Drip, drip, drip…

As I’m still recovering from yesterday’s never-ending, late night rant, I’d intended to take tonight off. Three things happened today, however, that I wanted to let you know about…

1. According to reports, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is considering the closing of the State Department’s cybersecurity office. While it’s possible that all of the duties of the group would be taken on by other State Department offices, it’s understandable that many find the prospect extremely troubling, given that the NSA, CIA and FBI all believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Russians are actively engaged in cyber warfare against our nation. And, making matters worse, as I’m sure you can appreciate, this announcement comes less than a week after Trump announced his desire to work more closely with the Russians on issues of cybersecurity, much to the shock of our national security community.

2. While Donald Trump is denying it, news broke this evening that, during last week’s G-20 conference in Germany, he and Vladimir Putin had a second, considerably more private, meeting. According to reports, the meeting, in violation of all known accepted protocol, was attended by just Trump, Putin, and a Russian interpreter. Why they should want to meet like this, without any other members of our national security team present, especially given the rumors swirling about collusion and election rigging, your guess is as good as mine.

3. It’s been made public that the eighth person to attend the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting we discussed yesterday between top Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives, was Ike Kaveladze, a Russian citizen who, not too long ago, was accused of having laundered some $14 billion for Russian organized crime in the United States. [So, just to recap, in that one meeting, we had an attorney focusing on the lifting of sanctions, a former Russian counter intelligence officer with an expertise in hacking, and a money launderer with expertise in hiding the assets of the Russian mob. But, if we’re to believe the White House, they’d just stopped by to advocate on behalf of the Russian orphans.]

Make of all that what you will. I think I speak for most of you, however, when I say it looks as though the net is beginning to draw tighter around the husky orange carcass of our small-handed, wannabe leader. There’s just no way the intelligence community is going to allow this to go on much longer… No, the wheels of the deep state are already grinding away.

[The image above was from an earlier post, but I thought it fit nicely.]

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  1. Joe M.
    Posted July 19, 2017 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Tillerson seems to be one of the only all right guys in the administration.

    I’d say the consolidation approach mentioned later in the piece is much more likely than anything improper – although the same piece also states experts disagree with such a consolidation.

  2. Eel
    Posted July 19, 2017 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    We still have a State Department? I thought everyone had been let go and all the duties outsources to Kuchner.

  3. Meta
    Posted July 19, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Add this to the list.

    Politico: “Top State cyber official to exit, leaving myriad questions”

    The global cybersecurity community is still struggling to process the news that Christopher Painter, the Trump administration’s top cyber diplomat, will leave his State Department job at the end of the month, as Eric first reported on Monday. Painter, the coordinator for cyber issues at State, has been leading American delegations to international cyber meetings since 2011, negotiating joint agreements with other countries on issues like protecting critical infrastructure and developing cyber norms. “Chris has been a tireless defender of American interests in cyberspace,” Jason Healey, a senior cyber researcher at Columbia University, told MC, “flying hundreds of thousands of miles a year to push our views of freedom online, conduct countless bilateral meetings with allies and friends and [champion] international engagement in multilateral settings.”

    Read more:

  4. Meta
    Posted July 19, 2017 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Esquire: “It Was Always About the Money”

    It was always about the money. The reason we never saw the tax returns was because of what they would show about the money. The reason we can’t get a straight answer about the family’s dealings with the Russians is the money. Preet Bharara got fired because of the money and how the money had been allegedly laundered. James Comey got fired because of the money. Without the money, specifically the money from Russia, the Trump empire likely would have collapsed under a hail of writs and the paterfamilias would have been rendered invisible, even in the mirrors of Mar-a-Lago.

    It always was about the money. The meeting on June 6, 2016 ultimately was about the money, as we learned today from CNN. The network reported that it had identified the eighth participant in that now-famous Trump Tower confab. Contrary to the previous load of hooey dispensed by Junior and the first family, this dude was not a translator.

    It’s hard to believe that Junior wanted this guy’s name kept out of the stories, especially now that, as the guy’s attorney says, Robert Mueller has come knock, knock, knocking at the door.

    (Sarah Kendizor, whose electric Twitter machine account is an essential follow on this stuff, has even more about Ike, including Ike’s complaint that the money-laundering probe was a “witch hunt.” These guys need new material.)

    The fact is that the president* was never as rich as he said he was, a circumstance that was of outsized importance to nobody except his own narcissistic self. (I don’t think it would have changed a single vote if it had been revealed that he wasn’t as rich as he was saying he was.) He did, however, always have an outsized sense of himself in the world. He had to keep acquiring to stay true to his self-image. I believe the collision between these two factors left him with no options to obtain loans except overseas, and the Russian money was easy money. Then he got elected president and it all unraveled.

    Future historians are going to read this stuff and get out of the business.

    Read more:

  5. Meta
    Posted July 19, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    One more story of interest. This one is from the Washington Post.

    “Trump ends the CIA’s covert program of arming anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move likely to please Russia”


  6. Jean Henry
    Posted July 19, 2017 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    NPR is reporting that the withdrawal of support for the rebels is a result of the meeting with Putin.
    I’m sure Glen Greenwald is thrilled.
    Peace will reign in Syria. No more ‘proxy wars.’ No more Syrian refugees. Right???
    Amazing that we all didn’t see that American imperialism was the cause of all global strife.
    The world will all come to rights now with Russia and China running the show.

  7. Iron Lung
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    “The world will all come to rights now with Russia and China running the show.”

    This was in essence the position of both Ron Paul, Jill Stein and Bernard Sanders. Without disregarding mistakes by the US, the idea that there will be world peace if the US simply isolates itself it completely flawed.

    Though, this position plays well with people who know nothing about the world.

  8. wobblie
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    Maybe no more jihadsist head choppers being supported by US tax dollars. Our “regime change” war in Syria is immoral and illegal. What Trump has allegedly shut down is the CIA operation which all along has been funneling money through the Saudies to the worst. The Defense Department backing of the Free Syrian Army (ie. the secular Kurds) is not part of this deal. I’m thrilled that perhaps the CIA is no longer going to be able to support ISIS and the head choppers.

  9. wobblie
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    Web page of the news agency for the Free Syrian Forces, headline news was the arrival of more US military equipment. Also discussion of Syrian government forces movement against Raqqa, and the arrival of Russian humanitarian assistance to Yeman (you know that other country where the Saudi head choppers are waging a brutal war with our assistance)


  10. Jcp2
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    Wobblie is going for the friend of my enemy is my enemy thing.

  11. Frosted Flakes
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The headline shared by meta could have read: “Trump ends CIA’scovert program of arming anti-assad rebels in Syria, a move likely to displease Saudi Arabia, turkey, and Al Qaeda”.

    Which headline would play better with people who do not know anything about how the world works?

  12. Jean Henry
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    It seems that the complexity of FP is just too much for moralistic Americans. They must reduce it down to good guys and bad guys in some form or another. It’s too hard to take a self-aggrandizing stance of shock and outrage without bad guys. I mean what if we are just human and the evil is in all of us and all of them too and the only differential is circumstance, what if the only thing allowing us to feel morally superior to others is the now teetering semi-functional system of governance that preserves our privilege– you know, our government,the thing most of us love to hate.

  13. Jean Henry
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The only certain thing in FP is that shit Will go wrong. Even in overall successful
    Efforts, there will be many failures to point to. And isolationists will point to all of them to make their half baked analysis that it’s useless and we should all go home.

    Ps no word here about the success of the Obamas begun (too late) strategy to push back ISIS. We are winning there. Quick, go look up what has gone wrong…

  14. Lynne
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Foreign affairs are very complex though to be fair. None of here have any great knowledge on the subject. It is the kind of thing where a person probably needs to have made a whole career out of it to really understand it and then usually such people are only really able to understand the parts where they specialize. That is why it is so important for leaders to have multiple advisors who they actually listen to.

  15. stupid hick
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    “Foreign affairs are very complex … It is the kind of thing where a person probably needs to have made a whole career out of it to really understand it and then usually such people are only really able to understand the parts where they specialize. ”

    There should be a year long training/apprenticeship class that a president-elect must pass before being sworn-in. Same thing for Secretary of State.

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Stupid Hick– you mean like the 30 years of experience (and continuous abuse for all of those years) that the losing candidate for president had?
    Her experience was only used against her. By those on the right and left.
    She was, you know, part of the establishment, cared about the integrity of our democratic institutions, understood the necessity of compromise, had a high tolerance for the paradox is the norm in politics, listened to people and gave honest answers, and was by all accounts the most prepared person in the room at any meeting. She had a demonstrated 30+ year commitment to creating progressive change, not just in taking bold stands (though she did that too) but in action and implementation.
    Terrible candidate, right?
    Good thing the left assailed her relentlessly and put her in her place.

  17. Jean Henry
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    No one here claimed to have expertise in FP, Lynne.
    Knowing what one doesn’t know is about as good as it’s going to get here.

  18. wobblie
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    remind me again why I should vote for the democrats

  19. Lynne
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Has not voting for Democrats resulted in reduced defense spending? This is a reason to get involved in primary elections but it should be noted that a very large number of voters favor a strong military so you would have a fight on your hands, even in Democratic primaries. It is still a path more likely to have an actual impact that you want. All voting for third parties or not voting does is the opposite of the voter’s usual intentions.

  20. stupid hick
    Posted July 20, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Jean, no argument from me. Clinton would have tested-out.

  21. wobblie
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    16 YEARS OF WAR and the Democrats want more.

  22. Lynne
    Posted July 21, 2017 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Yes wobblie. *some* Democrats feel that way. Not all though. So in primaries, assuming that you can convince more centrist Democrats to see things your way, the far left could make a difference by getting anti-war candidates elected. It won’t be easy and will take a lot of work which is why the lazy far left is not likely to get much accomplished on that front.

    Your choices are work for change within the party or work to get people to vote third party but either choice involves a lot of hard work. I personally think that the working within the party option is easier one because the only way a significant number of people will vote third party is if they believe that the third party has a chance of winning without significantly splitting the vote.

    Here is the thing. The anti-war left needs to play a long game. We need to be electing young anti-war types to state and local offices now so that in a few years, they will be ready for the national stage. We need to start working on primaries NOW for federal position primaries which are going to occur in about a year for the midterms. We need to start motivating people to get out and vote.

    Too often I hear people on the far left use rhetoric which suggests that what they want is THEM (ie current Democrats) to do all the work for them. They say things like “If Democrats don’t start doing X, then they will keep losing” or “Democrats need to earn my vote” (translation: I am unwilling to do the work necessary to ensure candidates I like get the nomination)

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