Tag Archives: Donald Trump

DIY News and Views: Intelligence and the Lack Thereof

Intelligence

There was an open hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence yesterday, and for those who like their news unfiltered, here’s the link.  DNI Director Daniel Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher Wray got the headlines; but, there’s more to be learned from DIA Director General Robert Ashley, NSA Director General Paul Nakasone, and NGA Director Robert Cardillo.

DNI Director Daniel Coats’ opening statement is linked here. (pdf) It should be of interest that the first two topics addressed in his presentation to the committee were (1) Cyber security threats; and, (2) Online Influence Operations and Election Interference.  As noted in several national broadcasts, the “southern border” — for which Trump claims “crisis status,” — doesn’t appear until page 18 of the print edition. While on that page, please note that Mexican sourcing is mentioned for fentanyl, most fentanyl is coming in from China.

On the other hand, from the lack of intelligence department, the president* is challenging the conclusions of his own intelligence gathering and analytical agencies, disputing their priorities and findings. [MST] The report that Iran is abiding (for now) with the previous arms deal, and North Korea definitely is not, seems not to be sitting well with the Oval Office occupant.  It’s instructive to take a closer look at some of the findings reported to the Select Committee, before heading back to the generalities of news outlet commentary.  Russia and China:

“At present, China and Russia pose the greatest espionage and cyber attack threats, but we anticipate that all our adversaries and strategic competitors will increasingly build and integrate cyber espionage, attack, and influence capabilities into their efforts to influence US policies and advance their own national security interests. In the last decade, our adversaries and strategic competitors have developed and experimented with a growing capability to shape and alter the information and systems on which we rely. For years, they have conducted cyber espionage to collect intelligence and targeted our critical infrastructure to hold it at risk. They are now becoming more adept at using social media to alter how we think, behave, and decide. As we connect and integrate billions of new digital devices into our lives and business processes, adversaries and strategic competitors almost certainly will gain greater insight into and access to our protected information.”

The Defense Technical Information Center offers this advice on how to analyze Russian use of cyber assaults and activities:

 “Russian military theorists generally do not use the terms cyber or cyberwarfare. Instead, they conceptualize cyber operations within the broader framework of information warfare, a holistic concept that includes computer network operations, electronic warfare, psychological operations, and information operations; In keeping with traditional Soviet notions of battling constant threats from abroad and within, Moscow perceives the struggle within information space to be more or less constant and unending. This suggests that the Kremlin will have a relatively low bar for employing cyber in ways that U.S. decision makers are likely to view as offensive and escalatory in nature; …”

Review, their activities are ongoing, surreptitious, and holistic.  To get further into these weeds, see the Minority Report, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, January 2018. (pdf) on Putin’s Asymmetric Assault on Democracy in Russia and EuropeChapter 4, on the weaponization of civil society, ideology, culture, crime, and energy is especially informative.

As the president* disparages the information, evaluation, and analysis of our intelligence community efforts, and is revealed to have even more ‘undocumented’ meetings with Uncle Vlad, [FinTimes] … and probably won’t stop having secret meetings with the Russian dictator [VanityFair]… we need to keep our focus on Russian and Chinese activities, not to the exclusion of other pressing subjects, but toward being able to discern how much of our internal turmoil has external support and encouragement.

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Filed under Iran, Iraq, Politics

Party of Sexual Predator Protectors?

Okay, so when did the Grand Old Party, the Republican Party, become the party of sexual predator protection?  There was the Access Hollywood tape… gee, that was just “lock room talk.” “Boys will be boys.”  Women came forward, but the GOP marched on to an electoral college victory.  The President stands credibly accused by a former Playboy model, a porn star/director, and others.  What’s the expression? “A fish rots from the head down.”  The Republicans stood by him.

Roy Moore wanted a seat in the US Senate.  Republicans supported him… in the face of credible accusations of sexual misconduct with minors.  Moore lost, to the credit of the citizens of Alabama who didn’t buy into the idea that the man is always right, the woman is always hysterical (and wrong), and it’s not “right” to ruin a man’s reputation — even if the man did a banner job of wrecking the woman’s life and reputation.

Where was Rep. Jim Jordan’s attention when members of the wrestling team at OSU were being assaulted?  He didn’t know?  How do assistant coaches — those who are actually the closest to team members — not know?  How do they not report what they know or suspect?  Did he not care enough to investigate rumors? Check on what team members were saying?  Where are the Republicans?  Where are the calls for a full investigation in addition to the one conducted by the university?

Former Congressman Blake Farenthold said he was going to pay $84,000 in a sexual harassment settlement; he ultimately decided to pay — absolutely nothing.  Nothing.  Where are his fellow Republicans calling for him to live up to his agreement?  Crickets. Silence.  There is no reason to believe the Republicans will do anything to rectify this situation.

And here in Nevada — Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro was the subject of investigations for sexual misconduct.  AG Adam Laxalt decided not to press any charges, and accepted Antinoro’s endorsement in the gubernatorial race.   From the Republicans? More crickets…silence…acceptance…a willingness to look away, to let boys be boys, to dismiss locker room talk, to set the lowest bar possible for men’s conduct.  No accountability.  No responsibility.  No consequences.

So, when did the GOP become the party protecting the likes of Brett Kavanaugh? When did Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell know there were more than just the one allegation of sexual misconduct facing Kavanaugh?  Were the Republicans shoving the confirmation vote in order to get Kavanaugh (Trump’s Get Out Of Jail Free Card) on the bench before more women came forward with their stories?

Enough!  Contrary to what some Republicans have tried to tell me via my television screen, most high school boys (both back in the Jurassic Era during my attendance and today) are not sexual predators in training — or practice.  Some are, but that’s why these cases are “news” — they are not the standard, or even the most common practice.  Yes, there are employers who are guilty of sexual misconduct — an inordinate number of whom seem to have served on the Republican National Committee finance arm — but, this is not the norm.  These examples are outside the bounds of acceptable conduct, and they should be seen as such.

Register.  Help others register.  Check your registration.  Help others check their registration.

Vote.  Help your friends and neighbors get to their polling stations.

There is no other antidote to political corruption than voting. Good old fashioned voting. Good old fashioned American citizens voting, and facing down the Russian bots behind the “walk away” movement or other cynical attempts to depress the vote.

VOTE like your right to vote depends on it.

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Filed under Politics, Senate, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

OMG! Destruction Awaits Me, at least according to Senator Heller’s fundraising letter in my mail box

There is always something in my mail box.  It’s usually (a) a bargain I simply can’t pass up — or easily can; (b) a plea from some worthy cause I can’t ignore — or can; or, at this point in time (c) some missive from the fund-raising arm of somaeone’s political campaign.  Today I received my letter from Senator Dean Heller (R-NV).  Even the envelope exudes a “Scary Voice” message from the dark Beyond.

Where the return address would normally appear there’s a 1.5 x 1.5 inch photo of a scowling Donald Trump. Now, there’s a happy invitation to the contents? Next to the little photograph, a quote, “A vote for her is a vote for increased taxes. Weak borders. It really is a vote for crime.” But wait, there’s more! Underneath the stamps there’s a 1.5 x 2.25 inch unflattering photo of his Democratic Party opponent, Jacky Rosen, with a red arrow pointing to a script font “Let’s vote NO on Jacky!”  All this and I haven’t even opened the envelope yet.

What am I thinking before I even open the envelope?  First is the obvious: Heller is directly associating himself with Donald J. Trump.  That would be the self-same Donald J. Trump who still hasn’t prioritized reuniting some 547 children with their parents — at least that was the last number I recall hearing from my TV set.  That would be the same Donald J. Trump who crowed that Hurricane Maria was dealt with competently, definitely not a killer storm like Katrina (1,833 dead; it’s just that we now know Maria’s death toll was 2,975.  That would be the same Donald J. Trump who tweeted out in the wee hours of the morning that the “Chinese” were responsible for hacking Democratic Party/Hillary Clinton emails, in the face of all evidence from the CIA, the FBI, the entire Intelligence Community, our major allies, and most sentient people, to the contrary, who see the hand of the Russians in the interference and attacks on our election system in 2016.   And THIS is what Senator Heller wants to emphasize instead of the usual return address on the fund raising material envelope?   All this before the letter knife meets the upper right hand corner of the envelope.  I haven’t even gotten to the quotation.

A vote for her is a vote for increased taxes.”  Please, this generality about Democratic Party platform contents is so stale if it were bread it would crumble to 40 year old starchy dust.  However, it does serve to remind me that the top 1% of American income earners got 83% of the benefits of the last tax cut, and Trump wants to do even more more them.  Further, Trump is mulling further unilateral tax cuts,  for the rich of course, and these will add to the deficit.  And, now I am easing the paper knife into the upper right hand corner to get to the real contents…

The letter folds out “From the desk of Senator Dean Heller, (in a nice wedding invitation gothic font) Republican | Nevada. ”   Dear Desk:  You could have saved yourself some effort, after my experience with the envelope I’m probably not going to be amenable to your contents.

I’m really not especially pleased at being addressed as “Dear Patriot.”  I’m as patriotic as the next person.  However, I don’t have a flag pole in my yard.  But, if I did I would have lowered my flag out of respect for the late Senator John McCain and I would have kept it at half staff until the man’s burial.  I don’t put up bunting on the 4th of July, but I will defend the right of anyone in the neighborhood to fly his or her flag as he or she pleases, put as much or as little bunting and July 4th decorations up as desired, and be grateful if they warn me ahead of time they’ll be setting off firecrackers which frighten my dog.  I’ll also not confuse a respectful demonstration of protest against unauthorized and excessive use of force against POC with a lack of patriotism.  By my lights a Patriot is a person who will adhere to the spirit of the quotation mis-attributed to Voltaire: “I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Death Your Right to Say It.”

Okay, here we go, “Rep. Jacky Rosen is a tax-hike loving liberal Democrat who would be a total disaster for our country in the U.S. Senate!!!”  Can Trump make a declarative sentence without a surfeit of exclamation points?  Then, presumably Senator Heller adds his two cents: “Not only that, she’s an open borders activist to boot.”   Oh, do you mean she’s truly interested in what’s going on at our southern border? Do you mean she’s not all that thrilled with a policy of family separations undertaken by an administration which was surprised that anyone would actually CARE about the children of asylum seeking parents?   Then comes a hodge-podge of word salad with all the appropriate buzzing sounds.

There’s “opposed every common sense measure to secure the border,”  as if the only thing that makes sense is Zero Tolerance, Big Beautiful Walls the Mexicans aren’t about to pay for, and leaving no path to citizenship for some people whose dedication and talents we could certainly use in this country.  She “criticized the Supreme Court decision” on free speech and the rule of law — this is rich, considering the nature of that case in which intolerance was to be tolerated.  And, Oh My Heavens she’s going to “torpedo” Trump’s not all that well vetted nominee to the US Supreme Court, the man about whom the public record is incomplete and won’t be complete if Republicans like Heller have anything to say about it.  Worse still, clutch those pearls now — she has the support of that Republican bete noir Chuck Schumer… who is (heaven forefend) a “national liberal Democrat.”  Oh leave me shaking, as the resonance of the Scary Voice Narrator wafts into my senses.

The next 2 and 1/3rd pages are replete with buzzing… 2nd Amendment, liberal Democrats, liberal special interests, avid hunter, concealed carry permit holders, dyed in the wool Nancy Pelosi liberal, rubber stamp vote for San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi, burgeoning left wing, failing health care system, block… US Supreme Court picks, inexperienced far left Democrat, rubber stamp vote for Chuck Schumer, … and so on. This really isn’t going to get me to pull out the check book for a suggested minimum donation of $35.00.  For that matter, it isn’t going to get 35 cents.

It won’t get 3.5 cents for that matter, not even as the Senator tells me he’s a victim of “scorched earth” attacks from Harry Reid… Harry Reid?   However, I can see some trends in the fund raising letter.  Heller is playing guilt by association — tar his opponent with negative images and references rather than take on the issues of the day.  He’ll play the Fear Card — beware those Black, Brown, and Brownish people.  He’ll play the Ultra Whitey Card — “Dear Patriot.”  What he doesn’t seem to want to do in this fund raising letter is tell me what he’s advocating.

I have the message from Rosen.  It’s clear to me she’s in favor of a woman’s right to make her own medical choices, she’s in favor of tax cuts for middle income Americans — not more largess for the top 1%, she’s in favor of funding veterans’ health care, education,  and in favor of freedom of speech in all its forms not just the preservation of white privilege and religious intolerance.  I can spend some coin of the realm supporting these views. Sorry Senator Heller, but I’d rather vote my hopes than my fears.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada, Nevada politics, Politics

Small Pleasures

Yep, I’m aging. I have some age related medical issues. I have some home repair items to which I should attend. I have several matters I pronounce to be “problems.” However, the news is making me feel ever so much better.

I am NOT Donald J. Trump.  My associates aren’t under federal, state, and local investigations.  I can look at my financial adviser/ accountant without wondering what he might have to divulge to the Feds, the State authorities, or to any municipal investigators.  [Weisselberg CNBC]  I can call my attorney without concern that he might be talking to anyone as part of his plea deal about my excruciatingly boring legal questions.  [Cohen CNN]  My friends and advisers aren’t looking at jail time, or even house arrest.  There’s no “Flynn,” no “Manafort,” no “Papadopoulos,” no raft of Russians, no contingent of political types, no associates of associates to people like Roger Stone, and no Butina-like figure lurking in the interstices of money, politics, and influence.  In short, my fairly simple, uncomplicated existence, boring though it may be at times, is not subject to any high wire act or atmosphere.  I can negotiate deals for automobile purchases and real estate without incurring questions from law enforcement.  Life’s easier that way.  I’m glad I’m not Donald J. Trump.

I am not Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY27).  My financial life is as mundane as my political one. I don’t need to sit on “boards,” or feel any desire to call my relatives to let them know the bottom is about to drop out of one of my Really Big Deals.  I certainly wouldn’t do it from the White House lawn (the closest I ever got was the White House Tour.)  No, I am fortunate enough to have some funds in savings, having over time moved money from investments into ‘safer’ forms, and no wild movement — I’m not a day trader, more like a decade-trader.  I realize this frustrates financial advisers, but so be it.  No one goes to jail and I like it that way.

I am not Rep. Duncan Hunter’s wife.  The headline says it all.  While Representative Hunter is being investigated for violating campaign finance laws, he’s “just totally tried to throw his wife under the bus.”   It’s truly difficult to imagine the state of the Hunters’ matrimonial affairs at this moment, and I wouldn’t even presume to attempt it.  I am really happy not to be Duncan Hunter’s wife.

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Filed under Politics

Waffles Heller, Heller Waffles

Heller spine poster.jpgThere are non-apology apologies (see Orange Blossom’s clumsy Hostage Video) and then there are non-disavowal disavowals (see Senator Dean ‘Clutching Papa’s Pants Leg’ Heller).

“Heller has been slow to criticize Trump as he looks to defend one of the most coveted GOP Senate seats in the country, and stopped well short of criticizing the president in a statementreleased late Monday afternoon.

“While I am not opposed to a dialogue between the two leaders, I trust our intelligence community’s assessment on Russian interference, not Vladimir Putin’s,” Heller said throu spokeswoman. “He is no friend of the United States and I don’t trust him.”  [RGJ]

Oh please!  I’ve tried to stretch the effect of a limited number of tea bags in a jar of sun tea and come out with less tepid ,,results.  Perhaps if the last line had directly pertained to the Orange Blossom, “He is no friend of the United States, and I don’t trust him,”  I’d have accepted this statement with more enthusiasm?

In the wake of the Charlottesville debacle there was a photo floating about of Senator Dean Heller and Peter Cvjetanovic, one of the Tiki Torch Nazis and a UNR student.  Heller responded in Trumpian fashion on Twitter: “I don’t know this person & condemn the outrageous racism, hatred and violence. It’s unacceptable & shameful. No room for it in this country.” [SacBee]  And Senator Heller said of the Orange Blossom?  Orange Blossom read one of his specially prepared on-paper ‘clarifications’ and promptly went right back off the rails with his Very Fine People.

Senator Heller’s spine made a brief reappearance in mid-June during the height of the Trump manufactured immigrant family crisis.  Thirteen Senators, among them Senator Dean Heller, wrote to the Mis-administration saying, in part:

“We support the administration’s efforts to enforce our immigration laws, but we cannot support implementation of a policy that results in the categorical forced separation of minor children from their parents,” the Republican senators wrote.

“We therefore ask you to halt implementation of the Department’s zero tolerance policy while Congress works out a solution that enables faster processing of individuals who enter our country illegally without requiring the forced, inhumane separation of children from their parents,” the senators continued. [TheHill]

Good. Now insert the following search terms into Google: “Nevada Senator Visits Border.” Who shows up in the search results?  Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV).  During a June fundraiser with the *president, who got the crowd to chant “Build The Wall,” Senator Heller, “by contrast, spoke for under three minutes and didn’t mention immigration or the separation of children from parents at the border.” [LATimes]  Senator Cortez-Masto and Representative Jacky Rosen visited the border, Senator Heller’s spine went missing yet again.

This is the third instance, in a third major issue, in which Senator Heller has demonstrated his reluctance to take a firm stand — and we might note there’s a tendency on his part to take flexible positions on many other issues —  and to stick to it, even when there is an obvious and palpable reason to STAND for a crucial American attribute.  Charlottesville, Immigration, and now the Helsinki Debacle…strike one, strike two, strike three.

This might explain the following tidbit from the RJ? “Since announcing her candidacy in July 2017, Rosen has outraised Heller $8.3 million to $5.3 million.”  Granted Heller has a cash-on-hand advantage, but fundraising is often a measure of enthusiasm, and it’s hard to get enthusiastic about waffles. They are nice, you can serve them for breakfast, brunch, or lunch, put just about anything on them and they’ll soak it up; it’s just hard to get all that thrilled about them.

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Filed under Heller, Nevada politics, Politics

For Reference: House Intel Committee members who are shilling for Trump

Today, the Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee voted to (1) release the memo drafted by Chr. Devin Nunes’ staff calling FBI investigations into question; and (2) to disallow the release the Minority memo on the same subject.

The Republican Members are:

Devin Nunes (R-CA 22)

Peter King (R-NY2)

Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ2)

Tom Rooney (R-FL17)

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL 27)

Michael Turner (R-OH 10)

Brad Wenstrup (R-OH 2)

Chris Stewart (R-UT 2)

Rick Crawford (R-AR 1)

Trey Gowdy (R-SC 4)

Elise Stefanik (R-NY 21)

Will Hurd (R-TX 23)

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Oh Heck, he’s not being very transparent

Heck Trump Hat Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) candidate for the Nevada Senate seat in this election reveres the secret ballot, and tells constituents it’s nobody’s business who he’ll vote for in the upcoming presidential election. [RGJ]  While this is an honorable position, it doesn’t answer a crucial question. Is Heck supporting Donald J. Trump?

One of the problems for down ballot candidates who are associated with a presidential contender who has insulted 282 people, places, and things during this season, is how to finesse the prospects.  There are several ways and Heck’s about to try them all.

I will vote for the candidate of my party.”  OK, however the fact that you can’t say the name out loud indicates a level of discomfort not usually a function of the  normal campaign process.

I will endorse but I will not support…”  And what on Earth might this mean? Let’s guess it means I begrudgingly offer my official endorsement for my party’s candidate but don’t expect me to defend or explain the candidate’s campaign messages, and for Heaven’s Sake don’t put me on the same stage with him.

“I endorse my party’s candidate fully…” Until he or she does something so egregious I can’t stomach it and the poll numbers are cratering?

“I cannot endorse my party’s candidate…”  Usually announced after the top of the ticket does something egregious and the poll numbers have cratered.

“I won’t tell you who I’m voting for and you can’t find out.”  True. No one will ever know, and you can pray heartily that the candidate never finds out how you voted unless you voted for him, and the candidate’s fervent supporters will never find out you didn’t vote for him, or the candidate’s detractors in your own party never find out either way.  Good luck with that, because when you finally announce how you cast your ballot no one is going to believe you.

And why should they? – you’ve been as ‘transparent’ as Donald Trump’s tax returns.

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Filed under Heck, Nevada news, Nevada politics, Politics