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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Various items: Shera Bechard, Melania, Manson, fascism, and more on our Mystery Man...

First, let's update a couple of previous stories.

Marcy's Mystery Man. Our last post offered a theory regarding a Mystery Man who apparently poses a threat of some sort to Marcy Wheeler, a.k.a. emptywheel, a.k.a. the internet's best blogger on national security and privacy issues. Marcy "dropped a dime" on this unnamed gentleman to the FBI, accusing him of participating in the Great Russian Election Hack. Now she seems fearful.

It is not characteristic of Marcy Wheeler to communicate with the feds. It is also not in her nature to show fear.

In the preceding post, I outlined what we know of this Mystery Man, and deduced that he must have some association with Ray McGovern's group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. (See points 1-6 in the preceding post; I could add another two or three clues, if pressed.)

I further suggested a name: NSA whistleblower Bill Binney.

(Not long ago, I had a high opinion of both McGovern and Binney. The rise of Trumpism has changed everything.)

Here's the new development: I have been privately assured that Binney is not the guy we're looking for.

However, I remain convinced that the perpetrator is connected in some way to VIPS. This conclusion is my personal deduction; it is not based on private information.

Keep an eye on VIPS. I've said from the start that Trump has received aid from a faction within our intelligence community. A simplistic "Blame Putin" theory doesn't cover all of the facts.

Avenatti and the Bechard/Broidy affair. When last we looked at this controversy, Michael Avenatti -- lawyer for Stormy Daniels -- wanted to find out why he was named in a lawsuit filed by Shera Bechard, the Playboy model impregnated (allegedly) by Republican bigwig Elliot Broidy.

The big question: Why was Avenatti dragged into that business? He's the lawyer for another woman. Bechard's suit has been placed under seal, and yesterday a judge in California refused to lift that seal.
Shera Bechard, who was Playmate of the Month in November 2010, sued Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy of Beverly Hills on Friday and convinced a judge to keep the complaint under seal for 20 days.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for the news organizations urged a second judge to make the suit public. “There is no basis for continuing to keep this sealed,” Kelli Sager told Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige at a morning hearing in state Superior Court in Los Angeles.

But Hiroshige agreed with attorneys for both Bechard and Broidy that Judge Ruth Kwan was correct to block public disclosure of the lawsuit.
Victor O’Connell, a lawyer for Bechard, said Tuesday that her complaint was filed under seal because of concerns that Broidy would argue that disclosure of the confidentiality pact in a public lawsuit would breach the agreement.
Okay, but I still don't understand the Avenatti angle. We are told that Bechard's former lawyer, Keith Davidson, broke the original contract by discussing it with Avenatti. Well, isn't that on Davidson? How did Avenatti do wrong?
Bechard had also declined to provide a copy of the lawsuit to Avenatti. The concern, O’Connell told the court, was that Avenatti “is notorious for leaking documents and information” to the news media.
I don't see how a man can be sued yet not served. Is that legal?

If someone were to sue you for some reason, would you not have to right to publish that Complaint?
In court papers, Avenatti accused Bechard’s attorneys of leaking the complaint to the Wall Street Journal.

“Putting lies in legal documents doesn’t make them true,” Bechard attorney Peter Stris responded to Avenatti on Twitter. “When YOU inevitably leak our complaint, it will be very clear why Judge Kwan provisionally sealed it for 20 days. Your media sideshow is a disgrace.”
With all of these accusations of leakage, I'm reminded of that lovely morning when I first read the Steele Dossier. Now go here:
A source told the Daily News that Bechard named Avenatti as a co-defendant because he posted a Twitter message April 12 that described her confidential deal with Broidy. A day later, the Wall Street Journal confirmed the hush-money deal in a blockbuster story.
But Avenatti was not party to any agreement!

Let's say you run an entertainment blog. Let's say you publish the plot of the fourth Avengers movie. Let's say you got this information from someone who signed an NDA with Marvel Studios. (I've just described a situation that crops up in the real world from time to time.) How can anyone sue you? Your name does not appear on that NDA!

If you're curious, here is the April 12 tweet that apparently stands at the heart of the Complaint against Avenatti:
In last 18 mos, Mr. Cohen negotiated yet another hush NDA, this time on behalf of a prominent GOP donor who had a relationship with a LA woman, impregnated her and then made sure she had an abortion. The deal provided for multiple payments across many months.
Sorry, but this tweet was neither irresponsible nor illegal. Nobody is named, and Avenatti violated no agreements. Again: If Davidson screwed up, that's on him.

The big news is that, according to HuffPo, we finally have an official denial of the oft-heard theory -- first sounded in this humble blog -- that Donald Trump is the true father of the aborted fetus.

(Yes, that's a cold choice of terminology. Apologies; I don't know which words to use. When discussing abortion in today's America, any phrasing is likely to annoy someone.)

Unfortunately, this denial traces back not to Shera Bechard -- whose twitter feed remains mystically silent on this topic -- but to unnamed sources.
The sources, who are unaffiliated with the president, asked not to be named in order to speak frankly about sensitive information. When asked by HuffPost about the speculation that Broidy acted as a conduit, both sources denied the rumors and said there had been no affair — or even any contact — between Bechard and Trump.
Might these sources be lawyers for either Bechard or Broidy? I wouldn't discount the idea. But if that suggestion is correct, why wouldn't the lawyers go on the record?

If HuffPo is proven right on this score, I'm perfectly happy to let the world continue to believe that the "Daddy Donnie" theory originated with Paul Campos. That said, I will consider this matter unresolved until we get a statement from Shera Bechard herself.

Why doesn't she settle the question once and for all by tweeting the words "I never met Donald Trump"? How can those words be construed as a violation of her agreement with Broidy? Any refusal to issue that simple statement may be interpreted as an admission -- or at least an indication -- of Trump's involvement.

Melania's message. Here's a matter which I should have discussed earlier.

You must surely recall the controversy surrounding the "I don't care" message emblazoned on Melania's jacket -- a jacket she wore at a time when any other political personage would have tried very hard to convey the message "I do care." So why did she do it?  I think she was sending a message of fascist solidarity.
Tasteless on its surface, the statement assumes added significance when we factor in the fact that “I don’t care” (“Me Ne Frego” in Italian) was an important fascist slogan.

Furthermore, the Zara company that made Melania’s jacket has a history of marketing garments with fascist/racist overtones. It marketed a shirt that mimicked a concentration camp inmate’s garb and a swastika-enlaid handbag. It also marketed a Pepe The Frog skirt.
Many articles discussed Zara's other questionable offerings, but few American journalists noted the Me ne frego connection.

The phrase goes back to WWI, which Italy entered belatedly. An elite Italian force called the arditi marched off to battle singing a song featuring the phrase me ne frego, which at the time was considered very vulgar. (A better translation might be "I don't give a shit.") The phrase signified a willingness to die. After the war, the arditi joined forces with Mussolini's Black Shirt movement, and Me ne frego became a fascist anthem.

Modern Italian fascists have resurrected the slogan. They've even put it on t-shirts. (Note the fasces and the ax in the design.)

Did Zara intentionally echo this fascist slogan? Although this Spanish company will probably insist otherwise, I am persuaded that they had to have known.

Did Melania intentionally wear that jacket as a shout out to the Pals of Pepe? Snopes says that there is no proof. Personally, I believe that Melania is guilty as hell. Her jacket represents the sort of plausibly-deniable messaging that sniggering, immature American fascists love.

It is worth noting that Melania speaks fluent Italian -- in fact, her Italian is probably better than her English. She is much more likely than the average American to understand the true historical meaning of the phrase me ne frego.

Since Melania is such an astute student of history, perhaps she is familiar with the fate that befell Clara Petacci, Mussolini's mistress. See the photo to the right? That's her in the middle; Benito is close beside her.

And you know what? At the very end, I think Clara did care. I think she cared very much.

Crazy theory.  Not long ago, I noted the Crazy Days and Nights blind item which intimated that there is a "sex tape" of Kamala Harris at an orgy. As a reader pointed out, orgies are far more common in right-wing imagination than they are in reality.

(Eyes Wide Shut is a fantasy. In the real world, wealthy men do not flaunt their shortcomings.)

My earlier post tossed some cold water on this allegation. I also suggested that "Enty Lawyer" (the proprietor of that blog) is probably relying, at least in part, on material (both accurate and not-so-accurate) provided by either the Russians or the Israelis. There's no way one person -- no matter how well connected -- could publish that frequently without a little help from on high (or, in this case, down low).

Much of Enty's material is designed to push the right-wing meme that All Powerful Liberals Are Child Molesters. In other words, Crazy Days and Nights is a propaganda operation disguised as a gossip site. The Breitbarters seem to love that place.

As a measure of Enty's credibility, take a look at this item from roughly a week ago...
This famous and horrific crime has an anniversary next year and is due to be the subject of yet another movie, this one a big budget production by an A list director. The facts are well known except for one niggling detail that a couple of the original investigators who are still alive are hoping will one day be cleared up. The complete list of who was present did not include this significant other of one of the victims. He was supposed to be on set in Europe. However, a source who was present reports seeing him at the crime scene that night. Considering all the awful but unrelated things reported about this person over the years, this at least warrants an investigation.
Obviously, this is a reference to Sharon Tate's murder by the Manson gang. (Tarantino is making a movie.) The only "significant other" on a movie set in Europe is at the time of the crime was, of course, Roman Polanski. In truth, he was not actually on a set; he was engaged in pre-production on a film version of Day of the Dolphin.

The allegation that Polanski was secretly on the crime scene is beyond ridiculous. The police and the press met him at the airport when he returned to Los Angeles. (I have a photo of the arrival somewhere on this computer.) I know for a fact that Polanki's passport was examined. He underwent an extensive (and not particularly friendly) grilling, a transcript of which can be found on Scribd.

When Polanski got the news of Sharon's death by telephone, two individuals still living -- Gene Gutowski and Andrew Braunsberg -- were with him.

For god's sake, what would be Polanksi's motive?

Actually, it is more important to examine the motive of Enty Lawyer. It serves the purposes of the Breitbarters and the Pals of Pepe to keep bringing up the name of Roman Polanski in any context, since doing so allows them to perpetrate the myth that Everyone in Hollywood is Liberal and All Liberals Are Pedos. That myth did a lot to upend Hillary Clinton, and it is being repeated ad nauseum in those regions of the internet where most Democrats fear to tread.

It's a very Trumpian attitude, isn't it? "I don't like Person X. Therefore, I am free to say anything I like about Person X, even if my claims are utterly false." I'm sure that even Samantha Geimer would agree that, even if a man is guilty of statutory rape, people do not have carte blanche to make up false stories about that man.

(You should read the interview with Geimer at the other end of the link given above. She makes a lot of sense.)

Three cheers for politics as usual. I recommend this NYT opinion piece on the center of the road, and why Dems should steer toward it if they want to win.
Enough about the Freedom Caucus. Enough about the Democratic Socialists of America. They’re flamboyant players in our political debate, but they’re extremes: More politicians — and most Americans — occupy the expansive territory in between. That’s where the pivotal races in 2018 are being fought. And if Democrats take back the House, it’s where any legislation with a prayer of getting through Congress will be hammered out.
An analysis by Third Way, a think tank in Washington that promotes what it defines as a center-left agenda, showed that pragmatic Democrats were holding sway generally. While only a minority of candidates endorsed by progressive groups like Justice Democrats and Our Revolution had won their primaries, more than three-quarters of those endorsed by the more centrist New Democrat Coalition had.

And most of the winners endorsed by Justice Democrats or Our Revolution prevailed in districts that are considered safely Republican, according to Third Way. They’re probably not bound for Congress.
For much of my life, I've wanted to vote for the leftmost candidate I could find on any given ticket, but -- except for an early period of blinkered idealism -- those instincts were always tempered by realism. Like it or not, Nixon was right: Losers don't legislate. The problem is that many progressives genuinely want to lose. They value purity over power.

We can't afford to think that way in a time of a growing fascist menace. In the German election of 1933 -- the one that brought Hitler to power -- the left-wing parties spent most of their energies attacking the centrists, not attacking the Nazis. And where did that attitude get us?
Comments:
Is serving a defendant a blank summons a thing?
How does one defend against a suit w/o knowing the particulars?
Why am I reminded of a B movie comedy subplot that has the protagonist going to absurd lengths avoiding a process server?
About Marcy Wheeler, she really have the conference of highly placed individuals in government who would be targets of Russian Federation directed rat fuckery by a cow cuddling California Conservative congressman?
 
I thought you liked Melania. Perhaps the inopportune slogan was designed to spite Donald, who she may have reason to inconvenience in this way.
 
I used to like her, Stephen. Kind of. But to me, the jacket slogan is best interpreted as a pro-fascist statement.
 
Just wanted to say, I read that Samantha Geimer interview, which led me to watch the HBO doc Wanted and Desired about Polanski, as well as her twitter feed and her blog post re: the #MeToo open letter she signed. Thank you for pointing me towards these things, I found her perspective quite interesting.

-Hoarseface
 
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