Just a Quick Note Regarding the President, Members of His Administration, and Operational Security Matters

Anne Laurie covered the details that we currently have regarding the recent security breach at Mar a Lago, but I wanted to add a couple of quick points.

I would not be surprised at all if Zhang was sent by the PRC’s intelligence services specifically to be caught and divert attention from their real infiltration work, which involves, among other things, buying memberships to Mar a Lago and the President’s golf clubs. And my guess is she was used at that moment to provide cover for someone actually penetrating a Trump property, most likely Mar a Lago, but possibly somewhere else, at roughly the same time. This technique is not novel. When Ramzi Youssef entered the US so he could build the bombs for the first World Trade Center bombing, he was a number of people behind one of his co-conspirators who just happened to go through the something to declare customs line and when his carry on was opened, they found circuit boards and other suspicious materials. When Youssef came through about 20 minutes or so later, he went through the nothing to declare line and zipped through because everyone was still focused on the guy they were sacrificing to get Youssef into the country. Zhang is most likely a PRC sacrifice. The real questions are who they actually got in by sacrificing her, how many, and what are they actually doing?

I expect that all of the President’s commercial properties are fully compromised at this point between employees, contractors brought on to do day work like A/C repair or other repair/replace projects, and membership. This ties in to the concerns about the President being compromised. As we know was the case with the pursuit of Trump Tower Moscow, the President, his campaign’s, his business’s, his employees’, his political surrogates’ repeated denials that he was pursuing the deal during the election was the only compromising information that Putin needed. And I would expect that the Chinese, the Israelis, the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Estonians, the Latvians, the Germans, the French, and our Five Eyes Allies all new about this attempted deal too from their own intelligence collection. Regardless, because Putin and the Russian government knew something about the President’s and his business that the President, his business, his campaign, and his surrogates were denying, Putin had compromised the President. Or, more accurately, the President had compromised himself for Putin. Repeatedly lying during and after the campaign about pursuing Trump Tower Moscow gave Putin, his government, his intelligence services, his oligarchs, and his other surrogates leverage over the President because they knew something the President had been lying about. Pursuing Trump Tower Moscow wasn’t illegal. Even pursuing the opportunity during the campaign wasn’t illegal. Trying to conceal it also wasn’t illegal. But by doing so the President compromised himself. And one has to ask why it was necessary to lie about pursuing this opportunity and then lie about when that pursuit stopped. Because those lies just further compromised the President.*

There are similar issue regarding the President’s late night phone calls from the residence with Deity knows whom from his unsecured phone. Everyone and their brother is collecting on those calls. And since there’s no readouts, no notes, no note takers, all of this is just more and more compromising information on the President created by the President. Does anyone think that Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs wouldn’t break under even the mildest forms of forceful interrogation? And the same issue exists with whomever Jared is texting with, regardless of whether he’s using WhatsApp, which is insecure. It doesn’t matter whether he’s texting MBS or MBZ or Bibi or Ron Dermer, or his dad – all of that data is being collected by allied, partner, competitor, and hostile foreign state actors. I would also expect that whomever the President is speaking with from his unsecured phone or whomever Jared is texting with are also keeping a record – either recording, transcript, or both – of those phone and text message conversations. I have no doubt that Kislyak and Lavrov’s photographer made a recording of what was actually said when the President was alone with them in the Oval Office, which, of course, produces more compromising material. Just letting them in with their own photographer with his own equipment was a major security breach in and of itself. And I’m sure that a similar situation surely occurred in his one on one meetings with no note takers, interpreters, and/or aides with Putin in Helsinki, with Putin at the G20 meeting, as well as in his two one on one meetings with Kim. I’d put good money on the fact that Putin and Kim surreptitiously made recordings of those meetings, just as I’d be very surprised to find out that Kislyak and Lavrov had not done so.

These are two very, very serious and significant operational security issues. Because the President has refused to divest himself from his commercial interests, those interests – from Mar a Lago to his golf clubs and golf resorts – are all targets for infiltration and collection by foreign intelligence services. And because the President and his senior advisor and son in law Jared Kushner continually compromise themselves because of who they are in communication with and how they communicate with those people, they continually put themselves as representatives of the United States and the United States at risk by giving foreign actors leverage that can be used over them and against the best interests of the US.

Open thread.

* This is similar to one of the really big unanswered questions from the Special Counsel’s investigation: why did LTG (ret) Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Attorney General Sessions, Erik Prince, George Papadopolous, Roger Stone, and many others lie about meetings and contacts with the Russians. Why was Jared Kushner seeking to establish an off the books back channel to the Russians housed in the Russian Embassy in DC? If there was no there there, if nothing illicit, illegal, or even unethical was going on, then why lie about it to Federal investigators, Congress, or both?

Today in Great Moments in Senatorial Debate: Senator Mike Lee Edition!

Senator Lee gave a speech delineating his opposition to the Green New Deal today as part of Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s attempt to put the Senate Democratic caucus in a bind by making them take a stand either for or against one of the House Democratic caucus’s signature issues. Fortunately for us all, Senator Lee is, well, Senator Lee, which is sort of the Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of Senator Ted Cruzes. Or something… Even more fortuitously, Senator Lee posted a YouTube video of his remarks and posted a transcript of them at his Senate website.  He’s so considerate!

Senator Lee’s major proposal for resolving the problem that is climate change is to have more babies*, because one of them might actually come up with a good idea to resolve the problem at some point in the future.

This, Mr. President, is the real solution to climate change: babies.

Climate change is an engineering problem – not social engineering, but the real kind.
It’s a challenge of creativity, ingenuity, and technological invention.

And problems of human imagination are not solved by more laws, but by more humans!

More people mean bigger markets for innovation.

More babies mean more forward-looking adults – the sort we need to tackle long-term, large scale problems.

American babies, in particular, are likely going to be wealthier, better educated, and more conservation-minded than children raised in still-industrializing regions.

As economist Tyler Cowen recently wrote on this very point, “by having more children, you are making your nation more populous – thus boosting its capacity to solve [climate change].”

Finally, Mr. President, children are a mark of the kind of personal, communal, and societal optimism that is the true pre-requisite for meeting national and global challenges together.

The courage needed to solve climate change is nothing compared with the courage needed to start a family.

The true heroes of this story aren’t politicians or social media activists.

They are moms and dads, and the little boys and girls they are, at this moment, putting down for naps… helping with their homework… building tree houses… and teaching how to tie their shoes.

The planet does not need us to “think globally, and act locally” so much as it needs us to think family, and act personally.

The solution to climate change is not this unserious resolution, but the serious business of human flourishing – the solution to so many of our problems, at all times and in all places: fall in love, get married, and have some kids.

I yield the floor.

This, however, wasn’t the most batshit insane part of Senator Lee’s audio-visual extravaganza. Pride of place for that honor goes to the graphics and images he used to help make his point.

President Reagan on a velociraptor wielding a machine pistol while the velociraptor carries a tattered American flag – this is apparently big on one of the Chan boards/sites:

A still image from The Empire Strikes Back of Luke Skywalker riding on a tauntaun on the ice planet Hoth:

A still image from the Hannah-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon series Superfriends of Aquaman on his seahorse Storm from the early 1970s (in the earlier 1960s Filmation Aquaman-Superman Adventures Storm was white with gold ears – do not ask how I know this…):

A picture of a bunch of babies (awww!):

This is stupidity, disingenuousness, and bad faith on par with Kyle Reese’s description of the Terminator:

Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

I don’t care if you’re Senator Booker who is claiming one of his key strengths is that he can, because he has in the past, work effectively across the aisle or Howard Schultz who keeps stating that as an independent centrist that he can work with both sides, THERE IS NOTHING HERE TO WORK WITH!!!!! There’s no difference to split here, there’s no accommodation that can be made here, and there is no compromise that can be reached. Right now, whether you agree, partially agree, or disagree with what the Democrats are proposing, you’ve got one party actually proposing solutions that have been thought through and one party that proposes the same four things no matter what is going on: 1) cut taxes, 2) cut regulations, 3) gut the social safety net and undo the New Deal, 4) and allow unlimited amounts of money in politics because money equals speech and corporations equal people. And, if there’s a crisis involving brown people with funny accents: 5) deploy troops to deal with them. The shame that is the United States in 2019 is that there is one party, the Democratic Party, that is dealing with reality, even if you don’t agree with what they’re proposing and then there’s this insanity being peddled by the Republicans.

At this point I’m about two weeks away from declaring myself Sub-Commandante Citizen-Leftenant Zero and storming a radio station… **

Which leads to one of my favorite political cartoons of all time:

Open thread!

* I’m sure at some point this will be rolled into an argument why Roe V. Wade must be overturned and abortion made illegal so we don’t accidentally abort the baby that will save us from the climate change crisis that Senator Lee doesn’t actually believe exists.

** This is SARCASM, lest someone eventually show up or use this to claim I’m advocating the overthrow of the US government or endorsing the use of low intensity warfare and political violence.

The 2nd Plague Comes Early This Year: Florida Toad!

ABC News has the details!

A Florida suburb is being plagued by thousands of poisonous toads.

Experts say the amphibians are bufo toads, also known as cane toads. Residents in the infested Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood worry toxins secreted by the toads will harm their pets and children.

News stations broadcast images of the small toads clogging pool filters, hopping en masse across driveways and sidewalks, and lurking in landscaped lawns.

Resident Jennifer Quasha told WPBF her family first noticed the toads Friday. She said hundreds of them were in her swimming pool.

Mark Holladay of the pest removal service Toad Busters told WPTV that recent rains coupled with warm temperatures sent the amphibians into a breeding cycle.

Holladay said even more toads are likely to spread throughout South Florida in the coming weeks.

NBC 6 South Florida has the video!

Open thread!

* I know I promised a post on the President’s executive order regarding the Golan Heights for tonight. I got behind working on something and will endeavor to get to it tomorrow.

Breaking News: Mass Shooting at Two Mosques in Christchurch, NZ

From Radio New Zealand:

6 minutes ago

Police say one shooter is in custody but there may be other offenders after ‘multiple fatalities’ at two mosques in Christchurch today. Follow live updates here.

What you need to know:

  • There have been two shooting incidents – at the Masjid Al Noor Mosque next to Hagley Park, and at the Linwood Masjid Mosque in the suburb of Linwood.
  • Police Commissioner Mike Bush has confirmed there have been “multiple fatalities”.
  • An eyewitness inside the Masjid Al Noor Mosque says he heard shots fired and says at least five people were lying on the ground.
  • The eyewitness describes seeing a man wearing a helmet and glasses and a military style jacket opening fire inside the mosque with an automatic weapon.
  • About 300 people were inside the mosque for afternoon prayers.
  • Police say the “risk environment remains extremely high”.
  • The manager of the An-Nur Early Childhood centre in Wigram said police gave some parents an update that said there were two gunmen and at least one was on the loose.
  • People in central Christchurch have been urged to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.
  • All Christchurch schools, Christchurch Hospital and Christchurch City Council buildings have been placed into lockdown.
  • Multiple roads in the city, including Blenhein Rd, Moorhouse Ave and Brougham St, have been closed.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says today is one of New Zealand’s “darkest days”.

Radio New Zealand just posted the following:

More from Radio New Zealand:

2 minutes ago

A man purporting to be at the centre of today’s attacks in Christchurch has posted video and documents online.

The videos are distressing and appear to be of the shooting in a mosque.

RNZ will not be publishing video or documents from a person who is believed to be a shooter at the Christchurch mosques.

RNZ is aware of footage of armed police appearing to apprehend a person. RNZ is also aware footage of the shooting is being posted online and a document circulating outlining the shooter’s motives is being shared.

A decision has been made to not publish in any of this material.

Live coverage of the shooting can be found here and a summary of what you need to know is here.

This is obviously going to be a fast moving event and the reporting is likely to change several times before it we have a clear(er) picture of exactly what happened and who perpetrated this attack.

Update at 11:45 PM EDT

New Zealand’s Prime Minister has made a statement (emphasis mine):

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, addressing the media about the Christchurch shooting, says there is “no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme violence”.

The PM said she couldn’t give any confirmation on fatalities at this stage, but “it is clear this one of New Zealand’s darkest days”.

“Presently the police do have one suspect in custody however there could be others involved. Also there are multiple scenes involved in this incident as well and police will be giving more details as they can as the situation unfolds,” she said,

About 300 people were inside a Christchurch mosque for afternoon prayers when a gunman attacked them.

An eyewitness said there was “blood everywhere”, adding that a man wearing a helmet and glasses and a military-style jacket opened fire inside the mosque with an automatic weapon.

Police say the “risk environment remains extremely high”.

At the moment police have stated that they have one offender in custody, however, they have advised that there may be other offenders.

“Clearly what has happened here is an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence,” Ms Ardern said.

“Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting will be migrants, they will be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home and it is their home. They are us.

“The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand.

“There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence which it is clear this act was. “

She said her thoughts were also with those in Christchurch who were dealing with an unfolding situation.

“Please continue to listen out to information as it comes to light.

“Remain in lockdown, we are potentially dealing with an evolving situation as I said across multiple sites.

“Christchurch Hospital is dedicated to treating those who are arriving at the hospital as we speak.

She is scheduled to return to Wellington today.

People in central Christchurch have been urged to stay indoors and report any suspicious behaviour immediately to 111.

Updated at 11:55 PM EDT

Here’s video of Prime Minister Ardern making a statement regarding the attack on the two mosques (h/t Aleta in comments)

Updated at 12:05 PM EDT

The shooter posted a 75 page manifesto on 8Chan. He’s a white supremacist, so we can definitely call this an act of terrorism.

At more than 74 pages, the document outlines a white supremacist motivation for the attack. The writer, who identifies himself as a 28-year-old white man born in Australia, quotes the so-called 14 Words, the slogan shared by white supremacists worldwide. He said that while he supported white nationalist groups, he alone had decided to carry out the attack. He described the victims as “invaders” and accused them of seeking to replace white people. He wrote about attacking two mosques, one in Linwood and one in Christchurch. He focused on the latter because it was the largest, he wrote.

Interestingly enough, he was radicalized by Candace Owens, the Hitler afficionado who is the spokeswoman for TPUSA and the leader of Blexit (which isn’t actually a thing…). So congratulations to Candace Owens for inspiring your first terrorist attack. I’m sure you and your family are very proud of all your endeavors.

Newsweek reporter Stephen Asarch has excerpted the manifesto:

(I’ve removed the actual embedded tweets with the excerpts that Asarch made as they were upsetting some readers. They can be found at the link above.)

Open thread!

Breaking News: Former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Admits to Committing Perjury During His Public Testimony Before the House Judiciary Committee!

And there appears to have been a nascent attempt to reprise the Bush 43 US Attorneys firing scandal involved too boot! Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times has the scoop.

Update at 6:15 PM EDT

Here’s the video of Congressman Nadler’s remarks:

Discuss amongst yourselves…

Open thread!