Slow Motion National Security Crisis

 

A new article is out from TIME Magazine. And let’s just say the picture is not pretty.

 

The Intelligence Community is screaming for Congress to do something.

 

The fucking imbecile gets his news from Fox hosts instead of people who know what they’re talking about.

You could pick a random person off the street and they’d take the job of Commander-in-Chief more seriously.

 

He very clearly lacks the ability to see anything other than his preconceived bias.

Yet another reason he’s unfit for office.

He needs to be impeached and removed. Pence is better for the safety of this country. It’s really that simple.

It’s Time for a Woman

In one chart.

 

I take absolutely no pleasure in posting this chart. It should embarrass every guy with a functioning brain stem. Some of us sniffed out Trump from Day One. The fact that so many men still support him speaks volumes about their judgement.

 

After 240 years, it’s time to give a woman the reins. Don’t tell me that there isn’t a woman out there capable of leading America. Don’t tell me we should settle for a man because a woman “can’t win.” It’s time. Women make up 51% of the population. Every little girl should be able to know that her gender is not a barrier to holding the highest office in the world.

Nancy Pelosi’s Approval Rating Goes Up

 

As the shutdown continues to drag on, the president’s numbers continue to fall. It was always a losing gambit for Trump after he stated on camera that he would be “proud to shut sown the government.”

He’s tried to backtrack and blame Pelosi and Schumer, but it hasn’t worked.

The latest CBS poll has some good news for the Speaker of the House.

 

Nancy Pelosi, who Republicans have spent the last 12 years bashing, is more popular than ever.

The fact that her approval stands at 39% today is remarkable as is 50% disapproval. Now you’re probably thinking, “those aren’t good numbers.”

Well, they are when you consider that her approval rate (per Gallup) was ten points lower midway through last year.

 

Here’s how she stacks up against Schumer and McConnell as of December.

 

And then there’s Trump’s dismal numbers. Beginning with the latest CBS poll, his numbers are worse than Pelosi’s. I haven’t seen any congressional leader with higher numbers than a sitting president before. Moreover, Trump’s numbers are underwater across the board.

 

Just to recap:

Trump: 36% approve – 59% disapprove

Pelosi: 39% approve – 50% disapprove

 

Two weeks ago, Pew Research showed similarly awful numbers for Trump:

39% approve – 58% disapprove

 

Last week, an Economist/YouGov poll showed Pelosi’s favorability was on the rise.

 

Approve 42% – Disapprove 50%

I think part of the change reflects the public’s opinions about ObamaCare. More people realize she and Obama did the right thing. But becoming the face of the Resistance will make people who didn’t like you, like you.

Call it “The Trump Effect.”

Cable News is Helping Republicans

 

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if the country was run by Fox News?

Wonder no more. Matthew Gertz of Media Matters does some great work. He documented the astounding parallel between what’s said on Fox News and how the President of the United States tweets about it shortly after. It’s been going on for two years now but the last two days have been noticeably worse. 

 

THIS MORNING

 

Fox & Friends, 6:20 am

Trump, 7:35 am

Fox & Friends, 6:05 am

Trump, 7:32 am

 

YESTERDAY

 

Fox, 4:27 pm  Cavuto: China “producing its weakest year for growth in 28 years.” 

Trump, 4:57 pm

Fox, 4:56 pm – one of the panelists said: Democrats “voted for [the wall] before and they voted for 137-odd miles of it under Barack Obama.”

Trump, 5:08 pm 

Fox, 6:28 pm segment: “Border security and immigrant crime, President Trump often sees it as one issue.”

Trump, 6:37 pm

Fox, 8:13 pm

Trump, 9:46 pm

Trump sits around all day watching Fox News. It’s insane. But Fox isn’t the only problem. I was at my father’s earlier. He had MSNBC on so I watched for a few minutes. Between the morning anchors making it sound like democrats and republicans are equally to blame for the government shutdown, and the ridiculous stories about federal employees needing food donations after missing ONE paycheck, it was not informative.

The host – a black guy, I don’t know his name – had someone on from the right wing magazine, Reason. The guy was pushing the same crap about how everyone rushed to judgement over the Covington Catholic video. Garbage “both sides” bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong, Maddow is brilliant. She does great work. So does Ari Melber, Chris Hayes, and Lawrence O’Donnell. That’s about it.

Let’s not forget the role CNN has played in the nightmare we’re all living through. They’ve put countless Trump associates on its panels without mentioning said associates signed non-disclosure agreements with Trump. CNN spent more airtime covering Trump’s campaign than any other network.

And CNN has two of the absolute worst “both sides” anchors in all of cable news. Chris Cuomo and Jake Tapper.

Yesterday, I explained how Jake Tapper helped with the rehabilitation of the Covington kids’ reputation. He gave oxygen to bad-faith right wing mouth-breathers who have an obvious agenda. A typical Tapper move because he’s petrified of being labeled a liberal.

Trump pounded away at the counter narrative yet again today:

Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be. They have captivated the attention of the world, and I know they will use it for the good – maybe even to bring people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream!

Conservatives desperately want to turn Covington Catholic into the next frontier of the culture wars. Friday, the entire country condemned Covington’s behavior. By Saturday, MAGA World had a change of heart. The white kids are the victims. Because they have to be the victims. Tapper isn’t the only one who helped with the counter narrative. The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today all put pieces out claiming there is more to the story than first thought.

Some liberal media, huh?

But back to CNN for a minute.

Cuomo and Tapper get big interviews with the likes of Giuliani and Kellyanne Conway because the two anchors are thought to be “fair” by some Republicans. In turn, Tapper and Cuomo gladly bring Trump mouthpieces on to lie for the ratings.

Cuomo isn’t particularly good at what he does. He dropped the ball during  last week’s interview with Fruity G. Here is an excerpt from the piece I wrote last week:

Rudy insists that, even if Manafort “colluded,” the President did not. And yet, the President was in – remains in, as far as we know – a Joint Defense Agreement with this guy that Rudy now concedes may have “colluded” during the election.

He forgot to mention that Manafort and Trump lawyers share in a Joint Defense Agreement! Gross incompetence. An expert would not forget to mention something so crucial. He had the chance to nail Giuliani.

Today I realized Cuomo is dumber than I thought. Have you seen the stories about Kamala Harris not being born in America yet? If not, it’s birtherism 2.0 and it began today. As far as I can tell, it started with the idiotic troll who tried to pay women to accuse Bob Mueller of sexual harassment, Jacob Wohl.

Ana Navarro, who should know better, indulged Wohl.  Here’s the exchange.

Kamala Harris is NOT eligible to be President. Her father arrived from Jamaica in 1961—mother from India arrived in 1960 Neither parent was a legal resident for 5 years prior to Harris’s birth, a requirement for naturalization Kamala was raised in Canada.

Here we go again with the “birther” crap. Same drummed-up charge used against Obama to question his citizenship and legitimacy. Hmmmmm…..I wonder what Obama and have in common?

And hopefully there will be no games where the issue keeps changing for righty accusers…and…the legit info about Harris comes out to deal with the allegation ASAP. The longer there is no proof either way, the deeper the effect.

“Deal with the allegation ASAP.” – Chris Cuomo

The two morons breathed life into a rumor started by a right wing troll who has the brains of a crustacean. Nobody takes anything that Jacob Wohl says seriously.  Cuomo got dragged so hard, by so many people, that he deleted the tweet. 

None of this bodes well for the upcoming presidential race.

MAGA

 

I’m posting this entire WaPo article by Phillip Rucker because it’s just loony tunes.

‘Absolutely out of control’: Cliff Sims’s book depicts life in Trump’s White House

 

Starlings fly out of a bush and over the West Wing of the White House last Jan. 22.
 
January 21 at 5:02 PM

President Trump watched on television, increasingly angry as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan criticized his handling of the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. He held the remote control “like a pistol” and yelled for an assistant to get the Republican leader on the phone.

“Paul, do you know why Democrats have been kicking your a– for decades? Because they know a little word called ‘loyalty,’ ” Trump told Ryan, then a Wisconsin congressman. “Why do you think Nancy [Pelosi] has held on this long? Have you seen her? She’s a disaster. Every time she opens her mouth another Republican gets elected. But they stick with her . . . Why can’t you be loyal to your president, Paul?”

The tormenting continued. Trump recalled Ryan distancing himself from Trump in October 2016, in the days after the “Access Hollywood” video in which he bragged of fondling women first surfaced in The Washington Post.

“I remember being in Wisconsin and your own people were booing you,” Trump told him, according to former West Wing communications aide Cliff Sims. “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog! And what’d I do? I saved your a–.”

The browbeating of the top Republican on Capitol Hill was one of the vivid snapshots of life inside the Trump White House told by one of its original inhabitants, Cliff Sims, in his 384-page tell-all, “Team of Vipers,” which goes on sale next week and was obtained in advance by The Post. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Sims, who enjoyed uncommon personal access to Trump, recounts expletive-filled scenes of chaos, dysfunction and duplicity among the president, his family members and administration officials.

Unlike memoirs of other Trump officials, Sims’s book is neither a sycophantic portrayal of the president nor a blistering account written to settle scores. The author presents himself as a true believer in Trump and his agenda, and even writes whimsically of the president, but still is critical of him, especially his morality. Sims also finds fault in himself, a rarity in Trump World, writing that at times he was “selfish,” “nakedly ambitious” and “a coward.”

The author reconstructs in comic detail the Trump team’s first day at work, when the president sat in the residence raging about news coverage of the relatively small size of his inauguration crowds, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer scrambled to address it.

Spicer had worked the team “into a frenzy,” and it fell to Sims to write the script for his first statement to the media. Nervously chewing gum, Spicer dictated “a torrent of expletives with a few salient points scattered in between.” At one point, Sims’s computer crashed and he lost the draft, so it had to be rewritten. And in their rush to satisfy the impatient president, nobody checked the facts. Spicer, he writes, was “walking into his own execution.”

“It’s impossible to deny how absolutely out of control the White House staff — again, myself included — was at times,” Sims writes. The book’s scenes are consistent with news reporting at the time from inside the White House.


President Trump speaks at a Dec. 18, 2018, roundtable event at the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Sims depicts Trump as deeply suspicious of his own staff. He recalls a private huddle in which he and Keith Schiller, the president’s longtime bodyguard and confidant, helped Trump draw up an enemies list with a Sharpie on White House stationery. “We’re going to get rid of all the snakes, even the bottom-feeders,” Trump told them.

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly told the staff that he viewed his job as serving the “country first, POTUS second,” which Sims interpreted as potentially hostile to Trump’s agenda.

Sims recounts that Kelly once confided to him in a moment of exasperation: “This is the worst [expletive] job I’ve ever had. People apparently think that I care when they write that I might be fired. If that ever happened, it would be the best day I’ve had since I walked into this place.”

A conservative media figure in Alabama, Sims came to work on Trump’s 2016 campaign and cultivated a personal relationship with the candidate-turned-president. Sims writes rich, extended dialogue from his conversations with Trump and others in the administration.

As White House director of message strategy, Sims regularly met Trump at the private elevator of the residence and accompanied him to video tapings — carrying a can of Tresemmé Tres Two hair spray, extra hold, for the boss. At one such taping, about an hour after Trump had tweeted that he saw MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski “bleeding badly from a facelift,” the president sought feedback from Sims and Spicer.

“They’re going to say it’s not presidential,” Trump said, referring to the media. “But you know what? It’s modern-day presidential.” The president then raged about the “Morning Joe” program on which Brzezinski appears and instructed Spicer, “Don’t you dare say I watch that show.”


President Trump greets House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) at a Dec. 20, 2017, White House event celebrating passage of the tax cut bill, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other lawmakers looking on. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Sims also recounts a meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime friend, and former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon at which Sessions suggested a polygraph test of national security officials to root out “leakers” after The Post reported the transcripts of Trump’s phone calls with the Mexican president and Australian prime minister.

At times, Trump evinced less rage than a lack of interest. Sims recounts one time when Ryan was in the Oval Office explaining the ins and outs of the Republican health-care bill to the president. As Ryan droned on for 15 minutes, Trump sipped on a glass of Diet Coke, peered out at the Rose Garden, stared aimlessly at the walls and, finally, walked out.

Ryan kept talking as the president wandered down the hall to his private dining room, where he flicked on his giant flat-screen TV. Apparently, he had had enough of Ryan’s talk. It fell to Vice President Pence to retrieve Trump and convince him to return to the Oval Office so they could continue their strategy session.

White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci talks with reporters outside the White House on July 25, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Sims reconstructs moments of crisis for the West Wing communications team in play-by-play detail, including the domestic abuse allegations against former staff secretary Rob Porter and the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director.

He paints Spicer, counselor Kellyanne Conway and communications adviser Mercedes Schlapp in an especially negative light, calling Conway “the American Sniper of West Wing marksmen” and describing her agenda as “survival over all others, including the president.”

Sims writes that former aide Omarosa Manigault cursed members of the Congressional Black Caucus when they asked for a moment of privacy in the West Wing after meeting with Trump and before addressing the media.

“Privacy?!” Manigault said. “You think you can come up in our house and demand [expletive] privacy? Hell, no! You must be outta your . . . mind.”

Perhaps the book’s most cinematic chapter of chaos is “The Mooch Is Loose,” a reconstruction of Anthony Scaramucci’s 11 days as White House communications director.

Sims was Scaramucci’s right-hand man and describes the flamboyant aide’s hunt for “leakers,” which began with his own staff. Scaramucci assembled the 40-odd media aides and threatened to fire them all, Sims writes, as if he were a “fire-breathing dragon that had just returned from laying waste to the unsuspecting peasants in the village.”

Sims writes that Scaramucci ordered them to reply to anyone in the White House instructing them to leak information to a reporter, including then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, by saying: “I cannot do that. I only report to Anthony Scaramucci and he reports directly to the president of the United States.”

Even Trump was amused.

“Can you believe this guy?” the president told Sims. “He’s completely out of his mind — like, on drugs or something — totally out of his mind. We’ll figure it out, but the guy is crazy.”

Trump and his Affection for Strongmen

 

This is an abbreviated list of some of the strongmen that trump has repeatedly praised since he assumed office, along with a brief example of his actual praise. Although this NPR article was published over a year-and-a-half ago it still holds true. In fact, the article could easily be updated by citing additional examples of fawning comments and unusual foreign policy actions taken by this president, all of which have aroused suspicion on the part of various government officials (at least by those who are not part of the trump protection brigade) .

With that in mind it should not come as a surprise to anyone that since he took office trump has rarely mentioned human rights in his speeches. For that matter, that would help explain why the issue of human rights has effectively been dropped as one of the U.S. foreign policy priorities – and why topics related to civil liberties or human rights have rarely been a topic of discussion whenever this president has met with foreign dictators and authoritarian leaders during one-on-one encounters.

– Robert Peeples


6 Strongmen Trump Has Praised — And The Conflicts It Presents

 
 
 

President Trump just seems to have a thing for strongmen.

He invited the brutal Philippine leader, Rodrigo Duterte, to the White House during a “very friendly” phone call Sunday. On Tuesday, Trump has another call — this one with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s invitation came despite Duterte’s violent crackdown on drugs, that has left more than 7,000 of his countrymen dead since he took power less than a year ago. The White House defended Trump’s decision, saying the Philippines is a key partner in dealing with North Korea, but experts say that’s a stretch.

The United States and Western allies have long turned a blind eye to totalitarian regimes guilty of a long list of human-rights violations. Often, it was in the name of stability and at the expense of people suffering in those countries. But American leaders have mostly been mindful to choose their words carefully to maintain some semblance of a moral higher ground. What Trump is doing is different — past American leaders would almost never express admiration for bad actors. Trump, in many cases, has been doing exactly that.

Duterte is hardly the only autocrat Trump has had kind words for. From Saddam Hussein’s efficient killing of terrorists to the “smart cookie” in North Korea, Trump has praised strongmen around the world when others wouldn’t. The following list reads like a who’s who of totalitarian leaders with dicey human-rights records. And in all of the countries, the American president and real-estate magnate has a raft of potential conflicts of interest, too:


Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines

Nickname: “The Punisher” a.k.a. “Duterte Harry”

 

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during the ASEAN Leaders’ Summit in Manila, Philippines, last month.

Bullit Marquez/AP

What he’s accused of: More than 7,000 Filipinos killed under his rule in his anti-drug crusade. In a warped comparison, he praised Hitler this way: “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” He added that he wants to “finish the problem of my country and save the next generation.” (Fact check: it was six million European Jews who were killed in the Holocaust.) … He has undermined the judiciary … Called experts “stupid” … Threatened to “whack” mayors who stood in the way of his tactics … Upset about traffic, he called the Pope a “son of a whore” … “Joked” about a woman who was raped. …

Justified the killing of journalists. “Just because you’re a journalist,” he said, “you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch.” The Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists to work — 78 journalists have been killed there since 1992, the third most of any country behind Iraq and Syria. (Somalia is behind the Philippines at No. 4.) Though Duterte’s praised Trump, he’s also said: “He is a bigot and I am not.”

Quotable: “Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you. I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.”

What Trump has said about him (emphasis ours): The White House issued a readout of their phone call from April 29:

It was a very friendly conversation, in which the two leaders discussed the concerns of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regarding regional security, including the threat posed by North Korea. They also discussed the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world. President Trump enjoyed the conversation and said that he is looking forward to visiting the Philippines in November to participate in the East Asia Summit and the U.S.-ASEAN Summit. President Trump also invited President Duterte to the White House to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction.”

Duterte now might not even come. “I am tied up,” Duterte said Monday. “I cannot make any definite promise. I am supposed to go to Russia, I am supposed to go to Israel.”

Potential Trump conflict: His name is on a 57-story, $150 million building in Manila. Duterte named the head of the corporation that developed it as an envoy to the United States.

 

A high-rise building under construction in 2012 in Manila, Philippines bearing Trump’s name.

Vladimir Putin, Russia

Nickname:Pale Mouth” a.k.a. “Botox” a.k.a. “Pootie-Poot

 

What he’s accused of: Invaded a sovereign country (Ukraine) and annexed part of it (Crimea). … Aiding Syrian President Bashar Assad militarily. Assad is accused by the West of using chemical weapons against his own people. … Meddled in elections, including in the U.S. … Allowed hackings of Western bank accounts without prosecution … Some 100 men suspected of being gay have been swept up in Chechnya, including three who were killed last month. … People with disabilities face discrimination, including not studying in mainstream schools …

Cracked down on freedom of information, including shutting down websites … Persecuted critics, political opponents and journalists who have been jailed and killed. (It’s the seventh-most dangerous country for journalists to work in.) … Some human-rights NGOs have been labeled “foreign agents” and “undesirable foreign organizations.” They’ve been banned and a new law means they could face up to six years in prison. … Russian Olympians have been accused of doping through a government program. … Russia won the rights to host the 2018 soccer World Cup, but there are questions as to how. Former FIFA head Sepp Blatter was ousted in 2015 and banned for eight years after soccer’s world governing body was found to be rife with corruption and kickbacks. Still, Putin said Blatter “deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.”

Quotable: “Hitler also failed when, with his hateful ideas, he was going to destroy Russia, throw us back behind the Urals. Everyone should remember how it ended.”

What Trump has said about him: “If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him. I’ve already said, he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, oh, isn’t that a terrible thing — the man has very strong control over a country. Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system. But certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader. … he does have an 82 percent approval rating, according to the different pollsters….” (Sept. 7, 2016, NBC Commander-in-Chief Forum)

Potential Trump conflict: Trump put on the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and has tried for a long time to gain a foothold in the Russian market. In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” (The Washington Post and Time have more on Trump’s Russia connections.)

Xi Jinping, China

Nickname: “Xi Dada” a.k.a. “Xi Big Big” a.k.a “Big Daddy Xi

 

What he’s accused of: Extra-judicial detention, where detainees are tortured and mistreated, including as a tactic against political opponents and activists … Leading the world in executions … “Enforced disappearance of critics” … Using strong-arm tactics to maintain Communist Party power. For example, launching an “anti-corruption campaign” against political opponents and shutting down groups seen as a threat – even ones as seemingly benign as advocating for women’s legal counsel against domestic abuse. …

Identified as “the world’s worst jailer of journalists” in 2014 and 2015. China was holding 49 journalists in 2015; that number was down to 38 last year and eclipsed only by Turkey (81), as Erdogan moved to consolidate power and repress opposition. China is ranked near the bottom (176 out of 180) in the World Press Freedom Index, beat out only by Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea. … Clamping down on access to the Internet and censoring it. Google left the country last year despite the huge potential market because of it … Lack of religious freedom. Uighur Muslims, for example, are labeled extremists and terrorists; families of Tibetan self-immolators have been punished; 1,500 crosses have been torn down from church steeples; a small Chinese Jewish community has been harassed and prevented from worshiping together. China only has five “licensed” religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Islam, Protestantism and Taoism.

Quotable: “There are a few foreigners, with full bellies, who have nothing better to do than try to point fingers at our country. China does not export revolution, hunger, poverty nor does China cause you any headaches. Just what else do you want?”

What Trump has said about him: “He certainly doesn’t want to see turmoil and death. He doesn’t want to see it. He is a good man. He is a very good man and I got to know him very well.” (April 28, Reuters interview)

Potential Trump conflict: Trump has strong business ties to China. He has tried to get into the Chinese market since 2008. He signed onto two multi-million-dollar deals that fell apart, including one with State Grid, the state-owned power company. In October, the Trump Organization announced new plans for 20 to 30 new hotels in cities all over China. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. is a tenant in Trump Tower. Bank of China, also state-owned, is a debt holder for at least part of a $950 million loan for a building in New York in which Trump is part-owner.

Trump and his daughter Ivanka were granted hard-to-come-by trademarks in China earlier this year. Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, a key (maybe top) adviser to the president owns a skyscraper in New York and was set to get a $400 million investment from a Chinese firm in the tower. But that deal was killed because of conflict-of-interest concerns.

 

A State Grid Corporation construction site. The electrical company is China’s largest state-owned enterprise. Trump pursued a lucrative deal with the company headed by a top Communist official.

 

Kim Jong Un, North Korea

Nickname: “The Young General” a.k.a. “Fatty Kim the Third” a.k.a. “Kim Fatty III” a.k.a. “Kim the Fat”

 

What he’s accused of: Human Rights Watch notes: “A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that abuses in North Korea were without parallel in the contemporary world. They include extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence. North Korea operates secretive prison camps where perceived opponents of the government are sent to face torture and abuse, starvation rations, and forced labor. Fear of collective punishment is used to silence dissent. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom.” …

It is ranked at the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index. … Kim has worked with China to crack down on border crossings to prevent escapees. In some cases, North Korea has tracked down citizens and returned them to the country. China is complicit as well, labeling those who escape as illegal and returning them. People returned to the country are sent to forced-labor prison camps, known as “kwanliso,” which literally means management centers. … Kim does not allow unauthorized outside movies, news, etc., into the country. … There is no religious freedom or allowed political opposition. … The country has a “songbun” class system in which people are grouped into three categories ranking their loyalty — 1. Loyal, 2. Wavering, 3. Hostile.

Quotable: “If the American imperialists provoke us a bit, we will not hesitate to slap them with a pre-emptive nuclear strike. The United States must choose! It’s up to you whether the nation called the United States exists on this planet or not.”

What Trump has said about him: “At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.” (April 30, CBS)

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it. If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that. … Most political people would never say that, but I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him. We have breaking news.” (May 1, Bloomberg)

Potential Trump conflict: See China.

 

Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt

Nickname:The Quiet General” a.k.a. “The Pimp

 

What he’s accused of: A long-time general in the country’s military, he rose to power in a bloody coup. Some 800 protesters were killed in a single day … Public criticism of the government is squashed … Anti-government protests are banned … Scores of people have been arrested … Privacy rights are routinely violated … Some independent human-rights organizations have been banned; NGO workers could face up to 25 years in prison if they are believed to be working against Egypt’s national interest … Charges were brought against the country’s top anti-corruption official … Forced disappearances … Detainees tortured … Thousands of trials with flimsy evidence … Overcrowding in prisons that have seen forced feedings and isolation … Freedom of speech is repressed — the head of the Press Syndicate was charged with “publishing false news, which threatens public peace.” …

Religious freedom is almost nonexistent — Christians are routinely discriminated against; churches are limited and speaking out against Islam, even ISIS, can land you in prison. Four Christian children, in fact, were sentenced to five years in prison for putting up a video that mocked ISIS. … The government has undertaken some perfunctory steps to curb violence against women, but Human Rights Watch says, “Sexual harassment and violence against women remained endemic.” The new Interior Minister, a woman, has put the onus on women, telling them to avoid speaking loudly and to be cautious about how they dress. Women are also routinely discriminated against in family law cases. …

Sexually repressive society that criminalizes sex outside marriage … Tracks down and prosecutes alleged gays, who are often sodomized by police. … Egypt is one of the worst countries for journalists, ranked 161 of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index. Ten journalists have been killed since 2011; some have faced years in detention without charges, others have seen long prison terms, as the Sissi government undergoes a “Sisification” of the media.

Quotable: “Please, don’t listen to anyone but me. I am dead serious. Be careful, no one should abuse my patience and good manners to bring down the state. I swear by God that anyone who comes near it, I will remove him from the face of the Earth. I am telling you this as the whole of Egypt is listening. What do you think you’re doing? Who are you?”

What Trump has said about him (emphasis ours): “I will tell you, President al-Sisi has been somebody that’s been very close to me from the first time I met him. I met during the campaign, and at that point there were two of us, and we both met. And hopefully you like me a lot more. But it was very long. It was supposed to be just a quick brief meeting, and we were with each other for a long period of time. We agreed on so many things. I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President al-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. And the United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing. … And I just want to say to you, Mr. President, that you have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me.” (Bilateral meeting with Egypt’s president, April 3)

Potential Trump conflict: Trump lists two companies in Egpyt on his financial disclosure — Trump Marks Egypt and Trump Marks Egypt LLC. There is not a lot of information about the companies. They do not appear in the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt’s database. Both are, however, registered in Delaware. They are both registered with “National Registered Agents, Inc.” out of Dover, Del. and were formed in 2007. (Many companies incorporate in Delaware, because there is no state income tax.)

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey

Nickname: Sultan” a.k.a. “Modern Yazid

 

What he’s accused of: Attempting to consolidate power in the face of political opposition. A referendum last month “gives him the green light to create a muscular presidency, with powers to personally appoint or dismiss ministers, select judges and rule by decree if he deems it necessary,” BBC notes. … He has jailed opponents and critics, including a 16-year-old, who insulted him and a Miss Turkey who shared a poem criticizing him. … More than 50,000 people have been detained since a thwarted coup. …

Accused protesters of being “arm in arm” with terrorists … Turkey has the most jailed journalists of any country in the world. Fourteen were imprisoned in 2015, but that number jumped to 81 in 2016, more than double the number of journalists behind bars in China (No. 2 on the list). … Some 120,000 public servants have been fired. … Repressing religious freedom and women’s rights. … Attempted to criminalize adultery and create “alcohol-free zones.”

Quotable: “You cannot put women and men on an equal footing. It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. … Our religion has defined a position for women: motherhood. … Some people can understand this, while others can’t. You cannot explain this to feminists, because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”

 

What Trump has said about him (emphasis ours): The White House issued a readout of Trump calling Erdogan after he won a referendum that expanded his power:

“President Donald J. Trump spoke today with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to congratulate him on his recent referendum victory and to discuss the United States’ action in response to the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons on April 4th. President Trump thanked President Erdogan for supporting this action by the United States, and the leaders agreed on the importance of holding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accountable. President Trump and President Erdogan also discussed the counter-ISIS campaign and the need to cooperate against all groups that use terrorism to achieve their ends.”

Potential Trump conflict: Trump licenses his name to two buildings in Istanbul. He got $5 million from the licenses in 2016, according to his financial disclosure. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn worked as a foreign agent for Turkey in the fall, while a campaign adviser to Trump, pulling in $500,000. It was something he only reported in March. He resigned his White House post three weeks earlier.

The Trump Presidency Needs to End

 

The FBI can’t neutralize a security threat if the president is the threat

 
 

But Mueller — and Congress — could pick up where counterintelligence hits its limits.

 
 
January 13 at 6:00 AM

The FBI, according to the New York Times, opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether President Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia after he fired former FBI director James B. Comey in 2017. As a former FBI agent who conducted investigations against foreign intelligence services, I know that the bureau would have had to possess strong evidence that Trump posed a national security threat to meet the threshold for opening such an investigation. But the more important question now is not how or why the case was opened, but whether it was ever closed.

The goal of a counterintelligence investigation is to identify and stop threats to national security. Such cases are fundamentally different from criminal investigations, which seek to collect evidence of a crime and are eventually resolved by either pursuing or declining to pursue charges in court. By contrast, once a counterintelligence investigation is opened, it is ultimately closed either by determining that no threat to national security exists or that it has ceased to exist, or by taking actions to render ineffective — in intelligence lingo, to “neutralize” — the threat.

The FBI can neutralize a counterintelligence threat several ways. One is to simply monitor the activity under the radar and, in the process, collect intelligence on what our foreign adversaries are interested in and able to do. An example of this tactic is the FBI’s operation “Ghost Stories,” which allowed 10 Russian spies to believe they were operating undetected for 10 years. During this time, the FBI gained important data on Russia’s tradecraft and targets, thereby allowing the United States to enhance its own intelligence techniques and foreign policy objectives. Another avenue to neutralize a target who might be acting on behalf of foreign power is to remove their access to information that could help our adversary. In the case of someone sharing classified information with foreign intelligence, for example, the FBI could surreptitiously ensure that they are no longer able to obtain sensitive information (as they did with Robert Hanssen while he was under investigation in the 1980s and 1990s for spying for the Soviet Union and Russia), or to replace the information with fake documents, throwing our adversaries off the trail.

Under certain circumstances, the FBI can also take more aggressive steps. If the target is in a position to provide direct foreign intelligence about an adversary and appears to have wavering loyalties, our intelligence services can offer financial and other incentives to “flip” the target — turning him or her into a double agent who provides information to the United States while pretending to cooperate with their foreign handlers. And in the case of a foreign national or spy who is working under diplomatic cover who poses an egregious threat to national security, the FBI can force the target to leave the country — as the Obama administration did when it declared 35 Russian spies persona non grata in December 2016 in retaliation for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

Unfortunately, none of these is a feasible option if the national security threat is the president of the United States.

Naturally, the president, as a U.S. citizen, cannot be removed from the country. Nor can the president, who is the country’s chief executive, be restricted from access to classified information or provided with falsified information. It also makes no sense to “flip” someone who has already in a position of public trust and has taken an oath to protect and defend the United States from foreign enemies. And merely monitoring the threat to collect intelligence on what foreign adversaries are doing is not an option, since the ultimate consumer of such intelligence is the president himself — which means whatever intelligence is collected could eventually be passed on to the president, who is also the target. At the same time, the possibility that the president is compromised by a foreign power is the ultimate national security threat: The awesome powers of the presidency, which include almost unfettered discretion in the realm of foreign affairs and intelligence operations, leaves open the potential for him to use those powers to advance the interests of a foreign adversary over those of the United States.

This leaves only one option for neutralization: Exposure.

Exposing the activities of a foreign intelligence service renders them ineffective, since it removes plausible deniability, which is the hallmark of covert intelligence operations. It also reveals the sources and methods a foreign power is using, forcing them to abandon the operation. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has already utilized this avenue by bringing criminal charges against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for a disinformation campaign on social media and against 12 GRU officers for hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails. This alternative has its downsides: It allows our adversaries to know what we know, enabling them to up their game the next time. (The current aggressive attempts by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to compel discovery of Mueller’s sources and methods in court is an example of this tension.) But where the national security threat is severe, the need to stop the activity immediately can outweigh the costs.

This is where Mueller’s report comes in. Until now, the American public has seen only snippets of Mueller’s investigation — those that he has chosen to make public through criminal charges. But since not all activities uncovered by a counterintelligence investigation, even those that pose a significant threat to national security, are necessarily criminal, they do not reveal the full breadth of what Mueller may have discovered. Only by laying out all of his counterintelligence findings — including what role, if any, Trump played in Russia’s intelligence operation against the United States — can the criminal charges be placed in context and the full scope of the threat be assessed.

If the counterintelligence case against the president was eventually closed because it found that Trump did not pose a threat to U.S. national security, Trump should welcome Mueller’s report reaching Congress. This conclusion would stop the speculation about Trump’s relationship with Russia and reassure the American public that his loyalties remain with the United States. But if it wasn’t, and the threat to national security is ongoing, then informing Congress of the nature of the threat is paramount. This would be the only way that Congress can determine whether it should take the ultimate step to neutralize the damage that the president could inflict on the nation — through impeachment and removal from office.

Very Uncool and Very Illegal

 

With today’s revelation that Paul Manafort shared internal polling data with Russians, I thought I’d share a timeline I found from a woman named Susan Solomon.

Here it is posted in its entirety:

 

“Friends: As promised here is a timeline of events centering around Cambridge Analytica (CA) and the Trump campaign. Read it and you will see quite a disturbing story unfolding. Dots connect between CA, Russians, a tiny Canadian firm, Wikileaks, many in the Trump orbit, and billionaires such as Peter Thiel and Robert Mercer.

Keep in mind that this version just scratches the surface. The rabbit holes are endless – I had to stop myself or the project would become all consuming.

This is a work in progress and this is what I’ve got so far. Sources at the end. While I did my best to ensure accuracy, I often had to tease out dates from the context given, so feel free to help me fine tune dates if you find better info. Please feel free to share this.

FUN FACT to get you started: Cambridge Aanalytica  discovered that one of the best predictors of a Trump voter is someone who has a preference for U.S. made cars.”

CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA – A TIMELINE

▪️1992: NIGEL OAKES, head of UK-based Behavioral Dynamics Institute (BDI), tells Marketing magazine: “We use the same techniques as Aristotle and Hitler.” “We appeal to people on an emotional level to get them to agree on a functional level.” (Politico; New Yorker)


▪️1993: NIGEL OAKES founds Strategic Communication Laboratories in London which becomes the SCL Group, a behavioral research and strategic communications company from which Cambridge Analytica will be formed. (SCL Website; SCL Group Wikipedia; Politico)


▪️1993-2013: The largest investor in the SCL Group is VINCENT TCHIENGUIZ – a billionaire property mogul with ties to PAUL MANAFORT through Manafort’s business partner, DMITRY FIRTASH. (Tablet 2; Medium—Seligman)


▪️2003: ALEXANDER NIX joins the SCL Group. Nix goes on to found Cambridge Analytica in 2013, an SCL Group subsidiary. (Guardian 2)


▪️2007: SCL Group wins defense contracts in the United States, and conducts surveys for the U.S. military in Iran and Yemen. (New Yorker)


▪️2012: SCL Group “more or less splits” with NIX taking the reins of SCL Elections which focused on election support work. It wins a series of election contracts that year, including in Guyana, Kenya, and Ghana. (New Yorker)


▪️2012: Cambridge University professor MICHAL KOSINSKI proves that using his MyPersonality app, database and algorithms, “on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook “likes” by a user, it is possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88% accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85%)” and also their intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use and even deduce whether someone’s parents are divorced. (Motherboard/VICE)


▪️2013: NIX travels to the U.S. “He was very, very turned on by America,” an employee said. The US “was, like, the holy grail for him.” NIX pitched SCL’s services in the US, targeting “only Republican groups and donors.” (New Yorker)


▪️Late 2012/Early2013: CHRISTOPHER WYLIE is hired by SCL. Wylie would go on to regret his work at SCL/CA and become one of the main CA whistleblowers. (The Guardian 7)


▪️June 2013: ROBERT MURTFELD becomes a legal assistant at JULIAN ASSANGE’s law firm, Doughty Street Chambers, a position he holds until August 2015 when he leaves to work at Cambridge Analytica. At Doughty Street, “Murtfeld’s mentor had been John Jones, Q.C., who worked for Assange as well as for Liberian warlord Charles Taylor.” (Tablet)


▪️Autumn 2013: CHRISTOPHER WYLIE meets STEVE BANNON to discuss the capabilities of SCL. Bannon introduces NIX and WYLIE to ROBERT MERCER and pitches SCL and the idea of “cyberwarfare for elections” to ROBERT MERCER. (The Guardian 7; New Yorker)


▪️2013: STEVE BANNON encourages Trump to run for President. (Chicago Tribune 1)
▪️November 2013: Trump goes to Moscow for the Miss Universe pageant. (Russian Roulette)


▪️December 31, 2013: Cambridge Analytica is formed by ALEXANDER NIX (with the support of MERCER and BANNON) as an offshoot of SCL Group “to address the vacuum in the US Republican political market.” Mercer agrees to invest $5M in the company. Bannon will eventually join CA and become CHRISTOPHER WYLIE’s boss. Cambridge Analytica is incorporated in Delaware “in order to comply with U.S. election law,” but within SCL there is “no meaningful difference.” (The Guardian 1 and 7; Mother Jones; New Yorker)


▪️November 2013: AggregateIQ (AIQ), a Canadian data firm signs its first contract with SCL. FYI: Founders of AIQ are JEFF SYLVESTER — a friend of CHRIS WYLIE — and ZACK MASSINGHAM (CBC; The Guardian)


▪️March 2014: In an email to Cambridge Analytica CEO ALEXANDER NIX, a Cambridge Analytica employee mentions the work Soviet-born ALEKSANDR KOGAN is doing for Russia on data and social media. (The Guardian 3)


▪️Early 2014: Professor KOSINSKI is approached by colleague ALEKSANDR KOGAN inquiring into Kosinski’s method on behalf of a company (which he later confides is SCL) and asking for access to Kosinski’s MyPersonality database. Kogan says he cannot reveal for what purpose; he is bound to secrecy. Kosinski has a “bad feeling” about it and says no. (Motherboard) At that time Kogan was also doing data work for Russia. (The Guardian 3)


▪️Early 2014: It is believed that KOGAN effectively reverse engineers KOSINSKI’s work (Motherboard) presumably to take advantage of CA’s lucrative offer himself.


▪️June 2014: Cambridge Analytica retains the services of KOGAN through Kogan’s newly-formed company, Global Science Research (GSR). (MSNBC; The Guardian 7)


▪️June 2014: ROBERT MERCER invests heavily in Cambridge Analytica. (MSNBC; CBC)


▪️June 2014: BANNON joins Cambridge Analytica as vice president and board secretary, positions he holds through August 2016. (Bloomberg)


▪️[June 2014:] Cambridge Analytica begins testing slogans like “drain the swamp” and “deep state.” (CNN 2) SIDE NOTE: Cambridge Analytica’s MARK TURNBULL bragged that the firm also created the “crooked Hillary” moniker. (Channel 4)


▪️June – August 2014: Working on behalf of CA, KOGAN’s company GSR illegally harvests the private data of 50-60 million Facebook users through a personality test app called “thisisyourdigitallife.” The information harvested is used by CA without authorization according to Facebook to build a system that targets individual US voters. KOGAN is allowed to keep a copy of the harvested data. (The Guardian 2 & 7)


▪️Summer 2014: In addition to working with CA, KOGAN is also receiving grants from the Russia government and is working with students and researchers from St. Petersburg State University in Russia “to pursue a data-harvesting project similar to the one that produced the data he sold to Cambridge Analytica.” (CNN Money; The Guardian 3)


▪️July 2014: LAURENCE LEVY, an attorney at RUDY GUILIANI’s law firm, having been retained by REBEKAH MERCER, STEVE BANNON, and ALEXANDER NIX for advice on CA warns them “that foreign citizens could not play “substantive management” roles in the running of U.S. election campaigns unless they were permanent residents.” The legal memo is addressed to REBEKAH MERCER, STEVE BANNON, and ALEXANDER NIX. In the memo, legal counsel wrote Nix, a British foreign national, “would first have to be recused from substantive management of any such clients involved in U.S. elections.” (Washington Examiner; WaPo 3)


▪️July 2014: ALEXANDER NIX asks for a detailed presentation of Cambridge Analyticas’s work to share with VAGIT ALEKPEROV, the CEO of Russia’s huge oil company, Lukoil. VAGIT ALEKPEROV, “is a former Soviet oil minister who has said the strategic aims of Lukoil are closely aligned with those of Russia. “I have only one task connected with politics, to help the country and the company. I’m not close to Mr PUTIN, but I treat him with great respect,” he told the New York Times.” (The Guardian 3)


▪️2014-2015: SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica employees, “who often overlap, had contact…with executives from Lukoil.”“Lukoil was interested in how data was used to target American voters.” (NYT)


▪️Summer 2014: MICHAEL FLYNN gives an interview as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, highlighting data — particularly from social media sites such as Facebook — as having transformed intelligence-gathering, and predicting increased military spending around related data analytics work, creating a “gold rush” for contractors.” (Defense One; NY Books)


▪️Summer 2014: A few weeks after MICHAEL FLYNN gives the above interview, Flynn leaves the DIA to establish the “all-source” intelligence lobbying firm Flynn Intel Group Inc. (Defense One; NY Books)


▪️August 2014: JOHN BOLTON’s super PAC hires CA. Over the next two years, the ROBERT MERCER-supported PAC pays CA $1.2M for services such as “behavioral microtargeting with psychographic messaging.” CHRISTOPHER WYLIE says the data used for Bolton’s super PAC was derived from the illicitly mined Facebook data. (NYT 2)


▪️2014: Aggregate IQ (AIQ) presents RIPON to SCL, an app it developed for the US market. AIQ assigns all of its intellectual property to Cambridge Analytica. Employees view AIQ as an internal department of CA located in Canada. (New Yorker)


▪️2014: Cambridge Analytica assigns “dozens of non-U.S. citizens to provide campaign strategy and messaging advice to ­Republican candidates in 2014.” (WaPo 3)


▪️2015: Israeli hackers offer CA stolen personal emails of/about the future Nigerian president and future PM of St Kitts and Nevis. Some of such stolen data likely includes personal health information. ALEXANDER NIX asks his staff to find compromising info in the emails. CA denies using the emails. (Guardian 4)


▪️2015: VINCENT TCHENGUIZ sells his shares in SCL Group.
Side Note: The current SCL chairman JULIAN WHEATLAND, was formerly an executive of Tchenguiz’s Consensus Business Group. (Medium—Seligman)


▪️2015, pre-June: Cambridge Analytica representatives meet with soon-to-be Trump campaign manager COREY LEWANDOWSKI to offer their services.

▪️2015: KOGAN gets married, changes his last name to SPECTRE and moves to Singapore with his wife. She abruptly files for divorce after about two years later. (Motherboard; AsianMoneyGuide:90; NYT 2)


▪️June 2015: Trump announces he is running for president.


▪️June 2015: Trump campaign hires BRAD PARSCALE to help run the campaign’s digital operations under JARED KUSHNER. (MSNBC)


▪️July 2015: The TED CRUZ campaign begins working with Cambridge Analytica at the “suggestion” of Cruz’s biggest donors ROBERT and REBEKAH MERCER; The campaign pays the company a total of $5.8 million from July 2015 to June 2016 for services that included “voter ID targeting,” “voter modeling” and “survey research/donor modeling,” according to the campaign’s FEC reports. (Dallas News)


▪️August 2015: Former law clerk in JULIAN ASSANGE’s law firm, ROBERT MURTFELD, begins working at Cambridge Analytica. (Tablet 1)


▪️November 2015: NIGEL FARAGE announces he is commissioning CA to offer support for the Brexit digital campaign. (Motherboard) AggregateIQ is substantially involved in this effort with CA. (CBC) Aggregate IQ helped build CA’s tech platform. (Gizmondo)


▪️November 2015: A Belgian court orders Facebook to stop tracking NON-users, citing privacy law concerns. (The Guardian 5)


▪️December 2015: The CRUZ campaign credits their success so far on “psychological use of data and analytics.” (Motherboard)


▪️December 2015: Facebook learns via The Guardian in the first published report that Facebook data had been harvested on an unprecedented scale and is being used to support the campaign of TED CRUZ. Yet, Facebook does not alert users. (The Guardian 7)


▪️2015-2016: Mercer-backed Keep the Promise I/Make America Number 1 super PAC pays $1,476,484 to CA. “The PAC funded a series of pro-Ted Cruz ads during the 2016 presidential campaign. The PAC was also led by [KELLYANNE] CONWAY prior to her joining the Trump campaign.” Side Note: Read this CNN article to see the other GOP officials paying CA for services. (CNN 3)


▪️May 2016: Trump becomes the presumptive Republican nominee for president.


▪️June 9, 2016: DON JR., MANAFORT and KUSHNER attend the now infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials for dirt on Hillary.


▪️June 23, 2016: UK votes in favor of Brexit.


▪️July 2016: JARED KUSHNER, with input from BRAD PARSCALE, PAUL MANAFORT and STEVE BANNON hire Cambridge Analytica on behalf of the Trump campaign and embed about a dozen CA employees in the Trump digital campaign headquarters in San Antonio. The effort there is called Project Alamo. Facebook employees are embedded there as well, working side-by-side with the Cambridge Analytica employees. (Vanity Fair; MSNBC; Motherboard; Quartz)


▪️July 2016: CA’s ALEXANDER NIX contacts WikiLeaks founder JULIAN ASSANGE to ask for access to emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server. Assange claims he said no. (CNN)


▪️July 22, 2016: Wikileaks releases the first batch of DNC emails stolen by Russian hackers. (NBC)


▪️July 27, 2016: Trump calls on Russia to release Clinton’s emails during a press conference. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 [Hillary Clinton] emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens. That will be next.” (Vox)


▪️August 16, 2016: BANNON joins the Trump Campaign. He says, “I never would have come aboard, even for Trump, if I hadn’t known they were building this massive Facebook and data engine.” “Facebook is what propelled Breitbart to a massive audience. We know its power.” (Bloomberg 2)


▪️August 2016: Facebook lawyers write to Christopher Wylie—a full two years after GSR/CA had illegally lifted the massive amount of private data on Facebook—and tell Wylie that the data must not be used and must be immediately deleted. At the time, Wylie is no longer at CA. (The Guardian 7)


▪️August 2016: Rebekah Mercer asks Nix if CA coud better organize the Hillary-related emails being released by Wikileaks. (WSJ)


▪️Late August/Early September 2016: Trump tweets, “Soon you’ll be calling me Mr. Brexit.” (Motherboard)


▪️September 2016: Former JULIAN ASSANGE law firm employee, ROBERT MURTFELD, is promoted to head of commercial sales at Cambridge Analytica. (Tablet 1)


▪️October 2016: FEC filings show that Facebook board member PETER THIEL gave $1M to the “Make America #1” PAC, a ROBERT MERCER PAC that paid Cambridge Analytica for its Trump campaign work. (FEC)


▪️Fall 2016: MICHAEL FLYNN is hired as a consultant by CA parent, SCL Group. (Chicago Tribune 2)


▪️November 2016: Trump wins the U.S. presidential election.


▪️January 2017: Trump is inaugurated.


▪️January – February 2017: SCL Group is awarded a contract with the State Department and in talks with the Dept. of Homeland Security, part of a new U.S. gov business development effort led by SCL’s JOSH WEERASINGHE and aided by Weerasinghe’s former colleague and then-Trump National Security Advisor, MICHAEL FLYNN. (WaPo 2)


▪️April 2017: BANNON sells his stake in CA, but does not disclose the sale until Nov. 2017. (McClatchy; Bloomberg)


▪️August 2017: Emerdata Limited is incorporated in the UK as a data processing business. SCL Group chairman JULIAN WHEATLAND and CA Chief Data Officer ALEXANDER TAYLER are identified initially as 25%+ owners. Wheatland is also listed [as a director as is Alexander Nix]. Wheatland used to work with former SCL Group investor TCHENGUIZ who has ties to PAUL MANAFORT. Some speculate Emerdata is formed to purchase SCL and CA assets and carry on— in a new corporate form with new branding — SCL and CA activities. (Medium—Seligman)


▪️2017-2018: ICE starts using backend Facebook data to locate and track immigrants that it is working to round up. Palantir, a “controversial data analytics firm” co-founded by Facebook board member PETER THIEL has contracted with ICE since 2014. Palantir “developed a special system for ICE to access a vast “ecosystem” of data to facilitate immigration officials in both discovering targets and then creating and administering cases against them.” (Intercept)


▪️November 2017–January 2018: Senior executives at Cambridge Analytica including ALEXANDER NIX are secretly filmed by Channel 4 operatives saying they “could entrap politicians in compromising situations with bribes and Ukrainian sex workers.” (Channel 4 2)


▪️February 2018: In an inquiry before British MPs, SIMON MILNER, Facebook’s UK policy director, and ALEXANDER NIX each tell the MPs that CA does not have Facebook data. (The Guardian 2 and 3)


▪️January 2018: A new filing shows ERIK PRINCE’s close business partner, JOHNSON CHUN SHUN KO as a new Director of Emerdata, along with two other new Directors. (Medium-Seligman; Business Insider; WaPo)


▪️March 2018: Facebook suspends SCL Group and CA, including KOGAN and NIX.


▪️March 2018: CA suspends NIX pending an investigation into the allegations against it. (WaPo)


▪️March 2018: ROBERT MERCER’s daughters REBEKAH and JENNIFER join the board of Emerdata. (Business Insider)


▪️March 2018: Hillary Clinton tells Channel Four News: “The real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania – that is really the nub of the question.” She continues: “So if they were getting advice from say Cambridge Analytica, or someone else, about ‘OK here are the 12 voters in this town in Wisconsin – that’s whose Facebook pages you need to be on to send these messages’ that indeed would be very disturbing.” (Telegraph)


▪️March 23, 2018: British authorities raid the CA offices in London. (The Daily Beast)


▪️March 26, 2018: First lawsuits filed in the U.S. against CA and SCL. (ABC News)


▪️March 27, 2018: CHRISTOPHER WYLIE appears before UK lawmakers. His testimony is stunning. Among other things, he says that AIQ was a money laundering scheme and that employees of PETER THIEL’s Palantir were working with CA on the Facebook data at the CA offices w/o a contract, helping to create the models.

 

Just in case, you’re wondering what’s taking Bob Mueller so long.

Two Minutes Hate, Part 1

Doublethink

Happy New Year! There’s a lot to be thankful for as we dive into the last installment of the 2010s. Conversely, there are scenarios I’m anxious a bit over in what could conceivably be the last year of the Trump presidency.

We made it through another discombobulating year with Democrats hours away from wielding oversight power. They will control the lower chamber of Congress for the first time in eight years. We’ve also probably passed the point whether it matters if Mueller is fired. The investigation has entered a new phase.

Unfortunately this year looks to be the most exhausting and explosive of the Trump era. The last two years have been maddening enough, but this year has the potential to be one of the rare inflection points in the annals of American history.

I expect the Special Counsel to complete its report on Russian collusion and presidential obstruction of justice in 2019. House Democrats will ensure the findings are made public despite Trump’s best efforts to stymie them. I have no idea if the investigations Mueller farmed out to the SDNY will conclude this year. They could just be getting started.

In previous administrations, investigations like the Muller probe have slogged on for years. This Special Counsel does not have that luxury. It’s not Whitewater or Iran-Contra. Muller will do his part to prevent another attack on the heart of a democratic republic: the legitimacy of its elections.

Mueller will let the American people know whether the president has really poor luck in campaign hires or if he found proof of collusion with candidate Trump. Time is of the essence with the next election cycle already getting underway.

I expect Junior, Roger Stone, and Jared Kushner to be indicted in 2019. 

Michael Cohen will testify on Capitol Hill before beginning his prison sentence. The coverage of his testimony will probably resemble that of Christine Blasey-Ford’s.

There also remains a possibility that Trump will be indicted.  Some prognosticators think old Department of Justice norms apply. Not if Rosenstein has anything to say about it. Rachel Maddow’s ‘Bagman’ podcast was well done and informative. It was also a depressing reminder that when all was said and done, neither Agnew or Nixon paid a significant legal price for their crimes.

I think Trump meets a different fate. Extraordinary circumstances warrant extraordinary measures. It’s not enough to force a wannabe mob boss out of office. He needs to be made an example of for future generations. I’m talking prison time.

If Trump thinks the high court will come to his rescue on matters involving subpoenas and indictments, he may be underestimating the real possibility that Chief Justice Roberts will side with the liberal wing of the court.

However, even if things play out the way I described, Trump will not go easily or quietly. When you couldn’t care less about the prestige of your office, or the responsibilities that come with it, when you view everything through the prism of what is best for you personally, then anything and everything is possible.

A president has the power to shut down the Special Counsel (through his attorney general). He technically has the authority to offer pardons to all of the accused. The presidency carries immense powers. On the other hand, things could get so bad that he resigns. We just don’t know.

On the whole, 2019 has the potential to provide enough schadenfreude to last a lifetime. The Trump Crime Syndicate will begin to receive the comeuppance it so richly deserves. Likewise, we’ll probably have some frightening moments as Donny Dotard drags us through constitutional crisis after constitutional crisis.

Yay!

 


 

One of my obsessions is trying to pinpoint the moment or event that led us down the road to where we are today. I caught myself doing it the other night while assembling the Best Political Cartoons of 2018. This much is clear: the lunacy we’re witnessing predates Trump. It goes back, at the very least, to Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. It probably goes back to Newt Gingrich and his “Contract With America”. It might even go back to Reagan. His conduct with respect to President Carter and the Iranian hostages should never have been tolerated, let alone rewarded.

But this is different. The way in which Trump and his fellow travelers continue to gaslight the public and attack our free press – with Fox News acting as Trump’s megaphone and Russian bots signal boosting his lies on social media – makes this feel more dire than before. Taking a page from the pathological-liar-in-chief, Republicans operate as if this isn’t the Information Age. Like they forget it takes ten seconds to pull up a video of them saying exactly what they claim to not have said.

It’s eerily similar to the dystopian world of Oceania in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four.’ In short, Orwellian.

The term “Orwellian” is derived from the pen name of the brilliant British author, Eric Blair.  Blair (aka George Orwell), a democratic socialist, used his prose to expose the hideousness of totalitarianism. He introduced neologisms like “Thought Police,” “doublespeak,” memory hole,” and “Big Brother” to warn people how to combat methods movements use to brainwash populations.

“Orwellian” means different things to different people. When I use the word, I mean “the deceptive and manipulative use of political language designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.” (Orwell’s own words from the essay, ‘Politics and the English Language.’)

I will expand the definition for the purpose of this post to include ‘a declaration in which the opposite is intended.’ For instance, “Make America Great Again” means no such thing. Trump’s campaign slogan was a ruse from the beginning. It was never a secret that he intended to propel Russia on the wold stage at the expense of President Obama and our European, North American, and Australian allies.

Mission accomplished!

The Orwellian nature of Team Trump and his treacherous toadies does not end with a campaign slogan. He attracts and has surrounded himself with flunkies who engage in doublethink. *Remember when Kellyanne Conway blurted out her “alternative facts” piffle? *How about Rudy Giuliani’s gibberish claiming “truth isn’t truth?” This is not spin. It can’t even be called propaganda.  This is what Orwell called “doublethink.”

I took two of the most egregious examples, but believe me, there are plenty more. Sarah Huckabee Sanders does it every time she fields a question. Satire and reality are becoming indistinguishable.

The most troubling part of Trumpism, whatever that entails, is the surprisingly large percentage of Americans who believe obvious lies. The ignorant. And those who pretend to believe obvious lies. The willfully ignorant. I no longer waste time trying to distinguish between the two.

Either way, the administration’s lies become more absurd. His supporters parrot bullshit to “own the libs.” Those of us with critical thinking skills become more enraged at what our fellow Americans are willing to accept. The gap between a necessary shared truth and the conservative alternate reality grows wider. 

How does this end? Voltaire’s maxim sits in the back of my mind like a low-grade headache:

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

 

Here’s an absurdity: 2 + 2 = 5

 

 

****To Be Continued****

 

* Both examples took place with Chuck Todd anchoring Meet The Press

 

Vindicated By Time



It was approximately three years ago that Donald Trump descended from the elevator steps at Trump Tower to announce his presidential candidacy. That marked his official emergence on the political scene as a wholly unqualified and uniquely unfit candidate to run for POTUS. He entered the race as a flamboyant and provocative reality T.V. celebrity who was famous for his boorish behavior, self-promotion, and his unequaled narcissism. Yet, in defiance of common sense and all conventional wisdom this cartoonish long shot candidate went on to become the official nominee of one of the two major political parties.

To the chagrin of millions, Donald Trump won a sufficient number of Electoral College votes to become president in what historians will undoubtedly refer to as the ‘perfect electoral storm’ of presidential politics. He effectively transported his reality TV show to the Oval Office, along with the full array of his outlandish personality quirks and grievous character deficiencies. Fast forward two years and I would characterize his presidency by its widespread corruption, chaos, executive ineptness, erratic foreign policy decisions, harmful domestic policies, unconstitutional executive orders, nepotism, conflicts of interest, a caustic and divisive leadership style, a nationalistic worldview, and a complete disregard for the rule of law and political convention.

Like so many other concerned citizens I was dismayed, angry, and confused in the aftermath of his election victory. Nonetheless, I resigned myself to resist and persist. However, despite my determination to push back against the daily onslaught of his boorish behavior and disastrous policies the gravity of the situation still was not lost on me. I intuitively understood what a Trump presidency would mean, and I was keenly aware that it would come with profound historical implications.

With that as background I decided to revisit a few of my political commentaries from those dark early days of the ensuing Trump presidency. I have always maintained that there is no better measure than hindsight to gauge how well or poorly one’s thoughts, hopes, and fears hold up against the scrutiny of time. Was I being a sniveling, liberal snowflake who was going off the deep-end after a stunning and emotional defeat – or was I simply addressing the white elephant in the room? In the final analysis I can safely say that I feel vindicated; however, I will be the first to note that my sentiments were widely shared by many others as well.

That brings me full-circle to two important points. The first is that I don’t view my comments as prescient. To the contrary, I drew my own conclusions as a result of observing a presidential candidate on the campaign trail whose ubiquitous presence inundated the air waves for approximately a year-and-a-half (and, unfortunately, which continues to this day).

It is also worth noting that much of what we have learned since the primary campaigns ended is through investigative journalism and developments emanating from various investigations. A great deal of the information that is in the public domain now was not available at the time that I wrote my commentary. That only serves to reinforce the validity of the trepidation that I and many others felt regarding a Trump presidency.

The second point that I want to make is actually the more salient of the two, and that is the essence of my political commentary that I am posting from two years ago, entitled “What Were They Thinking”?



—– —– —– —— —— —— —–



WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?



As a voter, a political enthusiast, as someone who has an appreciation for history – and as an American citizen with a deeply-rooted affection for my country I watched in shock, disbelief, and with a degree of horror as the election returns from each individual state streamed across the television screen throughout the night of November 8, 2016.

I was confident throughout the entire campaign that Hillary Clinton would win the election. My confidence wasn’t based on my belief that she was the ‘perfect candidate’. In fact, the short version of why I believed this so strongly is that Hillary Clinton was simply far more qualified in every meaningful respect than her counterpart. I firmly believed that this would be the same conclusion reached by discerning independent voters and by voters who were genuinely concerned about America’s future.

Another compelling factor that fed my confidence was my refusal to believe that there would be a sufficient number of Americans who would vote for a candidate who was so lacking in moral character and ethical standards as Donald Trump had proven himself to be throughout his business career and during his campaign. I convinced myself that in the moment of truth – when voters entered the voting booth – they would resist the temptation of casting a ‘roll-the-dice, shake-things-up, change-for-change sake, I-just-don’t-like-Hillary, Hail-Mary’ vote.

After all, we were all observing the same candidate whose campaign coverage was an ubiquitous presence in our daily lives for a year-and-a-half of campaigning. It was glaringly obvious to me that Trump had demonstrated time-and-time again that he was abjectly unqualified, completely unprepared, and temperamentally unfit to serve as president. After all, I wasn’t a cast-away living on an island by myself.

Surely, independent-minded, rational voters with a modicum of objectivity and who were paying attention to the campaigns would reach the same reasonable deduction as I had. I reasoned that if this were a criminal trial and the prosecutor’s case hinged on whether defendant Trump possessed the requisite qualifications, temperament, and competency to effectively serve as president, the jury would return a unanimous verdict of ‘guilty’ on each count. It was that cut-and-dried; or, at least it seemed to me.

In addition, I was confident that there would be enough level-headed, analytical voters who were capable of piercing the facade of Trump’s poisonous propaganda and the disinformation campaign that was being executed by his surrogates and the right wing media. Surely, they would have the capacity to discern facts, truth, and reality – and differentiate between the avalanche of misinformation and ‘fake news’. They would be able to see through the duplicitous motives of Wikileaks, the fake news carried on social media platforms, the highly partisan coverage by Fox ‘News’, Russian interference and their connections to the Trump campaign, the Republican FBI Director-turned-political-activist, and the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi.

I took comfort in knowing that there would be enough voters who possessed the insight and perception to realize that Donald Trump was a master manipulator and a generational con man, and that he was not someone who should be entrusted with the most important and powerful job on the planet. I knew that they would make the prudent decision.

They would see that Trump was over his head and out of his league in pursuing the presidency, and that the stakes were more serious than high ratings on his reality T.V. show. They would say enough to his hypocrisy. Most importantly, this core of savvy voters would be the ultimate bulwark against allowing Donald Trump getting his itchy little fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes. They would understand the true meaning of the adage ‘beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing’.

They, too, would see through the facade of his faux populism. Educated voters would be able to draw a parallel between Trump’s deceptive practices and manipulative qualities and classic Machiavellian traits. They would be troubled by his uninformed world view, his lack of attention to detail, and his dearth of intellectual curiosity and depth. They would be appalled by his bullying and his boorish behavior. They would be alarmed by his total disregard of established political and social norms. Astute voters would grasp the danger represented by his affinity for strong-men around the world, and they would draw a red-line as a result of his reverence for Vladimir Putin.

I took solace in knowing that the American electorate would stand its ground and place partisan politics aside. They would insist on transparency. After all, this is America we’re talking about, damn it. Show us your tax returns like every other presidential candidate (since Nixon). Voters would want to know what he is trying to hide, and why the same rules shouldn’t apply to Donald Trump. Every other presidential candidate has willingly complied with the unwritten policy of releasing tax returns covering a ten year period. They would ask, “Why shouldn’t you?”

American voters would not turn a blind eye toward Trump’s affront on civility, his mean-spiritedness, or his total disregard for the truth and facts. Americans would awake from their slumber just in time to ensure that the presidency wasn’t turned into a gaudy casino that catered to high-rolling billionaires. I believed that somehow, some way, voters would avoid ending up on the wrong side of history through their part in electing Donald Trump POTUS.

I reasoned that everyone knew that this election would have monumental historical implications that would reverberate for a generation – if not longer. I wanted to believe that the American electorate would not jeopardize two-and-a-half centuries of national sacrifice by resorting to the nuclear option of presidential elections. There is simply too much tradition, respect, and reverence for the presidency and for our iconic forefathers for Americans to cast their votes to diminish the status of America and tarnish the legacy of American values.

I couldn’t grasp the possibility that Americans would cast their vote for a political grifter who was completely devoid of character and integrity, and I was equally confident that they wouldn’t contribute to degrading the White House by granting occupancy to such an undeserving tenant.

In the final analysis, I rationalized that a con man can’t succeed without a gullible mark as a victim, and I refused to believe that there would sufficient numbers of naive and uninformed voters among the electorate who were that susceptible to being duped. No way, no how.

Author’s post election note: “My confidence was misplaced and my trust in so many fellow Americans was misguided”.

Donald J. Trump, Republican Party nominee and President-elect, will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America on Friday, January 20, in the year of our Lord 2017.

May God Bless America.