approved. The FBI hasn't changed much from the days of Hoover. The lure of being the power behind the throne is just too intoxicating.
OK, on fascism...

When and by whom were the Nazis (NSDAP) first called "fascists"?

And why? I suspect that those who ordered the application of this label were seeking to convey the message that the Nazis were basically upstarts, too big for their boots, exponents of an ideology that originated in relatively weak and backward Italy, mere copiers, and (therefore) doomed to fail.

(Of course that does not explain every use of the label. When Hitler was still in power there were some anti-Nazis, such as Otto Rühle, who argued that the world was heading towards "world fascism". Clearly when they referred to "fascists" they did not mean to invoke connotations of "losers". There were also many who were less pessimistic than Rühle who wished to point up what they saw as a world danger. After all, once the Francoists had won the war in Spain only a few months passed before Germany - and the USSR - invaded Poland.

And although the Nazis themselves did not call themselves "fascists", there were also some far-right nationalists outside of Italy who were happy to call themselves by that term, such as Oswald Mosley in Britain. Which was a mistake on their part. Mosley was adulated by his supporters but many saw his movement as foreign-inspired, which in its iconology it certainly was - the black shirts, the salutes. The style of his favoured upper-body podium garb was actually based on a fencing jacket, but I doubt that many whom he might otherwise have won over were aware of that. Had he styled his brand in a more British and English way, and perhaps called his party the "National Labour Party", he might have gone a lot further. Of course Hitler too used coloured shirts, but he didn't call himself a "fascist" and nobody seems to have got very far pinning a "foreign" label on his movement. In Russia meanwhile the military hats used by the "red" side in the civil war were chosen to invoke the spirit of the legendary bogatyrs of Russian folklore. That explains the pointy hats. Have a look at Dziga Vertov's 1924 film "Soviet Toys".

In Italy, birthplace of fascism, nobody called the German Nazis by that term, although Italian fascism did in its later years contain a Nazi tendency, which termed itself "Nazi-fascist" and was home to a number of Steinerite maniacs. That's a tendency with which I suspect many influential figures in today's world are far more familiar than they like to let on.)
The relationship between fascism and capitalism has been addressed by many on the left in a way that has been crude, if often well-intentioned (although hardly well-intentioned by Leninist arseholes). But when it comes down to it, fascism is all about money. It's just that the critical use of the concept of "money" needs to grasp its ontology and also its historical dynamic...which is about the objectification of the vast majority of individuals and essentially the advance of a kind of slavery.

Trump - in his brand message the great maker of "deals" - officiates at the cult of money with a fervour that I cannot recall in any previous US president.

The idea of "cultural capital" could have some mileage if it weren't covered with so much bullshit by academics who spout their "cultural Marxist" rubbish with little clue about Marx's critique of political economy, about what "capitalism" is, and who are essentially comfortable scribes with no passion or profundity in their scribblings. The sad thing is that the neat conceptual division between "political", "economic", "social" and "cultural" is and always has been total crap, purveyed by the likes of clueless superficialists wholly at one with US capitalist power, such as Talcott Parsons, and further spouted by French and French-influenced academics who like most academics challenge nothing or very little. But if "cultural capital" is properly understood as literally and not figuratively a flavour of capital, critique can get somewhere - and it can shed light on questions such as the differences and similarities in where Bezos and Trump draw their social power from.
b, there's a lot to chew on here. For now, I will say this: I think you mistakenly conflate "love of money" and "love of capitalism." King Midas loved money, but was hardly a capitalist in the modern sense. Yeah, Midas was a mythical figure, but you get my point: There were plenty of people who loved wealth in the days before Adam Smith and the Industrial Revolution and all that.

My post was overlong, which is why it did not include a section Putin and the Russian oligarchical system. It's not capitalism and it's not socialism. It's in a category of its own -- neo-feudalism, perhaps. This system harkens back to pre-capitalist forms of avarice, in which the ultra-successful man of business is not a creation of the market but a person selected on the basis of his fealty to an authoritarian leader.

You say fascism is all about money. I say fascism is all about neo-feudalism. And this is the system which Trump (operating more by instinct and personality than by any kind of coherent ideology) would like to install here.

As you know, Marx's critique of capitalism was founded on admiration for capitalism's achievements. Thus, I think Marx would be as repulsed as anyone by neo-feudalism.

Ultimately, I think we're headed toward a new society which may look a bit like the Ralph Richardson section of the film "Things to Come."
b, the Vertov film was brilliant. Crude propaganda made semi-sublime by sheer weirdness.
@Joseph - Glad you liked the Vertov film. Unpleasant, but brilliant.

Trump thinks his own "greatness" has raised the Dow and thereby created a lot of value, so I agree it's money he is worshipping rather than capitalism. But even if he doesn't appreciate it, money nowadays is essentially a form of capital and all money is capitalist money. One cannot usefully take money, wage-labour, male domination, debt or other such features of society that have existed since ancient times and trace their development down in isolation, from thousands of years ago to the present day.

(Something such as the dream should be excluded from the list, but there are reports - from various angles - that people in Russia are dreaming a lot about Putin. Those who manage the culture in that country know very well what's going on. Perhaps Trump is featuring in dreams in the US?? But Russia is a much older country...)

Even the money that is used in small-scale circulation to mediate the reproduction of the proletarian is mediating the reproduction of the capitalistically exploited wage-labourer, or the maintenance of those who are kept alive pending possibly being put to work (or breed) in the future - or the maintenance of those who simply can't be rounded up and killed YET for reasons of expedience relating to the balance of class power. An "unnecessary" expenditure that our rulers' advisers are working on reducing.

I embarrassingly misused the word "literally" after deciding not to call cultural capital a "kind" of capital and to switch to the vaguer word "flavour". But cultural capital is literally capital. It is invested in production, reaped, amassed in greater quantities than the investment, and sometimes lost. It is totally within the cycle of money capital -> commodity capital -> more money capital. Sometimes, as happened in the USSR a lot of the time, money capital doesn't get logged in terms of currency units. Most people in that country engaged in wage-labour in return for money in their wage packets with which they bought food etc., even if more vacations were organised through the workplace than in the US, etc. etc., and the exploiters had a very different accounting system from the one in the west.

We could go kabbalistic and say all capital is cultural capital but that would be too easily misunderstood.

True that Marx praised some of the achievements of capitalism, even if he said there was no crime it wouldn't commit given a high enough profit rate. Also you gotta hand it to the guy who first called the modern school a sausage machine. What I like about his work is how he shows that capitalism unlike previous societies is fundamentally economic, about the imposition of scarcity. It's a shame he didn't show more rage in his writings. André Breton could have taught him a thing or two :-) As for the "dialectics of nature" - argh! I don't know why he didn't distance himself from "science" but he never managed to. There it was: Comte (who was insane), Malthus, Spencer, Galton, Morgan. He could have sussed how it all stuck together and denounced the lot of it, head-on. How I'd love to believe that no radical critic since 1990 has sung the praises of capitalism's latest achievement, the internet.

As for neo-feudalism, in Britain the culture is increasingly that everyone outside of the upper orders is receiving whatever they get as some kind of permitted allowance in return for their faithful obedience...whether that's minutes on their phone tariff or treatment in hospital...

Also into the analysis: money in the form of numbers of "likes" and "followers" shown on people's "accounts" run in their name by advertising companies is becoming an ever more "common" currency without being "freely" convertible. Perhaps it's similar to "clout" ("blat") in the USSR?
Regarding Neo-feudalism, Wiki says that "The term originated as a criticism of the left". Neo-feudalism is described as
"unequal rights and legal protections for common people and for nobility" and
"widening of the wealth gap, as poor and marginalized people are excluded from the state's provision of security" and
"individuals' public lives are increasingly governed by business corporations" and
"the commodification of policing, and signifies the end of shared citizenship".

If all of this (and much more) sounds familiar, it's because it is happening in real-time. Right now, as you live and breathe. Billionaire Nick Hanauer, a very proud Capitalist (he literally calls himself such), correctly opines that "our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society". I would take it further and say "our world is rapidly becoming less a classically capitalist society and more a neo-feudal society."

Regarding the relationship between fascism and capitalism. The leading definition of fascism is that it is "palingenetic ultranationalism". Which means that it is hypernationalism rooted in racial identity. I disagree with this definition because that is not the kind of fascism that first occurred with Italy. In fact, Benito Mussolini was very much against the NSDAP and Hitler's racial policies and ideology (partly because they excluded the Italian people) and refused to go along with the anti-Jewish campaigns (which would culminate in the Shoah/Holocaust). Mussolini specifically called the Nazi racism "stupid" and "unscientific" and considered Nazi policy to be thoroughly discredited by science. My point is, the fascism in Italy lacked the racism we equate with fascism today. The weird hybrdid fascism that occurred in Germany had racism (especially racism against Jews and Slavs) as its basis. Thus the notorious comment where Hitler says (and I'm paraphrasing) that he didn't care if a thousand pregnant Slavic women died while preforming slave labor (Slavs tended to be more used for penal slavery, whereas Jews tended to be outright executed) if it improved the life of even one German/Aryan woman. My point is, I don't think racism originally belonged to fascism. I think it was imported by disgusting and wretched figures like Rosenberg, Goebbels, Himmler, and their cohorts.

And how did fascism actually come to power in Italy? It came to power because King Victor Emmanuel III (who still held absolute power even during Mussolini's dictatorship) thought he could use the fascists to preserver capitalism. Capitalism, as King Emmanuel III saw it, was under threat and the King feared a communist/Bolshevik coup that would see him ousted if not executed. The communists had already tried to preform a coup and failed. After the communist failure to oust the Italian monarch and his security forces, Mussolini and his fascists tried to do a coup. The fascists also failed. But this time, instead of simply imprisoning or putting the fascists to death for crimes against the state, King Emmanuel got an idea. He decided to appoint Mussolini as head of government, thinking that the fascists would violently exterminate the communist problem in Italy.

So the first fascist government came about through the power of monarchy with the intention of preserving two things: crown and capitalism. So, yes, Fascism is what Capitalism does when it's mortally threatened. And the racism (specifically the anti-Jewish stuff) we equate with fascism was not part of Italian fascism. So what is fascism if not a type of racism? I would say that fascism is a type of capitalist hypernationalism. A fusion between capitalism and hypernationalism. Blend the two ideologies together, you get fascism.
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Bill Maher gets it

If you're as annoyed as I am by the enforced optimism of the big Dem sites, take a big, depressing swig from a bottle of truth.
Zuckerberg in concert with the new incarnation of Cambridge Analytica will engage in blatant rat fuckery. They'll play the Bernie Bros n Hos, drive a wedge between the Democratic Party and the Black community, and GOTV Klan Tiki-Nazis. The end result will be Dems might get majorities but not big enough to do much.
If the Great White Dope doesn't make it to 2020 it will be due to nature cause, not justice.
Next Friday, 25 May, Ireland will hold a referendum on a proposal to remove the clause in its constitution that "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn" as equal to the "right to life of the mother".

"Save the 8th", the official campaign against repeal, has hired Kanto, the London-based company founded by Thomas Borwick. Borwick was technology director of Vote Leave and previously worked for Cambridge Analytica.

An Ipsos poll conducted last week showed support for Yes (to the repeal proposal) as having fallen from 63% to 58% since late April. (I'm disregarding Don't Knows, Won't Votes and Won't Says.)

In 2015, polls prior to a referendum in Ireland on gay marriage showed Yes (to a proposal enabling such marriage) running at 70%. In the actual vote, Yes got 62%. Since a similarly sized poll-to-vote drop next week will yield a 50-50 result, it is quite possible that the proposed repeal of abortion law will be unsuccessful.

Google, the filthy outfit which as we know has a "$pecial" relationship with the hoods who run the Republic of Ireland, seems to be backing Yes, insofar as it won't circulate online adverts for either campaign, a policy which commentators seem to think is more bothersome for No than for Yes. Facebook, meanwhile, has said it will no longer accept adverts for either side in the referendum from interests based outside of the Republic. And the third major member of the fascist communications trio, Twitter, has banned all advertising for this referendum.

Whether these policies are because the controllers of these dirty companies don't want to be in danger of being tarred with the same brush, especially after a No win, as Bannon and Cambridge Analytica, I don't know.

In other news, the British authorities recently sought to kill a young disabled boy by assistance withdrawal, refusing to allow his parents, who had obtained Italian citizenship for him and also the support of Pope Francis, to take him to a Vatican-owned hospital in Rome.

And the British media were getting ready to whoop it up when the parliament of Guernsey voted in favour of "assisted dying", drooling with glee as they reported that that small island would become the "first part of the British Isles" to introduce such a law - but the parliament failed to oblige them and voted against.
b, why should the state have a say about what a woman does with a bit of gristle growing in her uterus?
Along the same line why should anybody have a say when an ailing person says "Enough" and decides to check out?
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