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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Thanks, Melissa. I NEEDED that laff. (Updated five times)

I just caught the tail end of Sean Spicer's press conference, in which he wowed the audience with his over-the-top impersonation of Melissa McCarthy. Funny stuff, but maybe he should tone it down. There's such a thing as too much surrealism, you know.

Does this guy actually expect us to believe that Michael Flynn gave sub rosa assurances to the Russians WITHOUT Donald Trump's approval and foreknowledge? Seriously? Even though everyone knows that a conversation like that serves no purpose whatsoever unless both parties understand that Flynn is speaking on behalf of Trump?

As it happens, I had a chance to discuss that very question with a retired lady who worked in a law office for many years. "Would that assurance have flown with any attorney you ever knew?"

"Not where I worked!" she answered.

I kept expecting Spicer to say "Live...! From New York...!"

For once, I agree with the conservatives: The NYT is publishing fake news.
President Trump was informed weeks ago that his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had not told the truth about his interactions with Russia’s ambassador and asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation after concluding he could not be trusted, the White House said on Tuesday.
I presume that the NYT is accepting the White House's absurdist framing out of a sense of propriety. Or maybe it's just too easy for journalists to get caught up in the seductive illogic of the narrative, the way one does while reading Lewis Carroll. But in the real world, it's obvious that Donald Trump never needed to be "informed" that Flynn had lied, because Donnie knew all along. Donnie said "Do this," and it was done. The information that Sally Yates gave to Trump's counsel is that Flynn had been caught red-handed, that the jig was up.

I cannot freakin' wait for those transcripts to come out. I'm sure that they will drag Donnie Darko right into the middle of all this.

I also hope that those transcripts puncture Spicer's obvious lie about the lack of contact between Team Trump and Team Putin during the campaign. C'mon, that point has already been established.
One tantalizing and somewhat overlooked aspect of the Post story that did him in was the fact that Flynn hobnobbed with Kislyak during the campaign. The paper reported that the Flynn-Kislyak conversations "were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the November 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said." And the paper noted, "Kislyak said that he had been in contact with Flynn since before the election, but declined to answer questions about the subjects they discussed."

This is the mystery that now needs an answer: What was Flynn talking about with the Russians during the campaign?
Another mystery: What makes the Trumpers think that this is going to go away? It's obvious that there are intercept transcripts -- probably more than one set, and probably involving more than one member of Team Trump. One of my readers (see comment appended to the post below) says that Flynn thought he was talking on a secure line, but the NSA had defeated Kislyak's "spell of protection." I haven't confirmed this scenario, but it sure as hell makes sense. If my reader is right, we are in for a quite a spectacle.

Y'know what's really galling? There are people in this country who actually believe that Donald had no idea that Flynn was making deals (in Trump's name) with the Russians. These same people also think that freakin' Pizzagate is real.

In this country, the main purpose of "conspiracy culture" is to hide actual conspiracies.

Added note: If the Trumpers were smart, they'd whip up some fake transcripts containing provably false details. This move would give them the opportunity to pretend that the whole affair is based on "fake news." (As Maxwell Smart would say: "Of course. The old Dan Rather Trick. That's the third time I've run into it this month.")

The real trick, of course, is to get a mainstream publication to fall for the phonies.

Added note II: Russia is deploying new cruise missiles that break an important Cold War-era treaty, all with Trump's apparent blessing. 

Let me repeat that. Russia is deploying new cruise missiles that break an important Cold War-era treaty, all with Trump's apparent blessing.

Whatever Vlad has on Donnie, it has to go way beyond wee-wee issues.

Added note III: This just came to my attention a day late. (I normally don't read HuffPo.) Not sure what to make of it.
Electronic music artist Moby claims to have accurate information regarding Donald Trump and his alleged ties to Russia.

On Monday, the musician wrote a post on Facebook outlining the information, which he says he learned after “spending the weekend talking to friends who work in DC.”

“The russian dossier on trump is real. 100% real. he’s being blackmailed by the russian government, not just for being peed on by russian hookers, but for much more nefarious things,” the artist wrote, adding, “the trump administration is in collusion with the russian government, and has been since day one.”

In his post, Moby also claims that Trump’s administration “needs a war, most likely with iran.” According to Moby, members of the right also have plans to get Trump out of the White House because “he’s a drain on their fundraising and their approval ratings.”

“Intelligence agencies around the world, and here in the u.s, [sic] are horrified by the incompetence of the trump administration, and are working to present information that will lead to high level firings and, ultimately, impeachment,” he wrote.
Makes sense, but how would Moby know? I don't know much about the guy. How plugged in can he be?

Added note IV: Wikileaks is pissed off that the Trump administration is being undone by...leaks. Yes. Freakin' Wikileaks. Does Julian Assange have any idea as to what a disgusting parody he has become? Does he have any appreciation of the irony on display here?
Trump's National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigns after destabilization campaign by US spies, Democrats, press
Yes! It's all CONSPIRACY by those DEMON-RATS!

Added note V: I just had a look at Marcy Wheeler's twitter feed. One of her followers, General J.C. Christian, wisely noted: "Everyone has become James Jesus Angleton." To which Wheeler replied: "But without the good taste in literature. If we're reliving JJA, can we at least fund superb literature covertly?" (Some of you may not know that JJA was an aficionado of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot.)

There are those (I'm one) who think that JJA masterminded the plot against Kennedy. There are those who think that Richard Helms (JJA's chief enabler at CIA) masterminded the plot to expose the Watergate break-in.

Perhaps history is repeating itself. Perhaps one day we will learn just who at CIA decided: "This Trump thing has gone far enough."

Please note Marcy's superb new piece here. The Republicans are now trying to claim that the FBI had no right to read transcripts of an NSA tap on the Russian ambassador's phone. Nope. Y'see, back in December, the intelligence community was wondering why Putin did not respond (as expected) to Obama's sanctions.
Intelligence analysts began to search for clues that could help explain Putin’s move. The search turned up Kislyak’s communications, which the FBI routinely monitors, and the phone call in question with Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general with years of intelligence experience.

From that call and subsequent intercepts, FBI agents wrote a secret report summarizing ­Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak.
That is, in response to questions elicited by Putin’s response, analysts actually read the intercepts of the Flynn-Kislyak call, which led to further monitoring of the conversations. And contrary to what HPSCI Chair Devin Nunes is whining, FBI would have access to Flynn’s side of the call right away, because they would own the tap (and in any case, they’d get unminimized copies of anything from NSA).
Finally, remember that for a great deal of SIGINT, FBI wouldn’t need a warrant. That’s because Obama changed the EO 12333 sharing rules just 4 days after the IC started getting really suspicious about Flynn’s contacts with Russia. That would make five years of intercepts available to FBI without a warrant in any counterintelligence cases, as this one is.
Five years. CAN YOU DIG IT?

Think about it. The Russian ambassador thought that his line was secure, even though it wasn't. He thought that he could communicate freely. Do you really think that Donald Trump's name came up only in that chat with Flynn?

No. Kislyak surely was discussing the Trump situation with Putin or his lieutenants on a regular basis. And guess what? Those conversations are not protected, because nobody involved was a "US person." (That, as I recall, is the term used by the applicable legislation.) Those conversations can be published in the New York Times tomorrow, if the spooks should choose to divulge them.

If those communications are as damning as I suspect they are, then Donald Trump has been president only because our spooks allowed him to become president. What the spooks giveth, the spooks can taketh away.
Moby is wrong. Trump isn't even alleged to have been urinated on.

The missile seems to be almost identical to the American Tomahawk.
If Russia is violating a Cold War treaty perhaps it should be noted there is no more Cold War, except among Hillaryites...and Pence-like neocons, the latter of whom an optimist would hold Trump had to rely on to work with only until he could firmly grip power.
It should further be noted Bush and Cheney and other imperialists already reneged on their promises about where NATO would be positioned after the Iron Curtain fell.

All this liberal modernist imperialist Russophobia causes me to note the US likely exhausted its war enthusiasm long term in Iraq, another immoral failed war which Hillary supported and Trump early on opposed which Hillary defended her vote on while Trump was denouncing Bush-Cheney for lying us into.....

This public morale being exhausted, you don't really want to continue fomenting a neo Cold War in eastern Europe when it will only lead to anarchy on our own streets and make Putin laugh even louder at the karma's unwinding.
Better to let Russia, Ukraine and all other Euro parties work out a neighborhood understanding on their own while the US tends to its own challenge of pacifying the carnage here.
Is it okay now to stop fretting about a false flag dirty bomb? Much more plausible is an offense-oriented uncoverup, beginning with Mistakes Were Made and a simultaneous Night Of The Long Red Neckties.

That NYT paraphrastic, passive verbal phrase, "was informed", means the same as 'had the information' or 'knew'; it doesn't mean 'informed by someone', but it probably is employed to excite hunters and gatherers.
Congratulations on getting some Russian Troll Army commentators now.

Contacts between Trump campaign staff and Russians of influence? Start by exploring research showing Dimitri Rybolovlev's plane (registration M-KATE) at same airport tarmacs at the same time as the DJT campaign plane in Las Vegas and then on November 3 at Charlotte NC. Not a lot of oligarch action in Charlotte NC often. Oh, and one other time - this past weekend M-KATE was at Miami while DJT was at Mar - A Lago. Rybo was the guy who paid 95 million AFTER the real estate crash for DJT's 45 mil Palm Beach house. It really smells of courier/bag man action

Then you have to move onto Wilber Ross, Russians and banking in Cyprus. Another topic.
Ameilie, now is the time to worry like you've never worried before. Trump needs the national storyline to shift. Putin needs to keep Trump in office. I expect something major to happen within days. No matter what Alex Jones tells you, blame Trump's foreign supporters.

Anon: I did not know that about the plane. Will look into it.
As someone who once had a professional involvement in missile defense, I think somebody should explain to Mark Sumner that an IRBM and a "cruise missile" are very different things. Yes, they're both "intermediate range" and therefore covered by the INF treaty. The SSC-8 is a ground-launched cruise missile. The Russians have been trying to wriggle out of the INF for over a decade.

This statement is blatantly false (not surprising since it comes from the Great Cheeto):

But while President Obama remained in office, Putin held back the SSC-8 from deployment.

Both of the SSC-8 battalions that have apparently been deployed were put in place before Trump took office. In fact, the Russians declared their intention to withdraw from the INF and deploy these missiles back in October (back when Hillary was a shoo-in and shortly after they abrogated the plutonium disposal treaty). They've been testing the damned things since 2014.

The Russians have made noises about withdrawing from the INF since 2007 - mainly because China is not a party to the treaty and has been deploying various intermediate range weapons along the border with Russia. The Volgograd battalion, however, seems to be pretty squarely targeted at NATO (although the missiles, whose ultimate range is unknown, might be able to hit China from there).
Joseph - you might be interested in this:

theory about Vladdie catfishing Weiner.
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