Nellie Ohr admits investigating travels of Trump family
This is confirmation of a theory long pushed by the Conservative Treehouse: Nellie Ohr, working for Fusion GPS, almost certainly used her access to the NSA databases to investigate Trump and his children. (Where else could she research their travel? She was a contractor and had access.)
This is also significantly -- hugely significant -- because it confirms that the investigation targeted the Trump family all along. She frames her research as being superficial and into the children's travel and Trump's real estate dealings, which are topics suitable for opposition research, but not for a federal contractor using intelligence databases.
It also confirms the timing of the investigation (as contractor access to the NSA databases was cut off before the election, on April 18th, probably by Mike Rogers, which forced the FBI to seek a warrant from the FISC).
It is shocking to me that this admission -- which took place in October, and has only recently been leaked to the press -- did not result in Ohr immediately being arrested for her crimes.
The only thing missing here, as I see it, is that Nellie is not quoted as using her access to NSA and other law enforcement/intelligence databases to do the research. In theory, as these are public figures, she could have used Google. But anyone could do that. You wouldn't need someone like Nellie, with her access, to do Google searches on the public net for press releases and news articles about semi-famous people traveling around.
New York legislation to require gun buyers to submit social media history
What's actually happening here covers a few different things.
First, the Democrats now think that gun control wins elections. They ran on it (Parkland) and won the House. So now they will try to push some actual legislation. They'll trial-balloon it in states they control and see how it goes. If it passes, they'll try it nationally.
Second, I snipped out the quotes, but this is being sold as a "background check". Background checks poll well. Most non-gun-owners don't realize that every first sale of a firearm (ie, from a dealer) gets background checked by law, and many states have (unenforceable) laws that go well beyond that. So the people pushing this law are saying it's a background check and hoping that they can ride along on the polls about different policies. In other words, lying. Business as usual for gun control.
Third, this is the Democrats' answer to the failure of background checks in Parkland. They will describe it as background checks, and when people point out that background checks don't work, as indeed they failed in the Parkland case, the Democrats will say that these are new background checks intended to fix the failed background check system. Never mind that the failures in the background check system generally resolve around people not using the system to get people behaving violently and making threats onto the prohibited person list. They will point to Parkland and say he was making threatening social media comments. We will point to Parkland and say he was threatening people and had police called out to his home several dozen times and never got added.
Fourth... if this actually passes, no one will buy a gun in New York, ever. Given three years of social media access and search history too, anyone who applies will be disqualified by some perfectly innocent joke or search. Most people will be too terrified of letting the police dig through their history to even bother applying, even when they hadn't done anything wrong; Orwellian secret police digging through your past is everyone's nightmare unless you're a member of the secret police. And if anyone does bother applying, no one will actually read through their history; no one has time for that. They'll glance through it and find a reason to deny as fast as possible. If they can't find one quickly, they'll let it sit until the end of the maximum allowed time limit without responding, and what do you want to bet that "no response" is a denial?
The only good news is that it's a trial balloon. If it doesn't pass, they won't try it nationally.
Clinton Foundation whistleblowers testify to Congress
I'm convinced that a lot of the fairly intense legal attention directed at Trump is basically a negotiation process. The Clintons and Obamas see investigative activity closing in around their foundation and their areas of involvement in SpyGate, and they encourage their allies and co-conspirators within the FBI and Mueller's office to strike back by opening new investigations into Trump, or coercing new guilty pleas from his associates, and so on. The implied promise is that if Trump backs off, so will they.
But I think SpyGate crossed a line. You can't use the FBI and NSA as your opposition research team and get away with it.
Court refuses to unseal records in whistleblower raid
This is a followup to earlier reporting on the raid conducted on this whistleblower's house. The whistleblower provided documents claiming the FBI failed to investigate wrongdoing related to the Clinton Foundation and the Rosatom uranium deal. The FBI then raided his house, with the reason for the raid under seal, and now the reason for keeping the raid under seal is also under seal. Why is this not retaliation? We don't know; it's under seal.
We have secret courts and secret cops. It's not a secret that we no longer have justice.
These are the Republicans who voted to advance the Democrat bill to reopen the government without funding for the wall. Most of the names are familiar, but Mitt Romney is starting off his Senate career on the wrong foot. Not that that surprises anyone, but still.
Government blocking Paradise residents from returning
It's not really surprising that government would try to control re-entry to a disaster area in this basic manner. However, there are some indications that something more disturbing may be going on.
My first read is that of course they will treat the presence of firearms as hazardous and ensure those firearms are "removed" (destroyed) before homeowners can return unsupervised. Of course the "controlled re-entry checkpoints" will check what people are removing on the way out, and probably confiscate firearms at that point too.
And this is in Texas, a state that actually tries to keep its voter rolls accurate. In California, they would rather illegals vote, and they are changing the rules to allow for that as much as they can get away with.
More details on the solar model and the coming ice age
Stephanie Osborn describes the Zharkova model for laymen. Short version: we're likely in for about 30 years of less solar energy as we hit the bottom of all four solar cycles together. We're about to get what is likely to be conclusive proof that global warming is bullshit. But it will take years to play out.
Note that this study was conducted in California, under their universal, mandatory background check laws, with a ton of other gun control laws already in place as well. California is gun control dreamland. But despite that, apparently those universal background checks had no impact on gun deaths.
Researchers are "puzzled" as to why. I'll tell them why. The people who follow a universal background check law are the people who don't commit crimes with their guns. The people who don't follow a universal background check law are either a) gun rights activists who don't commit crimes with their guns, or b) criminals.
There are rumors Cohen is personally reluctant and the testimony was arranged by "his" lawyer, Lanny Davis, a long-time Clinton ally, but the official reason for the delay is apparently "threats" from Trump and Giuliani. As in death threats, I suppose. (The issue is framed as one of security and personal safety, so we're not talking about legal threats).
Personally, I think Lanny Davis orchestrated the "leak" to Buzzfeed about Trump telling Cohen to lie to Congress, and when Mueller had to flatly deny that claim, Cohen decided he needed to reevaluate his planned testimony to avoid lying to Congress again. Blaming the delay on absurd allegations of threats is just a bonus smearjob.
The government is currently shut down and has been for all of this month. The issue is border security; Trump wants about $6 billion for a variety of border security measures including a barrier of some kind (a wall by any other name). Democrats are willing to pay for surveillance, drones, sensors... anything except an actual, physical security measure that would be effective in stopping border crossers. Somehow, despite Trump's electoral victory running on this issue and his party holding a majority (admittedly a slim one) in both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency, the Republicans couldn't get it done.
This is because most elected Republicans don't really want a wall. Trump got rolled by Ryan and McConnell promising to fund the wall "next time". Funny, by the time "next time" rolled around, there was an election and nothing got done in the lame duck period.
And if he's not careful, Trump is going to get rolled now. The Senate has been happily playing failure theater by claiming that they need 60 votes to pass legislation. They do... sort of.
McConnell has broken the Democrat filibuster for judges and Supreme Court nominees before. He can do the same for this, if need be. It would be silly and low-stakes to make it necessary, but it seems the Democrats are intent on making it necessary. They want the political victory over Trump.
But the Senate also has another tool to overcome filibusters: budget reconciliation. Items affecting the budget (ie, financially related, spending or not spending money) can be passed with a bare majority using this process.
So why is McConnell negotiating with Schumer to get to 60 in the Senate? He should be passing legislation to fund the wall using reconciliation and sending it to the House to keep the heat on Pelosi.
In all those alleged crimes, not a single one would exist without the Mueller probe. We already know Mueller is willing to basically make up false statements charges from whole cloth (based on interviews where the FBI interviewer didn't think there was any intention to deceive; see the Mike Flynn case). In this case we've seen the basic allegations before. Some of Stone's emails vaguely reference what WikiLeaks will release next, basically guessing what it might be, and Mueller is claiming that was actual foreknowledge that Stone is lying about when he says it was just a guess.
So the factual question is whether Stone was actually communicating with "Guccifer 2.0" or Wikileaks, or whether he was just bragging to puff himself up and give the impression he had inside information. Notably, Mueller has not charged him with hacking or conspiracy to hack, or anything related to hacking, and Wikileaks has denied communicating with Stone. Just to lying and "obstructing" (which probably translates to not cooperating and encouraging other people not to cooperate).
The media (CNN) was informed so they could be present at the arrest, which was a full tactical armed raid. That shows a certain amount of inappropriate public relations thinking on the part of whoever leaked the information. Did this guy really need a pre-dawn raid by a team of tactical FBI agents in armor, aired on CNN? No. The whole thing was staged for media impact.
Given the steady drip drip drip of incredibly damaging quotes from congressional testimony on this topic, and the failed attempt to refocus attention on Trump via the false Buzzfeed story alleging Cohen was ordered to lie, indicting Stone and arresting him in this very visible way feels like an attempt to redirect the narrative.
On the one hand, this shows them paying careful attention to what they signed -- a much better professional look than Rod Rosenstein's (paraphrased) "I don't really need to read the things I sign". On the other hand, it puts McCabe and Yates in the uncomfortable position of having still signed at least one FISA application based on Hillary's dossier, despite their careful review, and not including information about Steele's personal and financial partisan motives, despite being warned about them by Ohr.
The relationship is pretty simple. Trump ran as a Republican. De facto, the NRA supports Republicans nationally. (This is because the Democrats demonstrated they could not be trusted, as a whole, but individuals are evaluated as individuals when running for office). The NRA spent a lot of money on this election in particular because there was an open Supreme Court seat at stake, and it was previously held by a very pro-gun Justice. Of course the stakes were high.
But the implication here is insane.
Emphasis mine. This is just an attempt to smear Trump by association with the NRA by association with a single Russian possible agent.
So, an entirely trivial amount of money, no accusations of wrongdoing on the part of the NRA, no crime for Mueller to investigate, and yet he has a budget of millions to spend -- and will force his targets to spend even more defending themselves from baseless political charges.
The Supreme Court has granted cert to a case challenging New York City's firearms transportation laws, which ban transport of a firearm outside the home except to a shooting range. This is probably a positive sign. With Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh on the court, we should have five votes for gun rights. This case should be an easy one, as New York City's laws are draconian and could probably be challenged under cruel and unusual punishment for gun owners. The stakes in this case are not especially high, as only a state law will be affected, so it makes a good test case for the existing justices who have yet to vote on 2nd Amendment cases.
I wrote earlier that Barr failed the Waco test. I didn't realize at the time that Barr was AG when Ruby Ridge took place, which is consistent with Barr's alleged assertiont hat just going in with a SWAT team would have resolved Waco with no loss of life. Because that worked so well at Ruby Ridge, where FBI snipers killed innocent people. Barr worked hard to protect them from the consequences of their actions, too.
That doesn't bode well for how he will handle Spygate, even if you ignore that he's an admitted close personal friend of Mueller.
Interesting, she retracted it after she was extradicted to Russia at a Russian court hearing of some kind. She had claimed to have "tapes" of conversations linking Trump to Deripaska.
But it's known that the FBI talked to Desipaska too. They wanted him to say (or rather, agree with to support their dossier, I think) that Trump colluded with Russia. It appears from more recent accounts that he refused to do that.
It occurs to me that putting her into a Russian prison after retracting her story is a great way to keep her from talking about whatever she may have overheard about the FBI trying to frame Trump for colluding with Russians.
The opposition leader has declared himself President and promises to find a way to get the country out of it's hyper-inflationary economic death spiral. Trump has recognized the new government. Don't get me wrong -- it's probably a good coup, as Nicolas Maduro is a socialist dictator destroying the country and the opposition leader is promising to fix things instead, but it's still a coup. We can only hope that there will be a relatively peaceful transition of power, followed by successful economic reforms (ie, not socialism) and a return to free (and honest) elections.