This is your President speaking.

Number 120 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

“I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” written on the back of Melania’s jacket, refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!

Way to tell them, Mr. President. And who should know more about fake news than you?

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Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks (number 116).

What’s better than encountering an active shooter while you are dining is three active shooters while you are dining.

Armed bystanders kill shooter at Oklahoma City restaurant

You may puzzle at why I am posting this story, since it obviously depicts the argument gun fans posit for arming citizens. Here a bad guy with a gun was thwarted by a good guy with a gun. Actually two good guys with guns. So how is this an anti-gun message.

Stop here for a moment. Who is against guns? You need to look somewhere else to find an anti-gun person. Coming from somebody who used to earn a paycheck by handling stuff that puts handguns in the same league as paper airplanes, that would be a hypocritical position for me to take. What I am opposed to is citizens walking the streets packing heat, and I additionally oppose the idea of having deadly weapons (handguns) much too convenient.

But wasn’t the convenience of handguns (on the part of the two good guys) exactly what solved this active shooter situation? Does somebody really want to argue that point? Examine.

First, a bad guy with a gun creates a deadly situation. All right, a potentially deadly situation, but I’m not giving him points for having a bad aim. Then the deadly situation comes to a conclusion as the bad guy exits the scene.

At this point the two good guys create a second deadly situation, only their aim is dead on, and the situation really is deadly. But what better outcome could you ask for? (you may ask.) Aside from having police arrive immediately and disarm the bad guy, I cannot imagine a better outcome. I can imagine a worse outcome, one of many. And that would be two more good guys with guns getting shot by a bad guy who suddenly finds his handgun’s front sight. Worse, some unlucky citizen getting caught in the amateurish crossfire, and the bad guy making a clean getaway.

For the information of those (that would include me) who have never been in such a situation, the outcome of this matter is less than rosy. Two good guys, heroes that they are, now face problems they never had before. To enumerate:

  • Facing charges of firing off a handgun within the city.
  • Facing charges of second degree homicide.
  • Facing a lawsuit from the bad guy’s kin.
  • Spending several hours out of the ones they have remaining on this planet dealing with the repercussions.
  • Having their gun permits revoked.
  • Having to pay for their own ammunition.

But wait! This series is about people discovering too late that their association with a handgun turned out not to be the walk on a beach they thought it would be. But, who here most regrets his decision to pack heat. Turn back to the news item. The prime loser is Alexander C. Tilghman, 28, of Oklahoma City, who would now be regretting his decision to slap leather, except that he is dead and unable to regret anything.

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m feeling safer already.

People Unclear

This is number 44 of a series

When I run low on issues to post about, I can reliably turn to the matter of people unclear. These are people who leave the impression they were taking a bathroom break when the operating instructions were handed out. Do I poke fun at these people? Yes, I do, and it’s not being cruel. It’s not being cruel when explanation has been provided again and again, and when the facts are clearly laid out but willfully ignored. Shame!

Here’s another one and additional proof that I usually do not conduct my own research. This came by way of Yahoo News, penned by Jack Baer, to whom thanks go for due diligence. The matter concerns Washington State University football coach Mike Leach and his off-kilter Sunday pastime. Here’s from Yahoo News:

Mike Leach spends Father’s Day arguing on Twitter about heavily edited Barack Obama conspiracy video

Mike Leach could have spent his Father’s Day doing so many fun things, like a family dinner or golfing (OK, probably not golfing). Heck, he probably could have just spent the day recruiting like Nick Saban probably did.

Instead, Leach honored the occasion by tweeting out a clearly fake video of Barack Obama and spending hours arguing about it with strangers on the internet [sic].

Whoa! Tweeting out a fake video? Featuring former President Barack Obama? Where’s the news in that? I recall a recent eight-year period when this activity was a nation-wide sport, with points given for originality. Before I go further, take a look at the video:

Since this is a competitive event, I am giving points for the various elements (1 – 5):

  • Originality: 1
  • Execution: 2
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Audacity: 5

If audacity were the only element scored, then Coach Leach would be heading for the playoffs. Writer Jack Baer has more, and it contains some interesting revelations.

First, Coach Leach has 100,000 Twitter followers. Who would have thought? And he shared the video with his 100,000 followers. See? That’s how word gets around.

Second, Mike Leach received push back from a number of the tweetees. An example:

Replying to 

This video is a hoax. This was given and selectively clipped from a speech to the EU in Brussels. Be better than this.

Now for the kicker. Coach Leach punted back:

Replying to 

Prove it. Irrelevant anyway. We are discussing ideas. Do one or the other

Prove it! Prove it? How many ways are there to spell “brass balls?” All that is necessary to “prove it” is to replay the original, unedited speech. Irrelevant? That the video is a fake is irrelevant? Has “irrelevant” been given a new meaning?

In his original tweet, since deleted, Coach Leach introduced the video with these words:

Listen to this. Text your thoughts. There is a lot of disagreement on government, so I think that an open discussion is always in order. Tweet your thoughts. Maybe we can all learn something.

He wants readers to listen up, pay attention. He wants their thoughts. He wants open discussion. For those still unclear, you do not seek open discussion by opening with a lie. As Jack Baer explains, responders presented proof the video was fake. When you are truly unclear, what do you do when  presented with evidence you are truly unclear? You provide additional evidence that you are truly unclear. Here’s another exchange:

Replying to 

He’s speaking about Russian aggression in Ukraine. You cannot say “Discussion” when you’re entire invitation is built on a false premise.

The link is to the unedited speech. The coach elects to dig in:

Replying to 

What is false. Please clarify. Does this ever happen to Trump or any other politicians?!

First, the sentence “What is false” should have been spelled “What is false?” It is supposed to be a question. Then, maybe not. Perhaps Coach Leach does not consider it to be a question. Perhaps he’s making a point. “Who cares what is false?”
Does this ever happen to Trump or any other politicians?!
Double punctuation question mark and exclamation mark. A question shouted out loud and with force. But what does the question mean? Is this actually a statement: “This kind of stuff happens to Trump all the time. And other politicians, besides, so I’m not picking on Obama.” Putting aside whether this should ever be done (fake videos, fake stories) by anybody about anybody, I want to dive into the mind of Coach Leach. How about Trump, and how about how he is treated? Is all this stuff about President Trump fabricated? Is it all fake, a bunch of lies? More so, is any of it fake? Let’s see.

 

Yeah, that will about do it with whether this stuff is fake.

There is more from Jack Baer:

All told, Leach asked Twitter users to “prove it” nine different times (123456789) as he continued to march through the internet battlegrounds, conveniently missing the many people trying to provide him with proof the video he shared was fake.

At one point, Leach asked a Twitter user a point-blank question that essentially summed up the whole exercise: “What’s a fact?

Specifically:

Replying to  

What’s a fact?

And that does it. When you are arguing a point with somebody, and they ask, “What is a fact,” it’s time to throw in the towel. That’s another sports figure of speech, and it means it’s time to quit. You’re wasting your time. You are obviously dealing with somebody unclear.

The matter of questioning fact is a topic covered in two books I finished reading this month:

Here are some pertinent excerpts:

My hope is to capture and share the experience of more than fifty years in the intelligence profession, to impart the pride that intelligence officers take in their work, the care with which they consider the ethical implications of surveillance and espionage, and the patriotism and willingness to sacrifice that they bring to the job. And finally, I intend to show that what Russia did to the United States during the 2016 election was far worse than just another post–Cold War jab at an old adversary. What happened to us was a sustained assault on our traditional values and institutions of governance, from external as well as internal pressures. In the wake of that experience, my fear is that many Americans are questioning if facts are even knowable, as foreign adversaries and our national leaders continue to deny objective reality while advancing their own “alternative facts.” America possesses great strength and resilience, but how we rise to this challenge—with clear-eyed recognition of the unbiased facts and by setting aside our doubts—is entirely up to us. I believe the destiny of the American ideal is at stake.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 4). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Deeply involved in this is the question of truth. It was no accident that the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016 was “post-truth,” a condition where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. Liberal British academic and philosopher A. C. Grayling characterized the emerging post-truth world to me as “over-valuing opinion and preference at the expense of proof and data.” Oxford Dictionaries president Casper Grathwohl predicted that the term could become “one of the defining words of our time.”

Hayden, Michael V.. The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies (p. 3). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Both of these writers are retired military generals, both worked in military and civilian intelligence for the United States Government. Both consider, rightly, that useful intelligence is based on fact and not on hopes and preferences. When you want to know how many battle tanks the enemy has facing you, you might wish there were only 15, but if there really are 400, then you need to  know this fact. There is evidence we have an administration for which facts are negotiable. Call me concerned.

An additional fact came out of the Yahoo News story, besides the fact that his employer responded to the episode by issuing a statement: “As a private citizen, Mike Leach is entitled to his personal opinions,” the statement said. “Coach Leach’s political views do not necessarily reflect the views of Washington State University students, faculty and staff.” That additional fact is that Coach Leach is the highest paid employee of the state of Washington—$3.5 million.

Quite obviously there are a number of people unclear in the state of Washington.

This is your President speaking.

Number 119 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Why was the FBI giving so much information to the Fake News Media. They are not supposed to be doing that, and knowing the enemy of the people Fake News, they put their own spin on it – truth doesn’t matter to them!

You tell them, Mr. President. While you still have time.

This is your President speaking.

Number 118 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Democrats are the problem. They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13. They can’t win on their terrible policies, so they view them as potential voters!

Although I do so much appreciate hearing what the president has to say, there are times I wish he would discuss matters related to home-grown criminality.

This is your President speaking.

Number 117 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Why was the FBI giving so much information to the Fake News Media. They are not supposed to be doing that, and knowing the enemy of the people Fake News, they put their own spin on it – truth doesn’t matter to them!

Somehow the word is getting out. Must be osmosis.

Don’t drop the soap.

Number 9 in a Series

Facing possibly the rest of your life behind bars? There are a number of things you will need to  keep in mind. One is that you can only go so long before you will need to take a shower. No problem. Just don’t drop the soap.

Screen shots are from MSNBC on YouTube and ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, streaming on Hulu.

Paul Manafort was born on 1 April 1949 (bad omen), making him 69 years old. During these past 69 years he has accumulated a number of notable accomplishments, including a short law career and working for the Gerald Ford,Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Robert Dole, and Donald Trump campaigns. He also did some consulting work for now deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, some of this work involving lobbying the United States government. A problem is that some of the work Manafort performed involved illegal activities, and the FBI has been on his trail for several years.

Come the 2016 election, and American intelligence services, including the FBI became aware that the Russian government was inserting its influence into the process. Time passed, and Donald Trump was elected president, and he fired FBI Director James Comey, who persisted in investigating this stuff. The Deputy Attorney General appointed Robert Mueller as special prosecutor to look into the business behind Comey’s firing and the Russian misdeeds, and Paul Manafort came into his gun sights. Last October Mr. Mueller had enough evidence, and he filed criminal indictments against Manafort. Others were similarly indicted, with some pleading guilty and at least one serving his term and walking out.

Paul Manafort was not one of those to plead, so he remained out of jail on bail, confined to his quarters and wearing two ankle bracelets to track his movements. The problem was they forgot to put ankle bracelets on his cell phone, and shortly the FBI, having obtained a warrant, noticed criminal activity salted among his communications.

Yes, he was caught attempting to influence potential witnesses against him. He wanted them to lie.

Of course, when Robert Mueller’s prosecutors presented evidence of this to federal judge Amy Berman Jackson she laughed it off.

Just kidding. She had some choice remarks relating to what actions she could take.

And she didn’t. She revoked Paul Manafort’s bail and ordered him to jail on Friday, where he has been since. Given his age and given the charges against Paul Manafort, if convicted he will possibly spend the remainder of his life behind bars. President Trump came forth quickly to comment on this obvious miscarriage of justice.

And, we have to wonder why, since Mr. Trump assures us that Paul Manafort was not a major player in his campaign. Here he is with Paul Manafort’s not being a major player in his campaign.

Here is some more of Paul Manafort not being a major player in the Trump campaign.

Here is Paul Manafort not being a major player in the Trump campaign by being the person who brought in Mike Pence as the Donald Trump vice presidential nominee.

Here is President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliano lawyer reminding us how matters will really turn out.

Mr. Giuliani, and possibly Mr. Trump, may be thinking that dangling the promise of a presidential pardon will reassure Paul Manafort and encourage him to keep his mouth shut. This is short on two levels.

  • Paul Manafort is additionally under investigation on state charges in New York. The president cannot pardon somebody from other than federal charges.
  • Once pardoned, Paul Manafort loses his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, since he will no longer be able to incriminate himself. At that point prosecutors can force him to  testify about what he knows relating to the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and any other criminal matter. If he refuses to testify he can be held in contempt of court, and will serve some jail time. If he testifies falsely, he can be prosecuted for perjury.

In any event, Paul Manafort can look forward to the shower experience in the slam. He needs to take care to not drop the soap.

This is your President speaking.

Number 116 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!

Tough break, Mr. President. It’s a good thing you didn’t hire crooked campaign managers the way the Democrats did.

People Unclear

This is number 43 of a long series

This series is dedicated to the few who continue to have trouble with some of basic facts.

One thing I like about Facebook is the way it daily brings me snippets of news as well as some opposing views. One thing I do not like about Facebook is the way it mangles conversations, making them difficult to follow and to continue. My way of dealing with the problem is to snapshot the conversation and lay it out for analysis in a blog post. This is one.

It started off when Dan posted the following:

June 11 at 1:27pm ·

It’s so sad to me that people like Maher, “Stewart*,” Madcow, Matthews, etc have such sway with the REAL “bitter clingers,” those of the left (collecto-fascist) bent.

(* not his real last name – his family members are big on Wall St. & he didn’t want that associated with his TV persona)

Here on FB, I’m in touch with people I knew when we were kids.Those who were the angriest, most bitter, and most snooty (and snotty) are all rabid leftists. One used to be shy and gently, but here she is just as angry and bitingly sarcastic… and irrationally Trump-hating.

More puzzling is that several of them grew up in millionaire-plus households. Several of them married into big money as well. I itch to ask them: “WTH do YOU have to be angry about?”

I don’t mind if someone doesn’t like this or that policy or comment from Trump. There’s plenty of that to go around. But why wishing his family a fiery death? Why fly off the handle at someone who disagrees?

Maybe one of you therapists out there can figure it out. I can’t.

Some analysis is in order. Start with Dan’s first sentence.

It’s so sad to me that people like Maher, “Stewart*,” Madcow, Matthews, etc have such sway with the REAL “bitter clingers,” those of the left (collecto-fascist) bent.

Maher is, of course, comedian Bill Maher, and Stewart is comedian Jon Stewart. I am supposing “Madcow” stands in for Rachel Maddow, who does commentary on MSNBC. Matthews is Chris Matthews, who has a talk show on MSNBC. Past this point Dan loses me with terms like “bitter clingers” and “collecto-fascists.” Clarification requested.

Dan is correct that Stewart was not his original surname, he being from an east European family. Anyhow, there is more to the conversation. After some back and forth, Dan issues forth with this, responding to Robert.

Robert: I see that as a justification only for doing away with the evil, violent, confiscatory, deadly gangs called ‘govenment” and turning to voluntary, competitive organizations to accomplish the few things that need done by large organizations.

Illustrating one of the reasons I look forward to posts by Dan. Spellings and grammar are from the original. I copy and paste from Facebook. More from Dan.

Ricky: I think that’s what mystifies me. We’ve had presidents who have raped women IN the White House, caused murders from assassinations to genocide, and have foisted awful programs upon this country’s children.

Another quality of Facebook postings. Scandalous statements without qualification, elaboration, justification, or corroboration. Plus more in the same vein. But the “… here she is just as angry and bitingly sarcastic… and irrationally Trump-hating” bit caught my attention. I (belatedly) weighed in with a heavy dose of sarcasm:

John Blanton I object to all these people pointing fingers at Trump and running him down. That’s my job.
https://skeptic78240.wordpress.com/…/the-golden-shower-33/Manage

Adding a link to a previous blog post. I will give Dan’s response and explain his references to the blog post.

  1. You make some good points, e.g. the political tool used by both iaginary parties: “Whataboutism.”
  2. It’s ironic that you hold Clapper up as an icon of truth. He was CAUGHT publicly lying to us and Congress about the NSA spying on us.
  3. Not to worry, since it’s just one party, neither Clapper, nor Hillary, nor (convicted) Holder, nor (caught) Menendez, nor (admitted) Comey and Lynch will be charged, let alone indicted, let alone tried, let alone convicted.
  4. Being among the elites, all those listed MUST go through those steps to do prison time, unlike us mundanes, who merely need suspicion by a member of the ruling class to be captured, bound, hooded and jetted off to Gitmo… or worse… never to be heard from again.
  5. I did get a kick out of your “focused skepticism,” which ignored that the supposed “Russian hacking” of the DNC was most iikely a huge leak to Wikileaks.
  6. Even in your analysis, none of the contents of those emails is questioned. Not even whether there’s one stick of evidence of Russian hacking, let alone “collusion” (which is not a crime).
  7. The DNC has never disavowed the veracity of those leaked emails’ contents, they just questioned where they came from.

Nice use of “golden shower,” to revitalize the debunked Russian hooker story about Trump!

As usual, the politicians and pundits, including of course supposed comedian John Oliver, don’t discuss real issues. Instead they waste OUR time on the real Pissing Contest.

Someday… I’m SURE I’ll see some unbiased skepticism from you. I have faith in you!

Ignoring Dan’s point number 1 — “2. It’s ironic that you hold Clapper up as an icon of truth. He was CAUGHT publicly lying to us and Congress about the NSA spying on us.”

I responded in a follow-up. When James Clapper’s statements first popped up on TV it was apparent what had happened. Senator Ron Wyden asked James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, a question that would have been difficult to answer in an unclassified briefing. Clapper knew about NSA’s collection of American telephonic meta data, which is records from phone companies about what number called what number and when and for how long. The fact the NSA was doing this was a secret matter, and Clapper would have been prosecuted for revealing it. However, what Wyden asked was whether NSA was collecting dossiers on American citizens. This the NSA was not doing, and that was the question that he answered. If he had declined to answer the question for reasons of national security, then that would be a revelation that NSA was monitoring phone traffic, again violating the laws concerning national secrets.

I previously treated this matter back when it surfaced, reminding readers that expectations of privacy are oversold.

Did I mention how much I enjoyed “you hold Clapper up as an icon of truth?” Creating a new definition for the term “icon of truth,” to  which I respond, “Really?” A review of of the post Dan refers to shows the James Clapper references comprise three excerpts from his recent book.

The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 352). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We knew now that the Russians had thousands of Twitter accounts and tens of thousands of bots that posted more than a million tweets. They posted more than a thousand videos on YouTube with days of streaming content. Facebook has said Russian content reached 126 million of its American users—an astonishing number, considering that only 139 million Americans voted.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 395). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

In April, Mr. Trump first used the phrase “lying, crooked Hillary” to refer to his likely opponent in the primary election. RT, Fox News, and paid and unpaid trolls across social media latched on to the moniker. Russia and the Trump campaign seemed to be quite in sync, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were colluding—coordinating their efforts behind closed doors. They may simply have had a lot in common: a strong dislike for both the Washington political establishment and Hillary Clinton personally; a proclivity for social media, particularly Twitter, which meant they’d end up sharing each other’s ideas on the internet [sic]; and a genuine delight in wallowing in conspiracy theories.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 334). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

An examination of the text reveals there is no need  to hold James Clapper up as an icon of truth, since the statements in the book are verifiably true, whether General Clapper made the statements or not. So much for icons of truth.

3. Not to worry, since it’s just one party, neither Clapper, nor Hillary, nor (convicted) Holder, nor (caught) Menendez, nor (admitted) Comey and Lynch will be charged, let alone indicted, let alone tried, let alone convicted.

That’s a bit to swallow. Passing over “Clapper” and “Hillary,” otherwise not elaborated, there is “nor (convicted) Holder,” which I am still trying to figure out. Is Dan implying former Attorney General Eric Holder has been convicted of something? I need Dan to clear this up for me.

The matter of “(caught) Menendez” is more clear. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey without a doubt had questionably dealings, for which he came to face a federal indictment. Not convicted, he continues to hold office and is running for re-election this year.

Neither does Dan spell out the details of “nor (admitted) Comey and Lynch.” Real life issues with former Director of the FBI James Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are newsworthy, but there is nothing in either case approaching criminal activity. A report released just recently faults Director Comey for bad judgment in his public handling of the investigation into the Hillary Clinton emails. Particularly, his missteps are credited for swinging the 2016 election to Donald Trump. Loretta Lynch’s fault was having a private conversation with President Bill Clinton during the time Mrs. Clinton was being investigated (emails). If Dan thinks these are indictable offenses, then both of us need to polish off our passports and head for Cape Verde, which does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

4. Being among the elites, all those listed MUST go through those steps to do prison time, unlike us mundanes, who merely need suspicion by a member of the ruling class to be captured, bound, hooded and jetted off to Gitmo… or worse… never to be heard from again.

I will pass on that and give Dan an opportunity to provide additional thoughts.

5. I did get a kick out of your “focused skepticism,” which ignored that the supposed “Russian hacking” of the DNC was most iikely a huge leak to Wikileaks.

The presumption, based on how I read Dan’s comments, is that the Russian government was not behind the hacking of the DNC correspondence, which emails were later distributed by WikiLeaks. Were Dan to research the matter a bit deeper he would learn there is factual basis for Russian (government) involvement. For example:

The U.S. Intelligence Community concluded that some of the genuine leaks that Guccifer 2.0 has said were part of a series of cyberattacks on the DNC were committed by two Russian intelligence groups.[12][13][14][15][16][17] This conclusion is based on analyses conducted by various private sector cybersecurity individuals and firms, including CrowdStrike,[18][19] Fidelis Cybersecurity,[19][20] Fireeye‘s Mandiant,[19] SecureWorks,[21] ThreatConnect,[22] Trend Micro,[23] and the security editor for Ars Technica.[24] The Russian government denies involvement in the theft,[25] and “Guccifer 2.0” denied links to Russia.[26][27] WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said that multiple parties had access to DNC emails and that there was “no proof” that Russia was behind the attack.[28] According to various cybersecurity firms and U.S. government officials, Guccifer 2.0 is a persona that was created by Russian intelligence services to cover for their interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[29][30] In March 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller took over investigation of Guccifer 2.0 from the FBI while it was reported that forensic determination had found the Guccifer 2.0 persona to be a “particular military intelligence directorate (GRU) officer working out of the agency’s headquarters on Grizodubovoy Street in Moscow”.[31]

The Wikipedia entry for Guccifer 2.0 provides links to its sources, which sources Dan may want to dive into were he to have real interest in whether the statements are factual.

Dan says that “Russian hacking of the DNC was most iikely [sic] a huge leak to Wikileaks [sic].” Apparently it was both. The DNC mail system was penetrated by outside agents, paid for by the Russian government. The load of emails was then given to WikiLeaks, which took some time to verify them, following which it released them to the world. It released them in a drip by drip manner to most embarrass the Democrats.

6. Even in your analysis, none of the contents of those emails is questioned. Not even whether there’s one stick of evidence of Russian hacking, let alone “collusion” (which is not a crime).

I will touch on the matter of the email contents next, addressing first the matter of collusion being a crime. Working with (collusion) the Russian government is not a crime. What would be a crime is for an American party to solicit and employ the force of a foreign government to further a campaign. Refer to 11 CFR 110.20:

11 CFR 110.20 – Prohibition on contributions, donations, expenditures, independent expenditures, and disbursements by foreign nationals (52 U.S.C. 30121, 36 U.S.C. 510).

The motivation behind this and related legal codes is that the American electoral process could be completely undone if foreign governments, even foreign nationals, were allowed to participate by providing material aid. An American political party might spend $500,000 and up to secure the election of a president. With the backing of the Russian national treasury, that amount could be easily swamped.

To be sure, the leaked emails were real. The Democratic Party leadership dealt harshly and some would say unfairly internally, and the leak of these doings did them great damage. The Russians did not want the Democrats (Clinton) to win the election, and they had great motivation to swing the election away from Clinton and eventually toward Trump once he became the nominee. Anybody finding fault with this analysis is invited to debate the issue with me, but they will need  to bring facts and not idle speculation.

7. The DNC has never disavowed the veracity of those leaked emails’ contents, they just questioned where they came from.

True. See above.

Dan concludes:

Nice use of “golden shower,” to revitalize the debunked Russian hooker story about Trump!

As usual, the politicians and pundits, including of course supposed comedian John Oliver, don’t discuss real issues. Instead they waste OUR time on the real Pissing Contest.

Someday… I’m SURE I’ll see some unbiased skepticism from you. I have faith in you!

Dan is correct in my use of the “Golden Shower.” This is a bit of tawdry gossip featured prominently in the Steele dossier, and I enjoy so much bringing it up that I have a series of postings, 33 and counting, of these. As I say, I keep bringing the matter up to throw in the face of those who voted for Donald Trump, hoping it will be their last vision as they lie dying. And no, it has not been debunked. If Dan wants to claim it has been, then he is invited to state his case. This appears to be an additional point on which he is unclear.

Regarding comedian John Oliver, yes he is funny, and, in case somebody asks, no he is not a certified authority on anything. However, the episode of his show, “Last Week Tonight,” which I cited in my Golden Shower posting, is based on verifiable fact. It consists largely of video clips showing people saying and doing the things Oliver says they said and did. Dan is invited to refute any of the statements made on the show. And yes, Oliver is discussing real issues. Fox Network is campaigning heavily for the Trump administration, their activities not being limited to issuing true statements. Oliver does not waste our time. He is funny, vulgar, and factual. You want something more?

Finally, regarding a “pissing contest,” Dan is unclear on this point. The definition of a pissing contest is where two people face each other and piss on each other. Nobody wins. This is not one of those cases. What we see is Oliver pissing on some people who are in no position to piss back.

And that’s my short analysis of Dan’s comments. Once again I show my generous nature. And may Jesus have mercy on my soul.

Don’t drop the soap.

Number 8 in a Series

Screen shots from World News Tonight with David Muir streaming on Hulu

In case you were waiting for the other shoe to drop…

Extending the play on metaphors, this train appears to be coming into the station. Last night on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, the lead story was Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. We (I) never heard of Cohen until the matter of porn star Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) began to appear above the fold. I had hoped the terms “porn star” and “President of the United States” would not occur in the same sentence until I had time to catch my breath, but I seem to have lost control of events. Who would have known a one-night stand could have such legs?

Anyhow, Cohen, President Trump’s lawyer, fixer, and close associate for over ten years paid Ms. Clifford $130,000 not to tell everybody in the world about a one-time poke in the sack with Mr. Trump—this just days before voters surged in historic numbers to elevate Mr. Trump to the highest office in the land. Matters have gone downhill since.

Clifford began to figure she had been engineered, such connivance being between Cohen and her own lawyer Keith M. Davidson. She hired a new lawyer, Michael Avenatti. Avenatti’s aggressive prosecution of the case led him to perform intense investigation, which turned up more than anybody bargained for. Besides colluding with Davidson to stifle Clifford, Cohen had been involved in bunches of other dirty doings, some of which crossed the line into prosecutable offense. Came the time when federal investigators obtained a warrant to dig into Cohen’s business dealings.

President Trump was visible upset, and he likened the treasure hunt to McCarthyism. Here he is denouncing for the cameras.

As the pressure continued to build, Cohen vowed he would always remain loyal to President Trump. Here he is asserting his deathless loyalty. “I will do anything to protect Mr. Trump.”

Except go to jail, apparently.

Yeah, dudes, time to get fitted for stripes, and also time keep in mind sage advice I have offered all along. Don’t drop the soap.

This is your President speaking.

Number 115 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have “begged” for this deal-looked like war would break out. Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!

This is from somebody who knows fake news.

The Golden Shower

Number 33 of a Series

I recently finished reading James Clapper’s book, Facts and Fears, out last month and available in a Kindle edition for $15 ($14.99 plus tax). Clapper is a retired Air Force lieutenant general, more recently serving as Director of National Intelligence. His final day on the job was inauguration day for President Donald Trump, and during his long career in military intelligence and in the civilian intelligence system he had great opportunity to observe the workings of our government’s very expensive system for gathering information.

In his course he developed a great respect for fact and the telling of truth. As he observed the candidacy of Donald Trump he was dismayed at both the lack of regard for truth and at the same time the ever more obvious fact that Mr. Trump was under the influence of a foreign government. The later chapters of his book deal with his assessment of Mr. Trump and with the influence the Russian government exerted on the 2016 election.

To be clear, it quickly became obvious to American intelligence that Vladimir Putin’s government despised candidate Hillary Clinton, and it set its intelligence warfare apparatus to work with the aim to undermine her candidacy. When Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee, much of the Russians’ effort swung toward support for the Trump campaign. I will write a review of the book, but for now a few excerpts will illustrate James Clapper’s observations.

The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 352). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

We knew now that the Russians had thousands of Twitter accounts and tens of thousands of bots that posted more than a million tweets. They posted more than a thousand videos on YouTube with days of streaming content. Facebook has said Russian content reached 126 million of its American users—an astonishing number, considering that only 139 million Americans voted.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 395). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Most interesting was the extent to which members of Congress, dominated by Trump’s party, were eager to support the narrative pushed by Russian intelligence. Particularly, the Fox cable network, which never seems to find a right wing notion it will not support, diligently assisted in the Russian effort.

In April, Mr. Trump first used the phrase “lying, crooked Hillary” to refer to his likely opponent in the primary election. RT, Fox News, and paid and unpaid trolls across social media latched on to the moniker. Russia and the Trump campaign seemed to be quite in sync, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were colluding—coordinating their efforts behind closed doors. They may simply have had a lot in common: a strong dislike for both the Washington political establishment and Hillary Clinton personally; a proclivity for social media, particularly Twitter, which meant they’d end up sharing each other’s ideas on the internet [sic]; and a genuine delight in wallowing in conspiracy theories.

Clapper, James R.. Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence (p. 334). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

If you are not familiar with the RT television network, an excerpt from Wikipedia will be helpful:

RT (formerly Russia Today) is a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government. It operates cable and satellite television channels directed to audiences outside of Russia, as well as providing Internet content in English, Spanish, French, German, Arabic and Russian.

Government intelligence agencies initiated an intense investigation into the activities waged against the election, and this effort continues to the present. Prior to the end of his term in office, President Obama ordered briefings on these intelligence findings and made them available to the new administration. With great dismay, the intelligence community found that rather than accepting these findings whole heartedly, the Trump administration pushed back with a vengeance. After Donald Trump assumed office FBI Director James Comey declined to put an end to the bureau’s investigation and President Trump fired him. Subsequently a special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, was appointed to investigate and to bring criminal charges to those involved in criminal activity. That was 13 months ago, and during all this time the Trump administration, right-leaning members of Congress, and also conservative news outlets, have maintained an effort to end these investigations and, failing that, to undermine public confidence in the findings and in the people working the case.

With some surprise, I find amusement in all this. An element of my amusement is a stream  of imagery running across my TV screen almost daily. Most recently, there was John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight.

Oliver claims this is one of a series he calls “Stupid Watergate.”

Regardless, it’s Oliver’s biting— and at the same time humorous—take, on the massive pushback against the Mueller investigation and on the simultaneous attacks against the American intelligence agencies. I streamed the TV episode on my computer and captured 59 screen shots to illustrate the story line, and I may not use all of them in this posting. Here’s the story.

Fox Network is particularly aggressive in casting the investigation as a witch-hunt. Sean Hannity, who has very close ties with the president, does not have enough time in a day to say all he wants relating to the matter.

Tucker Carlson is no less effusive.

Additionally, Fox has Sebastian Gorka, Roger Stone, Newt Gingrich, and even President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

At this time I need to apologize if somebody in these shots appears in bad form. Truth is I have to watch these stream live on YouTube, and I have to snag the Print Screen button at just the right moment, when nobody’s eyes are closed, or worse. Sometimes I am successful.

Anyhow, they are all calling the Mueller investigation a witch-hunt, prompting John Oliver to declare therefore there must be witches.

New indictment filed against Manafort names ally with Russian intel ties. “… 20 people and 3 companies have been charged.”

From The New York Times:

Mueller investigation enters year two: What comes next — and how it could end “Five guilty pleas.”

Oliver points out the objective of this jawboning the matter has the goal of reducing public confidence in the process and the people. Last July 62% of those polled thought the investigation should continue. By April of this year the level had dropped to 54%. The strategy seems to be working.

On another matter, it is being claimed by the president and his allies that federal authorities planted a spy in his organization back in 2016. This narrative is being pushed relentlessly, despite a complete lack of evidence.

Oliver outlines three tactics employed to deflect the investigation findings. The first is “redefine,” establish a alternate definition of what the investigation is about and attack that.

Here is a woman commenting on Fox News. Somebody please help me to identify her, because I have no clue. Anyhow, we hear her saying:

Mueller is there to show collusion between Russia and Trump, and there is [none] so far, so why not end it.

Hannity is saying:

Where is there any evidence of collusion? Show us. Nothing so far. Not a whiff.

Katrina Pierson, advisor for Trump 2020 campaign:

There is zero evidence of Russia collusion.

And Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway makes the ultimate case, and if anybody can explain it to me, then I will buy them a beer. And I will have one for myself.

Unkindly, Oliver reminds these good people that evidence of Russian collusion is not and never was a part of Mueller’s directive. His task, as originally directed by his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, was to [investigate]:

“… any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of  President Donald Trump …”

The second tactic is what Oliver calls “whataboutism.”

Yeah, what about all that stuff others do? Hannity points to our notorious two-tiered justice system, apparently one set of rules for his favorite president and another set for everybody else.

He informs us of the massive load of malfeasance perpetrated by those others.

These are all very bad people, and if anybody can tell me what they have done that warrants my attention, then there is another beer waiting.

Oliver counters with his own list, equally staked out. Almost anybody can put a bulletin board and a list of perps in bold white font.

He notes the utility of this approach. If you produce a movie, and it gets a bad rating, then you can point to the blockbuster hit From Justin to Kelly. “Look at how bad that was, so why am I not getting an Oscar?”

The logic is impossible to challenge.

Then there is the counter narrative.

I don’t watch Fox News much, so I missed out on some stuff. Apparently Hannity has a passel of conspiracy theory story boards that outline the Mueller and Clinton crime families.

Who would have suspected this stuff was going on? Possibly not Hannity, but definitely a basket full of deplorables, who bought into this line and voted for Donald Trump. Sadly, it turns out, there is one graphic which even John Oliver is unable to decipher. Explanation please, and another beer.

More or less echoing what James Clapper details in his book, Hannity has been on the air “night after night” pushing the theory that the investigation is one massive plot to take down President Trump, and it involves the Democrats, the FBI, the “deep state,” and “establishment” Republicans. Hannity repeats a favorite catch phrase, calling the Mueller investigation bigger than Watergate. He says again and again it makes Watergate look “like stealing a Snickers bar.” There follows a sequence of shots similar to the one below and showing Hannity invoking the Snickers comparison.

This gives Oliver the opening to have his own fun with a Snickers bar.

Two of the names on Hannity’s “Waiting to be Raided” board are Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. These were two government workers originally gainfully employed in the Mueller investigation. While so employed, they were also enjoying some sub rosa snuggle bunnies. They were humping on the sly while married to others. Worse, they were found to have exchanged disparaging remarks about Donal Trump, said exchanges being conveyed through their employer’s email system. Mueller dismissed both from the investigation upon learning this, and they have since left government service.

Gone from the taxpayers feed trough, the pair still provide grist for the Fox News mill. Gregg Jarrett does not pass up the opportunity to refer to them: “If these two cheating love birds, who were still married to other people at the time, have any opportunity to still do their jobs at the FBI …”

This is the opening for Hannity. He is ripe to unload on Page with choice characterization:

There she is. FBI love bird Lisa Page …

This is scandalous beyond the pale. I mean, Watergate comes off as filching a Snickers bar by comparison.

That stalwart of moral propriety, Mike Huckabee, joins the chorus. He goes full conspiratorial, cupping his hands to his mouth as he intones “and secret lover” when referring to Page. Hester Prynne somebody else need your A.

Appears to be the same Fox News mystery woman, dishing on Strzok and Page. They are getting off the hook for their misdeeds to keep the anti-Trump scheme on  oxygen.

The pair’s misdeeds are undisputed. From The Washington Post:

FBI officials’ text message about Hillary Clinton said to be a cover story for romantic affair. “… relied on work phones to try to hide their romance from a spouse …”

The views they exchanged were unworthy of government employees:

“God trump is a lothsome human.”

“God Hillary should win 1,000,000,000 – 0.”

Imagine what kind of person would say such a thing about Donald Trump. A possible description might be “sentient life form.”

The picture painted by those pesky facts is less than lurid. From The Wall Street Journal, which went to the trouble of reading the several thousand messages exchanged between the two:

Inside the FBI Life of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, as Told in  their Text Messages

The conclusion being “… show no evidence of a conspiracy against Mr. Trump.”

Introducing “Spy Gate,” a more recent Hannity brain storm, according to Oliver.

At this point I pause to weep for the English lexicon. Forty-six years ago the Democratic Party was headquartered in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. The etymology for this site has a local history, but at the time I was already acquainted with the need to apply spiffy names to mundane constructions, being acquainted with the newly-constructed Westgate building in Austin, Texas.

Anyhow, for the next two years the word Watergate was on the front page of about every American newspaper, and it got stuck in copywriters’ heads, filling that empty place from which originality is supposed to flow. Since the time it has become the custom to name a scandal of any scale by snagging a tag word and appending “gate.” Shortly there was Koreagate:

 … in 1976 involving South Korean political figures seeking influence from 10 Democratic members of Congress.

After that there was no holding back the flood, producing among many, Tunagate. Alas, “Spygate” was inevitable.

Despite Mr. Hannity’s deepest desires and despite what fuels the fever in his imaginative brain, Spygate is he stuff of yawns. From The New York Times:

F.B.I. Used informant to investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims

“… F.B.I. agents sent an informant to  talk to two campaign advisers [who] had suspicious contacts linked to Russia …”

Working at a cut above Alex Jones, Fox News relentlessly pumps the Spygate liturgy. Congressman Trey Gowdy, no stranger to investigative overreach, is seen telling panelists on CBS This Morning that the FBI was doing exactly what the FBI is required to do in such a situation. Not good news for Fox and Friends, and not so good for Congressman Gowdy, as well, his comments drawing immediate fire from Trump supporters.

Fox and Friends want us to know government investigators spooked the Trump campaign apparatus in a dark scheme to undermine the candidate. In a different world, where the sun comes up every morning, newspaper headlines read, “FBI Investigates Possible Crime.”

Oliver characterizes this as reporting that Domino’s delivers pizza. Who would have thought of that?

We see Lou Dobbs, commenting on Gowdy’s remarks:

I’m naming names here. I’m through with it. Trey Gowdy … is schizophrenic … He is absolutely in the service of the establishment. And the deep state, where they are consciously … purposely …

And that is so amusing, because “the establishment” is what left wing radicals used to call the Republican Party 50 years ago.

Oliver reminds us this is in  accordance with Conspiracy Theory 101 [my words]. Anybody speaking against the conspiracy theory is part of the conspiracy.

Something is obvious wrong here. We see Hannity making the case in a most queer way:

No evidence of Trump Russia collusion. Mueller, if you got it, come on the show and tell America. And by the way, if the media, if you have more proof that this is not a witch-hunt. OK. I don’t believe you.

Oh Jesus. They have reached the tipping point. No amount of counter evidence will convince them. This is Conspiracy Theory 101 §1.2. Take note, students. It’s going to be on the quiz.

Oliver cruelly reminds viewers of what is known. In June 2016 Donald Trump Jr. set up a meeting in  Trump Tower with a Russian agent who promised to provide dirt on candidate Clinton.

The hard facts available to us are not the result of any deep state intrusion into a political campaign, nor are they the result of an aggressive FBI investigation. We know these things because Donald Trump Jr., oldest son of the current president, tweeted this information out, from which it was picked up and published in a major newspaper.

Hannity has a masterful comeback to that bit of news.

He proudly reveals that a Russian-American lobbyist at the Trump Tower meeting reports knows Hillary Clinton and associates.

Score for Hannity! Not quite. Supposedly Hillary Clinton sent a Russian agent to a meeting with the aim of spilling incriminating evidence on herself. Oliver properly catalogs this response as the “shittiest conspiracy theory ever.” And I did not even realize this was supposed to be a contest.

Putting it all together, Hillary Clinton, her good friend Trey Gowdy, and the FBI, engaged in a dark  plot to sabotage the Trump campaign. Pardon me while I take a break and have another beer.

If this explanation is correct, then a massive conspiracy involved diverse people and agencies working diligently to cost Trump the election. Then came the time to implement it and they all took vacation. Yes, I believe that. I believe it. I think.

But wait! Please do not come at me with pitchforks and blazing torches, but I have horrendous news for you. It works. All this finagling with the truth and all this carpet bombing the airwaves with cockamamie conjectures actually convinces a large segment of the population. Clips from [apparently] an Emory University focus group study record remarks from adult American  citizens.

They call it a farce, created by the deep state.

It was a witch-hunt to overturn the election. All of this stuff that they say Trump did, they are finding out the Democrats did.

It’s been going on for a year and a half. They found nothing. She told … Oh, there’s something, there’s something. We’ll find it, we’ll find it. There’s nothing.

I hope you are sleeping better tonight. Don’t let me keep you awake.

Oliver likens it to the O.J. Simpson defense, which relied on discrediting parts of the state’s case and then convincing jurors the remainder of the case was similarly flawed. Trump supporters, including a major American news outlet, work with immense energy to keep the story alive while it gradually sinks in.

Oliver leaves us wondering whether, when it is all done, and Donald Trump skates free of any jail time, he will recapitulate O.J. and publish a tell-some book titled “If I Did It.” I will wait for the Kindle edition.

The intelligence community’s investigation continues, and Robert Mueller continues to bring charges and to prosecute people. Despite having President Trump and many others refer to this work as a witch-hunt, Mueller’s team continues to find offenses that require prosecution. At least one party so charged has already served his term in jail.

American intelligence has established credibility for their findings related to Russian efforts to undermine our electoral process and also to compromise the American president. The Steele dossier, which surfaced late in the 2016 election cycle, details Russian efforts to influence Donald Trump, and many of the allegations included in it have good confirmation. Other parts have not, including a humorous section after which this series is titled:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

The vision of a future American President, paying to watch prostitutes pee on a bed in an upscale Moscow hotel would have been difficult to summon up scant years ago. Times have changed, and the Golden Shower is now a meme I promote at every opportunity. I hoist it as a banner against the oft-cited basket of deplorables that allowed themselves to be manipulated by a foreign government to elect the sorriest piece of humanity to ever lead our country. My fondest hope is that when these people close their eyes for the last time, this is the vision what remains burned into their retinas. And that’s just me being gracious.

The Government You Paid For

Number 36 of a Series

Americans need to know they are finally getting the government they paid for. People ask me for examples—actually they don’t ask me for examples, but imagine they did—and I like to respond by pointing to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. As I mentioned in the previous post on this topic, there are not many people who can do Sanders’ job. There are not many who can stand straight-faced to a hostile gaggle of news types and tell it like it isn’t. Sometimes it is not a matter of facing reporters en masse, but a matter of going one-on-one before a live audience. Take the case of Sanders’ interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo a few days back. CNN has graciously put up a transcript, an excerpt of which follows:

SANDERS: I can’t imagine why attacking a president who has strengthened our economy, built better foreign relations, put national security back on the forefront, and made America respected again, made us feared again by — and friends of our allies, I just — I find it laughable that Chuck Schumer would find things wrong with the direction of the country is going right now

Here’s a screen shot from the interview as it ran on YouTube.

“I can’t imagine why attacking a president who has strengthened our economy, built better foreign relations, put national security back on the forefront, and made America respected again, made us feared again by — and friends of our allies…” All except for the better foreign relations, the making America respected again, and the friends of our allies part.

I’m already beginning to feel more comfortable with the government I paid for.

The Golden Shower

Number 32 of a Series

Up front I need to state that as far as I know there is no confirmation that the most salacious part of the Steele dossier is true. However, I would be surprised if it were not. As much as I regret having to  recapitulate the sordid details, I will do it again as a matter of perspective:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

Most readers will agree with me that the vision of a president of the United States paying prostitutes to pee on a bed in a swanky Moscow hotel while he watched is hard to imagine. At least it was hard to imagine until recently. Not so hard anymore. Weekly developments bring the vision into sharper focus.

Start with an episode of the Rachel Maddow Show that ran on MSNBC yesterday. I like to catch these as they stream on YouTube. I can put them up on my computer and capture screen shots to illustrate. That’s what you see above. The link to this clip has gone stale, removed by the user, but you may be able to find another clip, perhaps posted by MSNBC. I will tell this story by putting up screen shots from YouTube and from a few other sources, adding my comments.

First, Paul Manafort, who served as the Donald Trump Campaign manager from June to August 2016. He had served in the Trump campaign since March 2016, agreeing to work for free. In June Trump fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, and gave the job to Manafort. On 6 June, the same month Manafort took the campaign manager job, he attended a meeting in Trump Tower in New York along with others in the campaign. The meeting was originally proposed by a Russian lawyer promising to provide dirt on Trump’s presumptive opponent, Hillary Clinton.

By August of  2016 word about Manafort’s association with Russian authorities seeped into  the Trump campaign, and his influence began to evaporate. He tendered his resignation, which resignation Donald Trump accepted on 19 August. Since that time it has come to light that the feds had been investigating Paul Manafort long before his association with the Trump campaign. As facts continue to unfold, Manafort’s eagerness to work for the Trump campaign without pay begin to make more sense.

Manafort had for years worked as a lobbyist for Russian interests, all the while failing to register this detail with the government, as required by law. A principal activity had been to champion the case for now deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. He had additional Russian interests, as well. One of those interests was Oleg V. Deripaska (see above):

He was once Russia’s richest man, worth $28 billion, but nearly lost everything due to mounting debts amid the 2007–08 financial crisis. As of May 2017, his wealth was estimated by Forbes at $5.2 billion. Deripaska is also known for his close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as his connection to American political consultant Paul Manafort, whom Deripaska employed from at least 2005 to 2009.

Whatever the dealings between the two, word is that Manafort wound up in debt to Deripaska to the tune of $19 million. From The New York Times as posted by Rachel Maddow. The headline reads, “Manafort Was in Debt to  Pro-Russia Interests, Cyprus Records Show.”

Oleg V. Deripaska…claimed Mr. Manafort and his partners owed him $19 million.

I have experienced debt, and I agree it can weigh heavily. I cannot imagine, however, the weight of owing $19 million to  a person such as Oleg. V. Deripaska, an associate of Vladimir Putin. In  the video, Rachel Maddow allows as how this is the kind of thing that would keep her awake at night. Anyhow, a presumption is that Manafort saw that the close association with a winning presidential campaign would work wonders toward clearing up his strain with g. Deripaska. In the video Rachel Maddow puts up graphics chronicling the chain of events involving Paul Manafort and the investigation of his activities by the FBI, which obtained warrants to  monitor his communications. The Washington Post ran the story detailing some of those findings:

Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire private briefings on 2016 campaign.

The Atlantic posed the question, “Did Manafort Use Trump to Curry Favor With a Putin Ally?”

From The Atlantic:

On the evening of April 11, 2016, two weeks after Donald Trump hired the political consultant Paul Manafort to lead his campaign’s efforts to wrangle Republican delegates, Manafort emailed his old lieutenant Konstantin Kilimnik, who had worked for him for a decade in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

MSNBC relates snippets of exchanges between Manafort and Kilimnik, as obtained from The Atlantic:

“I assume you have shown our friends my media coverage, right” Manafort wrote.

“Absolutely,” Kilimnik responded a few hours later from Kiev.

“How do we use to get whole,” Manafort asks. “Has OVD operation seen?”

I cannot account for the grammar, but it appears Manafort is inquiring whether the contemplated dealings would settle, at least partly, his debt to “OVD,” meaning Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska.

“Yes, I have been sending everything to Victor, who has been forwarding the coverage directly to OVD,” Kilimnik responded in April

“I am carefully optimistic on the issue of our biggest interest,” Kilimnik went on. “Our friend V said there is lately significantly more attention to the campaign in his boss’s mind, and he will be most likely looking for ways to reach out to you pretty soon, understanding all the time sensitivity.”

“I am more than sure that it will be resolved and we will get back to the original relationship with V.’s boss.” The source close to Manafort confirmed that “V” is a reference to Victor, the Deripaska aide.

Manafort jumped on the suggestion that the campaign might offer the opportunity to restore his relationship with Deripaska: “Tell V boss that if he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” he wrote back eight minutes later.

“We spent about 5 hours talking about his story, and I have several important messages from him to you. He asked me to go and brief you on our conversation …

It has to do about the future of his country, and is quite interesting… please let me know which dates/places will work, even next week, and I could come and see you.”

Manafort agreed to the cryptic request, responding “Tuesday is best.” Manafort and Kilimnik met on August 2 at the Grand Havana Club, a Manhattan cigar club.

Kilimnik has said the two discussed “unpaid bills” and “current news.”

In case there is any doubt, here is this same Paul Manafort in cozy association with the future president and the future president’s daughter. This happy scene shortly shattered when Manafort was forced to leave the Trump campaign and also to lose his leverage with “OVD”

Cut loose from his any support he hoped to gain through the Trump campaign, Manafort was left dangling in the wind, still heavily in debt, under increasing scrutiny from federal agencies. His fortunes continue to spiral downward.

It’s worth while at this point to flesh out the character of Konstantin Kilimnik. From 1995 to 2005, Kilimnik was employed by the International Republican Institute, an organization funded by the United States Government to promote democratic ideals and operating in Russia and in other places. Wikipedia has some background on g. Kilimnik:

Konstantin Kilimnik is a Russian-Ukrainian political consultant and suspected Russian intelligence operative. As an associate of Paul Manafort his activities have become a point of focus in the 2017 Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Kilimnik is believed by CNN and The New York Times to be “Person A” listed in court documents filed against Manafort and alleging Person A to either have ties to Russian intelligence agencies or to be a Russian intelligence operative. He is also believed to be Person A in court documents filed in the criminal indictment of Alex van der Zwaan. In 2017 Kilimnik denied any such intelligence ties.[1] Kilimnik was indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury on June 8, 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice by attempting to tamper with a witness on behalf of Manafort.

From Politico, as posted by Rachel Maddow:

Kilimnik bounced around a bit, doing freelance translating, until eventually landing a job in  1995 in the Moscow office of the International Republican Institute.

The IRI knew of Kilimnik’s past association with Russian intelligence.

Kilimnik did not hide his military past from his new employer. In fact, when he was asked how he learned to speak such fluent English, he responded “Russian military intelligence,” according to one IRI official.

“It was like ‘Kostya, the guy from the GRU’ — that’s how we talked about him”

The GRU is:

Main Intelligence Directorate (RussianГла́вное разве́дывательное управле́ниеtr. Glavnoye razvedyvatel’noye upravleniyeIPA: [ˈglavnəjə rɐzˈvʲɛdɨvətʲɪlʲnəjə ʊprɐˈvlʲenʲɪjə]), abbreviated GRU (RussianГРУIPA: [geeˈru]), was the foreign military intelligence agency of the Soviet Army General Staff of the Soviet Union.

The fact of his training in military intelligence became the stuff of office teasing. When Kostya struggled to make sense of some American political terminology, the American official who hired him  would josh him about his martial past.

Note: “Kostya” is the diminutive form of his first name, “Konstantin.” The Russians do that a lot. For example, Ivan becomes Vanya. Tatiana becomes Tania.

“If I had you translate ‘There are seven tanks and three infantry with heavy mortar hiding on a bridge,’ you could translate that lickety-split, I bet.” According to the American  official, Kilimnik would wink and say, “Oh yeah, I could translate that real fast.”

The New York Times ran a story under the headline, “He says He’s an Innocent Victim. Robert Mueller Says He’s a Spy.”

They didn’t have evidence, but suspected Mr Kilimnik had been the source

When the IRI discovered in 2005 that g. Kilimnik was also working for Paul Manafort, they promptly fired him. Subsequently a Russian politician rose in their parliament to denounce the IRI, and he used statements made during a private IRI meeting. It is presumed that Kilimnik, in a fit of spite, leaked the conversation to the Russian parliamentarian.

Since his failed lunge for the brass ring two years ago, Manafort’s fortunes have spiraled increasingly downward. He is under indictment on multiple charges and is confined to his house under $10 million bail. A condition of his bail is that he quit doing all this bad stuff and otherwise behave himself. He failed at this, as well, being caught by the feds communicating with associates and attempting to get them to lie for him. Subsequent to reading these surreptitious dialogues, Robert Mueller’s team of prosecutors filed additional charges of witness tampering and asked that federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia revoke his bail and send him immediately to jail:

Manafort has violated 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1) by attempting to tamper with potential witnesses while on pretrial release.

Meanwhile, the President, who jumped at Manafort’s offer of free service, with nary a thought of checking on his background, has since been working to distance himself from the scandal.

The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was “no collusion” and events mentioned took place long before he…

….came to the campaign. Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!

Fast forward and we now have a person who has access to the nuclear codes and who continues to run the country with the same attention to detail he employed in his previous endeavors. At this juncture who cares that he once paid prostitutes to pee on a bed. If only we could get  him back to that point.

The Government You Paid For

Number 35 of a Series

As I have mentioned before, I am so glad we are finally getting the government we paid for. That said, it’s time to turn our attention to one who daily puts service to the American public front and center on a daily basis.

On Wednesday CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, now moved to prime time, was down to the nation’s capital, and he interviewed White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She’s really just Sarah Sanders, being married to Mr. Bryan Sanders, but I like to insert her maiden name to remind us she is descended from former Arkansas governor and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. My observation has been that in this case the apple did not fall far from the tree, but that’s a matter for another story.

Anyhow, Mrs. Sanders has done an admirable job of speaking on behalf of President Trump since last year, when she took over for Sean Spicer, who had a tendency to wilt under the pressure. Apparently you can stand only so long telling reporters that it is so when all the while they know that it is not so. Saying it is so when it is not seems to be built into Sanders’ DNA, a definite requirement for the job. Take the above screen shot from Cuomo’s Wednesday night show. Before getting around to talking with Mrs. Sanders he cruelly put up a video, apparently of remarks she made on Monday regarding the low esteem the administration holds for mainstream media. She is quoted as saying of these news hawkers, “My credibility is probably higher.”

See what I mean? Sean Spicer, the previous press secretary, was able to make such statements, to his credit, but there was the perception he was having difficulty keeping a straight face. And, as I have said, he soon wilted and had to be pulled. Historically, Mrs. Sanders has stood firm and unblinking going on for nearly a year. Pardon the expression, but the lady has balls. This is one of those cases that require further analysis.

To begin with, the statement, “My credibility is probably higher,” could be misinterpreted. Without forewarning, the casual listener would be tempted to fill out the unsaid portion. To give an example, listeners might presume to reconstruct the statement like this: “Compared to Willie Sutton, my credibility is probably higher.” That was the thought that came to my mind, along with the thought that the conclusion is debatable.

Anyhow, Chris Cuomo’s segment runs over 19 minutes on YouTube, and CNN has been kind to post a transcript on-line, saving my having to run the tape back and forth to pick up snatches of the conversation. It’s interesting to examine a few excerpts. Here is one:

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: The most visible member of the administration outside of the president himself is Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and she is here.

Sarah, it is good to see you.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE: Good to see you.

CUOMO: I respect you taking the opportunity.

SANDERS: Thank you. Thanks for being in D.C.

CUOMO: Well, I came for you.

What do you think about this as a positive pivot? Let’s take a look at this situation and see if we can get to a place, mutual respect, both sides think credibility counts, and we move forward. What do you say?

SANDERS: All right. We’ll give it a shot.

Yeah, and that just about does it for the pleasantries for much of the remainder.

They begin by talking about the meeting at Trump Tower in New York on 9 June 2016 between members of the Trump campaign team and a Russian lawyer who promised to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee. Trump campaign members attending included campaign manager Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr.

Records of the meeting preparations came to light, and there was an element of embarrassment. Trump Jr. attempted to put our minds at ease by asserting the meeting was not about Clinton, rather it concerned the adoption of Russian orphans. That was obviously a lie.

It was suspected that President Trump issued a statement for Trump Jr. to unload on pesky reporters. When these suspicions were voiced, the White House, in the person of Mrs. Sanders pushed back:

On August 1, at the next day’s White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that Trump “certainly didn’t dictate, but … he weighed in, offered suggestion, like any father would do”

As we now know, that didn’t wash, despite reassurances from President Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulov:

On July 16, 2017, in an NBC interview Donald Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulov again said that Donald Trump did not draft the response and was not involved in the drafting of the statement.

Rather than continuing to bore you with the lengthy history, the lie has now been put to rest:

(CNN) – In a confidential letter to special counsel Robert Mueller in January, President Donald Trump’s legal team acknowledged for the first time that Trump “dictated” the first misleading statement put out about his son’s controversial 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower.

And that’s the lead-in to the following exchange between Cuomo and Sanders:

CUOMO: All right. Where’s the sticking point? This meeting matters, you know it does. I understand the reference to counsel. I get it. Not just because I’m an attorney, but you don’t want to answer for the lawyers, you don’t want to answer for an operation that you’re not a part of. I get it.

But you can answer for what you said. You don’t have to refer to counsel for that. Sekulow is not your lawyer. He’s the president’s lawyer. You’re saying, he didn’t dictate this. He did what any father would do.

That turns out not to be true. You agree with that?

SANDERS: Once again, I know I answered this question on Monday. I answered it on Tuesday, and I’m going to answer it the same way today and you’re probably not going to like it anymore on Wednesday than it sounds like you liked it on Monday or Tuesday. But this is a legal matter and the appropriate individuals to answer questions on a legal matter are the outside counsel.

And I would direct you to them. And frankly, I did direct you to them. And you had them here on your set and asked them that question and I would refer you back to that statement.

See? That’s why Sanders makes the big bucks. She can stare a reporter in the face and say she already answered that question, which she did not do, and she will refer you back to an original statement in which she did not answer the question but instead referred back to another source, which source she observes is not covered by her job title, and that’s that, and you can take your silly questions and stick them where the sun does not shine.

There’s a lot more, and here’s a part of what gives me the most joy:

CUOMO: Let’s look at it a different way. Do you wish that the White House had corrected the error between where it started and where it wound up with Sekulow in this letter sooner?

SANDERS: I wish that we spent a lot less time focused on things the American people don’t care about. I wish we spent a lot less time talking about this witch hunt and that we talked about things that impact everyday Americans. I wish we spent a lot more time talking about the economy.

I wish that your network had spent a lot more time today covering a very important piece of legislation that the president signed when he spent a good bit of time this afternoon talking about the importance of Veterans Choice Act that he signed into law today. And your network didn’t even take that.

I wish those were the things that we spent time talking about that.

That’s right. We should be talking about the economy and the veterans bill just signed. Except that… Except, lady, your house is on fire! Don’t you think we should talk about that?

Truth be told, I do miss Sean Spicer. He squirmed so deliciously. Sanders, to my simultaneous dismay and wonder, pastes on that smile of self-righteous certitude and reminds us that we are wrong, and she is right. Move over, Willie Sutton.

This is your President speaking.

Number 114 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

When and where will all of the many conflicts of interest be listed by the 13 Angry Democrats (plus) working on the Witch Hunt Hoax. There has never been a group of people on a case so biased or conflicted. It is all a Democrat Excuse for LOSING the Election. Where is the server?

At long last we have a president willing to speak up on issues of most importance to the American people. Keep talking. We are listening.

This is your President speaking.

Number 113 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch. “They were running an operation to undermine a candidate for President of the U.S. These are all violations of law. This is intelligence tradecraft to steer an election. There’s nothing more grave when it comes to abuse of our intelligence system…

…This is a level of criminality beyond the pale. This is such a grave abuse of power and authority, it’s like nothing else we’ve seen in our history. This makes the Nixon Watergate burglary look like keystone cop stuff

Mr. President, speaking of a Keystone Cop operation

Don’t drop the soap.

Number 7 in a Series

This is turning out to be a theme that will get a lot of use. Instead of beginning to cool down as a certain Schlemiel-in-Chief seems to want, the matter continues to heat up. Readers still puzzling over the meaning, “Don’t drop the soap,” need to pause for a moment and reflect. Those who have spent time in stir do not need to reflect. They know this is good advice. It’s good advice for former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has for months appeared to be headed that way, all the while working to step on  the brakes. More recently he has succeeded in pushing down harder on the gas.

The story is best illustrated by its telling on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, streaming on Hulu, and also The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC streaming on YouTube, where I obtained these screen shots. There is some history.

More than two years ago Paul Manafort advanced himself for the job of managing candidate Donald Trump’s campaign. He offered to do it without pay, which is remarkable in itself. Subsequent events indicate the offer was not so remarkable. It was a time when Manafort was getting stretched thin and needed a way to painlessly recoup. The Trump campaign may have seemed to be Manafort’s opportunity to gain political access, said access being beneficial to his need to unload some financial reverses.

What should have been a slick move by Manafort turned out to be, according to O’Donnell, the worst decision by either of the parties. Association with the Trump campaign exposed Mr. Manafort to scrutiny of a special prosecutor investigating attempts by the Russian government of Vladimir Putin to influence the 2016 election:

The FBI reportedly began a criminal investigation into Manafort in 2014, shortly after Yanukovich was deposed. That investigation predated the 2016 election by several years and is ongoing. In addition, Manafort is also a person of interest in the FBI counterintelligence probe looking into the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

On January 19, 2017, the eve of the Trump’s presidential inauguration, it was reported that Manafort was under active investigation by multiple federal agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Director of National Intelligence and the financial crimes unit of the Treasury Department.Investigations were said to be based on intercepted Russian communications as well as financial transactions. It was later confirmed that Manafort was wiretapped by the FBI “before and after the [2016] election … including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.” The surveillance of Manafort began in 2014, before Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of United States.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed on May 17, 2017 by the Justice Department to oversee the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and related matters, took over the existing criminal probe involving Manafort. On July 26, 2017, the day after Manafort’s United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing and the morning of his planned hearing before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, FBI agents at Mueller’s direction conducted a “no-knock” pre-dawn raid on Manafort’s Alexandria, Virginia home, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, in regard to the Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Manafort’s legal situation eventually slimed the Trump campaign, something his August 2016 departure could not cure. But why? O’Donnell reminds us, “It’s the money, stupid.”

Manafort needed money from foreign sources, which he could get by leveraging his access to a new president, and Donald Trump figured to save a seven-figure fee for a campaign manager.

It all began to come unhinged when federal prosecutors started to investigate a suspicious meeting in June 2016, a meeting that involved, among others, Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was promising to provide dirt on Trump’s presumptive opponent in the presidential election. The feds had already been tracking Manafort, due to his unregistered lobbying for foreign interests and also due to transactions that smacked of money laundering.

Apparently special prosecutor Robert Mueller started to consider pushing hard on Manafort with the aim at getting him to unload any inside information he might have on Trump campaign misbehavings.

A number of people associated with either President Trump or with Paul Manafort, or both, have already been prosecuted. Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos has already been sentenced after entering a guilty plea for giving false testimony. He is the one who initiated the investigatin when he bragged about dealings with the Russians. Manafort business associate Rick Gates has entered a guilty plea, as well. Manafort, to the contrary, asserts his innocence, but he is currently under house arrest on unsecured $10 million bail and wearing two ankle bracelets. The problem is, Manafort appears to have violated the terms of his bail, and will likely be off to jail while awaiting trial.

Conditions of Manafort’s bail include minor restrictions, such as not committing any more crimes. Apparently Manafort’s lawyers forgot to stress this point. Neither did they alert him that while he whiled away his time under house arrest the feds would obtain warrants to monitor his communications. Maybe that’s why he figured he could get away with collaborating with potential witnesses against him. A filing sent to federal judge Amy Berman Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia notes Manafort’s observed transgressions.

Manafort has violated 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1) by attempting to tamper with potential witnesses while on pretrial release.

Manafort and Person A — who is a longtime associate of Manafort’s — repeatedly contacted Persons D1 and D2 in an effort to secure materially false testimony concerning the activities of the Hapsburg group.

“Hapsburg Group” is the name given to the team that sought to gain favor for the now-deposed government of Ukraine.

Manafort called Person D1 on Persons [sic] D1’s cellular phone. Person D1 sought to avoid Manafort, so Person D1 ended the call…. Manafort also sent Person D1 a text message on an encrypted application, stating “This is paul [sic].”

Manafort used the same encrpted application nto send Person D1 a news article describing the Superseding Indictment’s allegations concerning the Hapsburg group, which included the statement that

two European politicians were secretly paid around [$2 million] by Manafort in order  to ‘take positions favorable to Ukraine, including by lobbying in the United States.'” One minute after sending the news article,

Manafort wrote: “We should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe.” … Person D1 has told the government that he understood Manafort’s outreach to be an effort to “suborn perjury,” because Person D1 knew that the Hapsburg group worked in the United States — not just Europe.

“Suborn” is a term I would be unfamiliar with had I not watched so many trial room dramas on TV. Here’s the definition from an on-line dictionary:

bribe or otherwise induce (someone) to commit an unlawful act such as perjury.
“he was accused of conspiring to suborn witnesses”

Some of the details of Manafort’s communications are posted on-line:

Judge Jackson is expected to rule on 15 June whether Paul Manafort goes directly to jail. If he does, and if he is subsequently convicted and sentenced for his previously-charged crimes, it would be bad news of the worst kind. The man is 69 years old. He’s looking at a life sentence, even if convicted only of the jury tampering charge.

In the meantime, the President of the United States is weighing in.

The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself…I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined…and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!

Mr. President, you will be well advised to take a lesson from your former partner in  politics. Forget for a moment about digging yourself deeper, and keep one thing in mind for the future. Don’t drop the soap.

This is your President speaking.

Number 112 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!

I declare, this new president continues to set new levels of discourse, unseen in the office for more than a century. Will this become the standard?

This is your President speaking.

Number 111 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

“John Brennan, no single figure in American history has done more to discredit the intelligence community than this liar. Not only is he a liar, he’s a liar about being a liar.” Dan Bongino on

Mr. President, I believe you have answered your own question.