Let's Fix This Country
Impeachment

His Strange Obsession: Trump Says Ukraine Did It

Here's what that's about

Here and there Donald Trump had wondered aloud about Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 election. In an April 2017 interview with The Associated Press, he began talking about the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) a year
Just after its revolution in 2014, political scientists from Dartmouth, Harvard, and Princeton asked 2,066 Americans to locate Ukraine on a map. Each dot is an individual's answer.

earlier, asking why the FBI had not taken possession of the server. “They brought in another company that I hear is Ukrainian-based”, the president said. “CrowdStrike?” the surprised reporter asked, referring to the California cybersecurity company that did the investigative work to determine how Russian government hackers had broken into the server and stolen Democratic emails. “That’s what I heard”, Mr. Trump affirmed. “I heard it’s owned by a very rich Ukrainian; that’s what I heard.”

As early as October of 2016, Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence stated their confidence…

"that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts"

By three months later the CIA, FBI, and NSA concluded in a joint statement that…

"Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election… We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments."

The Mueller report, based on the forensic analysis of logs and the seemingly indecipherable Internet routings that we never see, would detail the activities of the Russian General Staff of the Armed Forces (GRU) and the cutouts they used such as Guccifer 2.0 to hack their way into servers of choice in the U.S.

In July of this year, the news media broke the story that the CIA was forced to extricate to the U.S. in 2017 a decades-long source who had risen to a position…

politics

Investigating Investigators: Attorney General Barr on a Mission of Revenge

His search for what fits his preconceptions

Attorney General William Barr's zeal to come up with an alternative origin story for why intelligence agencies probed Trump-Russia contacts in the 2016 campaign brings to mind a quote from the Bush administration's insistence that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. Richard Deerlove, head of MI6, Britain's intelligence service, on his return to London after a trip to Washington, where he learned of U.S. manipulation of intelligence to fabricate a case for war, gave us a tidy phrase. He said, “The intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy".

That, we'll wager, is what we will see when Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham conclude their investigation. All known accounts of what led U.S.
Attorey General William Barr

intelligence agencies to secretly look into whether the Trump campaign was conspiring with Russians during 2016 are somehow suspect for them. Impatient for the report from his own inspector general, 18 months in the making so far, Barr tapped Durham to run a parallel inquiry.

In Barr, Trump has found an attorney general who wants to prove that the FBI lied about the origins

of its investigation to cover up that it was politically motivated and therefore illegal. He has already decided that the FBI was "spying" and said to Congress,

"I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. I think spying did occur, but the question is whether it was adequately predicated. But I need to explore that".

In conducting his own investigation, he is carrying out the wishes of the president, who hopes Barr will conclude that there was no adequate predicate, that there should have been no investigation by the FBI or Mueller's team in the first place, and several…

policy

Attorney General Bill Barr Says We’d Better Get Religion »

In October, Attorney General Bill Barr managed to fit into a wide-ranging itinerary that takes him to places as improbable, given his office, as the U.K., Italy and Ukraine, a stop in South Bend, Indiana, where he gave a speech at Notre Dame. It proved quite controversial.

He tells us of a Hobbesian world where "Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large". He says the nation's founders were unsure whether the citizenry "could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary" for this new form of government to survive.

Barr wants to apply those missing restraints. "No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity" but if we left that to government, it would lead to tyranny. Restraint can't be left to the people, either. That leads to "licentiousness" and "the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense…

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 national security

Underreported: Grounding Our Eyes in the Sky

President Trump has, quite on his own and without consultation with Congress, much less the public, signaled his intent to withdraw from yet another international agreement, this one very much at risk to national security.

Immediately on taking office, he announced we would not go forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade alliance knitting together twelve nations bordering on that ocean as a bulwark against China, which was not invited. That was largely an initiative of President Obama, so it had to go. So was the Paris climate accord, so Trump announced the U.S. would drop out as the only nation that would not at least take the pledge of reducing emissions. So was the nuclear accord with Iran an Obama achievement, which meant it had to be
This is the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, which is not
in use in Open Skies but, retired in 1999, deserves
to be remembered as the fastest of all aircraft
with a top speed of 2,193mph.

cancelled, brusquely double-crossing five partner nations while sanctioning Iran for living up to the agreement.

And now Trump has announced that he is considering asking Congress to void the Open Skies Treaty, a move that makes no sense, and creates alarming vulnerabilities by blinding us to threats around the world.

It was President Dwight Eisenhower's idea, a stunningly imaginative idea presented at the 1955 Geneva summit meeting, but not until 1992 accepted and signed as the Open Skies Treaty. It allows its 34 signatory nations to conduct surveillance flights in unarmed aircraft over any other member country's territory. It provides a means to spot military buildups and thereby thwart the secret moves by countries to launch surprise cross-border attacks. Correspondingly, for these decades it has dampened the paranoia of the unknown that could… Read More »

foreign policy

Why Would We Want Saudi Arabia
As An Ally?

We needed their oil. Midway through World War II, the Roosevelt administration was warned that the U.S. was running low, having almost single-handedly fueled the allied war effort. There in Saudi Arabia lay a resource that had hardly been tapped. Oil became the core of the U.S.-Saudi Arabia relationship for decades
They need no introduction, but where are Clinton and Obama in this gallery? They were equally accommodating of the Saudis, but their years lacked incidents such as those we recount.

thereafter: We would buy their oil, they would buy American weapons, we'd guarantee their security. So it was that we would have as an ally one of the world's most repressive countries ruled by a royal family that hoarded to itself the unimaginable riches found beneath its desert floor.

But that calculus has changed. First, the U.S. is now the world's biggest oil producer: 12 million barrels a day thanks to shale, subsurface geologic rendering, and technologies such as directional drilling. Besides, the Saudi kingdom presents us with problems. The war they are waging against the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The king gave the reins to run the country to a crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who a year ago is believed with certainty to have ordered the gruesome murder of Washington Post opinion writer, Jamal Khashoggi, by a gang of 15 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

In the year since the killing, President Trump has never acknowledged that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's assassination, managing no more than, “It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”.

The killing of a journalist is of no moment to Trump, who cares only that the… Read More »

energy

Seems There’s No Stopping Fossil Fuels

U.S. oil production is running at 12.2 million barrels of oil a day this year, up from 11 million a day last year. American shale now accounts for roughly 10% of the world's oil supply, reckons The Wall Street Journal.

Oil, natural gas, and coal account for 81% of the world's energy consumption, reports Axios.com, a figure that hasn't changed in 30 years despite the rapid growth of renewables such as wind and solar. Fossil fuel consumption has grown along with them.

Comment?
military

Air Force Costs in the Wild Blue Yonder

The Air Force spent $326,785 since 2016 to keep replacing its special coffee mugs that can reheat fluids on refueling tankers and cargo aircraft while in fight. The mugs cost $1,280 apiece and break easily when dropped. Other than the outlandish cost, there is also the unanswered question of why what we calculate to be 255 mugs were dropped. Comment?

foreign policy

No Quid Quo Pro in Trump’s Chat With Ukraine? Read On

Before President Trump's conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was released, he said to reporters that it was a "perfect conversation". Half a dozen separate video clips — chopper talk, at his desk — had him saying over and over that it was "perfect".

Who ever thinks of conversations as "perfect" (or imperfect)? It made one think that his aides, prepping him for the call, which we are told is routine, had coached him not to make any mention of the funds release being contingent on Zelenskyy agreeing to investigate Biden, that he must be extremely careful not to suggest any quid pro quo. So when Trump came away from the call without having made that slip, his celebratory mood had him calling the call "perfect".

That equipped Republicans in the hallways of Congress and Fox News hosts to say, as did Tucker Carlson,

"It says none of the things the news anchors claimed it would. Read it… Read More »

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