Friday Reads: Enough of this Already!

Good Day Sky Dancers!

Three headlines have grabbed my attention today.  First, is the cyber attack because what person my age doesn’t get the chills from the thought we still have a very hot cold war going on with the Russians. All of this combined with the breaking news that the Pentagon is shutting out the Biden transition briefings is just frightening. Second, it looks like Santa Trump has a shit sack full of pardons coming up.  More on these further on down the thread

The last and third one is the utter screw up in the distribution of shelved Pfizer vaccines where they await shipment instructions for the Federal Government. Meanwhile, hospital capacity is being challenged and our health care workers and most vulnerable citizens are waiting.  But, the Moderna Vaccine is likely on its way to anxious people in many places.  Today, Vice President Mike Pence and Mother and Speaker Nancy Pelosi got the vaccine. I’m just putting these up as links because it’s all over the TV today.

Here’s the scoop from Axios: “Scoop: Pentagon halts Biden transition briefings”.

Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered a Pentagon-wide halt to cooperation with the transition of President-elect Biden, shocking officials across the Defense Department, senior administration officials tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: A top Biden official was unaware of the directive. Administration officials left open the possibility cooperation would resume after a holiday pause. The officials were unsure what prompted Miller’s action, or whether President Trump approved.

Why it matters: Miller’s move, which stunned officials throughout the Pentagon, was the biggest eruption yet of animus and mistrust toward the Biden team from the top level of the Trump administration.

  • Fury at the Biden team among senior Pentagon officials escalated after the Washington Post published a story on Wednesday night revealing how much money would be saved if Biden halted construction of Trump’s border wall.
  • Trump officials blame the leak on the Biden transition team (Though, it should be noted, they have no evidence of this, and both reporters on the byline cover the Trump administration and have historically been prolific beneficiaries of leaks.)

What happened: Meetings between President Trump’s team and the Biden team are going on throughout the government, after a delayed start as the administration dragged its feet on officially recognizing Biden as president-elect.

  • Then on Thursday night, Miller — who was appointed Nov. 9, when Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper right after the election — ordered officials throughout the building to cancel scheduled transition meetings.

No wonder Santa Trump is pulling Pardons out of his big old sack of shit. This is from Business Insider:  This is an exclusive from Business Insider by journalists Tom LoBianco and Dave Levinthal . “EXCLUSIVE: Jared Kushner helped create a Trump campaign shell company that secretly paid the president’s family members and spent $617 million in reelection cash, a source tells Insider”.

President Donald Trump’s most powerful advisor, Jared Kushner, approved the creation of a campaign shell company that secretly paid the president’s family members and spent almost half of the campaign’s $1.26 billion war chest, a person familiar with the operation told Insider.

The operation acted almost like a campaign within a campaign. It paid some of Trump’s top advisors and family members while shielding financial and operational details from public scrutiny.

When Kushner and others created the company in April 2018, they picked Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, to become its president, Vice President Mike Pence’s nephew John Pence as its vice president, and Trump campaign CFO Sean Dollman as its treasurer and secretary, the person who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.

Insider independently verified details of this person’s account with other sources close to the Trump campaign.

The shell company — incorporated as American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC — allowed Trump’s campaign to skirt federally mandated disclosures. The tactic could attract scrutiny from federal election regulators.

Campaign finance records show Trump’s reelection effort and its affiliated committee with the Republican National Committee spent more than $600 million through American Made Consultants since its formation.

For months, some of Trump’s own top advisors and campaign staff have told Insider they had no idea how the shell company functioned, casting an air of mystery about the operation.

Trump’s campaign leaders even launched an internal audit of the shell company and operations under former campaign manager Brad Parscale but never reported the results of that review.

Some of those same advisors said they didn’t learn about John Pence and Lara Trump’s involvement until Insider contacted them for this story.

But throughout, the mystery hid in plain sight: Kushner, Lara Trump, John Pence, and Dollman, were often just feet away in the Trump campaign’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, a Washington suburb.

“They like to say they don’t know, but that’s not true,” the person familiar with AMMC said. “What they wanted was excuses so they could blame other people. If they thought that, why did they keep using it?”

From January 2019 through the middle of November 2020, the Trump campaign and an affiliated political committee together spent $617 million through American Made Media Consultants.

It was almost half of everything they spent in the failed effort to reelect Trump, according to an Insider review of Federal Election Commission records and analysis provided by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Some Trump advisors have long accused Parscale of trying to hide money from the now-outgoing president, occasionally citing AMMC as an example of his obfuscation.

But the campaign actually spent the bulk of the money at AMMC — $415 million — after Trump fired Parscale as campaign manager on July 15.

Trump’s future may actually have some more possibilities for fleecing as long as he can continue to get suckers to contribute to his ‘campaign’ efforts.  This is per the NYT: “Trump’s Future: Tons of Cash and Plenty of Options for Spending It. When President Trump departs the White House, he will have a huge pile of cash to fuel his future ambitions. He can hold rallies, hire staff and even lay groundwork for a potential 2024 run.” We will ever be truly rid of him?

Deflated by a loss he has yet to acknowledge, Mr. Trump has cushioned the blow by coaxing huge sums of money from his loyal supporters — often under dubious pretenses — raising roughly $250 million since Election Day along with the national party.

More than $60 million of that sum has gone to a new political action committee, according to people familiar with the matter, which Mr. Trump will control after he leaves office. Those funds, which far exceed what previous outgoing presidents had at their disposal, provide him with tremendous flexibility for his post-presidential ambitions: He could use the money to quell rebel factions within the party, reward loyalists, fund his travels and rallies, hire staff, pay legal bills and even lay the groundwork for a far-from-certain 2024 run.

The post-election blitz of fund-raising has cemented Mr. Trump’s position as an unrivaled force and the pre-eminent fund-raiser of the Republican Party even in defeat. His largest single day for online donations actually came after Election Day — raising almost $750,000 per hour on Nov. 6. So did his second biggest day. And his third.

This Russian Hack of all kinds of US entities is far worse than imaged. Here’s some key points from CNBC.

The scale of a sophisticated cyberattack on the U.S. government that was unearthed this week is much bigger than first anticipated.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a summary Thursday that the threat “poses a grave risk to the federal government.”

It added that “state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations” are also at risk.

CISA believes the attack began at least as early as March. Since then, multiple government agencies have reportedly been targeted by the hackers, with confirmation from the Energy and Commerce departments so far.

“This threat actor has demonstrated sophistication and complex tradecraft in these intrusions,” CISA said. “Removing the threat actor from compromised environments will be highly complex and challenging.”

CISA has not said who it thinks is the “advanced persistent threat actor” behind the “significant and ongoing” campaign, but many experts are pointing to Russia.

“The magnitude of this ongoing attack is hard to overstate,” former Trump Homeland Security Advisor Thomas Bossert said in a piece for The New York Times on Thursday. “The Russians have had access to a considerable number of important and sensitive networks for six to nine months.”

CISA was the agency that Chris Krebs ran before Trump fired him for ensuring the election was secure.   Trump also got rid of the person responsible for cross government and provider coordination of cyber security in the White House in 2018.  This was essentially a “cyber czar”.

It is also said that Trump’s planning pardons today will be those involved in Russian interference in the 2016 election resulting in the Mueller investigation.   It is also likely that the Hunter Biden probe is payback for Trump’s ongoing obsession with the role of that probe as an obstacle to his regime.

It seems he can still wear us out even though he’s basically staying hunkered down on the White House Toilet with his cell phone and big macs.  He may be tweeting his election conspiracy theories and egging on the Senate to reject the results.  However, he’s radio silence on Russia.

This hack is on such a scale that many are suggesting it’s an act of war.   Is it a Cold War?  Or will it turn into a Cyber War?  And did Trump look the other way the 9 plus months this all occurred?

Lawmakers are raising questions about whether the attack on the federal government widely attributed to Russia constitutes an act of war.

The hacking may represent the biggest cyberattack in U.S history, and officials are scrambling to respond.

The response is further complicated by the presidential transition — President Trump has yet to comment publicly on the attack — and the fact that the U.S. has no clear cyber warfare strategy.

“We can’t be buddies with Vladimir Putin and have him at the same time making this kind of cyberattack on America,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of the attack during an interview Wednesday on CNN. “This is virtually a declaration of war by Russia on the United States and we should take that seriously.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday compared the incident to Russian bombers “flying undetected over the entire country,” and harshly criticized Trump for not doing enough to counter the attack.

“Our national security is extraordinarily vulnerable,” Romney said on SiriusXM’s “The Big Picture with Olivier Knox.” “In this setting, not to have the White House aggressively speaking out and protesting and taking punitive action is really, really quite extraordinary.”

Hackers believed to be part of a nation state have had access to federal networks since March after exploiting a vulnerability in updates to IT group SolarWinds’s Orion software. The hack has compromised the Treasury, State and Homeland Security departments and branches of the Pentagon, though it is expected to get worse. SolarWinds counts many more federal agencies as customers, along with the majority of U.S. Fortune 500 companies.

On Thursday, Politico reported that the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which maintains the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, was also compromised, further raising the stakes.

I have one more bit of winter beauty besides all these animals in snow pictures I love so much!  “Jupiter and Saturn Will Form A Rare “Winter Star” On December 21, 2020″

The dark mornings and low temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere may lead one to think that winter is well on its way. However, the astronomical start of the chilly season will not be until December 21, 2020. Called the winter solstice, it is the point in time when the Northern Hemisphere is farthest away from the sun, resulting in less sunlight to the region this year. 2020’s longest night will coincide with two exciting celestial events — the peak of the Ursids meteor shower and a “great conjunction” of the solar system’s two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

conjunction occurs when two planets appear close to each other in the sky because they line up with Earth in their respective orbits around the Sun. While observing the celestial bodies alongside each other is always exciting, Jupiter and Saturn’s alignment is even more so since it occurs once about every 20 years.

Cold Nights!  Cold Snow!  Cold War!  What will 2021 bring?  Whatever it is, our community will be here keeping each other informed and surrounded by loving, caring like-minds!  Stay warm!!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?