MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Russiagate’

Guess What — It’s a Hustle – Kunstler

Posted by M. C. on June 6, 2020

No, this is a hustle, all right, perhaps the most obvious hustle in US history. It’s the Democratic Party’s last stratagem to get the monster of its own creation, Donald Trump, out of the White House.

https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/guess-what-its-a-hustle/

James Howard Kinstler

Of course, George Floyd didn’t deserve to die with a cop’s knee on his neck and his face mashed into the pavement, but after yesterday’s first of what will be several funerals for the now revered former armed robber and convict, you’d think he was the second coming (and going) of George Washington. Uh, check that… Washington was a slave-owner and, by definition, a racist. Make that Julius Caesar — based on the way that the Rev. Al Sharpton was bellowing at funeral No.1 Thursday in Minneapolis. Say, what? Julius Caesar owned slaves too? How about Abe Lincoln then? Naw, just another white man? And a secret racist (so they say).

Racist, racist racist! America is racist! Racism is systemic! Racism flows in the hallowed blood of the American system, going back all the way to 1619! All white people are racist. Get down on your bellies and crawl like a snake and beg forgiveness for your natural-born, inalienable racism! Anyway, that’s reality according to The New York Times, America’s premier journal of racism studies.

To prove that America is hopelessly racist, the nation has been treated to, what — ? — seven, or is it now eight nights of looting and burning by young black people acting out every racist stereotype from the Ku Klux Klan official manual of racism. The rest of the news media bent over backwards to avoid deploring the mayhem in the streets, rather, to invert the very looting, burning, and rioting as proof positive that America is racist to the bone. Look what you made us do! Steal sneakers and Rolex watches! Shoot cops, including an old retired black cop (uh, my bad) and run over several more cops with cars! Destroy businesses large and small that have been shut down for three months by corona virus to make sure they won’t ever dare to resume their racist trade in things that white people like!

Has anyone detected a hustle in the past week’s dire proceedings? Well, how would you define a hustle? How about: an attempt to gain advantage by deceitful means. What! Are you saying there was something dishonest about the reaction from sea to shining sea to George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis? I am. For example, the massive protest marches. Who exactly was disputing that the death of George Floyd was a miscarriage of justice? Nobody. Did the cops get away with it? No, they’re all getting indicted for murder or being accessories to a murder by standing around watching it and doing nothing to stop it.

No, this is a hustle, all right, perhaps the most obvious hustle in US history. It’s the Democratic Party’s last stratagem to get the monster of its own creation, Donald Trump, out of the White House. RussiaGate didn’t do it (in fact, it’s backfiring rather horribly now), ImpeachmentGate was a dud. Welcome to GeorgeFloydGate! I know it’s hard to imagine at this moment of maximum televised sanctimony, but this gambit is going to flop, too. A lot of voters have probably noticed that the wholesale looting and burning of US cities is not in the national interest. And that the people who do it don’t deserve special favors.

Of course, this is also a moment of maximum collective acute psychosis in America. The nation is pretty badly shook-up after three months of corona virus lockdown.  Millions watched their careers, incomes, businesses, and futures wash down the drain. Upsetting as the killing of George Floyd was, these losses are monumental in comparison. 99 percent of the people in America are scared shitless about where all this economic damage is taking the nation — even as they watch the stock markets go up and up and up. By the way, the past week of looting, burning, and rioting was especially fruitful for Wall Street. D’ya think that might eventually tick off a few taxpayers who understand that the stock-pumping is being accomplished by the Federal Reserve brokering more national debt in their name?

Joe Biden’s campaign has announced that he will headline the next funeral in George Floyd’s hometown of Houston, the place where Mr. Floyd accomplished the home invasion and aggravated robbery of a woman in 2009 that sent him to state prison for five years. (He was turning his life around in Minneapolis where, ten days ago, he suffered a lapse of judgment while high on fentanyl and passed a counterfeit $20 bill in a corner store, leading to his arrest and unjust death.) I’m counting on Joe Biden to raise America’s awareness about systemic racism at that event — if he can remember where he is and what’s going on.

Also on Thursday this week, the Rev. Al Sharpton announced plans for a march on Washington in August, perhaps just before the Democratic convention in Milwaukee for maximum effect. You may be aware that Joe Biden has obliged himself (sort of) to put a woman-of-color on the ticket for vice-president. Though Stacey Abrams, the real governor of Georgia, seems like the inevitable choice, I have a better idea. Wouldn’t it be perfect to bring back Tawana Brawley for this historic role? She figured so decisively in establishing the Rev. Mr. Sharpton’s cred as leader in the long quest for social justice. She’s all growed-up now and ready to rock! Tawana Brawley, America turns its lonely eyes to you! #Tawana Brawley for veep! Spread the news far and wide!

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Collusion Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Posted by M. C. on May 25, 2020

It is particularly symbolic that in the midst of this imbroglio, the FBI just accidentally revealed the name of another Saudi embassy official complicit in the September 11 attacks, whose identity was long kept hidden by the US government as a “state secret” whose revelation could cause “significant harm to the national security.” Collusion, foreign adversary, national security: in Washington, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

https://jacobinmag.com/2020/05/ignore-trumps-bluster-obamagate-is-a-serious-scandal/

Branko Marcetic

Russiagate looks less like a righteous crusade for truth and justice and more like the typical shenanigans for which the FBI and US security state have long been known: prosecutorial overreach, entrapment, and the criminalization of foreign policy dissent.

 

The crux of Russiagate is that it’s a political scandal masquerading as a criminal one.

The interminable scandal has been back in the news this past week thanks to the Trump Department of Justice’s decision to drop charges against Michael Flynn. Flynn was once briefly Trump’s national security advisor before being fired and then charged with lying to the FBI over a phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition. Last Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee finally released fifty-seven transcripts of closed-door interviews it conducted with various key players in the saga over 2017 and 2018, covering Flynn’s call with Kislyak and other matters.

Since the news dropped, every effort has been made to turn Flynn’s absolution into the latest Trump outrage. Barack Obama himself weighed in, charging in a leaked phone call with supporters that “there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free,” and that the “rule of law is at risk.”

Four years into this chaotic and reactionary presidency, there are more than enough legitimate Trump scandals to go around. But as with many things Russiagate, both the Flynn case and the release of the transcripts reflect far more poorly on the Obama administration, American’s hallowed national security institutions, and the anti-Trump “Resistance.”

Understanding why requires going all the way back to 2016 and the beginnings of the Flynn case. Flynn was a former intelligence official pushed out of the Obama administration over, among other things, his management style. Years later, he became a characteristically weird Trump guy: a heterodox foreign policy thinker who combined occasional opposition to endless war with conspiratorial Islamophobia, and became nationally known for flirting with the “alt-right” and chanting “Lock her up!” at the 2016 RNC.

Flynn’s loyalty to Trump was rewarded that year when he was announced as the president-elect’s national security advisor. At the same time, Flynn had, like many in Trump’s orbit, been investigated by the FBI over whether he was a Kremlin agent, and only further raised hackles after it was leaked that he had spoken to Kislyak the same day that Obama ordered sanctions and expelled thirty-five Russian embassy officials as retaliation for Russia’s interference in that year’s election.

Flynn was, at first, pushed out by Trump when it turned out he had caused Vice President Mike Pence to unwittingly lie about the contact. He was then later charged by Robert Mueller and his team in the course of the “collusion” probe with lying to the FBI (not, as Obama claimed, perjury), which at the time was cause for much speculation: it was the umpteenth “beginning of the end” of Trump’s presidency but ultimately produced no new revelations about a Trump-Russia conspiracy. Now, he’s been allowed to skip a maximum of five years in jail and walk away “scot-free,” as Obama put it.

But through it all and since, details have trickled out that have made the entire saga far less clear-cut than those most invested in the “collusion” narrative would have the public believe. For one, despite all the innuendo around Flynn’s Russian contacts and his sitting next to Putin at a dinner, investigators found nothing unseemly when looking into Flynn and had all but closedtheir investigation into him when the news about the Kislyak call broke.

Secondly, the charge Flynn was ultimately slapped with, lying to the FBI, now looks more like a case of entrapment. Recently released notes written by Bill Priestep, former FBI counterintelligence director, prior to interviewing Flynn about the Kislyak call suggest the Bureau was looking at the option to “get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.” In the notes, Priestep wrote that “I believe we should rethink this,” that simply showing Flynn evidence so he could admit wrongdoing wasn’t “going easy on him” and was routine FBI practice, and that “if we’re seen as playing games, WH [White House] will be furious,” so they should “protect our institution by not playing games.”

What’s more, contemporaneous notes show that the investigators themselves weren’t sure Flynn had intentionally lied to them, and that Comey himself had said so in a March 2017 briefing, before claiming he had never said anything of the sort after being fired by Trump.

There were further improprieties in the investigation. Flynn has claimed, with some evidence, that the FBI pressured him to sit down for the interview without a lawyer. Additionally, two years ago, Comey himself admitted that he had violated protocol by sending investigators to interview Flynn without going through the White House counsel, calling it “something I probably wouldn’t have done or maybe gotten away with in … a more organized administration.”

Things get worse when one goes through the Mueller team’s interview notes for then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates and Mary McCord,

Read the rest of this entry »

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Chinagate is the New Russiagate | Liberty Blitzkrieg

Posted by M. C. on May 4, 2020

When the premier empire on the planet starts blaming external enemies for its internal problems, you know it’s almost always an excuse to let your own elites off the hook and further erode civil liberties. While it appears the novel coronavirus covid-19 did in fact come from China, and China tried to discourage other countries from taking decisive action in the early days, our internal political actors blaming China for their own lack of preparation and timely reaction is patently ridiculous.

Chinagate is far more dangerous than Russiagate because very serious fundamental problems within the U.S.-China economic relationship do exist. I don’t deny this, and I’m in favor of actual policies that would incentivize the American people to become producers and builders as opposed to castrated debt zombies.

https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2020/04/27/chinagate-is-the-new-russiagate/

Michael Krieger

I’ve become convinced the next major event that’ll be used to further centralize power and escalate domestic authoritarianism will center around U.S.-China tensions. We haven’t witnessed this “event” yet, but there’s a good chance it’ll occur within the next year or two. Currently, the front runner appears to be a major aggressive move by China into Hong Kong, but it could be anything really. Taiwan, the South China Sea, currency, economic or cyber warfare; the flash points are numerous and growing by the day. Something is going to snap and when it does we better be prepared to not act like mindless imbeciles for the fourth time this century.

When that day arrives, and it’s likely not too far off, certain factions will try to sell you on the monstrous idea that we must become more like China to defeat China. We’ll be told we need more centralization, more authoritarianism, and less freedom and civil liberties or China will win. Such talk is nonsense and the wise way to respond is to reject the worst aspects of the Chinese system and head the other way.

– From my 2019 piece: Two Paths Forward with China – The Good and The Bad

As the clownish farce that is Russiagate slinks back into the psyop dumpster from which it emerged, an even more destructive narrative has metastasized following the U.S. government’s incompetent response to covid-19.

It was clear to me from the start that Russiagate was a nonsensical narrative wildly embraced by a variety of powerful people in the wake of Trump’s election merely to serve their own ends. For establishment Democrats, it was a way to pretend Hillary Clinton didn’t actually lose because she was a wretched status quo candidate with a destructive track record, but she lost due to “foreign meddling.” This allowed those involved in her campaign to deflect blame, but it also short-circuited any discussion of the merits of populism and widespread voter dissatisfaction (within both parties) percolating throughout the land. It was a fairytale invented by people intentionally putting their heads in the sand in order to avoid confrontation with political reality and to keep their cushy gravy-train of entrenched corruption going.

Russiagate was likewise embraced by the national security state (imperial apparatus) for similar reasons. Like establishment Democrats, the national security state also wanted to prevent the narrative that the status quo was rejected in the 2016 election from spreading. It was incentivized to pretend Hillary’s loss was the result of gullible Americans being duped by crafty Russians in order to manufacture the idea that U.S. society was healthy and normal if not for some external enemy.

Another primary driver for the national security state was to punish Russia for acting like a sovereign state as opposed to a colony of U.S. empire in recent years. Russia has been an increasingly serious thorn in the side of unipolarism advocates over the past decade by performing acts such as buying gold, providing safe harbor for Edward Snowden, and thwarting the dreams of regime change in Syria. Such acts could not go unpunished.

So Russiagate served its purpose. It wasted our time for much of Trump’s first term and it helped prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the Democratic nomination. Now we get Chinagate.

When the premier empire on the planet starts blaming external enemies for its internal problems, you know it’s almost always an excuse to let your own elites off the hook and further erode civil liberties. While it appears the novel coronavirus covid-19 did in fact come from China, and China tried to discourage other countries from taking decisive action in the early days, our internal political actors blaming China for their own lack of preparation and timely reaction is patently ridiculous.

If Stacy and myself were able to see the situation clearly and respond early, why couldn’t our government? This isn’t rocket science. The Chinese were acting as if the world had ended in cities across the country and we’re supposed to believe U.S. leaders simply listened to what the CCP was saying as opposed to what they were doing? How does that make any sense?

It makes even less sense considering the Trump administration has been in an explicit cold war with China for almost two years. This concept that the American national security state just took China’s word for what was going on in the early days is preposterous. So what’s going on here? Similar to Russiagate, the increased focus on directing our ten minutes of hate at the Chinese provides cover for the elites, but Chinagate is far more dangerous because the narrative will prove far more convincing for many Americans.

Although Russiagate was rapidly embraced by people with severe Trump Derangement Syndrome, most people just didn’t buy into it or care. Only the most dimwitted amongst us actually believed the Russians were responsible for our major problems at home, but when it comes to China the argument can be far more persuasive because many aspects of the economic relationship between the U.S. and China are in fact problematic. Specifically, the U.S. transformed itself from a nation of producers and builders into a nation of debt-driven consumption slaves over the past five decades. While China played a key role in this process, it wasn’t the driver.

Did China force the U.S. to abandon gold convertibility in 1971, thus beginning the transition from an industrial empire into a financial one? Did China convince us to repeal Glass-Steagall, or lie about WMD in Iraq? Did China put a gun to our manufacturing executives’ heads and force them to offshore manufacturing, or did the executives do that with greed filled eyes while earning billions upon billions from labor arbitrage? China may have directly benefited from five decades of avarice-driven policy crimes committed by American “elites,” but they didn’t cause them. They are entirely homegrown.

Chinagate is far more dangerous than Russiagate because very serious fundamental problems within the U.S.-China economic relationship do exist. I don’t deny this, and I’m in favor of actual policies that would incentivize the American people to become producers and builders as opposed to castrated debt zombies. The problem is many of the people ratcheting up the volume on the evils of China (I don’t deny the abundance of evil) aren’t interested in bringing liberty and production back to America. Rather, they’re trying to take away more of your freedoms, economically and politically.

The same people who’ve been in charge of the country for the entire 21st century remain in charge. Presidential politics is pure theater in an empire. Think about it, the same people who brought you endless war, the surveillance panopticon and perpetual Wall Street crime and bailouts are supposed to take on China? The same China that made so many of them fabulously wealthy? Give me a fucking break.

The elitist agenda isn’t to use anger at China to bring freedom and production to our shores, but to use heightened emotional fear to tighten their domestic power grip. The idea is to use Chinese authoritarianism as a model for the U.S.

Unsurprisingly, the usual suspects are already coming out of their snake holes to advocate for exactly that. We saw this a few days ago when Harvard Law Professor and former George W. Bush administration lawyer, Jack Goldsmith, explicitly called for Chinese-like censorship of speech on the internet.

In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.

By all means advocate for a reshuffling of the relationship between the U.S. and China that will lead to more freedom, resilience and economic vitality at home and I’ll support it, but don’t tell me we need to become China in order to defeat China. If we’re dumb enough to fall for that, we’ll get exactly what we deserve. Good and hard.

Be seeing you

 

 

 

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Things Get Interesting – Kunstler

Posted by M. C. on March 7, 2020

Pay close attention to democratic vice president nominee.

https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/things-get-interesting/

James Howard Kunstler

They’re kidding, right? Joe Biden? The former vice-president and US champeen influence grifter came back from the dead this Super Tuesday to save the Democratic Party from Bernie Sanders Venezuelizing what’s left of America (after you subtract our awesome debt loads). Things that come back from the dead, of course, are generally not high-functioning, for instance: zombies. Isn’t that exactly what the party has got now in the person of front-runner Zombie Joe?

They are kidding, for sure — kidding themselves — for which they’ve practiced tirelessly the past three-plus years with RussiaGate, MuellerGate, ImpeachmentGate, and sundry extra delusional hustles, including sanctuary cities, cancel culture, the Green New Deal, free everything, and the transsexual reading hour. So, now they’re pretending that Joe Biden is capable when his every utterance suggests that he is gone in the head. That will work for about a week, I reckon. You know something hilariously idiotic will come out every time he mounts a podium unless his handlers duct-tape his pie-hole. And now that the spotlight is off that distracting crowd of also-rans, the cameras and iPhone recorders will catch his every gaucherie — as, for instance, when he declared in New Hampshire recently to a rally audience of ordinary (non-millionaire) voters, “Guess what, if you elect me, your taxes are gonna be raised, not cut.” It’s on video. Smooth move, there, Joe.

And then, there is that giant anvil hanging over Joe B’s head in the form of an investigation into, and possible prosecution for, his shenanigans with son, Hunter, in Ukraine, including a money-laundering trail featuring millions of dollars from Ukraine routed through obscure banks in Estonia and Cyprus to Hunter’s own bank accounts. The Ukies have opened an inquiry, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee under Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) is ready to subpoena Biden father-and-son. That is, if Sen. Mitt Romney doesn’t stand in the way of a vote for that, as he threatens to do — and he has an interesting motive to do that since his former foreign policy advisor, ex-CIA agent Joseph Cofer Black, was on the board of the same Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, that employed Hunter Biden at $83,000-a-month for years.

Of course, if Zombie Joe is so obviously non compos mentis before he’s even been nominated, what are the chances that he’ll be able to serve in office a year from now? Somewhere between zilch and nada, I’d say. So, the latest scheme launched this week in chatter from Progressive Hopesterdom has Zombie Joe picking either Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama as his running mate, and then resigning soon after inauguration day, giving this Republic-of-Firsts its first woman president at long, long last.

This is what it’s come to in our new politics of hustles and scams. Though every person over seven-years-old would see through this dodge, what else have they got? Well, a brokered convention, anyway, if Zombie Joe flops spectacularly in the weeks ahead just by showing up and running his mouth, leaving Bernie the Last Man Standing — and the party appears dead set on thwarting Bernie by any means necessary. It’s not impossible that the Dems could rustle up some dark horse candidate in a back room of the Milwaukee Convention Center. I can’t think of anyone just now from, say, the governors’ mansions across the land. And just imagine if they tapped someone from Congress, such as that lying caitiff Adam Schiff (D-CA), what opportunity for sport he would present. More likely, they’d draft some Hollywood celebrity: George Clooney… Oprah… Morgan Freeman (hasn’t he already been president, or did he just play one on TV?).

There’s not a small chance, at this juncture in the Corona Virus story, that the convention may not even be held. And then what? Gawd knows…. But a disruption so severe implies that a lot of damage would be done to the Potemkin economy that is the centerpiece of President Trump’s reelection quest. That damage is being done in real time as I write, with the S & P futures index down another three percent at the open today, Friday. The trend is not Mr. Trump’s friend. And an awful lot of other things are breaking up in the financialized fiasco that enfronts what’s left of the US economy. The bond market is cracking up, especially at the junk-grade margins. And one can only guess at the havoc being wreaked in derivatives by repeated 1000-point swings in the Dow Jones and other symptoms of extreme disequilibrium in indexed things, from securitized car loans to currency swaps.

All of which leaves the Golden Golem of Greatness, Mr. Trump, in not such a bulletproof position for a second term, after all. There’s a possibility that Corona Virus might interfere with the election itself. Viral contagions are known to work in waves. If this is the first wave now, then a second wave would arrive just about in time for election day, November 3. Second wave viral diseases can be more virulent than the first wave, which was the case with the so-called Spanish flu of 1918. And what if a substantial portion of voters don’t dare venture into public places full of their possibly infectious fellow citizens? Would Mr. Trump be forced to postpone the election, fulfilling his enemies’ fantasy that he seeks to become the American Caesar? It’s not a pretty picture from here as things get interesting.

Be seeing you

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Russiagate II: Return of the Low Intelligence Zombies | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 26, 2020

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-intelligence-community-is-the-real-election-meddling-threat/

Forget about foreigners influencing our elections from the outside, the bad guys are already inside the house.

Former CIA director John Brennan (2nd L) and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper (R) arrive at a closed hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee May 16, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Russians are back, alongside the American intelligence agencies playing deep inside our elections. Who should we fear more? Hint: not the Russians.

On February 13, the election security czar in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) briefed the House Intelligence Committee that the Russians were meddling again and that they favored Donald Trump. A few weeks earlier, the ODNI briefed Bernie Sanders that the Russians were also meddling in the Democratic primaries, this time in his favor. Both briefings remained secret until this past week, when the former was leaked to the New York Times in time to smear Trump for replacing his DNI, and the latter leaked to the Washington Post ahead of the Nevada caucuses to try and damage Sanders.

Russiagate is back, baby. Everyone welcome Russiagate II.

You didn’t think after 2016 the bad boys of the intel “community” (which makes it sound like they all live together down in Florida somewhere) weren’t going to play their games again, and that they wouldn’t learn from their mistakes? Those errors were in retrospect amateurish. A salacious dossier built around a pee tape? Nefarious academics befriending minor Trump campaign staffers who would tell all to an Aussie ambassador trolling London’s pubs looking for young, fit Americans? Falsified FISA applications when it was all too obvious even Trumpkin greenhorns weren’t dumb enough to sleep with FBI honeypots? You’d think after influencing 85 elections across the globe since World War II, they’d be better at it. But you also knew that after failing to whomp a bumpkin like Trump once, they would keep trying.

Like any good intel op, you start with a tickle, make it seem like the targets are figuring it out for themselves. Get it out there that Trump offered Wikileaks’ Julian Assange a pardon if he would state publicly that Russia wasn’t involved in the 2016 DNC leaks. The story was all garbage, not the least of which because Assange has been clear for years that it wasn’t the Russians. And there was no offer of a pardon from the White House. And conveniently Assange is locked in a foreign prison and can’t comment.

Whatever. Just make sure you time the Assange story to hit the day after Trump pardoned numerous high-profile, white-collar criminals, so even the casual reader had Trump = bad, with a side of Russian conspiracy, on their minds. You could almost imagine an announcer’s voice: “Previously, on Russiagate I…”

Then, only a day after the Assange story (why be subtle?), the sequel hit the theaters with timed leaks to the NYT and WaPo. The mainstream media went Code Red (the CIA has a long history of working with the media to influence elections).

CNN concluded that “America’s Russia nightmare is back.” Maddow was ecstatic, bleating “Here we go again,” recycling her failed conspiracy theories whole. Everybody quoted Adam Schiff firing off that Trump was “again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling.” Tying it all to the failed impeachment efforts, another writer said, “’Let the Voters Decide’ doesn’t work if Trump fires his national security staff so Russia can help him again.” The NYT fretted, “Trump is intensifying his efforts to undermine the nation’s intelligence agencies.” John Brennan (after leaking for a while, most boils dry up and go away) said, “we are now in a full-blown national security crisis.” The undead Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Putin’s Puppet is at it again.”

It is clear we’ll be hearing breaking and developing reports about this from sources believed to be close to others through November. Despite the sense of desperation in the recycled memes and the way the media rose on command to the bait, it’s intel community 1, Trump 0.

But it’s still a miss on Bernie. He did well in Nevada despite the leaks, though Russiagate II has a long way to go. Bernie himself assured us of that. Instead of pooh-poohing the idea that the Russians might be working for him, he instead gave it cred, saying, “Some of the ugly stuff on the internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters.”

Sanders handed Russiagate II legs, signaling that he’ll use it as cover for the Bros’ online shenanigans, which were called out at the last debate. That’s playing with fire: it’ll be too easy later on to invoke all this with “Komrade Bernie” memes in the already wary purple states. “Putin and Trump are picking their opponent,” opined Rahm Emanuel to get that ball rolling.

Summary to date: everyone is certain the Russians are working to influence the election…(adopts cartoon Russian accent) but who is the cat and who is the mouse?

Is Putin helping Trump get re-elected to remain his asset in place? Or is Putin helping Bernie “I Honeymooned in the Soviet Union” Sanders to make him look like an asset to help Trump? Or are the Russkies really all in because Bernie is a True Socialist sleeper agent, the Emma Goldman of his time (Bernie’s old enough to have taken Emma to high school prom)? Or is it not the Russians but the American intel community helping Bernie to make it look like Putin is helping Bernie to help Trump? Or is it the Deep State saying the Reds are helping Bernie to hurt Bernie to help their man Bloomberg? Are Russian spies tripping over American spies in caucus hallways trying to get to the front of the room? Who can tell what is really afoot?

See, the devil is in the details, which is why we don’t have any.

The world’s greatest intelligence team can’t seem to come up with anything more specific than “interfering” and “meddling,” as if pesky Aunt Vladimir is gossiping at the general store again. CBS reports that House members pressed the ODNI for evidence, such as phone intercepts, to back up claims that Russia is trying to help Trump, but briefers had none to offer. Even Jake Tapper, a Deep State loyalty card holder, raised some doubts. WaPo, which hosted one of the leaks, had to admit “It is not clear what form that Russian assistance has taken.”

Yes, yes, they have to protect sources and methods, but of course the quickest way to stop Russian influence is to expose it. Instead the ODNI dropped the turd in the punchbowl and walked away. Why not tell the public what media is being bought, which outlets are working, willingly or not, with Putin? Did the Reds implant a radio chip in Biden’s skull? Will we be left hanging with the info-free claim “something something social media” again?

If you’re going to scream that communist zombies with MAGA hats are inside the house, you’re obligated to provide a little bit more information. Why is it when specifics are required, the response is always something like “Well, the Russians are sowing distrust and turning Americans against themselves in a way that weakens national unity” as if we’re all not eating enough green vegetables? Why leave us exposed to Russian influence for even a second when it could all be shut down in an instant?

Because the intel community learned its lesson in Russiagate I. Details can be investigated. That’s where the old story fell apart. The dossier wasn’t true. Michael Cohen never met the Russians in Prague. The a-ha discovery was that voters don’t read much anyway, so just make claims. You’ll never really prosecute or impeach anyone, so why bother with evidence (see everything Ukraine)? Just throw out accusations and let the media fill it all in for you. After all, they managed to convince a large number of Americans Trump’s primary purpose in running for president was to fill vacant hotel rooms at his properties. Let the nature of the source—the brave lads of the intelligence agencies—legitimize the accusations this time, not facts.

It will take a while to figure out who is playing whom. Is the goal to help Trump, help Bernie, or defeat both of them to support Bloomberg? But don’t let the challenge of seeing the whole picture obscure the obvious: the American intelligence agencies are once again inside our election.

The intel community crossed a line in 2016, albeit clumsily (what was all that with Comey and Hillary?), to play an overt role in the electoral process. When that didn’t work out and Trump was elected, they pivoted and drove us to the brink of all hell breaking loose with Russiagate I. The media welcomed and supported them. The Dems welcomed and supported them. Far too many Americans welcomed and supported them in some elaborate version of the ends justifying the means.

The good news from 2016 was that the Deep State turned out to be less competent than we originally feared. But they have learned much from those mistakes, particularly how deft a tool a compliant MSM is. This election will be a historian’s marker for how a decent nation, fully warned in 2016, fooled itself in 2020 into self-harm. Forget about foreigners influencing our elections from the outside; the zombies are already inside the house.

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Roger Stone’s conviction is the last hope to save RussiaGate — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on February 21, 2020

Stone then seemed to catch a lucky break with the revelation that his jury’s foreperson was actually a Democratic Party activist with a pronounced anti-Trump bias, further invigorating calls from the White House and conservative media that it was a rigged show trial from day one.

Meanwhile, the DOJ has flatly refused to prosecute a number of high-profile government officials who were caught lying under oath multiple times, like former intelligence directors John Brennan and James Clapper, and former FBI heads James Comey and Andrew McCabe. Unlike Roger Stone’s campaign bluster and trivial fibs, their lies actually had grave implications for the institutions they were tasked to run, as well as for the country.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/481212-roger-stone-russiagate-trump/

Patrick Henningsen

The Trial of Roger Stone has reached its finale. After closely examining Stone’s case, one thing becomes clear: it should never have gotten this far.

Stone, long-time political operative and former Trump adviser, is due to be sentenced today in federal court in Washington DC, for charges including lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction.

To the untrained eye it might seem like just another Beltway scandal, featuring one of Washington’s finest, a self-proclaimed Dirty Trickster and rancorous political operative.

Beyond the Machiavellian intrigue though, this trial and its outcome could carry some very profound implications. If convicted, his verdict will be hoisted by the American establishment to further validate the RussiaGate narrative, in particular the idea that Russia had passed hacked emails on to WikiLeaks at the height of the 2016 US presidential election.

It’s important to note that Stone’s case shares the very same fundamental prosecutorial assumptions which underpin Julian Assange’s US case, namely, that Assange and WikiLeaks are hostile foreign actors, and not members of the Fourth Estate. In this political hall of mirrors, each piece of the official myth reinforces the other, but it is this perversion of legalese which has allowed both of these anathemas of due process to persist, and that’s why these show trials should be regarded as a low point in the history of American justice.

Jury of his peers

An additional twist to the story came last week when all four federal prosecutors working on the Stone case suddenly resigned in protest after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened to reduce their sentence of seven to nine years for Stone. Naturally, all of this triggered a partisan storm, with the usual hysterical reactions from every known outpost of the anti-Trump resistance.

Stone then seemed to catch a lucky break with the revelation that his jury’s foreperson was actually a Democratic Party activist with a pronounced anti-Trump bias, further invigorating calls from the White House and conservative media that it was a rigged show trial from day one.

Was it ever possible for Roger Stone to get a fair trial? Throughout this entire ordeal, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone outside of the White House who would jump to defend Roger Stone. This is one reason why there’s been a noticeable lack of levity coming from the ranks of mainstream media and politics, as many regard him as an unsavory charlatan running subterfuge for then-candidate Trump. For this reason, they would just as soon let him languish in Leavenworth. Blinded by their disdain, they will have missed why his political crucifixion is so dangerous.

Trump may end up pardoning his old friend, but it should never have to come to that.

Looking back at how this story unfolded, it’s clearer than ever how due process was corrupted at every juncture.

The Collusion Illusion

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At Stake – Kunstler

Posted by M. C. on February 19, 2020

I have a theory about the McCabe case: The Attorney General has taken the rinky-dink “lying to the FBI” charge off the table. It has become a liability, virtually the emblem for government misconduct, and Mr. Barr is getting rid of it in these matters. It has already caused too much mischief, insulted Americans’ sense of justice, and damaged the DOJ’s standing.

https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/at-stake/

James Howard Kunstler

A miasma of consternation lay heavy across the Potomac swamp late last week when former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe was let off the hook for lying to his own bureau while, elsewhere across DC, the distinguished Lt. General Flynn was still fighting for his life against exactly the same charge after three years of dilatory maneuvers by the DOJ to conceal their prosecutorial malfeasance in the case… and then the sketchy Roger Stone matter entered a twilight zone of jiggery-pokery that appeared to climax in a staged ruse by his four prosecutors to lure the Attorney General, Mr. Barr, into a trap.

You are forgiven for failing to follow all the twists and turns in this latest installment of what might now be called CoupGate, a summation of the seditious campaign to overthrow the president, which already has gone through so many gates — SpyGate, RussiaGate, MuellerGate, UkraineGate, WhistleblowerGate — that Mr. Trump looks like he’s spent three years training for the giant slalom in the next winter Olympics. A localized Civil War is underway in the Department of Justice now. Mr. Barr is in the middle, getting it from both sides.

The AG has apparently partitioned the DOJ into two separate realms: the now-identified corps of coupsters working desperately to keep their asses covered in an unraveling conspiracy, and Mr. Barr’s group attempting to account fairly for all that has happened, while salvaging what’s left of the outfit’s institutional legitimacy. Too much documented evidence of crime is out there in the public domain to dismiss these activities as a “conspiracy theory.” The trouble is, so many were involved from so many branches and agencies, that fully prosecuting every angle of it could bring down the permanent bureaucracy like the Jenga tower it has become.

The decision to let Mr. McCabe skate on the lying rap infuriated those demanding accountability for government lawyers-gone-wild, since even the DOJ Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz, cited serial instances of his “lacking candor” in more than one report, and “Andy” seems to have been a pivot-man for the FBI in the early-and-middle phases of the coup — along with his DOJ counterpart, former Deputy Attorney General Rod (“I’ll wear a wire”) Rosenstein.

I have a theory about the McCabe case: The Attorney General has taken the rinky-dink “lying to the FBI” charge off the table. It has become a liability, virtually the emblem for government misconduct, and Mr. Barr is getting rid of it in these matters. It has already caused too much mischief, insulted Americans’ sense of justice, and damaged the DOJ’s standing. Note, Andrew McCabe has been let off only on this charge, stemming from only one particular IG referral; he may well yet be liable for more serious charges-to-come. From here on, there will be no more rinky-dink lying charges against any of those implicated in the coup, only the most serious charges, and only those that add up to a solid case.

The coup has been so broad, deep, and thick that I predict cases will have to be brought under the RICO statutes in batches for different groups in separate agencies and branches of government. For instance, there is the Intel Mob, including former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intel (DNI) James Clapper, current Intel IG Michael Atkinson, so-called whistleblower (he that cannot be named, E*** C**********) and International Man of Mystery Joseph Mifsud. There is the gang from the State Department who helped engineer UkraineGate, including former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, former Sec’y of State John Kerry, and others. There is that big herd of rogue lawyers in the DOJ and its stepchild, the FBI, the names widely disseminated by now, Comey, Strzok, Baker, Boente, Carlin, Clinesmith, et al. There’s Robert Mueller and his henchpersons, Andrew Weissmann, Jeannie Rhee, et al. There’s another band of seditionists in Congress that includes Mark Warner of the Senate Intel Committee, the now notorious idiot Adam Schiff over in the House, and staffers who worked for both. There’s a bunch in the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment that paid over a million dollars to Alternate International Man of Mystery (actually, CIA asset) Stefan Halper to run entrapment schemes against people working for Mr. Trump. There’s a swarm from Barack Obama’s White House, including Valarie Jarrett, Susan Rice, Samantha Powers, Alexandra Chalupa, former Vice-President Joe Biden and the former President himself. And finally, there is the 800-pound-gorilla over in the Democratic Party thicket, namely Hillary Clinton, and those connected to her and her charity fraud, the Clinton Foundation, which is the real and actual predicate for the whole sordid affair — a list that includes Viktor Vekselberg of Russia’s Skolkovo project, $25-million donor Russian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, and Dmitri Alperovich of CrowdStrike, (Russian collusion, anyone?) as well as rascally freelancers such as Christopher Steele, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the shadowy Nellie Ohr, lawyer/lobbyist Adam Waldman, and Hillary errand boys Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer. The stories behind those names are all over the web, in case you want to edify yourself.

Now, perhaps, you can see the scope of this big hot mess, and deduce the degree of difficulty that William Barr faces in attempting to set it all straight. He has to carefully select those who will be charged and probably not bother with some of the bit players. The charges are going to have to be serious, and the cases must be strong. It is a gigantic job of work, and rather delicate business considering the explosive potential to a government whose credibility is already pretty shredded. Failure to attend to it may turn a mere bureaucratic civil war into a genuine citizen rebellion featuring some of the 300-million-odd firearms at large in the republic. I believe Mr. Barr is aware of what’s at stake and will behave honorably.

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Adam Schiff’s Very Scary Warmongering Speech – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on January 24, 2020

The same goes for arguments that it’s actually NATO’s aggressive expansion to the east that has led to a needless buildup of tensions, not Russia’s drive to the west. Recent examples include an article in the National Interest arguing that NATO has “empowered some of the most historically anti-Russian elements in that region – Ukrainian Banderites [i.e. followers of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera], Polish nationalists, Balkan Islamists” – elements that, not unreasonably, have sparked Russia’s worst fears – or one in the Nation stating that NATO’s drang nach osten is “the primary cause for the new and very dangerous Cold War.”

Articles like those are verboten as well because they go counter to the new line that Russia is entirely to blame.

https://original.antiwar.com/daniel_lazare/2020/01/23/adam-schiffs-very-scary-warmongering-speech/

All the usual suspects are praising Adam Schiff’s marathon two-and-a-half-hour Senate speech on Wednesday to the skies. Neocon columnist Jennifer Rubin calls it “a grand slam” in the Washington Post. Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin describes it as “dazzling” on CNN. New York Times columnist Gail Collins says it was “a great job” and that Schiff is “a rock star” for pulling it off.

But in fact it was the opposite – a fear-mongering, sword-rattling harangue that will not only raise tensions with Russia for no good reason, but sends a chilling message to dissidents at home that if they deviate from Russiagate orthodoxy by one iota, they’ll be driven from the fold.

What is that orthodoxy? It’s that Russia invaded poor innocent Ukraine in 2014, that it interfered in the US presidential election in 2016 in order to hurt Hillary Clinton and propel Donald Trump into the White House, and that it’s now trying to smear Joe Biden merely because he had allowed his son to take a high-paying job with a notorious Ukrainian oligarch at a time when he was supposedly heading up the Ukrainian anti-corruption effort.

As Schiff put it with regard to Donald Trump’s famous July 25 phone call urging Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Biden’s activities:

“This investigation was related to a debunked conspiracy theory alleging that Ukraine not Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. This narrative propagated by the Russian intelligence services contends that Ukraine sought to help Hillary Clinton and harm then-candidate Trump…. This tale is also patently false and, remarkably, it is precisely the inverse of what the US intelligence community’s unanimous assessment was that Russia interfered in the 2016 election in sweeping and systemic fashion in order to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.”

So even though the Financial Times reported during the 2016 election campaign that the threat of a Trump victory was spurring “Kiev’s wider political leadership to do something they have never attempted before: intervene, however indirectly, in a US election,” articles like that are now down the memory hole because Schiff says they’re Russian propaganda that US intelligence agencies have determined to be false.

The same goes for arguments that it’s actually NATO’s aggressive expansion to the east that has led to a needless buildup of tensions, not Russia’s drive to the west. Recent examples include an article in the National Interest arguing that NATO has “empowered some of the most historically anti-Russian elements in that region – Ukrainian Banderites [i.e. followers of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera], Polish nationalists, Balkan Islamists” – elements that, not unreasonably, have sparked Russia’s worst fears – or one in the Nation stating that NATO’s drang nach osten is “the primary cause for the new and very dangerous Cold War.”

Articles like those are verboten as well because they go counter to the new line that Russia is entirely to blame. Declared Schiff:

“Russia is not a threat … to Eastern Europe alone. Ukraine has become the de facto proving ground for just the types of hybrid warfare that the twenty-first century will become defined by: cyberattacks, disinformation campaigns, efforts to undermine the legitimacy of state institutions, whether that is voting systems or financial markets. The Kremlin showed boldly in 2016 that with the malign skills it honed in Ukraine, they would not stay in Ukraine. Instead, Russia employed them here to attack our institutions, and they will do so again.”

As for Biden, a New York Times editorial said about his son’s unfortunate new job back in 2015:

“Sadly, the credibility of Mr. Biden’s [anti-corruption] message may be undermined by the association of his son with a Ukrainian natural-gas company, Burisma Holdings, which is owned by a former government official suspected of corrupt practices…. Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, has been under investigation in Britain and in Ukraine. It should be plain to Hunter Biden that any connection with a Ukrainian oligarch damages his father’s efforts to help Ukraine. This is not a board he should be sitting on.”

We must all put such sentiments behind us now Russia is seeking to “weaponize” such information, according to Schiff, and deploy it “against Mr. Biden just like it did against Hillary Clinton in 2016 when Russia hacked and released emails from her presidential campaign.” If Russia wants to weaponize it, then it’s best for the rest of us not to breathe a word of it lest people think we’ve been weaponized as well.

Bottom line: we must impeach Trump, according to Schiff’s epic presentation, not only because he’s overstepped his proper constitutional bounds, but because he’s part of a grand Russian conspiracy to spread disinformation, undercut US security, undermine faith in US intelligence agencies, and “remake the map of Europe by dent of military force.” In order to counter this all-encompassing threat, it is our patriotic duty to do the opposite by believing the CIA and redoubling US defense. If anyone tells us that Biden was guilty of a flagrant conflict of interest, we must stop up our ears because that’s what Moscow wants us to think. If anyone says that the entire Russian-interference narrative is just a silly conspiracy theory based on a paucity of facts and an abundance of paranoid speculation, we must do likely because it’s just the Kremlin trying to worm its way into our minds.

When in doubt, just remember to bleat: America good, Russia baa-aa-aad.

But while it would be nice to dismiss this as a joke, it’s not. Schiff’s emergence as leader of the Democratic impeachment drive means that the party is re-grouping along the most retrograde Cold War lines. As reckless and appalling as Trump’s behavior is in the Persian Gulf, the emerging Democratic worldview is shaping up as no less extreme. Because it sees Russia as mounting a multi-pronged offensive, the clear implication is that the US must respond in kind. This means more troops deployments, more forces mobilized to counter Russian threats from Venezuela to the Middle East, more TV talking heads going on and on about this or that Kremlin conspiracy, and more labelling of people like Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein as Russian assets.

Remember, this is the Los Angeles neocon who backed the invasion of Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, and Saudi Arabia’s unprovoked war against Yemen, an assault that, since March 2015, has cost 100,000 lives and brought half the country to the brink of starvation. He supported Obama’s war in Libya and called for the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria and relies on arms manufacturers and military contractors for major financial support.

But while Bernie supporters may have thought that Democrats were edging away from such views, they’re plainly in the wrong. Schiff’s new-found prominence shows that the neocons are back in the saddle. Impeachment advocates should be careful of what they wish for because the anti-Trump forces are turning out to be no less dangerous than those helping him to remain.

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The Justice Department Is Devoid of Justice – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Posted by M. C. on January 9, 2020

The Horowitz report of the Justice (sic) Department’s lies to the FISA court did not recommend a six-month prision sentence for those Justice (sic) Deplartment officials who lied to the government.  Horowitz covered up the crimes by converting them into “mistakes.”

Trials take time and provide a test of often unreliable police and prosecutorial evidence.

https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2020/01/08/the-justice-department-is-devoid-of-justice/

Paul Craig Roberts

In the United States the criminal justice (sic) system is itself not subject to law.  We see immunity to law continually as police commit felonies against citizens and even murder children and walk away free.  We see it all the time when prosecutors conduct political prosecutions and when they prosecute the innocent in order to build their conviction record.  We see it when judges fail to prevent prosecutors from withholding exculpatory evidence and bribing witnesses and when judges accept coerced plea deals that deprive the defendant of a jury trial.

We just saw it again when federal prosecutors recommended a six month prison sentence for Lt. Gen. Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency accused of lying to the FBI about nothing of any importance, for being uncooperative in the Justice (sic) Department’s effort to frame President Trump with false “Russiagate” charges.  The Justice (sic) Department prosecutor said: “The sentence should adequately deter the defendant from violating the law, and to promote respect for the law. It is clear that the defendant has not learned his lesson. He has behaved as though the law does not apply to him, and as if there are no consequences for his actions.”

That is precisely what the Justice (sic) Department itself did for years in their orchestration of the fake Russiagate charges against Trump.

The prosecutor’s hypocrisy is overwhelming.

The Justice (sic) Department is a criminal organization.  It has no sense of justice.  Convicting the innocent builds the conviction rate of the prosecutor as effectively as convicting the guilty. The Horowitz report of the Justice (sic) Department’s lies to the FISA court did not recommend a six-month prision sentence for those Justice (sic) Deplartment officials who lied to the government.  Horowitz covered up the crimes by converting them into “mistakes.”  Yes, they are embarrassing “mistakes,” but mistakes don’t bring prison sentences.

Gen. Flynn, who was President Trump’s National Security Advisor for a couple of weeks before Mueller and Flynn’s attorneys manuevered him into a plea bargain, allegedly lied to the FBI about whether he met with a Russian.  Flynn and his attorneys should never have accepted the proposition that a National Security Advisor shouldn’t meet with Russians.  Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski met with Russians all the the time.  It was part of their job.  Trump originally intended to normalize the strained relations with Russia.  Flynn should have been meeting with Russians. It was his job.

Ninety-seven percent of felony cases are resolved with plea bargains.  In other words, there is no trial.  The defendant admits to guilt for a lighter sentence, and if he throws in “cooperation,” which generally means giving false evidence against someone else in the prosecutor’s net, no sentence at all.  Flynn was expected to help frame Trump and Flynn’s former business partner, Bijan Rafiekian, on an unrelated matter.  He didn’t, which means he is “uncooperative” and deserving of a prison sentence.

Plea bargains have replaced trials for three main reasons.  One is that the defense attorney doesn’t want the hard work of defending his client.  One is that the majority of defendants cannot afford to pay the cost of defense.  One is that refusing to plea guilty and demanding a trial angers both the prosecutor and judge.  Trials take time and provide a test of often unreliable police and prosecutorial evidence.  They mean work for the prosecutor.  Even if he secures a conviction, during the same time he could have obtained many more plea bargain convictions.  For the judge, trials back up his case docket.  Consequently, a trial means for the defendant very high risks of a much longer and more severe sentence than he would get in exchange for saving prosecutor and judge time and energy.  All of this is explained to the defendant by his attorney.

It was explained to Gen. Flynn.  He agreed to a plea, most likely advised that his “offense” was so minor, no sentence would be forthcoming.  Flynn later tried to revoke his plea, saying it was coerced, but the Clinton-appointed  judge refused to let him out of the trap.

Now that we know the only Russiagate scandal was its orchestration by the CIA, Justice (sic) Department, and Democrats, failing to cooperate with the special counsel investigation of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election is nonsensical as we  know for a definite fact that there was no such interference.

This is how corrupt American law has become.  A man is being put in prison for 6 months for not cooperating with an investigation of an event that did not happen!

If Trump doesn’t pardon Flynn (and Manafort and Stone), and fire the corrupt prosecutors who falsely prosecuted Flynn, Trump deserves no one’s support.  A president who will not defend his own people from unwarranted prosecution is not worthy of support.

In Flynn’s case, we cannot dismiss the suspicion that revenge against Flynn was the driving factor. Gen. Flynn is the official who revealed on television that Obama made the willful decision to send ISIS or whatever we want to call them into Syria.  Of course, the Obama regime pretended that the jihadists were moderates seeking to overthrow the alleged dictator Assad and bring democracy to Syria.  Washington then pretended that it was fighting the mercenaries it had sent into Syria.  Even though the presstitutes did their best to ignore Flynn’s information, Flynn gave extreme offense by letting this information out. That bit of truth-telling was Flynn’s real offense.

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An End to the World as We Know It?, by Philip Giraldi – The Unz Review

Posted by M. C. on December 26, 2019

Congress and the White House compete in year-end stupidity sweepstakes.

The U.S., to be sure, has been adept at turning adversaries into enemies and disappointing friends, and it is all done with a glib assurance that doing so will somehow bring democracy and freedom to all.

https://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/an-end-to-the-world-as-we-know-it/

At the end of the nineteenth century, Lord Palmerston stated what he thought was obvious, that “England has no eternal friends, England has no perpetual enemies, England has only eternal and perpetual interests.” Palmerston was saying that national interests should drive the relationships with foreigners. A nation will have amicable relations most of the time with some countries and difficult relations with some others, but the bottom line should always be what is beneficial for one’s own country and people.

If Palmerston were alive today and observing the relationship of the United States of America with the rest of the world, he might well find Washington to be an exception to his rule. The U.S., to be sure, has been adept at turning adversaries into enemies and disappointing friends, and it is all done with a glib assurance that doing so will somehow bring democracy and freedom to all. Indeed, either neoliberal democracy promotion or the neoconservative version of the same have been seen as an overriding and compelling interest during the past twenty years even though the policies themselves have been disastrous and have only damaged the real interests of the American people.

The U.S. relationship with Israel is, for example, driven by a powerful and wealthy domestic lobby rather than by any common interests at all yet it is regularly falsely touted as being between two “close allies” and “best friends.” It has cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies for the Jewish state and Israeli influence over U.S. policy in the Middle East region has led to catastrophic military interventions in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Mogadishu and Libya. Currently, Israel is agitating for U.S. action against the nonexistent Iranian “threat” while also unleashing its lobby in the United States to make illegal criticism of any of its war crimes, effectively curtailing freedom of speech and association for all Americans.

Far more dangerous is the continued excoriation of the Kremlin over the largely mythical Russiagate narrative. Congress has recently approved a bill that would give to Ukraine $300 million in supplementary military assistance to use against Russia. The money and authorization appear in the House of Representatives version of the national defense authorization act (NDAA) that passed last week.

The bill is a renewal of the controversial Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative that Donald Trump allegedly manipulated to bring about an investigation of Joe Biden’s son Hunter. The new version expands on the former assistance package to include coastal defense cruise missiles and anti-ship missiles as offensive weapons that are acceptable for export to Kiev. It also authorizes an additional $50 million in military assistance on top of the $250 million congress had granted in last year’s bill, “of which $100 million would be available only for lethal assistance.”

Ukraine sought the money and arms to counter Russian naval dominance in the Black Sea through its base at Sevastopol in the Crimea. One year ago the Russian navy captured three Ukrainian warships and Kiev was unable to push back against Moscow because it lacked weapons designed to attack ships. Now it will have them and presumably it will use them. How Russia will react is unknowable.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, has been in Washington lobbying for the additional military assistance. He has had considerable success, particularly as there is bipartisan support in Congress for aid to Kiev and also because the Trump Departments of Defense and State as well as the National Security Council are all on board in countering the “Russian threat” in the Black Sea. President Trump signed the NDAA last week, which completed the process.

Far more ominously, Kuleba and his interlocutors in the administration and congress have been revisiting a proposal first surfaced under Bill Clinton, that Ukraine and Georgia should be admitted to the NATO alliance. Like the $300 million in military aid, there appears to be considerable bipartisan support for such a move. NATO already has a major presence on the Black Sea with Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey all members. Adding Ukraine and Georgia would completely isolate the Russian presence and Moscow would undoubtedly see it as an existential threat.

The NDAA also provides seed money to initiate the so-called Space Force, which President Trump inaugurated by describing it as “the world’s newest war-fighting domain. Amid grave threats to our national security, American superiority in space is absolutely vital. We’re leading, but we’re not leading by enough, but very shortly we’ll be leading by a lot. The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground.”

If that isn’t bad enough, the new defense budget ominously also requires the Trump administration to impose sanctions “with respect to provision of certain vessels for the construction of certain Russian energy export pipelines.” Last week the House of Representatives and Senate approved specific sanctions relating to the companies and governments that are collaborating on the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will cross the Baltic Sea from Vyborg to Greifswald to connect Germany with Russian natural gas. President Trump has signed off on the legislation.

The United States has opposed the project ever since it was first mooted, claiming that it will make Europe “hostage” to Russian energy, will enrich the Russian government, and will also empower Russian President Vladimir Putin to be more aggressive. Engineering companies that will be providing services such as pipe-laying will be targeted by Washington as the Trump administration tries to halt the completion of the $10.5 billion project.

Now that the NDAA has been signed, the Trump administration has 60 days to identify companies, individuals and even foreign governments that have in some way provided services or assistance to the pipeline project. Sanctions would block individuals from travel to the United States and would freeze bank accounts and other tangible property that would be identified by the U.S. Treasury. One company that will definitely be targeted for sanctions is the Switzerland-based Allseas, which has been contracted with by Russia’s Gazprom to build the offshore section of pipeline. It has suspended work on the project while it examines the implications of the sanctions.

Bear in mind that Nord Stream 2 is a peaceful commercial project between two countries that have friendly relations, making the threats implicit in the U.S. reaction more than somewhat inappropriate. Increased U.S. sanctions against Russia itself are also believed to be a possibility and there has even been some suggestion that the German government and its energy ministry might be sanctioned. This has predictably resulted in pushback from Germany, normally a country that is inclined to go along with any and all American initiatives. Last week German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas asked Congress not to meddle in European energy policy, saying “We think this is unacceptable, because it is ultimately a move to influence autonomous decisions that are made in Europe. European energy policy is decided in Europe, not in the U.S.”

German Bundestag member Andreas Nick warned that “It’s an issue of national sovereignty, and it is potentially a liability for trans-Atlantic relations.” That Trump is needlessly alienating important countries like Germany that are genuine allies, unlike Israel and Saudi Arabia, over an issue that is not an actual American interest is unfortunate. It makes one think that the wheels have definitely come off the cart in Washington.

The point is that Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence and Mike Esper (admittedly too many Mikes) wouldn’t know a national interest if it hit them in the face. Their politicization of policy to “win in 2020” promoting apocalyptic nonsense like war in space has also reinforced an existing tunnel vision on what Russia under Vladimir Putin is all about that is extremely dangerous. Admittedly, Team Trump throws out sanctions in all directions with reckless abandon, mostly aimed at Russia, Iran, North Korea and, the current favorite, Venezuela. No one is immune. But the escalation going from sanctions to arming the Kremlin’s enemies is both reckless and pointless. Russia will definitely strike back if it is attacked, make no mistake about that, and war could easily escalate with tragic consequences for all of us. That war is perhaps becoming thinkable is in itself deplorable, with Business Insider running a recent piece on surviving a nuclear attack. New homes in target America will likely soon come equipped with bomb shelters, just like in the 1950s.

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