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Saturday, December 16, 2017


In the Senate, Republican hold-outs caved, the appalling "tax" bill will pass, and House Republicans are preparing the way for an all-out assault on Mueller.  Meanwhile, popular opposition to Trump builds, and in eleven months, the Democrats will probably take control of the House and even, if everything falls into line, the Senate.  It feels as though we are approaching a crisis shortly after the new year.

Trump and the Republicans have done grave damage to the well-being of working-class Americans, but some at least of that danage can be repaired if the Democrats can retake control of the government.  

The ground level surge in progressive activism gives me some cause for hope, but I cannot deny that this country is very close to fascism.

As I approach my eighty-fourth birthday, now only eleven days away, it takes all of my energy to maintain hope and defeat despair.  


Todd Gitlin said...

Walter Shaub, ethics chief who resigned in the face of Trump's non-stop offenses to ethics, tweeted this yesterday:

This weekend I’m stocking up on portable phone chargers, warm clothes, & gear needed for when we take the streets. I’m concerned the assault on the rule of law is coming over the holidays when we’re distracted. It‘ll be a defining moment for the Republic.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Welcome to the blog, Todd. If we here in this retirement community must take to the streets, it will be a sight to see. The Grey Panthers all over again!

Guy Tennenbaum said...

Very close to fascism, or something like it. I keep asking people, what if they fix the next election (as I’m not so sure didn’t happen with the Georgia 6 race), and the various Secretaries of State certify the results? What then?

And the sad thing is, all this was entirely predictable, based on who T***p is as well as who his political allies are. We have seen what American fascism looks. It looks like those Congressmen (all of them relatively young, all distinctly alt-right in orientation) who in the hearing the other day were pulling out all the rhetorical stops to pressure Rosentstein, the deputy AG, into subverting the rule of law.

But of course we could never vote for Clinton because she wasn’t as pure as the purest arctic snow. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Jerry Fresia said...

I hope that Mueller soon reveals, and with hard evidence, just exactly how the Russians hacked the DNC (and "attacked American democracy"). Otherwise, when the dust settles, the entire Russia-gate saga will have been proven to be a plot cooked up in Langly, Trump's reputation will soar and his anti-media-fake-news meme will gain credence, pushing us all over the cliff.

My fear is that the liberal-left, in our anxiety to dump Trump, and by aligning ourselves with the CIA, has been digging its own grave. I hope I'm wrong but as one commentator said a few days ago, "...the underlying crime in Watergate, a break-in to wiretap offices of the DNC, had been traced, within 48 hours, to the Committee to Re-Elect the President. In Russiagate, the underlying crime – the "collusion" of Trump’s campaign with the Kremlin to hack into the emails of the DNC – has, after 18 months of investigating, still not been established."

Here's Stephen Cohn on the subject:

and Robert Parry (who broke the Iran-Contra story):

Guy Tennenbaum said...

If Jerry Fresia is expecting the Mueller probe to come out with heretofore unseen “hard evidence” into how Russia hacked the DNC, he is likely to be disappointed. That is not what Mueller has been tasked with. Moreover, it isn’t the case that the underlying crime in Russia-gate is alleged to be “collusion of Trump’s campaign with the Kremlin to hack the emails of the DNC.”

Rather, what Muller is looking into is whether the T***p people committed crimes of conspiracy after the Russia hacks took place. If no such evidence is found, it will indeed be very dispiriting to liberals.

That the Russias meddled in the election — including hacking into the DNC — is widely accepted at this point. But Mr. Fresia seems not to be persuaded by the evidence.

However, I wonder what kind of evidence he would find convincing. I take it Mr. Fresia has no expertise in cyber-forensics. So like most of us, he really isn’t in a position to independently assess what evidence we now have or any that might be forthcoming. He will have to rely on the judgement experts. Just as he will have to weigh what extent he accepts that the intelligence community is withholding evidence to protect their sources and methods, as the NSA report states. (And why would CIA director Mike Pompeo, for one, prop up lies in that regard, when every indication is that he’s a T***p loyalist?)

As for what the cyber-experts are saying, here is how the non-partisan The Hill described the situation back in August (

CrowdStrke was not the only firm to conclude Russia was behind the attack.

Other companies independently discovered evidence that linked the attacks to the same culprit. [...]

In the end, Fidelis, FireEye, SecureWorks, Threat Connect and other CrowdStrike competitors all confirmed Crowdstike’s results.

The intelligence community, including the CIA, FBI and NSA, also claims to have evidence the attacks were coordinated by Moscow

The piece goes on to give this telling bit of anecdotal information:

The cybersecurity industry is not shy about shaming competitors for spurious research. Companies have gone out of business after high-profile reports were disproven.

“This industry loves to eat itself up. If you get something wrong, your peers will tell you,” said Barger.

“When this many brands agree on something, come together to provide several different aspects of the attack, sometimes it’s true.”

Now consider the scenario being floated by the likes of Stephen Cohen and Richard Parry (who don’t state it so plainly; though it’s implied by their reasoning): they would have us believe that the FBI “Deep State” itself hacked into the DNC server and fed the information to the Russians, who then leaked the emails to the media, causing untold harm to the Clinton campaign — all for the sake of framing T***p and keeping him out of office.

Color me unconvinced.

And this is only to mention the evidence from computer forensics. It doesn’t take into account how the various contacts and coverups involving the T***p campaign and Russian officials might render it more plausible that the Russians did commit the initial hacks. (And contra Cohen and Parry, those contacts and coverups don’t all admit of innocent explanations.)

Jerry Fresia said...

Ed Barreras:

- for an example of what I think journalism ought to be, I offer The Nation piece that examines claims and counter-claims nicely:

- for evidence (that wasn't paid for by the Clinton campaign or concocted by " a few handpicked" pro-Clinton analysts, I offer the cyber-forensic evidence and the technical expertise of William Binney (formerly of the NSA and whistleblower):

-What strikes me about Binney's research is that it does contain hard evidence, concerning download rates which suggest that the information obtained from the DNC was a leak, not a hack.

Here's my point: in my mind and apparently in the mind of many others who are, indeed, expert cyber analysts, the claim that Russia "attacked American democracy" is in dispute, if not bogus.

Rachel, to cite probably the chief promoter of the "attack" theory, does not invite on her show people like Parry or Binney or Greenwald, instead in her snarky way, she just smears them. This is a red flag for me.

I'm troubled by the fact that the MSM considers this "attack" as a settled and non-controversial. Many in the media still pretend that all 17 US intel agencies supported the original "assessment" (which in itself is not a report at all) when even the NYTs has withdrawn that claim, not to mention Clapper's admission to the contrary as well.

I don't agree with your conclusion that positions such as mine (or Parry's/Greenwald's/Binney's and dozens of concerned by the "new-McCarthyism") turn on the "deep state" providing evidence to Russia, etc. That just seems looney to me. And if one doubts the existence of a "deep state," then one needs to explain what you would call conspirators such as Allen Dulles who colluded with the Nazis before, during, and after the war (and so many powerful types establishment types that followed) who subverted presidential policies and initiatives from FDR on through to Carter, at minimum.

I served 4 years as an intelligence officer during the Vietnam era and the one conclusion I drew from all the secret (to Americans) horrific stuff I saw was this: the media not just lies, but lies in a way that could be called indoctrination.

I'll repeat my fear: Rachel and the russiagaters are practicing a form of maljournalism that may very well lend credibility to T***p's attack on the media and his claim of fake news. I hope I'm wrong and I hope that Mueller gets on digging up some financial crimes or obstruction of justice and does so soon - or evidence of the hack, for that matter. So far his investigation has proven collusion with Israel but nobody cares about that.

Jerry Fresia said...

early alzheimer's.....should have been: "committing journalistic malpractice"

levinebar said...

Now that McConnell is buying votes one at a time (most recently Bob Corker's for a break on his real-estate pass-through corporation) he may find that other senators expect to be bought, too. Senator Collins may need to be re-bought now that Paul Ryan has announced that he won't honor the deal she thought she had cut. And senator Shelby may take the opportunity to show solidarity with his new-minted colleague.This process may well not be resolved before Doug Jones is hammering on the door to get seated.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

levinebar, you are a Tigger after my own heart!

Guy Tennenbaum said...

Jerry Fresia,

I have four things to say in response.

1) Why do you say that evidence was “concocted” by a few “hand-picked” pro-Clinton analytsts? With all due respect, I doubt you have proof for that claim, and I’m afraid the word “concocted” evidences your bias. The Hill article I linked to mentions four cybersecurity firms, and alludes to “others,” that have independently Crowdstrike’s analysis. Surely not all of them were on the Clinton payroll or are willing to participate in a conspiracy to concoct evidence.

2) The claim about download speeds proving the hack to be an inside job is addressed and disputed in The Hill article I linked to above. Indeed, it is also debunked by the independent analyst called on by The Nation in the forum you linked to.

3) It is interesting that in that Nation forum, Binney et al choose to adduce this one bit of “non-technical” evidence to support their claims: “Julian Assange has denied that the source is the Russian government or any other state party, and, truth be told, his record of credibility compares favorably with the records of those who demonize him.”

But this is already out of date. Back in the summer Assange promised to release proof that the Russians weren’t the source of the hacks (following a meeting with pro-Russia Congressman Dana Roerbacher.) He hasn’t followed through. And as I’m sure you know, it has now come to light that Assange was emailing Don Jr. attempting to conspire with the T***p campaign — even trying to goad them into disputing the results of the election in case their candidate lost. Assange has no credibility to speak of.

4) I will not challenge your skepticism about the intelligence community (apparently won from personal experience.) I would just urge you to look at the full complement of evidence regarding Russian intereference/collusion in the election, of which cyber forensics is only a piece.

I obviously can’t mention everything here. But I’ll note that we now know that, on April 26th 2016, George Papadopoulos was approached by a Kremlin contact (“the professor”) who claimed to the Russians had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” Now these could have been only the Podesta emails, obtained through a phishing scam apparently; or they could have included the DNC emails as well. (We know that in late April the DNC retained Crowdstrike to look into suspicious activity on their servers — notably much earlier than the July 5th date Binney and Forensicator maintain the emails were “leaked” by an insider.”) But whatever the case, this shows that in the Spring of 2016 Russia was in possession of illegally-obtained “Clinton emails,” and that they had let the T***p campaign know about it. Even if these were only the Podesta emails, that would be enough to strongly suggest evidence of criminal conspiracy. And in any case, to my mind, it greatly increases the likelihood that the Russians were behind the DNC hacks as well. I just don’t see your skepticism as warranted.