News 7/17/2018

US News

Another beautiful Russian spy arrested Maria Butina, 29, was arrested in Washington, DC yesterday. Her public persona shows strong pro-gun activism; perhaps a little too strong. I checked out her facebook, and it’s more like a PR page then a personal page. nothing personal on it at all that I could find. Her activities in the US seem pretty well documented. She was using the “make lots of friends” strategy to make contacts, which for a beautiful, friendly Russian redhead is probably pretty easy. Basically, her strategy seemed to be get to know lots of influential people and become established in their social circle, so when her bosses in Russia needed her to, she could bring up Russia’s POV or attempt to steer the conversation.

I’ve read the indictment and looked in to this a bit. I’m hardly an expert on espionage, but it seems like we’re getting only half the story. Her activites weren’t necessarily illegal; it was that she didn’t register as an agent that was the problem. There are many people from many countries who operate in very similar ways — by that I mean, move to the US, make friends with influential people, become known in certain social circles, and when something important pops up, either take note of it or push your point of view. Our people do it in other nations too. As I said, the trouble seems to be that she didn’t register with the US; if she had she’d be fine.

So why arrest her, and why now? She was taken into custody literally hours after Trump’s meeting with Putin. The timing certainly wasn’t coincidence, especially considering Mueller released a major indictment Friday. Both Mueller’s indictment and Maria’s arrest recieved massive amounts of front-page coverage.

My guess is it’s all about the PR. Or “optics” as they say these days. The timing is not an accident. Mueller’s indictment, Maria’s arrest, and the massive press coverage of the Helsinki meeting is all an attack on Trump. Which he, unfortunately, helped by sticking his foot in his mouth. In addition, all this fuss overrides the fuss about Strzok’s awful testimony earlier in the week, which wasn’t looking good in the press.

So, was this woman a spy, or not? No, I think she was an “influencer”, as I mentioned above. There’s no indication she attempted to steal any secrets. She concentrated completely on political activism. The fact that she was aiming for the NRA and Republicans is just icing on the cake for the PR angle — we’ll be hearing about that again. “OMG NRA controlled by Russians!” The shouting has already started.

Mueller’s indictments I discussed this already, but here’s a reminder. I think the indictments are meaningless and will amount to nothing. All those named are Russian citizens who certainly aren’t going to voluntarily show up so they can be arrested. It’s pure theater, meant to make Trump look bad and Mueller look good, and to support the “Russian collusion” narrative. And it’s not even good theater. Even if I’m wrong and these indictments are 100% legit and Mueller is a noble paragon of virtue, there’s no collusion. I say that because AG Rosenstein said “there is no evidence of collusion or of vote counts being altered.” No US citizens indicted, no vote counts affected, not even an attempt to alter votes, no evidence of collusion with Trump campaign officials, not even hints or implications of collusion. They think Russia hacked Hillary and the DNC, then released the emails. That’s it.

Lisa Page very cooperative Meanwhile, Strzok’s ex-lover Lisa Page gave a private interview to congress on Friday and again on Monday. She spoke for several hours and congressmen praised her as “very forthcoming”. Well now, isn’t that interesting. We don’t know what she said, but we’re probably going to find out soon. And she definitely said something besides “no comment”, because you don’t come back for a second day of testimony — eight hours of testimony! — unless you have a story to tell. As usual, the major story (Strzok, Helsinki, Maria Butina) is pure theater; the real developments are buried.

Democrats sprinting to the left The most enthusiastic part of the Democratic party is the radical Left, and they’re acting to take control of the party. It’s going to take a while for this to play out, probably years. In my opinion it’s a very serious mistake. Far left views might play well in hard-blue locations like California, but are losers everywhere else. Furthermore, the vigorous far-left activists driving the change cannot take a moderate position. They’ll turn on anyone not ideologically “pure” enough, just like they’re doing to the Democrat party leadership. I don’t think anything is going to stop the radicals from taking over the party completely. They’re young, excited, and motivated. All this means is that moderates will flee the party, which is already happening.

The most prominent young Leftist needs practice Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who we’ve all heard so much about, parroted the usual anti-Israel line in an interview, and then revealed she had no idea what she was talking about. Points for honesty, I guess.

Plutonium stolen from back seat of car in Mariott parking lot What the fuck? Two security specialists retrieve weapons-grade plutonium from a nonproft in order to secure it, then leave it in the backseat of their car when they stopped for a rest…along with some very expensive equipment….which all got stolen by some random criminal. No guards, no secure vehicle, didn’t keep it in the room with them while they slept, just left it in the backseat. Unbelievable.

World News

Trump-Putin meeting! It’s dominating the news and there’s really not much to say. They met privately about [redacted], then gave a photo op and made some vague statements about peace and being friends. Reporters tried to give Putin a hard time and he literally laughed in their faces. Some more links: Putin denies meddling (of course he does) Chris Wallace tried to hand Putin a copy of the Mueller indictment and he refused to take it (of course he didn’t). Daily Fail has a roundup of various events. A lot of people though Trump acted foolishly. Other people thought reporters acted foolishly. Interestingly, no one thinks Putin acted foolishly.

Here’s Politico’s “analysis” of the meeting It’s a terrible attempt at analysis. “The summit in Helsinki signaled the manifestation of a new world order.” What a load of shit. The only important event at Helsinki was Trump and Putin’s private conversation followed by a working lunch with aides. Everything else was theater. We don’t know what was discussed in private (my guess: Syria). The only thing Trump’s guilty of is sticking his foot in his mouth, which he does all the time. Trump stumbled on the theater part, and all the theater specialists (reporters) jumped on it.

Here’s Politico whining about Trump’s EU tour “rampage of political destruction”. what did he actually destroy? Nothing. He just said some rude things and upset some people. The rude things were also true, so they’re extra upset. My only issue is, I wish he’d be a little more diplomatic. You can still speak the truth and have tact.

Theresa May just barely avoids goverment collapse She’s hanging on by her fingernails.

Mattis visits Norway while all eyes were on the Trump/Putin passion play, SecDef Mattis went to Norway to do some actual work. There was the usual blather about how strong our nation’s ties are, blah blah blah. then there’s this: “Mattis thanked Norway for hosting up to 700 U.S. Marines on a rotational basis for rigorous cold-weather training.” Hmm. And we recently did a major joint exercise with the Finns and Swedes in the Baltic. Interesting.

Against the odds, Afghanistan continues to exist StrategyPage gives another excellent discussion about how the Taliban have lost Islamic support and degenerated into a violent drug gang.


News 7/16/2018

US News

Trump’s going to Helsinki to talk with Putin. What about? The agenda is awfully vague, which means they’d rather keep the details quiet. My guess: Syria. There won’t be much to say about it until after it’s over. I predict the usual screeching about Russian meddling and about Trump being awful. If there’s a joint press conference, watching reporters try to grill Putin should be interesting.

Related: Mueller indicts 12 Russians for interfering in US elections. The timing is no accident: the Friday before the summit. Political figures often time their press releases carefully to take advantage of the 24-hour news cycle. Weekends are, generally speaking, a bad time to drop anything important, as it will tend to vanish. Friday afternoon is the “death slot” – reserved for news that will vanish without a trace. I find it instructive to keep track of what news is released on Friday afternoons. It’s often quite interesting. In this case, the Helsinki summit will begin Monday morning, Helsinki time; it’s actually just started as I’m writing this (6 AM central US time). News released before 9 AM is, again, often lost or ignored. Therefore, when Mueller released his indictments on Friday, instead of hoping they’d vanish, he was choosing the closest time slot to the summit he could, while avoiding the weekend and super-early death slots. He wants to influence the summit. Simply saying “he wants to hurt Trump” is not useful, because it’s far too broad. Also it’s so obvious I feel it’s pointless to mention. The behavior of several Democrats is a big clue, with multiple calls for the summit to be canceled. I believe it’s a trap. The indictments are released, making a splash; Democrats use the splash to call for cenceling the summit; no matter what Trump does, it’s evidence of collusion, and will be shouted about all week.

More on Mueller’s indictment What’s in it? It accuses 12 Russian intelligence officers of hacking the DNC and the Clinton campaign and releasing the emails via Wikileaks. What’s not in it? Well, here’s where it gets interesting. 90% of the evidence implicating these guys is redacted. In my opinion that makes it “evidence” instead of actual evidence. Also: zero american citizens are named. Also also: there’s no mention of altering vote counts whatsoever.

Other info worth keeping in mind; None of these guys will ever see the inside of a US courtroom. They’re Russian citizens and are probably laughing about the indictments over morning vodka. This just like Mueller’s earlier indictments of several Russian companies, which I’ve discussed before.

My take: it’s nothing. All actual evidence is concealed from the public, and regardless, none of these people will ever see trial.  It’s a completely meaningless PR move. The only important take is that Democrats in congress are colluding with Mueller, because they coordinated the timing and messaging surrounding the announcement.

Related: why didn’t Obama do anything? All this happened in 2016, and he knew about it as it was happening; it was in the news. And yet no one cared until Trump won, then it suddenly became earth-shattering.

Attacks of Kavanaugh continue I hate to link the Daily Mail, but…….letters showed up in local papers across the US, from different people, with identical wording, all attacking Kavanaugh. It’s a standard tactic; have prewritten letters on your website, encourage people to copy them and send them in. The only difference this time is that so many were identical. The people who do this sort of thing, on both sides of the aisle, know how to do it; they tell people to change words, have 4-5 differently worded letters to choose from, etc. The identicals copies could mean a) someone got sloppy: unlikely, since this is an old tactic and not hard to do, or b) one person was sending all these out. I’m betting on b, personally.

California Democrats jettison Nancy Pelosi instead they’re endorsing Kevin de León, her much younger and FAR more radical challenger. This is continuing the trend started by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in NY. Young Democrats like this are getting a lot of attention as the Next Big Thing. I’m not so sure. For one thing, reporters, especially Democrats, are slaves to the next big thing. They will trample each other in their rush to climb aboard the latest bandwagon, and they usually don’t bother checking to see if it’s actually going somewhere. In this case, I think they’re setting themselves up to fail. Ocasio-Cortez won a primary, not a general election, and her opponent is still on the ballot as an independent. She’s very far to the left, and I don’t think she’ll win. de Leon may win against Pelosi because he’s young and charismatic, and his far-left positions are popular in California. But these newcomers are young, inexperienced, and very far to the left. Outside of solid blue locations like Cali and NYC they are unelectable extremists.

The radical Left continues its takeover of the Democratic party; it won’t end well. I predict they will generate a lot of hot air and completely fail to deliver anything.

New San Francisco mayor wantss to do something about the homeless problem Problem: the streests are covered in poop. Solution: ask people nicely not to poop on the street. (eye roll) at least she admits there’s a problem. After her “ask nicely” initiative fails, maybe she’ll try something that has a chance of working.

Chicago police shoot a man; riots ensue It’s the same old story; black man out for a walk, cops shoot him for no reason. People riot. Cops release body can footage showing he was going  for a gun. Everyone ignores the video because it doesn’t fit the marrative.

World News

Trump-Putin summit underway now. Watch for the attacks on Trump the instant it’s over. I expect many will tie into the indictments released Friday. There will probably be accusations of collusion, etc. all of which will be completely lacking any basis in fact or even sanity.

US tells Assad it will pull out of Syria if Iran does too This is what I think the summit is really about.

Theresa May’s government continues to collapse She’s in serious trouble. This week will bring some developments as her opposition solidifies.

One of May’s supporters call for second referendum A bad idea.

The Brexit issue is very complex and confusing, but the very, very short summary is: pro-EU groups called for a referendum on UK membership in the EU, assuming they would win easily. They lost. Theresa May’s government really, really doesn’t want to leave the EU, but they’re caught; the referendum is binding. May stalled for two years. My guess: she was hoping people would forget about it and move on. That didn’t work, so she finally came up with a truly awful plan: a non-Brexit Brexit, or “Brexit in name only”. Her supporters promptly revolted.

May’s inability to carry out Brexit will destroy her goverment, and it will happen soon. And it’s entirely her own fault. Her party will pay the price for her arrogance. Unless a coherent challenger appears soon, her party will simply collapse, leaving the way open for Corbyn to take over. And Corbyn, frankly, is a raving socialist lunatic.

Palestinian terrorist blows himself up What a shame. There’s some heavy combat going on in Gaza right now; it’s the usual stuff, Hamas attacking Israel, Israel hitting back, and lots of whining about how Israel shouldn’t hit back because it’s mean.

In-depth discussion of public opinion in Waziristan From the always-excellent StrategyPage.

China sends ship to spy on RIMPAC Apparently they’re mad about being disinvited. Perhaps they shold consider not being assholes next time.