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Sunday, September 23, 2018


It's getting weird. Tweet from Michael Avenatti (about whom my feelings are extremely mixed):
All indications are that Dr. Ford is not alone. Buckle up - that includes you Mark Judge. #Basta
And to those that have criticized our media strategy: this will be yet another example of why we used it - because it works!
Here's my concern: Avenatti is ambitious. Ambition may impede judgment. If other claimants have come forward, have they been vetted?

One faker or fabulist could prove invaluable to the Trumpers. There are women out there who have trouble discerning reality from imagination.

That said, we've all heard the rumors about other women who have privately made claims against Kavanaugh. It would make sense for those other women to seek help from Avenatti.

If there are other women out there, the time for them to come forward is now. That said, I still believe that Michael Avenatti must be kept away from the 2020 Democratic nomination.

A question about high school. Is my experience so different from others? I'm not much older than Kavanaugh, and I came of age in licentious Los Angeles during the sin-filled '70s. Yet nobody I knew indulged in the kind of heavy drinking and wild partying that has now become synonymous with Georgetown Prep.

Granted, I was a nerd, a geek, an anti-social oddball -- an outsider. But was I that much of an outsider?

Back then, my favorite after-school pastime was taking a bus to UCLA to sit in on Bob Rosen's film history classes. He showed excellent 35mm prints of classic films, straight from the studio vaults, and the projection at Melnitz Hall was fantastic. After the movie, I usually spent a few hours in the research library, reading about everything from the JFK assassination to military history to...well, anything.

UCLA has one of the world's great libraries. Those nights were amazing. New ideas electrified my thinking every few minutes.

Was I really that different from others my age? The Kavanaugh types, the guys who lived lives of trite debauchery, no doubt would have considered me freakish. To me, they were unfathomable and alien.
I can tell you about UCLA. Around 1987 I was making a couple of my Season's Greeting's Generics that I was trying to sell to individual cable companies across the U.S.

I met a composer who was also a property manager of an Apartment in one of the UCLA Dorms area. After going there a couple of times to work with him on the music, I noticed that every time I either got out of my car, or went back to my car after a session, there would loud banter from one of the surrounding dorms, and the banter was ALWAYS about BOOZE.

On my last visit for the music project I said to my composer friend / manager, I'll make a bet that the first thing you hear when we go outside is talk of alcohol. The composer had let me park in his garage space and had to move his car so I could leave. We go outside and not 10 seconds had gone by when some kids go by with a huge shopping bag full of BOOZE. We could hear the bottles clanging around and the discussion was about alcohol.

The composer looked at me was quite blown away. I recall sometime about a decade ago, or about 20 years later, UCLA imposed some kind of ban on booze either in the dorms, or at parties, or some kind of ban. I am going to assume that Booze was the segue that allowed people's inhibitions to be lowered so whatever happened next, happened.
Alessandro, thanks for the personal recollection of UCLA.

I started "hanging out" there in the 1970s (while still in middle school) and of course I eventually attended college there. People drank, of course. But I don't recall a HUGE booze culture. Perhaps that frenzied "party hearty" thing took hold in a major way as the 1980s wore on.

The people I knew in that school liked to quaff a pint at the King's Head Inn in nearby Santa Monica, L.A.'s best-known British pub. Word had it that lucky customers might run into Patrick McGoohan. He would glare at you and insult you if you annoyed him -- and he was easily annoyed. It was considered quite an honor when Patrick told you to fuck off.
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Saturday, September 22, 2018

My faith in Trump has been restored. Plus: THE FABIANS ARE COMING!

In recent days, I have theorized that the Christine Blasey Ford accusation was a ruse, or (to use my personal terminology) a McAlpine gambit. I theorized that she was a willing co-conspirator in a pro-Trump scheme. In this scenario, an accuser makes a very public accusation of sexual assault and then -- just when the story seems sure to ruin Trump's nominee -- the claim falls apart in some spectacular way. Result: The Dems who backed her would look terrible, the nominee would sail right on through, and the GOP would gain in the mid-terms.

(For a proper definition of the term "McAlpine Gambit," see the preceding post.)

A paranoid theory? Yep! I admit it.

Look, we're all paranoid these days. Everybody's doing it. I'm not completely immune to trends; in 1970, I even had a pair of bell bottoms.

To a large degree, I fastened onto this "McAlpine Gambit" theory because I was freaked out by Trump's decidedly non-Trumpian response to Blasey Ford. He actually said the right things...
"Why would I attack her?" Trump asked, according to two sources with knowledge of his remarks.

Rather than lashing out in anger or defensiveness, Trump said Monday he'd like to "see a complete process."

"I'd like everybody to be very happy. Most importantly, I want the American people to be happy, because they're getting somebody that is great," he said.
Can you blame me for feeling flummoxed and suspicious? That's not Trump. Donald Trump does not say such words.

And then, yesterday, we finally got the tweet I've been waiting for -- the tweet that restored my faith in Donald Trump:
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
Now THAT'S Trump: Attack! Smear! Attack! Smear!

Granted, the lack of spelling errors is a bit worrisome, but the capitalization of Law Enforcement Authorities is a robustly Trumpian touch. He's back! The orange imposter has been banished. No more Mr. Nice Guy. The genuine thug has returned, and he's as vulgar as ever.

For three days, Donald Trump acted like a human being. He acted (dare one even say the word?) presidential. Either a truly Machiavellian scheme was afoot or the Apocalypse was nigh. No other conclusion seemed possible.

But with that one tweet, Trump has restored my faith in inhumanity. Well, his inhumanity.

Maybe -- just maybe -- the Blasey Ford accusation isn't a Machiavellian trick. Maybe this story is what it seems to be. Maybe it is possible to be too cynical, even in today's world.

By the way, Ed Whelan has disavowed his mistaken identity theory. I admit that I thought that this theory might prove important. It wasn't so much that I trusted Whelan or his analysis, but the amount of sheer research that went into his tweets led me to suspect that this suggestion would play an as-yet undefined role in what I called "The Big Plot Twist." Whelan knows the law, and I didn't think that he would place himself at legal risk by naming an innocent party as a sexual assailant -- not unless Whelan had some advance knowledge of how this play would end.

I was right about one thing: His tweets were actually a group effort. So give me credit for that correct guess.

Yesterday's NYT story about Rod Rosenstein made me sick to my stomach -- so much so that I couldn't stand to think about politics for much of the day. That's why I didn't contribute a post.

Trump has given strong hints that he will use the revelation as an excuse to fire Rosenstein -- a firing which will lead, eventually, to a shut-down of the Mueller probe.

Liberals, in their effort to bring the story into discredit, spent the day attacking the NYT. Assailing the credibility of the NYT is precisely what Trump wants. However you take this story, it was a win-win for the Mango-In-Chief.

Personally, I am persuaded that Rosenstein really did talk about invoking the 25th. Not only that: I think everyone connected with this administration has talked about that possibility at one time or another. How could they do otherwise? They've seen Trump's bizarre behavior first-hand, and they surely felt the need to discuss the situation with others, in private. Late at night, as the ice clinked and the scotch poured, the thought must have entered their heads: What if the guy really is too crazy to do the job? 

Omarosa gave her book that title for a reason.

As for the claim that Rosenstein talked about clandestinely recording Trump: Well, is that idea really such a stretch? Omarosa and Cohen actually did make recordings. If the 25th ever does come into play (with this president or any future president), the claimants are going to need evidence sufficient to convince Congress. Nowadays, you can't just say "He's nuts." You have to prove it.

THE freakiest event yesterday was Sean Hannity's warning to Trump. Hannity really seems to believe that the NYT article was part of a liberal plot to tempt the president into firing Rosenstein -- an outcome which Hannity believes would prove ruinous to Trump.

And people think my little theories are weird...!

Speaking of weird theories: Ben Carson has topped everyone.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson told an audience of conservative activists on Friday that the sexual assault allegations facing President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court are part of a plot by socialists to take over America that dates back more than a century.

"If you really understand the big picture of what's going on, then what's going on with Kavanaugh will make perfectly good sense to you," Carson said at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington. "There've been people in this country for a very long time, going all the way back to the Fabians, people who've wanted to fundamentally change this country."
In the real world, Fabianism hasn't been a "thing" in America for more than a century. But in the mythos created by the John Birch Society and their ideological allies, Fabianism never went away -- in fact, it is the most powerful conspiratorial force in the modern world.

The Birchers outlined the Fabian conspiracy in a book called Fabian Freeway, published in 1966 and available here. (Western Islands was a Birch imprint.)

This summary of Birchite thought may be of some value to anyone trying to understand what Carson was nattering on about. The meme was never retired, as this 2010 blog post illustrates. In nooks and crannies of our culture rarely visited by you and I, there were podcasts which incessantly screeched about Barack Obama's perceived "Fabianism."

Birchers aren't the only ones who see Evil Fabians under every bed. This site, for example, sees the Fabians as part of a "Jesuit Vatican New World Order." That news probably would have come as a big surprise to Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells, who really were Fabians. I do not believe that they were terribly fond of the Jesuits.

Basically, we're supposed to think that H.G. Wells and GBS were the enemies of humanity -- and that Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are the good guys.

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

These days, there are rats everywhere. So a bit of conspiratorial thinking, as you have often pointed out, is a healthy counter to a dangerous credulity which has the tendency to make decent people think that the drastic changes being enacted daily and the departures from Democratic tradition are somehow unimportant and will be easily undone.

It will take at least a generation, if we work hard and are lucky, to regain what we've lost since Reagan was in office.

Joseph, you write, "Maybe -- just maybe -- the Blasey Ford accusation isn't a Machiavellian trick...." true. But the Repuclinns seem to think that it is. Or that they can use it as such. I think it's all about who controls the narrative at this point, and the R's, now sinking in the polls, could be proven wrong. Or, if they do get their Golden Kav in, it could prove so costly in political terms as to have been not worth it.

We must consider the possibility that the Sulzberger clan owns a few closeted skeletons, and that Vladimir Satanovich Putin has learned the locations and contents of those closets.

We must consider this with any uncharacteristically pro-Trump move made by supposedly anti-Trump figures and institutions these days.

(That's my version of paranoia.) ;)
It didn't matter to the rice farmer if the oppression was from Saigon or Hanoi as long as bored Americans didn't turn his water buffalo into hamburger. The republicans know Americans will put up with rat fuckery as long as it's not their ox gored. We deserve he government we get.
No need to feel bad about getting your McAlpine gambit analysis wrong. Even if this isn't it, you know Republicans have been talking about how they can pull one off. And as Tom said above, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

"THE freakiest event yesterday was Sean Hannity's warning to Trump. Hannity really seems to believe that the NYT article was part of a liberal plot to tempt the president into firing Rosenstein -- an outcome which Hannity believes would prove ruinous to Trump."

I'm glad you noticed this. Tells me that Trump won't use this as a pretext to fire Rosenstein. So we should be safe... for now.
For three days Trump acted like a man facing the gallows whose mind was wonderfully focused.
What has me spooked is that a Rosenstein firing will sweep this SCOTUS confirmation away just as the Blasey Ford accusation swept away Kavanaugh's concealed documents and perjuries. The Shock Doctrine.
To be fair, Carson said "All the way back to the Fabians", which implies Fabians themselves aren't a problem in the present. Incidentally, the logo of the Fabian Society is a wolf wearing the skins of sheeps.
As far as "controlling the narrative" I'd like to see Blasey Ford interviewed early next week by Oprah, Dr. Phil or even Megyn Kelly. Someone who would be close to an honest broker asking neutral questions to get Fords story out there. She would be well lit and made up. And think of the ratings! Donny's head would explode.
Perhaps that period where Trump appeared civilized in his tweets was due to staff tweeting while Trump was off to the Carolinas trying to appear presidential -- and failing.
There is one "trap" scenario that makes sense -- the discrediting of Joe Biden as the 2020 Democratic contender because of the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill fiasco.
I recall when I first started working temporary jobs well over 30 years ago that there was either flirting or someone aggressively showing they wanted someone else in a group setting. It was just a time when there was no way to interact online and set up parameters. So is it fair to judge what is said today and agreed upon today as a benchmark with what happened 40 years ago? Of course what Kavanaugh is accused of goes over the line, but, I wonder, is it just the aggression that matters? Did Kavanaugh continue to stalk this person and talk badly about her, or did he leave like a wounded puppy and was even embarrassed to ever see her again. I think it matters because many people were really flying blind 40 years ago. Men were supposed to try and "get it", and women were supposed to refuse or get some type of respect in return, such as a boyfriend. That's just the way it was forty years ago.
I haven't read the exact accusation and I probably should before commenting. I recall reading he allegedly pinned her on a bed and she had to fight him off. If a guy has been taught that girls will always put up a fight first, what a screwed up time to be in. I was lucky enough to not have that kind of influence, but if I had, I might have been just as stupid as Kavanaugh allegedly was.

I am just concerned that as the line moves towards what SHOULD be acceptable levels of respect when interacting with others and then applying the correct line to the past seems wildly confusing in some ways, and in other ways seems like the right thing to do.
Joe Biden allegedly plagiarized speeches when he ran for president back in the 90's I think it was. So did he do his time or is it fair game to bring that back up if he runs again?
No doubt - Ben Carson's reincarnation of the Fabians results from a "brain booster smart drug" that makes him smarter. I think I saw a tweet that indicates Trump is interested - I wonder why?
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Kavanaugh case and the McAlpine gambit (UPDATED: Is there another suspect?)

If and when the Big Plot Twist occurs in the current Kavanaugh melodrama, nobody will give me credit for predicting it.

Everyone (on both the right and the left) has been brainwashed to accept only the current framing: Either 1. Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth or 2. She is party to an Evil Dem conspiracy.

I have offered a third option. I posit that Blasey Ford has been cajoled or manipulated into pressing a false charge, with the ultimate goal of helping Trump.

If you dare to consider that possibility, people will think you're from Mars.

In my scenario, the Big Plot Twist would be a classic example of the "McAlpine gambit," as described in many, many previous posts. Guess we'll have to do it again.

The following quotation comes from a book about Machiavelli by Lord Alistair McAlpine, friend to Margaret Thatcher. (The book is about using Machiavellian tactics in the modern business world.)
First, create a situation where you are wrongly accused. Then, at a convenient moment, arrange for the false accusation to be shown to be false beyond all doubt. Those who have made accusations against both the company and its management become discredited. Further accusations will then be treated with great suspicion.
Lord McAlpine's wording was very simple. MY wording has been very simple.

Yet my readers still insist on misunderstanding me. Nobody gets me.

In part, this is because the Kavanaugh controversy brings us into the realm of sex, and sex is the mind-killer. Not fear: Sex. Dune got it wrong. Fear often clarifies a complicated situation; sex never does.

Feminists cannot permit themselves to consider this forbidden concept -- that Christine Blasey Ford might be a witting participant in a McAlpine gambit which has the ultimate goal of aiding Trump.

Thoughtcrime! Women are holy. Women are sacred. Even when placed under duress or offered a large reward, women never lie. Never! Only a horrible sexist rape-apologist Penismonster would consider such a possibility.

And yet, we have this note from one of my readers (a female reader, I must point out):
Chatter on Disqus is there's someone coming forward to say "She's mistaken, I'm the guy who molested her at that party."
I have not seen this chatter. If anyone out there can cite an example, please forward a link.

The best evidence for my theory -- and really, the only evidence any thinking person should need -- is summarized by this headline: "Aides quietly stunned by Trump's respectful handling of Kavanaugh accuser."

That "respectful handling" makes sense only if we're dealing with a McAlpine Gambit.
"Why would I attack her?" Trump asked, according to two sources with knowledge of his remarks.

Rather than lashing out in anger or defensiveness, Trump said Monday he'd like to "see a complete process."

"I'd like everybody to be very happy. Most importantly, I want the American people to be happy, because they're getting somebody that is great," he said.

Kellyanne Conway was the first White House official to appear on television after Ford came forward publicly. During an appearance on Fox News, Conway said Kavanaugh's accuser should testify.

"This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored," Conway said. "I think the Senate is headed to a reasonable approach in that it seems to be allowing this woman to be heard in sworn testimony, allowing Judge Kavanaugh to be heard in sworn testimony."
This next paragraph has "McAlpine gambit" written all over it. (Trump habitually gives away too much.)
He has only referenced the Supreme Court once in Twitter this week — tweeting shortly before midnight Tuesday: "The Supreme Court is one of the main reasons I got elected President. I hope Republican Voters, and others, are watching, and studying, the Democrats Playbook.
"Playbook." That word is key. He knows that, once the Big Plot Twist hits, he'll be able to portray all Democrats as conspirators.

Yes, I could be wrong. Nevertheless, I strongly suspect that Blasey Ford is a witting participant in a pro-Trump plot to make all Dems look bad. If she were legit, Trump would have reacted in his usual fashion -- insults, slams, smears, not-so-veiled threats. Trump is Trump. If he acts non-Trumpy, he must have a hidden reason.

Right now, Kavanaugh is the first "below water" Supreme Court nominee, according to an NBC/WSJ poll. Interestingly, support from Republicans has increased since the attempted rape allegation became public. Republicans love to assume what I call the "false underdog" position. If and when the Big Plot Twist hits, we are never going to hear the end of it.

One major purpose of such a scheme would be to justify the "false underdog" narrative, and to cement that narrative in the minds of independents. The message may be summarized thus:

Democrats are all evil conspirators. Conservatives are always the victims of conspiracy, never the perpetrators.

That's the narrative which the GOP propagandists keep pushing every minute of every hour of every day. Trump's survival depends on convincing the country that this narrative reflects reality.

When the Big Plot Twist hits, Kavanaugh will suddenly be extremely popular, and Trump will have "evidence" to back his claim that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt.

Y'know what? I bet that some of you still refuse to comprehend what I'm saying. Even though I've used very simple language, and even though a reasonably-bright eight-year-old should be able to comprehend how the McAlpine Gambit works, some of you will insist on believing that I said something other than what I actually said. Sex is the mind-killer.

If I have any feminist readers left, they probably now want to give me the Familiar Lecture. Something like this:
"WOMEN CARE, MEN SHOULD TOO. Rape and sexual assault are the most underreported crimes in our nation. Worldwide, one in three women experience some sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization. FEAR keeps them from coming forward.
That's what you want to say to me, right? Right?

The McAlpine Gambit works every time, thanks to ultra-predictable ninnies like you.

Update: While I wrote the above, a conservative bigwig named Ed Whelan published an initially persuasive argument that any victimization of Blasey Ford was the fault of another young man entirely. Josh Marshall's response:
I’m not even sure how to convey the argument. It involves a series of logical (I mean this in the technical sense, not saying they make sense) surmises, the geography of where different students lived and the floor plan of a particular house in the town in question. The argument is highly, highly speculative to put it mildly and I would say quite likely libelous. You can read the thread here.

The point I want to make clear is that the author, Ed Whelan, is not some random on Twitter. He’s a big deal in conservative legal circles. This development is shocking on many, many levels.
A man like that would think twice before committing potential libel. And to be honest, Marshall's wording reeks of desperation. As I said above: Sex is the mind-killer.

The Whelan scenario does not truly align with my McAlpine Gambit theory, since mistaken identity and false accusation are two different things, although the concepts do bear a certain kinship. That said, and contrary to Marshall, I do not consider Whelan's argument easy to dismiss. The fact that Whelan was able to secure the floor plan of that house and interior photos -- along with other pieces of hard-to-obtain evidence -- tells me that his tweets were probably a team effort.

Something is going on behind the scenes. I do not like the smell of this. Even if my "McAlpine" theory proves wrong-headed, I remain convinced that something hidden, something sneaky, lies behind this melodrama. We're about to get clobbered.
Well it appears that the gambit has been played. But it looks clumsy, like everything else coming from this crowd.
Seems like the McAlpine gambit is crashing and burning. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's accusation caused the news media to start digging and they unearthed juicy tidbits.
Koathanger Kavanaugh spent three years and a couple millions harassing Vince Foster's family trying to prove Hillary done it.
While at Yale he belonged to the "Tit and Clit" Society whose hijinks included burning flags made of stolen co-eds' underwear and chants like, "No means yes and yes means anal"
His fraternity was eventually banned for being dicks.
Who knows what tomorrow brings?
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Mike, none of what you said disproves the "McAlpine Gambit" theory. You don't use that gambit on behalf of a saint. You use the gambit to make the public think that a victimizer is a victim. Re-read the actual words that McAlpine used.

Second lede in the WaPo story.
Fits your theory only Ford shot it down.
Though I remain skeptical, it is a credible theory, and I'm keeping my ears open. How people misunderstand the theory, as opposed to being skeptical of it, is baffling.

I don't have anything to add except to say that this Supreme Court seat is the culmination of a 40 year project to transform the Court into an institution of the far right wing. There's is no way to expect that they would get this close to the goal line and be stopped without an epic, historic fight. Stopping this was always going to get extremely ugly and be extremely difficult and there's no way to expect the Republicans to let these accusations go without a full court press to attack them. Therefore, there's no doubt in my mind that the Whelen theory, and everything else that comes out, it a highly coordinated operation. I know you disagree, but man, I feel slightly optimistic because this Whelen theory is some seriously weak tea. But I take nothing for granted.
Your theory is that Blasey Ford WAS sexually assaulted. She knows it was NOT Kavanaugh and that someone else will step forward to take blame. Sorry, Joe. That's nuts.
I believe there are FBI background checking records concerning the alumni of the Washington area Catholic schools in the 1980s. AP describes them as “a social network that endures decades after they graduated” and “easy to mobilize: a chain of friends calling, texting and emailing friends from a Washington-area world where many still live and see each other”. FBI would have looked at that.
So now there's a hit job on Rosenstein, using info obtained from McCabe's confidential memos.

"In response to the story, McCabe’s attorney’s issued the following statement to ABC News: "Andrew McCabe drafted memos to memorialize significant discussions he had with high-level officials and preserved them so he would have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions. When he was interviewed by the Special Counsel more than a year ago, he gave all of his memos – classified and unclassified – to the Special Counsel's office. A set of those memos remained at the FBI at the time of his departure in late January 2018. He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos."

Scary times, but at least Alec Baldwin is coming back to Saturday Night Live!
Sharon, that was not my theory at all.

This is one of those situations where no matter how simply I express myself, people will always read words that differ from those I wrote.

“NEW: Ford alerted an associate that Whelan looked at her LinkedIn page Sunday morning -- before her name was public.”

Nothing over the past 24-36 hours fits your MacAlpine Gambit theory, yet you continue to try and pigeonhole it to fit. It doesn’t stand up to the facts as they are reported, but you can’t accept the new reality. Very easy to see how you became so susceptible to the conspiracy vortex. As facts change, we have to adjust our assumptions and hypotheses, no matter how appealing or holistic they may have appeared quite recently.
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Should I rethink?

If you've visited this site during the past couple days, you know that I've posited a radical theory regarding the Kavanaugh accusation. In the preceding installment, I predicted that the FBI would become involved, and that this involvement would inadvertently play into Trump's plans to remake the Bureau into his own personal troop of thugs.

But Trump seems to be doing everything he can to insure that the FBI does not investigate Kavanaugh. If he maintains that stance throughout the next couple of days, then I will have to rethink my little scenario.

And yet...this.
"If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate," the president told reporters Wednesday as he left the White House to view hurricane damage in North Carolina. "If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that’ll be very interesting, and we’ll have to make a decision."

Sorry. Can't buy it. I can't accept for even half a minute that Donald Trump would speak reasonably about a woman. Any woman. And in this case, we're talking about a Democratic woman who threatens his Supreme Court nominee.

Trump just doesn't do reasonable. He must have an ulterior motive. He must be planning a trick.

Let's presume, for now, that my initial exercise in theorizing was wrongheaded. What other theory would explain Trump's behavior? He is unnervingly eager to have the woman testify but -- so far -- does not want the FBI to look into her story. Why?

The whiff of skullduggery pervades the air. But what the hell is the plan?

Added note: Michael Flynn will be sentenced on December 18, after the midterms. I think we all know what his Christmas present will be. How do you gift wrap a pardon?

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me why I should be optimistic about Manafort's cooperation. If he corroborates the tales told by Flynn and Papadopoulos, Trump is home free. Pardons for everyone will wait under the tree. Ho ho ho!
Somebody got through to Trump, if he wants Kavanaugh on the SCOTUS to run interference on any constitutional questions about removing a sitting president he gotta appear sane.
As far as any plot using Dr. Christine Ford to discredit Democrats and the FBI in order to seat Kavanaugh, why?
Dr. Ford has said no testimony w/o an FBI investigation first and republicans got the vote bc Red State Democrats will cave as they always do.
Theresa May seems to be setting herself up as Mary Kelly, Jack the Ripper's most horrifically mutilated victim. Just look at that necklace.
I agree with Mr. Mike. Trump wants Kavanaugh so badly he’s willing to appear sane. I don’t think Ford is a stalking horse for Trump to screw the Democrats. No one would want the FBI to investigate their own allegation of rape if it’s false. Senate Republicans will confirm Kavanaugh. They want him to protect Trump in order to cover their own dirt. If Trump falls, they fall. If McConnell pulls Kavanaugh’s nomination, it signals they’re worried his confirmation will cost them the Senate. If not, it signals they know Russian midterm election interference will keep them in power. If Republicans keep the Senate, it will give Trump a clear pathway to destroy what remains of institutions protecting our fraying liberal democracy.
Your first mistake is to assume that anything Trump says has any connection to reality, much less a "plan".

Second mistake: See mistake#1.

Here's Josh Marshall's take, which I think is pretty much spot on.

My Take on Where We Are With Kavanaugh #4 (The Fix Is In)
With the exchange of letters today between the key players in the Kavanaugh controversy, we are finally getting a degree of clarity about where this is going, albeit a clarity of a tendentious variety.

Senate Republicans have managed to unite themselves behind a simple proposition: try to corner Blasey Ford into appearing in a stacked hearing, hoping that she’ll back out and allow them to move quickly to a vote. As I noted below, there’s really no reason they can’t ask the FBI to do a simple review which would likely take only a few days. Nor is there much reason not to call other witnesses. Two of the key witnesses support Kavanaugh, his two friends who were allegedly there that night, one of whom is an alleged accomplice. The simple aim here is to face her with a take it or leave it choice – “her one chance”, as Senator Cornyn put it yesterday – in the hopes that she’ll back down and allow them to vote.

It’s a fairly brazen and thus far effectively executed power play.

Unfortunately, I think there’s a good chance that this will work.

I also think it’s a bluff. What I mean by that is that, despite the intentionally one-sided hearing they’ve planned, I doubt Senate Republicans have a good plan for what they’ll do if Blasey Ford shows up. But that of course places a great deal on her shoulders. Will she agree to a one-sided quickie hearing with no review of the facts of the case or other witnesses who can shed light on the facts of the case?

It’s not clear to me that Senate Democrats have thought of another card to play to give Blasey Ford other options besides the ultimatum she’s presented with. Senate Republicans control the gavel and make the decisions.

Remember too that Grassley has said that if Blasey Ford wants to testify on her behalf on Monday that he has to receive her written testimony by Friday morning. So she has about 36 hours to decide whether she’ll accept their take it or leave it offer.


She should testify. She'll have the opportunity to deliver carefully-framed shaming remarks. Then the Senators will follow by brow-beating her and acting like asses, thus proving the points she made in her remarks. All of this will be remembered at the ballot box. This is the Year of the Woman.
"If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate" Am I the only one that finds this a bit chilling? Like a mob boss referring to a prosecution witness at their trial? Maybe not, but if she gets "suicided" or has a massive heart attack or something, let's remember these words.
Looks like she's agreeing to testify, so between the WaPo's op-ed speculating a Kavanaugh doppleganger, Ed Whelan burning up Twitter with confidence that Kavanaugh will be exonerated, and your theory concerning the reactions of Conway and Trump, I'd say you're barking up the right tree.
Chatter on Disqus is there's someone coming forward to say "She's mistaken, I'm the guy who molested her at that party."
Missy: A-HA! I knew it.

Of course, if and when the big plot twist happens, nobody will give me credit for predicting it. In part, this is due to the fact that everyone (on both the right and the left) has been brainwashed to accept only one framing. If you posit, as I do, that Blasey Ford has been cajoled or manipulated into pressing a false charge, with the ultimate goal of helping Trump, people will think you're from Mars.

Yet the scenario I've forecast would be a classic application of the "McAlpine gambit," which I have described in many previous posts. Lord Alistair McAlpine, friend to Margaret Thatcher, put it very plainly:

"First, create a situation where you are wrongly accused. Then, at a convenient moment, arrange for the false accusation to be shown to be false beyond all doubt. Those who have made accusations against both the company and its management become discredited. Further accusations will then be treated with great suspicion."

His wording was very simple. MY wording has been very simple.

Yet my readers still insist on misunderstanding me.

Michael: "Your first mistake is to assume that anything Trump says has any connection to reality, much less a "plan". "

In other words, you are saying that Robert Mueller is wasting his time. The whole point of Mueller's (doomed but honorable) investigation is to demonstrate that Trump was party to a plan. The use of the term "collusion" indicates a plan, and that Trump was a witting participant.

EVERYTHING Trump says has a connection to a "reality" which he is trying to concoct.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The case for cynicism: Kavanaugh, Manafort, Flynn and the FBI

In the preceding post, I warned liberals not to trust Christine Blasey Ford. I presented a "Theory of the Kavanaugh case" which is completely unlike anything anyone else is saying. Look right, look left: Who but yours truly would be weird enough to posit such a scenario?

Many readers completely misunderstood my theory (despite the very plain wording of the previous post) because it stands well outside the boundaries of permissible thought.

Has this development caused me to backtrack on my little theory? Nope. The time may well come when apologies will be in order. But right now, "the imp of the perverse" (as Poe called it) prods me to double down on the forecast of doom.

Prepare to get screwed.

The latest development -- Blasey Ford's insistence on an FBI investigation -- clarifies motive. This scheme is not just about Kavanaugh. Sure, putting him on the Supreme Court is important to Trump, but discrediting the FBI is of even greater importance.

The ultimate goal of this scheme is to justify Trump's ongoing attempt to paint the Bureau as a band of pro-"Demonrat" schemers. After the red wave in November, Trump will be in a position to reconfigure the DOJ in his own image. After that: Unfettered fascism. Trump will be able to sick the Bureau on his political opponents.

I'm not sure precisely how the scheme will play out, but there will no doubt be a dramatic development, probably after Blasey Ford gives her testimony. It'll be great TV -- riveting melodrama. Perhaps someone will come forward with a clandestine recording of Christine Blasey Ford and an alleged Dem operative as they discuss the plot to smear Kavanaugh. The operative will make a reference to the FBI: "Don't worry. They're working for us."

Trump desperately needs "evidence" to justify his absurd theory that the FBI is a nest of Democratic vipers. Framing the enemy is what fascists do. That's been their modus operandi since the creation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

I may be wrong -- and if I am, I will apologize very humbly. But right now, I am speculating that Blasey Ford is a willing, or at least witting, participant in this plot to frame the FBI and/or the Dems. Kavanaugh probably is not. I think that he is genuinely mystified by the allegation against him.

I doubt that anyone in Congress -- in either party -- is in on the gag. Real conspiracies have very few players.

Why would Blasey Ford take part in a conspiracy to help Trump remake the FBI? Dunno. I don't know the woman, and neither do you. But nearly everyone has a pressure point. This episode of Sherlock  (which I'm sure you've all seen) is fiction, but it offers a persuasive view of how otherwise-decent people can be manipulated.

Look, I'm not wedded to this theory, and I'll be overjoyed if proven wrong. But you must admit that Trump has not been his usual dickish self when it comes to Christine Blasey Ford: No insults, no vulgarities, no remarks about her looks, no lawsuit threats, no attacks on her character or her intelligence. Trump has not been Trump.

That telling lack of obnoxiousness suggests that a scheme is afoot.

All day yesterday, the hairs on the back of my neck tingled and stood upright. My stomach churned and the atmosphere became thick with apocalyptic foreboding. Why? Because the White House said the right things -- and when this White House says the right things, Doomsday is nigh.

Trump has said that the confirmation vote should be delayed, even though Grassley doesn't think it ought to be. That's a tell. So is this:
Trump, who has faced misconduct allegations of his own in the past and reportedly believes those accused should “deny, deny, deny and push back” on allegations, did not dismiss Ford altogether. As he praised Kavanaugh, he also said that he believes his accuser should be heard, echoing comments Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to the president, made on Monday.

“We should go through a process, because there shouldn’t even be a little doubt,” he said. Trump added that “hopefully, the woman will come forward” and “state her case,” as will Kavanaugh, before the Senate.
Do you seriously believe that Donald Trump would say such words if he didn't already know that the plot would soon twist in his favor? Let's look at those words again: "hopefully, the woman will come forward” and “state her case.”  

Trump said that. TRUMP.

Uh uh. Not buying it. Donald Trump simply does not say such things. He does not ask for an opponent to receive a fair hearing. He believes that opponents should be crushed brutally. His instinct is always crush kill destroy.

Thus, I remain obstinate in my prediction that a devilish plot twist is a-comin' -- a twist that nobody in the Resistance will like. I cannot predict what that twist will be. I know only that Donald Trump is acting like he has an ace up his sleeve.

Elsewhere: Yes, Manafort has flipped. But before you become too smug about Paul Manafort's cooperation, consider the case of Michael Flynn.

Didn't he flip? Didn't he agree to cooperate? Yes he did. Yet look what he has been up to...
While he awaits sentencing for lying to the FBI, former national security advisor Michael Flynn will take his awards where he can get them—even if that means appearing alongside Pizzagate pushers and racist YouTubers.

Flynn, a former lieutenant general who resigned as Trump’s national security adviser after he was revealed to have lied about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador, could spend up to six months in prison for lying to the FBI. That hasn’t stopped The Gateway Pundit, a far-right, conspiracy-mongering news outlet, from presenting Flynn with a “Award for Service to America” at its upcoming conference this weekend. The conference features Pizzagate conspiracy theorists, an alt-right YouTuber accused of leading a “cult,” and members of far-right European parties.

Flynn is scheduled to appear Friday night, following a series of speeches on why “President Trump Is #Winning.”
It gets worse. Flynn is in league with whoever is running the Qanon conspiracy. The following is a tweet from a Qanon supporter...
Justifying #QAnon’s legitimacy has been slightly tricky, to say the least, and I considered a Twitter follow-back from General Flynn a potential nod in support of their cause; but this seals the deal (for me)! #WWG1WGA #TheStorm #FollowTheWhiteRabbit (Photo credits DTI FB)
Flynn has adopted the "Where we go one, we go all" motto of the Qanon movement.

Has Michael Flynn changed? No. Has he turned against Donald Trump? No.

Do you really think that someone tossing red meat to the Qanon dupes is also going to fink on Trump to Team Mueller? Come on. Get real.

Has Trump acted worried about Flynn? No.

The obvious conclusion: Flynn has agreed to give Mueller a bunch of innocuous bullshit.

Now it falls to Paul Manafort to confirm this same innocuous bullshit. With two sources telling investigators the same tale of Trump's innocence, Mueller's report promises to be the same weak tea that Lawrence Walsh served up.

You want cockeyed optimism? Go to Bill Palmer. We live in a world of shit, and my job is to rub your noses in it.
Goddamn this is a good theory. I don't believe it, but I don't not believe it if that makes sense.

My theory on Trump shutting up is that between both Manafort's plea and the Kavanaugh accusation, Trump is legitimately on the ropes. And when narcissists are on the ropes, they freeze up and don't know how to respond. It's similar to how Trump responded to the Cohen plea agreement. He froze up for a few days and then incoherently and pathetically raged* (even by Trump standards). Also, don't forget that on Sunday right before the Kavanaugh accusation, Trump was Hurricane Maria truthing saying that its revised death toll was a Democrat plot. I have no doubt this was him lashing out after stewing about the Manafort deal for a couple days. It's one of the most insane and disgusting things Trump has done (and, yes, that's saying a lot), but then after Ford came out, he shut up again. Totally consistent with narcissistic behavior.

Compounding this is I bet the Republicans are using every trick they have discovered to get Trump to shut up about Kavanaugh because getting him confirmed is the culmination of a 40 year project. So they are pulling out all the stops to get Trump to behave. My prediction (assuming yours isn't true which I can't dismiss!) is that by the end of the week, Trump will lash out either in the most disgusting or pathetic way we've seen yet especially when he realizes the news cycle is not shifting to his Bruce Ohr/Peter Strzok/Lisa Page confidential info dump. Unless Trump has been replaced with a body double, there is no way, no how that Trump can just sit there and take all of this "losing" and do nothing about it. And these are two legit, serious blows to him. At some point, he is going to retaliate and it's either going to set a new standard for ugly or pathetic.

*Is it just me or has Trump lost his mojo since the Cohen plea deal? Seems like since then he's completely lost his footing and doesn't know how to respond to anything.
Despite the Trumpland agents the FBI is a no nonsense group used to dealing with the mob and mentally deranged suspects. To gull the investigating agents would require a con of finesse never seen before. Sure, republicans like Stone have done some slick rat fuckery but it always comes out.
The remedy of an unprecedented con of this magnitude would be Koathanger Kavanaugh's impeachment.
Dems will push for it, but Ford won’t get an FBI investigation before she testifies. I doubt Trump will cave to Dems. If he does, I’ll get on board with your theory. McConnell doesn’t want to lose the Senate over Kavanaugh’s baggage. I think the GOP will either vote for confirmation or McConnell will pull Kavanaugh’s nomination and get someone he prefers, not as controversial.
i found a hole in your otherwise excellent thinking -- well, not a hole, just a weak spot.

i have found that whenever anyone comes up against a problem of motivation that they just need to shrug off -- 'I don't know why she would do such a thing, just crazy i guess' (or some such) -- that that signals a weakness in the argument. even crazy people are not "just crazy." they have reasons, motivations, justifications.

not that i can come up with one, but unless and until you suss out what would drive Ford to behave in such a disappointing fashion (to say the least), i am afraid i will have to consider your theory not fully watertight.

that being said, it is still the best one out there, and i am still tweeting the ^%$& out of it.
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Monday, September 17, 2018

Don't fall for it, Dems! Don't trust Christine Blasey Ford!

Hey, it's me. Cynicism, angst, dark prophecy...that's what I do. That's what you come here for.

You may be wondering: How is Cannon going to argue that the Christine Blasey Ford revelation will become a disaster for the Democrats?

Most liberals believe that this controversy could deep-six the Kavanaugh nomination -- which was already in some trouble. He provably committed perjury. He's clearly a hard-right manipulator and conspirator, not an objective jurist. Frankly, I think he should be doing time, not sitting on the highest court in the land.

At first glance, the claim against him looks pretty solid. Blasey Ford is a woman of good reputation. Former students of her high school, Holton-Arms, have come to her defense.
“We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” says a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Maryland. “It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.”

The women also say that what Ford is alleging “is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”
The initial smears leveled against Blasey Ford were desperate and laughable.

The allegation itself is a serious one -- more serious, I would say, than were the claims made by Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas.

When we first heard about the Blasey Ford letter, I worried that we were dealing with a simple case of misread signals or a premature try for second base. Most guys, during their high school years, did something vaguely creepy while interacting with the opposite sex. (I didn't, but only because I was scared to death of guh-guh-guh-girls.) As longtime readers know, I was never a big fan of the "Me Too" movement -- certainly not after Al Franken, John Conyers, and Garrison Keillor were brought low on bullshit allegations.

But in this case, the claims aren't overblown nonsense. The woman isn't saying "He touched my waist in a way I didn't like." No: We're talking about attempted rape. Serious stuff. Neither youth nor the passage of years offers an excuse.

So far, Blasey Ford's story is not beset by any of the problems and contradictions that made Juanita Broaddrick's story so very toxic that neither Ken Starr nor the National Enquirer wanted to deal with it. Broaddrick once filed an affadavit claiming that she had not been raped; you can't say the same for Blasey Ford. Broaddrick described an unlikely injury to her cheek which her husband denied ever seeing; no such dubious details festoon the Blasey Ford narrative.

(Lying Juanita has now come to Kavanuagh's defense, which no actual rape victim would do.)

Kavanaugh's alleged co-assaulter, Mark Judge, is a disreputable figure whose testimony could not be more impeachable. The man literally wrote a book about what a falling-down drunk he was in high school -- a book which references Kavanaugh himself as a fellow hell-raiser. Mark Judge's own brother calls him "a solipsist: spoiled as a child, gazing always inward, unable to recognize any pain but his own" -- words which describe our current president.

All in all, the case against Kavanaugh looks pretty good -- so far.

So why am I predicting the worst? Here's why:
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Monday that Christine Blasey Ford, who on Sunday publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were in high school, should “absolutely” testify before the Senate and “should be heard.”

Ford is willing to speak under oath about the incident, her attorney, Debra Katz, said Monday.

“Let me be very clear on behalf of the president, with whom I’ve spoken at length about this,” Conway told reporters at the White House when asked if Ford should testify. “She should not be ignored or insulted. She should be heard.”
What more evidence do we need? This is a setup.

This is all a Republican plot to distract the country from a discussion of Kavanaugh's perjury and his stance on abortion. This is all a Roger Stonian scheme to make Trump look like the victim of Democratic perfidy. The Dems are about to get well-and-truly screwed, and the "blue wave" will turn red.

DiFi was right to keep that letter under wraps. (Who let it slip out?) After Blasey Ford testifies, the world will hear dramatic testimony that she was paid to lie about Kavanaugh. I cannot predict the nature of the evidence against her; I cannot tell you who will offer that evidence. But over the decades, my nose has become attuned to the smell of skullduggery, and that nose is now twitching and itching.

We are about to get screwed.

There is no other way to interpret Conway's statement. If Blasey Ford were legit, Kellyanne would have said something very different.

Come on. Admit it. You know I'm right. When a purebred propagandist like Kellyanne Conway -- one of the most devious, conscience-free individuals in the history of American politics -- says of Blasey Ford "She should be heard," our wisest response is to say: "Don't trust Christine Blasey Ford."

Remember the words of Admiral Ackbar.

By the way: I never understood why that mundane piece of expository dialogue became so famous. It's not as though everyone walked out of Return of the Jedi in 1983 repeating "It's a trap!" The line was neither witty nor well-put. Yet a couple of decades later, Star Wars fans inexplicably decided to enshrine those words as one of the great movie quotes.

But in this really IS a trap.

Yes, yes, yes: My little predictions are not always correct. For example, I insisted that Roy Moore would win. On the other hand, I obstinately predicted Trump's 2016 triumph at a time when everyone presumed that Hillary had it in the bag. I predicted that Al Franken would be hit with a sex-based smear well before the very first such story was published. My track record ain't too shabby.

I was wrong when I suggested, in an earlier post, that Kavanugh's accuser went to the Academy of the Holy Cross, the closest girls' school to Georgetown Prep. But that was supposition about a matter of mere geography. The words of Kellyanne Conway are far more serious.

Added note: Roger Stone came out against Kavanaugh some time ago, accusing him of being a Deep State operative and an accessory to murder and God knows what else. Does this fact invalidate my "It's a trap" theory? No. Self-protection is the foremost of Stone's rules. By writing that piece for Infowars last June, Stone effectively wiped his prints from the gun -- a gun which, I predict, is about to go off in the faces of all Dems.
*You don't know who leaked the letter? You'll never guess. It was... The Intercept. But this is key. They didn't leak it to report of the Ford allegation. I kid you not, they reported it to attack DiFi for being secretive! I'm not making this up. Then again, if you know even a little about the Intercept, you know the rag is anti-Dem ratfucking operation.

*You're missing one piece of the Kellyanne Conway comment. The WH is completely incompetent. Now you may be right that this is a trap. But the WH is run by such morons that, in my mind, Trump probably sent Kellyanne out there to say that because Trump assumed the Republicans could rip her up in an open hearing. He also probably decided on this before understanding all the fact. Problem is it looks like this will backfire as Ford's story appears rock solid. And Kavanaugh is already lying about the allegation. (He says he wasn't at the party even though no one has identified which party it was. Hard to deny a fact which no one has raised.)
Thanks for the revelation about the Intercept. That explains much.

Infuriatingly, the right-wing media refers to the letter as "Feinstein's smear" -- as though Feinstein wrote it. Yet DiFi is the one who covered it up!

And she was, in my estimation, wise to do so.

The rest of your comment only buttresses my position. Kavanaugh denied being at that party because he already knows the full scenario, including the details that have not yet been made public.

Republicans know that many Americans lack the patience to follow any story that isn't focused on below-the-waist issues. That's why their favorite smears are sex-based smears. That's why they've created the false narrative that all Dems are evil pedophile rapists.

I propose this rule: Be wary of all sex scandals, even when such a scandal seems to work against your enemies.
Would your calculus shift if it comes out that Conway's husband wrote that NYT Op Ed?

No. Not even if Kellyanne Conway herself wrote it.

By the way, James o'Keefe claims that he has some big revelation in the bag regarding that op-ed. Apparently, his new video may be used as the excuse for a new purge.
Interesting that the character reference letter signed by 65 of Koathanger Kavanaugh's peers attesting to his virtue appeared so quickly, almost as if republicans knew the existence of the Ford letter. Part of a setup or are they aware of other such accusations?

"I propose this rule: Be wary of all sex scandals, even when such a scandal seems to work against your enemies."

This is a good rule!
The SJC hearing announced for next Monday gives Kavanaugh plenty of time to concentrate his mind well enough. He will wonder which senator will be the first to ask him, "But, Judge Kavanaugh, could it have happened or something like it?"

Contemplate the betting pools!

Senator Harris: (Coughs) "To tell you the truth, (coughs) Judge Kavanaugh, I can't remember if I fired five times or six."

Do you think there will be a hearing next week?

What if kavanaugh is dirtier than we know and some Republicans are weary of voting for him because of the upcoming elections and what could come out between now and the elections. Would this be a better reason to withdraw his nomination than not having enough Republican yes votes?
Trump could act surprised and earn browny points with me too movement.

margie, sorry, but I don't think so. Your notion does not explain why Kellyanne said what she said. It does not explain why DiFi squelched the letter and why the (not-so-secretly pro-Trump) Intercept forced it out into the open. It doesn't explain why Roger Stone made those bizarre accusations against Kavanaugh months ago.

My theory explains all of that.

I'm predicting a red wave in November.
The letter wasn't given to Feinstein directly. Ford sent it to her Congressperson, who passed it along to the Senator. Furthermore, Ford herself has admitted that she gave the letter to several others, including media outlets, with the anonymity proviso.

Therefore it's not surprising that the GOP got its hands on the letter, and prepared a defense (eg the 65 signatories). Obviously, they did not want the letter released, but if it got out they wanted to be ready for it.

Trump is stupid. Kellyanne is not stupid. She knows that this nomination could be a double bad whammy isofar as the women vote is concerned: (1) a candidate that is provably anti-Roe, and (2) chewing Professor Ford up in a woodchipper.
Joseph, I read your blog first everyday because you write differently than all others. So, I am not trying to discredit what you write, rather, I am trying to find alternative explanations.
I welcome the comments and enjoy the comments as much as the posts.
- if Trump wants to withdraw kavanaugh' s nomination, he would use Conway to pave the way
- the intercept was trying to embarrass DiFi
- Roger Stone may have credibility with the right, but he has none with the general public specially in light of his situation regarding the sandy Hook lies
If there is a Red wave this November, I may start entertaining the Evangelical GOD- how else can we explain the mess?
On further contemplation, I am better off listening to every episode of Hidden Brain
margie, I hope I'm wrong and I hope you're right. The virtue of always predicting the worst is that all surprises are happy ones.

Stone's credibility is not really relevant to my theory. The point is that, by spreading nonsense about Kavanaugh early on, he can distance himself from anyone who claims that he engineered the coming debacle (presuming I'm right).

One thing makes me doubt this theory: The fact that the accuser passed a lie detector test. Then again, so did Clifford Irving.
I hope I am right too.
I live in Texas,so I an working to defeat Cruz.
There are people worse than Trump as hard as that is to imagine. Cruze is one of them. He is not as clueless as Trump, but given the same platform, he would be more dangerous.
He should never go anywhere near the Presidency or God help us.
I work for a tech company in Texas full of white male Christian republicans. Guess what?
The trade wars are negativity impacting our industry and people are blaming Trump.
Texas is turning purple by the day.

There is another way to spin this--- I don't know if the DIFi has thought of this: As a high schooler, Kavanaugh was a spoiled brat with a silver spoon in his mouth when he wasn't chugging down the alcohol. This is the perfect kind of guy to hate. Then to top it all off, he becomes an elite Federal Judge. That shouldn't sit right with the average American. Spoiled brat rich drunken highschoolers go on to be more of the same in college. They shouldn't be the most successful, unless the game is rigged for them somehow. I'd argue that it was, and that Kavanaugh is somebody's lap dog. Can't the Dems show this??? It seems like a plausible narrative, but I think DiFi probably screwed up sandbagging so long in releasing the letter. Unless she had to wait. And if she had to for some unknown reason, then I agree with your analysis. This could certainly be a trap.
@Atrios posts:

They Knew

The thing about Kavanaugh is that it's 100% obvious that they knew he had some sort of questionable incident(s) involving women in his past. The "he's a girls' basketball coach" is such a conservative way of trying to "deal" with that problem, even though it's actually the creepiest possible way to try to deal.

Knowing doesn't mean they believed it, and certainly didn't mean they cared about it other than as a LIEBERAL obstacle to conservative Nirvana, but they knew.
thank you so very much sir. i feel silly for being befuddled by Kellyanne's sudden turn over of a new leaf. and embarrassed. and stupid.

but it vanisheth anon, for indeede she possesseth suffisyent wit & opportunity to searche the Interwebs, &, happily, a quaint machine fit to assess for herselfe if Mr. Cannon had glossed thereon, & indeede he hadde shewn hymselfe wyth his usuall perspickasity.

i tweeted the bejesus out of this post, your welcome if you get foot-traffic.
O.M.G., YOU ARE RIGHT, Joseph! at first I didn't get it but now it's clear that Kellyanne Conway thinks she's pulled a fast one. this article explains why the FBI investigation is so essential & why Trump is so confident of the outcome.

"Republicans will not refer this matter to the FBI for a background investigation into Kavanaugh. Instead, they are putting on a one day for show “hearing,” which is not the same thing as an investigation at all. They are pretending they can’t refer this to the FBI, but that is not true. They can. They just won’t. And people should be asking why."
"Fa loves Pa!"
I was doing some googling recently and I saw an article credited to the Intercept that was Pro Republican. I can't recall the details as it was not why I was googling at the time. What is the Intercept perceived as being at this point in time? Which way does the Intercept actually lean?
Joseph, I think you need to listen to Chris Hayes' interview with David Brock tonight. Brock explains how the Republicans plan to save the nomination. Orrin Hatch gave a preview earlier today: "The woman is a little mixed up." They will argue that Ford invented the story in her therapy sessions. The segment should get posted to MSNBC's web site later.
Of course, if Dr. Ford doesn't show up on Monday, the Republicans win. They don't even have to smear the woman...much.
Kol Nidre has been chanted. "Storm Ali", triple witching day and the equinox all approach, the latter to be marked by an extremely powerful ritual.

Just saying.
Just to state the obvious: Anita Hill was heard by the Committee.

- Tom
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Saturday, September 15, 2018

What does Paul Manafort know about hacked voting machines?

Not long ago, a guest post by David Jay Morris included a few words about kompromat.
Like Joseph, I’ve been coming to the conclusion that nothing else adequately explains the extraordinary way the leaders of the Republican Party, especially in Congress, have been falling into line behind Trump.

What I’ve been wondering about, however, is if personal, one-by-one kompromat – mainly of the sexual or financial variety, one would suppose – is enough to explain such a rapid and wide-spread phenomenon. Do Trump and/or his minders in Moscow just have an extensive dossier of individual misdeeds, or is there something more there? Something party-wide whose exposure would seriously threaten the survival of the whole Republican Party and brand?

One candidate for this might be concrete evidence of the Republican tampering with election tabulating machines and software since 2004 or earlier that many of us have long suspected. Could the Russian penetration of state voter databases and other systems been either aimed at this, or else just serendipitously yielded (or pointed them to) such evidence?
The same idea has occurred to me, and to a number of other people. Mainstream pundits don't like to talk about this scenario, so it falls to us -- the outsiders, the outcasts -- to examine the notion.

If election-rigging is real -- and we're talking here about hacked vote tabulators, not in-person voter impersonation (which is, for the most part, a myth) -- Paul Manafort would probably know about it. There is good reason to believe that such fraud occurred in the Ukraine, where Manafort ran an election for pro-Russian thug Viktor Yanukovych.
Aided by high-priced Russian political consultants, Yanukovych ran for president of Ukraine in 2004, and seemed to have won.

But the election was tainted by charges of fraud and corruption — most against Yanukovych and the Party of Regions — and an attempted assassination. A month prior to balloting, someone poisoned Yanukovych's main rival, pro-Western candidate Viktor Yushchenko, and nearly killed him. On Election Day, Yanukovych, who had trailed in polls by double digits, won by three points, sparking accusations of voter fraud.

The government voided the election results and scheduled a do-over.
We have no clearer evidence of election hacking. And Manafort was there. Even if he was not party to the actual hack, he surely knew about it.

A fixer who knows about electoral fraud there may well know about electoral fraud here.

If cornered, Trump will expose the truth about GOP election rigging.

I put the previous sentence in boldface because it offers the briefest possible summary of my theory.

No, I can't prove it; I can only beg you to consider it. It explains a lot.

How else to account for the obsequiousness of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and so many others? A number of these people clearly cannot stand Donald Trump, yet they obey his every whim. Whenever Trump says "Blow me," each GOP leader falls to his knees so rapidly as to punch two evenly-spaced holes in the concrete. The only first-rank Republican who routinely defied Trump was John McCain, a famous advocate of clean elections.

Ideology fails as an explanation. Much of what Trump has done -- running up a massive deficit, slamming immigration, igniting a trade war, paying billions to farmers hit hard by that trade war -- goes against libertarian ideology.

We keep hearing that Congressional Republicans fear Trump's base, but that explanation also fails. Support from the base would shrink if the truth about Trump seeped into the right-wing information bubble. If the Republicans did not keep strict control over the congressional investigations, the inquiries could uncover Trump's known history of criminality. We know that some Trump officials have offered perjured testimony.

For a while during election season, Fox was "kinda, sorta" anti-Trump. It's clear that Rupert Murdoch disdained the guy. Think about it: Just two people -- Devin Nunes and Rupert Murdoch -- could fracture Trump's base, if they chose to do so.

In short: Congressional Republicans should be in a position to tell Trump what to do -- yet they don't. They take marching orders from him.

Why the subservience?

And why did this happen a month ago? There was a bill to make elections cleaner -- a bill which originally had bipartisan support. Then Trump (who, without offering a shred of evidence, had screamed about rigged elections in 2016) demanded an end to the bill. Dutifully, the GOP leadership killed it.

Now step back and take in a larger picture.

On issue after issue, Americans prefer Democratic policies to Republican policies. They increasingly favor Medicaid-for-all. They even strongly turned against Trump on immigration.

No, I am not sympathetic to those progressive purists who have deluded themselves into thinking that all Americans love socialism, tofu, free abortions, nationwide gun confiscation, taxes on churches, trigger warnings on everything, and the mandatory enrollment of all pale-skinned high school students in White Self-Hatred courses. I'm quite aware that this country is much more conservative than the BernieBros think it is.

I'm simply pointing out the undeniable fact that, according to the polls, Democrats outnumber Republicans.

Yet the Republicans control everything.

We know that election hacking is technically possible -- in fact, some say it is easy. See here and here and here and here and here and here and here and...oh, hell. I could cite another hundred stories, all written by respectable authors. Teevee pundits (even on MSNBC) usually pretend that those articles and investigations do not exist; if those pundits did not maintain that pretense, they would not be invited to appear on TV. I refuse to wear that particular blindfold.

Don't forget this memorable headline:
Russian agents hacked US voting system manufacturer before US election – report
Putin admitted in Helsinki that he wanted Trump to win.

Again: The Republican leadership killed a bill that might have gone some ways toward solving the problem. Why shouldn't I view that action as an admission of guilt?

The principle of Occam's razor tells us that the simplest theory which covers all the facts is the likeliest to be true. My theory has the virtue of simplicity -- without, I hope, being overly simplistic.

I'm not asking for uncritical acceptance of this idea. I simply ask you to consider it.
I affirm that this is an awesome theory. If Trump had kompromot on the GOP (such as knowledge that the votes were altered), it would explain everything. I largely agree that fear of Trump's base isn't enough to scare them into such extreme subservience. If the GOP propaganda machine turned against Trump, they could get the GOP to largely abandon him. But if he had knowledge that could end the Republican party? That would do it.

Not sure if it's covered in one of your links, but another way the votes could've been altered is to hack into the communication between the local voting locations and the Secretary of State offices. That way you could alter votes while they were being reported. My understanding is this is one of the theories about how Ukraine's vote was hacked. Basically intercept and alter the reporting of the vote totals. And given that the vote was never audited, we can't prove this didn't happen.
I lean towards a spine or lack thereof explanation.
If you ever read the late bartcop you know the called them "Pink Tutu Democrats".
I see republicans the same way, motivated by keeping their seat for the most part. Rohrabacher, Nunes, and the Moscow Seven the exception. They sold out for a satchel bag of Rubles.
The republicans have their base that shows up for every election while Democrats couldn't care less unless there a history making minority candidate on the ticket.
BTW: The New York Times and Washington Post couldn't attack Candidate Obama like they did Kerry and Clinton w/o appearing racist.
If Democrats want nice things they gotta get off their fat ass and vote.
Don't know if true that more Michigan voters left the president box blank on their ballots that was Trump's margin of victory.
Joseph, I remember your account some time ago of how Roger Stone put up John Anderson as a third party candidate in 1980, drawing votes from Carter and ensuring a Reagan victory. I mentioned this on a website of Bernie supporters and a respondant claimed that Reagan won by 7% and that Anderson could only have accounted for 1% of that 7%. Hence, that Anderson play had no real effect. Any thoughts?
I never said that Anderson won the election for Reagan. RR won by an electoral landslide, although the absolute vote was, of course, closer. Still, even if all 5.7 million Anderson voters have gone for Carter, Jimmy still would not have won.

Nevertheless, the Anderson appeal (as well as the earlier Kennedy challenge) did much to suppress the vote for Carter. A strong third party run cemented the "malaise" narrative -- the idea that the country was going to hell and that Carter was simply not up to the job.

Look, it's hard to speak of a national mood, since such things cannot be exactly quantified or proven. All I can say is this: I was there. I recall those times pretty well. When I close my eyes, I can still see the stridently anti-Carter covers adorning every political magazine on sale at the UCLA bookstore in October of 1980.

That was my second national election. Though still incredibly naive, I paid more attention to politics in 1980 than in 1976. Many of my college friends favored Anderson, while I went for -- God forgive me -- Barry Commoner. The guys I knew who voted for Carter did so with a clothespin over their nostrils and the faint taste of vomit in the back of the throat. Nobody LIKED Carter. They hated him without being able to say precisely why they hated him.

In 1976, there had been genuine enthusiasm for Carter -- he seemed simultaneously fresh yet old-fashioned and virtuous. In 1980, all liberals viewed him as a corporate liar, a sellout and a warmonger. ALL feminists, without exception, portrayed him as the ultimate Chauvinist pig, as the King of the Evil Penismonsters. Simultaneously, the voters in the middle and on the right saw him as a wimp, thanks to the Iran crisis. The conspiratorial right (which was already becoming into prominent via a guy named Ray Briem, along with the surging evangelical movement) had succeeded in portraying Jimmy Carter as a tool of the Trilateral Commission and/or Moscow. (That was the that era's equivalent of the "Globalist" or Deep State conspiracy theory.) There were schemes afoot (too complex to detail here) designed to insure that black people hated him as well.

Basically, what happened to Carter was a precursor of what happened to Hillary.

The Anderson insurgency played a huge role in this. It wasn't just a matter of votes. It was all about perception management. The idea took hold that Jimmy Carter was unendurable.

Five years later, we all started to snap out of it. We suddenly asked ourselves: "Wait. Exactly WHY did we hate that guy so much...?"
Thanks Joseph. I appreciate your thoughts. I had a feeling it was a lot more than just the vote count. The public contempt for Carter, which persists to this day, has always struck me as irrational. Somehow the US public is a sucker for the cowboy, superhero model from the Republican drawing board, no matter how absurd and contrived. Cheers.
Joseph, very interesting theory. It is clear that some fix is in and that they all share some sort of knowledge.

And you do a good job of portraying those days when everyone blamed Carter for the National Malaise.

And along comes John Anderson with his slogan: "Why not the best?"

What a tool, and what chumps supported him.

I was pretty young, but I could smell a rat.

Such rats have turned up on the left again and again since.

The effect of the Iran hostage crisis on the Carter/Reagan election was profound. Every night was television coverage of the situation with the number of days these Americans had been held captive posted up in the corner of the screen. And it just went on night after night after night. It was devastating to Carter's presidency. So he gambled on a rescue mission, and the military chose to use helicopters pulled from the hold of an aircraft carrier. Helicopters which were not equipped with sand-shields on the rotor assemblies...

Any discussion of the 1980 election should include The October Surprise in which the Reagan/Bush team negotiated with the Iranians to prolong the hostage standoff. And don't forget the theft of Carter's debate preparations which provided Reagan with an inside advantage in those events.

Back to the 21st century; What to make of Roger Stone's comment during the primaries, that Scott Walker and Reince Priebus had perfected a system to guarantee the vote count in Wisconsin?
Joseph, you seem out of sorts in regards to immigration. I remember my dad, a legal immigrant from way back when, complaining every now and then that he worked full time his whole adult life and made just enough to not qualify for anything. He would occasionally comment, if you don't break the law, aren't addicted to something, aren't a violent person, the government isn't interested in you.
U.S. citizens do compete for government dollars with those newly arrived into the country. So when we tack on those who arrive undocumented and who also receive benefits, people start to worry.
Democrats rely on new life blood voters, no matter how they get into the U.S., to replace the ones they lose as Americans age and realize their nest egg is to some degree and in some ways compromised.

Were American Indians racist for being concerned about the influx of undocumented migrants several hundred years ago?
Was it a good thing to the American Indian's way of life that so many influxed so quickly?
I do think the 2004 election may have been rigged. I think I was watch CBS on election night and they had a continuous popular vote total posted on the lower part of the screen. Kerry spent 90% of the night gaining on Bush, but then Bush's number would suddenly just jump by a million or so votes, and then Kerry's tally would spend the next few several minutes gaining on Bush in small increments, then Bush's number would jump another million, and Kerry's numbers would spend the next several minutes catching up.
Regarding Jimmy Carter vs Ronald Reagan. The media made Jimmy Carter lusting in his heart look like a perversion. But Carter's problem was his reliance on more and more taxation.
Oh, and one more thing.

Fundamentalist Christians used to live lives separate from electoral politics... Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and all that. Then Jimmy Carter ran for president and heavily advertised his born-again identity. This brought out the evangelicals who felt motivated to vote for the guy based upon his religious beliefs. Reagan saw what had happened in 76 and cut a deal with the Association of Religious Broadcasters that if they supported his 1980 election, he would reward them by promoting policies they favored.
Although I was mad at Hillary's campaign incompetence I always felt strongly it didn't account solely for the loss. There is something I haven't seen it been addressed often; what about the machines themselves,not the software, the whole thing can it be for instance be replaces along the way between the voting place and somewhere else? This occurred to me the day I voted. It was in supermarket between two isles just on the floor and there was no security on sight. I left the place feeling been robbed, which was confirmed few days later.
Anom @ 4:10: One of the lesser remarked thefts from DNC computers was the Clinton campaign play book. When you know where your opponent is going to put resources you know how to counter. Had President Obama warned the Clinton campaign of the extent of the rat fuckery Hillary could have taken steps to campaign in areas the Russians were working.
Alessandro, the best coverage I found of the stolen 2000 and 2004 elections were here:

Unfortunately, those links go nowhere now, so if anybody has an archive link of some kind then I'd appreciate it.

Also excellent on the 2004 election is here:
Congressional Republicans care about one thing and one thing only: Money for the rich. That is why they appear to cave to Trump, as long as they can continue to funnel money to the already obscenely wealthy, they don't really care what else he does. The Republicans need to distract from their economic principles to get elected so they rely on Trump's out and out racism. But they've been doing that at least since 1972.
The problem with that theory, joseph, can be summed up in one word: President Pence. The GOP would probably have an easier time of it right now if Pence had replaced Trump last year.
People leave out the October Surprise, which played a crucial, if not THE deciding factor, in the election of Ronald Reagan.
Obama and Hillary had a quid pro quo, and it just did not work out. Obama asked Hillary not to attack Bernie Sanders, Hillary complied. Obama presumed his record was immune from criticism by Hillary Clinton, she complied. She actually had no choice since if she had criticized Obama in any way, the Bernie Supporters would have used the comments as an opportunity to gain Obama supporters.

At the end of any day, It was up to Obama to blame himself for a couple huge mistakes he did make, and reassure the American public that Hillary Clinton will do better than he did in those specific areas. That would prevented the moderates from leaving Hillary Clinton for Trump.

This youtube video is pretty intense.
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Manafort's family, and more

Being a pessimist by nature, I habitually look for ways to transform good news into bad news, to find the dark cloud enshrouding each silver lining. The Great Manafort Flip was definitely good news. Yet the initial Politico report troubled me:
However, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, "the cooperation agreement does not involve the Trump campaign. ... There was no collusion with Russia."
As the day progressed, Rudy Giuliani fastened onto this exact same defense. No surprise there. But the sentiment was also repeated by John Dowd, Trump's former lawyer, the same guy who made that "orange jump suit" remark in Woodward's book. Brian Williams, on his show last night, zeroed in on Dowd's words, but could get no real explanation for why he said what he said.

Did Politico mean Dowd when they spoke of a "source close to the defense"? Doesn't make sense.

Those words still bug me. Politico's first report got it wrong: Manafort's cooperation agreement is total and all-encompassing. Mueller is free to ask about the Trump campaign; Mueller can ask about anything and everything.

Moreover, it is my understanding that Manafort's guilty plea covers the charges on which the jury deadlocked in the first trial. Those charges include bank fraud, a crime which may be prosecuted at the state level. If the state of New York should decide to pursue such a case against him, it'd be a slam-dunk, because he has already admitted guilt. And he can't be pardoned.

If you want to read the full filing in the Manafort case -- and I confess that I have not yet fulfilled that duty -- David Corn offers it here.
This Mueller filing opens a wide window into the ultra-swampy world of international lobbying and disinformation. It is a case study in sleaze, and the man at the center of it shares responsibility for the election of Donald Trump.
Family man. Manafort's lawyer made a startling announcement:
Paul Manafort’s lawyer says the former Trump campaign chairman cut a deal with prosecutors “to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life.”
This statement mirrors Trump's earlier tweet, which I interpreted as a subtle threat: "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family."

Trump also went out of his way to reference the family in a televised interview.

Yet Trump has no reason to like Paul Manafort's daughters. They certainly dislike the current president -- and they seem very unhappy with their dad. The former Jessica Manafort has changed her name, while her sister Andrea has accused her father of murder. (In a previous post, I compared Andrea to Ina Balin's character in The Commancheros. Ina plays the daughter of an old West supervillain and...well, you'll just have to see the movie.)

So why did Trump and the lawyers go out of their way to refer to Manafort's family? To speak of that family's safety?

We can only guess, but it sure seems as though a threat lurks somewhere in the background. No less a personage than Al Franken has made the suggestion that Manafort (and his loved ones) could be in danger from Putin's goons.

What will he spill? Franklin Foer in The Atlantic outlines the various topics that Mueller may want to know more about, including Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligangster who came under the impression that Manafort owed him millions. (No-one has yet properly explained what that was all about, but it had something to do with a communications company in a foreign country.)
Paul Manafort’s recent career could be read as a rolling series of nadirs. One of those low points was his departure from the Trump campaign on August 19, 2016. He left after The New York Times reported that Manafort was receiving off-the-books payments from his Ukrainian clients. The very day that Manafort resigned, he created a new LLC called Summerbreeze. In the months that followed, the LLC began receiving millions in loans from financial institutions with ties to Trump. Why would these lenders give cash to Manafort given the press attention he was receiving and his clearly troubled finances? (In the previous Manafort trial, the special counsel alleged that Manafort promised to help the head of one of these banks obtain a job in the Trump administration.)
When reading Mueller’s technicolor account of Manafort’s tactics in Ukraine, it’s clear that Manafort had no scruples about his work. He prided himself on smearing his client’s political opponents; he created sham think tanks and generated phony pressure campaigns.
Greg Sargent of the WP is on the same trail...
I just spoke to @RepAdamSchiff about Manafort's flip. Schiff suggests Manafort may shed light on: -- Trump Tower meeting -- conversations between Trump and Manafort as part of joint defense agreement -- whether Trump's team dangled a pardon
Trump will not be the only topic of conversation. I think that Paulie has been part of Russia's intelligence operations against the United States for quite a few years. He knows which congressfolk and media figures are in Putin's pocket. He knows how foreign interests can engineer smear campaigns in this country.

This article may be a year old, but it still deserves your attention.
Manafort and Deripaska struck a lucrative $10 million-a-year deal to lobby for Russia beginning in 2006. Under the arrangement, Manafort would influence Russian politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet republics. Deripaska has since been banned from the U.S. for ties to organized crime but he’s traveled here as a Russian diplomat.
Manafort set up a similarly suspect offshore company with Ukrainian oligarch Dmitro Firtash. They hatched a plan to buy New York’s Drake Hotel then cancelled the deal leaving employees stranded without salaries. Firtash is wanted in the U.S. on suspicion of bribery and organized criminal activity.
Take special note of this next bit:
Much of Manafort’s international offshore dealings were routed through the Bank Of Cyprus. Investigators obtained documents of Manafort’s Cypriot transactions earlier this year. The bank is widely considered a Russian laundering front. Its former Vice Chair Wilbur Ross is Trump’s Commerce Secretary, is also under investigation.
A Daily Kos writer describes more beans which Manafort may be able to spill: The platform change, the Trump Tower meeting (I've always thought that much more occurred than we have been told), the actual role played by Papadopoulos, and the truth about Flynn.
No wonder Flynn's sentencing was delayed just a few weeks back. Mueller was likely planning for the prospect that they just might flip Manafort yet, and Flynn's insights would certainly be crucial to whatever new information Manafort offered.
The Russians really ARE coming! Is this story related to any of the above? I'm not sure, but it definitely deserves a good ponder.
Like a modern, dark inversion of the fable of the Three Wise Men from the east, the end of last January saw the three heads of Russian intelligence visit their counterparts in Washington.

These were Sergey Naryshkin of the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service (under sanction but allowed in under a special dispensation from State Department), Igor Korobov of the GU (formerly GRU), Russia’s military intelligence agency, and Aleksandr Bortnikov of the FSB, the internal security and intelligence service.

These visits, all simultaneous and all short, were unprecedented, their purpose mysterious, their outcome unknown.
Why are we playing nice with these guys? They attacked our country. They still are interfering in our elections.
How is the case going in the state of New York against the Trump Foundation for charity law violation?

That the case was put on the slow track before the election was one of the indicators that Trump was going to win. I won't be surprised if it features in his downfall.

New York state has a double jeopardy law forbidding state prosecution of a person for a crime for which they have been presidentially pardoned under federal law. Whether that should apply - what counts as the "same" crime? - may turn into an issue.
Here's hoping that Manafort will be able to provide Mueller with information on Roger Stone's role in the Al Frankin hit job. Mueller must be looking at this ratfucking operation to remove the senate leader in the search for the truth of the 2016 election.

Maybe Putin blew it by poisoning the Skirpal's to intimidate potential witnesses. It might have given Manafort reason to fear more for the safety of his family than himself. Are Manafort's wife and children now in the witness protection program?
How else to deliver a satchel(s) of Rubles, instructions, and a reminder of how easily Novichok can be applied to doorknobs than a face to face with your counterparts in the Trump administration.
Doorknob death a reminder of the fate facing congressional republicans what try to back out of deals made during Moscow junkets?
Never considered "journalists" at the New York Times and Washington Post were on the Kremlin payroll, I thought they worked for the Wall Street/Corporate America/republican consortium.
One theory I've heard is that Mueller wants Manafort so badly not because of his knowledge about Russian collusion (because Mueller already knows everything) but because Manafort can provide information on the Russians and how they attacked us. I've always thought this theory made the most sense as anyone closely following the Russian story knows that the circumstantial evidence that Trump was involved is overwhelming, and it's only a matter of time until direct evidence is revealed. And if the public can figure this out, Mueller definitely can. So he wants Manafort for more than this. Though gathering even more evidence of Trump's culpability is certainly a nice bonus!
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Friday, September 14, 2018

Flipper! Plus: An update on Kavanaugh' accuser

If not for the hurricane, this would be a pretty good day. Unfortunately, many liberals are missing the bad news...
However, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, "the cooperation agreement does not involve the Trump campaign. ... There was no collusion with Russia."
Of course, Cohen did not enter into a cooperation agreement -- yet he is now cooperating, and apparently has been for a while.
In recent weeks, it has also become common knowledge among close friends of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, that Cohen is talking to the Mueller team, according to people familiar with the situation.
Fortfeiture of assets plays a big role in the Manafort deal. Marcy Wheeler has been, perhaps, the only person paying sufficient attention to that angle. I hope she won't mind if I quote her at length:
And at this point, the deal is pardon proof. That was part of keeping the detail secret: to prevent a last minute pardon from Trump undercutting it.

Here’s why this deal is pardon proof:

Mueller spent the hour and a half delay in arraignment doing … something. It’s possible Manafort even presented the key parts of testimony Mueller needs from him to the grand jury this morning. The forfeiture in this plea is both criminal and civil, meaning DOJ will be able to get Manafort’s $46 million even with a pardon. Some of the dismissed charges are financial ones that can be charged in various states.

Remember, back in January, Trump told friends and aides that Manafort could incriminate him (the implication was that only Manafort could). I believe Mueller needed Manafort to describe what happened in a June 7, 2016 meeting between the men, in advance of the June 9 meeting. I have long suspected there was another meeting at which Manafort may be the only other Trump aide attendee.
At this point, I must sound my usual ominous notes.

First: Yes, Manafort will lose millions, pardon or no pardon. What of it? As I've said before, Putin and the 'garchs can kiss that wound and make it all better. Hell, Manafort can be recompensed with less than one-tenth of the wildly inflated price paid for that dubious Salvator Mundi by quote "Leonardo" unquote.

Second: Marcy does not directly address the bit quoted above. Once again:
However, a source close to the defense told POLITICO, "the cooperation agreement does not involve the Trump campaign. ... There was no collusion with Russia."
Is this source talking BS? Maybe. It's hard to imagine why Mueller would make a deal with Manafort which does not cover the campaign. I mean, that would be like visiting the Louvre just to admire the flooring.

This just in: MSNBC is now reporting that Manafort has completely folded. So that "source" must have been trying to put a positive spin on a bad sitch.

Third: Have the other cooperation agreements been game-changers? Papadopolous was a fucking disaster, no two ways about it. He gets all of fourteen days, and now he's giving lip service to whatever inane conspiracy theory Trump wants him to pretend to endorse. The Michael Flynn "flip" was a big damned deal for a while, but soon enough Sean Hannity and others declared him a victim and were calling for his rehabilitation. I've seen no hint of contrition in any tweet by Flynn Jr. Looks to me as though Flynn the elder is stonewalling, agreement or no agreement.

The only "flipper" who seems to have developed a genuine dislike for Donald Trump is Michael Cohen.

There is much more to say on the Manafort flip -- and of course, I will have a lot to say about Kavanaugh. Back soon.

Update on Kavanaugh:  We now know that Mystery Letter includes an allegation of attempted rape, and that DiFi has been sitting on the letter since June. You know damned well that if the parties were reversed, the Republicans would never sit on such a letter. Nevertheless, the disgusting propagandists at The Federalist are talking about "Feinstein's smear letter." Good lord, can anyone out there actually be so stupid as to believe that crap?

I've been looking into a sub-mystery: Which high school did the girl attend? Let's first look at this Josh Marshall summary...
Here’s something that caught my eye in the new Kavanaugh controversy about an alleged sexual assault while he and the alleged victim were in High School in the 1980s. Kavanaugh went to an elite DC preparatory school, Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland. It was an all-boys school. So no female students. The New Yorker article says the alleged victim “attended a nearby high school.”

The letter of support signed by 65 women who knew Kavanaugh at the time notes this: “Almost all of us attended all girls high schools in the area.” Unless the public school system in suburban Washington was very different than I think, that must mean that almost all the signatories went to private schools. Few and maybe none went to public schools.
I've checked out Georgetown Prep. Geographically, its right across the street (the street being Rt. 355) from an arts center called Strathmore -- and just east of that is a Catholic girls' high school called the Academy of the Holy Cross. This is the only high school of any sort that I can find nearby. It appears that the students at Georgetown Prep and the Academy of the Holy Cross tend to socialize with each other.

I'll bet you a donut that Kavanaugh tried to force himself on a Catholic schoolgirl. Uniform and all. They wear grey skirts at that school, not the plaid skirts you're probably envisioning.

By the way: Sixty-five girls testified to Bret Kavanaugh's good character in high school? Even though he went to an all-boy's school? COME OFF IT.

First: The mere existence of that letter proves that Team Trump knew about that "smear" letter long before we mere Dems did. That's a smear?

Second: I went to a normal public high school in the San Fernando Valley, and I strongly doubt that five female classmates retained any memory of me.

(There was a lovely, freckle-faced redhead named Karen D. whom I recall very well. I finally worked up the courage to ask her out on the day of our graduation. Just before I could make the big ask, she told me that her family was leaving for Arizona the next morning. Then she hugged me goodbye, a hug that told me everything I ever needed to know about lost opportunity and roads not taken. I would like to believe that she recalls me from time to time. Carpe diem, my friends.)
When I read that Manafort was flipping I literally dropped my phone and let out an audible gasp. I can't believe it's really happening. I've been pretty optimistic on the Mueller investigation, but even I was starting to lose faith that he would ever flip and that he would get a pardon. But no more! The man he knows where all the bodies are buried, probably even more than Trump, has now turned. Amazing. I've basically had a buzz all day since I read the news.

I know (and admire!) your general outlook, but I have to disagree about the Papadopoulos and Flynn cooperation. Even though they've both had moments of clownishness (especially Papa), there's no way they would be getting such light sentences without providing serious information. Flynn has stayed virtually silent since he flipped, and his legal exposure is huge. Also, it wouldn't surprise me they were feigning interest with staying in Trump's good graces in order to head fake Trump into believing they aren't really giving up anything. I think that's what Manafort did as the last couple of weeks he's sent signals that he was expecting a pardon and now BOOM! he's flipped.

Just, holy shit. Both Cohen and Manafort have flipped. We just may get out of this!
Wow. She says that with another guy, he held her down and covered her mouth with his hand. This is intense. But she never reported it to authorities.
These two flips, Cohen andnow Manafort are a very big deal.

So much of that intelligence that Mueller knows, but remains inadmissible now comes within legal reach.

Who is next?!

ps Joseph, appreciate your bits of autobiography.

Haha kavanaugh will be confirmed this is out of a Soviet playbook of get an unnamed accuser at 11th hour and manafort has nothing to do with trump get over it trump best president ever and you socialists promote outsourcing of jobs
What "Soviet playbook" would that be?

Seriously, this phrase indicates that such things occurred all the time in the USSR. Precedent...?
Tom, back then I was scared of guh-guh-guh-girls, and thus I never got a chance to tell Karen that I thought about her all the damned time. Hell, I'd have done anything for her -- fight bears, walk miles, build towers, face armies. Even get a job.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Yow! Wow! Pow! (Updated)

Manafort. Looks like he is flipping. Semi-flipping. I think that he will enter a plea tomorrow. I do not think that we will see an announcement of cooperation with Mueller.

Why a plea, and why now? Lotta speculation on this point. Marcy thinks it's all about moolah:
But the reason why Mueller isn’t just going to let Manafort plead to some of the DC charges without cooperating is because that would mean giving up the considerable leverage — $30 million worth — that Mueller built into this case a year ago.

While it hasn’t gotten a lot of attention, both Manafort indictments include forfeiture provisions, meaning the government will seize his ill-gotten gains. And because Manafort had a shit-ton of ill-gotten gains, there’s a whole lot of stuff that the government can now seize, starting with his ostrich skin suits.

Having been found guilty of charges 25 and 27 in his EDVA trial, for example, the government will seize the funds from the $16 million loan Manafort got by lying to Federal Savings Bank.
Fair point, but Putin and the 'garchs can make Paulie whole and then some. In my opinion, this is about the all-important state charges against Manafort -- charges which that divinely-inspired holdout juror in the first trial made possible. Thanks to him or her, then will be no argument about double jeopardy.

(Y'think that juror was secretly working for Mueller? Nah. That's a ridiculous theory. But boy -- that would be playing hardball, wouldn't it?)

The point is this: For a guy Manafort's age, it's no longer about the money. It's about spending your remaining years a free man. I'm older than Marcy, so this is one area where my instincts may be keener than hers.

My hunch, and it is just a hunch, is that any cooperation agreement won't be revealed tomorrow.

Why not? I suspect that a key factor is the Grand Omerta Compact which links everyone on Team Trump facing investigation. Manafort, we now know, is part of that compact, officially known as a Joint Defense Agreement.

I'm not sure how the Joint Defense Agreement would impact the cooperation agreement, but common sense tells us that if  Paulie comes out and says "I'm cooperating!", he must then leave the Omerta Compact.

On the other hand, if a cooperation agreement is not formally announced...

What then? Is Paulie still in the Big Omerta Club?

I dunno. I can't find an answer to that question. Folks, we are swimming in strange waters...

Keep in mind, though, that much the same thing happened to Cohen. He was forced to make a plea based on state charges -- to be specific, the potential charges against his wife. No cooperation agreement was announced, even though Cohen clearly is cooperating.

Cynic I may be, pessimist I may be, but even I must admit that Muller played this one well. He seems to have found a way around the presidential power of the pardon. The Manafort case is not like the Papadopoulos case, which seems to have turned out badly for Mueller.

The great Brett Kavanaugh Guessing Game. Just now, as Rachel Maddow transitioned to Lawrence O'Donnell, we learned more about the mystery letter, which O'Donnell (probably based on his contacts in the Senate) has known about since last freakin' Friday.

Apparently, the letter involves a sexual abuse case which goes all the way back to Kavanaugh's high school days -- to a time when both Kavanaugh and the unnamed girl were underaged. I'm not sure what "abuse" means in this instance, but nobody has mentioned the word "rape."

So what are we talking about? Are we dredging up an accusation that a seventeen year-old boy made a premature play for second base? Is the letter about something like that?

Frankly, most Americans won't be angered by that kind of revelation. A few ultra-hardcore feminists might sound the alarms, but most won't care. Nobody wants to see a small-ish skeleton -- a high school skeleton -- pop out of the closet at this stage of the game. I would become infuriated if a Democrat got blindsided by the revelation of a sin dating back to his teenaged years -- the years when everyone is trying to figure out how to read sexual signals. We have to maintain the same standard in the case of a Republican.

On the other hand: Perhaps the letter does contain a claim of rape. Perhaps the claim is justified. Or perhaps the claimant is lying. (If so, why would a liar demand anonymity?) It's also possible that she is working on behalf of a Republican plot, the mechanics and purpose of which we can now only guess at. (DiFi's careful reaction indicates that this thought has crossed her mind.)

The greatest mystery facing us right now is this: Why the referral to the FBI? The Bureau does not investigate sexual abuse allegations. Besides, the statute of limitations has passed.

Earlier today, Dem sites discussed a theory that Kavanaugh paid the woman to keep quiet about an abortion, and that the man's reported $200,000 in credit card debt was actually a hush money payment. If such a payment was structured in such a way as to avoid making a payment exceeding the $10,000 mark (the kind of payment that must be reported), then the FBI might well take an interest.

A simpler theory is that Kavanaugh was asked about his sexual history during the vetting process. If he did not mention -- or lied about -- an assault case which occurred during his youth, then he is guilty of perjury.

Of course, we know that the man has perjured himself on other matters, but sex gets attention. At any rate, the simpler theory seems like the better theory right now, although I do wonder if that $200,000 plays a role here.

The right is filling comments sections with outrageous accusations of a Democratic conspiracy. Come off it!

The woman provably exists; some news organizations know her name and have spoken to her. She does not want to go on the record. If she were party to a conspiracy to besmirch Kavanaugh, then she would go on the record -- otherwise, what would be the point? A smear that remains secret is no smear at all.

If this were a smear, then the letter would have leaked. Feinstein would not have referred the matter to the FBI, where (as far as we know) the whole issue may well disappear into a black hole. The whole point of a smear is publicity, and the Dems have bent over backward to avoid that. Even Lawrence O'Donnell has kept mum.

Update: The Guardian reveals more about the letter.
A source who said they were briefed on the contents of the letter said it described an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman that took place when both were 17 years old and at a party. According to the source, Kavanaugh and a male friend had locked her in a room against her will, making her feel threatened, but she was able to get out of the room. The Guardian has not verified the apparent claims in the letter. It is not yet clear who wrote it.
Is that it? I doubt that the FBI will take any deep interest. So far, it seems as though this letter won't be the thing that kills Kavanaugh's chances.

The Hill comparison. Quite a few right-wing trolls have brought up Anita Hill's accusations against Clarence Thomas. These trolls are banking on the fact that young people have no clear memory of what really happened back in the 1990s.

In the years since that confrontation, Hill has been entirely vindicated. Back then, the only conspiracy in evidence was a right-wing conspiracy to besmirch Anita Hill, an honorable woman speaking the truth. We know all about that conspiracy because the man hired to smear Hill, David Brock, later confessed to everything. In fact, he offered the world a superb behind-the-scenes expose of how the right-wing smear machine operates.

That machine is even more vicious nowadays. If the author of the Kavanaugh Mystery Letter is ever revealed, she'll be pummeled by dozens of Brocks. Perhaps hundreds. A Brock brigade. They will play far dirtier than Brock did, and they will be backed by the Russian troll army.
isn't it just as possible that someone from the Trump team found a juror to not find guilty on the two counts you mentioned not realizing it would eliminate the argument for double jeopardy?
On the Manafort NG verdicts, the holdout is a Trumper who played the Reasonable Doubt card.
Koathanger Kavanaugh's high school antics are a straw for spineless Red State Democrats looking for an excuse. This brings up the hypocrisy of the Liberals hectoring Sens Collins and Murkowski but ignoring Manchin, Heitkamp, and McCaskill, as probable Yes votes.
any woman who goes through this at any age will never forget it:
This whole sexual innuendo against Kavanaugh is distraction. The real issue concerns the debt he incurred for, allegedly, baseball tickets. That story is so simply unbelievable. He won't name the "friends" for whom the tickets were bought. It looks like something much more sinister is involved with that debt.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Manafort: Wait...what?

Rachel Maddow just reported that ABC News is reporting that Manafort is seeking a possible cooperation agreement with Mueller. In other words, a flip.

But ABC News says something very different...
Sources tell ABC News that Mueller’s office is seeking cooperation from Manafort for information related to President Donald Trump and the 2016 campaign. Manafort, however, is resisting and his team is pushing prosecutors for a plea agreement that does not include cooperation, at least as related to the president, sources said.
I can't find a more recent story from ABC or any other source. I'm still betting that Manafort will go for the pardon, not the flip.

Added (unrelated) note:
Once again, I'm going to press you to do what you can to stop Kavanaugh. This guy should be in jail, not on the Supreme Court. The most effective approach is to call the Senate. Forget email: Use the phone and interact with a real human being. I promise. It will be painless.

Call (202) 224-3121.

For the purposes of this call, you live in Maine and your senator is Susan Collins. She is a Republican who can be turned. Call that number, ask to speak to Collins' office, and you'll be connected to a pleasant person who will take your message. Simply tell that person "I want Collins to stop Kavanaugh -- please. If she doesn't, I will regretfully never vote for Collins again." Don't get angry. Just say bye-bye pleasantly and hang up. If you want to lay it on thick, say "Ayuh" and work in a reference to Stephen King or Moxie or clambakes. And don't pronounce the letter R: You pahk the cah.

Never say anything that can possibly give rise to a story like this one. Leave the vulgarity and the hate for the other team. You're playing for Team Nice.

Alternatively, you can live in Alaska and your senator is Lisa Murkowski. Same script. Don't say Ayuh and leave Moxie out of it.

Your area code doesn't matter. These days, a phone's area code does not necessarily indicate where you live. Just make your pitch and leave the stage ASAP. I used to make these calls in the wee small hours; weirdly enough, actual human beings would answer, and sometimes they would be chatty. That may not be the case nowadays.
Every call I've made to my senators has gotten me their voicemail. I left a message regardless of whether or not I was throwing my voice down the Memory Hole.
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Voicemail is fine. SOMEONE listens to it.

And it gives you the chance to call again during work hours.

It was back in the 1990s when you might have a chance to talk to staffers, if you called around 3 a.m. Sometimes, they seemed genuinely eager to mix it up, and maybe give you a bit of a scoop from the inside. But I haven't had a chat in quite a while.
I'd worry more about Manchin and Heitkamp before Collins and Murkowski.
Marcy thinks that Manafort is in serious money trouble because he owes $30 million. But as Vox points out, the threat of re-trying the 10 charges declared as a mistrial in Virginia and the DC trial yet to come, Manafort is depending on a Trump pardon to bail him out. So Manafort needs Trumps pardon plus some Russian Oligarch cash to keep the Putin Poisoners away.

But Bobbie Three Stripes remains in control since the two trials coming up and Mr. Manafort's attempts to bribe witnesses can keep Paul Manafort spinning for years because Trump has to wait until the stage clears to issue a pardon.

Then there is Aras Agalarov's offshore company wiring more than $19.5 million to his account in a New York bank just 11 days after the Trump Tower meeting.
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