It’s Going to be One of Those Nights! News Dump Part II: The News Dumpening!

From The New York Times’ article:

Separately, Deutsche Bank has been in contact with federal investigators about the Trump accounts, according to two people briefed on the matter. And the bank is expecting to eventually have to provide information to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

It was not clear what information the bank might ultimately provide. Generally, the bank is seen as central to understanding Mr. Trump’s finances since it is the only major financial institution that continues to conduct sizable business with him. Deutsche Bank has also lent money to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and to his family real estate business.

And it’s only 9:30 PM EDT…
Open thread!

Orangemandias II (Open Thread)

I had to run an errand a while ago and was listening to an interview with Bloomberg’s Josh Green on public radio. Green just released a book on Steve Bannon called “Devil’s Bargain,” and in the segment I heard, Green described Bannon’s worldview, allowed as how only a maroon like Trump would have given Bannon the time of day and detailed how Bannon harnessed Trump’s, uh, unique qualities to win.

I assume most here are familiar with Bannon’s white nationalist views. One insight Green attributes to Bannon is that the GOP could win at the presidential level in 2016 if it focused on concerns (read: prejudices) prevalent in the South. That is the exact opposite of what GOP establishment types were saying after the defeat of Romney. Turns out Bannon was right, with dumb luck and more than a little help from his friends (Russians, voter suppression, media incompetence, Comey, etc.).

I almost switched stations because hearing a rehash of the 2016 election is about as appealing to me these days as a double root canal. But then the interviewer asked Green if he thinks Bannon is pleased with how things are panning out now. Green replied that Bannon is almost certainly frustrated as hell to have overcome huge odds to get a shot at enacting his agenda, only to discover that Trump doesn’t have the focus or discipline to do the job.

That sounds about right. Bannon is a kook, but he is also a true believer, and to have labored mightily to construct the levers and weights necessary to smash the state, only to have the recalcitrant child who must push the buttons lose interest and wander off to watch Fox News and rage-tweet, must be absolutely enraging.

Trump is crooked enough to swallow a nail and shit a corkscrew, but beyond a talent for grift, he just isn’t very bright. He’s a bigot, so Bannon’s views of a glorious Aryan past and future are no doubt appealing. Trump’s a crook, so the possibility of fleecing marks on a global scale is irresistible. But he’s also susceptible to flattery and dependent on family enablers, so he surrounds himself with schemers and hangers-on who can’t coalesce around a coherent approach.

It’s an ongoing outrage and horror that such a person is president of the United States. But in a way, we may have, if not dodged a bullet, at least sustained a wound that is likely survivable. A competent person in Trump’s position almost certainly would have successfully swept the Russia investigation under the rug. A focused and disciplined person would have made the effort to understand and advocate for his own healthcare reform plan.

The best-case scenario in the short term is that Trump keeps stepping on his own dick. The best-case scenario in the long term is that he utterly discredits GOP “populism.” Forever, hopefully, or at least until after I’m dead. Open thread!

How To Recognize A Russian Intel Operation

When you work at a place like Los Alamos, one of the potential job hazards is that the spy services of other countries may try to recruit you. Between required training sessions and the rumor mill stories about successful and other attempts, you learn how it’s done.

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen explains some of it. The Donald Trump, Jr., meeting was of a different sort than what I was warned against, although there are many similarities.

The warning signs are clear if you are aware of how such things work. A Russian (or Chinese, or perhaps other nationalities) colleague offering help out of nowhere, which seems to have been the case for Donald Jr., should raise questions. At a lower level, an acquaintance would not start with such an offer, but merely a personal interaction. Then favors might be exchanged, copies of scientific papers shared, leading up to more questionable types of sharing.

Considering that sequence, I suspect that Mowatt-Larssen’s article is not quite complete. Russian contact with Rob Goldstone, who then contacted Donald Jr., was a gentle testing of the waters, but it’s likely that even gentler testing preceded that.

Both Donald Trumps have been fascinated by Russia since the 1980s. But that is not the same as being willing to work with Russia during his political campaign. The earlier testing would have been among people working for the Trump campaign. This is where Jeff Sessions’s contacts with Sergey Kislyak, Carter Page’s talks in Russia, Michael Flynn’s romance with RT, and probably other contacts paid off for the Russians.

It’s possible that none of those contacts amounted to offers of collaboration,* just collegiality and trust-building. The responses from the Trump campaign, however, must have been favorable enough for Russian intelligence to believe a next step would be reasonable. Colin Kahl points out that Trump senior was also showing public indications in that direction.

Clearly, Donald Jr. had not had the briefings that Los Alamos employees do. But one might expect some caution when an email proclaims Russia’s desire to help get your candidate elected. The fact that he expressed enthusiasm suggests that 1) winning was all, and any help was welcome or 2) there was a continuity of relationship between the Trumps and Russian figures that made the offer seem normal. Caution was eclipsed.


* I dislike the horrendously overused word collusion. Lawyers say it has no legal meaning.


Cross-posted at Nuclear Diner.

Open Thread: The Secret Service Are Bodyguards, Not Babysitters

In an emailed response to questions about Sekulow’s comments, Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said the younger Trump was not under Secret Service protection at the time of the meeting, which included Trump’s son and two senior campaign officials.

“Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016. Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time,” the statement said…

The Secret Service’s mission is to provide physical protection for the U.S. president. The agency also protects major presidential candidates. But its role in vetting people who meet with a U.S. president or candidates is limited to ensuring physical safety.
Read more

Lessons from History: The US During WW I

While the French celebrate the final hours of Bastille Day, including historic displays of US troops in Paris on this day in 1917, I want to take a moment and focus on what was happening on the home front in the US 100 years ago. Reflecting on this history is important given the concern expressed in comments and on the front page here and other places about what is happening in the US.

It is not often remarked, if it is even remembered, that during WW I President Wilson essentially leveraged all forms of national power to achieve his objectives – in terms of both the war effort in Europe and domestically at home. As a result he converted the Federal government into something of an authoritarian regime. There were still elections. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were technically still in existence and in force, but in reality the US under President Wilson during World War I was about as far from its ideals as it has ever been. President Wilson essentially federalized Jim Crow, which was in line with both his racism and his obscure religious beliefs in Anglo-Israelism.

The power of the Presidency and the Federal government was leveraged through what we now call a psychological operation (PSYOPS) campaign to ensure broad and deep support for President Wilson’s agenda. To this end he tapped George Creel who created the propaganda campaign that would mobilize Americans behind President Wilson. Creel’s work is a textbook example of how to plan and implement a PSYOPS campaign. And it was incredibly successful. Through Creel’s work, President Wilson was able to convince Americans to not just go with meatless or wheatless days at home, but to turn in their neighbors if they suspected them of not getting on board with these initiatives to ensure that the troops in Europe had what they needed for their sustainment. Creel also set the conditions for forced charitable contributions to the war effort, including enforcement that would bring public pressure (shaming, denigration, job termination, extrajudicial violence) against those that didn’t give or give enough.

And even though Creel tried to tone down the official anti-German components of his propaganda, he largely failed. German nationals in the US and German-Americans were forced to register with the government and carry ID cards. In a grim foreshadowing of what Germans would do throughout Europe during WW II, as well as what the US would do to Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals in the US, German nationals and German Americans lost their jobs, had their property taken away, were relocated into internment camps, and were subjected to extrajudicial violence and punishment. Simply for being German or Americans of German descent.

For instance:

As the war dredged on, nativism took root. Newspapers printed one-sided war coverage. President Wilson railed against “hyphenated Americans,” a slight against German-Americans. Even the growing support for Prohibition was seen as a fight against the Germans.

Then, when the U.S. entered the war in 1917, all pretenses disappeared. German culture was attacked. Anti-German hysteria swept the nation – especially here.

German language classes, taught in Cincinnati schools since 1840, were dropped. The Enquirer offered the headline: “Bang! Hun Study Is Floored.”

The public library moved their 10,000 German books to the subbasement. “This library has been used to further a reptilian and insidious propaganda by enemies of the United States,” said board trustee James Albert Green. “German literature published during the last 40 years is tainted with the ideas and ideals which American boys now are giving their lives to combat.”

For those wondering what tyranny and authoritarianism in the US looks like, the US during World War I is the real example. The US and its ideals survived President Wilson and his efforts during World War I. It still has the resilience to survive the trials and tribulations it is facing now. All that is required is that Americans, regardless of background, remember the ideals that America is based on and act accordingly. Small acts are as important as large, grand sweeping gestures.

For an excellent four hour documentary on the US and World War I, including an in depth examination of what was occurring domestically, I highly recommend PBS’s The American Experience: The Great WarIt will be four well spent hours.

[Facepalm] Open Thread… “The Aristocrats!”

Somewhere, the ghost of Richard Nixon snarls, “Hey, dipshit, y’ever consider a big steaming mug of Shut the F*ck Up?”

Open Thread: Mike “Call Me Iago” Pence

The man famously considered “Dense” even by Congressional Republican standards may have had more political smarts than the crime family who put him on the ticket…

Of course, Pence is a big Old Testament reader, and that book is full of stories about treachery and intergroup strife…


Maybe Mike Dense, despite his claims at the time, actually did find that logo personally hurtful…

He’s afraid Pence’s people will change the locks while he’s gone.