Humint Events Online: March 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Alex Jones Forced to Retract Pizzagate Claims and Apologize

Alex Jones, the conspiracy-loving media personality, apologized Friday for his role in promoting “Pizzagate,” the baseless viral story that a Washington pizza restaurant was the locale of a child sex-abuse ring run by Hillary Clinton and her campaign chairman, John Podesta.
In a surprising and rare bit of backtracking, Jones posted a six-minute video on his website, “InfoWars,” in which he read a prepared statement formally distancing himself and his site from what became a textbook story of fake news run amok. He addressed his apology to James Alefantis, the owner of Comet Ping Pong, the restaurant that was the supposed locale of the alleged conspiracy last year. “I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him,” Jones said. “We relied on third-party accounts of alleged activities and conduct at the restaurant. We also relied on accounts of [two] reporters who are no longer with us.” He added, “To my knowledge today, neither Mr. Alefantis nor his restaurant Comet Ping Pong, were involved in any human trafficking as was part of the theories about Pizzagate.”
The story, he said, “was based upon what we now believe was an incorrect narrative.” Jones, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, offered no comment or apology to Clinton or Podesta for outlandish statements about their alleged involvement in the abuse of hundreds of children.
Jones didn’t say what prompted his apology but it may have been motivated by a letter Alefantis wrote to him in February. The letter demands an apology and retraction for InfoWars’ postings about Pizzagate; it does not threaten legal action, but refers to what Alefantis describes as “defaming” comments by InfoWars. But the timing of Jones’s apology suggests he was concerned about a potential lawsuit. Under Texas law, the Austin-based Jones had to retract or apologize for the stories by Friday — one full month after receiving Alefantis’s letter — to avoid exposing InfoWars to punitive damages in a libel suit.

It's good to see Jones facing up to some sort of reality, at least, even if it is only because he was going to get his ass sued.
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We're Still Bombing People in Iraq, and Probably with Even Less Discrimination Under Trump

BAGHDAD — The American-led military coalition in Iraq said Friday that it was investigating reports that scores of civilians — perhaps as many as 200, residents said — had been killed in recent American airstrikes in Mosul, the northern Iraqi city at the center of an offensive to drive out the Islamic State. If confirmed, the series of airstrikes would rank among the highest civilian death tolls in an American air mission since the United States went to war in Iraq in 2003. And the reports of civilian deaths in Mosul came immediately after two recent incidents in Syria, where the coalition is also battling the Islamic State from the air, in which activists and local residents said dozens of civilians had been killed. Taken together, the surge of reported civilian deaths raised questions about whether once-strict rules of engagement meant to minimize civilian casualties were being relaxed under the Trump administration, which has vowed to fight the Islamic State more aggressively. American military officials insisted on Friday that the rules of engagement had not changed. They acknowledged, however, that American airstrikes in Syria and Iraq had been heavier in an effort to press the Islamic State on multiple fronts.

CNN reports today that the US military is claiming that the worst explosion was caused by an ISIS truck bomb. 

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33 of the Day: Health Care Policy Edition

Big piece in NYT this morning:
33 Republicans who would not budge from their decisions to vote “no” on the health care bill ("AHCA" Obamacare replacement) were key to causing its collapse. They can be divided into three broad categories...

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GOP Con Men

It has been clear for ages that Trump is a conman, but this Maher bit is just perfect and hilarious. The incredibly stupid things Trump said during the campaign are amazing:


 

And:
What Steve Bannon and Paul Ryan have in common is the fact that they are both con men. Ryan was trying to sell his tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy under the guise of deficit reduction. Bannon set out to sell a trust fund baby who declared bankruptcy half a dozen times and didn’t pay his contractors, let alone his taxes, as “friend of the working man.” Bannon has never been able to stand Ryan. Ryan represents the GOP conservative core that is part of the system about which Bannon says, “I want to tear it all down.” Deconstruction and destruction are all that these two unlikely bedfellows have in common. That, and the fact that they both gambled too heavily on being able to get the (Obamacare) repeal and replace scam over, before anybody started to look too closely or ask too many questions, or so they thought.
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

20th Anniversary of the Phoenix Lights UFO Sightings

Quite a remarkable event with hundreds of witnesses seeing absolutely huge craft-- miles wide by some accounts.

The interview here with Frances Barwood about the incident is quite interesting.
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News of Note, World-Gone-Mad Edition

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Federal Budget from Hell

Every year, during the run-up to Halloween, when Jim DeMint goes to Hell's mega-mall and sits on Satan's lap, he has a list of things he wants for the holiday. The parents of the assembled demons and imps behind him in line often get frustrated because the list is so long.
On Thursday, the Trump Administration released its proposed national budget. It's been a long time coming, but DeMint and the rest of the greasy barbarians at Heritage finally got most of what they asked for. This proposed budget isn't extreme. Reagan's proposed budget in 1981 was extreme. This budget is short-sighted, cruel to the point of being sadistic, stupid to the point of pure philistinism, and shot through with the absolute and fundamentalist religious conviction that the only true functions of government are the ones that involve guns, and that the only true purpose of government is to serve the rich.
Republicans' Problem with Ryancare: Too Nice! There is an increased stirring among allegedly respectable conservatives to separate themselves from the president* and his more manic supporters in the Congress and out in the country. To hell with them. Like Haman, they're dancing on a gallows they spent years devising. This budget represents the diamond-hard reality behind all those lofty pronouncements from oil-sodden think tanks, all those learned disquisitions in little, startlingly advertising-free magazines, all those earnest young graduates of prestige universities who dedicated their intellects to putting an educated gloss on greed and ignorance, and ideological camouflage on retrograde policies that should have died with Calvin Coolidge—or perhaps Louis XVI.
This is it, right here, this budget. This is the beau ideal of movement conservative governance. This is the logical, dystopian end of Reaganism, and Gingrichism, and Tea Partyism, and all the other Isms that movement conservatism has inflicted upon the political commonwealth. This is the vast, noxious swamp into which all those tributaries of modern conservative thought have emptied themselves. People die in there, swallowed up in deep sinkholes of empowered bigotry and class anger.
Meals on Wheels? Who in the hell zeroes out Meals on Wheels? Who decides that a program that spends $3 million to help volunteers feed the elderly and infirm in their communities is something that the country can no longer afford? Who are the men in the meetings who make this kind of call? What are their names? Trot them out so the country knows who they are.
C'mon, David Brooks, find out who they are and explain why National Greatness Conservatism has a problem with starving elderly shut-ins. The National Endowment For The Arts? The National Endowment For The Humanities? The Corporation For Public Broadcasting? Who in the hell zeroes out the NEA, or the NEH, or the CPB? Who decides that rural museums, and Ken Burns, and Antiques Roadshow are too elitist for a country full of righteous bumpkins?
I'll tell you who does. Newt Gingrich does, that's who, and 23 years ago Newt Gingrich was the superstar of the conservative movement, the intellectual anchor of the modern Right, until, of course, he became a public embarrassment. You know who else does? George Effing Will, just today, that's who.
These programs did not become targets last November. Who the hell eliminates research funding for the climate crisis in an age of mega-storms, and wildfires, and steadily vanishing coastlines? Who pulls the country out of the Paris Agreement? Who takes the United States of Goddamn America out of the fight against the biggest existential crisis the planet has faced since the asteroid landed near the Yucatan? Gee, why don't we take a wild guess and say it's the political party—and the political movement that is its only life force—that for decades has taken billions from the extraction industries, placed a climate denier at the head of the EPA—where he isn't going to have much to do, anyway—and appointed an oilman to be Secretary of State.
Which reminds me… The fcking State Department? Who the hell virtually defunds the goddamn State Department?
The party that tolerates a Tea Party hack like Mick Mulvaney, taking him as such a serious person that he can become to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, instead of the extremist loon he's always been. Mick Mulvaney didn't need the rise of Donald Trump to become a crackpot who would be marginalized in any sane democratic republic. He was always there on the fringes. He is as much a creature of movement conservatism as Paul Ryan is, even more so because Mulvaney was one of the prime movers in the defenestration of John Boehner. Now, he's in a position to enact all those policies that made him a star.
From ABC News: The president's vision is to add $54 billion to military spending and cut the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by 28 percent. "There is no question this is a hard power budget, it is not a soft power budget," the president's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters Wednesday.
"The president very clearly wanted to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is a strong power administration, so you have seen money move from soft power programs, such as foreign aid, into more hard power programs." While Mulvaney described the cuts to the State Department as "fairly dramatic," he said the country's core diplomatic functions will not be impacted by the cuts, which he said are focused on reducing foreign aid. "That is not a commentary on the president's policies toward the State Department, that is a comment on the president's policies toward what is in their budget," he said. "The foreign aid line items just happen to fall in State."
(snip)
These programs did not become targets last November.
A lot of this is going to make the members of Congress choke, so a lot of it may not pass. It's very existence is important, though, as a document that lays out quite clearly the vision of government shared almost everywhere in modern conservatism.
This is a DeMint Budget, a Heritage Budget, a Gingrich Budget, a Reagan Budget, and a Tea Party Budget. It may be crude and lack a certain polish, but its priorities and goals are clear.
There is no modern Republican Party without movement conservatism, and this budget is the most vivid statement yet of that philosophy. None of the people who have become rich and influential through shining this philosophy up needed the election of Donald Trump to become what they are. If the country allows them to step away from him and his budget—the way they all stepped away from Gingrich when he became toxic, or Reagan when he became senile, or George W. Bush, when everything went wrong—then the country does itself no good service.
This budget isn't what they want. It's who they are. Meals on wheels? Jesus Christ, these really are the fcking mole people.
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

One Reason I Hate Trump Is He Makes Me Defend the CIA and the Deep State

Specifically, I'm referring to the recent wikileaks release of CIA hacking tools.

Max Boot makes good points here:
Why would Wikileaks choose to release all of these valuable secrets about CIA hacking capabilities?
Recall that our own intelligence community has established that Wikileaks is basically a front for Russian intelligence. It was used to release a treasure trove of stolen Democratic Party emails last year with which Vladimir Putin sought to influence the outcome of the election.
(snip)
If this was indeed a Russian operation, it raises the question of why any intelligence service would go public with its discoveries instead of utilizing them for its own covert purposes—i.e., to sharpen its own hacking abilities and defend against CIA hacks?
The FSB and GRU could even hack other countries and implicate the CIA. A clue to why these secrets are now being dumped into the public domain may be offered in the fact that U.S. intelligence officials say they learned of the loss of these files last year.
That would have given U.S. intelligence plenty of time to change the hacking techniques that have been compromised, rendering the files of little operational use to the FSB and GRU. But they remain very useful for purposes of embarrassing and discrediting their main adversary, the CIA.
To show how the leaks have already accomplished their purpose, consider this article in the New York Times. Its headline: “With Claims of C.I.A. Hacking, How to Protect Your Devices.” To a casual reader, the implication is clear: The CIA is spying on American citizens, and you need to protect your data from Big Brother.
In reality, the Wikileaks files reveal nothing of the sort. This is not Edward Snowden Redux. Snowden did leak information on NSA domestic surveillance—albeit of a benign and legal sort. The NSA was revealed to have gathered “metadata” on phone calls but not on their contents and Internet data that it could later search under the proper FISA procedures authorized by a federal judge.
By contrast, there is nothing in the latest Wikileaks release about the CIA using any of its hacking tools—such as a method for allegedly turning some Samsung smart TV’s into listening devices—for domestic surveillance, much less for illegal domestic surveillance.
But how may news consumers will realize this? Most will no doubt be left with the vague impression that the CIA is doing something wrong, which is exactly the notion that the FSB and GRU want to propagate.
This, in turn, distracts attention from Vladimir Putin’s misdeeds—such as his war crimes in Syria, his illegal invasion of Ukraine, and his murders of journalists and dissidents—by making it appear that it is the U.S. in general, and the CIA in particular, which is the real culprit on the international scene.
This is a trope that is increasingly popular on both the far-left and the far-right. Consider this article on Common Dreams by leftist activist Norman Solomon, denigrating the importance of Russian interference in our election last year based on Wikileaks. “Contrary to all the public relations work that U.S. intelligence agencies have generously done for them,” he wrote, “Russians don’t even rank as peripheral to the obstacles and prospects for American democracy. Rest assured, throughout the long history of the United States, we haven’t needed foreigners to get the job done.”
No doubt this sentiment is similar to the reaction that President Trump and some of his aides have to the leaks, which seem to suggest—without offering any actual evidence—that the U.S. intelligence community undermines our democracy more than the Kremlin does.
That plays neatly into Trump’s attempts to demonize the intelligence community for leaks about his connections to Russia; he has even compared their tactics to those of the Nazis.
Indeed, the fact that the Wikileaks release came only three days after Trump accused the U.S. intelligence community of colluding with President Obama to wiretap him should raise suspicions about whether this leak is designed, like previous Wikileaks releases, to bolster his political position.
It is, of course, hard to divine the exact motivations behind this release. But of one thing we can be certain: Wikileaks is hostile to the United States, and this release was designed to damage U.S. national security. News coverage which does not put this fact front and center is, alas, aiding and abetting what is likely a Kremlin-directed campaign of subversion.

Boot expands on these points here:
... On Saturday, recall, Trump was making wild-eyed accusations that Obama had ordered the U.S. intelligence community to wiretap him. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
The White House could not come up with one iota of evidence to support this irresponsible allegation, which was denied by FBI Director James Comey and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
But Trump would not be dissuaded from pursuing this charge, which serves as a convenient distraction from the far more serious accusations of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin while Russia was interfering with the presidential campaign.
Is it just a coincidence that WikiLeaks dumped a massive database pertaining to CIA hacking and wiretapping just three days after Trump made wiretapping a major political issue? Perhaps so. But there is cause for suspicion.
In the first place, WikiLeaks has often timed its leaks for maximum political impact. It released 20,000 stolen DNC emails just three days before the Democratic National Convention on July 25, 2016. As expected, WikiLeaks generated headlines about DNC staffers disparaging Sen. Bernie Sanders, buttressing a Trump campaign effort to prevent Clinton from consolidating Sanders supporters. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned as a result, and the Clinton campaign suffered significant public relations damage.
In the second place, WikiLeaks, which has often leaked American but never Russian secrets, has been identified by the U.S. intelligence community as a front for Russian intelligence. In January, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified estimate that found “with high confidence that Russian military intelligence … relayed material to WikiLeaks.” This was done with a definite purpose: “Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”
Trump has consistently resisted the intelligence agency’s conclusions, insisting that some 400-pound couch potato might have committed the hacking before grudgingly accepting the findings but continuing to claim that the Russian hack had no impact on the election. (Given that 70,000 votes in three states were his margin of victory, how does he know what affected the outcome and what didn’t? And if WikiLeaks was so inconsequential, why did he tout its revelations in almost every appearance during the last month of the campaign?)
The intelligence community’s finding that Putin helped him win the election spurred Trump to pursue a vendetta against it. For example, he accused the spooks — with no support — of being behind BuzzFeed’s publication of a damning dossier compiled by a former British intelligence officer claiming that the Kremlin had compiled compromising materials on him. Trump outrageously tweeted: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”
His animus against the intelligence agencies has continued down to his more recent accusations that they allowed themselves to be used by Obama to wiretap him. The consistent (if hardly believable) storyline from Trump is that he has no connections to Russia, and that he is a victim of the nefarious machinations of the American “deep state.”
It is significant, therefore, that one of the major storylines to emerge from the latest WikiLeaks release is that the CIA supposedly has a program to reuse computer codes from foreign hackers, thus disguising CIA fingerprints on a hacking operation. Never mind that there is no evidence that the codes used to break into the DNC were part of this CIA database.
Right-wing outlets are nevertheless trumpeting these revelations with headlines such as this one on Breitbart: “WikiLeaks: CIA Uses ‘Stolen’ Malware to ‘Attribute’ Cyberattacks to Nations Like Russia.” Russian-controlled Internet “bots” are also said to be playing up these claims online. The implication is clear. Trump was a victim of a “false flag” operation wherein CIA hackers broke into the DNC and blamed the Russians. This may be nutty, but it’s eminently believable to an audience conditioned to believe that 9/11 was an inside job and that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged — favorite tropes of the radio talk-show host Alex Jones, whose work Trump has praised.
Other WikiLeaks revelations — for instance, that the CIA can use Samsung smart TVs as listening devices — lend further credence to Trump’s charge that he was secretly wiretapped.
Quite apart from its specifics, the WikiLeaks release changes the subject after a bad few days for Trump highlighted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from any Kremlingate probe after he was revealed to have lied under oath when he denied meeting any Russian representatives. Last week it was Trump on the defensive.
Now it’s his nemeses in the U.S. intelligence community who are answering embarrassing questions about how this leak could have occurred and the contents of the leaked information. Again, maybe this is entirely coincidental, but WikiLeaks’ history of being used by Russian intelligence to support Trump should lead to much greater scrutiny not only of who leaked this information — is there a mole in the CIA? — but why it was released now.
Even if there is no active collusion between the White House and the Kremlin, the extent to which their agendas coincide is striking. Both Putin and Trump want to discredit the U.S. intelligence community because they see it as an obstacle to their power.
There Is No Deep State: The problem in Washington is not a conspiracy against the President; it’s the President himself.
... Some of Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters (and, in a different, cautionary spirit, a few people on the left) have taken to using “the Deep State” to describe a nexus of institutions—the intelligence agencies, the military, powerful financial interests, Silicon Valley, various federal bureaucracies—that, they believe, are conspiring to smear and stymie a President and bring him low.
“Deep State” comes from the Turkish derin devlet, a clandestine network, including military and intelligence officers, along with civilian allies, whose mission was to protect the secular order established, in 1923, by the father figure of post-Ottoman Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It was behind at least four coups, and it surveilled and murdered reporters, dissidents, Communists, Kurds, and Islamists.
The Deep State takes a similar form in Pakistan, with its powerful intelligence service, the I.S.I., and in Egypt, where the military establishment is tied to some of the largest business interests in the country.
One day earlier this month in Palm Beach, just after 6 A.M., the President went on a vengeful Twitter binge. Trump reads little but has declared himself “the Ernest Hemingway of a hundred and forty characters,” and that morning he levelled what the Times rightly called “one of the most consequential accusations made by one president against another in American history.”
With no evidence, save the ravings of the talk-radio host Mark Levin and an account, in Breitbart News, of Levin’s charges of a “silent coup,” Trump accused President Obama of tapping his “wires” at Trump Tower. He compared the unsubstantiated offense to “McCarthyism” and “Nixon/Watergate.”
By now, Trump’s tactics are familiar. Schooled by Roy Cohn, Joseph McCarthy’s protégé, in the dark arts of rage, deflection, insult, and conspiracy-mongering, Trump ignited his political career with “birtherism,” and he has kept close by his side Steve Bannon, formerly of Breitbart, who traffics in tinfoil-hat theories of race, immigration, and foreign affairs. Together, they have artfully hijacked the notion of “fake news,” turning it around as a weapon of insult, diversion, division, and attack.
One does not have to be ignorant of the C.I.A.’s abuses—or of history, in general—to reject the idea of an American Deep State. Previous Presidents have felt resistance, or worse, from elements in the federal bureaucracies: Eisenhower warned of the “military-industrial complex”; L.B.J. felt pressure from the Pentagon; Obama’s Syria policy was rebuked by the State Department through its “dissent channel.”
But to use the term as it is used in Turkey, Pakistan, or Egypt is to assume that all these institutions constitute part of a subterranean web of common and nefarious purpose. The reason that Trump is so eager to take a conspiratorial view of everything from the C.I.A. to CNN is that an astonishing array of individuals have spoken out or acted against him.
Above all, he is infuriated that intelligence and investigative services have been looking into possible Russian connections to him, his advisers, his campaign, and his financial interests. Bannon and Trump, according to the Post, refer to the Deep State only in private, but their surrogates feel no hesitation about doing so openly. “We are talking about the emergence of a Deep State led by Barack Obama, and that is something we should prevent,” Representative Steve King, of Iowa, said. “The person who understands this best is Steve Bannon, and I would think that he’s advocating to make some moves to fix it.” (snip)
The problem in Washington is not a Deep State; the problem is a shallow man—an untruthful, vain, vindictive, alarmingly erratic President. In order to pass fair and proper judgment, the public deserves a full airing of everything from Trump’s tax returns and business entanglements to an accounting of whether he has been, in some way, compromised. Journalists can, and will, do a lot. But the courts, law enforcement, and Congress—without fear or favor—are responsible for such an investigation. Only if government officials take to heart their designation as “public servants” will justice prevail.

I'm not saying that I defend the CIA and the Deep State against EVERYTHING, of course. I just defend them against the incredible delusion and dishonesty of Trump. The Deep State IS a problem, but I view Trump as a far worse problem-- an imminent threat to the country in a way that the CIA and deep state are not.
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Trump Campaign Likely Colluded with Russian Hacking During the Election

There's a pretty clear connection between Putin & Russian Intelligence & Russian-paid & wikileaks & Julian Assange & Nigel Farage & Roger Stone & Trump. It's about as open a secret as you can get. But the GOP doesn't want to deal with Trump's treason because they are horrible people.

Trump personally met with Russian ambassador during campaign but Trump repeatedly denied meeting with any Russian officials as a candidate. Gee, why would he deny that?

Of course, Trump and his campaign has multiple ties to Russia, and there is the famous "kompromat" dossier.
 
In the past year, “Wikileaks” aided Donald Trump on at least four occasions, three of them during the 2016 U.S. presidential election with near-perfect timing.
No wonder then-candidate Trump declared, “I love Wikileaks!”
The first time “Wikileaks” helped Trump was on the eve of the Democratic National Convention when Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were working to unite the party in preparation for the general election campaign against Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
“Wikileaks” released a slew of emails that damaged and undermined this unity on the eve of the convention by proving what everybody already knew — that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) led by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz was in the tank for Clinton.
The second time “Wikileaks” helped Trump was within 1 hour of the publication of the Access Hollywood tape where he was caught talking about grabbing women by the pussy. This time, it was Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s hacked and stolen emails that were published.
The third time “Wikileaks” helped Trump was on the eve of the November election. Just two days before the polls were scheduled to open, more stolen DNC emails were published.
The fourth and most recent case of “Wikileaks” assisting Trump is the theft and publication of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents concerning the agency’s extensive technical capabilities.
This comes less than a week after Trump struck the latest blow in his long-running battle to undermine the U.S. intelligence community by accusing his predecessor President Obama of unlawfully wiretapping his phone shortly before the election.
Predictably, Trump has not denounced Wikileaks for telegraphing U.S. capabilities to terrorists, criminals, and nations targeted by the CIA like Iran and North Korea.
“Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action” may be an aphorism from novel but these four incidents taken together suggest a pattern of behavior on the part of “Wikileaks” rather than random chance events.
Added to this circumstantial evidence is the fact that Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone bragged about a “perfectly legal” back channel for collusion with “Wikileaks” and that “Wikileaks” founder Julian Assange has a lot of unexplained ties to Russia — just like Donald Trump, his family, his advisers, and his campaign.
All of the above happy coincidences are hallmarks of what Russia’s spy agencies call “active measures” aimed at “heightening the contradictions.”

Huffington Post just published a long piece about how (likely Russian) hackers infiltrated Bernie Sanders groups online and sowed anti-Hillary Clinton discord.


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Monday, March 06, 2017

The Madness of King Donald

Aside from re-inflating the sketch comedy bubble, Trump’s rise has been a boom for neuro-psychological hobbyists, who have diagnosed him with any number of grave conditions, from Alzheimer’s to prion disease to the recently fashionable Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
This last was put to bed earlier this week, when the retired Duke professor of psychiatry who actually crafted the DSM criteria for the disorder wrote to The New York Times to chide “amateur diagnosticians” for their errors of analysis. “Bad behavior is rarely a sign of mental illness, and the mentally ill behave badly only rarely,” he wrote, before suggesting that Trump’s psychological motivations are “too obvious to be interesting” and reminding readers that Trump is not a problem of psychology, but of politics.
This is true, strictly speaking, but it’s also strangely reductive. The contemporary imagination suffers from the modern world’s neurotic desire to divide all knowledge and mental activity into distinct disciplines, and the notion that the president can’t be crazy just because he isn’t clinically, pathologically disordered seems to me to be a deliberately over-narrow parsing of possible truths.
Sanity, as actual psychologists will tell you, isn’t a clinical term at all. It’s a legal concept, and therefore, a political one.
We’re already used to presidential foibles. No one, after all, in possession of the titanic ambition, ruthlessness, and self-regard necessary to become president of the United States can be entirely normal; the position self-selects for a kind of monomania.
But Trump is so deeply weird, so vain, so scattered, so oddly affected, that he really does conjure a question that has vexed subjects, aristocrats, parliaments, and royal courts for millennia: What to do about the madness of a king? (snip)
And here we return to Donald Trump, whose press conference last week (article written Feb. 20) read like an Ionesco play, an absurdist dialogue composed of elementary phrases from a textbook designed to teach foreigners a second language.
He hemmed, hawed, cajoled, made faces, whispered, referred off-handedly to “nuclear holocaust,” asked an African-American reporter if she could set up a meeting with black people in Congress. He talked about blowing up a Russian ship, and yelled that he wasn’t going to tell anyone about his secret plans to do something to North Korea. He complained about the military giving advance warning of assaults on Mosul—he doesn’t understand that they do so to give civilians time to flee—and in so doing, he did a bunch of funny voices.
It was all quite bonkers; you can look that one up in the DSM.
As far as anyone could tell from the video feeds, the entire senior staff of the nascent administration was right there, sitting in the front row. Like any royal court, this one is beset by factionalism and infighting; everyone is in charge, and so no one is. The president is so whacky, so moody, so changeable that they must attend his every public appearance and study every nonsensical utterance in order to attempt to divine where, for the next ten seconds or so, his attention might alight and then use the opportunity to promote their own advantage.
The Republican Congress, which through contrivance and deliberate inaction, has absented itself from responsibility for war, economic policy, and strategic investment and become little more than a House-of-Commons shouting-chamber to an expansive, imperial Executive, sat in its offices watching aghast before dialing their favorite reporters to privately complain that the President of These United States is a goddamn looney tune.
The result is a paradoxical feeling of panicked inertness, a sense of a rapidly unfolding crisis that is at the same time encased, immoveable, in amber. Is the president ill? Well, he’s not well. And yet, while we hope that he will be carted off, or at least held in check by whichever of his advisers and secretaries is the least odious, we are also—like all those ministers and congresspeople—transfixed. Whatever we tell ourselves, we have all adopted the idea that the president is some kind of huge metonym for America itself; that is to say, we accept him as a kind of king.
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Sunday, March 05, 2017

Christopher Bollyn Speaks

Blames 9/11 all on the Jews, of course.

I'm mainly posting because I've never seen a video of him speaking before, and he gives some of his background info. His actual factual info is fine as far as it goes, I'm not one to deny Israeli involvement in 9/11.


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