Friday, August 31, 2018

The "Lame Duck" Crisis

An exceptionally good piece of analysis from Crooked.

Trump is battening down the hatches for winter of 2018. 

"He has concluded that he can only escape serious personal and legal consequences—from a number of threats, but particularly from Special Counsel Robert Mueller—with brazen abuses of power, and is laying groundwork to take those steps as soon as he can get away with them, aware that a change in partisan control of the House could stymie him just after the new year.
The most alarming thing about it is there may be no way to stop him."

This IMHO is spot on

The GOP is desperate to stuff the Judiciary with their hand picked candidates in the hope that these people foil any attempt to hold GOPers accountable. The GOP grand plan remains to brazen out the media pressure and public anger and should the RIS backed attempt to hack the November election fail, then to create enough confusion and delay in the judicial process to escape the country and access all the money they have stashed away in offshore bank accounts. 

The analysis is also correct that there are no remedial measures to prevent this. 

FWIW this is IMHO what happened in the USSR when it became clear that the debt obligations of the Soviet state were unmanageable.  That is why were are seeing this happen here. 

The core productivity problem of the US remains that with its aging workforce - its labor costs will remain very high. The Boomers with their culture of entitlement have already created unbearable amounts of debt. And there does not appear to be any change in Boomer perceptions about what to expect by way of state support in the future. 

Boomers continue to believe that they are due Social Security and Medicare payments for as long as they live. Currently this is working out to about 30 years given average boomer life-expectancy and there are large numbers of boomers living into their 90s.

This demand seems quite absurd when you take into account that at most - the average boomer has put in about 5% of the their annual income towards Social Security and Medicare for about 40 years (a generous overestimate - most have not done anything like that). That works out to about 2 years worth of living expenses.

Even taking into consideration that any investment fund of this nature would have grown at 5% per year (lets ignore inflation for a moment) - the most a Boomer has put away is sufficient to tide them over for 4 years.

Even accounting for possibly acceptable "penny pinching" or lifestyle changes (very hard to do in real life) - we can maybe stretch that fund out for 8 years. And that is pushing it quite a bit because in reality there are inescapable health costs as one ages.

Even those boomers that have IRAs (a very small fraction of the total population of Boomers)  - one might at best be able to squeeze out another 7 years or so of living expenses.  So even the most a Boomer with an IRA can expect by way of economic support is 15 years. One without an IRA should expect about 8 years. But everyone of them is convinced they should get at least 30 years of it. 

This is not realistic at all.

If one factors in the Boomer lifestyle which is very resource intense (I mean seriously per capita-year of a Boomer life - more CO2 has been emitted than any other generation) - the real cost of living will be much higher and so even those with IRAs will find themselves struggling after 10 years of retirement.

There is simply no way in which expecting this level of support is reasonable. The burden will fall on Gen X,Y and Z. But given the Boomer culture to put everyone down to hide their own imperfections - it is unlikely they will get the support they need from the people they love to hate.

So there we have it - Trump - the most visible manifestation of what is wrong with an entire generation will resort to the most idiotic of ways to dodge accountability for own actions.

This "Lame Duck" stuff seems reasonable enough. IMHO if Prince et al were to stage another security crisis - this would be the time to do it. In the event of a Democratic wave, the GOP would be more than happy to oblige anything Trump wanted in the lame duck session.

The judicial appointments will certainly be passed in this session. But depending on Trump's desperation, there is likely to be a lot more that gets passed.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Hmm... the WH OLC staff just left.

After news broke of Donald McGahn selling out Trump to OSC Mueller to save his own skin, apparently Ivanka and Jared went to Trump and griped about McGahn. Trump got mad and fired McGahn via Twitter. Not long after news broke that most of the OLC staff left the WH over the last month. There is like one dude remaining.

While the legal implications of this are obvious - no one exists to do to the work of framing the legality of what Trump does in the WH - I want to focus on another aspect which tends to get lost in the rush to assume Trump will have legal troubles.

Now - if the lay press is to be believed (And I feel they are not completely off the mark here) - McGahn was Devin Nunes' link to the WH. The entire deflection effort that Nunes ran on HPSCI on behalf of Trump was orchestrated through weird meeting between McGahn and Nunes.

Based on his behavior - it seems reasonable to conclude that Nunes is compromised - most likely he is being operated directly from Moscow Center but his alleged interactions with McGahn made most of us wonder how many others were in Moscow's web?

To most that watched him closely - Nunes didn't look like he was bright enough to attract so critical a role in things from Moscow. It could be that assessment is misplaced and Comrade Nunes is brilliant mind, but it is equally likely that Comrade Nunes was being run by a more effective penetration.

That frame fits McGahn perfectly.

So I am now openly wondering what if any channels Trump still has to Putin.

Rand Paul attempted to insert himself into the conversation but either Trump didn't trust him enough or Putin didn't. This created a friction in the interaction.

The Roger Stone-Julian Assange-GRU line was shaky to begin with and now that Stone is struggling to keep himself out of jail - it seems that is not viable at all. And to top that off the GRU has been exposed.

The NRA-Butina link is exposed - so there is no framework there that can be used for communication.

The Emin-Trump Jr line seems broken right now - because both parties are exposed.

This leaves the Kushner-Kislyak secure comms idea. The general sense in the mainstream press seems to be that this was in the context of the Micheal Flynn contact, and that idea didn't move forward as even Kislyak though the idea was absurd but as you may be aware Kislyak is no longer RUAMB. So there are some rumors that an actual RIS commlink was introduced into the WH or (more likely IMHO) into a Kushner residence. One must not put stock in rumors, but assuming for a moment this were true -  there are some vexing questions about the cryptographic keys used in this commlink. Presumably Moscow would not be okay with putting high quality one time pads in the hands of someone like Kushner. That is like practically handing them over to the CIA or the NSA. So if such an arrangement is pursued it will most likely contain weaker keys - or worse used ones - so as not to risk compromising the PUF used to generate them. To hedge against the possibility of a trivial penetration, a layer scheme (like PGP or even multilayered PGP) could be used to ensure that there was a sizable delay between RIS reading the traffic and NSA intercepting and decrypting it*. Obviously Kushner would be too stupid to realize that the mere possession of RIS generated cryptographic keys is a criminal offense. He might even feel that being the sole line of communication between Trump and Putin is a high reward affair.

One outside possibility is that Erik Prince had a separate commlink to Putin but I haven't heard anything specific about that. There was a rumor in the early days of the Trump WH where this kind of idea did the rounds but it seems to lost ground over the years. It came into sharp focus after the Seychelles conference and then disappeared from the usual places. Trumper YouTube channels were talking openly about how a GRU special forces unit was operating sub-rosa in Prince's UAE operation and how they would be coming to DC to protect Trump from the Deep State but now they have all shut up about it. Strange is the world of the Trumper.

The underlying national security risk here is that given the balls-out-insane nature of the Trump-Putin engagement - a reliable communication line between them is absolutely essential to preventing misunderstandings.  Absent such a channel, Putin will be stupid not to bring RUMIL to an extremely high state of alert. Given Trump's amazing ability to completely fuck everything up, Putin might be driving straight at a RyAN/Able Archer type scenario - i.e. a subterranean escalation which emerges with little to no warning as RUMIL gears up to deliver a decapitating nuclear strike on DC.

* This remains one of the open secrets of the Enigma and Venona decrypts - that the brilliant efforts at decryption were not able to really reduce the information dominance of Germans or USSR and that that Allied intelligence awareness lagged OKW or Soviet counterparts. Given the resource constraints on decryption - a filtering algorithm based on transmission pattern analysis was used to decide what would be decrypted first. This was less important in WWII or during the Cold War but it is more important right now.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

And the US-Mexico deal shitshow erupts.

Like clockwork - Trump positioned his entire " I made a deal with Mexico" story to break at lunch time yesterday and as expected the whole thing went over a lead balloon.

He tried publicizing it as a "NAFTA is dead - this is a US-Mexico deal"... and the Mexican representative responded by saying "No... it is  NAFTA negotiation" - which means a TrumpTradeFail has happened again.

The US has agreed to buy cheap car parts from Mexico needed to keep the profit margins of Ford, GM and Chrysler high and in exchange Mexico has agreed to keep buying US Corn at a price that will make sure that US Ag big shots will continue to keep donating to Trump/GOP accounts in Nov 18.

Nothing substantial has changed in the setup. The hype is far in excess of the meat here.

Nothing here could not have been achieved by a competent negotiator without the use of tariffs - most of the changes here are part of the NAFTA cooperative negotiation framework.

Everyone that is talking about how a US Mexico agreement is jacking up the pressure on Canada - you need to stop inhaling so much cocaine. There will be no movement on a purely US Mexico deal if Canada is deliberately left out. That deal would have to go through Congress and the Canadians have more to gain by holding out and waiting for Trump to kneel.

As Nov 18 elections draw nearer, the pressure will mount on Trump to make a deal with Canada. So absent a few Russian paid media channels that will attempt to portray Trump crawling on his knees as a massive victory - this will collectively produce a yawn from everyone else.

We should just rename this the "US-Mexico Corn for Cars" deal - we can then call the US-Canada Deal as "Pork for Bacon" deal.

If I was China - I would be laughing my ass off.

And in case you were watching MBS cancelled the Aramco auction - think in Saudi Arabian - that means "No Baksheesh For You Trump". I guess MBS has realized that it is best to keep Trump begging too.

What a world we live in.

Monday, August 27, 2018

US-Mexico deal on NAFTA

Yeah - so Fox is going to town with how US and Mexico are poised to make a deal on NAFTA and that somehow Lighthizer has made this awesome deal go down. Everything is hush hush because it is sooooo awessssooommme. Yeah bullshit!

The press corps is doing the jaded flag waving thing that it is usually expected to do at this point.

I am not a member of the press corps so I don't have do that stuff. I can say it like it is - call a spade a spade etc...

There is NO DEAL to be had here.

This is the usual Trumpian BS of spreading hype to cover a non deal.

US Soy Ag is in the shitter thanks to Trump's failed tariff ideas.

US Corn Ag is heading down the tubes creating unacceptable pressures in the run up to Nov 2016 elections. The entire GOP scam centers on shaking down conservative voters with fears of a Blue Wave and if the wave presents (defeating RIS/GOP backed election rigging) to check out of the political system with huge offshore bank balances. (Apparently GOPers are stupid enough to believe that this is something they an get away with - but they don't make smart criminals so....)

With anger over Trump's failed tariffs growing - it is harder to shake down the midwest if the major economic center pieces of the region - i.e. the corn and soy farmers are upset with you. Not only did Trump not give them the estate tax break they were looking for - he shafted them with his poorly planned tariffs. Sonny Perdue's little $14B relief tranche isn't going to do jack for these people and stupid as they - they are still smart enough to see their economic collapse looming.

With the sheep being led to the slaughter getting antsy - Trump and the GOP have to squeeze out a new turd for the media to shine up so that the gullible idiots in the conservative spectrum swallow it.

This Mexican negotiation is the next thing. Mexican lawmakers decided to respond to Trump's tariffs by passing laws that mandated purchase of corn from non-US sources. Now Trump will basically negotiate a temporary pause on that government backed economic shift.

There is no framework in which this makes sense in any time frame.

Once the paid media are done with their flag waving - someone with half a brain cell will point that out.

This is at best temporary relief.

There is no wider framework for a NAFTA restoration.

Lighthizer was always completely clueless and totally full of crap - and this changes nothing.

At some point GOP voters will realize that China, Mexico and Canada are effectively paying for their IRAs, Medicare and Social Security - but until then GOP + Trump will be putting the "Con" in Conservative.

Will be waiting patiently for this shit-show to erupt.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Why Trump is losing it over the Omarosa book...

As no one worth their salt wants to associate closely with Trump - he relies on a network of "outsiders" (C list TV celebrities and other assorted losers) to staff positions close to his throne.

This would have been fine - though not ideal (as these people lack relevant experience) - but this is deeply complicated by the current situation in the Trump WH. I get the sense that he basically asks these guys to do stupid/illegal shit and then wants to the to keep quiet about the fact that he ordered it.

In order to enforce this kind of gag order he uses private NDAs and offers of highly paid sinecures in the Trump Organization.

I suspect he can't use the usual Nat Sec framework to silence these people because he is doing thing that could easily be interpreted as *treason*.

Early on last year - he tried to use Nat Sec rules to stamp out "leaks".  What happened when he pushed on this issue was that factions and tribes (ex Nazis, Russian plants, Kushnerites, Bannonites, Kelly/McMasterites, GOPers etc) relied on leaks to balance the power equations between them. Each tribe interpreted his order to "plug the leaks" as a license to target members of the peer competitor tribes. All it took was one tribe to push the agenda and that locked others into a retaliatory framework. The result was a logjam as the factions attempted to bring each other to their knees. The Kelly/McMaster faction which was most competent in using Nat Sec machinery emerged dominant and the Bannonites and the Kushnerites were decimated. Bannonites tried to throw Kushnerites under the bus and Kushnerites responded by appealing directly to Trump.

The end result was a bloodbath inside the WH that led to many people leaving. Only Trump would have been dumb enough to believe anything else was likely with such a poorly thought out initiative.

A lot of those who left ended up speaking Micheal Wolf. The result was a revealing look at the inner working of this WH and it is here that voters like us got the first glimpse of the insane levels of graft that were taking place inside the Trump setup. Whatever we were naive enough to believe about Trump behaving after he won the election was drowned in its infancy by reading the details in Micheal Wolf's book.

Micheal's book led Trump to revert back to his NDA + Trump org sinecure/hush money policy.

Now Omarosa represents the visible failure of that policy. Trump is now in a catch-22 situation. He can hit her with a private lawsuit but when it fails he will be shown to be completely incompetent. If he lets her slide, he will send out the message that it is okay to betray his NDAs and at the very least he will have to 3x as much to all those like Kurt Schiller that are already getting hefty sums of hush money.

The present approach of attacking her in public/on twitter is absurd. It will drive up her sales and exposure.

Hell awaits a mob boss who can't get his underlings to keep their mouths shut. 

This is looking like a major fail on Trump's part. If this keeps up he will have to ask Putin for some novichok to sort things out.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Trump goes on the offensive: Peter Strzok fired.

After wailing constantly for a week about how Agent Peter Strzok was biased against him, Trump was able to get Dy Dir Bowdich to fire him.

It is natural that Trump would want to see some kind of payback - after all the FBI did arrest one of his pocket congressmen, Rep Chris Collins. With the Omarosa breach reaching the public eye, clearly the Trump admin would want to show some kind of victory to its base.

Given the constant pressure mounted by the WH and the Devin Nunes, Gym Jordan and Matt Gaetz crowd in Congress - it is natural something had to give somewhere but the manner in which Dir Bowdich struck down the recommendation of the FBI's own Office of Personal Responsibility and fired Strzok, will naturally serve to focus attention on Dir. Bowdich himself.

It was a mistake on Dir. Bowdich's part to do this as he has now drawn fire on himself.

It was exceedingly cheap for the FBI to dangle Agent Peter Strzok out in the cold and to use him to draw fire away from the main OSC investigation but by firing him in this fashion - i.e. over-ruling the OPR recommendations, the FBI has painted itself into a corner.

Now there is no way to avoid convicting Trump.

While the opinions of random people like us on the internet do not matter, the opinions of Dir Bowdich's fellow FBI agents do matter.

To such fellow agents - being openly seen to collaborate with a hostile foreign intelligence operation like this is *only* acceptable if

1) It is being done to clear the main investigation of all likely sources of suspicion. This way no one will be able to sing the "but they were biased" song again.

2) It is being done as part of a sting operation to lure Trump out into the open. If Trump was stupid enough to reach out directly to Bowdich and personally issue an order to remove Strzok - then this is worthwhile.

My personal guess is that Trump shit the bed when the full ambit of Omarosa's (and others') recordings from SCIFs was spelled out to him. In his f-ed up state - he called the FBI and Bowdich picked up the phone. Trump most likely ranted to him and Bowdich heard the words "Fire Peter Strzok" in there. As this would be a direct order from the President - Bowdich would have no choice but to set aside the OPR recommendations and do exactly what the President asked.

If this is actually what happened - then it is game over for Trump.

The phone call is taped - and it is now automatically material evidence in the obstruction case against Trump.

It will be impossible to cover this up.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Seriously - how deep does this mess run?

" the gravity of Misra’s situation is of a different order altogether—no other CJI or Supreme Court justice has ever been indicted for fraud in a judicial order. His rise in the court despite this record was a frightening omen; much of what it portended has come to pass since he secured the highest judicial office in the republic."

Mother of God! what is this?!. 

This is was in GoI's own records and background checks failed to discover it. 

Shaking my head here... 

Day N of the Trump imbecility

We grow with each passing moment of how stupid we are as a nation. Take a look at this latest discovery...

I can no longer sympathize with Trumpers who claim that they are concerned about loss of US jobs to outsourcing. I mean you fucking outsourced the rigging of the election to Indians and Russians! How fucking entitled and lazy is that? you can't even rig your own damn election!

I continue to worry about the situation vis-a-vis Iran. 

All it takes to sanction a IDFAF strike on Ishfahan or Fordow is releasing a set of NATO IFF codes. With these codes, a Ha'patishim strike package could refuel from USAF tankers and make it's way and back*. The raid would achieve nothing of military value and provoke the Iranians into a vicious response. 

I expect the Iranian response to be a scorched earth strategy which aims to break Israel's strategic LoCs - the tanker line to Ashkelon from Ceyhan and from Yanbu/Jeddah. 

This will set the stage for a major theater conflict in the Middle East. 

This is a war no one is prepared for, I don't know who Bibi is kidding with his BS. 

This is the stupidest version of dare I have seen in a long time since Saddam lobbed Scuds at Israel. That was an idiotic and worthless move on his part which gained him nothing. Bibi seems intent on repeating Saddam's mistakes and over-extending Israel's strategic commitments.

I confess I have never been a big fan of Bibi [1].

On the face of it - this man has everything you would look for in a leader but I don't think he can frame solvable problems - i.e. problems that can be solved in finite resources without going way over ones' head in debt. 

Only someone with Yitzhak Rabin's caliber can clean up the mess Bibi has made. I worry even Ehud Barak can't fix this now.

And naturally - I don't think this planned invasion of Gaza makes any sense. It is going to chew up IDF reserves that might be needed in a conflict with Iran. 

And yes - the tweeting frequency is a good gauge of how unsettled Trump is. After all he is one subpeona away from ending it all.

* There would be no need to risk deploying the Nevatim based assets, no need for added security flight around the refueling a/c so on.