Humint Events Online: February 2022

Friday, February 25, 2022

As Usual MAGA Is Lying or Deeply Deluded About Trump and Ukraine

"(The) Common MAGA argument is “Putin didn’t invade Ukraine under Trump. Which means he saw Trump as strong.” Nonsense. 

 Under Trump he didn’t have to invade. Trump was doing more to remove the NATO threat than an invasion could. Trump sought to draw down the US troop presence in NATO by a lot. Trump had plans to pull out of NATO altogether in term two. Trump regularly attacked NATO allies and sowed dissension. (See the relations between Trump’s ambassador to Germany and the Germans.) 

And recall Trump was actually impeached for withholding vital aid from Ukraine. 

Putin didn’t invade Ukraine under Trump because during his term of office Putin’s best plan for weakening NATO was Trump. 

And don’t give me this nonsense Trump was strengthening NATO by forcing them to pay more line. He didn’t even understand how NATO financing worked. He attacked their spending as a way to attack the idea of the alliance. And the 2% commitment idea preexisted Trump by a lot. 

And don’t say Trump was tough on Russia (he was the opposite). Or that he gave Ukraine weapons. That was done on the initiative of others and often against his protests behind the scenes. In fact senior officials who wanted to be tough on Trump often tried to work those issues behind his back/without his involvement. 

No, for four years Trump was Putin’s wrecking ball for the Western Alliance—on many levels." 

-- David Rothkopf 


And this is simply nauseating:

"Former president Donald Trump on Tuesday hailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to recognize two breakaway regions of Ukraine and deploy troops into the rebel-held territory as “genius.” In an interview with the conservative “Clay Travis and Buck Sexton” radio show, Trump said he was impressed by news of Putin’s actions. 
“Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful,” Trump said. “So Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’” Trump said Putin will now “go in” to Ukraine “and be a peacekeeper.” 
“That’s strongest peace force … We could use that on our southern border,” he said. “That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re gonna keep peace all right. No, but think of it. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy … I know him very well. Very, very well.” (via WaPo)
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Sunday, February 20, 2022

Russian Aggression, False-Flag Attacks, Propaganda and Mindgames

Putin clearly wants Ukraine back in the control of Russia as he considers it historically part of Russia. 

He's been engaged in trying to take Ukraine over since at least 2014.
In 2014, Russian military forces annexed Crimea on the Black Sea. Moscow-backed separatists also took control of the eastern industrial regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are on Russia’s border. The ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine has claimed some 14,000 lives. According to a 2001 census, more than 50 percent of the population in Crimea and Donetsk identified Russian as their native language. (Ukraine has not conducted a more recent census.) Putin claims he is defending the rights of Russian speakers in those areas. Conflict heated up this week in the Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk. An observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe counted nearly 600 cease-fire violations on Thursday.

Putin is trying to use these Russian speakers and Russian sympathizers in eastern Ukraine to create a pretext for him to invade Ukraine. There are allegations of genocide by Ukraine against Russians in eastern Ukraine that are blatantly false.

He's doing the same thing in other countries as well to try to get the Soviet empire back. 

Are there Russian-linked separatist regions in other countries? Yes. These “frozen conflicts” have been around since after the Soviet Union fell in 1991. They exist in the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Moldova and Georgia and are widely seen as part of the Kremlin’s larger strategy to extend influence and evade sanctions. 

I do like what Biden is doing in terms of diplomacy and to try to keep war from happening. He's been laying out what he thinks Putin is doing and how Putin plans to invade and almost daring Putin to fulfill his prediction (which would be bad) or to be contrary and prove Biden wrong (which would be good).

If you think Ukraine is the aggressor, or Ukraine is controlled by fascists, you're buying into Russian propaganda, and sadly much of the Republican party and American rightwing is propagating it.
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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Insane Wingnut Truck Protest in Canada Threatens Democracy In General

What’s happening in Ottawa, they were clear, is two separate events happening in tandem: there is a broadly non-violent (to date) group of Canadians with assorted COVID-related gripes, ranging from the somewhat justified to totally frickin’ insane. 

But that larger group, which has knocked Ottawa and too many of our leaders into what my colleague Jen Gerson so perfectly described as “stun-fucked stasis,” is now providing a kind of (mostly) unwitting cover to a cadre of seasoned street brawlers whose primary goal is to further erode the legitimacy of the state — not just the city of Ottawa, or Ontario or Canada, but of democracies generally. 

Part of what reporter and columnist Matt Gurney discusses in the article is an encampment of people in the latter category, which has become a fortress type setting. (You can build a pretty powerful fortress if you can move around a bunch of 18 wheelers.) 

It seems clear — and the police chief in Ottawa has been saying this — that local police can’t resolve this situation. The country has essentially lost control of its own capital. 

And now those “protestors” are expanding toward shutting down trade links between the two countries. They’re being cheered on and now joined by far-right groups in the U.S. In Josh Kovensky’s article today about far-right activist Leigh Dundas, he notes that she’s taking a lead role liaising between Canadian and U.S. far-right activists and identifying “strategic” border crossings which can be shut down to paralyze trade between the two countries. 

One thing that becomes clear reading this is that the important stuff happened before the authorities in Ottawa even knew what was happening. And then it was too late. Once you have an organized, fortified encampment of far-right agitators you can’t just dismantle that without the potential or maybe certainty of a lot of violence. 

I really hope U.S. authorities are watching this closely to prevent things like this from happening on the U.S. side of the border. At the beginning you can deal with it in a pretty straightforward way. If you let it get out of control, as they did in Ottawa, the options become really bad. 

This isn’t just more right wing crazy or the kind of white privilege performance art that we’re used to seeing from the Bundy clan here in the U.S. It’s both of those things. But this is a much more grave challenge to the authority of the Canadian state itself. They are showing that, at least so far, the Canadian state is unable to defend itself or the civic and commercial lives of its citizens.

Fucking treasonous wingnuts really do want to fuck everything up. 

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Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Hitler's Decision to Invade Russia Was Likely the Single Most Destructive Act by a Human in Human History

Just stunning--

"The battles on the Eastern Front of the Second World War constituted the largest military confrontation in history. 

They were characterised by unprecedented ferocity and brutality, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and immense loss of life due to combat, starvation, exposure, disease, and massacres. 

Of the estimated 70–85 million deaths attributed to World War II, around 30 million occurred on the Eastern Front, including 9 million children.

The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome in the European theatre of operations in World War II, eventually serving as the main reason for the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Axis nations."

"Aside from the ideological conflict, the mindframe of the leaders of Germany and the Soviet Union, Hitler and Stalin respectively, contributed to the escalation of terror and murder on an unprecedented scale. Stalin and Hitler both disregarded human life in order to achieve their goal of victory. 

This included the terrorisation of their own people, as well as mass deportations of entire populations. All these factors resulted in tremendous brutality both to combatants and civilians that found no parallel on the Western Front."

"The war inflicted huge losses and suffering upon the civilian populations of the affected countries. ... German and German-allied forces treated civilian populations with exceptional brutality, massacring whole village populations and routinely killing civilian hostages (see German war crimes). 

Both sides practised widespread scorched earth tactics, but the loss of civilian lives in the case of Germany was incomparably smaller than that of the Soviet Union, in which at least 20 million were killed. 

According to British historian Geoffrey Hosking, "The full demographic loss to the Soviet peoples was even greater: since a high proportion of those killed were young men of child-begetting age, the postwar Soviet population was 45 to 50 million smaller than post-1939 projections would have led one to expect."

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Saturday, February 05, 2022

Trump's Dumb, Desperate and Deeply Corrupt Plot to Seize Voting Machines

 Freaking madness:

The crux of the New York Times’ new report is that Trump went farther than previously known in entertaining the use of law enforcement and national security agencies to seize voting machines to cast Joe Biden’s victory as illegitimate. 
Trump’s pressure on Barr unfolded as follows: The meeting with Mr. Barr took place in mid- to late November when Mr. Trump raised the idea of whether the Justice Department could be used to seize machines, according to two people familiar with the matter. 
Mr. Trump told Mr. Barr that his lawyers had told him that the department had the power to seize machines as evidence of fraud. 
It appears Trump was listening to more conspiratorial-minded allies — lawyer Sidney Powell, former national security adviser Michael Flynn — about how to thwart the transfer of power, and tried to enlist the Justice Department in the scheme. 
Barr told Trump that the department had no basis for seizing the machines, per the Times. 
But these efforts continued. Indeed, soon after that, the Times reports, Powell and Flynn tried to prevail on Trump to use the military to seize the machines, but this was resisted by Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, a longtime Trump ringleader who for some reason suddenly decided to defend the rule of law. 
At around that time, reports the Times, Trump instructed Giuliani to call a top Homeland Security official to see about executing the scheme. That, too, was rebuffed. 
On the Barr revelations, note that a Senate report already documented that Trump and his allies tried to co-opt the department to help validate fake fraud claims, apparently to create the pretext for his vice president to delay the congressional count of electors. This would kick the election back to states who might then send fraudulent electors. 
Remember, a Trump ally tried to get the department to send letters advising swing states to hold special sessions to consider sending new electors. In this context, Trump’s apparent flirtation with seizing voting machines is probably best understood as another effort to corrupt law enforcement to create a pretext for thwarting the transfer of power in Congress.

So what was Trump's plan?

If anything could be said to have been real news this week it was that reports surfaced that Trump had tried repeatedly to find some arm of his government that would seize voting machines in battleground states for him. The New York Times headlined it this way: "Trump Had Role in Weighing Proposals to Seize Voting Machines." 

All you had to do was read to the end of the first sentence in the story to see how completely the headline understated what really happened. 

"Six weeks after Election Day, with his hold on power slipping, President Donald J. Trump directed his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to make a remarkable call." 

Get that? He directed his law-poodle Giuliani to call another one of his poodles in the Department of Homeland Security and see if that department would be willing to go out there into the battleground states and seize voting machines. 

The Times goes on to report that he had considered and rejected having the Department of Defense do his dirty work for him, and he had previously asked his supreme law-poodle, William Barr, his attorney general, to have the Department of Justice send its agents into the field and pick up the voting machines. 

Trump was doing this in December of 2020, having lost one lawsuit after another trying to challenge the results of the election in every single battleground state he had lost. He was desperate. People like Michael Flynn, his disgraced former national security adviser, and Sidney Powell, the lawyer who filed several of the lawsuits he had already lost, had gotten through to him in the Oval Office. They were pitching wild theories that the Chinese Communist Party had manipulated the vote by hacking into voting machines, and former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who had died in 2013, and lefty bogeyman George Soros were somehow manipulating the software of Dominion Voting Machines on behalf of Joe Biden. Voilà! There it was right in front of them! It was those damn voting machines! All they had to do was get their hands on those voting machines in three "key states" and … well … what was the plan, exactly? 

 That's the "quiet part" all the reporting this week leaves out. Two of the plans reached the stage of draft executive orders for Trump to sign. Both would have ordered some federal department — Trump apparently didn't care which — to seize the machines. After that the executive orders, and the reporting about them, peter out. 

While we know what he wanted to do, we don't know what his plans were from that point on. But there have been a few hints. 

The Times reported on Wednesday that Patrick Byrne, the former CEO of, was in the Dec. 18 meeting in the Oval Office when Flynn and Powell pitched the idea of having the Department of Defense use soldiers to seize the voting machines. Byrne had funded multiple lawsuits on Trump's behalf challenging the election results. In a book he published last year, Byrne wrote, "We pointed out that, it being Dec. 18, if he signed the paperwork we had brought with us, we could have the first stage (recounting the Problematic 6 counties) finished by Christmas." Byrne was apparently referring to "portions of contested swing states that Mr. Trump had lost," the Times reported. The plan also included a proposal that Trump appoint Sidney Powell (!) as "a special counsel overseeing election integrity," according to the Times. So there's at least a scrap of a plan. The Powell-Flynn-Byrne team thought that it would take only seven days to get a recount done in six large counties of multiple states Trump had lost. 

We now know, by the six months it took the Cyber Ninjas to recount the vote in Maricopa County, Arizona, that this was a wildly optimistic estimate. We also know the results of that particular recount didn't exactly come out the way Trump and his people expected they would. Biden's win in Arizona was confirmed by the "forensic audit," with an additional 300 votes awarded him. We also know by the example of the last special counsel assigned to investigate an election — Robert Mueller's investigation of the 2016 presidential election – that months would have gone by before any proposed team led by Powell or anyone else would be able to issue any kind of report on "election integrity." 

So we know that part of the plan wouldn't have worked in a way that would have benefited the struggling president at all. 

One deadline had already passed: Electors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia had met on Dec. 14, cast their ballots and forwarded their "Certificates of Ascertainment" to the vice president and the archivist of the National Archives. So that was over and done. The next deadline was, of course, Jan. 6, when a joint session of Congress was to meet and count and certify the electoral ballots and determine the winner of the election. 

Aha! Maybe that was the plan! Let's see if we can do a little mind reading. Say, as Flynn et. al. proposed, a bunch of soldiers had shown up with trucks in six counties in three or four states and driven away with thousands of voting machines and taken them God Only Knows Where, to do God Only Knows What with them. What do you figure would happen? Hmmmm … chaos, maybe? 

First there would be the coverage of what could only be described as raids on state and county election offices and storage facilities. Those images would fill the news for days. Then there would doubtlessly be a battle, as happened months later in Arizona, over whether the news media would be allowed into whatever enormous facility had been rented for the purpose of storing the voting machines, at least initially, and then "analyzing and assessing" the vote, as was called for in the proposed executive order. There would be multiple jurisdictions of authority involved, all the way from county voting commissioners through the secretaries of state to the governors of those states, representatives of both parties and of the Trump and Biden campaigns, all the way to law enforcement officials from each state, probably including the attorneys general and state police commanders… 

Are you getting the picture? Does the word clusterfuck come to mind? And of course there would be leaks to the media, lots and lots of leaks from every rotting timber of this listing vessel, alleging all manner of corrupt practices, skullduggery, attempts to influence the count — if in fact a count could even get underway — and accusations by both campaigns and both political parties that the other was attempting to "fix" or "rig" the outcome of whatever the hell was going on. Christmas would come and go, leaving just 11 or 12 days until Jan. 6 (depending on whether Christmas Day would be taken as a holiday and work suspended) when the joint session of Congress was scheduled to meet — a deadline set not by political parties or campaigns, but by federal law. 

What do you figure would happen on that day if thousands of voting machines had been seized by the military and taken away somewhere and some kind of "recount" was taking place being managed by … well, by whom, anyway? Do you figure that challenges to the electoral votes of at least those states whose machines were seized would happen in the House and Senate? Do you figure the joint session would devolve into, yes, chaos? Do you figure some kind of motion would be made and some kind of vote taken that the entire clusterfuck should be suspended and the election should be "thrown into the House," as the saying goes? 

And if all of that should come to pass, well, you know as well as I do what the outcome of a vote in the House would be: Trump would be declared the victor and he would remain in office. So maybe that was the plan all along: chaos. Does chaos sound like it would appeal to anyone you know? My goodness, it's beginning to look like we escaped that one by the proverbial hairs on our chinny-chin-chin, doesn't it?

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Scumball Republican Traitors Choose Trump Over the Constitution (Again)

 They really just could not be more slimy traitors.

WASHINGTON — The Republican Party on Friday officially declared the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and events that led to it “legitimate political discourse,” and rebuked two lawmakers in the party who have been most outspoken in condemning the deadly riot and the role of Donald J. Trump in spreading the election lies that fueled it. 
The Republican National Committee’s voice vote to censure Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois at its winter meeting in Salt Lake City culminated more than a year of vacillation, which started with party leaders condemning the Capitol attack and Mr. Trump’s conduct, then shifted to downplaying and denying it. 
On Friday, the party went further in a resolution slamming Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger for taking part in the House investigation of the assault, saying they were participating in “persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.” 
After the vote, party leaders rushed to clarify that language, saying it was never meant to apply to rioters who violently stormed the Capitol in Mr. Trump’s name. “Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line,” Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, said in a statement. “They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.” 
But the censure, which was carefully negotiated in private among party members, made no such distinction, nor is the House committee investigating the attack examining any normal political debate. 
It was the latest and most forceful effort by the Republican Party to minimize what happened and the broader attempt by Mr. Trump and his allies to invalidate the results of the 2020 election. In approving it and opting to punish two of its own, Republicans seemed to embrace a position that many of them have only hinted at: that the assault and the actions that preceded it were acceptable. 
It came days after Mr. Trump suggested that, if re-elected in 2024, he would consider pardons for those convicted in the Jan. 6 attack and for the first time described his goal that day as subverting the election results, saying in a statement that Vice President Mike Pence “could have overturned the election.” 
On Friday, Mr. Pence pushed back on Mr. Trump, calling his assertion “wrong.” “I had no right to overturn the election,” Mr. Pence told the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization, at a gathering in Florida. 
“The Republican Party is so off the deep end now that they are describing an attempted coup and a deadly insurrection as political expression,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland and a member of the special House committee investigating the Capitol attack. “It is a scandal that historians will be aghast at, to think that a major political party would be denouncing Liz Cheney for standing up for the Constitution and not saying anything about Donald Trump’s involvement in the insurrection.” 
In his own defense, Mr. Kinzinger said: “I have no regrets about my decision to uphold my oath of office and defend the Constitution. I will continue to focus my efforts on standing for truth and working to fight the political matrix that’s led us to where we find ourselves today.” 
The resolution spoke repeatedly of party unity as the goal of censuring the lawmakers, saying that Republicans’ ability to focus on the Biden administration was being “sabotaged” by the “actions and words” of Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger, which indicate “they support Democrat efforts to destroy President Trump more than they support winning back a Republican majority in 2022.”

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Cheating, Selfishness, White Entitlement

I thought this piece made some interesting points:
Cryptocurrency is crashing. Prices for cryptocurrencies "have cratered since reaching all-time highs in early November, wiping out an astonishing $1.35 trillion in value globally, nearly half of the total market," the Washington Post reports. The whole thing had an air of a pyramid scheme to it. Media hype and ads featuring Matt Damon lured a bunch of ordinary people into the market, inflating the value of the already questionable currencies. Then, predictably, more professional investors got out, running off with their very real money while the rest of the market collapsed. But the story of cryptocurrency is about more than just a bunch of gullible people losing their shirts gambling with Monopoly money. Cryptocurrency mania is part of a the same social forces that created libertarianism, rising fascism, and Donald Trump. (Unsurprisingly, the Trumps are trying to cash in, unsuccessfully so far, on crypto.) 
It's all rooted in the overblown sense of entitlement held by a lot of Americans — especially white Americans, and especially male Americans. It leads them to believe they are above having to live with the same social contract that binds the rest of us. 
Millions of Americans have decided that they not only can, but should, cheat the system — even to the extent of having separate currency systems. The result is that social structures we all rely on are starting to get shaky and, in some cases, are already on the verge of collapse. 
A whole bunch of dudes, some of whom are very rich and powerful, think there's a cheat code to every system. (snip) 
Having to do things the standard way, which requires playing nice with others, is for the little people. Despite the tech utopian spin, this mentality is not about "innovation." It stems from a larger rejection of the social contract that is reaching pandemic levels in American society. 
This is quite literally illustrated by the actual COVID-19 pandemic, which has spiraled in recent weeks due to so many ordinary conservatives refusing to get vaccinated. 
This started because GOP leaders and pundits believed it would weaken Joe Biden's presidency to convince their followers to reject vaccines. But the kindling that fueled the fire was the same sense of entitlement that is also fueling the cryptocurrency craze. 
Millions of people, especially white men and especially Republicans, are ready to hear that they're special snowflakes who don't need to participate in the same boring systems as everyone else — even though systems like vaccination require everyone's participation to work. 
It's the Aaron Rodgers/Joe Rogan/Tucker Carlson vortex of vaccine rejection. The three have varying degrees of right-wing ideology, but ultimately, all three tie their anti-vaccine rhetoric to this sense of white guy entitlement and a belief that people like them aren't constrained by the same biology and social obligations as everyone else. 
It's the same attitude fueling the demand for ivermectin and other "alternative" COVID-19 treatments. These snake oil treatments are the cryptocurrency of health care. It doesn't matter that they're useless. Their appeal lies in flattering the egos of those drawn to them, letting them believe they've found a way to cheat the system and avoid the same boring health care (vaccines) used by the hoi polloi. 
The most destructive result of this entitlement is both the election of Trump and his attempted coup, which continues to have widespread support among the Republican Party. 
From the very beginning, Trump's appeal to his voters was a promise that he knew how to cheat the system. This was an alluring promise because his base — conservative white voters — is rapidly shrinking in size and cannot hang onto power in a multiracial democracy. Rather than learn to compromise with others and share power fairly, they instead backed a man who claimed he could rig the system in their favor. 
Now, instead of graciously admitting they lost the election, most Republicans are backing Trump's false claims that the election was stolen. Only 21% of Republicans will now admit that Biden won the 2020 election. 
Could it really be that so many millions of Americans are that delusional? It's unlikely. 
Instead, the conspiracy theory is instrumental. It creates the justification they intend to rely on for the ongoing efforts to steal the next election. Like cryptocurrency or ivermectin, the Big Lie is viewed as a kind of cheat code, a way for Republicans to get their way without having to play by the same rules that constrain everyone else. 
The insurrection was a violent manifestation of this entitlement, which is why the people who stormed the Capitol seemed genuinely shocked that there were legal consequences for doing so. Criticizing and tweaking systems so they work better for everyone is a good thing. But that is not what is going on with modern horrors like cryptocurrency, vaccine refusal, and Trumpism. None of those are genuine attempts to fix existing systems. It's about "alternatives" for people who think they are above honoring the basic social contract. 
Systems don't work, however, unless everyone plays by the rules. As the cryptocurrency crash demonstrates, if you inject too many wannabe cheaters into a system, the whole thing will eventually fall apart.
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