Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The latest coup attempt in Venezuela has once again failed

He's surely pushing his luck.  I imagine he will eventually be arrested.  Maybe he wants to be, thinking that would bring out more people on his side. 



Gonna be a rough night for Bill Barr

Tomorrow Barr goes before the Senate, where he will be as protected as possible, but that's going to be hard under the circumstances.  And then Thursday before the House, where I assume he will get a new asshole.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Who leaked this addendum

And I want to know why they were willing to risk their reputations and possible legal repercussions to do it.  Are they really just completely without integrity?  Or is there something they need to hide at all cost?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

LOL.  If only Mueller had actually said that.


Wow, who leaked this?

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post.


Days after Barr’s announcement, Mueller wrote the previously undisclosed private letter to the Justice Department, laying out his concerns in stark terms that shocked senior Justice Department officials, according to people familiar with the discussions.

I assume the House will be bringing Mueller in for testimony.
“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

The letter made a key request: that Barr release the 448-page report’s introductions and executive summaries, and made some initial suggested redactions for doing so, according to Justice Department officials.


Justice Department officials said Tuesday that they were taken aback by the tone of Mueller’s letter, and that it came as a surprise to them that he had such concerns. Until they received the letter, they believed Mueller was in agreement with them on the process of reviewing the report and redacting certain types of information, a process that took several weeks. Barr has testified to Congress previously that Mueller declined the opportunity to review his four-page memo to lawmakers that distilled the essence of the special counsel’s findings.


“After the Attorney General received Special Counsel Mueller’s letter, he called him to discuss it,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday evening. “In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel’s obstruction analysis.


"The next day, the Attorney General sent a letter to Congress reiterating that his March 24 letter was not intended to be a summary of the report, but instead only stated the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions, and volunteered to testify before both Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1 and 2.”


In their call, Barr also took issue with Mueller calling his memo a “summary,” saying he had never intended to summarize the voluminous report, but instead provide an account of its top conclusions, officials said.

Justice Department officials said that, in some ways, the phone conversation was more cordial than the letter that preceded it, but that the two men did express some differences of opinion about how to proceed.

Barr said he did not want to put out pieces of the report, but rather issue the document all at once with redactions, and that he didn’t want to change course, according to officials.


Throughout the conversation, Mueller’s main worry was that the public was not getting an accurate understanding of the obstruction investigation, officials said.

So charge Barr and Rosenstein with obstruction of justice while you're at it.  And Barr with lying to Congress.

Is there no crime in intending to deceive without actual lies?

Trump keeps squawking about an attempted coup against him.  The attempt at a coup is coming from inside his administration.



The United States of Bullshit

Check out this (old) Matt Yglesias article on Vox, which makes the case that there are two reasons for Trump's outrageous and ubiquitous lies:  1) They're the result of being ignorant on the subjects about which he's talking, and, perhaps more importantly, 2) They're meant to test loyalty by noting who is willing to defend and repeat them.  The author declares them to be more accurately described as, not lies, but bullshit.

I think that's right.

The Bullshitter-in-Chief:Donald Trump’s disregard for the truth is something more sinister than ordinary lying.

The best liar; like never before

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

A reputation for vindictiveness

A Republican source told The Daily Beast that lobbyist Jack Burkman and internet troll Jacob Wohl approached him last week to try to convince him to falsely accuse Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, of engaging him sexually while he was too drunk to consent.

The source who spoke to The Daily Beast said Burkman and Wohl made clear that their goal was to kneecap Buttigieg’s momentum in the 2020 presidential race. The man asked to remain anonymous out of a concern that the resulting publicity might imperil his employment, and because he said Wohl and Burkman have a reputation for vindictiveness.


The details of the operatives’ attempt emerged as one man suddenly surfaced with a vague and uncorroborated allegation that Buttigieg had assaulted him. The claim was retracted hours later on a Facebook page appearing to belong to the man.

  Daily Beast
I don't imagine that will be the end of it.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.


Which is very Trumpian.  It goes with the territory of ignorant racist biggot.  Trump's defense is slightly different in that it's too fucking nasty and big a liar on a daily basis to prove intent.

Still trying to stage a coup in Venezuela

Flanked by members of the military, Venezuelan Interim President Juan Guaidó called for a general uprising on Tuesday, saying members of the armed forces had agreed to back the constitution and participate in what he’s calling “Operation Liberty.”

Speaking from an area he said was the Carlota Air Force Base in Caracas, Guaidó, 37, called on the people to take to the streets against the Nicolás Maduro regime.

“Our armed forces, brave soldiers, brave patriots, brave men who follow the constitution have heard our call,” he said in the short video.


Guaidó had been calling for a massive march on Wednesday, May 1, as part of his months’ long push to oust Maduro, but said the plan had been moved up.

“The time is now,” Guaidó says in the video.

  Miami Herald

I don't think it's going to fly.
Guaidó has been urging a military uprising since January. And while more than 1,000 members of the security forces have fled the country – many into neighboring Colombia – there had been few signs of the mass defection that he’d been hoping for.

Maduro loyalist Diosdado Cabello said the Carlota military base had not fallen and that there was no mass military uprising.


In a flurry of tweets early morning, Florida senator Marco Rubio urged Venezuelans to take the streets in support of the young politician.

“After years of suffering freedom is waiting for people of Venezuela. Do not let them take this opportunity from you,” he said. “Now is the moment to take to the streets in support of your legitimate constitutional government.”
Maybe Marco should stay out of it.

UPDATE 9:00 pm:


Racism in the time of Trump

A job listing from Cynet Systems, a tech recruiting firm based in Virginia, sought an account manager who is “preferably Caucasian who has good technical background”. After a number of Twitter users called attention to the listing, it was removed on Sunday.

It’s unclear how long the help wanted ad, posted on LinkedIn and other sites, was live before the company removed it. Cynet issued an apology, saying individuals involved had been fired and the job post “does not reflect our core values of inclusivity & equality”.

“We understand why some may have been upset seeing this listing, because we were, too,” the company’s co-CEO, Ashwani Mayur, said.

You can understand why someone thought it was OK to place an ad like that. They were just a little ahead of the curve; another two years of Trump and it could be commonplace. Make America Great Again!

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

After several false starts, Rod Rosenstein finally manages to resign

In a letter to Trump, Rosenstein echoed two of Trump's signature phrases on Monday, writing that he helped staff the department with officials "devoted to the values that make America great" and adding that "we always put America first".

According to the letter, he will leave his post on May 11.


In February, Trump nominated former litigator Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein, who had often been the subject of the president's ire.


"Our nation is safer, our elections are more secure, and our citizens are better informed about covert foreign influence efforts," his resignation letter said.

In it he thanked the president for "the opportunity to serve" and said the Department of Justice "bears a special responsibility to avoid partisanship".

Really, Rod? So what happened?
"We enforce the law without fear or favor because credible evidence is not partisan, and truth is not determined by opinion polls. We ignore fleeting distractions ... because a republic that endures is not governed by the news cycle."
Wishful thinking or just lying?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.


Pathetic, Rod.  Pathetic.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Who is Dmitri Simes, and why haven't we heard of him before?

Politico has an article sketching what's known about Simes, including his appearance in the Mueller report.
On March 14, 2016, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, [Jared] Kushner attended a lunch in Manhattan in honor of Henry Kissinger. Also in attendance was a tall, bearded Russian émigré with a booming voice. His name was Dmitri Simes, and for nearly 20 years he had been president and CEO of the Center for the National Interest, a Washington foreign policy think tank.

Simes had been a Washington fixture since he left the Soviet Union in the early 1970s, obtained U.S. citizenship, and served as an informal foreign policy adviser to President Richard Nixon.


Although the Trump campaign never identified Simes as an adviser, he provided counsel to the Trump team, particularly with regard to Russia.


In April of that year, CNI hosted Trump’s first genuine foreign policy address, attended by Russia’s U.S. ambassador, in which the candidate offered a similar message. Mueller also discovered that Simes also offered Kushner disparaging information about former President Bill Clinton.

The Simes-Kushner relationship was outlined in detail by Mueller’s report, which mentions Simes over 100 times. While the report concluded that Simes did not act as a campaign intermediary with Moscow, and did not allege that he works at the behest of the Kremlin, it did note that Simes and CNI have “many contacts with current and former Russian government officials.”


Depending on who you ask, he is either a shrewd foreign policy realist dedicated to defusing tensions between his birth-nation and the one where he chose to make a life — or a Kremlin advocate who cloaks his true agenda in Washington, D.C.


Simes has been linked to [Maria] Butina, who wrote an article for CNI’s magazine, The National Interest, arguing that U.S.-Russia relations could improve under a Republican administration. He also reached out repeatedly in 2015 to Butina’s associate Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia, to discuss a CNI board member’s financial problems, according to The Daily Beast. Simes has denied any wrongdoing.


Mueller found no evidence that Kushner had sought out Simes because of his Kremlin ties. But Simes did use the opportunity to influence the campaign’s posture toward Russia, acknowledging to Mueller that he “initiated all conversations” about Russia with Kushner.


“Jared was genuinely eager to cultivate relationships with foreign policy people,” said a campaign adviser at the time who has worked with Simes. “He was having a hard time early on when foreign establishment was horrified by what Trump was doing. And he recognized in Dmitri someone who had serious foreign policy credentials and was sympathetic to the candidate.”


“A trait I observed with the true-believing Trump people is that they have this very bitter, resentful outlook on the world,” the former campaign adviser said. “Dmitri fit into that mold.


Simes helped draft Trump’s CNI-hosted foreign policy speech in which Trump called for an “easing of tensions” with Russia, and was still advising Trump on “what to say about Russia” months later, according to Mueller. Although Trump made a point of publicly announcing a foreign policy advisory team in mid-2016, his campaign never openly discussed Simes’ quiet role.

Another memo Simes sent Kushner in August recommended that the campaign “downplay Russia as a U.S. foreign policy priority at this time” while adding that "some tend to exaggerate Putin's flaws,” according to Mueller. He also advised the campaign "not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy" with regard to Russia, Mueller’s report says, and made suggestions about how to handle Ukraine-related questions.


Kushner told Mueller that he didn’t receive any information from Simes that could be “operationalized” against Clinton, and the relationship appears to have cooled by the end of the campaign. Several people familiar with Simes’ thinking at the time said he was disappointed that some longtime associates who he’d recommended for administration jobs, including Saunders and former U.S. ambassador Richard Burt, were not hired.


David Rivkin, an attorney at BakerHostetler who represents CNI, said he is unaware of FBI interviews concerning Simes beyond the confines of Mueller's probe. “There was an investigation that looked at hundreds and hundreds of people and institutions within the context of the special counsel’s mandate, and we know what it found—that neither Simes nor the center did anything wrong, and as far as proffering foreign policy advice to a presidential campaign, that is what academics and think tanks are supposed to do.”

Meanwhile, Simes' story has delivered a new plot twist: he has been spending a large amount of time back in his home city of Moscow, making regular appearances on the hugely popular Russian television show, “The Great Game.” Simes co-hosts the program, which airs most weeknights on Russia’s state-owned Channel One, alongside one Vyacheslav Nikonov—the staunchly pro-Kremlin grandson of the Soviet diplomat and Stalin protege Vyacheslav Molotov.


[Yuri] Felshtinsky, the Russian-American historian and fierce Simes critic, told POLITICO that he has always found Simes’s “pro-Russian” stance “very unusual for a former Soviet citizen who emigrated to the United States.” He also pointed to the peculiarity of Simes’s high-level Kremlin relationships and noted his ability to address Putin directly at high-level public forums, like at the Valdai International Discussion Club in 2014—where the head of a modest Washington think tank was flanked by Germany’s former defense minister and France and Italy’s former prime ministers.

When it comes to Simes, Felshtinksy said, “I think we only know the tip of the iceberg.”


Trump is being "left behind"

I'm not talking about religion.  I'm talking about technology.  While he touts "clean coal" and going backward to what he thinks was great about America, technology is moving on without him.
The cost of lithium-ion batteries has plunged 85 percent in a decade, and 30 percent in just the past year, so utilities across the U.S. have started attaching containers full of them to the grid—and they’re planning to install far more of them in the coming years. Electricity has always been the toughest commodity to manage, because unlike water, grain, fuel or steel, it has been largely impossible to store for later use. But that is changing fast, and even though the dramatic growth of batteries on the grid will be invisible to most Americans, it has the potential to transform how we produce and consume power, creating more flexible and resilient electricity systems with less waste, lower costs and fewer emissions.

I'm not sure why Trump keeps his base in the dark ages other than an ignorant base is a maleable base.
At the annual National Republican Congressional Committee dinner in Washington this month, President Donald Trump made news with some curious remarks about wind power. What went viral was his untrue suggestion that the noise from wind turbines causes cancer, but his warning that home values instantly plunge 75 percent when a windmill is built nearby was equally false. He also claimed wind power is inordinately expensive, when in fact in much of America it is now the cheapest source of electricity. The president then play-acted a scene of a woman complaining to her husband about wind power’s supposed unreliability: “I can’t watch television, darling. Darling, please tell the wind to blow!”


“This will be like the change from analog to digital, or landlines to cell phones,” says Advanced Microgrid Systems CEO Susan Kennedy, whose firm’s software helps utilities optimize their power choices every instant of every day. “The energy industry will never be the same.”

Electricity storage will reshape the grid in many ways, but the most important is its potential to accelerate the already explosive growth of renewable energy—and that will have political implications.


Eighty percent of the wind power installed during Trump’s presidency has been built in states he won, and the five most wind-dependent states were all Trump states. And while the storage boom started in blue states like California and Hawaii, it is taking off in Texas, Florida, and the rest of Red America as well. Polls suggest “clean energy” is now popular throughout the country, even though “climate action” is not, and there are now more than 3 million clean energy jobs in America, versus only 50,000 coal-mining jobs. The president’s fossil-fueled rhetoric no longer reflects the reality on the ground. And the politics of energy might become less partisan in a world in which renewable power becomes much more common.


Now grid storage is poised to grow at a faster pace than the electric cars that made it cost-effective, and even faster than the renewables it will help to accommodate on the grid. Last year, Florida Power & Light completed a 10-megawatt grid battery hailed as the largest of its kind in the world; last month, FPL announced a battery project more than 40 times larger. Republican regulators in Arizona recently approved more than twice as much power storage in their state as the entire country installed last year; Hawaii is building more than three times as much, and California nearly five times as much.


Thanks to the dizzying cost declines, utilities are now building new wind and solar farms accompanied by new battery storage for less than they would pay to build new fossil-fuel plants—and in some cases less than they would pay to run existing fossil-fuel plants.


The storage boom, like so many green trends in America, first took hold in California, but Ravi Manghani, the head of energy storage research at Wood MacKenzie, says it is spreading much faster than anyone expected, ending the era when power had to be distributed and used the instant it was generated.
When I was living in Galveston, Texas, during the 2000s, even though they did not produce renewable electricity, local energy companies bought it, so I could choose Green Mountain Energy for my utilities provider. I figured it would be more expensive, but I wanted to do it for the environmental benefits. In fact, it wasn't more expensive, it was cheaper. Surely if more people knew that, more would have opted in.
The Southwest Power Pool, which runs the grid serving 14 states in the windy and predominantly Republican middle of the country, now has 5 gigawatts worth of storage projects in its queue, nearly four times the current U.S. total.

“It gives you an idea of the magnitude of interest,” says Bruce Rew, vice president for operations. “We’ve got lots of wind, and storage will help us manage it.”
Attach some batteries to Fox News and the Oval Office. That could power the world.

Like Disneyland

The US government has begun erecting tents close to the border with Mexico to house detained migrants[Talking about the immigration situation on the border, Trump] told the Fox News show Sunday Morning Futures: “When they used to separate children, which was done during the Obama administration, with Bush, with us, with everybody, far fewer people would come, and we’ve been on a humane basis, it’s pretty bad”

He added to the host, Maria Bartiromo: “We go out and we stop the separation. The problem is you have 10 times more people coming up with their families, it’s like Disneyland now.”


The US government has begun erecting tents close to the border with Mexico to house detained migrants.


The sight of the tents going up in El Paso is a throwback to just a few months ago when the government was detaining child migrants in an encampment at nearby Tornillo.

The camp started small last summer and was meant to exist for just weeks, but ended up expanding fivefold and enduring for months, amid protests and local opposition, until it was closed in January.


Last month, CBP was criticised by local advocates and public officials after it chose to house hundreds of migrants in open-air conditions underneath the Bridge of the Americas that crosses the border between El Paso and its Mexican sister city, Juárez. The pen where migrants were being held closed a few days after the press began to report the harsh conditions of the improvised shelter.


Shaw Drake, a policy counsel for the ACLU border rights center in El Paso said the main concern was how migrants are treated inside the shelters. Both advocates are appealing for more transparency, accountability and government oversight as the number of migrants in detention continues to rise.

“It’s possible to have humane conditions for the migrants being detained in these tents, the issue is that border patrol has an extensive history of abusive conditions in its facilities and there is no indication that would not continue to occur,” Drake said.


The Trump administration began separating thousands of migrant families last year whenever they crossed the US-Mexico border unlawfully, and detaining parents and children separately, under a “zero tolerance” policy. Trump halted the policy last summer after widespread uproar, though in recent weeks, even as the government is being sued over the consequences, floated, then rejected again, the idea of resuming such actions.

CBP said in a statement last week that the large number of arrivals had created a need to open up additional shelter space in order to continue to process migrants arriving at the border.

I thought they were making them stay in Mexico or, more recently, busing them to sanctuary cities.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Another day, another lie

Actually, I think his average is around 6 or 7 per day now. Well, that was before his speech in Wisconsin, so he may be back up as high as 10.*
Earlier in the day, crude markets tumbled after Trump told reporters that he called OPEC members and asked them to lower oil prices. The US president doubled down on the assertion a few hours later in a tweet saying he spoke to Saudi Arabia and other countries about increasing oil production.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Falih and OPEC's Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo both denied speaking to Trump about lowering oil prices, the Wall Street Journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

  Sputnik News
U.S. sanctions on Iran and Venezuela have helped push oil prices up this year, along with orchestrated cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other big producers. That’s started to become apparent for American consumers at the pump, with retail gasoline prices rising 28 percent this year, according to AAA data.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.


Mr. Kellyanne Conway retweeting

Indeed.  Ms. Ford was telling the truth.  She had nothing to worry about.

And, Volume I of the Mueller report was the part about collusion/conspiracy.

Also Vol. I, p. 10:

I don't read that to say "no collusion."

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Coming to an election near you

The F.B.I. director warned anew on Friday about Russia’s continued meddling in American elections, calling it a “significant counterintelligence threat.” The bureau has shifted additional agents and analysts to shore up defenses against foreign interference, according to a senior F.B.I. official.


“We recognize that our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game,” Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, said Friday in a speech in Washington, citing the presence of Russian intelligence officers in the United States and the Kremlin’s record of malign influence operations.


The F.B.I., the intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security have made permanent the task forces they created to confront 2018 midterm election interference, senior American national security officials said.


While American officials have promised to continue to try to counter, block and weaken the Russian intelligence operations, they have complained of a lack of high-level coordination. President Trump has little interest or patience for hearing about such warnings, officials have said.

I bet!
Mr. Trump views any discussion of future Russian interference as effectively questioning the legitimacy of his 2016 victory, prompting senior officials to head off discussions with him.
Beyond that, he's not going to interfere with operations that will help get him reelected.
“What has pretty much continued unabated is the use of social media, fake news, propaganda, false personas, etc. to spin us up, pit us against each other, to sow divisiveness and discord, to undermine America’s faith in democracy,” Mr. Wray said on Friday. “That is not just an election-cycle threat. It is pretty much a 365-day-a-year threat.”
Under that description, Trump himself is undermining America's faith in democracy - 365 days a year.
In response to growing threats from Russia and other adversaries, the F.B.I. recently moved nearly 40 agents and analysts to the counterintelligence division, the senior bureau official said in an interview this month.
Can we assume some of them are working on the counterintel investigation into Trump?
Campaign officials with little security background looking to make impromptu deals are particularly vulnerable to Russian intelligence operations, said James M. Olson, a former chief of C.I.A.’s counterintelligence unit and the author of “To Catch a Spy.”

“They are dilettantes, no question about it. They have no intelligence or national security background, and they shouldn’t be playing in a game they don’t understand the rules of,” Mr. Olson said. “These people are jumping into deep water, and they don’t even know how to swim.”
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.


So when do the Dems start impeachment proceedings?

And maybe not then.

The charge of obstruction of justice should be leveled at Barr also.


Trump talking trash and gibberish in Wisconsin

He didn't have a name for that "great hostage negotiator" when he "put it out" on Twitter.  I see he still doesn't have one.

If you can stomach it, there are more video clips in Rupar's thread.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.