There’s Still A Lot We Don’t Know About Paul Whelan

Here is what we know about Paul Whelan and his arrest in Russia.

  • A graduate of the University of Michigan, Mr. Whelan was deployed twice to Iraq before he was court-martialed by the Marine Corps in 2008 on charges of attempting to steal more than $10,000 worth of currency and bouncing checks up to $6000, resulting in a discharge for bad conduct.
  • Whelan is head of physical and personnel security for BorgWarner, an auto parts manufacturer. Previously worked for Kelly Services.
  • Whelan holds passports from four countries: the United States, Britain, Canada, and Ireland.
  • He has visited Russia “every six months or so” since 2006.
  • He has an account on Vkontakte, the Russian version of Facebook. Most contacts are in the Russian military.
  • The American ambassador to Russia has visited him in Lefortovo Prison; Britain and Ireland are seeking consular access.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for an explanation for Mr Whelan’s detention and said his release would be demanded if his detention is found to be inappropriate.
  • He is accused of receiving a usb stick containing the names of people at a “classified security agency.” But Russia is known to plant false information.
  • Lawyer: Vladimir A. Zherebenkov. He suggested that Whelan might be exchanged for Maria Butina.
  • His brother says he is not a spy.

Adam posted a reasonable analysis a couple of days ago. I’ve condensed it, but you can find the full comment at the link.

Whelan was born in Canada and is a naturalized US citizen. Because his family – parents or grandparents – had recent citizenship in Ireland and the UK, he also claimed British and Irish citizenship…It is not too uncommon for people to do this even as it is still not a lot of people in total…

It has now been reported that Whelan has integrity issues…And somehow he developed a Russophilia. This, last bit, by itself, isn’t a major issue. Lots of people become Russophiles…through reading literature, listening to symphonies and operas, viewing art, liking the cuisine, etc. However, most people I know on 12 to 18 month deployments either went home for their mid deployment leaves or went to interesting third countries and paid to bring their spouses and/or families to vacation with them. Going to Russia for two weeks is a bit odd. I will caveat that, however, with the reality that if he had long time social media friends in Russia who had invited him and given that he was a Russophile, this would be a relatively inexpensive way to do a visit as his airfare would be paid and he’s paid while on leave.

What I think happened, however, is that Russian intelligence quickly flagged this guy trying to make contacts on Russian social media/social media used by Russians as he was trying to learn the language and explore the parts of Russian history and culture that interested him. They did a full profile on him – criminal background, work history, social media history, military service, operational psych assessment – and they then quickly took control of some of his social media interactions, encouraged his interests, etc. When he got to Russia a human intelligence specialist made contact. One of two things then happened. They either just presented as a friend and kept cultivating him and keeping a tab on him and encouraging his Russophilia in case they needed him or they specifically presented as from one of the countries that he has citizenship in. And most likely not the US, probably someone from Russian intel claiming to work for British intelligence. And they recruited him that way. Either way, they had their hooks into him and could use him if they needed him when it was convenient for them. Right now Putin has a hostage that four different countries have a stake in. That’s a lot of leverage.

Here’s another theory, not too different from Adam’s.

These are reasonable guesses. Unfortunately, everyone I’ve talked to about it, including Adam, says that there is something strange here. I concur. But what is it?

Several knowledgeable people have noted that the United States would not run a spy in Russia withough diplomatic protection, which means being stationed in the US embassy and having a diplomatic passport, neither of which is true of Whelan. The plan for Butina is to deport her in six months, so there is no need for an exchange.

I would ask if Whelan belongs to an evangelical Christian church or is a member of the NRA. Both have been targeted for influence by Russia. Maria Butina is the obvious face of the infiltration of the NRA, but evangelical churches in the US have found common cause with the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church works closely with the Russian state.

What if Whelan’s Russophilia had its roots in that Russian effort? Perhaps he was trying to act as an emissary of good will toward Russia, or was being cultivated to spread good will toward Russia in America, or perhaps more than that. Such cultivation would have had a net result similar to the scenarios above: Whelan could easily have been duped into becoming a pawn. Or perhaps he volunteered to be her counterpart so that he can be exchanged for her. All this is speculation.

But Whelan’s earnest Russophilia is reminiscent of Carter Page’s. Both Mike Carpenter in the tweet above and Julia Ioffe saw that similarity, along with me.

We still don’t know the full story of how Carter Page became one of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisors, but the trail goes through Iowa. Amazing how many midwestern Republicans have been swept up in Russophilia.

On the other hand, there have been two more detainments of Russian citizens by the United States, one before Whelan’s arrest and one after. A Russian national, Terada Mira (Oksana Vovk before 2017), was detained at Helsinki’s Vantaa Airport on December 15 at the request of the United States. She is accused of drug trafficking and money laundering while living in the United States in 2013-2016. Whelan was arrested on December 28. Now the Russian Foreign Ministry says the United States detained Russian citizen Dmitry Makarenko on the Northern Mariana Islands on Dec. 29 and had moved him to Florida.

It’s possible that something larger is going on that we don’t yet see the full extent of.


Thanks to Dan Yurman for supplying some useful links and helpful discussion.




191 replies
  1. 1

    I’m headed out for a bit. Will comment when I get back.

  2. 2
    debbie says:

    I know it isn’t relevant, but I find that first bullet point pretty distressing.

  3. 3
    hells littlest angel says:

    A failed criminal who likes Russian “cuisine.” By all means, let’s bring him home so Trump can nominate him to a cabinet position.

  4. 4
    trollhattan says:

    1. He’s clearly a pawn in a larger game.

    Real name: Mongo.

    I’m trying hard to give a fig about this guy, who sounds sketchy as hell and even Manafortish.

  5. 5
    debbie says:

    O/T, but oops:

    Police: Would-be kidnapper chases woman into North Carolina karate studio

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A man tries to kidnap a woman by forcing her into his car in north Charlotte. She breaks free, and runs into a nearby karate studio pleading for help.

    You can already see how this ends: with the suspect being carried out in a stretcher after a fight with a karate head instructor.

  6. 6
    A Ghost To Most says:

    All the particulars of this person make me very reticent to assume he is an innocent bystander.

  7. 7
    James E Powell says:


    I know it isn’t relevant, but I find that first bullet point pretty distressing.

    I’m curious how he got to the second bullet point after the first.

  8. 8

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    I would ask if Whelan belongs to an evangelical Christian church or is a member of the NRA. Both have been targeted for influence by Russia. Maria Butina is the obvious face of the infiltration of the NRA, but evangelical churches in the US have found common cause with the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church works closely with the Russian state.

    Interesting take on a possible Evangelical-Kremlin connection, although the author admits there’s no known evidence of one (the article circles back to the Russia stuff about halfway through).

    But it’s still illustrative of both the evangelicals who are rabid Russia supporters and how Russia might exploit that opening.

  9. 9
    Ruckus says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    In total it is a bit much isn’t it?
    So unless he’s actually a US intelligence asset or one from a US friendly nation, I’m not sure he’s all that much of a trading pawn. Yes, he’s a US citizen, but he sounds like a pretty loose version.

  10. 10
    germy says:

    Why the heck does an auto parts manufacturer need a head of physical and personnel security?

  11. 11
    debbie says:

    @James E Powell:

    Seems almost a requirement for the security industry. //

  12. 12
    Achrachno says:

    There’s a lot that we don’t know, but there’s even more that I don’t know. Unknown levels of complexity.

  13. 13
    Anne Laurie says:

    My first impression of Whelan — which has only gotten stronger with every new detail revealed — is that he seems to have a lot in common with a guy I’ve known since we were both in college. Certifiably high IQ (something he is only too happy to share), hardcore libertarian, ‘destined to succeed’ and yet never *quite* living up to his youthful potential. Mostly because he’s got a fatal weakness for Very Clever Ideas that don’t pan out… either he’s just a little too far ahead of the curve, or he loses interest when the latest project goes from ‘Somebody could make a ton of money… ‘ to ‘This is where six months of dedicated effort is required’. Also has spent a lot of time visiting the Russian-adjacent countries since the 1990s, because FREE ENTERPRISE UNLEASHED!!!

    What we know about Whelan, so far, is that he’s got a history of attempting & failing to be a ‘sharp operator’, stockpiling passports, getting in over his head on currency flips, talking up his Russophilia. Yup, sounds like just the sort of wannabe ‘master of the universe’ who gets targeted & plucked by more expert operators…

  14. 14

    Also too, to add to Adam’s thoughts about Russophilia, there’s also a segment of misogynist white men who are attracted to Russian (and other former Eastern Bloc) women who they believe to be “properly” submissive and subservient. Might be one reason for the regular visits. Although, in that case I’d think most of his Vkontakte would be women rather than Russian military (presumably) men.

    Curious and curiouser….

  15. 15
    Ruckus says:

    @James E Powell:
    He was a US Marine. Maybe no one asked him why he no longer is one. I am a navy vet and no job has ever asked me about that or any part of my service. And I once had a job where I knew the boss, had worked for him as a contractor and when I applied for full time had to have 3 interviews with other department heads. Not one of them gave a damn about my service, not sure than any of them even knew of it. Usually it’s a line item on your CV, a marker for the years otherwise not accounted for. It would be more if you made a career of the military. I wonder how many police departments actually give a shit about one’s service record?

  16. 16
    Jacel says:

    @James E Powell:

    I’m curious how he got to the second bullet point after the first.

    Perhaps because he’s white?

  17. 17
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Sister Golden Bear:

    Interesting take on a possible Evangelical-Kremlin connection, although the author admits there’s no known evidence of one (the article circles back to the Russia stuff about halfway through).

    Being raised in a highly misogynistic Evangelical community seems to lead quite a few men to ‘sympathizing’ with the Russian autocrats, religious or otherwise. Like recognizes like; the men in question don’t have to have remained overt believers.

    (On the positive side, I also know a couple good guys raised in hardcore ‘traditionalist’ religious communities who end up a Russophiles because they sympathize with the Russians who are similarly eager to escape their upbringing, so there’s that.)

  18. 18
    Ruckus says:

    They travel to a lot of places to look at production facilities in far away places? They are the same sort of people who took a job from individual 1 and now have a secure phone room, or travel with protection that they shouldn’t have any need for? Makes them feel special!

  19. 19
    zhena gogolia says:

    There is a cure for russophilia! Ask your doctor.

  20. 20
    Brachiator says:

    This Whelan guy is certainly a character. A novelist could have a field day with this stuff.

    He started visiting Russia before he went to Iraq and ended up in trouble and dishonorably discharged.

    In a novel, the charges could be to give him a disreputable background as cover. Or he would be approached by some official and given a chance to redeem himself.

    Either way, it is interesting that he found a way to get a respectable job later.

    Anyhow, in the real world, this is a fascinating story. No idea what it all means.

  21. 21
    Anne Laurie says:


    Why the heck does an auto parts manufacturer need a head of physical and personnel security?

    Because they need someone well-educated enough to keep the spreadsheets with all the security guards’ shifts and pay dates. And he settled for an elevated job title when his negotiations for a higher salary was refused.

    (I’m biased; many years ago, my dad used to tell people who asked how he ended up as a dockmaster in the NYC Port Authority that ‘They needed someone on the docks with better than third-grade reading comprehension.’)

  22. 22

    Thanks for the summary, it is very much appreciated.

    If Whelan was, as it appears from this summary, a Russian asset of some type then Putin must have burned him, or at least is is putting him at risk.


  23. 23
    JPL says:

    @Anne Laurie: He does appear to be a stooge. I’d be disappointed if he happened to be a spy because I’d worry about our talent pool.

  24. 24
    MobiusKlein says:

    @germy: A manufacturing company needs physical security to keep the raw materials from being stolen by employees or other folks looking to make a buck.

    To control access to computers that could be compromised, have keyloggers installed, and such.

    To keep people working there safe from deranged boyfriends that get aggro.

    And so on.

  25. 25
    Ruckus says:

    @Anne Laurie:
    Amazing how often that is it. Ability to do more than elementary school level reading/writing/arithmetic.

  26. 26
    hells littlest angel says:

    The Russians will send Whelan back with a message for Trump: “Why don’t you pass the time by playing a little solitaire?”

  27. 27
    Frankensteinbeck says:

    @Sister Golden Bear:
    I have been exposed to that stereotype. They don’t just think Russian women are submissive. They’re objects. The Mail Order Russian Bride is a pretty blonde stamped out of a machine with no personality or individual details. That’s the idea floating in their heads.

    @Anne Laurie:
    I have an evangelical raised friend who became a Russophile, even switched to Orthodoxy, mainly because he loves the art and language. However, he hates his bigoted evangelical roots and is ‘fuck Russia and the Russian church’ these days because Russia is spreading the same bigotry.

  28. 28
    Yarrow says:

    We still don’t know the full story of how Carter Page became one of Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisors, but the trail goes through Iowa. Amazing how many midwestern Republicans have been swept up in Russophilia.

    I highly recommend this story on Kent Sorenson, a Tea Party guy in Iowa who became a state senator, was on a path to run for Congress, and ended up in prison. The parts about Ron Paul’s organization’s strength in Iowa were really interesting and worth a look again knowing how close the relationship is between the Paul family and Russia. I would expect there is something there in how so many midwestern Republicans seem to have Russian connections.

  29. 29
    sm*t cl*de says:

    2. Whelan’s larceny conviction suggests he may have been amenable to earning a quick buck. At a minimum, he was clearly open to approaches by unknown Russians, suggesting a high degree of naïveté about his new Russian “friends.”

    Perhaps chosen as a bargaining chip because Trump will recognise so much of himself in an obviously kindred spirit.

  30. 30
    Robert Sneddon says:

    Part of Whelan’s history in the Marine Corps suggested he attempted to put himself forward for assorted awards and medals via improper access to his superior’s computer account. This suggests he’s a fantasist, a “Walter” as the British military call them, folks who claim to have been Special Forces, SAS, Commandos etc. They usually have a chest full of medals at veterans parades and talk themselves and their exploits up to their neighbours and others.

    It’s possible Whelan was being a dashing secret agent in his own mind (the multiple passports deal is another red flag), planning to come home with a treasure-trove of secret data garnered from his private-enterprise espionage efforts in Russia to much acclaim and congratulations from the US government which would have to retract the court-martial verdict he unjustly received having been proved wrong about him.


  31. 31
    RAVEN says:

    da berz

  32. 32
    Mary G says:

    It seems like the Russians have been working on infiltrating the right through white supremacy and Christianism, but are too cheap to pay quality people.

  33. 33
    Mike in NC says:

    Hard to believe a clown who got booted from the Marines with a BCD would be hired to spy in Russia.

  34. 34
    MattF says:

    I don’t see how a realistic ‘Russophile’ could be naive about Russian spy mania and the closely related Russian police habit of entraping naive foreigners. At best, there’s some blindness there– so one possibility is that Whelan is suffering from significant delusions. Makes it hard to imagine what he thinks he’s up to.

    In any case, Whelan put himself out there– the police had a motive to pick him up, regardless of any actual guilt or innocence.

  35. 35
    RAVEN says:

    @Mike in NC: Hard to believe a fat ass draft dodger could be the darling of Nam Vets.

  36. 36
    chris says:

    Hmm, turns out that fundamentalism is good indicator of brain damage. But I think we knew that.

  37. 37
    smintheus says:

    @germy: I’ve bought several really crappy sets of ignition wires over the years, so I can understand why some of these manufacturers would need to have a robust security detail.

  38. 38
    Fleeting Expletive says:

    I hope someone is paying attention to this Whelan guy’s work history with Kelly Services. I don’t know anything about them, but with the hints about human trafficking as one of the potential pits of criminal behavior wafting around, I think examination of the scope of their business re international staffing contracts is in order.

  39. 39
    Mike in NC says:

    @RAVEN: Yup. The “Veterans for Trump” signs at his rallies were bizarre. White nationalism is the best explanation.

  40. 40
    JPL says:

    @Mike in NC: Right wing radio probably has something to do with it. That’s my guess.
    My surprise is the ones who say Melania brought back class in the White House. I don’t care what type of career she had previously, but to compare her career to Michelle’s is mind boggling.

  41. 41
    C Stars says:

    Seems just as weasely and corrupt as any other non-10-tooth Trump supporter these days. MAGAs seem to come in two flavors: the “uneducated” who just love Trump because by golly he was so great on The Apprentice, and the cynical and wholly corrupt who see in DT a man exactly like themselves.

  42. 42
    RAVEN says:

    @Mike in NC: I just spent some time with a good buddy in New Orleans who is a deep water diver in the oil biz (actually he’s a supervisor now) and he said he’s usually the only liberal on any of the teams. Lot’s of SEALs and other spooky dudes.

  43. 43
    Anne Laurie says:


    My surprise is the ones who say Melania brought back class in the White House.

    Hey, speaking of wanna-be BigSwingingDicks who admire the pluck and determination of young women who’ve succeeded by leveraging their opportunities after the post-Soviet collapse… There’s this NYC businessman who not only made Melania his third wife, he wangled an ‘Einstein visa’ permanent residency for her!

  44. 44
    Anthony Cooper says:

    Bad conduct discharge and he’s in charge of security? That’s weird, but it’s an interesting set of hypotheses laid out.

  45. 45
    RepubAnon says:

    @germy: More importantly, why hire someone convicted of attempted theft as the head of security? That’s industrial-strength stupidity.

  46. 46
    Immanentize says:

    We ought to consider a trade of Whelan, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and Glen Greenwald for Maria Butina in July, when she was scheduled to go home anyway. Hell, send her in April if they will also turn over their Jill Stein and Bernie files.

    By the way, “ou sont les Neigeden d’antan?”

  47. 47
    Immanentize says:

    @RepubAnon: Who knows the thief better than the thief?
    Actually, his bother said Whelan never told them about his thievery and dishonorable discharge, so I suspect his employer did not know either.

  48. 48
    B.B.A. says:

    @Immanentize: Even the Russians want nothing to do with Greenwald.

  49. 49
    Immanentize says:

    @B.B.A.: But they have a file. I am certain they have a file.

  50. 50
    B.B.A. says:

    @Immanentize: Not sure what you want with a few hundred pages of “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP” in Russian, but okay.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    It’s possible Whelan was being a dashing secret agent in his own mind (the multiple passports deal is another red flag), planning to come home with a treasure-trove of secret data garnered from his private-enterprise espionage efforts in Russia to much acclaim and congratulations from the US government which would have to retract the court-martial verdict he unjustly received having been proved wrong about him.

    This sounds fairly plausible to me as a motive on his part. The fact that he was convicted of trying to give himself awards he didn’t deserve doesn’t seem like a great CIA cover for anyone.

    I do wonder WTF Huntsman went to visit this mope personally since that seems to be very unusual even for someone who was picked up as a spy. A message through back channels saying, We have your idiot, somebody with authority had better come negotiate?

  52. 52
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mary G:

    I dunno, the folks on the Russian side seem to have done pretty well. I think the problem is the lack of quality on the American side of the equation. Low-quality hires, as Kay likes to say.

  53. 53
    Immanentize says:

    @B.B.A.: OK, that was excellent and made my Sunday “I’m dreading Monday” alright! Thank you.

    P.S. “I said SHUT UP!!!!” Who breaks first; GG? Or the interrogator?

  54. 54
    trollhattan says:

    @Mike in NC:
    Was most pleased to see guys sporting “Veterans against Trump” tshirts at a Hillary rally.

    “Won’t be fooled again.”

  55. 55
    trollhattan says:

    What was the line in “Raising Arizona”–“You want to find a donut shop, call a cop. You want to find an outlaw, call an outlaw.”

    –Randall Tex Cobb

  56. 56
    Mnemosyne says:


    That’s ’cause the smarter SEALs are doing things other than diving in civilian life. Check out this overachiever that rikyrah posted a link about yesterday: Navy SEAL, Harvard Medical, AND astronaut!

    As a friend on Facebook said when I posted that same link, when little Jonny’s kindergarten teacher told him he couldn’t be a SEAL, a doctor, and an astronaut, little Jonny said, “HOLD MY MILK!!!” 😂

  57. 57
    patrick II says:

    Can anyone here play quarterback? Asking for a friend who’s a Bears fan.

  58. 58
    Immanentize says:

    @trollhattan: Love that movie — Never has bullets in his gun.

  59. 59
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: That’s just silly.

  60. 60
  61. 61

    He suggested that Whelan might be exchanged for Maria Butina.

    This stands out. Let Whelan cool his heels on Ivan’s dime for awhile.

  62. 62
    Mnemosyne says:


    Did I mention that he got a summa cum laude with his bachelor’s degree in mathematics? It looks like he’s a GI Bill guy since he went straight into the Navy after high school.

    He’s either going to become the youngest president ever or have a nervous breakdown by 40. No middle ground there.

  63. 63

    @patrick II: tough defenses meet so-so offenses.

  64. 64
    Immanentize says:


    Melania brought back class in the White House.

    I feel I opposed GW Bush as well as anyone in my sitch could (which was pretty good), but forget for a moment the amazing forever FLOTUS Michelle; Laura Bush taking a back seat in class to Melania is the stuff that really bad romance novels and 10 cent dictatorships are made of. And Hillary always was and still is a very top rate classy person. Even her in ugly unfair defeat has been classy.

  65. 65
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: I suspect someone that gifted didn’t need the GI Bill, they probably threw scholarships at him.

  66. 66
    trollhattan says:

    Among the Cohen bros’ very best and definitely my favorite Nick Cage role. And Holly Hunter. And, and and…

  67. 67
    Wild Cat says:

    @chris: Also explains the religious lunacy seen at 12-Step meetings.

  68. 68
    Immanentize says:

    @Wild Cat: Be kind, really. Religiosity in 12 step programs is just an attempt at trying to replace one external power with another. For some it works which can be a very good result.

  69. 69

    @Frankensteinbeck: I don’t get how some Americans change religions like it were fashion in clothes or hair. Like that Rod Dreher person, for example. I was a this then I became a that and then a that.

  70. 70
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    The two scenarios that keep popping into my head with this guy:

    1. Paul Whalen was acting for the US-but as a confidential informant as opposed to, say, an employed CIA operative.

    The crimes he committed to be given a Bad Conduct discharge were embarrassing enough that he never told his own twin brother.Over the years afterwards, he created a new “career” in law enforcement and security, which means he had to hide the facts of his BCD.

    What if Whalen and his frequent travel to Russia and his working for companies that do business with Russia got on OUR radar as well as Russia’s? What if like with most ordinary CI’s, he got caught in lies and falsifications that the CIA then held over his head in order to get him to do work for us? “You feed us information and we won’t tell your employers or your family about your messy little military history”. Then Russia needed a human shield for the DOJ/Mueller investigations, knowing we would be unlikely to sacrifice one of our own.

    2. Russia compromised Paul Whalen with the exact same information and threats, and now they’re willing to double-cross him because he’s low level Carter Page material in their eyes. Which sounds crazy but might explain why Pompeo appeared caught completely offguard–we may find out later that Paul Whalen, Trumper, is closer to the Trump-team than we might now know. And they’re scared.

  71. 71
    Yutsano says:


    And Hillary always was and still is a very top rate classy person. Even her in ugly unfair defeat has been classy.

    So then why won’t she just shut up and go away? Huh? Can’t answer that can you libtard?

    (I am so tired of pwning the libs. I blame World of Warcraft.)

  72. 72
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: That comment causes me to say that I know, high school boys love to google and look at her pictures. f..kem.

    be best

  73. 73
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’ve been teasing my friends who write Navy SEAL romances (yes, that’s an actual subgenre) and telling them that they’ve obviously been thinking too small when it comes to their books’ heroes. 😂

  74. 74
    Immanentize says:

    @trollhattan: Oh how I longed for Holly Hunter. Which I admit is kinda on the short side of desire objects. I once got into an actual argument with a woman I was dating because I mentioned I was very attracted to Veronica Lake — who had sadly already died more than ten years before the argument. So, I kept my Holly Hunter thoughts to myself. Although, no joke, I had a dermatologist who looked exactly like her! I was eager for her to cut off suspicious moles.

  75. 75
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: I don’t know about all that hero shit but the dudes can swim.

  76. 76
    raven says:

    @Immanentize: Did you like Kim in LA Confidential?

  77. 77
    Immanentize says:

    @trollhattan: PS My wife hated Nick Cage with some internal cold fusion — except for Raising Arizona and Moonstruck. It was the hand scene….

  78. 78

    @JPL: My air force vet friend called her genius because she speaks 5 languages. Whatever. I speak 3 languages well and his wife speaks 4. I don’t think that makes me or her a genius. I was just exposed to many languages when I was growing up, that’s all.

  79. 79
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Sister Golden Bear: Everyone should read the linked article and the sources it links to.

    The New Apostolic Reformation is a disturbing group. The blog talk2action had a great deal of information on it. (I think the blog is now inactive, but its reports may still be up on the internet.)

    IIRC they had several articles about the NAR’s ties to Sarah Palin.

    I believe the blog was among several who were trying to get the M$M to investigate dominionist forces working toward political power. Any mention of dominionism was simply dismissed as fringe.

    Hopefully after 80+% of white Evangelicals pushed Trump into the WH NO ONE IS DISMISSING THE DANGEROUS POTENTIAL OF EVANGELICAL IDEAS!

  80. 80
    sukabi says:

    @Immanentize: yeah, but if you’re going to put someone in charge of your SECURITY operations wouldn’t you want to make sure he was honest, trustworthy, and not a thief?

    Seems like a kinda important qualification…

  81. 81
    Immanentize says:


    high school boys love to google and look at her [Melania”s?] pictures

    Isn’t that the proof of anti-classiness? I mean, I was NOT looking for pics of Audrey Hepburn when I was in High School!

    OK, maybe college….

  82. 82
    chris says:

    @Wild Cat: Is that why you don’t go?

    (I’ve mentioned here that I’ve been to a lot of meetings. As an atheist.)

  83. 83
    Immanentize says:

    @sukabi: Of course I would! But many people see “VET” on a resume and look no further. We got burned kinda badly at my University once on this issue.

  84. 84
    TS (the original) says:


    My surprise is the ones who say Melania brought back class in the White House

    Class – white – for all MAGA people.

  85. 85
    Immanentize says:

    @raven: I feel that you are being rather unfair in testing my obvious and stated preferences!
    But for the record, “yes, why yes, I did.”

  86. 86
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Sister Golden Bear: There used to be several dating links at nearly every site I visited. Nearly all had pictures of 20 something Russian, Ukrainean, other Eastern European women who were ‘interested.’

  87. 87
    Immanentize says:

    @schrodingers_cat: My grandfather was a Czech refuge and spoke five languages. He was amazing, smart, and a violent alcoholic. Not really a genius.

  88. 88
    Achrachno says:

    @Immanentize: “I used to be strung out on drugs, now I’m strung out on the lord”

    Not much progress really.

  89. 89
    sukabi says:

    @schrodingers_cat: 5 languages my ass. Be Best.

  90. 90

    @raven: That film is a keeper. Classy noir, Veronica Lake indeed.

  91. 91
    Chip Daniels says:


    Why the heck does an auto parts manufacturer need a head of physical and personnel security?

    Makes me think of Mike Ermentraut in Better Call Saul

  92. 92
    Immanentize says:

    @Achrachno: The lord is certainly less tough on every system in the body than alcohol or drugs. But in the mind? Pretty similar grip. But a healthy(ier) body is nothing to sniff at.

  93. 93
    raven says:

    @BruceFromOhio: Them Aussie’s ain’t bad either!

  94. 94
    raven says:

    @Chip Daniels: @Chip Daniels: People say we is twins.

  95. 95

    @sukabi: Perhaps, English is not one of the 5.

  96. 96
    West of the Rockies says:

    OT, but too weird not to share (I hope no one has already posted on this)…

    Koehler is offering a smart toilet. It comes with full Amazon Alexa support, ambient mood lighting, And speakers(?!?). It offers a “fully immersive experience”.

  97. 97
    Chip Daniels says:

    Most people trace the outline of their desired behavior, then shop around for a religion, or scripture that supports that.

  98. 98

    @raven: aye we did get a nice intro to a dashing young Mr Crowe. Basinger’s award for Best Supporting Actress was well-deserved.

  99. 99

    @Chip Daniels: To me, religion is something one is born into. Since I am borderline atheist, to me its more about culture, the stories you have in common etc.

  100. 100
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @Mnemosyne: A major sub-genre—right up there with cops/sheriffs/Marines/cowboys.

    And then there’re the vampire/shapeshifter sub-genres

  101. 101
    Immanentize says:

    @raven: @BruceFromOhio: I also will see your Kim B. and raise you one Veronica L., the original

  102. 102
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @Immanentize: Those people prefer to be lied to. In fact, they insist on it.

    All religion is bullshit.

  103. 103
    debbie says:


    And Guy Pearce too!

  104. 104
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Have talked to people who are in awe of any one who can speak more than 1 language. They usually don’t realize the fact that most Europeans speak at least 2 languages. Most more. They have no conception of how close the different countries are.

  105. 105
    Immanentize says:

    @debbie: Memento! With Trinity!

  106. 106
    Immanentize says:

    @A Ghost To Most: And all change is loss.

  107. 107
    J R in WV says:

    …@West of the Rockies:

    Koehler is offering a smart toilet.

    OMFG!!! No way, no smart device is going to help me in the toilet dept.!!!

    Just not gonna happen!

  108. 108
    debbie says:


    Yep! Also Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which had the added bonus of Terrance Stamp.

  109. 109
  110. 110
    raven says:

    @debbie: A cock in a frock on a rock!

  111. 111
    WaterGirl says:

    I keep trying to watch the most recent episode of Madam Secretary, but I just can’t watch more than a few minutes. The mom and her daughter cross into the US, thinking they are finally safe and they are picked up by some border control that says they will help them, they are taken to the station and the officers say they are going to take the little girl to get food and water.

    We, of course, know that’s a lie because the Episode is called Family Separation: Part 1 and we know exactly what is going to happen. Part II is tonight. I feel that if a high profile network show is brave enough to touch this topic that I should at least watch it.

    That this is happening to real people is so heartbreaking. It’s disgusting and our government is doing this in our name. I hate feeling helpless.

  112. 112
    chris says:

    @Immanentize: A good rule: Deal with your addictions in the order in which they will kill you.

  113. 113
    evodevo says:

    @Achrachno: Yes. This. Many of them just trade one addiction for another – from drugs/alcohol to Jeebus. An addictive personality is inherited – you have to learn to live with it – it never goes away …

  114. 114
    Brachiator says:

    @J R in WV:

    OMFG!!! No way, no smart device is going to help me in the toilet dept.!!!

    Apparently, some Japanese toilets are so complicated, that you have to study the instructions before you can use them properly.

    When a monarch uses a toilet, is that a royal flush?

    Just asking;)

  115. 115
    JPL says:

    @Brachiator: Maybe you just say Alexa , Alexa I can’t give a shit.

  116. 116

    @J R in WV: sometimes shit … just happens.

  117. 117
    Kent says:

    Whelen seems like the blue collar version of Carter Page. A little bit weird and “off” in some way and perhaps a wannabe. But also bumbling enough to not be any kind of sophisticated operative.

    Anyone around here old enough to remember Eugene Hasenfus? who got shot down by the Contras in 1986? Another former marine who was “linked” to the CIA but not an actual agent. He was actually running guns for the Contras. I think there are a lot of these former military types who poke around the edges of covert ops and are usually just harmless drunks telling tales in expat dive bars around the world. But sometimes get crosswise with actual events and are useful idiots for the government when they want deniability.

    Not saying that is the case here. But it just “feels” like it.

  118. 118
    Immanentize says:

    @chris: that is a great summary of my adult life to date.

  119. 119
    Immanentize says:

    @debbie: so great. Love that flick.

  120. 120
    raven says:

    And, of course, “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar “

  121. 121
    Immanentize says:

    @raven: why is Julie Newmar always listed as a lingerie developer? Wikipedia joke or reality?

  122. 122
    raven says:

    @Immanentize: Beats me. GO BEARS!

  123. 123
    HeleninEire says:

    @raven: Oy. I never put that together, but you are!

  124. 124
  125. 125
    raven says:

    @Immanentize: Julia Chalene Newmeyer was born on August 16, 1933 in Los Angeles, California, the eldest of three children. Her father, Don, was a one-time professional football player (LA Buccaneers, 1926), her mother, Helen Jesmer, was a star of the Follies of 1920, who later became a fashion designer under the professional name of “Chalene”. From an early age, Julie studied piano, dance and classical ballet. She graduated from high school at the age of 15, and spent a year touring Europe with her mother and brother. She became prima ballerina for the Los Angeles Opera. She attended UCLA studying classical piano, philosophy and French.

    Newmar went to New York and tried out for Broadway musicals; in 1955, she made her Broadway debut as the ballerina in “Silk Stockings”. Julie won acclaim for her role as Stupefyin’ Jones in “Li’l Abner”. Though audiences and critics alike were stupefied by her good looks, that was not the compliment Julie wanted.

  126. 126
    JPL says:

    60 Minutes has on el-Sisi after the government asked not to air the interview. Trump tweeted his praise of el-Sisi today and Pompeo is going to give a speech in support of him in a few days.

  127. 127
    Immanentize says:

    @raven: and so long Iggles. It was a nice championship while it lasted.

  128. 128
    raven says:

    @Immanentize: This shit is far from over.

  129. 129
    Viva BrisVegas says:


    My air force vet friend called her genius because she speaks 5 languages.

    Speaking 5 languages is a lot different to being fluent in 5 languages.

    Being able to order coffee in five languages is not the same as being able to discuss Wittgenstein of a cup of coffee in those same languages.

    There should also be an investigation into how Melania managed to get an EB-1 visa while Trump’s girlfriend. Trump has often told us the US visa process is corrupt, apparently he knows exactly how corrupt it is.

  130. 130
    dr. bloor says:

    @Immanentize: Let’s not be too hasty now…

  131. 131
  132. 132
    Aleta says:

    NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Local federal aviation employees are feeling the effects of the partial government shutdown.
    For the past eight years, David Baker has been in the tower helping pilots take off and land at Norfolk International as an air traffic controller. It’s a job he loves. He is now president of the local controllers’ union.
    “It’s not like any other job,” Baker said. “It’s very rewarding.”
    It’s also a job where safety is most important.
    “I work every airplane like my family is on it,” Baker added.
    On December 22, the federal government partially shutdown.
    “It’s bad,” Baker said. “Stress is high and the job is already a stressful occupation.”
    Baker is considered part of the essential aviation community, meaning he has to come to work even though right now he’s not getting paid.
    “All the essential personal are effectively working for IOUs right now,” he said. “We are guaranteed to get something eventually when the government reopens.”
    But when will that be? The bills are starting to mount up. Baker worries what will happen if this doesn’t end soon.
    “There is not a lot of assistance out there for us right now so it’s scary,” Baker added.
    Baker is one of 10,500 air traffic controllers nationwide working without pay. Because of the shutdown, the FAA has set aside 6,300 projects, most of them safety related.  Right now, there are no training classes to certify new air traffic controllers to fill the spots of those who are retiring. Baker believes that could affect airline passengers.
    “The cumulative effect is longer and longer flight delays,” Baker said.
    Non-essential federal aviation employees have been furloughed. There is no guarantee they will ever be made whole.
    “Nobody knows what direction this is really going to go or in what timeframe, so we are just cautiously optimistic,” Baker added.

  133. 133
    Immanentize says:

    @raven: @dr. bloor:
    Can a boy not hope?

  134. 134
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: I want the Eagles, but I also wanted the Ravens, Seahawks and Texans.

  135. 135
    zhena gogolia says:

    OT, but Winona Ryder is great in Age of Innocence.

  136. 136
    Jay says:


    Hasenfaus was a CIA contract pilot for Southern Air Transport, a CIA front company like Air America or Evergreen Airlines.

  137. 137
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: Well?

    Alexa, Alexa Holy Shit.

  138. 138
    Immanentize says:

    @JPL: you want the Eagles over Da Bears?? What kind of Democrat are you?

  139. 139
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: Look at my comment at 134.. I’m a democrat.

  140. 140
    JPL says:

    so I switched channels to watch the el-sisi interview and I don’t understand why Trump and team would come out and praise him today. I also don’t understand why every team I wanted in the wild card games have lost so far. Maybe the Eagles can change that.. Comment interrupted by oh fuck.

    the mutt just left the room to go to bed because he is not fond of the language.

  141. 141
    Immanentize says:

    @JPL: no doubt about it. The Texans?
    I may have to care about them again next year with the Immp in Houston. Wah!

  142. 142
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: I’m a New England fan at heart and I thought they’d be easier to beat. The only team I hate is the Cowboys.

  143. 143
    Immanentize says:


    I don’t understand why Trump and team would come out and praise him today


  144. 144
    Jay says:


    el Sisi’s a military dictator. So of course the Orange Bloat will slobber all over him.

  145. 145
    JPL says:

    Holy shit

  146. 146
    JPL says:

    I’m one out of four. This is why I don’t bet though.

  147. 147
    Immanentize says:

    @JPL: my father loved the Giants and the Cowboys. But that was the ’80s. Cowboy hatred is on my menu every week. Dolphins too. I need Snoop to explain fully

  148. 148
    chopper says:

    @hells littlest angel:

    who the fuck likes russian cuisine? it’s like liking british food.

  149. 149
    Brachiator says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    I loved Michelle Pfeiffer in “The Age of Innocence,” but Ryder did not quite work for me.

    But I note that Ryder won a Golden Globes Award for Best Supporting Actress and was also nominated for an Oscar.

    BTW, I probably won’t watch the Golden Globes, but will check later to see who won. I thought that this was an excellent year for movies.

    Among my favorites: The Favourite, Black Panther, Widows, Incredibles 2, If Beale Street Could Talk, and the recent animated Spider Man movie.

  150. 150
    Immanentize says:

    @chopper: with more little bones

  151. 151
    Brachiator says:


    who the fuck likes russian cuisine? it’s like liking british food.

    Britain has wonderful food, especially London. French restaurants, Chinese restaurants, Italian restaurants, Caribbean food…

  152. 152
    zhena gogolia says:


    I love Russian cuisine (broadly construed — what Russians eat, although a lot of it is not of Russian origin). Pelmeni, pirozhki, shchi, borshch, vinegret, etc., etc., etc. — delicious!

  153. 153
  154. 154
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: I also like the cowboys in the eighties when we lived in Dallas. Jerry Jones is an ass.

  155. 155
    debbie says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Yes, along with Daniel Day Lewis. Did you ever see My Beautiful Laundrette? He was great in that too.

  156. 156
    zhena gogolia says:


    I loved Michelle Pfeiffer in “The Age of Innocence,” but Ryder did not quite work for me.

    That’s what I thought the first few times I saw it, but I just watched her last scene with DDL, and I thought she was superb.

  157. 157
    zhena gogolia says:


    No, I haven’t. And I’ve never seen Unbearable Lightness of Being — is it any good? I just watched a great clip from it, of the 1968 invasion with a Czech version of “Hey Jude” in the background.

  158. 158
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: Also when I was in junior high, I thought Y.A. Tittle was pretty special, but you have to remember the Patriots didn’t have much of a team to cheer for then.

  159. 159
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Never kick the ball when the other team calls timeout!

  160. 160
    debbie says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Yes, I also liked that very much.

  161. 161
    MomSense says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    Even though it’s not my favorite of Kundera’s novels, it’s an excellent film. Definitely worth watching. Also has one of the great insights into why we love our pets so much.

  162. 162
    Sab says:

    @Brachiator: I love British food. They got a bad rap from GIs in WWII when they had no food and cooked whatever was available badly.

    When they have the usual ingredients their food is wonderful ( unless you require insanely spicy.)

  163. 163
    Immanentize says:

    @raven: ugh. Me and my big jinxing mouth

  164. 164
    Immanentize says:

    @MomSense: I love Kundera. Even though his first, everything about “The Joke” still sticks in my brain. I love that book.

  165. 165
    cain says:

    Chris Ladd, a former Republican operative sounds just like the rest of us. Bob has been one of my favorite former Republican/conservative voices. Although I must say at times he does pearl clutch.

    Talk is cheap. A leader’s authentic values become clear when those values conflict with their private interests. Republicans spent the past half century yammering about “family values.” They even impeached a President for lying under oath. But when given the opportunity to grab the smallest additional scrap of money or power by promoting a moral monster, they took that deal with a smile.

  166. 166
    dSmith says:

    @Immanentize: At least in NYC there are 12 steps meeting that cater to nonbelievers.

  167. 167

    @Viva BrisVegas: I don’t consider being able to order coffee as speaking a language. Speaking as in being fluent enough to carry a conversation,. not just exchanging pleasantries

  168. 168
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @Mike in NC: Impossible even. @RAVEN: Nearly impossible, but it seems it happened rarely at least.

  169. 169
    cain says:


    who the fuck likes russian cuisine? it’s like liking british food.

    There is a russian restaurant in Portland and the food is awesome! I’ll hit any russian restaurant. I dont’ think it’s any better or worse than polish food which I like most of the time.

  170. 170
    Steeplejack says:

    Where’s Mnemosyne? Good Place humor alert!

    Give #TheGoodPlace fan who works at E! one billion dollars for this savage insult on a shot of Jameela Jamil that would ENRAGE Tahani

    — Netflix US (@netflix) January 6, 2019

  171. 171
    Steeplejack says:


    Joke explained here:

    She plays socialite Tahini on #TheGoodPlace. Her character is insanely jealous of her popular younger sister Kamilah. So having “Tahini” go somewhere and called by her sister’s name would lead to a hilarious meltdown 😂

    — ryan. 🌙 (@SourceRyan) January 7, 2019

  172. 172
    Ruckus says:

    Good one! LOL

  173. 173
    poleaxedbyboatwork says:


    Loves me some Kundera, too. More cerebral than most a what I usually enjoy, but there’s sumpin bout the way he weaves philosophical yearnings and inquiry with earthy characterization that I finds esp. poignant. My fave: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

  174. 174
    Kent says:



    Hasenfaus was a CIA contract pilot for Southern Air Transport, a CIA front company like Air America or Evergreen Airlines.

    Yes, we of course know that now. But at the time when it was first being reported there was a lot of denial and obsfucation on the part of the government. The Sandanistas had him and the US government at first denied any knowledge of him. This was the timeline: I’m not saying that this guy is at all the same. But it is sort of a familiar pattern for former military types to be “affiliated” with special ops and the CIA without actually being direct CIA employees. With Whalen who knows. But given his history there is some plausibility. I have a hard time believing that the Russians would snatch someone up who didn’t at least have some connection to CIA ops whether real or wannabe imagined. There are probably enough real operatives messing around in Russia that they don’t really need to make one up out of thin air.

  175. 175
    Ruckus says:

    My rule of traveling in countries I don’t speak the language of was to learn 3 words in the native language, if nothing else. Hello, please and thank you.
    I never ever failed to find someone who was more than willing to speak to me in english as long as I did that. I’ve studied French, Russian, Spanish and learned pretty much nothing, I think because I’m dyslexic, especially with words and spelling.

  176. 176
    Immanentize says:

    @Kent: my favorite fellow like this has always been Raymond Davis. He was driving a CIA van when some Pakistani intelligence officers tried to stop him. So he killed them.

    Much hair pulling ensued. But Davis got back to the USA after we paid a couple of million in blood money (literally) only for him to fall utterly apart in Colorado.

  177. 177
    trollhattan says:

    @A Ghost To Most:
    Icing the kicker never works. Until it does. Wowzers.

  178. 178
    dnfree says:

    @A Ghost To Most: That poor guy is done. As are the Bears.

  179. 179
    Gelfling 545 says:

    @J R in WV: Seconded. Nextthing you know you’ve got your ass being broadcast on the internet.

  180. 180
    MomSense says:


    My favorite, too.

  181. 181
    MomSense says:


    It really is a great book.

  182. 182
    JPL says:

    @dnfree: Hopefully, because they’d have to hire a security guard if he returned.

  183. 183
    Ken says:

    @Ruckus: My list would be “thank you”, “where is the bathroom”, “stop that at once”, and “take me to the US consulate”.

  184. 184
    Ruckus says:

    If you learn the first two and act like a human being, you don’t need your second and third. Besides just saying US consulate is pretty well understood most places and is usually ignored in any event, if you are talking to the police. And if you aren’t, it won’t get you shit.

  185. 185
    poleaxedbyboatwork says:


    I commend your discriminating taste and laud your uncommon Momsense.

    Read alla Kundera (what was then extant) as a fumbling youth by ’92, then found myself somewhat unexpectedly in Czech Republic (‘mong other places) in ’93. Added immeasurably to the sperience.

  186. 186
    Wild Cat says:

    @chris: Don’t take other people’s inventories . . .

  187. 187
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Ken: Three words to learn in Japanese, if you ever visit there — “Gomen” = “I’m sorry”, “Sumimasen” = “Excuse me”, and “Wakarimasen” = “I don’t understand”. Conveniently “toilet” is Anglicised as “toiru”.

  188. 188
    Jay says:


    Historically, the CIA has used well regarded ex-Military folks for Logistics and “Black Ops”. Well regarded. Ex-Green Berets, SEALs, Delta for “Black Ops”, Air Force, Navy, Marine pilots for logistics.

    Right now, CIA “Black Op’s” staffing is huge.

    A Cashiered ex-Marine Clerk with delusions of grandeur, working as a Property Loss Manager for Borg – Warner, is not “meat” for being a CIA “spy”. As it was pointed out, the various Russian Agencies would have “flagged” him from Day 1.

    #1, Patsy

    #2, Walter Mitty Complex

    #3, some “private” MAGA/Trumpist reach around to the Russians.

    The Dutch SIS hacked into the IRI security cams and computer cameras and mikes in real time, and working with other Western Intelligence Agencies identified the 17 GRU Officers running the Op.

    Hasenfus was a decorated Marine Pilot, qualified on everything from a Cessna, to a Globemaster, who worked for Air America in Asia, ( Thailand, Vietnam, Camodia, Laos), who was also qualified as a Load Master. He was well qualified for “smuggling” Op’s across the Nicaraguan border into hostile air space. What he was though, was not supposed to have a parachute or files onboard.

  189. 189
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Immanentize: “ou sont les Neigeden d’antan?”

    Uh, one presumes, global warming did for ’em.

    [but wow, lovely lovely allusion.]

  190. 190
    poleaxedbyboatwork says:


    Where *are* the Snowdens of yesteryear?

    “ou sont les Neigeden d’antan?”

    Apart from my abject ignorance of the poem itself, many literary allusions I were (also) completely unaware of (tho had allus wondered, but never investigated, Heller’s reference). Thanks for that.

  191. 191
    The Pale Scot says:


    father loved the Giants and the Cowboys

    Sorry, don’t believe it. The paradox would rip the universe apart. Unless your dad was running a Paradox Machine powered by a TARDIS. Or there must of been two of them, like that Star Trek episode. A courageous Giant fan and a dastardly Cowpie fan :D

Comments are closed.