Russiagate Open Thread: Maria Butina’s Handlers, Owning the GOP, One Dirty Old Man At A Time

It’d make a great movie farce, if not for the treason, not to mention all the ancillary dead people…


Former FBI special agent has her own questions:

230 replies
  1. 1
    Catherine D. says:

    Ack! Terminal earworm with “We will smock you”

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    “Intimately linked”? That’s a bit of a loaded phrase when talking about a female operative.

  3. 3
    Ruckus says:

    Unless her “tasking” was that if she got caught, she was free to rat out whomever she needed to…but that would be weird for a spy.

    She really wasn’t spying. She’s an operative. She had a job to do, apparently she was good at it, so it’s quite possible that she had pre-clearance to do exactly what she’s doing if arrested. None of her actions are showing this country to be good at elections, corruption, truth in politics…… Maybe that was her job, along with getting a lot of money into the hands that would use it to plunder even more than they were already doing.

  4. 4
    Corner Stone says:

    Unlike Ms. Rangappa, IMO Butina was not a “spy”. She was an amateur working inroads and used her youthful transgressions to make her way ahead with all these crooked old crooks.

  5. 5
    Corner Stone says:

    The sad fact is that in gun rich TX, absolutely zero of the people I have asked know the name “Butina”.

  6. 6
    smintheus says:

    Dumb yes; gullible, maybe; corrupt grifters, you betch’a.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    I am a sucker for gingers so I got nothing else on this.

  8. 8
    Schlemazel says:

    Two things:
    Putin wanted chaos in the West, he has that in spades. He can afford to burn one arm of the octopus because he has 7 others already in place and he believes he will not be effectively punished for this one
    The NRA never cared about guns in America, the were only the McGuffin used to advance the political power of the people behind the NRA

  9. 9
    MJS says:

    @Corner Stone: If they pay any attention to politics, I expect they’ll become quite familiar with the name Butina after January 3, 2019.

  10. 10
    JaySinWA says:

    @Schlemazel: Russia appears to have used Butina and the NRA a burner phones in their endeavors.

  11. 11
    JoyceH says:

    The Russians know their audience well. Attractive young woman with guns and a Russian accent? You just know these guys liked to imagine they were living in a James Bond movie.

  12. 12
    rikyrah says:

    Spy Girl….hooked them….

  13. 13
    piratedan says:

    Since we’re allowed to speculate to our hearts content here, I wonder if there’s already a list of who she worked with as far as Senators, Congressmen and staffers and just how long that list is and if anyone else is making lists of the Russians mixed into the National Prayer Breakfast and those folks that were also playing footsie… it would be naive to think that they weren’t working both angles and that both were placing politicians and their staff into compromising positions and determining how many need to be prosecuted or encouraged to resign and forego any future career in politics. I also have to be curious about how many of the media folks are also compromised as well, because it sure seems that we have a plethora of either outright apologists and/or are willfully obtuse about what is being presented as “news” and how that information is conveyed.

  14. 14
    sukabi says:

    @JoyceH: from some of the posed photos of Butina, that’s exactly the angle she was working.

  15. 15
    Corner Stone says:

    @piratedan:

    making lists of the Russians mixed into the National Prayer Breakfast and those folks that were also playing footsie

    I am sure the fundie types at Nat’l Prayer Breakfast were happy to take the money, but from what I understand they prefer underage same sex relations.

  16. 16
    ByRookorbyCrook says:

    Spy is a poor label for Butina. She was bait/manipulator stateside with Torshin as her conduit back east. The email with her saying ‘let them give thanks now, we can pressure them later’ shows she was not amateur hour just trying to help her local oligarchy out. This was a mission to put pressure on cracks in our society and see what breaks. Sure, maybe sanctions get lifted or lessened, but the West looks like a bunch of hypocritical fools to the world and each other. Win-win.

  17. 17
    JaySinWA says:

    @sukabi: It could be that Butina plays the role of Bond and they play the ingenue that is seduced into helping the foreign spy. Interesting casting.

  18. 18
    raven says:

    @rikyrah: These were the Athens Spy Girls, Misty used to commute with me.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-1cUQpllvI

    with civil war reanactors no less.

  19. 19
    rikyrah says:

    Millennial Politics (@MillenPolitics) Tweeted:
    Robert Mueller took on organized crime in the Bronx (and won).

    Robert Mueller took on organized crime in Panama (and won).

    Robert Mueller took on organized family crime (and won).

    The Trump Organization is shaping up to be no different.

    https://t.co/VE4jDlwvpQ https://twitter.com/MillenPolitics/status/1073682383097028608?s=17

  20. 20
    cain says:

    @JoyceH:

    The Russians know their audience well. Attractive young woman with guns and a Russian accent? You just know these guys liked to imagine they were living in a James Bond movie.

    I realize beautify is in the eye of the beholder, but this beholder did not really find her that attractive. But you know old white men, would probably reach for a female orc if she was young enough. Sick bastards.

  21. 21
    rikyrah says:

    Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) Tweeted:
    Many, many Republicans aren’t duped by Trump. They know he’s lying and so have decided to make peace with lying, because his racism makes the lies worth it.

    https://t.co/mTAarUuT7q https://twitter.com/brianbeutler/status/1074015696051453955?s=17

  22. 22
    MattF says:

    According to the news summary on my iPhone, the number of different Russians poking at and trying to game the Trumps or the Republican party was around 14. This, folks, is a large number– it guarantees that the GOP subversion project was directed and managed from above. Yeah, it’s rather weird/ironic that ‘subversion’ turns out to be quite real, but after hearing generations of RWNJs screaming about it, maybe it’s not so weird after all.

  23. 23
    brendancalling says:

    @Corner Stone: There’s probably a pretty good reason for that. She was sleeping with one GOP operative for the sake of access, why wouldn’t she sleep with others?

    I’m not saying that to disparage her, but isn’t that exactly the kind of thing a spy would do?

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    @brendancalling: Sure. My question is the usage of that term with NSA John Pornstache Bolton. Was she sleeping with NRA and GOP apparatchiks? Or did she bag a Bolton? That, ISTM, is a whole other level of what she may testify about. We know NSA Misha Flynn had his own Russian side hustle, maybe Bolton did as well.

  25. 25
    Schlemazel says:

    @JaySinWA:
    Exactly. My guess is following her back will lead to nothing.

  26. 26
    p.a. says:

    Bin Laden knew the conservative base, Putin knows the conservative movement: a base of ignorant racists who could be baited into an idiotic war to weaken the US politically, militarily, economically, and a corrupt, fascist leadership who could be bought to do the same, and weaken democratic institutions in America and abroad. Trump is the icing, whipped cream, and cherry on top.

  27. 27
    Raven says:

    @cain: Boy.what an insightful comment.

  28. 28
    Joey Maloney says:

    @cain: What’s wrong with orcs? Racist.

  29. 29
    Schlemazel says:

    @cain:
    As an old white guy I was going to agree with your assessment of her looks but then you added that post script . . .

    I try really hard not to comment on looks because sexy is in the eye of the beholder. I have worked on several classified projects, held TS/SCI and I will flatly state that had any woman even moderately attractive approached me alarms would have gone off. I think it is ego, I am not such a narcissist as to believe women find me attractive. Those guys started by fooling themselves so it was easy for her. Saw a picture of her original sugar daddy and he is an idiot if he thought she was hot for him

  30. 30
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    All I want for Xmas: Revelation that The Federalist Society is also crawling with Putin’s operatives. Please, please, please.

  31. 31
    rikyrah says:

    THREAD

    Katelyn Polantz (@kpolantz) Tweeted:
    Yesterday was an extremely busy day for Trump administration in the federal court system. Let’s break it down case by case 1\

    https://twitter.com/kpolantz/status/1073971180288270337?s=17

  32. 32
    brendancalling says:

    @Corner Stone: Flynn was cheating on his wife? DO TELL! I missed that one.

    Misha is from my hometown. It was hilarious to hear URI graduate John King on CNN yesterday comparing Mr. “Lock Her Up” to Buddy Cianci, saying RI is famous for giving crooks a second chance.

  33. 33
  34. 34
    Platonailedit says:

    large chunks of the GOP, is made up of gullible people who are really, really dumb.

    No, houle asshole. They are really, really corrupt and sleazy.

  35. 35
    brendancalling says:

    @Schlemazel: my FAVORITE part of that story was when it came out that Butina was disgusted by Erickson. It reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Lisa breaks Ralph Wiggum’s heart

  36. 36
    sukabi says:

    @Platonailedit: It’s both.

  37. 37
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @brendancalling: Oh, man, that’s way off. Buddy at least was entertaining.

  38. 38
    The Dangerman says:

    @Schlemazel:

    I have worked on several classified projects, held TS/SCI and I will flatly state that had any woman even moderately attractive approached me alarms would have gone off.

    Been a long time since I was in that game, but, but IIRC, I would have been asked to report any “unusual” encounters. Especially, ya know, the whole Russian thing.

  39. 39
    sukabi says:

    @JaySinWA: it’s a retarded remake of “The Spy Who Shagged Me”

  40. 40
    Schlemazel says:

    @brendancalling:
    I HAD NOT HEARD THAT!
    Oh man, what a blow to the ego. One he richly deserves & I will take great pleasure in reminding him of whenever I get a chance

  41. 41
    Platonailedit says:

    Missed point about the @MickMulvaneyOMB pick: By installing a Senate confirmed official as CoS (who is not quitting as OMB chief) Trump blunders into being the first POTUS to have a CoS who can be called to testify before Congress.— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) December 15, 2018

  42. 42
    Schlemazel says:

    @The Dangerman:
    It was required to report. I wonder what kind of guy would not have found that unusual.

  43. 43
    Corner Stone says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian:

    Revelation that The Federalist Society is also crawling with Putin’s operatives. Please, please, please.

    And hopefully an immediate push to impeach and remove all federal judges with Federalist memberships or affiliations.

  44. 44

    @piratedan: There are plenty of pics on Twitter and elsewhere of Butina and various Republicans and NRA executives. And probably plenty more I haven’t seen.

    I tend to agree with Rangappa that there are aspects of Butina’s future that just don’t make sense. There’s no way she was a freelancer, but she probably wasn’t tasked by Putin. Could be that all those photos of dirty old men with their hands around her waist were kompromat she was collecting. It was always public, but now the connections become obvious.

    There are so many contacts between Russians and Republicans that I wonder if Putin said “Who will rid me of this turbulent country” to his oligarchs, and they set about the task.

  45. 45
    Platonailedit says:

    When your buddy’s yellow journalism rag stabs you in the back.

    The National Enquirer was one of Donald Trump’s biggest boosters, both before and after he was elected president. But when federal prosecutors came calling, something changed.

    The weekly tabloid magazine made a sudden turn away from Trump-related covers over the summer. Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed the shift. Instead of covers that celebrated Trump and attacked his enemies, the Enquirer has been sticking with tried-and-true stories about celebrity scandals.

    In other words, the Enquirer stopped being a part of Trump’s promotional media machine.

    In April, the FBI raided Cohen’s office, seizing documents and email related to Daniels. That same month, AMI released McDougal from a contract that kept her from talking about her alleged affair with Trump.
    On May 7, 2018, the cover was devoted to tearing down Cohen, which is noteworthy in light of the later revelations about Cohen and Pecker’s collaboration.

    And that was it. The cover headlines about Trump suddenly stopped.
    It is possible that the Trump-promoting covers simply stopped being a reader draw. The Enquirer is famously reactive to circulation trends, with editors who pay very close attention to which cover subjects sell more copies than others. But the timeline matches up exactly to the federal investigation.

  46. 46
    Tim C. says:

    @Schlemazel: This. Most 40something guys look like 40 something guys. Perhaps the men involved were thinking their power and acess were what drew her in,. There’s also, the bias they might have had against Eastern European women who they thought might be more susceptible. But it sounds like they were think gold diger and not spy.

    Morons

  47. 47
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Platonailedit:

    I noticed this at the supermarket. I used to have to turn them all around so that only the backs were showing. Haven’t had to do that in ages. Not only don’t they pump up Trump, they don’t attack Hillary or Obama any more.

  48. 48
    Platonailedit says:

    I haz the best people.

    Tillerson – Trump is a "f*cking moron"
    Kelly – Trump is a "f*cking idiot"
    Mattis – Trump has the understanding of a "fifth or sixth grader"
    Cohn – Trump is "dumb as sh*t"
    Priebus – Trump is "an idiot"
    McMaster – Trump is "a dope"
    Mulvaney – Trump is "a terrible human being"

    — Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) December 15, 2018

    Fix the blog, cole. Commenting has become a pita.

  49. 49
    Corner Stone says:

    @brendancalling: You know, it’s weird because if you try searching for any GOP person’s name and include the word “mistress” you get pages of hits that are about Trump and/or Petraeus.
    Anyway, this is a little softer than I remember but Guardian link:

    Michael Flynn: new evidence spy chiefs had concerns about Russian ties

    US and UK officials were troubled by Moscow contacts and encounter with woman linked to Russian spy agency records
    “One concern involved an encounter with a Russian-British graduate student, Svetlana Lokhova, whom Flynn met on a trip to Cambridge in February 2014.
    At the time, Flynn was one of the top US spies and the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which provides information to the Pentagon about the military strengths and intentions of other states and terrorist groups.
    A historian and a leading expert on Soviet espionage, Lokhova has claimed to have unique access to previously classified Soviet-era material in Moscow. She says her forthcoming book makes groundbreaking revelations about Soviet military intelligence operations run by the GRU – Russia’s military spy agency. “

  50. 50
    MagdaInBlack says:

    She is a moderately attractive YOUNG woman, with an “exotic” ( to them ) accent, who paid attention to them and flattered them.
    That’s all it takes, folks.
    Toss in some guns and leather and they’ll follow her anywhere.

  51. 51
    Yutsano says:

    @Platonailedit:

    Fix the blog, cole. Commenting has become a pita.

    E-mail him about it. Make sure to use all caps. He LIVES for that shit.

  52. 52
    NotMax says:

    @MagdaIn Black

    For what it’s worth, there are some nefarious skills involved. Mata Hari (her mugshot) wasn’t exactly what one would describe as a stunner.

  53. 53
    Barbara says:

    @Yutsano: @Platonailedit: Fund raising is going on to fix it as we speak. John should repost so people don’t forget.

  54. 54
    brendancalling says:

    @Gin & Tonic: indeed. I grew up when he was mayor the first time.

  55. 55
    Mnemosyne says:

    @MagdaInBlack:

    I saw some pretty good points on Twitter from guys pointing out that Butina was clearly aiming for “attractive but not intimidating.” If you look at how she’s dressed in the photos we’ve seen, she seems to be going for a slightly outdoorsy fresh-faced look, possibly inspired by Sarah Palin, rather than a more overtly sexy look.

    She knew exactly who she was trying to attract, and it worked probably even better than she expected.

  56. 56
    Baud says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You know, it’s weird because if you try searching for any GOP person’s name and include the word “mistress” you get pages of hits that are about Trump and/or Petraeus.

    Google’s bias confirmed!

  57. 57

    Here’s a gift you should give yourself, given how discouraging some days can be.

    At a former colleague's suggestion I have an e-mail folder just called "Happy" where I file e-mails in which someone says something kind or says thank you or says something else that makes me happy to read. If you don't have one, give yourself the gift of a Happy folder in 2019.— Jennika Baines (@Jennika_Baines) December 14, 2018

  58. 58
    Barbara says:

    @Mnemosyne: Winsome, fun, not too serious — would you rather go on an outing with Butina or someone like Melania or Ivanka?

  59. 59
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Tim C.:

    There’s also, the bias they might have had against Eastern European women who they thought might be more susceptible.

    Spend some time in the tourist or expat bars in Kyiv and you’ll find all sorts of disgusting samples of American middle-aged (and up) “manhood.” At least most of the time with those, both sides are pretty clear on the terms of the transaction.

  60. 60
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @NotMax:
    Undoubtedly.
    But remember: “We” don’t have to find her attractive.
    All that matters is that they did.
    And, personality and presentation are a huge part of attractiveness. We haven’t experienced her “persona” up close and focused.

    ETA: also too: we’ve all had the experience of having some one become more attractive the more we get to know them.

  61. 61
    Schlemazel says:

    @Barbara:
    one quick improvement to comments would be for Platonailedit to stop commenting. He would no longer have the pita and the comment section would be better too

  62. 62
    Ken says:

    @Platonailedit: I still think it’s important to clarify how many Federal jobs Mulvaney will have, and how many salaries he’ll be collecting.

    I suppose given this crew, it’s also important to check how many salaries he’s paying taxes on.

  63. 63
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @raven: Thanks for link. That bit is wild. Was there a series?

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Barbara:

    Not only that, but who are you going to be more likely to relax and chat unguardedly with, someone like Melania or someone like Butina?

    For what Butina was trying to do, being drop-dead gorgeous would have been a hindrance. I’m guessing that the majority of Republicans she slept with would say to this day, I don’t really know what happened, one minute we were talking about hunting and the next minute we were ripping each other’s clothes off.

    She was playing a very specific type so she could slide under their guards and get the information she wanted.

  65. 65
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Exactly.

  66. 66
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Barbara:

    Oh, God, sorry, I guess I’ve known too many Russian women, and she’s not the type I consider “fun.”

  67. 67
    NotMax says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor

    Well, there’s happy and there’s Happy.

    (Beginning of linked video intentionally skipped over due to extremely graphic effects).

    ;)

  68. 68
    Corner Stone says:

    @MagdaInBlack:

    also too: we’ve all had the experience of having some one become more attractive the more we get to know them.

    Strangely enough, when they signal their willingness to stick their hand down your pants the scale tips in their direction.

  69. 69
    Corner Stone says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Oh, God, sorry, I guess I’ve known too many Russian women

    Goooo oooonnnn…

  70. 70
    Mike in NC says:

    This will be an indictment to savor:

    United States of America
    vs.
    Trump Organization

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Schlemazel:

    It might have at one point, but once Torshin vanished, that channel was clearly shut down.

  72. 72
    Corner Stone says:

    Whoever designed Apple Macbook Pro’s mousepad interface needs to be shot in the fucking face. And not Cheney style shooting, the real thing.

  73. 73
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Corner Stone:

    A lot of them are kind, witty, and intelligent. This is not one of those.

  74. 74
    Corner Stone says:

    Cake or Death
    ‏ @Johngcole
    7m7 minutes ago

    “Thanks, Dom. Now will you go put a light bulb, a new one, never used, in the fucking lamp you took this one out of?”

    I swear to god I don’t know how parents don’t murder their kids.

    Cole is crazy in his own certain kind of way, but he has no idea how kids think. That poor child sorted through the options and chose the most minimal response he could get away with and still complete the request. If doing nothing was ranked at zero by his onboard logic machine, doing what he did for Cole is .5 Nothing else made sense to his decision trees.

  75. 75
    Doug R says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    What’s wrong with orcs? Racist.

    I know, right?
    http://www.mymbuzz.com/wp-cont.....e-post.jpg

  76. 76
    Humdog says:

    @Mnemosyne: Torshin vanished? I knew he was “retired” by Putin, but missed the missing part.

  77. 77
    Mnemosyne says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Well, sure, because Butina wasn’t playing the kind of character who likes to be friends with other women. It sounds like she was playing an old-fashioned “man’s woman,” the kind who enjoys outdoor pursuits and hanging out with the guys and laughs at all of their jokes no matter how sexist or racist they are. Kind of an Ava Gardner or young Angie Dickinson type.

  78. 78
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    She’s the “mail-order bride” type. Not fit to kiss Ava’s or Angie’s shoes.

  79. 79
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Charming, I’m sure.

  80. 80
    raven says:

    @Ladyraxterinok: Yea, there is one more on youtube with Of Montreal. It was local cable and the station went away. Misty works for the World Wildlife Foundation now, I don’t know what happened to Christy.

  81. 81
    VOR says:

    @Mnemosyne: I agree completely. Butina is an attractive woman but not an obvious sex pot like Anna Chapman. A good looking 20-something woman could be extremely enticing to 50 year old balding Republicans. Butina could slide under the radar a lot easier than an Anna Chapman, who would attract much more attention.. She was an agent of influence rather than intelligence collection.

  82. 82
    Burnspbesq says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Being defeated by something that most reasonably bright six-year-olds grasp immediately?

  83. 83

    @NotMax: That looks like a show my son would make me watch.

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    See, I think of the “mail-order bride” type as someone who presents herself as a very feminine, domestic type who just loves cooking and cleaning and keeping the house in order for her man. That’s not at all the part that Butina was playing, though obviously they’re both manipulative ploys to get what the person wants.

    And I’m not trying to slam Gardner or Dickinson at all, just pointing out two actresses who embodied the archetype on which Butina seems to have modeled her persona.

  85. 85
    Corner Stone says:

    @Burnspbesq: Shut up you stupid fuckface. It’s a shit design. Yes, somehow I wanted my entire window to collapse when I clicked on the scroll bar to just move down a bit. Great, thanks. Oh, wait! Now it’s moved me to a whole new window I did not want to open, merely because it felt like it and i was .25 inches away from wherever the fuck their border is to discern a left click from a right click. Go suck some Butina, you miserable ass, fuck.

  86. 86
    Corner Stone says:

    @MagdaInBlack: Guys are pigs.

  87. 87
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Corner Stone:
    LOL…..so I’ve been told.
    It’s a choice.☺️

  88. 88
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @NotMax: A beauty queen may well invoke the feeling of “she’s too good for a mere operative like me”. Or a bit of jealousy if she goes with other guys because she’s obviously looking for a better catch or better opportunities.

    But a Butina looks more like the girl next door, so she can get close to these guys.

    What I don’t get is why they thought the NRA could help with a Russian gun rights organization in the first place. Given the history and the experience of top-down control, even if it were legit, such an organization would be stricter than anything the Americans would allow. American-style gun rights would be a non-starter in any form of Russia: democratic, re-monarchist, autocratic.

  89. 89
    Corner Stone says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    What I don’t get is why they thought the NRA could help with a Russian gun rights organization in the first place. Given the history and the experience of top-down control, even if it were legit,

    They all knew it was not legit. It was just an opportunity for money laundering.

  90. 90
    Corner Stone says:

    Man, Clowndog. You can’t do that stuff against such a bad team.

  91. 91
    Tim C. says:

    @Gin & Tonic: oh god… *mouthvomits*

  92. 92
    Mnemosyne says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    What I don’t get is why they thought the NRA could help with a Russian gun rights organization in the first place.

    (A) American conservatives are dumb.

    (B) Butina and her fellow operatives spun them a story about Russians loving America and Americans and wanting to be just like them, which puffed up American conservatives’ egos.

    (C) American conservatives are really dumb and susceptible to propaganda since that’s all they see.

    (D) No, seriously, you can never underestimate how stupid and gullible American conservatives are.

  93. 93
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Corner Stone: Some may think this way, but this is definitely a pathway for self-deception and self-affirmation. Gun rights is increasingly on the back foot here, as fewer Americans own guns, the crime rate drops, and rurals are increasingly broke.

    Yes, a lot of Americans own guns. But fewer and fewer of them see the NRA as relevant, and more and more of them are put off by the culture war aspect of membership.

    Playing with Russia’s money is a way of keeping up appearances and giving themselves a feeling they still have great influence, if not here, then elsewhere in the world. It also makes up for dwindling membership dues as well. Money laundering means a cut of the proceeds to the launderer that doesn’t have to be begged for out of an increasingly smaller pool of donors.

  94. 94
    Jeffro says:

    @Mike in NC: RICO-mania! You know R-I-C (yeah you know me!)

  95. 95
    Ken says:

    What ever happened to the John Birch Society? Not that I want them to make a comeback, but there was a time not that long ago that they would be howling for blood at something like this. Did that chuck of the Republican coalition just die out?

  96. 96
    Mnemosyne says:

    @CarolDuhart2:

    I’m also guessing that the NRA and other conservatives assumed they were smarter than the Russians and would totally be able to take the Russians’ money while evading any bad consequences.

    A huge part of most con jobs is convincing the mark that they’re smarter than the con artist and will be able to double-cross him or her, which makes it even easier for the con artist to fool them. That seems to hold true in spying as well.

  97. 97
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Tim C.: I’m not endorsing it, I’m just telling you how things work. I’m sure it’s the same in Sofia or Bucharest.

  98. 98
    rikyrah says:

    @Jeffro:
    RICO
    one of my favorite words

  99. 99
  100. 100
    Jeffro says:

    @rikyrah: RICO-oooooo-la!

  101. 101
    Jeffro says:

    @raven: RICO-casek, of the Cars: “…when she says…RI-CO…I like the night. life. bay-bay!”

  102. 102
    Ruckus says:

    @zhena gogolia:
    She could be like the y tube I saw once.
    Woman walking across the street, guy walks up to her and obviously is trying to pick her up. She does a standing roundhouse kick to his head and knocks him out and down. She just goes on about her business as if this was an everyday thing. He just lays there.

  103. 103
    Corner Stone says:

    @Jeffro: When they go RICO, we go high?

  104. 104
    MomSense says:

    Intimately linked

    Phrasing!

  105. 105
    Schlemazel says:

    @Ken:
    It morphed into the Reagan wing of the GOP. They say they hate communism but look at what Putin presents as ‘Russian values’ today:
    unchecked vulture capitalism
    Mandatory religiosity
    White supremacy
    what on that list would Reagan & his minions not like?

  106. 106
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    @Mnemosyne: Or that they could somehow “sponsor” or “mentor” this organization.

    One thing the Resistance can chalk up as a success: Pulling back the curtain and showing a lot of the Republican infrastructure as a paper facade. Remember when the NRA was threatening the Stoneman Douglas kids with their 5 million member membership? That was earlier this year. Now the NRA is talking about ending free coffee and laying off people from NRATV. Does any organization with 5 million members not be able to even afford free store coffee for its workers? And if there’s been any independent fund-raising, it hasn’t made a dent in whatever is needed.

    The ending of the 20 year old Weekly Standard. Can’t they even last a year past Cheeto? There should be by now, enough loyal readers to get by. That none of the right-wing provocateurs can pay for themselves even on a minimum basis. Plus, we’ve also exposed how much they aren’t being supported by the general public.

  107. 107
    gwangung says:

    @VOR:

    A good looking 20-something woman could be extremely enticing to 50 year old balding Republicans.

    Not the only type, I dare say. I’m quite suspectible to young, good looking females who seem to be in to me and my passions….

    Doing the NRA thing is politics, but it doesn’t have the perception of being national-security level. An attractive young woman wouldn’t necessarily get your guard up if she came on to you if you both were working on gun issues.

  108. 108
    lollipopguild says:

    @Ken: The russians became nazis and were no longer commies so the birchers(any left over) are just fine with them.

  109. 109
    Another Scott says:

    @Corner Stone: It’s a heck of a lot better than on my Dell. (Comparing a mid-2012 MBP and a Latitude E7450). The Dell trackpad is haunted in comparison – just having my thumb about 1/4″ above it causes it to think I’m moving the pointer, etc., etc..

    It can always be worse!!

    ;-)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  110. 110

    I think some of you have been asking about firings and resignations in the Trump administration. The Times has you covered.

  111. 111
    Yarrow says:

    @piratedan:

    I wonder if there’s already a list of who she worked with as far as Senators, Congressmen and staffers and just how long that list is and if anyone else is making lists of the Russians mixed into the National Prayer Breakfast and those folks that were also playing footsie

    Oh, yeah. There’s a list. It’s very long. There will be some Democrats on the list as well, unfortunately. Playing all angles.

    I also have to be curious about how many of the media folks are also compromised as well, because it sure seems that we have a plethora of either outright apologists and/or are willfully obtuse about what is being presented as “news” and how that information is conveyed.

    Plenty, especially at the higher levels where decisions get made. Some reporters, of course. Editors too. But look at ownership and management in the big media companies.

    The one the is just starting to break into the news in a few places is the evangelical organizations. Some of those have been effective as money laundering operations. It’s about time those organizations got a bit of scrutiny. Prosperity gospel sure seems to make the guys at the top rich.

    And since we’re talking about all the pieces of the puzzle, there’s child sex trafficking, the separation of children from parents at the border, the evangelical organizations that are happy to help place kids in “Christian homes,” and the big concern churches have at the moment for human trafficking. Remember, it’s always projection with these people. Always.

  112. 112
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    @Corner Stone: A Russian connection there would make it much easier, politically, to root out these awful, bad, terrible, no good judges McConnell has been packing our courts with.
    It isn’t that much of a stretch. We know Putin was targeting our executive and legislative branches, why wouldn’t he go for the judicial as well?

  113. 113
    Jay says:

    The KGB used to have a “Sparrow” School in Kazan during the Cold War. In addition to normal tradecraft, young men and women were taught approaches, seduction, sexual techniques, manipulation and exploitation, blackmail.

    Western Agencies relied more on sex workers for “honeytrap” operations, but the KGB preferred well trained agents.

    It’s not known if the school is still operational.

  114. 114
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @Mnemosyne: She wouldn’t even necessarily have to sleep with them. Most of these guys have gotten to the point ( self involved assholes as they are) where their wives are saying “ OK, but for god’s sake get it over with fast.” A little flirting, a little inuendo, a little surreptitious patting without getting their teeth kicked in is probably about as much as their pacemakers can handle.

  115. 115
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Jay:
    Bridget Fonda : Point of No Return” sorta thing?

    Except that was us. I think.

  116. 116
    sdhays says:

    @Ken: I wonder if Dollhands actually asked about appointing himself to various positions to collect a salary. After all, he’s literally said that everyone else doesn’t matter – that’s why lots of positions are left unfilled and unnominated.

  117. 117
    Chetan Murthy says:

    I feel like in all this talk about sex, we’re forgetting that she’s an agent of our nation’s enemy. And it seems like, a pretty effective agent. Kasparov has it right: nobody freelances in Russia — they all work for the same eventual master. The one description of her going thru a gun-range simulation has her being pretty effective with a firearm in a way speaking of training. She seems to have had a decent cover, in short.

    I wonder why she stuck around to get scooped-up? I mean, she had to know it was coming. And I persist in believing that when this is all over, she’ll head back to Mother Russia for a medal. Well-earned.

    As for all the sex stuff? Feh, the men were idiots and pigs. ’nuff said.

  118. 118
    MagdaInBlack says:

    As for all the sex stuff? Feh, the men were idiots and pigs. ’nuff said.

    Play on their weaknesses 😏😊

  119. 119
  120. 120
    trollhattan says:

    Want you to smock me baby, rock me all night long
    Want you to smock me baby, rock me all night long
    Well I want you to smock me baby, like my back ain’t got no bones

    Want you to troll me, like I troll imported steel
    Want you to troll me, like I troll my porn ideal
    You know I want you to troll me over, you know how good that makes me feel

  121. 121
    trollhattan says:

    @Ken:
    Last time I saw organized Birchers was at a Tea Party astroturf thingie at the capitol. They had a card table and pamphlets.

  122. 122
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    How did I forget that one?
    (Prob because I have a thing for Bridget Fonda)

    ETA : and Gabriel Byrne

  123. 123
  124. 124
    geg6 says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Just watched that a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t great but it was okay for a movie night at home. Jennifer Lawrence looks amazing in it but her accent leaves somewhat to be desired. Thought of Butina the whole time I watched it, though.

  125. 125
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @MagdaInBlack: remake of _La Femme Nikita_. And Bridget Fonda is no Anne Parillaud. I mean, that woman, she played that role as Completely. Fucked. Up. Completely. That was impressive, that was.

  126. 126
    Origuy says:

    Remember that at the same time Putin is messing with Western governments, he’s playing a different game at home. He has a pretty tight grip on the government and most people seem to support him, but he does have democratic opposition. He want to say to them and to those that might join them, “See? Western democracy doesn’t work well. It’s full of corruption and incompetence. Trump is my puppet and his party is in my pocket.” I think when she returns to Russia, Butina will be treated as a hero.

  127. 127
    cain says:

    So this

    Is fucked up. The tweet says:
    “DeFazio on climate: “This is the existential threat to the future of the planet.” Insanity. For comparison, the atmosphere Venus is 96.5% CO2 — and the planet is still there. In contrast, Earth’s atmosphere is only ~0.04% CO2. ”

    New meme. “The planet is still there.”

  128. 128
    MomSense says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    She’s got a farm girl, almost girl next door but with just enough of a rough/ wild edge to be irresistible to those repressed conservative men.

  129. 129
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Chetan Murthy:
    I’ve only seen the remake, so I’m not qualified to critique.
    Now thanks to your suggestion, I’ve something to watch tonight 😊

  130. 130
    Mike G says:

    @Mike in NC:

    United States of America
    vs.
    Trump Organization

    Trump was an obvious crook years before he ran for office.
    It pisses me off that the authorities in NY never pursued the kind of investigation that is happening now.
    A social malignancy like Trump should have been prosecuted and removed from contention for major political office long before he got to the WH.

  131. 131
    trollhattan says:

    @Chetan Murthy:
    Two films and two TV series by my count. Story has legs.

  132. 132

    @cain: DeFazio is welcome to live on Venus. Planet will still be here but we won’t be. We are ruled by imbeciles. Who is this guy?

  133. 133
    Another Scott says:

    @MomSense: Are we all talking about the same person? The person with the slit skirt and the 6″ stiletto heels in the tweeted picture above??

    Just curious.

    ;-)

    Seriously, she looks normal-ish when she’s hanging on some GOP or NRA muckity-muck’s arm, but I don’t get a farm girl/girl next door vibe from her at all – especially in that glamour shot. YMMV.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  134. 134
    Another Scott says:

    @schrodingers_cat: As usual, Twitter is a horrible medium for conveying actual understanding.

    DeFazio didn’t write or say the Venus stuff.

    Steve Milloy did.

    Steve Milloy Verified account @JunkScience

    Co-founder http://BurnMoreCoal.com . Trump EPA transition team. Eagle Scout. Biostatistician. Lawyer. Author. FOX News contributor.

    IOW, water is wet, etc., etc.

    HTH.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  135. 135
    MomSense says:

    @Another Scott:

    That’s not her normal look! I don’t know much about guns but I’m thinking that pose wasn’t about optimal shooting position.

  136. 136

    @cain: The comments are worth the visit.

  137. 137
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @trollhattan: I’ve never watched the TV series (either one). But maybe I’ll have to. Thing is …. without Anne Parillaud’s off-the-hook-ness, I’m not sure it’d work for me. But I’ll have to see …..

  138. 138

    @Another Scott: Thanks, Cain’s comment confused me. Milloy is welcome to live on Venus. Lawyer and Biostatistician? reminds me of Orly Taitz.

  139. 139

    @Corner Stone: You can disable a lot of those settings if they annoy you. See here. I have most of them disabled myself, but find a few like the zoom and scroll gestures to be very useful. Don’t know why so many of them are enabled by default, though, as a lot of them are quite annoying.

    @CarolDuhart2: @Mnemosyne: I think it also bears mentioning how little most American “conservatives” actually know about anything. Most of them probably have no knowledge whatsoever about Russia’s treatment of guns and thus were probably willing to believe whatever they heard from a reasonably attractive woman who seemed to be into them. They almost certainly didn’t know enough to think through any potential holes in the stories Butina or others told them, and even the ones that did know might end up being distracted by the sexy, as TV Tropes might put it.

    Butina is no Jennifer Lawrence, to be clear, but she seems to present the sort of girl-next-door sort of appearance with a hint of something wilder beneath the surface that is very likely to be appealing to a certain population of middle-aged gun activists. I’m sure this was all very calculated on her part.

    It remains to be seen how much of what she’s doing now is on Putin’s orders, but if I were her I certainly wouldn’t count on her safety if she returns to Russia, regardless of what she’s hearing from any sources who may still have contact with her. She’s a loose end right now, and Putin doesn’t seem to like loose ends. Of course, given the Novichok attacks and such, she may not be entirely safe on American soil, either. I legitimately hope, for her sake, that she got witness protection and immunity from deportation as part of her plea arrangement.

  140. 140
    Corner Stone says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Thanks. I’ve tried cycling through a few of those changes. But for some reason they seem to reset to default, randomly. Also, I’ve been using keyboard commands for simple copy/paste/edit/find stuff because the damn mousepad seems to wan to quit halfway through the task. “No, mousepad, I actually really did want to copy an entire sentence, not just the 70% you decided to copy.”

  141. 141
    Jay says:

    @MagdaInBlack:

    Not much is known about the School. As far as I know, Western Intelligence only ever identified one Sparrow, in the Soviet Union, for certain.

    Swallow’s and Sparrow’s would mostly be used to compromise their target, blackmail or sexual manipulation to get them to compromise themselves.

    Once the target is compromised, a “regular” agent can manage the “handling” of the asset.

    Swallows and Sparrows would also have a limited “shelf life”, but their skills and training would allow their careers as “regular” agents to continue quite well.

    They seem to have mostly been “employed” in the Soviet Union to compromise visitors and internal Soviets.

    They would have required sophisticated language and cultural training, documents, cover to work in the West during the Soviet era, outside of and Embassy or Front, and their “activities” would have quickly “blown” their covers.

    As we have seen and are seeing, since the Soviet fall, there is no shortage of “covers” for Capitalist Russians to penetrate the West now. They can come as students, tourists, business people, visa employee’s, conference addendee’s.

    All they need is a matching Linked In backstory, Book of Faces page and twitter account.

  142. 142
    Corner Stone says:

    On another note, someone better sack that POS Sam Darnold pretty much ASAP.

  143. 143
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    Butina is no Jennifer Lawrence, to be clear, but she seems to present the sort of girl-next-door sort of appearance with a hint of something wilder beneath the surface that is very likely to be appealing to a certain population of middle-aged gun activists. I’m sure this was all very calculated on her part

    No other woman is J.Lawrence, but looks didn’t really matter. She was a live woman who was not (visibly) repulsed by the Hutts around her

  144. 144
    Corner Stone says:

    Dammit Texans.

  145. 145
    Corner Stone says:

    That dude missed two extra points in a row? Seriously?

  146. 146
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m curious about the Darnold hate. Did I miss something?

  147. 147
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Scott:

    Those photos are from a GQ photo shoot a few years ago and are mocking the very idea that a nice politically active girl like Butina could possibly be a Russian spy.

    Yeah, they didn’t age well:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/JuliaDavisNews/status/1073749777379147776

    If I was Butina, I would have laughed until I peed myself when GQ proposed that as the idea for the photos.

  148. 148
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Corner Stone: Um, I thought I might offer some advice, one Mac-hater to another. When I took a job at a certain IT company, they handed me a Mac on the first day. I tried hard to use it for the first week, then turned it back in and asked politely for a Stinkpad (which series I’ve been using since 1995). So i sure don’t like Macs. To wit, “Steve Jobs thinks he can tell me how to use my effin’ computer!”

    So, now the advice: it might be useful to get an experienced and skilled MacPro user to use your machine for a while, doing the things that you find problematic. Just to determine if there’s a hardware or config problem. Not saying that that’s the case, but, well, this is an easy to way to eliminate the possibility.

    I’m not gonna suggest that you can learn how to use the thing effectively. I strongly believe that “real power users” of Mac lappies all get external mice, b/c the pad isn’t useful for cut-and-paste and shit — basically for efficient fine positioning. And my informal polling of Mac users confirms this belief. Ditto the way that Mac users run their apps in full-screen mode, where I tend to tile xterms and emacs windows all over the screen.

    But whatever. Just suggesting that it might be worth eliminating the possibility of a hardware problem.

  149. 149
    Corner Stone says:

    @A Ghost To Most: Ummm, He’s the QB for the Jets and I’m a Texans fan? And we can’t seem to get to him.

  150. 150
    trollhattan says:

    Actual BBC headline ATM: “Jesus scores twice to send Man City top”

    So much raw material there. Sounds like a holiday season miracle to me.

  151. 151

    @Corner Stone: That’s weird that the settings sometimes get reversed. Computers are dumb sometimes.

    And yeah, the trackpads do kinda suck sometimes, but I honestly prefer the trackpad on my MacBook to the one on my ThinkPad; this one seems way more responsive and the implementation of mouse clicking is much less intrusive. I think it’s because the trackpad on the MacBook doesn’t get in your way when you’re typing, while it’s easy to accidentally hit the mouse click on the ThinkPad.

    I’ve yet to find a trackpad that was anywhere near as good as a mouse, however. And yeah, mine does falter sometimes too, though I wouldn’t say 70%. Actually the time when it’s most unreliable seems to be for a game I play where a certain set of keystrokes (command-option-new game) brings you a level select dialogue. When it’s in windowed mode, the sequence sometimes doesn’t work. When it’s fullscreen, no problem. I suspect this is due to something about Apple’s implementation of the trackpad that gets disabled during fullscreen mode, but I don’t fully understand it yet.

    @A Ghost To Most: Right; for a lot of these guys the criteria were (1) has a pulse, (2) has breasts, (3) gives off a vibe of being into them. Probably not much more to it than that.

  152. 152
    joel hanes says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Apple Macbook Pro’s mousepad interface

    You can always buy a real mouse that you like and attach it, and deactivate the trackpad.
    That’s what I do.
    (I like the Logictech 500 series, but to each his own)

  153. 153
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @trollhattan: So if I read that correctly, Jesus is a bottom?

  154. 154
    trollhattan says:

    @Chetan Murthy:
    My preferred series is the Peta Wilson one, for whatever that’s worth. No idea how available it may be.

  155. 155
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Ruckus:

    She really wasn’t spying. She’s an operative. She had a job to do, apparently she was good at it, so it’s quite possible that she had pre-clearance to do exactly what she’s doing if arrested.

    Except as of a few days ago, and maybe still, her handler Torshin has not been seen. If he is buried in some prison, or buried in the ground, that is a good indication her part in this story went way off the rails.

  156. 156
    trollhattan says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    So much scoring.

  157. 157
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Uh, I don’t know what girls everyone lives next to but I realllly don’t think Maria Butina is going for that. AFAICT she’s going for Bond villainess.

  158. 158
    Corner Stone says:

    @Chetan Murthy:

    it might be useful to get an experienced and skilled MacPro user to use your machine for a while, doing the things that you find problemati

    Good God! What do you take me for?! Do you think I consort with the lowest of the low, the riverboat thief of old? I have this one for work type crap but my sweet 12in Dell E4200 recently gave up the ghost on me. So I’m stuck with it for a bit til I buy something on a cyber deal.

  159. 159
    NotMax says:

    @Gin & Tonic

    You never heard of turn the other cheek?

    ;)

  160. 160
    JanieM says:

    @Ken: The work goes on, just in a wider variety of channels. The Koch brothers are the sons of one of the founders of the John Birch Society.

  161. 161
    Corner Stone says:

    @trollhattan: So hot.

  162. 162
    Mnemosyne says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Those are joke photos for GQ. This Twitter thread shows how she dressed to meet Republicans in real life:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/shannonrwatts/status/1018989033534382086

  163. 163

    @FlipYrWhig: Depends on the setting. In the picture above, I definitely agree with you. Judging from what I’ve read, however, her everyday interactions with Republican operatives seem to have come across as much more… ordinary on the surface. The Bond villainess act is part of what I was alluding to about “a hint of something wilder beneath the surface”. There is a certain subset of middle-aged Republican males that would very much like to pretend they are James Bond. Butina was a very direct way for them to do so. I’m almost certain she wanted them to see those pictures as a sort of cosplay when she approached them. She was providing them an outlet for a fantasy that appears to be quite common amongst heterosexual American males of a certain age and political persuasion.

    I suspect both her front of normalcy and the Bond villainess poses were both acts, to be clear, that were very deliberately calculated to advance her agenda. But she doesn’t seem to have done the Bond villainess shtick in her everyday interactions with people, so they probably just assumed it was an image thing. And again, by the time she was flirting with them, they probably were thinking with the wrong head, anyway.

    edit: ninja’d by Mnem but I’ll leave it anyway.

  164. 164
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @NotMax: You’re going straight to Hell for that, you know?

  165. 165
    cain says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    @cain: The comments are worth the visit.

    Oh they most _certainly_ are. So much win. Even Sam Wang gets in the act. :-)

    @schrodingers_cat:
    Sorry for the confusion. It’s why I added the link. Peter DeFazio is an awesome Oregon House member and is just really cool. The other guy who posted a total loser.

  166. 166
    Corner Stone says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))): Those pearls, though!

  167. 167
    sukabi says:

    @Gin & Tonic: speaking of hanging out in bars in Russia, you know who’s been conspicuously quiet? …. Matt Taibbi.

  168. 168
    NotMax says:

    @Gin & Tonic

    Does Charon accept bitcoin? Asking for a friend.

    ;)

  169. 169
    Radiumgirl says:

    @Schlemazel: Will you actually get a chance? Like in person chance? Oh please rub it in.

  170. 170
    Another Scott says:

    @Mnemosyne: Thanks for the pointers.

    The GQ.ru story is from July of this year.

    The slit skirt and stilettos is a screen grab from a video there.

    (I haven’t read the story.)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  171. 171
  172. 172
    Corner Stone says:

    Fucking Bill O’Brien.

  173. 173
    sukabi says:

    @cain: crowd fund a rocket to shoot him to Venus then.

  174. 174
    Corner Stone says:

    Are you fucking kidding me. Fuck these guys.

  175. 175
    Mnemosyne says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    I’m guessing that Butina made a LOT of jokes about how funny it would be if she was secretly a Russian spy. After all, if she joked about it, that must mean that she couldn’t be one, right? 🙄

    OT, but is your filmmaker friend the one who made If Beale Street Could Talk? I’m hoping to see it over the holidays.

  176. 176
    oldgold says:

    A Russian woman cozying up to the NRA as a gun advocate and the reaction to it reminds me of Dr. Samuel Johnson’s observation about dogs walking on their hind legs.

    You take interest, not because it is done well; but, for the reason that it occurs at all.

  177. 177
    jl says:

    As other commenters have noted, Butina was not a spy, she was an operative with zero cover or misdirection. And as I noted in comments yesterday, the legal problems of getting any money for US electoral politics through her channels was so obvious that several lefty organizations she contacted very promptly notified the FBI. So, hard to see what there is for her to ‘burn’ no matter the fuss from Russian media (which may be for domestic political purposes).

    Josh Marshall’s twitter noted yesterday that at least two other Russians who did what Butina appears to be doing, ended up promptly assassinated before they could give much info to US authorities. But once her operation was made official news, she completely changed her legal stance and started cooperating within hours, apparently very very smoothly. Almost as if she were simply going through a checklist of instructions on what to do when.

    So, what the real story of what is going on is currently msyterious. I guess someday we’ll find out. I guess depends to some extent on whether Butina can avoid gunshots to the head for falling out of tall windows before she finishes cooperating with the federal investigations. Or maybe not, maybe Putin has a bunch of chaos inducing lies planned for her to tell after a relatively transparent operation inevitably was blown upen. Who knows?

  178. 178

    @Mnemosyne: She is one of twelve people with a producer credit on the film, according to IMDB. Of course, that doesn’t really narrow it down, since the other two producers of Moonlight are also on there. If it helps narrow it down further, we went to school (and worked on several plays) together in Sarasota County, FL. That should be enough information for people to puzzle out her identity without my actually mentioning her name.

    I’m very much looking forward to the film as well. It seems like all the major crew of Moonlight came back for this one, which bodes very well indeed.

  179. 179

    On the ‘Is she allowed to spill the beans?’ topic, I will note that last summer, whenever things died down on the Trump scandals, Putin or Russian agents would leak information that got it going again. Isn’t that how we found out about the Trump Tower meeting in the first place? Making the American government look corrupt and democracy just as bad as dictatorship is the central plank of Putin’s internal Russian propaganda campaign, which he desperately needs because the country is collapsing from corruption and sadistic mismanagement.

  180. 180
    MagdaInBlack says:

    @Jay:
    Thank you.
    This is all very interesting to me.

  181. 181
    Fair Economist says:

    @Millard Filmore: I would be surprised if Butina was *told* she’d be taken care of even if she got caught – and that the claim was a lie.

  182. 182
    Mike in NC says:

    Maria Butina posed for a lot of photo ops with assorted Republican movers and shakers. If only half of them eventually land in jail, it’ll be a good thing.

  183. 183
    Bonnie says:

    I hate twitter.

  184. 184
    Millard Filmore says:

    @Fair Economist: Right. Her handler is missing. I do not believe she will get a hero’s welcome upon her return to Russia.

  185. 185
    debbie says:

    @Chetan Murthy:

    I’m not gonna suggest that you can learn how to use the thing effectively. I strongly believe that “real power users” of Mac lappies all get external mice, b/c the pad isn’t useful for cut-and-paste and shit — basically for efficient fine positioning. And my informal polling of Mac users confirms this belief.

    Pity you didn’t ask me. I am a proud Mac lover. I work on PCs at work and have a Chromebook so I can work at home without having to pollute my Mac with that crap. I hate them all.

    When I got my MacBook Pro, I already had a few mouses lying around, but I’ve yet to use any of them. I have no problem with the track pad; it’s far smoother than any PC track pad I’ver ever used.

    CS should pay a visit to his nearest Apple Store and have someone there check it out. They would know if anything was amiss.

  186. 186
    Aleta says:

    https://vimeo.com/306022843?mc_cid=ea933a9230&mc_eid=1585075cae
    Livestream right now from NY P Library. Readings from a book that consists of letters written to children by a bunch of authors around the world, each asked to write their letter on the subject of reading books. It just started, still in the introduction.

  187. 187
    jl says:

    @Millard Filmore: Thsnks for reminding me. Maybe Butina hopes to dissapear into a witness protection program, if she can survive long enough to give info to the feds. But maybe she likes living on the edge. The real story is pretty obscure right now.

  188. 188
    RobNYNY says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Yeah, check the roots.

    The carpet is not going to match the drapes.

  189. 189
    Corner Stone says:

    @RobNYNY: I am a simple man. A simple, simple man.

  190. 190
    Doug R says:

    @Ken:

    What ever happened to the John Birch Society? Not that I want them to make a comeback, but there was a time not that long ago that they would be howling for blood at something like this. Did that chuck of the Republican coalition just die out?

    I think that evolved into the Koch empire-so more of the same.

  191. 191
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Is anyone shocked that Julian Assange is a bigot or was his support for Trump enough of a hint. Dying for the day Ecuardo kicks him out of their embassy so he can face the music.

  192. 192
    Doug R says:

    @MagdaInBlack:

    I’ve only seen the remake, so I’m not qualified to critique.
    Now thanks to your suggestion, I’ve something to watch tonight 😊

    La Femme Nikita is WAAAAY better than Point Of No Return.

  193. 193
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @jl: I searched his tweets from today thru Thursday, and found nothing about this? Care to share?

    Josh Marshall’s twitter noted yesterday that at least two other Russians who did what Butina appears to be doing, ended up promptly assassinated before they could give much info to US authorities.

  194. 194
    jl says:

    @Chetan Murthy: I’m a member of TPM Prime, so it may have been a subscription only post. I’ll go look and see if I can find it.

  195. 195
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @jl: Oh, it was a post. I’m a Prime subscriber too — I’ll look there now.

  196. 196

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Julian Assange is a bigot

    His memoir ghost-writer, the one he stiffed*, said he loves racist jokes, and views women in entirely utilitarian terms.

    *Technically, he was paid millions for a memoir, refused to have it published at the last minute, and wouldn’t give the money back.

  197. 197
    jl says:

    @Chetan Murthy:
    ” [Butina] would join a category of Russians prepared to reveal information about their home country’s intelligence services — a category of people whose lifespans appear to be shortening. In March, Nikolai Glushkov was found strangled with a dog leash in London before he was to testify in a court case about how Aeroflot Russian Airlines was being used as a front for Russian intelligence. Mikhail Lesin, former top Kremlin official, was found dead and covered in bruises before he was reportedly set to meet with the Justice Department.

    What We Learned From Mariia Butina’s Plea Docs
    TIERNEY SNEED and JOSH KOVENSKY
    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/prime-beta/what-we-learned-from-mariia-butinas-plea-docs

    I can’t tell if whole article is behind a paywall or not.
    Edit: so, that is why I think what is really going on is mysterious. Butina an operative who hid very little, what does she really have to ‘burn’, and given the danger, why the so very smooth and quick transition to cooperation? I hope Mueller has ways to independently verify what she and her cronies say, since not clear to me the operation, whatever it is, is over.

  198. 198

    @jl: Appears to be paywalled. For future reference, you can check the page in incognito mode to see if it’s accessible to people who aren’t subscribers.

  199. 199
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @jl: *Interesting* ! Thank you for the pointer! I’d forgotten all about these killings.

  200. 200
    jl says:

    One thing I think is clear, is that a lot, maybe most, of Putin’s operation would only work on a US political system that was already very corrupt and full of very corrupt people with no principles. But, much more decentralized than in Russia, so very hard to organize and focus the rot though all levels of federal and state government. Which may save us.

    And the rot includes our corporate media, who vastly preferred the quick $ and ratings from fluffling Trump than doing any real reporting and investigation of him. Just ordinary adequate coverage of the cesspit that is the Trump empire, and insanity of his promises and claims, the incoherence of implausibility of his policy nonsense, would have made a Trump victory very unlikely, even given the problems, self-created and imposed from outside, of the HRC campaign. Didn’t even have to get into touchy business of possible Russian corruption to sink Trump, Just ordinary beat reporting out the mess that was Trump would have been enough.

  201. 201
    jl says:

    @Chetan Murthy: Actually, another commenter reminded me that one of Butina’s handlers went missing, which reminded me of the deaths. Look through comments above and you’ll find it.

    We don’t why that person went missing or not, and whether it has anything to do with what Butina knows or doesn’t.

  202. 202
    Corner Stone says:

    @jl:

    In March, Nikolai Glushkov was found strangled with a dog leash in London

    Sadly, I see hipsters walking their dogs in just this way lately. Trends can be dangerous, it seems.

  203. 203
    Mandalay says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    His memoir ghost-writer, the one he stiffed*…

    That ghost writer is far from being the only person who has been stiffed by Assange:

    A court ruled on Monday that the payments must be made within a month by nine friends and backers who in 2010 pledged £140,000 to guarantee Assange would abide by bail conditions during a failed legal challenge to extradition proceedings brought by authorities in Sweden, where he faces allegations of rape and sexual assault…

    …It is understood that a separate group of Assange supporters, thought to include the film-maker Ken Loach, the writer and campaigner Jemima Khan, the journalist John Pilger and the magazine publisher Felix Dennis have already forfeited bail cash worth £200,000 following a court order earlier this year.

    So thirteen of Assange’s “friends and backers” are £340,000 out of pocket due to Assange’s self-imposed exile. With friends like Assange you don’t need enemies.

  204. 204
    jl says:

    A real dark and evil mystery is what the hell happened to all those people who wanted the Chief of Staff job that Trump is talking about. Dozens of people, all vanished! Where is the reporting on that? I suspect the Soros funded Deep State and liberal DemocRAT military had something to do with it.

    An operation so ruthlessly efficient, they haven’t even found the bodies.

  205. 205
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @jl:

    another commenter reminded me that one of Butina’s handlers went missing

    It’s interesting: I understand why Putin would have would-be defectors killed. But it seems counterproductive to have loyal officers killed-off. And Torshin (as far as we can tell) is loyal. I guess we’ll have to wait and see — doesn’t change anything America has to do in any case.

  206. 206
    Jay says:

    @jl:

    Wiki notes that she’s been under FBI Counter Intelligence survelliance since 2015.

    Butina would have very little to “trade”, but much to confirm.

    There’s more than 2 dozen Republicans on her “contacts” lists.

    There’s also the interesting “aside” of the Russian “tantric yoga sex” instructor jailed in Thailand, that suggests the Kazan Swallow School never closed.

  207. 207
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Jay:

    Russian “tantric yoga sex” instructor jailed in Thailand

    IIRC she was a (uh) mistress to one of the Russian oligarchs? Doesn’t seem in the same league as Ms. Butina.

  208. 208
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @rikyrah: The fact that Republicans are okay with Trump’s lies, bigotry and general incompetence isn’t what surprises me. I’m surprised that the MSM still tries to normalize Trump despite his full throated attacks on the free press. I’m still waiting for the deluge of articles about Democratic voters since the MSM seems fixated with Trump supporters.

  209. 209
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Chetan Murthy: Ah, the wonderful Nastya Rybka. Who alleges that she spent quality time on Deripaska’s yacht. She’s actually from Belarus, although she traveled to Thailand on a Russian passport. Last I checked, she’s still, um, residing in Thailand.

    She’s certainly more comely than Butina.

  210. 210
    Immanentize says:

    @Patricia Kayden:
    The MSM is on the “Yes Daddy” phase if their D/s relationship (based primarily on cash transactions) with the Republican party.

  211. 211
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Ah, the wonderful Nastya Rybka.

    Yes. Perhaps she’s a secret agent. And perhaps Ivanka is a talented businesswoman.

  212. 212
    Jay says:

    She was the Aluminum Guy’s “consort”, the one who followed the Trump Campaign around, “laundered” a bunch of ReThug bribes by buying high or selling low.

    She claimed at one time to have been present when the Russia/Trump Outreach campaign was planned.

    One of the things about Swallows and Sparrows is they would have a highly “irregular” workload. In Soviet Days they were often “used” as a “perk” for well connected Soviets between assignments. With their Security Clearances they were someone that l’Affairs of State could be discussed in front of, and also someone who could ensure that Loyal Soviets were staying loyal.

  213. 213
    Platonailedit says:

    $150,000,000 in student loans will be forgiven in accordance with an Obama-era rule being implemented by the Department of Education, despite Betsy Devos' efforts to kill the policy. https://t.co/NcPvSPUJs9— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 15, 2018

  214. 214
    sdhays says:

    @Jay: Wasn’t there something in her agreement about assisting the FBI which indicated more than just telling them what she knows? What if she started cooperating long ago and only now admitted it?

  215. 215
    Jay says:

    @sdhays:

    There’s a rumour out there that she wore a wire.

    There’s lot’s of rumours out there. We will learn more as time passes.

  216. 216
    Ruckus says:

    @Millard Filmore:
    I don’t know anymore about any of this than the rest of you. But I’m looking at the bigger picture here. The rules for anything like this are not the ones in the movies, they are not necessarily what any of us might think would be “normal,” whatever the hell normal might be. One has to think outside the box here. Completely outside the box. Look at this situation from all directions, given everything we know, which is not much, nothing in this situation is as it seems, other than the republicans in office are all corrupt, in one way or another, or in every which way. Vlad took advantage of that. Vlad is playing multi dimensional chess with people who have no idea how to play one dimensional chess. And he seems rather good at it. Now ask for what reason, what is his end goal here and how close is he to getting there. He has publicly snubbed individual 1 in a very obvious way. Even individual 1 got that message and he almost never gets them. Has Vlad reached his goal? If he has what is MB going to uncover that matters to Vlad?
    I’m not saying I’m right or anything, I’m saying this is not a Bond or any other movie, this is a master class criminal with a smallish but still big enough nuclear war chest. He’s not Al Capone or the mafia, or anyone else. He’s supposed to be the or one of the worlds richest men and he didn’t get there playing the stock market or selling people a pyramid scheme. He got there by taking it and making sure that everyone around him was either 100% loyal or dead.

    Now, on to mac track pads/mouses. I’ve had a couple imacs for 6 yrs now and only use a trackpad/keyboard. And I hated all the trackpads on laptops I had over the years. They sucked. But I find the latest mac trackpad to be great (other than the bluetooth decided to not continue to work at all regularly and I have to plug both in all the time for them to work. And yes I’ve talked to apple and all the web sites that tell how to fix this, and some of it does. For about 2 hrs before it stops working once again. This of course has somewhat soured me on apple computers. Which leaves all the ones I hate even more. What’s a boy to do?

  217. 217
    Ken says:

    @Corner Stone: I know what you mean. Fads like bungee cord jumping off your balcony without a cord, or rubbing nerve agent on your hands, do seem to be on the up-tick.

  218. 218

    @jl:

    I’m a member of TPM Prime

    Oh, TPM Platinum; I’ll run along while you moneybags discuss this.

  219. 219
    jl says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: No, I don’t know what is going on their super exclusive TPM Platinum or Diamond club or whatever it is. They sent me emails about the officers club bennies, and I signed up for some discssion thing to entice people to sign up, but I forgot to follow up. I do wish to support independent journalism and I think TPM does a good job and Prime is pretty cheap.

    Now, you damn kids get off my lawn and go play somewhere else.

  220. 220
    Wapiti says:

    @MagdaInBlack: When you watch Le Femme Nikita: to my understanding, at the time that was made, Jean Reno had only played comedy roles. His entrance was a surprise to the French audiences.

  221. 221
    Jay says:

    @Ruckus:

    I don’t think Putin has a “plan”. The KGB never did.

    They were very good at leveraging weakness for short term gain.

    After the Soviet Union fell, and after Gangster Capitalism had been brought under State Control, Russia could have leveraged it’s relations with border states like Ukraine or the Baltics, to “pipeline” Russian raw materials to the West.

    Instead, they see-sawed between bribes, blackmail and threats.

    As an example, Tolko thought their future was going to be modern mills and the vast Siberian Forests, but 10 years of see-sawing saw them run out of Russia at gunpoint, by the FSB.

  222. 222
    debbie says:

    This has nothing to do with anything, but this just played on my local NPR station, and now I can say I have the Christmas Spirit!

  223. 223
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @jl: I second this. TPM Prime isn’t that expensive (a damn sight cheaper than FTFNYT) and they do good work.

  224. 224
    Platonailedit says:

    Kansas State Sen. Barbara Bollier has announced that after 43 years as a registered Republican and 10 years as a GOP lawmaker she is switching parties, saying Republicans’ stances on LGBTQ issues, particularly transgender rights, pushed her over the edge. https://t.co/kS6QwlZgNF— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 16, 2018

  225. 225
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @debbie: To truly get into the holiday mood, check out Mrs. Claus’ Kimono

  226. 226
    randy khan says:

    @cain:

    I think he should try going into a room with 96%+ carbon dioxide to see how he likes it.

  227. 227
    Platonailedit says:

    @Schlemazel: If only wishes were horses. Dumbass. This is not high school. Grow up.

  228. 228
    joel hanes says:

    @debbie:

    CS should pay a visit to his nearest Apple Store and have someone there check it out. They would know if anything was amiss.

    People vary.
    The Apple touch sensors have problems registering my fingers — something about what hard labor and housework have done to my skin, I think. I work with Apple stuff all day, and have for ten years, but find I anything that depends on accurate touch sensing to be frustrating to use. That makes the iPhone nigh-unusable for me.

  229. 229
    joel hanes says:

    @Doug R:

    What ever happened to the John Birch Society?

    now DBA as “The Republican Party”

  230. 230
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Platonailedit: You’re one to tell anyone to “grow up” – your posts read more like kindergarten than high school. To paraphrase that immortal line from The Owl & The Pussycat, would you please be so kind as to kindly fuck off?

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