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Why did we have an election?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 1:37 pm - August 22, 2017.
Filed under: Afghanistan,Donald Trump,National Security

For background, here are U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan the last 10 years. Note that the war started in 2001, so the first several years are not shown.

It’s easier to read if you click on it. In brief: for the last 2-3 years, we’ve had about 10,000 troops and 25,000 civilian contractors in Afghanistan, which is down from much higher levels through the greater part of the Obama administration.

It’s been a 16-year war, and I have to ask: Why? And Donald Trump used to ask that same question. But yesterday, Trump sided with the Deep State in further extending the Afghanistan war. He justified it with the usual platitudes, basically, This Time We Mean It And Have A Plan To End It – the same things Presidents Bush and Obama said.

Of course I don’t want to let Afghanistan be a haven for Muslim terrorists; but do we have a credible plan to win, all the sudden? What is it? I listened to Trump’s entire speech, and did not hear specifics.

We know that Trump is willing to loosen the rules of engagement, that is, let the military fight more effectively. And he spoke of dealing with terrorist sanctuaries or supporters in Pakistan. Both reasonable.

But suppose we kill all the terrorists. What then? We leave, and things go back to what they were. I don’t have any great ideas here; just a nagging sense that this war cannot be won by conventional means. And, once again, I have to ask if it is really about opium cultivation?

Awan-a sell your secretz (and other scandals)

I’ve been thinking of a “List of hideous Democrat scandals that each new media frenzy serves to mask”. Examples:

  • Awan family / Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
  • The Bill Clinton – Loretta Lynch “tarmac” meeting, a potential obstruction of justice which is still being investigated.
  • How Trumprussia Came To Be, Part I: the activities of Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele and the Hillary/DNC complex (and possibly John McCain) in spreading the fake “Trump dossier”.
  • How Trumprussia Came To Be, Part 2: the Obama administration spying and “unmasking” domestic political opponents. (Probably under sketchy FISA warrants.)
  • How Trumprussia Came To Be, Part 3: the intelligence agencies making fake claims of Russian hacking, when even The Nation (a left-wing magazine) now agrees that Russia probably had nothing to do with the DNC leaks in 2016.
  • How Trumprussia Came To Be, Part 4: The Hillary campaign’s collaboration with a foreign government – Ukraine. (A government with neo-Nazi connections, btw.)
  • The Hillary e-mail scandal is still with us; Judicial Watch keeps uncovering new Hillary emails showing new corruption.
  • The Benghazi scandal, ditto. (They’re still uncovering stuff.)
  • The IRS scandal, ditto. (They’re still uncovering stuff. And, strangely, IRS Comissioner John Koskinen still hasn’t been fired.)
  • General pay-for-play corruption at the Clinton Foundation, ditto. (Still no Special Counsel investigation.)

Just to pick one, let’s talk Awan scandal. Its outlines have become more clear and it has hit the New York Post, at least:

Federal authorities are investigating whether sensitive data was stolen from congressional offices by several Pakistani-American tech staffers and sold to Pakistani or Russian intelligence, knowledgeable sources say.

What started out 16 months ago as a scandal involving the alleged theft of computer equipment from Congress has turned into a national security investigation involving FBI surveillance of the suspects.

Investigators now suspect that sensitive US government data — possibly including classified information — could have been compromised and may have been sold to hostile foreign governments that could use it to blackmail members of Congress or even put their lives at risk.

“This is a massive, massive scandal,” a senior US official familiar with the widening probe told The Post…

For more than a decade, Awan, his wife, two relatives and a friend worked for 30 House Democrats…members of the sensitive Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees.

The Democrats who hired the five suspects apparently did a poor job vetting them. Awan’s brother Abid had a rap sheet with multiple offenses, including a conviction for DWI a month before he was hired, and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Most had relatively little IT experience. Yet they hauled in a combined $4 million-plus over the past decade. One, a former McDonald’s worker, was suddenly making as much as a chief of staff…

On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Imran Awan on four seemingly unrelated felony counts including bank fraud, conspiracy and making false statements. They also indicted his wife, Hina Alvi.

Emphasis emphasied. The Awans did it at least partly by stealing equipment and having Democrats say “Nothing to see here”:

A chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Yvette Clarke quietly agreed in early 2016 to sign away a $120,000 missing electronics problem on behalf of two former IT aides now suspected of stealing equipment from Congress…

…the chief of staff signed a form that quietly reconciled the missing equipment in the office budget, the official told TheDCNF. Abid Awan remained employed by the office for months after the loss of the equipment was flagged.

Separately, the brothers are suspected to have orchestrated a long-running fraud scheme in which the office would purchase equipment in a way that avoided tracking by central House-wide administrators. They’re suspected of working with an employee of CDW Government Inc. — one of the Hill’s largest technology providers — to alter invoices in order to avoid tracking. The result would be that no one outside the office would notice if the equipment disappeared, and investigators think the goal of the scheme was to remove and sell the equipment outside of Congress…

Those fraud schemes are two major parts of the criminal case being built against Imran Awan, his wife Hina Alvi, his two brothers Abid and Jamal, and potentially others into their Capitol Hill IT work. Their work as IT aides gave them full access to all emails and files of dozens of members of Congress…

And on it goes.

Although the story has hit Fox or an occasional editorial page, it should be much bigger. Huge. The timing of North Korea, a small white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Muslim terrorist attacks in Europe, Alt Left protests…it’s all been amazing, huh?

By the way – Remember Debbie Perm-and-Eyeliner glowering at the Capitol Hill Police chief, back in May? Yes, that laptop she wanted back was bought in her office, for Imran Awan’s use.

The death of Trumprussia

A couple weeks ago, leftie rag The Nation basically told lefties to start getting over Trumprussia because the DNC, at least, just wasn’t hacked.

Former NSA experts say it wasn’t a hack at all, but a leak—an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.

…[with the Russia narrative], we are urged to accept the word of institutions and senior officials with long records of deception. These officials profess “high confidence” in their “assessment” as to what happened in the spring and summer of last year…[but] an assessment is an opinion, nothing more, and to express high confidence is an upside-down way of admitting the absence of certain knowledge.

[On the other side,] Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year…

The Nation quotes a report from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS):

Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job…

Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language[, a setting that anyone can do]…

VIPS used the work of several investigators such as Disobedient Media, The Forensicator, Adam Carter (I mentioned them in my post explaining Guccifer 2.0 from five weeks ago), and others also. The Nation continues:

Under no circumstance can it be acceptable that the relevant authorities—the National Security Agency, the Justice Department (via the Federal Bureau of Investigation), and the Central Intelligence Agency—leave these new findings without reply.

[…]

The Intelligence Community Assessment [of Russian hacking], the supposedly definitive report featuring the “high confidence” dodge, was greeted as farcically flimsy when issued January 6. Ray McGovern calls it a disgrace to the intelligence profession. It is spotlessly free of evidence, front to back, pertaining to any events in which Russia is implicated. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted in May that “hand-picked” analysts from three agencies (not the 17 previously reported) drafted the ICA. There is a way to understand “hand-picked” that is less obvious than meets the eye: The report was sequestered from rigorous agency-wide reviews…

Behind the ICA lie other indefensible realities. The FBI has never examined the DNC’s computer servers—an omission that is beyond preposterous. It has instead relied on the reports produced by Crowdstrike, a firm that drips with conflicting interests well beyond the fact that it is in the DNC’s employ. Dmitri Alperovitch, its co-founder and chief technology officer, is on the record as vigorously anti-Russian…

I’ve been blogging on the above points, for months. It’s nice to see a left-wing publication grapple with them, at last.

McMaster updates

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 6:05 pm - August 8, 2017.
Filed under: Donald Trump,National Security,War On Terror,World War III

Earlier installments here and here. The issue is, that NSA McMaster allegedly is:

  • clearing out Israel supporters and Trump supporters from the National Security staff, replacing them with Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood and Iran supporters. Experts in this story now rattle off about 8 names.
  • preferring his own globalist, interventionist foreign policy to President Trump’s America First agenda. And,
  • perhaps being one of the “leakers” who undermines Trump.

I have to say: On paper, General McMaster looks like he should be one of the good guys. But Media Matters (Soros-Brock smear army), MSNBC (Morning Joe), The Young Turks (or Aging Armenian-Holocaust Deniers), CNN (the CIA News Network), WaPo and NYT, and everyone else on the Left have lined up strongly behind McMaster. That has to be a bad sign. Anyway, the updates:

A window into CIA interrogation; is it torture?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 4:36 pm - August 8, 2017.
Filed under: National Security,Post 9-11 America,War On Terror

Re: waterboarding and “enhanced interrogation” – whether they constitute torture – my own view has long been the following:

  • Under the law, “torture” is a matter of intent. For example, if a doctor is forced to operate on you without anesthetic, it probably isn’t torture. His intent is to save a life – yours – and he inflicts no more pain than is unavoidable for that goal.
  • By analogy, “enhanced interrogation” is not torture if it’s done in the right way and time, to save people’s lives. If it’s honestly thought necessary to save lives, and is done no more than needed to acquire key information, it isn’t torture.

That’s my opinion. The key words are “if”, and “honestly”. In other words, it’s a slippery slope. The interrogators had better be honest, right, and in control of themselves. They can go too far, very easily. When they do go too far, we have to be honest ourselves – and put them on trial for any crimes or torts under the law.

Which brings me to this press release: Two CIA psychologists will be sued for allegedly going too far.

The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, and the family of Gul Rahman, who froze to death in a secret CIA prison. They were [interrogated] using methods developed by the CIA-contracted psychologists, James Mitchell and John “Bruce” Jessen…

…the case is scheduled to go to trial on September 5 and expected to last two to three weeks.

Mitchell and Jessen helped convince the CIA to adopt…methods…including slamming them into walls, stuffing them inside coffin-like boxes, exposing them to extreme temperatures, starving them, inflicting various kinds of water torture, and chaining them in stress positions designed to inflict pain and to keep them awake for days on end…

Sadly, the article is biased (it’s the ACLU after all) in repeatedly calling all that “torture” before the trial. The point of the trial is to decide. I tried to edit out the bits where it’s decided prematurely. To continue:

Mitchell and Jessen trained other CIA personnel in their methods. In 2005, they founded a company — Mitchell, Jessen & Associates — that the CIA contracted with to run its entire [enhanced interrogation] program, including supplying interrogators and security for black sites and rendition operations. Mitchell and Jessen admitted as part of this lawsuit that the government paid the company $81 million over several years. The CIA let Mitchell and Jessen themselves evaluate the effectiveness…and the agency has since admitted that this was a mistake.

According to Mitchell and Jessen’s theory, if humans were psychologically destroyed through…abuse, they would become totally unable to resist demands for information…

The CIA adopted Mitchell and Jessen’s proposals, and in August of 2002, the agency secured Justice Department authorization in the so-called “torture memos,” which were later rescinded by the Justice Department…

The plaintiffs are suing Mitchell and Jessen under the Alien Tort Statute — which allows federal lawsuits for gross human rights violations…

Mitchell and Jessen may go with a “Zyklon B” defense – the idea that they were merely fulfilling their contracts, and it is others (namely CIA officials) who decided how to apply their methods.

As always, say what you think in the comments; I won’t necessarily be persuaded to your view; but I’m still interested to hear it.

Trump getting some stuff done

Just a reminder. From an editorial at Business Insider – emphasis added:

Border crossings, for example, have plummeted, even though all Trump has done so far is promise to enforce existing laws.

The Supreme Court approved parts of Trump’s travel ban…Trump is busy filling lower court positions with conservative justices…pulled out of the Paris climate change deal

The EPA, meanwhile, is dismantling Obama’s coal-killing, growth-choking Clean Power Plan, and draining the heavy-handed Waters of the United States rule. When a veteran EPA official resigned this week, she complained in a letter to her former colleagues that “the new EPA Administrator already has repeals of 30 rules under consideration,” which the New York Times described as “a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history.”

Trump promised to kill two regulations for every new one enacted, but in his first six months the ratio was 16-to-1.

Trump also approved the Keystone XL and other pipeline projects held up by Obama. He’s also rolled back a ban on coal mining on public lands.

To be sure, Trump hasn’t scored a major legislative achievement on signature issues like ObamaCare and tax reform.

Every day he’s around is another day we didn’t have #CorruptHillary.

UPDATE: Let’s not forget the progress against ISIS. A month ago, we had the liberation of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. That and other Trump administration changes have contributed to progress in Syria (Raqqa) as well.

…key factors were the Trump administration’s delegation of key decision-making to battlefield commanders, the tactic of “annihilation” in which the ground forces surround the group in its stronghold so foreign fighters cannot escape, and drumming up support for burden-sharing among 73 members—69 countries and four international organizations—of the broad anti-ISIS coalition.

The campaign under Trump has witnessed the near fall of ISIS’s territorial hold. The Obama administration laid the groundwork…

Sure. The Obama team was always “laying the groundwork” – with little or no intention of carrying it out.

Sadly, civilian casualties in these operations have been high – because of ISIS using civilians as human shields, booby-trapping buildings to maximize damage and casualties, attacking civilians to keep them penned (unable to escape), etc. That being so sad, tales of “annihiliation tactics” then become almost heartwarming.

Thought for the Day

From Caitlin Johnstone – in June, but still relevant:

The Democratic party built its entire presidential campaign upon the argument that Donald Trump is a racist, xenophobic, homophobic demagogue, so the American people must therefore rally against him. Since losing the presidential election, the Democratic party has revised its entire political strategy around an argument that is steeped in racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and demagoguery, and called the American people to rally behind it.


I found the whole article worthwhile. Ever-controversial, Johnstone makes a thing of former DNI James Clapper’s racial stereotyping of Russians and his obsessive talk of Russian “genes” and whatever Russians are, in his phrase, “genetically driven” to do. It might be possible to defend Clapper’s language as metaphorical; but just barely, and anyway, there’s no reason why I should do that work for him.

As to homophobia: Johnstone gives several examples of the Left doing homosexual imagery of Trump and Putin, as if it’s a reason to hate and fear both Trump and Russia.

As to xenophobia and demagoguery: Russians are the new Mexicans. Democrats accused Trump of wanting to demagogue Mexicans as a bogeyman; then proceeded to demagogue Russians as a bogeyman.

For those interested, Johnstone links The Big Fat Compendium Of Russiagate Debunkery, and Robert Parry’s debunking of the “17 intelligence agencies” canard.

This past week, many have noted that Special Counsel Mueller has moved his investigation to Trumpworld’s finances, and has impaneled a grand jury to bring possible charges in that area. That, right there, is an admission that there was never any Trump-Russia collusion. If Mueller could nail people for Trump-Russia collusion, he would. But he can’t. He is compelled to fish in other waters.

Friday night odds and ends

It amazes me how many legit stories I have to skip over each day, for brevity or lack of time. As I made the following list, I skipped over many other worthwhile items.

  • 53 House Democrats told Defense Secretary Mattis to not comply with the transgender ban.

    “We write to not only express our strong opposition to President Trump’s recent tweets seeking to ban transgender individuals from the military, but to remind you not to comply with any unconstitutional directive which may ultimately be issued,” according to the letter, which was signed by Armed Services ranking member Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Judiciary ranking member Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

  • Attorney General Sessions is finally going to look into all those leaks.

    Session said criminals who have leaked classified information are “being investigated and will be prosecuted.” He added that four people have already been charged with leaking classified material and related counts, and investigations have tripled.

    Sessions said he has directed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and new FBI Director Christopher Wray to oversee all classified leak investigations and actively monitor the progress.

    He said a new counterintelligence unit has been created to manage cases, and he has directed the National Security Division and U.S. attorneys to prioritize cases involving unauthorized disclosures.

    There’s some brouhaha over more aggressive subpoenas on reporters, but they’re still mainly going after the actual leakers. Which is right.

  • AG Sessions is finally going to look at Obama’s government slush fund for left-wing groups.

    …[The DOJ’s] “cy pres” payments were a long-standing policy of having mostly corporate defendants, for example in a civil rights suit, agree to pay into charities as part of their settlement with the government to avoid further prosecution.

    In recent years, especially during the Obama administration, the practice increasingly funneled funds to left-wing “community organizing” groups…

    …Sessions…put a stop to the payments unilaterally in June…The new memo, dated July 28, goes further, commanding DOJ attorneys to look back into the history of these settlements and report back every payment that would not meet the new standards laid down in June.

  • The rumors of NSA McMaster having a ‘purge list’ have made it into the White House staff, rattling them.
  • Alex Jones and Mike Cernovich got wild today with talk of the Deep State planning to outright-assassinate Trump, which could seem like irresponsible speculation, until you see stories like this one: Maxine Waters says ‘When We Finish With Trump, We Have to Go and Get’ Pence.

    A coup isn’t being planned, could never happen here, that’s ridiculous, don’t spread horrible rumors you liars…..Folks, should we go with that idea? Or: leading Democrats are telling the military to disobey President Trump (see first item, above) and already looking forward to phase 2 of the coup, ‘Get Pence’? Which is it?

I hope to do a post later on the week’s Awan Scandal news.

Let’s face it: Deep State is in full-on war against Trump

For months, and with the exception of some judges, the Senate has held up President Trump’s appointees – resulting in a government that is (still) filled with Obama holdovers. It’s semi-traditional for Presidents to make appointments during the Senate’s recess (Obama sure did it). Today’s news is that Senate Republicans have conspired to block Trump from doing so.

Their excuse is Trump’s recent public humiliation of AG Sessions. That was rather strange (as I commented on here). They don’t want Trump to suddenly appoint a new AG. The problem is, Trump also can’t make other (justified) appointments. And it’s not an isolated matter; you can fit it into a larger pattern.

Jumping over to yesterday’s theme about McMaster, the news there is also still “War”.

  • Business Insider’s writer frames McMaster as the good guy, has some worthwhile details.

    “There is a split in the White House between the Bannon camp of ideologues and the McMaster-Mattis-Tillerson camp of more centrist intellectuals,” Pete Mansoor, a retired Army colonel who worked closely with McMaster, told Politico…

    John Kelly’s recent move from homeland security secretary to White House chief of staff should ensure McMaster’s independence and control over the NSC…

    But the nationalists may have a competitive advantage: Trump, who already thinks McMaster is a “pain” who talks too much and has complained to aides that he wants Flynn back at the White House, is reportedly considering sending McMaster to replace Gen. John Nicholson as the top commander of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

    “What the nationalists are saying about McMaster: ‘He wants to send more troops to Afghanistan, so we’re going to send him,'” Axios’ Mike Allen reported Thursday.

  • Politico also says that McMaster is in a “pitched battle”, re-making the NSC in his own image. And that General Kelly will be his ally; uh-oh!
  • The Daily Beast says McMaster has gone to war and “has to move fast”.

    “The president hasn’t liked the plans he’s been presented on Iran, Afghanistan, or ISIS,”…“The process hasn’t worked like it should,” to produce the innovative plans President Donald Trump tasked his team with crafting—plans that look different from what the Obama administration, or even the Bush administration, tried before.

    So McMaster has been removing anyone on his team who either obstructed his own vision or had trouble rallying the other agencies around particular policy…

  • The Daily Caller: “Everything The President Wants To Do, McMaster Opposes,’ Former NSC Officials Say”.

    “Trump wants to get us out of Afghanistan — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to get us out of Syria — McMaster wants to go in. Trump wants to deal with the China issue — McMaster doesn’t. Trump wants to deal with the Islam issue — McMaster doesn’t. You know, across the board, we want to get rid of the Iran deal — McMaster doesn’t. It is incredible to watch it happening right in front of your face. Absolutely stunning.”

Jumping to the White House staffing issue: word from Jack Posobiec is that “If You Like Infowars or Milo You’re Fired”.

Jana Toner, a member of the Presidential Personnel Office, is regularly heard publicly insulting prominent pro-Trump media figures, including former Breitbart Technology editor Milo Yiannopoulos and Infowars founder Alex Jones. Mrs. Toner has even told White House interns that sharing content from Mr. Yiannopoulos or Mr. Jones’ Infowars on social media is grounds for dismissal.”

…a PPO employee who reports directly to Mrs. Toner declared: “We will search through your Facebook and we will find everything,” and “If you like Milo Yiannopolous or Alex Jones this isn’t the place for you”…

…Johnny DeStefano, who previously served as an aide to ousted House Speaker John Boehner, is currently the head of the PPO [Presidential Personnel Office], and has used his position to block Trump supporters from key positions…

Toner has established herself as a prominent anti-Trump presence within PPO…Toner was heard [saying] that students who took time off school to work for the Trump campaign are typically not “intellectually qualified” to work as White House interns.

Toner is a Bush family loyalist, having served the George W. Bush Administration in numerous capacities…

I have mentioned 3 elements of the Establishment’s (or Deep State’s) war on Trump:

  1. The Senate blocking Trump’s appointments.
  2. McMaster purging Trump loyalists, non-interventionists or “nationalists”.
  3. Who’s in charge of the White House staff? Former Speaker Boehner and the Bush family?

More elements that I didn’t even touch on, here:

  • The unprecedented levels of media bias (which were already bad, before Trump).
  • The cynically paid (Soros-funded) protests.
  • The giant nothing-burger of evidence-free innuendo that is Trumprussia.
  • And of course, the corrupted Mueller investigation (that is supposed to be restricted to Trumprussia, but isn’t).

The common theme is Trump not rewarding his own supporters, not paying attention to who’s installing the personnel, not pursuing saboteurs (or racketeers) under the law, letting the Republican Establishment cuck him, and in general, not being in charge of his own administration. We have to give him some of the fault. This isn’t what anyone voted for.

But the even larger point is: What happens if Trump loses this epic conflict?

  • Does America, under President Pence or whomever, go back to war-mongering and ruining entire countries like Obama did?
  • With the Deep State and Senate Republicans having colluded to destroy a populist President (however flawed he was): must we, the People, then turn to violent revolution to break Washington and finally get some decent policies?
  • And will it be too late?

Is McMaster a disaster?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 5:14 pm - August 3, 2017.
Filed under: Donald Trump,National Security,Syria war,World War III

Mentions of National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, seem to be be boiling over. Time for a roundup.

  • A letter has leaked, saying that McMaster explicitly let Susan Rice keep her security clearance, despite her role in possibly-criminal actions in letting the Obama administration use the intelligence apparatus to spy on domestic political opponents (Trump campaign).
  • McMaster has purged key Trump aides. And defended Obama holdovers, which we call Deep State.

    An ongoing staffing purge being conducted by White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has thrown the West Wing into chaos, according to more than half a dozen Trump administration insiders who told the Washington Free Beacon that McMaster has been targeting long-time Trump loyalists who were clashing with career government staffers and holdovers from the Obama administration…

    …sources… said that many of these actions against his supporters are being conducted without Trump’s knowledge…

    The Trump staffers fired by McMaster had repeatedly clashed with career government staffers and holdovers from the Obama administration on issues as diverse as military strategies for Syria and Afghanistan, whether to tear up Obama’s landmark Iran deal, the controversial détente with Cuba, the U.S. role in confronting Islamic radicalism, and the Paris Climate Accord, according to these sources.

    More purges are said to be on the way…

    The article names people who have been fired, and continues:

    “McMaster’s agenda is different than the president’s,” said one administration source with knowledge of the situation…

    One of the central flashpoints in this internal battle has been Iran and the future of the nuclear accord, multiple sources independently confirmed to the Free Beacon.

    NSC officials such as Cohen-Watnick, Harvey, and others had been making the case that Trump should scrap the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal over increasingly aggressive Iranian ballistic missile activity and mounting evidence Tehran is breaching the accord. McMaster, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and top Obama-era State Department officials who worked on the deal, have aggressively urged maintaining it.

  • One of the staffers forced out was Rich Higgins, who wrote a controversial memo charging “that globalists, Islamists, and other forces within and outside the government are subverting President Trump’s agenda.”.
  • Other staffers fired appear to be pretty much anyone who is pro-Trump, pro-Israel, or anti-Muslim Brotherhood.

    According to senior officials aware of his behavior, he constantly refers to Israel as the occupying power and insists falsely and constantly that a country named Palestine existed where Israel is located until 1948 when it was destroyed by the Jews…

    Finally, there is the issue of how McMaster got there in the first place. Trump interviewed McMaster at Mara Lago for a half an hour. He was under terrible pressure after firing Flynn to find someone.

    And who recommended McMaster? You won’t believe this.

    Senator John McCain.

These articles could all be part of someone’s campaign for forcing out McMaster. (Chief of Staff Kelly? Bannon? Jared/Ivanka?) I mean, if it gets to our level – visible to ordinary bloggers – then something’s up.

And – if the substance is correct – the “someone” could have good reason.

UPDATE: George Soros and David Brock are on McMaster’s side. That’s a bad sign for McMaster.

Also, more articles on McMaster at this later post.

Seymour Hersh on Seth Rich and Trumprussia

Seymour Hersh, the famous left-leaning but hard-hitting investigative journalist, has apparently endorsed the theory that Seth Rich was the DNC leaker. Big League Politics has an audio recording. Assuming it’s real,

  • Hersh claims to know from an FBI report, that was made when D.C. police called in an FBI cyber unit to look at Rich’s laptop after his death.
  • Hersh is skeptical of the idea that Seth Rich was murdered for political reasons – although Rich did express concerns to friends that something might happen to him.
  • Hersh suggests that Rich’s brother put up obstacles to investigating any Rich-WikiLeaks connection.
  • Hersh suggests that the Trump-Russia conspiracy allegations were disinformation planted by Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan. And that NSA and CIA types (what we call Deep State) are against Trump because, in some unspecified way (I’d like to know more), Trump ends their hopes of getting lucrative private consulting contracts on leaving the government.

Needless to say, if these claims are real, they blow Trumprussia out of the water.

I found it worthwhile to read BLP’s whole article and listen to the recording. UPDATE: Transcript here.

While we’re at it: We know that the House Intelligence Committee started to look into the “unmasking” scandal (where the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign; zealously doing surveillance and over-zealously “unmasking” the names of Trump operatives who were swept up in it). A key aide to Susan Rice and Obama, Ben Rhodes, has emerged as a ‘person of interest’ in that investigation.

This adds Rhodes to the growing list of top Obama government officials who may have improperly unmasked Americans in communications intercepted overseas by the NSA, Circa has confirmed…

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Rice and former CIA Director John Brennan have all been named in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation…

…the committee has “found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.”

Finally, they’re looking!

Awan family breached Congressional security and blackmailed Democrats?

I’ve been eyeing this story for months, but haven’t blogged it because I (still) don’t understand what it is. It’s something about a couple guys from Pakistan, who were Congressional I/T administrators, up to some shenanigans, of which Congress has been weirdly protective; especially Debbie Wasserman-Schulz.

Here’s a July 23 article from The Daily Caller:

FBI agents seized smashed computer hard drives from the home of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s information technology (IT) administrator, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.

Pakistani-born Imran Awan, long-time right-hand IT aide to the former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman, has since desperately tried to get the hard drives back…

An additional source in Congress with direct knowledge of the case, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, confirmed that the FBI has joined what Politico previously described as a Capitol Police criminal probe into “serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network” by Imran and three of his relatives, who had access to the emails and files of the more than two dozen House Democrats who employed them…

To be clear: These investigations are real and ongoing. But we’re not being told what about. It’s all, something something hard drives relatives laptops Wasserman-Schulz something. With hints that maybe blackmail or national security breaches are involved?

Here’s video from May of Wasserman-Schulz glowering at a Capitol Police officer who won’t return a laptop (a piece of evidence) that she wants back.

If you have a good notion what this story is about, please let us know in the comments.


UPDATE: Via Zero Hedge, Imran Awan tries to flee the U.S.; is arrested and charged with multiple counts of bank fraud. Amongst other background, ZH supplies a list of 30 Democrats who had him on their taxpayer-funded payrolls. Yikes!

And in the comments, Heliotrope (thanks!) points us to a Daily Caller starter piece from February.

Three brothers who managed office information technology for members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other lawmakers were abruptly relieved of their duties on suspicion that they accessed congressional computers without permission.

Brothers Abid, Imran, and Jamal Awan were barred from computer networks at the House of Representatives Thursday…

Three members of the intelligence panel and five members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs were among the dozens of members who employed the suspects on a shared basis…

Also among those whose computer systems may have been compromised is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz…

OK, between the 3 articles, here is what we got:

  • Members of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees, chiefly (or entirely?) Democrats, have employed Awan family members for I/T.
  • For years. Paying them millions, over the years.
  • In Feb. 2017, they were abruptly dismissed. But House members continued to pay them.
  • And ever since, Debbie Wasserman-Schulz has been frantic to “recover” (or hide) evidence.
  • Her effort has apparently failed, with the FBI getting key info on 7/23 and arresting Imran Awan on 7/24.

Hmm. Looks like MAJOR security breaches and blackmail, focused on House Democrats. Will this scandal get the media coverage it deserves? How about a Special Counsel?

Also, as ZH puts it, “One bombshell that has been all but ignored by the main stream media is that Imran Awan had access to Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s iPad password, meaning that the brothers also had direct access to the notorious DNC emails.” So…could these guys even have an angle on the DNC email leaks?? Trumprussia?

UPDATE: Apparently Awan had access to Nancy Pelosi’s laptop and emails, among many others.

Democrats colluded with Russia to hack 2016 election

We’ve been thinking this for months, but here’s another post because this article explains it so well:

While the mainstream news media hunts for evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, the public record shows that Democrats have willfully used Moscow disinformation to influence the presidential election against Donald Trump and attack his administration.

The disinformation came in the form of a Russian-fed dossier written by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. It contains a series of unverified criminal charges against Mr. Trump’s campaign aides…

Some Democrats have widely circulated the discredited information. Mr. Steele was paid by the Democrat-funded opposition research firm Fusion GPS with money from a Hillary Clinton backer. Fusion GPS distributed the dossier among Democrats and journalists. The information fell into the hands of the FBI, which used it in part to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign aides.

Mr. Steele makes clear that his unproven charges came almost exclusively from sources linked to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin…

“If anyone colluded with the Russians, it was the Democrats,” said a former Trump campaign adviser who asked not to be identified because of the pending investigations. “After all, they’ve routinely shopped around false claims from the debunked Steele dossier, which listed sources including senior Kremlin officials. If anyone should be investigated in Washington, it ought to be Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Mark Warner and their staffers.”

RTWT. It has more detail on why the dossier was fake and how Hillary’s campaign used it anyway.

My major criticism of the article would be that John McCain’s name doesn’t appear; I’ve noted recently how he had such early access to the dossier as to suggest that he may have helped spread it.

The founder of Fusion GPS is going to “plead the fifth” about his company’s role in all this.

[Senate Judiciary] Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., confirmed in a statement that they subpoenaed Simpson to appear before the committee Wednesday as part of a hearing about the influence of foreign lobbying in last year’s presidential election.

“Simpson’s attorney has asserted that his client will invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to the subpoena,” Grassley and Feinstein said.

Remember that Fusion GPS also had ties to Natalia Veselnitskaya lobbying in favor of Putin (that is, lobbying against the anti-Putin Magnitsky Act). Fusion GPS had a representative at Veselnitskaya’s nothing-meeting with Donald Trump Jr., that lefties were so excited about last week.

UPDATE: They reached an agreement with the Fusion GPS guy to get an interview (I think that’s not under oath?). But Democrats stalled the committee interviewing another Fusion GPS-related witness. Dems must be really nervous.

U.S. to stop arming jihadists; Deep State hardest hit

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 9:07 pm - July 20, 2017.
Filed under: National Security,Politics abroad,Syria war,War On Terror

President Trump has decided that the CIA will stop arming the so-called “moderate” (but really jihadist) Syrian rebels.

With the end of the CIA program, U.S. involvement in Syria now consists of a vigorous air campaign against the Islamic State and a Pentagon-run train-and-equip program in support of the largely Kurdish rebel force that is advancing on Islamic State strongholds in Raqqa and along the Euphrates River valley.

More on the Kurds in a moment. Trump’s move should help to maintain the Syria cease-fire, defeat ISIS and defuse Mideast tensions. In my view, it is as sensible as Obama’s original decision to arm the jihadis was not. Naturally, the U.S. Deep State – which wanted tensions (or even a Syria ground war) – hates the move and besmirches it as pro-Putin, “Russia won”, etc.

In news that is not so good, we’ve also had a flurry of items about the growing rift between Turkey and the West. Turkey remains a NATO ally, but Erdogan is on bad terms with the European Community, and it doesn’t help that the U.S. (or NATO) organized a failed coup against Erdogan in 2016.

So, the Kurds would seem to be a major issue. Decades ago, Western powers drew the borders of Turkey, Syria and Iraq in such a way as to divide the Kurds. Ever since, they’ve dreamed of getting together in a new Kurdistan. That the U.S. would have armed the Syrian Kurds (starting under Obama), sets off alarm bells in Turkey.

UPDATE: Julian Assange on ISIS, key U.S. allies, and the Clintons. Here’s the idea.

  • Saudi Arabia and Qatar wanted Syria regime change and funded the jihadis.
  • Saudi Arabia and Qatar fund ISIS (who, I keep saying, are much the same people as the Syria jihadi-rebels). And, per her leaked emails, Hillary definitely knew it.
  • Saudi Arabia and Qatar fund the Clintons.
  • Could all this be why Hillary wanted to bomb Syria and do Syria regime change so much? And not-so-much to bomb ISIS?

Also, Julian Assange noting how the CIA paid ISIS salaries. He excerpts a Financial Times article, deep inside which is this: “One rebel commander, who asked not to be named, said U.S. support had been waning for months, but noted that the rebels had been given their salaries as normal last month.”

UPDATE: Just learned about SOFREP, a news service by Special Forces veterans. And they had a report in 2016 saying that, yes, Obama’s CIA was absolutely, positively making the Special Forces train jihadis in Syria and delivering advanced weapons to the jihadis, in violation of U.S. law against aiding terrorists.

Is Trumprussia just Russian propaganda?

Thought for the Day: Trumprussia undermines the United States of America. And yet, day after day, really for a year now, with NO results to speak of, or even evidence for it, the Left keeps pushing it. Obsessively.

Why? Are the Left’s opinionmakers colluding with Russian intelligence, against America? Are George Soros, David Brock, CNN, MSNBC and the Clintons colluding with Vladimir Putin? Are the Russians laughing their asses off, when they see it? Cui bono?

UPDATE: A Trump vs. CNN meme (embedded below the fold, or just click on the link to the left): (more…)

Want Trumprussia? Psst, over here kid

The one and only Greg Gutfeld puts it all together:

YouTube Preview Image

The Dems used to root for the Russians against us when the USSR was deadly, and wanted us dead. And now, decades later, things are better, and the libs are finally seeing Red? Save me the outrage. The Russian story is the Left’s crack cocaine, and they won’t put down the pipe until there’s a New Dealer in the White House.

If you want it newsier: (more…)

A couple of deaths where “Clinton” pops up

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 2:31 am - July 16, 2017.
Filed under: Democratic Scandals,Hillary Clinton,National Security

First, the strange tale of Peter Smith, 81.

  • He was a GOP donor and opposition researcher. He was trying to locate the 30,000 emails that Hillary had “bleached” in defiance of a Congressional subpoena.
  • In May, ten days after he gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal where he explained his strategy of reaching out to hackers (five hacker groups claimed to have the Clinton emails), he was found dead in his hotel room with a plastic bag tied over his head, and a helium tank to aid the asphyxiation process.
  • Per the Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal’s lead reporter initially told people that Smith had died of natural causes – but that was false:

    …the lead reporter on the stories said on a podcast he had no reason to believe the death was the result of foul play and that Smith likely had died of natural causes.

    However, the Chicago Tribune obtained a Minnesota state death record filed in Olmsted County saying Smith committed suicide…

  • And now, even the suicide story is in doubt.
  • Per the Chicago Tribune, Smith was staying at a hotel “near the Mayo Clinic”. (Mayo refuses to confirm whether he was a patient.) Smith was expected to check out, the day they found his body. The day before, he told a hotel worker “Tomorrow is my last day” – which seems like it could apply to either his stay, or his life.
  • Smith was found with a suicide note, which claimed he was facing a serious illness and stated that “No foul play, whatsoever” was to blame. Some find a note like that suspicious in itself.
  • Friends and associates say they had no idea of Smith being ill or planning a suicide.
  • This includes Charles Ortel, a fellow researcher into Clinton corruption, who spoke with Smith the day before the alleged suicide.

    “He may have been a fantastic actor but I certainly didn’t leave that phone call saying, ‘oh sh*t, the guy’s at the end of his rope,’” Charles Ortel…told The Daily Caller…

    “This does not seem like a settled story. It made perfect sense to me he might have died of natural causes, but little chance he would have killed himself,” Ortel said.

    …Ortel knew Smith personally. “We had countless discussions,” Ortel recalled of his relationship with Smith. “He was using his unique decades of experience in politics to offer me advice how to expose the Clinton Foundation.”

Next and more recent, Klaus Eberwein, 50.

  • Allegedly, he shot himself in the head at a Quality Inn near Miami.
  • Per Miami Herald:

    A supporter of former Haitian President Michel Martelly, Eberwein served as director general of the government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance économique et social, better known as FAES…

    [a childhood friend and business partner] said he last spoke to Eberwein, 50, two weeks ago and he was in good spirits…

    During and after his government tenure, Eberwein faced allegations of fraud and corruption on how the agency he headed administered funds…

    Eberwein was scheduled to appear Tuesday before the Haitian Senate’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission…

  • So, what’s the Clinton connection? Some far-out sites say that he was a critic of the Clinton Foundation’s operations in Haiti, and was set to testify specifically about Clinton Foundation wrongdoing.
  • I want to see better reporting on the connection before I narrate it as “truth”. But as a possibility, it seemed worth mentioning.

Addendum: I want to make clear that I’m not suicidal, never have been, and never will be. In the unlikely event that I ever “commit suicide”, or “have an accident”, there should be automatic and deep suspicion of foul play.

Inspired by Judi McLeod’s timely article. She reminds us of another strange case from 2016, John Ashe – although this one was an alleged exercise accident:

…disgraced UN official John Ashe… — who was facing trial for tax fraud — died Wednesday afternoon [late June 2016] in his house in Westchester County. The UN said he’d had a heart attack. [ed: an initial falsehood about natural causes, same pattern as Peter Smith] But the local Dobbs Ferry police said Thursday that his throat had been crushed, presumably by a barbell he dropped while pumping iron.

Ashe was due in court Monday with his Chinese businessman co-defendant Ng Lap Seng, who is charged with smuggling $4.5 million into the US since 2013 and lying that it was to buy art and casino chips.

Ng was identified in a 1998 Senate report as the source of hundreds of thousands of dollars illegally funneled through an Arkansas restaurant owner, Charlie Trie, to the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration. (Ng was not charged with any crime.)

Ng and Trie had visited the White House several times for Democratic fundraising events and were photographed with then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton.

One source told me, “During the trial, the prosecutors would have linked Ashe to the Clinton bagman Ng. It would have been very embarrassing. His death was conveniently timed.”

I do believe in coincidences – which is why I still have not committed, for example, to the theory that Seth Rich (of the DNC email leaks) had to be a political murder. But the Clintons, over the years, do seem to get a LOT of these coincidental deaths of people who might have something on them.

Did Hillary lose by being a warmonger?

My intuition has long said yes. I mean, Hillary’s support for destroying Libya and Syria and creating aggressive confrontation with Russia is part of why I don’t like her. People who want peace seem to have preferred Trump, in 2016.

Last week, a new study came out which showed that Hillary may have lost PA, MI, WI by being a warmonger.

A new study attributes Donald Trump’s victory last year to communities hit hardest by military casualties and angry about being ignored. These voters, the authors suggest, saw Trump as an “opportunity to express that anger at both political parties.”…

The study…found a “significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.” The statistical model it used suggested that if Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin had suffered “even a modestly lower casualty rate,” all three could have flipped to Hillary Clinton… “Trump significantly outperformed Romney in counties that shouldered a disproportionate share of the war burden in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“America has been at war continuously for over 15 years, but few Americans seem to notice,” Kriner and Shen write. “This is because the vast majority of citizens have no direct connection to those soldiers fighting, dying, and returning wounded from combat.”

Insane asylum updates

First, a few items on the “Trump dossier” (which I previously backgrounded here).

  • The Washington Post has further discredited one of the dossier’s most salacious claims.
  • Did John “Landslide” McCain have anything to do with the dossier? A British defamation lawsuit shows that, at the least, McCain had exceptionally early access to it.

    According to a new court document in the British lawsuit, counsel for defendants Steele and Orbis repeatedly point to McCain, R-Ariz., a vocal Trump critic, and a former State Department official as two in a handful of people known to have had copies of the full document before it circulated among journalists and was published by BuzzFeed…Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and a Russia adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, discussed the 35-page dossier with McCain…

    The British court document also confirmed that Washington research firm Fusion GPS, co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, had been hired to conduct opposition research by one of Trump’s GOP primary opponents. Later, Democrats paid for the same research on Trump’s past and alleged Russian ties.

    It’s funny how Fusion GPS keeps popping up. But I didn’t know that Fusion GPS also had GOP (probably #NeverTrumper) connections, as well as Democrat.

  • Natalia Veselnitskaya drips with Democrat sympathies and ties to Fusion GPS / the “Trump dossier”.

    Apart from her social media posts, photos of her sitting with Democrats at a Senate hearing, and so forth, the Obama administration explicitly gave her a special pass into the U.S. in 2015. Why?

    That makes it all the more possible that her intent in getting a fake meeting with the Trump campaign was to set them up for the FISA warrants that enabled the Obama administration to spy on them.

    Either Congress or a Special Counsel should now investigate those FISA warrants and the Obama administration’s spying on its domestic political opponents.

  • Are TrumpRussia and #NothingGate really Hillarygate? The connection between Hillary/DNC, Fusion GPS and the “Trump dossier” needs investigating because:

    This connection has raised the question of whether Kremlin prepared the dossier as part of a disinformation campaign to sow chaos in the US political system. If ordered and paid for by Hillary Clinton associates, Russia Gate is turned on its head as collusion between Clinton operatives (not Trump’s) and Russian intelligence…

    Former FBI director, James Comey, refused to answer questions about Fusion and the Steele dossier in his May 3 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Comey responded to Lindsey Graham’s questions about Fusion GPS’s involvement “in preparing a dossier against Donald Trump that would be interfering in our election by the Russians?” with “I don’t want to say.”…

    The dossier was not, as the press reports, written by Steele…In Stalin’s day, some of the most valued KGB (NKVD) agents were called “novelists,” for their ability to conjure up fictional plots and improbable tales to use against their enemies…

Related news:

Russia psychosis update

Just to follow up my earlier post on the Donald Trump, Jr. situation. It turns out that:

  • Someone called Rob Goldstone, a British publicist, arranged the meeting between Trump, Jr. and Veselnitskaya in June 2016.
  • In a good act of transparency, Trump Jr. has released the emails that led up to it. (The left-leaning Guardian calls them “damning”; but of course they aren’t.)
  • Trump Jr. took the meeting because he was a campaign operative and Goldstone promised – but then failed to deliver – a Russian whistleblower with “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia…”
  • Per USA Today:

    Goldstone [arranged the meeting] at the request of his client, Azerbaijani-born pop singer Emin Agalarov, whose ties to Veselnitskaya are unclear.

    [She] stated she had some information regarding illegal campaign contributions to the (Democratic National Committee)…

    At the meeting, Goldstone said Veselnitskaya “presented a few very general remarks regarding campaign funding and then quickly turned the topic to something else.” (Multiple reports say she then spoke about Russia barring Americans from adopting…)

    At that point, Goldstone said, “the meeting was halted by Don Jr., and we left. Nothing came of that meeting and there was no follow-up between the two parties.”

  • Also, Veselnitskaya had NO meaningful ties to Putin or anyone high-level in the Russian government.

The emails make clear that Trump Jr. took the meeting because he wanted to expose illegal Hillary-Russia collusion, if that existed. He was told, in effect, that he was meeting a whistleblower. He surely knew that Hillary has a history of colluding with the Russians, seemingly in exchange for money.

It’s Orwellian that Trump Jr’s interest in exposing Hillary-Russia collusion (if more of that existed) would now be depicted as him supposedly colluding with Russians. But that’s the mentally-ill world we live in. Anti-Trumpers are calling these latest Nothing Burgers “explosive”, “disturbing”, “potentially treasonous”, and “the smoking gun”, because supposedly “The exchange demonstrates that the Trump campaign was eager for help from Russia” (Slate).

It’s all nonsense. It’s normal for campaigns to meet with anyone – American or foreign – who might have dirt on opponents. The term of art is “opposition research”. As noted below, Hillary’s campaign sure met with foreigners, to do it. And again, Trump Jr’s evidenced intent was to expose Russia collusion that he thought Hillary could be doing.

The whole incident smells like a setup, that Trump Jr. rightly dodged. As suggested in my earlier post, we need to know more about Goldstone’s, Agalarov’s, and/or Veselnitskaya’s ties to the Democrat dirty-tricks shop, Fusion GPS.

Sorry, lefties. Once more, you push the fake “Russia hacked the election – and Trump colluded” narrative, and you come up way short.

Here’s a couple stories worth looking at, lefties:

  • How Ukraine hacked the election. Ukraine officials met with Hillary/DNC operatives to try to dig up dirt on Trump. (Exact same thing that you’re freaked out about, with Trump Jr.)
  • How Saudi Arabia hacked the election. Crown Prince Salman asserted that he was responsible for 20% of Hillary’s campaign funds. As ZH puts it, ” It is illegal in the United States for foreign countries to try to influence the outcome of elections by funding candidates.”

Lefties – I understand your need to lie to yourselves about Trumprussia, but –
Why don’t you care about Ukraine hacking our democracy?
Why don’t you care about Saudi Arabia hacking our democracy?
Why don’t you care about Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s massive pay-for-play donations to the Clinton Foundation?
Why don’t you care about Hillary’s Russia collusion in giving away 20% of the U.S. uranium supply to Russia?
Why don’t you care about Bill, and the Podesta brothers, taking massive “fees” and other payoffs from Russian companies?

Palate cleanser: Lefties practicing their self-defense skills. It’s funny to see lisping, up-talk-y gamma males going on about martial arts – with zero self-awareness about how Antifa and the Left are the violent people in America today.

UPDATE: Yes, Veselnitskaya hangs with Democrats.