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  1. #61

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Quote Originally Posted by ponchi101 View Post
    Agree. And IIRC it took Chavez a couple of years before he banned the press from his ramblings. So 45 is actually doing things faster.

    Sorry, Drop. How long did the Kirchners stay in power? And how long has the Venezuelan tragedy been going? So it seems to me that the longer 45 stays, the longer he will stay.
    How hard can it be to repeal the 22nd Amendment (Presidential Term Limits)
    That's exactly my point. Kirchner and Chavez made their plays over time and slowly (more or less) producing a smaller reaction than Trump. Remember the lesson about the frog in the pan where the water temperature rises slowly. This is the same, but his Orangeness it too clumsy to go progressively. He hit HI right off the bat and the frog will jump.
    Meet again we do, old foe...

  2. #62

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Adam BlicksteinVerified account
    All you need to know about Trump: the National Security Advisor, a three star general, has no Oval Office walk in privileges. Omarosa does

    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  3. #63

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    The story of the week is Trump, Russia and the FBI. The rest is a distraction
    Malcolm Nance
    Saturday 25 February 2017 12.51 EST

    Narrative switching. That is what the Trump administration is desperately trying to do around Russia right now. The White House reportedly interfered with the FBI in the middle of an active investigation involving counter-intelligence. This was not only foolhardy but also suspicious, as it directly undermined their apparent objective: distracting us.

    On 14 February, the New York Times reported that advisors and associates of Donald Trump may have been in direct and continuous contact with officers of the Russian intelligence agency, the FSB, during a tumultuous election campaign in which the American democracy itself was hacked. A major party – now in opposition – was the victim of an unprecedented cyber attack.

    According to the Times, intercepted telephone calls and phone records indicated to American counter-intelligence officers direct contact with the Russians.

    The stakes are high. Most Democrats and more than a few Republicans believe this investigation could unearth details that could plunge the nation into a political and constitutional crisis not seen since the secession of the South in 1860 and 1861.

    The Trump administration has repeatedly denied the characterization and defended the campaign’s conduct. However, its denials have always been couched in the most legalistic terms and each falls apart with every new revelation. It doesn’t help that Trump himself calls the allegations “fake news” then validates the reporting by attacking the leaks – suggesting that they are true.

    Now, thanks to CNN, we learned on Thursday that Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus had reportedly contacted the deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, and requested that the bureau publicly characterize the Times story as not being serious – in McCabe’s reported words, “total BS”.

    When this was rebuffed by McCabe, Priebus reportedly went to FBI director James Comey, who allegedly also refused to comment publicly. Priebus then allegedly asked both if he could quote them anonymously as “top intelligence officials”, saying the story was totally wrong. According to CNN, McCabe and Comey agreed to let him do that, despite the fact that the FBI and the White House are prohibited from communicating about open investigations.

    The White House then turned to other intelligence officials and to members of Congress. According to the Washington Post, House and Senate intelligence committee chairs Devin Nunes and Richard Burr were asked to push back against Russian stories that did not favor the administration. They told the Post they did so.

    No matter what the contention, the fundamental fact exists that the FBI, based on McCabe’s and Comey’s remarks, has inadvertently verified that there is, in fact, a counter-intelligence investigation going on involving the associates of the president. Until now the investigation had only been reported through anonymous sources.

    This bungled attempt to manage the media reveals the fear in the White House: that there may actually be a smoking gun that ties Trump to Moscow’s hacking.

    It is always possible that Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, former adviser Carter Page and others may have been in contact with Russians as part of foreign policy development. But given the political environment in the summer of 2016, after the hack of the Democratic National Committee, it is very hard to believe that any continuous and repeated contact with the Kremlin was completely innocent.

    Priebus’s clumsy attempt to perform perception management judo only added fuel to the fire. Then it was raked over with Trump’s often incomprehensible flamethrower rhetoric when he declared CNN reporting “fake news” and had them banned, with the New York Times and other outlets including the Guardian, from a press gaggle on Friday.

    Any investigation involving Trump advisers and Russian intelligence is serious stuff. If born out, it has the potential to become the greatest political scandal in American history. But this meddling by the White House is one step too far. It is not typical Washington pushback. It smacks of a strategy of cover-up.

    It is high time for the House and Senate to form independent select subcommittees to ferret out the truth. The key questions are simple. What did Trump and his staff know about the hacks? When did they know it and were they complicit in any way?

    If American citizens worked alongside a foreign power to interfere in American democracy, it must be found out and quickly. It is crucial to retain the trust in our president and the electoral process. The stakes are nothing less than the legitimacy of American liberal democracy.

    Malcolm Nance is a career US intelligence officer and author of The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks tried to steal the 2016 election
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  4. #64

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Mike SignorileVerified account

    Group of Trump youth came out to challenge protestors during Trump’s speech @CPAC. But really, it was to silence them. One of them yelled...

    “Health care his not a right!” Screaming at protestors, who included local doctor. Protestors mostly black, Trump youth all white. One said

    to me that he was watching Trump’s speech, but “saw” the protestors & decided to bring a group out to “engage in free speech” wit them. But.

    You couldn’t see the small protest from Trump’s speech, in ballroom, & why would you leave the speech of your savior, Trump, to go outside?

    They were of course organized by group, Turning Point USA,l Trump youth brigade. The leader, 70 year old man, tried to intimidate me,

    He was taking trying to stop me from talking to them and was taking my name down. Anyway, I surmise that Trump saw the few protestors...

    …while in motorcade on the way in. And probably told someone to get them shut down. Why else would a whole slew of youth suddenly ...

    descend on few protestors just as Trump’s speech began. They were trying to intimidate these women. but then they ran when Ichallenged them

    Oh and here’s the group. The leader, 70 year old Bill Montgomery, was surveilling me / cameras & writing my name.

    Sorry, he’s 75. Only reason I mention his age is that he’s GOP operative. These kids organized by old hands, not organic youth movement.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  5. #65

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Trump Is the Government
    His flap with the FBI—and his disregard for agencies in his own administration—reveals a presidency of dangerous self-centeredness and isolation.

    By Fred Kaplan

    Each day brings more signs that President Trump has no regard for democratic norms, no understanding of how government works, and no interest in repairing these deficiencies.

    The latest signs flashed Thursday night, when CNN reported two acts of stunning malfeasance. In the first, a senior White House official—later identified as chief of staff Reince Priebus—asked the deputy director of the FBI to tell reporters that news stories about connections between Trump and Russia were overblown. (The FBI official, who is in the middle of investigating these connections, declined.)

    In the second, Trump ordered the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to help make a case for his travel ban on people from seven countries, specifically by providing evidence that once they cross our borders these people commit crimes and engage in terrorism. Officials in those departments, who haven’t found such evidence, viewed the order as an attempt to distort or falsify intelligence for political purposes.

    Priebus’ chat with the FBI violates long-established rules barring political officials from contacting the bureau in any way about ongoing investigations. Trump’s prodding of the Justice and Homeland Security departments is reminiscent of the early Bush years, when Vice President Dick Cheney pressured the CIA to find evidence of a link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein, in order to justify the impending invasion of Iraq. No link was found; the invasion plowed forth anyway.

    What these incidents have in common with many others in the five weeks since Trump took office is not just an impulse to spin reality so it suits his interests and desires (many presidents have been guilty of that, to some degree) but, more, a compulsion to blot out all interests and desires that are not his own. In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump proclaimed, “I am your voice.” Having won the election, a fact that he touts in every public setting as if it legitimizes all of his actions, he now seems to be declaring, “I am the state.”

    After federal judge James Robart overturned his executive order banning visas for thousands of foreign visitors and immigrants, Trump tweeted, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Leaving aside its widely noted absurdities there’s the more ominous danger of the tweet’s premise—that the proper role of judges (so-called or otherwise) is not to enforce the law as they interpret it but merely to enforce a president’s order. This judge’s opinion steals law enforcement away from “our country,” and “our country” is Trump (“I speak for you”—L’état, c’est moi).

    On the same day, Trump also tweeted, “What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?” Again, leaving aside the inaccuracies (it is not the case that just “anyone” can enter U.S. territory), the telling bit was the fact of his wondering what our country has come to when a judge can halt a president’s order. The answer, of course, is that our country had come to what it had been all along, or at least since 1803—a country where the judicial branch settles matters of constitutional law. Is Trump ignorant about this arrangement? Or does he want to undermine and destroy it?

    Like many moguls, Trump has long believed that government should behave more like business. This notion has many fallacies, among them the fact that most businesses have one interest—to maximize profits—while governments, especially democratic governments, have to mediate many interests, some of them competing and contradictory. But most of the business people who recite this canard at least own businesses that report to stockholders and directors. By contrast, the Trump Organization—the only business he’s ever known—is privately owned and operated; it’s a family affair, beholden to no outsider.

    And so, at least out of habit if not malice, this is the way Trump is trying to run the presidency: everything from the top—because the top is the only place that matters.

    Many presidents had a tendency to concentrate power, but Trump has gone several leagues further. On Feb. 9, I wrote a column noting that Trump had not yet nominated any deputy, under, or assistant secretaries for the departments of State and Defense. Fifteen days later, nothing has changed. At the time, I took the vacant posts as signs of Trump’s incompetence or inexperience. But now I’m wondering if it might be deliberate, if he might not want to staff these departments.

    During the campaign, Trump talked of “draining the swamp.” On Thursday, his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, told the Conservative Political Action Conference that the Trump presidency’s goal is the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” He defined this target as the system of taxes, regulations, and international trade pacts, which he blamed for hampering economic growth and gnawing away at a culture of American nationalism. Maybe he and Trump see the vast bureaucracies of the Pentagon and the foreign service as another part of this coastal, cosmopolitan elite—the swamp to be drained.

    Or it could be that Bannon’s view simply converges with the instincts of the owner of the Trump Organization to see all other power centers within the government—the departments that created and thrive on the taxes, regulations, trade pacts, and alliances—as adversaries or obstacles to Trump’s (and therefore the people’s) ambitions and interests.

    But Trump is playing a dangerous game here, not only for the public’s interests and security but also for his own. A president can’t wipe out whole bureaucracies by simply neglecting them. He might even find—not too late, let’s hope—that he needs them. Should a crisis erupt in, say, the South China Sea—a region where his secretary of state, secretary of defense, and national security adviser have almost no experience or expertise—it would be good to have an undersecretary of defense for policy, an undersecretary of state for politico-military affairs, and assistant secretaries for East Asian affairs in both departments. Even if there is no crisis, it is very useful for a global power to have such officials simply to call their counterparts in the region, see what’s going on, correct misunderstandings—in short, to maintain the alliance. (The State and Defense departments have acting secretaries in those posts, but most of them are junior holdovers from the Obama administration, or from the foreign or civil service, with no credible authority to speak on behalf of the sitting president.)

    In any case, many of these bureaucracies rumble along, whether or not the president ignores them. They persist nonetheless. This is especially true of the law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, which keep gathering information about enemies, foreign and domestic. These rumblings—these eternal investigations—account for some of Trump’s discomfort at the moment, and his awkward attempts to overcome his troubles only make matters worse. Attacks on the permanent bureaucracy (which encompasses much more than the stereotyped “deep state”) only intensify the resentment and enmity of its denizens. They also rally officials who may not be whistleblowers by nature but now take up the cause, whether to protect the provincial interests of their agency or the broader interests of the country.

    Friday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer (no doubt, at the instigation of Trump, who pays fanatical attention to such matters) banned reporters for the New York Times, Politico, and CNN from the daily press briefing. These reporters have written some of the most trenchant pieces on malfeasances and corruption at the White House. The president and his flacks may think they’ve dealt a blow to their enemies or, as Trump recently described them, the “enemies of the American people,” which in his mind are synonymous. But this is yet another figment of his isolation and self-centeredness. The government is a big place. Banning some reporters from the West Wing won’t dry up their sources or end the atmosphere of crisis, which is almost entirely of Trump’s own making.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  6. #66

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Sean Spicer targets own staff in leak crackdown

    By ANNIE KARNI 02/26/17 11:55 AM EST

    Press Secretary Sean Spicer is cracking down on leaks coming out of the West Wing, with increased security measures including phone checks for White House staffers overseen by White House attorneys.

    The push to snuff out leaks to the press comes after a week in which President Donald Trump expressed growing frustration with the media and the unauthorized sharing of information by individuals in his administration.

    Last week, after Spicer became aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting with about a dozen of his communications staffers, he reconvened the group in his office to express his frustration over the number of private conversations and meetings that were showing up in unflattering news stories, according to sources in the room.

    Upon entering Spicer’s second floor office, staffers were told to dump their phones on a table for a “phone check," to prove they had nothing to hide.

    Spicer, who consulted with White House counsel Don McGahn before calling the meeting, was accompanied by White House lawyers in the room, according to multiple sources. There, he explicitly warned staffers that using texting apps like Confide -- an encrypted and screenshot-protected messaging app that automatically deletes texts after they are sent -- and Signal, another encrypted messaging system, was a violation of the Federal Records Act, according to multiple sources in the room.

    The phone checks included whatever electronics staffers were carrying when they were summoned to the unexpected follow-up meeting, including government-issued and personal cell phones.

    Spicer also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media. It's not the first time that warnings about leaks have promptly leaked. The State Department's legal office issued a four-page memo warning of the dangers of leaks -- that memo was immediately posted by the Washington Post.

    But with mounting tension inside the West Wing over stories portraying an administration lurching between crises and simmering in dysfunction, aides are increasingly frustrated by the pressure-cooker environment and worried about their futures there.

    Spicer declined to comment.

    Alex Isenstadt contributed to this report.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  7. #67

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Foreign PolicyVerified account

    EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration looks to loosen hiring requirements to beef up Border Patrol
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  8. #68

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Trump’s Cabinet has to work as a cleanup crew
    By Ashley Parker February 26 at 5:00 AM

    After President Trump said that deporting undocumented immigrants was “a military operation,” Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, speaking in Mexico, clarified that there would be “no use of military force in immigration operations.”

    After Trump, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, upended decades of U.S. policy by saying he was open to a one-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East, U.N. envoy Nikki Haley asserted that the United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution.

    And after Trump alarmed European allies by declaring NATO obsolete, Vice President Pence flew to Munich and Brussels, where he reassured a worried continent that the president remains “fully devoted to our transatlantic union.”

    One of the unofficial duties of Trump’s Cabinet, it seems, is cleaning up the statements of the man they serve. Five weeks into Trump’s tenure in office, his deputies have found themselves softening, explaining and sometimes outright contradicting the president.

    This public and often yawning gulf between Trump and his agency heads has added to the sense of chaos and turmoil emanating from the White House, sending his secretaries scrambling to interpret their boss’s exact positions and leaving other nations confused as to who, exactly, speaks on behalf of the administration.

    “It puts the Cabinet officials in an awkward position,” said Ryan Williams, a Republican strategist. “They serve the president and obviously don’t want to contradict him, but at the same time they have to articulate administration policy, which sounds like an oxymoron — contradicting the president by articulating administration policy — but that’s been the case in some instances so far.”

    When Pence traveled to Europe a week ago to offer bland assurances — a message of support for NATO and cooperation with the European Union — he managed to temporarily soothe nervous allies. But diplomats and foreign leaders nonetheless emerged from 2½ days of meetings with the vice president uncertain if he really spoke on behalf of the president or if his dull diplomacy could yet be undone by a tweet or stray remark from Trump just days later.

    And on a diplomatic mission in Mexico City, Kelly chided the press for misreporting and misrepresenting the facts. “Let me be very clear. There will be no — repeat, no — mass deportations,” he said. “There will be no — repeat, no — use of military force in immigration operations. None.”

    But the news reports to which Kelly referred were simply quoting Trump himself, who earlier in the day had touted “a military operation” in the United States to help round up and deport undocumented immigrants, whom the president called “really bad dudes.”

    Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, ultimately suggested that Trump was using “military” as an adjective referring to the precision and efficiency with which deportations were occurring — not the operations themselves.

    As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has traveled the world, he, too has found himself playing interpreter and explainer for the young administration, often taking stances that seem not quite in line with the message out of the White House.

    On a recent trip to the Middle East, for instance, Mattis seemed to break from — or at least add clarity to — two of the president’s recent comments. Trump recently tweeted that he views the news media (or, as he calls it, the “fake news media”) as an “enemy of the American people” — a claim he reiterated in person at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland on Friday. The defense secretary disagreed with the label.

    “I don’t have any issue with the press myself,” he said at a stop in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

    During a meeting with reporters in Baghdad during his first trip to Iraq as Pentagon chief, Mattis also pushed back on comments Trump made last month at the CIA headquarters, in which the president said the United States should have “kept the oil” during the drawdown from the Iraq War. It was a favorite line that Trump used repeatedly during his campaign.

    “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” Mattis said.

    Mattis’s first foreign trip, meanwhile, was devoted to reassuring South Korea and Japan over conflicting signals the president had sent to the region. In a later trip to Brussels, he also told NATO allies that the United States remains committed to the military alliance established after World War II.

    Of course, the Trump White House is hardly the first in which Cabinet officials have disagreed with the president. In former president Barack Obama’s administration, there was vigorous debate — and differing viewpoints — on several major issues, including whether to authorize the Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden and whether to arm the rebels in Syria.

    In President George W. Bush’s White House, one disagreement broke into embarrassing public view after the president’s counsel and chief of staff raced to the intensive-care unit hospital room of John D. Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to try to persuade him to reauthorize Bush’s domestic surveillance program, which the Justice Department had just determined was illegal.

    An official in the current White House cast the disagreements between Trump and his Cabinet officials as questions of nuance and semantics, not true ideological conflict. “Our president chose bold leaders, not a group of yes-secretaries, and from time to time the language may differ slightly, but they are all pulling together in the same direction to make our country great again,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s principal deputy press secretary.

    Still, the degree to which Trump and members of his own Cabinet seem out of alignment is striking, especially on such a variety of issues so early in his presidency.

    Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s new national security adviser, broke with the president when, in his first staff meeting last week, he rejected the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” the New York Times reported. The “radical Islamic terrorism” label is one Trump used frequently — and often with gusto — but McMaster told his team that it was not helpful and that terrorists were not accurately representing the religion of Islam.

    And in an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the administration was still determining whether to label China a currency manipulator. His statement was at odds not only with campaign promises Trump made to do just that his first day in office, but also with the president’s comments the same day in an interview with Reuters, in which Trump said the Chinese were the “grand champions at manipulation of currency.”

    If some of Trump’s issues with his Cabinet heads can be blamed on bad communication, he seems willfully out of line with other agencies, especially those dealing with national security and intelligence.

    On Friday, the president lashed out at the FBI in a tweet, saying the bureau “is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time,” including within the department itself. “FIND NOW,” he wrote, using all capital letters.

    It was not the first time Trump had criticized the intelligence agencies, comparing them, at one point, to Nazi Germany.

    Robert Dallek, a presidential historian and biographer, said he found the stream of contradictions and cleanups worrying — and unprecedented.

    “I don’t understand how this administration can be so full of errors and stumbles and retreats,” he said. “It’s as if what someone says doesn’t matter, because the next minute they change it. They don’t seem to understand that the words coming out of a presidential administration or a top adviser to the president count for something and resonate and reach people, not only in the media but across this country and around the world.”

    Dallek added that he sees some similarities between Trump and former president Franklin D. Roosevelt, who let his Cabinet secretaries compete against one another as a means for him to maintain command.

    But, Dallek said, there was one crucial difference: Roosevelt’s team’s private jockeying never spilled into public view. “This was not out in the open, so people could say: ‘Well, what are you doing? Who speaks for the president? Who’s the real authority?’ ”

    Roosevelt, he said, “would let them compete privately and then he would decide what to do. But it was not done with this public display.”
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  9. #69

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Some were looking for articles from over the summer and later in the election campaign about 45's shenanigans. Some reporters are reposting their work. Her's one.


    BY KURT EICHENWALD ON 8/12/16 AT 10:46 AM


    When Donald Trump suggested on August 9 that Hillary Clinton could be stopped from nominating judges only by “Second Amendment people,” most of the world gasped, realizing he was inciting violence against his opponent for the presidency. It was unprecedented, beneath contempt. But he didn’t apologize. Given my long experiences with Trump, I knew he would soon string together a babble of words in hopes of twisting his statement beyond recognition. And so he did, with an assist from sycophants like Sean Hannity of Fox News, who nodded like a bobblehead doll as Trump told him he didn’t mean that gun lovers should assassinate Clinton. He only meant they should be voting for him to keep her out of the White House.

    That makes no sense, and here’s a crucial thing to know about Trump: He never tries to make his lies or delusions or fantasies make sense. He just spews to explain away the inexplicable.

    Call for AssassinationLet’s examine the words that got him into so much trouble: “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what, that will be a horrible day.”Trump’s post hoc interpretation: He doesn’t know if gun lovers will vote to keep Clinton out of office. Or he hopes gun owners will vote for him. Or only Trump voters with guns could keep Clinton out of office. None of that makes sense.

    Read the original statement again. Did he mean it will be a horrible day when Second Amendment people stop her from picking judges? That’s a call for assassination. Or did he mean it will be a horrible day when a President Clinton picks judges, and only Second Amendment people might be able to stop it? Another call for assassination.

    Trump then blamed the media for applying the rules of grammar and sentence structure to him, instead of being like his acolytes, for whom words and sentences no longer have agreed-upon meanings.

    This, Mr. Speaker, is what you would be dealing with in a Trump presidency, and this flagrant disregard for the facts, for the truth, is why I am writing this, my second open letter to you. Trump must be stopped. Let the GOP lose this election. It is the only way to save the Republican Party, and the nation. Even some of his most deranged supporters recognize the danger he poses—one caller into C-SPAN last week said he knew his candidate might start a nuclear war, but at least America would win.

    ...anyone considering voting for Trump should read some of the depositions he has given over the years. Remember, this was testimony under oath. Either he consistently lies when under oath or his inability to recognize the truth is a symptom of a psychiatric disorder. I described in my previous letter to you how Trump lied in testimony before Congress. He explicitly stated he had held no discussions with anyone associated with Indian casinos about doing business with them...and then a congressman produced an affidavit, telephone records and letters proving that was a lie.

    Lies, Lies and More Lies

    What is most disturbing in Trump’s sworn statements is the amount of nonsense he spouts as he mangles the English language into meanings no rational person could accept. An unsuccessful “development by Donald Trump” is not a “development by Donald Trump.” A successful project built by another developer who paid to have Trump’s name on the building is a “Donald Trump development.” A payment of $400,000 equals a payment of $1 million. An ownership stake of 30 percent is actually a 50 percent stake. In a single sentence, he says he knows some people’s names but not their identities, as if talking about Batman and Superman. He studied résumés, but he only glanced at them. The list goes on, with one point in common: Every one of his answers, while under oath, depends not on the truth but on whether it makes him look good.

    In December 2008, just after the Democrats won the White House, Trump wrote on his personal blog, "Hillary is smart, tough and a very nice person and so is her husband." He then added, “Bill Clinton was a great president.” The words are simple and clear. Earlier this year, in a deposition given in a lawsuit against Trump involving allegations of fraud regarding his real estate courses (called Trump University), the plaintiff’s lawyer asked Trump if he had ever called Bill Clinton a great president. Trump refused to answer directly, saying the scandal involving Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky had damaged his presidency.

    Finally, the lawyer showed Trump the blog post in which he had praised Bill Clinton as president and asked if Trump believed what he wrote.“I was fine with it at the time,” Trump replied. “I think in retrospect, looking back, it was not a great presidency because of his scandals.”


    In that same 2016 deposition, Trump was confronted with a marketing video in which he said professors and adjunct professors would be teaching the classes for Trump University. He was then asked if he knew the identities of the adjunct professors. “I know names, but I really don't know the identities,” he said. As with many of Trump’s dismissals of evidence when he is caught, the answer makes no sense. P.S.: He never gave the names “he knew” of the adjunct professors; that would have been a challenge, since those people did not exist.


    Trump often doesn’t even try to make sense when explaining away a lie. In 2011, he was deposed about a failed Florida condo project. The building’s developer had paid a licensing fee to slap the Trump name on it, but—other than allowing his name to be used in marketing to deceive potential buyers—Trump had nothing to do with the project, which closed after taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in nonrefundable deposits. During Trump’s testimony under oath, the plaintiff’s lawyer confronted him with marketing material in which he had boasted that the building would be a “signature development by Donald J. Trump.” Despite the indisputable meaning of those words, Trump disputed them: When the advertising says the building is a development by Donald Trump, “in some cases they’re developed by me and in some cases they’re not.” He never explained how “developed by Trump” can mean “not developed by Trump” but pointed out that the lengthy legal documents signed by those unfortunate buyers disclosed in the fine print that he was not the builder. Why, then, the plaintiff’s lawyer asked, didn’t he include that disclosure in the advertising rather than the misleading “signature development” clause? “You can’t put it in the advertising because there’s not enough room,” Trump replied.

    Clearly perplexed, the plaintiff’s lawyer tried to get Trump to explain how the same words could mean different things. “It’s your testimony that the statement ‘this signature development by Donald J. Trump’ is consistent with the position that Donald J. Trump is not a developer of this project?”

    “Absolutely,” Trump testified.

    The all-time classic Trump deposition is the one he gave in 2007 in a libel lawsuit he brought against Timothy O’Brien, author of TrumpNation, because the book stated that Trump’s net worth was far less than he claimed. (It was. Just ask Deutsche Bank.) Throughout this deposition, Trump sounded delusional, in what some might dismiss as compulsive lying. But knowing Trump, I don’t think he was lying; he believed what he was saying, but the facts just kept getting in his way.

    Trump needed to prove he was damaged by the purported libel, but he wasn’t content with just saying he had lost some specific bit of business. Instead, he claimed to have lost business he never knew existed. “The fact is that a lot of people who would have done deals with me didn’t come to do deals with me,” he testified. “I can’t tell you who they are because they never came to me.”

    Then there were the questions about what he owns. Trump was shown a nasty note he had written to a reporter in which he claimed to own 50 percent of a Manhattan property called the West Side Yards. In fact, he owned 30 percent, but rather than simply say he’d made a mistake, Trump claimed 30 percent equals 50 percent. “I own 30 percent,” he testified. “And I’ve always felt I owned 50 percent.” The reason, Trump explained, was that he didn’t put up any of his money in the deal, an explanation that makes no sense and does not change the fact that 30 percent is not, nor never will be, 50 percent.

    His flexibility with numbers showed up later in the deposition, when confronted with public statements he had made about being paid $1 million to make a particular speech; he had received only $400,000—a huge sum that he still felt compelled to more than double. Well, Trump explained, the marketing he received in advertisements for the speech was worth so much to him that the amount of money he received was equal to $1 million. (Don’t try to understand that. It will make your brain melt.)

    Trump was later shown a letter he wrote to The Wall Street Journal, which mentioned two of “his” developments, including Trump Tower in Waikiki. Just like in the failed Florida project, Trump had simply sold his name to the developer. This time, though, the building was a success, so Trump claimed the Hawaiian development as his own. How? “It really is a form of ownership, because this is such a strong licensing agreement that I consider it to be a form of ownership,” he testified. That is hogwash; ownership entails a series of obligations and liabilities. Through the licensing agreement, Trump assumed none of those, with the exception of making sure the company building the project did not market it by claiming Trump was the developer.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  10. #70
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    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Quote Originally Posted by Ti-Amie View Post
    Sean Spicer targets own staff in leak crackdown
    I want to make sure I'm following this correctly. This is an article about leaks, and the only the way the article could have been written is because it is based on--a leak. Do I have this right?

  11. #71

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Quote Originally Posted by dryrunguy View Post
    I want to make sure I'm following this correctly. This is an article about leaks, and the only the way the article could have been written is because it is based on--a leak. Do I have this right?

    Isn't it?
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  12. #72

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Trump’s choice to be Navy secretary withdraws
    By Ken Thomas | AP February 26 at 7:19 PM

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s choice to be secretary of the Navy, businessman Philip Bilden, said Sunday he was withdrawing from consideration for the post, citing concerns about privacy and separating himself from his business interests.

    Bilden’s withdrawal raises similar issues to that of Vincent Viola, Trump’s nominee for Army secretary who stepped aside earlier this month.

    Bilden was an intelligence officer in the Army Reserve from 1986-1996. He relocated to Hong Kong to set up an Asian presence for HarbourVest Partners LLC, a global private equity management firm. Bilden recently retired from HarbourVest Partners after 25 years.

    In a statement released by the Pentagon, Bilden said he determined that he would not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without what he called “undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family’s private financial interests.”

    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement that he would make a recommendation to Trump for a nominee in the coming days.

    Viola cited his inability to successfully navigate the confirmation process and Defense Department rules concerning family businesses. A military veteran and former Airborne Ranger infantry officer, he was also the founder of several businesses, including the electronic trading firm Virtu Financial. He also owns the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers and is a past chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

    Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  13. #73

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Kurt EichenwaldVerified account‏@kurteichenwald 8m8 minutes ago
    Anonymous sources reported 8 days ago Navy sec nominee would withdraw today. And Spicer on record denied it. Yah, anonymous sources are bad
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  14. #74

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media
    With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda network
    Carole Cadwalladr

    Last December, I wrote about Cambridge Analytica in a piece about how Google’s search results on certain subjects were being dominated by rightwing and extremist sites. Jonathan Albright, a professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, who had mapped the news ecosystem and found millions of links between rightwing sites “strangling” the mainstream media, told me that trackers from sites like Breitbart could also be used by companies like Cambridge Analytica to follow people around the web and then, via Facebook, target them with ads.

    On its website, Cambridge Analytica makes the astonishing boast that it has psychological profiles based on 5,000 separate pieces of data on 220 million American voters – its USP is to use this data to understand people’s deepest emotions and then target them accordingly. The system, according to Albright, amounted to a “propaganda machine”.

    A few weeks later, the Observer received a letter. Cambridge Analytica was not employed by the Leave campaign, it said. Cambridge Analytica “is a US company based in the US. It hasn’t worked in British politics.”

    Which is how, earlier this week, I ended up in a Pret a Manger near Westminster with Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s affable communications director, looking at snapshots of Donald Trump on his phone. It was Wigmore who orchestrated Nigel Farage’s trip to Trump Tower – the PR coup that saw him become the first foreign politician to meet the president elect.

    Wigmore scrolls through the snaps on his phone. “That’s the one I took,” he says pointing at the now globally famous photo of Farage and Trump in front of his golden elevator door giving the thumbs-up sign. Wigmore was one of the “bad boys of Brexit” – a term coined by Arron Banks, the Bristol-based businessman who was Leave.EU’s co-founder.

    Cambridge Analytica had worked for them, he said. It had taught them how to build profiles, how to target people and how to scoop up masses of data from people’s Facebook profiles. A video on YouTube shows one of Cambridge Analytica’s and SCL’s employees, Brittany Kaiser, sitting on the panel at Leave.EU’s launch event.

    Facebook was the key to the entire campaign, Wigmore explained. A Facebook ‘like’, he said, was their most “potent weapon”. “Because using artificial intelligence, as we did, tells you all sorts of things about that individual and how to convince them with what sort of advert. And you knew there would also be other people in their network who liked what they liked, so you could spread. And then you follow them. The computer never stops learning and it never stops monitoring.”

    It sounds creepy, I say.

    “It is creepy! It’s really creepy! It’s why I’m not on Facebook! I tried it on myself to see what information it had on me and I was like, ‘Oh my God!’ What’s scary is that my kids had put things on Instagram and it picked that up. It knew where my kids went to school.”

    They hadn’t “employed” Cambridge Analytica, he said. No money changed hands. “They were happy to help.”


    “Because Nigel is a good friend of the Mercers. And Robert Mercer introduced them to us. He said, ‘Here’s this company we think may be useful to you.’ What they were trying to do in the US and what we were trying to do had massive parallels. We shared a lot of information. Why wouldn’t you?” Behind Trump’s campaign and Cambridge Analytica, he said, were “the same people. It’s the same family.”

    In the last month or so, articles in first the Swiss and the US press have asked exactly what Cambridge Analytica is doing with US voters’ data. In a statement to the Observer, the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “Any business collecting and using personal data in the UK must do so fairly and lawfully. We will be contacting Cambridge Analytica and asking questions to find out how the company is operating in the UK and whether the law is being followed.”

    Cambridge Analytica said last Friday they are in touch with the ICO and are completely compliant with UK and EU data laws. It did not answer other questions the Observer put to it this week about how it built its psychometric model, which owes its origins to original research carried out by scientists at Cambridge University’s Psychometric Centre, research based on a personality quiz on Facebook that went viral. More than 6 million people ended up doing it, producing an astonishing treasure trove of data.

    These Facebook profiles – especially people’s “likes” – could be correlated across millions of others to produce uncannily accurate results. Michal Kosinski, the centre’s lead scientist, found that with knowledge of 150 likes, their model could predict someone’s personality better than their spouse. With 300, it understood you better than yourself. “Computers see us in a more robust way than we see ourselves,” says Kosinski.

    But there are strict ethical regulations regarding what you can do with this data. Did SCL Group have access to the university’s model or data, I ask Professor Jonathan Rust, the centre’s director? “Certainly not from us,” he says. “We have very strict rules around this.”

    A scientist, Aleksandr Kogan, from the centre was contracted to build a model for SCL, and says he collected his own data. Professor Rust says he doesn’t know where Kogan’s data came from. “The evidence was contrary. I reported it.” An independent adjudicator was appointed by the university. “But then Kogan said he’d signed a non-disclosure agreement with SCL and he couldn’t continue [answering questions].”

    Kogan disputes this and says SCL satisfied the university’s inquiries. But perhaps more than anyone, Professor Rust understands how the kind of information people freely give up to social media sites could be used.

    “The danger of not having regulation around the sort of data you can get from Facebook and elsewhere is clear. With this, a computer can actually do psychology, it can predict and potentially control human behaviour. It’s what the scientologists try to do but much more powerful. It’s how you brainwash someone. It’s incredibly dangerous.


    Mercer invested in Cambridge Analytica, the Washington Post reported, “driven in part by an assessment that the right was lacking sophisticated technology capabilities”. But in many ways, it’s what Cambridge Analytica’s parent company does that raises even more questions.

    Emma Briant, a propaganda specialist at the University of Sheffield, wrote about SCL Group in her 2015 book, Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism: Strategies for Global Change. Cambridge Analytica has the technological tools to effect behavioural and psychological change, she said, but it’s SCL that strategises it. It has specialised, at the highest level – for Nato, the MoD, the US state department and others – in changing the behaviour of large groups. It models mass populations and then it changes their beliefs.

    SCL was founded by someone called Nigel Oakes, who worked for Saatchi & Saatchi on Margaret Thatcher’s image, says Briant, and the company had been “making money out of the propaganda side of the war on terrorism over a long period of time. There are different arms of SCL but it’s all about reach and the ability to shape the discourse. They are trying to amplify particular political narratives. And they are selective in who they go for: they are not doing this for the left.”

    In the course of the US election, Cambridge Analytica amassed a database, as it claims on its website, of almost the entire US voting population – 220 million people – and the Washington Post reported last week that SCL was increasing staffing at its Washington office and competing for lucrative new contracts with Trump’s administration. “It seems significant that a company involved in engineering a political outcome profits from what follows. Particularly if it’s the manipulation, and then resolution, of fear,” says Briant.

    It’s the database, and what may happen to it, that particularly exercises Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a Swiss mathematician and data activist who has been investigating Cambridge Analytica and SCL for more than a year. “How is it going to be used?” he says. “Is it going to be used to try and manipulate people around domestic policies? Or to ferment conflict between different communities? It is potentially very scary. People just don’t understand the power of this data and how it can be used against them.”

    There are two things, potentially, going on simultaneously: the manipulation of information on a mass level, and the manipulation of information at a very individual level. Both based on the latest understandings in science about how people work, and enabled by technological platforms built to bring us together.


    There’s nothing accidental about Trump’s behaviour, Andy Wigmore tells me. “That press conference. It was absolutely brilliant. I could see exactly what he was doing. There’s feedback going on constantly. That’s what you can do with artificial intelligence. You can measure ever reaction to every word. He has a word room, where you fix key words. We did it. So with immigration, there are actually key words within that subject matter which people are concerned about. So when you are going to make a speech, it’s all about how can you use these trending words.”

    Wigmore met with Trump’s team right at the start of the Leave campaign. “And they said the holy grail was artificial intelligence.”

    Who did?

    “Jared Kushner and Jason Miller.”

    Later, when Trump picked up Mercer and Cambridge Analytica, the game changed again. “It’s all about the emotions. This is the big difference with what we did. They call it bio-psycho-social profiling. It takes your physical, mental and lifestyle attributes and works out how people work, how they react emotionally.”

    Bio-psycho-social profiling, I read later, is one offensive in what is called “cognitive warfare”. Though there are many others: “recoding the mass consciousness to turn patriotism into collaborationism,” explains a Nato briefing document on countering Russian disinformation written by an SCL employee. “Time-sensitive professional use of media to propagate narratives,” says one US state department white paper. “Of particular importance to psyop personnel may be publicly and commercially available data from social media platforms.”

    Yet another details the power of a “cognitive casualty” – a “moral shock” that “has a disabling effect on empathy and higher processes such as moral reasoning and critical thinking”. Something like immigration, perhaps. Or “fake news”. Or as it has now become: “FAKE news!!!!”

    How do you change the way a nation thinks? You could start by creating a mainstream media to replace the existing one with a site such as Breitbart. You could set up other websites that displace mainstream sources of news and information with your own definitions of concepts like “liberal media bias”, like And you could give the rump mainstream media, papers like the “failing New York Times!” what it wants: stories. Because the third prong of Mercer and Bannon’s media empire is the Government Accountability Institute.

    Bannon co-founded it with $2m of Mercer’s money. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, was appointed to the board. Then they invested in expensive, long-term investigative journalism. “The modern economics of the newsroom don’t support big investigative reporting staffs,” Bannon told Forbes magazine. “You wouldn’t get a Watergate, a Pentagon Papers today, because nobody can afford to let a reporter spend seven months on a story. We can. We’re working as a support function.”


    In 2015, Steve Bannon described to Forbes how the GAI operated, employing a data scientist to trawl the dark web (in the article he boasts of having access to $1.3bn worth of supercomputers) to dig up the kind of source material Google can’t find. One result has been a New York Times bestseller, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, written by GAI’s president, Peter Schweizer and later turned into a film produced by Rebekah Mercer and Steve Bannon.

    This, Bannon explained, is how you “weaponise” the narrative you want. With hard researched facts. With those, you can launch it straight on to the front page of the New York Times, as the story of Hillary Clinton’s cash did. Like Hillary’s emails it turned the news agenda, and, most crucially, it diverted the attention of the news cycle. Another classic psyops approach. “Strategic drowning” of other messages.

    This is a strategic, long-term and really quite brilliant play. In the 1990s, Bannon explained, conservative media couldn’t take Bill Clinton down because “they wound up talking to themselves in an echo chamber”.

    As, it turns out, the liberal media is now. We are scattered, separate, squabbling among ourselves and being picked off like targets in a shooting gallery. Increasingly, there’s a sense that we are talking to ourselves. And whether it’s Mercer’s millions or other factors, Jonathan Albright’s map of the news and information ecosystem shows how rightwing sites are dominating sites like YouTube and Google, bound tightly together by millions of links.

    Is there a central intelligence to that, I ask Albright? “There has to be. There has to be some type of coordination. You can see from looking at the map, from the architecture of the system, that this is not accidental. It’s clearly being led by money and politics.”

    There’s been a lot of talk in the echo chamber about Bannon in the last few months, but it’s Mercer who provided the money to remake parts of the media landscape. And while Bannon understands the media, Mercer understands big data. He understands the structure of the internet. He knows how algorithms work.

    Robert Mercer did not respond to a request for comment for this piece. Nick Patterson, a British cryptographer, who worked at Renaissance Technologies in the 80s and is now a computational geneticist at MIT, described to me how he was the one who talent-spotted Mercer. “There was an elite group working at IBM in the 1980s doing speech research, speech recognition, and when I joined Renaissance I judged that the mathematics we were trying to apply to financial markets were very similar.”

    He describes Mercer as “very, very conservative. He truly did not like the Clintons. He thought Bill Clinton was a criminal. And his basic politics, I think, was that he’s a rightwing libertarian, he wants the government out of things.”

    He suspects that Mercer is bringing the brilliant computational skills he brought to finance to bear on another very different sphere. “We make mathematical models of the financial markets which are probability models, and from those we try and make predictions. What I suspect Cambridge Analytica do is that they build probability models of how people vote. And then they look at what they can do to influence that.”

    Finding the edge is what quants do. They build quantitative models that automate the process of buying and selling shares and then they chase tiny gaps in knowledge to create huge wins. Renaissance Technologies was one of the first hedge funds to invest in AI. But what it does with it, how it’s been programmed to do it, is completely unknown. It is, Bloomberg reports, the “blackest box in finance”.

    Johan Bollen, associate professor at Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing, tells me how he discovered one possible edge: he’s done research that shows you can predict stock market moves from Twitter. You can measure public sentiment and then model it. “Society is driven by emotions, which it’s always been difficult to measure, collectively. But there are now programmes that can read text and measure it and give us a window into those collective emotions.”

    The research caused a huge ripple among two different constituencies. “We had a lot attention from hedge funds. They are looking for signals everywhere and this is a hugely interesting signal. My impression is hedge funds do have these algorithms that are scanning social feeds. The flash crashes we’ve had – sudden huge drops in stock prices – indicates these algorithms are being used at large scale. And they are engaged in something of an arms race.”

    The other people interested in Bollen’s work are those who want not only to measure public sentiment, but to change it. Bollen’s research shows how it’s possible. Could you reverse engineer the national, or even the global, mood? Model it, and then change it?

    Google, democracy and the truth about internet search
    Read more
    “It does seem possible. And it does worry me. There are quite a few pieces of research that show if you repeat something often enough, people start involuntarily to believe it. And that could be leveraged, or weaponised for propaganda. We know there are thousands of automated bots out there that are trying to do just that.”

    THE war of the bots is one of the wilder and weirder aspects of the elections of 2016. At the Oxford Internet Institute’s Unit for Computational Propaganda, its director, Phil Howard, and director of research, Sam Woolley, show me all the ways public opinion can be massaged and manipulated. But is there a smoking gun, I ask them, evidence of who is doing this? “There’s not a smoking gun,” says Howard. “There are smoking machine guns. There are multiple pieces of evidence.”

    “Look at this,” he says and shows me how, before the US election, hundreds upon hundreds of websites were set up to blast out just a few links, articles that were all pro-Trump. “This is being done by people who understand information structure, who are bulk buying domain names and then using automation to blast out a certain message. To make Trump look like he’s a consensus.”

    And that requires money?

    “That requires organisation and money. And if you use enough of them, of bots and people, and cleverly link them together, you are what’s legitimate. You are creating truth.”

    You can take an existing trending topic, such as fake news, and then weaponise it. You can turn it against the very media that uncovered it. Viewed in a certain light, fake news is a suicide bomb at the heart of our information system. Strapped to the live body of us – the mainstream media.

    One of the things that concerns Howard most is the hundreds of thousands of “sleeper” bots they’ve found. Twitter accounts that have tweeted only once or twice and are now sitting quietly waiting for a trigger: some sort of crisis where they will rise up and come together to drown out all other sources of information.

    Like zombies?

    “Like zombies.”

    Many of the techniques were refined in Russia, he says, and then exported everywhere else. “You have these incredible propaganda tools developed in an authoritarian regime moving into a free market economy with a complete regulatory vacuum. What you get is a firestorm.”

    This is the world we enter every day, on our laptops and our smartphones. It has become a battleground where the ambitions of nation states and ideologues are being fought – using us. We are the bounty: our social media feeds; our conversations; our hearts and minds. Our votes. Bots influence trending topics and trending topics have a powerful effect on algorithms, Woolley, explains, on Twitter, on Google, on Facebook. Know how to manipulate information structure and you can manipulate reality.

    We’re not quite in the alternative reality where the actual news has become “FAKE news!!!” But we’re almost there. Out on Twitter, the new transnational battleground for the future, someone I follow tweets a quote by Marshall McLuhan, the great information theorist of the 60s. “World War III will be a guerrilla information war,” it says. “With no divisions between military and civilian participation.”

    By that definition we’re already there.

    Additional reporting by Paul-Olivier Dehaye
    "Even if you dance for your enemy on the rock, he will accuse you of splashing water on him." ~ African Proverb

  15. #75

    Re: A Chronicle of our Descent to Hades

    I don't know if those guys are using TAT, but if they are there is a great psychological profile of you in their files
    Roger forever

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