Friday Reads: Yet Again! It was Collusion!

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’m feeling old!  I was doing my lecture on Options Trading and Strategies when I learned my young, most promising, bright student had never heard of a ticker tape machine.  This young man trades continually so that kind’ve blew me away.  He’d never heard of tickertape parades either. So, I had to show him the old ticker tape machines invented by Edison for Western Union that I thought were at the heart of every discussion of Black Friday, 1929 and then through a few ticker tape parades for a side discussion. We used digital and internet Bloomberg Displays during my first work years.  You know, those green and black multipixel screens plugged into a phone line.

I had to say, yes, that when my Uncle charted a stock back in the day he had to go through all the tape and find each tick or open and close.   He did it all by hand on these huge sheets of paper on either a ping pong table or a pool table.  They were all over the walls of his basement rec room too.  I actually could search for that with a command on the Bloomberg terminal.  Now, you just go to Yahoo Finance and can pull whatever off with a few selected search parameters and enter.  Plus, you don’t have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for access and the equipment.  My Uncle Jock actually had a seat on the NYSE by his lonesome to get that access.  My mother’s sister obviously married well.

Kazimir Malevich TWO PEASANT WOMEN, 1928–1930

I also am old enough to remember when no US candidate for President colluded with the Russians. Candidates generally tried to look as tough on the USSR or Russia as possible.  But then, we got the previous guy and it was so obvious it was with Russian help. Now we got the receipts.

This is from the NYT: “Biden Administration Says Russian Intelligence Obtained Trump Campaign Data. A Treasury Department document shed more light on links between the campaign and Russian spies.”

The Biden administration revealed on Thursday that a business associate of Trump campaign officials in 2016 provided campaign polling data to Russian intelligence services, the strongest evidence to date that Russian spies had penetrated the inner workings of the Trump campaign.

The revelation, made public in a Treasury Department document announcing new sanctions against Russia, established for the first time that private meetings and communications between the campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and their business associate were a direct pipeline from the campaign to Russian spies at a time when the Kremlin was engaged in a covert effort to sabotage the 2016 presidential election.

Previous government investigations have identified the Trump aides’ associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, as a Russian intelligence operative, and Mr. Manafort’s decision to provide him with internal polling data was one of the mysteries that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, sought to unravel during his two-year investigation into Russia’s election meddling.

“During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy,” the Treasury Department said in a news release. “Additionally, Kilimnik sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

You can watch Rachel Maddow explain it all here:

Can we just agree that an entire section of the American populace appears to be captured by a huge right wing propaganda machine that includes all kinds of malcontents and evil-doers?  Now, can we find some strategy to undo this please?  We hear nothing about this at the propaganda site “The Federalist” but there’s a huge screaming headline about the same study that showed that there was not enough hard evidence to show Russians pais bounties to the Taliban even though there was ample evidence they were helping them in their fight against the US in Afghanistan.

What do these people hate so much about our democracy that they want to tank it?  And no, I’m not talking about the Russians.  We know why on that account.  My only guess is that a lot of wipopo are afraid of POC that they will do anything to stop from the potential of being treated like we treat minorities and women in this country historically.

Biden did drop a lot of sanctions on Russia yesterday but  Axios explains why: “Biden’s Russian sanctions likely to achieve little.”

Despite bold talk from top administration officials, there’s little reason to think the Russia sanctions package President Biden announced Thursday will do anything to alter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behavior or calculus.

Why it matters: While it’s true some elements of the package — namely, the targeting of Russia’s sovereign debt — represent significant punitive measures against Moscow, it leaves plenty of wiggle room for the Russian president.

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended the action, telling reporters: “We can’t predict what the impact will be, but we still believe that when there’s unacceptable behavior, we should put consequences in place.”

Between the lines: Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had known and dealt with Putin for years while running Exxon Mobil, used to tell colleagues sanctions did little if anything to deter the Russian leader.

  • It’s hard to argue against Tillerson’s case.
  • The U.S. and its international allies have imposed some form of sanctions against Russia every year since 2014, when Putin’s “little green men” first appeared in Ukraine.
  • Since then, Russia has continued to occupy Crimea and eastern Ukraine; propped up the brutal Assad regime in Syria; hacked U.S. and other Western elections; crushed protests at home; and attempted to assassinate dissidents on foreign soil, among other things.

Yes, but: Where Thursday’s sanctions do break new ground is in the cyber realm.

  • The U.S. government formally accused Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service of the SolarWinds hack and identified its collaborators in painstaking detail, as German security expert Thomas Rid notes in an illuminating Twitter thread.
  • And a ban on U.S. banks directly buying Russian government bonds could create a “broader chilling effect” that will weaken the ruble and have negative implications for inflation and economic growth, a senior administration official told reporters.
  • But the ability for investors to continue buying Russian bonds on the secondary market diminishes the overall effect of the restrictions — reflecting Biden’s desire to send a clear message to the Russians without taking it too far.

Wassily Kandinsky, Painting with white lines, 1913.

Frank Thorp V–NBC News–has an incredible piece up about “After the Riot. It’s been 100 days since the attack on the Capitol, and those who were inside still struggle with their memories.”  I can only imagine.  I was traumatized enough watching it on TV from my bedroom.  These are some stories from people who lived it.

When a mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6,  the world watched as the rioters entered the building, breaking windows and pushing through barriers. But it was more than just physical space that was violated. The seat of government was occupied by hundreds of lawmakers and their aides, building staff members, and journalists.

Some inside tried to flee. Some tried to barricade themselves in offices. Others inside swung into action. Journalists mobilized to document the attack in real time. The Capitol Police tried to protect the people inside.

The mob tried to stop the certification of the election of Joe Biden because they believed the false claims of then-President Donald Trump that rampant fraud had stolen victory from him. Many who experienced that fury say they continue to process the trauma of the day. And all want the events to be remembered as a lesson for Americans, and the world.

“I hope people will remember, with some solemnity, the fragility of democracy,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. “It’s a hard-won gift we’ve been given and it can slip away real quickly. So I hope people remember the precariousness of it all.”

Valentin Serov, Portrait of Maria Zetlin, 1910

The founding member of The Oath Keepers is about to plea guilty for his role (via WAPO)

A founding member of the Oath Keepers arrested in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate against others in the case — the first defendant to potentially flip in the sprawling domestic terrorism investigation that has led to charges against more than 400 people.

The scheduled plea comes exactly 100 days after Jon Ryan Schaffer and hundreds of other supporters of former president Donald Trump allegedly stormed the Capitol hoping to prevent Joe Biden from being confirmed as the next president. Prosecutors hope Schaffer’s plea spurs others to provide additional evidence in hopes of avoiding long prison sentences.

The plea marks a new stage in the historic investigation, as prosecutors seek to work up the chain of defendants to gather evidence and better understand the full scope of any planning and organizing of the violence — particularly among groups like the far-right Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Dozens of members from both groups appeared to act in concert to storm the building, prosecutors have alleged.

We still feel like we’re in a becoming state and that we’re back on the right path. However, these last 5 or so years are likely to scar many of us for life. The unfolding numbers of young black men shot by police officers is a daily lesson.  A 13 Chicago boy follows orders and is still shot dead.  We just woke up to another mess shooting.  This time it was in Indianapolis at a Fed Ex facility.  There are 8 fatalities .  Unlike the previous guy, our President is going to make a statement shortly and has already reached out to Fed Ex.

Vice President Kamala Harris said Friday there’s “no question” that gun violence must be stopped.

“Yet again we have families in our country who are grieving because of the loss of their family members” to gun violence, Harris said. “There is no question that this violence must end and we are thinking of the families that lost their loved ones.”

Natalia Goncharova, Espagnole, circa 1916.

“Yet again” sums ups so much of this.   Yet again, the Republicans want to downsize spending that would actually help the US economy, US businesses, and US families.  Again, Republican Senators attack terrifically qualified women of color in their hearings on their way to high government posts.   Yet again, the Republicans are looking to another demagogue for help with white hegemony. This time it is failed Florida Governor and mass Covid-19 Murderer Ron DeSantisPolitico‘s article sent shivers down my spine.  “‘A nicer version of Trump’: GOP donors flock to DeSantis. The Florida governor has cultivated relationships with many of the party’s biggest givers, who admire his opposition to strict Covid mitigation policies.  One more sociopath spreading hatred and lies across the country.  A nicer version of a sociopath is still a sociopath.

Donor interest in the governor extends far beyond Florida. Andy Sabin, a New York-based precious metal company executive, said he expects to host a pair of fundraisers later this year bolstering the governor’s reelection effort. Dallas businessperson Doug Deason anticipates holding a pre-summer event. Don Tapia, who served as ambassador to Jamaica during the Trump administration, is planning on hosting a fundraiser at his Arizona home.

Like others, Tapia praised DeSantis for his handling of the pandemic and what he described as the governor’s independent style.

DeSantis “has a major political future in the Republican Party,” said Tapia, a retired electrical company executive who’s given extensively to GOP causes for several decades. Tapia wouldn’t say DeSantis was his first choice among potential 2024 candidates but called him a “strong candidate I would truly look at.”

The enthusiasm was on full display during DeSantis’ appearance at last weekend’s Republican National Committee donor gala in Palm Beach, Fla., where he drew wild applause for declaring the party needed figures who withstood public pressure and weren’t afraid to confront what he called the “elite, New York corporate media.”

The governor was mobbed over the course of the weekend. Joanne Zervos, a New York City donor who spoke with DeSantis during the conference, said many contributors saw him as “a nicer version of Trump,” someone who had embraced the former president’s policies but lacked his rough edges. Zervos said she was drawn to the governor because of his approach to dealing with the coronavirus.

Untitled, Lyubov Sergeyevna Popova circa 1915

Again, what on earth reality are they dealing with?  DeSantis has basically created a state of plague rats ready to travel around the country making every one sick?  My two favorite Republican idiots these week are the dummies who questioned Kristen Clarke about a satirical piece she wrote at Harvard when she was 19 literally taking it literally. 

Republicans also criticized Clarke over an editorial she wrote as a student at Harvard University in 1994 that sought to rebut claims made in “The Bell Curve” that tied intelligence to race. In the piece, Clarke recited research by some Black scholars that suggested Blacks are intellectually superior, a point she reiterated Wednesday was intended to be “satirical.”

Yet again, John Cornyn couldn’t stop embarrassing himself.  (Via the Mary Sue)

Kristen Clarke is President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and if confirmed, she would be the first Black woman or woman of color to lead the division since its creation more than 50 years ago. So naturally, some Republicans have big problems with her.

During Wednesday’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Texas’ John Cornyn wanted to talk with Clarke about an article she wrote when she was a student at Harvard. Cornyn was very concerned because in this piece, Clarke listed a number of ways in which Black people are genetically superior to whites. Concerning, no??

No, it’s not. Because the piece, as Clarke explained patiently to him, was satire.

Yet again,  Auntie Maxine had to draw the gavel down on ranting Gym Jordan during a hearing with Dr. Fauci.  Even Dr. Fauci– unleashed–told him to stop ranting in a Congressional hearing.  CNN reports: “Maxine Waters tells Jim Jordan to ‘shut your mouth’ after GOP congressman feuds with Fauci.” 

Republican Rep. Jim Jordan and the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci got into a heated exchange Thursday over the country’s Covid-19 mitigation measures, which ended with Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters telling Jordan to “shut your mouth.”

During a House subcommittee hearing about federal government’s response to the pandemic, Jordan, an Ohio conservative, asked Fauci when the nation can begin relaxing physical distancing measures and mask-wearing — posing it as a question as to when Americans will regain their freedom and liberties

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, started to respond that the time will be when the United States has more Americans vaccinated and has a level of coronavirus infection that is low enough that it’s “no longer a threat.”

“We had 15 days of ‘slow the spread’ turn into one year of lost liberty,” Jordan said. “What metrics, what measures, what has to happen before Americans get more freedoms back?”

“You’re indicating liberty and freedom. I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to the hospital,” Fauci countered. “This will end, for sure, when we get the level of infection very low. It is now at such a high level, there is a threat again of major surges.”

You can watch the calm Dr Fauci take on crazy ass Gym who is more concerned about getting people to fill up churches than having people fill up morgues and IC wards.

So that’s enough for me! For sure!!

Yet again, What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Saturday Open Thread

By Armando Barrios

Good Afternoon

As has often happened lately, I just don’t know where to begin. I’m late with this because I’ve just spend hours dealing with a family situation that ate up my whole morning and into this afternoon.

As soon as I started look around at today’s news, I saw that there has been another mass shooting–this time at a synagogue in Pittsburg. As of now, MSNBC is reporting that there are 8-10 deaths, but CNN just said there are only 4 confirmed deaths and 12 people shot.

CBS Pittsburgh: 8 Dead, Several Others Shot At Pittsburgh Synagogue.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller reports that a suspect, a heavy-set white male with a beard, has surrendered. The SWAT team had been talking with the suspect, and he was crawling and injured. It is unclear the extent of his injuries.

KDKA sources confirm to Andy Sheehan that the suspect is 48-year-old Robert Bowers. It is believed that he acted alone.

Police are also investigating if he announced his intentions on Twitter this morning. That account has since been taken down.

Pittsburgh Police spokesman Chris Togneri confirmed that the suspect was in custody and three police officers had been shot. He also confirmed multiple causalities, but did not divulge exactly how many.

Police sources tell KDKA’s Andy Sheehan the gunman walked into the building and yelled, “All Jews must die.” Sheehan’s sources confirmed that eight people were dead. Others had been shot, but the extent of their injuries in unknown at this time.

Trump spoke about the shooting as he departed for another of his Hitler rallies. He didn’t say anything helpful; his main message was that if there had been security inside the temple (I guess he means guns) this wouldn’t have happened.

Press conference now on CNN: The scene inside is very bad. There are multiple fatalities. The injured are being transported to trauma facilities. There will be another press conference at 4PM with government officials and first responders. This is being considered a federal crime and the FBI is leading the investigation.

I’m going to put this post up now, and I’ll had some links to other stories with as soon as it goes up.

The Intercept: Here Is a List of Far-Right Attackers Trump Inspired. Cesar Sayoc Wasn’t the First — and Won’t Be the Last.

Rick Wilson: Of Course Donald Trump Inspired Cesar Sayoc’s Alleged Terrorism.

Jonathan Chait: Trump’s Party Is the Petri Dish for Diseased Minds That Grew Cesar Sayoc.

LA Times: In a week of domestic terrorism, a commander in chief mostly missing in action.

The Atlantic: Trump’s Incoherent Rally in Charlotte.

NYT: Trump, at Charlotte Rally, Tries to Rebuild Political ‘Momentum’ by Reviving Old Attacks

Take care of yourselves today. I love you all.