Monday, May 22, 2017

The Ducks are on the Pond


I haven't posted in a while because I keep re-approaching the Trumpoiska story, but the story is moving too fast to keep up with. Suffice it to say that there's no good reason for an entire cross-section of government -- from the Justice Department to military personnel to the spy services to foreign services (I'm looking at you in particular, Rex Tillerson) to presidential top aids, advisers, and campaigners, to family and business associates of the president -- to have so many ties to any one foreign government, never mind an enemy. Or to need to recuse themselves from investigation or plead the 5th or lie about their foreign ties. If you're OK with the president handing over state secrets about an organization in Syria (ISIS) to our military opponents in Syria, which is intel received from our "best friends" in Israel -- who are actually great at spywork but will think twice before they share any more info with us -- on the day he fires the head of the FBI without justifiable cause ("lock her up" and "he shouldn't have said anything bad about Hillary" don't fit in the same healthy cranium) while all of his cronies (and possibly him -- remember, he was wiretapped!) are under investigation for ties to Russia, and Russia's influence in the election which he won ... well, I'm not OK with you. Clearly, it's more about your side winning than the country and democracy winning, and I can't respect that political position. You can't burn it all down and call yourself a patriot, no matter how white and angry you are.

So, in the interest of posting something, here's some audio I captured from a local duck and goose farm. In the second half of the 15s track, you'll hear more geese being made. Insert your own Sitting Duck, Lame Duck, Goose is Cooked, etc. pun here.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Ruski Business, Part 2 of TBD

But What Do I Know, I'm Just a Cow

In the mold of his other appointments (e.g. most outspoken critic of any agency to head that agency), it appears Trump has found a replacement for Nunes on the House committee investigating Team Trump's manifold Russia connections.

unhappy cow says moo hoo

Trump spokesperson, campaign contributor, and lead investigator Bovine McBeevesface when asked "Is there anything suspicious here?"


 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ruski Business, Part 1 of TBD

Here are some dots, do what you like with them. If you connect them in just the right order, you draw a bear wearing a ushanka with 'MAGA' written on it!


  • It seems like only yesterday Russia was our greatest enemy. Because, it was yesterday (and still is today). They regularly use their Security Council veto to thwart our efforts in the UN, and are on opposite sides of the fence from us in actual (Syria, where both the US and Russia have troops on the ground and in the air) and proxy (Iran, Afghanistan) wars and conflicts (Cuba, Korea). They DO hack our systems on a regular basis: commercial, governmental, and civilian (that includes the Yahoo hacks ... out of 1B accounts, which includes passwords re-used on multiple sites, there has to be at least one lever into some government system or individual they want access to). They fund a network of agitprop trolls which have warped the universe of reality, not only creating entire fake news ecosystems, but pulling real news -- the kind that fights autocracies -- down into the mud with them. Their press has been completely co-opted, and typically spews anti-American invective. NATO basically exists to oppose Russia ... that's the greatest military alliance in the history of the world on one side of the fence, and just one country on the other. They recently seized territory in two sovereign nations, by force. It is in no way a free country; their response to FIFA when asked about gay tourists at the Russian World Cup was to suggest they stay home if they don't want to get thrown in jail or worse. They almost certainly scored that World Cup with bribery, blackmail and shenanigans, and their Olympic doping scandal makes MLB look like a NA meeting. Please remember, these are not the good guys, and while North Korea may be more comic-book villian-ous, they're largely ineffective, and while China is dangerous and not our friend, at least we can talk things out with them, at least for now. Russia is a unique combination of powerful, expansionist, and virulently anti-American. In short, we have met the enemy, and they write in Cyrillic.

  • There are so many threads to this story that it would take forever just to synopsize ... there's even the chance this story will move faster than it can be documented; it certainly shows no sign of slowing down in spite of the Benghazi Brigade showing little appetite for looking into a foreign power influencing our elections, which should completely freak out anyone who cares about free and fair elections (i.e. Democracy), which this crowd clearly does not. So, I'll try to focus on the under-reported stories, with just a soup├žon of speculation. Let's start with the Donald and one of his more obvious "tells": he doesn't wait until he gets caught doing something wrong to start spinning the story -- should it eventually come out -- in his favor. And the Republicant Talking Points Parrots and the Fox & Friends & Friends echo chamber has no issue with beating this spin into Alt-Truth on his behalf (for their benefit, I hope that vengeful deity they claim to believe in doesn't exist, cause they're building some significant karmic debt by selling out their principals for short-term gains). So, how is Russia being spun domestically, in order to mitigate damage should the truth come to light?

  • Trump refuses to bad-mouth Putin (who is a killer:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39364542
    Voronenkov was no crook but an investigator who was deadly dangerous for the Russian siloviki [security services]) and frequently heaps praise on him.

  • This may be the primary reason that Putin's favorability among Republicans had risen 20 points in just two years, as any question about one's opinion of Russia can now become a proxy for your opinion of Trump (and everyone seems to be OK with that, even hard-line Republic hawks, which in of itself is mind-blowing).
    In fact, on the issue of Russia cyber-meddling in the U.S. elections, Republican public opinion more closely resembles public opinion in Russia than overall opinion in the United States.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/02/16/republicans-used-to-fear-russians-heres-what-they-think-now/

    50% of Republicans, 73% of young Republicans see Russia as an "ally" or "friendly":
    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/02/22/nbc-poll-50-of-republicans-73-of-young-republicans-see-russia-as-an-ally-or-friendly/
  • But it's more likely that the Talking Points Parade has been trying to soften the urgency of looking into collusion with what may the closest thing we have to a "hot war" enemy. It would be as if the US funded Saddam Hussein then sold him chemical weapons to be used on his own people, or provided arms to the Taliban or warlords aligned with Al Qaida in Afghanistan, or armed Iranians with guns bought with drugs sold by Central American warlords we armed and trained, or placed fascist killers in offices previously won in democratic elections in allied nations. OK, bad examples ... but why this isn't being treated like Benedict Arnold got elected president is inconceivable (and yes, that word means what I think it means). The difference between this collusion and all the other manifold examples of impeachable, aiding-and-abetting the enemy kinds of behavior we've practiced was that the previous offenses were sat on or considered part of "American Exceptionalism" ... how Trump gets to basically say "well, we're killers too" -- in a government where forgetting to wear your flag pin is headline news -- is beyond my powers of understanding.

  • Of course, the existential (threat) question is: What is Donny Hiding? I don't believe in first principals as a rule; you could say it's raining because the moisture content of the air is higher than the air can support, but you also need to have air, gravity, moisture, something like water that's vaguely ionic and bondy, something akin to a Big Bang, etc. So, Trump is someone who realizes that it's Russian-sourced false stories that he was able to drag into the mainstream by way of Alt Right media that fueled his populism. Praising a tyrant aids his goals of being a tyrant, and he's vain enough that he'll take praise from anywhere, and Putin is Machiavellian enough to use a tool as trivial as praise on any fool it works on. We can't forget Trump is a businessman, as he insists on reminding us, and that a huge chunk of his money comes from Russians, and that he has an eye on expanding into Russia; or that his regulatory policies show that externalizing costs (in the form of normalizing the kleptocracy in the Kremlin, with all the world-wide blow-back that will bring) in exchange for a profit is business-as-usual for Herr Drumpf. His buddies all made tons off of Russia, or hope to, and like Bush enabling Halliburton, Trump will award windfalls to those that promise unyielding fealty (I expect Sean Spicer to retire a man far more wealthy than his abilities would indicate). Russia may even have coordinated electoral strategies -- using their operatives, techniques and stolen data -- and certainly selectively leaked -- if not selectively hacked -- information to help Trump win. I suspect the Comey information-free October- and November-surprise was sourced from a Russian hack or faked leak (just like Donny asked the Russians to do on national TV), and this was just one of many things that handed Trump an unlikely election. There are so many possible "primary reasons" that Trump is becoming the kind of person that kept Joe McCarthy up at night that we can't ever know the most significant one, but I'll go with the most controversial and least reported one: a KGB-mentality government with a country full of very talented hackers decided on a multi-pronged approach to "restore the balance of power" and put Russia back in a world leadership position, and that strategy included getting everything you could use to compromise those that might oppose you. It's basically the Realpolitik you'd get here if CIA and NSA alums started running the USA, and somewhere along the line the Ruskis got their hands on enough info against Trump to make him compliant. I think we could agree that this would be the most powerful lever for getting the president of the USA to turn into a pinko, so the burden becomes to demonstrate that it's not tinfoil-hattery.

    Is Trump Blackmailable?

  • I don't think most would argue that the thin-skinned baby we have elected president has enough self-interest that should someone have something on him, he'd gladly sell the entire country down the river to cover his own ass. And no one (reasonable) wants to take the "piss tapes" seriously without some evidence (although if someone started this rumor out of the blue about Hillary I'm sure it would get some serious Echo Chamber time). But how dismissable (as in, we're confident it's NOT true) are these claims that in total the Russians have enough info to get Donny on board with their agenda?

  • Well, the person who put together the dossier on Trump and Russia from which we get much of this info is anything but a whack job. He used to be a spy at MI6, has a very good reputation in the intel community, and has never publicly released info and been proven wrong (i.e. doesn't have a history of making wild accusations). He now co-runs a very successful for-hire investigation agency.

  • He was previously hired by the FBI to gather the evidence on FIFA (the uber-corrupt governing body for world soccer, which is basically an ATM for the morally bankrupt), and if you know how deeply crooked but untouchable that organization was, that's saying something. Hundreds of kleptocrats from dozens of countries got jailed, fined, fired, deported, or simply called out, in a complex (and well masked) tangle of illegal handshake deals with almost no paper trails. For much of the world, the fact that "we" took down Sepp Blatter and FIFA is more scary than drone strikes and radar-invisible airplanes: we touched the untouchables, and that's power.

  • No fewer than four Russians involved with this dossier have died under suspicious circumstances.
    The most likely source of the Trump-Russia intel is Oleg Erovinkin. Erovinkin, a former general in the KGB and its successor the FSB, was found dead in the back of his car in Moscow on Boxing Day in mysterious circumstances. [ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39364542 ] Putin is former KGB, and present hitman-in-chief, and would have no problem covering a leak with a corpse.

    Erovinkin was a key aide to Igor Sechin, a former deputy prime minister and now head of Rosneft (more later on Rosneft), the state-owned oil company, who is repeatedly named in the dossier. [ http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/mystery-death-of-ex-kgb-chief-linked-to-mi6-spys-dossier-on-donald-trump/ar-AAmkp4E ]
  • I personally believe Trump vindictive enough to want to see someone pee on the Obama's bed ... after all, Obama did wiretap Trump in his home. [As previously mentioned, another of Trump's "tells" is to pre-emptively blame someone for something that he's worried about others finding out about him. Saying "someone wiretapped me to make me look bad" in advance of the imminent release of info divulged by a wiretap would be an example. As would using that claim as a cover for wiretapping members of the prior administration. One thing the FBI is saying for sure, in spite of hemming and hawing on other topics, is that there's nothing to support President Turnip's claim, in spite of Nunes' traitorous (i.e. undermining the intelligence/security process for political gain) spin on the whole thing.] But all asides aside, that titillating (mictating) detail has little to do with the bigger picture of collusion and possible illegal funding, manipulation, hacking, etc. (unless that's the blackmail lever itself) and it's important to keep the clickbait parts of the story separate from the Enemy-Is-Undermining-All-Democracy moments.

    Is There Real Intel About Any Of This?

  • James Comey is believed by many people to have thrown the election to Trump, so it's not like this is the standard witch hunt (which is really more of a Republicant thing than a Donkey Thing, in any case). The folks at 538 figured the Comey disclosures alone were enough to swing the popular vote enough for Clinton to go from a near-lock to a loser. The FBI directorship is a 10 year appointment, not subject to removal by a president, so that he can maintain his independence. Comey seems to have a clear desire for the spotlight, but it's not obvious (yet) that he's partisan, and if he is it would appear to be pro-Republicant, so when he says "there's nothing to the wiretap claim, but there is plenty to investigate with Russia and the elections" we ought to (for now) take that statement at face value.

  • NSA can legally tap US conversations if they are with foreign citizens (even someone they're only 51% sure is foreign, using really weak-tea metrics to make that determination). That's legally. They've shown little care for the law on matters surveillant, or disclosure when the do violate the law ("revealing the name of an American swept up inadvertently in a wiretapping would damage national security and future surveillance programs") so we'll never know the full extent, but pretty much everything they've claimed they don't do has been demonstrably false. So I think we should assume that just about any e-communications between Team Trump and Russia have been tapped, filtered and reviewed, so when the intel community (which, again, Trump-tell: repeatedly dis the intel community before they reveal compromising info, so you can go all Ad Hominem on their ass later when they turn you out) says there's not nothing there, assume there's not nothing there.

    But not only are these people under investigation not idiots, they also regularly meet face-to-face, and the powerful and wealthy are often exempt from the kind of 4th Amendment violations the rest of us have to deal with (do you remember Feinstein having no difficulty with anything the NSA was doing or the CIA was lying about until they looked at her staff's computers, at which point she nearly anuerism'd out?). So, I wouldn't consider absence of evidence evidence of absence, but I fully believe we'll be back to this piece of the story soon. For now, future installments will cover the unbelievable number of players and interactions with our new frenemy Russia. On the off chance you're still reading, check back soon!
  • Monday, April 3, 2017

    Danny Elfman, Prophet

    I recently heard this song for the first time since Donny T took the national stage. I don't know if it's aimed more at Trump or Pence, but boy, does this feel prescient for me ... sorry I can't add the 3-piece marimba section here without the DMCA police busting my ass.

    Insanity - Oingo Boingo


    I am the virus, are you the cure?
    I am a disease and I am unclean
    I am not part of God's well oiled machine
    Christian nation, assimilate me
    Take me in your arms and set me free
    I am part of a degenerate elite
    Dragging our society into the street -yeah-
    Into the abyss and to the sewer don't you see
    The man just told me, he told me on TV

    And the alcoholic bastard waved his finger at me
    And his voice was filled with evangelical glee
    Sipping down his gin & tonics
    While preaching about the evils of narcotics
    And the evils of sex, and the wages of sin
    While he mentally fondles his next of kin

    Do you think you're better than me?
    Do you want to kill me, or befriend me?

    Christian sons, Christian daughters
    Lead me along like a lamb to the slaughter
    Purify my brain and hose down my soul
    White perfection, perfection is my goal

    Christian nation, make us alright
    Put us through the filter and make us pure and white 'cause
    My mind has wandered away from me
    And the flock has wandered, away from me

    Let's talk of family values while we sit and watch the slaughter
    Hypothetical abortions on imaginary daughters
    The white folks think they're at the top, ask any proud white male chump
    A million years of evolution, we get Danny Quayle Donny Trump