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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Michael Flynn and THE woman

I've read (well, listened to) Luke Harding's Collusion, which I highly recommend. Anyone who can read this book and still assign "nothingburger" status to Russiagate must be either a purchased propagandist or an Alt Right zealot.

I'd like to draw your attention to the book's section on General Michael Flynn's time at the Defense Intelligence Agency. At one point shortly before the annexation of Crimea, Flynn attended an  intelligence conference in Cambridge, where he met "a talented Russian-British postgraduate."
The woman, born in Moscow, showed Flynn some of her recent discoveries in Russian archives. Flynn was so struck with her that he invited her to accompany him on a forthcoming visit to Moscow, as his official interpreter.

The trip didn't come off: soon afterward Putin annexed Crimea. According to Andrew, Flynn and the postgraduate student subsequently conducted an "unclassified correspondence" via email. Their discussion were on Soviet history the woman had written her dissertation on the Cheka. She was researching the role of GRU spies in infiltrating the fledgling US nuclear program for a future book.

The woman, Svetlana Lokhova, is understood to dispute some aspects of Andrew's account. There is no suggestion that she is linked to Russian intelligence. Flynn would normally have been expected to report any meeting with a foreign national to the DIA. He didn't.

In his emails, Flynn signed off in an unusual way for a U.S. spy. He called himself "General Misha."

Misha is the Russian equivalent of Michael.
Actually, "Misha" is the short, familiar form of "Mikhail." (It also means "bear.")

"Andrew," in this passage, refers to Professor Christopher Andrew of Cambridge, the official historian of MI5. At this point, it is traditional to say these words: "He has excellent ties to the British intelligence community." So consider that duty fulfilled.

One may have to read the above excerpt a few times before formulating a should-be-obvious question: How did Andrew gain access to the Flynn/Lokhova emails?

The first thing that popped out at me when I heard this passage was the phrase "There is no suggestion that..." Most Americans aren't familiar with this ploy. In the UK, libel laws are rather more onerous than in the US, especially when dealing with an individual with a litigious history, as is the case with Lokhova. British writers have come up with a workaround: They deny an idea in order to get it on the record. The phrase "there is no suggestion..." often proves useful in these instances. Example: "There is no suggestion that Sir Michael Hanley covered up an MI5 smear campaign against Prime Minister Harold Wilson." Nowadays, one can make that claim directly, but in former times...well. There was no suggestion.

(This trick does not work in the United States. I've tried it. American readers are simply too thick.)

Who is she? There are a number of stories about Lokhova on the internet. This one traces back to Luke Harding. He and his co-writers offer some additional details:
Lokhova also listed Flynn as one of four referees who would provide selective endorsements for her book, which is expected to detail how Russian spies penetrated the US atomic weapons programme.

Though there is no suggestion of impropriety, Flynn would have been expected to “self report” any conversation with an unknown person, especially with links to an “adversary” country, such as Russia. Lokhova has informed us that she does not have privileged access to any Russian intelligence archive and there is no suggestion that she has ever worked with or for any of the Russian intelligence agencies.
Price Floyd, a spokesman for Flynn, said: “This is a false story. The inference that the contact between Gen Flynn and a Russian [dual] national described in this story should be seen in any light other than incidental contact is simply untrue.”
Multiple sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the CIA and FBI were discussing this episode, along with many others, as they assessed Flynn’s suitability to serve as national security adviser.

The Cambridge meeting was part of a wider pattern of “maverick” behaviour which included repeated contacts with Russia, the sources said.

After he resigned from the DIA in 2014, Flynn became a contributor to RT, formerly known as Russia Today, the Kremlin’s English-language news channel.
At this point, a digression may be in order.

What happened to Flynn? In the context of a discussion of Flynn -- was it on Stephanie Miller's show? I believe so -- Malcolm Nance once noted that Russian spies often try to recruit individuals recently fired from positions in the American intelligence community, on the theory that a man bearing a grudge may be approachable. I'm quite sure that Flynn would angrily deny that he switched loyalties. There is no suggestion that he became pro-Russian. However, I think it may be fair to suggest that there has been a certain evolution in Flynn's mentality, and that -- contra Nance -- this evolution occurred before he was "axed" to leave DIA.

Collusion has this to say about Flynn's DIA period:
One source, citing DIA sources, spoke of Flynn's obsession with Iran and his incapacity for "linear thought." He had a tendency to "jump around. People thought Flynn was crazy."
Those who spend too much time in the company of Michael Ledeen often catch a bad case of Iranophobia.

I nodded in recognition when I read about Flynn's alleged incapacity for linear thought and tendency to "jump around." These phrases remind me of the time I spent hobnobbing with conspiracy buffs, who were infuriatingly non-linear. On many occasions, I would try to develop a normal argument in which A leads to B which leads to C, but the buffs would have none of it. Their minds don't work that way. In their minds, A leads to Q leads to C leads to Pre-A leads to Post-X leads to Orange leads to Pi leads to Lando Calrissian. And so on. When a conspiracy buff speaks, the results resemble what you'd expect from a random word generator.

I suspect that, while head of DIA, Michael Flynn became converted to -- or perhaps addicted to -- the conspiratorial viewpoint. Nowadays, the path of paranoia often leads to Putinism. I'm not sure why.

(Hmm. Is this very essay guilty of non-linear argumentation? Perhaps so. Apologies.)

Let us return to Svetlana Lakhova. Here's her website. "Svetlana Lokhova is generally regarded as the world's leading expert on Soviet and Russian espionage." But there is no suggestion that she has ever worked for Russian intelligence. Similarly, there is no suggestion that Christopher Andrew is a spook.

At least, I make no such suggestions. However, Dr. Dena Grayson (wife of former congressman Alan Grayson) wrote a rather suggestive tweet:
Gen "Misha" #Flynn flipped to #Putin tool thanks to classic honey trap at Cambridge named Svetlana.
Although the term "honeytrap" implies a sexual relationship, I do not think that such a thing occurred in this case. Seriously. Don't read between the lines of this paragraph. I believe that Lokhova and Flynn became entwined on a purely intellectual level. That said: An intellectual relationship can be more compelling than the usual boy-meets-girl-on-foreign-trip scenario.

At this point, we turn to this BBC profile of Lakhova:
"Are you a Russian spy?" I begin by asking her. "Absolutely not," she replies. "I have no formal or informal connection with Russian intelligence whatsoever."

She acknowledges that the cynical will respond: "She would say that wouldn't she" - which has left her in what she describes as a "Kafkaesque situation"'.

The context of the story, she acknowledges, was part of the problem. She is female, originally from Russia and linked to Cambridge, home of the famous Cambridge spy ring recruited by the KGB in the 1930s.
Claims she was asked to travel to Russia and act as his translator, Lokhova says, are not true. She says she exchanged some emails with Flynn and his assistant after the event, although Flynn soon after left the DIA, after reportedly being forced out. "We had maybe a few emails going backwards and forwards," Lokhova says. These included details of events at Cambridge.
Hm. Luke Harding, whose source appears to be Christopher Andrew, says that Lakhova was supposed to function as interpreter. Andrew's source of information seems to be the Flynn/Lakhova email chain, which somehow seems to have reached his eyeballs. There is no suggestion that GCHQ intercepted these emails and handed them over to Christopher Andrew. (If you want to read between the lines of this paragraph, I can't stop you.)

Christopher Andrew and Lakhova. Here's where things become more interesting:
On the contrary, she says that because of her work with Prof Andrew, who has worked with defectors from the Soviet Union such as former KGB archivist Vasily Mitrokhin, who smuggled out its secrets, she is viewed with suspicion in Russia.

"In Britain, I am now being accused of being a Russian spy. In Russia, some think I am a British spy. And I am neither. I am just a historian who writes about an area that has become incredibly politicised."
So she works with Christopher Andrew, who somehow was given access to the emails between Flynn and Lakhova. In fact, she was a post-graduate student under Andrew.

Is she, in fact, just a historian? If so, she appears to be a uniquely privileged historian:
Ms Lokhova claims to have unique access to previously classified Soviet-era GRU material. This is highly unusual to say the least… According to a Russian historian:
“At least with the FSB and SVR [domestic and foreign spy agencies] there are places you can apply to view the archives, but with the GRU there’s not even a place to apply.”
Her other life. But there is an even more intriguing side to Lakhova. You see, she is not just an academic with an interest in the world of espionage: She's also a banker.
Ms Lokhova used to work for the London branch of Russia’s state-controlled Sberbank.

In 2015, she won a £3.2million payout after winning an employment tribunal case in London against Sberbank CIB for sex discrimination and harassment.

How Ms Lokhova metamorphosed from a Russian banker into a UK historian with expertise in GRU espionage and US atomic weapons is a bit unclear at this point.
"A bit unclear"? I'll say!

Remember when I said that Lakhova is litigious? Here are the details:
A banker dubbed 'Crazy Miss Cokehead' by her bosses claims her £3million pay-out was not worth the gruelling legal battle and the toll on her health.

Cambridge University graduate Svetlana Lokhova, 34, was driven to a breakdown by a 'vicious' campaign of sexual harassment by bullying male colleagues.

She won her case against Russian investment bank Sberbank after judges accepted she was unfairly forced to leave her £750,000-a-year role in London.

But Miss Lokhova says her huge pay-out – including £3.14million for lost earnings, £44,000 for hurt feelings and £15,000 in aggravated damages – has been a hollow victory.
I'm truly sorry about the indefensible insults that Lakhova had to endure. But one must ask: How does a historian (albeit one with unique access to GRU archives) get such a high-paying gig at a bank? I doubt that Lehman Brothers hands out such positions to graduate students who majored in history. I don't think that any high-paid wheeler-dealer at Goldman Sachs has ever said to himself: "Gosh, if I get an advance degree in history, Mr. Blankfein will be so impressed!"

The folks at Sberbank certainly don't seem to have had much respect for Lakhova. So why did they hire her and what did she do?
The Moscow-born banker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'I am one of the lucky ones in the sense that I obviously had some personal wealth because I have been in banking for a very long time.
She has been in banking a very long time? Even while pursuing a graduate degree in History at Cambridge? Even while poring through intelligence files at the GRU, a privilege accorded to no-one else?

Who does that? How is it possible to have such a career? Two such careers?

We need more details on the chronology: Did Sberbank pay her a hefty salary while she was writing Spook History and attending Spook U? (That's my new nickname for Cambridge. Spread it around; I want it to catch on.)

We should note that Sperbank is not just any bank.
Sberbank Capital’s CEO, Ashot Khachaturyants, is a former senior official in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and its Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

State-owned Russian financial institutions are common conduits for surreptitious intelligence work in the country.
If you've been following Rachel Maddow -- or perhaps reading this humble blog -- you would know that Sberbank plays a role in the Trump/Russia scandal. From an earlier Cannonfire post:
The Chairman of the Board of Sperbank is Herman Gref, whose ties with Trump are undeniable. Google "Herman Gref Trump." In particular, see here and here.
Christopher Andrew is an unusual fellow. Let us return to the Intel Today blog. In the following, "CIS" refers to Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, where Flynn met Lakhova:
The CIS was set up by official MI5 historian Professor Christopher Andrew.

On December 17 2016, former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, former policy adviser at the White House Stefan Halper, and historian Peter Martland resigned from CIS.
“Suspicious were allegedly raised after claims a new digital publishing house called Veruscript, which helps cover some of the CIS’s costs, may be acting as a front for the Russian intelligence services.

The publishing house, which, according to its website, is based in London, is also publishing a new journal, the Journal of Intelligence and Terrorism Studies.

Some of those involved are thought to be concerned that Russia may attempt to use the link to the seminars to influence sensitive debates on national defence and security.”
I'm trying to get my head around this. To reiterate: Andrew is the official MI5 historian and the guy who helped to give us the Mitrokhin Archives (about which I remain dubious, although that is a topic for another time). He is very tied to British intelligence; one gets the impression that he could waltz into the MI5 archives as though he owned the place. Yet his graduate student is Svetlana Lakhova of Sberbank (an institution very tied to Russian intelligence) -- a banker/historian who was allowed to waltz into GRU headquarters as if she owned the place. Of course, there is no suggestion that she was ever any kind of a spy.

And Andrew's seminar itself may have been paid for by a Russian front. As though such a thing could happen without his Spookworld friends knowing all about it.

Cambridge Analytica. Remember when I called Cambridge University "Spook U"? You will not be surprised to learn that the university has direct ties to Cambridge Analytica:
In recent years, the company has moved to exploit the revolution in big data to predict human behavior more precisely, working with scientists from the Cambridge University Psychometrics Center. The United States represented a critical new market.
We all know that Cambridge Analytica helped Trump get elected. Cambridge Analytica, staffed in large measure by British intelligence veterans, has done very sensitive work for the British and American services. CA employed Steve Bannon, America's most beloved "nationalist." (That's the term we're supposed to use in polite society, though some may prefer another word beginning with N.) Robert Mercer is often said to be the owner of CA, although that claim is not quite true. CA has done very sensitive work for the British and American services -- and yet this private intelligence group has strong ties to Russia.

In the following excerpt from an earlier Cannonfire post, "Firtash" refers to Dmitry Firtash, the Russian oligarch linked to both Paul Manafort and (but of course!) Vladimir Putin.
How does Firtash -- a notorious Ukrainian gangster linked to both Putin and Paul Manafort -- tie into the firm? To be honest, we can't be sure. We know that a CA/Firtash link exists (doubters need only google Firtash Cambridge Analytica), but we don't know its precise nature.
If you want to trace the ties, start here. Warning: It gets complicated.

Something very strange is going on here. I don't claim to have a handle on it. Whatever it is, it goes much deeper than even Luke Harding's book suggests.

A final word: I have tried my damnedest to make this complicated story "linear." My intention was to write a logical, easy-to-follow post in which point A leads to point B which leads to point C. The problem with stories about this underworld is that one soon becomes bogged down in a very non-linear collision of plotlines. It's difficult to know which points are vital and which are digressions.

To be blunt: It's almost impossible to make sense of this shit. Maybe that's why conspiracy buffs are so "jumpy" in their thinking. 
I am curious as to the woman's family background. I am thinking of Anna Chapman, who was very much a Russian banker in London and also a Russian honey trap, and whose father was some flavour of KGB chappy.
Additionally, I just googled Anna Chapman.

"“Trump is a politician who has the backing of forces just as influential as those behind Clinton, the only difference is that they like to keep a low profile, because their vision of the future world order means a revolution in U.S. foreign policy. And after that revolution happens, there will be no room for people like Clinton, who has blood on their hands.”

She's a pro-Trump instagram star now.

Here's Dearlove on Trump, Brexit, terrorism and Christopher Steele.

He says "I've not seen anything that convinces me at all that the Russians intervened significantly in the Brexit referendum."

The UK Electoral Commission is currently conducting an inquiry into the Vote Leave Campaign organization (Brexit) which appears to have violated UK political funding laws.

The source of those violations are related to AggregateIQ, a small Canadian firm which has been highly credited for its work in the campaign by senior members of Vote Leave, and a guy called Chris Wylie. Aggregate IQ holds the political 'microdata' database used by Cambridge Analytica and Chris Wylie is the link between the two organisations. Essentially, Aggregate IQ is the means Cambridge Analytica used to distance itself from any charge of direct involvement in the Brexit campaign, both in funding and political campaigning.

And, of course, Richard Dearlove is closely tied to the Henry Jackson Society, a hard right transatlantic think tank based in London that includes the likes of Richard Perle, William Kristol and James Woolsey.

It's hard to know what game Dearlove is playing.
Non-linear thinking:
Journalist J.J.Patrick has been documenting Russian interference in Western elections using CA.
fred, I'm grateful for your links. Like you, I'm mystified by the role played by the Cambridge spy contingent. It may be that Trump owes as much to Cambridge as he does to Moscow.

I corresponded a bit with a former member of the Henry Jackson society. You know, I really should try to find that old email exchange. If memory serves, that fellow had things to say which may be germane to the present discussion.
maz, I've been around people who would have considered that conversation perfectly sensible.
The Fucking Moron Treason Weasle Party aka known as the GOP taking millions in campaign influence money from Russian/Putin :
Joseph, it's a bit long so publish or ignore as you see fit.

There is a cesspool of links between the British establishment (Tories, UK Intelligence and the like), racist war monger groups such as the Henry Jackson Society and like-minded US groups such as Breitbart. It is an affiliation of overlapping political interests which can shift at any time. So Dearborn can talk down Trump while still supporting much of what he does. As I read it senior UK Intelligence figures and (some) hard Right politicians are working in tandem to achieve common ends: domestic political control, unfettered, libertarian economies and an aggressive foreign policy aimed at curbing China and Russia. And, of course, uncritical support for Israel. So they hype terrorist-Muslim fears, pursue Brexit and destroy electoral systems in order to achieve this. That they have to utilise Russian cyber-bots along the way is just the price to pay. But they all have different personal goals.

Of particular concern is the repeated evidence (see links above) that Cambridge Analytica was seeking to conceal its role in usurping campaign finance and political advertising laws, both in the UK and US.

Back to those Henry Jackson links. Lord David Trimble has been providing a free parliamentary pass to Dr Alan Mendoza, anti-Muslim bigot and Exec Dir of the HJS.

Sir Geoffrey Pattie is a former Conservative minister for defence procurement and President and former Chairman of SCL. He was also Pres. of First Defense, a conservative national defence and security think tank that had links to then Secretary of State for Defence, and later Brexit Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox. Fox finds a welcome at HJS events.

And who could forget Raheem Kassam. Breitbart London’s first managing editor and its future editor in chief. Kassam was hired away from the HJS in 2014 (where his role was to ratchet up public anxieties about radical Islam) in order to become a senior adviser to Nigel Farage, Trump's bosom buddy.

More here and here.
There is no suggestion that the United Kingdom is a small Island plaything of wealthy Putin connected Russian oligarchs pouring money into the UK and drawing the UK into the America hating Russian sphere of influence. Turning the UK into a springboard for attacks on the USA. (See Komrad Murdoch's Empire and Proto-Fascist UK Daily Mail attacks on all things American liberal in particular)

There is no suggestion Komrad Rupert Murdoch is a Russian/Chinese patsy employed to destabilize America's federal government by creating a News network that regularly spreads lies about the government and which has spent 20+ years telling Americans how much the U.S. Government sucks. No suggestion whatsoever.

How much Putin Cock could a Tory Fuck Suck if a Tory Fuck Could Suck Putin Cock?
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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Don't think he won't do it

From The Hill (also here):
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Friday that "rumors" on Capitol Hill suggest President Trump could fire special counsel Robert Mueller before Christmas, after Congress leaves Washington for the winter recess.

“The rumor on the Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on Dec. 22, when we are out of D.C., he was going to fire Robert Mueller," Speier told California's KQED News.
"We can read between the lines I think," Speier said. "I believe this president wants all of this shut down. He wants to shut down these investigations, and he wants to fire special counsel Mueller."

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), also said Friday that he is worried that Republicans leading the committee are seeking to shut down the committee's investigation by the end of the year.
Christmas would be the perfect time for such a move, since people will be distracted by the holidays and by family obligations. Moreover, winter has hit the east coast rather hard. Normally, I love the idea of a white Christmas -- but not when we need to mount a mass protest.

If Comey was pro-Clinton (as the Trumpers claim), why did he deep-six her election chances -- and why did he keep the Steele dossier under wraps? Why didn't Comey inform the public that Trump was under investigation?

I'm sure that some FBI personnel have indeed disparaged Trump privately and donated to Democrats. So what? They have that right. I'm sure that many FBI personnel have donated to the GOP: That, too, is their right. Everyone knows that most employees of the Bureau tend to be conservative. Comey is a Republican and so is Mueller.

As Ted Lieu noted in a recent tweet:
Dear @JohnCornyn: FBI Director Christopher Wray gave over $39,000 exclusively to Republicans. Are you okay with that? Because if you are, then you need to shut up with the partisan talk about our dedicated, professional and patriotic FBI officials.
(Lieu wrote in response to this.)

Bill Palmer says that that these rumors of Mueller's imminent firing are a massive head-fake:
The Republican Congress is making all the anti-Mueller noise that it can, so that once Mueller takes Trump down, it can tell Trump’s base that it tried to stop Mueller. This is all about the 2018 congressional elections.
That's my problem with Palmer: He presents optimistic, blue-sky speculation as if it were proven and irrefutable. Sorry, but I just don't do optimism. Jackie Speier would not be party to the effort that Palmer describes.

I listened to Rachel Maddow's recent "round table" discussion: At no point did any of her guests explain what prvents Trump from firing Rosenstein and finding someone willing to do the dirty deed. Everyone seems to think that Trump will refrain from taking such an extreme action because such things are not done. Haven't we yet learned? Trump will do what others would be ashamed to do.

Look once again at the image in the upper right corner of this blog. When a lone protestor stood up to the tanks in Tiananmen Square, the world admired the protestor. Trump praised the decision to call in tanks.

Never forget that fact.

Jackie Speier and Ted Lieu have spoken out on rumors of a Saturday night Trump. As usual Nancy Pelois is keeping her powder dry. Why is she still in any position of power in the Democratic party?
Of course Palmer Report is annoying in that it presents conjecture as fact. But this is not a bad take. If Republicans really were prepared to let Trump go, wouldn't they have to show the Trump cult that they tried to save him to try and salvage their base as best they can? Makes sense as it is what they essentially did with Roy Moore. Note that this is not my prediction (I have no idea what will happen other than Trump is guilty as hell), but I do know that Republicans are not just going to passively sit around and let Trump be removed from office even if that is ultimately what they want.
It is incredible how in the quest for click$, Bill Palmer will post six short essays that all basically tell the exact same story.
Remember--there's always Schneiderman in the wings, holding Trump by the balls.
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A carbon blob offers his wisdom

Colorado state senator Jerry Sonnenberg says that reducing carbon emissions would kill trees and plants, which need carbon to survive and to produce oxygen.

Ah yes. As most of you will recall from your high school history classes, there were no trees and plants before the industrial revolution. Also, no air. It's a wonder mankind was able to build the first factory.
He must read the Koch Industries Weekly Reader.
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Friday, December 15, 2017

A family of idiots

Melania, Jared and Ivana tried to fill out absentee ballots in order to vote in the NYC mayoral race, but they messed up the forms, so their votes did not count.

Donald Trump also screwed up. He got his own birth date wrong.

There's a propaganda campaign to fire Mueller because an FBI agent called Trump an idiot. I wouldn't trust the intelligence of any agent who did not use the I-word.
And just how are FBI agents supposed to discuss The Donald situation privately amongst themselves, when they're privy to a wealth of incriminating evidence the public has yet to see?

This story from the UK throws heavy shade on the "Believe Women" movement. There's a reason why the law requires due process.
Increasingly uncertain how much longer Don sr can hold his feeble mind together in order to play any kind of public role.
To the post below. Congressional republicans making a stink about Robert Mueller being biased against the Great White Dope are dirty. They knowingly took campaign Rubles and now dread exposure if Mueller isn't fired.
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How Batman's biggest fan could become president. (Seriously.)

As usual, so much is going on that one can barely keep track of it all. Last night, we learned that the Great Tax Bill is now in trouble. Marco Rubio has come to understand that the Mighty Fox Wurlitzer may not be enough to save a Republican senator who backs an incredibly unpopular piece of legislation.

(Added note: The bill has been rewritten to mollify Rubio. I'm betting that this trick will work and that the bill will pass.)

Meanwhile, the attacks on two FBI personnel who privately expressed a distaste for Trump continues to threaten the Mueller probe. No new facts have come out, but the right-wing propagandists keep rewording headlines to convey the impression that shocking new revelations are flying at us every day. The media barrage has worked, with more than half the population now persuaded that Mueller (a Republican) may be a Clinton-controlled Soros-bot.

The real question, which some Democrats have belatedly started to ask, is why those private emails were made public.

I'm still betting that Trump will use this ginned-up controversy as an excuse for firing Mueller. For the purposes of this post, however, let us posit that Mueller stays in place and that his probe can inflict fatal damage to Trump and Pence. What then?

In particular, what of Paul Ryan?

Ryan has signaled that he is thinking about quitting politics. At a press conference, Ryan denied -- almost under his breath -- that he has plans to go. Nevertheless, most observers think that he has formulated an exit strategy. Why? Why now?

The man is a staunch Randroid ideologue who has long sought the power to create Libertarian Utopia. Now that the Russia scandal threatens Pence as well as Trump, Paul Ryan (the third in the line of succession) actually has a shot at the presidency.

(I admit that the chances of such a thing actually happening are not great. This post is about unlikely-but-possible scenarios.)

Why would a man in his position want to head out the door now? Two possibilities:

1. Paul Ryan faces a strong challenge in his home district. The challenger is one Randy Bryce, a non-politician trade unionist laborer nicknamed "Ironstache." Although Ryan has the money and the name recognition, he simply isn't very popular, and the poll numbers aren't going his way. The Speaker of the House could experience one of the more humiliating losses in House history.

2. Ryan himself could get caught up in the Trump/Russia scandal. In June of 2016, before Russia was part of the national conversation, Ryan and others were recorded "joking" about Trump taking money from Putin. Many people think that this "joke" was not just a joke, and that Paul Ryan has always been privy to details about criminal behavior. Such foreknowledge could result in charges against Ryan. There are rumors that Russians have parked money in RNC coffers; so far, I've seen absolutely no evidence to back that notion.

(Do you know of any evidence? If so, please share!)

If the Mueller probe manages to endanger both Trump and Pence simultaneously, and if Ryan chooses that moment to declare that he is done with politics, then who becomes president of the United States?

Technically, the line of succession goes to Orrin Hatch, the president pro tempore of the Senate. Some months ago, Louise Mensch published an outlandish piece claiming that Hatch was already receiving security briefings because Trump, Pence and Ryan were doomed. That's when I stopped taking Mensch seriously.

Yet here we are, contemplating that very scenario.

Problem: Hatch, who is in his 80s, plans to retire next year. Mitt Romney intends to run for his seat, and almost certainly will win it. Does this mean that Romney has an outside chance to achieve his great dream of sleeping in the White House?

No. Romney would not inherit the title of president pro tempore of the Senate. That honor goes to the member of the majority party in the Senate who has served the longest.

We now face an issue which few thought would be an issue: Which party will be the majority after the elections of 2018? Before the Jones win in Alabama, I would have said that the Republicans had a lock on the Senate. Now, anything seems possible.

If the Republicans retain control of the Senate, the title of president pro tempore will probably fall to Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who will soon become the longest-serving Republican in the history of either house of Congress. (The current record is held by one Joseph Cannon.) If you agree with the proposition that one may fairly judge a man by his heroes, then you may be startled to learn that Cochran is a big fan of Jefferson Davis. He actually uses a desk previously owned by Davis.

If the Democrats gain control of the Senate, the president pro tempore will be Patrick Leahy of Vermont. He's the Vermont senator I like.

His hero, believe it or not, is Batman. From Wikipedia:
Leahy is a fan of comic books, and in particular the character Batman. He wrote the foreword to The Dark Knight Archives, Volume 1 (a 1992 collection of the first four Batman comic books), the preface essay for Batman: Death of Innocents (a 1996 graphic novel about the horrors of landmines), and the introduction to Green Arrow: the Archer's Quest (a single-volume collection of a six-issue story arc).

Leahy has also made several cameo appearances in Batman television episodes and films, beginning with an uncredited cameo in Batman Forever (1995).[53][54] He voiced a territorial governor in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Showdown" (1995), appeared as himself in the film Batman & Robin (1997), and appeared twice in the Dark Knight Trilogy as a Wayne Enterprises board member. In The Dark Knight (2008), he tells the Joker "We're not intimidated by thugs", to which the Joker replies, "You know, you remind me of my father. I hated my father."[55] In The Dark Knight Rises (2012), he defended the legacy of the Wayne family against attempts to usurp the company by industrialist John Daggett.[56] Leahy also appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, playing Senator Purrington, in a scene set during a Senate hearing which is subsequently destroyed by an explosion.[57]

All royalties and fees from Leahy's roles are donated to charities, primarily the Kellogg-Hubbard library in Vermont where he read comic books as a child.
Awesome. I don't need to know anything further about the guy. Leahy for President!

(Of course, the Court of Owls paid me to write that.)
Just shut up, would ya? You got nothing, at all, ever. I feel dirty even reading about you democraps. Ugh.

Comment by "Digby" Parton, within an article about Adam Schiff explaining the evidence that Trump will probably fire Robert Mueller before the end of the month;

"A friendly reminder: the DCCC was also hacked and Paul Ryan's SuperPAC used proprietary information obtained from it to help Republicans in close races.
Ryan has a personal stake in this."
"How Putin's proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns"
@tsisageya: Aw, someone hit a nerve, snowflake? You can't even spell "Democrat" properly.

As they said in GOODFELLAS: Nice try--now go home and get your fucking shine-box.
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

"It is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear"

The Twilight movies are watchable only in the Rifftrax versions. My favorite line: "Bella! The girl that everyone in the world for some reason gives a rat's ass about."

(It's funny in context.)

That line kept flashing in my memory as I scanned this morning's news. Everyone in the world seems to give a rat's ass about this Omarosa personage, and I can't fathom why. Who the hell is she? Why was she in the White House?

I'm not really up on pop culture these days, so I'm still not sure if she's a singer or an actor or an athlete or an astronaut or a writer or the new Captain America or a sparkly vampire's girlfriend or a Kardashian or a sparkly vampire who preys on Kardashians or...  Or what? Various articles indicate that she played some role on Trump's idiotic teevee show. Is that it? Is that what got her into the White House?

Here's the part that even I can give a rat's ass about:
"I'm not going to expand on it because I still have to go back and work with these individuals, but when I have a chance to tell my story, Michael, quite a story to tell as the only African-American woman in this White House as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people. And when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear," she said.
Wait. "Go back and work with these individuals"? What does that mean?

One thing I know about the White House is that when you're out, you are Oh You Tee OUT. Looks to me as though someone is offering her work (i.e. money) as a way of insuring that she keeps her mouth shut. If so, let's put her before a congressional committee. I bet she really is a singer.

Another point. It seems clear that she really was physically dragged out of the White House, and that the Secret Service did not do the dragging. So who, exactly, are Trump's presumably-private Praetorians?

Elsewhere: The Alabama Secretary of State has not officially called the election, which means that Roy Moore may in fact have a chance. The remaining ballots are mostly provisional and military. My understanding is that the state used every possible excuse to hand provisionals out to African Americans, which means that those ballots should help Jones. However, I am not inclined to stipulate the honesty of the SoS in that state.

Exit "cautious optimism" mode. Re-engaging "ultra-paranoia" mode.

(Ah yes. This feels more me.)

Talking Points Memo had an article discussing Omarosa's firing incident. In the comments section, people pointed out that in addition to the Secret Service, the White House has it's own police force responsible for managing the daily throng of visitors. If White House police dealt with Omarosa's antics, then many details of the story fall neatly in place.

Omarosa had a taxpayer funded salary of $179,000 a year, and nobody can explain what it was that she actually did for the last 10 1/2 months at the White House!
Back in 2000 absentee ballots supposedly from service members kept showing up after the cut off date. Of course JEB! insisted that they be counted.
I sense a similar rat tucking by the Alabama Secretary of state. Doug Jones will win but won't be certified until after the Senate votes on Trumpcut. Mitch da Hitch is off the hook.
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Stoned, owned and dethroned

Roger Stone is writing a book about Trump's downfall, which he (Stone) seems to think is imminent. Stone predicts that a disloyal cabinet will invoke the 25th against the current occupant of the Oval Office. It is possible that Stone is saying such things to encourage Trump to fire Kelly and to remake (yet again) this administration.

Fired! Does anyone have any explanation for the bizarre ouster of this Omarosa personage? Why was she axed? Why did she fly into a rage? What the hell was her job, exactly? Why would John Kelly allow a dispute over walk-in privileges to devolve into an absurd public spectacle? I was intrigued to learn that she claims to have a good relationship with NOI leader Louis Farrakhan. The Duginists tend to favor NOI.

Jones. Did you hear Doug Jones's speech today? Great guy. Eloquent yet not lacking the common touch. He appeals to thoughtful people of both parties, and he has proven his value to African Americans. We need someone like that on the presidential ticket in 2020.
The Daily Beast has an informative article about Omarosa's dismissal. It's multifaceted. But the basic story, is that everyone other than The Donald was sick and tired of her shit. When she was terminated, she made a mad dash for Trump's residence to try and confront him but other people stopped her.
Also Jones prosecuted the animals who blew up the church. Even the most racist Republican has to be appalled at the notion of blowing up a church and murdering little children.
From reporter April Ryan ("Newman" is Omarosa's new last name);

"everything blew up" when Kelly tried to discuss Newman's walk-in privileges and access to Trump.

Ryan reported Newman saying that "all hell will break loose" should she lose walk-in access to Trump.

"And he [Kelly] said okay ‘all hell is going to break loose’ and that’s where it all started," Ryan said.
Martin Luther King JR once said : "The arc of the boot of the universe is long, but eventually it bends towards unjust ass and kicks it"

Buh Bye Roy Moron Moore
Roy Moore and Omagrossa both getting their comeuppance in a space of 24 hours?

There may be a God after all!
I often disagree with Bill Palmer's reasoning. But he points out the contradictions between multiple statements from the White House which might be significant. There are conflicting reports regarding the role of the Secret Service in this affair. April Ryan reports that the SS stopped Omarosa from entering the White House residence. There is a report of her actually setting off the alarm system in her efforts. But the SS released a statement that their only involvement was to cancel her access pass. Palmer points out that she just got married and might want to move on to her new life. He thinks the differing accounts might indicate this craziness was a staged event to provide distraction from the Alabama fiasco.
Anon: In the first place, I'd appreciate it if you singed your comments with any nick or name. (You don't need to sign into Google or Blogger.)

Second, the theory that Trump is intentionally staging "crazy" incidents would explain much. These little dramas do have the advantage of distracting the public from the previous day's story.

But these crazy little dramas also make the Trump administration seem amateurish, surreal and exhausting. They don't make Trump look good. I can go either way with this theory.
I suggest a new acronym. BVM Black Votes Matter. The Black community turned out for Doug Jones as thanks for his prosecution of the Klan. Democrats who up until now only paid lip service to the Black community take note.
I doubt that Joseph. That is how much I loathe these jackals.
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A few morning-after thoughts

It says much about the state of our culture that we're astonished by the victory of a decent, well-qualified Dem over an accused child molester. Even before the WP first published the investigative piece which sealed Roy Moore's fate, he was considered a bizarre character -- bizarre even by Alabama standards.

This race should not have been this close. The fact that it was close must force Democrats to rethink their strategies.

In order to defeat Trump and the fascist revival, Democrats need more wins in purple and red states. In other races, Democrats won't run against accused molesters. We cannot expect the gods of politics to keep tossing Roy Moores at us.

Losers don't legislate. In many parts of the country, "progressive purists" will always lose. So we need to define areas where purity can be compromised. I propose these three:

1. Abortion. I know that the very mention of this word will set off feminists, who will no doubt want to recite a pro-abortion speech that I have heard many (MANY) times since the 1970s. Please don't bother. I already agree with every word of that speech. If women lose the right to choose abortion, the nation will suffer a great tragedy. I also strongly support Planned Parenthood.

But: As paradoxical as it may seem, a woman's right to have an abortion faced less danger back in the days when the Democratic party made room for a nearly-extinct creature called the anti-abortion Democrat. In order to comprehend this paradox, you must remember that, on this issue, the great danger comes not from Congress but from the Supreme Court. If women lose the right to choose abortion, the Court will be to blame.

A Democratic majority in the Senate means that a Republican president cannot expect an ultra-conservative zealot to sail through the confirmation hearings. A Democratic senator who opposes abortion is still likely to vote against a far-right nominee if a Democratic Senate Majority Leader says no way to that nominee. Although arms may need some twisting and horses may need to be traded, any Dem, even a rather conservative Dem, will probably hew to the party line. Probably. A Republican won't. Definitely.

I agree with those who argue that, in the days of Reagan and the Bushes, top-level Republican strategists were not serious in their opposition to abortion. The issue always helped to herd evangelicals and conservative Catholics into the polling booths; the actual abolition of abortion rights would have hurt the GOP in subsequent elections. Such was the old dynamic. I suspect that this dynamic no longer holds, and that the Bannonites have a genuine desire to see Roe reversed. If that's true, then we have all the more reason to fight like hell for a blue Senate, which means that we must support Dems who may not be our preferred shade of blue.

(As the reader may have noted, I refuse to employ the commonly-heard euphemisms "right to life" and "pro-choice." Since the word "fuck" is now heard in places where it once was considered unspeakable, why should we shiver in supernatural fear of the word "abortion"?)

2. Religion. Few things have been so destructive to the Democratic brand as the ludicrous conflation of liberalism with the neo-atheist movement. In particular, I am appalled by the growing perception (pushed by Bill Maher, Greg Proops and others) that one cannot be a proper progressive unless one embraces the "mythicist" position of the historicity of Jesus. This position is shared by no academic specialists in first century history -- even though most of these historians are not very religious, and many are agnostics and atheists. In other words, the mythicists occupy a "fringe" position analogous to that of the climate change denialists: Neither viewpoint commands any scholarly respect. Yet mythicism and progressivism have become, in the minds of many, closely related concepts.

(Bart Ehrman, who hovers between agnosticism and atheism, wrote a book explaining why every university-level religious historian does not question the fact that Jesus existed. This book infuriated many "new atheists." I recently heard a podcast in which Ehrman had to answer a mythicist assault on his credentials. Bart Ehrman teaches history at an ivy league university! Meanwhile, the primary "apostle" of mythicism is a ludicrous, fringe-dwelling dolt who writes under the cringe-inducing name of Archaya X.)

In my view, the Democratic party should welcome people of all religious faiths and all levels of faith, including the lack of religious belief. From the perspective of hard-nosed, pragmatic politics, Dems should do everything possible to encourage committed Christians to run in contests in the red states. The last Democratic presidential candidate to do well in the south was Jimmy Carter in 1976, whose "born again" Christianity seemed novel, even exotic, on the national stage in that year. (The novelty has since worn off.) Although we're very unlikely to see another 1976, I still think that southerners are more likely to vote "D" if the candidate flaunts his faith.

I am not particularly pious, and I often find religious zealots annoying -- yet I would happily support a Dem who bleeds on Easter Sunday if doing so gets us closer to the goal of turning Congress blue. The Mueller probe is in mortal peril, which means that we need real congressional investigations of Trump. Congress must go blue or fascism will triumph.

3. Guns. Personally, I favor modest regulations in this area, such as background checks and the closing of the "gun show loophole." But we must face facts: Gun control is a toxic issue in the red and purple states.

That said, even a Democrat who hews to the NRA line will be accused of favoring Total Gun Confiscation. Many rural voters believe that anyone who has a D next to his or her name is a gun-grabber. Trump successfully convinced many that Hillary Clinton would somehow rescind the Second Amendment, even though she has never voiced a desire to do so, and even though she would not have had the power to do so.

Do they still teach civics in high school? Americans are more politically engaged than ever before, yet few Americans understand how our system works.
The most important lesson is that black women are the most politically savvy, committed group of people in this country. Bernie catered to Guns owners all his political life, he wouldn't be a senator without their money. Yet it seems that doesn't hurt him one bit with progressive. Also, the Berns didn't like jones
I don't mind your not using the term "pro-life", since I find it a lot like current usage of the term "patriot", co-opted by the right wing when they don't merit it. However, you should strongly reconsider the term "pro-abortion". It needlessly puts the emphasis on one of the possible choices, when I think the important part is having the choice. Additionally, it makes it sound as though abortion is being pushed or even forced on people, and that is hardly the case. You have rightly recognized the importance of how we express ourselves. I think this choice of yours doesn't meet your own standard.
2018 will tell us if the Bernie-bros&hos learned anything. The barometer leading up will be the recognition the Justice Democrats get. Or is it Democrats for Justice, IDC. The ones wanting to get rid of Feinstein and Boxer.
You knocked it out of the park here, Joseph--well done.
I think you have misidentified the problem. Anti-abortion single issue voters simply will not be a part of the Democratic party. For those who are not, Casey for example, we can at least have a conversation about the issue. I don't think anyone is telling them they can't be Democrats. Same with religion, believe that Moses, Jesus and Mohammed actually existed and no one cares. What I, and many liberals find objectionable, are those who wrap the notion of God around themselves and then ignore the ethical teachings of religion. There are many Democrats who believe in private gun ownership, the difference being that Democrats want to be able to rationally discuss the issue. The more important thing for Democrats to do is to level with voters. Democrats, at least since FDR, have represented labor while Republicans have represented business. When labor gets too strong, there is the possibility of anarchy, but when business gets too strong there is the reality of feudalism. And with what is going on now, with Republicans representing only the obscenely rich and business, oligarchy and feudalism will be the result. The Democrats have to further explain that there is a tremendous change going on, as explained in Future Shock and we had best be prepared for it, that jobs are disappearing to robots and we had best learn had to live in a brave new world, and that the depression, which seems to be the condition of the masses, will not be cured by convincing ourselves that we are better than our fellow citizens.

Why can't democrats run against "accused child molesters"? All you need is to get some women to come forward with some unprovable but also ubfalsifiable allegations that something happened 40 years ago. That's how accusations work.
Here's a piece from a blog post I wrote in 2005:
"...Rather than bemoaning the ignorance of the Southern voter, why not give up a few trivial positions and win the majority back? Of course, what I may characterize as trivial is certainly not going to be so with everyone, but compared to the larger issues of looting the Treasury, high crimes in the White House, and the lives lost in Iraq, I certainly don't think these positions amount to much..."
Unlike some drifty types, I will not claim every liberal idea since the dawn of time began with me.
Needless to say, I agree with you said.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jones WON??? Jones....WON!!!

This is my hat. Anyone know any good recipes?

My usual method of political prognostication is twofold: 1. Imagine the worst. 2. Watch it happen. This tactic works often but not always. As this night began, I had zero doubt that my method would prove accurate -- yet it failed. May it fail even more spectacularly in the future!

From Meghan McCain:
Suck it, Bannon
I've always liked her.

Thank you, Alabama, for not choosing the kind of man who would attend a girl scout camp just to show off his pup tent.

A dark cloud still threatens: Fox News is talking recount. I cannot fairly deny Moore's right to demand a recount, since I personally believe that recounts should be conducted frequently. Still, one shudders to think of what might happen.

Now let's see if we can talk Franken into staying!
Nice hat, Joseph.

But in all seriousness, nope, I don't know any recipes. :) But I also followed your method--I expected the worst. But when that doesn't happen, you feel an immense amount of relief.

This is very, VERY good news. Of course, the usual gang of assholes (Goodman, Bragman, et al) are whining about how a "centrist" won and how horrible it is, blah blah blah. Seriously...fuck these idiots.
About Franken
The Republican talking point about sexual harassment relating to Trump has been that people knew about it and voted for him anyway. The same strategy was repeated about Moore. Let the people of Alabama decide.
I heard a talking head say, Franken can use the same strategy to re-claim his seat.
Resign, then run for his seat and let the people re-elect him.
It could work.
Personally, I prefer for him to say, I will resign when Trump does.
I share your concern about the recount possibilities.
I will ask you about how good the eggs on your face tasted in a few days.
I have never been happier to be wrong about an election outcome. I've also never been happier to have cast a vote that truly mattered.
I'm excited, but I'm being superstitiously touching wood... It feels good to believe in the sense of basic decency winning for a change.

Moore wants a recount, but that occurs at .5%, and the split (at this point, late in the eve) is 1.5%. Yet earlier in the day, the 100% Republican AL Supreme Court overturned a ruling to save digital copies of ballots for any possible recount... did the 100% Republican AL Supreme Court just bet on the wrong scenario? Did turnout (especially of black people, and more especially of black WOMEN) actually overwhelm a "F-up the vote" attempt? Or is it something else entirely? Still, if this election isn't a plea to the DNC to support its smaller races, I don't know what is.

Still, Moore's non-concession speech ends (after some Biblin') like you might expect from a Jesus-shielded sociopath. Who knows what twist is up Steve Bannon's sleeve...

"And that’s what we’ve got to do is wait on God, and let this process play out. I know it’s late, we can’t wait and have everybody wait ‘til after 11 o’clock. Uh, but the votes are still coming in, and we’re looking at that. May God bless you, as you go on, may he give you safe journey, and thank you for coming tonight, it’s not over, and it’s gonna take some time. Thank you. Let's go home and sleep on it. We'll get up... we'll take it on the 'morrow. Thank you."

(Transcribed by a patient person on reddit. The video's worth checking out in full

Reminded of this bit of advice from W.S. Burroughs: “Never do business with a religious son-of-a-bitch. His word ain't worth a shit — not with the Good Lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.”

Waiting with baited breath til the 'morrow, as with every hour of this Shitocracy.

Meanwhile, apparently, and irregardless of the election, Luther Strange is gonna be the sitting senator voting on the tax scam bill... and you KNOW how much the Big Red R Tribe would be howling about it were the situation reversed.

(There is precedent for Republican special-election hypocrisy in the past, natch... Could be fodder for some media retaliation against the fascist forces.)

—Mac Tonight
Mitch McConnell will use every procedural trick in the book to avoid seating Doug Jones before the tax cut reconciliation vote. Start the chant "Seat him now!".
Turn it back on Mitch da Bitch if President Obama couldn't appoint a Supreme Court justice McConnell should wait until the next session for a tax cut vote.
Alabama's Supreme Court basically burned Moore's attempt at a recount--digital voter tallies were okayed for dumping. The only credible recount would require a manual count. Alabama's Secretary of State said Moore and his folks would need to pay for that since the margin exceeds the half point spread.

LOL. Losers got to lose sometimes. Alabama did the country a big favor last night. Hallelujah!

Nice to wake up to good news and the hilarity of the Trumpster's excuse machine.

Mr. Mike:

This is true, and thankfully, Dems aren't having it. Schumer and Harris are already saying the Jones should be seated immediately. I also saw the AP report that all of a sudden, the House and Senate have agreed on a tax bill. I guess "regular order" John McCain will vote against such a rushed process? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!
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Bad things arising

Even though a Republican governor has come out in favor of Doug Jones, as has the National Review, I predict that Moore will win by six-to-eight points.

Yes, I know that the polls are all over the place. Yes, I've read Nate Silver. Silver doesn't believe that election rigging is real; I know that it is. A tweet from Greg Palast:
BREAKING: We just got a call from attorneys John Brakey and Chris Sautter from #Alabama. The State Supreme Court, without a hearing, but on the pure "ex-parte" (i.e. private) complaint of the State, "stayed" — that is, OVERTURNED THIS MORNING’S RULING TO PRESERVE ALL BALLOTS!
That's it. That's the only story that matters. The rest is noise.

The Alt Rightists possess both the intention and the means to commit fraud, and anyone who needs further proof is a dolt. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the state ruling -- which probably won't happen -- ballot preservation matters only if there is a recount, and recounts happen only in close races. To avoid calls for a recount, the election-riggers must make the very idea of a recount seem absurd.

That's why I forecast a fairly wide victory margin. A double-digit spread might be suspicious; five points might be too low. Naturally, the liberal sites will overflow with day-after "think" pieces blaming anything and everything other than election fraud.

By tomorrow night, we'll know if this forecast is accurate. I don't want to be right. If I end up with egg on my face, it'll be the most delicious omelette in culinary history.

Elsewhere: Rachel Maddow's show last night gave us a grim picture of the Mueller probe's future. Mueller's firing is now almost certain; Republican media is engaged in an all-out effort to destroy the investigation, and liberals are doing very little to counter the propaganda blitz. Alan Dershowitz and Newt Gingrich are now giving cover for the assault on Mueller; the Fox News attacks are relentless.

If Republican propagandists could make Americans hate football, they can make make Americans hate Mueller. The polls will soon turn against him.

There is no infrastructure in place to defend the probe. Progressive web sites have repeated the fool's mantra "Trump wouldn't dare," even though everyone knows that a cornered rat's gonna do what a cornered rat's gonna do. Liberals continue to hallucinate that Republicans in Congress will soon turn against Trump, even though no evidence backs the delusion that the right will abandon the president the moment the tax bill passes.

"Me Too" is just another word for blackmail. We now live under Putin Rules: Anyone who criticizes Dear Leader will have his sexual indiscretions (real or invented) blasted all over the internet and teevee. If the Alt Right schemers can take down Al Franken, they can take down anyone.

When (not if) Mueller is fired, any Republican who favors reinstatement will suddenly find himself pummeled by sexual abuse allegations. Communications are tapped; indiscretions are logged.

Any Republican who incurs the wrath of Dear Leader will have to deal with former girlfriends and female colleagues who will suddenly offer hair-raising stories of rape, abuse and insensitive remarks. It won't matter if these stories reflect truth or fiction or a cunning admixture. Democrats will automatically believe any accusations against a Republican (most Dems fail to understand that we need a certain number of Republicans if we want to check Trump's power), while Republicans will think whatever Fox News tells them to think. There are plenty of women who will play their assigned roles, either because they are desperate for cash or because they are vulnerable to the fate that befell Susan McDougal. Even those politicians who have managed to avoid all actual honeytraps are vulnerable to false "He grabbed my butt" allegations.

Most Americans oppose Trump. When Mueller is fired, will that majority rise up in fury and outrage, as they did when Trump took the oath? I think not. "Trump fatigue" has left us too drained to take action.

We are also paralyzed because we fear becoming the enemy. We will lose the position of moral superiority if we allow ourselves to mirror the inchoate rage that fuels the Pals of Pepe. They may engage in primitive, tribal chants of "Lock her up!" -- but we may not answer in kind. The right may show emotion; we are not permitted. No matter the provocation, we must remain unnaturally calm, even though calm people never won a revolution.

Yes, I know that there are plans for peaceful protests of Mueller's (nearly certain) firing. I support such protests, and will take part. But even peaceful protests may devolve into violence, thanks to the agents provocateurs. One shudders to think of what Antifa and the ever-dimwitted young Bernie-lovers might do.

Any acts of violence, anywhere in the country, will be used to justify brutal tactics of repression.

Protests against the firing of Mueller could provide Trump with the "Reichstag" excuse he needs to take full dictatorial control. In recent speeches, Trump has clearly signaled that he wants to reform our system of justice to rid it of alleged 'deep state' corruption. You know what that means.

Democracy itself is imperiled, yet Democrats still behave as though they are guests at a brie-and-chablis party.

Ryan Lizza is the latest to fall victim to the right's "weaponized feminism" movement. Lizza is the person who outed Randy Credico (an allegedly liberal comedian) as Roger Stone's backchannel to Wikileaks. Lizza also wrote this incredible and essential series on Roger Stone.

Need I say more? If you can't see what's going on, you're a fool.

The Lizza outrage provoked one Twitter user to opine that our new standard -- accusation equals proof -- calls to mind the Salem witch hunt. Another comment noted that the supposed "witches" at Salem received a trial, a grace granted to neither Franken nor Lizza. My response? If you've ever read about the "visionary girls" who provided evidence at those trials, you'll know the absurdity of the proposition that all females tell the truth.

The Salem story is the classic American tale, and every generation seems doomed to repeat it. We're living in Groundhog Day, starring Goody Proctor.
fyi, Charlie Baker is Massachusetts governor and not Alabama's.

Alabama's governor is Kay Ivey, and she is voting for Moore....

Bill Clinton found out the hard way how republicans operate. After going against legal experts urging a reopening of Iran-Contra Newt thanked him with Whitewater. Something lost on that fool Nancy Pelosi when she had the chance to look at how were lied into Iraq.
We are so boned.
FYI- The article you linked was about the repub Governor of Massachusetts, not Alabama, backing Jones. Unless something has changed in the last day or so, the Alabama gov is still with Moore.
Meanwhile in Europe, an explosion has put a main gas pipeline hub out of action in Austria.

A few days ago, a major oil and gas pipeline in the North Sea was shut because of a crack.

Expect power cuts across the continent.

Once an accident, twice a coincidence, three times?
b said ...
Third time?
Like the first two.
Lack of preventive maintenance to increase shareholder value.
Guys, not only did I make a huge mistake (since corrected) when I first wrote this article, I am amazed that the text was even comprehensible. I wrote during an interruption of my sleep cycle. Hours later, when I awoke the second time (after the sleep cycle's completion), I had forgotten having written the thing entirely.

For about a minute, I wondered if someone else had hacked my password and contributed to this blog. The paranoia alarms were deafening, as you might imagine.

After a certain age, one reads one's writings with a genuine sense of discovery.
Hi Joseph,

Not only does accusation=proof now, it's all that matters. Notice that even in situations where somebody is cleared, it's still reported as so and so was accused? Apparently, the A in the scarlet letter now stands for accusation rather than adultery.

And when you consider that pretty much everything has been conflated into "inappropriate behavior" and we're dealing with the type of people who argue that the classic song "Baby It's Cold Outside" is "rapey" (no, I'm not kidding) things have gotten way out of hand.

So what do you think are the chances that the Dems and others get that Trump is baiting them into investigating the sexual assault/harassment claims against them? Maybe 10%? What do you think are the chances that they get that team Trump has probably either set up some of the accusations or, more probably, have vetted them and know they can pick off the low hanging fruit and discredit the bunch of them? Maybe 1%

Speaking of weaponizing sexual assault/harassment, let's not overlook the likes former Fox folks like Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly. The idea that we're now supposed to consider Carlson a "heroine" is rather amusing and Kelly has been playing a sort of "good cop/bad cop" game with Trump for how long now? C'mon now....
Now there has been a third case: a gas leak and power outage has caused Norway to shut a gas platform.

@Mike - lack of maintenance doesn't explain how these three events have all happened at the same time, and in any case the insurers of these installations don't just accept what the owners say. Lloyds of London even has its own intelligence service.

More is afoot. It could be a very hard winter for many people in Europe and elsewhere.
Mueller has to go. See here and here.
As the Mighty Wurlitzer fires up “inappropriate behavior” hysteria, Republicans who said just this summer it’s unthinkable that Trump would fire Mueller, are now silent or on board to fire Mueller. I suspect the guardians of kompromat on Democrats, have loads of kompromat on Republicans to control them as well. Kompromat is probably why Trump picked the most corrupt unqualified Federal judges he could find and probably why a lot of the nuttier politicians got elected in the first place.
Hey Joseph,

Looks like the race is close. I will be happily proved wrong about Moore winning. We shall see.
Attempt to smear Chuck Schumer with forged document alleging sexual harassment of former staffer;
Jones pulled off a win, which I was pleasantly surprised.
It was a good day...
I don't know what to say to you Joseph, because there is just such a huge amount to say, but most importantly- there were others that were forced out on the right. You just didn't focus on them, because ????
You got me.
The resignation of Trent Franks was an amazing step in the right direction. I would be amazed if that was a seat the Dems could take over, but who knows...anything is possible. Look at what happened in Alabama. :-)
If Cheetolini can fire Mueller and get away with it, why has he not done so already?

Maybe Mueller has some sort of "deadman switch" ready to go if he is fired, or eats a polonium sandwich (hi, Vlad), which will release EVERYTHING?
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Monday, December 11, 2017


If it helps Trump, then Team Trump made it happen. In this case, I don't know how such a thing could have been engineered or encouraged or enabled. All I know is that the Franken hit switched my "UltraParanoia Mode" button into the "on" position, and I don't see it turning off soon. I predict that we will have three stories: 1. The mainstream scenario. 2. A fake conspiracy scenario peddled by Alex Jones and his nazified compatriots. 3. The hidden UltraParanoid truth, which both the Alex Jonesians and the safe-n-sane liberals will hate.
Mouth piece Sarah the Huckster says the Great White Dope's Muslim ban would have prevented this. Lies by omission, Bangladesh isn't on the Ban List.
For those keeping score, WASP gun loon shooters are in the lead for the number of dead and maimed compared to the terrorists from the Middle East.
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Sunday, December 10, 2017


I'm still too deeply enmeshed in my Franken funk to write much, but I wanted to share a preliminary bit of research with y'all. Remember Uranium One, the Canadian firm acquired by Rosatom, the Russian energy giant? The Uranium One holdings in Wyoming -- primarily a mine called Willow Creek -- were the basis of a huge, ongoing anti-Clinton smear.

Of course, as I have frequently pointed out, if Trump were truly concerned about that mine, he could have forced a divestment a long time ago. Nobody on the right ever mentions the fact. Nobody on the left mentions it either.

I just looked up the headquarters of Uranium One in Canada. They're located in a skyscraper called the Bay Adelaide at 333 Bay Street in Toronto. The building next door, at 325 Bay Street, is the Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto -- the one that was renamed The Adelaide Hotel.

(This hotel also figures in the Trump/Russia scandal. If you meet someone who still believes that Der Donald has no financial ties to Putin, show 'im this.)

A short walk away (roughly one-third of a mile) is the headquarters of Energy Fuels Inc, another uranium concern. This is the parent company for Energy Fuels Resources USA, the company that got into the news recently for playing a key role in the Trump administration's decision to scale back Bears Ears National Monument.

The thought has occurred to me -- and others -- that Energy Fuels might have subterranean links to Rosatom. The two companies are (almost literally) a stone's throw apart.

So far, I've found nothing solid linking to two firms, although a few right-wing cranks seem to think that a link exists. (They also think that any such link would damage Clinton, not Trump.)

If Trump had been Uranium One's landlord, we'd have a marvelous scandal and a fine excuse for shrieking neener neener. But he's not the landlord. Trump's ownership of the building next door doesn't offer us much opportunity for neener-ing.

Still...the geographical proximity is rather intriguing, is it not? Keep an eye on this uranium stuff. Rosatom is expanding very aggressively, around the world. I suspect that something interesting may turn up in this realm.
One small note: Trump never owned the Trump tower/hotel in Toronto. It was one of those licensing deals where someone else put up the money...
The NSA captures all communications, every single one. If there was any proof that Trump was under Russian influence it would have already been leaked.
Matt, it already has been "leaked", long ago. Why do you think there is an investigation?

Joseph, how could I forget the Uranium "scandal"? Right wingers on Facebook still bring it up at every opportunity. I always reply with your suggestion, asking why Trump hasn't forced divestment. Usually don't get a response to that.....
Hey Matt, When guys spout the same stuff as Trump and Dershowitz, I wonder why they can't come up with something better (same for Alan, who's probably a paid advocate). Too much purple Kool-Aid?

Seriously, though, you are right that all international communications are recorded, and not just by NSA; there are mountains of evidence. Have to wonder why Trump and his band of morons didn't take that into consideration.

All of this will be aired in court soon enough.
"Have to wonder why Trump and his band of morons didn't take that into consideration."

Answer is right there : MORONS

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Still too angry to write

I'm still so angry I can't pay attention to politics. I KNEW what was going to happen to Franken days before the first accusation. That accusation came from a woman who, we now know, is a good friend of the Trump family, and who seems to have had subterranean links to Roger Stone.

I knew from the start that the Believe Women movement (or the Me Too) movement was an utterly cynical, non-organic creation of the Alt Right. (So is the BernieBro movement.) These right-wing manipulators knew how easy it would be to "assassinate" Democrats if liberal Americans could be persuaded that anything said by any woman was considered unassailable. I can imagine how Stone must have cackled when he visualized a country in which all Dems (but not all Repblicans) are forced to live in a society in which accusation equals proof. Lots of room for mischief there.

I wish I could spit in the face of every well-intentioned liberal and feminist who did not foresee, as I foresaw, where this thing was going and who was really pulling the strings. At this point, I despise liberals almost as much as I despise conservatives. Liberals are idiots. They keep falling for the same trickery. This degree of gullibility transcends the concept of innocence, because an innocence founded on foolishness is indistinguishable from complicity.

We must work up the courage to say aloud the words which seem, at first, to be too outrageous to utter. Some conspiracies are real. The only conspiracy theories that ever have any basis in reality are the ones which posit that liberals are the victims and reactionaries are the victimizers. The first to engage in the actual practice of conspiracy are the right-wing conspiracy theorists, such as Roger Stone and his partner Alex Jones. Liberals never conspire. The right always conspires. The right must engage in conspiracy in order to stay alive. If the right did not conspire -- to fix elections, to gerrymander, to manipulate mass psychology -- Democrats would permanently control all three branches of government.

Right now, only a despised, easily-dismissed outsider like myself would dare to say such words. We will continue to be victims until my "outisider" viewpoint becomes mainstream within the Democratic party.

What happened to Franken has happened before...
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Bullshit. I've always DESPISED these idiots who offer what I used to call the SIBPATZ speech -- the Standard Issue Both Parties Are The Same speech. I've long believed that the SIBPATS-spewers were all Republican ratfuckers in disguise.

For example, there was the time not long after Pelosi became Speaker when she would not mount impeachment proceedings against Dubya. Suddenly, every liberal website was flooded with people spewing the SIBPATS speech. They actually came right out and said that Democrats should vote the straight GOP line, just to show Pelosi.

I think nowadays these ratfucking operations should be obvious.

Similarly, it is quite obvious that YOU are a ratfucker, Mr. Anonyumous. I think I'm going to delete your comment, which violates one of my clearly posted rules.
Dems are chumps.
Hi Joseph--

Congratulations for having the mettle to call this Fresh Fertilizer out.

I thought you might find a recent post of mine interesting:


Dave Emory
Dave, we've had our problems in the past -- and you are dead wrong about Russia. (I found some interesting Alt Right comments about the Azov battalion a while back. Wish I could find that site; pretty illuminating, once you decipher the slightly-coded language.)

But BOY HOWDY are you right about this Me Too mess.

It was the perfect storm. I've (probably) lost a friend I've had since boyhood because I told him (a few days before Leann came forward) that this movement would soon be used to destroy Democrats. Naturally, he thought that I was defending Weinstein.

That's the kind of illogic which clouds the mind whenever society gets caught up in a hysteria.

I'm amazed you were able to write so well. I can't write with any style or even basic comprehensibility right now. I can barely type THIS. That's how pissed off I am.
There are two points in recent history that gave us the Great White Dope. First is Bill Clinton not reopening Iran-Contra, second is that fool Pelosi not investigating Bush the Lesser lying us into Iraq.
Trump's approvals are hanging in the low 30s, his hard core base. 70% think him a loon and yet Democrats still won't win in 2018 or 2020 and not because anything Rodger Stone or the ghost of Lee Atwater did.
You have to want to be gulled by the huckster for the con to work. I asked Santa for a chainsaw so I can fell the tree these fools are hugging so it lands on them.
Democrats are only successful by accident.
Oh, Roger Stone is a big part of why the Repubs will win in 2018 and 2020. Trump need only hang onto his base. Dirty tricks can make up the rest. The trickery starts now; the Republicans are targeting every Dem who poses a challenge to Bernie. They WANT to run against Bernie, because they have video of Bernie at an anti-America rally in Nicaragua. There may also be video of Bernie at a pro-Iran rally.
Hell, they don't need video of him in Nicaragua to destroy him. His pro-Castro video is enough to sink him in all fifty states and D.C. And don't forget about his writings about rape fantasies.
Pelosi has demonstrated that she's a chump with the talk about impeachment being impractical so don't bring it up. Heaven forbid the Dems show some character. Schumer's the accomplice, err, senator from Wall St. don't even get me started on friggin Feinstein. Clinton, Bill, wanted to privatize Social Security, Obama wouldn't investigate the Bush 2 admin.

We've seen decades of Roger Stone operations, no one learns a thing, except Stone, who gets smarter and more efficient. Probably a story there. I'm damn glad "Nadir" Nader seems to have gone senile and hope Bernie catches up with him quick. Talk about silence being golden.

So here we are in 2017 And the cops are thoroughly militarized and can shoot anyone they want. A huge portion of gun toting mouth breathers has been paramilitarized. Like the Fugitive Slave Law, they're trying to jam concealed carry down every throat in the country.

Oh, and the Dems can hardly say a thing while doing nothing at all. And they wonder why people are poorly motivated to vote.
Re that link upthread: Number 12 is total bullshit about Gloria Steinem. Shame on you for peddling that falsehood.
Hey Dave Emory, if you are reading this, I stopped reading your site because you go on and on about a dead Nazi and this dead Nazi's network but you can't even see a massive Russian conspiracy right in front of your nose? Don't tell me there is no evidence, the Russians have basically admitted it before lying about it and admitting it again... So spare me the no evidence bullshit. What the fuck is wrong with you dude? You can see a massive on going conspiracy with a dead Nazi but you can't see an ongoing current conspiracy involving a Russian dictator who has been running Russia for most of my entire life? WTF? Spitfire repeats the same old stories with the same old pictures day in and day out but you totally bypass the Russia story?!? It's like you are programming rather than informing these days. I used to listen to your audio recordings all the time and then the Russia thing happened and you kind of lost credibility with me. And if you don't believe in the Russia thing what the heck are you doing reading Cannonfire?
Another suggestion for Emory, Enough with the bullshit about the failures of the "progressive sector".... start talking about how Russia has infiltrated the "progressive sector" and the USA to destabilize it. Jesus Christ so much ratfucking and BULLSHIT going on with the left eating itself and dividing itself.

I wonder what it would look like if the Left actually UNITED and went after Republicans AND the Russians paying them all. I guess we will never know.


All of the governments of the world, reporters, spy agencies,etc., are all lying about Trump's Russia ties? Give me a fucking break you joker.

The news media gets it, unfortunately not our news media.
I doubt 'the Bernie bros' are a creation of the alt-right. First, they are real people on the left wing. They are easy to find, you can check out their background with an internet search. Secondly the 'Bernie bros' didn't choose that appellation. It was given to mock them.

The simple fact is that a lot of these 'Bernie bros' included women that have huge student debt that will likely never be paid back, and Bernie was promising to do something about it. To say that they are an astroturfing operation is an extraordinary claim when you consider the turnouts at Bernie rallies compared to the Clinton rallies.

Lastly, the alt-right is "woke but broke", as they say. The alt-right has very limited money and resources, its a grassroots movement, whatever else you think about it, without any money from wealthy sources.
The only way to deal with accusations like this is to take an absolutist stance of 'innocent until proven guilty', and also to reject any pressure to resign and condemn people that demand that the accused resign.

There were 19 women that accused Trump of nebulous "sexual misconduct" before the election and there were far too many people, both in the Democratic party and the GOP, accepting the allegations are true (most likely false, and not even a whiff of proof anyway). Trump has also been accused of "sexual assault", which is a legal term and for which no one claiming to be a victim has come forward, based on his comments about grabbing women by the you know what.

Look - I can see why you want to assign blame to the alt-right or GOP operative shenanigans, but you can look into the democratic party itself if you want to assign blame. When you have white male democrats being told on campus that they are not allowed to speak because they are white males, or if they are allowed to speak, must speak last (the progressive stack), this isn't a GOP plot. This is the democratic party in action.
I hope people in their anger never loose sight of how we get here. The sabotage of the election should never be forgotten or forgiven. Because if we do they won. And that's was all to them, it's a game to them.
Glad to see you and Dave Emory are still amicable. I am among those who are perplexed that he is unable to process the concept of pro-Russian Nazis. Certainly it seems paradoxical on the surface, but I would think that somebody who's spent hours interviewing Kevin Coogan on the subject of Francis Yockey would realize that things aren't always what they seem on the surface. Ah well...

Uhh Matt. Footnots, links, other sources. Would be a good idea.
That's the thing about Dave Emory... He has been researching for years and years and the only thing he offers up is a secret Nazi network which is doing all this bad shit but which he can never really dig up what's ultimately behind it.. . There are fight right networks in every western country... But the far right network that launched cyber attacks on the USA and which is easily manipulating the moron in the White House and shovelling money and influence to everyone around him IS RUSSIA AND PUTIN AND HIS OLIGARCHS and everyone seems to be able to connect the dots on this one except Fox News, Dave Emory, Glen Greenwald, Matt Taibi.. And a few others on the left. We know why Matt Taibi wont say Bad of Russia... He lived there. British, Dutch, German, American researchers and media all point out the connections and influence peddling between Putin's government and far right leaders in USA and Britain and Euro, money pouring into these far right groups from Russia .... and Emory kind of dismisses all of that.
Anon 4:51, very well said.

But though all the details of Taibbi's years in Russia will probably not be known, we do know by his admission that they involved a lot of drinking and drugs; the years of poor judgment. So now his reporting is great as long as Russian is not involved.

These folks who think that investigative evidence is going to be simply dumped out like Wikileaks do expose themselves to be stooges. The evidence becoming public happens only later. Flynn and Gates only just found out that there are 400,000 documents in the case against them. Chumps.

The problem with Emory is the low information/word ratio.
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