Monday, November 18, 2019

There are 50 million reasons for Pelosi to expand the probe

So much to talk about, so little time. The most intriguing new item (which really isn't new) is summed up in this tweet by David Fahrenthold:

I did a little research into that address. It's a huge, imposing bank building where many, many "on paper" corporations are registered. Deutsche Bank seems to favor this building.

In 2012, the exact same address and suite was used by something called Bridgefield Mortgage Corp, a.k.a. ResMAE Mortgage Corps, which apparently was linked to Merrill Lynch. But time has passed, and CUA appears to be a different entity. For reasons that will soon be apparent, I think we're talking about Deutsche Bank.

This smells like either money laundering or -- more likely -- a scheme to hide money from the IRS. If Trump's taxes do come out, we will have to see how this $50 million figures into it.

(I'm not among those who presume that the Supreme Court will rule the way we hope. You know my motto: Always bet on the worst possible outcome -- that way, all of your surprises will be happy ones.)

As you ponder that $50 million, keep in mind that Trump owes a lot of money that he seems ill-disposed to pay back, not least to the states in which he held his rallies.

Mother Jones investigated a $50 million Trump mystery last September. I'm pretty sure that we're talking about the same $50 million. Here is the Mother Jones investigation; I discussed it in a previous post. From MJ:
The disclosures state that this loan is connected to Trump’s hotel and tower in Chicago, and the forms reveal puzzling details about Chicago Unit Acquisition: It earns no revenue—suggesting that Trump was not paying interest or principal on the loan—and Trump assigns virtually no value to Chicago Unit Acquisition. Something doesn’t add up. Under basic accounting principles, a firm that is owed money and has no outstanding debt should be worth at least as much as it is owed. The loan has another odd feature: It is identified as a “springing” loan, a type of loan made to borrowers who are viewed as credit risks. Known sometimes as “bad boy” loans, these agreements allow the lender to impose harsh repayment terms if certain criteria aren’t met. These are not the type of loan terms that someone is likely to impose on himself.
I've known for years that something was seriously wrong with that building. If ever Trump stages a "terror" attack to rally the country around him, the attack will probably have some link to this troubled property. (Was that an overly-paranoid prognostication? Maybe. But I'm putting it out there nonetheless.)

I'd like to offer a revised and updated version of my earlier words.

Basically, Deutsche Bank put up the bulk of the money for that building, something on the order of $640 million. A hedge fund called Fortress Investment Group also put up some of the money, a bit more than $100 million. (Here's Wikipedia's entry on Fortress. Some of their loans were downright strange: They did business with Harvey Weinstein at a time when most others were running away.)

All told, Trump had to pay back a loan that was the better part of a billion bucks. But the building has not done well. Nobody wants to rent the retail space.

After the thing turned into a boondoggle, Trump realized that he could not pay Deutsche Bank. Naturally, Deutsche Bank sued. That lawsuit spurred Trump to mount an absolutely hilarious counter-suit for three billion dollars. He blamed the bank for the 2007-08 financial crisis.

(That's sort of like blaming civic breakdown in Somalia on Yovanovich.)

Here's the freaky part -- perhaps the freakiest part of Trump's whole freaky career: Trump and Deutsche Bank soon kissed and made up. I have no idea how. I have no idea why. But through some magical operation, Trump squared things with Deutsche Bank. Where did he get the money? I don't know. Why did they forgive that insane lawsuit? I don't know.

Many people suspect that Trump pulled off this trick with the help of someone with a Russian name.

But Fortress -- the other investor -- remained a problem. Somehow, Trump talked this Fortress group into accepting just $48 million on a loan that went north of $100 million.

How the hell did he do that? Magic. Can you use the same magic to get a car loan at half price? No.

Think about this situation carefully. The vast majority of the loaned money came from Deutsche Bank. Somehow, after suit and countersuit, Trump was able to satisfy those bankers. But when it came to Fortress, all of a sudden Trump screamed "I'm poor!" He could not make scheduled payments.

And so it was that poverty-stricken Donald talked Fortress into cutting his debt in half.

Here's the thing: When you negotiate a massive debt reduction of that sort, the reduction is considered income. And income is taxable.

But Donald Trump just ain't into paying taxes.

That fifty million in taxable income is a scandal in and of itself. In a sane world, that scandal should be enough to start impeachment proceedings. Ultimately, however, the real scandal is Deutsche Bank. What the hell happened there?

Here's the Business Insider summary...
Mother Jones' investigation found that Trump was able to clear his debt with Deutsche Bank and Fortress Investment Group over the next several years but that Fortress ultimately agreed to accept just $48 million back for the loan it had made to Trump, which by that time was worth around $100 million.

That means one of two things occurred:
  • Fortress considered the loan repaid and forgave more than $50 million of debt from Trump, an action known as a discounted payoff. If that happened, the debt would be considered taxable income, and Trump would have had to pay as much as a 39% income tax on it.
  • Trump bought the remaining debt using a corporation and "parked" the money there to avoid paying income taxes on it. This practice, known as debt parking, is legal as long as the borrower plans to repay the rest of the loan. It's illegal to engage in this indefinitely.
Alan Weisselberg. Trump's money manager, could explain this. Will Nancy Pelosi ask him to testify?

Pelosi must expand the inquiry. If impeachment goes past Christmas, so be it. We need to go into the financials.

Look at how much time, effort and money went into an investigation of Whitewater. The money involved in that was, by comparison, tiny. And in the end, we learned that Clinton did nothing wrong.

How did Trump pay back Deutsche Bank? Why did Deutsche Bank continue to do business with him? Did Deutsche Bank "loan" him $50 million to pay back the other creditor, Fortress? It sure as hell looks as though Deutsche Bank is the entity using that suite at that address under the (revealing? Appropriate?) name Chicago Unit Acquisition.

Why the hell would Deutsche Bank DO that?

Trump claims that he (not Deutsche Bank) owns CUA, which means he loaned money to himself -- an explanation that makes no sense whatsoever. How could he loan money to himself when he couldn't pay back the full amount he owed Fortress?

Trump Tower Chicago is a loser. A failure. Why would DB seemingly eat three quarters of a billion dollars? I can't claim to understand what happened, but the whole thing reeks of scam.

Expand the probe! I would note that the House is finally expanding the probe to cover Trump's obvious lies to Mueller. The Stone trial proved that Trump lied about Wikileaks. Yes, I know that Trump covered his capacious hindquarters by using the phrase "I do not recall." But that phrase has to operate within the realm of credibility.

Consider: If I were to state under oath "I do not recall ever owning a dog," could I be accused of perjury? Of course I could. In the pages of this blog, I've written about my dogs on numerous occasions. A claim of faulty memory simply would not be credible.

The same can be said of Trump's claim that he does not recall talking about Wikileaks with Roger Stone. We now know that he did. Stone was Team Trump's conduit to Assange; Steve Bannon said so under oath. The release of hacked information from the Democratic National Committee is not something that any Republican candidate can plausibly claim to forget.

Write to Nancy. Write to Schiff. Write to anyone who will listen. EXPAND THE PROBE.

And if anyone argues that impeachment must be kept simple and sweet -- tell them about this mysterious $50 million dollar loan. And maybe you should mention the rest of the money that went into Trump's white elephant in Chicago.
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Sunday, November 17, 2019

"Dangerous for the country"

The most important problem arising from Trump's mysterious hospital visit may not be his health but his penchant for reflexive deception. At this point, nobody believes that he went in for a routine physical.

His dim-bulb press secretary is reduced to saying "“Further speculation beyond the extensive & honest info I put out is wholly irresponsible & dangerous for the country." I am Truth, sayeth Stephanie; thou shalt not question.

Imagine the right's reaction -- or, for that matter, the left's reaction -- if any Democratic press secretary had uttered this absurdity.

You don't like speculation, Steph? Try to imagine what Rightwingerland would look like without speculation. The picture would look like a child's drawing of a cow eating grass.

(Do kids still tell that joke? It was inescapable when I was growing up. A child holds up a blank sheet of paper and announces that he has just drawn a cow eating grass. Where's the grass? The cow ate it. Where's the cow? Gone to find more grass. In the under-6 community, that one killed.) 

I like Pete Buttigieg, but I don't think he's the guy. He may prevail in Iowa and he may do well in New Hampshire, but I don't think that those states mean what they used to mean. The African American votes are elsewhere, and they are more significant than ever before in this cycle.

And then there's California. The decider.

Buttigieg is this year's equivalent of Obama: A moderate who can appeal to hard-core lefties because too many progs care more about identity politics than they care about policy. The big difference -- and it's a serious problem -- is that Obama went from regional politics to the Senate before running for the highest office. Granted, Obama was in the Senate for maybe five or ten minutes, but even that short span gave him gravitas.

If Mayor Pete had spent some time on the national stage, he'd be unstoppable. He may be a rather bland moderate, but a rather bland moderate sounds good after Trump. Unfortunately, Mr. B lacks the kind of experience I want in a candidate.

Experts. The Heritage Foundation staged a "debate" between two alleged experts as to whether this impeachment is legitimate. (As if that question were open to debate.) Their two "experts": The National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy and Alan Dershowitz. 

Bibi's going to be indicted! Oh, this is glorious news. But he still holds power, and there are indications that he intends to hold on to power by staging another war against nearly-defenseless Gaza.

The Louisiana win. One overlooked aspect of this victory is that Louisiana will soon redistrict. The big question: If Dems manage to re-attain power on the state level -- not just in LA, but across the country -- do they counter-gerrymander (favoring their own interests) or do they try to end gerrymandering altogether? I certainly hope for the latter option.

That said, it is frustrating to live in a country where one party tries to do the right thing while the other continually tries to bend the rules to the snapping point.

The first quid pro quo. These two tweets by Natasha Bertrand -- one of the best reporters alive -- tell us that the real Ukraine scandal began earlier and goes deeper than most Americans understand.
As I reported in May 2018: McMaster and Mattis pushed for Trump to approve Javelins sale & convinced him, at least in part, by noting that Obama had balked at the sale. Poroshenko then won favor with Trump by facilitating an $80 million coal deal w/the US.
She links to this piece in the Atlantic. Here's the follow-up tweet:
In the months following the weapons sale, Poroshenko also ordered Ukraine’s top anti-corruption prosecutor tasked with probing corruption under Yanukovych to stop cooperating with Mueller. Democrats want to know whether that, too, was a quid pro quo:
The link goes to her new piece in Politico. An excerpt:
The U.S. completed its shipment of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine in May 2018, finalizing a sale that was pushed by lawmakers in both parties and reluctantly approved by Trump in November 2017. In April 2018, then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered Ukraine’s top anti-corruption prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko—who’d been tasked with investigating corruption that occurred under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych—to stop cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller, at that point, was investigating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s work for Yanukovych in Ukraine and his ties to Russia.
So when Trump pressured Zelensky for an announcement of a Biden investigation, he (Trump) was simply repeating a strategy that had worked earlier.

Nevertheless, the Javelin supply was interrupted. One report holds that it was stopped by the OMB (i.e., Mulvaney, also the chief of staff) for fear of annoying Russia. From the Ukrainian perspective, this was the nightmare scenario: Even if they gave in to Trump's extortion, they still might not get the weaponry they need.

By the way: You may be wondering why Obama did not offer Javelins to the Ukrainians.
The Obama administration’s hesitance to approve the sale of the Javelins, officials said at the time, was primarily due to their concern that Russia, which was pouring troops and weapons into eastern Ukraine, could use the missiles as a pretext to escalate the conflict.
Various tweets. I've pulled out a few random items of interest...
Of course, a lot of people thought we were bad guys before.
Oh, will he? How will he protect himself?
I've been warning about this for a while. Here is what's fascinating: American fascists are going off to Ukraine in order to fight Russians, even though they generally support Putin in all other respects. I don't think they care about Ukraine per se; they're simply itching to fight anyone. Fighting for the sake of fighting. Proof of testosterone, that sort of thing.

They are joining the Azov battalion, the fascist paramilitary wing funded by oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky.  When Giuliani visited Ukraine, he was hosted by leaders of the Renaissance Party, the political organization also funded by Kolomoisky. This turn of events indicates that Giuliani and Kolomoisky, formerly at odds, have patched up their differences in recent months.

Kolomoisky, I remind you, is the moneyman behind Zelensky.

(I'm not behind the TPM paywall, but I was able to read this important story because a friend to this blog sent me the text. Thanks!)

Few on the left or the right want to talk about the brutal, fascistic nature of the Azov battalion. It does not help anyone's narrative. For the same reason, nobody wants to talk about the unnerving fact that Zelensky, the alleged anti-corruption crusader, owes his career to Kolomoisky.
First,exactly what do the Republicans have to do to convince centrists that Republicans have zero interest in working with Democrats? When Obama was president, they made it clear they didn't want to work with him. Since Trump was elected, Republicans have been clear that they don't want to work with Democrats. Republicans have one goal: Money for the rich, that's it, that's the list. So exactly what to
Democrats do to work with Republicans? Give more money to the rich? For what? People generally, and Democrats specifically, want a change from the status quo. The only way working with Republicans is a change is not only a retreat from the future, it is a retreat from the present.
Second, as long as you mention Netanyahu, on a related note I would like to direct your attention to Daniel Gordis' new book, We Stand Divided
The issue presented is whether Judaism is a tribe or a religion. While this is of interest to me, it isn't (and probably shouldn't be) of interest to non-Jews. However, it got me to thinking whether America is a tribe or a religion. To Stephen Millert, and those of his ilk, America is a tribe which you have to be born into. Whereas to me, America is a religion, a secular religion, that a person can convert into.
With advanced medical practices, chest discomfort sans extensive damage to the heart chambers, rarely results in death. So we can assume that Old Grifters, like The Donald, never die - they just continue to steal away.
I agree; the USA is a quasi-religion, not a tribe.

As a white Gentile Christian of predominantly Anglo-Celtic extraction, and descended from a Rebel soldier to boot, I could be accepted by the tribalists, but I reject them.

Tribalism in and of itself is not necessarily bad. We are all tribalists to some extent. Tribalism creates community. The idea is that we build on the smaller tribes to get to the largest tribe we all belong to: Homo Sapiens. The real danger of tribalism is the belief that by virtue of my membership in a tribe I am innately superior to those that are not members of that tribe.
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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Did Trump have a heart attack? (Updated twice)

Donald Trump is in Walter Reed Hospital. Allegedly, he is there for "portions" of his physical, but that claim looks pretty damned dubious: His last physical was nine months ago, and it was announced well in advance. This is sudden.

To borrow a phrase from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: I smell mendacity.

The White House wouldn't lie about a trip to the hospital unless something serious were afoot. I'm thinking that Trump has exhibited symptoms indicative of heart failure. He's in his 70s, he's obese, he eats lots of greasy fast food, and -- let's be honest -- he's under a lot of stress. (Much of which he brought on himself.) If I recall correctly, his cholesterol is high and his calcium levels are elevated. It's amazing his heart has done as well as it has.

Another possibility: In previous posts, we've looked at the evidence that Donald Trump abuses drugs, particularly uppers. Hope Hicks confirmed that he did have a problem in the past, but many indicators -- including one rather damning photograph -- suggest that the problem continues. Perhaps he overdosed.

A third theory: Every time I spend more than an hour writing a post (as I did earlier today), something major comes up, forcing me to bury the old piece beneath a new one. So maybe Donald Trump staged this just to annoy me.

Update: This tweet by one Jonathan Wackrow is germane.
This does not add up; the White House Medical Unit has very comprehensive facilities at the White House complex that could easily accommodate most of what is needed in an annual physical. As a fmr USSS Agent assigned POTUS, I have never seen the annual formality occur in stages.
There has been speculation in some quarters that Trump could use a medical emergency as an excuse for resignation. I doubt that idea, and not just because his ego forbids it. He needs the powers of the presidency to keep himself out of jail. However, a health crisis could justify the 25th.

CNN reports that this hospital visit was definitely not on the schedule.

Another mystery: Why did he travel to Walter Reed by limo instead of helicopter?

Update II: This source claims that Trump had "chest discomfort."

Predictably, Stephanie Grisham and Jeanine Piro are sticking with the "checkup" story, and have proclaimed Trump to be "almost superhuman."
You've convinced me there is WAY more to this story than the initial light coverage it's getting. Something major is up. This is too weird to dismiss as normal.

IOW, I'm saying this might be on par with Hillary getting pneumonia.
It seems his angina pectoris has destabilized; I expect an announcement of angioplasty or bypass surgery.
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Fake newsers: John Solomon and Aaron Maté

Let's begin with a great recent tweet...

This outrageous conspiracy theory is being promulgated by two "journalists" tasked with selling what is basically the same bullshit to different audiences. Both of them have contrived to work for "real" news outlets not associated with the pro-Trump right.

The unwisdom of Solomon. The first of these pseudojournalists is John Solomon, who has been exposed as a conduit for Rudy Giuliani's pal, Lev Parnas -- who is himself a conduit for crime boss Dmitry Firtash, who works with Putin.

If you're interested learning more about Solomon, start your research here.
Solomon depicted a second innocent victim of these conspiracies in addition to Trump: Ukrainian oligarch Dimitry Firtash, “a major target of the Soros group.” Firtash — close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian mafia kingpin Semion Mogilevich, and a chief financier of former Ukrainian president Yanukovych — is fighting extradition to avoid U.S. federal charges of bribery and racketeering. Solomon wrote that Robert Mueller’s investigation was attempting to frame Firtash to get “some dirt on Donald Trump,” but that the case against Firtash was “falling apart.” Solomon stated, “The oligarch’s defense team told me that Firtash rejected the deal because he didn’t have credible information or evidence.”

The State Department labeled the charges in Solomon’s initial article about Yovanovitch “an outright fabrication.” Later, the Ukrainian prosecutor Solomon quoted as his source, Yuri Lutsenko, was dismissed from his position and disavowed Solomon’s reporting, saying that Hunter Biden “did not violate anything” and now said that his statements to Solomon about a do-not-prosecute list were false. Lutsenko is now under criminal investigation for abuse of power. Meanwhile, the effort to extradite Firtash to face corruption charges continues.
Whenever a "journalist" offers evidence-free blather about Soros, you know you're dealing with disinformation. The important point is that Solomon has defended Firtash, a crook who attained power working for Semion Mogilevich, the most brutal gang leader in the history of the modern world.

A side note about Mogilevich. Among other crimes, Mogilevich runs a prostitution ring which supplies underaged girls to powerful men, who thus become subject to blackmail. (You should not presume that the men know ahead of time that the girls are underaged.) I have long believed that Epstein became rich handling the finances of Mogilevich, Firtash and other oligarch/gangsters -- and that Epstein's girls (at least the ones with eastern European accents) were actually supplied by Mogilevich.

Aaron Maté worked for Democracy Now and is a writer at The Nation, once a proud left-wing institution, now BernieBro central. I consider him the new H.A. Goodman -- a Trumper in disguise, infiltrating the left via the Bernie byway.

For quite a while now, Maté's main mission in life has been twofold:

1. He poisons lefties against the Mueller probe.

2. He assails the established FACT that Russia hacked the Democrats in 2016.

Relentlessly, Maté has denounced not just the claim of collusion but the very concept of Russian interference. That's just a conspiracy theory, sayeth Maté.

You may ask: But didn't the entire intelligence community confirm that Russia did it?

Maté has an answer: The entire IC was led astray by Evil John Brennan. That was also the scenario favored by Roger Stone.

The "Blame Brennan" theory is laid in this lengthy Maté piece for RealClearInvestigations. I suggest that you read it (or at least skim it), though you definitely should not believe it.

That piece offers a very clear glimpse of the William Barr/John Durham disinfo extravaganza that is about to hit. Indeed, I would not be surprised to learn that Barr leaked information to Maté.

(Incidentally, there are increasing calls for William Barr's impeachment. Bravo! His recent addresses to the Federalist Society indicate that the guy really is coming unglued.)

Maté's argument makes sense only if you can accept the image of dozens, hundreds, thousands of people -- in government, journalism and academia -- engaging in a massive plot to defame poor, innocent Vladimir Putin. In Maté's upside-down universe, that ridiculous narrative makes perfect sense. But if you say that Russia committed cyberwar on behalf of Donald Trump in 2016, Maté will scoff as if you had just reported a unicorn on the grassy knoll.

It's all a scam, says Maté. Never mind the fact that this "scam" has been certified as factual by the entire U.S. security establishment, by the Mueller team, by Congress, by members of the Trump administration itself, by foreign services, by evidence presented in court, and by God-knows-how-much reporting by real journalists.

Maté apparently thinks that those dozens and dozens of real journalists -- and their editors -- are all part of the conspiracy. This is Alex Jonesism at its tin foiliest.

His afore-cited article does not specifically endorse the "Ukraine did it" theory of the DNC hack. Nevertheless, that theory pervades the air like a bad odor. The "Ukraine did it" theory, which has been completely debunked, remains Trumpworld's preferred alternative to the "Russia did it" theory -- an alternative which can be traced right back to Russia. One commonly-heard variant holds that the DNC hacked itself (!!!) with Ukraine's help.

Marcy has spent a fair amount of time sparring with Maté. You may enjoy this thread.

Maté on Flynn. There's a lot to unpack in the above-linked article -- and once you unpack it, you can toss it into the garbage bin, right next to John Solomon's recycled Fir-trash. For now, I'd like to focus on this bit toward the end:
One early motivation may have been the intelligence community’s broad dislike of Flynn – Trump’s first national security adviser, who was one of the earliest targets of the collusion narrative.

Flynn had served as Obama’s head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, but fell out of favor by 2014, in part because of his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal and the CIA's arming of anti-Assad militants in Syria. Obama had specifically warned Trump against hiring Flynn.
Oh, come off it. It wasn't Iran or Syria.

Actually, Flynn developed an unnervingly close (but probably not sexual) relationship with a Russian woman whom a lot of people consider spookier than a Christmas party at Scrooge's bachelor pad. This woman denies any link to the FSB; believe her if you feel so inclined. But even if you do, you have to look at the situation through the eyes of a counterintelligence specialist, who would naturally interpret the relationship as a probable honeytrap.

Counterintelligence does not require courtroom-quality evidence. Reasonable grounds for suspicion are enough to set off the alarm bells.
A longtime critic of the bureaucracy, Flynn earned particular enmity from Brennan’s CIA with an effort to create a new Pentagon spy organization, Foreign Policy reported in 2015.
Oh, that's just what we need: Another military-based spy shop, freshly created to promote theories that the professionals won't take seriously. We saw a few "new Pentagon spy organizations" spring up during the W administration. They helped give us the Iraq War.

When certain writers denounce "the bureaucracy," they mean "Anyone drawing a government check who is not 100 percent loyal to Putin and/or Trump." The word "bureaucracy" now has no other meaning.
I don't think it's a good idea to look at things through the lens of a counter-intelligence professional. That way Angleton lies.
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Vicky Ward has written a remarkable piece which reveals that Lev Parnas -- who, let us not forget, functions as part of the Dmitry Firtash crime family -- bragged about being on a "secret mission" for Trump.

Yet Trump claims not to know the gentleman. I believe the correct term would be implausible deniability.

Let's look at Ward's Twitter summary:
The party—during which Parnas and Fruman slipped out of a reception room packed with hundreds of Trump donors to have a private meeting with the President and Giuliani—was the day after Giuliani brought Parnas as his guest to the funeral of former president George H.W. Bush.

In the days following the meeting, Parnas insinuated to two people that he clearly believed he’d been given a special assignment by the President—like some sort of “James Bond mission,” according to one of the people.

This new reporting puts the president firmly in the Lev Parnas/Igor Fruman camp much earlier than the July 25th phone call. What it shows is that there was an idea of the quid pro quo—“what are we going to do about Ukraine?”—all the way back in December.
Parnas and Trump were also together at a fundraiser in April of 2018.

Earlier, in February, Lev and Igor met with the previous leader of Ukraine, Poroshenko, offering an official state dinner if he would go along with the nutball conspiracy theory which blames the 2016 election interference on Ukraine and the Dems. (We know from other reporting that this particular bit of disinformation was cooked up by the Russians, who relayed it to Manafort.)

From Parnas' lawyer:
"Mr. Parnas at all times believed that he was acting only on behalf of the President, as directed by his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and never on behalf of any Ukrainian officials.”
Marcy's wager. This tweet is pretty funny...

Most of her readership seems to favor a Rudy-as-scapegoat scenario. I will admit that this idea makes some sense, since Rudy is the only one of the three who could semi-plausibly be portrayed as rogue elephant. Granted, believing in a "Blame Rudy, not Donnie" narrative would require blinding oneself to about a jillion important facts.

I predict that Trump will not scapegoat any of these men. Reckless as he is, he retains a formidable survival instinct. I'm quite sure that he understood Rudy's not-so-cryptic remarks about an insurance policy, which everyone knows was no mere joke.

However, I do feel that there is some possibility that Sondland may turn. I don't think Sondland will be scapegoated, but he could go blabby. In fact, I'm pretty sure that he wants to blab.

Sondland has already expressed some regret that he ever got sucked into this drug deal. He's in the hospitality business; he makes an honest living providing an actual service. He's not an international scammer or wheeler-dealer like Parnas.

So far, the EU ambassador has already offered two different stories, neither of which told the full truth.  With multiple witnesses (not just Holmes) against him, Sondland must understand that Donald Effing Trump isn't worth getting busted on a perjury beef. Barr won't bring charges against him, but the statute of limitations on perjury is five years, and the A.G. job may be in cleaner hands in 2021.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Donald Trump's definition of "loyalty" is Die for me.

Sondland doesn't need this shit. Of the three worthies on Marcy's list, he's the likeliest to break down and offer one of those dramatic confessions you'd see toward the end of a Perry Mason episode.

Kardashians. The David Holmes statement, delivered in secret to the committee, contains some very interesting revelations. The most bewildering is a reference to Donald Trump and the Kardashians. I did a bit of research into this business; apparently, the Kardashians aksed Trump to intervene on behalf of a rapper named A$AP Rocky, convicted in Sweden on assault charges. When Rocky was finally released, he reportedly snubbed Trump.

The important part of this story is Trump's closeness to the Kardashian family. I can't tell you now why this is important. You'll see.

Corruption. Trump's argument is that he was simply concerned about corruption in Ukraine. If so, then why hasn't he expressed any interest in the actual issues besetting that country? Why the focus on Hunter Biden, who seems to have done nothing wrong?

Trump completely ignored Ihor Kolomoisky, the oligarch behind Zelensky. Kolomoisky has been accused of robbing billions from Ukraine's most important bank, and of wreaking a horrible vengeance on the person who exposed his crime -- Valeria Gontareva, the woman who headed Ukraine's version of the Federal Reserve. Her house was burned down, she was driven out of the country, and she was nearly killed in an "accident" which no-one considers accidental.

Trump also ignores the spate of acid attacks -- at least forty! -- on activists and journalists who are trying to clean up Ukraine. Just before flying back to DC, Ambassador Yovanovich met with one of these victims, Kateryna Handzyuk. She appears in the video embedded below. The video is a must-see, even though it is a grim sight.

Keep in mind that the acid attackers probably came from the neofascist Azov battalion, which attracts a surprisingly high number of Americn Nazi volunteers.

If Trump truly cared about corruption in Ukraine, why would he focus on Hunter Biden while completely ignoring the fiends who murdered Kateryna Handzyuk and nearly killed Valeria Gontareva? In fact, before the first Zelensky call, Trump's aides tried to brief him on the real corruption problems facing Ukraine, but he refused to pay any attention.

Friday, November 15, 2019

"Roger Rock" meets his new roommate!

The above is a sequel, of sorts, to this mini-comic. I haven't drawn a cartoon in a couple of years, so bear with me if I'm a little rusty.

Guilty on all seven counts! Even the ones I thought he might beat! Damn, but I was not expecting this outcome.

I think I know why Stone was found guilty on all counts even though Manafort received a split decision: Stone threatened a guy's cute little dog. Jurors really don't like it when you threaten a dog.

Yes, this cartoon is a tad brutal. No, I will not apologize. He who disheth out brutality, receiveth brutality.

Rejoice! A villain has faced justice. The Stoney one will probably be pardoned, but not until after the election of 2020 -- giving Roger plenty of time to gain a full appreciation of his new home.

I should have some observations about the Yovanovitch testimony soon. In the meantime, consider this article, in which we learn that Twitter was suddenly and swiftly inundated with the phrase "I hired Donald Trump to fire people like Yovanovich." The people who spew this hatred can't really tell you why they hate this woman: They hate only because they have been told to hate.

In truth, the "people" tweeting this tweet are not really people:
The way the phrase has spread does not appear to be completely authentic. At least 7,320 tweets (including retweets) were posted that included the words posted in the first 45 minutes, according to an analysis conducted by BuzzFeed News. Within that time period, 83 accounts tweeted or retweeted the phrase over 10 times each.
Not "completely authentic"? Ya think?
Separating bot activity from genuine virality — particularly among pro-Trump social media users, who often operate in ways that look like bots — is difficult. Benchmarks vary, but, according to the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda team and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, tweeting 50–72 times a day is suspicious, and tweeting more than 144 times a day is very suspicious. The rate of posts from many accounts amplifying the anti-Yovanovitch phrase is consistent with automated services.
Of course it's bogus. Let's not be naive. The bot response to Yovanovich, in and of itself, proves Russia's complicity in electing Trump.

Or does Trump have a scheme to blame this one on Ukraine as well?
I'd like to see Stone forced to tell the truth about Franken. Franken, by the way,, would have been the best candidate the Demoers crats could nominate because Trump voters don't want competence, they want entertainment. Franken is not only entertaining, he is competent as well.
Haven't lost your touch.
Thanks, but I have. I've forgotten so much of what I knew about anatomy...! It's like the French I took -- use it or lose it.

Yes, even cartoonists must know anatomy.
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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Epstein: The Big Smear is coming

There has been a massive upsurge in Twitter bot activity promoting the idea that Epstein did not kill himself. I'm told that billboards have proclaimed this message. (Who paid for those billboards?) The National Review, which paid little or no attention to Epstein when Acosta and Dershowitz cut that infamous sweetheart deal, is now pushing Epstein in a big way. Epstein memes are raining all over the right side of the internet.

The conservatives coddled Epstein while he was alive, but they've figured out how to weaponize his corpse against the Dems.

And now, Syria's Bashar Assad -- who is in a very weak position vis-a-vis Russia -- is talking Epstein. Assad went on Russian TV to warn that Epstein was murdered to protect powerful people.

This is not accidental.

Mine may be a lone voice in the wilderness, but I have been screaming for months that the conveniently dead Jeff Epstein will be at the center of the Mother of All Clinton Scandals. Frankly, the only reason I re-ignited this blog (after letting it lay dormant for quite a while) was to warn the world that the Big Smear was coming. Jeff Epstein will re-elect Trump.

Here's my first warning post. Here's a follow-up.

William Barr has loudly announced that he will go after Epstein's enablers. Barr didn't give a damn about Epstein until this election season. He certainly did not complain about Acosta's role in the Trump administration.

Right now, Barr is all about one thing and one thing only: Getting Trump re-elected.

These people will concoct evidence and pay for false testimony. You must prepare for it. Harden your heart right now. 

When some weepy female gets on teevee and caterwauls about how she was raped at the age of 15 by Evil Bill, do not believe her. Even if every feminist in the world tells you that you must believe her, do not believe her. Even if the supporting evidence seems conclusive, do not believe her.

It's all going to be a huge set-up. A deep fake. A diversion from Trump's crimes. An attempt to sully all Dems.

But that won't be all. Some time after the Big anti-Clinton Smear shakes everything up, then we will learn about Joe Biden's rather silly secret. What might otherwise be considered a minor personal sin (especially compared to Trump's outrageous history with women) will seem far worse than would otherwise be the case. As usual, the feminists will hop into bed with the far right in order to push the propaganda.

(If not for the feminist-far right alliance, I'd be volunteering for Al Franken's presidential election campaign right now. I will never forgive them. Why, you ask, did I turn against feminism? That's why.)

How do I know that this anti-Clinton Big Smear is coming? And how can I be so certain that the Big Smear will, in fact, be nothing but an elaborate con job?

Come on. Get serious. The signs could not be clearer.

The fact that right-wing trolls, Russian bots and Bashar Assad are all pushing "Epstein was murdered" stories tells you everything you need to know.

It's coming. It'll be big, it'll be shocking, it'll hurt the Dems, and it'll be a total hoax. When a massive, hard-sell propaganda campaign pushes a story, the truth lies elsewhere.
I've agreed with your view on this since that first post you made about it. It's been obvious since Epstein was arrested that he was going to be used to smear the left. Certain people on certain facebook groups that I frequent were talking about nothing but Clinton, how this would bring down the Clinton's and the Dems. These people were largely Bernie supporter types, by they way, though a few were obviously more right leaning. Anyway, I can see this coming as well.

Also, I have serious doubts that Epstein is even dead at all. I have suspicions that he was freed and the "suicide" was used as cover. I can't imagine someone like him didn't have a dead man's switch to be activated if he ever was "suicided". How could he not have, being the obvious intelligence asset he was to multiple agencies in different nations? No, I think he's still alive somewhere with a new identity, relishing the chaos that will result from the big smear that is coming.
It will be interesting to see the "legitimate" news media outlet that picks the Epstein narrative out of the Blog-O-Sewer and runs with it. Even if it's a "Some people are saying" type news item. My money is on Certainly Not News or the ever Democrat ratfucking New York Times.
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Bad news on the Stone front...?

The Roger Stone trial has gone to the jury, and reporters are now reading the tea leaves -- that is, they are trying to draw larger meanings from questions asked by the jurors of the judge.

Specifically, the jury asked about a letter that Stone wrote to the House intel committee after his testimony. In this letter, Stone falsely identified Randy Credico as his backchannel to Julian Assange. The jurors wanted to know: Does this letter count as sworn testimony?

The judge ruled that it does not.

So it looks as though Roger the dodger may be acquitted on that score.

He may be convicted of other charges. He also told the House that he exchanged no emails or texts concerning Assange, when in fact there were plenty of texts and emails which did so. If the jury believes that there was no intermediary (a bit of revisionist history which I do not accept) Stone could be found guilty of the third charge. He testified to Congress that such an intermediary did, in fact, exist.

Stone is also charged with witness intimidation, because he used threats and brutal language to cajole Credico into backing up his false story. Right now, I don't see how Stone can avoid that one. The evidence seems damning.

Why the Dems will lose the impeachment. Plus: The true meaning of the "Deep State"

Trump will be impeached in the House and acquitted in the Senate. Everyone knows what will happen. The outcome is no real mystery. When I ask "Will the Dems lose the impeachment?" I refer not to a loss in either house of Congress, but to a loss in the court of public opinion.

That court is not a court of law.

Unfortunately, many commentators cannot understand that basic point. That's why opinion pieces like this one by Renato Mariotti are so frustrating.
I’ve tried many federal criminal cases, and Wednesday’s hearing looked a lot like trials in which the prosecution has the defendant on tape admitting to a crime. When defense attorneys can’t mount a defense on the merits, they raise a lot of peripheral issues in the hope of convincing at least one juror that there is reasonable doubt.

So every time you heard the Republican’s designated counsel ask about Hunter Biden’s language skills or one of the Republican members of the Intelligence Committee ask whether the Obama administration sold Javelin missiles to Ukraine, what you were actually hearing was a defense attorney doing his level best to avoid talking about what his client said on tape. It was chaotic and often unfocused, though not always. In fact, there were moments when members actually executed their playbook with some skill.

But they simply can’t overcome the abundant evidence Democrats possess to prove their central point—that President Donald Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine on a public announcement that his political rival, Joe Biden, was under investigation.
Yes they can. The Republicans will win this one by making the polls lurch in their favor. (In fact, support for removal has ticked down recently.) They will win because the Dems are fighting a legal battle while the Trumpers are fighting a propaganda battle. This New Yorker piece understands that important distinction, though it severely underestimates the effectiveness of the Republican strategy.

I was very frustrated by the Democratic performance yesterday. They knew damned well what the Trumpers would do; the Disciples of Donnie always telegraph their punches. Yet the Dems entered that room with no plan to punch back.

In particular, the Republicans kept hammering the Big Lie that Joe Biden, in asking for the removal of a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor, somehow impeded the investigation of Burisma. In fact, that prosecutor had covered up for Burisma. Joe Biden had done what the owners of Burisma did not want.

The Republicans have been misleading the public on that point for weeks. Their entire case is predicated on this one Big Lie.

The Dems should have known that they'd haul this Big Lie into the impeachment hearings. Anyone who couldn't see that one coming must be so dense as to be unable to predict tomorrow's sunrise. Yet Schiff let the lie be heard and he let it stand.

He should have exposed it in no uncertain terms. He should have used language that was both partisan and harsh. Schiff should have used words along these lines:

"This is another Republican lie from the party of lies -- a party that continually misleads the public because it has no other recourse."

Howls of protest would have erupted, both in the room and in the press. Good. As the old saying goes, when you receive flack, that means you're over the target.

Something similar can be said of the repeated Republican lie that no harm was done because Trump released the aid package to Ukraine. Of course, that release happened only after the whistle was blown and the jig was up. A Dem finally made that point, but far too late. Schiff should have seen that lie coming, and he should have walked into that room prepared to launch a blistering counterattack. He should have been harsh -- even vulgar -- and unabashedly partisan.

The entire Democratic party should keep hammering home one theme: "The party of Trump is the party of lies. The party of Trump is the party of lies." Those very words. Over and over. Say those words with furrowed brows and through snarling teeth. Say them at a decibel level that goes well beyond everyone's comfort level.

The predictable responses will be Tut tuts and That's uncalled-for and even Have you no decency? If they say such things -- good. Show strength. Show a vicious side. Show that you have balls. When the Republicans sputter indignantly while wearing that "exploding cigar" look on their faces, you're winning.

Legally, the Republicans have no case. But they are winning the propaganda battle. They are winning the impeachment.

A word about the "Deep State." Most Americans don't understand that, in the Trumpian lexicon, the term "Deep State" now means the opposite of what it originally meant.

Yes, I know that the phrase originated in Turkish political discourse. But the person who imported that obscure term into America was Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat who became a professor at Berkeley. In the late 1960s and '70s, he was a fierce opponent of the Vietnam War and a well-known writer on the JFK assassination.

Scott, in those days, spoke to and for a community of left-wing conspiracy researchers -- a community now largely misunderstood; to a large degree, it has been erased from our collective memory. Suffice it to say that the left-wing paranoids were a very different breed of cat from the Alex Jonesians, if only because the lefties usually tried to prove what they said: They used evidence, interviews, footnotes, rational argumentation, all of that academic stuff. These researchers came to believe that JFK was killed by a tiny cabal of power-hungry ideologues operating behind scenes. Left-wing researchers eventually looked into other claimed conspiracies, such as the October Surprise and some of the non-standard interpretations of Watergate.

We can debate the virtues or failings of "old school" conspiracy research on another occasion. For present purposes, the important point is this: Those who read and respected Peter Dale Scott's writings came to use "Deep State" as a shorthand way of referring to Americans who used covert networks to conduct operations contrary to stated American policy.

Alas, I am no longer among Scott's admirers. He changed. He began to speak with cautious approval of secession, and he even appeared on Alex Jones' program. In a way, he made a classic far-left-to-far-right segue, though he transitioned rather later in life than is usually the case. (He's still with us, by the way.) In this infuriating essay, Scott defines himself as a "radical conservative" as he attacks Abraham Lincoln, partially defends Trump, and even -- to some degree -- questions Enlightenment values.

I believe that Jones lifted the phrase "Deep State" from Scott, and that Trump picked it up from Jones. Those words thus came to serve their present function -- as a reflexive, thought-stopping way for Trump's sheep-like followers to disregard any facts or testimony they don't like.

In Trumpian usage, the meaning of the term has shifted 180 degrees.

Originally, the phrase "Deep State" referred to operatives scuttling about in the shadows, conducting operations contrary to stated American policies. In the 1960s, Jim Angleton and his various comrades were the Deep State.

In the current context -- the Ukrainian scandal -- guys like Bill Taylor and George Kent are not the Deep State, at least not if we confine ourselves to the original meaning of the phrase. Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas are the ones who deserve the Deep State label, since they were pursuing a shadow foreign policy despite holding no official government position.

You may now be asking: What about Bill Barr and John Durham? I would say that they, too, are functioning as Deep State operatives. Someone who holds an important position within what we might call "the visible government" may also scurry about furtively in the pursuit of private interests. That's how Angleton worked. That's what Barr is doing right now. 

Is there anything we can do to bring back the original meaning of "Deep State"?

Lindsay Graham once more bends over to show off the "ENTER HERE" sign painted on his butt. After criticizing Trump's betrayal of the Kurds -- one of the few times Limp Lindsay has shown any political courage -- Graham has decided to help Erdogan cover up the greatest sin in the history of Turkey: The genocide of the Armenians.

Lindsay Graham, how can you look in the mirror without throwing up? For God's sake, man -- whatever they have on you, it can't be that bad. For the sake of your soul, just admit your sin, invite them to release the blackmail photo (or whatever the evidence might be), and move on. Wouldn't it be better to retire to a rural cabin -- fishing, reading, looking for Bigfoot -- then to spend your days as Trump's toadie?

Added note: I must apologize. The name is spelled “Lindsey,” not “Lindsay.” This is not the first time I’ve made this error.

Buying a bestseller. I think you'll enjoy this tweet from Seth Abramson...
Trump has managed to pull off a syntactical coup previous wannabe government bathtub drowners could only dream of: He's made Civil Service and Deep State synonymous. Where previously institutional knowledge was heralded as what enabled the ship of state to continue to sail during power transitions, it's now seen as an anti-democratic force to be countered. Institutional ignorance is the goal -- and, boy! do we ever have it, in spades.

If anyone ever doubts the existence -- at least historically -- of a Deep State, all it takes is to read the descriptions of JFK's actions when Patrice Lumumba was overthrown. Here's the President of the United States requesting regular updates on Lumumba's status and whereabouts from CIA officials who were sniggeringly leading him on, despite their knowing Lumumba had been killed hours earlier. Nauseating.
Maz, that’s precisely what I had in mind. A perfect historical example. It was also the Deep State that spread the lie that JFK ordered thr Lumumba assassination, even though it happened before Kennedy took office.
The deep state has not changed but simply extended its tentacles ever more deeply into the constitutional government over the last 56 years. Almost everyone in the US embassy in a hot-spot like Ukraine is a CIA officer or asset,
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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Impeachment (continuous updates)

Initial reaction to Bill Taylor: WHAT A VOICE! Who plays Taylor in the movie? Too bad Gregory Peck is no longer with us.

In a sane country, Trump would have been removed from office ten minutes after Taylor finished his opening statement. Especially after that new bit: "Trump cares more about the investigation of Biden."

The Republicans are going after these guys now. The usual smear tactics. I am trying to force myself to listen, but man...this is infuriating.

Updates: The Republican attacks demonstrate the validity of one of my all-time favorite quotes:

Never forget how easy it is to make a maniac's hellsbroth of any proposition, however plain to common sense.

Yes, Aleister Crowley said that. The old SOB was right.

The fact that Ukraine finally received aid does not invalidate the fact that extortion exists, or the fact that the administration had no right to hold up aid voted by Congress.

If the funds were being held up because Trump wanted Zelinsky to make an anti-Biden statement -- and if the funds were belatedly released even though Zelinsky did NOT make the requested statement -- then clearly the release was due to political pressure. Or to plain fear. The Whistleblower was making his concerns known to the CIA Inspector General, who went to the White House. In other words, the Trumpers knew that their scheme was discovered; the jig was up. Trump deserves no credit for doing what he was forced to do, and he deserves no exoneration for his attempted extortion.

Of course Zelensky said that he felt no pressure. He needs those javelins. One cannot fairly expect him say anything likely to piss off Trump. 

The corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor whom Joe Biden criticized was protecting Burisma; he did not investigate it. Every Republican who obscures that key point is a deliberate liar.

A Republican -- was it Stewart? -- stipulated that political candidates should be investigated. But Trump's lawyers said that Trump could not be investigated even if he shot someone.

The Republicans are trying to cancel all inconvenient testimony as hearsay, even though: 1. Much of this testimony is direct, 2. Some direct witnesses were prevented from testifying, 3. There are numerous exceptions to the hearsay rule in a court of law, and 4. This is not a court of law and not a trial; it is an investigation. (Trial occurs in the Senate.)

Nobody has demonstrated or even alleged that Hunter Biden did anything wrong. We've been living with this thing for quite a few weeks now, and still we have no details as to what Hunter supposedly did.

The Republicans seem reluctant to discuss the stuff about Crowdstrike and the alleged server in Ukraine. That all came from those false John Solomon stories. Solomon's source was Lev Parnas, a member of the Dmitry Firtash crime organization. Firtash is beholden to Putin. Basically, Solomon and all who cite him are conduits of Russian disinformation.

The whole idea of this administration criticizing Ukraine for corruption has become a bad joke. Pot, kettle. Zelensky knew the score when Trump demanded that statement. Zelensky knows about Firtash and his influence on this administration. And let's not even talk about Rick Perry...!

I've been paying half-attention while writing. Did Jim Jordan accuse the whistleblower of working for Biden? Wow. Joe Biden has CIA guys working for him?

Asha Rangappa offers a brilliant tweet:
Has any GOP member explained why — if as Jim Jordan says Ukraine is “one of the three most corrupt countries on the planet” — Trump trusted them to investigate two U.S. citizens for...corruption?
Josh Marshall just released a tweet which makes the same point I made earlier: The only reason Trump gave up on his extortion scheme is that he was caught.
This - FINALLY - is the point. Very, very clear that the White House finally released the aid only when the whistleblower report was coming to light and the Intel committee was already starting its investigation! They relented because they finally got caught.

Bailey, the Alaskan Malamute wants to pee, maybe dump a Trump. Good time during republican questioning.
Important note about the Javelins Trump gave to Ukaraine: They couldn't be used
"But there is a big catch. The Trump administration provided the missiles on the condition that they not be used in the war," New York Times
Didn't watch the hearings and only reading the commentary about it. Hate to go straight to the horse race and the theatrics, but it appears this was a fantastic opening day for the Democrats. An A+ on the substance, Republicans spinning their wheels, and most importantly, the MSM commentary I'm reading suggest are lamenting how awful it is for the country for things to have gotten this far. I note this as a good thing because the MSM in the lead up was dying to give the Republicans a "win" but they appear unable to do so. If Republicans can't even get a win when the media is dying to give them one, make no mistake, this is great for the Democrats.
I watch for The most part,the hearings today. I waited to hear what is a key point to me or perhaps I missed it.The (R) questioners dragged out and killed again the dead horse of what Biden did,the Obama administration did or did not do, but after crazed statement,the Dems. did not state the obvious,at least to me. The illegal impeachable act was Trump ASKED for a Biden/son investigation.He admits this,Mulvaney says this happens "all the time" and to "get over it!" It was that he asked.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

From Berlioz to Bolton

A short while ago, Rachel Maddow showed -- not for the first time -- a clip from an old NBC video of the Watergate hearings. Specifically, she showed the title sequence. On an earlier occasion, she asked if anyone could identify the music; Rachel seemed very impressed when members of her audience recognized it as the opening of the fourth movement ("March to the scaffold") from the Symphonie Fantastique, by Hector Berlioz.

Actually, naming that tune is no great feat. Every classical music aficionado knows this piece very well. The Symphonie Fantastique, composed in 1830, is one of those works that -- like Beethoven's Ninth and Le Sacre du Printemps -- always seems new.

You know what would be a really impressive trick? Naming the conductor of the performance used by NBC back in 1973. I thought I recognized it as the '67 recording that Seiji Ozawa did for Deutsche Grammophone (the record that introduced me to Berlioz) but I'm not sure. It's definitely not the recording Stokowski did on Phase 4. (That one has really deep bells in the last movement. I love those bells.) Frankly, it sounds like the famous Colin Davis version released by Phillips in '74 -- but that record came out after the hearings started.

So...I'm stumped.

You know what also has me stumped? Mick Mulvaney.

Do you have a workable "Theory of Mulvaney"? I don't. I have no idea why he has done the things he has recently done. Is it true that he considers himself "un-sackable" because he knows too much about Trump's dirty laundry? That seems very possible, since we now have reason to believe that he originally halted Ukraine aid on the grounds that it would irk Russia. (Which is a bit like FDR halting the Lend-Lease program on the grounds that it might annoy Germany.)

Above all, I want to know this: Why did Mulvaney try to attach himself to that Bolton suit?

For that matter, why does the Bolton suit even exist? I mean, John Bolton is a private citizen: He can testify to Congress if he wants to. So why the pretense?

I've read a couple dozen stories about the Mulvaney/Bolton mystery, or mysteries. Nobody has a proper answer.

Elsewhere: We now know from the Roger Stone trial that Stone did indeed talk about Wikileaks with Trump. In his written responses to Mueller, Trump said that he did not have any such conversation -- but he covered his ass by using the famous weasel words "I do not recall." (I believe Nixon is on record as counseling his comrades to say that phrase.)

And that's why Trump provided written responses, heavily lawyered. Imagine if Mueller had interviewed him directly...!

Obviously, Trump -- who claims to have one of the world's great memories -- lied. Obviously, he damn well would have remembered a thing like that.

Here's the thing: Impeachment is not a court of law. The charges against Andrew Johnson included issues that went well beyond actual legal infractions. Weasel words be damned: The House can impeach Trump for lying to Mueller.

On the Chris Hayes show earlier this evening, Hayes seemed genuinely mystified by Stone's motive for lying about Randy Credico. I wonder what Hayes would think about my "Enigma" theory?

This tweet from Marcy may also speak to my little theory.
I can tell you why Mulvaney wanted to join the Cooperman (not Bolton, though he said he would abide by that Court's ruling) lawsuit. He wanted to have the opportunity to appeal and thus delay the effect of the Court's ruling. If he was part of the suit and the Judge ruled that Cooperman should testify, Cooperman could choose not to appeal and just testify. If Mulvaney was part of that suit and the Court ruled that Cooperman and Mulvaney should testify, Mulvaney could appeal and ask for a stay thus delaying any testimony.
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Tulsi Gabbard and Steve Miller: Neofascist darlings

Tulsi Gabbard -- Democratic presidential candidate -- now has the David Duke seal of approval. Well, you knew that was going to happen. If you didn't, you haven't been paying attention.

First, let's get one thing straight: She's not in it to win it.

Tulsi knows that she will never be president. Very soon, she won't even be in Congress. I believe that she wants to accrue fame and money in order to take over the leadership of her cult, the Science of Identity Foundation, an offshoot of the Hare Krishnas. (Similar cosmology; no celibacy.)

I described SIF at length in an earlier post. The group was founded by a disturbing fellow named Chris Butler, a dictatorial asshole considered a messiah by his devotees. For many years, Gabbard's family has more-or-less held the number two spot within the sect.

I predict that, when Butler finally goes off to dance with Krishna and the Gopi Girls, Gabbard will assume control of SIF. Though she would no doubt angrily deny that she has any such ambition, don't be surprised to see Tulsi function as Brigham Young to Butler's Joe Smith -- or, if you prefer, David Miscavige to Butler's Ron Hubbard.

She is now doing everything she can to destroy Hillary Clinton, who -- quite correctly -- warned that Russia is supporting Tulsi Gabbard. It has been argued that Hillary's comment raised Tulsi's profile unnecessarily. Perhaps, but I would argue that a barrage of well-earned bad publicity forced Gabbard to end her congressional career.

Is Tulsi a true Democrat? I would argue that she deserves to be classified as part of the international neofascist movement. The term "neofascist" describes both Putin's Russia and Modi's India -- and it is no surprise that both love Gabbard.

An opinion piece published in Haaretz offers this headline: "Tulsi Gabbard Unites Putin Apologists, Bloodstained Modi, Genocidal Assad and the U.S. Far Right." The piece opens by describing Gabbard's seemingly-laudable opposition to Saudi Arabia's vile war in Yemen:
On the one hand, she condemns the Saudi-U.S. led coalition as complicit in a genocidal war, but she welcomes India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been called the "man with a massacre on his hands" with open arms.
There's a difference between left-wingers who oppose war and right-wingers who pretend to oppose war in order to appeal to the disaffected young. The lefties -- the honest ones, at least -- try to conjure up a consistent philosophy. They don't carve out exceptions for their favorite foreign thugs.

Unfortunately, too many young people don't read history. They do not understand that -- from the very beginning -- fascists have adopted stances designed to appeal to those who might otherwise drift toward left-wing populism.

To cite one of my favorite examples: The American Nazi movement of the 1930s -- yes, such a movement existed, and it was far more popular than current history books suggest -- often decried this country's brutality toward Native Americans. Yes, believe it or not, the Nazis were "pro-Indian" at a time when only the far left routinely sounded the same note. The fascists took this stance not because they had a fundamental respect for human decency, but because they wanted to undermine the very concept of democracy; they sought to justify an end to the American experiment.  

In the post-war years, this same "right woos left" strategy gave rise to the Fascist Third Position. (See here and here.) I could write a long, strange book about neofascist infiltration of the New Age movement and various non-mainstream religious groups.

Let's get back to Tulsi Gabbard and her adoration for the brutal bastard currently running India:
Why would Tulsi Gabbard damn what she sees as America’s complicity in Yemen but embrace an authoritarian foreign leader with blood on his hands? Why does she openly support and endorse Modi’s poor track record on human rights? What distinction does Gabbard draw between the thousands of Muslims massacred in Gujarat and the thousands of Muslims who died in Yemen? Why isn’t she making a similarly passionate plea to Prime Minister Modi to stop the ongoing mob lynchings and rapes in India?

One obvious reason she won’t do that is the financial and electoral benefits she accrues from openly supporting Modi.
The problem goes beyond India. Tulsi Gabbard is the one "Democrat" admired by the neofascist right.
Steve Bannon "loves Tulsi Gabbard." He thinks she "gets the foreign policy stuff, the Islamic terrorism stuff." Tucker Carlson loves her Assad-as-genocidaire skepticism, David Duke loves how she’s realigning U.S. politics, and Richard Spencer lauds her "bravery" in the diplomatic field.
Bannon was so impressed with Gabbard as a potential ally that as he brokered a meeting between her and the newly-installed President Donald Trump. Tulsi jumped at the opportunity: in her own words, "I walked out thinking that there may be some opportunity to work with this administration to shift our foreign policy in a more positive, less destructive direction."
The marvelous Caroline Orr is one of our finest Tulsi-watchers:
A reminder that The Daily Stormer took credit for getting Tulsi onto the debate stage. Her campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment about whether they knew of The Daily Stormer’s efforts, or if they’d return donations from neo-Nazis.
“Anti-war" Tulsi has taken huge sums of money from the defense industry, expressed support for increasing the use of drone strikes, hinted that she would consider using torture, and has a strange affinity for brutal dictators around the world.
Like Trump, Tulsi Gabbard believes in putting “America first,” regardless of the global consequences, human suffering, or death toll. She isn’t “anti-war” — she’s a nationalist, hiding behind a mask of anti-interventionism.
I don't know where the Gabbard story is going. But she will be around well after Trump is gone -- and I have an unnerving suspicion that she has just begun to make her mark on history.

Miller time. On a similar note, the Southern Poverty Law Center has uncovered Stephen Miller's "inner Adolf." 

Emails. We have his emails. It always comes down to the emails these days.

In this instance, far-right watchers have gained access to messages sent by Miller -- Trump's senior policy adviser -- to Breitbart in 2015 and 2016. The messages were stockpiled and revealed by one Katie McHugh, who transitioned away from what she now considers an "evil" movement.
In the run-up to the 2016 election, White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof’s murderous rampage, according to leaked emails reviewed by Hatewatch.
It's worse than that. Miller constantly hectored McHugh to read and republish ultra-racist stories promoted by white nationalists. Apparently, Miller is a big fan of a racist website called VDare. I just now took my first glance at that site, which offers a strikingly racist review of the latest attempt to keep the Terminator franchise going.
Unfortunately, the latest installment of the franchise delivers a less optimistic message: You, white man, are doomed. Indeed, Terminator: Dark Fate might well be called Terminator: The Great Replacement.
That should give you a flavor of what VDare offers. (Interestingly, they also offer a laudatory piece on Andrew Yang, who has gained a following in Sieg Heil circles.)

Miller also recommends an extremely racist 1973 French novel called Camp of the Saints, which has attained cult status on the far right. Steve Bannon also loves it.

Did you ever think you would see the day when creeps like Miller and Bannon could tell you what it feels like to walk across White House carpeting? Did you ever think that a neofascist hag like Tulsi would appeal to a small but loyal percentage of the Democratic electorate? Yet Trump won't fire Miller. And Democratic leaders won't call out Gabbard the way they ought.

A final word about the Clintons. On Twitter and elsewhere, there has been a disturbing uptick -- actually, far more than a tick -- in messaging devoted to promoting the idea that the Clintons killed Epstein (as if they could engineer such a thing!) and that Bill Clinton went to Epstein's island (which he didn't).

The bots are at work, folks. These things are never organic. It's all part of a long-term plan.

For a long time, I've predicted that Trump will win when his underlings release fake evidence linking the Clintons to Epstein's crimes. Even lefties won't denounce the fakes as fakes, because we've all been brainwashed into viewing the Clintons as something other than they are.

This tweet deserves republication here.

A few words about the Clinton health care plan. I recall that mid-1990s fight; some of you are too young to know what really happened. The plan failed, in large part, because idiot progressives refused to support it. They held out for the "Medicare for all" ideal.

Result: No health care reform. A lot of people died. A lot of people lost everything they had because they got sick.

Fucking arrogant progs.

In fact, fuck everyone who reflexively falls into paroxysms of hategasm whenever the name "Clinton" is mentioned. Your reaction to that name is how I judge you.
Agree. Now the same thing is going to happen with climate change, I think.
Don't know (or care) much about Tulsi Gabbard but Hillary Clinton destroyed herself four years ago and then blamed Russia to save face.

It has been said that you can judge a man (or woman in this case) by the enemies he's made. I like the Clintons on the substance, but by far my favorite thing about them is they've made all the right enemies. That fact alone speaks very highly of them.
You said it right. Just look who hates them. All the scums in the world. Its almost becomes to me a measure of a person's character. If a person hates the Clintons sooner or later his/her true self will come out; real scum.

@Anonymous 9:13 PM: Hi, Boris.

@The general readers:

If Gabbard Gabbard Hey had been born in a red, or even a purple state, she'd be a Rethuglican.

If I understand correctly, the state of Hawai'i is as blue as the ocean it sits in.

The GOP is slightly less popular than hemorrhoids in Hawai'i--so the Cult Princess had to run as a Democrat if she wanted to get elected from Hawai'i.
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Monday, November 11, 2019

Is Stone hiding the "Trumpworld Enigma"? More clues...

Before we get to our main topic: When Donald Trump Jr. tried to talk about his book Triggered on the UCLA campus, he was heckled. Amusingly, he was heckled not by liberals or socialists, but by Nazis.

Of course, they wouldn't use that term to describe themselves, but I feel comfortable with that nomenclature.

A few posts back, I mentioned that the far, far right is kinda, sorta over Trump. At least, they are getting over him. We're seeing the first stage of a breakup. They may stay together for a while for the sake of the kids, but the dizzying first flush of infatuation is over.

This attitude shift seems to be motivated in part by anti-Semitism: The white nationalists don't like Jared and they don't like Trump's attitude toward Israel. But the shift also has to do with the fact that some of these white nationalists -- most of whom made the familiar libertarian-to-fascist segue -- have decided that they now like the idea of getting free goodies from the State. They want that free $1000-a-month check that Yang has promised. In short, socialism no longer bugs these guys-- until someone reminds them that socialized medicine means that white people may have to contribute to health care for black people.

This may be the first important fissure in Trump's base.

Roger Stone lied to Congress and he threatened a witness.
At least, those are the charges against him. The main thing he lied about is his communications with Julian Assange. Stone tried to bully Randy Credico into saying, falsely, that he functioned as the Stone/Assange conduit. Credico denies that he was the backchannel.

What matters is not Credico's credibility or what information Stone got or did not get from Assange. The important question is this: Why did Stone lie? Why did he try to force Randy to give false testimony? What is Stone hiding?

He must be hiding something. The idea that Stone concocted a backchannel to Assange is absurd. Stone would not risk jail to protect a figment of his imagination.

In the preceding post, I argued that Stone is really hiding an ultra-secure messaging system which members of Team Trump used for their most sensitive conversations. (By "sensitive" I mean "illegal or unethical.") I compared this system to the Nazi "Enigma" code machines, well-known to all WWII buffs.

For want of a better term, let's call this system the Trumpworld Enigma.

Can we prove that the Trumpworld Enigma exists? Not conclusively, but the evidence favoring the idea is hard to dismiss. See my earlier post.

An anonymous reader offered a fascinating follow-up to that post. Normally, I discourage anonymous comments; signed comments tend to be of higher quality, even if the signature is just a silly internet handle. But I will always welcome an offering like this:
Robert Mercer, among many others, was granted a US patent for a secret method of communication. The phrase “secret sharing” was used in its description.That sounds more literary than it is; secret sharing refers to breaking a message up into many parts and distributing it among many partners or channels. If I knew more about the current state of encrypted communication I would have tried to dig specifically into that story.

Back during the 2016 campaign period, it was observed that Mercer’s yacht would be seen docked in the same harbor as the yacht of the oligarch Rybolovlev. Perhaps similarly, Trump’s jet would be seen at various airports at the same time as a jet, tail insignia M-KATE, belonging to oligarch Rybolovlev. It was my speculation at the time that there was some low power wifi-like connection being made. Not possible to believe that method could support voice. But it would be completely invisible to the NSA.

Of course, I can’t locate a link to the patent story at the moment.
Link on the jet and yacht set:
Link to the Mercer, et al patent:
Robert Mercer was the main owner of Cambridge Analytica. I'm not sure if that patent is the patent -- although, frankly, it's a little hard for me to research anything involving computer science above a certain level. (I can understand most of the stuff discussed on Linus TechTips, but that's about it.)

According to this Medium article, one of the listed owners of this patent is Sylvain Mirochnikoff, a French executive at Morgan Stanley who is married to Rebekah Mercer, daughter of Robert. Rebekah appears to be the real power in the family these days.

(There's some reporting that Sylvain and Rebekah are getting a divorce. Officially, they are still together.)

I'm surprised that more attention hasn't been paid to Sylvain, since he's a major Republican donor with ties to Putin's world. Unfortunately, if I were to reprint what this Medium article has to say about those ties, your eyes would glaze over. If you're not actually in the world of high finance, these details are usually as confusing and alienating as...well, as a patent describing the latest developments in encryption.

As briefly as possible: Sylvain was a director of ISE, the International Securities Exchange. This exchange is set up to trade options electronically. In 2013, ISE formed a partnership with the newly-created Moscow Exchange, which benefited tremendously from the election of Donald Trump. (Why? See here.)

Thus, the Mercers might well have gained access to inside information regarding the privatization of big Russian concerns like Rosneft and Sperbank. Lotta money to be made there, potentially.

Incidentally, the afore-cited Medium article mentions Mercer's yacht, often seen in suspicious proximity to the Rybolovlev yacht. The Mercer yacht is called the Sea Owl, and -- as you can see -- it's a beauty. The interior was designed by Serge Mirochnikoff, apparently Sylvain's father.

Let's get back to our Enigma theory.

I've tried to do a little further research into this "secret sharing" system, although I'm hampered by the fact that this shit ain't my shit. The word "quantum" keeps coming up -- yes, the same word often heard in Marvel movies when characters try to sound scientific. Bickering over the details of this communications system might be of some interest, but let's not ignore the fundamental fact that such a system exists. Mercer money really did go into the development of a modern "Enigma" device -- a way of sending messages without any worries about NSA eavesdropping.

I think that this system is what Stone is protecting. 

Incidental data shard #1: Did you know that Putin's former wife now lives in the south of France? Check out her posh digs -- apparently paid for by Valdimir Satanovich himself, even though the couple divorced in 2013.

Incidental data shard #2: Did you know that Rebekah Mercer once had a role on Xena, Warrior Princess? It's true. Here she is with an arrow in her gut.

This isn't a communications or encryption patent; it's more of a data storage patent to allow large encrypted files to be stored in pieces across multiple locations. It's particularly useful in cloud computing implementations -- although I have no idea what makes it better or worse than any competing method. It's a very open-ended patent; I'd think it was from a patent troll, given its lack of specificity, but I guess it's actually a core patent for Security First's Secure Parser Extended product. That's designed to provide fragmentary encryption at a very low level -- as in implemented in server hardware -- but, again, I don't know what makes it special compared with other approaches. (I should mention past Apple CEO John Sculley praised the tech in an interview on Fox News, so it's quite possibly bullshit. ;-) )

I assume Mercer, et al, are part of SFC's $65 million investor base. The tech seems like something Cambridge Anal would have been very interested in, since it would allow them to distribute their truly massive store of purloined data across multiple centers without worry someone would steal it back...

Again, I don't see any indication Stone had access to anything other than garden-variety encrypted communications; he certainly didn't have the self-control and fear of exposure to use even them.
The link goes to a patent application, not an issued patent. In any case, Robert Mercer is not indexed as inventor in any patent of any kind. Mine, in contrast, is indexed to 14 US patents.
The application contains a link to the awarded patent, IIRC.
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Saturday, November 09, 2019

A fake Sean Hannity could help us solve one of the great mysteries of Trumpworld

(Readers, please pass along this post. I really think I'm on to something here.)

The Stone case has sparked a fierce twitter war, with both the Republicans and the BernieBros making strenuous efforts to miss the point. Here's an example that caught Marcy's attention...
Gadfly comedian Randy Credico, hilariously the key figure in the prosecution's case against Roger Stone, testified yesterday that he was NOT a back channel to WikiLeaks for Stone, and that when he speculated to Stone about forthcoming WL releases, it was not based on inside info
These idiots think that Credico's denial exonerates Stone. In fact, it condemns him. Marcy's response:
The denialists wallowing in all their ignorant glory that they don't understand this case.
There are tons of reporters who laid this out the other day, it's not just me. But you might start by reading the indictment. But the entire POINT is that Stone felt the need for a cover story and he used Credico for it, as he has done in the past.
I'd wager that 95 percent of Stone's defenders on Twitter, Breitbart and InfoWars couldn't tell you what the guy is being tried for. In a sense -- that is, in a legal sense -- it doesn't matter if Stone had a backchannel or not.

Here's the indictment. He's not being tried for working with Assange. He is being tried for lying under oath about important matters, and for what may be the most audacious exercise in witness tampering since the heyday of John Gotti. And on those charges, his guilt is -- well, I don't want to say "indisputable," because we haven't seen the defense yet. But his lawyer won't have an easy time countering the evidence we've seen so far.

That said: I think Stone did have a backchannel, of sorts. And I think that this backchannel -- which obviously was not Randy Credico -- is the key to a much larger Trumpworld mystery.

And before you say it: No, I don't think that the backchannel was Jerome Corsi. Corsi may have played a role in this matter, but not that role. Both sides in the Stone trial seem wary of bringing up Corsi because the guy is just so damned goofy.

Nevertheless, I am positive that a backchannel existed. That it exists (present tense).

The Trumpers and BernieBros who say otherwise are blinding themselves to the evidence.

I'm not just talking about Stone's own Wikileaks prognostications during the campaign, which can be explained away only if you perform certain mental gymnastics. I'm also talking about the emails and texts that Stone tried to hide.

Let's look at the indictment. To help you understand what follows, here's a brief guide: Organization 1 is Wikileaks, the head of Organization 1 is Julian Assange (who is also the "friend in London"), and the Trump campaign official is, we now know, Steve Bannon.
In or around October 2016, STONE made statements about Organization 1’s future releases, including statements similar to those that Person 2 made to him. For example:

a. On or about October 3, 2016, STONE wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump Campaign, “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.”

b. Also on or about October 3, 2016, STONE received an email from a reporter who had connections to a high-ranking Trump Campaign official that asked, “[the head of Organization 1] – what’s he got? Hope it’s good.” STONE responded in part, “It is. I’d tell [the high-ranking Trump Campaign official] but he doesn’t call me back.”

c. On or about October 4, 2016, the head of Organization 1 held a press conference but did not release any new materials pertaining to the Clinton Campaign. Shortly afterwards, STONE received an email from the high-ranking Trump Campaign official asking about the status of future releases by Organization 1. STONE answered that the head of Organization 1 had a “[s]erious security concern” but that Organization 1 would release “a load every week going forward.”

d. Later that day, on or about October 4, 2016, the supporter involved with the Trump Campaign asked STONE via text message if he had “hear[d] anymore from London.” STONE replied, “Yes - want to talk on a secure line - got Whatsapp?”

STONE subsequently told the supporter that more material would be released and that it would be damaging to the Clinton Campaign.
Did you see it? Again:
On or about October 3, 2016, STONE wrote to a supporter involved with the Trump
Campaign, “Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.”
If you think that Roger Stone said these things just because he's a self-aggrandizing blowhard, you're nuttier than a jar of Peter Pan.

Yes, he's a show-off. But he wasn't playing to the public here; these messages are behind-the-scenes stuff. He was interacting with significant people.

Look at the lengths he went to in his efforts to engineer a cover up.

Stone is probably going to go to prison for lying to investigators. He threatened Randy Credico -- and threatened his freakin' dog -- because Credico wouldn't go along with a "backchannel" cover story that Stone had concocted. You don't concoct a cover story unless you have something to cover -- and that "something" must be pretty damned important.

Stone lied to investigators, endangered his freedom and incurred great expense. Would he do all that just to protect a figment of his imagination? Stone's a weird guy, but not that weird. Not even a French surrealist would have risked so much in the service of the absurd.

Yet that is the theory being offered by Stone's defenders (at least by the few who understand what he is being tried for).

No, this backchannel business is real. It is serious. It points to a hidden truth that goes beyond Stone and beyond Wikileaks.

I think that Stone's own words here offer us a glimpse into that truth:
“Spoke to my friend in London last night. The payload is still coming.”
“Yes - want to talk on a secure line - got Whatsapp?”
Take him at his word and suddenly the mist clears.

He spoke to Assange directly via a secure communications system.

That system was not necessarily Whatsapp. I repeated that reference to Whatsapp simply to demonstrate that Assange, Stone and company were security conscious, though perhaps not so much as they should have been.

Stone used a direct method of communication. Sure, there may have been a backchannel of sorts at the very beginning: Perhaps an Assange associate contacted Corsi and said "Julian would like to speak to someone on the Trump campaign." But eventually, these guys found a way to talk to each other.

You're probably wondering: Why does the headline for this post name-drop Sean Hannity?

I confess that I didn't read this story when it first came out in January, 2018. I did catch the headline, which made me smirk...
Julian Assange Offered Hannity Impersonator ‘News’ About Top Democrat
...but I ignored the text, mostly because I'd rather not think about Sean Hannity any more than I have to. Stupid move, that. That article turns out to be important.

Y'see, there was a brief time when Sean Hannity rather mysteriously left Twitter. I don't know why and I don't care; his disappearance is not germane to this story. What is germane is this: Dell Gilliam, a woman in Texas, felt possessed by the spirit of Puck -- so she created a fake Twitter account in the name of "@SeanHannity__" with two underscores. It was a joke. She admitted that the account was unreal in a parenthetical comment nestled in the bio.

But Julian Assange didn't read that parenthetical comment.

Thinking that he was talking to the real Sean Hannity, Assange messaged Gilliam, offering to relay some dirt on Democratic Senator Mark Warner. Here's the key part:
“You can send me messages on other channels,” said Assange, the second reference to “other channels” he made since their conversation began.
That message proves that Assange had come up with a way to talk to important people directly, free of any worries about eavesdroppers. (Hannity is important.)

If Assange could chat with Hannity, he could chat with Stone. With...anyone.

The phrase "other channels" probably refers to something more formidable than Whatsapp, although Whatsapp does have good encryption. We must presume that Hannity and Assange set up these "other channels" on a previous occasion. Or...

(and this is the really intriguing possibility)

...Assange knew that all Trump insiders had access to this very secure communications system.

That ultra-secure communications system would the Big Damn Secret behind Russiagate, Ukrainegate, the whole damned thing. It's the Trumpworld version of Enigma. That's what Roger Stone is trying to protect.

Trump himself must use this system. No, I'm not saying that Trump and Assange have chatted with each other. Maybe they did; maybe they didn't. What I'm positing is this: During the campaign, Trump and key members of his team discussed sensitive, shady, quasi-legal and downright illegal matters using this very secure means of communication. (If you like colorful names, you could call this system Trumpworld Enigma.)

That's not such a wild theory, is it? We're not talking about anything terribly unlikely, are we?

I mean, think of the expertise available to Trump. Parscale. Cambridge Analytica. Black Cube. Lots of spooky guys with spooky know-how.

Assange's people have expert knowledge in this area. They know how to talk to a source while playing dodgeball with the spooks.

I'm sure that, somewhere in that milieu, there were and are guys capable of coming up with a truly private "Fuck the NSA" method of communication, perhaps voice communication. Using this method, Trump could speak freely to Putin. Manafort could speak freely to Kilimnick. Stone could speak freely to Assange.

The system is no doubt a bit cumbersome, which is why they don't use it all the time. If outsiders knew about this "Fuck the NSA" system -- if they knew where to look for it -- the whole thing could fall apart.

Why else would Stone do what he's doing? Credico was not the backchannel, and neither was Corsi. Stone himself was the backchannel, linking Trump to Assange.

One of Stone's rules is "Always use a cut-out." In this case, he was the cut-out.

You may say: "Nice theory, but it's just a theory." But which makes more sense: The theory that Stone would go to jail to protect a figment of his imagination, or the theory that Stone would go to jail to protect the secret communications system described above?

On a lighter note: A couple of my readers believe that Roger Stone (who fancies himself a fashion expert) dresses more somberly when his case isn't going well. This WP story discusses his outfits in court.
He likes a glen plaid and a pinstripe, but he spent the first week of his trial mostly rotating from charcoal gray to dove gray to banker ink.
For Stone, that's dour -- although dour looks better on him than his usual. Much of the time, he dresses like Beetlejuice. But he has to lose those goofy round glasses, which make him look more like Little Orphan Annie. John Lennon and Daredevil's Charlie Cox could pull off round glasses because genetics gave them the right head shape. Round glasses don't belong on a round head.

James Spader in The Blacklist has amazing glasses. That's what a round-faced guy should wear.

Me? I wear aviator sunglassess from the dollar store. Not bad, actually. Better than the "Little Orphan Annie" look.
I doubt there's any need to use a system more secure than WhatsApp -- and we know Stone had access to it. If the NSA/CIA *do* have a window into it, they don't want you to know, so anything discovered through it that couldn't be parallel constructed would be suppressed: It wouldn't be worth burning the ability...
Robert Mercer, among many others, was granted a US patent for a secret method of communication. The phrase “secret sharing” was used in its description.That sounds more literary than it is; secret sharing refers to breaking a message up into many parts and distributing it among many partners or channels. If I knew more about the current state of encrypted communication I would have tried to dig specifically into that story.

Back during the 2016 campaign period, it was observed that Mercer’s yacht would be seen docked in the same harbor as the yacht of the oligarch Rybolovlev. Perhaps similarly, Trump’s jet would be seen at various airports at the same time as a jet, tail insignia M-KATE, belonging to oligarch Rybolovlev. It was my speculation at the time that there was some low power wifi-like connection being made. Not possible to believe that method could support voice. But it would be completely invisible to the NSA.

Of course, I can’t locate a link to the patent story at the moment.
Link on the jet and yacht set:
Link to the Mercer, et al patent:
Craig Murray just put an interview with Randy Credico on his website.
If someone manages to tie the Olsen twins into this, I quit...
WhatsApp is owned by Facebook which has never not been friendly with, and which was funded in the early days by, the CIA. Are you guys crazy talking about WhatsApp having good encryption and possibly but only possibly having a window that the CIA or NSA can peek into? The US crypto-state can look into its own communications system that it so kindly makes available to the world for "free".
b, I didn't want to get into a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of Whatsapp. I have not used it, and have not even researched it very far, although I have read that its encryption is good.

I hope you didn't misunderstand me, because I was quite clear. I said I did NOT think that the system in question was Whatsapp.

I am very intrigued by the reference to Mercer's system. Thanks, Anonymous! Comments like that are the reason I write.

I'm not claiming there's no window into WhatsApp; I'm claiming there's little chance of a window into Stone worrying about having to use any encryption stronger than that offered by WhatsApp -- which we know he used -- because he can be confident any evidence exposed only by revealing the window would be suppressed. Even if Stone had assumed his communications were being monitored, he wouldn't care: If Clinton had won, he knew her administration would never burn that intelligence source, especially not to reveal a failed attempt to influence the election; if Trump won, the whole effort would remain secret. His only mistake was to underestimate the sheer, jaw-dropping stupidity of the president*.
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