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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The man who threatened Stormy. Plus: Mikey and the mob


This image appeared on this twitter thread a day before Stormy Daniels released the sketch of the man who threatened her.  The image above depicts an unidentified man (left) standing with Keith Schiller (right), Trump's bodyguard.

To refresh your memory, here's the sketch:


By no means would I say: "It's a match." The hair is certainly different. On the other hand, there have been instances in which a police sketch bore far less resemblance to the person later identified as the perpetrator. The Son of Sam case offers a classic example.

One problem is that good-looking guys tend to look more-or-less alike.

All in all, I hope someone identifies the silver-haired gentleman. Incidentally, it has been pointed out that the sketch somewhat resembles Stormy's ex.

Trump, in his usual vulgar fashion, went out of his way to proclaim that the man in the sketch doesn't exist.
“A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”
Before Trump went into his usual tough-guy "hard sell" routine, I was more open to the argument that Stormy was engaging in hyperbole. Now, I'm persuaded that the man in the sketch is real. Why does Trump act in this self-defeating fashion? Any previous president would have left the denials to a press secretary, and only in response to a direct question from a journalist.

Cohen: Here's the most important article about Michael Cohen anyone has yet published. It appears that Cohen's links to the Russian underworld may predate The Donald's.
Cohen has for decades had close personal and professional relationships with many citizens of the former Soviet Union.
Cohen continued to use Estrin’s address on legal filings as late as 1999, but he added several new addresses during this period, including 22-05 43rd Avenue, in Long Island City, Queens — the taxi garage. It was the headquarters of the New York branch of the empire of Simon Garber, a Soviet emigre who also has had cab companies in Chicago and Moscow. Charismatic and silver-haired, Garber released kitschy TV-style advertisements, in Russian, for his company.

Over the years, Garber has been convicted of assault in New York, arrested for battery in Miami, and pleaded guilty in New Jersey to charges of criminal mischief involving him breaking into three neighbors’ homes, shattering glass doors, smearing blood all over, and taking a shower. In Chicago, his taxi fleet included wrecked vehicles with illegally laundered titles.
Also see what Josh Marshall has to say.
So Michael Cohen’s uncle Morton Levine’s social club was the headquarters of Russian organized crime in the U.S.

That’s quite something.
According to Levine, who is apparently still alive, all his nieces and nephews owned shares of the El Caribe and still do. Levine told the AP that Michael Cohen owned his stake in the club until Donald Trump was elected President when he “gave up his stake.”

That was probably wise!

It was also very recent.
As for the Sean Hannity link: It seems fair to speculate that Hannity used Cohen's services for the same reason Broidy and Trump did. Hannity is a wealthy man; if he truly had need of real estate advice, he would have hired the services of a specialist. I've quite enjoyed Hannity's attempts to claim that he was never a Cohen client while at the same time insisting that their conversations were covered by attorney/client privilege. Apparently, Michael Cohen is the Schrodinger's cat of Shysterville.

By the way: I'm out of the hospital following heart attack number two, a cute little myocardial infarctionette which was resolved by a new stent.

Yet another artery has a 100 percent blockage. Fortunately, the body -- of its own accord -- created a collateral route around this impediment; unfortunately, I don't think that this alternative path allows for the same amount of blood flow. It's a bit like driving a big rig truck down a small alleyway. Exercise may help, if it does not kill: The literature (which I've been studying) seems a tad contradictory.

As the semi-divine Gustav Mahler wrote in a program note: Freund Hein spielt auf! The second movement of the Fourth symphony says all that need be said of the merry dance with Azrael: He that hath an ear, let him hear.

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Comments:
Read elsewhere the guy what threatened Stormy Daniels might be Trump's head of security with the central casting last name Calamari.
 
Since when has Tom Brady moonlighted as an enforcer?
 
Take care of yourself, Joseph. We need you up and attum.

Peg
 
Stormy's sketch looks a lot like a young Richard Chamberlain, https://i.pinimg.com/736x/1e/30/66/1e3066b7a058fc94baa1196cf011dcf7--richard-chamberlain-doctor.jpg
 
What Peg said. Thinking of you in good health.
 
Is it Matthew Calamari Jr?
 
Hey Joe, good to read your words again.
Hang tough till the last day. None of us know the date, but I for one, don't like reminders and notices.
You stay in my thoughts and my positive karma energy of "people I wish would live a lot longer".
You are my favorite crancky pessimist!
M
 
Hey Joe, good to read your words again.
Hang tough till the last day. None of us know the date, but I for one, don't like reminders and notices.
You stay in my thoughts and my positive karma energy of "people I wish would live a lot longer".
You are my favorite crancky pessimist!
M
 
Sending power to your stents! Please take care!
 
Best wishes Joe for a full recovery.
 
Good luck and good health!
 
Please take truly fine care of yourself, and have others do the same. WIshing you a swift, uneventful recovery.

In the meanwhile, here's a good image match for the sketch:

https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/jon-bon-jovi?sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=jon%20bon%20jovi
 
Glad to see you back, Joe. Sending blessings for a speedy recovery and rehab. You have definitely been through it!

As for the on-going news? It staggers the imagination but the overall picture is beginning to take shape. It ain't pretty because the basic sense of the Trumpster as the conman/grifter is taking shape and form. The picture is as ugly as we thought which makes the Trumpster's enablers ever more treacherous. This goes wa-a-ay beyond weasel status; these people are criminals and traitors who sold their own souls and have attempted to sell the country to the highest bidder, primarily an international criminal enterprise.

Btw, did you catch the vid of Barbara Res relating a story of Trump asking one of his security goons: Would you kill for me?

Who asks a question like that? An arrogant criminal, that's who. Btw, the security guy? His answer was 'yes.'

Take care of yourself, Joe.

Peggysue
 
Please take care of yourself, Joseph!
 
Take good care of yourself, Joe. I hope this procedure provides some relief.
 
I hope you're doing OK, Joe. That's far more important than anything anyone types here.

But if you're up to reading it, here's Carole Cadwalladr's latest piece on Arron Banks. He once told her "I wouldn't be so lippy in Russia". And Leave.EU published a spoof video showing her getting beaten up to the tune of the Russian national anthem.
 
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Welcome to the nightmare! Or: Why I'm a bit more paranoid than usual

A sick man awakens to a world far stranger than a sick man's dreams. I opened my eyes to this reader comment:
Not only did Syria use chlorine at Douma but it helped deliver the nerve agent used against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. I'm not making this up. UK Intelligence says they intercepted messages confirming this. Seriously?
I haven't seen a news story to this effect -- and even if I did, I would not believe the charge, which seems ludicrous on its face. As does the Russian allegation that the UK launched the chemical attack in Ghouta.

As furious as we all justifiably are at Putin, I'm starting to suspect the covert presence of an outside actor. Remember the scenario of the early James Bond films, in which SPECTRE tries to goad the superpowers into tossing nukes at each other? Call me a weirdo (you wouldn't be the first), but I'm starting to warm to a cognate narrative.

Is someone trying to set the world afire? He who controls the intelligence "chatter" controls the decisions made by great nations. Just how difficult would it be to spoof said chatter?

For now, I will say little more about the Syria strike, beyond noting that my unloved Theory of Syria (which you can read if you scroll down and skim recent posts) has been neither confirmed nor disconfirmed. Suppose they gave a war and nobody blogged?

Speaking of the digital manipulation of events...

Thiel. At the end of last March, a flurry of stories indicated that Alfredas Chmieliauskas -- an employee of Peter Thiel's Palantir -- helped Cambridge Analytica acquire and use all of that Facebook data. In what follows, "Wylie" is the now-famous C Anal whistleblower Christopher Wylie:
Documents seen by the New York Times show that Chmieliauskas began writing to Wylie and a colleague of the whistleblower's then working SCL Group, which later went on to create Cambridge Analytica.

The trio shared ideas about employing data to assemble behavioral profiles for a product they named 'Big Daddy'.

Chmieliauskas then reportedly advised Cambridge Analytica to harvest Facebook profiles' data using an app.

Palantir's initial response to the revelations was to say it had 'never had a relationship Cambridge Analytica, nor have we ever worked on any Cambridge Analytica data'.
Later, Palantir said that Chmieliauskas acted in a purely personal capacity. That's the value of a guy like Chmieliauskas: He's plausibly deniable.

As most of you know, Thiel does not believe in democracy. He said so in 2009. Officially.
I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.
Part of the problem, sayeth Thiel, is the expansion of the franchise to women. He is not the first staunch libertarian to sneer at the Athenian answer to the eternal question of "How to Run the Zoo?" The modern alliance between Putinism, fascism and libertarianism stems from one basic fact: All of these forces don't like democracy.

Yet Palantir was built with CIA funding and works at the heart of the American intelligence establishment.

A fundamental belief in democracy should be a requirement for anyone gaining entrance into that world. That's the least we should demand, don't you think? One may justifiably ask if an anti-democratic force within our espionage establishment has helped to create our current national nightmare.
Its initial clients included US government agencies, particularly in the intelligence community, as well as the Pentagon, law enforcement bodies, and homeland security customers
Palantir also collaborated with the NSA in expanding its global spy network, the extent of which was revealed in the trove of documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
Although I look forward to reading Malcolm Nance's new book about the rise of modern fascism, I'll bet you a donut that a spook-friendly writer like Nance won't touch Palantir. Nance excels when he discusses the malign influence of Vladimir Putin, because Putin is foreign -- The Other. Nance wouldn't be my go-to guy when it comes to investigting a potential enemy within the spook community.

Earlier, I offered my theory that an "outside force" was trying to set the world afire by spoofing intelligence chatter. Is Peter Thiel that force?

He does not like democracy, and he is in a position to end it. Many consider Thiel a mere crackpot. That's what people said about Hitler.

Roger. Remind me: Just which one of Stone's Rules states that it is good policy to threaten a man's dog? Which rule says that one should make so self-defeating a threat in public, or at least in a fashion that can easily be made public?

(Randy Credico, the receiver of that threat, owns a Coton de Tulear named Bianca. For a while, I thought that my beloved hellhound Bella was a Coton de Tulear, although she was a bit too large for the breed. I later decided that she was a Havanese. I still miss Bella.)
Asked for comment, Stone responded Thursday night in an email to Isikoff: “Go f*** yourself FBI Schill
This is the very definition of the word "meltdown."

Whenever I think of Trump's cronies, whenever I visualize the way they probably behave behind the scenes, you know what comes to mind? The Wolf of Wall Street. Stone accused his old pal Sam Nunberg of being a cokehead without realizing that he, Stone, the self-described libertine, had just admitted in public that he's the sort of person who pals around with cokeheads.

Question: What kind of person pals around with cokeheads? Often enough, other cokeheads.

In previous posts, we have established that Donald Trump had an amphetamine problem, as Hope Hicks has confirmed. Author Henry Hurt names the late, notorious Dr. Joseph Greenburg as a supplier of speed to Trump. Dr. Steve Hoefflin is the man who made Trump's hairline what it is today -- and Hoefflin has been accused of supplying celebrities with happy pills. We all recall Carrie Fisher's expert opinion of Trump's behavior.

Remember the "Popeye" scene in Wolf of Wall Street? That's how I picture Team Trump.

As for Credico: At this point, I would not be surprised to learn that he is lying about Assange, and I would not be surprised to learn that he is telling the truth. But I'm certain of this: Any man who threatens a dog might as well wear a t-shirt that says "I'M GUILTY."

Cohen and Trump. This New Yorker piece is a gem.
The narrative that will become widely understood is that Donald Trump did not sit atop a global empire. He was not an intuitive genius and tough guy who created billions of dollars of wealth through fearlessness. He had a small, sad operation, mostly run by his two oldest children and Michael Cohen, a lousy lawyer who barely keeps up the pretenses of lawyering and who now faces an avalanche of charges, from taxicab-backed bank fraud to money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

Cohen, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka monetized their willingness to sign contracts with people rejected by all sensible partners. Even in this, the Trump Organization left money on the table, taking a million dollars here, five million there, even though the service they provided—giving branding legitimacy to blatantly sketchy projects—was worth far more. It was not a company that built value over decades, accumulating assets and leveraging wealth. It burned through whatever good will and brand value it established as quickly as possible, then moved on to the next scheme.
Was Cohen truly Trump's lawyer? He seems more like a co-creepazoid, operating under the delusion that the magic phrase "attorney client privilege" would forever hide their shadowy milkings and bilkings and scammings and schemings.

Cohen in Prague. Although the right keeps braying that the Steele dossier has been discredited, only one argument against it comes to us backed by anything resembling evidence. I refer, of course, to Michael Cohen's insistence that he never has journeyed to Prague. Cohen "proved" that he never went by showing his passport.

When he first made this statement, I noted that some people possess more than one passport. Hell, I had a girlfriend who owned two passports. I've seen 'em. Held them in my hands.

Nevertheless, some readers scoffed at my claim that a citizen might have two passports.

When Paul Manafort's home was investigated, the cops found three passports.

Now we have a massive discussion of Michael Cohen and his claims -- and yet, infuriatingly, very few people care to discuss the possibility of multiple passports. Everyone keeps talking about a scenario in which Cohen could have sneaked in through Germany -- a theory that Cohen can scotch by "proving" that he did not have a "Germany" passport stamp for that time period.

Come on. Let's stop treating the "multiple passport" theory as though it were a claimed bigfoot sighting.

Benjamin Wittes tends to doubt that Cohen went to Prague because Cohen sued Buzzfeed, thereby opening himself up to discovery.
It is certainly possible that Cohen is a big enough idiot to sue a media organization—and thereby invite discovery—over his presence in Prague when he, had in fact, been there, but...
But nothing, dude. As noted above, whenever I visualize the Team Trump decision-making process, I visualize the "Popeye" scene in Wolf of Wall Street. Discovery? Big deal. Hide Passport #2 in a hole dug in the backyard. What's Buzzfeed gonna do?

So far, nobody has verified the McClatchy report that Meller has proof of Cohen's presence in Prague. Cohen has denied the charge:
Bad reporting, bad information and bad story by same reporter Peter Stone @McClatchyDC. No matter how many times or ways they write it, I have never been to Prague. I was in LA with my son. Proven!
Remember, Cohen now denies ever setting foot in Prague, even though he once told the WSJ that he had visited the city. Note that Cohen previously used as his alibi a visit to Capri with musician Steve Van Zandt, a claim which Van Zandt has denied.

Then again, why shouldn't Cohen be in two places at once? It appears that Mike Pence has the power of bilocation. So why not Cohen?

Recall the very purpose of the Prague meeting (according to the Dossier):
The immediate issues had been to contain further scandals involving MANNAFORT’s commercial and political role in Russia/Ukraine and to limit the damage arising from exposure of former TRUMP foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE’s secret meetings with Russian leadership figures in Moscow the previous month. The overall objective had been “to sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connections could be fully established or proven.”
COHEN had been accompanied to Prague by 3 colleagues and the timing of the visit was either in the last week of August or the first week of September. One of their main Russian interlocutors was Oleg SOLODUKHIN operating under Rossotrudnichestvo cover. According to [redacted], the agenda comprised questions on how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the CLINTON campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow’s secret liaison with the TRUMP team more generally.
Why I'm a bit more paranoid than usual... You may recall, a while back, I wrote a post discussing rumors that Julian Assange had long ago managed to escape his confines in the Ecuadorean embassy, making the occasional return trip just to keep up appearances. I further noted that the likeliest place for Assange to "hang out" would be in a semi-palatial pad owned by his good friend Pamela Anderson, in the Malibu Colony.

His presence there would explain Roger Stone's insistence that he never dined with Assange, despite a boast to that effect in an email exchange. Stone says that credit card receipts prove that he was in Los Angeles that day, dining in a restaurant just twelve miles away from Pamela Anderson's house.

(No doubt Cohen also has credit card receipts proving his presence in Los Angeles.)

The post in which I outline the "Great Assange Escape" theory was written in the spirit of jollity, with a twinkle in the eye and a grin on the face. Way I figure it, if Roger Stone can join forces with Alex Jones and dish out all sorts of weirdo conspiracy theories, why not toss a few back in his direction? Fair is fair.

Though I did not write in a serious vein, the post fetched a disturbing comment from an anonymous reader:
Figured it had an ending near Malibu Canyon for ya.
C'est tout. Why did these words disturb me? Because I did indeed spend a few key "growing up" years in a place called Malibu Canyon.

Nobody else knew this. The woman I live with did not know this. I've never mentioned the fact in public, or even in private.

In this post, I published a photo of the home in which I lived, but the location is identified only as "a hillside community near the San Fernando Valley." I have never written the words "Malibu Canyon" in any public or private place until this day.

More paranoia fodder: A couple of weeks ago, I woke up to discover that a folder containing an art project -- something meaningful to me, though not to anyone else -- had disappeared. I've worked on that project for months.

I also use an app which automatically backs up important materials to an exterior drive. Infuriatingly, that app kicked in right after the folder was deleted, which means that the "mirror" folder on the exterior drive also disappeared. Such are the dangers of using an automatic backup system.

Fortunately, I was able to find the files with a remarkable bit of free software called Puran, which I highly recommend.

Think what you like, but I know that I did not delete that folder. I also know that my ladyfriend did not delete the folder. And I'm pretty damned sure that the cat is physically incapable of such a task.

A short while ago, my web-based email indicated that a private message sent to me just a couple of hours previously was already read. I had not fired up my email for nearly a full day. Had someone else accessed my account?

Yeah, yeah, I know: Paranoia springs eternal. Why would any hacker bother to tweak the nose of someone as inconsequential as little ol' me?

I've no illusions of my importance. At one point, I was a C-level blogger, but those days are long past. Like Sebastian the crab, I'm quite content to stay below C level. To switch metaphors: There's freedom in being small potatoes, which is one reason why I've not attempted to become a more sizable spud. Nobody has passed me any secret information. My many little theories are sometimes right and often wrong, and usually offered to the world with the aforementioned twinkle in the eye.

Still, I'm starting to wonder...

A plea for information: Serious voices out there are starting to ask questions about Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department Inspector General who wrote that report about Andrew McCabe. I'm not the only one who wonders why the far right, which once spewed hate hate hate at Horowitz, now seems happy with the guy.

If you have any information about all of this -- or just a good Theory of Horowitz -- let me know. You need not tell me what you know. I can tell you how to pass along your information to someone who is a not a "small potatoes" blogger like yours truly -- someone who wants to get to the bottom of the Horowitz enigma. We're talking about a very reputable "someone" who can make an impact.

Health note. Looks as though I may see a doctor today. If a major news story hits and you see no post about it here, simply presume that I've got other concerns on my mind. Until we meet again, take care.
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Comments:
Craig Murray mentioned the supposed Syrian link to the Skripal affair, it boils down to a SIGINT intercept GCHQ claim to have which, according to the Sun, says '"The package has been delivered" and added that two people had "made a successful egress".' Murray points out that there is no discrete word for "egress" in Russian, and postulates that it has been rendered in flowery, spyish language to make it sound sinister. Obviously there is no reason for such a message to exist, let along to be sent via Syria, unless it was intentionally sent to be caught by the listening station on Akrotiri. Murray believe MbS to be behind it all, given his recent visits to DC, London and Paris, and the actions those capitals are now undertaking.
 
Good luck with the doc app. Please take care of yourself.
 
My candidates for under-acknowledged forces behind the current insanity include Thiel, Erik Prince and Deutche Bank. In general, guessing perhaps Euro-fascist with Eurasian (eastward-looking) leanings, either aristocratic or just lowlifes with aristocratic pretensions (Manafort's "Hapsburg group" may be a clue there).

Timothy Snyder's new book looks like it will place Trump-Putin in a broader context of the rise of the far right in Europe, though I doubt he goes into spooky stuff.

Take care Joe.

-Anon1234
 
Snyder's latest is essential reading. So is Nancy MacLean's _Democracy in Chains_. These two books are unusual in providing so much insight tnto how our democracy has been brought into such peril.

In re Malibu: I've thought for a while that dixxing has become routine. The Snowden revelations and the Stratfor- Anonymous issue seemed to point in that direction.

Thiel has a lot of bad ideas. He recently referred to the East Bay, located on the esst side of San Francisco Bay, as a "failing state." Said failing state will go bankrupt in the next recession. Link:
https://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Peter-Thiel-East-Bay-stanford-failing-state-paypal-12544174.php#photo-11990931

Love that your hellhound was a Havanese. Cute dogs.

Take care of yourself.

Tom
 
An aviation story for you

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/drug-traffickers-buying-up-planes-in-south-florida-new-times-investigation-finds-10249767
 
Best of luck with your health issues,

 
Regarding your paranoia, the first section of your post...
WAY BACK in 2008 we had a series of deep research posts about the Trilateral Commission, Obama, Carter, Kissinger, Brezinski, et.al.

https://insightanalytical.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/the-story-unfolds-2-obama-biden-brzezinski-carterand-the-trilateral-commission/


It sounded a big crazy then, but it still sticks in my mind. You may want to check out the very old posts..

Please note: the link that is supposed to go to a trove of original documents in the information packet as described below ...is now going to a DELETE.


Additional information from InsightAnalytical-GRL:

Background on Brzezinksi from CNN’s “Knowledge Bank: Profiles here.

Excerpt:

Aiming to replace Kissinger’s “acrobatics” in foreign policy-making with a foreign policy “architecture,” Brzezinski was as eager for power as his rival. However, his task was complicated by his focus on East-West relations, and in a hawkish way — in an administration where many cared a great deal about North-South relations and human rights. …In the growing crisis atmosphere of 1979 and 1980 due to the Iranian hostage situation, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and a deepening economic crisis, Brzezinski’s anti-Soviet views gained influence but could not end the Carter administration’s malaise.
NOTE: Kissinger himself is reported to have told the head of state of Canada that “Jimmy Carter is not the President of the United States. The Trilateral Commission is the President of the United States; I represent the Trilateral Commission.”

NOTE: Here is a link to a packet of information prepared by the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress which includes images of magazine and newspaper articles on the Trilateral Commission circa 1978-1980, as well as an extensive report listing the names of members at the time, its objectives, and a bibliography.

 
Just croak already.
 
Thanks for your patience in this time.
 
Don't come to this site if you do not like the content. Your rudeness is shocking!
M
 
Joseph, Keep singing about the swamp and take care. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIQ_n4wSktQ

This planet doesn't need more toadies who demand we spin our wheels rehashing ancient history and fake news. Keep focused on moving our democracy forward, not backwards. Address the present violations of laws, Constitutional rights, and democratic processes with the law in the now.

Don't be led down blind alleys of the past or into traps like the patriobiotics blather about Instagram account wing photos, Cohen in Prague, Weiner's access to e-mails, Pizzagate and the porn addicted fever dreams of enfeebled GOP perverts.

Let's keep our nation from being reformed into Mercer's mercenary vision for America: a corrupt, distorted, cartoonish, fun-house mirror image of democracy that defends, promotes, and enriches private interests with a rubber stamp by our false front, toady, self-interested banana Republican Congress.

Take a break and see Gamer One or The Death of Stalin (LOL).

How are those alternate reality goggles working as a substitute for what is really happening, Anon 10:20am? When you hold up a mirror, where is your finger pointing? Did it take courage to lay your miserly spirit out for all to see? You never know when you will be putting on your "Goodbye Shirt". When the day comes, good luck finding your soul.

"The Inheritance...On a mountain whose name had been forgotten, a shepherd found a book in a cave. He had been gathering stones to make a wall across the mouth of the cave...when he found it...He wanted to see if it breathed...He wanted to see whether it was really dead...then he wanted to see if it was really a door...He listened for the fox. He listened for the wolf. He heard the wind that came after sundown and then went away by itself...He was listening...He was watching the place where he had last seen it, trying to remember exactly what it looked like... He carried it out into the sunlight. After that his life changed." W.S. Merwin

dataflo
 
Hey Joseph, keep up the good work and at times quirky writing. Your knowledge and sense of humor are valued.

@Anonymous 10:20, you demonstrate the rightwing christian attitudes we have come to know and resist.

@dataflo, thanks for the Merwin.

Tom
 
I'm afraid you've not been as rigorously protective of your personal information as you think. If you recall, during the discussion of your step-father and his final partner, I was able to identify the two of them and provide information on some of her legal problems. I stopped looking at that point, having no need to discover more; others may have continued....
 
Kato Kaelin?
 
Wasn't that Murphy's Ranch place in Malibu Canyon?
 
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Friday, April 13, 2018

Broidy, Trump and the Playboy model: WHO WAS THE FATHER? Plus: The link to George Nader

What a day! I had no intention of writing a second post today, let alone a third one. But we must note the political "passing" of billionaire Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy. He had a fling with an unnamed Playboy model who became pregnant and chose to have an abortion. He paid her $1.6 million.

Somehow, Michael Cohen was involved in that transaction -- and so was Keith Davidson, the original lawyer for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

I'm starting to suspect that Davidson has something up his sleeve other than his elbow. It's also pretty clear now that Cohen handled "bimbo eruptions" (as they used to be called) for more than one client.
The payment was a personal injury settlement, and included a nondisclosure contract, forbidding the woman from discussing the deal, according to the source, who did not want to be named for fear of retribution. It is not known what type of personal injury claim the woman made.
Injury? Injury? Can an abortion be classified as an injury?

Another freakin' NDA. The entire GOP leadership is swimming in NDAs. Remember when the mainstream media routinely castigated Hillary as too secretive?

It gets cuter: In the agreement, Broidy was called "David Dennison," just like Donnie-boy. The unnamed woman was called Peggy Peterson, just like Stormy.

How the hell did Davidson and Cohen glom onto this woman? Did Trump and Broidy share the same mistress?

Here's Broidy's statement:


Note that Broidy does not specify that he impregnated the woman. Maybe Trump did. That would explain the involvement of Davidson and Cohen.

Remember the "paternity" clause in the Stormy Daniels NDA? If both contracts mention "David Dennison" then it's a good bet that both contracts mention the word "paternity."

It's starting to look as though Cohen and Davidson are the Laurel and Hardy of Republican fixers. Here we have two lawyers representing opposing sides in a legal dispute -- yet the lawyers have a "relationship." Is that kosher? Does the Bar Association approve of such arrangements?

It's also cute to see a Republican complain that a consensual relationship has become a matter of national discussion. We haven't forgotten how you damnable hypocrites treated Bill Clinton, Mr. Broidy.

Broidy's true importance becomes clearer if you read this NYT story from March 21 (which I stupidly did not discuss when it appeared). Broidy and George Nader worked together behind the scenes to get rid of Rex Tillerson, who stood in the way of the tilt toward Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Basically, the Broidy/Nader Team helped to engineer the shift toward the Saudis -- and to increase the likelihood of war with Iran. (It seems that Nader represents Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE.)
Mr. Nader’s cultivation of Mr. Broidy, laid out in documents provided to The New York Times, provides a case study in the way two Persian Gulf monarchies have sought to gain influence inside the Trump White House. Mr. Nader has been granted immunity in a deal for his cooperation with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to people familiar with the matter, and his relationship with Mr. Broidy may also offer clues to the direction of that inquiry.
So far, I've seen no indication that Broidy has come under Mueller's watchful eye.

Could blackmail have played a role here? It's no small matter when a high-ranking RNC official pays $1.6 million to a woman who got an abortion after he impregnated her.
The documents, which included emails, business proposals and contracts, were provided by an anonymous group critical of Mr. Broidy’s advocacy of American foreign policies in the Middle East.
The article mentions the possible involvement of hackers from Qatar, a nation which the Saudis hate almost as much as they hate Iran.

A secret hacking group working against Trumpian interests. Interesting idea. Many possibilities. If it is the Qataris, I hope that they understand the need to look beyond the Middle East. They can't topple Trump without first taking on his many "pals" in Congress.

"Qatar, if you're listening: I hope you can find out what they have on Devin Nunes, Paul Ryan, and so many other Trump enablers. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press."

By the way, there's also an important Russian angle to the Broidy story. We will speak of it anon.

Elsewhere: Rod Rosenstein's predicted firing still has not occurred. Perhaps the situation has changed. I hope so.

I also hope not to have to write another post today, because I'm not a well man and I need rest. So puh-LEASE, world: No more bombshells!

Added note: Oh shit. Literal bombshells.
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Mikey Cohen, caught between a Stormy and a Steele place?

http://amp.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/white-house/article208870264.html?__twitter_impression=true
 
Many people expected confirmation that Cohen, the fixer, traveled to Prague in 2016.

Steve Van Zandt's wife called Cohen out for lying when she and Steve were in Rome, not w/ Cohen on Capri. http://www.showbiz411.com/2018/04/13/exclusive-michael-cohen-alibi-blown-he-lied-about-july-2016-capri-vacation-with-rock-star-steve-van-zandt.

Celebrate with a song from the 7/16/16 E Street Band Rome concert set list.
https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/bruce-springsteen/2016/circo-massimo-rome-italy-5bff3758.html

"Ain't no sure for the summertime blues", Mr. Cohen?
https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/bruce-springsteen/2016/circo-massimo-rome-italy-5bff3758.html

dataflo
 
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We must take action (updated)

The signs are clear: Rosenstein will soon go. He may well be gone by the time you read these words.

We must take action. We need to march. We need to do more than march.

Benjamin Wittes sent out one of his "imminent BOOM" tweets. A reference to Rosenstein? Wittes usually specializes in good booms (from a Resistance POV).

Crooked Cohen: We still don't know what the raid was all about, but we know the bottom line: Michael Cohen is officially under criminal investigation. "The filing redacts what Cohen is under investigation for." Damn!

Mike, it's time you understood: Donald Trump's definition of loyalty is "Die for me." He doesn't give even half a shit about you or anyone else. He simply expects you to die for him.

Update: The court filing indicates that Cohen was doing "little to no legal work, and that zero emails were exchanged with President Trump." Apparently, he was doing illegal work. We never expected to see emails with Trump, since Trump does not use email. But what about text messages? At any rate, Cohen's communications with others are not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Update 2: The finding by the US Attorney's office raises a point that should have been apparent from the start: Trump told the world that he knew nothing about Cohen's payment to Stormy Daniels. Therefore, nothing that Cohen did vis-a-vis Stormy is protected by attorney-client privilege.

It's the Lester Holt interview all over again! Trump screwed himself by opening his yap.

Savor the irony: In a lie-filled tweet, Trump falsely called Jim Comey a leaker of classified information. (Really? Cite the leak!) On the same day, Trump pardoned Scooter Libby, who outed an undercover CIA agent.

The horrible, hidden truth: Donald Trump's approval rating, though low, is higher than Robert Mueller's. Fortunately, Trump's unfavorables are much higher.

Need something to cheer you up? Try this. Alex Jones says that gorgeous, wealthy women continually seduced him when he was "13, 14" in order to convert him to Satanism. They targeted him because they were "interdimensionally" aware that he would one day start Infowars.

Update: We have the Inspector General's report on the (putative) reasons why Andrew McCabe was fired. And here is the statement from McCabe's attorney. I honestly believe McCabe to be the wronged party here.

It seems very likely that the Inspector General of the Justice Department -- Michael Horowitz -- has been compromised. I seem to be the only one who has repeatedly pointed out something that should be more widely discussed: As recently as last January, the Alt Right and Russian trolls waged all-out war against Horowitz. Even though he was little-known to the public at large, even though the average person never thinks about the DOJ's IG, the online brownshirts and made him the target of a vicious hate campaign.

Suddenly, suspiciously, the hate stopped. By the end of January, Horowitz had joined the campaign to demonize Hillary. The IG, formerly considered close kin to Comey, is now the Justice Department's answer to Devin Nunes -- and the Alt Righties no longer have a problem with Michael Horowitz.

Kompromat? Threats? Some other form of pressure? Hard to dismiss such ideas. That's how Trump and Putin do business. What does it profit a man to hide a Big Dark Secret at the expense of his soul?
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British general Jonathan Shaw, who used to have responsibility for CBRN and proliferation policy, makes clear he does not believe that Syria carried out a chemical attack recently in Douma, since they had no motive. He gets cut off by the interviewer.

Once we have asked "What motive might Syria have?" and come up the answer "none", the next question is what motive might Britain have? If this was only about the peacetime defence budget, I doubt Shaw would have much of a problem with it. This looks like WW3.
 
"This is the most diverse party in South Africa.
 
Why hasn't Cheeto Benito gotten rid of Rosenstein and Mueller already?

I have some ideas, not mutually exclusive of one another.

(1) Trump fears that the previously watertight Mueller investigation might start leaking like a Russian pee hooker. ;)

(2) Trump fears that the New York State AG would swing into action, having been holding off to let the Feds go first.

(3) Trump doesn't merely manipulate the true believers of the conspiracy cult--he IS one of them. Hence, he believes the "Deep State" is not merely a metaphor for the continuing interests of the security and intelligence communities, which do not change with Administrations--but rather, a coherent, conspiratorial entity which got rid of both JFK and Nixon. We already know he fears being poisoned. Maybe he fears that if he succeeds in blocking the DS from getting rid of him the way it got rid of Nixon, then the DS will merely shrug, and set about getting rid of him the way it got rid of JFK.

(4) He already knows the FBI and the spooks hate him. He absolutely needs the loyalty of the military brass, and he's not sure he has that. Today's brass, after all, spent their formative years with Trump's controller, Mommie Dearest Russia, as the Great Enemy. I doubt greatly that they would betray this country to help Russia and its puppet, Trump.
 
Off-topic (so I'll try to keep it brief). Online censorship is the real threat following Facebook and Russian hacking revelations. Not the loss of privacy, but the need to keep 'undesirables' from the web. The Henry Jackson Society has put out a major report for defeating terrorism online. Some UK government big nobs are all over it, calling for radical supervision of internet activity. Recommendations:

1. Technology companies should create a self-regulatory system to remove and audit extremist content [that's you, Joseph].
2. The British government should create an Internet Regulation Body.
3. More resources should be dedicated to the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) to build intelligence capital on the Darknet.
4. Social media companies [ie Goggle and Facebook -- already on it] should work with law enforcement to ensure that extremist material is not simply removed, but archived effectively to understand patterns of behaviour.

Watch this space. This is coming to the blogsphere.
 
Who said we haven’t got a motive for Assad to gas his own people? Terror. Control. Domination.
 
Not only did Syria use chlorine at Douma but it helped deliver the nerve agent used against Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. I'm not making this up. UK Intelligence says they intercepted messages confirming this. Seriously?
 
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Watery tarts and Dino and more

Rosenstein is still with us, but his days on the job are obviously numbered. Hannity's blather about the "Mueller crime family" tells you all you need to know about what's coming. Fox News makes Der Stürmer seem subtle, and I speak literally.

Optimism is idiotic.

Sure, Mueller's firing will create a firestorm of protest -- and I will join in, if health permits. But what good will it do? The bad guys, if they are on their game, have already devised a strategy to turn the upcoming protests to their advantage: A few outrages committed by agents provocateurs will paint all members of the Resistance as terrorists.

Josh Marshall sums up the Rosenstein situation nicely in this tweet:
Trump: Rosenstein can’t be trusted because he helped me fire James Comey
Infuriatingly, this contradiction means nothing -- nothing at all -- to members of the Trump cult. They refuse to see that if Trump were innocent, he would not act like a cornered animal.

They also don't care that Trump has tossed aside his anti-TPP trade pact  stance, just as he has tossed aside his anti-Goldman Sachs stance and his anti-neocon stance. The cultists know only that Trump Is God; all else is irrelevant.

Pardon. The pardon of Scooter Libby -- a man whose much-deserved sentence was commuted by Dubya, a man who should have learned a profound life lesson from a 300-pound cellmate named Twinky -- serves but one purpose: Trump wants his cronies to know that he'll hand out a Get-Out-Of-Jail card to anyone who keeps his mouth shut.

So far, I've seen no hint of state charges against Flynn or Manafort or Stone or Cohen or anyone else. As long as everything remains on the federal level, and as long as Trump holds the power of the pardon, justice is doomed.

As I see it, Mueller has but one chance: He must issue an obstruction of justice report, and he must do so soon. The revelation that Trump's lawyer has flagrantly offered pardons-for-silence was pretty damned shocking. If Mueller can keep the shocks coming, he might jolt the Republicans into rediscovering their consciences. 

The Comey book. We've received various advance peeks at Comey's book, and they've proven very interesting. So far, the most intriguing bit concerns the ever-popular pee-pee allegation. We're told that Trump asked Comey to investigate the matter, allegedly to make poor Melania feel better. She's sensitive, you know.

On last night's Brian Williams broadcast, one reader of the book reported that Trump claimed not to have slept in that hotel room at all that night. The president told Comey that he (Trump) visited the room only long enough to change clothing.

Unknowingly, Trump has provided the solution to a problem outlined in the Corn/Isikoff book Russian Roulette. Those two authors researched the golden shower allegation and determined that Trump had stayed late at a party that night and had to catch a plane at six AM the following morning. Most people would have used those four or five hours to catch some Zs, as opposed to frolicking with bladderific slatterns.

But Trump told Comey that he did not sleep at all that night. This news changes the picture considerably.

Trump, as we know, sleeps little -- and he may have mastered the art of napping while flying. Thus, without intending to do so, Trump has answered the Corn/Isikoff objection and brought new credibility to the pee-pee claim.

Until last night's edition of The 11th Hour, I favored the theory that the "watery tart" allegation was a bit of disinformational fun directed at Steele's operatives, who were probably "made" at some point. In other words, I didn't really buy it. Now I'm not sure what to think. 

David Corn does not address this specific argument -- not in his twitter feed, and not in this Mother Jones story. However, he does say the following:
Trump was two weeks away from being sworn in as president. He was just informed that the US national security establishment had confirmed its assessment that Vladimir Putin had covertly attacked American democracy and that this assault was designed to affect the results of the election. And Trump responded with no interest in any aspect of this unprecedented intervention other than its political implications—for him. In front of the leaders of the intelligence community—two of whom would continue to work for him—Trump did not even bother to feign concern. He went straight to what mattered most: What does this mean for me?

The president-to-be was engaging in a profound dereliction of duty. His number one job is to defend the United States from foreign attack. And he didn’t give a damn.
Inaction is collusion. Once again, the non-barking dog tells all.

If you're a security guard and you do nothing as the bad guys walk out with a Caravaggio, you're part of the heist.

Dino! We've learned a bit more about Dino Sajudin, the doorman who received $30K in hush money from the National Enquirer to sit on a story about Trump fathering a love child.

The mother, we are now told, supposedly worked as Trump's housekeeper. This woman, still unnamed, has told reporters that she denies the "love child" story. Perhaps, perhaps...but the tales of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal give us good cause to treat all such denials warily. We know that Cohen established a corporation devoted to paying off all potential talkers.

As noted in our previous post, Sajudin is not exactly the most credible source one could wish for. Everything about the guy makes me envision the word "SCUZZBALL" in blazing gold letters above his head. The NY Daily News interviewed Sajudin's former wife, who offered the following observation:
“He’s infamous for making up stories,” Nikki Benfatto said of her former husband Dino Sajudin.

“He’s seen the chupacabra. He’s seen bigfoot. One of our friends who passed away, he saw him too, walking down the street.”
This seems a bit much. A New York City doorman who spins yarns? Sure, I can believe that. I can also believe that the guy thought he saw a ghost. But a New York City doorman who spins yarns about chupacabra and bigfoot? That part is harder to buy: City boys don't hobnob with chupie.

Benfatto (a fitness instructor in Brooklyn) may well be correct when she calls her former husband a liar, but when she she festoons her assessment with apparent hyperbole, she has the paradoxical effect of making me wonder whether Scuzzball might be telling the truth. At least on this matter.

So far, the weight of the evidence is against Dino Sajudin. But he has one considerable point in his favor: The Enquirer really did pay him $30,000.

They wouldn't pay that kind of money for a fake story about bigfoot. Why would they pay that kind of money for a fake story about a Trump love child?

Years and years ago, I knew a man who thought he could make some extra cash by selling a scandalous tidbit to the Enquirer. We're talking about a tawdry piece of piffle involving an extremely popular professional athlete. (Last name = a fruit. And that's the only hint I'm going to give you.) As I recall, the Enquirer was indeed willing to pay -- but only upon publication, and only if the story could be proven.

Thirty thousand smackers for an unproven bit of whimsy told by a notorious chupacabra-spotter? It doesn't make financial sense. Doesn't make any sense.

Stormy times ahead. Michael Avenatti says that if the Stormy Daniels case goes ahead -- as it probably will -- Michael Cohen plans to take the fifth.

Ponder the majesty of the chutzpah on display here: A lawyer. For the president. Taking the fifth. IN A CIVIL CASE.

How the hell can Cohen argue that the NDA is valid if he takes the fifth?

"The Mob takes the fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the fifth?" -- D. Trump, in Iowa, September, 2016.

Crisis actors. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I sympathize with the JFK assassination conspiracy theorists because the best of them comprehend the need for actual evidence. Left-wing paranoids tend to be well-educated brainiacs willing to dive into hyper-detailed arguments about (say) the efficacy of neutron activation analysis. (The JFK buffs won that particular debate, by the way.) By contrast, right-wing paranoids are primitive brutes and disgusting, barely-literate fear-junkies. Proof below.

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YouTube and Facebook guarantees all their 15 minutes of Lunacy. Sad they find a ready audience greasing the slide down to fascism.
 
Everybody knows Daryl Strawberry was up to some crazy shit anyway!
 
#deleteFaceBook
 
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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Head's up: Rosenstein's firing and a claimed Trump "love child"

Word has it that Trump or Sessions will fire Rosenstein at some point this day. Or perhaps tomorrow.

Said word derives from a Trump tweet, which advised the public to tune into last night's Hannity. On that broadcast, lawyer Joe DiGenova -- who seemed to possess inside information -- spoke of Sessions firing Rosenstein "tomorrow." Meaning today.

(Side note: When will pundits stop claiming that Trump "takes his cues" from Fox News? The cue-taking obviously runs in the opposite direction. Trump is the de facto head of the network.)

Many have pooh-poohed the idea that Rosenstein will get the ax, on the grounds that so brazen a move could cause both the House and Senate to go blue. Sorry, but the so-called "blue wave" won't reach unmanageable size. Two reasons:

1. I am increasingly persuaded that Trump will soon score an arranged "victory" in Syria -- "victory" being defined as the downfall of Assad, with Russian acquiescence or even (putative) humiliation. As noted in two previous posts, the great untold story here is that Russia has, in essence, switched sides in the Saudi/Iran conflict. Assad is now a liability to the Russians. It serves Putin's larger purpose if Trump the Mighty can be seen as "forcing" Russia to do something it wants to do anyways: Get rid of Bashar Assad.

This coup de theatre -- planned weeks ago and soon to be staged -- will go a long ways toward blunting the Trump/Russia collusion narrative, and will cause Trump's popularity to soar. He will not be a drag on the party in November. If the timing is right, the GOP may even gain seats.

Odd thought: What if Trump simply kills Assad with a missile or drone strike?

If such a thing is technically do-able, why not do it? Sure, the Russians will complain, but only to keep up appearances. I'll say it again: Russia's new friendship with the Saudis makes Assad a liability; Putin won't feel overly choked up if Assad joins Khaddafy in hell.

Murdering Assad will not result in a war between Russia and the United States. There is no real conflict between Trump, Putin and the neocons.

2. Many Democrats share my belief that our voting tabulators are vulnerable -- yet the Dems continue to speak as if such a thing won't really happen. Grow up. Face reality. Stop whistling past the graveyard. All that is necessary is for Republican numbers to edge sufficiently close to the 50 yard line; the manipulators can nudge a candidate a few feet as necessary. Nowadays, any Republican who can get 45 percent will win.

I don't foresee a "blue wave" in November. If I'm right, then Trump has the political freedom to wave "bye bye" to Rosenstein -- and, eventually, to Mueller. Making matters worse, the rationale for getting rid of Rosenstein is annoyingly defensible.

My bet is that we will be dealing with Trump for a long time to come. I hope I'm wrong.

Bannon. Bill Palmer noticed that the latest news on the Bannon front -- that he is working with the Trump White House on an anti-Mueller strategy -- conflicts with his (Palmer's) belief that Bannon "flipped" and began cooperating with Mueller. Palmer argues that Bannon has re-flipped back to Team Trump.

Oh, fer chrissakes.

Look, it's simple: Mueller never flipped Bannon. In the first place, Steverino is too damned arrogant to play ball with Mueller. In the second place, Bannon knows that one does not fuck with the Russian mob.

Yes, it is true that investigators interviewed Bannon for a long, long time. The duration of that interview means only Bannon decided to hang tough, and may even have lied when he felt the need to do so. The interview must have taught him a great deal about what Team Mueller is doing and how much they know. That information went straight on to Trump's associates -- which explains why and how Bannon became a "player" again.

The preceding paragraph is not based on inside information; it's simply my current Theory of Bannon. But it makes sense, dunnit?

The raid. We know that the raid on Trump's lawyer was conducted by the Southern District of NY U.S. Attorney's office, and that the whole thing had to be run past a judge. Benjamin Wittes says that the judge would have demanded a standard of evidence far higher than "probable cause."

So why the hell are we being told that this raid was -- at least in part -- prompted by the Access Hollywood tape? That tape is now a known quantity. It contains no evidence of a crime. Evidence of sleaze, yes -- but not of a specific crime.

So...what the hell?

My best guess is that Cohen arranged a pay-off intended to keep that tape away from the public during the campaign. So why did we end up seeing the thing in October, 2016? Perhaps the person who received the payment decided to back out of the deal.

We know from the Stormy Daniels case and from the McDougal case that Cohen and Trump tend to go "Charlie Cheap" when it comes to these hush-hush payoffs. Why aren't they more generous? Perhaps because the pay-ees are so numerous. Large amounts of money are hard to raise and hard to hide, so Team Trump probably had to keep the total "hush-hush" budget under a certain figure.

Oh. And there is also this (from here). It's true...
He made a “strategic alliance” with the law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, and the RNC named him national deputy finance chair.

But shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Cohen made headlines again, on a matter of international intrigue. On January 27, 2017, Cohen and his business associate Felix Sater had met with Andrii Artemenko, a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker whom Cohen had known for years. Artemenko gave them a purported proposal for a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia — paired with alleged evidence of corruption that he said could be used to discredit Ukraine’s president. There have been conflicting reports on whether Cohen then delivered this document to the White House and then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
This goes some ways toward explaining how Mueller, in the course of investigating Cohen's Russian ties, might have come across the information that led to the raid. The law firm, for its part, has severed all ties with Cohen -- rather belatedly, it would seem.

Speaking of "Charlie Cheap" payouts...

A Trump "love child"? Actually, "love child" seems the wrong term: This is Donald Trump we're talking about. Is there such a thing as a hate child?

The story -- which I suspect will grow in importance in the coming days -- is fairly simple. Karen McDougal wasn't the only one to receive a roundabout "catch and kill" hush payment by way of the National Enquirer. Dino Sajudin, a former doorman at Trump World Tower, received $30,000 to keep quiet about the rumor that Trump impregnated a female employee of that building. Radar Onlinr (an AMI publication) took point on this tale...
PRESIDENT Donald Trump fathered a secret love child with a Trump Organization employee — a gorgeous 29-year-old medical graduate who is currently living in California!

That’s the bombshell claim of a disaffected former Trump staffer who is peddling the allegation to various media outlets, including The National ENQUIRER, a sister publication of RadarOnline.com.
My first thought: Would Team Trump pay anyone $30,000 to squelch a false story?

My second thought: If the tale were true, why so low a figure?

My third thought: Presuming (for the sake of argument) the tale to be true, Saludin can offer only second-hand info. The pay-off need not be high in his case because his allegations are easily dismissed. The real pay-off must have gone to that gorgeous medical graduate.

Since a kid is involved, it's likely that the pay-offs are ongoing. Perhaps monthly.

Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker offers the most in-depth coverage.
Two of the former A.M.I. employees said they believed that Cohen was in close contact with A.M.I. executives while the company’s reporters were looking into Sajudin’s story, as Cohen had been during other investigations related to Trump. “Cohen was kept up to date on a regular basis,” one source said. Contacted by telephone on Wednesday, Cohen said that he was not available to talk. Subsequent efforts to reach him were unsuccessful. On Monday, F.B.I. agents raided Cohen’s hotel and office. The Times reported that the agents were looking for records related to the payments to McDougal and Clifford, as well as correspondence between Cohen, Pecker, and Dylan Howard, A.M.I.’s chief content officer.
Texts and e-mails from November of 2015 show that, before reporting was halted, the National Enquirer team was pursuing leads and trying to confirm Sajudin’s story. Reporters had staked out the homes of the alleged mother and daughter. The company had also hired an outside private investigator named Michael Mancuso, a former criminal investigator and the owner of Searching for the Truth Investigative Services, who administered the lie-detector test. (Mancuso declined a request for comment.) Lie-detector tests are notoriously flawed, and the test assessed only whether Sajudin had heard the story, not whether there was truth to the underlying claim.

Sharon Churcher, one of the lead A.M.I. reporters on the story, told me, “I do not believe that story was true. I believed from the beginning it was not true.” Other employees at A.M.I. had questions about Sajudin’s credibility. In 2014, a Web site registered through a service that obscures the identity of the author claimed that Sajudin had made similar accusations against a Trump Tower resident named Lawrence Penn III, and that those accusations were false. (Penn could not be reached for comment. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud, and he is currently serving a six-year prison sentence. Penn’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.) When I reached out to Sajudin, he responded, in an e-mail, “My time is valuable. What’s your offer??” After being told that The New Yorker does not pay sources, Sajudin declined further requests for an interview.
Okay, so this Sajudin guy seems pretty scuzzy. The question remains: Why bother to pay him anything? I've seen no indication that he has offered proof. Hell, it's possible that Sajudin is covertly working for Team Trump, and that his job is to mislead investigators by tossing about various red herrings.

On the other hand, this administration has taught us one great lesson: When weighing several possible solutions to a Trump mystery, the sleaziest solution has the greatest likelihood of proving true.

We won't be able to know more unless and until we can identify "mom." A name will probably tumble out soon.

Added note: In 2012, Dino Sajudin witnessed a bizarre "jumper" death involving a 21 year-old woman.
The woman had long, black hair and was wearing grey UGG boots, she said. Another witness said the woman was fully dressed with her coat on.

Cops were examining the 14th-floor balcony of the building, which houses a number of diplomats.
According to this story, the woman (name unreleased) had fought with her boyfriend and left a note behind.

Pecker and the Saudis. Heretofore, we've been led to think that it was Jared Kushner who formed the alliance with Saudi Arabia's young de facto leader. But the Farrow article contains an easy-to-overlook nugget...
According to the Times, last July Pecker visited the Oval Office and dined at the White House with a French businessman known for brokering deals with Saudi Arabia. Two months later, the businessman and Pecker met with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Last month, Pecker published a 100-page publication on our nation's magazine racks, extolling the glories of MBS.
Its headlines credit the prince with “Transforming the World at 32” and being “Our Closest Middle East Ally Destroying Terrorism.”

There is no mention of the prince’s recent detention without trial of other royals, Saudi Arabia’s role as the birthplace of many of the 9/11 hijackers, or the country’s history of general human rights violations, especially when it comes to women’s rights.

The Daily Beast on Tuesday called it a “Saudi propaganda magazine.”
The publication cost $13.99. Who in his right mind would pay for such a thing? I doubt that many copies were sold. Obviously, this publication came into existence for the sole purpose of pleasing MBS.
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Voting is administered according to state law by the Secy of State. Many states use paper ballots (that can be recounted by hand) and OCR scanners that are not connected to the internet. This system is hard to hack.

Other states refuse to abandon using hackable digital systems (e.g. "DRE" touch screen voting machines that record voter touch to the screen directly to a computer database). These machines create no physical evidence of voter intent and no paper trail. DRE voting systems make it impossible to perform a manual recount.

If you live in a "digital" ballot or DRE state, you and your neighbors' votes will be vulnerable to election tampering.

Nat'l Assn of Secy of States Voting Equipment by State: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voting-equipment.aspx
CalTech Voting Technology Project
https://www.vote.caltech.edu/

Take action: Contact your state legislators if your state has digital only ballots and demand accountability. Tell your federal elected officials that the U.S. needs a federal minimum law that applies to all states to require states maintain and secure, for a minimum period of time, hard physical evidence of each voter's original physical marked ballot.

Who will show up to vote, and find out they have been dropped from voter rolls?
Rules vary on when registered voters can be dropped from voting list. If friends, family, or neighbors didn't vote in recent elections, they may be put on an inactive voter list and have to verify residency when they come to vote. Some states drop people from voting rolls based on information provided by another resident -- e.g. hearsay (e.g. so-and-so moved) or if someone is no longer on a state ID database -- e.g. an older person who no longer drives.

Failure to respond to a mailing from the registrar of voters OR not voting in recent elections may result in being removed from a voting list or placed on an inactive list
a) If you moved and mail wasn't forwarded to you -- or mail forwarding ended after 6 months, you may be on an inactive voter list or removed from voter rolls. Depending on laws in your state, you may need to provide proof of residency or re-register to vote in advance of the election. Some states allow same day registration and voting -- but not all states.

dataflo
 
Voting is administered according to state law by the Secy of State. Many states use paper ballots (that can be recounted by hand) and OCR scanners that are not connected to the internet. This system is hard to hack.

Other states refuse to abandon using hackable digital systems (e.g. "DRE" touch screen voting machines that record voter touch to the screen directly to a computer database). These machines create no physical evidence of voter intent and no paper trail. DRE voting systems make it impossible to perform a manual recount.

If you live in a "digital" ballot or DRE state, you and your neighbors' votes will be vulnerable to election tampering.

Nat'l Assn of Secy of States Voting Equipment by State: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voting-equipment.aspx
CalTech Voting Technology Project
https://www.vote.caltech.edu/

Take action: Contact your state legislators if your state has digital only ballots and demand accountability. Tell your federal elected officials that the U.S. needs a federal minimum law that applies to all states to require states maintain and secure, for a minimum period of time, hard physical evidence of each voter's original physical marked ballot.

Who will show up to vote, and find out they have been dropped from voter rolls?
Rules vary on when registered voters can be dropped from voting list. If friends, family, or neighbors didn't vote in recent elections, they may be put on an inactive voter list and have to verify residency when they come to vote. Some states drop people from voting rolls based on information provided by another resident -- e.g. hearsay (e.g. so-and-so moved) or if someone is no longer on a state ID database -- e.g. an older person who no longer drives.

Failure to respond to a mailing from the registrar of voters OR not voting in recent elections may result in being removed from a voting list or placed on an inactive list
a) If you moved and mail wasn't forwarded to you -- or mail forwarding ended after 6 months, you may be on an inactive voter list or removed from voter rolls. Depending on laws in your state, you may need to provide proof of residency or re-register to vote in advance of the election. Some states allow same day registration and voting -- but not all states.

dataflo
 
Will be following with interest your theory regarding Russia's alleged ally switch, though I'm skeptical after the recent summit between Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani, which seemed pretty darn friendly. Also a very big shift will have to happen on some level to reverse Syria's strategy of engineered demographic change:

http://www.syrianobserver.com/EN/News/34041/Regime_Issued_Syrian_Passports_Iranian_Militants_Sources
http://syrianobserver.com/EN/Features/34060/Law_No_Regime_Officially_Entrenches_Demographic_Change

-Anon1234
 
@Joe - "It serves Putin's larger purpose if Trump the Mighty can be seen as 'forcing' Russia to do something it wants to do anyways: Get rid of Bashar Assad."

Being apparently humiliated by the US is one of few scenarios that could bring Putin down, just as the Cuban missile crisis caused Khrushchev to fall two years later. It won't happen.

I don't think Putin has as much clout in the US as you do, but in any case his clout in Russia is what's most important to him.
 
“I don't think Putin has as much clout in the US as you do, but in any case his clout in Russia is what's most important to him.”

How much clout is it when you control the POTUS?
 
b, Krushchev never had as solid a position as Putin does now -- and Syria is of far less importance than the missile crisis. At any rate, if my theory is correct, Putin will lose face only insofar as the American media is concerned; in Russia, he'll still be golden. Remember: Putin controls the majority of Russia's media, just as Trump controls Fox.
 
@Anon 1:36 - "How much clout is it when you control POTUS?"

It's not so absolute. The ~KGB didn't walk into Washington and take everything away from CPMJO-AIPAC-ADL-Netanyahu and Big Oil. For Putin it is control over Russia that is the main thing. Even owning the US President would not give him that control. The US is not that important. As far as a powerful strand in Russian thought is concerned, the US is fly by night.

@Joe - You are right that even before 1962 Khrushchev wasn't as solid as Putin is now, but there wasn't a US-Soviet war in that year and things would change fast if in 2018 there is and Russia gets its arse kicked. In 1941 when in the space of a few days Stalin lost so much territory to the German invasion, he RESIGNED. His colleagues told him they wouldn't accept his demission, and it was kept quiet, but that doesn't mean it would happen that way this time.

When Russia and the US first enter into physical conflict, which may be in Syria and the wider Eastern Mediterranean or it may be elsewhere, the gravity of the matter then leapfrogs the Cuban missile crisis. A brushfire war (or whatever the naval equivalent is) between the US and Russia that Russia loses and that's it - welcome Pax Americana, bye-bye Russian bases in Syria - is highly unlikely. Putin doesn't have enough power to portray such a defeat as a victory or draw. He could not hide the loss of Russian lives the way the British elite hid the loss of British lives in Suez and even then Eden fell.
 
I do not deny the possibility of Cannon's grim scenario, BUT...

Why are Ryan, and so many lesser Rethuglicans, refusing to seek re-election?

They are not acting like members of a party which knows it has the next elections sewn up.

Have the rank and file of the Rethug representatives and senators, and even the Speaker of the House, not been informed that they just need to tough it out, and Papa Putin will give them victory?
 
That's basically what I think, Ivory Bill. They've not been informed. Not on need to know.
 
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Syria, Hillary's (fake) sex tape, Ryan -- and more



Syria. My heretical views on Syria are one reason why this blog no longer has the readership it once had. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in suspecting that Assad did not order the recent chemical attacks. In the video embedded above, former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford explains his own reasons for believing that something else is going on.

Trump's tweeted response is terrifying:
Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!
Scary stuff. But I'm not as worried as others are.

In the preceding post, I argued that we are about to see a piece of theater, in which Trump talks and acts very tough toward Putin. Doing so will worry many people but will also do much to erase the Trump/Putin collusion narrative.

In reality -- and it's a reality that no-one is talking about right now, even though the facts are easily verifiable -- Russia has formed a new partnership with Saudi Arabia. In other words, Russia now favors the Saudi side of the Saudi/Iran competition. Since Assad is in a deep partnership with Iran, Russia suddenly has no reason to want to see Assad hold onto power.

My prediction: Trump will stage a massive public "break" with Putin. There will be booms and bangs and deaths. There will be a demand: "Assad must go!" After a period of nuclear fear and trepidation, Putin will back down and agree to Assad's removal. Trump will then be hailed as the heroic tough guy who put Putin in his place. The collusion narrative will fade, no matter what kind of evidence Mueller finds. The Republicans will stand a much better chance of controlling both the House and Senate after the November elections.

I believe that Putin and Trump have already agreed to play out this scenario. The story will seem breathtaking as it plays out, but it's all been planned in advance. What we are seeing now -- and what we are about to see -- is pure theater. Why else would Trump have issued such a tweet? Trump's sudden display of newfound confidence and swagger indicates the presence of an ace up his sleeve, and I believe that the scenario outlined here is that ace.

If and when nukes start a-flyin', I will admit that my prognostication was incorrect. Somewhere in a Baltimore suburb, a glowing green skeleton will offer you his sincerest apologies.

Another Trump tweet shows us what Dave's Insanity Sauce would be like if it had no Dave and no sauce:
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democrat loyalists, or people that worked for Obama. Mueller is most conflicted of all (except Rosenstein who signed FISA & Comey letter). No Collusion, so they go crazy!
So...what's happening in Syria is all Mueller's fault? Vocabulary note: "Conflicted" is Trumpspeak for "not loyal to ME."

It's always cute when Donnie accuses his enemies of being crazy. Projection.

They're still going after Hillary! The Russians faked up a sex tape which purportedly shows Hillary Clinton with a black man. The video was published to PornHub, where it soon garnered a quarter-million views. One can only imagine the comments.
A whistleblower from the IRA had previously told Russia's TV Rain that the troll farm had created a fake porn video of Clinton. The former employee, Alan Baskaev, said the troll farm sought to create racial discord by publishing such material.
On several previous occasions, this humble blog has mentioned a precedent: In the 1980s, one of the East Bloc services faked up a Ronald Reagan/Vicki Morgan sex film, using lookalikes. Presumably, the original intent was to embarrass Reagan. For whatever reason, the production was never used for that purpose.

American intelligence got hold of the thing and used it in a complicated scam perpetrated on publisher Larry Flynt, who (as few now recall) had initiated a political magazine called The Rebel. A wild character named Gordon Novel -- whose name pops up in all sorts of scandals, from the JFK assassination to Watergate to Waco -- used the fake Reagan/Morgan tape to worm his way into Flynt's good graces. In short order, Novel became Flynt's right-hand man -- and as a matter of pure coincidence, Flynt suddenly began to act in an ultra-bizarre fashion. (Some of you may recall the time he wore diapers into court.)

Flynt has frequently shown the bogus Reagan/Morgan tape to guests -- I've spoken to people who have seen it -- but he has never allowed it to appear on the net. I don't think that any other copies circulate, even on the dark web. Doesn't matter. The thing's a fake.

As is the Hillary video. It amazes me that the Russians still consider her to be worth the effort.

Update: In the interest of science, I checked out Pornhub. The Hillary video described above is not there. However, I did see a 3D animation of Hillary giving a lap dance to the Grim Reaper.

Paul Ryan won't run for re-election. I don't know what to say except...HOORAY! YIPPEE! HOSANNA! BRAVO! The Atlas of democracy has shrugged off a tic.

Let the speculation begin. What caused him to make this decision?

Ryan's great ambition has always been to remake the economy according to the vision of Ayn Rand. In furtherance of that goal, he has demonstrated a willingness to gulp down every fecal missile emitted by Donald Trump's brobdingnagian butt. Did he tire of these meals?

Or is Ryan the victim of kompromat? That theory -- and I'm hardly the first to suggest it -- would explain why a man who clearly can't stand Donald Trump would display such a disgusting degree of obsequiousness. If the "kompromat" scenario is correct, then the only way for Ryan to stop playing toady is to hop out of the toad pool.

This hop makes his seat much more likely to be won by a Dem. Unfortunately, a "win" for Trump in Syria will keep the seat red.

I've read that Ryan actually used the hoary "spend time with my family" excuse. This formulation is so tired, so obvious, and so hokey that the "kompromat" theory becomes almost inescapable.

This just in: Republican congressman Dennis Ross of Florida is also retiring. He too wants to spend more time with his family. Seriously. I'm not kidding.
Ross says he wants to spend time at home, with two sons getting married within the year. Says he planned to do 10 years but after 8 decided, "This is a good time."
2018 is looking to be the Year of the Family.

The raid. In the preceding post, I said that the Michael Cohen raid was conducted by the United States Attorney for Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, a Giuliani partner and Trump appointee. We now know that Berman recused himself, which means that the decision to go in was made by someone lower in the hierarchy. Still, if Berman had hopes of holding onto that job, he never would have recused himself. We all know what Trump thinks of people who chose honor over loyalty.

So...bravo, Mr. Berman!

Cohen has apparently told associates that he fears being the "fall guy" in the Trump/Russia scandal.
Stressing his loyalty, Cohen has steadfastly denied wrongdoing and defended Trump. But he has confided in associates in recent weeks that he is fearful of being a fall guy, according to a person familiar with his thinking but not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.
Obviously, one doesn't worry about being pegged as a fall guy unless one is party to an actual crime. Just as obviously, Cohen must fear that the crime will soon be exposed.

Poor Mike! He doesn't really look like Elisha Cook Jr., does he?

(Sudden thought: In The Maltese Falcon, what would have stopped Cook's character from ratting out Gutman?)

Added note: Devin Nunes wants to impeach FBI Director Christopher Wray and Rod Rosenstein.

You know, I really should write that piece about Nunes that I've been threatening to write for months now...
Permalink
Comments:
Vlad doing some multitasking?
Supporting Assad while making nice with the Saudis to max out oil profits?
My only question is how does Putin use Trump's markers?
Demand payment or make them public?
 
I’m a new reader of your blog. You have some interesting things to say. Yes your views on Syria are surprising (although I wouldn’t be so dramatic as to call them “heretical”) but you don’t seem to have provided much hard evidence to support them. Comments from someone calling herself Syria Girl and a retired diplomat don’t make anything even close to a solid case.
 
Anon, to a large degree you are right. I can't come up with hard evidence. I don't mind speculation as long as it comes clearly labeled as "speculation," and as long as the speculator is willing to change opinions when new facts arrive. A healthy paranoia devolves into demagoguery whenever ego prevents one from saying "I could be wrong."

In this case, my cynical attitude arises in large part from the evidence against Assad's authorship of the 2013 attack, which was the topic of many previous posts. I'm a little embarrassed to cite those posts, since my attitude was a lot more pro-Putin (or at least Putin-neutral, or perhaps isolationist) back then. The ascent of Trump turned me around.

Syria Girl, whose real name is Maram Susli, is a special case. In the past, this blog devoted a lot of space to her, not least because...well, jeez. LOOK at her. I'm not made of stone!

Maram came across as a Joan-of-Arc-ish crusader for peace and non-intervention. Being a Joan of Arc buff, I found that stance irresistible. But then Maram revealed herself as a friend of the far right, appearing on Infowars and even David Duke's broadcast. She became a Gamergater. Alt Right terms like "cuckservative" started to pepper her dialogue.

This transformation was an awful thing to watch. Sort of like Dorian Grey turning into Dorian Grey's picture, right before your eyes.

The whole episode caused me to rethink a lot of things. She taught me that a seeming peacenik may actually be a fascist in disguise.

Heartbroken, I bid her adieu and have not referenced her work in many a moon. You can either pal around with the likes of Alex Jones or stay in my good graces, but you cannot do both.

A day ago, perhaps foolishly, I cited (with a qualifier) a recent video she offered on latest Syrian CBW outrage. I did so primarily because her video uses remarkable footage which I have not seen anywhere else. Of course, it is possible that the video was used deceptively.

(I still think that Maram is hauntingly beautiful. Too bad about her choice of political bedfellows.)

The comments from Peter Ford may not make the case "solid" in your eyes, but his voice should not be dismissed. He WAS the UK ambassador to Syria.

So I present my scenario to you not as established fact but as a prediction. This is the way I'm betting. I could be wrong. Still...keep my theory in mind; the future may prove me right.


 
You know, I really should write that piece about Nunes that I've been threatening to write for months now...

+1 -- unless it's tied to that hooker cruise; I just don't think the links are there...
 
The gas attack was most likely exactly what it appears to be. Cui bono? Jaysh al-Islam had been intransigent in surrender talks with Assad, the gas attacks happened, the surrender happened. Pretty straightforward. Did Russia back it, sure, but did they do it? Doubtful. Agree on the broad outlines of the staginess of the response, at any rate, and the likely Potemkin nature of the coming reprisals.

Syrian Girl's transformation is not just some personality quirk; she's representative of a broader backwash of far right bullshit into the mind of the so-called antiwar left, and it's absolute poison. Once again: Max Blumenthal is the most vile and mercenary of the lot but he's far from the only one. Along those lines, "It's Assad or al Qaeda" is arguably also another Far Right/Assadist talking point. Consider this:

"It is not Assad or the Jihadists but rather the Jihadists because of Assad."
http://attilaii.blogspot.com/2018/04/assad-or-thejihadists-on-7-th-of-april.html

I'm glad to see your views have evolved on Syria and Russia but I wish they'd evolve a bit further. I don't support an escalation but "Trump is a lunatic who's stupid and compromised and can only make everything worse" is honestly the better anti-war argument at this point.

-Anon1234
 
I may have read you so often that I've gone even more cynical than you. Ryan is second in the line of succession, just after Pence. Pence is up to his piggy little eyes in the "NO COLLUSION!" affair. Ryan decides if and when impeachment proceedings begin, which I think will be very soon, because the GOP needs to be able to take advantage of the 2-month memory of the average voter. Ryan sits in the perfect spot to be able to promote himself to the Oval Office with no election required, but time is running out for candidates to announce their intention to seek his seat. So, Ryan, being nothing if not a true-red Republican, is announcing his "retirement" so that another Wisconsin republican that can be presented publicly without frothing at the mouth will have time to enter the fray for his soon-to-be-vacated seat. If Ryan can accomplish this by September, and I don't see why he couldn't, he will be sitting pretty in November, and will probably be able to hold onto majorities in the House and Senate, as traditional Republicans and independents can sigh with relief that the crazy uncle is gone and that nice-looking young(ish) man will be in charge. Is that too nuts even for you? Or have I fallen into a trap by believing Ryan is that smart?

--teele
 
Oh and also: Peter Ford works for Assad's father in law. He's not some kind of "deep state whistleblower," he's a fucking fascist and his talking points are fascist propaganda. You'd do a lot better to question why assholes like that get ambassadorships. (Don't forget, Syria was a CIA torture black site during the Bush years.) That bullshit about the White Helmets is just as reprehensible as US crazies calling the Parkland kids "crisis actors". Just because dumb fucks on the left like Moon of Alabama and Max Blumenthal regurgitate that swill doesn't make it anything but propaganda from the far right.

-Anon1234
 
Replying to Joseph:
The video you posted was the first time I’d ever seen one of Syria Girl’s videos. To me she came across as disingenuous almost immediately.
Yeah there are a lot of skilful producers of propaganda out there these days. Especially anywhere, as in Syria, that Russia has a big stake. All the more reason to reserve judgment until facts are confirmed.
I’m in agreement with others of your readers. The simple explanation would seem to be the best one in this case. The gas attack was most likely Assad and possibly Putin. Their motive? Terror. Control.
 
Anon1234:

Well said.
 
Fred, Joseph, I see your points, but lean to Anon1234...
No green-yellow chlorine gas=likely sarin. Ford is not a credible independent source. Snip and paste is easy. We prefer a fiction aligned w/our wishes: videos from comely come-ons, fake community reporters, or allied forces lead us to overlook lies.

“Rebel” isn't a shared identity or cause. The middle class Arab Spring “rebel” resistance is gone (even if engineered by outside agitators). "Rebel" groups – Jihadists, PTSD’d targets of Assad, and mercenaries working for Prince, UAE, Saudis and Qatar – are residual opportunists. When cornered, they embrace what it takes to survive, especially if a target is in a rival faction’s territory. http://www.dw.com/en/which-rebel-groups-are-fighting-in-syrias-eastern-ghouta/a-42663501

In Eastern Ghouta, Jeish al-Islam released caged prisoners in exchange for passage out as the Syrian army advanced. Was a quid pro quo deal made when Faylaq al-Rahmanm (a faction supported by Qatar in Zamelka) abandoned a "medical" warehouse a couple of days ago, or was it just as David Pattemore 4/5/18 suggests: "They are weak, they will be hunted by other Jihadi groups..."

One “rebel” faction – whether a U.S. ally or friend of a U.S. ally -- made a devil's bargain with Assad and Russia to live and fight another day. The ethical question remains how this differs from Assad & Russia bombing, shelling, or gassing civilians, since Assad’s forces moved into the void created by the gas.

A better question to ask now is who is propping up the Assad regime financially now that Russia's currency has hit a bump in the road?
https://www.riskmap.com/incidents/393210/?utm_campaign=riskmap_

Syria has become a "virtual" battlefield in a proxy war triangulated by "outside" interests: Saudi/UAE, Russian/Iranian/Turkish interests and Qatar. We know Bin Salman's new BFF is Russia. We know the wanna-be-arms-dealer, Erik Prince (Sec. Devos' bro), was up to no good in several Seychelles meetings with the U.A.E.’s fixer, Nadir, and Russia (e.g. Jan 11). We know Qatar is being squeezed by an alliance between the Saudi/UAE and Russia/Turkey.


It's no longer clear what side(s) the U.S. is on. Jared hit paydirt with the help of Saudis and passed GO for 666 Fifth Ave at the 11th hour. Trump and Republicans sailed into power in 2016 on a tidal wave of cash the NRA received from Russia banker Torshin. 6 bankruptcies and a banking drought, Trump stayed afloat for decades on Soviet oligarch largesse laundering $ in real estate & "branding" deals. Despite key military bases in Qatar, the Saudi’s top princely plutocrat went on a victory tour to meet U.S. movers and shakers. Trump backpedaled on sanctions against Russia after the Skripal poisoning. Now, he threatens shock, awe, and with it restrictions on privacy & public assembly to defend our nation. Stormy wasn't impressed or cowed. We have 2000 troops in Syria, Russia has jammed U.S. communications, and Dutch IT experts won’t help us. Why would anyone be impressed by Trump’s missile threats after our last missile "performance"? Agreed: it’s an act.

The CIA and Republicans were gung-ho to outsource our Nat Sec data ops to Palantir, a firm that rolls over to serve pay-for-play private oligarchs and foreign nationals. No one asks why Thiel -- founder of PayPal and EBay -- is still on Facebook's board, or what Thiel did to massage Facebook data for Computer Analytica (overlay it with Voter Records, CIA data, Aetna, Equifax, or RNC data?). The interesting question is what data Palantir still has, how they violated citizens' Constitutional rights, & what needs to be done to bring U.S. laws into the 21st century.

The pay off for a gargantuan series of missteps is a nation that is increasingly weak and isolated. Reliance on outsourced market-based intelligence and technology undermines our democracy -- so does putting personal business interests ahead of affairs of state.
dataflo
 
DataFlo & Anon1234 have provided some of the best, most insightful and liberating reads I have ever come across. Coming here to Cannonfire blog, to this specific post and seeing their comments here makes everything worth it. They cut right through the bullshit and are right on target. I sincerely hope to read more from Dataflo and/or Anon1234. They've convinced me to stop listening to Jimmy Dore. I wonder what they make of Intercept? Is it reliable or no?

As someone who is not a Democrat, not a conservative, not a Christian, not a centrist and most definitely not a Clintonian New Democrat or Hillary supporter (or an Obama supporter), I come here to the Cannonfire blog because Joseph Cannon's criticisms of the Republican Party (GOP) and El Trump (or Der Donald or the Orange Twittler, whatever you want to call this evil man) are therapeutic.

It seems the Far Left has turned into a Russian propaganda movement disguised as peacenik socialists or sub-Marxists. How sad, considering Far-left polity is as close to my own values as politics gets. Is there anyone for me?

With children dying in Syria (and elsewhere) due to decrepit and corrupt pseudo-empires like the United States and the Russian Federation, asking if there's anyone for me sounds so wrong.
 
@Anon1234 - Thanks for that info about Peter Ford and Bashar Assad's father-in-law Fawaz Akhras. I found this in the Torygraph about the British Syrian Society. But it is typical for British ambassadors to belong to such associations.

Fawaz Akhras is a Harley Street cardiologist. Interestingly there seems little mention of the heroin connection in Syria these days. A while back it was known that that was the Assad family's main line of business, in which they were a global player. Not that that has ever been a point of interest in the Torygraph as far as I'm aware.

It is not just as crazy to call the White Helmets a fake outfit as it is to say that the alleged victims of the latest US school massacre were all "crisis actors". That line of thought is a mindfuck. (It is akin to denouncing scepticism about the US government's 911 narrative on the grounds that insane shit also sceptical about that narrative has been spread by the far right.) There was the Germans entering Belgium with babies on their bayonets story, then the Iraqis taking babies out of incubators in Kuwait story, and so on. I'm sure that on occasion the WH have saved babies and children and older people - there has been a large supply of victims of the civil war in Syria - but that does not argue against their ultimate propaganda role. Also even if there has been a chemical attack in Douma that doesn't mean the Assad government did it and there needs to be a feasible explanation for why they might carry such an attack out, especially given the Valery Gerasimov prediction which was certainly an action by the Russian government and not the result of personal whim.
 
Apologies, but that Ambassador is talking nonsense.

There is no "staging" of this attack.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/04/11/open-source-survey-alleged-chemical-attacks-douma-7th-april-2018/
 
Trump's latest tweet:

"Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”"

Ah, the fog of war!

The one positive thing that can be said about this tweet from the maniac is that he admits that the topic is "an attack on Syria", rather than using a phrase such as "air strike against the Assad regime's installations". If you attack a country, you should not whinge like a crybaby if its allies attack you back.

From where I'm standing, an attack on Syria looks imminent.

If Israel attacks first, will Russia take out its planes or launch sites? If the Israelis didn't want an escalation, they wouldn't have bombed the T-4 airbase on Monday.
 
@Anon 5:36

I've read that document. The argument that it was the Syrian government that carried out a chemical attack in Douma is based on heliocopter spotter evidence from "Sentry Syria". To judge from the iconography at their Twitter account, they are part of the same organisation as the White Helmets.

That argument is bullshit.

"Staged" doesn't mean "faked".

Actuality isn't agency. Think of climate change. That the climate is changing doesn't mean the change is anthropogenic. Many including Barack Obama have lied to the contrary.

"I will provide a propagandistic casus belli. Its credibility doesn't matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth." Adolf Hitler, 22 August 1939.

To support your position you would have to argue for the credibility of that statement regarding helicopters by "Sentry Syria".
 
So the rebels have a secret stash of chemical weapons that they only use on positions they hold, but not on their enemies', in order to provoke a "regime change" intervention that never seems to arrive. And then they promptly surrender after the attack. Sure.

Propaganda doesn't need to be coherent, there's always multiple versions to appeal to different audiences. If you don't want to take a deep draught of koolaid and say that the White Helmets are literally al-Qaeda staging chemical attacks for NATO, well then you can just take a sip and hand wave vaguely about their funding and propaganda use. But it's just a different grade of the same bullshit.

-Anon1234
 
Uh...far left? Which far left is that? Where is this mythical far left you speak of? Canada? Norway?

Anonymouse
 
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Syria and the great Michael Cohen raid

Allow me to offer a heretic's view of events in Syria.

I have always challenged the official wisdom that Assad bore responsibility for the original chemical attack on Ghouta. Yes, I've read the Human Rights Watch report; in previous posts, I have offered my reasons for dissent. Similarly, I doubt Assad's culpability in the case of the Idlib attack of April, 2017.

Regarding the current outrage: Although we don't yet have a full picture, this nation may regret the rush to judgment. Weren't Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles destroyed while Kerry was Secretary of State?

Other players in the war could have deployed chemical weapons -- the Russians, for example. Moreover, it would not be difficult to spoof the electronic intelligence which has convinced world leaders of Assad's responsibility. For what it is worth, Syrian Girl claims -- with some interesting video evidence -- that the victims were civilians from a pro-Assad town kidnapped and held hostage by an allegedly "moderate" Islamist force.

Our first and best question is always "Cui bono?" -- who benefits?

Assad has nothing to gain from staging an attack on civilians. How could he possibly benefit by filling television screens with images of dying children? With victory nearer than ever, why would he incur the wrath of the international community?

Russia, by contrast, has much to gain from staging a false flag attack. In order to insure that the Republicans do not lose control of the House later this year, Russia and Trump must stage a spectacle -- a bit of theater in which Trump seemingly confronts Putin and "wins." If Putin loses face, fine -- as long as a brief humiliation serves a greater end. A staged mano-y-mano showdown with Putin will raise Trump's poll numbers and damage the collusion narrative.

What of Russia's ally, Assad? He is expendable. In chess, one may be required to sacrifice a bishop to gain a checkmate.  From the Russian point of view, keeping Trump in power is more important than keeping Assad in power.

Assad's primary ally is Iran, which has done much of the heavy lifting in the civil war. The Trump administration has tied itself to Saudi Arabia, which considers Iran the Great Satan.

Unnoticed by most Americans -- and to be honest, unnoticed by me until yesterday -- Russia has recently decided to switch sides in the Iran/Saudi Arabia conflict.

King Salman visited Russia in October. He is, in fact, the very first ruler of that country to do so.
Moscow and Riyadh worked together to secure a deal between OPEC and other oil producers to cut output until the end of March 2018, helping support prices.

Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said Saudi Arabia was “flexible” regarding Moscow’s suggestion to extend the pact until the end of next year.

The message of further joint Saudi-Russia action on output helped push up oil prices on Thursday.
Raising oil prices is key; the Saudi royal family cannot stay in power if oil remains cheap. They need Putin's help. Last month, the two nations reached a new deal.
Georgetown University Professor Angela Stent said it may be that Saudi Arabia believes Russia could help it with Iran, which it fears will develop nuclear weapons and is on the opposite side from Saudi in a proxy war in Yemen.
Croft said the United States has left a vacuum with its shifting Middle East policies. "I think our Iran policy, what happened in Syria, they did not think America was a stalwart. Then you have the Russians. They were willing to be more transactional with them," Croft said.

"Right now Russia and Saudi Arabia's relationship is becoming thicker than oil," Croft said. As for the Saudis, "I think they see themselves as trying to show the Russians they have a better friend in the Middle East (than Iran)."
Russia's new BFF is Saudi Arabia, which means that Putin now grooves with the goal of rolling back Iranian influence throughout the region. Assad's dismissal or death will serve Russia's larger purposes, especially if the world thinks that Trump engineered his downfall over Russian objections.

Putin doesn't like to look bad, but he also understands the larger picture. If he temporarily receives an egg facial, Trump will be able to secure power.

Needless to say, I have just outlined a scenario which both the right and the left will consider Thoughtcrime Most Foul. You know me: I cannot be a happy man until I've contrived to piss off everyone.

Did you see the war propaganda flooding MSNBC yesterday? Disgusting! Throughout the day, they promulgated a ridiculous version of the Syrian Civil War which ignored a key fact: If Assad had fallen, a combination of ISIS and Al Qaeda would have taken power. The "Free Syrian Army" was never anything more than a grand fiction constructed to please an American audience; only the jihadis possessed sufficient muscle to challenge Assad.

Must I once again state for the record something which should go without saying? Perhaps I must. Assad is no angel; we need not shed a single tear if he goes down. Nevertheless, the choice has been clear since 2013: This civil war was destined to end with a victory for either Assad or the jihadists. There never was a viable third option. I have long agreed with the Christians in Syria, who consider Assad the lesser of those two evils.

John Bolton will spend the next little while pretending to excoriate Putin. Don't be fooled: It's all playacting and pretense. The Russia/Saudi oil deal tells the real story, and all else is theater. After a brief period of faux conflict -- which will end in Trump scoring a much-needed foreign policy triumph (resulting in a Republican win in November) -- there will be complete harmony of purpose between Putin, Trump and the neocons.

Raid! Trump has often repulsed and  frightened me, but never moreso than yesterday, when he ranted about the FBI raid conducted against his attorney (and fixer) Michael Cohen. Absurdly, Trump blamed a Democratic plot, even though Democrats had nothing to do with this affair.

Mueller -- not a Democrat, although the right likes to pretend otherwise -- did not order the raid. The decision fell to the United States Attorney for Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman, a Trump appointee and a Rudy Giuliani law partner.

Let me repeat that: He's a Trump appointee and a Rudy Giuliani law partner.

Berman was assigned this position temporarily. Until yesterday, he expected Trump to give him the job on a permanent basis. Thus, when Berman approved this raid, he did so knowing what he was sacrificing.

The obvious conclusion: The evidence which prompted this raid must have been explosive. Only a major threat to our democracy and/or the rule of law would have compelled Berman to make a move so injurious to his career.

Nota bene: This nearly-unprecedented raid also received approval from a judge. A raid on a lawyer is not a decision to be made lightly.

What prompted so extraordinary an action? Nobody knows. The Washington Post suggests bank fraud and campaign finance violations, and many people believe that these listed motives point to the Stormy Daniels affair. But...
Investigators took Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records, including tax returns, as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center, that person said.

In a dramatic and broad seizure, federal prosecutors collected communications between Cohen and his clients — including those between the lawyer and Trump, according to both people.
Berman obviously did not go to such lengths just to please Michael Avenatti. So far, the contretemps between Stormy Daniels and Trump is a purely civil affair. How could a civil lawsuit give rise to all of this?
The Justice Department has extensive rules about seizing records of lawyers that could typically fall under attorney-client privilege. Prosecutors are required to consult with the the Criminal Division at Main Justice, and to get the sign off of the U.S. attorney overseeing the investigation or the relevant assistant attorney general. It’s also recommended that a special team of attorneys who are walled off from the prosecutors overseeing the inquiry be set up to review the potentially privileged documents.

“It’s procedurally cumbersome, it’s sensitive, it raises the hackles of the bar,” Sam Buell, a former prosecutor who worked on the Enron investigation, told TPM. “It’s not done on a fishing expedition. It’s only done when you’re reasonably confident that you’re going to find evidence of criminality and you need to do it with a search warrant.”

Investigators’ willingness to go the route of a high-profile raid, instead of a less intrusive subpoena or even a voluntary request for documents, suggested to outside experts that there’s at least some concern that Cohen could be withholding evidence.
Question: How would they know that Cohen would hide or destroy evidence?

I smell a rat. That is: I think that someone formerly on Team Trump is functioning as an inside source. For what it's worth, Bill Palmer speculates that Giuliani is the rat.
Unless you think Giuliani was fully exonerated in the Trump-Russia scandal by Robert Mueller prior to January, which seems incredibly unlikely that early on in the overall investigation, the other explanation would be that Giuliani cut a plea deal prior to January. Back in February, Palmer Report pointed out that Giuliani sounded very wary of what the FBI can do a criminal target, suggesting he’d already been through the ringer by then.
I've given Palmer a fair amount of gas over the past few months -- his rah-rah optimism just annoys the living hell out of a natural-born cynic like yours truly -- but this particular theory may have merit.

Let's get back to Trump's reaction. His rant was beyond bizarre. He used the raid as an opportunity to excoriate Mueller, even though Mueller did not order the raid. He insisted that Mueller should have looked into Hillary Clinton's imaginary "crimes," even though Mueller was not tasked with investigating Hillary Clinton (despite the nonsense you hear from the crackpot legions following Q-anon).

Trump then both slammed and praised Rod Rosenstein. I'll deal with both the attack and the kudos.

The attack concerned Rosenstein's approval of a FISA warrant against Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump. In 2013, FBI eavesdroppers learned that the FSB intended to recruit Page. (The Steele dossier played no role in this matter.) In 2016, Page made the bizarre decision to absent himself from the Trump campaign in order to visit Russia and meet with an important official in Putin's government. Of course a FISA warrant was granted to eavesdrop on Page! Not approving that warrant would have been utterly irresponsible -- and I say that as someone who has devoted many a post to our right to privacy.

Trump's words of praise for Rosenstein were even more bizarre. The president gave Rosenstein a thumb's up for writing a report critical of James Comey. What Trump refuses to divulge is that this report chided Comey for being unfair to Hillary Clinton. What bothered Rosenstein was Comey's public discussion of the Weiner laptop mess, for that discussion handed the presidency to Trump. 

The Trump team opportunistically used Rosenstein's report as "cover" for firing Comey.

Side note: At first, Trump's pal Roger Stone went with this cover story and decried Comey's unfairness to Clinton. Stone's actual tweet: "What Comey did to Hillary was disgraceful. I'm glad Trump fired him over it." Within a very short while, Trump himself blew this cover story during his interview with Lester Holt, on which occasion Trump admitted that he fired Comey in order to deep six the Russia investigation. On cue, Roger the Dodger derided Comey as a Clinton co-conspirator.

Thus, neither Trump's praise of Rosenstein nor his words of condemnation bore much resemblance to the world of fact.

Nevertheless, I predict that he will soon fire Rosenstein, probably using the FISA canard as his grand excuse.
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Comments:
The Russians have also been internationally certified to have destroyed all of their chemical weapons stockpiles. Even if you believe the government line on the Skripal thing, managing to secretly keep or manufacture assassination-quantities is an entirely different thing from having battlefield quantities.

Regarding Berman, maybe he sacrificed his career for democracy. Or maybe he's a Trump appointee and Giuliana partner. Which is to say, there's something else afoot. Supposed Mr Natural Born Cynic.



 
Trumptards see Robert Mueller as the Great White Dope's nemesis, they are too stupid to grasp the concept of criminal referrals. My understanding is only mob lawyers get raided, think there's something to that?
Can't speak to the gas attack but Assad like Trump thinks he's above the law and a gas attack would be a quick and dirty end to the war.
 
An image is today being imprinted on hundreds of millions if not billions of minds, by a US advertising, surveillance and intelligence company called Google.

Supposedly published to commemorate what would be the Arab actor Omar Sharif’s 86th birthday were he still alive (he died in 2015), the animated image shows the face of an Arab man, first lit normally and then with a very dark shadow crossing it in a way that makes him look, contrary to his initial appearance, evil. The story is that as the day goes on, the Arab man appears in his true colours; or, which is only slightly different, the Arab man, who is demonic, has the ability to make himself look well-meaning and pleasant.

If somebody made such an image of, say, Menachem Begin or Benyamin Netanyahu, or George Soros, or of any other Jew, it is a certainty that they would be called "anti-Semitic". When the company that owns one of the best-known brands in the world publishes this filthy racist war propaganda, demonising a generic Arab, practically nobody comments, let alone breathes the word "anti-Semitic". You will notice that the guy is not shown wearing the royal headgear of the Gulf, or with a fez or in desert robes. He's wearing a bow tie. This is not just an Arab guy; it's a guy from the Levant or Egypt, superficially Europeanised, welcome in top hotels, but underneath an inhuman devil. Readers may like to recall that the publication of propaganda to assist with the commission of crimes against humanity is what Julius Streicher was convicted of at Nuremburg. Watch out, Eric Schmidt.
 
Re. the main thesis of this post, what reason is there to think the US will win in the looming confrontation with Russia? Trump and the US military are about to get an almighty Russian kick up their coccyx.
 

I had read that Trump requested Rosenstein to write two letters to help him better understand the issues. One letter was to promote the argument that Comey should be fired. The other letter was to be a defense of Comey. Then Trump fired Comey and used the first letter as his justification, dumping the blame in Rosenstein's lap.

In the last several weeks I started seeing news articles stating that the Syrian war was almost wrapped up... a stunning victory for Assad and his allies. And then he decided to gas a civilian population? It simply makes no sense on face value.

 
Re the Google doodle of Omar Sharif. It is 6:30 p.m. EDT on April 10, and that image does not come up when I look at evil Google. Nonetheless, when I did a search for it, there were numerous stories about it, and one of them showed me the doodle. I have no idea why the shadow passes across it, but I don't get any evil vibes from it. Perhaps this has to do with my age and the pleasant memories I have of a very handsome and nice guy in my college dorm who was generally referred to by the women in the dorm as Omar for his resemblance to that very handsome actor. I wonder why Google appears to have taken it down.
 
Joseph, Often, I appreciate a contrarian position, but some things are just too much work and thus, may fall into the abyss of fake news.

What evidence is there that Assad's helicopters didn't drop Syrian chemical bombs in Ghouta? First, reports from witnesses say symptoms developed after helicopter attacks. Russians or others aren't using helicopters like Assad's troops. Assad has nothing to lose: there's documentation he's used chemical weapons in numerous attacks on his people. He has no love for people don't love him (just like Trump).

Conspiracy theories are like sniffing glue: they kill brain cells. There was no way for chemical experts to determine if Syria destroyed all toxic weapon materials at the end of the remediation process. Experts determined there were multiple indications that Syria kept "reasonable" amounts of various chemical weapon materials (e.g. ricin) and submitted false reports. Only some types of materials were appropriate for destruction on U.S. navy ships.

Chemical bombs made from chlorine, a common water treatment material also used in many cleaning and manufacturing compounds, are not be classified as a chemical weapon. Chlorine is a commonly available and readily made.

Finally, Assad would use chemical bombs in Ghouta as a tipping point. This achieved his objective to clear out the population of the last major city held by the Syrian resistance. With the population displaced, the city is in Assad's control. He's already seen as a monster – a ruler of ghosts -- after causing nearly 500k deaths and untold more injuries and displacements – of his own people.

Here's why experts believe all Syrian chemical weapons weren't destroyed: https://globalsecurityreview.com/u-s-officials-verify-trump-dossier-claims-with-intel-from-allies/

dataflo
 
dataflo, even US Intelligence refused to confirm that Assad was behind the Ghouta attack despite pressure from the White House to say so (1 2). They'd had word from UK Intelligence that sarin samples from Ghouta were not from known Assad stockpiles and they were not going to be used for propaganda purposes as they were in the lead up to the Iraq invasion.

The rebels did it: 1 2 3 4 5 6
 
The Omar Sharif image that Google used as a "doodle" is here. If you'd seen the image without Omar Sharif being mentioned, would you have recognised him?
 
Trump has now tweeted:

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

He followed this (or an assistant did) by tweeting

"Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do, and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?"

Who is Trump actually talking to when he says "there is no reason" for the deterioration in relations between the US and Russia, a happenstance that could in the near future blow millions of us to fuck?

The Russian government, with a sane and competent leader at the helm, whose personal brand is managed highly effectively, has declared its red lines and the US government is now about to start WW3. The US president is pouting as he promises to throw missiles regardless where he's been told not to. This is more serious than smearing shit on the carpet.

Trump must be removed without delay, and by any means necessary. Next week may be too late. I do not care whether evidence against him is faked or the method used is an assassination or a military coup. Sadly I think the reason for the increase in his troubles is not that a faction of influential figures in the US think the same way, but that certain interests are keeping him on a knife edge they way they did Bill Clinton.

There is talk of sustained artillery fire near Donetsk.
 
In this this radio interview, Peter Ford, former British ambassador to Syria

* calls the Douma chemical attack "staged"
* focuses on the CIA and jihadist sources of the so-called "evidence"
* points out there is no reason why Assad would have done it
* in effect supports the Russian diplomatic position in favour of a proper investigation of the alleged chemical attack
* excoriates the BBC for its warmongering
 
From Digby;

"ABC News has learned that Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is recused from the Michael Cohen investigation.

Two sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News Berman was not involved in the decision to raid Cohen's office because of the recusal.

The recusal was approved by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The raid of Cohen's handled by others in the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and approved by a federal judge."
 
republican House Speaker Eddie Munster not running for congress. Getting out of Washington before the Russian nukes land?
Or before Mueller's indictments handed down?
 
Not the most reliable of news sources, however they are quoting a UN official and it certain jibes with what we know about the previous chemical attack blamed on Assad (that also was the rebels):

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2320223/UN-accuses-Syrian-rebels-carrying-sarin-gas-attacks-blamed-Assads-troops.html
 
The current cry for action against Syria coming from our media talking heads and the usual neocon suspects occurs in a remarkable historical vacuum. It's as if all of the debunking of previous Western lies about Syria -- the White Helmets, Obama's "failure" to support his red line on CW, the Deir Ezzor attack by US forces, Madaya and Zabadani, the "extermination" factory, the 2013 sarin attacks at Ghouta -- all debunked -- are now accepted as having been self-evidently true all along. All the critics and lengthy articles exposing these lies may as well have never existed.

The pampered Western talking heads can never face up to being wrong (about Syria, Ukraine, Iran -- everything) so they just join the throng of those lustily marching to WW3. Who needs facts when moral outrage is so handy and plentiful. Truly, we are being lead by morons. Wars can be kept overseas. Brown people don't feel it when they die. My expensive suit and media adulation protects me from harm. The current public debate on Syria is unhinged.
 
Hot tip Fred. When you post Russian/GOP talking points (aka bald faced lies) try not to use sources that have Koch Bros/Mercer Creeps written all over them
 
Nice verdict Anon@1.30. But where's your arguments and evidence? I'm open for persuasion.
 
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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Jared and Roger and a "major announcement" from Stormy



The flagrantly crooked Kushner family has come up with a plan to save their white elephant at the Devil's address. Despite being cash-strapped and over-extended, despite having no obvious way of making the payment that is coming due, the Kushners are buying out their partner in the enterprise.

Where is the money to come from? No one will say so officially, but the answer is obvious: Saudi Arabia.

The important thing to understand is that Saudi Arabia is having a major tiff with Qatar, a country where we have an important base. At first, Kushner asked the Qataris for the money, offering favorable treatment from the Trump administration in exchange for a billion bucks. (With that kind of money, the Kushners can fulfill their dream of knocking down the existing structure and build anew.)

The Qataris said no deal.

So Kushner went to his brand-new friend, the young leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. Suddenly, the Trump administration decided to favor Saudi Arabia in its regional tiff, and even signaled that the United States would look the other way if the Kingdom took military action against Qatar.

Dexter Filkins explains everything quite nicely in this Trumpcast episode, which I strongly urge you to hear. (If you listen to one podcast this week, that's the one.) Filkins discusses the very real possibility -- indeed, the likelihood -- that Jared and Trump did not know that the U.S. has a base in Qatar.

David Cay Johnston adds to our knowledge in the video clip embedded above. Johnston connects the Kushner scandal to the Scott Pruitt scandal. Pruitt is tied in with a liquid natural gas concern which directly competes with Qatar, the leading player in that industry.

So far, we've had no on-the-record confirmation that MBS decided to pay Jared the billion bucks he covets. But it's just a matter of time, isn't it? No sensible person would deny that Kushner must have used his position with the administration to cut a dirty deal. Where else did the money come from to buy out the Kushner family's partner? Anyone who thought that the "radical" Trump administration might reveal Saudi Arabia's links to 9/11 has just experienced a "pie in the face" moment.

If you are now tempted to make an argument weighing the sins of Qatar against the sins of the Saudis, you have missed the point. The point is corruption -- American corruption. American foreign policy should not be determined by bribes paid to our ruling family.

World's Greatest Polonium Survivor! When Roger Stone went on CNN and did his "Julian who?" routine, the CNN crew -- to their credit -- spent the rest of the day gleefully recounting Roger Stone's claimed battle with polonium poisoning, allegedly administered by those ratfinks at the Deep State. As you will recall, Roger said that he survived thanks to one of Alex Jones' miracle cures.

In the real world, of course, victims of polonium poisoning end up in the hospital looking skeletal and ghastly. And then they die. Inevitably. Stone's unprecedented tale of survival would receive coverage by the Journal of the American Medical Association -- if his story were true.

If you believe that story, then you must be the sort of primeval rube who thinks wrestling is on the level and who forks over money to buy miracle pills from Alex Jones. Stone has given us no evidence whatsoever that he has ever been near polonium.

Keep that fact in mind as you ponder the veracity of statements made by Roger "Polonium" Stone.

Stormy times. This just in from the lawyer of Stormy Daniels...
Expect a major announcement in the coming days regarding our efforts to identify the thug who threatened Ms. Clifford in Las Vegas in 2011 to “leave Trump alone” while making reference to her little girl. You can run but you can’t hide...
My prediction: She will finger Keith Schiller. Hell, I'd bet money on it. In this post, I suggested that Schiller (Trump's ultra-loyal former bodyguard) not only could have been the guy who threatened Stormy Daniels but may also have delivered a phone threat to attorney Kristopher Hansen back in 2009. In both cases, Schiller was in the right place at the right time.

Stone update: Roger says that he hears from his unnamed congressional sources that A.G. Jeff Sessions in "senile." (Republican propagandists may use anonymous sources; the Washington Post may not.) It's a strikingly vicious attack which may presage a wider coordinated barrage from multiple Trumpist sources.

My guess is that Stone, sensing the approach of severe legal trouble, has placed his hopes in a shutdown of the investigation. I'm not sure that Trump would consider Stone worthy of a pardon, so getting rid of Mueller altogether would serve Stone's purposes better.

Perhaps the same Alex Jones miracle pills that cured polonium poisoning can also cure senility? I
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Comments:
Sessions looks more like a case of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
 
FYI.... Facebook enlists the Koch brothers to "provide independent, credible research about the role of social media in elections, as well as democracy more generally."
 
Koch Brothers? Wow
M
 
FBI agents raid Trump consigliere Michael Cohen. A former agent quoted in his 20 years experience ever attorney raided by FBI went to prison.
Beginning of the end?
 
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Saturday, April 07, 2018

Manafort, the mob -- and nukes

There's so much to write about! I can't hit all the stories that demand our attention, so let's focus on this.

Court filings indicate that Mueller is after twenty boxes of info that Paul Manafort stored somewhere in Virginia. Obviously, this material was kept off-site to prevent investigators from seeing it. In other words, this is the good stuff.

I don't yet know how Mueller learned about the good stuff and where it was located. We do know that Manafort is trying a desperate legal maneuver to keep it hidden.

The delightful thing about legal maneuvering is that it churns up paperwork -- documentation which can give us an insight into the otherwise-opaque Mueller probe. In this instance, the filings indicate that one of the boxes contains information about a strange figure named Jules Nasso.

This guy has quite a colorful history.

According to this 2002 NYT story, actor Steven Segal once got into a contretemps with Nasso, who was tied in with the Gambino crime family.
Court filings and other government accounts painted a picture of Mr. Seagal's producer, Julius R. Nasso -- named in the indictment as a Gambino family associate -- turning to fearsome higher-ups in the mob to compel Mr. Seagal to abide by abandoned movie commitments or turn over millions for the missed profit opportunities.
Basically, Nasso really, really, really wanted a credit on Segal's movies. Or else.
In one of the more cinematic moments, people familiar with the case said, Mr. Seagal told investigators that in February 2001 he was visiting Mr. Nasso and his brother Vincent Nasso, also a reputed Gambino associate, in Brooklyn when he was ordered into a car to accompany both brothers and another reputed Gambino associate later charged in the case, Richard Bondi. After a switching of cars to throw off any pursuers, the journey ended at the Gage & Tollner restaurant in Downtown Brooklyn, where Anthony Ciccone, a reputed Gambino captain known as Sonny, and Primo Cassarino, a reputed family soldier, were waiting in a back room. It was here, people familiar with the case say, that the threat was made.

Not long afterward, people close to the investigation said, a tape recorder in one of the prime bugged locations, Brioso, a restaurant in Staten Island, picked up Mr. Ciccone and Mr. Cassarino chortling over scaring Mr. Seagal. "They were laughing about it, saying it was right out of the movies and 'if we only had guns in our belts, it would be really good,'" said a lawyer who heard the tape.

A month later, Mr. Seagal told investigators, he was visited unexpectedly at his home in Los Angeles by Julius Nasso, Mr. Ciccone and Mr. Cassarino, and that he subsequently paid Mr. Ciccone $700,000 through Mr. Nasso.
But in a court argument last month, prosecutors said the two men and the Nasso brothers were seeking to use Mr. Ciccone's position in organized crime to force the extortion victim -- who has not been named in court but has been identified by all sides as the actor -- ''to either pay money or include J. Nasso in the individual's film projects.''
When he's not a movie guy, Nasso is the proprietor of a "marine pharmaceutical supply company." This means he sells drugs and other medical supplies to ships.

Despite his loud protestations of innocence, Nasso ended up doing a stretch in prison for extortion. After a year inside, he returned to making films.

According to Wikipedia, the movie bug first bit Nasso when he worked as an assistant to Sergio Leone during the making of Once Upon a Time in America -- a film about gangsters, fittingly enough. I imagine that being bilingual helped Nasso, since Leone's English was always nearly-nonexistent.

Here's an interesting tidbit: Nasso then "participated in the development of two films: In God's Name and Saint Peter's Banker." Those are two books about the Vatican banking scandal; the movies were never made.

(Side note: Did you ever see the original hardback edition of Nicholas Pileggi's book Wiseguy, which Martin Scorcese adapted as Goodfellas? The dustjacket promises to tell the untold story of the Vatican banking scandal, but the text itself contains nothing about that topic. Odd. I suspect that something was cut from the manuscript at the last moment.)

In 2008, the NY Daily News published a story about Nasso. How's this for a "grabber" opening...?
Mobbed-up failed movie producer Julius Nasso remains a business partner in a Brooklyn pharmacy at the heart of a multimillion-dollar steroid scandal, his son said yesterday.

Julius Nasso Jr. told the Daily News his dad still has a piece of the business at Lowen's Pharmacy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

"You must be looking for my dad, my father," the younger Nasso said when asked about its operations.

Nasso Sr.'s partner John Rossi, 56, shot and killed himself in the drug store Monday night before investigators could question him on the hundreds of prescriptions the business allegedly filled each day from online clinics and doctors across the country.
Basically, this operation had to do with internet sales of steroids and other questionable drugs over the internet. For more background on this scandal, go here. The authorities seem certain that Rossi's suicide really was a suicide, even though the death was awfully convenient, and even though others suspected otherwise.
Rossi, 56, was viewed as a potentially powerful witness for authorities probing the snowballing steroid scandal.

"Rossi had information that could take down a lot of people," a law enforcement source said.

One Rossi business partner, a source speculated, was "hiding under a bed somewhere, convinced it's not a suicide and they're coming for him next."
In 2016, Nasso became embroiled in the behind-the-scenes troubles surrounding the film Accidental Love. In this instance, he apparently was the victim.

Nasso is interviewed in this YouTube video.

Now, I told you all of the above in order to prepare you for the really intriguing stuff...

Manafort, Nasso -- and nukes. This Politico story from 2017 discusses the Manafort/Nasso link. Before you hit the link, a word of warning: This stuff gets real complicated really fast, which is why everyone (including yours truly) tended to ignore that article when it first appeared. That laziness was a mistake -- maybe a BIG mistake.

Basically, it's the tale of a Republican congressman who became involved with a very strange business called EuroTech, which sold nuke stuff.

Repeat: Nuke stuff. From Russia. To America.

Yes, you read that right.
Florida House freshman Don Hahnfeldt ran a company in the early 2000s that hired Manafort — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief who was recently indicted — to try to sell Russian-developed nuclear containment foam to the U.S. Energy Department. At one point, a Manafort-directed company bought more than 2 million shares of company stock.

The story of the now-defunct, Virginia-based EuroTech Ltd. doesn’t just involve Russia — it’s also ingrained with other obscure plot elements worthy of the silver screen, including officials with known ties to the mafia and an untraceable cash flow from Cayman Island investors, according to thousands of pages of regulatory filings.
More on EuroTech...
EuroTech was founded in 1995 as a “technology transfer” company that aimed to, in part, to commercialize “previously ‘classified’ technologies...developed by prominent research institutions and individual researchers in the former Soviet Union and in Israel.” Its initial goal was to sell those technologies in Central Europe, Ukraine, Russia and North America.
Somewhere along the line, Manafort set up a front company called John Hannah, LLC. This same company appears in Mueller's indictment.

In 2001, John Hannah bought 2.5 million shares of EuroTech stock.

In short and in sum (and I hope I have not misread anything), Manafort was hired to lobby on behalf of a company devoted to selling Russian tech -- including nuclear materials -- to America. Basically, he was supposed to talk the Dubya administration into buying this stuff. At some point, Manafort decided to buy into the firm in a major way. Presumably, he would not have done so unless he felt that a sale was imminent.

Here comes the Nasso connection...
On the same date as the John Hanna LLC stock sale, 500,000 EuroTech shares were bought by another notable investor: Julius Nasso.
Manafort’s firm and Nasso both purchased and sold EuroTech stock the same day. They collectively sold 1.5 million shares of stock in September 2001, two months after the original purchase, to “three individuals and one corporation,” according to SEC documents that don’t name the recipients.

The sale came during a year Manafort and Nasso would become business partners. In January 2001, Nasso helped launch Manhattan Pictures Intl., a Manhattan movie distribution company. The partnership helping build the company included “media and political strategist Paul Manafort of international business/financial company Davis Manafort,” reported Variety, a trade publication covering Hollywood and the movie industry.
Obviously, there's much we don't yet know. How and when did Manafort and Nasso get together? Why did a "marine pharmaceutical" guy -- and a movie producer, and a Gambino associate -- want in on a company like EuroTech?

I don't know. All I know is that the Nasso material is part of the "crown jewels" that Manafort hid in that storage unit. This story is an iceberg: The biggest part remains unseen. 

This is blue sky conjecture on my part, but: Was EuroTech purely in the business of selling hardware? In today's world, that seems unlikely, because most hardware has a software component. But if there was a software component to EuroTech's nuclear material...

Well. The malware possibilities seem obvious.

Ponder that. And as you do, ponder this: What was the nature of Israel's involvement?

(By the way: Mueller took down the Gambino family -- which, many years ago, was represented by one Roy Cohn.)
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Comments:
Manafort is taking a big gamble with his freedom and his life. He's boned if Trump doesn't come through with a pardon. If I were Paul or a close friend I'd hire someone to open doors. Just saying.
 
Does this relate, do you think, to Seagal now living in Russia as a personal friend of Putin?
 
Thanks for this, Joseph...and yep, you're right--Mueller did take down the Gambino crime family.

This whole thing with the "nuke stuff" is quite curious, to say the least...and yet, the madmen on the Right (and a few players on the idiot Left like H.A. Goodman and Jimmy Dore) keep howling about "Uranium One and Hillary", a completely fake scandal that can be debunked in a few minutes.

Those 20 boxes must have a helluva lot of goodies in them...go Mueller!
 
Remember, that warning phone call, made from a pay phone outside a NYC media building where a Trumpovite was appearing, which identified the caller making threats as "Carmine"?

Coincidentally, Carmine Agnello, Jr. is the thirty-ish son of convicted mobster Carmine "the Bull" Agnello and Vicky Gotti, whose father is...yes, that Gambino crime family. The young Gotti's and their now divorced Maman's home and place of business (auto parts) was raided by the Feds during the campaign (9/15/2016).

Young Carmine has the kind of tightly wound body and tattoos a jaded porn star might find attractive if he came towards her in a Vegas gym parking lot. He might have bodyguards who aren't too swift who may not follow instructions exactly... or someone may want to frame him.

It should be common knowledge by now that whenever Breitbart, Alex Jones, Trump and the rest of the randy right are screaming that the Dems are up to no good (e.g. Uranium One, stealing data, betraying immigrants, trafficking in underage youth, etc) one should hold up a mirror because they are really talking about themselves and what they are actually doing. (Very AA dry drunk, by the way, Mr. President). It is exactly the kinds of activities they attribute to the Dems that they and their "business associates" are actually executing -- and I mean that in the most violent way.

The right has fever dreams and zero imagination. It doesn't pay to give them too much credit for concocting "lies" with no basis in fact. They are only ever lying about what they are actually doing and attributing this to their purported "enemies" (e.g. progressives, democrats, etc.). The right couldn't conceive of a coherent work of fiction if they tried. They are so grounded in their own, very limited, concrete experience, they couldn't create a work of fiction in a million years.

So the real question is who can link Trump's hiring of extra personal security during the campaign to both Schiller and Agnello, Jr.? Trump likes to go back to use people he has hired before, like Parscale. It's got to be back in the past at some Trump event that Agnello's posse was involved. An FBI trainer told me the mobster rank and file aren't too bright -- on wires, he explained they seem unaware of when they are making damning statements -- like needing to collect 4 1/2 pairs of pants.
dataflo
 
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