Let's Fix This Country
the Russia files

Did The New York Times Miss the Big Story of the 2016 Election?

A story you haven't seen anywhere

The arrest on January 23rd of Charles McGonigal, the former FBI special agent in charge of the Bureau's counterintelligence division run out of the New York field office, has thrown a new light on the 2016 election. At the same time that
Charles McGonigal

McGonigal's assignment was to oversee the department's investigation of Russian oligarchs, he is accused of violating sanctions against Russia by aiding Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to be removed from the sanctions list. There is no evidence yet that he was paid by the Russian while still with the Bureau, but he did an unusual favor for a Deripaska employee while there and was hired by Deripaska after he retired.

That's only part of the charges against McGonigal, but it's the part that adds an extra dimension to the reporting by Reuters and others at the time that a faction at the New York FBI was hostile to Hillary Clinton. The Guardian reported two days before the election that animosity toward Clinton had intensified in the months since FBI Director James Comey decided not to indict her for trafficking in classified material over a private computer server. That the head of counterintelligence in New York, who had also a role in uncovering Russian interference in the
Vladimir Putin and Oleg Deripaska

2016 election, was simultaneously consorting with a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin suggests even a deliberate policy as explanation for a series of leaks damaging to Clinton's campaign. “The FBI is Trumpland,” said one agent at the time.

It was, after all, the New York FBI and the New York Police Department, not Main Justice in Washington, that discovered e-mails pertinent to the Clinton controversy on computers belonging to former New York congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife, Clinton aide…

governing

Debt Ceiling Standoff Questions Will Social Security Be There for You?

…or Medicare, or Medicaid? A look at one at a time

The 20-or-so of the hard-right faction in the House of Representatives refuse to raise the debt ceiling without significant cutbacks to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The White House refuses to negotiate. They are "fiscally demented", said President Biden in a Martin Luther King Day speech. "They don’t quite get it".

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin says we just bumped up against the ceiling. Her department is looking for what she called "extraordinary measures" to enable the country to keep paying its bills for a few more months.



The squad in the House holding Speaker Kevin McCarthy hostage to its demands needs no individual profiling. They are of a piece. All but three were endorsed by Donald Trump, and 14 of the 15 who were members of Congress on Jan. 6 were among the 139 representatives in the House who voted not to certify states' electors in order to keep Trump in power. (And 118 of the 139 election deniers were re-elected). Added to their willingness to cause a government shutdown and a United States default on paying its debts is reportedly a three-page list of other demands McCarthy has acceded to that is apparently too self- incriminating for him to release.

As for Mr. Biden's accusation of fiscal dementia, in his first two years his administration has run up $4.15 trillion in deficits, $1.9 trillion of which was the American Rescue Plan enacted right after he took office. A continuance of pandemic stimulus just as the economy was rebounding, it is widely considered to have been excessive and contributing to the first serious inflation in 40 years.

The debt ceiling, the amount the government is permitted to borrow to pay its already incurred obligations, has routinely been raised in the past without fuss – three times by many of these same Republicans during the Trump administration – and a few moderate Republicans will probably join all the Democrats to save the day just before the nation teeters over the brink, putting an end once again to the Kabuki performance. A government shutdown in the cause of reducing social program benefits that the public likes will not be a winner at the polls in 2024.

While difficult to give House Republicans any credit – their very first…

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the presidency

Chief of Staff John Kelly Describes His Days Working for Trump

Michael Schmidt, of The New York Times, has added a 13,000 word profile of Donald Trump's second chief of staff, John Kelly, to the paperback edition of his book "Donald Trump v. The United States", which is about to be released. Iinterviewed by Schmidt, the former 4-star Marine general commented on working for Trump in the first two years of his term, from mid-2017 through 2018, which Schmidt recounted on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" January 12th:

"When Kelly came in as chief-of-staff, he thought that the problem around Trump was that he was not staffed properly and that they needed to create a process around him, and that's what the chaos of the first six months of the Trump administration was about. But when Kelly comes in as chief of staff he realizes that the problem is not just the fact that there's not a process and that he's not being staffed as well as he could, but that Trump himself was the problem, that Trump was far dumber, and immoral, and ignorant, and lazy than he ever thought he was.

"It wasn't the staff that was the issue, it wasn't the process that was the issue, it was Trump that was the issue, and that he needed to… Read More »

the culture

What’s Gone Terribly Wrong with Gen Z?

Alarming rates of anxiety, depression, hopelessness, suicide have come to characterize the young generation of Americans colloquially called Generation Z or Gen Z, defined as those born between 1997 and 2012, now in their teens to early twenties.

The pandemic, which kept youths home from school deprived of in-person contact with their peers, certainly contributed, but only partly. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health had already reported a 69% rise of depression among 16 to 17-year-olds in the pre-Covid years of 2009 to 2017. And in a 2009 through 2021 study that spanned two Covid years the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that high school students feeling "persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness" jumped to an unheard of 44% from 26%. Such subjective article illustration
criteria need be addressed with some degree of circumspection, though, given that we are in era when it is fashionable for teens to claim some level of despondency. Nevertheless, there is the hard fact that suicide has become the second leading cause of death for children 10 to 14, says the CDC.

Jonathan Haidt is a social psychologist of some renown at New York University with many books to his credit. “We have a whole generation that’s doing terribly,” he said in a Wall Street Journal interview. He is especially troubled by what has happened to America's teenage girls. His research has found that "they have extraordinarily high rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide and fragility” that started to rise “all of a sudden” around 2013, and for only Gen Z, not the generations before.

That was a year after Facebook acquired Instagram and teen girls… Read More »

defense

Is the U.S. Military Ready for War? Not by a Long Shot.

It is a world that bristles with hostiles — China, Russia, Iran, North Korea — any of which could trigger war. Yet the consensus is that the U.S. military is, on many counts, vastly unprepared.

Actually, that consensus comes principally from analysts at conservative think tanks, many of them former military, who report their findings in the conservative media, in keeping with the right's long-standing doctrine that America must maintain a military without peer if we are to retain power in the world.

The subject of deficiencies in our military hardly gets a mention in liberal media, at least over the past year and a half reviewed here. There, attention to the military tends to budgetary politics and the progressive element's lobbying to divert spending on defense so as to fund domestic social programs.

Now running to over $800 billion a year, the defense budget seems gargantuan, but the prime measure is priorities — what the nation… Read More »

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