Minutemen on Guard

Well, I see the Norks have launched an ICBM. It was a test, or a demonstration, of course. It’s nice to see they are making so much progress, all the way up to what the Soviet Union was doing in the mid-fifties. That’s not to denigrate it, it could be a real threat, especially given their loony-tunes leadership. But technically for a nation state, it is trivial. It’s also pretty useless since it just has to be cheaper to pay somebody else to launch your satellites, and launching actual nukes…well, if you want to rule a sheet of glass from hell, it might be viable, otherwise, not so much.

In non-news, yesterday the US was planning to launch a Minuteman III test flight. I haven’t checked by am fairly confident they did, and it passed. After all, Minuteman first deployed in the mid-1960s and has been upgraded and its service life extended a few times. Warsclerotic has some details.

The US Air Force test-launched a Minuteman III missile, just days after North Korea fired its latest ICBM into the Sea of Japan (also called the East Sea). The US missile, carrying no warhead, is expected to hit a mock target on a Pacific atoll.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) lifted off at 2:10am local time from the US Air Force North Vandenberg base, some 210km (130 miles) northwest of Los Angeles, AP reported.

The launch is said to “validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system,” according to Colonel Michael Hough, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command’s 30th Air Wing.

“Team V is postured to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to test launch the Minuteman III missile,” Hough said in a statement. “Our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron shows that the Western Range stands ready and able to create a safe launch environment.”

This will be the fourth Minuteman ICBM launched from the Vandenberg base this year. The first 2017 test took place in February, involving a Minuteman III that traveled to the Marshall Islands, carrying a non-explosive warhead. Another test was conducted by the Air Force on April 26. Days later, a third test missile launched from Vandenberg base.

Nice to know they still work after all these years.

I saw some pictures the other day of a Nork parade, you know infantry goose stepping along, tank commanders saluting proudly, ridiculously vulnerable mobile missiles and all. My thought was, “Just what are you trying to prove, and to whom?” Everybody in the west understands that you could make a pretty ugly mess – while you commit suicide with your people, which is effectively what happens when you overtly attack the US. I suspect your people know perfectly well, even if they are wise enough not to say it, that building these toys to amuse yourself, is why you are starving your people. torturing them, killing them.

Or is it really all ego, “look daddy at my toys, they’re even newer than Uncle Sam’s!” Which they are, since we build tools to do a job, and I’m not sure anybody is convinced that Minuteman IV would be any real improvement, so let’s not waste the money.

Just an irrelevant question, anybody remember when we last had a strictly military parade in Washington? I’m thinking it was as the armies went home back in 1865, but maybe there was another one or two. Not very important, is it? The military itself, like the Minuteman III, is a tool, designed to do a job, the defense of the American people, which it does superbly. It’s not a toy to stroke the President’s ego, he gets enough of that without. We’ve got a few units for show, of course: The Honor Guard from the 3d Infantry, the Herald Trumpets, the Old Guard, things like that, but basically, the US Military reflects the US. Not much about show, but a whole lot about go, and do.

Suits me, and seems to suit most of us, very well.

The New and Improved Sausage Factory

This is interesting, especially if you are like me, and believe almost nothing you hear, and well less than half as much of what you read. Yeah, I know, hell of a way to run a railroad, but then again Lee Smith, writing in The Tablet magazine does, I think, shed some light on the new and improved sausage factory. See what you think.

Donald Trump, Jr. appears to be the latest figure in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to be caught in the giant web of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. Trump the younger said he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that all he got in his June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was an earful about dropping the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials involved in the death of a Russian lawyer who was killed in detention.

If the Trump, Jr. meeting is just another chapter in the Beltway telenovela about Trump selling out America to the Russians through an ever-changing cast of supposed intermediaries—come back, Mike Flynn and Carter Page, we hardly knew ye—it sheds valuable light on the ways and means by which the news that fills our iPhone screens and Facebook feeds is now produced. You see, the Russian lawyer—often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin”—Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.

Steele’s report, a collection of anonymously-sourced allegations, many of which were said to come from “high-ranking former Russian government officials”—i.e. not exactly the kinds of people who seem likely to randomly shoot the shit with ex-British spooks—detailed Trump’s ties to Russian officials and strange sexual obsessions. Originally ordered up by one of Trump’s Republican challengers, the dossier circulated widely in D.C. in the months before the 2016 election, pushed by the Clinton campaign, but no credible press organization was able to verify its claims. After Clinton’s surprise loss, the dossier became public, and it’s claims—while still unverified—have shaped the American public sphere ever since.

If you haven’t noticed, there is almost no substance to any of this bullshit. I don’t carry water for Trump, but this is ridiculous, if you are going to attack the President, one should at least have him acting as the getaway driver for a two-bit robbery, but most of this seems made out of the whole cloth. And the main loom operator seems to be Fusion GPS.

Fusion GPS was founded in 2009—before the social media wave destroyed most of the remaining structures of 20th-century American journalism—by two Wall Street Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. They picked up former colleagues from the Journal, Tom Catan, and Neil King, Jr., who were also well-respected by their peers. When the social media wave hit two years later, print media’s last hopes for profitability vanished, and Facebook became the actual publisher of most of the news that Americans consumed. Opposition research and comms shops like Fusion GPS became the news-rooms—with investigative teams and foreign bureaus—that newspapers could no longer afford.

As top reporters themselves, the principals of Fusion GPS knew exactly what their former colleagues needed in order to package and sell stories to their editors and bosses. “Simpson was one of the top terror-finance investigative reporters in the field,” says one Washington-based journalist, who knows Simpson professionally and personally, and who asked for anonymity in discussing a former reporter. “He got disillusioned when Rupert Murdoch took over the Journal because there was less room for the kind of long-form investigative journalism he thrived on.”

And now, says the journalist, “they’re guns for hire. They were hired to dig up dirt on donors to Mitt Romney’s campaign, they were hired by Planned Parenthood after a video exposing some of the organization’s controversial practices.”

Besides Russia, Fusion GPS has also worked with other foreign countries, organizing campaigns and creating news that furthers the aims of the people who pay for their services—using the fractured playing field of “news” to extend old-fashioned lobbying efforts in a way that news consumers have been slow to understand.

Fusion GPS, according to the company’s website, offers “a cross-disciplinary approach with expertise in media, politics, regulation, national security, and global markets.” What does that mean, exactly? “They were hired by a sheikh in the UAE after he was toppled in a coup and waged an information war against his brother,” one well-respected reporter who has had dealings with the company told me. “I believe they seeded the New Yorker story about the Trump Hotel in Azerbaijan with alleged connections to the IRGC. They may have been hired to look into Carlos Slim. It’s amazing how much copy they generate. They’re really effective.” (About the former example, New Yorker editor David Remnick said this was not true.)

Yet it is rare to read stories about comms shops like Fusion GPS because traditional news organizations are reluctant to bite the hands that feed them.

There’s lots more at the link above. I think you should read it, and attempt to understand it. I think it explains quite a lot of what we see in the legacy media, often well and truly called #Fakenews, not least because it is bought and paid for by actors who have an agenda, which may or may not be compatible with the Administration, or for that matter what the people want. In any case, it is advocacy, not reporting as any of us understand it. And that is very bad for a free country or even one that is trying to hang on to its citizen’s freedom.

The answer? I have no idea, and doubt anyone else does either. But the first step to solving anything is to recognize and define the problem. This goes some distance in doing that. In the meantime, Distrust and verify.

 

Special Counsel

So, we have a Special Prosecutor Counsel. Isn’t that special, well we have it because there is a lot of smoke, not least to find out if there is a fire, swamp gas is burning off, too much grilling in the fog, or somebody bought some army surplus smoke generators and are manufacturing smoke. I think I may know, and so may you, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The farce must play out.

But I suspect it may not go the way the writer of the script thinks, former FBI Director Robert Mueller is fairly obviously well connected, that does not necessarily mean that he is dishonest. He’s also a former Marine Officer decorated for his service in Vietnam. One thing it will do is reduce the volume a bit, and let the Administration do a bit of administrating rather than running around like fools all day long. Well, one hopes anyway!

Best I’ve seen on it comes from Joshuapundit, here’s some…

Rosenstein may even have been told by Trump to appoint a special counsel. It puts this garbage on the back burner somewhat, and will hopefully shut it down. That’s because there’s nothing for Mueller to find on the president and no crime. But just look at Mueller’s actual brief! To supervise the investigation of:

“(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”

Regulation 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a) is part of the federal regulations that authorize appointing a special counsel. It expands a special counsel’s jurisdiction to all crimes, such as perjury or obstruction of justice, that interfere with his original responsibility.To wit, (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. §600.4(a).”

Think of the ground that could cover! It could definitely include investigating Seth Rich’s murder* and reopening the investigation of the Clinton Foundation that FBI Director Comey closed on Obama AG Loretta Lynch’s orders after she met will Bill Clinton on that plane. It could include compelling testimony from Loretta Lynch herself. It could expand to exploring President Obama’s surveillance of the Trump campaign by President Obama and the clear violations of FISA laws that took place. Imagine some of these juicy scandals coming to light just in time for the midterms…talk about a total reversal of fortune.

In any event, the supposed ‘Comey memo’ if it even exists amounts to hearsay evidence no judge would take seriously. And even if Trump suggested Comey ‘go easy on Flynn’ after he had been fired, that is not obstruction of justice. That crime involves actual overt actions like destroying evidence, perjury, inducing other people to commit perjury, you know, the sort of felonies the Clintons did routinely.

And recall that both ranking member Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Burr (R-NC),the chairman both said that Trump was not under investigation based on the classified briefing they were given.

Another thing to consider. Comey is a lawyer. As such, he is an officer of the court who is legally obligated to report a crime like obstruction of justice. Yet he did not…until now. That could be grounds for disbarment.

Do read it all at the link above.

Who knows, Special Counsels are official loose cannon, nobody (usually including them) know where an investigation like this is likely to go, and that’s if the Counsel (and staff) are honest. It may be the worst thing Trump could do, it may also be the best, only time will tell.

Lafayette, nous voilà!

Crowds cheer US general John Pershing in Paris in 1917 as it is announced that America will join the conflict Photo: GETTY

Today is an anniversary, for a hundred years ago today, 6 April 1917, the United States declared war on Imperial Germany. This marked our entrance into what was called until at least 1940, The Great War. But more it marks the beginning of what has come to be called the American century.

The title of the piece is what General Pershing is supposed to have said later that summer when amidst the adoring French crowd, he stood at Marquis de Lafayette’s grave. More likely it was his aide Charles E. Stanton. It marks the point when the Republic for the first time raised its standard for the freedom of other people rather than directly for Americans.

Winston Churchill said that the Great War and World War II constituted another Thirty Years war. He has a point, but others contend that the two wars and the Cold War constitute what they like to call “The Long War”. That too has merit, for all of these conflicts, spanning around 75 years, constitute an almost constant conflict to keep Europe free. One could argue that it still continues.

For those of us that read history, two (or more) wars this close together tend to be interesting. We can trace the junior leaders of one, as the senior commanders of the next. General Marshal was on Pershing’s staff, General Patton led the first armored force in American history, General MacArthur commanded an Infantry Division. One of the pictures I’ve carried in my mind for years is one I cannot find, it showed MacArthur and Patton standing erect in no man’s land conferring with each other. One can almost hear Bill Mauldin yelling back from World War Two, telling then to lie down, they’re likely to draw fire and get somebody hurt! We saw the same thing with Captain Grant and Colonel Lee (and many others) in the Mexican War.

So many things come from the Great War. Phrases such as “Over the Top”, which referred to mounting an attack out of the trenches, and the western revulsion towards chemical weapons. This was when the Marines got their sobriquet of Devil Dogs, bestowed by the Emperor of Germany, Kaiser Bill, himself, which is why we often write it Teufel Hunden. It is also when Belleau Wood lost its name, it is now  “Bois de la Brigade de Marine“, in honor of the 5th and 6th Regiments of Marines. You can read about it here, even if a then obscure Army Artillery captain thought the damned Marines got entirely too much publicity, That captain was Harry Truman.

Here is the first glimmering of American air power, first in the Lafayette Escadrille, and later in the Air Service, which would grow and in 1948 turn into the United States Air Force.

This is when the First Infantry Division became the “Rock of the Marne”. And on and on. And yet we don’t really study this war much. We were heavily involved but not for all that long, and our casualties were pretty low by the standards of the other participants. It also fits between the two biggest wars in American history, our Civil War and World War II, in both of which we had a much more major role, although one tends to think we were decisive in winning the first war as well.

But the results were decisive, indeed. When we entered the war, Britain was nearly starving, and the financial center of the world had moved from London to New York. France was worn out, Russia was making a separate peace. We didn’t win the peace though, the European allies forced through a victor’s peace on Germany, which would nearly guarantee the rematch. The solution of the end of the Ottoman Empire in the middle east has repercussions to this day, China was unhappy that Japan got some territory from it at Versaille.

This war marks the point where America assumed the leadership of what we call the Free World and started Europe on the downward slope we still see today. It may be a causal factor, because of the casualties that the Europeans incurred, especially in the young leaders.

As early as the fall of 1914, Germany simply couldn’t afford to lose, but they couldn’t win either. France and Britain weren’t in much better shape, only America was left to influence the outcome, just as in 1941, although it is close to risible to claim that Britain and France were actually fighting for democracy, although they were probably closer to it than Germany was. But, you know, both did become much more democratic because of the war, even if it was an unintended consequence.

A hundred years ago, today, we can see the first vague outline of the world we live in today, the one that America built on the shoulders of the British Empire.

Today was the day that Congress sent the word, and that word changed the world.

Very good article here in the £ Telegraph

 

The Pony in the Manure

Clarice Feldman at American Thinker has an article up summarizing the mess regarding the intelligence community. It’s a good one. If you care about America and/or the world, I’d advise you to read it, and try to understand it as well. Here’s a bit

There’s so much in print and online about the House and Senate intelligence committees and Russian “collusion” with Trump that I can’t blame people with real lives to lead who just throw their hands up and garden or go hiking. Some will assume there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere, as Ronald Reagan used to joke about the kid digging through manure. I think there is, but it isn’t that Russia corrupted the 2016 election, it’s that Obama and his closest aides, including some at the highest level in the intelligence community, illegally intercepted one or more Republican candidates’ communications before the election, circulated them widely to their cohorts and then tried to use this information to defeat and later to hamstring Trump when Hillary — to their surprise — lost the election.

I also suspect that the attacks on Flynn have nothing to do with his Russian contacts which he disclosed, but, rather, to misdeeds respecting the Middle East, particularly Iran, the country he observed as Obama’s head of the DIA.

The Surveillance and “Unmasking” of Trump and his Associates 

We learned this week that surveillance of Trump began long before he was the Republican nominee, and that the names in the intercepted communications were “unmasked” — that is, identified by name or context — by someone high up in the intelligence community.

In addition, citizens affiliated with Trump’s team who were unmasked were not associated with any intelligence about Russia or other foreign intelligence, sources confirmed. The initial unmasking led to other surveillance, which led to other private citizens being wrongly unmasked, sources said.

“Unmasking is not unprecedented, but unmasking for political purposes… specifically of Trump transition team members… is highly suspect and questionable,” an intelligence source told Fox News. “Opposition by some in the intelligence agencies who were very connected to the Obama and Clinton teams was strong. After Trump was elected, they decided they were going to ruin his presidency by picking them off one by one.”

Nunes and Surveillance Reports

The best summation of this week’s distraction — respecting chairman of the House intelligence committee, Devin Nunes — is Victor Davis Hanson’s which I urge those of you interested to read in its entirety. [I do too, Neo]

First, the central question remains who leaked what classified information for what reasons; second, since when is it improper or even unwise for an apprehensive intelligence official to bring information of some importance to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee for external review — in a climate of endemic distrust of all intelligence agencies?[snip] Nunes also said that the surveillance shown to him “was essentially a lot of information on the President-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.” Further, he suggested that the surveillance may have involved high-level Obama officials. When a reporter at Nunes’ second March 22 press conference asked, “Can you rule out the possibility that senior Obama-administration officials were involved in this?” Nunes replied, “No, we cannot.” Ipso facto these are startling disclosures of historical proportions — if true, of an anti-constitutional magnitude comparable to Watergate. Given the stakes, we should expect hysteria to follow, and it has followed. [snip]

Some notion of such intrigue, or rather the former nexus between Congress, the Obama administration, the intelligence agencies, and the monitoring of incoming Trump officials, was inadvertently disclosed recently by former Obama-administration Department of Defense deputy assistant secretary and current MSNBC commentator Evelyn Farkas. In an interview that originally aired on March 2 and that was reported on this week by Fox, Farkas seemed to brag on air about her own efforts scrambling to release information on the incoming Trump team’s purported talks with the Russians. Farkas’s revelation might put into context the eleventh-hour Obama effort to more widely disseminate intelligence findings among officials, one that followed even earlier attempts to broaden access to Obama-administration surveillance.

She goes on to specify at least most of the major players and their roles. Do read it, it’s the best rational guidebook to this that I have seen.

Nor do I have much to add except that in my experience, the only reason to overcomplicate and obfuscate almost anything is to avoid responsibility and blame. That what this whole thing reeks of. From the intelligence community, especially CIA, FBI, and NSA, from Clinton, Inc, far beyond the campaign, and from the news media, but then I threepeat myself, for they are all interlocked in so many hidden ways. And as a bit of an aside, this is far more important than any scandal in my lifetime, including Watergate.

Time to muck out the stable, and see if the pony really is there. Nothing really new here, though, Sir Walter Scott observed back around 1808

Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive.

McCarthyism of the Left

It might have been better English if I had said ‘on the Left’, but it wouldn’t be correct. It has become inherent to the Left, an organic part of it, like the riots at the drop of a hat, the general contempt for truth, and an inability to differentiate between good and evil.

In any case, when Ooobie talks, I have learned to listen, one she nearly always right, not least because she knows whereof she speaks. And besides, she’s been there, and knows people who still are.

Joe McCarthy only found 205 spies in the State Department. Imagine that, and all the hysteria surrounding the claim. Quite recently, nine hundred State Department “professionals” signed a dissent channel message that was pretty clearly coordinated with the media for maximum impact. It was an act of political defiance against the president and his supporters among the US public.

But onward to other traitors. There are of late a few serious commentators who are trying to focus public attention on the swelling sociopathic intolerance in the US. This McCarthyism is exercised in its current incarnation by the left, not the right, which only goes to prove the dictum that the extreme left and extreme right are identical in all ugly essentials. Such experts in Russian and US-Russian affairs as Dr. Stephen F. Cohen of NYU are trying to call attention to the dangers of this intolerance, which is expressed in ostracism of and sometimes violence against anybody not on board with the meme that Russia is an enemy of America. They are trying to swamp the airwaves with the idea that Russia in collusion with Trump was responsible for Hillary Clinton’s appalling loss. Cohen disarticulates their allegations brilliantly in his discourses, but the bottom line is: no evidence to prove charges that appear to be politically motivated. He sees the relentless campaign of half-truths and lies as destructive of US-Russian relations and an effort to impede any improvement. He concludes that these goals are part of the Democrat game plan. I myself have never experienced such a wave of hysteria among a public agitated by the propagandists (hence agit-prop). Obama calls these people community organizers and sees himself as the King of All Community Organizers. Their goal: to deliberately undermine the government and remove the sitting president from office. To replace said president with a nominee of the Deep State and its financiers.

In their battle to take the White House, the left long ago sacrificed truth. Truth is whatever serves their crusade for permanent power and global socialism. The Russian card was planted before the Obama Administration left the premises, likely as an ace in the hole, a tasty bit of blackmail against what the planters thought would be be a Republican minority. When the US voters shafted the Democrat party, the Russia ploy took on major importance as a red herring leading the public to focus not on the corrupt Dems and their corrupt candidate as the cause of defeat, but on a treacherous Trump somehow in bed with the Russians. The Dems operate on nearly one hundred percent supposition and assumption. Recall that the first document to kick off the campaign, surfaced by Deep State agent John Brennan, was an “intelligence assessment,” shorthand for this is a result of brain-storming without actual evidence or only bits and bobs of evidence. (See “Intelligence Assessment and Unpredictability” at https://sourcesandmethods.blogspot.com/2014/04/intelligence-assessment-and.html). A few members of the intelligence community came out and gave their blessings to the story, although not all were equally enthusiastic about it. And nobody offered evidence, instead falling back on the old trust us. Long time intel folks were certainly not convinced, no doubt remembering story lines from the past. And our professional diplomats such as Jack Matlock and political ambassadors such as the anti-Putin Michael McFaul are not convinced either. They and the rest of us in this vast field of “Russology” don’t think the Russians are amateurs who leave giant clues around to track their activity. Our own government doesn’t leave tracks, either, and you can ask Angela Merkel about that. So unless we get something substantive as proof, we have to hold onto our doubts.

via McCarthyism Lives | Ooobie on Everything

Keep reading at the link, cause I have little to add except that I think she is correct.

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