Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Inflection point approaching rapidly

We are most likely approaching an inflection point in the Trump regime. As the TrumpRussia scandal grinds through - we will see Donald Trump and his allies carry out significant attacks on the freedom of the press. Targeting will likely occur through twitter and other social media and physical assaults on reporters and news services are highly probable. 

As of yesterday - the Twitter Audit Pro site reported a 1.7M increase in fake followers of Donald Trump's personal account. The rise occurred over the last five days. Per Twitter Audit Pro's algorithm the percentage of Donald Trump's fake followers has crossed levels it reached during the 2016 Campaign. 

If we combine this information with reports of a "social media" based strategy being used by Trump's "War Room" to combat the fallout of the TrumpRussia scandal, it becomes clear that we are watching Trump's people set the stage for a major information operation.

The arrival of the twitter bot armies to Trump's defense signals RIS support for whatever Trump is doing. It also explains why he was begging Putin last week by dissing our European allies so publicly. 

A bot army is slowly assembled by people in poor countries like Pakistan, who use cheap labor to set up millions of twitter accounts. These accounts are usually broken up into 1000 account packets ("battalion?") that are bought and sold for bitcoin. An intermediary (most likely RIS) buys up the packets and assembles a larger formation. Once interlinked - the bot army can out play any human network in disseminating information on social media. 

Twitter for its part helpfully provides tools to cross link twitter with facebook, instagram and other social media. That ensures that any idea injected into Twitter goes straight into other media as well. A bot can tweet several thousand times a day - a rate that no human can match. 

Buzzfeed has correctly reported that many other celebrity accounts have seen an increase in bot following. This is extremely worrying as the bot army typically tends to follow celebs and each other to enhance apparent credibility with low information awareness people. 

An additional issue which first appeared on TheJester's TL is that people were finding that their twitter accounts were turning into zombies, retweeting things without their permission and following Donald Trump's account without their explicit approval. 

Twitter had seen several mysterious outages last week, I am beginning to wonder if a security breach has occurred that changes the auto-follow and auto-reply scripts to allow permissions on a real twitter account to be reset remotely.

Another disturbing development is the sudden resignation of Trump's WH communications director, Mike Dubke. This suggests that Trump is pulling a stunt that Mike does not want to be part of. This is a red flag for serious illegal activity.  

Since so many reporters rely on twitter to get advance notice of breaking news - the deployment of a twitter army could disrupt adverse news coverage of Donald Trump. It will be weeks before Twitter and other social media outlets stamp out the problem. This will give Donald Trump's people complete control over the media for a short period of time. 

It is unclear to me what Trump could hope to achieve in such a short time, but the deployment of such a massive information weapon would be impossible without RIS support. From Pres. Putin's utterances it is clear that RIS has identified the media as an enemy of its interests. Putin does not want  blame for whatever is going on in the Trump WH. It is reasonable to assume that he has directed his people to reduce the US media's ability to spread messages adverse to him.

The appearance of RIS support also indicates something I have suspected for a long time, that Putin is holding the weaker card in this game, that he can make Trump beg for help, but he has to give Trump the help he asks for because to do otherwise would lead to a situation that massively bad for his image. If Putin denies Trump visible help, he will end up losing face with his other allies who may feel that he doesn't have their back. 

In terms of physical violence against  the media, I feel we need to be extra vigilant. As the TrumpRussia scandal grows in visibility, Trumpers will be very upset and they will eventually physically assault the media as Trump has programmed them to do. Depending on how widespread this criminal behavior is traditional law enforcement may or may not be able to respond effectively such events. 

The following measures need to be put into place immediately

1) Major media houses like CNN and MSNBC need to up their physical security. 
  • Recognize the fact that you are targets, you will be attacked by Trumpers - it is only a matter of time. A large number media houses in places like Indian Punjab didn't realize this until it was too late and their paid for that mistake in blood. 
  • Install static security teams as a screen on the streets outside our offices and restrict entry into the building on a need only basis. Secure the block around your main offices - Keep all reporter travel plans secret. 
  • Install hexa barriers and IED defenses in the lobby. These have worked quite well in AFG, they should work well here too. 
  • Seal maintenance entrances to your buildings especially main sewer lines near your building, ensure that all maintenance teams are accompanied by building security. This is usually a major weakness in physical regimes.  
2) Minor media outlets need to increase security awareness
  • Recognize the fact that you will be targets but you cannot afford to spend large amounts of money on physical security like the big guys. 
  • Set up an internal forum to gather hate-mail and other threats to reporters. Identify patterns and high risk clusters. 
  • Create a map of high risk areas where reporters may face a significant risk of physical assault and ensure that reporters travel in pairs when they pass through such areas. 
  • Have a crisis communication plan to inform your reporters of emergent threats. 
  • Have designated safe houses for reporters to seek shelter in if they are confronted by hostile behavior by groups of individuals.
I am putting these suggestions out in all seriousness as I strongly believe that an ounce of prevention is better than weeping at funerals. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Daily Donald 5/26/2017

Another week draws to a close. One keeps hearing of new investigations into Trump's Russian links and there is a growing sense of disquiet in the Trump regime over xDFBI Comey's public testimony next week. There is also news out now that Jared Kushner is the target of an FBI investigation.

As the sense of dread among Trump supporters grows, their minds will turn towards violence. We have seen Rep. Greg Gianforte channel those feelings of rage towards a reporter. This is a case of shooting the messenger. Rather than confront their own mistakes, the rageboys of the right want to punish the Press from embarrassing them. The fact that Greg Gianforte got elected says a great deal about the situation right now. It is likely IMHO that Greg's "success" will set the stage for Trump to conduct even more brutal attacks on the press. I will not be surprised if journalists are killed as Trump attempts to shore up his support base.

Trump himself appears to have been rattled by something specific. His behavior in  Europe was very strange. Short of shooting the NATO heads of state, there was nothing more he could have done to seem like a Russian agent. He physically shoved the PM of Montenegro, he distanced himself from Art.V of NATO which only the US has used so far to call NATO states to its aid after 9/11 and then he went around dissing Germany and threatening trade embargoes against German car manufacturers. This kind of over worship of RIS goals in Europe suggests that Donald Trump needs Putin more than Putin needs him.

Perhaps Donald needs the money to keep the GOP in line on the impeachment issue, but if he has to beg Putin for cash - that says Putin doesn't have to support Donald and he can choose to not pay. This in turn implies Putin has a replacement/spare that Donald suspects but can do nothing about. This also means that Donald Trump is paying the GOP for every second of his stay in the WH and that money is coming from RIS. So that begs the question how long can Putin afford this investment given his precarious financial situation? And is it a surprise that Secy Cohn is openly talking about taking off sanctions on RU?

The sudden departure of Rience Prebus and Steve Bannon from the Presidential entourage in Europe and KSA suggested something was up. Now we know that they were sent home to coordinate an aggressive media response to growing popularity of TrumpRussia stories. The return of these two WH staffers coincides with two main events.

1) The spurt of stories prior to their return of a sense of resignation inside the Trump WH. Staffers were quieting handing out their resumes, openly calling Trump an idiot and reaching out to lawyers for the legal struggles that were soon to come. Apparently Sean Spicer had been implicated in  a Trump inspired operation to  get the IC leadership to say that there was "no collusion between Trump and Russia" and I am guessing here that there is a reason Sean wasn't with the Trumps when they visited the Vatican.

2) A fissure that suddenly opened up between the liberal factions on Twitter. A feud had been brewing for a while now between liberal twitter posters loyal to posters like Louise Mensch, John Schindler, Claude Taylor and the twitter posters loyal to Seth Abrahamson, Malcolm Nance, The Jester, and so on. The dispute between the group appears to be primarily about who is the real voice of the resistance to Trump and they have reasons to distrust each other. The sudden fissure appears to have been triggered by the "discovery" of Louise Mensch's links to Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo himself allegedly tweeted that he had some kind of pact with Louise and a photo of Louise and Milo was RTed. While the existence of this strife is not particularly interesting, the sudden exacerbation is odd.That it lines up quite so well with the publicity about an investigation into Kushner and the return of both Bannon and Priebus is quite interesting.

The "Street Fighter" response that  Trump hopes to effect on containing the TrumpRussia news cycle is ultimately self defeating. In order to pay for this containment he has to borrow money from Russia. Unless he can pay off that money by making moves to end sanctions on Russia, Putin will have deep doubts about the viability of the Trump enterprise. Worst still, if he does make moves to end sanctions, he will deepen the troubles he faces on the TrumpRussia front and have to borrow more money which Putin will face doubts about loaning out.

It should be clear to all concerned (Trump and Putin) that the bubble has run its course. Apart from producing the customary rage in GOP voters, nothing more will come from this.

I now await the usual Friday evening disaster.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Some observations about post combat stress issues

An account  has surfaced in Sushant Singh's book  which speaks of a Para (Cdo) officer ordering his Man Friday/Buddy to kill a 2 yo toddler during one of the IPKF operations. The  officer is identified in the account as Bhaduria. AFAIK there were two officers that match that name in the Para (Cdo) battalions in IPKF ops. I think I know who this is, but as I am not certain who this is I don't want to name names.

The IPKF was the first time that the IA carried out large COIN ops outside India. The UN experiences were nothing like what was encountered by IA in Op Pawan. The traditional civilian controls which exist on IA COIN ops inside India were completely absent in SL. There was little to no coordination and the result was a total fuckup. The IPKF killed RAW-OSO people, they killed Para(Cdo) operators on recon missions, they killed Tamil and Sinhala civilians - they handed a political victory to the LTTE. This account summarizes why some Indians called it the Indian People Killing Force at the time*.

I realize that the IPKF was mistake to begin with but this account is above and beyond the pale.  I find the act described here unconscionable. The decision to kill the toddler was deliberate and the officer clearly disregarded the warnings of his own conscience. Ordering your bodyguard to do something you can't bring yourself to do is simply disgusting. There is no justification for this. The officer's claims of the kid probably becoming a suicide bomber are totally absurd.

This officer has brought dishonor to the men of the Para.The whole point of using special forces instead of bombing people from the sky is to avoid killing innocents especially children. I can understand if someone is killed by mistake but to order your buddy to to do it when your own conscience doesn't let you is the opposite of everything that the special forces stand for. I don't expect this level of competence from every IA officer, but I do expect it from an SF officer.

At the very least the officer should have resigned his commission. I find it extremely hard to respect such an officer. I find it appalling that the officer continued in his position. I guess the standards for a probie weren't high enough back in the day!

This brings me some issues that I have known about for a while but not shared due to reasons of sensitivity. Without getting into details about how and why I came to have this information, I present to you my views on post combat stress. Bear in mind I am not a  professional so if you fit any of the descriptions listed here, please reach out to a mental health professional- they are better placed to help you than you may realize.

Barring issues like forms of high functioning emotional autism, homicidal psychopathy or extreme narcissistic personality disorders etc...

1) If you knowingly kill kids (accidentally or deliberately) in combat you will most likely take your own life. This act is so morally abhorrent that it is matter of time before you kill yourself. This is mental trauma that no normal human being can carry for very long.  You can mute that voice in your head but it will eventually make itself heard. Professional mental health care can compensate for a while, but the basic act is so toxic that it will take you down. It is highly possible that the mental health professional you see will be equally damaged by the mere act of interacting with you. See reports about the Nidal Hussein case in the US for more helpful hints.

2) If you have knowingly killed innocent adults (accidentally or deliberately) in combat you will need medication. If you do not get professional mental health care you will most likely end up with substance abuse issues. These issues will cascade into damaged relationships and the vortex of negativity will ultimately lead you to suicide. Counseling and psycho therapy may offer some relief but these wounds are as real as a severed arm or leg and healing may be a permanent process rather than an achievable goal.

3) If you have seen high intensity combat with a lot of death, or you have suffered physical injury - you will see a lot of the symptoms of PTSD - i.e. lack of sleep, panic attacks, depression etc... these fortunately can be addressed through available mental health paradigms and it is best to seek help when it is available.

Any mental health issue when left untreated can become very nasty. In a socially cohesive unit like a family or a hierarchical organization - toxicity at the top can cascade or infect others. A small personal mental health issue can become a terrible case of toxic leadership.

If you are an officer or have command responsibilities, it is your personal responsibility to keep the people you command from toxic influence. Your personal failure to manage your mental health need not cascade into a mental health issue that affects the performance of your unit. You need to look past the culture of toxic masculinity and relieve yourself of command. To do otherwise is to fail your oath of loyalty**.

* Back in the day, those people were considered as anti-national as RW-Bhakts think Arundhati Roy is. I used to hate people that called the IPKF names but then I realized they actually knew what they were talking about. My enlightenment came from an India Today cover which showed an 18 yo IA soldier lying dead in Jaffa as an LTTE cadre walked past him. That picture instantly told me something was completely wrong with the IPKF - that it was not being welcomed as a liberator by the Tamils.As I "red-pilled" I realized the truth and became very careful in what I said.  I realize the idiot brigade in the BJP lives in a suspended reality where details of actual COIN ops do not penetrate but that BJP leadership will not shut this down tells you how bad things have become in India. Modiji's reliance on his Twitter Army is what is making it so bad.

** The reason I am bringing this up is that MOUT/COIN is becoming the war of the future. This is a problem in the US and in IN and elsewhere too. I realize the IA is going through a crisis of sorts over the actions of Major Gogoi of the RR. The human shield incident is an example of toxic leadership. I realize that the COAS is caught in a political quandary but I hope he can find his way to greater mental clarity on this issue.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Daily Donald 5/23/2017

With disgraced former NSA Micheal Flynn invoking his fifth amendment rights, the stage is now set for a very public criminal investigation that goes to the heart of the Trump regime. Micheal Flynn was not the only shady character in this regime, there were many others who glued themselves to the Donald Trump Campaign. Most observers noted this and indicated that the sheer volume of these shady folks was merely a reflection of the black hole in the center of the campaign. The ensuing public investigation will of course bring to light more details.

There is some debate on twitter as to whether the impeachment process has already begun with Congressman Al Green's statement on the floor of the house. This line of debate has pitted sections of the liberal twittersphere against each other. The truth of the matter seems to be unclear at this time. That should not be surprising, if you take the security and secrecy that accompanies national security related criminal justice proceedings and combine that with the peculiarities of the impeachment process, we have a lot of ambiguity to cope with. Unfortunately a majority of the country right now is not in a mental place where they can  handle such ambiguity - the Trumpers are terrified of how exactly this is going to rebound on them, and the anti-Trumpers seek vindication that they were right all along. We can expect a lot of emotional upheaval as the criminal process continues.

The imagery coming from Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia is also problematic. The photos of President Trump touching the globe with the Saudi King and the Egyptian PM is going to fan the worst fears of the people that voted for Trump. The narrative slowly building in the places they frequent is that Trump has been compromised by the very groups he was supposed to destroy. With him apparently joining forces with Muslims and Jews and displaying severe incompetence with secret national security information - the Trumpers sense of anxiety is going to go wild. They may not admit it at first but those images are going to rattle their faith in him in ways they themselves do not understand.
It comes as no surprise to me that given how hard this is biting them in the ass, the Trump regime has deliberately proposed a fiscally irresponsible budget. The Trump regime seems to hope that this will distract from allegations of treason building up against it.

The budget as proposed is a terrible idea. It leaves out the tax cut altogether and presents a $2 Tn tax gain as a starting point. Against this it proposes further cuts in medicaid, social security, welfare, food stamps, and so on. With increased spending on defense, the budget as it stands actually creates a deficit of $4 Tn. These figures are best guesses from what little is known about the budget currently, and surely an OMB analysis will shed more light on things, but I suspect that this budget's primary objective is to kill all baby boomers by effectively ending social security and medicaid.

If this budget goes through as planned by the Trump regime, it will shift the bulk of the bad debt collecting in the markets out of the hands of the super rich who will get tax cuts despite their irresponsible gambling and on to the back of the ordinary "middle class" and poor people. I guess this is a form of debt deleveraging but it is a very destructive form - it will bring great strife and damage to the United States along with it.

Given that the chief architects of this madness - Steve Bannon and the GOP cult of Trump have long professed an interest in a "burn it down" philosophy - I find it impossible to distinguish between these people and vengeful RIS agents.

That to me is the greatest evidence of treason.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some comments about the "Special Frontier Force"

This matter has been in the news recently. I just want to add a few personal observations.

The origins of this force are in the Tibetan exodus following the Chinese invasion. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and there are many interpretations of that history.

In the Indian perspective, the biggest problem in having China walk into Tibet was that it would be able to deploy nuclear weapons on the outer Tibetan plateau. These weapons would put all of India's Gangetic plain where ~ 60% of India's population lives under a nuclear cross hairs.  GoI sought to contain this threat.

The US recognized the threat and sought to contain it as well. Most of the US interest focused on China's development of high yield nuclear devices and missile mounted nuclear warheads. There was considerable transfer of nuclear weapons technology from Russia to China in those days and the Chinese program was a window into the Russian one.

The Tibetans for their part - obviously wanted to liberate their country - but they also wanted to keep it from becoming a nuclear battlefield or wasteland. With the exception of the Khampa tribes who had a tradition of military service, most Tibetans were ill-prepared for military roles.

Out of these nuclear sensitivities and shared concerns - SFF was created with scant resources available at the time.

The CIA brought the money and advanced training techniques. The RAW and Indian Army brought the physical space and the mid level management. The Tibetans brought the manpower and knowledge of the details of the land. The result was a well trained, well led, high altitude acclimated force capable of mounting long range reconnaissance patrols deep into Tibet.

To understand why this force was necessary, one has to recognize that Tibet - though sparsely populated - has roughly half the land area that all of India does! To get to this massive landmass, one has to cross the Himalayas. It was these two geographical factors that caused a large Indian military and intelligence community presence to emerge under civilian led entities like the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.

The CIA had a relatively short path in this context. They were developing numerous technical means to evaluate the Russian and Chinese nuclear programs. To that end they had a defined entry point and exit on this. When their needs were met, they exited the collaboration.

The Indians were more open ended. Leading Indian intelligence figures were drawn to the versatile nature of the SFF's capabilities and sought to absorb them into their own force projection. Many an Indian Prime Minister were seduced by the power and potency of the SFF. So these efforts were supported at the highest level. The SFF came to become the mother-ship for a number of Indian conflict resolution abilities - much to the Indian Army's chagrin.

The Tibetans had no end point. Tibetan tribes like the Khampa had blood feuds with the Chinese. Ordinary Tibetans in the exodus had a deep desire to see their homeland liberated. Naturally they felt used by the GoI and the USG, but they didn't have a choice in the matter. They were very unhappy about being used for operations against Pakistan (such Op Eagle in CHT). The Khampa portion of this establishment revolted when the Mustang establishment was attacked in 1974.

The GoI response to this was to regularize the SFF and dilute its Tibetan content and provide financial support to the families of the Tibetans serving in the establishment. This seemed to stop the bleeding of trust. The Tibetans were okay with being part of the Indian security establishment as long as they were treated with dignity befitting a soldier of the Indian republic and the GoI was content to have a lever it could use to dampen Tibetan enthusiasm for war with the Chinese.

As the situation evolved, the GoI was able to negotiate settlements with the Chinese which sought to enhance peace and tranquility along the border. Most of these were in exchange for Chinese assurances to not deploy nuclear tipped short range ballistic missiles in outer Tibet. As a result of this the SFF sword dulled. The force members lost contact with people on the ground in Tibet and people that were actually familiar with the land gradually left the force. SFF regiments now mainly service pathfinder or rope-laying missions for high altitude military operations on the LAC, LoC and the AGPL.

Over the last thirty years, the strategic situation has evolved further. The local Tibetan population has become enmeshed with a Chinese economy and derives significant benefits from that interaction. This is a far cry from the late 80s when their land was being taken but they were seeing no benefits from the transaction. The Chinese security in the region is considerably tighter. PAP battalions are deployed in significant numbers, most roads have check points on them, and a resident ID card is now tied to biometrics. It will be very challenging for an SFF operator to pass themselves off as a resident Tibetan. China now has a massive nuclear weapons establishment at Golmud in Amdo and large airbases in the Tibetan Plateau. Massive PRC infrastructure investments in outer Tibet made it possible to station vast military forces there with significant amounts of high altitude acclimation.
Today Chinese special forces can carry out difficult high altitude operations, though not at the same level of capability as SFF units - they can violate the border in Kargil style intrusions. 

This last bit was worrying me in 2003. I had theorized about it in set of scenarios I wrote up as an editor for the BR Monitor. The scenarios were circulated with the word "Kanchenjunga" in the title (if I emailed them to you - please use that search term to find them). I stated that with PLAAF bases so close to the border, IAF air superiority could become contested and clearing out a Kargil style intrusion would become problematic. The key to clearing the Kargil intrusion was taking out rear supply bases like Gultari and Muntho Dhalo. On the LAC such nodes would play a similar role in conflict de-escalation. The SFF could become a major part of the response to such intrusions on the LAC and to that end bolstering its strength may be the way forward for India.

For outside observers, including Chinese ones, perhaps it is important to note that the SFF of yore and the SFF of today are different creatures. It is difficult to imagine SFF being airdropped on Lhasa. Anything is possible of course but this seems quite unlikely. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Daily Donald 5/19/2017

Over the last few days, we have seen significant amounts of evidence emerge that points to deep misgivings about Donald Trump among leading GOP figures and Trump's own staff. Twitter has filled up with strange non-stop whining by Trump staff in the WH about their imminent demise and the likelihood of massive legal costs in the foreseeable future.

In a strange twist of words, Trump appeared to throw his team under the bus while clearing himself of any involvement with Russia. It is not clear who will believe him now that he has openly admitted to trying to firing D/FBI Comey for not shutting down the TrumpRussia investigation and there is evidence of him trying to coerce D/FBI Comey to divulge sensitive details of the investigation to him over dinner. Based on the above incident alone, I sense that Donald Trump knows it is completely over at this point and he has switched to a strategy that will hopefully keep himself out of jail.

A lot of people find this idea strange. There is a general belief that a sitting president cannot be prosecuted due to the special kind of immunity that he enjoys. I agree that is the way the language of the US Constitution has been interpreted thus far, but the constitution gives no guidance on what to do in a situation where criminals seize control of the presidency to keep a wider criminal conspiracy going.  In such a situation, one may have to fall back on very narrow interpretations of the written words of the constitution. Such narrow interpretations will lead one to conclude that Presidential immunity does not cover acts committed prior to taking the oath of office and that should the sole purpose of such prior acts be to seize control of the office of President, then all acts committed in office be interpreted as being in service of an ongoing conspiracy. This would effectively negate the Presidential immunity all together. Impeachment would not be necessary or relevant.

This may seem like a very radical idea, but I find it expedient from a process perspective. All it requires is a single judge somewhere in the country to offer an opinion as such. Naturally such a decision would require judicial review, and obviously until that is complete all legal action against the criminal would be suspended as would any attempt by the criminal to make any use of the office of President. The review process would need sufficient time to examine all available evidence to support the interpretation of the lower court and the effect of such a decision would be to freeze the current situation. As Donald Trump would be the subject of a judicial process, he would have to channel his communications through a set of lawyers. All his EOs would also be subject to a judicial review process (which ideally they would be anyways if he were to follow the SOPs already established in the WH instead of pulling it our of Bannon/Miller's posteriors).

It would not need many people to get this sort of thing going. A handful of judges and lawyers could take this forward without much effort. It would take a lot of effort to quash this kind of proceeding once it got started. Given the secrecy that typically surrounds judicial processes it may even be possible to get this going in complete secrecy and firewall from any real interaction with the outside world until the decision was made public. I think one may be able to do with a sealed indictment or a even a preliminary hearing. I would however be surprised if it was possible to do this under military laws or under the frameworks created to cope the international terrorism situation after 9/11.

Time Magazine has published details of the data intercepts that were first obtained by USIC on imminent RIS interference in the US election. The article also describes RIS operational techniques involving compromising social media and other information channels. FWIW the article suggests a GRU led team (which I call B-team - A-team being the SVR-Xdir people) were supposed to cause a major fracas and make HRC's life miserable. It was Putin's idea of revenge. One can almost sense that RIS was not prepared for a situation where Trump actually won and is now in improv mode.

Time magazine seems to be essentially correct in reporting that some people were led to believe that this was just the RIS messing around with the US, but I feel we cannot rule out the possibility that the "Putin's Revenge" narrative was just a mask for a much more ambitious RIS operation to cope with economic collapse that Russia finds itself in.

I have stated multiple times that it is foolish to think of the RIS as a bunch of old vodka swilling men incapable of pulling of a Kholstomer style operation. While I agree with what Time is reporting at a factual level, I am not inclined to see this simply as "Putin's Revenge", I think this may be a much bigger operation than people are willing to admit at this time.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Implications of the bragging to Lavrov and Kislyak incident

The details of this are well known. Trump bragged to RUAMB Kislyak and RFM Lavrov that he has good intelligence on IS activities in Raqqa. He then let slip that ban of laptops on flights leaving the Middle East was due to information that IS had tested a IED secreted inside a laptop at Mosul University. Trump either didn't know or didn't care that there is a process he has to follow before he declassifies information and he was either unaware or didn't care that the information actually came from Israeli sources.

As soon as Gen. McMaster heard the words leave Trump's mouth he initiated a damage control operation. He/one of his people called the CIA and NSA and informed them that this information had been compromised. It is reasonable to assume that one of these agencies contacted Mossad in Herzilya and told them what had just happened.

There appears to have been a firestorm of sorts inside Tel Aviv the day after the event became public. Bibi Netanyahu found his credibility with Israeli intelligence under attack. Bibi's been a big supporter of Trump as Trump's friend Friedman is an investor in settlements in Judea and Samaria in the West Bank. A real estate group that lobbies for more development in Judea and Samaria supports Bibi in the hope that he will be able to ease the investment climate there. When Trump blabbed to the RIS about information Israel shared in confidence with USIC it put Bibi in a very bad position. Unlike the US Senate or Congress where the GOP has a comfortable numerical superiority over its opponents, Bibi hangs on by a sliver in the Knesset. If he loses the confidence of the Israeli intelligence community, his government could collapse in a day. He was very very pissed from what Israeli twitter has been saying.

Yesterday or the day before the head of AMAN arrived in DC for discussions. I found this appearance of the AMAN chief quite puzzling. Given what we now know about the details of the information, it is unlikely that this information was obtained by technical means. It could be that whoever was building the Laptop bomb in Mosul University sent a picture to some high ranking ISIS officer and that was somehow penetrated by Hatzav unit of AMAN, but it seems unlikely that ISIS would compromise its security in this fashion. I feel this kind of information could only come from a human asset.

If the source in Mosul or Raqqa was an AMAN asset, then that asset would be extremely far from home. AMAN is focused on military threats, and Mossad does the strategic threats. AFAIK the ISIS guys have never posed a military threat to Israel. I would expect that any HUMINT assets inside ISIS held territory are under Mossad's management. I suppose an asset could have been grandfathered in under from the Saddam days (Saddam as you may recall launched Scuds at Israel, that put him right in Sayaret Matkal's cross hairs and Sayaret Matkal comes nominally under AMAN) but barring that kind of thing I don't know what an AMAN agent would be doing so far from home.

It could be that the head of AMAN is being used as a proxy for the head of Mossad. If this is the case, then it sends a very worry signal as it indicates that the head of Mossad is so upset with the loss of their source that he doesn't think meeting with USIC principals is a good idea. This suggests that the relationship between the USIC and the Israeli IC has been badly badly mauled by this.

Unbeknownst to most Trump supporters (many of whom seem to be okay with virulently anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli propaganda) - the USIC and Israeli IC collaborate extensively to secure the Middle East. Given the extraordinary relationship of the US dollar and ME oil (the so called "Petrodollar") - this collaboration is actually a major linchpin of  global economic security. There have been several attempts by Russian, Chinese and Iranian ICs to destabilize the Petrodollar but so far those have failed because of strong cooperation between US allies - specifically Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This week we have most likely seen the USIC and Israeli IC alliance take a hit. Trump with his phenomenal stupidity has hurt an intelligence alliance that is crucial to the security of the Petrodollar.

And now he plans to visit Saudi Arabia.... God help us all.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Daily Donald 5/16/2017

Donald Trump leaked information to RUAMB Kislyak and RU Foreign Min Lavrov in an oval office meeting that only Russian press was invited to.

It is correct that the President has the authority to declassify information as needed, but there is an elaborate protocol that is usually followed to ensure that such a release is not compromising US interests in any way.

Trump did not follow that protocol. He does not seem to be even aware of its existence. Yesterday he tried denying it ever happened, and then today morning he reversed his position on it and admitted he did it.

The release of information has damaged the USIC's relationship with a key intelligence partner in the fight against ISIS. It is likely the release and the ensuing public debacle has resulted in the loss of human sources inside ISIS ranks.

As I had stated earlier, the USIC primarily reacted poorly to Donald Trump because they knew he would get in their way. Given his propensity to brag about things he feels he owns, they felt secrets would just pass through his loose lips. Looks like they were right.

The optics of this matter highlight how Trump gets on his knees whenever anyone from Russia walks in the door. His desire to please Russian visitors and personalities is so high that he seems fine with average everyday Americans thinking that he is a Russian spy. Not only does he disrespect the America's allies of many decades, he openly spits on the faces of the people that voted for him.

As expected the GOP is making its usual bleating noises, but since none of these people would in Congress or Senate without Trump's help - they are in his political debt and they will not move against him. Whatever infantile posturing they carry out in the media - they are all bought and paid for at the booth and it is unlikely that they will ever impeach him even if he murders their own children on the WH lawns. The GOP - quite simply is a lost cause.

This is a fantastic mess - one that could have been avoided if the "culturally displaced" idiots who voted for Trump hadn't done that.

Trumpers are likely to become even more bewildered, embarrassed and emphatically stupid in the face of an emotionally adverse facts. I don't know it makes any sense to to care about what they have to think anymore. I feel thee whole business of polling them selectively is likely to become irrelevant. It is probably a good idea to keep polling focus groups comprised of Trumpers but fundamentally I remain skeptical that the data will give anything of value.

The market as usual continues to baffle me.

Monday, May 15, 2017

RIS's real superweapon

I have been following @mikefarb1 and he had a thread going on a cyber attack on the Illinois voter rolls. Mike has been running an investigation into the possibility that RIS attacked the election directly either targeting the election machines themselves or the software packages that tabulated the results. In this thread he feels he may have hit on something much more disruptive and effective at hacking the actual electoral  process.

I found the comments by@JernauMoratGurg most enlightening. Before I get into those comments, I want to lay out a little bit of what we know so far.

Based on numerous reports, it appears the Trump Campaign made contact with RIS via secret meetings and offered up an end to sanctions against Putin in exchange for support in the election. It is not clear if this was a novel thing for Trump to do, or whether it was part of an ongoing relationship that the Trump corporation enjoyed with Russia in the decades past.

A large fraction of RIS backed trolls, hackers and information warfare operations supported the Trump campaign.

1) RIS paid trolls at the "Internet Research Agency" infiltrated online polls and social media to conduct a psyops campaign aimed at making Trumpers think they were a far greater number than they actually were.

2) RIS backed hackers and disinformation operatives carried out a marketing campaign which sought to dissuade Berniecrats, Jill Stein and Johnson supporters from voting for Hillary.

Trump pubilcy associated with these two RIS backed campaigns - including the highly illegal hacking parts. As indicated by @selectedwisdom in his testimony before the HPSCI, the overt manner in which Trump used RIS disinformation to attack his opponents made the RIS effects extremely successful at undermining the election process.

We also know that Trump's information team leader Brad Parscale, set up a database called The Alamo Project. The data contained a vast amount of information collected illegally from scraping Facebook. The company Cambridge Analytica is believed to be associated with the creation and sorting of this database. We also know that the database was maintained at Betsy DeVos/Erik Prince's Spectrum Health company, at Trump's corporate premises and at Alfa Bank in Russia. The strange nature of the DNS queries between these three machines pointed very strongly towards maintaining a shared database.

There has been a great deal of speculation as to what the database was used for. @MWRDBM opined that it could have been used for micro-targeting but that form of marketing is statistically unreliable. It cannot be used to explain the observed electoral swings. It is also unlikely that someone as educated as Dr. Robert Mercer would be hoodwinked into supporting something that was statistically incapable of producing a viable correlation.  This has left open questions about what this is all about - or if it is about anything at all.

There is also the strange matter of the hacking attacks on electoral rolls and the as yet unexplained Dyn outage, we don't know why the RIS targetted both the DNC and the electoral offices of so many states.

In Mike's thread I feel we are seeing the "third campaign" emerge. As indicated in comments by@JernauMoratGurg - the RIS realized that merely electing the president was not sufficient if the opposition party still controlled the House and the Senate. So a parallel operation was likely launched which focused on the overlap between DNC's Vertica database (which contained the names and personal details of various democratic party voters in many states) and the voter ID rolls held in various states. If errors were deliberately and selectively introduced into the state voter rolls for likely democratic party voters, then when the state election commissions attempted to verify their credentials at the polling booth or when they registered, then these voters would be turned away per prevailing voter ID laws.

This is a very sophisticated form of anti-GOTV operations. The Spectrum-TrumpCorp-AlfaBank server would contain the lists of all likely HRC voters, and this "Third Campaign" would quietly break into voter rolls in various states and damage the voter roll entries for HRC voters. While such editing would likely not change whether the state went for HRC or DT, it would ensure that the GOP had a strong placement in the House and Senate. In the event that Donald Trump won, this would shield him from impeachment for treason and in the event that HRC won, this would act as a place to constantly stage anti-HRC media spectaculars like the Benghazi hearings.

I feel this story hangs together rather well.

I feel this "Third Campaign" might very easily be the much feared RIS superweapon - the "greatest innovation since the Atom bomb". (you all know who said that right)

Bitcoin market dynamics: A few ideas

It is quite easy to obtain data on the cryptocurrency market. Most of the lesser known coinage is linked to bitcoin (BTC) and fluctuates with BTC value. The total market is valued at $53B currently and we can see that most of that is in the BTC.

If you look at the BTC price chart, one can see see how the BTC valuation has been through one speculative bubble.  We can also see what appears to be another one building up. Speculative bubbles usually occur when there is interest in a financial instrument but the market is unsure of its true value. In such situations, speculative impulses in the market run wild as traders attempt to find push up the value of the BTC for as long as it is willing to go. The trigger for such bubbles is usually a sudden upsurge in demand for that financial instrument. The apparent scarcity of the asset is usually sufficient to induce investors to pay more for it. This in turn creates a feeding frenzy as more and more investors jump into the market and try to buy up increasingly scarce assets.

This has happened with BTC before in October 2013. Prior to October 2013 confidence in BTC was fluctuating wildly. Some people were adopting BTC as a form of payment, others were wondering if governments would ban it outright. That is not the kind of uncertainty that causes bubbles. In my opinion the trigger for this price rise was the FBI seizure of 26000 BTC held by the Silk Road website. The FBI widened its net to 140000 BTC, as the FBI took these coins out of circulation and held them for an indefinite period with the publicly stated promise of auctioning them at a later date, the people who those BTC belonged to had to purchase more coins. The sudden rise in demand coupled to the immediate shortage drove up the price. I feel this is what triggered the bubble.

Unless the FBI has been seizing BTC again and publicly promising to release them soon, I don't see a similar scarcity driving up the BTC valuation today. So my guess that the second bubble we are seeing emerging is driven off a different trigger. Something happened around April 15th of this year that made people start buying and selling BTC increasing quantities and at higher prices. The only major event on my tracking system was Prime Minister May's decision to go in for a snap election.

I can't see why that would induce a huge increase in the demand for BTC.

However there is something that does presage a massive upsurge in demand for BTC and that is WannaCry. WannaCry or WannaCryptor is a ransomware that makes use of a MS specific tool in a leaked NSA kit. As you may recall a set of tools allegedly belonging to the NSA's Tailored Access Operations Office (TAO) had been seized by a hacker group calling itself "The Shadow Brokers (TSB)". Most of us who follow these mattes strongly suspect that TSB is an RIS front operation - though it is extremely difficult to know such things for absolute certain. The Shadow Brokers sold the tools online. The creators of WannaCry demanded payment in BTC. As the ransomware spread across the world affecting critical systems like hospitals, the demand for BTC rose. The attack ultimately stalled and failed as a kill switch was accidentally discovered and activated by a 22 yo programmer in Britain. A repacked version of WannaCry (2.0 as they call it) is doing rounds and BTC is slowly working its way down from the ~$1800 peak.

I think it is important to note that the value of BTC spiked to about 2x its value a month ago. I strongly suspect that the people who planned this attack decided to hedge their bets. The began to stealthily purchase BTC in the month prior to the attack and likely sold a vast amount of it in the bubble. This way of doing it is pretty fool proof this way even if the attack fails, they still make a bunch of money off the BTC the bought and sold.

I am reminded of @CherylRofer's prescient words about the threat of cyber aggression from Russia. As the Trump madness winds its way through the seven circles of Hell, our nation is leaderless. What we have seen in the WannaCry is a small sample of what lies ahead.

Note the complete silence of the Trump Admin on this event. Surprising? not really - he did say he fired the FBI director because he wanted the TrumpRussia investigation to stop.

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Daily Donald 5/12/2017

With the FBI raid on a Roger Stone/Paul Manafort company the Strategic Campaign Group, the entire curtains have begun to draw on the Trump regime. The #TrumpRussia affair will be the dominant story for the foreseeable future.

Some people are assuming this to mean Trump will not survive the full term. That may be correct but I suspect that the opposite is likely and here is why..

1) The intelligence community (IC) typically cares only about being able to gather actionable intelligence. If they can't do that - they cannot protect the nation. Their main problem with Trump was that he was making their job impossible. When they looked at the secret data they had on him, the IC felt Trump was most likely a Russian spy. This made the IC as a whole deeply uncomfortable with the Trump regime. The USIC has been around for a very long time and they kind of know a rat when they seen one - and while large numbers of Americans fell under Trump's spell, the IC prepared itself for a War-with-Trump that it knew was to come. Since Trump was neck deep in the pool with Russia, he knew the USIC would come after him and he carefully laid the groundwork to discredit it as a "Deep State" that was in the pay of "foreigners like Soros" (that where your dad/uncle/whoever  learned to talk like that  from).

2) The IC could not simply release the evidence it had its disposal. Doing so would have compromised the sources and methods the IC uses. This is very very bad. If methods are revealed, then the enemy can devise countermeasures. If sources are revealed, then a critical trust is lost and in the future people become reluctant to share information with you. So the IC simply sat on the information it had and let Trump's growing discomfort over "what they might know" take its toll, By carefully planting deniable stories and dropping cookie crumbs to the dreadful truth of their secret data in the media -the IC amplified Trump's discomfort. The IC didn't have to do very much, they simply had to remind people what they already knew about Donald Trump - i.e. he is not to a trustworthy person - and Trump did the rest by being himself.

3) From a strategic perspective the IC had two handicaps. Firstly GOPers & Trumpers put a lot of faith in Wikileaks+Infowars+Breitbart+alt-Right media and secondly there was no specific conduct they could hang on to Trump directly. Everything Trump & RIS had done, it was handled by disposable proxies like lawyer Micheal Cohen, Carter Page, Manafort, Roger Stone, Bannon etc...  In l'affaire Flynn, the IC found the perfect solution to its handicaps. Here was a foreign agent protected by sources like the alt-Right media, and directly appointed by Trump over objections from the IC. This tore the veil off the Trump/RIS operations.

4) Given Trump's huge business ties to Russia, and Flynn's knowledge of those details, Trump was fantastically sensitive to any exposures via Flynn. Given that situation, it was only natural that Trump would do whatever he could think of to protect Flynn. With D/FBI Comey ratcheting up the legal probes against Flynn and the alt-Right machinery that protected him. As this same alt-Right machinery also visibly links to RIS and supported Donald Trump's election with direct orders from Trump himself - the exposure of these people is potentially fatal to Trump and highly embarrassing to the RIS.

5) Faced with the prospect of being totally exposed, Putin forced Trump's hand. Trump fired Comey and publicly admitted to doing it to stall the FBI probe into #TrumpRussia. Trump did this extremely stupid thing in part believing that it would resonate with the mistrust of the FBI among aging white boomers who voted Trump to power and in part believing that his lawyers would be able to protect him as they always had. Trump is a reality TV star who thinks only in terms of approval ratings, he genuinely believes that people that were dumb enough to vote for him will buy into his claims even today. What he didn't think through is that the open admission of derailing the FBI inquiry had unintended effect of exposing him to an obstruction of justice charge. That charge is more than sufficient for anyone to impeach him and convict him in a court of law. Unlike the corporate lawyers Trump faces in his daily reality TV routine, federal criminal prosecutors will not back down and will attack relentlessly. Trump didn't realize this crucial difference.

6) Whether or not he is actually impeached depends on the GOP itself. The USIC knows that the GOP is compromised by the RIS hacking of the RNC and the tapes that Donald Trump has made of GOPers partying at his hotels. So it is unlikely that the GOP will willingly move against Donald Trump unless they feel that they will completely lose in the 2018 elections. However as the USIC has the same data that the RIS does or Trump does (legally obtained ofcourse in the process of investigating #TrumpRussia - LOL!!) it can gently remind the GOPers to do its f**king job!

7) So will the IC "ask" the GOPers to impeach Trump? - I think it unlikely because firstly as the number of cases against him rise Trump will offer to sell out Putin to appease the USIC. And secondly it is too much work to go after several hundred GOPer targets at once. It is much more  expedient to simply let this situation continue naturally with the GOP entering self-cannibalization mode in the next few weeks. There is a caveat though - the USIC wants to see the economic event we are all waiting for to happen in a way it moderates (as opposed to the way in which RIS wants its moderated). If Trump doesn't play along with the USIC - then it is likely that they will be forced to "ask" the GOP to do something about it.

If you are a Trump/Stein/Johnson voter reading this - I am sorry to have to bring this to you notice - but you voted for the wrong person. Your fantastic stupidity is why all this is happening. You may not have realized it but we are on the verge of a major debt deleveraging and competent management was critical at this time. But thanks to you inability to take your head out of your asses, we have this shitshow to face.

If you are a HRC voter - thank you for reading this far - please don't get weird ideas about what is likely in the near future. Its bad enough that one group of people in the nation have collectively lost their minds - don't you go off into fantasy world too. The nation needs level headed people in the extremely trying time to come.

And everyone please take note that the value of BTC has shot up over the last month. My guess is that the RIS is getting ready to place its short on the stock market.  When I saw Lavrov and Kislyak's smiles in the Oval Office - the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I could almost see the "Mission Accomplished" sign behind their heads. The "TASS photographer" (was that really an X directorate agent?) was supposed to keep the images secret but instead brazenly released them on Twitter. Those two developments taken  together tell me that Putin/RIS are confident that the sanctions are now effectively relaxed.

And it seems the Saudis are laying out quite a show for Donald Trump. The only thing I can say to HMSG - well played Sir! well played...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A note about Blockchain

In order to make *any* traceable transaction between two parties, I need to have a common agreed upon record of the transaction. When the transactions are of an economic nature, this commonly agreed upon record becomes a source of great power.

An electronic ledger maintained (securely kept and automatically updated every time a transaction is carried out) would be an ideal. That is what "Blockchain" is. The Blockchain is maintained securely on several highly secure and trusted nodes and the data can be accessed at any time by anyone who seeks to verify that the nature of the transactions. As the list of records on this database is basically infinite, the tracking can go on for much longer than any currently available method. The core idea in a "blockchain distributed database" is that while new blocks of data can be added, old ones cannot be edited afterwards. The blockchain itself is stored in a distributed fashion over a vast number of servers and it uses a peculiar form of encryption that is painful to crack. This effectively disincentivizes any hacking of the records themselves.

A completely distributed blockchain database is the basis for the digital currency Bitcoin. While the actual bitcoin ID is "mined" using a computationally intensive algorithm, the ledger that keeps track of bitcoin ownership is a distributed blockchain database. Bitcoins connect up to the regular  financial system at "exchanges" which accept large payments in bitcoin and then convert them into other currencies upon request.

Interest in using blockchain is not limited to digital currencies.Naturally one of the first groups of people that are keen to see this kind of accounting used is the banking community.  They have people walking in with all sorts of money in various currencies claiming ownership of it and they end up having to move the money around between physical locations or currencies and that creates a perennial authentication problem. Blockchain offers a neat  solution to this problem.

The biggest influence on these matters in the global banking community is a group calling itself the R3 consortium. This consortium is led by the company R3 LLC.  Most of the major banks are part of this. What is unusual about this is that R3 has its own idea of a custom distributed electronic ledger called Corda, but unlike Blockchain - Corda permits transaction secrecy and limited degree of record editing. You can imagine why major banks and financial institutions would want that sort thing. However this variant of the distributed ledger is naturally less secure against hacking.

The basic idea of a transparent, permanent and continuously updated ledger can be applied to any type of transaction to create an element of authentication and trace-ability. So unsurprisingly there are a large number of other applications of blockchain distributed databases. A few of this are known in the public domain, it should not come as a surprise if there are secret implementations that are captive to certain groups of people.

A Trump Admin appointee on the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission, which regulates the trade in derivatives, had openly said that he wanted to base the derivatives on an a blockchain platform to enable ease of trading the same. However it is important to note that he never specified whether he wanted a true blockchain or a less secure "blockchainish" variant for this application and to what extent he wanted to see transparency and trace-ability.

When one looks at the recent occurrences one keeps seeing this blockchain idea popping up. There is clearly a very powerful group of people pushing the use of a less "open" version of Blockchain to users all over the globe. And people are applying the blockchain idea (without specific details on the nature of the underlying distributed database) to all manner of things.

Therein IMHO lies the true threat in all this. One is expected to take these people at the word that the changes they are proposing are somehow "better" and they won't spell out how or why this can be verified.

Does that sound familiar?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

This is not Watergate or Iran Contra, this is something else.

A lot of people are confused about #TrumpRussia. People compare it to other things like Watergate and Iran Contra.

This is not like Watergate because Congress and Senate were very active in keeping tabs on Nixon's abuse of power. Today the GOP is hopelessly compromised, between the RIS hack of the RNC and whatever Trump picked up spying on their stay in his hotels, there is no way for the GOP folks in the Senate or Congress can stand up to Trump - they have too much to lose in the scandals that would follow from their sins being outed. The Democrats for their part are actually content to let Trump do whatever he wants because in the long run this benefits them "bigly" as the GOP look like massive losers. The average OWM in the US sees the FBI as a enemy, it isn't going after POC and immigrants the way it used to - it is going after people like him - so watching Trump cut the FBI's head off will only make the OWMs happy. You have to hand it to Trump he knows his peeps - he knows what will work for them. While this is a desperate attempt by Trump to control a spiraling narrative on #TrumpRussia - it will work among his core constituency because they are dumb enough to believe it.

This is not like Iran-Contra (and this part is causing the most amount of confusion). A lot of Berners are saying "Well, remember Iran Contra?". I am glad people still remember that stuff, but NO this is NOT like that at all. Here is why

1) Whatever you think - trading coke for arms for $100 superbills and hostages is actually the red meat of any national security policy. There are roaring markets in narcotics, illegal arms and fake currency. You have to control these markets somehow as you will never shut them down. Iran Contra was just one more operation in a long series of NSC run shindigs. It was not the first, it will not be the last.

2) Iran didn't have nukes pointed at the US and didn't help Reagan win the election. Reagan won because Americans were dumb enough to vote for him.The dumbasses that voted for him got fucked by things like junk bonds, but all of Reagan's friends go richer.

3) While Reagan did claim political benefits from Iran's release of the hostages - it was only *AFTER* the election that he did this. Trump by contrast publicly coordinated with RIS during the election and openly asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton!

If you are a Trump supporter reading this - you have to realize - all he had to do was keep his mouth shut and no one would have been the wiser. He could have derived benefits from a subterranean RIS influence operation without anyone being wiser. but he was so incredibly stupid - he publicly associated with it. While most of your kind was dumb enough to vote for him, that public association effectively gave your hated enemy - the deep state - a permanent leverage over Trump. By being so completely caught up in his own media image and how good it made him look - Trump gave your vile enemy - the Deep State - the perfect weapon to hold at his throat for an eternity.

By firing Comey - Trump has increased the likelihood of his surviving for his full five year term, but it has come at great cost to Trumpers and their cherished agendas. Trump now remains at the mercy of the Deep State completely. One word out of Comey will be enough to set in motion an agenda that deeply harms Trump's personal pockets. Like Sally Yates before him, James Comey has become a martyr to the cause.

To those of you liberals who are wondering what the Deep State is doing letting a major risk like Donald Trump run hog wild, I offer the following thoughts

1) The Deep State doesn't like to interfere in the electoral process beyond a point. It sees the elections as a way of legitimizing its power and doesn't particularly care what each candidate does unless it directly impacts the Deep State's interests.

2) The Deep State knows that a major market correction is imminent. Like all Deep States in every nation on earth in every time, they simply want to foist all the shit that comes with such a market correction on a suitable fall guy. That is all that Trump is to them - someone to take the fall for what everyone knows is coming. Trump is to our Deep State what Yeltsin was to the KGB/RIS-Deep State someone to push into the minds of gullible voters and then leave holding the bill for the inevitable suffering that follows.

You may wonder what is prompting the Deep State to do such things, and to understand the answer you must recognize that the Deep State is merely doing the bidding of the economic elites. The economic elites (much as people love to hate them) are usually the most mentally agile people in the society. They can see stuff coming that ordinary people cannot. They can see that a deleveraging is coming and the scale of the deleveraging is massive.

There are two modes by which a society deals with a major economic correction or deleveraging.

1) Either the elite crumbles altogether, the entire system of debt in society breaks down and you get a super depression that leaves nothing standing. Obviously this is the less preferred form of deleveraging.

2) The Elites get together and shop one of their own - usually the weakest animal in the herd is fed to the angry masses. This is the more preferred form of deleveraging.

It is the second option that the Deep State is managing right now.

The Daily Donald 5/10/2017

I thought I would give it a day or two to let the Sally Yates testimony sink in. And it was worth the wait.

As everyone has heard by now Trump fired Dir. Comey. And Federal prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas for a case involving Micheal Flynn's Russian ties. As Flynn was an unregistered foreign agent while serving as Trump's NSA, the case directly impinges on Trump's survival as president. The Yates testimony nailed Trump's hide. Even if Trump throws McGahn (of the WH-OLC) under the bus, there is no way to escape responsibility for l'affaire Flynn. And with that comes the inevitable exposure of Trump's vast links to the RIS/Putin and its conflict capital business. By striking at Comey, Trump has attempted to buy himself a little time. Unless he can back this up by physically eliminating witnesses and destroying evidence, he has just ended up strengthening the case against him.

I remain skeptical as to whether the GOP will actually do anything at all in this regard. I anticipate that the GOPers will make a little noise or keep very quiet. They will do whatever possible to sidestep the issue and hope that it all goes away until some other piece of sensationalism takes root in the public imagination. The  Democrats as always will make noise in the Senate and House and that will be the end of their role. After bleating loudly for an "Independent Investigation" etc. etc... the matter will die a natural death at the hands of our national stupidity epidemic.

Comey will be replaced by a Trump friendly face. Who will be replaced by another face in a few months as Trump realizes he doesn't have the money to buy the loyalty of people who have immense leverage over him. The independent commission will eventually emerge perhaps after 2018 if at all. Until then this political theater will continue. I will make it a point to ask Putin who he intends to make head of the FBI, and if he answers me on Twitter, I will let you know ASAP.

Spicer's been hiding behind bushes to dodge questions about why Trump did this. And Sessions violated his own pledge to recuse himself  from the Trump Russia investigation. This puts Sessions in the cross hairs. Trump apparently is quite enraged by the coverage of the Trump Russia investigation, by firing Comey he has made sure it remains firmly in the news as he has his meeting with Sergei Lavrov today. I wonder if his own staff believe he is not a Russian spy at this point.

The Democrats appear to be having fun. They never like Comey because of the whole letter thing that he pulled on HRC during the campaign. I think they are happy to see Comey go, but they fear that a Trump friendly replacement might end up taking the focus off #TrumpRussia. Can't say I disagree with that but I don't think Comey can be faulted for writing his letter to Jason  Chaffetz on the HRC investigation. If anyone needs to be held to account for that it is Congressman Chaffetz who leaked that confidential letter.

There are more developments on the economic front that can wait for now. Just watch the DJIA - it tells its own story. Watch for a sudden drop - those subpoenas are known to many on Wall Street and we will see that effect in DJIA at some point this week. The street was salivating at the prospect of Dodd-Frank restrictions being lifted. That should fill ordinary investors with dread as whenever you deregulate the market, people go hog-wild and create a massive bubble that crashes and leaves ordinary people very very poor but Trumpers are idiots. I can't help but wonder how many Trumpers realized that when they hoped Trump would burn everything down - they would be the tinder he would use. I can't say I sympathize with idiots.

I once again humbly submit my opinion in this matter - *This has gone on too long*. I understand that Trump's sole purpose is to first rally and then crash the market. I get what this is necessary but I remind you all that if Trump is a RIS agent (which there seems to be plenty of evidence pointing to) - he might disable the US nuclear deterrent and leave the US unable to carry out a first strike against Russia or launch a retaliatory strike against a Russian sudden attack. This is an unacceptable breach of US national security. We cannot afford such a high liability at the top echelons of the USG  - why take chances like this? 

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Daily Donald 5/8/2017

Two major developments over the weekend.

Firstly - the French election saw the defeat of Marine Le Pen. Le Pen was supported extensively by Donald Trump in public and by his internet troll army. This was a major fail for them. To make matters worse, Wikileaks stepped in to share a cache of leaked emails from Le Pen's opponent Macron on Friday before France's 48 hour election publicity ban went into place. This fell flat also. Trump supporter Jack Posobiec tried very hard to get the hacked emails to trend, but as numerous fakes were found embedded in the cache, the credibility of those emails was suspect. It turned out that Macron's IT team had deliberately responded to RIS backed phishing schemes and planted garbage emails into their flow in anticipation of a major "leak" prior to the election. This goes to show how sensible security measures can defeat RIS backed electoral interference. Trump troll army looks pretty stupid right now, this is a very big change from the look they have been sporting for the last two years. Not sure  if the change in fashion agrees with them.

Secondly - the GOP led Congress is now taking steps to gut the Dodd Frank act. The Trump Admin had long indicated that it didn't like the act and wanted to see all regulation of the banking industry disappear. This ties well with RIS needs, the RIS basically wants to withdraw ~ $1Tn from Wall Street and it wants to do so without too much hassle. With a deregulated banking system, banks will be able to move money without any serious oversight and you can bet that the RIS will find ways of using that to its own advantage. It seems all too easy - but you really can't keep putting off the RIS. The only question now is which big bank will take the fall for this madness.

Though not strictly part of the Daily Trump agenda, it seems President Putin stopped by to chat up his old boss in the KGB, Lazar Mateev. Like so many old spies in Russia, Mateev appears to live in a modest apartment across from the Higher Command School in a Moscow suburb, a far cry from his financially successful subordinate. It is interesting to see this meeting projected so intensely in the usual places. I think it speaks to a desire on President Putin's part to remind people of his roots as a KGB political intelligence officer. I suspect Putin's failure to influence in the French election is making some of the older RIS folks wonder whether he is suitable for continued leadership. This may be his way of reminding them that he is just one of them.

It is also interesting that the DJIA showed no reaction to the Macron win. If earlier punditry about the effect of the first round was anything to go on, the second round of the French elections should have had an even bigger effect, but we see NO effect whatsoever. I wonder why...

I see DJT is having his "OMG Sally Yates is going to testify" meltdown on twitter. I don't know how this will play out as it is not clear what if any effect Trump's true position with the GOP is. Publicly GOP will try to dismiss Sally Yates because she is a woman, and they will try to paint her as a democratic operative. My guess is that stupid questions about "who leaked Flynn was a foreign agent" will dominate GOP responses to the event. It is not clear how stupid something has to publicly look before the GOP becomes embarrassed enough to go after Donald Trump.

It is clearer to me however that Sally's testimony will exacerbate Donald Trump's war with the USIC. As the Trump regime come into the cross hairs of the USIC, Trump is taking steps to undermine the grasp of the professionals on national security. A war of whispers has begun against NSA Gen H. R. McMaster. Apparently Trump feel the General is being more of a president than he is. That appearance of extraordinary competence in stark comparison to Trump himself is being used to accuse the General of disloyalty.

Perhaps Trump does not understand what will happen to his relationship with the professional national security class if Gen. McMaster goes on to publicly state that he believes Trump is a raving lunatic?

Or perhaps as the last days of this Reich draw nearer, the fuhrer draws his closest supporters together and descends into his bunker.

Who knows which way this Sally Gates hearing will end up taking things.

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Daily Donald 5/5/2017

Yesterday the GOP passed a bill to repeal Obamacare and introduce TrumpCare. The bill was passed in violation of the GOPs own publicly stated house rules. The general public was not allowed to review the text of the bill. The bill passed with a narrow majority of 4 votes. The GOP currently has 25 more seats in the Congress than the Democratic party.

The few details of the bill that were available to the public indicated that TrumpCare is basically a sweetly worded plan to commit genocide. In addition to repealing the bulk of the Obamacare coverage, the TrumpCare package makes substantial cuts to medicaid (something Trump explicitly promised he would not  do during the election). It also leaves room for insurers to deny coverage to people with "pre-existing conditions". Going by past history, insurers have used such denial provisions to come up with innovative reasons to deny coverage.

From the broad spread of measures proposed, the rural poor (the same folks who voted from Trump and the GOP) will be hardest hit. The GOP seems to be clinging to the hope that they will be too stupid to get it or too high on meth to remember that Trump and GOP screwed them over. For all I know the GOP+Trump may be right.

I just don't know how to respond to Kentucky voters who took all the benefits of the ACA, but voted for Trump because he was going to end "Obamacare". There truly is no cure for stupid and GOP/Trump seem to be keen to drain the stupid people of their last drop of blood.

The bill now proceeds to the Senate and then back again to a joint session for resolution of any divergences. I don't know if Trump will follow through on any of those things and actually pass this into law, but my guess is that it is too late to prevent the collapse of ACA/Obamacare.

It is difficult to predict the exact consequences of an ACA/Obamacare collapse. The thing is that Obamacare/ACA was based on the idea that everyone shares the health burden. The GOP/TrumpCare ideology is that you pay for what happens to you and fuck everyone else. This kind of leaves people with higher health expenses in a bad place. My guess is that TrumpCare will hit older people, children and people with chronic health issues. I think this will make the substance abuse issues worse and there will be a drop in life-expectancy if corrective measures are not put into place. This is basically a Nazi healthcare plan.

People seem to think that everything will be fine because they have company sponsored healthcare. I think that works as long as we don't have an economic crash. If there is a massive correction (as I expect there will be), most people will find healthcare unaffordable. This bill already cuts Medicaid extensions that were made during the ACA/Obamacare passage so even people who think they are covered under entitlement programs will take a major hit.

It seems that neither Donald Trump nor the GOP cares about the poor, even the stupid ones. I guess neither group cares about re-election. Probably the RIS is paying them enough right now to not have to worry about future income. The thing is I wonder how these people are going to pay for personal security, once you start cutting off people's healthcare - especially those Second Amendment types - you basically going to end up paying top dollar for personal security.

Given how hastily this was pulled together and passed, I wonder why the GOP violated its own rules. It almost feels like they didn't want to do it and passed a bill that was just enough to make Trump look good. Doesn't make sense to do this unless you know you can offset the political corrosion that will follow in its wake.

Wonder what is coming next week? (Lol - just kidding... already know Sally Yates is up next week).

Thursday, May 04, 2017

My comments on the "Seven Theories" post at Lawfare

I would like to thank @selectedwisdom and @nadabakos for drawing my attention to this post at Lawfare.

I think the authors have done a fantastic job of sorting through the various possibilities, and I think they deserve a great deal of recognition for their work.

I do wish to point out that the piece does not adequately address the manner in which Trump continues to deny associations with Russia, while simultaneously refusing to criticize Pres Putin and amplifying the propaganda from known RIS sources.

I am just saying that if it walks, talks and quacks like RIS penetration, it is probably a well you know...

I am all for giving someone the benefit of the doubt, but how many suspects in an interrogation room will swear on the heads of their unborn children that

1) They had no idea they were spying,
2) They are mentally ill,  or
3) Its all a conspiracy...

And while we are on the topic, speaking nostalgically ofcourse

1) How many Korean kids were shot out of hand just because their parents might be communists during the war?

2) How many random civilians were killed in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I am sure some of them were good people but we didn't exactly sort out the "bad hombres" there....

3) Didn't it used to be that "if it runs... it's VC"?

4) And who can forget the Blackwater rule of shooting first and never bothering to ask any questions after?

So against that backdrop - I ask all the folks in the USIC - given that there is a precedent and yes I fully realize there is a lot of scrutiny here more so than there ever was a Mai Lai.... and we generally don't take chances with things like this...

And the fact that we know the KGB blames the USIC for the suffering of the Russian people, and wants to do to the US what it claims the USIC did to RU....

If I may borrow from the words of Chapter 1 of the Sacred Song.

"What is the hesitation O Arjuna?" 

The Daily Donald 5/4/2017

Trump continued his deranged old man act with a set of baffling a historical references to Andrew Jackson being alive at the time of the Civil War.  He usually does this deliberately as it fires up his internet troll army. They love to see liberals "triggered" and without that happening periodically they are left to shouting "1488" and "JQ" and other Nazi shit at each other. I imagine that gets boring after a point so any stunt like this by Donald Trump gets them all happy as the mainstream media reels from the impact of having to cope with the latest stream of bullshit from Trump. Having his troll army beat up on the mainstream media helps Trump feel secure.

Trump is insecure because he knows he didn't win the election. He knows what the RIS did or did not do in terms of anti-GOTV operations and the electoral tampering. He knows of the true extent of collaboration and he knows how illegal such a move is. He also knows that any election where such tactics are used is automatically null and the verdict void. That is why he is so supremely insecure about stupid things like crowd sizes at the inauguration. 

He knows his entire claim to the presidency is unlikely to stand up to any level of scrutiny. He also knows that his incompetence is so highly visible and that he will lose momentum as the major media decides to really put him to the question. So far he has gained from the adverse publicity and notoriety that main media houses got him, but that edge is wearing off. He is actually on the hook for delivering stuff he promised (which he has no intention of doing) and he knows when his followers figure out he isn't actually going to anything they will join in with the adverse narratives promoted by the media's critical review of his performance. 

We are seeing a similar situation on the TrumpCare front. The GOP and the Trump Admin are locked in a game of chicken. They want to see who backs down on the "Repeal and Replace" front and who takes credit for the "victory". The proposed TrumpCare replacement for Obamacare is just a tax cut for the super rich. Millions of Americans will die from the completely intentional consequences of cutting off healthcare. A sign of how bad this is that GOPers are refusing to adhere to their own publicly stated position of giving the public at least three days to review the bill before they vote on it. Today they will repeal Obamacare and replace it with TrumpCare without ever making the exact details of the bill public. It will be interesting to see how the GOPers spin this one as a "victory" and what the response of the 2nd Amendment types with pre-existing conditions to the GOPs actions will be. 

I don't really see this as anything more than a distraction. This is a fog created with the sole purpose of deflecting attention from the Trump Russia affair. 

The manner in which Trump stokes the troll army is more a reflection of his own awareness of the the increasingly unbridgeable gap between where he thinks he should be in public perception and where his own weird polling style is telling him where he is. He can't bear the lance to the ego that kind of knowledge brings with it. This by itself would have been bad for any president, but there is the added matter of an imminent criminal prosecution. 

Soon Sally Yates will testify before the HPSCI, even if Trump derails it another time with some tactical move, the day will come where everyone will hear that Trump was fully aware of Micheal Flynn's payments from Russia when he made him NSA. When that is entered into public record from a source with direct knowledge of the events, it will form the basis of a very solid line of inquiry about why Trump thought it was okay to disregard the advice of a senior law enforcement official about a foreign penetration at the top of the NSC. The questions that will follow from this will drag all the concerned parties including VP Pence into a black hole. While VP Pence might have a plan to push all the blame on Trump, there will be no out for Trump himself. The buck stops with him. 

One can reasonably expect some sort of interference in HPSCI functioning next week, but I don't think he or his Russian pals will attempt to harm Sally Yates. I suspect Sally has already entered her testimony into a sealed record that is cannot be erased. Furthermore if they move against Sally Yates physically, that will amount to a public admission of guilt and a direct implication in judicial intimidation of a witness. That is already a crime with significant penalties. 

He will do something as the bullshit machine is running out of material. Some version of negotiating with a gun to his own head. I am sure it will come up in the call with Pres. Putin today. A strategy will be worked out and ofcourse they will not release any records or read back of the call itself. 

A lot of faith in being put into the idea that it is possible to criminally prosecute Donald Trump at this time. It is plausible given the vast amount of evidence, but I think it is more likely that the evidence can be used to go after his children at a later time. He may escape criminal prosecution but his kids will not be quite that lucky. Sure these are rich people and they will fight it with highly paid lawyers and so on, but that works better in civil suits than it does on the national security side. When national security offenses are involved, your high price lawyer only delays the inevitable and milks you dry in the process.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Is this administration actually mad?

We know Donald Trump says crazy things to get a media high, but the rest of them are supposed to be competent enough to not have similar mental issues.  I would like to believe that but...

I came across this bit from the Farm Policy folks. The last part has a set of baffling positions from Secy Ross. Secy Ross says its okay for NAFTA to fail today because the US will be able to sell its excess grain elsewhere. This is a completely baffling viewpoint that I don't think belongs in the Secy's mind.

In macro-economic sense, the details even out in the long run. If excess of a commodity is produced, the price point shifts and new market opportunities open up. As new markets open up the production and lending shifts to accommodate for a revised flow of wealth. This has happened since time immemorial and it always works out (for the actuarial economists anyway).

But in at the microscopic level - for the human beings caught up in the midst of a major economic shift - the price is often unacceptable.

For example - consider this macro-economic scenario.

In the late 20s in the US, it was clear that agricultural production was imbalanced. The amount of  food produced was too high and the markets were unable to support a very high price. The farms had taken out loans to buy new equipment to boost production during the war and they were having a hard time paying out those loans but default rates were low.

The world as a whole was quite a bit hungrier in the 20s. Most countries could not produce enough food to feed their populations and nutritional standards were extremely poorly met.

Then came the stock market crash and the Smoot Hawley act. As exports from US farms shutdown, the domestic market flooded with excess grain. The resulting price drop killed all profits and the farms couldn't pay back their loan. The collapse of the financial sector accelerated the depression and farms stopped functioning as farmers couldn't get enough money to buy seeds. There was a famine that followed.

Eventually the famine caused commodity prices to rise, but then so many jobs had been lost that people continued to starve for almost two decades afterwards. The Roosevelt Admin started the New Deal program, which put money into peoples' hand and the rising tide of war in Europe help make US armaments industries profitable. Between these two factors, the economy recovered and everything after a disastrous world war in which 100 million people or so died - became better.

It sounds great when you say it like that! (copyright J K Rowling in the Deathly Hallows)

But at the microscopic level - million died of starvation and completely avoidable causes in the economic transient. Can you imagine what it must have felt like for the farmers who got shafted by this change? the families of the farmers? the kids?

I don't know if Secy Ross is aware of the history of the depression because the world was hungry back then too but the agro-economy of the US still collapsed! So why didn't the countries line up to buy the grain back then?

The reason for this collapse was that none of the economies were set up to buy US grain. None of them were in a position to pay for it at a price the US found comfortable. There simply weren't enough ships to move the grain to distant shores, there weren't enough tariff control agreements to allow US grain to reach this distant markets and each nation felt it had more to gain by imposing tariffs (just like the US did under the Smoot Hawley Act) than by buying US corn/wheat

If this is the level of  competence at the Commerce Secy level, we are doomed. This man does not appear to understand the basics of a market actually works.

The Daily Donald 5/1/2017

Once again - apologies for the hiatus in the posts - too much going on to cover any items effectively.

With his first terrible 100 days over, Donald Trump's team struggled to find anything they could call "achievements". The gap between the "Contract with America" and what had actually been achieved was so vast that Donald Trump publicly distanced himself from the very contract he had publicly hammered on in his own speeches throughout the campaign. With all news outlets with the exception of one (cough... cough.. FoxRussia cough cough) focusing on the widening gap between promise and performance, Trump's team panicked and held a "massive rally" in Pennsylvania.

Of course as with all thing Trump Admin, the chutzpah of holding a Nuremberg style rally for Trump was only matched by the bottomless failure of actually getting such a lofty thing done. The rally was a fair, Trump and the Pool Camera could see the large number of empty seats. The rally attendees themselves tweeted images of the event and in doing so exposed the large numbers of bald men wearing RW T-shirts that were in the audience. I am not saying everyone was a SovCit or RW terrorist but it is very bad optics to be photographed at a Trump 100 days rally sporting Neo-Nazi fashion.  It basically says that the only people still supporting Trump a bunch of racist thugs. Very bad optics.

The week before the rally was marked with several attempts at showcasing Trump's leadership. There was his plan to

1) Shutdown government until funding for his Wall was approved (that entire thing was shelved w/o much fanfare. The house voted against the Trump Budget proposal.)

2) Repeal ObamaCare (discussion on replacement stalled as GOP in civil war mode).

3) Go to War with North Korea and make South Korea pay for it (SoKo showed DJT the finger, and congressional leaders bused to the WH wondered what the fuck he is smoking).

4) Withdraw from NAFTA (Dropped after Secy. Agriculture told him that he would be killing all his supporters in Corn Country).

5) Reform the Tax Code (1 page sheet prepared and forgotten about as it was drowned by peals of laughter when people read the "15% corporate tax", "end death tax" etc.. provisions that only helped the top 1%)

6) Repeal the 1st Amendment (creating peals of laughter right now).

The BS machine ground out a lot last week, but eventually it all rained down on the man who created it - and so he was quite exhausted. The week ended with another trip to a Trump Corporation owned golf course at tax payer expense. I don't know if Donald Trump is trying to show us how bad a super-entitled white male baby boomer would be as President - but he is succeeding at that. No one is going to elect another one of those to any position if they can avoid it.

Rumint now points to a number of RICO and FARA indictments underway in jurisdictions where Presidential Pardons do not hold water. This is unbelievable right now because who would believe such a thing! Whatever the truth, it signals greater tensions that the Trump team has to cope with in the coming week.

Sally Yates is set to testify soon before HPSCI. She will likely tell us that she directly told Trump, Pence et al about Flynn's security risks and they overruled her and put Flynn in place any way. All these blameshifting attempts to lay the Flynn mess at Obama's door have failed. It is clear to all concerned that Trump knew about Flynn's illegal activities and appointed him NSA anyway.

The Citizen Sleuth project has unearthed significant anomalies in the Trump Transition Team's FEC disclosure. There appear to be a staggering number of fake names, addresses, and fraud in the money that were remitted to the Inauguration ceremony. The ceremony raises $100 M but most of it appears to be from straw purchasers of "inauguration tickets" and large corporations which Trump swore to destroy. The "inauguration ticket" scam is quite interesting, apparently people purchased these tickets but they were actually solicitations for a donation to the inaugural. This is a violation of the rules, but with the DoJ shoved so far up Session's posterior - it is unlikely anyone will actually prosecute. I guess you could call it the perfect crime.

In related news the Roosevelt Institute published a survey of the views of Trumpers. The interviews were earlier in the year and it was only about domestic issues, but we saw a full spread of the naval gazing on immigrants and POC that constitutes higher level thought among lower income White voters and entitled OWMs. These people spend so but time worrying about how immigrants, poc, women, LGBTQ etc... folks are going to ruin the future for their "kind" - they seem to be completely oblivious to the damage that they doing themselves by stalling climate change related lifestyle shifts. 

There was a massive Climate Change related march this weekend in DC. Some 200,000 are estimated to have turned up for it. It is clear form the size of these events that Trump and Trumpers have finally awakened *the* Beast. And a radical shift in the climate change discussion is now imminent.

So as the TrumpRussia noose tightens and Trump drifts in a sea of his own BS, I wonder where we are headed. Will he (like all dictators before him) repressive measures as his time ends? or will he turn on his own cadre and betray them in a grand flash? where does it leave the market which is booming on the unrealistic idea that he would actually do anything good?