Thursday, January 12, 2017

Spy vs Spy: What Was This Election Really About?

Well, what a show they're putting on for us, eh? The Deep State has come out of the shadows and into the mainstream and splashed onto the headline news. I said right after the election that the secret wars had only just begun and I was half-right; they're not-so-secret. 

And I'm actually wondering about what kind of wars they actually are.

If you've been (wisely) avoiding the newsmedia, the CIA's latest apparent ratfucking was leaking a dossier put together as opposition research by one of these so-called private intelligence outfits, which sound more and more like fly-by-night con artists the more we hear about them. The report ran the gamut, and gave the clients some salacious gossip and potentially damaging innuendo, but none of it was properly sourced and the report was filled with errors. 

The dossier made the rounds to the media late in the election cycle but most journalists smelled a turd and passed. The Clinton campaign did as well. But CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who hates Trump even more than your average media maeven, ran with a story claiming intel chiefs briefed Trump and Obama on it and touched on some of the less-sensationalist details.

Social-justice-clickbait-farm Buzzfeed ran the entire report, kicking off the #Pissgate storm on Twitter (based on claims the germophobic Trump hired hookers to do golden showers) and brought the wrath of the rest of the media down on its head, claiming they'd given Trump ample ammo to attack the press for excessive partisanship and "fake news."

Glenn Greenwald wrote sagely on the whole mess, placing the finger of blame squarely on the CIA:

The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest... 
But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality.

Beyond all that, there is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way. When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy? 
All of these toxic ingredients were on full display yesterday as the Deep State unleashed its tawdriest and most aggressive assault yet on Trump: vesting credibility in and then causing the public disclosure of a completely unvetted and unverified document, compiled by a paid, anonymous operative while he was working for both GOP and Democratic opponents of Trump...
The former MI6 agent allegedly behind the document has reportedly "now fled his Surrey home and is ‘terrified for his life.'"

Well, maybe.

DNI James Clapper was forced to issue a statement clarifying that the intelligence community did not take the dossier seriously and did not include it in their evaluation:
"The [intelligence community] has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions," Clapper noted
But even so CNN spun that statement as "US spy chief rejects Trump's attack over Russia dossier." 


But CNN may have another very good reason for trying to play the Spy vs Spy game. CNN may get sold-off from TimeWarner to smooth the way for the pending merger with AT&T, which would cripple the struggling cable news network:

Trump said on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t approve the deal.
It was much debated in media circles if the press conference run-in would move the needle on Trump’s stance. 
Some pondered whether Time Warner would have to sell off CNN to get the deal approved. 
“If AT&T had to spin off CNN to get the deal approved, I suspect they would be willing to do so,” said analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson. 
“The CNN story puts an exclamation mark on the deal and what’s always been the biggest risk to this deal — political concerns in the White House,” Cowen & Co. analyst Paul Gallant, told The Post.
Former CIA agent Philip Giraldi- no fan of Trump either- looked at the document and had this to say: 
My suspicion would be that the report is a composite of some fact, a lot of speculation, and even some fiction. It is very similar to the types of media-focused disinformation produced by both CIA and KGB in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, where a little bit of factual information would be used to provide credibility for a lot of speculation and false stories that were intended to sow doubt and confusion. In this case, the original intent might well have been to discredit Trump personally; its release at this time is likely intended to delegitimize his presidency, or to narrow his options on recalibrating with Russia. 
I expect, however, that much of the possibly tall tale being told will unravel as the FBI continues and expands its investigation. Trump has predictably denounced the entire matter as “fake news.” He may be right.
Fake something, at least.

But the question must be asked: who really benefits from this? The people pouncing on the report already hate Trump to the point of utter distraction anyway. If Trump was rattled he didn't seem to be at his press conference and I really don't think he's that good an actor. 
And Trump's supporters see this as just more media monkey-business, more Democrat dirty tricks. 

But what if it's not? What if there's a much deeper game being played on the field? A game we can barely perceive because the moves are so subtle and insidious? What if this is more like Kabuki theater or professional wrestling than civil war?

The hits just keep on coming: in the latest ostensible attempt to delegitimize the election comes the investigation by Obama appointee Michael Horowitz of the FBI's handling of the Clinton email scandal.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced that the investigation would also review FBI Director James Comey’s decision to disclose that the FBI was recommending against prosecuting Clinton for her private e-mail server and then revealing days before the election that more emails had been found on a laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner.
The inspector general will also also investigate whether an FBI deputy director whose wife received financial support in her state election from a close Clinton ally should have been involved in the election and whether the Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general, who was close to Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, should have been recused from matters. 
Additionally, Horowitz will looking “Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information” and allegations that the FBI improperly released information that may have interfered in the election. 
But is this just keeping the endless campaign going, the way all of these stories seem to be? Keeping the tension stoked, keeping the partisan fervor fired up?

What is happening while we're distracted by all of this sensationalism and conflict?

I'll tell you one thing;  the strange volte-face from the Trump camp on Russia. All of a sudden the tone and timbre on Putin has changed. I have to say that it always rang a bit false to begin with; businessman Trump may have wanted to ingratiate himself with the Russian strongman, but is there really room for two alpha males on the block?

But a voice in my head keeps telling me, "it was a confidence game all along. These Cold War types don't change their stripes." And sure enough..

James 'Mad Dog' Mattis calls Russia 'adversary,' claims confidence in intelligence community:
WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Donald Trump's pick to lead the Pentagon put Russia at the top of a list of threats to U.S. interests on Thursday and told Congress that America must be ready to confront Moscow where necessary, even as he backed Trump's bid for better relations. 
The remarks by retired Marine General James Mattis were the latest by one of Trump's Cabinet picks that veered away from the president-elect's campaign rhetoric, which included praise for Russian President Vladimir Putin and pledges to improve ties with him. 
"I'm all for engagement but we also have to recognize reality in what Russia is up to," Mattis said, adding there were a "decreasing number of areas" where the United States might cooperate with Moscow. 
Asked about the main threats to U.S. interests, Mattis said: "I would consider the principle threats to start with Russia." 
Mattis said he wanted to meet with the new Trump national security team to "craft a strategy to confront Russia for what it's done," when questioned about the possibility of new U.S. sanctions.
This isn't Maverick Mattis going out on a limb- all of Trump's appointees have been sounding downright bellicose in their appearances before the Senate. And Trump is infamous for his insistence that his people toe the party line or take a walk. 

Just ask Chris Christie.

So clearly the change in tone is coming from the top. Does "Make America Great Again" mean "Make America Reagan Again?" Because I'm sure getting flashbacks here.


We still haven't heard the evidence linking the hacking to Russia and we probably never will. What claims we did hear came from those "private security firms" again, who have absolutely zero financial incentive not to find the culprit you asked them to look for, whether or not it actually exists. 

And now it's looking like Trump won't spill the beans either.

Be logical for a moment here: if anyone even suspected that the Russians were really involved the material would have been pulled off the Web faster than you could say "National Security Act" and no one but a few weirdos would have questioned it.  The Clinton campaign could have made a huge hash of it during the campaign but barely made a peep. And the intelligence agencies' official estimate was based on the Democrats' paid-for intel from private sources to begin with. 

And now the Trump team is suddenly going along with all this nonsense?

So what is really going on here?

Well, I don't know anything special. I'm not read into any meetings or copied on any memos. But let me just supply you with a few dots. You connect them how you see fit...

ITEM: France’s election shows Europe’s line against Russia is fraying

VLADIMIR PUTIN must wonder what he did right. From the refugee crisis to Brexit, Europe’s troubles have allowed the Russian president to portray himself as a bulwark of stability in a region of chaos. America’s election brought an apparent Kremlin sympathiser to the White House. And now France is on the same track. François Fillon’s victory over Alain Juppé in the presidential primary of the centre-right Republican Party leaves an avowed friend of Mr Putin as the favourite to occupy the Élysée after next spring’s election. (Mr Fillon’s most serious rival, the nationalist Marine Le Pen, has a yet more marked Moscow tilt.) 
Historical revisionism is one thing. More worryingly for Germany, France’s partner in the four-party “Normandy format” set up to negotiate with Russia and Ukraine, Mr Fillon wants to scrap the economic sanctions that the European Union imposed on Russia over Crimea and its incursions in eastern Ukraine. Opinions in the EU are divided on Russia, from hawks like the Balts and Poland to doves like Italy and Hungary. 
So far Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, has held the club together, ensuring a regular rollover of the toughest measures. But the consensus is slowly fraying; to lose the French would be a shock.
Isn't that interesting. How about this?

ITEM: China's President Xi Jinping will seek to promote "inclusive globalisation."  

"Economic globalisation is facing resistance," vice foreign minister Li Baodong said at a briefing on Xi's Davos visit. 
Beijing will respond to the international community's concern over globalisation by putting forward China's opinions on how to "steer economic globalisation towards greater inclusiveness", he said. 
This year's forum, from January 17-20, is expected to be dominated by discussion of an outbreak of public hostility towards globalisation and US President-elect Donald Trump, whose tough talk on trade, including promises of tariffs against China and Mexico, helped win him the White House. Trump will be sworn in on Jan. 20. 
Li said criticism of trade protectionism levelled at China, by Trump and others, was unjust. "Trade protectionism will lead to isolation and is in the interest of no one," he said.
Because China was the only country to benefit from Globalization, of course. And is using that windfall to build up its military...

But let's get to the core of the election issue...

ITEM: President Obama is leaving the White House with majority disapproval among members of the military...
Obama's move steep reduction of U.S. forces stationed in Afghanistan after a troop surge, and his withdrawal of forces from Iraq in keeping with a status of forces agreement, doesn't appear to have carried support in the the military. 
The poll said 49 per cent backed President-elect Donald Trump in the campaign, compared to just 29 per cent for Hillary Clinton. 
ITEM: Report shows Marines extremely dislike Hillary Clinton
According to the survey, more than 83% of troops question Mrs. Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness, mainly because of the scandals involving Benghazi and her personal email server. The report also showed that among Marines — only 8.6% said they’d vote for Hillary.Each touted their support among military brass during the campaign.
ITEM: Hillary Clinton Has Few Fans in the Military
Hillary Clinton is still in line to win the Democratic Party's nomination to be the next commander in chief, but few Americans in the military have a good impression of her. 
A new RallyPoint/Rasmussen Reports national survey of active and retired military personnel finds that only 15% have a favorable opinion of Clinton, with just three percent (3%) who view the former secretary of State Very Favorably. 
What about the unreported story of the past eight years; the military's retention problem?

ITEM: By the end of this year, the Air Force is expected to be short about 700 pilots and it still needs 4,000 more maintainers– airmen that repair and work on aircraft.  
Several months ago, the service created a new policy that would give $2,000 bonuses to new airmen who signed up to be maintainers. 
“It’s going to take us years to get out from under this because we are bringing in new people that will just swell the ranks of the more juniors and it will take years to season them,” James said.
What about the porkbarrel weapons programs that greedy politicians love and military brass hate?

ITEM: Failure of new U.S. weapons systems may be more than science fiction

A war between China and America is a favorite subject of armchair military analysts. Why would it happen? How would it play out? Authors have written thousands of pages online and off trying to answer these questions. 
The novel particularly shines when the writers depict the failures of the Pentagon’s newest weapons systems. Over the past decade, U.S. taxpayers have poured trillions of dollars into fancy new weapons, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Littoral Combat Ship, though defense experts warned of their many failings.
And finally, the story that may well have decided this election: 

ITEM: A Department of Defense official said Tuesday that Russia could overrun NATO within 60 hours, but maintained it would be more difficult to do so after 2017.

Michael Carpenter, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia, affirmed a February analysis by the RAND Corporation, which determined that it would take Russian troops a maximum of 60 hours to reach the capital cities of Estonia or Latvia.
Why after 2017?