Monday, May 21, 2018

How to counter Trump's latest scheme? I give you the "Dr. Strange" option... (Updated)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those are two pretty big hurdles to overcome.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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