Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/27/2017

We are fast approaching the 100 day mark and given the complete lack of delivery on any front whatsoever - the Trump Admin is in panic mode. The 100 day mark is usually a simple media check in - you go up in front of the media, everyone takes a look at your spokesman says a few nice words and then the media goes after cookies and coffee.

But that's not where this is headed now. Having unrealistically boosted expectations among Trumpers of what would be achieved in the first 100 days - Trump now finds himself at risk of being classified as a major loser. This is a psychological blow to him as he can only think of himself as a "winner" who is always "winning". With his 100 day "Contract With America" increasingly becoming a slap in his own face - its starting to hurt the man's ego "bigly".

So we are seeing serious counter measures put into play. Kellyanne has got out the markers and the whiteboards and the post its. "Baghdad Bob" Spicer is contriving more stupid crap to pull at the briefings and his crew is busy demoting Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin to Secretary of Commerce. As we get closer to the 100 day mark the intensity and frequency of the casual fuckups will rise significantly.

Trump has organized a rally in PA on Saturday. I am sure everyone will be watching to see how the crowd responds to his pleas for faith in his leadership. The best gauge of this will be how much Trump's people have to massage the public into cheering for him.

In the Stupid Bullshit Department -

1) Trump Admin claimed this week that it had a major thing about North Korea it had to convey to all the Senators. It bused them all to the WH from Capitol Hill and it turned out to be some kind of "kiss the ring" ceremony but Trump didn't have anything to say. Most Senators were left scratching their heads.

2)  Trump Admin officials claimed that Trump was considering conveying to Pres. Pena and PM Trudeau that the US wants to withdraw from NAFTA. However at some point of time Trump was informed that Mexico has put into place measures to ban imports of corn from the US if Trump attempts to put tariffs on Mexican imports and Canada has agreements in place with Europe that will compensate for loss of access to US markets. That led to a 180 degree turn and Trump claimed that he had spoken to Pres Pena and PM Trudeau and that after talking to them he had changed his mind. He also claimed that Pres Pena and PM Trudeau had agreed to expedite trade talks. I am calling BS on this claim. I think Trump basically realized he had no leverage with either and he didn't have the political capital to starve the bulk of the Midwest and crash the US economy as a whole.

3) Trump Admin falsely claimed that in the first 100 days Donald Trump had signed more Executive Orders than any other president in US history. That's not true, FDR did more than Trump and somehow Trump Admin folks can't even use Google properly. It is interesting to note that while Trump personally derided Pres Obama for issuing "too many EOs because he can't work with his Congress", Trump Admin now seeks to project his own failed EOs as stupendous achievements that no one else has ever attempted.

4) Trump Admin appears to have hastily put together a tax plan which includes all manner of fantastical ideas like a 19% reduction in the business tax rate, changes in the tax brackets etc.. etc... etc... There is no way he is going to actually get that tax plan through his own party and if he does he won't be able to balance his budget. The only good thing here is that by putting the impracticality of his ideas in full view like this - he will force investors to reconsider the bullish ideas they are entertaining. This may help  cull the OWM mentality.

5) And last but not least, a more toxic form of TrumpCare is in the works. Novel ways of depriving millions of people access to affordable healthcare and life saving drugs have been proposed. It is very difficult to watch a nation deliberately pull itself into third world status.

Jokes apart - what we are seeing is how Trump's runaway narcissism is inducing him to flirt with things that would kill millions of hard working Americans. This fetish he has with NAFTA will eventually spark a depression. If the market collapses, he will most likely be forced to depart NAFTA and burn the economy to the ground just to look like he is doing something.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Heffalumps in the wild

Every once in a while even a jaded old man like me comes up against something on the internet that takes my breath away.  I would like to thank (@TomWellborn, @MelJBry, @LousieMensch) for bringing this to my attention, and then for all the help in making sense of it.

From the moment I saw it - my weird radar lit up and after some poking around, I flagged it, because I realized I was completely out of my depth. Hopefully the powers that be will be able to think more carefully about it and reach some kind of decision on it.

@MelJBry suggested the name "Heffalump" to capture what we had just seen. It made sense to me, Heffalump may not be real but they look pretty frightening.

I want to lay out some of the background here before I get into the weeds with what appears to be going on here.

Most electronic communications (email, text, phone) use clouds and ISPs. The data that is shuttled between these servers can be penetrated and patterns in the data can be analyzed. This gets a lot easier if you are someone like the NSA/CSS or the FBI. You can basically compel a ISP or Cloud services company to give you the access you need. At the risk of sounding heretical, right now - that kind of access is playing a major role in securing our country. Without  that access we would be at risk.

A lot of people who don't like the NSA/CSS looking into their communications are promoting the use of E2EE (End To End Encryption) software. @rcallimachi has told us how for example IS uses a variety of E2EE texting apps to communicate with its people. The most common E2EE scheme is PGP. As with all encryption schemes a key has to be exchanged between receiver and sender. Once the key is shared, the data is encrypted and sent over public servers from the sender to the recipient. If the key exchange can be penetrated (via for example an "impersonation attack") then the security is breached. Alternatively whoever generates your key can share the key with someone else (like MS did with the CSS) and access all your data.

To defeat this kind of thing one can add other layers of security - authentication, encryption or obfuscation (digital drop etc...) the key exchange etc... but for most companies this proves too expensive to indulge in. Most companies have 100s of GB of data (high velocity) coming in on an hourly basis. This is too much to bother encrypting multiple times.  Whoever indulges in this added levels of encryption must really want to keep stuff secret. That a small niche market but one that as you might imagine is quite lucrative.

So what is going on here? 

We seem to be seeing two things primarily

1) A set of companies appear to be offering a multilayer encryption that encrypts your data via a PGP key before you send it to a commercial cloud (like MS or AMZN etc...) .  This way even if there is an MITM attack or backdoor at the Cloud service provider, and your 2nd PGP key exchange is compromised, the attacker will only see encrypted data. There is also a suggestion to use something called "Tunnel Bear" to access data from certain encrypted clouds.

2) A peculiar version of a digital drop involving separate send and receive channels on Twitter is demonstrated. I am guessing here but what is happening is that the sender is using the receiver's public key to encrypt a PGP key. The encrypted PGP key is being sent on a separate twitter channel and the receipt confirmation is occurring on a different (as yet unknown) twitter channel. The only thing that the sender/receiver need to share is the names of the TX/RX twitter accounts & a public key. This is innocuous information that can be sent over open channels with almost zero overhead.

I don't know if this is just some demonstration for marketing purposes by one of the companies providing the PGP service (a "Hello World" experiment as @TomWellborn calls it), but it is very interesting.

And whoever wants this probably has very deep pockets and dark secrets.

@LouiseMensch seems to think it is the usual suspects.

I have an open mind, but the Heffalumps are certainly curious creatures to be wandering free on the internet like this.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

When will the market fall?

Like  so many of you - I am wondering when the "Trump Rally" will end.

My understanding is that the "Trump Rally" is driven by two factors,

1) A number of subscribers  to the "Old White Man" (OWM) mentality on Wall Street convincing each other that Trump is going to make the economy boom and that stock prices will go up. You don't have to be an old white man to believe this, you just have to be stupid enough to match the target profile that Brad Parscale et al drew up in PA, WI, MI. If you match it - you will subscribe to Millenarist nonsense about markets that go up forever.  You will keep borrowing money to buy shares in companies that are massively overvalued, and you will keep leveraging up in the hope that somewhere you will make a big strike.

2) The Russians want to take the money they injected into the market to survive the long decade long depression that Russia under Putin is now heading for. RIS money movers had pulled money out of the failing RU economy in the 90s and injected into Wall Street via DJT and others. Now they want to pull it back out so that they can shore up their decaying system of power. To do that they have to strategically boost the prices and jump out at the high point. The resulting collapse is something they can take advantage of in a number of ways (especially in the derivatives market) but that is separate story.

You might say - "Hey the market is booming - so why aren't the OWMs coming back to the their senses? and why are the RIS guys dumping and leaving?".

The answer to the first is that OWMs have convinced themselves that Trump will perform magical acts that will take the market to an even greater height. Over the last five months, DJT's image has taken a beating with these people, as they are slowly realizing that he will not deliver most of what he has promised, but all the big players in the market (i.e. Goldman Sachs) are telling them Trump will "cut taxes" bigly. We all know this is total bullshit, but if you subscribe to the OWM mentality - you're pride standing firmly between you and the manifest reality.

The answer to the second poser about the RIS dumping and leaving depends to some extent on the persistence of the OWM mentality on Wall Street and partly on US sanctions that prevent large scale transfer of wealth between RU and the US/EU. Briefly - as long as the OWM effect persists on Wall Steet, RIS can't be sure it is getting the highest possible price (with the lowest risk) for what they are trying to sell. The RIS knows that the coming depression could be long and hard, so they want to squeeze their investment for as much as they can. And so they are seduced into waiting just a little bit longer. The other issue about sanctions on RU preventing the backflow of wealth from Wall Street to RU - that can change if Le Pen is elected in France. Once she is in power in Paris, she can simply break the  US led sanctions and wire money to Moscow. With France breaking all sorts of agreements in the EU, there will be sufficient chaos to permit these flows to go undetected. Also Donald Trump has basically hollowed out the US government machinery by not filling thousands of vacant posts and the few that have been filled are all given to lobbyists. So if France wired money to Putin in Moscow, it is unlikely that Donald Trump's Admin would do anything about it.

So those are the two legs holding the "Trump Rally" up:

1) OWM mentality people waiting for tax cuts and
2) Le Pen waiting to get her hands on the EU banking system.

With each major visible fuckup that the Trump Admin commits the OWM does a double take. The #TrumpRussia story cuts into the heart of the OWM notions of trust. And with each passing day the corrosion of belief in Donald Trump among subscribers to the OWM  mentality rises. Everything we are seeing in the context of Ukraine, North Korea, Meals on Wheels, Obamacare Repeal etc... this imho is purely distraction optics to draw attention away from the collapses of trust in Donald Trump.

Which leaves the Le Pen victory. It would be ideal for RIS to have its hands on the EU banking system, but I feel it may not be essential. I suspect there are other ways to draw money out of Wall Street and push it into Putin friendly hands in the Grand Duchy of Moscow. I suspect some of those channels are via digital cryptocurrencies which are hard to regulate and whose blockchain allows you to securely transact them.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Daily Donald 04/21/2017

The last 24 hours have been quite interesting.

After suddenly announcing that he will no longer run for election in 2018, Jason Chaffetz has indicated that he will likely not be able to complete his present term. He is expected to resign later today. The only thing that will make this more dramatic is if he is suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor and dies in Walter Reed a la Bill Casey. Rumors on Twitter suggest that he was being blackmailed by the RIS using information about an affair he had. There is no way to verify this but apparently the FBI got hold of the information that RIS was using to blackmail him and pointed out to him that he was committing treason by agreeing to RIS demands. Apparently the RIS wanted him to have Trump's back and the FBI had a different opinion on what he should do to spend the rest of his days outside a federal prison. You know these rumors can be quite entertaining, but no serious observer would ever put any stock in such information as obviously it is not sourced to a recognizable or credible person with direct knowledge of the situation. Jason Chaffetz also decided to share how awesome a person his wife was on twitter. Make what you will of that.

Another story doing rounds is that significant evidence has been found to link the Vault 7 release by Wikileaks to actual CIA documentation. This means that the Vault 7 data was actually stolen from the CIA and that makes its illegal publication a national security related offense. With this latest release, Julian Assange appears to have touched a raw nerve in the USIC. Per news reports the US is preparing to formally charge Julian Assange with espionage and a warrant for his arrest will likely be sought soon. This unfortunately puts Julian in a bit of a pickle. Julian has been getting loads of BTC from God-Only-Knows-Who and he's had to pay various groups of people money to keep himself out of jail. As Trump's guys (see like DCIA Mike Pompeo) are hanging Assange and Wikileaks out to dry, Assange now finds himself in the CIA's cross hairs. Without RIS backing him, it is highly unlikely that SENAIN will be able to withstand US pressures to hand Assange over. Again unfortunately for Assange, if he is handed over, he will be in a position to compromise RIS and Trump's people - and so the only recourse they will have at their disposal would be to make sure that Julian Assange is not in a position to reveal any secrets about TrumpRussia. I always knew that things would end this way for Julian. He clearly knew that the bride he sought had a heavy price.

In the North Korean situation there were some unusual developments yesterday when a sniffer aircraft was scrambled to sample the air. It was unclear if there was any seismic activity to merit this or if there was any other activity on the ground to induce this kind of patrol. North Korea has been carrying out a large number of maskirovka operations to hide the exact moment at which they will choose to test their latest nuclear device. I am guessing the sniffer's flight was probably a response to such a provocation.

Another distraction exercise appears to be in the making. There are whispers now of a reworked Obamacare repeal bill. Mysteriously hitherto opposed elements of the GOP have aligned on a core agenda (presumably to repeal Obamacare) and will soon be presenting something to the house. I am guessing that this is yet another attempt to deflect attention and time from the HPSCI session where Sally Yates is due to testify in the next session.

And in a novel exercise in crowd sourcing, the search for who exactly donated to the Trump Inauguration is being spread across Twitter. A number of mismatches and oddities are being found leading naturally to suspicions about shell corporations and money laundering. To think - all this began because the Trump Admin drew attention to the fact that Trump's inaugural raised twice as much money as Obama's inaugural. Oh that bottomless pit of stupidity.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/20/2017

It appears Reuters has unearthed documents from a Putin funded Russian Institute of Strategic Studies (RISS) that detail a plan to  "swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system" [1]  Apparently the documents themselves were obtained by less than legal means, but it is pretty clear that the documents point to massive RIS backed information operations aimed at bringing Donald Trump to power. 

As with all these things, a lawyer can always poke holes in it but in the intelligence world where the opponent always does a lot to obscure their actions, the existence of this much visible evidence of collusion between Donald Trump and Russia is horrifying. 

A lot of people are expecting to see indictments and impeachments and so on. That is sometimes how the intelligence world works - when the evidence is seen as being good enough to stand up in court but when the adversary is likely to use a court trial to gain advantage a different route needs to be followed. 

Let me put it another way - unlike law enforcement where the only objective is to put criminals behind bars, in the spy world the objective is to deny the other side an advantage. Convictions - if they can help - should be carried out, but one must keep an open mind. A lot of times the situation changes depending on how one thinks about it. 

The treason that Donald Trump has committed is staggering in its scope. And truth be told - there is nothing in the constitution that offers immediate relief. Right now this entire treasonous complex operates with a sense of impunity. People like Prince, Stone, Manafort, Kushners, Bannon etc... all think they can commit any crime they like and Donald Trump will pardon them. All these people are very rich so they think they can afford big lawyers and they will get away with anything. 

It is this attitude, this belief that there is no way to hold them accountable that makes the situation really unstable. Yesterday we saw Exxon apply for a sanctions waiver to explore oil in Putin's arctic regions. This kind of blatant corruption allows us to visualize the extent of the problem. We now clearly see how messed up the ONG sector has become. These people are willing to sell out their own country to preserve their bonuses. 

As the RIS is composed of extremely intelligent people, they will always find new ways of penetrating the security sphere of our country- that is quite literally their day job. There will always be someone vain or stupid enough to buy into their promises and become their agent. This person will always operate under the belief that there is no accountability for their actions. 

Restoring accountability is the key to preventing the RIS from getting further advantage at this time. For our part as citizens, we must seek ways of excluding the influence of fake news from our minds. If nothing else atleast look to see if the news item you are reading has been first published in an RIS backed online channel. Once the sources of their propaganda are identified, the cumulative effectiveness of the propaganda will go down. 

At a higher level, the ethics review process inside Congress is clearly broken. Jason Chaffetz indicated yesterday that he is not seeking re-election in 2018. It would be best if he stopped obstructing the ethics review in the House altogether. It is not in the GOPs interests to see its image as a party of principled conservatives be damaged. That is is the surest way to reduce any chance of the GOP getting any seats in 2018. As things stand there is >20 pt shift in KS04 and GA06. If that trend continues, the GOP will lose everything in 2018. If Trump is still president by then, it is likely that he will try to cut deals with the Dems and blow traditional GOP power bases out of existence.  Worse still the Dems will end up taking credit for impeaching him. That will ensure that the GOP is remembered in history as the Party of Vladmir Putin for an eternity. Surely no GOPer would want that.

On a related note, everyone knows that Bill O'Reilly was helping a fellow alleged sex-criminal Donald Trump gain positive coverage on Fox. Now that Bill O'Reilly has been fired for sexual harassment issues. One link in the Donald Trump human centipede has been disabled.

It seems another link in the same human centipede - Alex Jones - has been exposed quite badly in his divorce proceedings. His ex-wife contested custody of the kids by claiming that he is unhinged and has been diagnosed with a severe narcissistic personality disorder but his lawyers are claiming "he only plays a character on his YouTube channel - Infowars". Apparently Alex Jones thinks it is okay to claim that the kids that died in Sandy Hook Elementary School never existed. The pain he inflicts on the poor parents is entertainment per his definition. For now Alex has gone quiet. My guess is that he hopes to be able to have some access to his kids but if he doesn't get it - I imagine he and his fans will attack the Judge presiding over his case. That ofcourse will completely lead to a very long jail term, but a narcissistic person just can't help themselves.

On the topic of narcissists, our Russia friendly AG is very busy encouraging toxic behavior in the Justice Department. Having collected a cabal of pliable Nazis, he is going around turning the Justice Department into Donald Trump's rubber stamp. It is no surprise therefore that department has fired the US attorneys but they have no replacements several weeks after the event. It is unclear who if anything is going to make the Justice system do anything at all. It seems the whole point of this exercise is to defeat the physical machinery of the Justice Department that would otherwise bring criminals like Donald Trump to justice. 

As the visible demand to see his tax returns grows, Donald Trump's insecurities rise. As his insecurities rise - the stupid bullshit explodes. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Daily Donald 04/19/2017

We seem to be living in a world of mysteries.

First off - it seems that the CVN Vinson and its "armada" was never actually near Korea. And what is even more perplexing is that 38North can find no evidence of a missile launch from the ground at Sinpo. Now it could be that Trump's "armada" was a nuclear attack submarine in the Sea of Japan (that would certainly explain why a Bear, a May and a Fencer was loitering there on April 14th), and DPRK actually attempted a launch from a submersed platform instead of a land based launch platform... or it could be that given both KJU and DJT are profound bullshitters - all the stuff I was worried about was just political theater aimed at deflecting attention from new information emerging about Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Secondly, we are still waiting to hear details of the events at Tangi Asadkhel. No one besides the US has apparently been allowed on ground zero. There are no actual casualty numbers. A partial list of the Jihadis killed in the attack mostly includes members of the Okrazai tribe in Pakistan. The group affiliations are listed as TTP, LeT and some unknown Indian group. There is no mention of IS as a primary organization identifier. Now it could be that the strike was wildly successful and the US wants to keep the details secret and use the information to infiltrate IS, or it could be that the US wants to keep the true effectiveness of the MOAB against tunnel complexes a secret or it could be that the attack was unsuccessful altogether and keeping the Afghans and press from seeing the details is the only way to hide the miserable failure of the scheme. Again we have no idea what really happened in  Tangi Asadkhel.

Then there is the odd matter of the special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. As predicted by so many poll agencies, the election has gone into a runoff. In the last 5 months, the district moved from being 20 pts towards the GOP to splitting down the middle between GOP  and Democratic Party. This is similar to the kind of shift observed in the 4th district of Kansas. A massive swing away from the GOP. What should come as a shock to the system in the GOP is that the greater alignment with Donald Trump produced poorer electoral results. This is a pointer to an anti-correlation. If KS04 highlighted that the Trump brand could no longer draw voters into the GOP's ranks, GA06 suggests that  the Trump brand is actually driving large numbers of voters away from the GOP. There will be a run off - but before that happens, one needs to review carefully what exactly happened in Fulton county where a  mysterious "data error" prevented the votes from being transmitted electronically. I am not suggesting that something illegal occurred (though quite frankly I would be less than surprised if it did - there is really no way for GOP to win besides rigging at this point) - but that in this age of hacking - one needs to be extra careful. Perhaps if the theft of the machines was detected  properly, there would be less  cause for concern but as that crime remains unsolved at this time, one has to assume the worst. What I suspect is that the GOP threw the book at GA06 to prevent a  > 50% vote for Ossoff. Losing GA06 would have  looked bad on Donald Trump's "100 Days" report card.

In other news Preet Bharara has been appointed by NYAG to lead the investigation into Trump's illegal financial dealings. It is unclear if any of these crimes can be pardoned by Trump himself or  if he will be impeached before his pardon  power lapses. Once impeached he cannot pardon himself for other crimes that he has not been charged with.

In an indication of the stress levels surrounding his general existence, Donald Trump made several public mistakes where he got Congressman Paul Ryan's name wrong. He also forgot which country he bombed last week and mixed up Kim Jong Un with his father.

All the while the Trump kids appear to be lining their pockets will whatever  change they can find  lying around the oval office.

The people that  voted for Donald Trump need to ask themselves how we came to be in a situation where the  kind of rampant and brazen kleptocracy came  to reside in the  White House.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Daily Donald 04/18/2017

As some of you may have heard, Bellingcat and Human Rights Watch came out with an OSINT study of US claims regarding the Al-Jinah Mosque complex. A study of available evidence points to the US deliberately bombing a mosque filled with 300 worshipers. The exact fatality count hovers in the 30-40 at this time. It is unclear if the US bombed the mosque to target a Tablighi group that stayed in the mosque with their families, or if was after someone else, but so far no link has been found to violent extremism in any of the victims' social media. The only logical conclusion sustainable at this time is that the US acted based upon some intelligence it received and it was processed incorrectly.

A lot of people suspect that this processing error is due to President Trump's directive to give the military "a free hand". Most people see the "free hand" directive as being a corollary to his electoral promises to "bomb the shit out of them" and "kill the families". I don't buy that completely. I think Trump is too much of a career criminal to actually put anything that illegal on paper. I suspect what we are seeing in this case and others like it (the Yemen fuckup, the Mosul mass murder and the MOAB drop at Tangi Asadkhel) is Trump disabling the part of the NSC that has review on this  kind of thing.

Many liberals were quick to criticize (and rightly so) the Obama era disposition matrix. You may recall that I never did so. This is because thought the disposition matrix (Kill List) was immoral and unjust (the people on the list were denied an appeal) it was extremely thorough and accountability for the process steps was traceable inside the government. This internal accountability made list admins very careful as they felt they would be hauled up before the President to answer for their fuckups. The result of this pressure was an extraordinary amount of due diligence and professionalism. I am not saying mistakes weren't made but because President Obama personally signed  off on each killing, there was a great deal of pressure to get it right.

Today that pressure is gone. With Trump deliberately obscuring and violating the presidential records act, and the GOP legitimizing his illegal acts - the entire accountability is broken. The result is that a terrorist state is slowly coming into being. The GOPers won't realize this until it is too late. By the time this all comes to fore - the drones and the MOABs will be hitting people on the streets of DC. This is the only outcome of deliberately disabling the accountability process for targeted killings. The intentions in that kind of thing are always criminal - to get away with murder - that is what is sought. Once you get away with murder in a distant land - then you can "shoot someone on Times Square" and get away with it too.

Georgia's 6th congressional district heads to the polls today for its special election. It is anyone's guess what will happen here. We are seeing significant signs of election tampering by GOP folks. Add that to the gerrymandering and voter discrimination that is common in Red States and the bizarre electoral behavior of so-called religious folks down there - and you have an election that is too close to call.

On the North Korean front, after much saber rattling and fussing the tensions of last week have given way to a sense of ennui. Most watchers are tired of tuning every time the clock strikes 8 AM in Pyongyang. I am guessing that this is what KJU wants - so he can finally test his thermonukes in peace. The Chinese seem worried about a venting event at the test site. They have instructed cities bordering DPRK to prepare for a nuclear accident in North Korea. I think this means KJU has asked his boys to test a MT yield device underground. I think the last one that was tested in that magnitude was Cannikin. God help us all when that happens.

In other entertaining news Prime Minister May finds that she does not have support within the Houses of Parliament for pushing through her ideas on Brexit (and whatever the else) so she intends to call for a general election in June. I am sure Nigel Farage will do whatever he can to help President Putin win this election - though I am not sure if President Putin has been given enough notice for this.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/14/2017

It appears from various reports that the net is closing around #TrumpRussia. News reports are suggesting that several intelligence agencies that are  part of the Western SIGINT sharing agreement have loads of data on Donald Trump's illegal connections to Russia. The evidence also includes material that should be sufficient to convict  family members. Other reports are saying that Guliani is facing indictment and is offering to turn state witness. I don't know if any of this is true, but given how the Trump crowd tends to put stock in conspiracies, I don't know how they wouldn't be afraid of what is likely coming.

In a stunning development yesterday - Director CIA Mike Pompeo, who was appointed by Trump on the recommendation of Chairman Nunes has come out with a speech denouncing Wikileaks as hostile intelligence operation. This is strange coming from someone who himself tweeted Wikileaks scoops from his official account last year. Quite a strange turnaround. Some say it is because he has seen the SIGINT  data and is now convinced that the game is up. Who knows what is true anymore!

On the North Korea front the Chinese and Russians appear to be mobilizing significant resources to the Korean border. The RU is moving forces to Vladivostok and the Chinese are pouring resources into the region bordering DPRK. The Chinese repeatedly warned DPRK not to test a nuclear weapon yesterday and the day before. But then the USG leaked to NBC and other outlets that it was planning a pre-emptive strike on DPRK's nuclear capability. After the NBC report leaked, Gen. Mattis went postal on the press accusing it of irresponsible reporting of inaccurate information. Apparently the DOD had no interest in such a pre-emptive strike. This drama caused fears of an outbreak of a nuclear war in the region and China  suddenly publicly declared that anyone escalating the situation would pay a heavy price.

Dear friends and readers, I confess that I now feel the North Korean situation is a runaway. Given that both DPRK and the US are trying to goad each other into doing something extremely stupid, we are sitting a hair away from war. And  we have Donald Trump who is increasingly convinced that he will spend his last days in a Federal prison.

Perhaps it should be no surprise then that yesterday Donald Trump authorized the CENTCOM to deploy the MOAB at a place called Tangi Assadkhel in Achin Distt. of Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. The US DOD has just released drone video footage of the strike [1].  The exact location of the strike remains undisclosed at this time [Updated exact GeoLoc Samir on Twtr), but news reports and ANSF are closing on the location [2]. The strike was supposed to eliminate a cave complex controlled by ISIS-K and the DOD claims at least 36 ISIS fighters and *NO* civilians were killed, but ISIS-K itself doesn't seem to be acknowledging the attack at all [see RCallimachi's work [3]).  Though Trump himself denies the he specifically authorized the strike, most of his opponents are saying that this was a publicity stunt staged with the lives of innocent Afghans.

I understand the need to stage publicity stunts when you are a hair away from being jailed by the FBI, but I really don't like that idea of staging stunts in Afghanistan. What little peace there is in Afghanistan, it has been earned through blood, sweat and tears over the last decade and a half. This shard of peace is extremely fragile, and all it takes is one sweepingly stupid and immoral act (like this MOAB might be perceived to be) to shatter it. The Kabul regime exists on a patchwork of tribal loyalties, this patchwork can fall apart easily if it is hit too hard. I am not happy about what was done in Achin at  all. Other ways of achieving the same ends should have been considered.

Some people are saying that the MOAB attack was a way to scare Kim Jong Un. I agree with that point of view but as always I am open to other ideas. I guess the counter-arguments are pretty potent and if I self analyze I can see that I only stick to this posture because I am hoping there is some sense to what was done in Achin.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/13/2017

Big cracks are now visible in the House of Trump. Russia has broken away,  Nazis are peeling away from Trump, and the fig leaf protecting Trump's children from direct attack is withering away.

Pres. Putin told Secy Tillerson in Moscow yesterday that Russia has no intention of distancing itself from Assad at this time. This should come as no surprise to anyone as Moscow has repeatedly indicated that it will divest from Assad at a time of its own choosing not at a time imposed by others. By simultaneously obstructing the UNSC demand for an investigation of the CW usage claims, RU has placed itself between Assad and the world. Having to shield Assad in this fashion and running into opposition from the Trump Admin has caused RU to re-evaluate Donald Trump as a whole. As seen on RIS controlled outlets like Sputnik and Breitbart, the love of all thing Donald Trump in Russia is fading fast.  Donald Trump for his part has suddenly discovered that ties with Russia are in a very poor state and that NATO is not useless at all. This is a complete reversal from his earlier posture on both issues.

In the meanwhile pressure from the Trump Russia investigation grows. Jared Kushner finds himself in the line of fire. He stands accused of having lied to the FBI on his clearance application. If that charge sticks - he will be looking at prison. I am guessing he will also be willing to turn witness for the state and rat out others. This comes amidst other allegations that Jared is acting as defactor Secy of State, Secy of Defense and all manner of other things which he has not sought congressional approval. My guess is that GOP faction has successfully taken on Bannon by sparking a feud between him and the bloodline and now plans to take Kushner out of play so that the Trump bloodline is directly exposed. I wouldn't be surprised if Bannon helps the GOPers in the fond hope that they help him regain power somehow. Nepotism has such a way of biting you in the rear.

For his part Donald Trump seems to be keen to avoid any talk of impeachment or even the utterance of that more dreaded term "conviction". He is rolling out the "crooked Hillary" and "gone to jail" stuff again and now he's actually threatening to fire the Director of the FBI. Perhaps he does not understand that if he fires the FBI director, the word "Impeachment" will give way to "Conviction". Perhaps he is misinterpreting the polls where people that voted for him are too embarrassed to publicly admit they were wrong about him but privately are less inclined to support him if asked to do so again. The lesson of KS04 is being lost on Trump right now - he is simply not the vote getter he used to be a few months ago. Is it a surprise then he has abandoned his revisionism and taken on a more GOP centric line? Is it a surprise then that he has suddenly seen it fit to hand over the NSC to the professionals? Not to me anyway.

It seems from news reports that Bannon and Nunes are discovering what it means to be the Chris Christie in the room. Manafort has belatedly applied for foreign agent registration. Carter Page and Boris Ephstein it seems were the target of a FISC warrant. People are openly acting in violation of the presidential records act and the Attorney General seems to more invested in spouting Nazi rubbish on the border.

This brings us to last night. I stayed up last night watching the IMS, twitter and news channels for the first reports of the 6th DPRK nuke test. I watched for the first hints of a magnitude 6 quake and a simultaneous report of a rise in suspected Neutrino tracks at various detectors around the world. I watched as Kim Jong Un gathered up foreign journalists (human shields) for a "big event" (test of a large/full TN device). I watched as Donald Trump obviously on the john all alone let off a tweetstorm of nonsense around 8 PM last night (I knew that Kim tests his nukes between 8AM-12 Noon local time - which wud correspond to 8 PM EST). I felt DJT was losing his shit as he was tussling with the decision to have to launch a CM strike on a place where he knew human shields were in place. I watched the reports of a blackout drill in Pyongyang and the rumors of a citywide evacuation.

But nothing happened. The  reporters were driven around  the city and then taken to a block where Kim Jong Un has a pet property development. It was anticlimactic and as the crucial window passed, I began to get this sense of deja vu. I had seen this stunt pulled before in India by Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao in 1995. At that time PVNR had set into motion a grand deception that asymmetrically increased the surveillance costs to the US on India's nuclear sites and simultaneously increased India's readiness for an actual test. As the Indian Army repeatedly dug out, drained and filled up tunnels (which is what it would do if it was looking for a suitable test area but finding excessive water ingress) - the US found itself strapped for resources to keep an eye on the Pokharan test facility.  In 1998 thanks to this form of maskirovka, India was able to achieve strategic surprise and test its boosted fission designs.

I think Kim Jong Un has taken a page from India's books. He is deliberately running a maskirovka operation and in his case he is trying to reduce the likelihood of a successful cruise missile strike.
I have grave doubts about Donald Trump's ability to handle the stresses associated with such complex decision making and his ability to coordinate matters of such intricacy and detail.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/12/2017

The TrumpRussia investigation seems to have stalled. This is in part due to two factors:

1) The SSIC and HPSCI do not have meetings scheduled. The HPSCI distraction via Chairman Nunes has worked.  This needs to play out because otherwise there is no way to secure an independent prosecutor's appointment.

2) Donald Trump seems to be allowing the NSC to be run by professionals. This is a subtle shift which has significant implications for the future.

This latter part needs to be given a more thorough examination. There are always two perspectives within any national security community. The first perspective is invested in the present and the second in the future.

When Trump entered the WH, there was a totally reasonable concern that he would simply fail spectacularly at running the most rudimentary aspects of the NSC. That turned out to be 100% accurate. Trump had a reputation for not being able to manage anything properly and losing money in a casino - turned out that was well deserved. He tried to disable the NSC by appointing two foreign agents (Flynn and Bannon) to try and run it. Now both are out - and the NSC is back in the hands of people who know what they are doing. This allows for a relatively small relief.

As you may be aware there are two pressing national security issues on the board - things that will literally explode in two weeks or less - North Korea and Syria. As things stand little to no resources are available to keep these conflicts at a manageable level. The RU mobilization has strapped DOD resources. It is not clear if there are enough resources to manage DPRK and Syria going critical at the same time as holding the wall against RU forces in Ukraine, Baltics and Scandinavia.  Despite Trump's abysmal handling of NATO - somehow we are still able to get NATO to take a stand against RU aggression in Europe.

In the intermediate term the professionals at the NSC have to coordinate a response to the DPRK nuclear emergence and the Syria Assad collapse at the same time. This would have been extremely hard even with President Obama in the oval office - this will be nearly impossible with Donald  Trump in there. I will be very surprised if we come out of this without a major theater conflict on our hands. Given how Trump and his team shoot their mouths off at the slightest perception of an insult and all the Trump Russia pressures on them, it will be a full time job for the professionals to keep the escalation lid tamped down.

The Syrian situation has been handled well last week. The NSC deliberately put a low escalation option in the mix presented to Donald Trump and when he chose it - the NSC proceeded to leverage their deep knowledge of RU involvement in the CW attack on Khan Shaykhoun to cause a fissure inside the Assad-RU alliance. Given the threat posed by the Assad regime's continued access to CW to Israel - it came as no surprise that the Trump admin distanced itself from Assad. What the RU gambit was in backing Assad's CW misadventure is unknown at this time, but it seems to have failed and Putin will likely have to sacrifice Assad at a time that is not of his choosing.

The Chinese are reluctant to let go of DPRK. They do not love Kim Jong Un much but as long as he is a greater pain in the rear for the US than he is for them they will support him. Removing Kim Jong Un from power would be ideal, but since so many Chinese backed soft-coups have failed - the only option left on the table is a hard coup. Such a coup could naturally precipitate if DPRK to master a Sloika or to develop a "Third Idea"/Ulam-Teller assembly fail spectacularly and cause Kim Jong Un to lose face inside the KPA General Staff. At that point KJU will have to purge the KPA General Staff and hope to survive the coup that inevitably follows. A US led aerial bombing campaign lined up to coincide with the failed test may be sufficient to selectively strengthen the KJU opposition while ensuring that a roll-back can be initiated to appease Chinese interests. Without carrying the Chinese along on this however - the entire mission would quickly escalate into a major theater conflict. For this scheme to work, the Chinese have to support it, and everything has to go down in a week or so. Beyond that it will be too expensive and dangerous to maintain a massive strike force so proximate to DPRK. There is a tiny window and the plan once set in motion will not be possible to recall for something like 48-72 hours. In the simplest scenario - a provocation will convince KJU that he needs to test a bigger nuclear device immediately. As he proceeds to the test, the task force will covertly disable it and trigger a KPA backed coup. From that point on a aerial bombardment will commence leading to a situation where the KJU faction cannot prevail. The wider realignment of DPRK may takes months or years but the first 48-72 hours will make the difference. I do not understand how Donald Trump will be able to action this initiative without taking permission from Congress.

The longer timescale perspective of the NSC embraces the need for immediate control over time sensitive issues, but likely feels that the needs of justice must be served. This means that the Trump Russia investigation must proceed unimpeded to its evidence driven conclusion.

I can't disagree with this kind of thinking, if crimes of the magnitude I suspect have been committed, then it does not make sense to me to let them go unpunished but we should keep the situation under control so as to avoid obvious pitfalls.

The biggest wild card in the entire situation is DJT himself. If he decides to derail the NSC with an insistence on a phony war with Russia - it is likely that the NSC will have no choice but to comply. Under such circumstances, one will have to write off the DPRK and Syria situation and default to a long term perspective on national security issues.

As things stand gaping holes have opened up inside the House of Trump. An attempt to get Steve Bannon to back off on his not-too-covert attacks on the Trump bloodline have failed. The inevitable firing of Steve Bannon is in the air. A section of Steve's internet Troll, Bot, & Cyborg army are moving on their own accord to settle personal scores with Kushnerites like Cernovich et al, While Breitbart News have been issued a gag order against writing articles critical of Jared Kushner - they are indicating that they have no interest in obeying the order. They remain loyal to Steve Bannon. So most likely the truce brokered between Kushner and Bannon by Donald Trump will fail and a major crack in the House of Trump will be visible.

The results for Kansas 04 are in. The voting totals are down (as is common in a special election), but the GOP lead in district has reduced from +31 to +7. This is a 24 point change in just 5 months. It appears that despite high level commitments from DJT, Pence and Cruz - the GOP voters stayed home. That is actually saying something.

I am expecting significant developments on the  DPRK and Syria front in the next two weeks.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/10/2017

I apologize for the gap in the series. Given all that is going on, it is very hard to stay on top of this.

Since the last post, we have seen Donald Trump start a phony war with Syria. On Donald Trump's instructions the US Navy fired 60 cruise missiles at Shayrat Airbase in Syria. Congress was not informed about the attack & no permission from them was officially sought before the fire order was given from Mar-a-Lago. However it seems the Russians (and the Assad Regime targets) were actually informed before the strike. Coupled to the fact the runways at the airfield were deliberately not targeted, it appears this strike was deliberately designed to be ineffective. This is at best a phony war, aimed at boosting Donald Trump's personal ratings which have plunged to abysmal levels.  The problem with phony wars is that in order to achieve what they are designed to do, they have to look real. A real war quickly goes off script and takes on a life of its own. It is extremely challenging to hold the narrative in a phony war and the line between a real war and a phony war is easily blurred. Given the staggering levels of intellectual inbreeding and incompetency we have seen from this WH, I feel it is unlikely we will be able to prevent this phony war from sliding into a real one.

A civil war had been brewing in the ranks of the Alt-Right last week after news of Bannon being fired from the NSC broke. After the cruise missile strikes, RIS provocations embedded in the Alt-Right had openly criticized Trump for acting against Assad in Syria and openly stated that they were "off the Trump Train". The Bannon/RIS factions had let loose a volley of "cuck", "Globalist", "Jew" etc... on Twitter - aimed at Donald Trump and even started a #FireKushner. And Lee Stranahan who recently left Breitbart News for Sputnik in Moscow - has started a website that focused on firing Kushner.  The mainstream media had reported that the Jared Kushner had lied on Top Secret clearance form and withheld information about meetings with RIS operatives. This information most likely came from Bannon friendly sources.

On Sunday Kushner and Bannon were forced by Donald Trump to sit down and make up. But before the meeting took place (11 AM by some accounts) , the Kushner faction in the Alt-Right struck back quite viciously. A particularly egregious event was the manner in which both BakedAlaska and Cassandra Fairbanks were doxxed by a Kushner friendly hacker called 0hour. BakedAlaska was outed as a homosexual, and pictures/video(?) of a sexual encounter between Lee Stranahan and Cassandra Fairbanks were made public. A number of bystanders (like Louise Mensch)  tried to dissuade 0hour from committing what amounted to a criminal sexual assault on Cassandra, but that didn't stop anything. The entire thing seemed to be terribly pre-programmed.

In the NSC, a Robert McFarlane proxy - K T MacFarland was sent packing as Amb to Singapore. Most observers have welcomed this move as it signals that the entire End-RU-Sanctions-for-RU-Natural-Gas saga is on hold. It was never clear to me if that scheme actually paid for itself or if we were simply compromising the security of our supply just so some lobbyists can have a windfall.  From reports it seems that MacFarland did not go quietly. So one can expect some fireworks on the issue later in the week perhaps.

HPSCI Chairman Nunes finally recused himself from the Russian interference investigation. This will doubtlessly lead to more disturbing revelations about collusion between DJT and Russia during the election.

Also last week, we heard news report that Trump was close to firing both Bannon and Priebus and that a counteractive pressure was mounting from the GOP and the RIS backed Bannonite group to fire Kushner and Ivanka. Several observers compared the situation to machinations seen in the medieval era House of Tudor with several factions backstabbing each other to get ahead. But if that view is correct, the like the House of Tudor, the House of Trump is perilously close to a complete financial collapse. The reason the House of Tudor had all this stuff going on inside it is that medieval England was not a cash cow. The predominantly agrarian economy could not generate wealth and captive capital reserves at a level where even the reign of one Tudor king could be bought and paid for.

Apparently the Spanish authorities have arrested a hacker named Peter Levashov, apparently he is connected with the Kaspersky researcher Stoyanov who was arrested by FSB for involvement in hacking the election. I think this will help unravel the true extent of RIS interference in the 2016 election.

And as expected - Mitch McConnell has managed to do what Bin Laden couldn't - he has managed to actually destroy the American democracy. By viciously propagating a toxic personal agenda, Mitch McConnell has carved his name into history but in a place typically reserved for mass murderers and other generally terrible human beings.

So - where do we stand?

I feel the House of Trump is falling apart under pressure from the Russia investigation. As the Russia investigation cuts to the heart of Trump's claim of legitimacy, defeating it is crucial to Trump's survival.  As the HPSCI investigates and the FBI rounds up more people connected with the RIS effort - both Trump and Putin face immense pressures. The phony war in Syria is an attempt to defeat these pressures and buy some semblance of legitimacy. With pliable GOPers like Ryan, McConnell and the Freedom Causes, it should not be too hard for DJT to buy himself legitimacy with a phony war but the phony war will eventually slide into a real war and that is when we will all suffer.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Is the SIG still alive?

I have decided to interrupt the "Daily Donald" series of posts to cover a topic that has me worried.

Yesterday Steve Bannon was removed from the NSC and his access to the Situation Room was cut off (or so the Trump Admin tells us). There is an elaborate story being put out via Politico and the NYT about how Bannon resisted the change and that Gen. McMaster aggressively pushed to return control of the NSC to the professionals.  One hopes that this all true, but if it's not - then I fear we have a serious problem.

As I read the news about this event, I became concerned about reporters being told that Bannon was put into the Rice era NSC to "de-operationalize it". And that now that his mission was complete, he was leaving. The word "de-operationalize" is a weird term used by US-Nat Sec mandarins. It means - to remove operational capacity thru bureaucratic and legal interference. This term is not a positive connotation.

When we take this term in conjunction with three other facts

1) That Bannon sought to set up a Strategic Interests Group (a "shadow NSC") with the likes of Sebastian Gorka and Ezra Cohen-Watnik,

2) A group of Trump Admin officials wanted access to raw data from various intel feeds instead of bowdlerized analyst reports, and

3) Bannon's security clearance was not actually cancelled and there are reports of him attending an NSC meeting after the news of his removal.

the use of the "de-operationalize" term becomes quite ominous. And here is why I think this way.

The NSC is the main coordination body for all conflict resolution activities of our government. At any given time there are a hundred or so issues on the "board". The NSC has to coordinate the allocation of resources to resolve these issues. In order to do its job, it needs a very solid stream of high quality compartmented information.

In any "normal" Presidency - raw data would be collected and collated by the intelligence agencies and routed through a set of classification and compartmentation filters. This data would make its way to analysis centers where it could be curated by area experts into various assessments with different compartmentation levels. The entire process would contribute to the total information awareness of the NSC. Based on these reports the NSC would reallocate resources between issues and make sure that every issue stays below its critical level for as long as the resources required to close it out are unavailable. Obviously if the resources are available then the issue will get closed out unless there is some wider strategic reason not to close it out.

But this is NOT a "normal" Presidency. As seen multiple times before, Trump has a National Security Adviser and  Presidential Daily (Intelligence) Briefing - but he doesn't pay much attention to either of them. Trump relies on Breitbart News, Alex Jones of Infowars, & Fox News to act as his eyes and ears and Bannon's SIG plays some kind of as yet undeclared strategic policy role. It appears that the NSC (and it's vast ranks of unfilled staff positions) is largely a rubber stamp. Without the careful resource reallocation by professionals - the Trump Admin will find itself facing a multitude of issues and several of them will cross critical levels with no clarity on resource availability. This is a recipe for complete disaster.

This state of affairs has troubled most of us who watch these issues on a daily basis. If you are not a hostile provocation, this should bother you too. The last thing any sensible patriotic American should want is that our nation be in a position where it lacks strength to respond on a critical national security issue. It is one thing to say "strategically" I don't want to get in the middle of that issue, but it is completely another to say "I don't have the resources to do this".

I have not seen any information to see that Bannon's access to information has truly been cut off. I have heard stories that Erza Cohen-Watnik is having his role reviewed. But then I have also heard that his wife works/ed for firm that was supposed to make "Russia look better" in the US media - a position that leaves the entire SIG/EEOB/WH staff vulnerable to "shaping" operations.

My gut instinct tells me that whatever happened yesterday is not what it seems. I feel Bannon is very much still active and this SIG operation he was running has simply gone underground. This is extremely worrying and underground operation is much harder to track. This lack of tracking is a big deal as there is only a limited number of ways in which the entire Nat Sec mechanism can have accountability. Without accountability - the entire democratic process falls apart.

Even if the Bannon situation has resolved as the media indicates, the underlying  malaise remains. For the record I want to put the "underlying malaise" out there.

During the War on Terror days, a *private* military complex became economically viable. People like Erik Prince and Alex Karp are leading figures of this community. Whenever I hear Trump mouthing off things ('immigration','bombing the shit out them' etc...), I feel like he is speaking to the core interests of this complex. A section of this entity performed the amazing task of building various parts of the digital surveillance system that forms the core of our national security mechanism. After the crash of 2008 and during the Great Recession, employment in this sector became less than lucrative and my guess is that this sector was heavily infiltrated by foreign interest groups (see what happened with Fat Leonard for reference). Since these people already control a vast amount of the information flow in our present day national security mechanism, I feel sub-groups within this community are vying for control over the higher level functioning. Bannon is one facet of this. There are others we may as yet be unaware of.

I don't see elements of the nat sec community jockeying for control as a bad thing. It is a natural process that happens all the time in every countries, but in our case I feel some of them are at risk of shaping and subversion. If nothing else is achieved from the Trump-Russia saga - I hope it inoculates the wider national security community to the threat of subversion. I feel like we have forgotten what that threat is like.

All that said - I am pretty sure we have not seen the end of this. There is more to come.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/5/2017

Yesterday we witnessed another horrifying chemical weapons use in Khan Shaykhun in Idlib Syria. As with the 2013 attacks in Ghouta, the prime suspect for the attacks is the Assad regime. And as with before the Russians are contesting the story. However unlike 2013, our president is actually spending most of his time blaming President Obama for his "failures" in Syria - instead of getting off his ass and doing something to help the victims or catch the perpetrators.

The death toll currently stands at somewhere around 75. I imagine it will get a lot worse. Most of the dead are children. The target of the attack was a hospital. The wounded from an earlier chemical weapons incident in Al-Lataminah were being treated at the hospital when it was attacked with chemical weapons yesterday. The most detailed summary so far is available from Bellingcat.

While the White House covers its lack of inaction by spending most of its energy blaming President Obama for what is happening, the State Department is bluntly stating that it believes the Assad regime is behind the attack. As Secy of State now openly contradicts the President and sounds more intelligent then him, it is only a matter of time before he is relieved of this duties. Trump is insecure when someone is visibly smarter than him.

If the chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun was not bad enough, North Korea tested a long range missile yesterday. The move was met with - a complete lack of response - there was large amount of loose talk about "all options being on the table" etc... you know the kind of talk that makes seasoned watchers of international affairs roll their eyes. Trump had made a very big fuss about taking on the North Korea issue "all by himself" - which most of the outsiders saw as a candid admission of the fact that no one below him wanted to take the fall for the inevitable shit show that would follow. Now we hear talk of pre-emptive strikes, invasions, shows of force with B1 bombers etc... I feel the Trump Admin has now pushed itself into the corner on this and they will attempt some harebrained scheme to try and dissuade Kim Jong Un from embarrassing Donald Trump. Basically we are still committed to moving up Jackass Street!

I feel we are getting a preview here of how the Trump Admin handles a real crisis. They don't. 

The Trump White House spends most of its energy trying to make it look like everything is President Obama's fault. If it doesn't do that people will focus on it's own complete incompetence on all issues put before it.

Massive fissures are now visible between the three factions that comprise the core of the Trump machine

1) After Cernovich called Breitbart "Fake News" - Alex Jones went on a massive swear word filled rant about "Gays" controlling the HPSCI. After that Roger Stone Jr went on to accuse Jared Kushner of leaking information  to Joe  Scarborough on MSNBC.

2) An  oped appeared asking Donald Trump why he hadn't fired Mick Mulvaney [1] and another Deputy COS was relieved of his duties after Katie left for the America Priorities PAC.

3) Polls indicate a massive drop in support for Trump among White Men and among rural voters.

The entire machine is coming apart at the core.

The nomination of Judge Gorsuch has run into trouble over allegations of plagiarism. It is unknown at this time whether the allegations will stick.

In the meanwhile Sen, Mitch McConnell has filed for the cloture (i.e. nuclear option). I am sure he will get what he wants but should he really want this? As things stand now the Trump Admin can leverage anyone in the GOP thanks to RU hacking of the RNC and all the stuff taped on cameras at Trump resorts (apparently the GOPers party in ways their public positions on morality are inconsistent with). Once the cloture passes, he can open agendas with the Democrats and sail bills across the Senate with GOP defectors completely bypassing Mitch McConnell.

I don't know what will be worse for Mitch McConnell forcing the Cloture vote and Gorsuch nomination on his peers in the GOP senate or failing in the process of doing so.

The HPSCI appears to be coming back together on key issues and more testimonials are scheduled, but not date has been set. The failure to stop the SSCI meeting had invalidated the need for suppressing the HPSCI.  I feel that Chairman Nunes has outlived his use to the Trump Admin.

And entirely unsurprisingly the Russian investigative committee on terrifying St. Petersburg blasts has recommended at that all public rallies be denied permission on security grounds. I think there is no need for more investigation and the blame-a-Muslim game can stop. We all know who did this now.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/4/2017

Yesterday the WaPo published an article about a secret back channel that Erik Prince set up between President Elect Trump and the RIS. It appears this channel was established in Seychelles with the help of the Emiratis.

This news report sparked the Democratic twitter sphere to look closely at the links between Alfa Bank, Trump Corporation and the Prince/DeVos family owned Spectrum Health. From the investigation carried out by @TeaPain - it appears that Alfa Bank (RIS), Spectrum Health (Prince) and Trump Campaign set up a secret database. Via this data network information illegally collected about millions of American voters was shared with Cambridge Analytica and RIS. The micro-targeting information created from this data was used to guide RIS bots, cyborgs and trolls against specific users who had been selected for opinion modulation.

I do not know if micro-targeting like this is actually a viable marketing strategy. Chances are it probably doesn't work any better than blanket messaging (see MWR_DBM's views) but that does not mean that someone who doesn't understand the details (Rebekkah Mercer) and someone who is trying to make a fast buck (Alex Nix, Steve Bannon etc..) and someone who is desperate (i.e. Trump Campaign's Project Alamo) would not be inclined to try it out [ref see 1. 2].

This latest discovery of course adds to the criminal nature of the Trump campaigns actions during the 2016 campaign. Not only did they collaborate with Russia, a hostile foreign power - they also participated in the wholesale theft of the private data of millions of Americans. This adds words to the ballad of the stolen election. This ballad may be much more powerful than the song of  emasculation that brought so many white men to the voting booths for Trump on November 8th 2016.

It comes as no surprise therefore that over the weekend Donald Trump reached out to Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul for help and over yet another round of golf, they schemed ways to support the "Wiretapping" allegations. As expected on Monday the entire discussion took the form of an attack on former NSA Susan Rice and as it blew up on Twitter an unexpected consequence was a firefight that erupted between Deploraball leader Mike Cernovich and Bannon's Breitbart news. The firefight was over credit for the defame-Susan-Rice-scheme, apparently Mike Cernovich felt it was his idea but Breitbart took credit. The firefight ended with Mike Cernovich calling Breitbart "Fake News". Seasoned watchers of the MAGA phenomena may recall that Cernovich had earlier cut off the Neo Nazi "Baked Alaska" from attending the Deploraball celebration earlier in the year. Apparently Cernovich had felt that Baked Alaska's "1488, JQ etc..." (Neo Nazi Hitler worship and genocide support) had no place in the Trump Admin and predictably Baked Alaska had called Cernovich by  many epithets and insulted Cernovich's Jewish faith.  Most outsiders saw this as a battle between the Kushner-Fridman-Netanyahu "Judea-Samaria" faction and the Rothschild-Hating-RIS faction. It seemed like a friendly little spat - Baked Alaska didn't do anything to physically hurt Cernovich or vice versa. Now this latest sniping incident between Breitbart (widely believed to be another RIS front) and Cernovich is a probably another case of friction between the Judea-Samaria and the Gas-Chamber-for-All-Jews faction. On the face of it - it seems like nothing - but I suspect it represents a growing fracture in the ranks of the Trumpers.

As his approval ratings continue to plunge, Donald Trump signed away the privacy rights of all Americans by approving the internet providers to sell your browser data to whoever wants it. This apparently totally ticked off most of the shitposters who make up the bulk of The_Donald Reddit group. Many were hoping he wouldn't sign it but I am not sure how they feel now that he has. I would track the membership of that group as an indicator for shifts in support for DJT.  I kind of knew that group was in trouble after the moderators introduced a stricter screening policy for even asking questions on the group. This was a group that was founded after people felt that Reddit's usual moderators were being too restrictive and not letting people speak freely.  Yes - Schadenfreude. 

As someone who is used to seeing such things, I feel the main development of yesterday was the complete exposure of Erik Prince as the "Bahubali" of the Trump political machine. In India - the "Bahubali" is the muscular core of the political machine. The "Bahubali" is the generalissimo of all the murder squads, the money moving rackets and the "mission control" of the entire political project.  Despite my dislike of Trump - I confess Erik Prince is a good choice for such a role. He is experienced and has many loyal followers. In the days of old, this position fell to Ted Shackley - the Blond Ghost. My only problem with Erik has been his inability to work within the system. He doesn't seem to get along. Way back in 2002 - he was really showing amazing results but then he just completely went down a path no one expected. This could be because he is brilliant or it could be because he cannot interact constructively with peers. I don't know and I have not seen his confidential record to make a clear judgement of such matters.

In any case Erik is now completely exposed. Every move he makes will be tracked. Even if he goes to great lengths to hide his movements, the people he goes to meet will be inclined to out the contact to avoid risks downstream. That is not a climate that Erik thrives in. Why just him - no professional could deal with that level of scrutiny. This is bad for the Trump political machine - as one of the most critical and desirable qualities in a "Bahubali" is invisibility.

We are headed towards Mitch McConnel activating his "nuclear option" in the Senate to get Judge Gorsuch confirmed. Once that happens we will be on our way to a complete fracture of parliamentary safeguards against executive manipulation.

By Friday end - this will be a different country.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The Daily Donald 4/3/2017

The stench of illegitimacy around President Trump grows.

The blunt testimony of former FBI Agent Clint Watts in front of the SSIC, the worst fears of President Trump has been realized - people do not think of him as a legitimate president - they see him as a pretender.

This thought leads to the inevitable conclusion (AFAIK) first publicly opined by George Takai - if there is clear evidence of Trump campaign & RIS collaboration in the 2016 election, then Trump is not the winner - Hillary Rodham Clinton is.

When I first heard this from George Takai, I dismissed it as a democratic party fantasy. Now that I have seen the testimony of Agent Watts, I think George is correct. There is no doubt in my mind that there was collaboration between the Trump Campaign and RIS. The RIS directed financial resources and information operations at the behest of people in the Donald Trump campaign.

This is a criminal act.

It grievously damages the sanctity of the electoral process. Both the people that voted for Trump and the people that voted against him but put faith in the sanctity of the process are betrayed by this. The constitution is violated and quite frankly our great nation has been defamed in most horrific manner.

This is treason on a scale beyond any imagined by the framers of the constitution. The question of whether Donald Trump knew (as raised by Mark Cuban) may be relevant at sentencing but the crime is visible to all those who choose to see it.

I do not expect Trumpers and GOPers to get this. Like a gangster's moll they are too blinded by the desire to hide their own mistakes. I will not be surprised if they continue to deny it or dismiss it out of hand. I also feel what they think or do at this point does not really matter. Donald Trump has managed to achieve what no Russian nuclear missile could - he has damaged the soul of the United States.

He clearly knows what he has done. This explains his strange tweets, his bizarre behavior at the EO signing ceremony and the manner in which he sends family members on unannounced trips to various countries in the world. This also explains his desire for secrecy and his preference for meeting in places like Mar-a-Lago.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, his actions are far beyond the pale of what little remedy the Constitution provides. Given the lack of specific guidance in precedent or canon of law, we are left at the mercy of a deeply personal sense of jurisprudence.

Any Judge, DA, Police Officer, FBI Agent, Secret Service officer - any LEO or any Senate or House Committee could now privately determine based on publicly available evidence that Donald Trump is impersonating a Federal officer. Once that determination is made - there is no going back. The legal machine would kick in and he would find himself in jail. The GOP would be torn between the factions that support him and the factions that want to see him replaced by Pence. The resulting fracas would completely shut down the government and lead to a bureaucratic coup by default. (Curiously similar to what the Japanese DIA officer Shigeki Arakawa produces in the Patlabor Movie)

This is a massive instability. This state off affairs cannot continue for too much time. This will collapse on our heads. 

The entire "Trump Rally" on Wall street is held aloft by people who think that Trump will overcome the Fed's reluctance to issue debt and pump money into US infrastructure sectors. Everyone including major players like Goldman Sachs are pushing this line. There is a massive overlap between the ethnic group that were targeted for recruitment by the Trump-Russia campaign and the people who make critical decisions on Wall Street. This thing is going to come crashing down very fast at some point in the near future.